Sunday, February 26, 2006


Today's Word of the Day = apothegm. Pronunciation of this ancient and enigmatic letter combination above. On St. Patrick's Day, we shall speak in nothing but apothegms.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

How Sweet It Is

The Newfs are Golden. Party hard and Safe home, boys. A job extremely well done.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Quote of the (Fri)day

Survival. Not quite up to the standards of the Scotch, but a valiant attempt nonetheless. Extraordinary antics, to be sure. Today is a new one, as the schools close at noon in Newfoundland. C'mon boys. One game. One more win.

After the game it is home to Moncton for a quiet weekend. Should be amusing - I'll leave you to stir over this until the return. It is a memorable tombstone of the early 17th Century from Glasgow Cathedral, about a hundred yards or so from Birkbeck where I lived back in that glorious exchange year - and recently returned to at the close of the most recent sojourn abroad.

Wise words these. This weekend is for mirth, fellow passengers. For Time doth fly.
Doctor Peter Low
Founder of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons




Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mardi Gras Meltdown Chilled Mochachino

In the fine tradition of last October's wildly successful Scotch Night, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is outdoing itself again:
Trade in your apron for some stylish new threads, the mixing bowl for a cocktail shaker and the spice rack for a well stocked bar and join the NSLC at Halifax’s Casino Hotel Ballroom February 23rd for a Cocktail Event you won’t want to miss.

The atmosphere promises to be electric, with a number of Nova Scotia’s own master mixologists on hand to perform in a ‘spirited’ competition, to see who blends the best drink in the province. And you won’t have to rely on the judges’ scorecards for the results, as you will be able to sample an array of cocktails over the course of the evening.
Full menu of cocktail recipes for the evening here, including the above mentioned Mardi Meltdown (1 oz. Mozart Chocolate Liqueur, 1 oz. Dooley’s Toffee Liqueur, 1 oz. Whaler’s Vanilla Rum, ¼ cup of Chilled Coffee, ¼ cup Blend).

At $45 for the opportunity to sample them all over the course of 3 hours, the price is right. Here's a humble short list of 5 particular soon-to-be delights:
1. Lynchberg Lemonade
1 oz. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, 1 oz. Triple Sec Liqueur, Sweet & Sour Mix, 4 oz. Sprite

2. The Crowning Glory
1 oz. Crown Royal Whisky, ½ oz. Smirnoff Citrus Twist Vodka, 1 oz. Peach Juice

3. Screech-Peach Metro
1½ oz. Newfoundland Screech, ¼ oz. Dr. McGillicuddy’s Peach Schnapps, 1½ oz. Cranberry Juice, ¾ Juice of one Lime, Splash of Club Soda, Garnish: Lime wedge

4. Master of the Games
1 oz. Jim Beam Whiskey, ½ oz. Bols Blue Curcao Liqueur, Lemon Lime Soda, Pineapple Juice

5. The Offer You Can't Refuse
1 oz. Amaretto Liqueur, 1 oz. Sambuca Liqueur, 1oz. Four Square Spiced Rum, a second 1 oz. Sambuca Liqueur

Enough with Senseless Polling

File this one under most meaningless story of the year:
"[i]f an election were held tomorrow, the Conservative Party would likely be delivered a majority government," the pollsters said.

Gee, really? A leaderless Liberal party is slightly less popular than on election day? The Conservatives have gotten a statistically insignificant bump (within the margin of error) after a few weeks in the spotlight? This has to be the very definition of non-news. Who bloody cares? All this shows is that a very small few like to back winners and wish they had done so pre-vote. Like our pal Emerson. If anything, I'm surprised the gap isn't greater at this point.

Quite the interesting post-election hangover period - while we wait for Liberal leadership contenders to announce and for the Conservatives to try their hat at governing. Until then, let's dispense with the meaningless polling, eh?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

That Was Quick

From the wires:
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Tuesday it would consider reinstating a federal ban on what opponents call partial-birth abortion, pulling the contentious issue back to the high court on conservative Justice Samuel Alito's first day.

