Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How training missions work

The Canadian Prime Minister, "Call me Steve" Harper, has gone back on his word -- surprise! surprise! -- by deciding to extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan until 2014. This came after a solemn promise that all Canadian troops would be out of the mid-east cesspit by July 2011.

But it's OK, quoth he, because the 1000 or so who get to stay will be on a "training mission". That's not the same as a "combat mission". So that's all right then.

Let Walt explain how training missions work.

What you do -- in the finest British military tradition -- is assemble a motley crew of natives and arm them with weapons. (Not the best weapons of course; maybe just some wooden dummies for practice.) Then you drill them, drill them some more, and drill them again. "One... twothree! One... twothree!"

When they have been completely drilled (as opposed to punched or bored) you lead them out into the field to test what they've learned. "A firing line, you idiots! Not a circle!"

While leading your pupils, you stand a pretty good chance of getting shot at. Six American soldiers learned this the hard way on Monday when an Afghan border police officer opened fire on them during a training mission in the east of the armpit ["country", surely. Ed.]

The shooting -- the highest toll for NATO forces since nine Americans died in a helicopter crash in September -- was the latest in a series of shootouts in which Afghan security forces have quite inexplicably turned on their NATO partners.

Walt wonders what makes Steve think the fate of Canadian trainers would be at all dissimilar. Should they pin on big "trainer" badges? Should they paint big red maple leaves on their backs so the Afghans will know they're not Americans? Would it make any difference?

Monday, November 29, 2010

More on Help Kids Canada -- one kid's story

The post with the longest "legs" on this blog was the one I wrote back in April about a self-styled charity called Help Kids Canada. Today I received from "Jesse" an account of what it's like to go door to door peddling chocolate bars for this unworthy organization. I've cleaned up the spelling and grammar a bit, otherwise this is just as he or she wrote it.

I just worked for this 'charity' or whatever, and after about 3 hours into going door to door I was cold so asked if I could go home. Our supervisor said no, it's her choice when we go home not us or our parents. We said it was our choice when to go home not hers. When we started walking away after she refused to come pick us up, she came down the road and started yelling where do you think your going. Me and my 3 friends told her we were going home. She then said "Give me my money and my chocolate and you guys can find your own way home!"

She only gave our friends a dollar each for hours of work. She ripped them off; they should have made at least 10$. She started calling us very offensive names, that wernt appropriate for children and left us stranded in some place where we had no clue where we were, in the freezing cold weather.

We had NOOOO idea this was a scam, we simply answered an add that was posted on kijiji to make some money. After this event happened, we called the police and researched information about this 'fundraiser'. I only worked for her two times and realized that she was doing this for her own benefit!

Is the story true or is someone winding Walt up? Don't know, but I don't find it hard to believe.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Swiss vote to deport foreign criminals

Haven't got time this morning to comment on the story just released by Associated Press, but regular readers won't need me to say how much I wish the USA, Britain and Canada would enact similar measures. Here's the story...

Swiss voters have approved a plan to automatically deport foreigners found guilty of committing serious crimes or benefit fraud.

Swiss national broadcaster SF1 says 52.9 per cent of voters backed the proposal put forward by the nationalist Swiss People's Party, or SVP.

SF1 reports that 47.1 per cent voted against the plan.

The deportation proposal drew fire ahead of Sunday vote from legal experts who said it could breach offenders' human rights.

Anti-racism groups also bemoaned that the SVP's posters showing white sheep kicking black sheep off a Swiss flag played on stereotypical images of foreigners as criminals.

Come to think of it, I do have a quick comment: Why does the last paragraph not surprise me? Everyone must know that to suggest that non-white foreigners are responsible for much of the crime in our society is clearly racist!

The skinny on Kemi

Already had a tip -- thanks, Agent 3! -- that there is more to the Kemi Olukemi-Olunloyo story than what she let on to the Globe and Mail reporter, as related in my previous post this morning.

Seems Ms. O-O has been working her way through the Toronto newspapers. Her moving tale was featured in the Toronto Sun in May 2009 and the Toronto Star in July 2009. Why it took the G&M more than a year to pick it up is a mystery.

Nicole Beaute, writing in the Star, puts it charitably: "Olunloyo herself has an unresolved past."

Turns out that although she has three sons, Ms. O-O has never been married. That puts her in pretty much the same boat as the many other grieving black mothers seen on the Toronto newscasts with depressing regularity.

Turns out, too, that there are outstanding charges against Ms. O-O in Georgia. There was also a charge of child cruetly in 2003 in connection with which her youngest son was taken away from her for three years.

And yes, Kemi Olukemi-Olunloyo has more than one other name [Alias, surely. Ed.] According to an assistant D.A. in Newton County, GA, Ms. O-O goes both Olukemi Olunloyo and Ashley Olukemi Olunloyo. In Toronto, she signs her news releases "Kemi" Omololu-Olunloyo. The name on her Ontario driver's licence is Olukemi Ajoke Olunloyo. In Atlanta, she sometimes used Kemi Lane.

Click here to read the rest of the Star's story on this fine spokesperson for the "black community".

Mother of three explains black crime

Meet Kemi -- real name (maybe) Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo -- a self-styled "community activist", originally from Nigeria and now living in Toronto.

Speaking in an interview with Canada's so-called national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, Ms. Omololu-Olunloyo (hereafter "O-O" for short) expressed great concern about all the gun violence she's noticed in Toronto in recent months. Ms. O-O brought with her to the meeting a tombstone-sized piece of white board inscribed with the names of the 28 Torontonians shot dead this year. By her reckoning, all but three of them were black.

What Ms. O-O didn't say clearly is that nearly all of the perps, suspected or arrested, are also black. At least, though, she didn't explain black-on-black crime away with the usual rants about systemic discrimination and poverty. What she recommends is that "the community" -- which community was not specified but we can safely assume she means black folk -- "should co-operate willingly with police to hunt down the thugs who do the killing". Yeah, like that's going to happen!

But, she emphasizes, something must be done to save these children. She says it really slowly for emphasis: “These … are … people’s … children.” Ms. O-O should know, being the mother of three sons herself. The whereabouts of the father or fathers of these children is not mentioned in the article.

Nor does Kemi explain clearly how she came to be a "community activitist" in a country to which she came only three years ago, after three decades in the USA. Buried in the middle of the Globe's article is a reference to Ms. O-O having had a spot of bother with the authorities in Georgia. Apparently there are a couple of warrants outstanding for jumping bail and violating probation.

Perhaps she came to Canada as a refugee. Isn't it great that she has been able to find "work" -- paid for by whom? -- telling Toronto how to solve its social problems. Pity that she missed the one obvious solution.

Footnote: The article from yesterday's Globe and Mail is here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The unhappiest place in Canada

I see where Toronto is the most miserable city in Canada according to a study conducted by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Living Standards. Suspicions confirmed.

Toronto is also the most multicultural city in Canada, according to the soon-to-be-abolished long form census and many other indicators.

Could the two facts be related? Surely we should be told.

Postscript: The happiest city in Canada is Sherbrooke, QC -- not a thousand miles from where Walt's sylvan hideaway.

Friday, November 26, 2010


More than nine months after his death, Capt. Francis Cecil Paul, late of Badger, Newfoundland, has been officially declared Canada's 153rd fatal casualty of the war in Afghanistan.

