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February 29, 2004

The Decline and Fall of Howard Dean

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post has a fascinating article on the factionalism that brought down the Howard Dean campaign. The story sets up two camps within the campaign, an inner core of Vermont loyalists led by Kate O'Connor, and a professional cadre of Washington strategists led by Joe Trippi.

The story contains some damning quotes from O'Connor, who controlled acess to the candidate, which suggest that Dean and his people were far from ready for prime time. First:

O'Connor said it wasn't her job to decide which journalists got on the plane. But she acknowledged her frustration with the coverage. "I stopped reading newspapers and watching television," she said, because many stories were "completely false."

Yea, that's a great idea, because obviously everyone else in America will draw the same conclusion and similarly stop reading/watching. This absolutely unbelievable attitude came back to haunt the campaign after the "I Have a Scream" speech:

"We didn't get to see television because we were on the road all the time," [O'Connor] said. "We had absolutely no idea it was being played all the time."

Returning to Vermont, O'Connor maintained in a meeting with Hollywood activist Rob Reiner, who had flown in to advise Dean, that people were overreacting to the high-decibel speech and voters didn't care. Reiner was flabbergasted at this attitude -- he wondered whether the staff was "crazy" -- and expressed amazement that they hadn't moved faster to neutralize the issue, two participants said.

They didn't monitor press reaction to the speech!? But perhaps the most damning quote is this admission of an unfitness to govern:

Still, [O'Connor] said, "he didn't expect to be there" as the front-runner, and they were surprised at the intensity of the media barrage. "We never anticipated the constant getting beaten up over something every single day," O'Connor said.

Never anticipated it? Can you imagine how these people would have run a White House? Yeesh.

One interesting thing about the article is that Joe Trippi, while coming under some criticism, emerges looking pretty good. Too good, I'd imagine; if nothing else, the idea that an 'outsider-against-Washington-special-interests' message was some stroke of political genius is laughable. I suspect Trippi had a hand in shaping the tone of the story, aided unwittingly by the, uh, witless - or at least hapless - Vermont group.

Posted by David Mader at 03:29 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Numbers

Ekos also has numbers on the Conservative leadership race - well, sort of. They've polled Canadians, as opposed to Conservative Party members or likely Conservative voters, and find that Belinda Stronach enjoys as much theoretical support as Stephen Harper.

The Belinda folks will go nuts about this 'electability', but there's far less to this than meets the eye. Most Canadians have only the slightest idea who Stronach is, and have never seen her in a truly political context. They like the idea of Stronach, or the idea the Stronach campaign presents; and heck, even I was willing to give Belinda a chance. But I'd wager that the more folks see Belinda on the stump, the less they'll like her - or want to vote for her. Stronach continues to get good reviews in the media, but I was in the room at the Conservative leadership debate last week, and if you believe anything I write at Maderblog believe this: she was atrocious. Simply not up to the job. Heck, I've seen city counsellors with better political presence. So while Canadians may be inclined to believe - as the Stronach campaign claims - that Belinda is the real deal, they'll quite quickly change their minds if Belinda is dropped into a campaign and serious media scrutiny.

Not to be a hack, but I think the opposite is true of Tony Clement. Most folks know very little about him, and what they know isn't generally that positive. But the more exposure he gets, the better Tony looks and sounds as a serious national candidate. He still doesn't have the gravity and presence of Harper - his 'scrappiness' is more Bryan than McKinley, to use yet another obscure American analogy for Canadian politics - but he has command of the issues and a wonderful self-deprecating humor that works on the stump.

Posted by David Mader at 12:02 PM | (2) | Back to Main

New Poll Numbers

The Toronto Star is reporting that the bleeding has stopped for the Liberals, with support back up to 42% nationwide. They had fallen to 35% earlier this month. The Conservatives, last marked at 27%, have also gained support however, and now stand at 33% (certainly the strongest numbers in my memory). The NDP have fallen from 17% to 15%.

The NDP drop is 2%, and I just can't figure out where the other ten percent that the Conservatives and Liberals have gained came from. But then I'm no mathematician; I'm sure I'm overlooking something fairly obvious. In any case, the important thing is that the sponsorship scandal seems to have significantly effected the electorate, with the Ekos polling firm reporting that about 40% of respondents felt so outraged that they vowed not to vote Liberal in the next election.

[Via Andrew Coyne's nifty news-feed.]

Posted by David Mader at 11:49 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Under the Radar

Did anyone else notice the story late last week about a fire that sunk a ferry in the Philippines? Or that the al-Qaida-linked group Abu Sayyaf has now admitted responsibility? It may be a false confession; still, it may also be the most recent attack in a global campaign of terror.

Posted by David Mader at 11:23 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Aristide Resigns

Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide has fled the country, bowing to international pressure and the threat of an imminent attack on Port-au-Prince. The chief justice of the nation's supreme court has, pursuant to the country's constitution, been sworn in as president. Rebel leaders, who had been prepared to take the capital on Friday, announced that they would wait "a day or two" over the weekend, and Aristide's removal has all the fingerprints of an internationally-organized operation.

Speaking of which, Washington is promising an immediate deployment of forces to Haiti to restore order in the country. French troops are expected to participate.

This is only the beginning; there are now armed thugs across the country who will be disinclined to recognize the constitutional government, and the stabilization force will have its work cut out for it. Still, it's hard to disagree with the assessment of HaitiPundit: "This is good news for the people of Haiti."

Posted by David Mader at 11:20 AM | (3) | Back to Main

February 27, 2004

No Free Lunch

Pfizer Canada has stopped supplying two major Canadian wholesalers in an effort to stem cross-border shipment of Canadian drugs. The wholesalers claim the decision will hurt only American seniors: "It's really going to hurt the American consumer.... It will be seniors in the U.S. that we sell to."

But unless this cross-border transfer is cut off, it's the Canadian consumer who will suffer most. If drug companies can't be sure that their discriminatory pricing can be maintained - which it can't if marked-down Canadian drugs flow back across the border to the US - they'll simply stop supplying the Canadian market with drugs. Well, that or they'll simply start charging Canadians the American price - a price which, at two-thirds the standard of living and seven-tenths the dollar, Canadians simply can't afford. So three cheers for Pfizer, standing up for the market - and for Canadian consumers as well.

[Thanks to Charles for the heads-up.]

Posted by David Mader at 11:31 AM | (1) | Back to Main


Telegraph Defense Editor John Keegan writes on the long history of British signals intelligence, and points out the significant difference between 'bugging' and interception. He's got a point; it's surprising how many people broadcast their voice over thousands of miles and hope - or even expect - that only one person will hear it. If you don't want to be overheard, whisper something into the intended recipient's ear; anything more than that involves broadcasting a message, and there are very few ways to ensure privacy of broadcast.

Posted by David Mader at 10:34 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Interesting Juxtaposition

Neale News has two interesting articles:

Conservatives Brace For Liberal 'Dirty Tricks' Campaign - "Complaining that all campaigns involving the federal Liberals are very dirty, Harper said he will not put up with "the kind of garbage" that was thrown at predecessors like former Reform leader Preston Manning and Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day. He listed as examples, Liberal attacks on Western Canada, ethnic or religious backgrounds and misrepresentations of party policies."

Harper Apologizes For Wishing Aboriginals Happy India Day - "The Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres issued a scathing response this week, describing the letter from the Conservative party leadership hopeful as "shameful." The one-page letter, dated Jan. 26 2004, and signed by Harper, is titled 'Greetings on the Occasion of India's National Day.'"

The emphasis is mine. What took the OFIFC a month to respond - and to go public? Why, they wouldn't be playing politics with the letter, would they?

And while I maintain that airing a charicature of a Caribbean voice is simply bad politics for any party, let alone a conservative party, I think Damian Penny has this issue right:

Considering how many times I've been told "Indian" is not an appropriate name for Canada's aboriginal population, I think Harper's staff can be forgiven for assuming the "Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres" was an Indo-Canadian, not native group.

Yea. Still a stupid mistake - but just that, a stupid mistake. For the OFIFC to immediately (well, not immediately) play the race card is irresponsible and inaccurate.

Posted by David Mader at 10:13 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Congress Stands Opposed

Josh Chafetz of Oxblog has been collecting first-hand pronouncements of Senators on a proposed marriage amendment, and he finds at least 39 nominally opposed (with only 76 counted). An amendment needs two-thirds of the hundred-seat Senate to pass and go to the states for ratification. Of course the precise amendment hasn't even been determined, and political pressure has probably not yet been brought to bear on individual senators; for instance, Democrats up for reelection in 'red' states might waffle. Nevertheless the amendment does not look likely to pass.

Posted by David Mader at 09:43 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 26, 2004

British Bug Kofi's Phone

Subterfuge in international relations! I'm, I'm aghast! What next!?

Tony Blair also deserves credit for this zinger:

I really do regard what Claire Short has said this morning as totally irresponsible and, well, entirely consistent.

Number Ten removed the wonderul "well" from the transcript.

Posted by David Mader at 11:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Something Ain't Right...

... about a festival honouring Winston Churchill - in Cuba.

I know, I know, it's a cigar festival. Still, tell me it doesn't strike you as, well, odd.

Posted by David Mader at 07:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Baby Steps, Continued

Colin Powell has started to wonder out loud whether Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Arastide might not be the best leader for his country:

Whether or not he is able to effectively continue as president is something he will have to examine carefully in the interests of the Haitian people.

At this rate there will be boots on the ground by about 2016. Let me say again that I understand troop overextension and existing commitments mean the US doesn't really have the capacity at present to deploy a sufficient force to Haiti. My problem from the beginning has been that instead of simply admitting this while indicating a desire to restore order, Washington has simply refused to act. Strategically speaking everyone knows the US military is extended (if not quite over-extended), and admitting as much could only be politically beneficial as it would both indicate a desire to help while explaining why help was not possible at the moment. By refusing to show even a desire to help - and by obstructing French and other efforts to intervene - Washington surrenders any claim to simple logistical impossibility.

Posted by David Mader at 06:10 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Bush the Anti-Federalist?

Andrew Sullivan suggests that the President's support for a marriage amendment is in fact designed precisely to prevent local autonomy on the issue.

Sullivan and Reynolds therefore have entirely contrary interpretations of the President's remarks. Both parties could continue to make arguments about their favored interpretation; or we could all wait to see exactly what it is the President means to propose.

I don't think we're going to see a clear indication from the White House prior to November, and that's yet one more reason why I think the announcement was legislatively meaningless while politically important.

Posted by David Mader at 04:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main

That Didn't Take Long

The Globe and Mail: Tory Ad Rubs Caribbean Community the Wrong Way.

I heard the ad on Monday (or Tuesday), and it took me all of ten seconds to realize what a mistake it was. I believe my exact words were "I wouldn't run that ad in a million years." It was a no-brainer, and the fact that someone at Conservative Party HQ a) thought up the ad, b) made the ad and c) failed to veto or table the ad suggests a disturbing lack of, well, brains within the Party.

Posted by David Mader at 10:08 AM | (6) | Back to Main

9/11 People

Mark Steyn explains that the coming election is about one thing [registration required].

I think that's one reason I can't get too worked up about the FMA (the other is that if passed I believe it would be repealed well within a decade). Andrew Sullivan suggests that this 'attack on the Constitution' delegitimizes the President's war on terrorism. I understand and appreciate the passion behind that sentiment, but frankly I think it's absurd. Go and stand in front of that big wide open space in lower Manhattan and then come complain to me that the State won't recognize your relationship with your significant other.

I'm not just waving the bloody shirt here. If President Bush is defeated in November, the security policies of the past four years will be reversed, and will have been no more than an anomaly in the course of American history. They will have been 'Bush Administration policies'. But if he wins they will become codified - or rather, they will become entrenched. They will become American policies. And because the war goes on, even though we are aware of it less and less - because of the successes of those policies - it's vitally important that the President's response to September 11 become lasting American policy.

One way or the other I'll speak out against the marriage amendment - unless it comes before Congress as an explicitly federalist measure reserving power to the several states. But I refuse to lose sight of the overarching reality of our world, and of this coming election.

Posted by David Mader at 09:54 AM | (1) | Back to Main

February 25, 2004

Baby Steps

The US is now calling for an international 'police' force to maintain the peace in Haiti - once it has been restored by Haitians. Better than nothing, and there seems to be a trend towards intervention.

Speaking of which, the Congressional Black Caucus has proposed the creation (by force) of a '"humanitarian quarter" in Haiti where relief supplies could be distributed,' according to the article. When the Congressional Black Caucus is pressuring a Republican president to invade a Caribbean country - well, I don't know what to say, except to welcome you all to the twilight zone.

And I continue to be troubled by this: "State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States supports the French initiative. But he suggested the administration does not see France taking a leading role." The US seems torn between asserting it's hemispheric influence and not giving a damn. It can't have it both ways, and that's becoming increasingly apparent. I wonder how much the foot-dragging in Washington reflects an attempt to allow French intervention without setting a precedent for foreign interference in hemispheric affairs.

Posted by David Mader at 08:11 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The New York of Nebraska

It's a Toronto-versus-everybody-else slug-fest in the comments to this post.

Well, not really, but there's some debate and discussion anyway.

Posted by David Mader at 07:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Hait Descends into Chaos

As looting erupts in Port-au-Prince, and as armed gangs take control of roadblocks across the country, the US and France publicly hope somebody else will do something:

President Bush said the United States is encouraging the international community to provide a strong "security presence" in Haiti as Washington and its allies work for a political solution.

Opposition leaders asked the international community to help ensure a "timely and orderly" departure of Aristide.

