Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Voice Of The Nation

I was reading an article on the Globe website by Eric Duhatschek on the possible make-up of the men's hockey team for 2010.  At the bottom of the article is a badge highlighting the phrase "The Voice Of The Nation"  I checked on other articles on the CTV website and for now it appears to be limited to Olympic related articles.  It occurs to me that this may be the roll-out of a new phrase in the eventual hopes of linking their network to the country as a whole.  Sort of like Harper and Tim Horton's.  Or Kenney and curry.

The phrase itself is interesting.  In a troubling way.  The CTV and the Harper (mis)government have always had a very cosy relationship.  So much so that people have taken to calling CTV the Conservative Television Network.  Certainly there is no evidence of a direct link but the serendipity of the editorial slant with Senate appointments raises eyebrows.

Do either the Conservatives or CTV realize that the line"The Voice Of The Nation" is more than just a turgid bit of prose?  It is exactly the words Hitler used to describe the role of radio in his propaganda machine.  So a network with obviously close ties to a ruling party with authoritarian tendencies chooses a Nazi slogan as a tag line.  As I have said before; "I will stop comparing you to Nazis when stop being comparable to Nazis.".

Sounds like another instance of Step 6 to me.
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Yeah Heather Mallick

Via wmtc.Recommend this Post

A question for the SenselessCons

Sorry, I should have typed HomelessCons.  Oh well, can't be bothered to fix it.  

The tagline reads "Conservatives in search of shelter".  The use of the word shelter is interesting.  Let us look at the definition of shelter (My emphasis in italics).
shel·ter  (shltr)
a. Something that provides cover or protection, as from the weather.
b. A refuge; a haven.
c. An establishment that provides temporary housing for homeless people.
2. The state of being covered or protected.
v. shel·teredshel·ter·ingshel·ters
1. To provide cover or protection for.
2. To invest (income) to protect it from taxation.
To take cover; find refuge.
So Conservatives are in need of and seeking cover or protection.  They need a refuge or a haven.  What is it they need cover or protection for?  What is it they need refuge from?   Is it the destruction of the economy?  Perhaps it is the desecration of centuries of human rights progress.  Maybe it is the legacy of dividing nations against themselves to gain power.  Are they seeking protection from war crimes charges?

Closer to home, perhaps Canadians conservatives need protection from Elections Canada.  The Oliphant Commission might give some conservatives reason for concern.

I might be too specific here.  They might be looking for shelter from all of the above and more.  I'm just saying the choice of the word shelter is interesting.

Stetson tip to Calgary Grit.  It is also interesting to note that frequent Calgary Herald columnist Barry Cooper, links himself with a portrait of George Washington rather than a Canadian historical figure.  But then again there has never been much doubt as to where his loyalties lie.
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reading Michael Ignatieff - the wrap up

At the dawn of the Ignatieff era, in an effort to better understand the man who everyday appears more likely to be our next Prime Minister, I set myself the task of reading some of Michael Ignatieff's writings.  I selected, and posted on
  1.  "The Rights Revolution" (to delve into his views on human rights culture as it pertains to Canada), 
  2. a three part look at: "If Torture Works..." (to sort out in my own mind the claims that he supports torture)
  3. "The American Empire", The Burden" (a look at his infamous NYT article supporting the march to war
  4. And "The Year Of Living Dangerously", the transcript of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation Background Briefing episode "Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil" and "Getting Iraq Wrong" (the evolution of his retreat from the Iraq War)
The Rights Revolution
This book, based on MI's Massey Lectures of the same name is a good platform to see what his reputation is based on.  While there were not any ground breaking thoughts for anyone who has followed the development of Canadian society for the past 40 years, it is an excellent compendium of these events.  It makes a good companion to "
Reflections of a Siamese Twin" by John Ralston Saul.  I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in modern Canadian society.