A member of Ottawa-based 28 Field Ambulance, Capt. Paul died in February from natural causes while on leave. He was 53 years old.

In a statement, Canadian Forces General Walt Natynczyk said "Although his death came suddenly while on leave from his deployment in Afghanistan, he was still on duty and considered part of the mission, and therefore his death is no less important than any other CF member who served and died while in Afghanistan.... It is important that his name be added to the list of fallen."


Muslim leaders blast pardoning of "blasphemous" Christian

Westerners seem kind of tired of talking and hearing about Pakistan. Yeah, they had a big flood. 1000s dead, more homeless. Yeah, they're poor as churchmice -- oops, mosque-mice. Yeah, their government is corrupt, despotic and incompetent. Ho-hum.

What should not be forgotten is that Pakistan is officially a Muslim state. That was the whole point of its creation at the partition of British India in 1947.

The Muslims didn't want to live in the same country as Hindus and Christians. They wanted their own space. And so they got West Pakistan, now just "Pakistan", and East Pakistan, once East Bengal and now Bangladesh. Both countries are blessed with Islamic laws and typical south Asian politics, as a result of which they are typical third world basket cases. [Jute baskets in the case of Bangladesh. Ed.]

Islamic religion, Islamic culture, Islamic law. Yes. That's why one of the things you can't de in Pakistan is blaspheme the prophet. Nor can you suggest that any religion other than Islam has any validity. Asia Bibi found that out the hard way.

Ms. Bibi, a Punjabi, is a 45-year-old mother of five, who happens to be a Christian. While she was working at a local farm, the Muslim women with whom she was working called her an infidel and urged her to convert to Islam. Bibi refused, saying that Christianity was the only true religion.

According to the Pakistan Christian Post the Muslim men working in nearby fields also gathered and attacked Asia Bibi on which she fled to village in her home. The angry Muslims followed her and took her out of home and started beating and raping her.

They tortured her children also, while someone informed police. The police then arrested Bibi on blasphemy charges! Following a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to death. Whether the execution would be by stoning or beheading has not been reported.

Ms. Bibi's death sentence provoked an international outcry, at least in the Christian media. You may not have heard or read much in the lamestream media because of course we wouldn't want to offend our Muslim brothers by suggesting that they are intolerant.

Now Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for minorities, has found that Bibi was wrongfully convicted, and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer has told CNN that the Pakistan president will pardon her. “I mean, he’s a liberal, modern-minded president, and he’s not going to see a poor woman like this targeted and executed,” said Taseer. “It’s just not going to happen.”

Or will it? Islamist leaders are reportedly planning protests throughout Pakistan if Bibi is pardoned. Attorneys in the district where Bibi is jailed are boycotting the courts to protest a possible pardon, and opponents of the release have gathered outside the jail. Islamic fundamentalist groups are threatening to kill her if she is freed, according to Fides news agency reports.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bhatti, who is also a Christian, said that Pakistan may amend its controversial anti-blasphemy law but will not repeal it, prompting the leader of the Pakistan Christian Congress to call for his resignation.

Click here to read a more detailed report from the Pakistan Christian Post.

Corruption in a time of cholera: update on Haiti

Did you give money to help the victims of the Haitian earthquake? If you're Canadian, you certainly did, whether you know it or not. About $220 million was raised through private donations to the Red Cross and other charities. The Canadian government -- sorry, Canadian taxpayers -- added $220 million. And now that a cholera epidemic is raging, they've kicked in another $5 million or so.

That makes $445,000,000 in Canadian aid money which is supposed to be helping the most impoverished and disaster-stricken country in the western hemisphere. Is it?

No need to send your answer to Walt on the back of a postage stamp. Yesterday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired a good exposé on where your aid money is going. Watch the video and you'll see a first-hand account -- just one of many -- of how some of your money is being paid directly to corrupt officials of the Haitian government. They're the ones getting fat off your generosity.

From other sources, Walt has learned that only about a third of the funds -- $146 million -- has actually been spent on disaster relief. And that includes the salaries and expenses of all the aid industry workers who are administering and delivering the relief services. Figures on the cost of that overhead are unavailable.

What of the nearly $300 million still in the bank? According to published reports, that's for "reconstruction", which of course can't begin until things settle down. That means having an election to throw out the rascals and bring in new rascals. (No, Wyclef Jean is not running. I'm talking about other rascals.)

It also means getting the cholera epidemic under control. Notice I didn't say eradicating cholera. Cholera is pandemic in Haiti as in many black countries where poverty goes hand in hand with insanitation and disease.

Where in all this, you might ask, is Michaëlle Jean, the Haitian-born woman of colour who spent too long as Canada's Governor-General? I'm happy to report that Her Jeanness landed with her brown bum in the butter. Shortly after being evicted from Rideau Hall she was appointed as UNESCO's "special representative to Haiti".

So she's in Haiti then? Errr, no. She's in New York at UNESCO HQ. But her staff says she's "fully engaged" with Haiti and will be going there "sometime in the future".

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Once a refugee, always a refugee?

Interesting ruling today from the Supreme Court of Canada on the rights of refugees. At issue was the question of whether, once you've been officially declared to be a refugee, you can lose that status.

We all know (because the lamestream media tells us) that gypsies -- oops, sorry, "Roma" -- are the most persecuted people in the world. Why only recently France has decided to expel 1000s of them. Something to do with dirt, crime and abuse of welfare systems, some say.

But that's France. In Canada, gypsies are welcome, as long as they know enough English or French to holler "refugee" or "réfugié" when they get off the boat. Or out of the first-class section of the airplane.

Take the cases of Joszef and Joszefne Nemeth, who came to Canada in 2001 from Hungary, and Tiberiu Gavrila, who arrived in 2004 from Romania. [Does that mean "land of the Roma"? Must check. Ed.]

It's worth noting that by the time these "refugees" had arrived, they couldn't claim to be fleeing the godless Communists, because the Communist dictatorships of both countries had fallen in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union. So they said they were at risk of persecution because they were Roma. And of course the Canadians bought it. To deny their refugee claim would have made the Canadian government seem racist, eh.

Somewhat later, the Hungarian government sought extradition of Mr. and Mrs. Nemeth to face a charge of fraud. At about the same time, Romanian asked that Mr. Gavrila be sent back to serve time on a conviction for, errr, fraud.

Agent 3, who studied the subject, tells me that the general principle of international law is that refugees cannot be sent back to countries where they were persecuted. But there are exceptions, one such being cases of serious, non-political crime. Like, errr, fraud.

The Québec Superior Court thought both cases fell within the exception, and authorized the extradition of all three "refugees". The Canadian Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, ordered the removals, saying the people involved had not shown they were at risk of persecution if they were sent back.

But the Nemeths and Mr. Gavrila appealed, assisted no doubt by lawyers paid for by Canadian taxpayers. Their cases were heard together at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. Their grounds for appeal were that they couldn't be extradited unless their refugee status was formally revoked, which it wasn't.

The Supreme Court quashed the extraditions. Why? Because the Minister of Justice hadn't followed the right procedure and applied the correct test. The onus wasn't on the refugees to show that they were at risk, the court said. Rather the onus is on the government to show that they are not.

