Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It'sTime to Help Our Neighbours

(photo from AP)

I just spent a good few hours watching CNN. The destruction in the US Gulf states is beyond belief and very hard to watch. One wonders how those affected will be able to rebuild. Some communities are simply gone. It is like watching film of the day after Hiroshima.

What I want to know is how the world will react to this disaster. When this happens elsewhere Americans are first in with all the aid they can muster. We have a moral obligation to assist our friends and allies where we can. I plead with my Canadian readers to contact our federal members of parliament and respective provincial legislative representatives to demand they (we) help. Our federal treasury overflows with our tax dollars. There is a huge surplus. Let's use some of it to provide relief to those stricken in the US south.

We can surely send in teams of hydro workers to help repair electrical systems. Contractors can help with the cleanup and reconstruction. Let's get creative.

Is there a solitary Canuck out there that thinks the Americans wouldn't do everything they could to help us in a similar disaster?

Whether or not we help, Americans will dig in and get through this one as best they can. That is part of their spirit and they will need to draw on it now. Yes, the United States is a rich country, but even they have limits. We must help.

Time to step up to the plate folks. The need is great.

"It's Just Heartbreaking."

I was going to begin this post with the words, "In the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina...," but that would not be accurate at all. The disaster facing our American cousins in the US south is extraordinary and horrifying and still unfolding.

New Orleans is not through the worst of it yet as flood waters from Lake Pontchartrain continue to pour into the city through burst dikes. The devastation is so widespread it appears to have overwhelmed the local disaster response capability. This is a very difficult situation and it may well get worse before it gets better. President Bush has declared the affected states a disaster area.

"The situation is untenable," said Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana. "It's just heartbreaking."

There is still no official death toll from the city, although there are reports of bodies floating in the the rising, muddy torrents that have submerged parts of the city under 6m (20ft) of water. Last night Mayor Ray Nagin said that rescue boats were passing them by. "We're not even dealing with dead bodies," Mr Nagin said. "They're just pushing them on the side."

With the water supply polluted by the floods and no likelihood of electricity for weeks, Governor Blanco called on those remaining in the city to leave via its one remaining motorway. Yesterday police struggled to distinguish between looters and hungry families as armed groups broke into shops to steal food and supplies.

In the Superdome stadium, where an estimated 20,000 people have taken
shelter, some for days, in dark, unsanitary conditions, the floodwaters have
rolled in and are starting to rise. Governor Blanco promised the stadium would
be evacuated and asked people to pray.

"That would be the best thing to calm our spirits and thank our Lord that we are survivors," she said. "Slowly, gradually, we will recover; we will survive; we will rebuild."

Elsewhere along the devastated Gulf Coast, the death toll in just one Mississippi county rose above 100 when a massive surge of seawater swept through
the coastal town of Biloxi. Officials said the final number of dead might reach

Our thoughts and prayers are with you today.

Question for Prime Minister Martin. How can we help? How about deploying the Canadian Forces Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) for starters. No dithering this time please.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Ambassador Wilkins and his Softwood Shenaningans

Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows that I am not anti-American. In fact, some colleagues and friends accuse me of being too pro-American (silly people). I like George W. Bush, support the war in Iraq, and believe Americans to be a good and generous folk. We share the world's largest undefended (more or less) border, are each other's largest trading partner (e.g., the Province of Ontario trades more with the US than does Japan) and are military allies in NATO and NORAD. I like Americans and find the reflexive anti-Americanism here in Canada to be juvenile. That being said, I am not stupid or blind.

Our two nations have been embroiled in a trade dispute since 1982 over Canadian softwood lumber sold to the US market. In 2004 powerful American lumber lobbies obtained a ruling by the US International Trade Commission (an independent agency of the US government) that Canadian provinces unfairly subsidize softwood lumber, giving an unfair advantage to Canadian producers of softwood lumber. The US imposed punishing import duties (27% until last year, when it was dropped to 20%). Thousands of lumber workers in BC have lost their jobs and a number of mills have closed.

Canada disagrees with the US Commission?s 2004 ruling and with other past US government trade restrictions and appealed the imposition tariffs to the relevant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panels and to the World Trade Organization (WTO). NAFTA determines the trade rules among Canada, the US and Mexico to ensure free trade among these countries. The WTO is a multilateral trade agreement that establishes trade rules for the many nations which are members. In both trade dispute resolution processes Canada has prevailed. There have been numerous victories for the Canadian position, along the way. For a chronology of this saga go here.

The latest ruling was by the NAFTA Extraordinary Challenge Committee on August 11, 2005, a body the US insisted on creating as the entity to hear final appeals under NAFTA. We won. What is the reaction of the US government? They are ignoring the ruling and are continuing with the tariffs. For the obsessive, here is a backgrounder on NAFTA, and on Chapter 19, the dispute resolution portion.

Rubbing salt in the wound, the US government provides the US lumber industry a portion of the unfair and illegal tariff collected. Not only are Canadian lumber companies hit with illegal tariffs, but their US competitors are subsidized with their money. Nor is the US government prepared (contrary to Chapter 19 of NAFTA) to refund the $5 billion in countervailing duties improperly collected to date. (Boo. Hiss. Boo.)

The new US Ambassador to Canada has commented on this dispute.

Andrew Duffy
Canwest News Service
August 26, 2005 OTTAWA -

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins says Canadian politicians should stop their "emotional tirades" and order the country's trade representatives back to the bargaining table to reach a final settlement on softwood lumber.

Mr. Wilkins said Canadian officials should embrace negotiations, rather than trade litigation, to settle the softwood dispute. Otherwise, he suggested, they risk a trade war with multiple fronts.

"I don't think we need to go down another avenue, but we could," Mr. Wilkins warned. "We could start talking about import barriers by Canada on certain goods, like dairy and egg products and things of that nature, and broadcast regulations that are exempt from NAFTA."

While Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Liberal government pondered retaliatory action against the United States, Mr. Wilkins told the Ottawa Citizen's editorial board that he was disappointed Canadian trade officials refused to meet this week to discuss softwood.

That meeting, scheduled for Monday in Ottawa, was cancelled after International Trade Minister Jim Peterson said he needed time to consider all his options, including trade sanctions, in the wake of Washington's refusal to accept a key trade panel ruling. "Emotional press conferences are not going to settle the issue," Mr. Wilkins said.

"Canada needs to come back to the table. We need to close the door, roll up our sleeves and negotiate as need be, with good faith, and bring finality to it," Mr. Wilkins said. Simmering for decades, the softwood lumber dispute is now full boil after Washington announced it would ignore another trade ruling in Canada's favour -- this time from the final court of appeal established by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mr. Wilkins characterized that decision as a ruling that does not bring finality to the dispute: "It wasn't a settlement, it was a ruling. You have a difference in legal opinion." The U.S. ambassador, who assumed his new post two months ago, said Washington has not ignored the ruling, but holds a different legal opinion about its impact. [As I understand it, in essence, the opinion is that US domestic law prevails over international agreements.]

"This is obviously a complex issue: It has been going on for two decades. So I don't think you use that, the ruling of that panel on that one issue ... I don't think you use that as the genesis of the negotiations. These negotiations have been going on before that ruling; they'll go on after that ruling. But the entire issue needs to be

Many of the trade rulings that went in Canada's favour, he noted, have concluded that the provinces subsidize their lumber industries. That fact, he said, needs to be discussed before a final deal can be reached on softwood.

In 1993, NAFTA and WTO trade panels both found that while the Canadian lumber industry is subsidized, that assistance is not substantial enough to justify U.S. tariffs.

Subsequent rulings have supported those findings. Notwithstanding Ambassador Wilkin's admonishment, let me call his comments what they are. Unadulterated crap! I am a negotiator and a policy wonk by trade and have some understanding of how these things are supposed to work.