So just how much of an "open mind" does the newest US Supreme Court Justice have? Looks like it won't be that long before we find out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Losing on Purpose

You are the Swedish coach. You are guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals. Four years ago, your predecessor lost to Belarus in that game and was promptly fired.

If you lose the last group game against Slovakia, you are guaranteed to play Switzerland - a team that in this tournament managed only a tie against Italy and Germany. If you win the final game, you play either the $98 million superstars of Canada or the pre-tourney favored Czechs. A no brainer, then. Rest the boys and take the loss.

Except that common sensical musing on the propriety of throwing the game triggers a minor uproar:
International hockey's governing board closely monitored the Sweden-Slovakia Olympic men's game Tuesday after Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson suggested his team might be better off losing.
Put aside the ridiculousness of any such "monitoring" (what would be the sanction?) - commentators have repeatedly informed us not to worry about the Canadian performance thus far, that the tournament really only starts in the knockout stages. So what the hell is wrong with looking at who you match-up well against and trying to jockey your placing accordingly??

In my mind, the Swedish coach would have been remiss NOT to play for a loss. Which they secured. Hilariously, it was deemed a "proper effort" by the Finn sent to monitor:
"It is very important that you play hard because people do not understand if you lose on purpose," Kummola said after the first period, with Slovakia leading 1-0.
Sorry, but "people" understand your final placing, nothing more. The key game is the quarterfinal, since a loss there relegates you to no better than 5th and a victory assures that you will at least have a shot at bronze.

No one remembers (or otherwise cares about) Sweden's 5-2 victory over Canada in 2002. The real joke here is the format of the Olympic playdowns and too many meaningless games. If the tournament structure makes it advantageous to lose, why should we condemn those who only call attention to that logic and look to exploit it?

UPDATE - post Quarterfinal - Today's take: "Bengt-Ake Gustafsson was being refreshingly frank - and accurate." Exactly.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Partisan Political Process?

An excerpt from the Gazette:
Toews has said he is counting on the maturity of parliamentarians to ensure the process doesn't become a partisan political circus, as it has in the United States.

Let's dispense with this bit of conventional wisdom, please. Just what about the recent confirmations of Roberts and Alito (or, for that matter, Ginsburg or Breyer) could rightfully be considered a circus? And when Bush attempted to nominate his own lawyer, Harriet Miers, it was the fact that the decision needed approval that resulted in a seriously unqualified nominee from getting appointed directly to the highest bench.

This is not to say that Canada should mirror the American approach. We should, however, stop with the smugness over our system that leaves such a decision solely in the hands of one individual. Kudos to Harper and Toewes for taking the initial steps down that road. Here's hoping they (or future governments) go further. Also kudos to the Conservatives for the practical decision of going with the Liberal shortlist. So much for "progressive" fears of a Harper government on that front.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Quote of the (Fri)day

The merry hours of the end of another week are now upon us. Enjoy your Friday - proper posting to resume soon enough. In honour of time (too much) spent in wistful waiting that is yet redeemed by the heightened value of those vivid moments, here is "Sonnet", by John Masefield:
FLESH, I have knocked at many a dusty door,
Gone down full many a midnight lane,
Probed in old walls and felt along the floor,
Pressed in blind hope the lighted window-pane,
But useless all, though sometimes when the moon
Was full in heaven and the sea was full,
Along my body's alleys came a tune
Played in the tavern by the Beautiful.
Then for an instant I have felt at point
To find and seize her, whosoe'er she be,
Whether some saint whose glory doth anoint
Those whom she loves, or but a part of me,
Or something that the things not understood
Make for their uses out of flesh and blood.

Treasure that melodious tune. And 4 Fridays until the big one on the 17th. mm-hmm.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Always Say Yes

An excellent few days past on the road. Of all the wondrous joys of travel, I dare say I love the way it so quickly shakes us clean from the tedium of daily routines - how mere dislocation so swiftly leads the mind down new and ever-curious paths.

In that spirit, here be some random facts, objects, and observations collected in the last 100 or so hours [with considerable help from The Know-it All and the Smithsonian]:

(1) The wisest, most humbling words of the English language: "This, too, shall pass."

