Saturday, October 31, 2009

133

Sapper Steven Marshall, RIP.

Sapper Marshall was killed yseterday near one of the "model villages" which are a key part of Canada's new counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan. He was only 24, the second Canadian to die in three days, and the 133rd since Canada joined the American invasion of Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan sacrifices may have been in vain" is the title of Thomas Walkom's thoughtful column in today's Toronto Star. Read it and think how many more lives will be lost while we try to save face.

The last line from Walkom's column: The war we never should have waged is effectively lost. We have only to admit it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What the HSP will mean to Ontarians

The following comes from Agent 23. Walt is signing the petition and hopes all Ontarians reading these words will unite to fight a regressive tax that punishes those who can least afford it.

Next summer the Ontario Government of Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan -- pushed and cajoled by "Call Me Steve" Harper and Jim "What Recession?" Flahtery -- is set to put into force its new harmonized GST/PST. Thus a 13% sales tax will be applied to virtually everything we purchase.

Things that were not previously taxed under the current Ontario Provincial Sales Tax (PST) will be taxed at 8%. The new 13% tax will therefore apply to things like your electric bill, your gas bill, your water bill, condominium fees, insurance premiums, and every other good and service you purchase. There are almost no exemptions.

The current Ontario PST tax does not apply to services, nor does it apply to the purchase of certain goods. The new 13% tax will therefore extend the old 8% PST tax rate to the purchase of all goods and all services. You'll have to pay the new tax on your haircut!

The new HST will also apply to all purchases of all new homes. If a person were to purchase a new $1 million dollar home in Toronto, they would have to pay roughly $200,000 in taxes as a result of the Ontario land transfer tax, the new city of Toronto land transfer tax, and the new harmonized 13% GST/PST.

Think about that and what that would do to real estate values in Toronto. It will cause property values to fall and kill the new home construction industry and the jobs it creates. And it won't be long before you'll hear our elected representatives telling us that, because of the harm that has been inflicted to the new home construction industry by the new 13% tax, it would be "fair" to extend the new 13% tax to sales of existing homes.

Canadians have had two things that they have always been able to count on as being tax free - things that they could use to save money and accumulate wealth. They are your: (a) primary home; and (b) RRSP. That's it.The extension of the new 13% HST to homes is simply a tax assault by the government on your primary home. They want to tax your primary home and you will suffer because of it. Why? Because if a purchaser has to pay almost $200,000 in taxes to buy your $1 million dollar home, the purchaser is going to pay less to you for your home. The purchaser will reduce the amount he or she is willing to pay to you in order to pay all the taxes.

Your income tax will go up! The combined Federal/Ontario income tax rates are roughly 25% on the first $20,000 of taxable income, 42% on the next $40,000 of taxable income, and 46.5% on each dollar of taxable income over $60,000. On top of that you have to add the "Fair Share Health Tax" of up to $1,000 each of us has to pay.

If the Ontario Government gets away with implementing their new harmonized GST/PST sales tax of 13%, the top effective income tax rates in Ontario will be as follows (since you can't spend any of your tax paid dollars without paying the new harmonized 13% GST/PST tax): 38% on the first $20,000, 53% on the next $40,000, 59.5% on every dollar over $60,000.

On top of that, you have to pay your Ontario Fair Share Health Tax, your city realty taxes, your city garbage fees, your city water fees, your city street parking permit fees, your annual Ontario and new city of Toronto vehicle license plate fees, your Ontario land transfer tax, your new city of Toronto land transfer tax, your gasoline taxes, your liquor taxes, your air departure taxes, your entertainment taxes, and so on.

OF ALL THE MONEY YOU WORKED HARD TO EARN, WHAT PERCENTAGE ARE YOU REALLY KEEPING FOR YOUR OWN USE? 25%? 20%? 10%? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH - FIGHT BACK!

I URGE YOU TO TAKE THIS ISSUE SERIOUSLY AND TO FILL AND AND SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST THE NEW HST AT www.unfairtaxgrab.com.

When you visit the site you'll see that it's an NDP initiative. Even though the NDP has a snowball's chance of forming the next provincial government, Walt congratulates them for leading the fight against the HST. The McGuinty Liberals have proposed it, the federal Liberals are waffling, and the provincial Tories are sitting firmly on the fence. claims "no one is complaining" about his unfair tax grab. You proved him wrong this week.


Every now and then -- as in the Maid of the Mist lease story yesterday -- the voice of the people prevails! Sign the petition! Pass this post on to your friends, your family, your neighbours...everybody! Together we can stop the HST!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Power to the people of Niagara Falls

The Niagara Parks Commission has been, for years and years, a notoriously secretive and arrogant agency of the Province of Ontario.

Governed by a law passed in the 19th century which has barely changed since, it is pretty well a law unto itself. Its members, although public officials, are sworn to secrecy and cannot divulge what goes on at its meetings to anyone, even the municipal councils whom some of them represent.

Their books are not open to the public. Audited accounts have not been published in a timely fashion. Management and business decisions have been made on the bases of cronyism, favouritism and, allegedly, corruption.

The allegations have been made by Bob Gale, a Niagara Falls businessman and former NPC member who resigned in disgust, and by Preserve Our Parks, a citizens' action group which has taken on the mission of lobbying for Niagara Parks to be managed in the best interests of all the residents of Niagara.

The most monstrous example of puck-nailed-to-the-stick decision-making was the NPC's decision to renew the lease contract for the famous Maid of the Mist, made in haste and secrecy in April 2008, more than a year before the current lease expired. A sweetheart deal was given to a company controlled by James Glynn, an American with close connections to prominent politicians -- both Liberal and Conservative -- and the supposedly independent Commission.

Under the new lease, the NPC would actually have received less revenue, over the course of the 25-year contract, than it does now. Who would have kept the rest of the money? Glynn, of course. Worse yet, NPC chairman Jim Williams kept hidden from the Commission the fact that at least two other boat tour operators had expressed interest in taking over the operation, providing more modern equipment, enhanced service and increased (and direly needed) revenue for NPC.

In the face of the hue and cry raised by Bob Gale, Preserve Our Parks and Bill Windsor (one of the would-be bidders for a new lease), Ontario's Integrity Commissioner launched an investigation. In her report, Lynn Morrison said she "could not find any evidence of wrongdoing" on the part of Commissioner Williams. It is rumoured that the Integrity Commissioner also has trouble finding a blackberry in her saucer of milk.

However, the Integrity Commissioner suggested that it might be in order for the NPC to "review" its decision to renew the lease with Glynn. This the NPC did. To no-one's surprise, the NPC found it had done nothing wrong, and recommended the same renewal, on the same terms, without any tender or competitive bidding!

Like King Balthasar (Daniel 5), the NPC would not read the handwriting on the wall!

In response, Preserve Our Parks and Messrs Gale and Windsor stepped up the pressure on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the feckless Minister of Tourism Monique Smith. (Ms Smith owes her position chiefly to being a pliable woman, appointed to pretty up the cabinet picture.) And, believe it or not, they won!

Yes, Minister Smith (not Chairman Williams) announced yesterday that the Niagara Parks Commission will at last solicit competing bids from companies interested in leasing the property needed to provide the Maid of the Mist tours.