The "negotiation" Ambassador Wilkins want to have with the Canadian government has already taken place. It was a long and arduous process undertaken in good faith by Canada, the United States and Mexico. The provisions of the agreement resulted from much give and take by all concerned. The negotiation led to the signing by the parties, including the US government, of a free trade agreement we call NAFTA. NAFTA has specific terms and conditions and dispute resolution provisions.

The US International Trade Commission did rule in 2004 that Canada unfairly subsidized softwood lumber exports. Canada, in response, invoked the dispute resolution mechanism in NAFTA. We won. We earlier invoked the provisions of the WTO agreements. We won there. The US lost. Period and full stop. What part of that is hard to understand?

What Ambassador Wilkins wants to do is renegotiate NAFTA after the fact because the inefficient and protectionist US lumber lobby interests won't accept the decisions. I understand American politics enough to grasp why the Bush administration is caving in to their domestic lumber lobby. That does not make it right or acceptable.

Ambassador Wilkins says, "the entire issue needs to be negotiated." He is wrong. The US government needs to live up to its existing trade agreements with Canada.

Simple, eh.

Anti-War Protests Target Wounded at Army Hospital

I would not believe this protest possible, but it goes to show you the immoral depths to which some people will sink to pursue their political goals. Hat tip to Neale News.

By Marc Morano Senior Staff WriterAugust 25, 2005See Marc Morano's Video Report

Washington ( - The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the current home of hundreds of wounded veterans from the war in Iraq, has been the target of weekly anti-war demonstrations since March. The protesters hold signs that read "Maimed for Lies" and "Enlist here and die for Halliburton."The anti-war demonstrators, who obtain their protest permits from the Washington, D.C., police department, position themselves directly in front of the main entrance to the Army Medical Center, which is located in northwest D.C., about five miles from the White House.

Among the props used by the protesters are mock caskets, lined up on the sidewalk to represent the death toll in Iraq. Code Pink Women for Peace, one of the groups backing anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford Texas, organizes the protests at Walter Reed as well.

Some conservative supporters of the war call the protests, which have been ignored by the establishment media, "shameless" and have taken to conducting counter-demonstrations at Walter Reed. "[The anti-war protesters] should not be demonstrating at a hospital.

A hospital is not a suitable location for an anti-war demonstration," said Bill Floyd of the D.C. chapter of, who stood across the street from the anti-war demonstrators on Aug. 19. "I believe they are tormenting our wounded soldiers and they should just leave them alone," Floyd added.

According to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, nearly 4,000 individuals involved in the Iraq war were treated at the facility as of March of this year, 1,050 of whom were wounded in battle.

One anti-war protester, who would only identify himself as "Luke," told Cybercast News Service that "the price of George Bush's foreign policy can be seen right here at Walter Reed -- young men who returned from Iraq with their bodies shattered after George Bush sent them to war for a lie."

Luke accused President Bush of "exploiting American soldiers" while "oppressing the other nations of earth." The president "has killed far too many people," he added.

On Aug. 19, as the anti-war protesters chanted slogans such as "George Bush kills American soldiers," Cybercast News Service observed several wounded war veterans entering and departing the gates of Walter Reed, some with prosthetic limbs. Most of the demonstrations have been held on Friday evenings, a popular time for the family members of wounded soldiers to visit the hospital. But the anti-war activists were unapologetic when asked whether they considered such signs as "Maimed for Lies" offensive to wounded war veterans and their families."

I am more offended by the fact that many were maimed for life. I am more offended by the fact that they (wounded veterans) have been kept out of the news," said Kevin McCarron, a member of the anti-war group Veterans for Peace.

Kevin Pannell, who was recently treated at Walter Reed and had both legs amputated after an ambush grenade attack near Baghdad in 2004, considers the presence of the anti-war protesters in front of the hospital "distasteful."

When he was a patient at the hospital, Pannell said he initially tried to ignore the anti-war activists camped out in front of Walter Reed, until witnessing something that enraged him."We went by there one day and I drove by and [the anti-war protesters] had a bunch of flag-draped coffins laid out on the sidewalk.

That, I thought, was probably the most distasteful thing I had ever seen. Ever," Pannell, a member of the Army's First Cavalry Division, told Cybercast News Service. "You know that 95 percent of the guys in the hospital bed lost guys whenever they got hurt and survivors' guilt is the worst thing you can deal with,"

Pannell said, adding that other veterans recovering from wounds at Walter Reed share his resentment for the anti-war protesters. "We don't like them and we don't like the fact that they can hang their signs and stuff on the fence at Walter Reed," he said. "[The wounded veterans] are there to recuperate. Once they get out in the real world, then they can start seeing that stuff (anti-war protests). I mean Walter Reed is a sheltered environment and it needs to stay that way."

McCarron said he dislikes having to resort to such controversial tactics, "but this stuff can't be hidden," he insisted. "The real cost of this war cannot be kept from the American public."The anti-war protesters claim their presence at the hospital is necessary to publicize the arrivals of newly wounded soldiers from Iraq, who the protesters allege are being smuggled in at night by the Pentagon to avoid media scrutiny.

The protesters also argue that the military hospital is the most appropriate place for the demonstrations and that the vigils are designed to ultimately help the wounded veterans."If I went to war and lost a leg and then found out from my hospital bed that I had been lied to, that the weapons I was sent to search for never existed, that the person who sent me to war had no plan but to exploit me, exploit the country I was sent to, I would be pretty angry," Luke told Cybercast News Service. "I would want people to do something about it and if I couldn't get out of my bed and protest myself, I would want someone else to do it in my name," he added.

The conservative counter-demonstrators carry signs reading "Troops out when the job's done," "Thank you U.S. Armed Forces" and "Shameless Pinkos go home." Many wear the orange T-shirts reading "Club G'itmo" that are marketed by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh."[The anti-war protesters] have no business here. If they want to protest policy, they should be at the Capitol, they should be at the White House," said Nina Burke. "The only reason for being here is to talk to [the] wounded and [anti-war protests are] just completely inappropriate."

Albion Wilde concurred, arguing that "it's very easy to pick on the families of the wounded. They are very vulnerable ... I feel disgusted."[The anti-war protesters] are really showing an enormous lack of respect for just everything that America has always stood for. They lost the election and now they are really, really angry and so they are picking on the wrong people," Wilde added.

At least one anti-war demonstrator conceded that standing out in front of a military hospital where wounded soldiers and their families are entering and exiting, might not be appropriate."Maybe there is a better place to have a protest. I am not sure," said a man holding a sign reading "Stop the War," who declined to be identified.

But Luke and the other anti-war protesters dismissed the message of the counter demonstrators. "We know most of the George Bush supporters have never spent a day in uniform, have never been closer to a battlefield than seeing it through the television screen," Luke said.Code Pink, the group organizing the anti-war demonstrations in front of the Walter Reed hospital, has a controversial leader and affiliations.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin has expressed support for the Communist Viet Cong in Vietnam and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas.In 2001, Benjamin was asked about anti-war protesters sympathizing with nations considered to be enemies of U.S. foreign policy, including the Viet Cong and the Sandinistas.

"There's no one who will talk about how the other side is good," she reportedly told the San Francisco Chronicle. Benjamin has also reportedly praised the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro. Benjamin told the San Francisco Chronicle that her visit to Cuba in the 1980s revealed to her a great country. "It seem[ed] like I died and went to heaven," she reportedly said.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pro-war kin take down crosses at Sheehan site

By Joyce Howard Price
August 25, 2005

Military families disturbed by a sea of crosses erected by anti-war protesters near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, have removed crosses bearing the names of their fallen children and transferred them to another site to show support for American troops in Iraq.

Anti-war protesters "never asked for my permission to put up a cross for my son for their cause," said Gary Qualls, whose son was killed in Iraq. "They are not respecting our sons and daughters."