And French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin urged the "immediate" dispatch of an international civilian force to restore order in its former colony.

And yet no-one does anything. Well, that's not entirely fair; Canada has dispatched a "team" of soldiers, apparently to aid in the evacuation of Canadian citizens from Haiti.

Perhaps most promising is the suggestion that the international community - whatever it is - has backed off its insistence that Aristide remain in power. Whether negotiations with the peaceful opposition will have any effect on the armed groups now taking control of the country isn't clear, but I'd bet against it. Powell, de Villepin and others continue to call for a 'peaceful' solution, but their continued inaction will only lead to violence. An international intervention force is the best hope for a speedy restoration of peace and order in Haiti.

But I wouldn't bet on that either.

Posted by David Mader at 03:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Bush the Federalist?

Shortly after the President's announcement on a federal marriage amendment, Dan and I had a discussion about its ramifications. He argued that it represented an attack on federalism, to the point that it undermined the President's commitment to defend a federal constitution in the War on Terror.

In his MSNBC column, however, Glenn Reynolds (of Instapundit) argues that Bush's position may actually be federalist itself:

It sounds to me as if he wants to constitutionalize the Defense of Marriage Act, a Clinton-era law that says states don't have to recognize gay marriages from other states under the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit provision...

If states are free to make their own arrangements, then there are two possibilities: they're free on everything, or they're free on everything but the name. The latter seems rather silly, and also rather trivial. (And whatever the law says, most people are going to call it marriage.)

A Constitutional amendment which ensured that states would not have to recognize the marriage provisions of other states would, far from enforcing morality, ensure state autonomy on this moral question, reserving the definition of marriage to the people of the several states. The caveat - that the amendment might bar the appliacation of the word 'marriage' for homosexual couples - is serious, but the very ambiguity of the statement suggests to me that Bush has no strong commitment to such a provision, and is only covering his base.

Is this President really attempting to alter the Constitution to conform to his religious beliefs? Or is he staking out an entirely defensible position under the guise of religious activism in order to mollify his religious base? I think there's a strong possibility of the latter. I also think it's better for all political parties involved if no-one says it out loud.

Not that I'm going to stop. By the way, you could do worse than to read the comment by Dave K on this post. Dave argues that definitions of marriage should be local rather than central, and he explains why. And he's right.

Posted by David Mader at 09:32 AM | (2) | Back to Main

February 24, 2004

There and Back Again

Just got in to Montreal; the train ride back - which took about as long as the drive from Ottawa to Toronto (4 hours) - was great, although the company couldn't compare.

I've long had an Ottawan's distaste for Toronto, but I must say that I quite enjoyed it this visit. Many thanks to my various hosts and guides. It may have been the nature of those hosts and guides, but I was left with the impression of a city which, while widely lampooned for taking itself too seriously, is nonetheless a serious place full of serious people doing serious things. I quite enjoyed the architecture, both the older colonial and Victorian buildings and the modern towers around Bay Street and downtown (not to mention the assorted deco and other fine facades). The University of Toronto campus is gorgeous, and I wonder whether a visit four years ago wouldn't have swayed me away from fine McGill. I also found Toronto to be much cleaner than Montreal, a function, I think, of the decades-long economic downturn from which the latter city is only now emerging. Thank you, separatism.

Still, the grime and grunge are part of the charm, and it's lovely to be back in Montreal - "The City That Doesn't Give a ..." - well, you know.

Back to the apartment, back to the desktop, back to more regular blogging.

Posted by David Mader at 10:08 PM | (9) | Back to Main

Half Way There

The US and France are floating the idea of an international peacekeeping force in the event rebels and opposition groups fail to accept a Caribbean Community peace initiative. Neither nation is prepared to commit combat forces, however, insisting that order must be restored before an intervention force is deployed.

I expect Port-au-Prince to fall to rebel forces within the week, at which point there will likely be mass murdering of Arastide loyalists and the repeat declaration of a new Hatian state by the rebels. What will the international community do then? Will they simply accept the new group of thugs? Will they intervene to restore Arastide once again? Or will they simply shrug their shoulders and move on?


Posted by David Mader at 02:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Vladimir Putin says no autocrats here:

The Russian president Vladimir Putin has announced that he is dismissing his government, less than three weeks before presidential elections.

In a televised address, he told Russians: "In line with article 117 of the Russian Constitution, I have decided to dismiss the government."

Perfectly legal, I'm sure, but am I the only one with the feeling that for all intents and purposes Putin is the government?


Posted by David Mader at 10:47 AM | (1) | Back to Main


David again. CNN is reporting that the President will announce, at 10:45, his support for a constitutional amendment reserving marriage for heterosexual couples.

The easiest comment is that this is a political reaction to the weakening support for Bush among the social-conservative base. Slipping numbers have spooked the White House, and as the campaign kicks off a little early, the re-election team will be hoping to get the base firmly back in line as soon as possible. The cynical calculus will have opposition to gay marriage more of an asset among potential Republican voters than a liability, since supporters will be assumed, on the whole, not to vote Republican in any case.

Still, I can think of at least one Republican who likely won't be voting for Bush this fall, and he's likely not alone. While I understand the political considerations, I'm disappointed myself; I'd hope the President could make political hay with better issues than this.

As for the Amendment itself, it won't pass in a million years - which is part, I'm sure, of why the President is endorsing it.

Posted by David Mader at 10:28 AM | (9) | Back to Main

February 23, 2004

Separation Anxiety

It's David. I've been away from the computer all day, but there's lots going on.

The Marines are going to Haiti, though only fifty and only to secure the largely abandoned embassy. Meanwhile it seems a matter of time before the armed rebels - as opposed to the peaceful opposition - take Port-au-Prince. At that point the international community will face a reall decision; simply telling both sides to accept the Caribbean Community peace plan won't work when the armed rebels control the country by force of arms.

And there's more going on, but - again - I'm away from the compu. More later. I am, after all, on vacation. (It's reading week, not slack week! -- Ed. Wha-who are you? I'm going out.)

Posted by David Mader at 09:40 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Players

Ever wonder who the players are in Adscam, not on the government side, but within the communications firms?

This Gazette article has great details about them and what they're up to now. Well worth a read.

Posted by David Mader at 02:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main

February 22, 2004

Long Day

It's David - I'm in the T-dot at Dan's place, blogging on his laptop (which for some reason won't let me log in to Movable Type as myself).

We drove down after attending the Conservative Party leadership debate. I can't do much better than Adam Daifallah except to add that Stronach was much worse in person.

I might also add that the drive from Ottawa to Toronto is brutal, and I don't know how or why people do it; and that the Ottawa-Montreal route is far more civilized.

More to come.

Posted by David Mader at 10:01 PM | (7) | Back to Main

Nader to Run

Ralph Nader is once again running for president.

It's a little hard to understand what Nader hopes to achieve. In his soundbite announcing his candidacy Nader mentions his "desire to retire our supremely selected president," which is cute but ought to remind him of his own responsibility for throwing the 2000 election to Florida and the courts.

In any case, if defeating the President is Nader's prime objective, surely the goal would be better achieved - if it is to be achieved - by presenting one prominent alternative rather than two. My general line on Nader in 2000 is that there was obviously a reason so many voted for him and not for Gore, and so those votes could not be seen as simply 'stolen' from the Democrat. All the same, Nader - who stands squarely on the anti-liberal left (I use liberal in the true or classical sense) - will either neutralize certain issues for the Democratic candidate or expose him as insufficiently leftist for certain voters.

Traditionally, third party candidacies have served to alter the policy direction of one or both of the major parties. They have introduced new issues into the national political debate and have helped to reorient the major parties along new policy lines. No such issues stand ready to be exploited by Nader; his candidacy will not achieve, and cannot hope to achieve, such a reorientation. Anti-establishment leftist insurgency has already been largely internalized in the Democratic party; a Nader run will not help to redirect the Democrats towards that orientation, but will more likely draw leftist insurgents from the party, shifting it back towards the center.

In any case, a fearless prediction: Nader's returns will fall within the margin between the two major party candidates; in other words, if the Democrat wins, the Nader vote will not have offered a much greater victory, and if the President wins, the Nader vote will not have been enough to put the Democrat over the top. Embittered Democrats have likely learned their lesson - or the supposed lesson - in the 2000 election. Nader is now running not for the country or for the issues but for himself. As folks come to realize that, they'll be uninclined to give him much support.

Posted by David Mader at 10:51 AM | (1) | Back to Main


The returns from the Iranian election are in, and with most reform-minded candidates barred from standing - and widespread disenchantment with parliametary 'reformists' among the electorate - the clerical/regime parties look to take control of the legislature.

Over the weekend - I heard a report on Friday - the CBC was reporting the election straight, going so far as to claim that turnout was up on previous years, and repeating without skepticism the reports of the regime's Islamic Republic News Agency. An AP report in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen reported the same. I haven't been able to find either online; indeed, both the CBC and the AP are now reporting a turnout of somewhere between 45% and 50%, and their leads seem to be regime efforts to legitimize an illegitimate election process. From the AP story:

An Interior Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his offices were "under tremendous pressure" from conservatives to inflate the turnout to match the television and radio predictions.

No doubt. When a regime bans free elections, it's best to treat the reports of its 'news' agency with skepticism.

Posted by David Mader at 10:39 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 20, 2004

It's a Start

Washington is sending a welcome signal to Tehran:

Risking a nationalist backlash, the United States criticized Iran's parliamentary elections on Friday as unfair because hard-liners had banned reformist candidates.
"Candidates have been barred from participating in the elections in an attempt to limit the choice of the Iranian people for their government. These actions do not represent free and fair elections and are not consistent with international norms," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

Right on.

Posted by David Mader at 03:49 PM | (0) | Back to Main

If Only

The American representative in Havana says the US has no plan to invade Cuba.

It's not entirely a laughing matter, I suppose; Washington says Cuba is fabricating the invasion threat in order to tighten political control. While the official line is that the Castro regime will eventually fall, it's certainly true that invasion would be the most straightforward way to liberate Cubans from that political control. So while it's not going to happen, it's not entirely illegitimate for Havana to talk about the eventuality.

If nothing else it's another example of the Wolfowitz Domino Effect, I think.

Posted by David Mader at 03:27 PM | (0) | Back to Main

WMD, Terrorism and Africa

Libya failed to disclose plutonium production as well as uranium importation, according to the IAEA.

Where, I wonder, did that uranium come from? And does it have anything to do with this?

Posted by David Mader at 03:15 PM | (0) | Back to Main

And If They Say No?

Officials from the US, the EU, the OAS, the Caribbean Community, France and Canada have presented Haitian President Aristide and opposition groups with a peace prosposal designed to resolve the current conflict through peaceful democratic reform.

The proposal is said to be largely based on a Caribbean Community initiative from earlier this year. There's no word, however, of how this international community would react to a rejection of the plan; nor is there any indication, in public, of how or whether the community would ensure or enforce the proposal.

I've made clear where I stand on the issue, I think; but while I'm happy to see a recognition of the importance of institutional reform to long-term stability, I'd like to see a more comprehensive plan for implementation.

Posted by David Mader at 03:12 PM | (0) | Back to Main

February 19, 2004


Apologies for the light blogging on my part, though my brother has more than made up for it with a series of excellent posts.

I've been on the road with Tony Clement for much of the week. Its been a good, but tiring week.

Tony was in Kitchener today for a major policy speech. It went over very well. Expect coverage in the Post tommorow. Among other things, he discussed:
-limiting the size of government as a % of GDP
-limiting the growth of government spending to inflation and population growth
-using the money freed up to: increase healthcare spending so that the feds pay 25% of costs, give the military more funding, pay down debt

Good speech. Great reaction. Momentum continues to build for Tony.

Posted by David Mader at 10:56 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Shoes on the Ground

James Dobbins has a piece in today's NYTimes recommending concrete steps for the international community to take to help Haiti:

• The international community, either the United Nations or the Organization of American States, should administer the balloting, not just offer assistance. No Haitian government will be able to organize elections with even minimal standards of fairness.[...]

• Some of this foreign aid should go toward strengthening Haitian institutions. Even the Clinton administration preferred to channel American aid through nongovernmental organizations, fearing that any money given to the Haitian government would be misspent. But no Haitian leader or leaders, however good their intentions, will be able to govern wisely if they have no institutions to rely on. We need to begin now to give Mr. Aristide's successors the wherewithal to govern.

That may not mean boots on the ground - troops - but it must mean shoes on the ground - administrators with education and expertise working for the Haitian people and government by creating and sustaining institutions. The US has shied away from traditional intervention, which means the deployment of a military force. In a sense they're right; that sort of intervention won't help matters. Real intervention means civil commtiment.

[Via HaitiPundit]

Posted by David Mader at 12:05 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Lame Duck

Yesterday Bourque was reporting that some disgruntled Liberals had begun entertaining plans to dump Paul Martin before the next election. Martin came into office with such fanfare and such widespread support that this kind of speculation seems ludicrous.

But then you read someting like this, and suddenly it doesn't seem so far-fetched.

The PMO has been hewing to the line that Martin himself was never involved in this massive, organized and partisan distribution of taxpayer money. They've been pushing the idea that Martin was detached from the corruption. If they're successful in selling that argument, it would make Martin the most detached 'executive' Canada's had in ages - a man who has no idea what his own aides and office are up to. He would make Ronald Reagan look like Jimmy Carter.

(Ok, that American politics reference was obscure and out of context; come on, you guys know Canadiana isn't my thing. Work with me here.)

Posted by David Mader at 11:52 AM | (0) | Back to Main


EC Comission President Romano Prodi says that comparing present-day anti-Semitism to the situation prior to the Second World War is an "insult [to] the memory of the Shoah."

