Happiest of Friday evenings to one and all. Here's a fun little news story sure to brighten your night.
Next time maybe they'll rob somewhere a little safer, like a dangerous murderer convention or maybe an unlicensed gun store run by a mafia don.
Labels: Criminals, Robbery, Australia, Overwhelming Stupidity, SStaggeringly Dumb, Gloriously Karmic, Bikers, Just For Fun
Friday, February 29, 2008
Happiest of Friday evenings to one and all. Here's a fun little news story sure to brighten your night.
Posted by Fortitudine at 7:38 PM
Seriously. This has become a full-on cult. Watch the video but don't stare directly into any of his groupies' eyes or they'll brainwash you into chanting with them.
As Winston Churchill once famously said, "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average Barack Obama supporter."
It starts out pretty regularly. Alright, a bunch of Obama supporters. Some of them are pretty famous. They like that he wants out of Iraq. But half-way through it completely degenerates into them chanting his name and gazing lovingly at a gigantic poster of him looking majestic.
Er. Okay. And that one woman actually called Barack Obama a "reviver of souls." Also, I bet you didn't know he once turned water into kool-aid and walked on a shallow puddle of water without getting his socks wet. The Messiah hath risen.
So we know why they believe in Barack Obama. But why do you believe in Barack Obama?
Labels: Barack Obama, Presidential Nominee, US Politics, Will.i.am, Democrats, The Messiah, Black Eyed Peas
Posted by Fortitudine at 7:30 PM
It isn't possible to overemphasize the importance of having good neighbours. The lefties in our country like to make a lot of jabs at the US but, at the end of the day, they trade with us and offer us protection and friendship. Israel should be so lucky as to have an ally like that bordering them. Instead of commerce and increased physical security, Israel gets rocket-propelled explosives penetrating ever deeper into their country while a number of their neighbours denounce the Israeli state as illegitimate and seek to wipe it off the map.
Yahoo! News has the scoop:
Israel's deputy defense minister warned on Friday of a disaster in the Gaza Strip after Israel activated an air raid system to protect a major city from increasingly threatening Palestinian rocket barrages.
As Israeli troops, tanks and aircraft went after Palestinian rocket operations, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio that Israel had "no other choice" but to launch a massive military operation in Gaza.
"As the rocket fire grows, and the range increases ... they are bringing upon themselves a greater 'shoah' because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate, whether in airstrikes or on the ground," Vilnai told Army Radio.
Israel evacuated its troops and settlers from Gaza in late 2005, but the rocket fire has persisted and this week became more ominous as Iranian-made rockets slammed into a major city.
Communities right over the Gaza border have taken the overwhelming brunt of the rocket attacks from Gaza, but militants firing longer-range Iranian rockets struck hit the town of Ashkelon several times on Thursday. One sliced through the roof of an apartment building and three floors below, and another landed near a school, wounding a 17-year-old girl.
Ashkelon, a beach town 11 miles north of Gaza, had been sporadically targeted in the past but never suffered direct hits or significant damage. Aside from its relatively large population of 120,000, the city is also home to a hospital, a power station, hotels and the European force that used to monitor a major Gaza-Israel crossing before Islamic Hamas militants violently seized control of Gaza in June.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that the assaults on Ashkelon "demand an Israeli retaliation." Barak, who has warned repeatedly of a large-scale operation in Gaza, blamed Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers for the escalation in violence and said the militant movement would "suffer the consequences."
According to officials, Israel won't launch the invasion for a few weeks since they prefer to wait for better weather conditions. One way or another, the general consensus seems to be that "it's on." Israel had better watch out though because the Pioneers of Tomorrow, lead by martyr-wannabe Assud the Jew-Eating Rabbit, have been jonesing for some action lately. They're probably strapping on their stylish suicide-belts as we speak.
Labels: Palestine, Israel, Invasion, Suicide Bombers, Terrorism, Assud, Pioneers of Tomorrow, Gaza, Iran, Hamas, Ehud Barak, Islamic Extremism
Posted by Fortitudine at 12:10 PM
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Lord Black lost his appeal today to stay out of jail until the ruling is handed down on the appeal to his fraud conviction. He'll begin serving his 6.5 year sentence this Monday, I believe.
Report On Business has the story:
Lord Black, 62, convicted of defrauding the shareholders of his Hollinger International Inc. newspaper empire, had sought to delay the start of his 61/2-year sentence for defrauding shareholders in his Hollinger International Inc. newspaper empire.
His lawyers argued there was a good chance of winning on appeal.
While the appeals judges left open the possibility that they might overturn some counts, they said there was less chance of reversing the one count on which Lord Black was the only defendant convicted — obstruction of justice.
Jurors were shown a video of Lord Black himself carrying boxes of documents out of his Toronto office although they were not supposed to be removed because investigators believed that they might constitute evidence.
The appeals court noted Lord Black was sentenced to 78 months on that count alone — “substantially longer than the normal course of an appeal.”
Thus there was no danger Lord Black would serve time in prison only to be told by the appeals court that all of his convictions were reversed, the appeals judges said.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals did allow Lord Black's two co-defendants, Peter Atkinson and John Boultbee, to remain free on bond while appealing their sentences. They were not charged with obstruction.
It ain't easy being a Lord in America. He's looking older nowadays as per the picture in the article. I would never call the man "beaten" but he certainly seems a little more resigned than he did a few months ago. I empathize with the man. He had very good reasons for thinking his appeal would be granted. His inability to catch a break must be getting a little much for the 62 year-old.
Labels: Conrad Black, Hollinger, Lord Black, US Legal System, Court, Fraud, Obstruction of Justice
Posted by Fortitudine at 7:29 PM
Prince Harry has been serving on the front line in Afghanistan for a couple of months now. It's too bad the story leaked because you'd have to think the damage has been done and for the time being it won't be safe for him to serve, particularly on the front line.
CTV has the story:
Prince Harry has been secretly serving on the front line in Afghanistan since December, Britain's Ministry of Defence said Thursday.
Officials said the prince, who is third in line from the throne, is still in the country.
"He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his Battlegroup," Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, who is head of the British Army, said in a statement Thursday.
Britain's media officer in Helmand said Thursday that Harry has been in Helmand fighting for the past ten weeks.
He said a decision was yet to be made on whether he would be pulled out of the region due to security concerns following the leak.
Prince Harry, who is trained as a tank commander, is a Second Lieutenant in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry of the British Army.
"What the last two months have shown is that it is perfectly possible for Prince Harry to be employed just the same as other Army officers of his rank and experience," said Dannatt.
"His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary."
I'm no great fan of the monarchy as an institution but I figure if Canada has to have a King, let's make it a good one. Apparently he's third in line for the throne so I figure if we ask the two ahead of him really nicely we'll have ourselves a fighting king in no time.
UPDATE: Great post on the subject over at Taylor & Company. Check it out.
I don't like Rick Mercer and I've never found him particularly funny. It isn't a lefty thing. I've been known to get a laugh out of Colbert on occasion. But this video's been making the rounds lately and I figured I'd post it for all those who haven't had a chance to watch it yet.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Someone in the comments at Hot Air called him "the last fighting Democrat." That covers my feeling on him completely. Lieberman is a lonely soul in a shell of a party. The once-great Democratic Party is gone. The GOP is currently engaging in a similar self-destruction, replacing principles with compromises. It's the difference between Reagan and McCain. Between Truman and Obama.