The rival cross camps are evidence of a growing public backlash against the anti-war campaign of California activist Cindy Sheehan, who blames Mr. Bush for son Casey's death in Iraq and has called for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gregg Garvey's son, Army Sgt. Justin Garvey, 23, was killed in Iraq in July 2003. On Tuesday, Mr. Garvey of Keystone Heights, Fla., removed two crosses bearing the name of his son that were posted at the Sheehan demonstration site -- dubbed "Camp Casey" -- outside the Bush ranch.

"I also picked up crosses of two colleagues [of his son], after their parents gave me permission to remove their crosses as well," Mr. Garvey said yesterday.

The crosses were erected by a group called Veterans for Peace as part of Mrs. Sheehan's protest that began Aug. 6.

"One by one, [Mrs. Sheehan's] crosses are coming down," said Mr. Qualls, whose son, Louis Qualls, 20, was a Marine reservist killed in Fallujah last fall.

Mr. Qualls, an Army veteran from Penwell, Texas, said he has removed three different crosses bearing his son's name from the nearly 600 erected on the narrow road leading to Mr. Bush's ranch. Each time he removed a cross, protesters replaced it, he said.
Let me see now. Each time he removed his son's cross, protesters replaced it. So Cindy Sheehan is beyond criticism and can pretend to speak on behalf of the fallen because she lost a son in the war, but those parents who object to their slain sons being used as political propaganda have no right to insist that their wishes be respected by the protesters.

Read the rest here.

The arrogant attitude demonstrated by the Cindy Sheehan supporters at Crawford Texas is despicable.

I Blame It On Those High Tech Hammers Myself

So on Sunday afternoon I'm putting grommets into our awning over the deck (to let rain water drain), when I miss the tool and smash my thumbnail into pulp. Self-inficted flesh wound. Hurt like stink. "Goshdarnitall," say I, or something to that effect.

Lady Mad surveys damage and says she's taking me to the local emergency ward and place me in handyman's row with the rest of the gentleman suburbanite do-it-yourself squires.

In spite of pain I laugh. Then nearly pass out. Agree a tetanus shot is prudent, as hammer is rusty from being left out in rain by kids.

Sit down in front of triage nurse. She asks whether I've been to desk number one yet. "What and where is desk one," I ask?

"There," she says, pointing to a small table with antiseptic handwashing stuff. "You have to wash your hands with antiseptic first," she says. This is clearly a leftover procedure from the SARS crisis two years ago.

"Hell, I wash my hands with blood," say I, holding aloft my freely bleeding appendage.

"Skip stage one," says she.

Doctor freezes thumb sutures away and and removes thumb nail. (Only two hours in the Emerg. from start to finish!)

My thumb is very sore. Changing dressing yesterday was excruciating. Can hardly wait until tonight's dressing change.

Tying shoelaces and buttoning shirt is damn near impossible.

Keyboarding is not comfortable. Blogging is limited.

Now I understand now why two working opposable thumbs are standard issue for homo sapiens.

I shall lie me down and heal awhile and rise and blog again!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Faith and Salvation

Those with an interest in faith and theology should have a look at a fine blog by Curt of Northwestern Winds. I warn you, he is a thinking man, not a polemicist. His latest effort Faith and Salvation is well worth the read.

Rebecca, his wife, of Doxology says that Curt first started attending church two years ago. Hard to believe. His faith puts mine to shame.

Mentioned in Dispatches

So I'm having a rare (i.e., no more than twice an hour) look at my site metre and notice this sudden huge spike in visits on Thursdsay. Why I ask? Kate, from Small Dead Animals, complimented me on my modest blog. (If you don't read her, you are more mad than I.)

I have been mentioned in dispatches by one of the greats (blush).

Thanks Kate. Very much.

Curiouser and Curiouser

So much to blog about. So little time to blog.


My old friend, Sancho Panza of the Wholeful Countenance advises that Cindy Sheehan denies saying(as I posted on Monday from Drudge) that:
"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop terrorism"
Sancho says that the source for this denial is the BBC. I tried to verify this, but failed. I take him at his word, however, and accept she has indeed saying it.

She has said that if she could she'd reverse history however.
I would push the button that would give Iraq back its power, water, and infrastructure. ...
And, of course, Saddam Hussein, his dictatorships, his prison for children, his industrial shredders (torture for the use of), his use of poison gas/nerve agents against Kurds, and his tens of thousands of arbitrary murders each and every year of his reign. Oops, she never said that either. How about this then.
If you aren't willing to send your own children to die for this most grievous bull-crap,THEN BRING THE REST OF OUR CHILDREN HOME...NOW!!! The definition of a just war is one that you are willing to have your own children die for. Apply the definition. Then send your own children if you believe this aggression is just...if not THEN BRING THE REST OF OUR CHILDREN HOME...NOW!!!

That being said by her, I still believe her "cause" presents a great danger to the whole of Western civilization. Pulling US troops out "now" would be an unmitigated strategic disaster for all of us and make things far worse than they are now for the people of Iraq.


While on the subject of denials, Michaelle Jean, Paul Martin's appointee for the post of Governor-General, has denied that she and her husband are separatists. She probably thought that that the hard line separatists, with whom she and her hubby (His Excellency designate M. Lafond), were breaking bread in the now infamous video-tape, were toasting HM the Queen of Canada. Loyal toasts are given at dinners in my experience, though not so often in La Belle Province.

For my American readers, the loyal toast is "Ladies and gentlemen, Her Majesty the Queen of Canada." To which the reply is, "The Queen!" Then all present down a great gulp of fine port. It is great fun and I heartily recommend it for your next dinner party, or backyard BBQ. You may toast HM with water, of course, but I would avoid boxed wine. The latter has very poor optics and ardent monarchists will become suspicious of your intentions.

In Quebec the equivalent French toast is, "Mesdames et Messiers, La Reine du Canada" to which the traditional reply is something like (translations in parentheses were supplied by a Quebecois friend), "Pourquoi?" (Perfect Majesty) followed by "Merde!" (Magnificent One) with added mutterings of "Incroyable!" (We cry with joy) and "maudit Anglais." (Marvelous English speaking friends). I'm told the traslations are a bit rough, but they convey the essential respect Quebecois have for the Queen and English Canadians.

Alas, as we now know the hard line separatists at the aforementioned videotaped dinner were not toasting the Queen. I am shocked, of course, but filled with the milk of human condescension. Given the ghastly miscue by Mme Jean, in participating in the toast to an independent Quebec, I think she ought to get her hearing checked.

We don't want her responding to the Prime Minister's request to, "dissolve Parliament and call an election", with, "What's that you say Paul? Destroy Pembroke and prevent an infection." I mean with the impending pandemic and the GG being the future Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces, her demonstrated hearing impairment could lead to a fine town filled with United Empire Loyalist descendants being wiped from the face of the earth.

Speaking of possible misunderstandings, let me be clear about my position on this affair.

  1. I'm not opposed to a woman being GG. I like women. I am deeply committed to one.
  2. I'm not opposed to a black woman being GG. Black is beautiful. (Mme Jean is.)
  3. I'm not opposed to a Haitian Canadian being GG. We are all immigrants, ... except those of us who aren't.
  4. I'm not opposed to a refugee being GG. I applaud that, as M. Lafond once said, "with both hands", which is much easier than applauding with one hand, let me tell you.
  5. I'm not opposed to a Quebecer being GG. It's their turn on the great wheel of patronage. And mon pays n'est pas mon pays, c'est la grande patronage, oui?
  6. I'm not opposed to the hard of hearing being GG. I said I'm not ... never mind ....
  7. I'm not opposed to a hearing impaired, black, Haitian, woman refugees from Quebec being appointed GG, who are also citizens of France.