A frequent question about MI is "Just how Canadian is he?" after having lived outside of Canada for decades.  To be fair, I did notice as much sincere pride as an academic could allow himself in the writing.  One other noticeable trait of this book is the star power.  From the cover through, it is apparent that this is a MICHAEL IGNATIEFF BOOK.  Not really a criticism since we could witness that from a lot of successful people regardless of their field.  Just an observation.
If Torture Works...
The has been significant and severe criticism of MI for what is seen as his support for torture and coercive interrogation.  MI has stated that this Prospect article represents his final stand on the issue.  After reading this, I believe that torture and coercive interrogation is an anathema to MI.

And herein lies the root of the problem I see with MI.  He makes it clear that he is opposed to torture and then throws that away with this:
As Posner and others have tartly pointed out, if torture and coercion are both as useless as critics pretend, why are they used so much? While some abuse and outright torture can be attributed to individual sadism, poor supervision and so on, it must be the case that other acts of torture occur because interrogators believe, in good faith, that torture is the only way to extract information in a timely fashion.
He then follows a logical path to outline the response to situations in which torture is necessary.  But a quick search would find strong backing for the position that torture doesn't work.  It is truly used for the pleasure of sadists.  There is no other reason.  If he had not made this misstep he could have made a much stronger case and an unequivocal case against torture.  This mistake left an indelible stain on his reputation.  To make such an egregious error when writing on such an important subject is telling.

So flaw one is a surprisingly poor understanding of the file at a critical time.

With regards the Iraq invasion articles, the impression is less of a radical war mongering neo-con than that of a weather vane responding to the prevailing storms of the power structure and public opinion..  He fell for the Bush drums by supporting the war.  Then as opinion turned, so did he.  There was not leadership on the subject.

So flaw two is a lack of strength of conviction.

The final question is: "How does lack of originality, poor grasp of issues at a critical time and pandering to power reflect on his ability to be Prime Minister?"

Not well but it does not condemn him.  One of his main challenges is that he deliberately has tried to draw parallels between himself and Trudeau.  Trudeau had his flaws but a lack of conviction wasn't one of them.  A lot of PMs had flaws but still accomplished great things.  MacDonald was supremely partisan but he led the foundation of the best country in the world.  Diefenbaker, while arguably insane, brought in the Human Rights Bill.  King talked to his dead mother while founding the social state.  So, would MI have stood up to the stones at the St. Jean parade?

Perhaps it doesn't matter.  He will have a strong caucus to help him out.  If he does reflect rather than project, having Dion, Rae, Dryden and Hall-Finley among others in his Cabinet will help him find his way.  MI's current "kitchen cabinet" approach to Opposition is promising.

"Trudeau haunts us still".  So does Laurier, Borden and King.  But in the between those four and Meighen, Bennett and their ilk were several good but not great PMs.  MI has the potential to be one of those.   Harper and his Blue Meanies are a boulder on the chest of Canada.  Notwithstanding his flaws, MI will be better than Harper.  If MI can be the fulcrum we use to lever the boulder away so Canada can breath free again, I will get behind him.

With a watchful eye.
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Step 6 on a 14 step journey

Back on December 6, 2008, I posted on the correlation of the 14 steps to a fascist government and the actions of the Harper regime.  A lot of you contributed other examples on the trip Harper is taking us on.  Time to update this list again.  Because Step 6 is
6. A controlled mass media.

Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes excesses.

It is hard to find a moredefinitive example of this than strangling a natiowide media (that leans over backwards to be fair to the Conservatives) while supporting a ridiculous far right rag that only wingnuts read (or have someone read to them).

Spring is coming.  Enjoy it.  It could be our last free one if we don't get these crazies out of office soon.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth channels Jonathon Swift



IT IS a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with geese of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six goslings, all in rags and importuning every passenger for some grassseed. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to migrate to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of goslings on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these goslings sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have her statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the goslings of foul waterfowl; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of chicks at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our birdseed in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in the computation. It is true, an egg just dropped from its goose may be supported by her yolk for a month, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s., which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.

There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary egg squashings, and that horrid practice of abandoning their nest, alas! too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.

I am assured by our merchants, that a bird before one years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above thirty dollars at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy goose well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.