(2) There is no substitute for experiencing historical sites with our own senses. Hanging out under the Lincoln memorial for an afternoon, I am forced to agree with Locke. As poetic as it sounds, the colour scarlet is just not the sound of a trumpet (#11). Mere words are no match for standing there.

(3) Added a classic souvenir to the collection at a Presidential memorabilia shop off Pennsylvania that hosted a superb collection of primary campaign buttons. Instead, I opted for the packet of 6 tickets that were “good for one drink” at the 1973 Inaugural Ball celebrating Nixon's re-election. Now I just need a time machine.

(4) Burt Rutan is a modern day magician that I really, really would like to meet. His SpaceshipOne and Voyager hang in the Smithsonian. We may all have a shot at visiting space one day thanks in large part to his genius. On a video monitor near his planes, Rutan evokes his hero and mentor, Wernher von Braun:
Someone once asked Braun [JFK, according to legend] what's the most difficult thing about going to the moon, and he says, "The will to do it." The engineering is just calculations, but the decision and the will and the courage to try to do it, that's the most difficult hurdle.
(5) Also seen at the Smithsonian? Truly the Milestones of Flight. All the original aircraft. The 1903 Wright Flyer. Lindbergh's 1927 Spirit of St. Louis. Yeager's Orange 1947 Bell X-1, affectionately titled (get this!) "Glamorous Glennis". The Armstrong/Aldrin/Collins 1969 Apollo 11 Command Module. Oh, the Right Stuff, indeed. Lindbergh's story in particular is one whose magnitude I never fully appreciated - all too many details of that glorious quest here.

(6) In 1842, John Tyler invited Dickens to the White House. The famed writer arrived, knocked on the door, and when no one answered, Dickens just let himself in. Needless to say, we did not gain access so easily. Did pick up an information card from one of the few protestors of the lazy Saturday. The latest in wild conspiracy theorists? Targetted electromagnetic radiation attacks. Check out newnationaltheater.com for the bizarre charges.

(7) I simply love the title of James Hogg's 1824 Gothic classic: "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner". I also love books that are freely available on the Internet. More to quotes to come from this one, you can be sure.

(8) My favorite new writing style is the Boustrophedon. Might take awhile to learn to implement. Such an efficient idea, of course the Greeks thought of it long before I ever might have.

(9) Finally, the last word goes to Bond creator, Ian Fleming. “Never say no to adventures. Always say yes, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.” Amen. The world is wide. Where will that next voyage lead?

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Because I am here. This is just for me.

Remember today. When you stood under the monument. And looked staight ahead at the reflecting pool. Then to the right, at the White House. Then behind, to the Roman Capitole. And in the rain. In the snow. Through the muddy waters, it was so glorious.

We meet up with Lincoln tomorrow. We have had the stereotypes already. The girl whose laptop at the bar we type on has a brother she worries of in Iraq. The girl who is of magic has been out of a job in favour of a co-worker who slept with the father of 12 congressman. We have a hotel on K-street.

We carry on. Inch. This post is for you. I know where you are, right now. pseudo-Bravo.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

D.C., One Month Later

Remember this? Oh, time - there is no avoiding your swift passage.

Indeed, the bell tolls for us. Off in a few hours for my first glimpse of Lincoln's Seat, the Monument, the Capitol, the House, and the pubology of Dupont Circle. Plus Sid the Kid v. Ovechkin on Saturday night. No, I don't need to be reminded how lucky I am.

Safe and magical weekend to all - back on the flip side with trip highlights and further commentary.

Has the Other Shoe Dropped?

Is the pressure getting to Emerson? Sounds like it:
Emerson was scheduled to hold a teleconference with reporters late in the afternoon. Reporters waited on hold for half an hour before the operator informed them Emerson was "caught in traffic" and would have to reschedule the call at a later date.

Excellent. And now the democratically deficient Fortier has waded in pushing for Emerson's recall?? Unbelieveable:
Members of Parliament who bolt from their parties and cross the floor of the
House of Commons should have to quit and face their voters in a byelection, says
new Public Works Minister Michael Fortier.