Okay, I lied about number 7. Ya got me there. France, eh? The qualification too far.

And the CBC staffer part. Don't like that. I mean, hell, give other professions a shot at the job once in a while! How about a sanitary engineer for once? Seems to me Ottawa could use one.


Margot Kidder, (the things we learn from Neale News, via the ) former girlfiriend of Superman has taken an oath of her own. She states her reasons for doing so in the London Free Press:
Actor Margot Kidder became a U.S. citizen Wednesday to avoid the possible deportation to her native Canada when she begins protesting the war in Iraq, she said. Kidder, best known for playing Lois Lane in the 1978 movie movie Superman and three sequels, was among 19 people who became citizens during a naturalization ceremony in Butte federal court.

"It means I can vote against anyone and everyone in elected office that in any way supported the Bush administration," said kidder, 56, who has lived in the United States for 34 years and has a home in Livingstone, Mont. ....

Kidder said in an interview after the ceremony that her sole motivation was to protest the war in Iraq. She also criticized the Gulf War in the 90s.
Now if we take her at her word Kidder has given the most negative reason I have ever heard, for becoming a citizen of a country. If I thought there was any merit to the idea, I'd seek out French citizenship myself. My, wouldn't that put the fear of God into President Jacques Chirac.

Frankly, I don't think Margot Kidder is being completely truthful in her rationale for become an American citizen. Becoming a citizen of a foreign country because you hate their head of state is, by any reasonable standard, .... well ... kind of nuts. So I think Kidder is kidding us on this point and has obtained citizenship in a foreign country, so she can round out her resume and fulfil the Liberal Party's prerequisites for being considered as a Governor General of Canada.

I mean she was already a woman, a media person, a liberal, and a hater of George W. Bush. She was already 80% of the way there. Now she has become a dual citizen just like Michaelle Jean. Does anyone know if Kidder is married to a film director? Either sex will do. She's half Canadian, after all.


Me? I'll just sit this one out and await transportation back to the real earth. This proto-universe is just too darn confusing for me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Michaelle Jean and Her Views on Separatism

I have been following the story about our Governor General designate Michaelle Jean and whether or not she is a Quebec separatists. Some of the stories, if true, are very disquieting to say the least. The Lafond/Jeans travelled in separatist circles, as elegant liberal CBC types are wont to do. Her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, a (French born) film maker made a documentary about the FLQ and is known to have befriended members of Canada's home-grown terrorists.

Paul Rose, jailed for only eight years for his part in the kidnapping and murder of Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte in 1970, built the Lafond/Jean's a bookcase in their residence that M. Lafond joked contained a hidden weapons cache. Pierre Laporte you may recall was strangled by the FLQ terrorists with the chain from his religious medallion. For those unfamiliar with the FLQ, I refer you to Wikepedia via

The Front de Libération du Québec (Quebec Liberation Front), commonly known as the FLQ, was a Nationalist terrorist group founded in the 1960s that was part of the Quebec sovereignty movement. Based primarily in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, they distinguished themselves by their use of extreme violence and terrorism as a means to achieve their goals. The FLQ was a group of young Québécois whose declarations called for a Marxist/anarchist insurrection, the overthrow of the Quebec government, the independence of Quebec from Canada and the establishment of a workers' society. ......

1963, they were organized and trained by Georges Schoeters, a Belgian revolutionary and alleged but unconfirmed KGB agent, whose hero was Che Guevara. Its intellectual leaders were Charles Gagnon and Pierre Vallières. On October 7, 1963 Schoeters was given 2 five-year prison terms for political crimes. At least two of the FLQ members had also received guerrilla training in selective assassination from Palestinian commandos in Jordan.

Various cells emerged over time: The Viger Cell, the Dieppe Cell, the Louis Riel Cell (see:
Louis Riel), the Nelson Cell, The Saint-Denis Cell, the Liberation Cell and the Chénier Cell. The latter of these two cells were involved in what became known as the "October Crisis," the first terrorist crisis in modern Canadian history.

From 1963 to
1970, the FLQ committed over 200 violent political actions, including bombings, bank hold-ups and at least three deaths by FLQ bombs and two deaths by gunfire. In 1963, Gabriel Hudon and Raymond Villeneuve were sentenced to 12 years in prison for crimes against the state after their bomb killed Sgt. O'Neill, a watchman at Montreal's Canadian Army Recruitment Centre.

By 1970, twenty-three members of the FLQ were in jail, including four convicted murderers, and one member had been killed by his own bomb. Targets included English owned businesses, banks, McGill University
, and the homes of prominent English speakers in the wealthy Westmount area of the city. On February 13, 1969 the Front de libération du Québec set off a powerful bomb that ripped through the Montreal Stock Exchange causing massive destruction and seriously injuring twenty-seven people.

As a
Marxist group, the FLQ was also opposed to the United States' ruling class and one cell supposedly plotted to blow up the Statue of Liberty, but they were apprehended before this could occur.

1966 a secret eight-page document entitled Revolutionary Strategy and the Role of the Avant-Garde was prepared by the FLQ outlining its long term strategy of successive waves of robberies, violence, bombings and kidnappings, culminating in insurrection and revolution. On October 5, 1970, members of the FLQ's Liberation cell kidnapped James Richard Cross, the British Trade Commissioner. Shortly afterwards, on October 10, the Chénier cell kidnapped the Quebec Vice-Premier and Minister of Labour, Pierre Laporte, whom they later murdered on October 17, 1970.

From Canadian Press, via CTV News and Neale News we learn of this.

The comments were included in a 1991 documentary film by Lafond and in his subsequent companion book about French-speaking author Aime Cesaire, Le Quebecois reported. The context of Jean's comment, which was made during a discussion about both Martinique and Quebec independence, was not clear.

In the [1991] book about the [Lafond's] documentary [on the FLQ], Lafond appeared to support Quebec independence.

"So, a sovereign Quebec? An independent Quebec. Yes, I applaud with both hands and I promise to attend all the St-Jean Baptiste Day parades," the cinematographer wrote. He added that Quebec will affirm its identity and become a real country in the modern world.

In the film, Jean is seen with several sovereigntist hardliners, including poet Gerald Godin -- a co-founder of Rassemblment pour l'independence nationale and Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, Yves Prefontaine, former FLQ member Pierre Vallieres, novelist Dany Laferriere, Andree Ferretti and poet Paul Chamberland, according to Le Quebecois.

At the beginning of one scene, the guests toast independence.

Vallieres later says: "Not only should Martinique go to independence, but to
revolution, as Quebec should."
To that, Jean replies [my emphasis]:

"Yes, one doesn't give independence, one takes it."

While it isn't clear what Jean was referring to 14 years ago [Really!], Le Quebecois has drawn fresh allegations about her position on Quebec sovereignty.

"It is now clear that it's the couple that has long maintained relationships with FLQ members and independence supporters, and not only Jean-Daniel Lafond," Le Quebecois said in a news release.

Perhaps the most outrageous comments in this affair come from those who assert that the views of Jean and Lafond are none of our business, i.e., if they support/ed the cause of breaking up our country.

I disagree! The issue is crystal clear. Jean is either a loyal Canadian, or she is a Quebecois separatist. Mrs. Jean has an obligation to the Canadian people clear the air on this point before she assumes high office. She has been selected by the Prime Minister (another problem for another post) to become the Governor-General of Canada. As a public person we have a right to know how she voted in referendums intended to break up the country. If she wants privacy (her legal right) on this matter she can return to private life. If not, she must tell the Canadian people how she voted in the referendums. (That I am even having to make this point is beyond belief.)

If she voted to break up Canada country, then she is unfit to a hold high office with significant constitutional responsibilities and she ought to apologize to Canadians and withdraw from the scene. If she voted for separatism and she refuses to withdraw her name, then Paul Martin ought to either withdraw her name or resign himself. Simple really.

