Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Islamization of Paris

Thanks to Agent 6 for providing the link to a video that should be seen before we rush to condemn those who oppose the building of a mosque near Ground Zero or in their backyard.

As you watch these hidden cam videos, you may think that we should just be tolerant. But ask yourself what would happen if Christians conducted open air prayers and rites in the streets of Mecca or Medina. For the Muslims, the street of tolerance runs only one way.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Live by the Segway, die by the Segway

You know what this is, right? Gee dad, it's a Segway! Do you have one? Were you the first on your block? Or the last? Mercifully, this fad never really caught on.

Today's news is that the owner of the British firm that makes the Segway lost his life this weekend when he quite unaccountably drove one of the futuristic machines over a cliff and into a river. As Kurt would say, so it goes.

Millionaire Jimi Heselden led a British team which bought US-based Segway Inc. in December 2009, and now manufactures and distributes the distinctive and allegedly self-balancing vehicles.

The funeral will be held later this week. A large turnout is expected if only to see if the pallbearers will be utilizing the deceased's favourite mode of transportation.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lost in translation

Agence France Presse reports a Freudian slip of the tongue by France's glamorous former justice minister Rachida Dati. Apparently Mlle [Mme? Ed.] Dati had something else on her mind while speaking on the subject of foreign investment funds.

"When I see some of them [the funds] looking for returns of 20 or 25 percent, at a time when fellatio is almost non-existent...," she said during an interview on Radio Europe 1.

She was speaking in French, of course. The French word she used is "fellation," which shares some syllables with "inflation", which is the same in French as in English. Cela peut arriver de parler trop vite.

Mme [Mlle? Ed.] Dati was dropped from the French government last year after her penchant for designer dresses and appearing on the covers of celebrity magazines prompted criticism that a senior minister should not engage in such frivolity.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New hope with a new party

Picking up where we left off a couple of hours ago...

Why, some will ask, is Walt (along with millions of others) so ticked off with Barry O'bama? If I don't like him, don't trust him, don't believe him, I must be a racist, right? No!

The disenchantment with President O (as in "zero") is not a racist thing. To suggest that is the typically arrogant and dismissive approach of the so-called "urban intelligentsia". Our disillusionment is based on the realization that O's "hope" message was a cynical and effective ploy to get elected.

Tea Party members aren't racist. They are merely libertarians who are sick and tired of the same old left-liberal "solutions" to the economic and social problems which the very same liberal elite has created.*

Has it occurred to these pious windbags that people are just sick and tired of being lorded over and taxed to death by a nanny state hell-bent (let us pray) on placating special interests, greasing every minority wheel that squeaks?

Do you want a gay pride parade? Fine. I don't care. Just don't ask me to pay for it.

Do you not like guns? Fine. Don't buy one. And don't run crying to Tim Horton's in search of a cop because you can't defend yourself.

Do you want to stone someone to death for adultery? Fine. Go cast the first stone in a Muslim theocracy where that's the law.

Not everyone who yells "Enough is enough!" is an unenlightened knuckle-dragger who likely beats his wife. More likely he's just a perfectly normal but damn angry white man (or woman) who's not going to take it any more!

If that describes you, I invite you to join my new party, which is destined for even greater things than the Tea Party.

Frankly, I thought the name "Tea Party" was kind of silly, so got thinking of some alternatives. "Libertarian Party" is already taken. You can look it up. So I thought of People's United People, but the abbreviation PUP is less than inspiring. People's Party and People's Union didn't work either.

So I am pleased to announce that all libertarians who have had enough and just want the government to leave them alone are welcome to join the Fed Up Party, or FU for short.

Membership in the Fed Ups entitles you to tell the next pol who knocks on your door, "I'm going to give my vote to FU!" or "I've made my decision. FU!"

I'm pleased to announce as well that we already have our first candidate, the eminently electable John Noone. When you go to vote this fall, ask yourself...

Who will listen to the opinions of ordinary citizens? NOONE!

Who cares about the workers who pay the taxes for all these "services" and "programs"? NOONE!

Who will punish criminals, especially those guilty of breach of trust? NOONE!

Who will close the doors on bogus refugees and illegal aliens? NOONE!

Who will govern with honesty and integrity, in the best interests of our country? NOONE!

The choice is clear. Vote for Noone! FU! FU very much!

* Once again I commend to you Godfrey Hodgson's America In Our Time (1977, Vintage Books).

The failure of hope

Millions of Americans voted for Barack Obama because he offered hope. It was also a way of showing the world that we're not racist after all, because, hey, we voted for a (somewhat) black guy who at least didn't sound like an end man.* But I digress.

Yes, nearly two years ago Americans voted for hope. Hope of what? Hope of...errr...something. Hope that maybe things would change. Change for what? Well...errr...something better.

When they (not I) voted for Barry it was because they thought he was a moderate, progressive, forward-looking centrist. What they got was a guy trying to right all that's wrong with America and the hope. "Yes we can" should really have read, "Yes we can...I hope."

But, gentle reader, hope is not a plan.

Hope is fine for the rhetoric of the election campaign, but hope, as in religion, depends on there being an afterlife. The bad news is, we are experiencing the afterlife right now. And it turns out our hope was misplaced.