Promising news. I will predict right now that there will be no new vote in Vancouver-Kingsway. If Emerson resigns, he's gone for good. But the chances of that have skyrocketed since the original announcement on Monday. Here's hoping it keeps up.

Sense and Sensitivity

Kinsella directs us to this statement by the Canadian Jewish Congress re: the "cartoon controversy" as reflective of his views.

Fair enough. But honestly, what is freedom of expression in a free society if it doesn't inherently protect the right to publish material (cartoons!) that are "inexcusably provocative, insensitive and disrespectful of Muslim believers." Who defines what is inexcusable exactly? Where is that bright line between tastlessness, humour, and indignant offence? Who is to draw it? Does it mean forsaking Dante?

Look. I too "commend Canada’s Muslim community for the civility with which it has protested". The right to protest, peacefully, is equally enshrined in our society. Expected, even, against portrayals of your identity you find offensive and prejudicial.

But why does it follow that mere drawings can be used as an excuse to go off the deep end? Consider this contrast of Bruce Bawer's:
When artists bait Christians, the Christians (at most) wave signs and send out
press releases. When Danish Muslims saw the Muhammad cartoons, they went
In Kinsella's original post on this issue (scroll to Feb. 5th), he mentions a band named "Tit Fuck Me Jesus". He concedes some may find this offensive. Is he calling for the censoring of the name? It's unclear - but it strikes me that his answer is probably no. And the double standard of calling for "sensitivity" instead of "sense" in that case is revealing.

Freedom of expression means nothing unless it involves the tough cases - the provocative, the disrespectful. The wonder of an open society is that we can make it work.

Emerson v. the (other) Ethics Code

A new press release to extend the "one-day" story further:
This morning, on CBC radio, David Emerson said that he raised a "tremendous" amount of money for the Liberal Party of Canada in BC.

"David Emerson must be confused. He did not personally raise any money for the Liberal Party," says Jamie Elmhirst, President of the Liberal Party of Canada (British Columbia). "It would be against the Ethics Code for him to do so."

Heh. It strikes me that now would be a particularly fun time to be President of the BC Liberals, or President of the Vancouver-Kingsway Liberal Riding Association. Carry on, folks.

In Egypt. In October.

The absurdity grows:
So we now discover that the hideously offensive and blasphemous cartoons - so blasphemous that CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, won't publish them ... were reprinted last October. In Egypt. On the front frigging page. No one rioted. No editor at Al Fager was threatened. So it's official: the Egyptian state media is less deferential to Islamists than the New York Times.

Fascinating story unfolding. I'm still onside with the various opinions cited here.

Pursuing the Turncoat

Forgive the few days of singular focus on David Emerson's defection here, but as mentioned below, this really has the potential making of a unique opportunity in Canadian politics. Consider this the last in a series.

Why? First, check out Tarantino and Coyne and Cosh for varied, thorough, and final debunking of the many supposed justifications for the move into cabinet. Also consider that while the appointment of Fortier, especially by this government, certainly reeks (and will probably provide greater fodder for the Liberals when the House sits) - it is not wholly unprecedented in this democracy.

The Emerson situation is that extra shade unprecedented. A turncoat after a mere two weeks (arguably after one night!). A public admission that absolutely no principles played a role in his decision - Emerson himself says that it amounted to simple electoral math. Simply put, he would sit with whoever formed government, regardless of his constituent's wishes, regardless of the party platform and promises he campaigned on, and regardless of his past statements against his opponents.

Truly, the man has shown nothing but contempt for the democratic process by which he secured election to the highest levels of our government. To those dismayed at the idea of their candidate voting with Harper on the key issues of the new Parliament - too bad. To those frustrated that he misappropriated donations intended to help elect a "Liberal" - suck it up, I raised my share of money for you anyway, he says.

And yet, he insists on remaining the sole judge of the propriety of his new found conversion, refusing to put his assertions that he is acting in the "people's best interests" to the test. Now, ironically, his big regret is that he got involved in public life two years ago. Heh. Funny that he never seemed to pick up on the fact that the voters might wish to keep tabs on you in between elections. I bet many of recent allies wish he hadn't bothered either.