I have reckoned upon a medium that a chick just born will weigh 50 grams, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 9 kilograms.


I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance. For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of geese, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous national symbols; and who stay at home on purpose causing swimmers itch, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good Conservatives.


I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for chicks, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the cottage owners. I have no geese by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past egg laying.

But I doubt Senator Ruth understood the satire.  This is not as 21st Century as GritGirl's take.  But it was what the Senators comments brought to my mind.  The wonderful original may be found here.

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MIa Culpa - Part 3

The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president. But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion.

And thus begins Michael Ignatieff's New York Times op-ed of August 5, 2007; "Getting Iraq Wrong".  Three years after his first try, Michael Ignatieff (MI) sat down once again to expiate his support for the Iraq invasion.  And for the most part, I give him credit for making it a good one.

 He definitely seems to have learned some lessons:

Having left an academic post at Harvard in 2005 and returned home to Canada to enter political life, I keep revisiting the Iraq debacle, trying to understand exactly how the judgments I now have to make in the political arena need to improve on the ones I used to offer from the sidelines. I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes.

The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said that the trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true. ... In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm.

And MI finally seems to have come to grips with the responsibility he had in 2004:

Politicians cannot afford to cocoon themselves in the inner world of their own imaginings. They must not confuse the world as it is with the world as they wish it to be. They must see Iraq — or anywhere else — as it is.

MI gives credit to the war opponents for being right:

The people who truly showed good judgment on Iraq predicted the consequences that actually ensued but also rightly evaluated the motives that led to the action. They did not necessarily possess more knowledge than the rest of us. They labored, as everyone did, with the same faulty intelligence and lack of knowledge of Iraq’s fissured sectarian history. What they didn’t do was take wishes for reality.

Although he did finish the preceding paragraph with his churlish sentence:

They opposed the invasion because they believed the president was only after the oil or because they believed America is always and in every situation wrong.

In the former segment of the sentence, the argument that the war was about oil is arguably correct.  The latter reason is unfair and subjective.  Opposing the war did not equate to anti-Americanism.  This knee jerk Harperesque shot almost negates the entire article.

Overall it is a good effort.  A large portion of the article deals with the exigencies of being a politician.  But it does serve as a more honest mea culpa.  As with other works by MI, what I see as his underlying flaws peek through.  I will summarize these in the final post in this series.

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Other takes on Michael Ignatieff

Through the vigilance and generous input of Beijing York in the comments of an earlier post, I was made aware of some other blogger musings on the background of Michael Ignatieff.  While I was not able to work these into the series, I thought that I would enumerate them in the penultimate post of this series.  If this subject has been of interesting to you, you may want to check these out too.

The first "Unravelling Michael Ignatieff" is from Paper Dynamite Online is an online archive of a Toronto Star article by Linda Diebel by the same name.

And the third is a post by The Disaffected Liberal from February 22 of this year: "What Does "Progressive" Mean to Michael Ignatieff?".  Read through the comments.  There is a lively debate there.

I pass these along without comment or endorsement.  These generally reflect a much harsher view on MI's character and views than what I have presented.  In the interests of completeness, however, you may want to review them.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MIa Culpa - Part Two

This review won't be as long as Part 1.  I promise.  I decided to include some of Michael Ignatieff's (MI) comments from his April 24, 2005 Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview on the Background Briefing program: "Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil" since they illustrate the evolution of a much more apologetic Ignatieff.  These comments will also be useful to illustrate a point on the nature of MI in the wrap-up of this series.

To quote MI (my emphasis in bold):
Kirsten Garrett: Members of the audience continued to question Professor Igantieff about the many legal and moral questions raised by America’s invasion of Iraq. In particular he was asked about the arguments that the reason for going in to topple Saddam was that he had weapons of mass destruction which he would give to terrorists.