Certainly one must be careful with historical analogies, especially analogies of such gravity. Still, at what point would M. Prodi allow the comparison? Must gas chambers be constructed before we recognize the problem? Wasn't the lesson of the Shoa supposed to be the importance of speaking out early against discriminatory hatred?

Europe is not headed for another Jewish genocide - at least not in the near future -and it's wrong to bandy about that language when real genocide goes unchecked in other regions. Protesting semantics, however, does nothing to address the very real and very disturbing resurgence in European anti-Semitism.

Posted by David Mader at 09:31 AM | (1) | Back to Main

February 18, 2004


There's some activity in Washington as officials try to figure out a way to defuse the Haiti situation:

U.S. officials worry that the current crisis would only worsen if Aristide is forced to flee. One option being discussed internally is a transfer of power, with Aristide's consent, to a temporary governing board made up of Haitians who would run the country until a new president was elected...

U.S. interagency meetings on what to do about the situation in Haiti include representatives from the Homeland Security Department and the Coast Guard, the senior U.S. official said, asking not to be identified. This is an indication that officials are concerned about a possible new Haitian refugee crisis.

The problem with these sorts of plans is that they fail to address Haiti's most basic problem: poor government:

The men painstakingly shaping the wooden stay of a boat with a homemade tool reckon it'll be ready in two months to take to the seas and, hopefully, reach the shores of Florida.
These would-be migrants are preparing their escape from Haiti at a time of rebellion that poses the greatest threat yet to the presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But their reason for fleeing has been the same for many years: the lack of jobs and a future.

"There is no work here, no money, nothing to do," 26-year-old Dorelus Franco said Wednesday, standing guard over two half-finished boats as another man worked on the wooden stay with a sharpened piece of steel.

Joblessness and Aristide are not unrelated phenomena; on the contrary, the present economic situation is largely a consequence of the President's misrule. Any 'solution' which does not result in a strengthening of democratic institutions - including the court system and property rights - will simply delay another round of civil strife.

Posted by David Mader at 07:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main

E-Group Blog

I've been meaning to post a link to Blogs Canada's Election Blog, a group effort, which has ongoing coverage of the Adscam scandal and its effect on the upcoming general election.

Posted by David Mader at 02:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

America Blocking Haitian Intervention?

The Telegraph suggests that tentative French plans to send an intervention force to Haiti are being opposed by Washington:

M de Villepin's proposal - however well-intentioned - has prompted another round of jostling between the leading powers, reminiscent of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

America considers Haiti within its Caribbean sphere of influence. France would like to expand its role as a leader in international diplomacy and United Nations-led interventions - both military and humanitarian. The UN has already sent a team to Haiti to assess its humanitarian needs, and the UN refugee agency is discussing ways to cope with a mass movement of displaced people if the violence continues.

Emphasis added. Reader M Simon notes - quite rightly - that America lacks the political will neessary for a proper intervention:

The problem is that America would need to take over the administration of the country totally for 30 years to get the schools right and turn out people capable of running day to day operations. Followed by a 20 year transition to total self rule. The cost would be enormus. The rewards very small.

I think that's true. Had the Washington line been that current American obligations overseas precluded the investment of resources necessary to make intervention worthwhile, I'd have given them credit. Instead they've simply ruled it out without explanation, and - as noted above - may in fact be preventing other nations from intervening.

The outrageous absurdity of Washington claiming a sphere of influence in which it refuses to act should be self evident.

I understand the political realities, and I understand that there's no political will for intervention and neo-colonization (or what you will). That's precisely why I'm not going to stop talking about it. At present Americans - and Canaidans and many others in the developed world - would rather allow their governments to waste billions of dollars on a pantheon of worthless domestic programs than contribute a fraction of that money to the active reconstruction of democracy and good government in the developing world. I think that has to change, and I'm going to keep talking about it until it does.

Posted by David Mader at 01:53 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Not Ready for Prime Time

Adam Daifallah has two interesting examples of amateurism on the part of the Belinda Stronach campaign.

I've been taking the Belinda campaign seriously from the beginning, and was initially impressed by the team and its work. The challenge has always been to add substance to the style, however, and after a number of weeks there's still very little substance. Allowing the kind of anecdotes Daifallah highlights, or failing to control them, suggests that Belinda's campaign has problems beyond policy.

Posted by David Mader at 01:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Helping Our Neighbors

The Montreal Gazette says that Haiti needs help - and that means intervention:

We must abandon from the outset any notion of perpetuating the regime of Jean-Bernard Aristide, who was restored to power a decade ago by an American force of 20,000 dispatched by former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Formerly much admired by the international left - including opinion-makers who had Mr. Clinton's ear - this former priest has turned out to be a tyrant scarcely less brutal than his predecessors...

The best strategy is to forge links quickly with the unarmed coalition of opposition parties, students, business leaders and trade unionists that has taken shape in Port-au-Prince. Calling themselves the Democratic Platform, they clearly represent the only bulwark against an armed coup.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has already ruled out sending a military force to maintain order. This creates an opportunity for other nations - including French-speaking Canada and France - to intervene, and quickly.

Yes. France is now said to be considering an intervention force, and Canada has committed aid. Unless there is a clear commitment to restore and maintain democracy in Haiti, these measures will only be temporary and superficial.

Posted by David Mader at 12:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The man at the centre of his country's turmoil once gave hope to Haitians, only to take it away as an undemocratic and often brutal leader. Read more about Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Posted by David Mader at 12:37 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 17, 2004

Not Good Enough

Haiti is now on the brink of civil war, and authorities are asking for international intervention to restore peace, though not necessarily to restore the status quo.

Colin Powell says no.

There is frankly no enthusiasm right now for sending in military or police forces to put down the violence that we are seeing... We cannot buy into a proposition that says the elected president must be forced out of office by thugs and those who do not respect law and are bringing terrible violence to the Haitian people.

For goodness' sake, that's just not good enough. Powell is right to recognize that the insurgents are unfit to govern. He ought to recognize that Aristide and his own gang of thugs are equally unfit to govern. Government must be restored to Haiti, and that means intervention. The official line - that the US and other nations "may be willing to send peacekeepers once peace is restored" - is a condemnation of the Haitian people to further violence, and it is an abrogration of America's centuries-old self-declared responsibility for the security of the Western Hemisphere.

Had Powell protested America's inability to intervene given its other military commitments I'd have understood, but his outright dismissal of intervention even in the abstract is shameful. But the United States is not alone; every liberal nation has a responsibility to foster and protect democracy around the world, and the failure of France - Haiti's colonial ancestor - to consider intervention is equally deplorable.

American failure to address the Haitian situation unfortunately undermines the legitimacy of the Bush Doctrine, and international indifference to the situation undermines any pretence of a community of nations or a liberal order. Where is the liberal power who will make the investment - or the simple outlay - necessary to restore and protect democracy in Haiti?

LATER (20:47 EST): I don't know why it didn't occur to me to look, but there is (of course) a Haiti Pundit. Link via Instapundit.

Posted by David Mader at 07:53 PM | (4) | Back to Main

The Time is Now

The concensus on all sides of the current Liberal scandal seems to be that a general election, previously expected in May, should be pushed off to the fall. In a meandering column, the National Post's Don Martin lays out the logic, although he suggests that Prime Minister Martin will pay the price one way or the other.

The Opposition seems to have adopted the line repeated over and over this past weekend that voters must have all the facts before they go to the polls. This was the message delivered by countless callers to Paul Martin as he appeared on call-in shows and made other media appearances. I think, though, that from a purely partisan perspective the Opposition Conservatives are making a mistake. Those callers didn't want Martin to delay so that, given all the information, they could vote against him; on the contrary, many wanted to know the whole story so that they could excuse Martin himself and so return him to office.

Right now Canadians are very, very angry with the ruling Liberals, to the point that they're considering casting Conservative ballots. Because the new Conservative Party is untested, unproven and leaderless, and because voting Liberal has become almost rote, this makes Canadians nervous. They want a delay to ease their consciences. A delayed vote is a huge victory for Martin, and he must privately be thanking his lucky stars that the Opposition has bought, nay demanded that he be given, more time to excuse himself.

Michael Bliss has an op/ed in the Post arguing for a snap election on more general rather than partisan grounds. According to partisan or general criteria, however, I think the Tories are making a big mistake.

[Both links require subscription.]

Posted by David Mader at 07:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Liberal Monopoly

Canadian blogger Stephen Taylor has a nifty graphic that's well worth a look.

[Thanks to Elana for the pointer.]

Posted by David Mader at 06:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Casualties and Fatalities

David Adesnik notes that the casualty rate among troops in Iraq is falling much faster than the fatality rate, and wonders what - if anything - the discrepancy means.

I think that sort of pattern is consistent with Coalition predictions made last fall, especially after the capture of Hussein. While attacks were expected to continue, the ranks of 'insurgents' were expected to thin over time as opposition to the Coalition presence lessened and as anti-Coalition fighters were killed. I imagine there's been a considerable amount of the former, leaving the anti-Coalition forces with far fewer fighters; those who are left are the most passionately anti-American, and in particular the most dedicated remnants of the Iraqi army as well as trained foreign terrorists.

In other words, there are far fewer anti-Coalition fighters, but the remaining fighters are far more skilled than the average of a few months ago. The result: anti-Coalition attacks are fewer, but more deadly. Casualty rates fall, but fatality rates remain relatively steady.

Posted by David Mader at 03:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Detailed Poll Numbers

The latest Ipsos-Reid poll shows the Liberals at 35 and the Tories at 26. The detailed breakdown is more interesting, though.

Only in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces are the Liberals significantly holding onto support. They continue to lead 41 to 26 in Ontario and 47 to 32 in the Atlantic. And even this is a drop from the over 50% they recently had.

Everywhere else, though, things are looking pretty bad.

Remember back when Martin was hoping to pick up seats in Quebec and the West. Several weeks ago, that looked credible. Today it looks like a joke.

In Quebec, the Bloc leads the Liberals 45 to 31. In BC, the Tories now lead 32 to 27. In Alberta it isn't even close. Tories 58, Liberals 20.

If the election comes this spring, McClellan is toast. So is Brison.

Posted by David Mader at 03:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

"We've never seen, in 20 years of polling, such a drop in support of an incumbent party during a non-election time." -John Wright, Ipsos-Reid

NOTE: I'm paraphrasing from something I just saw on CBC, so this may not be word for word, but it does capture the essence of what he said.

Things don't look so good for Martin.

Posted by David Mader at 02:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

That's gotta hurt

Can you hear that ripping sound coming from Ottawa?

That's the sound of John Bryden tearing Paul Martin a new a**hole.

He's leaving the Liberals because they are no longer a party of ideas but a party of cynicism.

He disagrees with a lot of Tory policies but believes that it is still a party of ideas and optimism. A party that believes in building a better Canada. Unlike the Liberals.


Posted by David Mader at 01:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

It begins

"I can't be in the Liberal caucus under the circumstances because, basically, what I've said is I've lost confidence in the prime minister and I've lost confidence in the Liberal party" - John Bryden, MP

Me too.

Posted by David Mader at 01:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Its official. The growing Liberal scandal shall henceforth be known as Adscam.

So says Andrew Coyne, anyway.

I like it.

Posted by David Mader at 01:01 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Bryden to Tories?

(via bluedraft)

Ontario MP John Bryen has just announced that he is quitting the Liberals after 10 years in office.

He has hinted that he may join the Tories.

A news conference has been scheduled for this afternoon.

This scandal almost makes you feel bad for Scott Brison, who looks sure to lose his seat. Almost, though not quite.

Posted by David Mader at 12:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Wishful Thinking

Paul Tuns says that I'm doing some wishful thinking:

I know things are beginning to look grim for the Liberals but 1) never underestimate the ability of a Conservative Party to mess things up and 2) don't forget the Liberals and their willing accomplices in the media will say to the Canadian people, "Yes, we (the Liberals) were involved in an unfortunate and unseemly series of transactions in Quebec but at least we (they) don't want to take away your healthcare, abortion rights and clean rivers."

Good point. Damian Penny agrees, quoting Christie Blatchford:

In Toronto, in Ottawa, in the central vote-heavy part of the nation, that sound you hear is the hiss of dissipating anger.

I first heard it myself on Saturday night, or less than a week after the full sponsorship scandal engulfed the PM and his government, at dinner with some bright professional friends.

They said all the right things, of course. They just aren't going to do the right thing, which is to vote anybody but Liberal.

They were deeply saddened by the revelations in Auditor-General Sheila Fraser's report; they were shocked; they were even angry. But one by one, they veered back to the Liberal mothership. "Prime Minister Stephen Harper?" someone said with a delicate eastern shudder. "What are the alternatives?" someone added. Besides, said one of the men, "Don't you believe Martin when he says he didn't know anything?" One of the women muttered ominously, "Abortion."

And let's throw some David Frum into the mix for good measure:

The Quebec-based Liberals have held power in Canada for all but 31 of the past 108 years – a better record than either Mexico’s Institutional Revolution Party or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Under the circumstances, it is a wonder that they don’t steal even more than they do. At the same time, it’s also a wonder that Canadians have tolerated the stealing as long as they have.

Quite. In my defense, I think I chose my words rather carefully. The conclusion "[The Conservatives] might find themselves in government sooner than even they expected" ought immediately to have provoked the rejoinder "or they might not." In any case, my substantive point was that the poll bounce the Conservatives are enjoying seems mainly due to discontent with the Liberals rather than, uh, content with the Conservative reaction. If the Tories want to overcome that institutional obstacle to government, and that latent bias in Central Canadian parlours, they need to step it up a notch.