"For once, the taxpayers have won. It's unbelievable," said Bob Gale. Click here to read his statement, published by OPSEU Local 217, the union representing NPC employees. The union has for years complained of the mismanagement and high-handed attitude of the Commission and its chairman, and has been very vocal in calling for reform of the NPC.

In effect, the Liberal government told NPC to get real! How could they just, for the sake of doing a favour for a friend, leave on the table nearly $100 million of potential income from a new boat tour operator, especially when NPC is running deeply in the red, as at present.

After the eHealth scandal, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a new policy aimed at opening government-issued contracts to competitive bids more regularly. Why a new policy should have been required is a good question, but nevertheless...

"We think that this process aligns itself well with that," Smith said in an interview just hours after she recommended [really? it was her idea? ed.] cabinet not give its approval to the deal the NPC handed on a platter to Glynn's Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co.
"I think this is the appropriate course," Smith said. "It ensures all interested parties get the opportunity to submit proposals in a fair and open competition."

Parks commission chairman Jim Williams said his board will abide by the order. According to the Niagara Falls Review, Williams said, "As a dutiful agency of government, we are not our own masters. We work for the government. They're wanting an open, transparent process. We will certainly follow that recommendation." Snorts of derision were not recorded in the Review account.

Speaking for Preserve Our Parks, James Bannister said the group was encouraged that at last a proper and businesslike bidding process -- one that was called for by the government's rules -- would be followed. However, he cautioned, "the NPC is still badly in need of reform. The old boys club that tried to push through the sweetheart deal is still in charge of NPC. Preserve Our Parks won't rest until the rascals are thrown out!"

132

Lt. Justin Garrett Boyes of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry yesterday became the 132nd Canadian to die in Afghanistan. RIP.

The media are telling us Lt. Boyes is "the first in over a month" to die, as if that's supposed to make his family or us feel better. The tide of the war has not changed. It is against us.

Meanwhile, the focus of the "war on terror" seems to be shifting northeastward, to some more "stans"...Waziristan, which is a province of Pakistan. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have killed hundreds in the "stans" this week alone. The armed forces of Pakistan, America, Canada and the rest do not seem to be making any headway in containing, let alone eliminating them.

Those who have eyes to see, let them see.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rearranging the deck chairs

The good ship Liberal looks this week like a latter-day Titanic. The party's poll numbers keep going down, and the lifeboats are starting to fill up. All that's needed is a band to play "Nearer Dion to Thee".

So what does that fearless leader, Prince Michael Ignatieff, do? Why, get a new chief of staff of course! Or maybe not.

CBC's Power and Politics reported yesterday that Ian "Rainmaker Junior" Davey had either jumped or been pushed over the side, to be replaced by Peter Donolo, former communications director to prime minister Jean Chrétien. Then Jill Fairbrother, Iggy's current [for how long? ed.] director of communications, said no, Davey was not leaving, under a cloud or otherwise. Jill, by the way, happens to be Ian's "partner".

So who's in charge...really? If Donolo accepts the position of first mate, he will be the third in the last year. And he will doubtless bring with him a new director of communications, who can assure us that there's nothing wrong, the ship just stopped for ice!

I hate to say this, but the problem in the OLO [not LOL? ed.] is not one of communications. It is one of leadership! [You did say this, just a few days ago. ed.]

Mr. Ignatieff does not know where he wants to lead the Liberal Party, other than back into power. Thus there is simply nothing of substance to communicate. Until that is changed, Mr. Donolo or Mr. Davey or whoever is nominally in charge had better be sure their lifevest is securely fastened. Oh, and some armour plate across the back wouldn't hurt either.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paul Theroux writes about travel

I read a lot! My favourite genre is travel writing...not guidebooks but what is sometimes called "travel adventure" or "travel biography". To my mind, the leader in the field is Paul Theroux, author of Dark Star Safari, which I just finished.

Here, from that book, is Theroux's explanation of why people travel, or at least why he travels.

The wish to disappear sends many travelers away. If you are thoroughly sick of being kept waiting at home or at work, travel is perfect: let other people wait for a change. Travel is a sort of revenge for having been put on hold, having to leave messages on answering machines, not knowing your party’s extension, being kept waiting all your working life -- the homebound writer’s irritants. Being kept waiting is the human condition.

I wish I'd written that! As it is, I can only recommend Theroux's books...well, his travel books rather more than his fiction...to you. If you'd like to get your feet wet, so to speak, check your library's catalogue for Fresh-air Fiend or To the Ends of the Earth, two compilations of excerpts from his late 20th-century books.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The troubling case of David Dewees

Agent 18 writes concerning the disturbing case of David Dewees, pictured. Earlier this month Mr. Dewees threw himself in front of a Toronto subway train. Why?

Well, Mr. Dewees had been charged by Toronto police with sexual offences involving boys. The charges provoked a media frenzy, with the newspapers and TV vying to give maximum exposure to Dewees' photo. Since Dewees was a high school teacher, there was an implication that he must have had improper relations with some of his students. Appeals were made for "other victims" to come forward.

In fact the alleged offences occurred near the sleepy village of Port Sydney, in the Muskokas, at a summer camp where Mr. Dewees had worked as a counsellor. Agent 18 and Walt both spent happy summers at the same camp, many years before Dewees was there, hence the letter.

Agent 18 writes: I wonder, when he was at camp with a tent full of boys, what he was doing. I think it is sad we have come to that place in this world, that we cannot trust people to the fullest.
Indeed. Agent 18 says the Presbyterian church requires all those involved with children to be made aware of the church's policies and sign a statement confirming their awareness. (I wonder if the Roman Catholic Church has such policies? ed.) The Boy Scouts, after years of jokes about the foxes looking after the chickens, has put in place strict vetting procedures for scout leaders. Probably they are also asked to sign a piece of paper. As if that would do any good.

What is the reason for the apparent increase in the incidence of sexual abuse of minors by those standing in loco parentis, like camp counsellors and clergymen? I'm inclined to blame, amongst other factors, the relentless campaign of the homosexuals imbedded in the media to persuade us that being gay is OK!

There is no shame or stigma attached to homosexuality any more. "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" We hear this not just during Gay Pride Week (!!!) but the other 51 weeks of the year as well. And because of political correctness, no-one dares say homosexuality is not OK!

Even now I can hear the crayons being sharpened to accuse Walt of being homophobic. The term itself is a misnomer. Those of us who are "anti-gay" are not afraid of homosexuals. Rather, we detest them and their "lifestyle choice". We wish they would shut up about it, and go back in the closet where they belong!

Not so long ago -- yet it seems a long time -- the fathers of modern psychiatry, such as Freud and Kraft-Ebbing, regarded homosexuality as deviant behaviour. Deviant...as in disordered or abnormal. Even now the official teaching of the Church is that is "morally disordered".

But what we hear from the media is that there's nothing wrong with being gay. It's not even a sickness. It's just a "lifestyle choice". Some of us choose to be surfer dudes. Some of us choose to be queers. That's all. And just as there's nothing wrong with trying to persuade someone to join your political party, there's nothing wrong with trying to get someone to switch from AC to DC.

So who is to blame for Mr. Dewees' decision to end it all? Why, the media of course! In an e-mail to the Toronto Sun, one of his friends wrote "Does the government not provide some kind of 'babysitter' in these situations or put him on suicide watch? Or did they just let him go and say deal with it?"