This man is a pleasure to listen to on Iraq:
The Democrats have no plans for returning to their noble foundational ideals, Joey. The party of Jackson, Truman, and Kennedy is long dead. It's the party of Hillary and Obama now. There's no room left for nobility. Lieberman is a lonely Independent Democrat with a good heart.
Unsurprisingly, his measure failed.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A pretty disappointing budget. I know, I know. I wrote a post talking about the political necessity of middle-of-the-road politicking for Harper right now but it's hard not to feel a little irritated anyway.
The Globe gives a thorough run-down of the budget here.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion slammed today's Conservative budget as "one mile wide and one inch deep" but said his party would not force a spring election over the document.
"Under the circumstances, I don't see enough in this budget that would justify that we precipitate an election that Canadians do not want for now," Mr. Dion said.
"This is a budget that clearly fails the working families of Canada," NDP Leader Jack Layton said.
"In fact, individual taxpayers are going to have to pay 12 per cent more of the cost of government, while corporations will pay 14 per cent less . . . "
"There is nothing here to train the doctors that families need," Mr. Layton said.
"There is nothing to help deal with prescription drug costs that are really tough on families now. There's nothing for affordable housing. It is not a budget that New Democrats can support."
So the Tories will continue governing through the spring and the National Newswatch Election Fever Meter has plummeted down to 5% after hovering around 80% or 90% for weeks. I'm beginning to get the feeling Harper's going to make it all the way through his four-year term.
Meme: Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
Alright. You asked for it, Darc. I've got quirks aplenty.
(1) When I'm eating any meat product and any potato product at the same time, the two sections of the meal can't touch on my plate and I can't start eating one until I finish the first. I usually eat the potato first.
(2) Nothing makes me more nervous than getting my hair cut.
(3) When somebody makes a grammatical error I try to bottle up my revulsion but it usually bottlenecks and the correction explodes from me sanctimoniously, earning irritation from most of my friends and family.
(4) When I'm putting on a sweater, I put my head into the head-hole before I put my arms in the arm-holes. My girlfriend assures me that's strange.
(5) I've watched the movie "Unforgiven" more times than could possibly be healthy.
(6) If I'm in a good mood, I have a tendency to sing loudly while I'm walking outside. My song choice is frequently unbecoming to a man of my overwhelming masculinity. I'd rather not elaborate.
1. JR (Just Right)
2. Hunter (Climbing Out Of The Dark)
3. Joanne (Blue Like You)
4. Victor Wong (The Phantom Observer)
5. OMMAG (One More Middle Aged Guy)
6. The Meatriarchy
Monday, February 25, 2008
A little show of solidarity with my friend Darcey over at Dust My Broom.
Khalil Jeha, of "Ezra Levant Is A Piece of Shit Jew" fame, has upped the ante to the direct threat of physical harm.
Full details here.
Hillary Channels Monty Python: "My Campaign? It's Not Dead. It's Just Resting. Pining For The Fjords"
So our gal's got some fight left in her:
So much for gracefully withdrawing her nomination for the good of the party. A protracted and ugly final chapter of the Democratic nomination process would definitely play in McCain favour, allowing him time to get conservatives on side, name a veep, and start sniping at Obama before the latter has a chance to focus on the general campaign. McCain is no doubt hoping to swiftboat Obama before the campaign even begins. If the Republicans can manage to define the Messiah before he gets a chance to define himself, we'll have a John Kerry redux on our hands. McCain better start mending some of those fences soon or it'll be an opportunity squandered.
As if they don't have enough enemies, the Taliban have now declared Holy War on cell phone companies in Afghanistan that don't turn off their services between 5:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. They claim that cell phone signals are being used by Canadian, US, and other coalition troops to track down insurgents and, well, they've had just about enough of it.
BBC News has the story:
The Taleban have threatened to blow up telephone masts across Afghanistan unless mobile phone companies agree to switch off their signals at night.
They say that US and other foreign troops are using the signals to track down insurgents.
The Taleban have warned the masts and offices of the mobile companies will be destroyed unless their demands are met. Mobiles were introduced after the Taleban fell in 2001 and are now the most popular way of communicating.
''If those companies do not stop their signal within three days, the Taleban will target their towers and their offices," Taleban spokesman Zabiullah Mujaheed said.
The Taleban say that Afghanistan's four mobile phone companies should stop operating between 1700 local time and 0300 the following morning.
Militants have threatened the companies in the past, accusing them of colluding with the US and other forces.
But communication experts say the US military uses satellites to pick up mobile signals and does not need the help of the phone companies anyway.
"Gee, Mr. Taliban. Those Canadian and American troops sure seem to be killing a lot of you."
"What? No, no. It's the cell phones. We'd be winning for sure if they'd just turn off the signals."
H/t Hot Air
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Here's a nice little story about a soldier and his dog coming out of Iraq.
Via The Associated Press:
It began with a simple act of kindness to save an abused, injured dog from becoming one more victim in the Iraq war.
But what followed for Marine Maj. Brian Dennis and the mutt was a tale of friendship and loyalty that spanned miles and overcame long odds — one set to take a turn Friday with the anticipated arrival here of the Marine's best friend.
The tale unfolded in October, a few months after Dennis deployed to Iraq from San Diego to work as part of the military team building infrastructure along the Syria-Iraq border and training Iraqi forces to take over.
Dennis, 36, of St. Pete Beach, Fla., had volunteered for the assignment. It was a departure from his role as a fighter pilot. He had seen the country from the air, but it was different on the ground.
Dennis wrote stories home about the reciprocal relationship that desert dogs, strays wandering outside border towns, had with Iraqis.
"The dogs get to eat the Iraqi scraps and have a home in the middle of the desert," he wrote in an e-mail. "The Iraqis get an incredible early warning system; these dogs hear anything approaching from miles away and go nuts and scramble to defend their territory."
While on patrol in the Anbar province, Dennis spotted what appeared to be a gray and white, male German shepherd-border collie mix. He named the dog Nubs after learning someone cut the ears off believing it would make the dog more aggressive and alert.
Within weeks, Nubs was greeting Dennis during routine patrol stops along border communities. The Marines fed him bits of their food and by November, the Marine and his unit were keeping an eye out for the dog, which routinely chased their Humvees when they departed.
Life on the run, however, was taking a toll on the dog. He had lost a tooth and been bitten in the neck. In late December, Dennis found Nubs near death in freezing temperatures. The dog had been stabbed with a screwdriver.
Dennis rubbed antibiotic creme on the wound and slept with Nubs to keep him warm.
"I really expected when I woke up for watch he would be dead," Dennis wrote. "Somehow he made it through the night."
I've left out the bulk of the article and, of course, the most heart-warming parts so I definitely suggest following the link. It's a really cute story and a welcome break from the grimmer news we're used to hearing from Iraq.
Have a relaxing Sunday, all.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
... that would be the fat lady singing.
I hardly think it would be going out on a limb to guess Hillary will be withdrawing her bid for the nomination after the Texas results are official.