Posted by David Mader at 10:03 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 16, 2004

Free Fall

CTVNews is reporting that the Liberals have fallen to 35% support, with the Conservatives up to 27% and the NDP relatively steady at 17%. That 35% bar is generally seen as the bare minimum needed to avoid a minority government.

Political correspondent Craig Oliver pointed out that there was no news on the scandal over the weekend - except for the PM's radio show on the subject. The Tories have been lucky to pick up support, but they need to do more to demonstrate their readiness to govern. They might find themselves in government sooner than even they expected.

Posted by David Mader at 11:06 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Mad As Hell

Dan's away from his computer but he asks me to blog this piece by James Travers in today's Toronto Star. Money 'graph:

A suddenly suspect challenger who split a party while successfully toppling a sitting prime minister now stands vulnerable to those who lost in an epic power struggle. Canadians are furious and disaffected Liberals are pointing their own fingers and Martin should expect much more of the same in the weeks ahead.


Last night's performance, no matter how necessary, calming or even brave, only confirms how fast this government has fallen. Far from enjoying a honeymoon, far from being carried toward a spring election on the shoulders of an adoring nation, Martin was verbally beaten up by callers who made it clear they are not going to take it any more.

That's not the debate Martin hoped to have with the country. He wanted to talk about social policy, building a 21st century economy, the democratic deficit and this country's place in the world.

That's not what the country wants to hear now. Liberals have been caught with their hand in the till and usually docile Canadians won't listen to anything else until the guilty are punished.

Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep.

Posted by David Mader at 10:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Helping Native Students

Though I was critical of today's National Post comment page earlier, I should note that they have an excellent leader on Queen's University's proposed affirmative action program for native students. The Post writes (subscription only):

There are good and bad ways to help tackle the problem. And Queen's University's newly announced decision to set up a separate application program for aboriginal students falls into the latter category. As the Post's Heather Sokoloff reported on Wednesday, the school is planning to reserve 10 undergraduate spots exclusively for natives every year. For applicants in this stream, the university's normal academic standards will be waived.

The basic problem with this sort of program is the same as with any affirmative action scheme: Race-tagged set-asides are discriminatory, and fly in the face of the merit principle.

The leader goes on to discuss why so few natives are graduating secondary school, and what might be done about it.

When I posted on the topic last week I wrote that "simply getting the discussion out into the open will be a valuable development in Canadian society." Hopefully the Post's leader will be the start of a forthright discussion of native education, and native governance in general. Kasra Nejatian, Maderblog's own Dan Mader and all those who've helped get this issue the attention it deserves should feel proud.

Posted by David Mader at 05:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

What Liberal Media?

From the BBC:

The Washington Post London correspondent Glenn Frankel, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former editor of the Post's Sunday magazine, defended his newspaper's editorial judgment.

"We've been down this road many, many times before. We are extremely reluctant to follow this kind of thing up unless there is a really, really compelling public interest. We don't feel there is any reason to until it reaches a threshold.

"All we have at the moment is that the woman's parents, who are republicans, don't like Senator Kerry.

"In any case, nobody would be too shocked if Kerry lied about an affair. Even if someone came to us with photographs we still wouldn't run it. Lying to Don Imus [the radio host to whom Kerry gave his initial denial] is not a federal offence."

Hey, that's a good campaign slogan: "John Kerry - he's no felon!"

Of course, the implication is that Bush's military service - or rather his alleged non-service - is a felony, and Bush therefore a criminal.

Posted by David Mader at 02:58 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Nothing Else to Say?

I must say that in my newspaper reading I was struck by the fact that, despite it's news coverage, the National Post had precisely no items on its comment pages dedicated to the current Liberal scandal. Perhaps the realities of a Monday paper preclude more topical coverage; still, if the country's leading (and perhaps only remaining) organ of conservative opinion has nothing to say - despite the continued outrage of Canadians - then perhaps this brouhaha will indeed blow over.

LATER (11:48 EST): I should note, in fairness, that John Ivison had a commentary piece below the fold on the front page - and quite a good piece at that. Also, what was on the comment pages was quite good as well. Still, there's something unusual about turning to the comment pages to find, well, nothing about quite a big scandal. But maybe it's just me.

Posted by David Mader at 11:39 AM | (0) | Back to Main


I picked up the papers today for the first time in months - I generally get my news online, which is why it's skewed towards my interest (US news) rather than my context (Canadian news). Generally interesting reading, although it's frustrating to see the exact same story appear on the front page of Southam's national paper (the National Post) and its local broadsheet (the Montreal Gazette).

In any case, the Gazette had a two-page spread (not available online, as far as I can tell) on the proposed tuition hikes for Quebec university students. There's a column on the issue available here. Student groups - which are representative much in the way the Canadian Senate is representative (which is to say nominally rather than actually) - are raising a predictable stink. University administrators, including McGill's own Heather Munroe-Blum, point out that they simply do not have the money to remain competitive institutions of learning.

It's largely left to the columnists and reporters to point out the injustice of taxing those who do not attend university to fund the education of those who do. The student organizations argue that raising tuitions will prevent poorer students from having full access, but their logic is flawed. Students without the pecuniary means should be sponsored, but they can only be sponsored if students with the means are charged something approximating the actual cost of tuition. The current situation - wherein the rich are subsidized by the poor - is as inequitable as it is illiberal. Far from standing for social justice, student organizations protesting tuition hikes champion only entitlement and privilege.

Posted by David Mader at 11:35 AM | (4) | Back to Main


The crisis continues, as "former exiled paramilitaries" join the rebel force attempting to oust aristide.

One of those reportedly is Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former Haitian soldier who headed army death squads in 1987 and a militia known as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, or FRAPH. The group allegedly killed and maimed hundreds of people between 1991 and 1994.

Several people in Gonaives said they saw Chamblain, who fled to the Dominican Republic in the mid-'90s.

Also spotted was Guy Philippe, a former police chief who fled to the Dominican Republic after being accused by the Haitian government of fomenting a coup in 2002...

"We don't have any platform," he said. "Our fight is for a better country ... We are fighting for the presidency, we're fighting for the people, for our convictions."

Philippe said the rebels have an arsenal of weapons and he doesn't think it's in U.S. interests to pursue another intervention.

"We don't want to fight with them," he said. "We are fighting for our own cause."

In this fight between tyrants and thugs, the Haitian people cannot but lose. Secretary Powell is quoted as saying that the US and other nations "will accept no outcome that ... attempts to remove the elected president of Haiti." That's not good enough. Violence and misrule will continue to destroy Haiti until there are boots on the ground - the boots of soldiers who keep the peace by force of arms, and the boots of administrators who create and maintain the institutions of democracy and liberty.

That's not imperialism, for a pitched battle between tyrants and would-be tyrants is in the interest of no honest Haitian. We have a responsibility to our neighbors; it's time to help.

Posted by David Mader at 09:46 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Damned Communists

Or, John Kerry's Legacy

In America, according to myth (and a fair amount of history), with enough hard work and dedication a man can achieve his dream.

A man can dream all he wants, but he cannot defeat the government of Vietnam:

With directions from the Internet and an old Russian truck motor, a Vietnamese farmer fulfilled his dream of making his own helicopter. The job took two friends, seven years and $30,000.

Now, military officials say he can't fly it, because he didn't get approval to build it, and they confiscated the makeshift copter.

"It's my hobby," farmer Le Van Danh complained by telephone Monday from his hometown of Tay Ninh, in Vietnam's southwest. "I will do whatever I can, including going to the prime minister, to get the permission."

True, he admits, the helicopter is still a work in progress: It only rises about 18 inches off the ground. "We are in the process of a fifth test of moving forward and backward, left and right," Danh said.

Getting approval to keep working on the chopper won't be easy. No Vietnamese individual has ever been granted a government license to build an aircraft, said Le Cong Tinh, director of the Air Transport Safety division of the country's Civil Aviation Administration.

The farmer said he won't give up, vowing to sell his house or 25 acres of land if that's what it takes to get the license. "If I cannot do it, my children or my grandchildren will do it," he said.

May God bless those who dream. And may the enemies of innovation be damned.

Posted by David Mader at 09:38 AM | (0) | Back to Main

The Last Word on Triumph

The National Post:

If the Canadian psyche is so fragile that it can be shaken by a puppet, Mr. O'Brien is the least of our problems.

Indeed. It reminds me of a line from Mark Steyn's latest online piece on all things Canadian:

The fact is, as Pete McMartin points out, bribing indifferent Quebecers to allow their festivals to be festooned with maple leafs isn’t a failure of the system: it is the system. If it’s considered bad form to mention that, we ought at least to be allowed to give subliminal expression to the thought through snide cracks on NHL broadcasts or by sniggering when a Canadian government-subsidised US celebrity comes up here and sneers at la belle province. I hasten to add I speak as a man who loves Quebec, who’s determined to be the last anglo living here, who has little time for anglo whining about signs and hospitals, who sees no reason why the Quebec motor vehicles department should provide service in English, etc, etc. But the fact is paying cronies to deck the hall with boughs of maple isn’t the fraud; the Trudeaupian state is the fraud, and the flag business merely a logical manifestation thereof.

That's some pretty heavy Canadiana for Maderblog, and I apologize to American readers. I focus on these issues only because I think that they are, for Canada, terribly important. And because unless they're addressed - by the populace as well as the government - there won't be any Canadian issues worth mentioning at all.

Posted by David Mader at 09:32 AM | (0) | Back to Main

I'm Just Asking

What liberal media?

Posted by David Mader at 09:22 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 15, 2004

Different Nations, Different Worlds

Is this how Canadians really think?

Canadians are non-aggressive by nature. We are non-confrontational in our world dealings. Bush, with his international, in-your-face response to the horrors of 9/11, has stirred up a hornet's nest which we would walk over broken glass to avoid and which frightens the pants off us.

The very acts of 9/11 and the American response, including the war in Iraq, have brought into focus the frightening world we live in. Just how dangerous, how violent and how deep the hatreds, how determined and deadly the terrorists, has been exposed.

President Bush has chosen to react to 9/11 without subtlety. He has not engaged the world in dialogue designed to keep violence to a minimum. He has stumped the enemy, like some gunfighter out of a western movie, out to fight. If the rest of the townsfolk won't help, let them hide under their porches.

President Bill Clinton before him played a delicate game with international terrorism, bombing those suspected of inflicting damage on U.S. institutions just enough to send a message and maintain American pride. The policy, unlike that of the Bush administration, was designed to keep the lid on. To show strength, but to buy time to attempt solutions which, if workable at all, take time.

Canadians were comfortable with this.

And that Clintonian policy, with which Canadians were so comfortable, worked wonders, didn't it? I'm not surprised to find myself among the very, very few Canadians who admire the President. I am surprised to discover - assuming the column's assertions are correct - that Canadians have so massively failed to understand the consequence of September 11. To bemoan a lack of 'subtlety' is to deny the gravity of that terrible attack. To condemn confrontation is to ignore the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq and the destruction of two brutal regimes. To counsel Clintonian diplomacy is to confer an unwarranted legitimacy on murderous terrorists and their accomplices.

The columnist concludes that Canadian enmity towards Bush is the result of the president's enmity towards Canada, and in this he might not be entirely wrong. In fact it's difficult to tell exactly where the columnist's own feelings lie. But if he's correct in saying that Canadians resent the realities of a world at war, then Canada deserves no better than to cower under the damned porch, unable and unwilling to stand for freedom, unloved and unwanted by those who dare to fight.

[Story via Neale News]

LATER (18:16 EST): Let me make clear that I do not in fact agree with the columnist about the roots of Canadian animosity towards the president. Remember that many Democrats and liberals exhibited a passionate disliking for Bush during the 2000 campaign - to put it mildly - and many Canadians (including then-Prime Minster Chretien) openly shared the sentiment. I think, in fact, that Canadian anti-Americanism and more specifically anti-conservatism shares many factors with the American-liberal phenomenon. (I don't mean to suggest that American liberals are anti-American, but rather that if Bush were not president Canadian anti-Americanism would be much less pronounced).

I don't know exactly what those shared factors are, but I think reactions to the War on Terror are a manifestation rather than a root cause. In short: I dearly hope, and largely believe, that the columnist is wrong. His is not an unreasonable supposition, however, and that's what bothers me.

Posted by David Mader at 05:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Clashes between rebels - many of whom are no more than criminal thugs - and government forces - many of whom are also no more than criminal thugs - continue in Haiti. The main route into the country from the neighboring Dominican Republic has reportedly been closed, preventing the distribution of food aid.

The situation seems at an impasse: opposition parties will not participate in elections they say (quite rightly) are deeply flawed; rebel groups will not lay down their arms while aristide remains president; and aristide himself refuses to leave before the end of his 'term' in 2006. Haiti is in as much need of foreign intervention now as it was ten years ago, when the Clinton administration restored aristide after a military coup. With American forces already stretched with Afghani and Iraqi deployments, and with the legacy of installing a disastrous ruler, Washington is in no hurry to get involved.

Haiti is an issue for the Americas, and now more than ever this hemisphere needs a second power ready to intervene to secure democracy and freedom. In time the Latin American republics will have that capacity, but they don't yet. Canada's inability to field a stabilization force to one of our American neighbors illustrates the extent of the nation's decline. We were once committed to democracy in the western hemisphere; now we lack both the commitment and the capacity to do anything about it.

Posted by David Mader at 05:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Vietnam? Bring It.

Mark Steyn says John Kerry would be crazy to run on the past.