"Many will say this proves he was guilty," he added. "And maybe he was. Or maybe he wasn't guilty. His career and reputation ruined, maybe he was so embarrassed with his name and face plastered all over the media and felt that no matter what the outcome, people would always write him off as a pervert. Maybe he just couldn't deal with that."

You can make a good argument that Dewees was tried and convicted in the media, without having had his day in court. But the threat of exposure is one of the few sanctions left against improper and illegal behaviour. If you do nothing, even in your private life, that can't stand the light of day, you have nothing to fear.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

To my friends in Brampton

Greetings to Walt's readers and friends in Brampton, Ontario. You know, don't you, that you are members of a tiny minority which is shrinking daily.

The new majority -- the Sikhs -- used to vote solidly Liberal resulting in the election of non-entities like Gurbax Singh Malhi and princesses like Her Highness and chief nanny-abuser "Doctor" Ruby Singh Dhalla.

All that is changing. The Sikhs, whose only political belief is the struggle for a free Kalistan, are defecting to the Tories in record numbers. Read "The Battle for Brampton" , an excellent analysis by Joe Friesen, in today's Globe and Mail.

And, dear friends, if you're thinking of getting out of Brampton before you're the last white family left, you'll find lots of good houses for sale in western and south-western Ontario.

Dog for sale!

Thanks to Agent 59 in Dufferin County for this one. Whether you own a dog or not, you must appreciate the efforts of this owner to sell her dog. Read the sales pitch!


Dog For Sale
Free to good home. Excellent guard dog. Owner cannot afford to feed him anymore, as there are no more drug pushers, thieves, murderers, or molesters left in the neighborhood for him to eat. Most of them knew Jethro only by his street name, 'Holy Shit.'

Friday, October 23, 2009

The great service of General Hillier

General Rick Hillier (ret'd) is an ambiable Newfoundlander who for some time was chief of Canada's defence staff. According to Gen. Hillier, defending Canada included joining in the American war on Afghanistan. In fact, Hillier was a most effective promoter of Canada's military mission in Kandahar.

Some of us questioned whether Hillier was genuinely in agreement with the mission's policy rationale. It was suggested that perhaps he was just doing his master's bidding -- his master being "Call me Steve" Harper -- and parroting his master's hawkish rhetoric.

Sometime in 2008, Gen. Hillier appeared on CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup to defend our military presence in Afghanistan, and make us feel better about the mounting toll in lives and treasure. Agent 3 asked him if he and his political masters were truly singing from the same hymn-sheet, or whether he had any disagreements with the Conservatives' Afghanistan policy.

Oh no, replied the general, Mr. Harper and I see eye-to-eye, absolutely and completely. Anyway, my job is not to question the commander-in-chief's orders, but to execute them. (Did he really say "execute"? ed.)

Apparently General Hillier dissembled. ("Dissemble - v. intr. - To disguise or conceal one's real nature, motives, or feelings behind a false appearance." American Heritage Dictionary)

In his just-released autobiographical book, Hillier contradicts the impression that he was the main architect of the mission. He says that his strategy was to concentrate Canadian efforts in Kabul, rather than take on the more dangerous Kandahar assignment, which had little chance of success.

Hillier goes on to say that our military effort was hampered by timorous and quarrelling civilian and political partners in the Afghan capital. The multi-national endeavour was doomed from the start, he argues.

Hillier is highly critical of NATO, painting the alliance as bereft of ideas or strategies for the Afghan mission. But he cuts closer to the bone in attacking political operators in PM Harpoon's office, along with the pin-striped dips in the Department of Foreign affairs, for undermining the mission and misrepresenting it to the Canadian people.

General Hillier has thus kissed goodbye to any chances he might have had of becoming a Tory candidate in the next election. Could we have had a Minister of Defence who actually knew something about waging war? We'll never know.

We should be grateful to General Rick though for telling the truth, at last. By so doing, he has, perhaps unwittingly, done a great service to Canada and particularly the Canadian troops who might be asked to remain in the hell of Afghanistan for years to come.

Hillier's admissions and attacks have pretty well scuppered any chance of the military mission being extended past the present 2011 end date. The Americans want us to reconsider that deadline. The spineless Peter McHack was already sending up trial balloons to the effect that we might have to stay a little longer and shed a little more blood.

Hillier's book makes it less likely than ever that the tide of Canadian public opinion, running strongly against the Afghan war, can be reversed, even by a majority Tory government.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let all who believe be welcome in the true Church

There is great rejoicing in Catholic and traditional Anglican circles this week, over the news that Pope Benedict XVI is promulgating a new apostolic constitution which will permit entire Anglican communities to be received into the Catholic Church should their members so wish.

The papal document allows for the creation of "personal ordinariates" to be headed by priests already ordained as Anglicans. This would include married priests, but presumably not openly gay priests.

The new "personal ordinariates" would be integrated into national Catholic episcopal conferences, but encouraged to preserve the distinctive aspects of the Anglican tradition. It is unclear whether the new Anglo-Catholics would be required to accept and declare their belief in Catholic dogma.

Over the course of the four and three-quarter centuries since Henry VIII split with Rome in order to get the first of his many divorces, the Anglicans have rejected Catholic positions on such major issues as transubstantiation, the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in salvation, and the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope.

In any case, the creation of the new structure has been loudly applauded in most quarters. It is heralded as a triumph of ecumenism, and a precedent for the eventual embrace by Rome of what remains of the Anglican church as well as the schismatic Orthodox churches.

Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, and Dr. Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican Communion, issued a joint statement calling the new apostolic constitution "the fruit of years of ecumenical dialogue".

Acknowledging that recent developments in the Anglican communion have complicated the quest for reunion with Rome, the joint statement nevertheless insists that both the Vatican and the Anglican communion remain committed to the ecumenical process.

Of course there are dissenters. There were bound to be. The phrase "sheep stealing" has been bandied about. And voices of the old Tory establishment, in Britain and the colonies, are already decrying the weakening of a church which has been described as "the Tory party at prayer".

The editors of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s self-styled national newspaper, have lashed out at the Vatican’s decision.

"The Vatican's welcome of some Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church is a Trojan horse," they write. "In the face of an inflexible hierarchy, liberal Catholic voices have had little effect; the grudging loyalty of those who remain is in jeopardy. The Vatican announcement will make the Catholic Church more conservative and the Anglican church more liberal. Is that what ecumenism is meant to accomplish?"

If the result is as the editors predict, Walt is all for it. Let those who believe in the traditional Catholic Faith -- the Faith handed down to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ through the Apostles and the doctors of the Church -- come within the embrace of the Church. And let those who reject that Faith remain in the outer darkness.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another jaundiced view of Africa

Yesterday's post about Africa, AIDS and the Church begat considerable discussion around the old hot stove. An old buddy paraphrased my argument thus. "What you're saying is that trying to teach Africans that you can prevent aids by abstinence and chastity is like trying to explain Sunday to a hog."

Ummm, yes, you could say that! But if you say such things, you will be accused, as surely as day follows night, of being a racist. One of my small-l liberal friends says my saying "Africans will be Africans" is implying that all the efforts of missionaries, teachers, aid workers and other "forced for good" are wasted because Africans don't "get it". Exactly!

Why should this be construed as a racist statement? I lived in southern Africa for six years. I saw what I saw. I am not a racist. I am a realist!