We are experiencing, right now, the failure of reality to match the rhetoric. So we are, to put it mildly, disappointed.

And we are angry. We feel that we've been conned, played for suckers yet again by the liberal humanist ideologues and the "useful idiots" of the mass media. When the masses are being duped effectively, they are seen as progressing towards civility. That's what the election of Obama was all about, dontcha know?

But now that the real desires of the people are being voiced, these pseudo-intellectual talking heads are starting to say the unwashed masses are being duped again, only this time by the reactionary, Republican, neanderthal, [That's enough insulting adjectives. Ed.] knuckle-draggers of the Tea Party.

Watching/reading/listening to the liberal talking heads go apoplectic as normal, hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens take back control is so much fun. Let's keep it up! Keep making noise! Keep voting for the un-PC candidates!

Forget about hope. Support people who understand reality and have a plan for cleaning up the mess that the liberal establishment has created. Power to the people -- the real people!

* Footnote: If you're not old enough to know what an "end man" is, Google "minstrel show".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is there a Ford in Toronto's future?

The first part of today's musings was about the decline of the American rust belt and the impoverishment of Detroit and Buffalo. Half a century later, the virus has spread north. Torontonians are waking up these fine fall mornings to the realization that their city's glory days are over.

Toronto's position as the economic hub of Canada is waning. The auto industry is not the powerhouse of the last century. Banking and finance are still doing OK. But oil and resources are where the money is, and that means west. Hello Alberta! Even poor Saskatchewan is suddenly a player, thanks to potash. [Wat dat? Ed.] Who knew?

Meanwhile, Toronto's streets are beginning to resemble those of Buffalo or The Big Apple itself. Graffiti, sure. Street people -- burn-outs, drug addicts, and panhandlers -- on every corner and in the parks. And gangbangers ruling the night. Shootings are an every-weekend, if not everyday occurrence. And 99% of the time the shooters and the shootees are black and "known to the police".

And let's not forget ghettos. Toronto's got not just racial ghettos, like the notorious Jane-Finch, but ethnic ghettos -- south Asians in Mississauga and Brampton, east Asians in Markham and Scarborough, and Italians in Woodbridge.

That's the other side of multiculturalism. If you encourage immigrants to cling to their own languages and ethnicities there can be no "melting pot" in the American sense.

One of the losers running for mayor of Toronto -- George Smitherman -- says Toronto's diversity (by which he means its huge population of fairies) is its strength. In fact diversity breeds disharmony. There is strength in unity, not diversity. But there is precious little harmony or unity in Toronto these days.

Can Toronto be saved from becoming another Detroit, or -- even worse -- Buffalo? (Please don't get on Walt's case for that remark. It was made by another Toronto mayoralty candidate, Joe Pantalone, part of the outgoing administration that couldn't organize a two-car funeral procession.)

Out of right field comes Rob Ford, the odds-on favourite to beat Mr. Pantsonfire and Furious George. Mr. Ford is running a platform of fiscal responsibility and no more politically correct nonsense. In fact, he is Mr. Politically Incorrect, and thus the darling [How about "Great White Hope"? Ed.] of the (mostly white) suburban and working-class Torontonians who now find themselves a beleaguered minority in their own city.

If Canada had a Tea Party, Rob Ford would be its leader! That's why he's going to win in a walk on October 25th. The implications for provincial and federal politics are enormous.

Toronto: the new Detroit?

Walt's been away for a couple of days, emerging timidly from his woodland retreat to prowl the streets of three cities on the shores of the lower Great Lakes: Toronto, Detroit and Buffalo. It used to be fairly easy to tell which side of the border you were on. Now, I'm not so sure.

Just after WWII, Toronto was a small, sleepy, provincial city -- a collection of towns, really. People used to go to Buffalo for a good time. (Can you imagine?) The American border cities were where you found the nightlife and the excitement.

And the business. Detroit's booming auto plants turned out millions of exciting new cars every year, and people bought them. Canada's "Little Three" went along for the ride. Even Buffalo had businesses of some sort, not just dollar stores and pawn shops.

Then came the 60s and 70s. Toronto grew like Topsy and reorganized itself as "Metro" -- the city that worked. Torontonians started thinking of their city as "the Little Apple" -- Canada's answer to New York. Peter Ustinov called Toronto "like New York, if New York were run by the Swiss".

At the same time, the American cities of the rust belt fell apart, or, in the case of Detroit, got burned down in the race riots which marked the "civil rights" era of Kennedy, Johnson and, yes, Nixon. In my view, America has never recovered from the impact of the social engineering policies of that time and the economic turmoil of that time.

Detroit is a hollow shell. Buffalo is, by one recent estimate, the third-poorest city in the U.S.A. You can trace the beginning of the end back to the Kennedy-Johnson era and the liberal humanist economic and social policies of that time. See America in Our Time, by Godfrey Hodgson (Vintage Books, 1976).

What happened to Toronto? See following post.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Light up your night: supercool website

With so much filth and degeneracy on the Internet, it's refreshing to find a site you can watch without having to make excuses if your spouse catches you.

Courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency you can now watch live feeds of the aurora borealis -- the Northern Lights, for the Latin-challenged -- on AuroraMAX.

The launch of the online observatory coincides with aurora season in Northern Canada, which generally begins in late August or early September and ends in May.The light show starts after dusk local time. The AuroraMAX observatory is located in Canada's great white (mostly) north, at longitude 114°21'W and latitude 62°26'N, so local time would be...errr...around 8:30 p.m. PT or 11:30 p.m. ETT.

Presumably it will get earlier and earlier as we move towards the winter solstice. If you can't stay up, what you missed will be repeated on video the next day.

The online observatory is a collaborative initiative involving the Canadian Space Agency, the city of Yellowknife, Astronomy North and the University of Calgary. You see?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Your number's not up until it's up

Thanks to Agent 46 for forwarding this incredible airshow video.

Agent 17, do you think you could have done this, back in the day?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Muslims admit discrimination in Pakistan aid

Pakistani bishops have called again for an end to discrimination in aid to the non-Muslim victims of recent flooding. A spokesman for the bishops' Commission for Justice and Peace said, "The discrimination in aid distribution is still taking place.... It’s time the government officially admitted it, speaking out with clear words of condemnation and implementing a strategy to avoid it."

A missionary priest, Fr. Robert McCulloch, told Fides "We continue to see and receive news on discrimination in the management of humanitarian aid, at the expense of Hindus and Christians from lower social classes. The poor are in rural areas, people have generally looked down upon, which today are not even considered worthy of concern."

But the most startling part of the Fides report is the testimony of two Pakistani Muslim intellectuals.

According to Junaid Khanzada, former president of the Press Association in Hyderabad, "Some government officials and Islamic fundamentalist organizations deliberately ignore the needs of the tribal Sindh. They are Christians and Hindus of the lower social classes; in Pakistan, they are classified as belonging to 'scheduled castes', in India called 'dalit'.... In many cases religion, rather than the actual needs, has become the criterion for giving aid."

Another resident of Hyderabad, Ishaq Pangrati, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told Fides "I am shocked and alarmed by the discrimination in the distribution of food to refugees, which I have seen with my own eyes in the Jati area, strongly affected by the floods."

Click here to read the bishops' statement, and keep it in mind when you're thinking about donating. Any organization that gives aid to or through the Pakistani government is disregarding strong evidence that donations are being diverted to corrupt government officials, with whatever's left at the bottom of the trough being used only to help Muslims.

Is this what you really want to happen to your charitable contributions? Give only through the Church or Christian charities.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Politically incorrect Cardinal doesn't get to visit UK

Walter Cardinal Kasper, a.k.a. "The Friendly Ghost of the Vatican" announced yesterday that he would not, after all, be accompanying Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.

He's been left off the tour, it seems, because of a truthful but remarkably un-PC comment about the UK’s growing ethnic diversity.

The prelate, formerly president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, was reported as saying, “When you arrive at Heathrow you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country.”

Shortly after the story broke in the Daily Telegraph, Cardinal Kasper announced that he would stay in Rome because he had been ill “for several days.” Besides, he added, he doesn't really care for Britain's national dish, chicken tikka massala.

Said Her Brittanic Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, "We are not amused."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

La France à M. Dosanjh: Mange de la merde!

To continue the theme of yesterday's post, let's be clear about why France, the home of liberty, equality and fraternity, is expelling the Roma. The gypsies are not big on the fraternity part.

In France (and everywhere the "travellers" go), they do not even try to integrate with the host society. They live in tents or wagons, in camps of horrific filth and squalor. They do not work, preferring to live on state benefits, if possible, supplemented by stealing and other illegal pursuits.

The French just got tired of having the Romas on their soil and trying, unsuccessfully, to deal with them. What do you do with people who have no will to integrate, work, have a business, or otherwise adhere to the values of the majority? So the French said, either try to be good citizens or go back where you came from. Very refreshing in this age of political correctness, no?

Entrez (as in "go into France") Monsieur Ujjal Dosanjh. He is not French. [What part of Ireland is he from, then? ed.] He is not Irish either! He is Indo-Canadian, and a very visible minority too, for he is a member of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the Parliament of Canada.

Rather than attending to the nation's business in Ottawa, Mr. Dosanjh has embarked on a one-man fact-finding mission to France, to investigate that country's treatment of the Roma.

Does he have an open mind? Well, errrr...not exactly. Before actually visiting any gypsy camps or meeting any gypsy kings or queens, Mr. Dosanjh stated that expelling the Roma from France is "not a solution to that European problem".

He went on to say “I think France is dealing with this situation in a very un-French way. France is the home of liberty, equality and fraternity and this is absolutely antithetical to that.... They are doing it for purely political purposes. I believe it’s wrong for any government to target already marginalized people for just some political trolling.”

The French have so far been restrained in their response to the Hindu chap's remarks. They have not yet asked him how he would deal with the situation. Would he, for instance, suggest putting all the gypsies on a boat and shipping them out to Vancouver? All the more Liberal votes for the Lower Mainland!

British Columbians must be thanking their God (or gods) that Mr. Dossanjh and his party are not in power. Meanwhile, the French are probably wishing that Mr. D., like the gypsies, would just go home.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Those damn racist French!