As Tartcider pointed out, the real affront here is to the residents (essentially disenfranchised) of Vancouver-Kingsway. But there remains a wider principle at play. Emerson's arrogant and presumptive behavior calls out for a strong response, if only to serve as a cautionary tale for future opportunists who need to see consequences attach to such cynical behavior. If he gets away with this move relatively untouched, truly anyone can rely on any excuse to plop comfortably into cabinet, for whatever reason tickles the fancy.

SO - over to you, good residents and Liberals of greater Vancouver. Hold his feet to the fire, for as long as it takes. And to Conservatives dismayed at Harper's role in this debacle, bravo for adding your criticism to the mix as well. Keep this story simmering. Maybe you'll succeed in getting Ablonczy or Moore into the cabinet yet.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Breathtaking in its Audacity"

Poor Dave. Why won't people understand? He is just doing what is in the best interests of his constituents:
[Emerson] said Liberal attacks on him since his defection are "a sign of a sickness -- a deep sickness," and that he is "very happy" to be sending out letters of resignation.

"For them to somehow suggest I am shortchanging them -- it's breathtaking in its audacity," he seethed.

Assuming the man is as intelligent as all seem to proclaim, it is suprising that he just doesn't seem to understand why his bolting across the floor with such unprecedented speed has provoked outrage. Instead, those who criticize him, who attempt to hold him to account for selling out his volunteers, contributors, and supporters, are "sick".

Classy. If only he had the guts to put his reputation on the line.

Monday, February 06, 2006


June 5th, 2004 - staggeringly ancient by Emerson standards (all the way back to last election!), but a lovely little insight into the Minister's political philosophy, and one to keep in mind when the former Liberal inevitably rises to vote for Flaherty's May budget [scroll down to the Frances Bula article from the Vancouver Sun]:

But David Emerson, the Liberal candidate for Vancouver Kingsway who has spent his career until now as a top-level business executive, said there are only two ways the Conservatives will be able to pay for those kinds of cuts, which would total $37.2 billion over five years.

"Either they're going to take us into a big Mulroney debt or they will be slashing social programs," said Emerson.

He said the Conservatives are relying on being able to pay for that lost revenue by reducing government expenses.

"I've heard right-wing governments say for years they were going to save money by reducing inefficiency," he said. "It's a bunch of horsefeathers. It doesn't happen. If you don't cut programs, you don't reduce expenses."

Emerson also said he's seen little sign that Canadians want that.

"There's no evidence that Canadians want or need tax cuts at the expense of cutting social programs."

Ah, yes. The focus on what Canadians - what the constituents want. That's Minister Emerson for you. Pity he didn't let the voters know of his change of heart before two Mondays ago.

Then again, that's one of the joys of "non-partisanship". Just flow with that breeze.

An Emerson Sporting Analogy

January 18th - 5 days left in the campaign, 19 until Emerson joins the Conservative cabinet.
But he admitted there is little time left for the Liberals to pull out a victory.

"We're leaving it to the bottom of the ninth," said Mr. Emerson. "We're leaving it pretty late. We're playing catch-up ball right now. There's no doubt about that. The question is: are we behind and can't sort of close it in the last inning? Or have we peaked or saved peaking until exactly the right moment?"

Again, it is too bad he didn't add a subtle qualifer: "And if we don't peak at the right moment, I am not really worried anyway, because I bet the winning team will let me into their locker room so I can drink the champagne and hold the trophy. They'll want to lock me up for next season."

Emerson to Finish the Job

Remember those BC Liberal TV ads? Maybe the Liberal website should repost them on their webpage:
Emerson said the TV ads aim to remind British Columbians that the Liberals under Martin have paid more attention to province, funnelling billions of dollars on various economic and social programs.

"I think we've delivered in spades," he said, but added the job can't be finished unless the Liberals return to power.

To bad he didn't also add: "although I suppose the job could be finished regardless of which party wins, so long as I get appointed to Cabinet." Oh my.