To all you who think Hillary's goose isn't cooked yet, here's a little reality check:
A new Decision Analyst poll in Texas finds Sen. Barack Obama leading Sen. Hillary Clinton, 57% to 43%.
Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia have begun investigating 57 young men who were arrested on Thursday for flirting with girls at shopping centres in Mecca.
The men are accused of wearing indecent clothes, playing loud music and dancing in order to attract the attention of girls, the Saudi Gazette reported.
They were arrested following a request of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
The mutaween enforce Saudi Arabia's conservative brand of Islam, Wahhabism.
Earlier in the month, the authorities enforced a ban on the sale of red roses and other symbols used in many countries to mark Valentine's Day.
The ban is partly because of the connection with a "pagan Christian holiday", and also because the festival itself is seen as encouraging relations between the sexes outside marriage, punishable by law in the kingdom.
The Prosecution and Investigation Commission said it had received reports of such "bad" behaviour by 57 young men at a number of shopping centres in the holy city of Mecca, the Saudi Gazette said.
The guardians of some of the men defended their actions, however, saying they would regularly get together at the weekend to have fun without ever violating laws governing the segregation of the sexes, it added.
I guess we can add wearing indecent clothes, playing loud music, and dancing to the list of offenses against the Wahhabist fascists running Saudi Arabia. The next step, of course, is a ban on smiles, laughter, rainbows, and puppies. All of which are terribly offensive to Allah.
This is not a joke.
AN Israeli politician has blamed a spate of recent earthquakes in the Middle East on gays.
Shlomo Benizri of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party said the only way to prevent the earthquakes was for parliament to stop liberalising laws concerning homosexuals, AP reported.
“Why do earthquakes happen? One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset (parliament) gives legitimacy, to sodomy,'' Mr Benizri said.
Mr Benizri said earthquake damage could be avoided if the parliament stopped “passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes''.
Two earthquakes originating in Lebanon have shaken Israel in the past week. The first occurred two days after the Israeli attorney-general ruled that same-sex couples could adopt children.
In recent years, Israeli courts have ruled that the government must recognise same-sex marriages performed abroad and grant gay couples inheritance rights.
Well, do you have a better explanation? Oh, you're one of those crazies who think earthquakes are caused by sudden releases of energy at the Earth's crust which produce seismic waves. You've probably got teh ghey too. First you people corrupt the sanctity of marriage, and now you kill us with your blasphemous earthquakes? Have some pity on us poor heteros, would you?!
Condoleezza Rice has probably been the biggest name bandied about in discussions of McCain's potential running mates. This isn't the first time she's indicated she has no presidential ambitions so I'm not too surprised.
Yahoo! News reports:
Condoleezza Rice's name on the Republican ticket is a dream to some, but not a reality she can see happening.
The secretary of State told reporters Friday she will not be a vice presidential candidate in the upcoming election.
"I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office in the United States," she said at a news conference to discuss her recent trip to Africa. "I didn't even run for high school president. It's sort of not in my genes."
Instead, Rice told reporters: "You can all come and visit me in California."
Rice has said she plans to return to Stanford University, where she served as provost and taught as a professor.
She said she is looking forward to making her choice for president as a voter after being involved in President Bush's 2000 campaign and having a strong interest in his 2004 re-election.
"I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing as secretary of State to see if we can use the last few months, as the president has put it, to sprint to the finish because there's a lot of work to do," Rice said.
I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts it ends up being Pawlenty. The man is a perfect running mate. His youth, record of social and fiscal conservatism, position in a Northern Blue State, and history of friendship and loyalty to McCain all put him in the best possible position for the job. I'm sure most of McCain's advisors are telling him the same thing.
Friday, February 22, 2008
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this. Apparently, Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed an agreement with a top US military official in Texas on February 14th on the QT which involves shared military activities in cases of "civil emergencies."
According to the Post, the exact nature of the agreement is as follows:
Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency.
Canada Command spokesman Commander David Scanlon said it will be up to civilian authorities in both countries on whether military assistance is requested or even used.
He said the agreement is "benign" and simply sets the stage for military-to-military co-operation if the governments approve.
"But there's no agreement to allow troops to come in," he said. "It facilitates planning and co-ordination between the two militaries. The ‘allow' piece is entirely up to the two governments."
If U.S. forces were to come into Canada they would be under tactical control of the Canadian Forces but still under the command of the U.S. military, Scanlon added.
The right-wing US blogosphere must be up in arms about this, assuming the story is getting any play down there. I, for one, can't help but feel a little concerned. Next time some would-be Trudeau implements the War Measures Act (or the Emergencies Act as it's called today) it won't necessarily be Canadian troops answering the call. On the bright side, if Toronto ever gets another really heavy snow storm, maybe they can help our boys shovel.
Alright, now this would be genuinely terrifying. Personalized death threats from an Elmo doll delivered in a sing-song voice? Count me out, thank you very much. I'd be having nightmares for a month.
Via Fox News:
It sounds like something the talking doll Chucky from the movies might say: "Kill James!" Instead, a Florida family says the threat to their toddler is coming from a talking Elmo doll.
The Bowman family, of Lithia, Fla., said an Elmo doll belonging to their 2-year-old son, James, began to spout death threats towards him after they changed its batteries, TBO.com reports.
The Elmo Knows Your Name Doll started saying "Kill James!" in a sing-song voice, the site reports.
"It's not something that really you would think would ever come out of a toy," James' mother, Melissa, told the site. "But once I heard, I was just kind of distraught."
The toy's manufacturer, Fisher-Price, said it will issue the Bowmans a voucher for a replacement doll, TBO.com reports.
A replacement doll? How about friggin' therapy??
There have been some major developments in the debate surrounding Canada's role in Afghanistan over the past few days, developments that haven't been all that welcome to a significant number of Conservative bloggers and partisans. The argument has been made - and a strong argument it is - that setting an exit date for a military mission is irresponsible since the goal of the Canadian presence in Kandahar is the achievement of specific tasks; namely, the suppression of the Taliban insurgency and the realization of stability and physical security in the troubled province. Some critics have implied or stated that Harper "blinked first" and that the new plan is a disappointment to Tories who were under the impression that the PM was willing to throw down over the mission.
It's really easy to forget the limitations under which Harper is currently operating. His strong stance on Afghanistan represents a significant shift in Canadian foreign policy and these major political changes are extraordinarily difficult to accomplish with a minority government, no less one as mathematically fragile as Harper's. It's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security considering our current political situation. A divided Liberal opposition headed by an unpopular and bumbling "ivory tower" type has allowed the Tories much more leeway than most minority governments of the past. So it's important to remember that the great triumph of the Harper-led Conservative Party has yet to be achieved; a Conservative majority government. This goal seemed all but impossible in 2004 and exceedingly unlikely in 2006. The new Afghanistan plan is a step towards the attainment of a majority government and, despite our legitimate and principled objections, Harper's decision to compromise must be understood as such.