Amazing! This goes down in the history of the 21st century as the summer when the French -- leaders of the great enlightenment of the 19th century -- decided the national motto of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" needed a rethink.

Political correctness be damned. We are not all equal. As for the brotherhood (and sisterhood?) of man...forget it!

In August the French became the first European nation to do what all the rest secretly wished they could do. They told the Roma -- the people our mothers called "gypsies" -- to go home to Romania. The European Union decried the expulsion of these poor downtrodden parasites [refugees, surely! ed.] as barbaric and (of course) racist.

Now the French senate, by a pretty convincing majority -- 246 to 1 -- has voted to ban the burqa, the complete head-to-toe covering made fashionable by Middle Eastern Muslim women. The measure had been passed, almost as overwhelmingly, by the lower House of Assembly in July.

How does this square with the idea of fraternity and the brotherhood of man? The French are justly famous for their ability to torture logic and philosophy. Here is the rationale of those behind the measure.

The wearing of the burqa symbolizes one's religious faith, they say, and sets wearers apart as being different from other Frenchwomen. Therefore it is a threat to France's unique values, including its secular foundation and a notion of fraternity that is contrary to those who hide their faces.

Hm. What about the USA and Canada? Aren't we supposed to be secular nations? In Canada the liberals even succeeded in getting all references to God removed from the constitution, if not the national anthem. In the USA, church and state are supposed to be strictly separate.

Both countries also proclaim their belief in the principle of national unity. (OK, maybe not Canada.) My point is that the argument for the banning of the burqa could be applied to the USA and Canada as easily as France. But of course that would make us, like the French, racists and haters. If you don't believe me, just wait for the editorials in the Times and the Globe and Mail.

"Gonzo": It MUST be read!

Attention Agent 17! This is for you! For lo, did we not, those many years ago, get fully fuelled and go scream at the moon while raising dust devils in the Red Shark? Did we not follow in the tire tracks of the late great Dr. Gonzo himself?

I had read both of the biographies of Hunter Stockton Thompson, Doctor of Gonzo Journalism, that appeared before his death, viz.
Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson, by E. Jean Carrol (Plume 1993), and
Peter Whitmer's When the Going Gets Weird: The Twisted Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson; A Very Unauthorized Biography, (Hyperion Press, 1993)

Both books are pretty good, as far as they go, but as the publication dates indicate, "as far as they go" is the problem. HST didn't die until 2005. One might argue that his life -- his artistic life at least -- was pretty well over by 1993 so the next 12 years don't matter. But without knowing the story of his decline and eventual suicide, how can you understand the man?

There's also the problem that before his death many people were afraid to speak candidly about HST and their relationships with him. Possibly they feared that he would rise out of his wheelchair and come after them with a .50 calibre weapon. But after his Hemingway-like demise, their lips came unsealed.

All...or almost revealed in Gonzo: the Life of Hunter S. Thompson, an oral biography by Jann S. Wenner and Corey Seymour (Little, Brown & Co., 2007). The authors...compilers, really...worked (???) with HST at Rolling Stone.

Having been, if not out of this world at least on the other side of it, when the book appeared, I missed it. Now I am hugely indebted to a dear and self-described acolyte for giving a copy to me. You know who you are, and I thank you.

To quote from the dust jacket blurb, the book is "a remarkable portrait of a mercurial soul who was alternately affectionate and impossible. Gonzo is a vivid biography of a life write large, with no excuses."

HST would probably have cringed at that last cliché. In a lucid moment he could surely have written something cutting which would have been ten times as fitting. I can't do so. If you're an admirer of Gonzo journalism, the whole Gonzo style and its creator, read the book...if only to understand yourself the better. Otherwise, forget it. We don't need you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tim Horton's: where the real people meet

This is a follow-up to the last post about the rise of a Tea Party movement -- or a milder version of it -- in Canada.

Susan Delacourt has written a sequel to her piece in the Toronto Star, to which I referred in Saturday's post. Here's an excerpt:

The real power of Tim Hortons for politicians, it seems, is its link to the rise of populism as a political force and the “common wisdom of the common people.” Tim Hortons voters aren’t as riled as the U.S. Tea Party movement — it doesn’t seem likely that you’ll see them staging big, anti-government rallies anytime in the near future. But it seems clear that it’s political peril for Canadian politicians to either ignore the Tims voters or worse, speak down to them.

I commend both articles to all my Canadian friends. And to any politicians -- Canadian, American or otherwise -- I say, speaking as one of the common people, don't say you weren't warned. Listen up!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Is there a Tea Party brewing in Canada?

Some time ago Walt wondered if a Tea Party movement wouldn't be a good thing for Canada. Apparently some Canadians have been thinking along the same lines. You'll find them at that great Canadian institution -- Tim Hortons!

Just drop in at your local Tim's -- you'll find them in the northeastern USA too, even in NYC -- and eavesdrop on the conversations about the issues of the day: immigration; foolish government spending; health care; multiculturalism.... You'll hear a lot of those supposedly mild-mannered and middle-of-the-road Canadians saying things that would embarrass even the handful of red Tories in Steve Harpoon's government.