Happy to see the Conservative outrage. Cherniak, on the other hand, thinks there are "perfectly acceptable arguments" to Emerson's ploy. At least he is being consistent as well.

Mark His Words

Here's a new favorite. Also from January 17th, 2006. That's just 20 days ago:
"Just mark my words," Industry Minister David Emerson told reporters travelling with Martin yesterday in Vancouver. "If they get elected, they are going to begin a massive review of programs and a massive set of cuts to government programs.

"And people are going to say, `We didn't ask for this. Mr. Harper didn't say this is what he was going to do.'"

People are going to say... Oh, again with the irony, this guy is killing me. The really galling aspect of it all? That had Emerson run as a Conservative in Kingsway, he would have had ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE of winning. That had the Liberals won, he would have remained in their cabinet. Talk about hedging your bets.

I didn't know you could run on the "Independent Cabinet Minister for Hire" ticket.

Say Anything

January 17th (6 days before the election, 20 days before joining the Conservative Cabinet):
"The Conservatives want to keep any of their members who might be inclined to say something that would uncover their true intentions and keep them quiet, out of the limelight," Industry Minister David Emerson said in Vancouver yesterday.

Emerson accused the Conservatives of "muzzling" their British Columbia candidates, noting that last week long-time Calgary MP Diane Ablonczy represented the party at a debate among Lower Mainland candidates sponsored by a Vancouver Chinese organization.

A few days earlier, at an all-party event at a Hindu temple in the Vancouver area, another long-time Alberta MP, Deepak Obhrai, spoke on behalf of the Conservatives, he added.

"I've got to wonder what it is they're hiding," Emerson said in an interview after a speech by Prime Minister Paul Martin.

"They've got a message that they've been quite successfully getting out to try to pretend they're moderate on a range of issues where we all know that underneath, when you scratch a bit, they're not moderate at all.

"It's basically the same old people."
You don't say. Oh, the irony.

More on the Emerson Fallout

(1) The new Tory plan for winning in the country's major cities has been revealed. Just secure the nomination of another, more popular party in the constituency - then switch as soon as the voters have been duped into voting for your fraudulent candidacy. I would be shocked (SHOCKED!) if Emerson ever runs again in Vancouver-Kingsway. If he does he will be summarily dismissed. No one can say he did this for his constituents.

(2) So much for Harper's political honeymoon. Here's hoping that the press really grill him for this decision. Why not simply dismiss the possibility of such a craven move out of hand, especially based on your past comments? I think it is colossally boneheaded move on his very first day. It should embolden the Liberals and also provides a convenient line of attack for Question Period's first month, when the focus will be on Accountability. It overshadows the rest of the cabinet selection. It shows you out to be a hypocrite. Why is a baffling puzzlement?

(3) Here's a simple idea for reforming the law on floor-crossing. Would-be defectors are barred from serving in cabinet or as parliamentary secretaries for a period of time (ie. 1 year, or the next election, whichever sooner). Any doubters who feel that the personalities of Brison, Stronach, or Emerson would have switched for the innocuous position of the backbench? I do not necessarily disagree with the right of elected members to switch sides as a last resort. But this case is surely the most egregious example yet - can anyone actually believe that "Emerson might truly be doing what he believes is best for the country."

(4) On that note, this should strengthen the leadership aspirations of Liberals who have been with the party longer than 5 minutes (or weren't loyal members of its chief rival for - I don't know, say - 25 years). If the BQ had a cabinet position available, would Martin's other "star" recruit, Mr. Lapierre, also jump ship? What about Dosanjh if the NDP had any carrots to offer? Beware the unbridled ambition of those you woo.

(5) Imagine the frustration of those who have been involved in the process of building this new incarnation of the CPC from the beginning. Just as Liberal backbenchers who were so casually shunted aside in favour of opportunists such as Brison and Stronach, how must the likes of Ablonczy, Rajotte, Hill, Kenney, and Moore feel?

Hours later, it still just does not make any sense.