Hear the voice of another realist. This is Paul Theroux's take on helping Africans, as expressed in Dark Star Safari (2003).

The whites, teachers, diplomats and agents of virtue [love that phrase, ed.] I met at dinner parties had pretty much the same things on their minds as their counterparts had in the 1960s. They discussed relief projects and scholarships and agricultural schemes, refugee camps, emergency food programs, technical assistance.

They were newcomers. They did not realize that for forty years people had been saying the same things, and the result after four decades was a lower standard of living, a higher rate of illiteracy, overpopulation, and much more disease.

Dark Star Safari is Theroux's account of his jouney from Cairo to the Cape just after the turn of this century. Like me, he spent some time working in Africa, years before. His view of that continent, its people and its future is far more jaundiced and dyspeptic than mine. Go ahead. Call him a racist. But read the book first.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Economic models explained with cows

Thanks to Agent 26 for this one ...

SOCIALISM You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour.

COMMUNISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you.

BUREAUCRATISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

SURREALISM You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back,with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull.

THE ANDERSEN MODEL You have two cows. You shred them.

A FRENCH CORPORATION You have two cows. You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called 'Cowkimon' and market it worldwide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You decide to have lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.You count them again and learn you have 2 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION You have two cows. Both are mad.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb the shit out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy.

A NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. The one on the left looks very attractive.

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is a very good prize to win. It carries with it $5 million paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter. This year's winner is ... may I have the envelope please ... NOBODY!

That's right. AP reports from London that the he prize-giving committee could not select a winner this year, although it looked at “some credible candidates”.

He said the foundation “noted the progress made with governance in some African countries, while noticing with concern recent setbacks in other countries.” Committee members said they could not discuss their deliberations, nor would they name the countries in which either progress or setbacks had been observed.

The prize, created in 2007 by Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, is awarded to a democratically elected former African head of state or government who has left office in the past three years. Mr. Ibrahim was asked about politicians who meet the award criteria but were not chosen, including former South African president Thabo Mbeki, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Ghanaian president John Kufuor.

Mr. Ibrahim said the foundation had “full respect” for those leaders. It was unclear why the committee, which is independent of the foundation's board, was unable to chose one for the prize.

What is unclear to Walt is why they didn't give the prize to Barack Obama!

AIDS, Africa and Catholicism

Agent 17 sent me, for comment, an article by an ex-priest, James Carroll, in which he claims that Africa's Catholic bishops are ignoring "Catholicism’s greatest failing—the AIDS crisis ravaging their continent". Here's my answer.

What we have here is a clash of cultures, philosophy and dogma. The writer has rejected the faith he swore he fidelity to and has become not just not Catholic but anti-Catholic.

He is speaking from a purely secular, humanitarian point of view. It makes sense to someone holding that philosophy to intervene by whatever means to save the noble savages, the poor benighted Africans, from themselves. After all, they are people "just like us".

Except that they're not. Africans have a different culture from Europeans and westerners. That cannot be denied. And it accounts for the rapid and continuing spread of HIV/AIDs on the Dark Continent.

The Africans have never been particularly impressed by the Christian values of chastity or monogamy. Polygamy is practised even today in the so-called Christianized parts of Africa south of the Sahara. Yes, even among supposedly educated and "civilized" people.

And prostitution and casual sex continue as they always have, the only difference being that some people -- probably not the majority -- use condoms. (This is in marked difference to my experience in east Asia. There is lots of casual sex there too, but virtually everyone uses condoms. As a result the incidence of HIV/AIDs is significantly lower.)

The Church's stand on matters sexual, against which the writer inveighs (one wonders why he left the church in the first place) goes directly against the norms of African culture. The Church preaches (and Catholics occasionally practise) no sex outside of marriage, and only one marriage partner. Sure it's an ideal, more honoured in the breach than the observance even here "at home", but it is nevertheless a worthy ideal.

The Church has had some success in the past in imposing its values. They remain, however, foreign values to large numbers of Africans, perhaps the majority. That is why nothing the Church does or doesn't do is ultimately going to make a great deal of difference. So how the Church's continuing to insist on a moral answer, rather than a medical answer to the plague of HIV/AIDs can constitute a scandal is a mystery to me. It is a jejune argument.

As a footnote, I should say that I have referred to the Church in reference to the Catholic Church, since that's the Church whose approach is being called into question here. However, the fundamentalist Protestant sects, especially in the USA, hold the same beliefs and preach the same remedies -- abstinence, continence and monogamy.

The Economist last week reported that in large swaths of America outside the Liberal northeast, this is the main thrust of campaigns to reduce sexually transmitted disease and teenage pregnancy. In the USA it works, to a greater extent, because the culture there has its roots in the Puritanism of the early settlers, the Mayflower gang. But Puritanism came to Africa with the Protestant missionaries only in the 19th century ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume") and it never took.

To sum up, the Church's approach to reducing the spread of HIV/AIDs in Africa may be unrealistic -- Africans will always be Africans -- but it is not wrong.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Girl stabbed to death for pregnancy outside of marriage

AFP reports that a man was charged on Sunday with premeditated murder after allegedly stabbing to death his 22-year-old daughter because she became pregnant outside wedlock.

"The father and his brother took the girl on Saturday to a doctor because she suffered stomach pains, and everybody was surprised to learn that she was six months pregnant," a police spokesman told AFP. "On their way home, the father stabbed the girl with a sword 25 times in her stomach, killing her immediately as well as her unborn baby boy."

The source said the suspect has confessed to the crime following the murder. "His brother was also charged with premeditated murder, while the victim's boyfriend is being held in custody for his own protection," he added.

Now where do you suppose this happened? Afghanistan? Iraq? Wrong! It happened in Jordan. One might say that the accused murderer is a man in Amman.

And what do you suppose is the religion of the accused daughter-slayer? Answers on the back of a postage stamp, please. No prizes!

AFP explains that murder is punishable by the death penalty in Jordan, but in cases of so-called "honour killings" a court usually commutes or reduces sentences, particularly if the victim's family urges leniency.

Around 15-20 women are murdered each year in Jordan in the name of honour. So far this year, 17 cases have been reported.

Remember, dear reader, that this is what we're fighting for in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why?!

What else ya got?

Walt likes Michael Moore. Apart from being an American who recognizes the superiority of Canadian civilization (not an oxymoron? ed.), he's a genuine, grade-A, certified, bona fide shit-disturber, thus an honorary citizen of Walt Whiteman's World.

Mind you, MM's politics are just a teensy bit leftish for this small-c conservative. Had I been eligible to vote in the USA, I certainly wouldn't have cast my ballot for "the hope machine" (although the alternative didn't exactly inspire confidence either). And I cherish no illusion that America is going to adopt Canadian-style universal health care or regulation of the financial sector until there are reliable reports of ground frost in Hades.

Moore's latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, is, as you would expect, a polemic against the capitalist system that has made America what it is today. (Pause and let the full import of that last clause sink in.) It's not hard to satirize capitalism and capitalists. It's been done very well by others, for instance SCTV's Martin Short in the guise of industrialist and art patron Bradley P. Allen.

But Moore does a skillful job of hoisting the captialists on their own petard. One of the best scenes in the movie is a sequence in which "experts" make a hash of attempting to explain derivatives. And there are trademark Moore stunts, like wrapping yellow police tape around the headquarters of bailed-out Wall Street firms.