If you are one of these people, who say it is none of our business how she voted, I can't and won't argue with you. You obviously have such a debased view of what it means to be a Canadian I cannot have a rationale discussion on the matter with you.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's Protest

Cindy Sheehan is a mother whose professional soldier son, 25 year old Specialist Austin Sheehan, was killed on April 4th 2004 while serving with the 1st Cavalry Division of the US Army.

According to the Vallejo Times Herald, Casey Sheehan joined the army in 2000 and re-enlisted after the start of the Iraqi war. He was a vehicle mechanic, who had apparently volunteered to go on a rescue mission knowing it was risky. It was. He was an Eagle Scout, an altar boy at St. Mary's Church in Vacaville California, a youth counsellor at a Catholic youth camp and from all accounts an all round nice guy. In his last communication with his family he said he was on his way to mass. Then he joined the rescue mission.

Ms Sheehan, as anyone who watches the main stream media must know, is currently leading a very successful (i.e., lots of media attention) protest outside George Bush's Texas ranch to protest the war in Iraq. Ostensibly, the protest is intended to obtain a meeting with President Bush, who met with her once shortly after her son's death (after which she said nice things about the president.) That was then and this is now.

I must preface what follows with these comments. I grew up as a brat on Her Canadian Majesty's air force stations. I am the grandson and son of world war veterans and have myself had the great honour of wearing my country's uniform. You will appreciate, therefore, that I do not take the combat death of soldiers lightly, nor am I keen on criticising a mother who has suffered such a terrible loss. Having said that, I will say this.

What we are witnessing outside the Bush ranch in Texas is political manipulation pure and simple. Cindy Sheehan was before her son's death, and continues to be now, a virulent anti-George Bush/Republican Party political activist. She is channelling public sympathy for her son's loss into anti-war political activism, in order to pursue a left-wing anti-war political agenda.

She is one of those Americans who does not accept the legitimacy of the Bush presidency and holds Bush personally responsible for all combat deaths in Iraq. This is fair game as far as it goes. I think she is wrong on those matters, but I?m a Canadian and the United States is a free country.

So why am I weighing in on my modest blog about this matter? I believe that the views she, and the anti-war left, is advocating would be disastrous for all of us in the West. From the Drudge Report.
Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, is calling for Bush's "impeachment," and for Israel to get out of Palestine!

"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop terrorism," Sheehan declares.
This is errant nonsense, of course. The United States was attacked before the Iraq war was launched and anyone who thinks that that Osama bin Laden and the Islamist religious fanatics who are his allies would stop short of eliminating the whole state of Israel is ingesting hallucinogens.

In a nutshell, Cindy Sheehan advocates the capitulation of the West to the cause of the Islamist terrorists. She and her ilk are filled with a great hatred, but not for the enemy that threatens us all, but for the democratically elected President of the United States. If she believes what she spouts she is a philosophical descendent of the 1930's appeasers who believed that Hitler would cease waging war on his neighbours if only the Allies gave him yet one more slice of his neighbours' territories.

And yes she is a grieving mother. But her grief does not give her a free pass to push a political agenda under the guise of her grief.

Canadian 'Devils' receiving U.S. honour

Theresa Tayler
Calgary Herald
August 12, 2005
It's been a long time coming. Canadian members of the Devil's Brigade will finally be awarded the U.S. Combat Infantryman Badge this weekend.

It's an honour that was bestowed upon their American counterparts more than 40 years ago.

The presentation will be the highlight the 59th reunion of the First Special Service Force, taking place in Calgary.

Since the 1960s, the FSSF veterans association had lobbied without success for Congress to award the badge to the Canadian contingent of the elite commando unit.
But, on May 5, the U.S. government announced it would recognize the heroism of the Canadian soldiers.

"Their persistence paid off. It took 40 years, but they finally got it through," said Brian Hillier, a Department of National Defence spokesman.
"Back in the Second World War, it was only given to U.S. infantry personnel. All the American members of the FSSF have received this award, but no Canadians."

On Saturday, the Canadian veterans, who are now all well into their 80s, will receive the badge during a special banquet at the Eau Claire Sheraton.
Larry Story, an Alberta member of the Devil's Brigade, said he's happy the Canadians are finally receiving the prestigious badge.

"The Americans got it, why shouldn't we?" he said. "It's something to be very proud of."

The Devil's Brigade was formed as an American and Canadian joint commando unit in 1942. The 2,400 members fought in hand-to-hand battles and became one of the most renowned special service forces in history.

The Combat Infantryman Badge was established in 1943. It was created to recognize the heroism of the American infantry.

On Thursday, a military gathering was held at the Canadian Embassy in Washington to honour the Canadian veterans of the Devil's Brigade.
© The Calgary Herald 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

Be Not Afraid

If you read one main stream media columnist on a regular basis it ought to be David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen. His latest article, Should we despair? exemplifies why he is a must read.

Warren is quite pessimistic about the rise of radical Islam and notes five reasons for his pessimism. The items on his list, taken individually, are not really news to anyone who follows the growth of this odious threat, but Warren takes the long view and has the capacity to pierce through contemporary society's ideological fog to see the field of battle clearly.
So to the question, "Is there a crisis in Islam?" -- the answer might be a droll, "No, it is flourishing." The crisis is developing in Former Christendom. President Bush and Prime Ministers Blair of Britain and Howard of Australia have made a brave start in leading Western response to what is becoming less deniably a "clash of civilizations". They were right to take the battle to the enemy; they remain right in attempting to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan as "beacons". They rightly grasp that the alternative is worse.

What they have done is just a start, however, and I see no one in mainstream Western politics with the glimmering of an idea about what to do next. Plenty of evidence, on the other hand, that our "ruling classes" have been rotted away by moral relativism, and by the cowardice that is the rot below that. And, especially in Canada and western Europe, evidence that "the people" do not have the stomach for any challenge at all.
In the moral and intellectual decay of the West we see a foreshadowing of the possible outcome of the great battle in which we are engaged. The primordial destroyer of worlds, in its old guise of Islam the All-Conquering, is once more battering at the gates of Vienna. The current threat is great and the consequences of failure are grave beyond measure.

We forget how close Islam came to conquering all of Europe. It was the valiant stand of Catholic warriors led by King Jan Sobiesky III of Poland that turned back the army of the Ottoman Turks and Tartars at the siege of Vienna in 1683. Of course, one difference now is that the author of the second (secular) manifestation of the cult of death is concurrently eviscerating the entrails of its intended prey by employing legions of uncomprehending narcissists within the walls.

I sense from the tone of his recent columns that David Warren is in a state of deep pessimism, if not quite despair. That shows he is a thinking man. I am not so pessimistic, though, for I believe victory can and will be ours in this fight as it was in 1683, although at what cost I cannot say.
In the Night the Christians made themselves Masters of all the Turks Camp. Afterwards Four Companies of our Foot entred into the Enemies Approaches with Torches and lighted Straw, but found nothing but Dead Bodies; they took possession of the Enemies Artillery, some whereof were brought into the City.

All the night long we saw Fires at a distance, the Turk having fired as many of their Camps as so sudden a flight would give them leave, and retreated from the Island by favour of a Bridge which they had made below the River, upon one of the Arms of the Danube, the Christians having seized the Bridge above, on the same River.

On Monday Morning we saw all the Camps and Fields covered with Souldiers as well Poles as Germans. The City was relieved on Sunday about Five of the Clock in the Afternoon, and every bodies curiosity carried them to see the Camp, after they had been shut up above two Months.