As Dion drags the Liberals kicking and screaming to the left of the political spectrum (leaving a few centrist and right leaning Liberals feeling disgruntled and betrayed by the once-was-but-no-longer-is "Natural Ruling Party of Canada"), Harper has been given the chance to snag the centrist vote on a lot of crucial issues and, as a result, his popularity has slowly but surely climbed until it has begun to teeter on the cusp of a majority. Although setting an exit date seems like rolling over on Conservative values, managing to extend the mission until 2011 is a political achievement. Harper managed to scare the Liberals into an extension without having to worry too much about triggering an election. It's a testament to his political dexterity that he so skillfully diffused a possible election trigger while coming off as principled but still flexible. Strong on the mission but still cognizant of the political realities of our country.
Harper understands that there are only two real exit strategies for a military operation: victory and defeat. Of course, benchmarks should be set based on the achievement of specific tasks, not on arbitrary and politically-motivated compromises. Presently, however, Canadian voters haven't decided whether they're completely serious about the mission yet. I have no doubt that Harper is dedicated to bringing stability and democracy to Afghanistan and I know that millions of Canadians support him but only a majority in the next federal election will free him to commit to the mission completely.
Harper is still in the process of wooing Canadians. The Conservative election victory in 2006 was partly due to an ideological shift in the Canadian electorate, partly due to a well-run campaign, and partly due to a broken and unpopular Liberal party. He has made good use of his two years in office by playing tough with the divided Liberals while slowly consolidating his reputation and convincing Canadians that he deserves to be Prime Minister. We need to let him take his political victories where he can. Changing the political face of a country is a slow process and the concessions our Prime Minister is making are politically necessary.
So let's call the new Afghanistan plan what it really is. This was not a victory for Dion's Liberals; it was Harper's first major move on the campaign trail. He's shooting for a majority government and I'm not alone in thinking that there's a pretty damn good chance he'll pull it off.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
... Assuming it's her line and not some speech writer's. Which would be pretty ironic after the talkin' to she had just given Barack, wouldn't you say?
Don't believe the boos. This line is classic.
Vid courtesy of Hot Air
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Now I'm not too interested in playing into the whole plagiarism meme that's been running around the blogosphere lately about Barack Obama but this clip was funny enough and pretty interesting:
The Raw Story has it:
Patrick was the source of Obama's allegedly lifted words, and he laughed off the accusation of plagiarism, calling it "elaborate" and "extravagant."
"I think it's a sad comment on the state of the race and the state of our politics that the Clinton campaign is taking this particular tack," he told Diane Sawyer.
The Democratic governor also said it was not necessary for Obama to credit Patrick for drawing from his words.
"It's not like he's writing a law review article or a book or something like that," he argued.
I mean, obviously the words aren't his. The question is whether it was wrong not to attribute the words to him. I think Governor Patrick covers it here:
H/t Hot Air for the Vanilla Ice video
I, for one, am deeply comforted that he doesn't hate Jews because a casual observer may be inclined to note his consistent anti-Jew rhetoric and conclude that he is, in fact, decidedly anti-Semitic in the majority of his actions and words. Especially considering his position at the head of the government of an Islamic dictatorship making strides towards nuclear technology, a casual observer couldn't be blamed for thinking Iran poses a very legitimate threat to the Jewish state and by extension its allies. Of course, we know better because he says he's not anti-Semitic
Story from The Jerusalem Post:
In yet another verbal attack against Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Jewish state a "filthy bacteria" whose sole purpose was to oppress the other nations of the region.
"The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast," the Iranian president told supporters at a rally in southern Iran.
"[Israel] won support [from the other nations] which created it as a scarecrow, so as to keep the people of this area under control," Ahmadinejad said.
Referring to the assassination of Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh, the Iranian leader said that Israel "uses terror as a threat every day, and afterwards is happy and joyful."
You know, I bet "filthy bacteria" is a term of endearment, kind of like how the rappers call each other "dogs." On the face of it, it sounds pretty insulting but when considered in its cultural context it isn't so bad.
You see? Rationalizing ourselves out of danger is our best foreign policy option in today's turbulent international community. Self-delusion is much safer than actually confronting our potential problems.
Chris Matthews To Senator Watson: "I Want You To Name Just One Of Obama's Legislative Accomplishments"
Hillary has finally picked up on the fact that experience is her rival's only real kryptonite and that she needs to be going on the attack over the next few weeks mainly on that issue. This inexperience has never been driven home quite as ruthlessly as it was on MSNBC's 'Decision '08 with Chris Matthews' last night when the host completely humiliated Texas State Senator Kirk Watson who worships at the alter of the Obamessiah. I think Hill's got the message now though since she's already referenced this clip in a campaign speech today:
I hate Hillary's politics. A lot. But like Jack Nicholson said, "She's the right man for the job." I don't mean for President; I just mean for the Democratic nomination. Obama's record is tabula rasa. And I think that is the line of attack we'll be hearing from the Clinton camp over the last weeks of the primary.
Barack's going to start feeling a lot of resistance. Hillary's going to have to go negative, I imagine, and John McCain has already turned his guns on the man. His "eloquent but empty call for change" line got about 30 seconds of cheering when he delivered it last night and it's getting a lot of attention today.
Also: Nicola was asking in the comments about why Michelle Obama's gaffe about not being proud of America didn't cost Obama any support in Wisconsin and I responded it was probably because people hear what they want to hear. This is Obama's official spin on the comment:
Barack Obama, interviewed on WOAI radio in San Antonio, Texas, expressed frustration that his wife’s comments became political fodder.
“Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn’t at all what she meant,” Obama said.
“What she meant was, this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America,” he said. “Because she’s pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she’s not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she’s encouraged.”
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Warning: The singer has a whinny voice and the song is in that "alternative-punk-pop" genre that the kids seem to like nowadays. Also, I definitely can stand a few of the liberals they name. I mean, come on, Bruce Springsteen is a really fantastic musician.
The song is by The Right Brothers (heh, so clever) and it's called "The List." Give 'er a watch if you're in the mood for a laugh:
As the Wisconsin exit poll numbers roll in, it's finally hitting home for me that the Clinton Election Machine has been thoroughly trounced. There is no Comeback Kid part deux, no finding her voice and winning over America. She has been politically bested by a man with no accomplishments or a single substantial policy.
In the most recent installment of Shire Network News - the one with the Ezra interview - the host and an interviewee analyze the charismatic Democrat's vacuity. The interviewer reminds us of a part in the new Family Guy Star Wars spoof when the Emperor figures out the perfect formula for great Star Wars dialogue: "Something, something, something, dark side; something, something, something, complete." He went on that Obama has stumbled upon a similarly perfect formula for Democratic speech-writing: "Something, something, something, hope; something, something, something, change." And it's true. Listening to Obama speak is like playing a policy version of Where's Waldo.
"Is that a policy? No, no. That's just emotional demagoguery. Is that a policy? No. Hmm."
It's impossible to detect a single tangible policy behind his undoubtedly stirring words. And, consulting the delegate count, current poll numbers, and the momentum of the race, Democrats are buying right into it.
On a sadder note, how about Clinton's latest hair-brained scheme? Talk about desperation. Apparently, her campaign is prepared to win over a few of Obama's delegates - the one's he's already won - if Hillary thinks she needs them for the convention. That's right. She plans on somehow persuading pledged delegates who currently back Obama to switch sides in large enough numbers to secure the nomination. Apparently, it's legally possible and is kind of an open secret of the Democratic nomination process.