It's all very entertaining, as usual, but there is a fundamental problem of philosophy. Moore points the finger of fun at the excesses and nonsenses of capitalism, but he fails to make the case for any other economic system. In fact he doesn't even suggest any alternative.

He speaks of "more democracy" but what does that mean in the world of business and finance? Should we let Joe Sixpack vote on every economic issue that arises? The great unwashed don't know a debit from a credit! (Neither does the finance minister, it seems, but that's another matter.)

Democracy and capitalism have this in common. To paraphrase Churchill, they both look pretty awful -- sometimes spectacularly so -- until one compares them with the alternatives.

Rushing the season

Why can't people wait to start decorating their houses for Christmas and, in recent years, Hallowe'en? Come to think of it, what's with decorating your house for Hallowe'en? Whose bright idea was that? The decorations manufacturers and costume-sellers, surely!

Let it be remembered that Halowe'en is a pagan celebration. If we must participate -- and lots of Christians would say we don't -- could we not confine it to the evening of October 31st?

Not far from Walt's log cabin is a house which the neighbours call "the tacky house". Here we've just got past Thanksgiving, and already the resident nutbar has his entire front yard filled with ghosts, goblins, tombstones, scarecrows and what have you, the whole thing cordoned off with yellow police tape. It is a sight for sore eyes...or maybe the right word is "eyesore". The sad thing is...there are others!

In Los Angeles, residents of a Marina del Rey neighbourhood thought a neighbour was rushing things a bit when they saw a lifeless figure on his balcony. Turns out it was real! Yes, the body of a 75-year-old man sat decomposing for days because neighbours didn't call police, thinking it was part of a Hallowe'en tableau.

Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed apparently shot himself through the eye on Monday, and started to rot where he sat, in a chair outside his third-floor apartment, according to Austin Raishbrook of RMG News.

Neighbours told Raishbrook they noticed the body three days earlier "but didn't bother calling authorities because it looked like a Halloween dummy," he said. "It's very strange," he added. "It did look unreal, to be honest."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wanted: 6-year-old kid

A follower has observed that my posts have been a bit irregular lately, and asks why. Well, bless you, ma'am, for noticing. The explanation is that I've had some computer problems. State-of-the-art PCs may be idiot-proof, but the software developers haven't reckoned with Walt!

What I need now is a six-year-old kid to fix this damnable thing. Not having one, I shall have to go to Chinatown for assistance. BCNU.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adieu, Safire

A large book in the middle of the centre shelf of Walt's working library is On Language, by William Safire. Mr. Safire died on September 27th.

I like to think he would have written "died" rather than "passed away". That was the kind of man he was -- one who valued plain and precise speech, but correctness first!

William Safire was a lexicographer and a pundit. One pundit more or less makes no difference. But capable and knowledgeable lexicographers are a rare breed.

Mr. Safire was a maven, "one who understands". He understood that the English language, especially as spoken and written by today's media personalities, is being debased. He waged a lifelong struggle for correct (but not politically correct) and creative speech.

William Safire will be missed by all who, like Walt, love our language.

No toilet, no wedding...no shit!

Today's Toronto Star carries an interesting story from Haryana, one of the poorer states of India.

They report that many families in rural India, when marrying off their daughters, are increasingly asking for not just a groom of the right caste, who does not drink and has good prospects for a stable job, but also an amenity in great demand: a toilet.

In rural India, the report goes on, many young women are refusing to marry unless the suitor furnishes their future home with a bathroom, freeing them from the inconvenience and embarrassment of using community toilets or squatting in fields.

Walt recommends this story not to make fun of India, but to highlight the huge differences in the cultures and economies of India and North America. About 665 million people in India – about half the population – lack access to even a communal latrine, let alone indoor plumbing. That's a fact of life in India, even in the biggest cities, and one can only imagine the consequences in terms of insanitation, a foul environment and widespread disease.

One also understands why millions of Indians and Pakistanis (literally) will do anything to get into Canada and the USA, by hook or by crook. Crooks abound in the immigration and refuee biz. It would be interesting to know how many of the visible South Asians one sees every day are here legally.

Now here's an amazing coincidence. CBC radio has a story this morning about the increasing numbers of Indians who are leaving Vancouver and Toronto to go back home!

According to the story, these are the better-off Indians who come here as economic migrants, only to find that they actually have to work, they won't have servants, and the streets are not paved with gold. So they stay here, heavily subsidized by taxpayers, long enough to get their green card or permanent resident status, and then they hightail it back to their land of milk and curry...and no toilets.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Let us give thanks

Walt reminds Americans and other foreigners that today is Thanksgiving in Canada. That's right, the second Monday of October. It's also the last long weekend until Christmas.

I have been asked why we Canadians celebrate so early, rather than the fourth Thursday of November as do our neighbours to the south, or not at all. There are two possible explanations:

1. Canadians invented Thanksgiving.

2. We have less to be thankful for.

Take your pick.

One thing that we can be thankful for is hockey. It makes us what we are, and sets us apart from the aforementioned neighbours.

I wanted to upload the "I Am Canadian - Hockey" rant to underscore the point, but couldn't do so. Nor could I put up Stompin' Tom Connors "The Hockey Song". You can probably find them on YouTube.

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Canucks!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stop the unfair tax grab! Sign the petition against the HST!

The following comes from a source who must remain anonymous...

A Boomer Wealth Coach Analysis for Ontario Seniors

Was the Liberal Budget presented to Ontario on 26 March 2009, a tax grant or a tax grab? Depending on whose politics or what lobbyists, the answer will be GRANT! Or GRAB! ..... Or somewhere in between.

Our staff did something different. We read the Budget document, called the Ministry Office for details, and added up the numbers. Then, we looked at the results as to how these proposals would affect the retired, or soon to be retired. It tired us out! Our Report follows. We would encourage you to forward this Report to friends and family. There is a very real need to plan for retirement comfort -- even more so, with the proposals recently introduced.

THE TAX GRAB -- 8% more for NOTHING more

Seniors living in retirement enjoy a lifestyle different than the one they lived while working. In retirement, to be active often means paying a fee, a membership, an admission, a subscription or for costs for travel, etc. We have calculated that the impact of this Liberal Budget will be more costly for Ontario seniors than anyone has reported.

Consider a retired couple, receiving total retirement income of $41,400 after tax per year*, healthy enough to enjoy some comfort in retirement. Many of those items used on a daily basis will now be subject to an 8% cost increase, because of the new harmonized sales tax introduced by the Liberal provincial government in this Budget.