The King of Poland [Jan Sobieski] having in the mean time with the greatest Vigor repulsed the Enemy on his side and put them to flight, leaving the Plunder of their Camp behind them, which consisted of a very Rich Tent of the Grand Visier, his Colours, Two Poles with the Horse Tails, their usual Signal of War, and his Guidon or Standard, set with Diamonds, his Treasure designed for the Payment of the Army, and in short, all his Equipage was possess'd by the Polanders. As for the rest of the Tents, Baggage, Artillery, Ammunition, and Provisions enough to load Eight thousand Waggons, was divided among our Army.
If, as David Warren asserts, we do not have the stomach for the fight, it is because we have no spirit for the fight. It is the spirit that girds the loins and steadies the nerves and it is the spirit that must be revived and brought to bear by the West in this great struggle. The Islamicists understand this process well. They call it jihad and rightly note that it is primarily a spiritual struggle.

I don't mean to infer that the solution we seek is purely spiritual in nature. I accept that the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the world wide intelligence war which is trying to thwart Islamicist terror attacks, are necessary holding actions which buy us some little time to permit us to gird our loins for the greater struggle involving the souls of humanity.

For ultimately this is a worldwide spiritual war in which we find ourselves and it is through spiritual means that we shall find the vigour and determination to defeat our sworn enemy on the field of battle and in the realm of ideas and faith. The profession of arms will continue to play its necessary part, but the ontological basis of the resistance, by which I mean the ideological and theological nature of the struggle must be recognized and addressed. In this instance I would apply St. Augustine's dictum:
Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.
The fundamental question which this dictum requires us to answer is one which I am not sure many in the West can answer, for it requires a sense of purpose that is real enough and important enough to grasp that "something" about our society is worth preserving, and dying for. We are now led by a generation raised on that old Vietnam war era leftist anti-war song.
And it's one, two, three, What are we fighting for? Don't ask me, I don't give a damn, ....
That attitude simply does not cut it in this time and place. Adherents of the secular cult of death (both overt and unconscious) are obsessed to the point of narcissism with the immediate quality of their personal lives, but do not value life as a whole, or the western society which bequeaths to them the freedom they twist so readily and foolishly into licenciousness.

What then to do? The solution is both quite simple and very complex, in the sense that the strategic direction we must take is clear, while the tactics to be employed must still be determined.

The immediate problem is how to "encourage" (i.e., infuse with courage) our people to resist the current assault. It has been said that the best defence is a good offence and while I have no quarrel with that notion (it appears largely to be the rationale behind the Afghani and Iraqi wars), our offence at the moment is not sufficient for our cause.

For the most part we are not fighting standing armies in the field and must, therefore, employ tactics suitable to meet the real threat. Our tactics must be comprehensive in scope and cannot be entirely dependent on the western profession of arms, as technologically and tactically superior as that profession might be.

Accordingly, I believe we must employ a tactic invented by Frederick the Great of Prussia called the oblique attack. In the great European wars of the eighteenth century vast armies would march across fields in long lines and attack the opposing force with musket fire followed up with a bayonet charge and a fight to the death.

Frederick's army was the best drilled army in the world and could execute field maneuvers other armies could not imagine. In the oblique attack, his troops would execute a sudden 45 degree turn in direction while marching toward the enemy lines and thereby shift the weight of the attack (called "schwerpunkt", if I remember my Von Clauswitz) further down the line to an area not expected to be hit with the central weight of the attacking infantry.

When I suggest we use Frederick's oblique attack in the struggle against Islamicism I mean we must employ it in a metaphysical and not a military sense. Osama Bin Laden and the rest of the Islamicists understand, in a way most of the Europe does not, that the West's Achilles heel is the spiritually rootless children of the Enlightenment. Our immediate task is to wage war against the Iraqi and Afghani insurgents. But our greater (and concurrent) need is to re-root Europe in something other than nihilism and materialism.

I assert that "something" is Catholic Christianity. Catholicism is our spiritual and intellectual wellspring, which fed and nurtured our civilizational vitality for two millennia and which is the true motive force for the West.

It is essential that the West must either abandon the secular cult of death, which it has embraced and which is exemplified by moral relativism and hedonist secularism, or it will submit to the other manifestation of the cult of death, which is radical Islam. The former has little capacity to resist the latter.

Secular death cultists believe that man is free to do what he wants, when he wants and for the most part to whom he wants. But as St. Augustine once wrote three hundred and fifty years after Christ, there is a necessary pre-condition to that freedom.

"Love God and [then and only then] do what you will."

The reason why I believe that the answer lies in the re-rooting of Europe in Catholicism, as opposed to Protestantism, is that the Church has retained both faith and reason at its core, while liberal Protestantism has largely rejected faith for reason and Evangelical Christianity emphasizes faith to the near exclusion of reason. It is the Church, therefore which has the most capacity to threaten the existence of the both the secular and the religious cults of death.

While David Warren may be right that there is no political figure who fully grasps or is able to articulate what must be done, there is one lone figure who both understands the threat and knows the way forward. Pope Benedict XVI is raising the Church's ancient spiritual battle flag over the soil of continental Europe. He knows that the solution to the spread of radical Islamicism lies in reclaiming Europe for Catholic Christianity.

So the battle to be fought is to be an attack on Islamicism by an oblique attack on the secular death cult. Given the pitched battle the secular side has been waging on remenant of Christendom for several hundred years now it is fair and proper that an aroused Church shall begin the long counter attack necessary to save itself and the Western civilization to which it gave birth. Can the Church recover itself in time to minister to a society abandoned to lust, concupiscence and a defiant and essentially incoherent nihilism? It is here that Catholics of the third world will play a vital role.

Those of no religious belief and my Protestant and Jewish friends will not likely agree with what I have written, but I am convinced that the old Barque of Peter is what will save us if we board her and set sail, confident in our faith and steadfast in our course. Of course, the old barque is leaking; perversion is rife among a good portion of the officers, much of the crew is spiritually lazy and indifferent or ignorant of their duties, the sails badly need patching and the big guns need to be cleaned and primed.

It is an unlikely man-o-war to carry the current battle, but it is our best and brightest hope. For its old charts still show the way through the shoals and the reefs and its captain is true and loyal. And ultimately I am comforted that this ancient barque is powered by a great, wise, loving and just wind that blows where It wills.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

US Statistics Show Societal Improvements

My old friend Sancho Panza, Squire to the Knight of the Wholeful Countenance, sent along this article by David Brooks of the International Herald Tribune. It is enough to curdle the latte's of death cultists everywhere.

Brooks' article looks at the numbers compiled by the [US] Bureau of Justice Statistics indicating a remarkable trend. He points out:

- family violence down by more than 50% since 1993
- violent crime overall down by 55%
- violence by teenagers down 71%
- drunken driving fatalities down 38% since 1982, (even with 81% more miles driven)
- total consumption of hard liquor down more than 30%
- teenage pregnancy down 28% percent since 1990
- teenage births down significantly
- abortions are declining since the early 1990s.
- fewer children are living in poverty
- divorce rates are declining, albeit at a much more gradual pace.
- people with university degrees are seeing a sharp decline in divorce, especially if they were born after 1955.
- teenage suicide is down
- elementary school test scores are rising (a sign that more kids are living in homes conducive to learning).
- teenagers are losing their virginity later in life and having fewer sex partners.
In short, many of the indicators of social breakdown, which shot upward in the late 1960s and 1970s, and which plateaued at high levels in the 1980s, have been declining since the early 1990s.

But all of these efforts are part of a larger story. The decline in family violence is part of a whole web of positive, mutually reinforcing social trends. To put it in old-fashioned terms, America is becoming more virtuous. Americans today hurt each other less than they did 13 years ago. They are more likely to resist selfish and shortsighted impulses. They are leading more responsible, more organized lives. A result is an improvement in social order across a range of behaviors.
As for why this is happening.
The first thing that has happened is that people have stopped believing in stupid ideas: that the traditional family is obsolete, that drugs are liberating, that it is every adolescent's social duty to be a rebel.