The court accepted that Minister Nicholson looked at the situation in Hungary and Romania at the time the extradition was sought. Both countries have joined the European Union and come under its human rights rules and conventions. So the minister thought there was little chance of persecution.

Speaking for the court, Mr. Justice Cromwell wrote “Change of circumstances in a refugee's country of origin may lead to cessation of refugee protection. In short, protection ceases to apply to persons who, by virtue of a change in circumstances, no longer need it.”

But, he added, the minister must be satisfied that the threat of persecution no longer exists. One wonders what the minister should have done to satisfy himself. Should he have dressed up like a gypsy and gone to Hungary and Romania to see what would happen to him? Should he have taken into account the pro-gypsy propaganda fed to Canadians through the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star?

Whatever it was Nicholson did, he didn't do enough of it or he didn't do it well enough. The cases of all three "refugees" now go back to him so that he can review his decision.

And what if Mr. Nicholson looks at the files again and stands by his original decision? Well, his decision can still be appealed...again...courtesy of the Trudeau Charter of Rights and the Canadian taxpayer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bush's lies about going to war

Up to my ass in alligators this morning but will make time to pass along Agent 17's recommendation of a piece in the Huffington Post -- always a good online read.

Dan Froomkin has read George W. Bush's just-released memoir, which puts Dan several steps ahead of Walt. From it, he has selected what he consider the two most egregious lies.

The article is called "The Two Most Essential, Abhorrent, Intolerable Lies Of George W. Bush's Memoir". Agent 17 says, "See how far you can read before having an urge to vomit."

I got as far as the phrase "coercive democracy" before having to run to the washroom. Will post this now and finish the rest sometime later, after I've over-indulged. File it under "suspicions confirmed".

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One positive change

I take back what I said in the previous post about everything having changed for the worse since the 60s. There has been one small but significant improvement in our lives, one exception to the general degradation of our society and culture.

I refer to the revolution in women's underwear. To this observer, the state of the art now is infinitely preferable to what it was 50 years ago. Those who wear the more natural undergarments of today must be much more comfortable than their mothers and grandmothers were back in the straight-laced 50s.

Let us be thankful, then, for the demise of Dagmars and the Frederick's of Hollywood bustline. Let us celebrate the falling from favour of pantyhose, which were singlehandedly [Is that the right word? Ed.] responsible for the alarming decline in the western birthrate.

Let joy -- and Anne and Yvonne and Maureen -- be unconfined.

50 years later

North American society started to disintegrate in the hippy-dippy 60s. I have expressed that opinion before. Just about every aspect of our lives has gotten worse. A list of what's wrong with our countries, our communities and our families would make a long book. Indeed, many such books have already been written.

It must have been about 50 years ago, the date when everything turned to shit. TV, health care, fast food, cars, politics, air travel... it's all shit! Compare the state of any of those things 50 years ago with that of the present day, and you can't help but think that the good old days really were better.

It's not just a case of looking backward through rose-coloured glasses. It's true.

Yesterday I got to think that we should be able to pinpoint a precise date when the rot set in. It's important that we do so in order to celebrate properly the 50th anniversary of the Reverse Midas Touch. Exactly when did everything start to go pear-shaped?

I nominate November 8, 1960 -- the day John F. Kennedy was elected. Those who said the world would never be the same again were right. Unfortunately, they were wrong in predicting the direction of change. Instead of marching bravely into a new Camelot, we took the first step down the long and slippery slope into the Inferno.

Readers are invited to name their own Day the World Changed Forever. Comments to walt.whiteman@yahoo.com.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Campaign for potty parity

In all the excitement, I forgot to tell you that yesterday was International Toilet Day. The main driver of this event (?) is the World Toilet Organization, and no, I'm not making this up.

Like feminism, it's something we must take very seriously. In fact, there's a strong feminist ethic amongst those promoting more toilets for the women of the world -- not just the Third World but the First World too.

The long queues at the dwindling number of public toilets for women demands action. So said a British woman (naturally), a specialist in "inclusive engineering" -- a discipline which Walt didn't know existed. They believe that to achieve reduction in wait times, with attendant social and even medical consequences, new buildings and public spaces should have two to three times as many toilets for women as for men. Reverse discrimination? Maybe not a bad idea though.

On the same programme, Walt heard an American campaigner -- a man -- call for "potty parity". Being American, the group he represents has a number of lawsuits going, to force the installation of more toilets for women. But this gentleman had another suggestion -- more unisex washrooms. This has the added bonus of being fair to the "transgendered", especially those who are "going through the change".

Yesterday the WTO promoted "the Big Squat". The WTO website says "To help raise awareness for the 2.5 billion people who don't have access to sanitation, thousands of people are going to squat for one minute." I guess I missed it, but then I wasn't in town. There are advantages to living in the country!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Catholicism under fire in China

Dear Catholic readers, please keep in your prayers the true Catholic Church -- the underground Church -- in China. Some think that the ordination of bishops appointed "jointly" by Rome and Beijing shows a willingness by the Vatican that all should be one. Whatever the Vatican thinks, the true agenda of the Chinese government is to put the Catholic Church in China under its sole and complete control.

Word has reached us today that the Chinese government plans to call a meeting of the "National Assembly of Catholic Representatives" before the end of this year. This puts still more pressure on the underground Church to recognize the authority of that government-backed body instead of the Holy See.

The National Assembly claims to be a "sovereign body" ruling the Catholic Church in China. It is controlled by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association -- the schismatic puppet "church" set up by the Communists. Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter to the Chinese Church, said that such institutions are incompatible with the Catholic faith, and urged loyal Catholics not to participate in their affairs or recognize their authority.

Chinese bishops have expressed concern that if they fail to participate in the National Assembly meeting, their congregations will suffer reprisals. The meeting will certainly exacerbate divisions between Catholics who cooperate with the "official" CPCA and those in the underground Church who remain staunchly loyal to Rome.

Read the AsiaNews report here.

Meanwhile, bishops in the central Chinese province of Hebei province are under heavy pressure to participate in the consecration of a new bishop who has not been recognized by the Vatican.

Priests in Hebei reported that two bishops -- Peter Fen Xinmao of Jingxian and Joseph Li Liangui of Xianxian -- have been taken to an undisclosed location by local government officials. The priests fear that the bishops are being subjected to pressure to join in the November 20th ordination of Father Joseph Guo Jincai, who is a leading official in the CPCA. The Vatican has not approved the ordination.

Click here for a more detailed report from Ucanews.

"Train Afghan troops? Good luck with that"

That's the title of a column by Margaret Wente in today's Globe and Mail. This is not the first time I've commended a piece by Ms. Wente to you, dear readers. She is a rare voice of sanity amongst the right-thinking and politically correct denizens of the Globe's op-ed pages.

Let me give you just the beginning and end of her opinion on the wisdom of keeping Canadian troops in Afghanistan on the "training mission" announced on Remembrance Day by President Harper. [President??!! Ed.]

What explains Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s sudden change of heart on Afghanistan? One day he’s vowing to shut the door and turn out the lights on the Canadian mission by next July, the next he’s channelling Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. Now he tells us that 950 Canadian soldiers will stay on as trainers, “to honour the sacrifice we’ve made and consolidate those gains.”