“Delegates are NOT bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to at the convention or on the first ballot,” a recent DNC memo states. “A delegate goes to the convention with a signed pledge of support for a particular presidential candidate. At the convention, while it is assumed that the delegate will cast their vote for the candidate they are publicly pledged to, it is not required.”
So let the wooing begin, I guess. But can anybody actually see this plot panning out? Firstly, this rule is fairly obscure and violates some pretty entrenched conventions of the process. Secondly, the pledged delegates have been elected by the people to back a certain candidate so it would be seen as a betrayal to the voters if they switched sides at the last minute. And, finally, even if they manage to convince a few of Obama's people, how could they possibly hope to gain enough delegates to snag the nomination, especially if one assumes Obama will be fighting fire with fire and wooing her own delegates? Good luck with that, Hill.
So, despite a few moments over the past few months in which I was absolutely certain she couldn't be stopped no matter how charismatic the Obamessiah was, the American people seem to be eating his vacuous rhetoric like it was a delicious steak dinner, marinated in the sauce of hope and grilled on the barbecue of change. The polling numbers are spiraling out of Hillary's control. Her winning the nomination may still be possible mathematically, but here's one man's opinion: stick a fork in her, she's done.
PLUS: I wish I could call it a 'palate cleanser' but in reality it's more of a 'suicide inducer':
I'm so, so sorry. But, to be fair, Huckabee's fans suck too.
I feel dirty. I'm going to go shower now.
Vids from Hot Air
Well, it's a little better than Hillary's ...
Pretty much exactly what you would expect from the Huckabee camp. A lot of empty criticisms of his opponents and passive-aggressive swipes at their credentials but, when it comes to explaining Huck's policies, the focus conspicuously shifts to his Chuck Norris endorsement.
Oops, there goes another wannabe? I think Allah puts it best:
It wasn’t ol’ Fred who waited until the Iowa caucuses to discover the virtues of border enforcement, kiddo.
H/t Hot Air
Phew. There's a lot going on today.
The final vote hasn't been tallied yet but we do know that Musharraf has officially conceded defeat. It's looking like no party will get enough votes to form a majority in Parliament but, regardless, the impending coalition government will mean there are a lot of changes on the horizon for Pakistan, for better or for worse. Probably for worse.
Channel 4 News has the early details:
Thousands of opposition supporters have been celebrating on the streets of Islamabad this morning after the party led by President Pervez Musharraf conceded defeat in the country's parliamentary elections.
Although the last votes are still being counted, no individual party is expected to claim an overall majority in the National Assembly.
It's likely that the two main opposition parties - the Pakistan People's Party of the late Benazir Bhutto and supporters of the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif - will form an alliance.
President Musharraf has said he is prepared to accept the results and work with any party to build a democracy.
The West is going to realize pretty quickly that they didn't know what they had until it was gone.
More details as they become available.
Wait a second. Cuba's Communist?!
Fidel Castro makes his retirement official:
"I am not saying farewell. I want only to fight as a soldier of ideas. I will continue writing under the title 'Reflections of Comrade Fidel.' I will be one more weapon in the arsenal that you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I will be careful."
Half a century under Fidel Castro. An unbelievable amount of time to rule a country. The longest in the world for a head of government, in fact. But, sadly, all good dictatorships must come to an end. Although Castro hasn't indicated who would follow him as leader, common sense tells us it will be Castro's younger and sprier brother Raul who, at the age of 76, has at least another six months before collapsing himself.
Here's what Bush had to say:
Putting forward the promise of an end to the 46 year blockade of the island nation, the American president pledged that he stood ready to help Cubans realise the "blessings of liberty."
"Eventually this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections, and I mean free and I mean fair, not these kind of staged elections that the Castro brothers try to foist off as being true democracy," he said.
So lets talk numbers. How long are we thinking Communist Cuba can last before folding in on itself without the power of Castro's personality propping it up? Five years? Three? Raul has already hinted at broad-based economic reforms. And we all know what happens when Communist countries get a taste of freedom, don't we?
The world's a slightly better place today than it was yesterday.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Wow. I mean ... really fantastic.
Just watch the trailer:
The mini series appeals to two types of people: history/political geeks and people who love liberty. I happen to fall squarely into both categories so I'm pretty much in Heaven.
H/t Drew at AoSHQ
Great podcast and interview with Ezra Levant from Shire Network News.
Follow the link.
Levant talks about Stelmach, the HRC, free speech, McGovern, and the next federal election. Worth a listen.
I hate to play into these conspiracy type stories but the JFK assassination is interesting and, as far as I can tell, the story and the "lost documents" are legit.
Article at the link:
Lost documents said to be a "conspiracy theorist's dream come true" have been unearthed which suggest that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby plotted together to kill President John F Kennedy.
According to the Warren Commission, the official inquiry into the assassination, Oswald acted alone when he shot Kennedy as the president's motorcade swept past the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. Two days later, Ruby shot Oswald dead as police were escorting him for questioning.
The boxes of evidence, found in an old safe in a Dallas courthouse, include a transcript of a conversation said to be between the pair discussing how they would carry out the assassination on behalf of the Mafia.
The transcript claims that the real target of the Mob was the president's brother, Robert Kennedy, the attorney general, himself later assassinated. Robert had launched a campaign against the criminal underworld.
In the alleged conversation, Ruby, a nightclub owner, and Oswald decide that it would be easier to kill the president than his brother and that JFK's death would end the inquiry just as effectively.
They go into it in much greater depth in the article if you're interested in that kind of thing.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The debate surrounding McCain's likely choices for a running mate has been drawing a lot of speculation on the right in recent days. There have been a lot of interesting, and in some cases even exciting, names thrown out there as possibilities. Early on there was talk about Romney or Huckabee filling the slot but McCain really doesn't like Mitt and that acrimony, combined with their divergent policies, would be more than enough to make for an awkward campaign. On the other hand, Huck shares some of McCain's more centrist convictions but would do little to nothing to satisfy the socially and fiscally conservative base that simply cannot be left behind for this election to yield a Republican to the White House.
Although a lot of other names have been proposed for the slot, two in particular jumped out at me as the most probable choices. These are Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts.
Vin Weber outlines why we might be seeing Pawlenty's name of the ticket in a Jonathan Martin article at Politico:
“First of all, his age is attractive,” Weber says, hinting at the nearly quarter-century difference between his fellow Minnesotan and the 71-year-old McCain. “Second, he’s from outside Washington. Third, he represents a battleground part of the country. And he has a nice balance of, on one hand being totally acceptable to conservative wing of the party, especially to social conservatives, but at the same time sharing a couple of key maverick strains of thought with McCain.”
Although you hate to bring it up, the age factor will probably be a central issue in the federal campaign. McCain is not a young man and Pawlenty's youth, coupled with his social conservatism and his strong stance on immigration, may go a long way towards convincing some of the Ann Coulter "I'd vote for Hillary before McCain" social conservatives to fall in line to keep the Democratic candidate out of office.
The article continues:
Declining to say how she got wind of the story, Taylor lavished praise on Pawlenty. "By far, he's the strongest candidate" to serve as McCain's running mate, she said.