Michael Ignatieff: We’ve learned, this is something that Professor Loury made very, very clear; part of his scepticism of adversarial justification depends on I think a simply empirical fact, is that we are given very, very bad information on which to base our deliberations, and the information is messed around with, and without asserting outright lying, we had an absolutely lousy set of facts on which to make judgments about pre-emption and prevention, and that the lesson you draw from this is simply never believe unless you see real money, when a President tells you a threat is real and a threat is imminent. The takeaway from Iraq is show me the money, show me imminence, show me threat, and also be much clearer, this would be a self-criticism, me, is notorious that I supported the war. Part of my reason for doing so was I thought the question of whether, of how much bad stuff he had was going to be unclear. But I thought there was absolutely zero doubt about the malignity of his intentions. Zero doubt about his strategic intention. It wasn’t clear that he had weapons of mass destruction, it seemed indubitable, based on his track record, and I looked at the inspectors’ reports from ’91 onwards with some care. It seemed indubitable from that series of facts, and they were pretty good facts, that he had the strategic intentions to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and therefore the factual question of what he had at any given moment might be unclear, but the strategic intentions were clear and when you paired that to the fact that this man had made war on, twice in a short span of time, that is he was a danger to his neighbours and he was also a genocidal dictator towards his own people, and I’ve been up in northern Iraq and I’ve seen that and it wasn’t ideology to me, I’d spinned at Halajba, I’d talked to the widows of people who’d been killed by him. So I did due diligence in terms of what the facts were. And the facts about him on human rights grounds were as bad as people say. There was no spin in the Bush camp on that regard, there was huge spin on the weapons of mass destruction and threat side. But I think I come out of this thinking that I was much too loose with my criteria, strategic intention, malign intention de-coupled from actual capability isn’t good enough, is one takeaway I get. That is, it’s not enough to say the guy’s got a bad track record, and bad form, there has to be some evidence of actual capability, some jars, some files, some rockets, something. And the absence of that seems to me to be a devastating negative. I think if I had to revisit my own decision-making on this, I would say You’ve got to show me the money of actual capability, and not just intention. So that would be a takeaway.

In terms of the general theory though, I just think we are in a world in which pre-emptive military action and even preventive military action is on the cards. I simply don’t see how we can escape that possibility. So in theory, I’m actually not, I’m prepared to look at a future in which pre-emption and prevention occurs. My problem is actually it’s democratic regulation, and it’s international regulation, getting back to the fact problem. The real problem here is controlling the President’s war power, some way, somehow, and how it can be done. It’s a danger in the international system, there’s no question about it. I’m much more sceptical of the UN, although again, here it’s another second thought about this process. Where I feel I was spun by the President’s fog machine was the dissing of Blix. One of the interesting things about the whole story, we forget this, is that Cheney and Bush went after Blix and his credibility, and it turns out that the only people who knew squat about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were the much-despised Blix and Barraday, and the inspection teams through ’91 to ’98. The scandal from an American national security point of view is that when you look at what the Americans put together on his weapons capabilities, it was all from the UN inspectors. So the much-despised UN weapons inspectors had much more accurate knowledge. One direct consequence of that is that the right course of action would have been to wait until Blix either found it or didn’t. And I was mistaken about that. I got the feeling Well Blix won’t find it, and Blix will suck his thumb, and we’ll be here, the troops will be sitting in their body armour for six months, and it just is a practical, political matter, you can’t keep it going for. Well it turns out that Blix and Barraday were doing a good job, and the inspectors did a good job. And one of the consequences, one of the things that has been wicked, in my view, wrong about the President’s dissing of the United Nations has been is that they succeeded in delegitimising the information from the one source in this matter that actually was credible. And that’s terrible for the future. Because next time we go to the well, the American public’s not going to – and we’re almost there. Barraday is talking to Iran, the IAEA in Vienna’s talking and they’re the only people who know squat about – and the American public is under the illusion that the CIA and the DIA have better satellite intelligence than the IAEA. Now this sounds like a technical insider baseball thing, but it’s terribly important. My feeling is that international supervision of weapons of mass destruction is better, more credible, more accurate information than our national intelligence agencies, but the Republican anti-UN spin is such that when Barraday comes out and says, Look, we don’t know whether they’ve got weapons, we don’t know exactly where they are with this fuel cycle, we don’t know exactly, we need more time, you can just absolutely bet the dogs will be let loose on this stuff again. And that’s a huge danger. So I’ve re-thought a lot about this stuff, it’s a very bad, bad story and we need to re-think the Iraq story carefully, because Iran is next up.