Sweet. But that’s not why we’re staying on. We’re staying on because U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and our friends at NATO put the arm on him, and when those folks get that insistent, it’s awfully hard to refuse.

... ... ...

I sympathize with people who say it would be “shameful” for us to cut and run now. But I also think someone should explain how any of our training efforts could possibly make a difference. Ultimately, the success of the Afghan forces depends on the support of the Afghan people.

And that brings us to the worst problem of all – the deeply corrupt and deeply reviled Karzai government itself. The way a lot of Afghans see it, we’ll simply be helping to prop up another bad regime. And they won’t be wrong.

Worth noting is Ms. Wente's take on the real reason for the Harper flip-flop. Harper caved. End of story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spector tells Harper how to wiggle out of the Afghanistan trap

Checking out the comments bulletin boards in major Canadian newspapers [An oxymoron? Ed.], I see that opinion is running heavily against "Call me Steve" Harper's solo decision to extend the mission in Afghanistan for another three years. Even the CBC's "Cross-country Checkup" ["Cross Country", surely. Ed.], which is notorious for screening callers to make sure they only parrot the politically correct party line, had more "antis" than "pros" on Sunday.

You would think that, with public opinion running roughly 2 to 1 against staying in the cesspit that is Afghanistan, Mr. Harpoon might be having second thoughts about the wisdom of caving in to the American demands. Trouble is, having flip-flopped so publicly, and having been caught in a monstrous lie, it's not so easy to do it again.

To the rescue comes Norman Spector, Globe and Mail columnist and at one time a top bureaucrat and political advisor to the not-soon-enough-ex Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. In today's column, Spector advises Mr. Baloney's successor to let Parliament vote on the issue, rather than pretend it's an executive decision that he (Harper) can take on his own.

The way Spector sees it, Harper can't lose by letting Parliament decide. If they vote "yes", it relieves him of responsibility for the further loss of life and treasure. If they vote "no", Harper can go to his masters in the White House and the Pentagon and say, "Gee, sorry, but I couldn't get it past those stupid elected representatives."

It's a brilliant strategy, with the bonus of being seen to be clearly democratic. Even Obama has to have the advice and consent of the Senate before waging war. Why should the Prime Minister of Canada be any different?

What would Lawrence have done?

Two names I know but had forgotten about came to my notice today, thanks to a tip from Agent 17. They are T.E. Lawrence -- "Lawrence of Arabia" -- and his biographer, Michael Korda.

I read a couple of Korda's books when I was studying and teaching negotiating skills and approaches to getting and using power. In Hero: the Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, Mr. Korda has analysed the techniques used by Lawrence as he led the Arab insurgency against the Turkish Empire in World War I. The methods pioneered by Lawrence -- including IEDs -- could, he suggests, be used today against Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the warlords of Afghanistan.

The article to which Agent 17 referred me appears on The Daily Beast website today. Here are a couple of paragraphs.

Lawrence also took the trouble to think about how to defeat an insurgency as well as waging a successful one himself. He advised strongly against bombing insurgent villages (drones did not yet exist, but he imagined them), since that would inevitably involve killing innocent women and children, and would make revenge for their death a duty for every surviving family member, as well as for their clan and tribe. He recommended dropping leaflets warning the villagers that something of value and importance to them would be bombed and allowing them time enough to remove their families and flocks before doing so.

He also took the view, as he had in the Arab Revolt, that it was easier and cheaper to buy the tribes off than to fight them: gold was as important weapon to him as explosives. He was in favor of the use of fast armored cars operating far behind the enemy lines, and supplied by aircraft, roving at will and attacking by surprise.

Lying on his cot in a barracks at an RAF station in what is now Pakistan, Lawrence wrote to his old friend Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard, the Chief of the Air Staff (this was the equivalent of a private writing to a four-star general and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), of a troublesome insurgent leader in Iraq (Sunni insurgency against a Western occupier in Iraq is not a new phenomenon): “The fellow you need to influence is Feisal el Dueish... If I were at Ur, my instinct would be to walk without notice into his headquarters. He’s not likely to kill an unarmed, solitary man. . . Such performances require a manner to carry them off. I’ve done it four times, or is it five? A windy business. . .”

Note that the suggestion of fearlessly walking unarmed into the headquarters of an insurgent leader implies an understanding of the Muslim tradition and obligation of hospitality toward a guest, even an enemy guest, and also a willingness to listen to the other person’s grievances, an important point.

Bombing people will seldom change their mind, and certainly not about their own government, whether done by the Turks against the Arabs in 1918, or by the British against the Iraqis in the 1920s, or with drones in Afghanistan today.

Where are the T.E. Lawrences of yesteryear when we need them today? Leadership isn't much good without vision and imagination. I don't see a whole lot of that on display in Washington, Ottawa or London. So, since no-one seems to have a better plan, why don't we chip in and send a copy of Korda's book to Messrs. Cameron, Harper and Obama, and let them learn from Lawrence.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harper lied, Canadians staying in Afghanistan

Let me try to be dispassionate about this. 152 Canadians have died needlessly in Afghanistan. (I said "dispassionate", not "unopinionated".) Now Prime Minister Harper proposes, off his own bat, to keep about 1000 Canadian soldiers in that wretched cesspit of a country for another three years past the promised withdrawal date of July 2011.

First the timeline. Following 9/11, the Americans -- more accurately, the Bushmen -- decided to take revenge on Al Qaeda by attacking them in their homeland, which they thought was Afghanistan. Once again the profound American ignorance of geography and geopolitics came into play, as it turned out there were no Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, only the Taliban.

No Afghani ever attacked the USA. The perps of the 9/11 horror came from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But no matter. Afghanistan was in the neighbourhood so...send in the Marines! Unfortunately, even though the UN refused to support the American mission, NATO went along with it, so NATO member countries were asked to participate in the "coalition of the willing".

About this time, the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien felt maybe Canada kind of owed the US one, having bailed out on the invasion of Iraq, so M. Crouton said OK, we'll send some of our guys for a couple of years, maybe until 2003 or 2005.

Well, 2003 came and went. So did 2005. The sound of wheels spinning and a mission going nowhere was loud in the land. So the mission got extended to 2007, then to 2009. By 2008 the mission was not just going nowhere, it was going in reverse.

By this time "Call me Steve" Harper was in charge, but, having only a minority government, didn't want to have to carry the can for a dubious decision to prolong the ill-advised and ill-fated war any further. So he did what Canadian governments always do, and appointed a commission.

Setting up a commission or an enquiry is a lot like hiring a consultant: you usually get the answer you want. Sure enough, the advice of John "The Man from Glad" Manley -- who conveniently had been a member of the Chrétien government -- was to give it another two years, max.

Harper brought the unManley report before the House of Commons, saying that Parliament must decide. In reality this was a clever ploy to make the Liberals take the blame. Not only had they committed Canada to the mission in the first place, but were going through a vicious internecine fight of their own, so they were hardly in a position to vote "no" and throw the country into yet another election.

Besides, Harper assured everyone, this is the ABF, the Absolutely Bloody Final extension. All the troops would come home in 2011, for sure, except maybe for a handful required to guard the Canadian embassy in Kabul. Really. Scout's Honour.

And so it came to pass...another two years in hell.