Harper's "Worst Enemy"

Sickening. Hypocrisy, thy name is Emerson. What does it say about political parties when these high profile "stars" find it so easy to jump about? Crazy.

There will be many quotes unfurled over the next few days to demonstrate the sheer depravity of such a move over the next few days. A quick Google search yields this favorite:
At the Golden Swan, a Chinese restaurant on Victoria Drive, supporters chanted his name as Emerson arrived to deliver his victory speech.

"I feel very happy with the results," said the former cabinet minister. "This is traditionally NDP territory and to win again feels good."

The riding was expected to be close, but Emerson jumped ahead early and extended his lead on NDP candidate Ian Waddell by more than 4,000 votes.

Emerson added he is going to enjoy keeping tabs on Prime Minister-elected Stephen Harper.

"I'm going to be Stephen Harper's worst enemy," he warned. "We're going to stir the pot and you better believe we are going to make a heck of a lot of noise."
No comment required. Except to note that only 8,679 of Vancouver Kingsway's 46,168 voters chose the Conservative candidate two weeks ago to the day. How can anyone believe anything he might say in his next campaign? I just hope he tries to run again...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"They'll Like Us When We Win"

So it continues to spiral violently out of control.

Tons of good reaction from the usual suspects. I am not often in complete agreement with Mark Steyn, but this week he nails it - "That's the question the Danish newspaper was testing: the weakness of free societies in the face of intimidation by militant Islam." Sullivan summarizes the protestors in a word, brownshirts. Matthew Paris in the London Times also has an excellent column that concludes on a truly important and hilarious note:

Against reverence and awe the best argument is sometimes not logic, but mockery. Structures of oppression that may not be susceptible to rational debate may in the end yield to derision. When people see that a priest, rabbi, imam or uniformed official may be giggled at without lightning striking the impertinent, arguments may be won on a deeper level than logic.

We should never, therefore, relinquish, nor lightly value, our right not to argue in the face of other people’s gods — but to fart.
I have nothing particular to add beyond the general tenor of such remarks. The freedom of a truly open society involves the airing of potentially offensive view points. Deal with it. Violence against our fellow human beings, not the simple expression of opinion, is the true abhorrent.

I recall an old West Wing episode, Night Five, where Toby argues with his ex-wife [and current House Democrat] on a foreign policy speech calling out militant Islam. "They'll like us when we win." Here's the main thrust of the back-and-forth. I'm with Toby. The inherent advantages in the long run remain ours.


ANDY- This speech isn't supposed to be about ideology. It's supposed to be about reality.

TOBY - I think the President will decide what the speech is suppose to be about, but the reality is, the United States of America no longer sucks up to reactionaries, and our staunch allies will know what we mean.

ANDY - We don't have any staunch allies in the Arab world; just reluctant ones. We've a coalition held together with duct tape! A coalition without which we cannot fight!

TOBY - Nobody's blowing off the coalition, and that coalition will be plenty strong.

ANDY - Oh, when we win?

TOBY - That's right.

ANDY - What's Egypt going to think? Or Pakistan?

TOBY - That freedom and democracy are coming soon to a theatre near them, so get dressed.

ANDY - Toby... you guys are on a thing right now. And I'm behind you. You know I'm behind you; a lot of House Democrats are...

TOBY - Not enough.

ANDY - And plenty of Republicans. But this one moment in time, you have to get off your horse and just... simply put - be nice to the Arab world.

TOBY- Be nice?

ANDY - Yes.

TOBY - Well... How about when we, instead of blowing Iraq back to the seventh century for harbouring terrorists and trying to develop nuclear weapons, we just imposed economic sanctions and were reviled by the Arab world for not giving them a global charge card and a free trade treaty? How about when we pushed Israel to give up land for peace?

Andy sits down, and puts a hand to her forehead.

TOBY - How about when we sent American soldiers to protect Saudi Arabia, and the Arab world told us we were desecrating their holy land? We'll ignore the fact that we were invited. How about two weeks ago, in the State of the Union when the President praised the Islamic people as faithful and hardworking only to be denounced in the Arab press as knowing nothing about Islam? But none of that is the point.