The second thing that has happened is that many Americans have become better
parents. Studies reveal that parents now spend more time actively engaged with
kids, even though both parents are more likely to work outside the home.

Third, many people in the younger generation, under age 30 or so, are reacting against the culture of divorce. They are trying to lead lives that are more stable than the ones their parents led. Post-boomers behave better than the baby boomers did.
Brooks does not point out (though I will, of course) that church attendance is rising. There is a connection. A new day is coming.

Pass it on, then pass the Guinness.

Bravo Zulu Sergeant Smoky Smith

From the Amy Carmichael of Canadian Press via National Post (Hat tip to Neale News).

It was wrapped in a gold fringed Canadian flag and carried the remains of Canada's last Victoria Cross winner, Sgt. Ernest (Smoky) Smith. He died at home last week at the age of 91.

Members of his Seaforth Highlander Regiment [of Canada] staged a sombre ceremony on the runway, in front of his family members, as Smith's ashes were carried onto a Canadian Forces jet to be flown to Ottawa, where his remains will lie in state.

A bagpiper played while the doors to the hearse carrying Smith's remains were opened.

Eight highlanders hoisted the coffin on the blustery tarmac.

They walked down the runway through rows of Smith's regiment who stood at attention and past his family members as they wiped away tears. ....

Twenty four members of the Seaforth Highlanders Regiment escorted Smith's ashes to Ottawa and will hold a vigil at the House of Commons while his remains lie in state.

His willbe [sic] accorded a full military funeral on Saturday. His ashes will be spread at sea on Sunday.

Legion branches across Canada, in the United States and Europe lowered their flags to half-mast after Smith died at home in Vancouver on Aug. 3.

Well done true and faithful servant!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Return from Cottage Country

Family Mad has just returned from cottage country where we soaked up blessed sights and sounds unknown to most harried city dwellers. The cry of the loon is of course foremost of these sights and sounds, but there are others. The thrum of millions of blood hungry mosquitoes among them.

For in the wild, just as in the city, there is intense competition for survival, not unlike the life and death struggle we see played out on the sidewalk and roadway beneath my office window in Toronto. From my office vantage point there I can see pedestrians with canes and those geriatric walker thingees competing with honking automobiles, reckless skateboarders, speeding in-line skaters, and high performance electric wheelchairs in a grand dance macabre. The sirens of firetrucks, police cruisers and ambulances compete for the eardrum's attention, while the true masters of the urban cacophony call out, "Hey buddy, spare some change."

So it is as well on the pristine lakes of cottage country.

The young offspring of the adult loons, unable as yet to dive beneath the water's surface for safety lay, lie hunched in the water praying to whatever feathered God loons pray that they be spared death by speedboat or Seadooers. (I tell you most solemnly that King Solomon in all his glory was not as elegant as a contemporary yellow-breasted Seadooer winging his narcissistic way across the waves.)

Majestic adults loons cry their ancient throaty call, flexing their wings towards the human invasion force screaming the Loon equivalent of, "Take me. Take me. Not my young" ....... noble gestures scarce heard, or noticed, by the grim water skiers and grinning tubing enthusiasts from Etobicoke or the Annex.

At eventide the waters calm as the wind dies and boaters dock their vessels, scrambling for beer coolers and cd players to comfort already over-stimulated libidos. The loons begin to relax on the lake just as the first fireworks burst above the white pine skyline shrieking and booming the civilian cottager's unconscious tribute to the old military sunset ceremony. Boat wake's subside and shoreline damage temporarily ceases as rock music rises and the freckled human young sit transfixed before flaring campfires, sharpened marshmellow sticks at the ready.

Above it all the Milky Way splashes its way across the emerging night sky, a wonder un-beheld, but for a few souls with cricked necks staring skyward in wonder, while slumped in faded Muskoka chairs out on docks smeared with dew worm guts.

And if you sniff the air carefully you can detect the faint faded aroma of level 50 sun screen with coconut oil, guaranteed to stop the rays of earth's own star from ever reaching human melanin, if applied at the rate of a pint of lotion to an inch of skin (or is that a kilo-pascal of sunscreen to a kilohertz of torso? ... metric is so confusing don't you think?).

We must have enjoyed our cottage experience. We have smiles on our still pale faces and my personal stress lines are a tich less prominent.

I lay me down to rest a while to rise and fight again.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

More Summer Musings

Canada has lost its only surviving holder of the Victoria Cross.

Wed 3 Aug 2005 15:07

Statement by the Prime Minister on the death of Sgt Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith

August 3, 2005 Ottawa, Ontario Prime Minister Paul Martin today made the following statement: "I am deeply saddened by the passing of a true Canadian hero, Sgt. Ernest Alvia 'Smokey' Smith. Smokey Smith was a holder of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces for valour.

His conspicuous bravery, initiative and leadership in the face of enemy fire during World War II inspired fellow Canadians everywhere - in action and on the home front.
To generations of Canadians, Smokey Smith stood for courage and resolve at a time of great need, an example of strength of character, loyalty and duty.

After the war, he continued this extraordinary record of service, devoting considerable time and energy to his country, for which he was deservedly made a member of the Order of Canada.
The last surviving Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, Smokey Smith remained throughout this time, as ever, a loyal comrade-in-arms to all his fellow veterans. His passing marks a milestone in Canadian history.

On behalf of a grateful and indebted nation, I would like to express my deepest condolences to his children, David and Norma-Jean, his grandchildren, Dan and Amanda, and his great granddaughter, Jewele. We are a better nation because of men like Sgt. Smokey Smith. He was - and will always be - a much-respected and remarkable Canadian hero."

The Prime Minister'’s Office - Communications
Well said, Paul Martin.

Note to Carolyn Parrish MP. Smokey Smith VC was not a peacekeeper. He was a Canadian infantry soldier and a damn good one.

From the Globe & Mail obituary (I can't find an electronic version).
"His actions that rainy night [October 21-22 1944 in Cessena Italy], when he single-handedly fought off [three] German tanks and dozens of German troops on a road beside the Savio River were hailed as an inspiration to all his countrymen for time immemorial. To Mr. Smith, it was simple: kill or be killed. He was scared but he couldn't let his fear gain the best of him or he would die." At the end of the firefight, "Dozens of dead Germans lay strewn all over the road."
His comment on this action brings to mind the recent statements of another of Canada's warriors, General Hillier. Smokey Smith had this to say about his actions,
"I don't take prisoners. Period." Mr. Smith said 60 years later. "I'm not paid to take prisoners. I'm paid to kill them. That's all there is to it."

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


For quite some time I have been worried that the manner in which the federal Liberal government deals with Western social and political concerns would lead to a surge in favour of Western separatism. Friends with whom I have shared my worry have always pooh-poohed the notion and declared the threat of western separatism to be non-existence. Well it ain't.

From the Western Standard we learn this disquieting news (Hat tip to Neale News.)
The research, which was conducted by pollster Faron Ellis, a political science professor at the Lethbridge Community College, was commissioned by the Western Standard to determine how well the federal government under Prime Minister Paul Martin has been managing the issue of western alienation - something that Martin promised to reduce as part of his 2004 election campaign.

It demonstrates the highest support level for separation ever recorded in any province. Historically, separatist sentiment has been estimated in Alberta to hover in the single digits.
In fact, 42 per cent of Albertans now say they are willing to consider the idea of forming a new nation, independent of Ottawa. In Saskatchewan, 31.9 per cent expressed a willingness. Residents of B.C. and Manitoba were the least likely to say they would consider separation, but significant numbers in both provinces nevertheless expressed sympathy with the separatist cause: 30.8 per cent and 27.5 per cent, respectively.