Now, with no exit strategy or plans in sight, nor any end to the war, Mr. Harpoon has had a sudden epiphany. It was wrong to promise to withdraw in 2011! We might be needed -- one wonders by whom -- for a little while longer.

On Remembrance Day, the day when we honour our fallen soldiers, Harper announced that, yes, Canada would leave some troops in Afghanistan after all. Say 1000 or so and this time for not two, but three years. On Remembrance Day! The cynicism and hypocrisy boggles the mind! 152 have died so for their sake some more will have to die.

But noooooo... Harper says Canadians will be there only in a training role, not a combat role. They will help the Afghan National Army and the corrupt and discredited Afghan National Police to develop their capacity to bring peace and order to their ravaged country. It will be "strictly inside the wire", in the peaceful and safe confines of Kabul, where explosions are less frequent than in Kandahar. Yeah, right.

Walt is old enough to remember Vietnam. For those who don't, let it be recalled that the Americans first went to Vietnam as advisors, to help the ARVN develop its capacity to defeat the dreaded Vietminh and bring peace and order etc. etc.

Tens of thousands of lives later, the Americans discovered that you can't very well train people to wage war without going into battle with them. What would make a training role in Afghanistan any different?

The fact is that if you are wearing a uniform -- any uniform -- you're fair game for the Taliban. Trainers or combat troops, it makes no difference. They all have targets painted on their backs.

Hell, the Taliban don't even see our soldiers. They just plant IEDs on the roads in the dead of night, then hide behind the nearest hill and wait for the big bang. Any "foren" venturing outside the camp is fair game, trainer or not.

This would be a great point to raise in a debate in Parliament, if there were going to be a debate in Parliament. But there won't be any such debate. Harper calmly announced, with a straight face, that since our troops will be teachers, not fighters, the decision to leave them there is an executive decision, which he, acting alone -- for it appears all this took his Defence Minister by surprise -- is entitled to make. Just like the president of the USA.

So much for the Canadian constitutional monarchy. So much for the supremacy of parliament. And so much for the lives of scores or possibly hundreds of Canadian men and women who will die in the dust on the other side of the world...for nothing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Started your Christmas shopping yet?

It's terrible to have to write so soon about getting ready for Christmas. Also terrible that it occurred to me to say "the winter holidays", just in case there might be some "readers of other faiths" who might be offended by my daring to speak of Christmas. But I digress...

Christmas catalogues are starting to arrive in Walt's mailbox. Many years ago, two big department stores, fiercely competitive one with the other, used to send out big, thick "dream books". I and my siblings used to pore over these by the light of the flickering candle, while big white flakes of snow fell past the hoarfrosted windows [Get on with it! Ed.]

Yes, well... Sadly, the days of the huge Christmas catalogues are over. Gone are the books with pictures of everything from soup to nuts...literally. Now I'm seeing slim pamphlets from specialty retailers of chocolates, electronic goods, and, of course, toys and games.

There's a marketer called Calendar Club which specializes in -- guess what -- calendars. Apparently they're not making a large or even small fortune selling calendars, so they've added to their catalogue a section called "+ toys & games".

I didn't see any toys but there are all kinds of board and table games. Included are two pages of "word games" -- all variants on Scrabble and Yahtzee. They also have "games that make you think", the descriptions of which make me think, "Who on earth would buy this?"

Under "adult games", where I was looking for "Twister", I found "You might be a redneck if..." which is based on "Jeff Foxworthy Redneck jokes", whatever they are.

But best of all, under "family and party games", you can now buy a great new game called "FART!" Yep, that's the name of the game, folks. [It's supposed to have a "TM" after it. Ed.] Here's the catalogue description:

Flatulent fun with a CD player... Fart! is the side-splitting, sound-sational game that helps players unwind and release a little pressure! Players race to be the first to play out their cards while accompanied by a fast'n'frantic fart chorus that keeps them in stitches! Wild hilarity at the press of a button!

I guess it was only a matter of time until someone thought of a way to make a buck on such favourites as "Burglar Burglar", and the old artificial-fart-under-the-arm trick. Fun for the whole family! Who said good taste is dead?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Straight talk about blacks from Mr. C

"What's wrong with these people?" That was the theme of a keynote speech given by Bill Cosby in May, 2004, at an NAACP-sponsored gala in Washington. On the stage of Constitution Hall, speaking from his heart to a multiracial audience, he told some home truths about the home folks. Watch the video.

How did the audience react? No prizes for guessing that they were none too pleased. Not everyone was laughing. What you don't see in the video clip is the rebuttal by Theodore Shaw, then head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who grabbed a microphone to tell the crowd that the problems "in the black community were not self-inflicted".

Poor Mr. Cosby. Ever since what is now called "the Pound Cake Speech", he has been denigrated [Now cut that out! Ed.] as an "Uncle Tom", a racist, a traitor to his people, etc. etc. All because he dared to say out loud what political correctness says may no longer be said.

Time magazine columnist Christopher John Farley summed it up this way: "Bill Cosby broke the unwritten rule of keeping black dirty laundry in black washing machines."

"The suspect spoke with a Caribbean accent"

I didn't post anything yesterday because I was in shock. I read a newspaper account of a "home invasion" in a Toronto suburb, in which an Oriental lady was killed and her husband injured. There, at the end of the story, was a description of the three suspects. The colour of the perps wasn't mentioned but the report did say that one of them "spoke with a Caribbean [sic] accent".

"A Caribbean accent!" Cazart! That phrase -- actually "a Jamaican accent" -- used to be set in cold type in the Toronto papers, and routinely appended to stories about convenience store robberies and the like.

Then it became politically incorrect to suggest that crimes were being committed by people of colour...especially the Jamaicans who have been welcomed into Canada since former PM Trudeau opened the floodgates.

At the Globe and Mail, at least, it is still taboo to refer to someone's race in a crime report. Or at least it was, until last night. Following comments by dozens of readers of the online edition, the Glob finally inserted the word "black" into the descriptions.

However, a commentator named "Meatball" had the finally word: "Gee, they were black? What a surprise! I'm shocked, SHOCKED!"

Who's screwing up America - final word

On November 6th I posted a couple of excerpts from the introduction to Bernard Goldberg's fine opus 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. Of the hundred listed (no, I won't tell you who they are!) a couple of died and a couple have slid into the memory hole. Most of them, however, are still out there, telling us -- the great unwashed -- how to behave and how to think. Here's part of "A Final Word" from Mr. Goldberg.

For too many years now, the cultural elites have been working overtime trying to portray all those hicks in flyover country as grotesquely distorted fun-house mirror images of who they really are, without the fun part.

If Middle Americans oppose gay marriage, they must be homophobes. If they don't like the sex jokes at eight o'clock at night on network TV, they're squares. If ordinary Americans think gangsta rap is foul and degrading, they're racists who don't understand black culture. If Red State America thinks our "best" universities are dominated by left-wing ideologues, they're anti-intellectual dolts. If they think feminists have gone to far, they're sexists.

What [this] tells us a lot about are the cultural elites themselves, those cloistered liberals who, as Tom Wolfe once put it, "do not have a clue about the rest of the United States" and "who are forever trying to force their twisted sense of morality onto us, which is a non-morality. That is constantly done, and there is real resentment."