So in short he didn't do his due diligence.  "It seemed indubitable" doesn't cut it when it comes to war.   But over all this exchange strikes a very much more apologetic tone.  It isn't perfect but it is a lot better than the one he wrote a year earlier.

One aspect which troubles me is that he is not leading the debate.  Prior to the war he accepted the Administration's story.  After the invasion as it became apparent to all but the most ardent Bush supporters that "Bush lied and people died", he can finally see through the artifice of the war march.  This doesn't speak well of his abilities as a visionary leader.

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MIa Culpa Part One

I believe that a sincere apology for an honest mistake is essentially as good as being right in the first place.  If the apology demonstrates an understanding of the mistake made, actual contrition and the personal growth that inevitably results from this process, I believe we can move on from the errors made.  With this in mind I read the articles Michael Ignatieff (MI) wrote to atone for his support for the Iraq Invasion.

To evaluate MI's retraction, I referred to the following articles: "The Year of Living Dangerously"(Part 1),  "ABC Radio National - Background Briefing: 24 April  2005  - Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil" (Part 2) and "Getting Iraq Wrong" (Part 3).   It bears mention that if you have to apologize for something twice, it is an indication that your first apology wasn't very convincing.  In order to keep the review digestible, I broke the post up into three parts, as indicated.  On with the evaluation.  (My emphasis in bold)

Reading the first go-round, it is apparent why MI needed to write a second back-down.  It isn't a personal apology.  Either MI explains why everyone else was wrong:
We thought we were arguing about Iraq, but what might be best for 25 million Iraqis didn't figure very much in the argument. As usual we were talking about ourselves: what America is and how to use its frightening power in the world. The debate turned into a contest of ideologies masquerading as histories.
Critics of the war said all of this was irrelevant. The real issue was oil. But they got the relevance of oil backward.
or he enumerates the ways in which he was misled (which, even at that point he could not fully accept):
I still do not believe that American or British leaders misrepresented Hussein's intentions or lied about the weapons they believed he possessed. ... But if lying was not the problem, exaggeration was, and no one who supported the war is happy about how ''a grave and gathering danger'' ... slowly morphed into an ''imminent'' threat. The honest case for war was ''preventive'' .... The case we actually heard was ''pre-emptive'' -- to stop a tyrant who already possessed weapons and posed an imminent danger.
If you want to make an apology people can believe, it should contain something along the lines of: "I was wrong.  I made a dreadful mistake.  Please forgive me.".  There is nothing of that here.  I do not walk the halls of power.  But I had a very strong suspicion that the case for war was trumped up.  Someone with the resources of Harvard at his disposal, placing his reputation on the line, should have known too.  I bet Scott Ritter would have been willing to have a chat with him.

The next rationalization is purely illogical:
The problem for my side is that if the honest case had been put -- for a preventive as opposed to a pre-emptive war -- the war would have been even more unpopular than it was.
That is correct.  But that would have meant a higher probability that the war would not have proceeded.  Hence the need for honesty in the rationale.  And as a separate point, Is he not implying the it is acceptable to lie to achieve your ends? 

And then he follows with this statement:
But this is also a problem for opponents as well. If they didn't think the case for preventive war was proved this time, what will convince them next time?
Next time, tell us the truth and let us decide based on the facts.  The reason democratic societies demand a higher level of justification is to avoid going to war at all costs.