The poll was conducted around Canada Day, between June 29 and July 5, 2005, when sentiment for federation should have been running at its peak. It sampled 1,448 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Remarkably, notes pollster Ellis, the greatest support for separation existed among young people, not the stereo-typical embittered Albertan codger.

Thirty-seven per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 were open to the notion of breaking away from Canada. "Interestingly enough, in that age group, they haven'’t had the major constitutional or federal touchstones like previous generations," Ellis says. "Their psyche hasn'’t been ingrained by major constitutional crises, such as the previous generations."

Thirty and forty-year-olds witnessed the constitutional crises that were the Charlottetown and Meech Lake accords, and older groups will remember the NEP. "But with 10 years of relative constitutional peace, to have high numbers in that [youngest] generation ... those youth numbers are surprising," he adds.
Why is this happening? There are lots of reasons, but a good summary is given in the article by Alberta MLA Ted Morton.
"There is a deep and troubling realization that all of the effort of the Reform Party - 'the West wants in,' democratic reform, fiscal and social responsibility - all of that effort of the last 20 years appears to have achieved virtually nothing, -” says Ted Morton, MLA for Calgary Foothills -Rockyview, on leave from his position as a professor of political science at the University of Calgary.

On fiscal responsibility they [the federal Liberals] just spent $28 billion in 28 days after the budget. On social responsibility they just enacted homosexual marriage against demonstrable opposition from the Canadian people. On democratic reform they just appointed three nobodies to the Senate despite the fact that we [Albertans] just elected three new senators," Morton notes.

Add to that the prospect that despite the revelations of corruption from Gomery and the kickbacks and lies, Morton says that voters in Ontario are prepared to re-elect them, and it'’s no wonder people are asking, "What'’s the point of sticking around?"
Indeed, what is the point of sticking around when to be ruled by central Canadian oligarchs who constitute the new Family Compact? What was the old Family Compact?
Family Compact, name popularly applied to a small, powerful group of men who dominated the government of Upper Canada (Ontario) from the closing years of the 18th cent. to the beginnings of responsible government under the Baldwin-–LaFontaine Reform ministry (1848-–51).

The group, some of whose members belonged to the same family and most of whom were men of wealth, controlled the legislative and executive councils, had a virtual monopoly of political office, and strongly influenced banking, education, the issuing of land grants, the affairs of the Anglican church in Canada, and the courts.
New settlers from Great Britain and the United States, finding themselves denied political opportunity, were drawn into an opposition movement, which in time became the Reform party.
Religious differences embittered the struggle, since the Family Compact (the term first appeared c.1828) was composed almost entirely of members of the Church of England. The Chateau Clique was the name given to a similar powerful group in French Lower Canada.
In my view Alberta will leave this federation before Quebec does.


The Prime Minister is announcing his selection of our new Governor-General today. If you ever doubted the close connections between the CBC and the Liberal Party consider this. Our new GG is the third CBC staffer in a row to be appointed to this important post. Romeo Leblanc (1995-99), Adrienne Clarkson (1999-2005) and now Michaelle Jean, a Haitian immigrant living in Quebec. You may have seen her on the CBC's The Passionate Eye. It is clear now that the Prime Minister's Office uses the CBC Board of Governors as their governor-general search team. And you thought I was stretching it with my comments about the new Family Compact running the show.

The Globe & Mail notes that she is the first Quebecer to be appointed in 23 years. Someone in the PMO has obviously planted that little tidbit as a neat piece of spin. The last Quebecer to be Governor General was Jeanne Sauve. While it is true she was appointed 23 years ago, in 1984, she served until 1990. So it has been only 15 years since Quebecer held the post. It really doesn't matter to me if the new GG is from Quebec, but the political spin rankles a bit.


Okay, no more blogging for a few days. It is summer and the family needs care and feeding.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Summer Musings

This is a bit of a grab bag of opinions. I find myself a bit reluctant to post during the dog days of summer when the crickets chirp, the Black Bush (a reference to Irish whiskey, not the President) goes down easy and the province's power corporation (Ontario Power Generation, or OPG) desperately tries to generate enough electricity to keep the beer cool.

I never thought I'd ever find myself defending a pot activist, but I am greatly disturbed by an extradition hearing currently underway in British Columbia. It appears that Canada's "Prince of Pot," a certain Marc Emery, has been selling marijuana seeds to customers (some of whom happen to be Americans)and this has upset the American Drug enforcement authorities. It ought to upset Canada's drug enforcement folks as well, but that is another story. While the sale of these seeds violates the Criminal Code of Canada, it appears that arrests and prosecutions for this crime are known only by their infrequency in the diminished Dominion.

If the Government of Canada believes that Canadian law is being breached it ought to charge and prosecute him under Canadian law in Canadian courts. If it is not willing to do this, then it ought not to allow the Americans to extradite him to the United States engaging in an activity in Canada which the government is unwilling to sanction.

John Ibbitson, of the Globe & Mail, or "Mop & Pail" as I call it at home, has a somewhat different view (registration required), noting that Mr. Emery makes the bulk of his sales by exporting his seeds to the US market and has no complaint now that the drug enforcement treaty between our nations has been invoked by the American government. Ibbitson has a point, but I'm still not comfortable with extradition someone to to a foreign jurisdiction for engaging in activities on Canadian soil for which the government is not willing to prosecute here.

There, I've written it .... and you "progressive" types thought I was completely beyond the pale! Mind you, the above discomfort ought not to be taken as an endorsement of loose drug laws.

The Associated Press, via the Washington Post (Hat tip to Matt Drudge) is reporting that:
A Marine amphibious assault vehicle on patrol during combat operations near the Syrian border hit a roadside bomb Wednesday, and 14 Marines were killed in one of the deadliest single attacks in Iraq against American forces. A civilian interpreter also was killed in the bombing, which came two days after seven Marines died in the same area during combat with insurgents.

This is sad news and illustrative of the dangerous nature of the Iraqi deployment. Meanwhile The Canadian Forces continues to beef up our presence in Afghanistan with the further deployment of troops based out of Edmonton, Alberta to the volatile Kandahar region.

Keep them all, Canadian, American, British, Australian and allied forces, in your thoughts and prayers. Their enemy is your enemy. Don't take my word for it. Osama and his immoral thugs have made that point crystal clear.


For those who do not read David Warren on a regular basis I highly recommend that you start. He writes from the long view; that is he has a good working knowledge of history. This is a great help when considering why Islamists hate us with such vigour and why they are so willing to blow themselves to smithereens while trying to kill as many of us as they can.

Actually, that is not quite true. The Islamist leaders are not known for detonating their own body packs on crowded buses. They find easily influenced young Muslims, inculcate them with their death cult religious hatred and send them out to blow themselves and others to smithereens. Rank hath its privileges, after all.


King Fahd of Saudi Arabia died a couple of days ago and his half brother Abdullah ascends to the throne. I was pondering what to write about this event when I happened on this nugget from The Monarchist.

Non-Muslim worship and proselytizing are strictly prohibited. Christian clerics, if discovered, are arrested, beaten and brutalized, and eventually expelled from the country. "Conversion is apostasy and punishable by death. Although private devotion is theoretically allowed, homes are raided if worshippers gather together. Christians have also been punished for blasphemy", according to a former US State Department official. Oh, and did I mention the whole country is basically one giant incubator for Islamo-fascist terrorism against the infidel West. That's the proud legacy of the House of Saud. It is one monarchy this monarchist would be more than happy to do without.

That is a succinct summation of the ghastly corrupt Islamist kingdom run by the oily house of Saud. I much admire this line.

These are the Taliban in cleaner robes and nicer homes.

So they are. Go read the rest.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Extra! Extra! Red Ensign Standard Published Again

Shane Edwards of The High Places has hoisted Red Ensign Standard XXVII (that's twenty seven, for the roman numerically challenged).

Good job Shane.