Yes. Indeed there is. And now, at last, that resentment is being made manifest. With the exception of the "blip" two years ago -- even Walt didn't see that one coming -- Americans (and Canadians) have been showing in the media and, more importantly, at the polls, that they don't see things the way the elites do. Returning to "A Final Word"...

What is it that so many ordinary Americans want? It's actually pretty simple. We want a little more appreciation for the values that most of us -- liberals as well as conservatives, Democrats as well as Republicans -- used to take for granted: civility, mutual respect, a semblance of decency and yes, a little old-fashioned love of country too.

The emphasis is mine. Amen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The things they eat

Today Walt got shanghaied into a shopping expedition with Agent 78, who, it can now be revealed, is Mrs. Walt. Equipped with reuseable bags and styrofoam coolers, we forayed into one of the Big City's three Chinatowns, in search of "home food".

I have never browsed in a Chinese supermarket or grocery store without coming on at least one "food" which I don't recognize, have never heard of, and will probably never eat...at least, not knowingly.

We passed by the fresh beef tripe and pork spleens en route to the corner in which the live fish are sold. There I saw a sign which made me wish I'd remembered my camera. It advertised a tankful of "big head crap". Not kidding. We bought a tilapia instead.

"Facilitism": a better answer?

The posts on "How to fix the economy" -- my adaptation of an essay by Stephen Leacock -- elicited a lengthy response from Ron McPherson, an accountant and present-day resident of Leacock's hometown, Orillia, Ontario.

Ron agrees that the world's economy is broken, but doesn't think laissez-faire capitalism is the answer. He puts the blame on governments, banks, and the whole concept of debt and the charging of interest. The fix, according to his book Freedom's Dawning, is a new economic system which he calls Facilitism.

Here's what Ron has to say about Leacock's idea...

I’ve never appreciated Stephen Leacock's writings anywhere near the extent to which they're promoted. We do, however, have a few things in common: living in Orillia, awareness of excessive government and taxes, idle industry and workers, and recognition that people seem to believe their government should look after them.

The latter belief, in my opinion, is impossible to achieve. However, no-one should be without the basics for living. Our planet has far more than enough for all of us to have great lives without the stress imposed by our present enslaving structures.

Capitalism has proven over and over again throughout the last 300 years or so that it doesn’t work, except for the benefit of a few. Even Leacock admits this when he suggests that although we need these few profiteers to get things turned around that when the profiteer has finished his work; “We can always put him back into the penitentiary if we like”.

Communism, of course, also functions with an elite class ruling over their oppressed masses.

The farce of democracy, with its supposed representatives of the people voting in Parliament as demanded by party leaders, who in turn impose the dictums they themselves receive from the controllers of the money supply, progressively advance the enslavement of the people while expanding the confiscation of the peoples’ earnings through taxes and fees to pay for wars and interest charges on government borrowings. Absolutely disgusting! And the people have accepted these shenanigans. Ugh! But they are waking up.

The world needs a better system, one that can eliminate taxes and poverty, one that allows those who desire more than the basics to earn more, one that provides incentives for all people to contribute. One that also provides free heath care and education. Such a system exists. It is called Facilitism. Its time has come.

Our politicians here in Canada, or any other country that has sufficient resources to function independently until other countries come on stream, if they had the gumption and daring, could quickly implement Facilitism’s funding methodology and eliminate taxes by modifying the country’s computerized tax and benefit data base of their residents.

Click on the link to Ron's book to have a look at the Facilitism website. You can contact Ron at ron@facilitism.com.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

British welfare: back to the future

Some years ago, during the reign of Tony Blair's Labour government, Agent 3 worked for the British Department of Work and Pensions. That's the state agency responsible for handing out unemployment and other "social benefits".

Being a free-enterpriser, he tells me it was one of the worst jobs he ever had. "Every day," he writes, "I had to deal with scores of people coming and demanding their 'dole' as a matter of right. The asylum-seekers were bad enough, but even worse were the able-bodied men and women who had never worked and never intended to work, but still thought the world (or at least the government) owed them a living."

Agent 3 writes this in passing along a report by AP that the new British government intends to ask the able-bodied unemployed to sweep streets, help out in community centres or mow lawns at public parks under a tougher welfare regime. This is exactly what was done in the USA and Canada in the Dirty Thirties, and it's well worth revisiting, says Walt.

Under possible reforms to the benefits system, the long-term unemployed would be not asked but ordered to carry out four weeks of unpaid work to remain eligible for their weekly welfare cheque of just over US$100. Those who refuse to take placements — which would include duties like garbage collection and gardening — would temporarily lose their benefits.

AP quotes Foreign Secetary William Hague as telling the BBC today that the plans were intended to help the jobless readjust to the culture of full-time work. According to Agent 3, that would be a real novelty for the many who are proud of being second- or even third-generation welfare recipients.

The AP story does not mention opposition to the plan, which will certainly come not just from the idlers and scroungers, but from the labour unions representing the government employees who are supposed to be the ones cleaning up the country.

The success or otherwise of the British version of "workfare" will be watched closely by the American and Canadian government, or so one hopes. Walt's advice: invest in companies manufacturing picks and shovels.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who's screwing up America

Someone must be responsible for the disturbingly poor state of the Union. Besides Obama, I mean. Unlike Lee Harvey Oswald, Obama didn't act alone!

Many eyes are looking (sideways) at the "liberal elites", the eggheads, the lamestream media (thank you, Sarah Palin), the Volvo-driving social reformers, the self-styled progressive thinkers -- all the "forces for good" who seem determined to tell us not just what to do but what to think.

To the number of those challenging the prevailing liberal orthodoxy, please add Bernard Goldberg, "author of the #1 bestseller Bias" and the "national bestseller Arrogance". (That's what is says on the dust jacket of the book I'm reading today.)

Mr. Goldberg was a senior correspondent on CBS's 48 Hours, and in 2005 got either promoted or demoted to HBO's Real Sports. Possibly while he was between gigs, he found time to write 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, which I just discovered in my local public library. (The Pony Express takes a while to get to this part of the continent.)

I know I'm going to like this book. It promises no preaching, no pontificating -- just some uncommon sense about the things that have made the USA great, and the culprits who are screwing it up. Goldberg takes aim at:
* the America Bashers -- the "cultural elites" who look down their snobby noses at ordinary Americans
* the Hollywood Blowhards -- incredibly ditzy celebrities who think they're smart just because they're famous
* the TV Schlockmeisters -- including one whose show is compared to a churning mass of maggots devouring rotten meat, and
* the Intellectual Thugs -- bigwigs at some of our "best" colleges, whose views from the gamut from left wing to left wing.

That's from the blurb on the dust jacket. Here's an excerpt from the introduction.

It won't take you long to notice that there are a lot of liberals on the list.... Believe it or not, it's not so much because of their left-of-center politics that they're on the list, as because of their willingness -- make that their eagerness -- to live up to the most embarrassing stereotypes many of us hold about today's cultural-elite liberals: that they're snooty, snobby know-it-alls, who have gotten angrier and angrier in recent years and who think they're not only smarter, but also better than everyone else, especially everyone else who lives in a "Red State" -- a population they see as hopelessly dumb and pathetically religious.