And even if we give him a pass on that logic, he starts the next paragraph with this:
While I thought the case for preventive war was strong, it wasn't decisive.
So in other words, MI agrees that the case for war wasn't made.  Even for the lower threshold required for a preventive war.  And then, after chastizing the opponents for saying it was about oil, he drops this line:
...I knew that the administration did not see freeing Iraq from tyranny as anything but a secondary objective.
So it wasn't about oil but it wasn't really about freedom.  What was it about then?
To buttress his case he relates a personal vignette:
On March 19, the night the bombing began, I was with an Iraqi exile...
But anecdotal evidence is not a sufficient basis on which to go to war.  Since he has repudiated the official rationale for invasion, his support hinged on this anecdote.  I suspect that a student handing Professor Ignatieff a paper based on such a flimsy premise would have received a failing grade.

He does regain some credibility with this point:
Besides, regime change has obvious costs ... I could respect anyone who argued that these costs were simply too high. What I found harder to respect was how indifferent my antiwar friends seemed to be to the costs of allowing Hussein to remain in power. The costs  ... would be borne by the Iraqis alone. ...So when people said, ''I know he's a dictator, but . . . ,'' the ''but'' seemed like a moral evasion. And when people said, ''He was a genocidal killer, but that was yesterday,'' I thought, Since when do crimes against humanity have a statute of limitations? And when people said, finally, ''There are a lot of dictators, and the U.S. supports most of them,'' this sounded to me like a suave alibi for doing nothing. Now, a year later, I hear the same people tell me they're glad Hussein is gone, but. . . .
At times he seems to have delusions of god like powers:
And I couldn't see how I could will the end -- Hussein must go -- without willing the only available means: American invasion, if need be, alone.
and other times he carries on with a series of statements that are either shocking in their naivete:
So I supported an administration whose intentions I didn't trust, believing that the consequences would repay the gamble. Now I realize that intentions do shape consequences. 
or in the way they display a lack of understanding of the facts of the day:
Securing order would have meant putting 250,000 troops into the invasion as opposed to 130,000.
In the run up to war, Eric Shinseki was fired for standing up to Rumsfeld and insisting that several hundred thousand soldiers would be needed to keep order.  This was well known in the lead up to war.  Why did MI support the war if he expected chaos would result?

More pearls:
The administration, which never tires of telling us that hope is not a plan, had only hope for a plan in Iraq.
The same could be said of MI.

And this:
America had inherited its very own failed state.
America created the failed state by the invasion.  It was oppressive but functioning.  They had water, schools, electricity and working sewers.  The invasion destroyed that.

And to finish, in 2004 at least, he was a Good News Guy:
The press coverage from Baghdad is so gloomy that it's hard to remember that a dictator is gone, oil is pumping again and the proposed interim constitution contains strong human rights guarantees.
and a "Stay The Course" fellow as well:
If the United States falters now, civil war is entirely possible. If it falters, it will betray everyone who has died for something better.
I am afraid that I find this apology unacceptable.  MI does not assume personal responsibility for his actions.   He does not honestly address the fact that the opponents of the war were right.  There is definitely no display of personal growth or contrition.

I hope you will join me to see how he fairs in Part Two.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jim Travers gets it

In his column today:"Why Tories won't kill gun registry", Jim Travers does a good job of laying out the cynicism of the ReformAlliance-Conservative perma-campaign based on wedge issues.  In this case; the long gun registry.
Guns help define less intrusive Conservative government at home and more muscular foreign policies abroad.

So it's hardly surprising that a law-and-order administration associates itself with arms raffles or that Stephen Harper made the Afghanistan war his own and so often uses soldiers as props. What's remarkable is that keeping gun control alive is better for the Tories than keeping the promise to kill it.

Liberals did Conservatives a lasting favour by introducing the long-gun registry and then letting a break-even proposition become a $2 billion embarrassment synonymous with red tape. With the possible exception of same-sex marriage, nothing alienated more Western, centre-right and rural voters. Once-safe Liberal seats swung Conservative and haven't budged.

How valuable is the registry to Harper? Precious enough that Tories continue to bash it as symbolic of the Liberal nanny state, but have not abolished it in three years in power. Harper is now leaving its fate to a private member's bill – a process prone to failure.