"He's a conservative, rock-n-roll Republican and is counterintuitive to the party stereotype that we're old and rich,” says Taylor, who recalled visiting St. Paul and finding the governor jamming in his office to recording artist Bruce Springsteen. “He's young and blue-collar."
And, Taylor said, in a potential race against the 46-year-old Barack Obama, Pawlenty would be "as good as our party has for that [match-up].
“Politically, he’s pretty skilled, no question about it,” says Moe, who lost in a three-way gubernatorial race to Pawlenty in 2002. “He’s a bright guy and very charming, no question about it.”
Another name being tossed around is that of J.C. Watts, best known in Canada as the former quarterback and Grey Cup MVP for the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders. The possibility of Watts as the Mav's running mate was mentioned over at the Halls of Macademia earlier today. The arguments for Watts filling the veep slot are strong.
The National Post elaborates:
Mr. Watts used to be considered a rising star in the party, and delivered a highly praised speech on character at the 1996 Republican national convention. He was selected to deliver his party's response to president Bill Clinton's State of the Union Address in 1997, and addressed the nation after Mr. Clinton's impeachment in 1998.
Now he is a multi-millionaire, running a variety of businesses, including selling John Deere tractors in Texas, offering companies strategies for business development, communications and public affairs, and lobbying government for small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, trade groups and historically black colleges and universities.
An outspoken conservative who once worked as a youth minister and associate pastor with the Southern Baptist Church, Mr. Watts has a congressional record sponsoring tax incentives for businesses in low-income areas. He also helped write U.S. President George W. Bush's "faith-based initiative," which was a key domestic part of his "compassionate conservatism.
The 51-year-old has courted controversy in the past by chastising some black Democrats and civil-rights leaders as "race-hustling poverty pimps."
Like Mr. McCain, he has not hesitated to speak his mind and criticize his own party's leaders."
Watts has been the source of quite a bit of controversy in his day and so would also bring a few of the maverick qualities - as well as the youth - that McCain will likely be looking for in a running mate.
A lot of other, less likely, names are getting attention too, including Condi Rice and, ridiculously, Joe Lieberman. All considered, Watts and Pawlenty seem to be in prime position for the slot. Only time will tell.
How's this for a crackpot theory? Dr. Gabor Mate, a physician who has done work with addicts, thinks Conrad Black ran into trouble with the law since an absense of unconditional love from his childhood inculcated within him a need to acquire property and to be feared.
Story from The Ottawa Citizen:
To the reams of analysis dissecting what makes Conrad Black tick, add one more theory - that the disgraced media baron was addicted to acquisition because he was an awkward child who was compensating for the pain of being unloved.
So says Dr. Gabor Mate who wrote In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, a book about addictions released Saturday. It's based on the physician's work with the addicts of Vancouver's Downtown East Side.
It's a long way from the East Side to Palm Beach, Fla., but Mate, author of the bestsellers Scattered Minds and When the Body Says No, says there's not that much difference between a street addict and Black.
"He kept going for more and more," said Mate, who became fascinated while working with addicts at Vancouver's Portland Hotel by the human drive to fill our voids in self-destructive ways.
"People have described him as selfish or a monster, but no one tries to understand what happened to him," said Mate. "He's a sensitive, very gifted man who had a very rough childhood who had to compensate for the pain."
Friends from Black's youth say he was close to his father, but he felt uncomfortable around his sporting extended family because he was unco-ordinated and not particularly attractive, said Tombs.
"He didn't get love on his own terms. So he would be feared instead of loved," said Tombs. "I felt that there was a little Conrad inside who was quite sad."
Well, sure. Isn't childhood abandonment issues and psychological maladjustment the root of every good Capitalist's drive for accumulation and profit? Fun times with psychology.
Look what that bastard from the Black Eyed Pees hath wrought. Now there's a whole string of political music videos circulating. Check out the new one on John McCain:
Shamelessly stolen from Darryl Wolk.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
My money is still on a Clinton/Obama ticket but an Obama/Gore combo isn't beyond the realm of possibility either. In fact, it makes a lot of sense. Most people I've talked to who thought a Clinton/Obama ticket would never happen cited their egos and the acrimony the campaign has stirred up between the two Democratic frontrunners. If the problems between them are as deep as they are said to be, could this save the Democrats from a bitter and divisive second ballot, if it comes to that?
Theoretically, Gore would help mitigate some of the concerns voters have about the Obamessiah's lack of experience and, for his part, Obama's inspiring oratory would certainly lend some charisma points to Gore's campaign. So, what are we thinking? Could it happen?
Story at Newsweek:
The last time a political convention went to a second ballot was 1952, but this is a year with so many twists and turns that nothing is impossible. Gore would be tempted on so many levels. He would only have to endure two months of campaigning, not long enough for voters to remember what they didn't like about him eight years ago. Gore has sat out the primary process, refusing to offer even so much as a hint of where his sentiments lie. Years of playing second-fiddle to Hillary in the White House no doubt precluded his endorsement for her. Surely he would happily take Obama as his running mate, ending the Clinton dynasty and positioning the Democrats for a potential 16-year reign at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. A Gore-Obama ticket would be unstoppable, the thinking goes, matching the presumptive Republican nominee, McCain, on national security and experience, while embodying a powerful message of change.
The Gore second-ballot scenario isn't being seriously considered by Democratic Party leaders (as far as we know). But a number of individual high-profile Democrats are talking about it, along with any number of other ideas to end the seemingly intractable stalemate.
How could this unfold? Superdelegates are not bound to any candidate. They can do what they want, including changing their mind or withholding an endorsement until the balloting begins. Delegates won in the primaries go to the party's convention with a signed pledge of support for a particular candidate, but one of the biggest myths of the delegate selection process, according to a Democratic National Committee document, is that delegates are bound to follow that pledge on the first ballot. A delegate is asked to "in good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them," a provision designed in part to make the convention a deliberative body. If Hillary's attempts to secure the nomination are seen as illegitimate, and they fail, yet Obama is not seen as a clear victor, Gore's name could be introduced. All it would take is a delegate perhaps from Tennessee, his home state, to raise a point of order, and with backing from five other state delegations, Gore's name could be put in play as a prospective nominee.
Gore's global warming agenda has been one of biggest and most transparent power grabs in the history of Western politics and it was only a matter of time before he felt the time was right to throw his hat back in the race.
Allah has some good insight, as always:
Solomonic broker between the Glacier and Messiah — or consensus second-ballot nominee himself? He’s the worst of both worlds: As left-wing as Obama but without the likeability, as establishment as Hillary but without the organization. Or is it the best of both worlds: As messianic as Obama and as experienced as Hillary? Whatevs. “Gore 2008: Another white man after all.”
Exit question: Tougher to beat than Hill or Barry O? McCain’s maverickiness on global warming would neutralize the Goracle on his signature issue so he’d run mainly on his personal credentials, likely with Obama as VP to leverage his personnel and fundraising. Supplementary exit question: Why would Obama go for it?