Look at just a few of those items that will cost more, without getting more.
Cable TV: if $60 monthly, yearly increase is $57.60 more.
Golf Fees: if $1,500 yearly X 2, yearly increase is $240.00 more
Gym Membership: if $35 month X 2, yearly increase is $67.20 more.
Hydro: if $85 monthly, yearly increase is $81.60 more.
Haircuts: if $450 X 2 annually, yearly increase is $72.00 more.
Heating Fuel: if $800 annually, yearly increase is $64.00 more.
Internet: If $65 monthly, yearly increase is $62.40 more.
Income Tax Prep. If cost is $150 X 2, yearly increase is $24.00 more.
Legal Fees: for wills, P.Of A., advice, etc. If $400, add 8%, $32.00 more.
London Knights tickets: 4 games X 2, yearly incr. Is $11.52 more (note Senior Season Ticket $484 X 2, yearly increase is $77.4 4 more)
Magazine Subscription: $25 annually X 4, increase is $8.00 more
Movie Tickets: one per month X 2, yearly increase is $16.32 more
Newspapers Subscription: $20 monthly, yrly incr. Is $18.91 more
RRIF/RRSP**: $400,000 family savings, yrly incr. $1,040.00 more. **This is a NEW HIDDEN TAX OF $52 per $20,000 on deposit, ANNUALLY
Telephone: if $48 monthly, yearly increase is $46.08 more
Tim Hortons Coffee: 3 per week X 2, yrly increase is $41.18.
Toronto Theatre: 2 X $150 ticket, yrly increase $24.00
Vacation Travel: $450 airline ticket X 2, yrly increase $76.00 more
Veterinarian: Beagle is Family! Add $32.00 more.
Vitamins: $60 monthly X 2, yrly increase $115.20 more

Are you ready for the TAX KICK coming?
For just these listed items***NEW TAXES OVER $2,100.00 MORE EVERY YEAR ..!!
THIS TAX IS COMING IN 2010

Go to this website to sign a petition against the new HST (harmonized sales tax).
www.unfairtaxgrab.com

Note from Walt: When you go to the website, you'll find it's sponsored by the NDP. God forbid that we should ever again have an NDP government in Ontario -- remember Rae! -- but you'll find that they are the only party fighting against the HST. Why don't the provincial Tories oppose it? Where's their great white hope, Tim Hudak, in this debate? Nowhere!

Do you want to know why? Because the HST is not just the will or fault of the provincial Liberals. It is just as much the wish and fault of the federal Conservatives, the government of "Call Me Steve" Harper. So much does Harpoon want McGuinty to wear this one, that he (or his finance minister, Jim Flattery) has sweetened the deal with a "grant" of $4 billion to ease the pain...and help Dwight Dunkin Donuts balance the books a tad sooner

Make no mistake, fellow citizens! HST really stands for Harper Sales Tax! It was Mulroney that brought us the GST, and now his successor aims yet another kick at our pocketbooks...and sucks McGuinty into joining in kicking us while we're down.

Jeffrey Simpson hits the Liberal nail on the head

In the Globe and Mail this weekend, Jeffrey Simpson contributes a good column headed An opposition leader has a lousy job. The subhead reads: Unless Liberals reconnect with what once made them compelling, it matters little who they follow.

I don't need to add a summary. Let me simply quote the last two paragraphs.

Today's Liberal Party has forgotten, or is afraid to promote, what it used to stand for: a strong central government, an activist state, an engaged and creative foreign policy and, more recently, balanced budgets and debt reduction.

Unless the party reconnects with what once made it compelling for so many, although repellent to others, it doesn't much matter who the leader is.

Well said, Mr. Simpson!

What keeps de cows in de field?

DEFENCE!
Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montréal Canadiens need to get some if they're to have any hope of making the playoffs, let alone winning Lord Stanley's silverware this year.

Vesa the Finished Finn played not too badly in Leafs' 5-2 loss to the Pens. That's if you consider allowing 5 goals "not too badly". True, he stayed on the goal line or behind it, like a frightened turtle, but he could sue his defencemen for non-support. Jeff "Fickle" Finger and François Beauchemin deserve dishonourable mention.

Leafs allowed 3 goals on 4 Pittsburgh powerplays. They bid fair (foul, surely? ed.) to have the worst PK in the league again this year.

Meanwhile, at Edmonton, Les Pas-Très-Glorieux made two mistakes that cost two goals, according to Jacques Martin, so lost a close one, 3-2, even though they outshot the Oilers 35-19.

Don't blame Carey Price. He appears still a bit shell-shocked, being probably the most shot-upon (did you mean to put an "a" there? ed) goalie in the NHL. That's because the Habs have a woefully inept collection of kids and hasbeens on the blueline.

What was Bob Gainey thinking when he acquired Hal Gill? Look up "slow" in the dictionary and you'll see his picture! His lack of speed makes him simply an obstacle, like a tree, to be skated around by opposing forwards.

And then there's Georges "Token" Laraque, he of the Afrobraids. His role is resident goon but he's a gentle giant, rather like Lenny in Of Mice and Men. What the Canadiens need is someone just plain mean.

It's not too early for both teams to start thinking trade, trade and trade some more! But who have they got that anyone else would want? Walt's solution: trade with each other!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Forgive us our offences

There are reports in all the major media today of a sad story from Calgary. Three newborn babies have been found dead in a northeast Calgary home, along with a young woman who may or may not have been their mother. The name of the dead woman is Harsimrat Kahlon.

A police spokesman said that the circumstances are still under investigation, but that the death of the young woman is "not suspicious". The question of whether there was some sort of "cultural issue" remains open.

Although reports in the Globe and Mail and other wimpy print media did not mention the ethnicity or religion of the deceased woman, readers evidently made their own assumptions, which were later confirmed in the TV reports.

Comments in the Mop and Pail (as Richard Needham used to call it) have been disabled. Here, in the Glob's own words, is the reason why.

Editor's Note: Comments have been closed on this story because an overwhelming number of readers were making offensive statements about other commenters and/or the individual or individuals mentioned in the story.

Indeed. God (and the Human Rights Commission) forbid that anyone might suggest that the ethnic background (Indian) or religious background (Sikh) of those involved should be mentioned. Doing so might offend someone. That the cultural background (ethnicity + religion = culture) is 100% relevant to an understanding of what happened obviously does not matter.

More goalies! Quick!!!

The Maple Leafs are younger, bigger and faster this season. So the Leaf's P.R. people say. Unfortunately they're also worse...worse even than last year's team. So far they're 0 for 3.

One of the problems that needs to be fixed immediately is the goaltending situation. Vesa Toskala (a Finn) has yet to play one solid period. Enter Jonas Gustavson (a Swede), the kid known as "the Monster", who is the Leafs' great white hope.

Or he was. He's now out for a couple of weeks with a pulled groin. (No rude jokes, please. ed) This follows a little bit of heart surgery just before the regular season began. Heart, groin...what next?

The leafs have brought up the much-travelled Joey Macdonald (a Canadian? really?) from the AHL Marlies. Pray for him.

Say what? Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize? Really?!

For some reason, Scandinavians tend to be negrophiles or blackophiles or Africophiles or whatever the p.c. term would be these days. Agent 1 says that in his half-dozen years in Zimbabwe, he saw countless examples of the Swedes, Norwegians and Danes throwing praise and money at the Africans, to aid and encourage the "noble savages". (OK, they didn't use that phrase, but it sums up their attitude.)

The latest recipient of Scandinavian largesse is U.S. president Barack Obama, who quite unaccountably has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. It is reported that the Nobel Committee's decision is "designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism".

Maybe I'm getting old, but I can remember when prizes were awarded when you actually did something. Like winning a race, for example. They didn't hand out the medals at the beginning of the competition, but at the end, when the result was known.

So how does Obama qualify for a prize. By its own account, the Nobel Committee recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.