Here we are two years later, and [the Democrats are] running on biography all over again. But this time their chosen biography is Vietnam, and for many Americans, and especially boomer Democrats, that's far more psychologically complicated. Look at Kerry's stump speech: ''We band of brothers,'' he says, indicating his fellow veterans. ''We're a little older, we're a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for this country.'' Thirty years ago, he came back from Vietnam and denounced his ''band of brothers'' as a gang of drug-fueled torturers, rapists and murderers.

These versions are not reconcilable. When he was palling around with Jane Fonda in the '70s, he hated the military. It wasn't just that he opposed the war but that he accused his ''band of brothers'' of a level of participation in war crimes and civilian atrocities unmatched by the Japanese, the Nazis and the Soviets. If he'd said, ''We band of brothers . . . We're a little older, we're a little grayer, but we still know how to get high, murder the gooks and rape their womenfolk,'' it would at least have been consistent with his congressional testimony.

You might want to read the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 01:12 PM | (3) | Back to Main

"Let's Move On"

American Democrats? Nope: Canadian Liberals.

Unfortunately for Matt and those like him, Canadians do indeed seem to "Give a Damn." Perhaps they understand that the scandal is "incredibly important" not only "for the Liberals and the election," but also for the country.

"Move on" has become a mantra among liberals in the US who are all too happy to dwell on conservative failings, but who feel that liberal indiscretions are unworthy of public discussion. It's crass partisanship, sure, but it's also intellectually unbecoming. So sorry, Matt - I think I, and many others, will dwell on this massive betrayal of trust by the Liberal Party and government for quite some time.

Posted by David Mader at 11:08 AM | (3) | Back to Main

February 14, 2004

Willing Accomplices

Britain is seeing a tremendous increase in anti-semitic incidents, according to a report published in today's Telegraph. Neo-Nazi and Islamist groups are both - perhaps together - targetting prominent Jews with hate mail and property assault. The home of one prominent Briton, former Labour Party secretary Lord Triesman, has been attacked on twelve separate occasions. The attacks are so threatening that Scotland Yard advised him to erect a 10-foot high fence around his property. You can guess what happened next.

The problem became so bad that he was advised by Special Branch to erect a 10ft fence around his home in Dartmouth Park, north London. The fence was dismantled in December, however, because it fell foul of the planning rules of the Labour-run Camden borough council.

Lord Camden should tell the council that unless they can guarantee the security of his property, he'll do as he damn well pleases. He also ought - though of course he can't - tell them that in the absence of a fence he'll be forced to protect his property with arms.

To obstruct security measures in the face of violent anti-semitic attacks is to be complicit in anti-semitic attacks.

Posted by David Mader at 08:35 PM | (0) | Back to Main

14 point swing

The scandal has started to bite:

The latest Ipsos-Reid poll reports that Liberal support has dropped 9 points since their last poll on January 15. Tory support has climbed 5 points.

Its still 39 to 24, but the Tories always, always closes in on the Liberals during a campaign. 15 points is way closer than anyone even dared to dream they'd be before the campaign started. If the Liberals drop below 35% then we get into minority government territory. And after the way Martin built up expectations, a minority government would be an abject failure.

Posted by David Mader at 12:23 AM | (3) | Back to Main

February 13, 2004


Michael Duffy, CTV's political commentator, just said that there are new polls coming out tonight at tommorow.

Initial rumours are that they will show a huge swing against the government.

I'd guess at least a 20 point drop in confidence in Martin. The key question is, where will this support go?

Posted by David Mader at 04:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Revenge is Sweet

Anyone glancing at the front page of today's National Post would have seen a great big knife embedded in Paul Martin's back. Not a literal knife, of course, but one hell of a metaphorical knife.

It has now emerged that Akaash Maharaj, liberal party policy director, warned Paul Martin in February 2002 about potential fraud in the sponsorship program. That's several months before Martin would have us believe he knew anything about the scandal.

But there's more to this story.

You see, Maharaj was not just policy director. He also ran for president of the Liberal Party, with the vote taking place the same weekend Martin became leader. Maharaj was known to be running for a long time, and so stayed neutral in the leadership. Just before the convention, though, when Martin knew he had things wrapped up and so didn't have to worry about who he pissed off, Martin got one of his cronies to jump into the race against Maharaj and got his delegates to abandon Maharaj, who until then was to be acclaimed.

Martin's guy, of course, won. This was widely seen as Martin screwing over someone who wasn't even working against him but had made the fatal sin of staying neutral.

Now it seems that Martin's vindictiveness is coming back to haunt him. Maharaj just happened to have what sure looks like evidence that Martin is lying about when he knew of the scandal. Of course, Maharaj has denied that he was the one who leaked the letter. But then, he WOULD do that, wouldnt' he?

A few months ago Martin was secure enough that he could alienate whoever he wanted. Now he suddenly need all the friends he can get.

Posted by David Mader at 04:30 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Smoking Gun

The next election campaign may well revolve around the questions: What did Martin know and when did he know it?

Well, the ansers are already starting to come out: he knew way more than he's letting on and he knew it a long time ago.

A member of Martin's own caucus has now admitted that this subject was discussed at a caucus meeting (that Martin attended) way back in 1999.

So, the question for the Prime Minister is, is he accusing his own MP of making this up?

NOTE: I now can't seem to find the right link. I'll post it when I find it.

Posted by David Mader at 04:11 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Tony on the Scandal

Dave has asked why the Conservative Party leadership candidates are refraining from weighing in on the scandal rapidly engulfing the Chretien/Martin liberals (fiberals?) in Ottawa.

I was Tony Clement speak last night at the nomination meeting of Josh Cooper (the next MP for Thornhill!!!).

Tony made a great speech, showing how he has really improved since his run for the provincial leadership. He spoke for 15 minutes without notes, and showed real passion.

More importantly, though, he took on the scandal head on. First, he ridiculed the idea that Martin represents a real change: its the same government, the same lack of ethics.

Next, starting what will almost certainly become an opposition trend, he called on the Prime Minister to wait for a full investigation before calling an election. When Canadians go to the polls, we have a right to know what really went on.

Posted by David Mader at 04:02 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Nothing to Say?

Canada is facing its greatest political crisis in recent memory, and yet three people who hope to lead the opposition Conservative Party to the government benches have nothing to say about it. Not on their campaign websites; not on GoogleNews Canada; not on TV - as far as I've seen.

Hey, folks: you want to lead us? Then for goodness' sake, lead. For the first time in ages we're listening. Talk to us.

Posted by David Mader at 02:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Why It Would Matter

In the comments to my post on the Kerry kerfuffle Nick challenges me to contrast the immorality of an affair with the indescretions President Bush has allegedly had. He sent me a list which I'll address fisk-style when I have a minute, but in the interim - and so it doesn't look like I'm ignoring the question - I point to today's Bleat by the inimitable James Lileks. Lileks hints at the difference between Bush's past indescretions and what may be - but may very well not be - Kerry's much more recent affair. He also touches on why an affair is a much different matter than, say, a DUI rap.

Posted by David Mader at 10:14 AM | (0) | Back to Main

The Counter-Offensive

Lots of people, especially in Canada, love to disparage Conrad Black. Those people have been having a field day with the recent corporate controversy involving Black's Hollinger group. Just because Black is unpopular with the chattering classes doesn't mean he's guilty of corporate malfeasance, however. That's a point now being made by at least two men involved in Hollinger who have stepped forward to champion Black's case.

In Canada, Peter White, co-COO of Hollinger Inc., has an article in the Globe and Mail addressing the roots of the controversy and particularly the actions of a holding group which appears to be forcing the issue in order to prompt a sale of Hollinger International's assets. Money quote:

Nearly eight months after the beginning of the investigation, there have been no actual findings of wrong-doing by any regulator or court of law.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Mark Steyn takes up Lord Black's case in the Spectator (registration required). Steyn's piece is more personal, defending Black and Barbara Amiel against some of the more vicious attacks they've recently faced and predicting that we haven't seen the last of this last press baron:

That’s Conrad Black’s business history in a nutshell. As his various current chastisers would say, follow the money. At one point or another, just about every blue-chip corporation in Canada except the Hudson’s Bay Company passed through his control and, in every case, he either got rid of them or, as with Hollinger, converted them into a newspaper company. In the late 20th century, not many fellows with an eye on the bottom line would take a big pile of dough from grocery stores, natural gas, farm implements, etc. and sink it into newspapers. Beating swords into plough-shares is one thing, beating your plough-shares into words is another.

That list of flagship Hollinger papers in the brief golden age - the National Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post - suggests Black's nack for the newspaper business, and the heights he reached. I don't know whether Lord Black will rise again, but I know that many of the finest English-language journalists around today have worked for Black, and admire not only who he was, but what he did. They'll keep doing it too.

Posted by David Mader at 01:15 AM | (1) | Back to Main

February 12, 2004

Another Intern

Drudge is breaking a story about Kerry and an intern, along with interesting suggestions that the scandal was not only known to the Kerry, Clark and Dean camps for some time, but that it has already influenced the Democratic nomination race.

My completely unfounded prediction about something that has yet to be confirmed: It won't matter.

Oh, sure, the revelation that Kerry is a philanderer win the president back some conservatives who are once again falling for his political rope-a-dope (or not: discuss). But core Democrats have long since decided that infidelity is not only acceptable for a Commander in Chief, it's probably desirable. Middle Americans will take it into consideration when going to the polls, but they'll likely still vote based on who they feel, as they cast their ballot, would make a better president as they define it. Were this still 2000 - or any date in the September 10 universe - infidelity would probably be a big deal. We'd have to get worked up about something. But I hope - dearly - that give the security situation Americans will be more concerned with a president's capacity to govern in a dangerous world than an ability to keep it in his pants.

Does infidelity suggest character issues to the detriment of a potential president? I think so. But I also many Americans aren't so sure of the connection. Maybe this story, once confirmed, will sink Kerry. Or maybe, like Clinton in '92, he'll ride it out, casting it as crass politics. And maybe the electorate will agree.

MORE (14:29 EST): My take seems to be something like the standard conservative response - at least at the Corner. Start here and scroll up. I think conservative Republicans realize that for better or for worse they get more excercised about infidelity than the other two thirds of Americans, and that shouting about it last time did them no real favours.

Posted by David Mader at 02:14 PM | (2) | Back to Main

February 11, 2004

Slow Day, Busy Day

There doesn't seem to be much going on in the world today - well, there is, but nothing that demands my commentary. Well, I suppose nothing ever really demands my commentary, but that's the illusion under which this blog operates, so we'll stick with it. Anyway, there could very well be important things going on that do demand my commentary, but they're not quite as pressing as the mid-term papers I have due on Friday. So I'm busy with those.

More later.

Posted by David Mader at 07:12 PM | (4) | Back to Main

February 10, 2004

Clark Out

Wesley Clark is dropping out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Who'd have thought Clark would have out-classed Howard Dean? Well, a lot of people, I suppose.

[Via Instapundit]

Posted by David Mader at 11:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A Free Market For Innovation

Reader Aaron W. points me to this essay on what the Internet is and what it isn't, and what that means for the old-media industries and governments which would try to regulate it. The piece is colloquial, which is good in that it's perhaps more accessible that it would otherwise be, but bad in that it results in an understatement of some of its points which I'd have liked to have seen fleshed out a bit more. Still, it's well worth the read.

Posted by David Mader at 11:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A Timely Cartoon

From tomorrow's Telegraph:

More ghosts than just that one, I think.

I actually really enjoy the Telegraph cartoons' use of literature rather than dialogue boxes. I imagine this is a British vs. North American thing, though I don't read other British papers enough to know. I can't think of an American paper - or cartoonist - which (who) approaches cartoons the same way.

Of course the drawback is that you get things like an unintended (?) comparison of President Bush to literature's most indecisive character. But I like it nonetheless.

Posted by David Mader at 10:40 PM | (2) | Back to Main


While conservative critics have panned President Bush's appearance on Meet the Press, the White House has turned it into a campaign ad.

And not a half-bad one, either.

UPDATE (22:16 EST): The link isn't working - not sure if it's a server error or what - so you'll have to take my word for it. I'll try to find a working link.

Posted by David Mader at 10:07 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Becoming Henry the Fifth

Historian John Lewis Gaddis has a new book forthcoming which places George W. Bush among the preeminent grand-strategists of American history:

Gaddis knows the latter name may bring a number of his colleagues up short. Critics charge that President Bush is a lightweight, Gaddis laments, and they do so because the president is a generalist who prefers the big picture to its details. Over lunch at Mory's, Yale's tweedy private dining club, Gaddis suggests that academics underrate Bush because they overvalue specialized knowledge. In reality, as his new book asserts, after Sept. 11, 2001, Bush underwent ''one of the most surprising transformations of an underrated national leader since Prince Hal became Henry V.''

The Bush doctrine is more serious and sophisticated than its critics acknowledge -- but it is also less novel, Gaddis maintains. Three of its core principles -- preemptive war, unilateralism, and American hegemony -- actually hark back to the early 19th century, to the time of John Quincy Adams...

The Bush administration, marvels Gaddis, undertook a decisive and courageous reassessment of American grand strategy following the shock of the 9/11 attacks. At his doctrine's center, Bush placed the democratization of the Middle East and the urgent need to prevent terrorists and rogue states from getting nuclear weapons. Bush also boldly rejected the constraints of an outmoded international system that was really nothing more than a ''snapshot of the configuration of power that existed in 1945,'' Gaddis says.