H/t Hot Air
This video was put together by one of Huck's supporters. I can barely force myself to feign interest in the Republican primary anymore. Nevertheless, check out the video. It's mildly entertaining:
H/t Hot Air
In six separate incidents, a woman standing in the front row for Barack Obama's campaign speech has fainted. The obvious question is whether this is simply coincidence, or perhaps even the result of above-average oratory combined with overly-excitable supporters, or whether it's campaign theatrics. Many are leaning towards the latter, particularly since the fainting seems to occur at nearly the same point in his speech on a number of occasions.
I can't imagine how this could just be a coincidence, but judge for yourself:
Friday, February 15, 2008
This is just a short follow-up to a post of mine a few weeks ago when I discussed the possibility of a Clinton/Obama ticket and what that would mean for the Republican party. The National Post picked up on the idea today and this is what they came up with:
Rosie O'Donnell thinks Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should unite and "save the world together." Wolf Blitzer, the avuncular CNN political anchor, is practically obsessed with the possibility.
And grassroots Democrats, well, they burst into spontaneous applause whenever the matter is broached in public.
The idea that Clinton and Obama might team up to form a ‘dream ticket' in the 2008 election has captivated pundits and party activists in recent weeks, with the din of speculation about a political partnership growing louder the longer the two candidates battle each other to a draw in presidential primaries.
But what's the actual chance that Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama -- with egos and ambition to match the size of their political talents -- would actually accept an offer to be the other's running mate?
Its proponents argue Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama complement each other in ways that go beyond the compelling aspects of race and gender. Democrats see in Mr. Obama a powerful orator who can inspire a divided nation. In Ms. Clinton, they see an extremely smart candidate with experience and policy depth.
"I think America would benefit from the strengths of either individual," Ms. O'Donnell, the liberal and comedienne, gushed last week in a column on The Huffington Post Web site.
"If those strengths were combined, we might just have the Democratic powerhouse the country needs to turn itself around."
The U.S. media has also been "drooling," in the words of CBS anchor Harry Smith, over the prospect of an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ballot.
The ‘dream ticket' question has become an interview staple for CNN's Mr. Blitzer, who put the candidates on the spot during a nationally televised debate in California.
Both candidates have been scrupulously noncommittal.
"I'm sure Hillary would be on anybody's short list," Mr. Obama said.
"I will consider every qualified person, and that certainly covers him," said Ms. Clinton, in turn.
The possibility of an Obama-Clinton alliance increases the longer the race continues, especially if there is no clear winner before the party's August convention in Denver.
A Time magazine polls last week found 62% of Democrats want Ms. Clinton to put Mr. Obama on the ticket, while just 51% believed Mr. Obama would need to reciprocate if he were the nominee.
"If Hillary Clinton were to receive the nomination, there would be the expectation that she would at least extend the offer to Barack Obama," says Mr. Walch.
An interviewee describes the chances as about 50-50. While there are compelling reasons to think neither of them would be capable of swallowing their pride and extending the offer, a Clinton/Obama ticket is pretty much a slam dunk, especially with McCain and his divided conservative base. And now the word is that Maverick is thinking about a centrist veep. I guess he figures that he's already pissed of enough of the social conservatives that his best bet is to take a chunk out of the independent crowd. Ace outlines why that strategy is never going to pan out here.
This is my favourite kind of story. Two jerk-offs of the immoral persuasion broke into an 80 year-old Texas man's house with the intention of robbing him. The hoodlums stabbed him three times in the face. Unfortunately for them, the 80 year-old happened to be a World War II veteran and what's a couple of whippersnappers after you've gone bullet for bullet with the Nazis? He pulled out a revolver and began shooting. The criminals immediately fled and one of them got a bullet in the back for his troubles.
Follow the link.
H/t Hot Air
Thursday, February 14, 2008
SoCon Or Bust poses this question to the blogosphere:
If Sharia law was made the law of the land in Canada - and it was arrived at by democractic means - would you accept the “will of the people” and that “democracy has spoken”?
SoCon's answer is a thoughtful one and is likely representative of many Conservatives in Canada. He begins by suggesting that there is a fundamental tension between democracy and freedom and that "the further we remove ourselves from Western principles - especially the Judeo-Christian ones - the more we will see a divergence between democracy and freedom." His reasoning follows:
[The decline of Europe] demonstrates that freedom itself - cut off from the search and acknowledgement of the objective truth - will kill us.
“Freedom” is a brittle and empty shell if it is devoid of any moral fibre or an acknowledgement [sic] of our Judeo-Christian heritage. With the decline of Christianity, there has been a marked decline in all spheres of western life including family, freedom, and social cohesion. Or, are we to say that it is just one big coincidence?
He concludes with this whopper:
Secularism mandates that we consider all religions equal. Yet, while we are prepared to say that perhaps(!) Sharia is not such a great thing, we are not prepared to admit that indeed not all religions are created equal. Because if we were to do that, then that would necessarily mean giving one religion preference over another - at least in some capacity ... In other words, where a “religion” starts to subvert the public order and encroach on inalienable human rights - like free speech - it must be confronted and suppressed by the State in some form.
SoCon's suggestion that there is a tension between democracy and liberty is right on. In the sense that he employs the word "democracy" - i.e. rule by the majority - there is an assumption that the will of the people is the route to reaching proper policy decisions. It assumes that collective reasoning is privy to a wisdom that individual reasoning cannot access.
This Rousseaunian conception of democracy is rejected by Canada, the United States, and most other free countries in the world in favour of a different one; the liberal democracy. At its core, classical liberalism is an elegant and simple idea. Every human being is born with the right to their own life. This is the only fundamental human right and all others that we can be said to have are either logical consequences or corollaries of that basic right. Freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of property. All of these freedoms must be acknowledged as well if we accept that there exists this fundamental right to our own lives.
The proper role of the state is the protection of these liberal rights. And so we adopt laws against murder and enforce them with the brute force of the state because how can we be secure in our own life if others would go unpunished for taking it? And we adopt laws against stealing to protect our property because life is a process of self-sustaining action and we must be free to pursue our own chosen goals in whatever way we deem appropriate, provided, of course, that we don't impede others from doing the same thing. SoCon believes that the further we move away from Judeo-Christian principles of morality, the less conducive to freedom our democracy will become. But the assumption behind Western efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan is that all human beings, regardless of their religious leanings, are capable of respecting the right to life of every individual human being.
SoCon's contention that freedom is "a brittle and empty shell" absent from Judeo-Christian values is off-base. Freedom is never empty or absent of moral fiber if the people who live freely defend their way of life. Liberty has no intrinsic connection to Christianity, anymore than it does to Judaism or Islam. The principles of life, liberty, and the freedom to choose our own good are philosophical, not religious. I'm not going to delve into the many, many statements in the Bible that are incompatible with a liberal right to life but I can't imagine anyone of the Judeo-Christian tradition denying that such statements exist. The conventional Judeo-Christian response is a good one; the Old and New Testaments' teachings are profound and couched in ambigous language and so it requires thoughtful analysis and logic to arrive at the appropriate conclusions regarding their moral teachings. Interpreting the Bible's edicts literally is not necessarily the road to leading a good Christian life, and so a good Christian does not necessarily have to murder homosexuals to be virtuous ("If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives" - Leviticus 20:13). And this is the crux of the matter, isn't it? In large part, Judeo-Christian morality has morphed to conform with the principles of freedom found in classical liberalism. This transformation was, historically, a Christian one. It was embarked upon by Christians and realized by Christians, but this does not give Christians a monopoly over liberty and individual rights.