Politicians are listening! On his bus ride across Canada this summer Count Michael Ignatieff made it a point to stop nearly every day and be photographed holding a Tim Hortons cup. (The cup is full of tea though; no coffee addict he!)

And a year ago Call Me Steve skipped a United Nations assembly meeting in favour of a photo-op at a Tim Hortons in a suburb of Toronto, welcoming the doughnut chain back as a Canadian public company. (Steve's no coffee drinker either; he quaffed hot chocolate.)

Why this sudden interest in "the Tim Hortons nation"? According to Susan Delacourt, writing in the Toronto Star, it's because Harper and Ignatieff "really like the eople who drink Tim Hortons coffee. They want their votes and their affection." Of course!

Ms Delacourt's article quotes the head of an Ottawa think tank as saying "In terms of the politics of symbolism, clearly the Tim Hortons connection symbolizes being in touch with ordinary people, drinking what they drink. It's not the place where anyone knows the price of arugula."

So, she says, the USA has its Tea Party movement, and Canada has its Tim Hortons. "What's bubbling in the political kettle here, so to speak, is populism, of two very different but related sorts."

Just so, and the difference has to do with the temperament of the people. Americans are much more inclined than Canadians to take to the streets and wave placards. Canadians don't like to do that, especially when it's cold outside. They just sit in Tim's, sip their coffee and complain to each other. (Walt wonders if the national bird of Canada shouldn't be the grouse!)

But Canadians do vote, although in recent years they do so in declining numbers. Probably they feel that voting doesn't matter because there's no real alternative to the centre-right Tories or the centre-left Liberals.

As CNN pointed out a few weeks ago, there was, in the 1980s, a more conversative option, the Reform Party. But the Reform got co-opted by the red (or paler blue) Tories who valued winning more than ideology.

However, new movements and new parties keep springing up. There's the Wild Rose Party in Alberta -- Reform redux -- and there are stirrings even in Ontario and Québec. There's bound to be an election sometime between now and 2012. Let's see if the simmering discontent with the mainstream Canadian parties comes to a boil.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zen Catholicism

Walt is a great admirer of Joseph Cardinal Zen Zekiun, the archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong. He was made a cardinal by the Holy Father in hopes that he (Cardinal Zen) would help to build bridges between the Vatican and Communist China, between the underground Catholic Church and the schismatic Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. All this is part of the ostpolitik espoused by the Vatican Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone and other fellow travellers lurking in the corridors of power.

Well -- surprise surprise -- Cardinal Zen immediately and publicly told Bertone and his faction that it's worse than useless to try to appease or co-operate with the Communists! He reminds us constantly that Communism and Christianity are antithetical. In fact the Church said many years ago that you can't be a member of any secret society, especially the Communist Party, and remain in communion with the Church. Bertone and others have conveniently forgotten that, but Cardinal Zen keeps reminding them.

This week Cardinal Zen published an article in AsiaNews in which he said once again that we must not be blind to the continuing Communist persecution of bishops who are faithful to the Pope, even when they have received government recognition. Here's an excerpt:

Do our bishops in China have any chance to dialogue? Among themselves? No! The Government keeps a tight watch to prevent them from doing so. With the Government? Surely not! They have only to listen and obey. They are ordered to leave for destinations they do not know. They are summoned to meetings without knowing the agenda. They are given speeches to read which they have not written and to which they did not even give a look beforehand....

It is true that the methods of persecution have improved. Now the victims are invited to dinners, to sight-seeing tours, gifts are showered on people and honours (like promotions to be member of the People’s Congress at different levels). They are even given promises that their conscience will be respected. But we know that in orthodox Marxism promises mean nothing. Lies are legitimate means to achieve success.

In these recent days we come to know that they have released Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo from prison and that they would soon to the same with Bishop James Su Zhimin. But the plan would be that the Government would even recognize them as bishops, while the Holy See would ask them to retire, so as to leave the seat free for a successor chosen with “mutual agreement (?!)” In any case, the final outcome would be that what is done is what the Party wants.

Cardinal Zen also criticized the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for being too willing to compromise with the Chinese government. He writes:

We say: “What the [Communist] Party wants is not what the Pope wants”. By saying so, we are held guilty of confrontation. But, by a “happy chance,” nowadays what the Party wants seems to coincide easily with what the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples wants. So, Alleluia! Everybody should be happy!

I love reading Cardinal Zen's statements. He does not mince words. God grant him many more years!

"The West is at war with Islam"

Two people are saying that. One is Osama bin Laden. The other is Pastor Terry Jones, the spiritual leader of a small bunch of snake-handlers down in Gainesburgers FL. The "war" between Islam and (one supposes) Christianity is Pastor Jones's rationale for burning a few copies of the Qu'ran, the holy book of Islam.

I don't think he should do it. Not that I think he ever intended to. The whole thing reeks of a stunt to gain a little publicity for the good pastor. And it's worked too. He's being burned in effigy on the other side of the world, getting 1000s of Muslims all riled up, as if they needed it.