Despite the dark predictions of critics, Gaddis writes, so far the military action in Iraq has produced ''a modest improvement in American and global economic conditions; an intensified dialogue within the Arab world about political reform; a withdrawal of American forces from Saudi Arabia . . .; and an increasing nervousness on the part of the Syrian and Iranian governments as they contemplated the consequences of being surrounded by American clients or surrogates.'' Indeed, Gaddis writes, the United States has emerged ''as a more powerful and purposeful actor within the international system than it had been on Sept. 11, 2001.''

Read the whole thing - I know I'm now eager to read Gaddis' book. Any historical analogy is suspect, of course, so the whole discussion about whether Bush is acting like Adams is a bit silly; still, the basic point - that Bush is breathing life into tried-and-true American foreign-policy practices - seems sound. Of course a lot of people would have been just as opposed to 19th century unilateralism as they are to its 21st century echo. Them's the breaks, I guess; as Gaddis points out, and despite the caterwauling of - well, of so many folks, the United States is in many ways more powerful - and the world in many ways safer - than on September 11, 2001.

[Via Daniel Drezner]

Posted by David Mader at 05:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Colouring the Canadian Campus

Queen's University is introducing an affirmative action policy which establishes a distinct set of criteria for the admission of aboriginal students:

The policy in question would allow for the admittance of 10 aboriginal students to the Faculty of Arts and Science under a separate process from the general admission.

Christine Overall, associate dean of Arts and Science and the co-chair of the Aboriginal Council, said in a previous interview with the Journal the policy was put into place to compensate for the extraordinary under-representation of students at the University.

She had said the council wanted to ensure high entrance grades do not discourage aboriginal students from attending the University...

Dan Mader, the president of Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association, said the admission policy is a shocking example of institutionalized racism that has no place at a Canadian university and will not help aboriginal people.

“It is a laudable goal,” Mader said. “The problem is that once you start [admitting people based on race, the question is, where do you stop?” Mader said if special treatment is given to one group, other groups will start demanding it.

Mader said the government needs to start improving the education opportunities at the reserve level so that special policies would not be needed at the university level. He said he is against policies that “lower the standards” and make special exemptions for a specific group.

“If we ensure it is definitely a temporary program, it would be okay,” Mader said.

“My great uncle attended Queen’s because it was one of the Canadian universities that did not use a quota system to exclude Jews ... it is truly sad that it is now bringing back race as a factor in admission decisions.”

Discussion of racial preference and affirmative action can get pretty emotional, but I think Dan's hit the nail on the head with this. Ensuring aboriginal access to educational opportunities is laudable - to say the least - but it simply isn't best achieved by applying discriminatory admissions standards. In fact there's a case to be made that the persistence of apparent aboriginal underachievement - in terms of participation in higher education - is a result of the myriad of race-based policies which various levels of government have applied over the years in any area touching on aboriginal relations. By treating aboriginal communities as if the norms of modern liberal society don't apply, race-based programs encourage isolation rather than integration and dependence rather than sufficience.

Collegiate affirmative action seems, from up North, a distinctly American issue, foreign to a Canada that is thought not to have a political 'race' issue. The truth is that aboriginal issues represent an important concern which is too often overlooked. Wherever you fall out on the affirmative action debate, simply getting the discussion out into the open will be a valuable development in Canadian society.

Posted by David Mader at 04:46 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Pop Quiz: The Answer

The answer to my pop quiz can be found below (click 'Continue Reading' if necessary).

I asked:

Who was the last two-term president to succeed a two-term president?

I also included a 'hint' that was really a 'rule': "'two term' is defined in the most traditional, common-sense manner possible." It seems to me that the most traditional, common-sense definition of 'two-term' requires that a president be elected twice and serve two full terms. Any exception to that pattern - wherein a president served (nearly) two terms but was only elected once, or served less than two terms but was elected twice - would require an asterisk, and would therefore denote a 'qualified' two-term president.

That eliminates the most common answer, Richard Nixon, who was elected twice (with quite substantial majorities, by the by) but who resigned during his second term. Had Nixon not resigned, however, he still would not have qualified, since he succeeded Lyndon Johnson, who was elected only once (1964), and who served for slightly more than five years. Johnson's status as a one-term president was confirmed by his eligibility to stand in 1968 despite the restrictions of the newly-enacted Twenty-Second Amendment.

In fact, prior to Reagan the last full two-term president was Dwight Eisenhower, and a number of you suggested that he fit the criteria for the quiz. Eisenhower succeeded Harry Truman, though, who - like Johnson - stood for and won only one presidential election. Truman served for almost eight full years, whereas Johnson served for five and change, but I think that illustrates the importance of distinguishing full from qualified two-term presidents. So anyway, Eisenhower is out.

As I mentioned, this occurred to me in bed, and when I had eliminated Eisenhower in my mind I knew the answer lay rather far back.

Franklin Roosevelt qualifies as a two-term president, though technically he was a full three-term president and a qualified four-term president, but he succeeded one-termer Hoover. Ditto Woodrow Wilson, who succeeded Taft. Some of you suggested Teddy Roosevelt, but he won only one election (1904), and succeeded a president - McKinley - who, though he won twice, served less than two terms (being assassinated early into the second).

Grover Clevelend might have thrown a fun wrench into the proceedings, having been elected twice but having served non-consecutive terms, but he succeeded a one-termer both times (Arthur - who actually served less than a full term - in 1884 and Benjamin Harrison in 1892).

Ulysses Grant was a full two-termer, but he succeeded the fractional-termer Johnson. Lincoln was a qualified two-termer, but in any case he succeded one-termer Buchanan. Andrew Jackson was a full two-termer, but he succeed one-termer John Quincy Adams.

And so: The last two-term president to succeed a two-term president was...

James Monroe, elected 1816 and 1820, who succeeded James Madison, elected 1808 and 1812. Madison himself occupies a particular place in American history, being the only president to both precede and succeed two-term presidents; Jefferson was elected in 1800 and 1804. George Washington was a two-term president, but of course he succeeded no-one.

One more interesting fact: Jefferson, Madison and Monroe governed during a time known as the Era of Good Feeling, a period of about twenty years during which there was said to be no strong partisan factionalism. In fact, all three were of the 'Jeffersonian-Republican' bent, and more particularly all represented and were members of the late-18th century Virginia planter class. The important point here, though, is that they were all functionally of the same party.

In other words, no president who has succeeded a two-term president of the other major party has ever gone on to serve two full terms. If President Bush wins this fall, he'll be the first man in American history - presuming he goes on to serve out his term - to accomplish that feat.

Congratulations are in order to the lone correct respondent, Dave Katz, who sent in his answer during a bout of insomnia very early this morning. Thanks to everybody else who participated. Isn't American history fun!

(Humour me).

Posted by David Mader at 04:10 PM | (6) | Back to Main

They will not be missed

The Quebec Court of Appeal has upheld the dismissal of two paramedics in Montreal who refused to help a dying man because they were on a break when they were asked to treat him.
Good riddance.

Posted by David Mader at 02:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell watched the Bush Meet the Press interview, and feels betrayed:

The Bush administration consistently argued that America had to go to war because Iraq posed a threat on two fronts: The Iraqi government was supporting al-Qaida terrorists, and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in defiance of the United Nations' order banning it from manufacturing such weapons.

When you strip away all the other rhetoric -- including Bush's passionate words after 9/11 when he vowed to launch a war on terrorism; put aside the Iraqi dictator's abuse of his own people, and the ongoing battles in the Middle East; it is fair to boil down the war we are engaged in to the weapons argument.

Uh, I suppose. But if you strip away Roosevelt's passionate words after Pearl Harbor when he committed the nation to absolute victory, if you put aside the mass and organized slaughter of Jews, and the ongoing battles in North Africa and Russia, it would be fair to boil down the Second World War to a border dispute between Germany and Poland.

I can understand the frustration of those reluctant war-supporter who refused to sanction the removal of a brutal tyrant unless that tyrant were also found to be in contravention of some East River diktat; I understand that those who demanded a focus on existing UN resolutions might feel uncomfortable when the assumptions behind those resolutions are called into question.

But that discomfort, as Ms Mitchell demonstrates, is the result of a particular myopia. Those who do not believe that we're engaged in a war against a wide-ranging but committed foe will probably not, at this point, be convinced by any of the (oft repeated) arguments. It seems to me, though, that just as ignoring the wider aspects and consequences of the Second World War renders that conflict absurd, so ignoring the context of the Iraqi war - and its consequences - renders it as absurd as any critic would like it to be.

Iraq was never only about weapons, and while the White House made a terrible mistake by emphasizing that aspect above all others, supporters of the war effort should look to the big picture rather than feel 'betrayed' by the failure to find WMD.

Posted by David Mader at 12:51 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Do You Believe in Magi?

The Church of England is staying traditional - for contemporary reasons:

The Wise Men, those famous early visitors to the infant Jesus, were not necessarily either, the Church of England has decided.

It has considered but rejected a move to replace the term "Magi" with the more widely known "wise men" in a series of new collects, or short prayers.

In a report released at this week's meeting of the governing General Synod, the Revision Committee said it believes that "to translate the term into something more universally understood ... is to miss the point being made.

"Further, while it seems very unlikely that these Persian court officials were female, the possibility that one or more of the 'magoi' were female cannot be excluded completely," it said.

I'm not an Anglican - heck, I'm not even a Christian - so it might be a tad, uh, chutzpadik to say so, but it seems to me the C of E is using some pretty fluffy reasoning to justify an entirely sound argument. As the report notes, "Matthew deliberately used an exotic word to emphasize the visitors' exotic nature." That's reason enough not to replace 'Magi' with Wise Men. Whether those Magi were women may be an important theological point, but it is, I think, entirely besides the point in this particular context. Speculation of the sort serves only to give a reasonable traditionalist decision an entirely post-modern flavour.

Posted by David Mader at 12:01 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Pop Quiz

This occurred to me as I lay in bed; I'm funny like that:

President Bush hopes to be reelected this fall, thereby avoiding the electoral fate of his father who followed a two-term president but was only a one-term president himself.

Who was the last two-term president to succeed a two-term president?

Comments are disabled on this one. You can e-mail me if you'd like (mader-at-maderblog-dot-com), or just write your answer down somewhere (no cheating!) and I'll reveal the correct answer sometime tomorrow.

One hint: "two term" is defined in the most traditional, common-sense manner possible.

UPDATE (11:42 EST): The answers are rolling in, and keep 'em coming. I've seen at least one correct response, and a number of wrong answers, I'm afraid. All shall be revealed and explained later this afternoon or evening, so if you want bragging rights, get your answers in soon!

ANSWER: The answer is now available here.

Posted by David Mader at 01:17 AM | Back to Main

February 09, 2004


While Iran edges ever closer to open civil strife, the real thing may already be happening on our very doorstep. In Haiti, where anti-government demonstrations have become routine over the past months, armed groups have seized power - such as it is - in a number of cities, driving out police and pro-government forces.

The Bush doctrine of democratic security has focused recently on the Mid-East, and with good reason. We shouldn't forget, though, that there are a number of countries here in the Americas desperately in need of democratic reform, peace and security.

Posted by David Mader at 02:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Steyn on Cherry

Mark Steyn:

In the substitution of regulation for human judgment and individual responsibility, there is a metaphor for the modern nanny state here. In attempting to regulate “hurt”, Canada has made its citizens vulnerable to far more dangerous assaults. A nation that rouses itself only to beat up on those who deviate from government-enforced cultural wimpiness cannot survive.

Steyn's piece is long and a tad meandering but entirely worthwhile; Canadian readers will probably especially enjoy the barbs traded between Steyn and sports columnist Jack Todd (who, by the way, is an unapolagetic draft-dodger). Like Steyn, my primary reaction to the whole flap is not to care, but Steyn typically turns this minor kerfuffle into an episode representative of the decline of Canada as any sort of nation. Have a read.

Posted by David Mader at 11:47 AM | (1) | Back to Main

The Bush Doctrine

In his interview with Tim Russert the President said:

The best way to secure America for the long term is to promote freedom and a free society and to encourage democracy. And we are doing so in a part of the world where people say it can't happen, but the long term vision and the long term hope is -- and I believe it's going to happen -- is that a free Iraq will help change the Middle East. You may have heard me say we have a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. It's because I believe so strongly that freedom is etched in everybody's heart, I believe that,and I believe this country must continue to lead.

Turns out it's not just rhetoric:

The Bush administration has launched an ambitious bid to promote democracy in the "greater Middle East" that will adapt a model used to press for freedoms in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe...

"It's a sweeping change in the way we approach the Middle East," said a senior State Department official. "We hope to roll out some of the principles for reform in talks with the Europeans over the next few weeks, with specific ideas of how to support them."

Details are still being crafted. But the initiative, scheduled to be announced at the G-8 summit hosted by President Bush at Sea Island, Ga., in June, would call for Arab and South Asian governments to adopt major political reforms, be held accountable on human rights -- particularly women's empowerment -- and introduce economic reforms, U.S. and European officials said.

As incentives for the targeted countries to cooperate, Western nations would offer to expand political engagement, increase aid, facilitate membership in the World Trade Organization and foster security arrangements, possibly some equivalent of the Partnership for Peace with former Eastern Bloc countries...

At each of the three summits in June, the United States would like allies to agree on principles of political, economic and security change -- many outlined by the Arabs themselves in two U.N. Development Program reports -- and ways to enact reforms. The G-8, NATO and U.S.-European Union would each focus on the issues most relevant to its goals. The review process would then be built into subsequent annual summits of the three alliances, U.S. officials say.

"The key to all of this is to get the [Muslim] countries in question to feel ownership in this process," a Danish diplomat said. The Danish and Canadian governments have done serious work on the issue and are coming up with their own draft proposals, U.S. and European officials say.