It is not the principles of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition per se that must be preserved for our freedom to remain healthy, but a commitment to the protection of our society's most sacred of assumptions; that no man or woman has a right to force another to live based on one particular conception of the good.
SoCon asks if it is a mere coincidence that the decline of Christianity in the Western World has been met with a decline in personal freedom. No, it's no coincidence. But the problem is not that individuals have abandoned Christianity, but that it has been replaced by moral relativism and nihilism. This is what has truly consumed Europe and allowed the slow and steady erosion of personal liberties to take place. A country could remain free regardless of whether its people were avid Christians, Jews, Muslims, or Atheists provided that they recognize that what is morally crucial is, not that they have found a vision of the good that they would like to live by, but that they were given the opportunity to reach their conclusions freely.
Secularism does not mandate that we treat all religions equally; it mandates that we treat all individuals equally. And that involves protecting their right to be free of oppression in the choosing of their own conception of the good.
Sharia law is fundamentally incompatible with individual human rights. If Sharia law is made law in Canada by democratic means it means the death of our liberal democracy. It means a return to a barbaric moral code that requires the systematic subversion of human rights and the blanket oppression of an individual's opportunities to seek the good in their own way and according to their own vision of it (especially for women). So, would I accept the will of the people if they concluded that Sharia law was in our best interest? Absolutely not. I would rather die than live without liberty. But remaining free does not mean remaining Christian. That decision is to be left up to the individuals of a free society.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I think I'll let it speak for itself:
The best reason not to support Hillary? It would make you one of these losers. What a train wreck. I should mention, of course, that this is not an official ad. I hope you watched it all the way through though because Heaven and Earth know no greater relief than that felt when the singing finally stops.
I've had a long day and can't seem to convince myself to launch into political mode at the moment. Both of these entirely frivolous videos were linked by Ace.
Content Warning: if you are allergic to adorableness or offended by painfully cute animals, do not watch these videos.
Don't judge me. I can hear you judging me.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Fresh from the brilliant minds behind the flourishing martyrs-via-child-indoctrination movement in Palestine. Aren't cartoons fun?
Here's a bit of background:
Remember him? Via Israel Matzav, MEMRI gives us what Palestinian Media Watch couldn’t — the compelling backstory to Assud, the Jew-eating rabbit. As I’m writing this, Fox News is airing a promo for a segment on Assud, thereby confirming our suspicions that the crucial variable to western media in exposing Palestinian Nazi propaganda is whether it contains a cartoon character the audience will recognize.
This makes two dead ‘toons in eight months, the other being Farfour, who was duly beaten to death on air by an evil Zionist agent. Favorite moment here: Some idiot giving CPR to a giant bee. Lost opportunity: Death by illness instead of an Israeli missile strike, which would have warranted a patented Palestinian car swarm featuring dozens of your favorite jihadi plushies.
H/t Hot Air
It's a great article, if a bit long. Definitely required reading, class.
From The Independent:
Up to 17,000 women in Britain are being subjected to "honour" related violence, including murder, every year, according to police chiefs.
And official figures on forced marriages are the tip of the iceberg, says the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
It warns that the number of girls falling victim to forced marriages, kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and even murder by relatives intent on upholding the "honour" of their family is up to 35 times higher than official figures suggest.
The crisis, with children as young as 11 having been sent abroad to be married, has prompted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to call on British consular staff in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to take more action to identify and help British citizens believed to be the victims of forced marriages in recent years.
"We are bringing three girls a week back from Islamabad as victims of forced marriage. We know that is the tip of the iceberg, but that is the failure end. It has to be part of education within the communities and the children themselves."
Women who have been taken overseas to be married against their will are now being rescued on an almost daily basis. The Government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) handled approximately 400 cases last year – 167 of them leading to young Britons being helped back to the UK to escape unwanted partners overseas. And it is not just women who are affected. Home Office figures show that 15 per cent of cases involve men and boys.
In an attempt to crack down on the crimes being committed in the name of honour, police are to introduce a new training package that will give all officers instructions on handling honour cases. In addition, detectives are believed to be conducting a "cold case" style review of previous suicides amid suspicions that cases of honour killings are more common than previously thought.
Almost all victims of the most extreme crimes are women, killed in half of cases by their own husbands. Sometimes murders are carried out by other male relatives, or even hired killers. The fear that many thousands are left to endure honour violence alone may be supported by the disturbing details of the incidence of suicide within the British Asian community. Women aged 16 to 24 from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds are three times more likely to kill themselves than the national average for women of their age.
A report published last week by the Centre for Social Cohesion found that many women felt unable to defy their families and therefore "suffer violence, abuse, depression, anxiety and other psychological problems that can lead to self-harm, schizophrenia and suicide". James Brandon, co-author of Crimes of the Community: Honour-based Violence in the UK, said: "The Government is still not taking honour crime seriously. Until this happens, the ideas of honour which perpetuate this violence will continue to be passed on through generations. Religious leaders, local authorities and central government must work together to end such abuses of human rights."
The human cost of honour crime was vividly captured in a haunting video message from murdered Banaz Mahmood, who revealed how her own father had tried to kill her after she abandoned her arranged marriage and fell in love with another man. In the grainy message she told how he plied her with brandy – the first time she had ever drunk alcohol – pulled the curtains and asked her to turn around.
The 19-year-old fled, but less than a month after making the grainy video on a mobile phone, Banaz was dead. Her naked body was found buried in a yard in Birmingham in 2006, more than 100 miles from her London home. She had been raped and tortured by men hired by her uncle to kill her. Mahmood's father, uncle and one of her killers were sentenced to a total of 60 years in jail for the murder.
And the fatal potential of honour disputes was laid bare last month when a coroner said he was convinced that a Muslim teenager who feared she was being forced into an arranged marriage by her parents had suffered a "vile murder." Ian Smith said the concept of an arranged marriage was "central" to the circumstances leading up to the death of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed, whose decomposed body was discovered on the banks of the River Kent at Sedgwick, Cumbria, four years ago. After running away from home in February 2003, Shafilea told housing officers: "My parents are going to send me to Pakistan and I'll be married to someone and left there." The tragic story of the bright teenager who wanted to go to university and study law is far from the only example of the anguish suffered by British teenagers in recent years.
What a horrendous state of affairs. This has been creeping into the UK slowly but, recently, it has become less of the exception and more of the rule. For example, can you believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury declared that he welcomes sharia law for England since it would unite the country, and that PM Gordon Brown supported him? It's beyond my comprehension. We've seen the face of sharia law a thousand times but the above article brings the point home. Sharia law looks like upwards of 17,000 women in Britain being subjected to "honour" crimes. In practice, sharia law means intimidation, subordination, and a life of fear and repression for women. It's a barbarous and medieval code that needs to be denounced for what it is.
Allah save Canada from a fate such as sharia law.
H/t Ace (who received the blogger of the year award at CPAC last week!)