Now Mr. Jones is saying his efforts have wrung a concession out of the Muslims, a promise to not build a mosque (or community centre or faith centre or whatever) near Ground Zero. The imam behind the project says there's no such deal but if for any reason they don't do it, Mr. Jones is going to claim the credit.

Perhaps Mr. Jones, and those who oppose the building of the mosque, need to be reminded that two wrongs don't make a right. Sure, there would be reports of sub-zero weather in hell on the day that Christians were allowed to build a cathedral in Qum or Mecca. But freedom of religion -- including the freedom to build places of worship -- is a cornerstone of our Western democracy.

By denying this freedom to the Muslims, we descend to their level. We also become like the Chinese Communists (see recent posts), who allow people to build churches and temples only if the state approves. If the Muslims want to build a mosque next door to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Walt says let ` long as they don't complain if the Catholics install huge amplifiers for the church bells to drown out the cries of the muzzein!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Freedom of speech, Chinese-style

Recently I've commented on the Communist Chinese persecution and harrassment of Catholics faithful to Rome, a case in point being the late Bishop John Yang Shudao, RIP. But it's not only members of the underground Church who have to keep silent about their beliefs.

Journalists, lawyers, activitists -- anyone who doesn't toe the party line -- are well advised to shut up or face the consequences. Take, for example, Chen Guangcheng.

Mr. Chen is -- or was -- a lawyer. He is blind, but didn't let that stop him from learning the law (such as it is, in China) on his own. And he's not blind to the injustices of the Communist system. He made his name defending the poor and the disabled.

Inevitably, Communist officialdom took notice. In 2005 Mr. Chen dared to exposed a government-sponsored campaign of violence in Shandong province. To meet their quota under China's inhuman "one child policy", a local authority forced 7,000 women to be sterilized and face late-term abortions which killed 1000s of babies.

Mr. Chen thought this was wrong, a barbaric and unlawful infringement on the rights of these women. He brought a class action suit on their behalf. For his pains, he was hauled before a kangaroo court and sentenced to 51 months in prison on trumped-up charges of destroying government property and organizing a crowd to block traffic.

Mr. Chen served did his time -- every day of it -- and was looking forward to being released today. And he was released, only to be immediately placed under house arrest!

Yuan Weijing, his wife, was informed that the security detail which has surrounded her home since her husband was incarcerated in 2006 would be increased and that cameras would be installed nearby to keep them under 24/7 surveillance. How long will this last? That she was not told.

Nicholas Bequelin, who works with Human Rights watch, said “He’s not really being released, but just going from prison to yet another form of detention. There is just no basis in Chinese law for doing this.”

What M. Bequelin doesn't understand is that there is no fixed and fair system of law in China. We know that in the west there's one law for the rich and powerful and another for the poor and disadvantaged. But the situation in China is much worse.

Under their system, the law is whatever the Communist government says it is, on any given day for any given individual. It could change tomorrow. Or it could remain the same forever.

Old China hands know the meaning of "This is China." Expect the worst and you will never be surprised or disappointed.

This post is based on an article by Bill Schiller in today's Toronto Star. Click here to read the entire report.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Public funeral for Chinese bishop forbidden by Communists

On August 31st Walt noted the death of Chinese Catholic bishop John Yang Shudao, who had for decades been a victim -- one of many -- of Communist harrassment and persecution. Today the Fides news agency reports on his funeral, held on September 1st.

They say Bishop Yang's funeral was “obliged to be held in a private manner and under strict surveillance of security forces.” The scene must have been like that at the funeral of a New York mafioso! Such is the "freedom of religion" guaranteed by the Chinese constitution.

Flood aid in Pakistan for Muslims only!

A revealing report from Pakistan says that some Pakistani Christian families are being denied flood aid unless they convert to Islam.

Carl Moeller is CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization that combats anti-Christian persecution. He is quoted as saying “Some Christian refugees are openly denied aid, while others are told to leave or convert to Islam. You can imagine that terrible choice: either you abandon your faith or you cannot feed your child.”

The Fides news agency has collected testimony from several Christians who have been denied aid. Click here to read their stories.

By contrast, the Catholic Church, in spite of hostility from the Pakistani government, is doing all it can to help flood victims of all faiths.

Bishop Max John Rodrigues said today, “The tireless work of Caritas [a large Catholic relief agency] continues in all directions, in every diocese and without discrimination on the recipients.... We help everyone. Many religious and Catholic volunteers are working in the area. I see a lot of solidarity: Muslims, Christians, and Hindus are united in suffering.

“As far as the aid brought by Islamic charity groups, they defend themselves by saying that according to their doctrine, the money from the zakhat [Islamic alms] should go only to Muslims,” he added. “In this country there is a general discrimination against minorities and the poorest workers. It is a widespread mentality which can also affect this tragedy. The fact that the rich are better off than the poor, having saved their own land, is a serious matter which the government must address.”

Lesson: If you want to contribute to the relief effort, do NOT send your money to organizations which work through the Pakistani government. Give instead to Caritas or your own Christian church-sponsored aid effort. God and the afflicted will bless you for it, even if the imams don't.

I had a dream

Last night I had a dream. Just like Martin Luther King. Well, not the same dream, of course. But a pretty good dream. And I thought, in a waking moment, wouldn't it be great if I could "save" this so I could watch it again. Why can't I just plug a flash drive into my ear and download it. But not being a droid (in spite of my R2D2-like shape), I couldn't do that.