As something of a trained historian I can't help but see initiatives like this as part of a greater effort on the part of the Bush administration to fundamentally change the world order. For the better, I might add. It's fascinating to watch, and inspiring to boot. Nice to see the Canadians are involved as well.

Will it work? Who knows. But we'd be damnable if we didn't throw ourselves into the effort, I think.

Posted by David Mader at 01:41 AM | (0) | Back to Main

A Generation Gap

Andrew Coyne disses hip hop.

In fact, I think the article he links to does quite a good job of explaining the rise of 'black music' to its current position at the center of American popular culture.

Middle America has totally embraced urban music in the last 12 months, according to Toussaint Davy, editor of Tense magazine.

"When you have people like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera working with rappers and prominent producers, it's only a matter of time before it starts filtering down to everyone else," he says.

"The thing about hip-hop is that it's a very dynamic form of expression and you can't really hold back progress."

The music's pace and style suits today's fast consumer-led culture, he says - and it is now the musical heritage of all America, not just young black inner-cities.

Yea. When many folks hear 'rap' they think of the 'gangsta-rap' of the mid-to-late-1990s, Wu Tang and early Snoop and the like. The dominant themes in rap and hip hop today, however, are almost entirely inimical to those gangster tunes. Listen to a song like 'Mo Money Mo Problems' - one of Notorious B.I.G.'s first posthumous hits - or 'Feels So Good' by Mase and you hear a completely different message. The most exciting modern rap is success music - initially a celebration of overcoming racial prejudice and urban poverty, and now increasingly simply a celebration of America and prosperity and opportunity. Ditto hip hop, times ten:

While more established styles like pop and rock have few new ideas to explore, this young street music is still evolving and experimenting.

"It's the most exciting thing out there, it's doing fresh things, it's not just some guys with guitars moaning about their girlfriends," Mr Blenkarn says.

"That's why people like it - because it's doing something fresh and it's always pushing boundaries that other types of music aren't."

The article cites the Beyonce/Jay-Z tune 'Crazy in Love', but the far better example is Outkast's 'Hey Ya'. It fits no style, no genre; it takes pop-music in all sorts of crazy directions; and, most importantly, people love it. I don't listen to the radio, so I may be alone in this sentiment, but I find that it just doesn't get old. Part of that is the fact that it's at least two different songs at once. And much of the Outkast album - really two solo projects packaged together - is like that.

I remember watching one of the music award shows last summer - I think it was the MTV Video Music Awards - and I was struck by how out of place the white bands looked. The rise of urban music doesn't mean the end to 'white' music, of course - country is still going strong, though it's almost entirely ignored in many 'cosmopolitan' markets. But I think there's something very healthy, and exciting, about the new dominance of these musical styles.

Of couse some folks will be uncomfortable with this next manifestation of new-fangled 'noise'. To them I can only say: shake it. Shake it like a polaroid picture.

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm afraid you're on the wrong side of the generation gap.

Posted by David Mader at 01:18 AM | (5) | Back to Main

February 08, 2004

Terrorism: A Canadian Issue

Terrorists affiliated with the al-Qaida network and operating out of South America's tri-boder area planned to attack targets in Ottawa and elsewhere in late 1999. Those attacks were foiled, according to a report by the Library of Congress research staff. (The story is available in French here).

Intelligence agencies have long known of terrorist activities in the lawless region between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. The use of Canada as both a staging ground and a revenue source has also long been common knowledge. That fact alone should have put Canada at the forefront of the War on Terror. Perhaps the knowledge that Canada is in fact a target will give Canadians the political will to finally face up to their responsibilities and join unreservedly in the effort to confront worldwide terrorism.

Posted by David Mader at 08:40 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Meet the Press

For those interested, the full transcript of the President's appearance on 'Meet the Press' is available here.

The spot has received mixed reviews in the right-tilting blogosphere, with pundits coming down harder on Bush than readers. I haven't seen any footage, but from the text Bush seems to have acquitted himself quite capably. And this passage, more than any other, suggests to me that Bush still has what it takes to confound critics and observers and connect directly to the American public:

I would be careful to not denigrate the [National] Guard. It's fine to go after me, which I expect the other side will do. I wouldn't denigrate service to the Guard, though, and the reason I wouldn't, is because there are a lot of really fine people who served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq.

Hokey, sure, but also profoundly humble; this passage demonstrates to the viewer that Bush knows politics involves political games, and that he anticipates attacks on his personal character. But whereas a Kerry or a Clark or a Dean would respond to ad hominem attacks by shrieking about patriotism or some such, Bush simply responds, in a voice that's confoundingly convicing, 'that's just not true.' That sort of confidence, mixed with a certain type of humility, is a tremendous political asset.

MORE (17:38 EST): Peggy Noonan wasn't impressed, but she explains why Republicans tend to be far worse at interviews than Democrats. It has to do with politics, policy and philosophy.

I think Noonan's Republican/Democrat demarcation is a pretty massive generalization, but I think she's right at least in terms of President Bush.

LATER (2/9/04 00:50 EST): David Adesnik:

When Bush started talking about democracy promotion and the universal desire for freedom, his words began to flow in a way they hadn't before. And you couldn't help thinking that the words were coming straight from his heart. With Reagan, you could dismiss it as acting. But with Bush, it's hard not to believe he's sincere.

Adesnik is less charitable with the rest of his post, which is well worth reading.

Posted by David Mader at 05:30 PM | (1) | Back to Main

That's Just Our Womenfolk

Fifty-three year old Sacramentonean stands her ground, defends her home:

"It was one of those nights. I have a few holes in my glass out front," Carolyn Lisle said Friday.

"That's OK, I don't think he'll be back," said Lisle, who emptied one .357 revolver at the intruder before she retrieved a second one and he crashed through another window to flee.
"I was trying to miss my furniture. Priorities, right?" Lisle said...

At about 9 p.m., a noise at the sliding door prompted a male visitor to get up to investigate, but Lisle dashed to a back room to get one of her guns.

"I knew it couldn't be good," Lisle said.

When the intruder shattered the glass, Lisle's three guests fled from the house. Lisle stood her ground and opened fire...

The bleeding intruder ran across the street and tried to hot-wire a motorcycle, but its owners, already armed to come to Lisle's aid, chased off the would-be thief, she said.

She said one of the men yelled after the retreating burglar: "And that's just our womenfolk."

The article branches off into a discussion of whether gun ownership reduces or prevents home invasion. I don't think anecdotal evidence can prove anything, but I think it's worthwhile considering that without arms, Lisle would have been forced to flee with her houseguests, surrendering her home and her posessions to the burglar. Crime is not confronted, nor property defended, nor liberty maintained by cowering in a corner and allowing the criminal element to operate unhindered, standing up only to pick up the pieces of a violated home. Lisle's stand could have ended very badly, and firearms have as much capacity for crime as for defence, but it's fairly clear that in their absence, defence is simply not an option.

Posted by David Mader at 12:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main

John Kerry, Man of the People

Many of his constituents see him in person only when he is cutting them in line - at an airport, a clam shack or the Registry of Motor Vehicles. One talk-show caller a few weeks back recalled standing behind a police barricade in 2002 as the Rolling Stones played the Orpheum Theater, a short limousine ride from Kerry's Louisburg Square mansion.

The caller, Jay, said he began heckling Kerry and his wife as they attempted to enter the theater. Finally, he said, the senator turned to him and asked him the eternal question.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Yeah," said Jay. "You're a gold-digger."


Posted by David Mader at 11:04 AM | (0) | Back to Main


Rumsfeld, telling it like it is:

Last November, I was in South Korea during their debate on whether or not they should send South Korean forces to Iraq. A woman journalist came up to me and put a microphone in front of my face -- she was clearly too young to have experienced the Korean war -- and she said to me in a challenging voice: “Why should young South Koreans go halfway around the world to Iraq to get killed or wounded?”

Now that's a fair question. And I said it was a fair question. I also told her that I had just come from the Korean War memorial in Seoul and there's a wall that has every state of the 50 states in the United States with [the names of] all the people who were killed in the Korean War. I was there to put a wreath on the memorial and before I walked down there I looked up at the wall and started studying the names and there, of course, was a very dear friend from high school who was on a football team with me, and he was killed the last day of the war -- the very last day.

And I said to this woman, you know, that would have been a fair question for an American journalist to ask 50 years ago -- why in the world should an American go halfway around the world to South Korea and get wounded or killed?

We were in a building that looked out on the city of Seoul and I said, I'll tell you why. Look out the window. And out that window you could see lights and cars and energy and a vibrant economy and a robust democracy. And of course I said to her if you look above the demilitarized zone from satellite pictures of the Korean Peninsula, above the DMZ is darkness, nothing but darkness and a little portion (Inaudible.) of light where Pyongyang is. The same people had the same population, the same resources. And look at the difference. There are concentration camps. They're starving. They've lowered the height for the people who go in the Army down to 4 feet 10 inches because people aren't tall enough. They take people in the military below a hundred pounds. They're 17, 18, 19 years old and frequently they look like they're 13, 14, and 15 years old.

Korea was won at a terrible cost of life -- thousands and thousands and thousands of people from the countries in this room. And was it worth it? You bet.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 11:02 AM | (2) | Back to Main

February 06, 2004

Iran Round-Up

If you haven't yet seen it, check out this Iran roundup hosted at Winds of Change. Iran is a country yearning to breathe free, and events seem to be moving towards a climax. Have a read, and keep an eye on Iran in the news.

One note: ActivistChat, the group responsible for putting the roundup together, considers Iran's elected 'reformists' to be opponents of true democracy and freedom, and little better than the clerical regime itself. Just something to keep in mind; that being said, if you've never visited ActivistChat, you should check it out.

Posted by David Mader at 01:54 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Legalize It. All of It.

The chief of the North Wales Police says that the War on Drugs can never be won - unless drugs are legalized:

"Heroin is very addictive, but it is not very, very dangerous," he told the Dragon's Eye programme on BBC Wales. "It is perfectly possible to lead a normal life for a full life span and hold down a job while being addicted to the drug.

"I don't advocate anybody abusing their bodies with drugs, but clearly some want to. What would be wrong with making heroin available on the state for people who want to abuse their bodies?"

He went on: "The question is actually not, 'Am I prepared to see the Government selling heroin on the street corner or through the pharmacy?' but 'Why would we not want to do that? What is wrong with that?

"It is a very challenging question. I don't know what society's answer is, but my answer is that is what we should be doing because our current policy is causing more harm than good."

Absolutely. If we're really concerned about the health of actual and potential drug users - as prohibitionists claim to be - we're wasting an awful lot of resources prosecuting them and forcing them into the arms of criminal organizations.

British police associations are, predictably, opposed to legalization, since it would mean a significant reorientation in the makeup of the police-labor force and a likely reduction in certain forms of funding. The Drug War is, for emotional reasons, quite lucrative for police departments, and they're loathe to surrender that source of income. But it shouldn't be up to them. Legalization makes a lot of sense, and emotional prohibitionist arguments just won't cut it any more. It's time for the debate.

Posted by David Mader at 11:56 AM | (10) | Back to Main

Moscow Bombing: The First of More?

A bomb on a subway car in Moscow has killed at least thirty and injured perhaps more than one hundred. Although none have yet admitted responsibility, Russian authorities suspect organized terrorism, and Dan Darling wonders if this is the first of a wave of terrorist attacks.

Posted by David Mader at 11:50 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Baseless, Arbitrary Speculation

Daniel Drezner notes that the investigation into the Valerie Plame affair (involving the 'outed' 'secret agent' wife of administration critic Joe Wilson) is now focusing on the office of the Vice President. Two staffers in Cheney's office are suspected to have contacted a number of journalists in response to Wilson's public refutation of the adminisration's claims regarding African WMD connections.

Drezner quotes Mark Kleiman:

[I]f this stays in the VPs office, I'd call that very good news for Mr. Bush. The staff guys can be fired. If necessary, Cheney can be dumped from the ticket (which might not be a bad move anyway).

Given Cheney's cratering numbers - even among conservatives - I wouldn't at all be surprised to see him drop. For the record I think he's great. I think Bush has transformed the office of the Vice President, turning it from a useless place-holding institution of Oval Office wannabes to an active part of the bureaucracy of the West Wing. Bush seems to have brought the Vice President right into the decision-making process (he had, until the Eleventh, a West Wing office, and may still) in a way I'm not sure Vice Presidents have ever had.

So if Cheney is dropped, but Bush wants a similar character with similar abilities but higher popularity, who does he tap? I say Rudy. He's hugely popular, he's got obvious organizational and leadership abilities, he's a common-sense Republican and he's reportedly interested in national office. That last may be a wild-card factor: Giuliani may not want to be tarnished by four years of subservience if he decides to make a run for the presidency in '08, which may outweigh the benefits of being a semi-incumbent. Rudy may also be slightly too socially liberal for the Bush White House, both in terms of policy and in terms of personal life, though of course it would be a mistake to rule him out because of that.

And besides, in terms of health Cheney makes Giuliani look like a college athlete.

Posted by David Mader at 10:58 AM | (2) | Back to Main

February 05, 2004

Itamar Marcus

I've just returned from an excellent presentation by Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus on the incitement of Palestinian children to acts of violence. The event was sponsored by McGill Operation SICK (Stop Inciting Children to Kill), an organization I'm involved in, and drew more than fifty students. Although a number of those present were no doubt interested in the wider political consequences of Mr. Marcus' presentation, the event focused specifically on the violent exploitation of children, which OpSick holds to be abhorrent regardless of any philosophical or ideological justification. Most of the students, however, seemed very interested in the pressing questions and concerns raised by the distrubing evidence Marcus presented.