He then uses that observation as a launching pad to a more general maxim for all parties.  Avoid accountability at your own peril.

If Conservatives listened to their own rhetoric – and weren't hunting eastern, swing and urban voters – shooting the gun registry would have been a first-term priority. If they believed in protecting the public purse, then the Prime Minister wouldn't be asking for $3 billion to spend behind closed doors. If accountability was more than a slogan, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page wouldn't be fighting for the independence and funding necessary to do his job.
Liberals paid the highest political price for avoiding that discipline. Now Conservatives are making the same mistake even as they continue pointing fingers at the Liberal folly. What both missed or ignored is that ruling parties put themselves at greatest peril when they spend fast, loose and in the dark.

Sage advice indeed.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The War Of The Thorns

As opposed to The War Of The Roses which led to the ultimate end of the Plantagent dynasty. In this Hill Times article "Some predict a coming 'schism' in governing Conservative Party" we see Gerry Nicholls fomenting dissent in the Conservative Party.

The Opening Thrust:
There is a "schism" in the governing Conservative Party between the old Reform and PC wings that will likely erupt whenever Prime Minister Stephen Harper steps down as leader because there is no obvious successor who can unite the two sides, say some conservatives. 

"I think as long as Harper is the leader, there's going to be a unity there, but I think there is definitely a schism in the party between the old Progressive Conservative wing and the Canadian Alliance/Reform wing. The day Stephen Harper steps down as leader, you're going to see that become a real issue because I don't see anybody as a possible successor to Stephen, who could appeal to both wings," said Democracy Institute senior fellow Gerry Nicholls, former vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in an interview with 
The Hill Times recently.
The Parry:
But Conservative strategist Tim Powers, vice-president of consulting firm Summa Strategies, said that the Conservative Party is "stronger than any one person" and Mr. Nicholls' statements were meant to be controversial. 
It is all an extension of what we have heard ever since the Harprorogue.  A lot of the Conservative backroom boys have been stocking up on metaphorical knives.  What is special about this outburst of maneuvering is this:
Mr. Daifallah said. "If one lesson has been learned over the past decade it's that if things aren't going the way you'd like in the party the solution is not to start up a new party. I don't think there's anyone who's thinking about starting a new party if the person who they don't want wins the next leadership race." 
Wow.  Now that one came out of far-right field.  Mentioning the formation of a new party in a story planted by malcontents.  How delicious.  Better get the popcorn ready.  We might be treated to a performance of Le Morte d'Harper after all.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Poems - Conservative baby steps edition

When the Cons banned a foreign politician,
I remained silent;
I was not a foreign politician.

Then they denied funding to the CAF,
I remained silent;
I was not an Arab.

Then they banned the non Official Language speakers,
I did not speak out;
I am fluent in English.

When they backed the gun lobby,
I did not speak out;
I do not own a gun.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.

Inspired by (obviously)

"First they came..."

Martin Niemoller

Even if this week has been a manifestation of a flight forward strategy by Harper, it is still frightening that the Conservatives would take these actions.  The path to totalitarianism is always travelled by baby steps.  I am not disappointed in Harper.  He is just displaying the tendencies we know he possesses.  The Interim Leader of the Liberal Party, however, lays claim to a reputation as a human rights advocate.  Ignatieff's relative silence is unacceptable.  He claims to be inspired by Trudeau.  Perhaps he should also look to Tommy Douglas during the October Crisis.  If you believe in something stand up for it.  Definitively.

Perhaps ending with a poem showing how people carry on with their lives while tragedies occur about them is appropriate.

Musee des beax arts (The fall of Icarus)

About suffering they were never wrong, 
The Old Masters; how well, they understood 
Its human position; how it takes place 
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; 
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting 
For the miraculous birth, there always must be 
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating 
On a pond at the edge of the wood: 
They never forgot 
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course 
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot 
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse 
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree. 
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away 
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may 
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, 
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone 
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green 
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen 
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, 
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on. 

W. H. Auden


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