That got me thinking about the complexity of the life forms we call human beings. Doctors and scientists still don't fully understand how our brains function. They don't know exactly how we dream or why we dream. But we do.

There are those -- Stephen Hawking is the latest -- who tell us that God had nothing to do with the creation of such complex creatures. It just kind of happened. Just by accident a couple of simple cells swimming in the primordial soup just happened to meet, and billions of years later, voilà, homo sapiens.

Yet even genii like Dr. Hawking can't figure out how to replicate a human. You can clone a sheep, but not a person. Perhaps it has something to do with what religous people call "the soul". Which brings us back to God.

I'm not a "creationist", in the sense of believing that God created the world in exactly six 24-hour days, and made man, fully-formed in the shape and image we call "man" today, out of mud. But I do believe in intelligent design.

Maybe, since Hawking and others are intelligent enough, we should call it "super-intelligent design". That's "super-intelligent", a close cousin of "supernatural".

The Bible tells us that God made man. It doesn't give the recipe -- the one that intelligent, 21st-century men are still looking for.

The Bible was written in simpler times, for simple people. It does not tell us how God made us. If you want to believe He did it in a day, that's fine. If you prefer to think that it took a complex evolutionary process, over millions of years, that's fine too.

The important thing is to remember that there is a Higher Power which/whom we call God. Let's not deny Him.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The emergency that never ends

Yesterday I passed on a news item about the closure of three terminals at LAX, all because a security guard had left his post guarding ONE exit to ONE terminal, possibly to keep any would-be terrorist from changing his mind and leaving the building.

I am mindful that we are just six days away from the ninth anniversary of 9/11. I remember the day well. Who doesn't? I also remember the actions...and overreactions...of the nation and indeed the world.

At the place where I lurked [worked, surely! ed.] the immediate reaction was a meeting of senior management. Our offices were on a small campus in a somewhat remote rural area, and management was worried that we might get stuck there. The topic of the meeting was whether we had enough food to eat. I suspect a list was drawn up of who would be eaten first if supplies ran out.

Well, supplies didn't run out and things eventually got back to normal. Sort of. For the truth is that life in the USA has never returned to what passed for normal before the attack on the Twin Towers. 9/11 not only killed nearly 3000 people, but made us -- Americans and the rest of the world -- the hostages of fear.

Travellers feel the suspicion and mistrust every day. Any stranger in any strange land is now a potential security threat, and is treated accordingly. In fact, you don't even have to be in a strange land to be subjected to the harassment, poking and prodding of the high-school dropouts charged with "protecting" us.

Maybe our national motto should be changed to "You can't be too careful!" because, for our "safety and convenience", we are subject to new and increasingly severe security measures every day. And these laws and regulations are never going to be repealed because the emergency will never be deemed to be over.

Even if the Osama bin Laden were to turn himself in tomorrow, even if the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and Hunosehu were to convert to Judaism, the political and cultural alienation that has been engendered by the "War on Terror" will never end. After all, just because we're paranoid doesn't mean "they" are not out to get us.

I am still waiting for someone to explain to me why US stamps can't be steamed or soaked off envelopes any more.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fear and loathing at LAX

Associated Press reports today that three (count `em -- 3!) terminals at Los Angeles International Airport were shut down early this morning after an airport contract worker left an exit from a secure area unattended.

You read that right -- an exit, not an entrance. In other words, someone might have sneaked OUT of the airport. And note that although the exit was presumably in just one terminal, three terminals were "locked down", as the buzzphrase has it. Five arriving flights and three departures were delayed.

Doesn't this strike anyone as being a bit extreme? The matter is being investigated by top men -- TOP men -- and Walt expects the investigation to show that the security guard just needed a bathroom break and couldn't wait.

So no biggie, right? But this is the United States of Paranoia, where any little thing could be a warning sign of a terrorist plot. Ridiculous... I'd say the folks at LAX need to learn to RELAX.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Liberal ideology in ruins

When I started this blog some 14 months ago, I told myself that I would never devote a post wholly to a lengthy quote from a source, without adding my own comment. Never is a long time...

Looking at the many pages of America in Our Time (see previous post) which I've dog-eared, I've come across just such a long quote, worth sharing without further comment. This sums up Godfrey Hodgson's analysis and argument admirably. The emphasis is mine.

The American governmental and intellectual elite made a discover in those years [1960-72] that can be compared to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. They had assumed that they could study the world with objectivity. They had also assumed that they could change it by exerting money, or force, or both, with surgical dispassion, without themselves being changed. They found that can't be done.

They supposed that they could intervene in Indochina as if from Mount Olympus and that their intervention would have no effect on the United States. They were wrong.

They supposed that it would be possible to eliminate segregation in the South without changing the social relations or political institutions of the country as a whole. That was wrong, too. And when they discovered that mistake, they went on to imagine that they could get rid of the poverty and discrimination that they had rather belatedly discovered in the North without that effort, either, having any great effect on themselves. And that was the worst miscalculation of all.
They discredited their own doctrines. They lost the confidence of the majority...