ANDY - What's the point?

TOBY- I don't remember having to explain to Italians that our problem wasn't with them, but with Mussolini! Why does the U.S. have to take every Arab country out for an ice cream cone? They'll like us when we win!

[he stands and starts pacing]

Thousands of madrassahs teaching children nothing, nothing, nothing but the Koran and to hate America. Who do we see about that? [beat] Do I want to preach America? Judeo-Christianity? No. If their religion forbids them from playing the trumpet, so be it. But I want those kids to... look at a globe. Be exposed to social sciences, history. Some literature. [beat] I'll like us when we win.

ANDY[after a moment] - Okay. [She stands up and collects her things together.]

TOBY - Let me take another look at the softer language.

UPDATE: Re-reading this, it strikes me I should add that the cartoons themselves are indeed insulting, as well as unimaginative. It also goes without saying that all this is directed squarely not at Islam, but its fundamentalist extremists.

FURTHER UPDATE: Josh Marshall summed it up nicely a few days ago here.

Will the Burger "King" Score a TD in a Super Bowl Commercial?

That and many other proposition bets available on the greatest gambling day of the year. I have taken the traditional approach and just dumped cash on the Steelers to win straight up. Here's hoping.

Enjoy the game. After last night's Masquerade Ball at the Halifax Club, I will be watching it from the comforts of the couch.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Message in a Bottle

Hilarious English reaction upon discovery of a bottled message from New York - accusing the proponent of littering:
"I recently found your bottle while taking a scenic walk on the beach by Poole Harbour. While you may consider this some profound experiment on the path and speed" of "oceanic currents, I have another name for it, litter."

"You Americans don't seem to be happy unless you are mucking about somewhere"

My favorite part of the story is surely the name of the surly English chap - Henry Biggelsworth. Classic.

Never received a response to messages we sent from Cape Spear back in November 2003. Wonder where those empty Gatorade bottles are floating this evening.

Quote of the (Fri)day

Another excellent piece from favoured football writer, Simon Barnes, who somehow weaves Wuthering Heights seamlessly into a column on fan obsession with the great game:
"Football supporters cherish the illusion that a player shares his own relationship with the club — that of passion, commitment and loyalty beyond sense and logic. And always they feel a sense of betrayal when they discover that the reality is something different. A football fan is like the man who marries whore after whore and expects every one to be faithful to him for ever."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Roi Arthur

Anyone else catch the interview with our newly elected independent MP on CBC radio this morning, discussing Howard Stern? Outstanding and easy to understand his election. Really looking forward to hearing more from him.

Thoughts of Li Po from the World's End

A poem for your Thursday afternoon/evening, by Tu Fu (tr. Hawkes):
Here at the world's end the cold winds are beginning to blow. What messages have you for me, my master? When will the poor wandering goose arrive? The rivers and lakes are swollen with autumn's waters. Art detests a too successful life; and the hungry goblins await you with welcoming jaws. You had better have a word with the ghost of that other wronged poet. Drop some verses into the Mi-lo as an offering to him!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Does Harper Have 'em Spooked?

Manley, McKenna, Tobin - all politely decline the prize of the Liberal federal leadership. Add Martin to that list of those passing on the post, since by finishing within 20 seats of Harper I dare say he could have stuck it out for one more election.

Is it the debt? Is it time with the family? Is it the lucrative money to be made in the private sector? Or - mustn't it also be - a sizing up of their opposition and not fancying a fight against the momentum building behind the PM-elect in the near future?

For all the talk on election night of how well the Liberal vision actually fared (given the doomsday forecasts going in) the subsequent reluctance of the major players to have a go at the crown is quite revealing as an appraisal of Harper's potential. For all the talk of how the wide open nature of this leadership race is encouraging and reminiscent of 1968, back then none of the major hopefuls took a pass.

All that said, this is a real opportunity to elect a leader worthy of the country's highest office. Someone who can enter to win based on ideas, character, and conviction - and actually persuade. There will be candidates running on the basis of media hype and superficial pandering - but, refreshingly, this time they don't have the advantage.