Obama has done is make some motherhood-and-apple-pie pronouncements. He has not one solid accomplishment to his credit. But what the hell. Let their be prizes for all men (people, surely? ed.) of good will and good intentions. And let's give out the Olympic medals on opening day, to save all the fuss and expense of the games.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More on over-policing

In another shocking display of "over-policing", brutality and racism, Toronto police last night raided a townhouse in the crime-ridden Regent Park project. After uncovering a stash of guns and drugs, they arrested three brothers, aged 19, 18 and 16.

The cops had received a tip that a 16-year-old boy was allegedly dealing drugs, so got a warrant to search the "home" where he lives with his mother and six siblings, between 11 and 28 years old. It is not known if any father or fathers live in the same premises.

Police say they found three handguns, two of which were loaded, in the boy's bedroom, which he shares with an 18-year-old brother. When officers checked the bedroom of the boy's 19-year-old brother, they say they found another loaded gun lying on the floor. Also in the room was an SKS military rifle, 30 rounds of ammunition and crack cocaine.

Police are withholding the names of the 18- and 19-year-olds to protect their younger brother's identity. Police have not said which island the accused came from.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Over-policing" on video

It's been a while since Walt posted a video, so here's a cellphone clip from YouTube. Should I warn you that the images are disturbing? Or that you will hear "the N-word"? Nah. Go ahead and watch.

video

So what do you think? Are the Toronto cops really "over-policing" the poor, disadvantaged "African-Canadians"? The headline on the YouTube video says the teenage boy was arrested "for no reason" at Northern Secondary School.

Why sure! He's probably been "targetted" and/or "racially profiled". 'm sure it has nothing to do with drugs or weapons or bad behaviour or gangs. Why else would the officer ask the kid to identify himself. Just because he has a goatee and looks older than your average high school student? Surely not!

Toronto police Const. Wendy Drummond said the video shows the officer "beyond being patient" with the student, who has been charged with assault with intent to resist arrest. The officer had minor injuries, she said. She added that "although this is an isolated incident...people seeing it may get the overall impression that Northern is not the best place."

Afghanistan -- Year 8 begins

Today is the 8th anniversary of the beginning of the American war against Afghanistan. The point must be made that this is an American war, begun to serve American interests. It was Bush II's response to 9/11. That's the long and the short of it.

Canada had no quarrel with Afghanistan. Jean Chrétien's Liberal government committed Canadian forces simply to appease the Americans, who were miffed that we had stayed out of Iraq, the other war the Americans were waging at the same time and in the same part of the world.

Indeed, a hundred or two hundred years from now -- if there are still human beings on the face of the earth -- history may record Iraq and Afghanistan as "The American Middle-Eastern War" or something of the sort. And the role played by Canadians -- 131 dead, and counting -- will be just a footnote. WHY?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Advice for Iggy

Norman Spector used to be one of Brian Mulroney's most trusted advisors. Now that he has retired from the public service and become disillusioned with the Tories, he sings a different tune.

But his apparent dislike of "Call Me Steve" Harper doesn't mean that he's crazy about the alternative. He seems to share Walt's opinion that the Liberals under Michael Ignatieff aren't going anywhere unless and until they show some leadership and enunciate a policy or two that the average Canadian can support.

In this, he is saying what many others, including pundit Chantal Hébert, have been saying all summer. Here's a message for the Iggster from Hébert, as translated by Spector in his column in today's Globe and Mail.

Liberals would be wise to look past all the negative news they find in the media these days, and to focus on some good advice that appears from time to time. One such case is Chantal Hébert’s column in Le Devoir today, which is substantially different from the one that is published in the Toronto Star, and I think explains why the Liberals find themselves locked into their negative approach:

Ignatieff doesn’t have a Quebec problem. He has a content problem, which explains why he has problems not just in Québec, but also in Ontario and in B.C.….

It’s all the more risky to bet on the leader’s personality to win an election because one can be a brilliant intellectual, which he is, and not have any talent as a political leader. What distinguishes good leaders from those who chose the wrong career, in the end, is instinct. And this is a quality that improves over time. …

The admiration of his inner circle is an obstacle that gets in the way of critical judgement of his performance. In this regard, a worrisome scene I observed with my own eyes was his entourage being moved to tears by his (forgettable) speech at the end of the Vancouver convention, last spring.

On the other hand, they have a simplistic appreciation of Stephen Harper, which does not correspond to his remarkable track record of gaining ground in every election and, in government, not creating waves that would lead to a Liberal sweep. The result of their myopia is a huge gap in their rhetoric which resonates only with the converted.

Surrounded by advisers who overestimate his qualities and underestimate those of Harper, Ignatieff won’t go much farther if he doesn’t figure it out very soon. And it will not suffice for him to remove the little Québec stone in his shoe to regain his momentum.

Hmm. Wise words. But is Iggy listening?

African-Canadians? Over-policed?

Toronto police chief Bill Blair (formerly head of the Blair Witchhunt Project) has joined the chorus of chatterers bemoaning "racial profiling" and the "targetting" of certain groups by the police, who of course are infected with systemic racism.

Blair agrees with those who say that "African-Canadians" are "over-policed". Say what?! Wait just a damn minute...

First, Walt rejects this latest racially sensitive appellation for our fellow citizens of the coloured persuasion. African-Canadians? Get real! Although we've had an influx of refugees from the Horn of Africa in recent years, the majority of those claiming to be "targetted" are from the Caribbean. If they ever went to Africa to find their roots, they'd hightail it back to the Americas so fast they'd melt into butter. (Like the tigers in Little Black Sambo? ed.) African-Canadians... ridiculous!

Now let's talk about "over-policing". The claim is that the police keep stopping and arresting black people ... or African-Canadians or whatever they are. Well, there's a reason for that! As any watcher of the TV news knows, the majority of people involved in violent crimes -- perps and victims alike -- are black.

Black-on-black crime is a fact of life in Toronto. That's why the jails are full of them. And that's why the cops arrest them. It's not because the cops discriminate. They can bully white gays and Chinese shopkeepers just as easily, maybe even more easily, than blacks. But when it comes to rounding up the usual suspects of a shooting at the corner of Jane and Finch, it's just common sense to start with the Juniors and Winstons.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Must be autumn, the Leafs are falling

Why must it always be politics or religion? I hear you asking. Some have been churlish enough to suggest that Walt has no interest in things that amuse normal people, like the sex lives of the stars. Or sports. Wrong!

In fact Walt is a big (of girth? ed.) sports fan. I follow both of Canada's official sports -- winter and summer -- as well as Canadian football (the 3-down game, Yankee friends) and baseball. The NHL season got under way this week, so let's talk hockey!

First, les Glorieux...or maybe not. I refer to les Canadiens de Montréal, le Tricolore, les Habitants. I'm a longtime fan of the Habs, because you have to respect and admire excellence. 24 Stanley Cups, compared with a dozen or so for any other team. You could look it up.

However, this year's "centennial edition" of the Canadiens doesn't look like being a Cup contender. Or maybe they do. Team no-name -- who are those guys? -- have played over their heads in their first two games, and have managed to eke out one-goal overtime wins despite being outshot by a margin of about 2 to 1. Kudos to Carey Price! And please don't wake me up.

And then there's the Leafs. In their first two games they've had 10 goals scored against them. Last year they finished dead last in the NHL goals against department. This they could finish 31st in a 30-team league.