Such a dénouement...raises the possibility that it wasn't so much that something went wrong with their plans as that there was something wrong with the liberals' perception of reality all along. And in fact if we look once again at the major assumptions of the liberal is plain that each of them has been at least apparently or partially discredited in one way or another by the events of the sixties. As a system, the liberal ideology is in ruins.

Book review: America in Our Time

Just call me Mr. Persistent. [Not Mr. President? ed.] I have finished a long but rewarding slog through America in Our Time by Godfrey Hodgson. It's tough going, like hard-rock mining, but I found so many nuggets that posting them all here would probably take me until the end of year.

Mr. Hodgson is British, and therefore takes a more objective view of America than do most American writers. It's hard to be objective about your own country. Here's what the author says of his feelings for the USA.

Since I have been critical of some beliefs held by most Americans, and of most of the beliefs of some Americans, let me make this defense: that everything I now about the United States has been taught me by Americans and that few of my judgments are not shared by at least some Americans.

In other words, don't be one of those Americans who says no outsider can understand the country.

In America in Our Time, Hodgson deals with the major problems of American society: the war; a faltering economy in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer; what to do about the growing black (and brown) underclass.

So what's new about that? Nothing. In fact, the book was written in 1976 and the period Mr. Hodgson analyses -- very critically and in profound depth -- is 1960-1972, the era of the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon presidencies.

The war referred to is Vietnam. The book is full of insights which apply, in spades, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All you have to do is change the names and it becomes plain why we're not winning in the Middle East and are not going to win.

The economy? Hodgson says the economic expansion of the 50s-60s can't continue for ever, especially with the USA exporting ever-increasing amounts of capital and jobs. Right. And he says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, a rising tide does not lift all boats equally.

Moreover, he makes the point that the war was a terrible drain on America's treasure, and therefore at least partly the cause of the failure of the War on Poverty. Right on all counts.

As for the black underclass, Hodgson writes of the rise and fall of the "civil rights" movement. He speaks of the contentious issues of the day: integration of schools, busing, affirmative action. He paints a picture of the disillusionment (and radicalization) of blacks, and the growing backlash of resentment in the white communities.

Even at that close remove, the author could see clearly that true integration had not been and probably would never be achieved. Right again.

Why should you read this book? Because it will remove from your eyes the scales of the prevailing liberal ideology. It will explain why the Tea Party -- which is not a conservative but a populist movement -- holds such attraction for so many Americans today. Here's a quote:

The point of departure of this book was the idea that, for a few years on either side of 1960, American politics and society had been ruled bya consensus, and that this consensus in turn rested on an ideology. ...I have called that ideology "liberal".

The "liberal ideology" was not confined to intellectuals. It was also taken for granted by bankers, industrialists, clergymen, politicians and even by many military men.... It was, in fact, the ideology of the elite.

The liberal ideology was...the operational creed of a great nation at the height of its confidence and power. [But] the great events of the years covered by this book tore consensus to shreds....
The consensus disintegrated, and the liberal ideology fell into discredit.

People! History does repeat itself! Read this 35-year-old book and you will find in it a compelling and valid introspection of the malaise of the present time. How is it that no-one sees that when it comes to foreign policy, race relations, and fixing America's economy, our government is trying to reinvent the wheel?!

We are applying the same bandaids to the same wounds, treating the symptoms -- not the causes -- of the same old diseases? When are we going to wake up?

America in Our Time was published in 1978 by Vintage Books, a division of Random House. It's slow reading, but worth the effort.

Readers write

Walt's been hors de combat for a couple of days, so was delighted to find a couple of comments waiting to be moderated.

Gisela Corinne von Boetticher left a comment on "Dr. Laura learns a lesson in PC":

I found your site, while trying to delineate between the hijab and burka.

Thanks! I think you're funny/honest/insightful. You remind me of an old, brilliant (libertarian) economics professor I once had in the States. He never won any elections, unfortunately. :)

Gosh, Gisela Corrine, you're making old Walt blush. And you hit the nail on the head as regards my political philosophy, to the extent that I have one. I never won any elections either because I had the disconcerting habit of saying what I truly thought.

Anonymous posted a comment on "Help Kids Canada - a scam or only half a scam?":

Guess I wasn't the only one who was scammed! Never wanting to assume a kid would lie about raising money to help someone out I doled out $5 for the half empty box of chocolate covered nuts -- $4 but I said keep the change.

Deep down I was suspicious and thought this may be another charity where the "executive" on top is taking home a 6 figure income. As the girl and her friend continued down the street asking other neighbours I did see a "white" van come shortly after to pick up the girls. I did catch the name of the charity so I could check online if it was a scam or not ....and I guess I should have gone with my instincts!!!

Yep, they're still out there. In my neighbourhood they've been positioning scruffy-looking waifs outside of banks and supermarkets. Maybe going door to door doesn't work any more.

Agent 3 refers me to Ignore the Door, from which you can get big red signs to hang or stick on your front door telling canvassers to bugger off. (Well, the one I got says "At this house we ignore the door!") Maybe they'll keep the JWs and scruffy kids and energy bullies away. Worth a try.

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