And it is precisely this elitist condescension -- this smug attitude that Middle America is a land of right-wing yahoos who are so damn unenlightened that they probably don't even know where the Hamptons are -- that hurts liberals and their causes way more than it helps them. It's one of the reasons John Kerry is still a senator and not the president of the United States.

Apart from Mr. Goldberg's unfortunate love of super-complex run-on sentences, it's great stuff. Read it and then compile your own list. If you live in Canada or the UK or wherever, read it and substitute the names of the miscreants who have made your country a more selfish, vulgar, cynical and generally nasty place than it ought to be.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to fix the economy - Part I

This is the beginning of my three-part adaptation of Stephen Leacock's thoughts on what ails the economy and how to put it right. Parts II and III will be found below.

On recent travels through this country, I could not help being struck by the situation of business. Passing through the factory towns and noticing that no smoke came from the tall chimneys and that the doors of the factories were shut, I was led to the conclusion that they were closed.

Observing that the streets of the industrial centres were everywhere filled with idle men, I gathered that they were unemployed. When I learned that the theatres were full to the doors every day and that the concert halls, beer gardens, grand opera and religious concerts were crowded to suffocation, I inferred that the country was suffering from an unparalleled depression.

This diagnosis turned out to be absolutely correct. It has been freely estimated that at the time I refer to, almost two million men and a like number of women were out of work. What with the lowering of dividends and the raising of taxes, the closing of factories, feeding the unemployed and trying to employ the unfed, things are in a bad way.

The underlying cause is plain enough. The economic distress that the world suffers now does not spring from what is happening in Europe or India or China. The danger of industrial collapse comes rather from what is happening in our country itself.

For generations, industry in America and Britain has flourished on individual effort called out by the prospect of individual gain. Every man acquired from his boyhood the idea that he must look after himself. Morally, physically and financially, that was the recognized way of getting on.

The desire to make a fortune was regarded as a laudable ambition, a proper stimulus to effort. The ugly word "profiteer" had not yet been coined. It was not politically incorrect to be a "capitalist". There was no income tax to turn a man's pockets inside out and take away his savings. The world was to the strong.

Under the stimulus of this, the wheels of industry hummed. Factories covered the land. National production grew to a colossal size and the whole outer world seemed laid under a tribute to the great industry.

As a system it was far from perfect. It contained in itself all kinds of gross injustices, demands that were too great, wages that were too small. In spite of the splendor of the foreground, poverty and destitution hovered behind the scenes. But such as it was, the system worked: and it was the only one that we knew.

Or turn to another aspect of this same principle of self-help. The way to acquire knowledge in the early days was to buy a tallow candle and read a book after one's day's work, as Benjamin Franklin read or Abraham Lincoln. And when the soul was stimulated to it, the aspiring youth must save money, put himself through college, live on nothing, think much, and in the course of this starvation and effort become a learned man, with somehow a peculiar moral fibre in him not easily reproduced today.

For today the candle is free and the college is subsidized by the state. The student has "union" like the capitalist's club, with a swimming pool and a drama league and a society coed at his elbow for which he buys American Beauty roses at twenty dollars a dozen.

Adapted from from My Discovery of England, by Stephen Leacock, 1922, Toronto, S.B. Gundy. Stephen Butler Leacock, FRSC (30 December 1869 – 28 March 1944) was a Canadian economist, writer and humorist. He lived and wrote before the rise of the nanny state and political correctness.

How to fix the economy - Part II

This is the second instalment of my three-part adaptation of Stephen Leacock's thoughts on what ails the economy and how to put it right. Part I will be found above, and the conclusion appears below.

Or turn if you will to the moral side. The older way of being good was by much prayer and much effort of one's own soul. Now it is done by a state-appointed board of censors. There is no need to fight sin by the power of the spirit. Let the board of censors do it. They together with three or four kinds of commissions are supposed to keep sinful actions, even sinful thoughts at arm's length, and to supply a first-class legislative guarantee of righteousness.

As a shortcut to morality and as a way of saving individual effort, our legislatures are turning out morality legislation by the bucketful. The legislature regulates our drink, it guards against the deadly cigarette, it regulates here and there the length of our skirts, it safeguards our amusements and in some states of the Union even proposes to save us from the teaching of the Darwinian Theory of Evolution.

The ancient prayer "Lead us not into temptation" is passing out of date. The way to temptation is declared closed by Act of Parliament and by amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Yet oddly enough the moral tone of the world fails to respond. The world is apparently more full of thugs, muggers, bandits, buggers, pornographers, spies and crooked policemen than it ever was. It almost seems that the slow, old-fashioned method of an effort of the individual soul may be needed still before the world is made good.

This vast new system, the system of leaning on the government, is spreading like a blight over America, and everywhere we suffer from it. Government, that in theory represents a union of effort and a saving of force, sprawls like an octopus over the land. It has become like a dead weight upon us.

Wherever it touches industry it cripples it. It runs railways and makes a heavy deficit. It builds ships and loses money on them. It operates the ships and loses more money. It piles up taxes to fill the vacuum and when it has killed employment, opens a bureau of unemployment and issues a report on the depression of industry.

The only way to restore prosperity is to give back again to the individual the opportunity to make money, to make lots of it, and when he has got it, to keep it. The raw assets of our globe are hardly touched. There are vast empty spaces still. The idea of our humanity sadly walking the streets of Buffalo or sitting mournfully fishing on the piers of the Mississippi, out of work, would be laughable if it were not for the pathos of it.

The world is out of work for the simple reason that the world has killed the goose that laid the golden eggs of industry. By taxation, by legislation, by popular sentiment all over the world, there has been a disparagement of the capitalist. And all over the world capital is frightened. It goes and hides itself in the form of an investment in a bond, a thing that is only a particular name for a debt, with no productive effort behind it and indicating only a dead weight of taxes. There capital sits like a bullfrog hidden behind water lilies, refusing to budge.

Hence the way to restore prosperity is not to multiply government departments and government expenditures, nor to appoint commissions and to pile up debts, but to start running again the machinery of bold productive effort.

Adapted from from My Discovery of England, by Stephen Leacock, 1922, Toronto, S.B. Gundy. Stephen Butler Leacock, FRSC (30 December 1869 – 28 March 1944) was a Canadian economist, writer and humorist. He lived and wrote before the rise of the nanny state and political correctness.

How to fix the economy - Part III

This is the conclusion of my three-part adaptation of Stephen Leacock's thoughts on what ails the economy and how to put it right. Parts I and II will be found above.

Take off all the excess profits taxes and the surtaxes on income and as much of the income tax itself as can be done by a wholesale dismissal of government employees and then give industry a mark to shoot at.

What is needed now is not the multiplication of government reports, but corporate industry, the formation of any kind of corporation that will call out private capital from its hiding places, offer employment to millions and start the wheels moving again.

The next thing to be done, then, is to fire the government officials and bring back the profiteer. As to which officials are to be fired first, it doesn't matter much. If the edge of the axe of dismissal seems too sharp, hit with the back of it.

As to the profiteer, bring him back. If the promoters of corporations presently earn huge fortunes for themselves, society is none the worse. In any case, humanity being what it is, they will hand back a vast part of what they have acquired in return for honorary degrees or bits of blue ribbon or whatever kind of glass bead fits the fancy of the retired millionaire.