The Leaf defence is porous and then there's the goal situation. Toskala gave up 3 goals on 10 shots in the first period last night. Then they brought in "the Monster". He allowed another three goals and gets charged with the loss to Washington, but actually didn't play too badly. But he's not going to keep the Leafs out of the basement single-handed. Leafs need some capable defencemen...immediately!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Afghanistan: Obama's Vietnam? Harper's too?

Every day, Afghanistan looks like becoming another Vietnam for the Americans. Their chief of operations, General McChrystal, says the war is being lost, and cannot be won without a significant increase in the number of boots on the ground and a change in strategy.

They need to win the hearts and minds of the people, he says. Hearts and minds...where have we heard that before?

President Obama is showing signs of terminal indecisiveness. He obviously doesn't want am embarrassing withdrawal (surrender, surely? ed.) to happen on his watch. But, with his approval ratings already tanking, he doesn't want to pay the political price for committing the additional "resources" (read money and blood) McChrystal has called for.

So Obrama is dithering. And he's not alone. Lost in the fog of comment on the disarray in the Liberal Party was news of Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay's suggestion that it might be necessary for Canadian forces to remain in Afghanistan after Steve Harper's promised 2011 withdrawal deadline.

Mr. Harpoon hasn't had to take a whole lot of flak for the waste of 131 Canadian lives and billions of Canadian dollarsa in a hopeless cause. He can point the finger of scorn at the Liberals for having entered the fray in the first place. And the Liberals voted with the Harper government to accept the recommendation of the commission led by Liberal John Manley that we "stay the course" until 2011.

But Steve must face the political consequences of changing his mind now. At the very least, voters will start asking why he would do so. Could the answer have anything to do with appeasing, once again, his new-found vizmin buddy in the White House? Where is the benefit for Canada? What will we get in return for the enormous price we are being asked to pay?

The NDP went on record in the vote on the Manley Commission report as being opposed to any extension of the Afghanistan commission. They say what a majority of Canadians believe, that we should bring our troops home now. In Quebec public opinion is even more heavily against the war than it is in TROC. The Bloc won't vote against the wishes of its people.

That leaves the Liberals to prop up the Harper government, should they renege on their promises. (What a surprise that would be! ed) But the Liberals are, publicly at least, looking for a pretext to defeat the Tory government, so to force an election which they are confident, publicly at least, they can win. The Afghanistan war might just turn out to be the big election issue they need. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Population control damaging society, bankrupting Social Security, US bishops say

This coming Sunday, October 4th, is Respect Life Sunday. In their statement for the occasion, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops condemns a wide variety of threats to human life and dignity, including abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, and population control.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, speaking for the USCCB, writes, "In the current debate over health care reform, it has become evident that a number of Americans believe that the lives and health of only some people are worth safeguarding, while other classes of people are viewed as not deserving the same protection. Such an attitude is deplorable, all the more so in the context of health care.

"Unborn children remain the persons whose lives are most at risk in America: Over one million children each year die in abortion facilities.… It bears repeating: Abortion -- the direct, intentional killing of an unborn girl or boy -- is not health care. Abortion robs an innocent child of his or her life, and robs mothers of their peace and happiness.… Abortion funding can only increase the number of dead and grieving." (emphasis added. ed.)

"Unborn children are not the only human beings disfavored under current proposals," the statement continues. "Many people insist that undocumented persons living and working in the United States should not be allowed in any new system to purchase health-care coverage, and that poor legal immigrants be denied coverage for the first five years they are in the United States. Do immigrants forfeit their humanity at the border? How can a just society deny basic health care to those living and working among us who need medical attention? It cannot and must not."

Cardinal Rigali also slated the environmentalists who support population control. Small family sizes are bankrupting Social Security and Medicare, he said.

"It should not be surprising that the neglect, and even the death, of some people are offered as a solution to rising health care costs. Population control advocates have long espoused aborting children in the developing world as a misguided means for reducing poverty. Some environmentalists now claim that the most efficient way to curb global climate change is to make 'family planning' more widely available in the developing world. They report that an average of 2.3 pounds per day of exhaled carbon dioxide can be eliminated from the atmosphere by eliminating one human being. As used by population control advocates, the innocuous term 'family planning' includes abortifacient contraceptives, sterilization, and manual vacuum aspiration abortions.…

"Since the advent of widespread contraception and abortion, a cultural hostility to children has grown. They are often depicted as costly encumbrances who interfere with a carefree adult life. No fewer than six recent books are dedicated to defending the childless-by-choice lifestyle, for selfish reasons, or to counter 'overpopulation,' a thoroughly discredited myth.

"In fact, if married couples were to have more children, Medicare and Social Security would not be hurtling toward bankruptcy. Since 1955, because of fewer children and longer life spans, the number of workers has declined relative to the number of beneficiaries, from 8.6 to only 3.1 workers paying benefits to support each beneficiary. Without substantially more young people to enter the work force as young adults, in 25 years, there will be only 2.1 workers supporting each beneficiary. Eliminating our young does not solve problems even on pragmatic grounds. It adds to them."

Click here to read the entire USCCB statement.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wanted: a strong leader -- another take

Yesterday I wrote that the Liberals are in dire need of a strong leader. Since the other parties have such, it's a pity the Grits can't find someone with perceived strength and leadership ability to do battle with Mr. Harpoon. Iggy just doesn't cut the mustard.

Today's Globe and Mail has a fine column by Lawrence Martin, "How ‘Iffy' and the Liberals dropped the ball". You should read it.

"Iffy"... I wish I'd thought of that soubriquet. I love it!

Someone has asked who I think should lead the Liberals, if not the Iggster. Frankly I can't think of anyone. What a pity Gilles Duceppe isn't a Liberal.

Another fallen star

Sometimes it's embarrassing to be a known Catholic. People keep making "jokes" about perverted priests. Not funny, but what can one say? Today promises to be a bad day for defenders of the Faith and the Church.

It seems that Most Rev. Raymond Lahey, bishop of Antigonish (Nova Scotia, Canada), is on the lam after being charged with possessing and importing child pornography. A major wire service reported yesterday that the bishop was accused of "selling" child porn. I hope he sues for libel. Still -- and giving the bishop the benefit of the presumption of innocence -- the charges are extremely serious. And the incident makes the priesthood and the Church in general look bad. Bad in the sense of "evil".

Ironically, the charges come just weeks after the Antigonish diocese reached a $15 million settlement with people who claimed to have been abused by priests as children. Bishop Lahey said at the time that the settlement was the first step in recognizing and dealing with the alleged abuse of children.

Bishop Lahey didn't say much, at the time, about what's wrong with clerics who have immoral and illegal sexual relations with children...or women, lay or religious, or other men, lay or religious, for that matter. Apparently there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of morally disordered priests and religious still in the Church, too often still in positions where they can gratify their lusts at the expense of those whom God has placed in their care.

Please go to my post of September 11th, "The fallen stars", for an explanation and further comments. Please pray for the victims of every kind of abuse, and, in your charity, for the abusers. And please pray for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, when, according to the promise of Our Lady of Fatima, these evils will end.

CORRECTION: I referred to Raymond Lahey as "bishop of Antigonish". In fact, he resigned from his post last weekend, before news of his arrest became public. He said he was quitting because he needed time for "personal renewal." But "Mr. Lahey", as the police are calling him now, remains a priest. When will he and other bad priests be defrocked? Don't hold your breath!