Yes, bring back the profiteer -- the same person who not so long ago was called a Captain of Industry, an Empire Builder and a Nation Maker. It is the times that have changed, not the man. He is there still, just as greedy and rapacious as ever, but no greedier. And we have just the same social need of his greed as a motive power in industry than we ever had, indeed a worse need than before.

We need him not only in business but in the whole setting of life, or if not him personally, we need the eager, selfish but reliant spirit of the man who looks after himself and doesn't want to have a spoon-fed education and a government job alternating with a government dole, and a set of morals framed for him by a board of censors.

Show such a man a map of the world and ask him to pick out a few likely spots. The trained greed of the rascal will find them in a moment. Then write him out a concession for oil in central Asia or irrigation in the Australian Outback. The ink will hardly be dry on it before the capital will begin to flow in.

Wealth will come from all kinds of places whence the government could never coax it and where the tax-gatherer could never find it. Only promise that it is not going to be taxed out of existence and the stream of capital which is being dried up in the sands of government mismanagement will flow into the hands of private industry like a river of gold.

And incidentally, when the profiteer has finished his work, we can always put him back into the penitentiary if we like. But we need him just now.

Adapted from From My Discovery of England, by Stephen Leacock, 1922, Toronto, S.B. Gundy. Stephen Butler Leacock, FRSC (30 December 1869 – 28 March 1944) was a Canadian economist, writer and humorist. He lived and wrote before the rise of the nanny state and political correctness.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Police (dog) gets his (police) man

"Man bites dog" is news. "Dog bites man" is not. But how about if both dog and man are members of the police force?

It happened in Niagara Falls just this week. A cop (man) was chasing a miscreant (ditto) and got him cornered in a blind alley. Then the cop (man) sicced his partner (dog) on the alleged perp. For some reason the police dog bit the policeman. The criminal was caught anyway, apprehended while rolling on the ground laughing.

Local police chief William "Old Bill" Knacker puts the confusion down to the "new look" police being allowed to have beards and being dressed in black uniforms, rather than the old blue. "The dogs are trained to attack scruffy-looking people dressed in black," he said. "You can understand the similarity. Try to see it from the dog's point of view."

Chinese Communists still forcing late-term abortions

A report by an Al Jazeera journalist, Melissa Chan, documenting a late-term forced abortion was been posted recently on Digital Journal.

Xiao Ai Ying and her husband Luo Yan Qua ran afoul of China's barbaric and abhorrent One Child Policy. Since they already had one child, the 8-months-pregnant mother was dragged -- kicking and screaming -- out of her own home by family planning authorities who were accompanied by police officers.

The husband and father also says that police kicked his wife in the stomach, possibly to induce a miscarriage. Next, they took her to a hospital in the city of Xiamen -- not a rural backwater but one of China's most modern cities -- where her soon-to-be-born child was killed by a lethal injection while still in her body.

“There were many men surrounding my wife,” said Xiao’s husband. “They held her arms behind her back, pushed her head against the door, kicked her stomach and I don’t know if they were trying to give her a miscarriage, right there and then.” Chinese police then confined Xiao to the hospital where the forced abortion took place.

Click here to read the entire report on Digital Journal, including Melissa Chan's video interview with Xiao Ai Ying and her husband.

Forced abortion is just one of the evils of Communism of which Our Lady of Fatima warned us. The Mother of God told us that the only way to stop such horrors was for the Pope, in union with all the world's bishops, to solemnly and publicly consecrate Russia, by name, to Her Immaculate Heart. If this is not done, She warned, billions of souls will be lost. Xiao's baby is just one of those poor souls.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's wrong with Obama? The Economist tells us

The pontificating classes have already begun analyzing (to death) the anticipated rout of the Democrats. I heard Chris Hedges call the expected result "the death knell of liberalism in the United States". Of course he would say that, being the author of a new book, Death of the Liberal Class.

In the interview I listened to, Hedges did not heap a lot of blame on Pres. Obama. He's still railing against the multinational corporations and other bogeymen of "progressive thinkers". However, other pundits have not been so kind to Mr. O (as in "zero"). He's getting a lot of stick for failing to deliver on the expectations he raised so high.

Walt takes the view that Obama's whole "message of change and hope" was a sham and an illusion from the getgo. That's what Hedges says. Even if the Prez was sincere -- and there's considerable doubt about that -- he didn't have a hope in hell of being able to deliver the goods, at least in a short two years since taking office. There's just too much wrong with the American economy and American society to fix so quickly.

The Economist makes a further point, which should be taken into account not just by Mr. O but by his counterpart north of the border. In its lead editorial this week, the Economist takes Obama to task for failing to listen to the people. Here's part of the penultimate paragraph.

Mr. Obama seems curiously unable to perceive, let alone respond to, the grievances of middle America, and has a dangerous habit of dismissing tea-partiers and others who disagree with him as deluded, evil or just bitter. The silver tongue that charmed America during the campaign has been replaced by a tin ear.... He does not seem to feel America's pain, and looks unable either to capitalise on his administration's achievements or to project an optimistic vision for the future.

Couldn't have said it better myself. They just won't listen! Hey...that could be a good slogan for a political movement!

PS - I'm still not in Kentucky!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not in Kentucky yet

I was hoping to post this from Kentucky -- Lexington, perhaps -- where I hope to join in the celebration of Ayn Rand's victory in tomorrow's senate race. [Errr... that would be Rand Paul. Ed.]

McClatchy reports a recent Mason-Dixon poll has Rand (or Paul... whoever) 5 points ahead of Democrat Jack Conman [Errr... oh, never mind. Ed.] But the only poll that counts is the one on election day, so all you Tea Partiers better get out there!

But I digress. I am not yet in Kentucky...though I once knew a gal from ole Kentuck. I am stuck at the airport where I've been held up by security for failing to remove my shoes. That's because I wasn't wearing shoes! But, it seems, the rules clearly state that all pax must remove shoes, so here I stand.

Surely I can't be the only one who thinks airport security has reached ridiculous heights. What happened to our individual rights and freedoms, including the right to go barefoot! Dammit, where I come from, a man wants to die with his boots on...but live with his boots off if he chooses!

HSBC: Hopelessly Supercilious British Commercial

The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Corp. (HSBC) bills itself as "the world's local bank". But as Marshall McLuhan said, the medium is the message, and the message I'm getting from HSBC's current TV commercials is that the bank is, as it always was, quite quite British.

HSBC's latest scheme (in the best British sense of the world) is a plan to help young people -- apparently young Asians, to judge from the commercial -- save for their futures. The plan is called the "Advance" plan. Nothing wrong with the concept, and print ads don't annoy me at all. But the TV ads are something else.

The TV spots are produced in Old Blighty [that's England, if you've never heard the soubriquet. Ed.] by a British ad agency, whose brief must have been to make one size fit all. Why do I say that? Because the voice-over for the pictures of the young Oriental girl happily planning her future is done by an English woman...I should say an English lady...with a Mayfair accent that's even posher than that of Her Britannic Majesty.

She -- the person doing the voice-over -- pronounces "advance" as "advawnce", to rhyme with "dawnce" as a London ballet critic would say it. The accent grates on the North American ear, which is what I have two of. I'll stick to my local local bank, thenk yew very much.