For an example of that evidence, click on this link and then select the title "The Anatomy of Child Self-Sacrifice." PMW studies Arabic-language broadcasts in the Palestinian territories broadcast on the official network of the Palestinian Authority, and the images and messages recorded represent an unmistakable exhortation to murder and death. This state of affairs desperately needs to be revealed to a global audience.

Tonight's event drew a respectable crowd, proceeded without disturbance or interruption, prompted interesting and relevant questions and served, I think, to spread a message of peace by exposing a message of hatred targetted at the most vulnerable members of Palestinian society.

All in all it was a very successful night, and congratulations are definately due to ES for putting it all together, and for everyone else involved.

If you're a McGill student (or anyone else, really) and would like more information about Operation SICK, please contact me at mader-at-maderblog-dot-com. Please keep in mind, though, that this blog does not reflect the positions or policies of OpSICK or any other organization, but is rather my own personal collection of writings and opinions.

Posted by David Mader at 09:10 PM | (2) | Back to Main


First I read this post, and I wonder why Sullivan might now be seen to be overwhelmingly focused on 'gay issues'. I reason that Sullivan himself has not tilted politically; rather, I figure that as the war on terror becomes less pressing, domestic issues move again to the fore.

But while I think Sullivan's new emphasis - if it really is either new or an emphasis - represents a dangerous trend, since the terrorist threat remains very real, I don't think Sullivan himself is sliding into complacency. After all, I say to myself, he regularly posts on the issue, and at the last, despite the obvious importance of civil rights, I reason, he recognizes the paramount importance of national security at this moment in history.

And then I read this post (first item) and I'm not so sure anymore.

And, of course, no self-respecting gay person will be able to support president Bush if he wages war on the most basic civil right by the most devastating means possible: a constitutional amendment.

That's fine and dandy in the context of domestic politics, and if we were in a September tenth world I'd have a different sort of gripe, but it seems to me there's a far more devastating means by which to wage war on any most basic human right, and it's being exercised by those folks who are, right now, actually waging very real war against us.

I would never deny the obvious conflict which I imagine Sullivan feels with regard to the upcoming presidential contest, and I freely acknowledge that I lack the unique motivation which most likely informs the homosexual advocate of homosexual rights. But while I would like to think of myself as one of the "younger generation" which "gets it entirely", I strongly believe that even these pressing questions of civil rights and domestic policy must take a back seat to immediate national security concerns. No, that does not give Bush a free pass on this or any other issue. No, it does not mean that Sullivan or any of the rest of us should stop working tirelessly for civil rights. But I think it does mean that at the end of the day, passions and aspirations both must be tempered by a rational evaluation of the security situation, and a decision to support the strongest security policy available to us.

Posted by David Mader at 06:09 PM | (2) | Back to Main

A Step Beyond Containment

Reader Elana forwards this piece on popular pressure for democratic reform in Syria. I've been running around this week, and so I've sort of dropped the ball on this one, but I'll take the time now to point out that while the Syrians are pushing for reform, Iran is facing a political crisis over elections and eligability. In fact, as Mark Steyn writes in the J-Post (registration required), "You can find other examples of long-running local conflicts around the world from Burundi to Nepal that seem to have mysteriously wound down over the last two years." Mysteriously indeed.

Instapundit is calling the baby-steps towards liberalization in the Mid-East (Syria, Iran, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lybia, etc) the Wolfowitz Domino Theory, which is more or less guaranteed to piss a lot of people off (pardon the expression). Whether one can include in this effect the stabilization of conflicts outside of the theatre is more debatable, but it certainly seems to be the case that an active American effort at terrorism reduction and democracy promotion is paying off.

The Cold War effort was informed by the policy of 'containment', which suggested that if Communist expansion was checked - but no intrusive pressure was brought to bear - then Communism would eventually collapse from the inside. That ultimately seems to have worked, but it resulted in the condemnation of millions of people to at least a half-century of tyranny and death. In the past two years we may well have seen the realization of a better way to secure freedom across the globe.

Posted by David Mader at 01:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The South

Longtime Maderblog readers will recall a series of posts from last January on voting patterns in the Southern states. In response to the thesis that Republican strength in national government resulted from the defection of Southern white racist voters to the GOP in the 1960s, I argued that in fact Democracy remained strong in the South through the 1980 election.

Today George Will has a column which adds some more perspective to the discussion. He first argues that the 'shift' in the south towards Republicanism - from total Democracy - began before Civil Rights became a major political issue:

In 1952 Eisenhower began the Republican rise in the South, winning 65 electoral votes from Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Notice, this was before the Supreme Court's 1954 school desegregation ruling. In 1956, long before the civil rights revolution reached a boil, Eisenhower added 20 more votes, from Kentucky and Louisiana.

Much academic and journalistic energy has been expended attempting to prove that Republicans became competitive in the South not because of positive change there but because of a negative change in the GOP-- pandering to racists. But Gerard Alexander of the University of Virginia notes that Eisenhower, like Richard Nixon in 1960, polled badly among Deep South whites. Eisenhower ran strongest in the ``peripheral South,'' the least polarized part.

He also suggests that insofar as there was a rise in Republican voting - and I maintain that it was not, in the period 1960-1980, a total shift - it was due not to the changing party allegiances of native whites but to the influx of voters from other, non-southern states.

Beginning in the 1950s, millions of Midwesterners and Northeasterners moved to the South. But, Alexander says, instead of voting Democratic, they voted Republican ``at higher rates than native whites.'' Even today, ``identification with the GOP is stronger among the South's younger rather than older white voters.'' Republican strength has been highest among persons young, suburban, middle class, educated, non-Southern in origin and concentrated in the least ``Southern'' high-growth areas.

If that's true, it doesnt necessarily follow that the 'old south' voters - whom Democrats and liberals assume to be unreconstructed racists - are voting for Democrats; after all, they could be voting Reform (But erroneously casting ballots for Gore? -- Ed. No such thing as a mistaken Gore ballot, I'm afraid). Still, if Will is right, it further undermines the 'Republicans-are-Southern-white-racists' cant which continues to form the basis of Democratic thought - to the lasting detriment of the Democratic Party, not to mention civil discourse.

[Thanks to my father for the pointer.]

Posted by David Mader at 01:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Great Duty of Mankind

At a reception to mark the opening of an exhibit on Winston Churchill at the Library of Congress, President Bush renewed America's commitment to a free Middle-East:

The tradition of liberty has advocates in every culture and in every religion. Our great challenges support the momentum of freedom in the greater Middle East. The stakes could not be higher. As long as that region is a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will produce men and movements that threaten the safety of Americans and our friends. We seek the advance of democracy for the most practical of reasons: because democracies do not support terrorists or threaten the world with weapons of mass murder.

That's an idea that should be familiar to Maderblog readers - see the Statement of Principles to the right of this post.

Also, you could do worse than to read the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 09:19 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 04, 2004


A neurologist says Dubya is smarter than most.

I used to get angry when people called Bush stupid. Then I figured that it was better for Bush if folks continued to - as he might say - 'misunderestimate' him. After all, talking down Bush's intelligence only makes it easier for him to beat expectations, and underestimating him led to massive Democratic losses not only in the 2002 mid-terms but along every step of the road to war in Iraq.

I'm still in that latter frame of mind, but as people continue, after three years of contrary evidence, to call Bush stupid, I can't help but feel a little embarrassed for those one-track critics. All they'd have to do is pick up a newspaper semi-regularly, or click on to Google news, to see that dismissing the President as 'stupid' is at the very least lazy, and at most a completely unsubstantiated position. But these 'Bush is dumb' critics don't seem to be willing to do even that. Not something I'd loudly declare at every opportunity.

Posted by David Mader at 09:06 PM | (3) | Back to Main

The Democracy Corps

Paul Martin's first Throne Speech contained a reference to a proposed 'Canada Corps', modeled on but not precisely the same as the American Peace Corps founded by President Kennedy forty years ago. Once again, I have something surprising to say: I think it's a good idea.

The details are, as the Globe story suggests, far from clear. Foreign Minister Graham was probably truth-telling when he let slip that the program would be little more than the consolidation of youth education and employment programs currently run by different departments of the federal government; moreover, since there will be no budget money for the Canada Corps, it may not exist at all except on paper.

At the risk of sounding too much the idealist, I think Martin should take this last-minute addition to the Throne Speech and place it at the centre of a new Canadian foreign policy. From that Globe piece:

[T]he idea was revived as a result of a conversation between Mr. Martin and U.S. President George W. Bush. Mr. Martin asked what Canada and the United States could do together to make the world a better place. Mr. Bush reportedly replied that Canada could help promote Western democratic values, such as respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The Peace Corps does a tremendous amount of good work, and similar work is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The very nature of the Peace Corps, however, presents an obstacle to a certain kind of work which developed-world citizens ought to be doing in the developing world. Development of infrastructure and provision of health and education services is tremendously important, but 'sustainable development' - if you'll pardon the phrase - ultimately depends on the establishment of democratic norms, which is to say basic human rights and the regular rule of law leading, over time, to true responsible and representative government.

One basic cause of continued strife in the developing world, of course, is that many groups have strong interests in the perpetuation of a lawless society. Armed gangs, rebel outfits, even national armies benefit from domestic chaos to enrich themselves and their supporters and to enjoy the power of armed coercion. Asserting rights and laws involves confronting armed groups dedicated to the frustration of such assertion. The Peace Corps can never be up to the task.

In fact, as we're seeing in Iraq, even the might of the American military faces a challenge in completing such a task. It may well be worthwhile, however, to establish an organization dedicated to both the creation and fostering of democratic institutions and the defense and perpetuation of those institutions in the developed world. An effective Canada Corps must not simply be a northern Peace Corps. It must be a Democracy Corps, an organization whose members are committed to real reform in the developed world, and who are willing to dedicate themselves to the realization of that reform.

Of course Canada lacks both the means and the will to outfit such an organization. The principles it would promote, however, suggest a broader base for support and direction. In the wake of the Iraq war, many pundits have suggested the creation of a League of Democracies which, unlike the United Nations, would admit only those countries whose citizens enjoy legal and human rights and freedoms. Free countries have a natural incentive to cooperate with one another, and indeed many already do in matters of security and intelligence. I believe it would also be in the interest of these countries, and at the very least of the 'Anglosphere' countries, to establish a common Democracy Corps to allow their citizens to work together for the common and universal goal of expanding the domain of freedom.

I am not a one-world utopian; the only 'world government' I would allow would fly a flag of two-hundred-odd stars and thirteen stripes. For obvious reasons, of course, American expansion is as impossible as it is undesirable. If the American government cannot, and other western governments will not, make developing-world reform a centrepiece of their foreign policies, they should at least establish institutions to allow their citizens to take up the cause.

Any western involvement in developing-world affairs is inevitably labelled 'colonialism', and the Democracy Corps would be no exception. The alternative to such neo-colonialism, however, seems by every indication to be more chaos, violence, tyranny and death. We in the developed world, citizens and governments both, have a responsibility to act upon this unacceptable state of affairs. Let's turn this talk into a viable plan.

Posted by David Mader at 02:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Problem With the Border

For a pundit, that is. Here's Glenn Reynolds reacting in part to tonight's numbers:

Clark's alive, but just barely. Dean can last another week -- and if he wins, he's back in the game.

I'd have reversed the names. Clark finishes first in Oklahoma, second in Arizona, second in New Mexico and second in North Dakota. He picks up 44 delegates.

Dean finishes no higher than third in any primary (Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota) and picks up 4 - count 'em, four - delegates.

But I'm not watching the American networks - cable or broadcast - so I'm not seeing either the spin or the big picture.

Posted by David Mader at 12:05 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 03, 2004

Winter Wonderland

That storm Lileks mentioned hit Montreal tonight. What I love about the deep snow, especially late at night, is the quiet it brings. Every sound is wonderfully muffled. As I walked down the street an SUV glided (glid?) by with all the sound of a very quiet idling motor. At the corner of Parc Avenue - a relatively busy street in this neighborhood - a bus passed by as I listened to a conversation half a block away. (A conversation, I might note, which contained the quintisentially Montreal comment: "grab the champagne and the weed and we'll go to your place).

I've been enjoying the warm weather of late, but it's hard not to like a night like tonight.

Posted by David Mader at 11:43 PM | (10) | Back to Main

One Last Dean Post

He's now down to third in New Mexico - which looks to be the only state where he'll pick up delegates. I don't know how they're apportioned in that great state, but I wouldn't be surprised if Dean gets less than fifteen delegates on the night. Edwards is looking at around fifty, I think. Even Clark is looking at good bunch. Dean's done.

Posted by David Mader at 11:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

North Dakota

CNN has no numbers up yet, but this AP wire piece says that with 50% reporting it's Kerry 50%, Clark 22% and Dean below 15%.

I've been highlighting what I think may be an implosion of the Dean campaign; I should mention that, as many have predicted, a lot of that support seems to have shifted to Clark.

Posted by David Mader at 10:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Fifth in Carolina, fifth in Oklahoma, tied fourth in Delaware, third in Missouri (by miles). The only 'good news' so far is a strong showing in Mexico, where he, Kerry and Clark are neck-and-neck (-and-neck).

Posted by David Mader at 10:02 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Lieberman Out

Says CNN.

Posted by David Mader at 09:06 PM | (0) | Back to Main

It's Nine O'Clock on Primary Day

Let's make predictions!

Howard Dean is fifth in South Carolina (behind Lieberman), fourth (or tied third, close) in Delaware and third in Missouri. He has, in those states respectively, 5%, 11% and 9%. This man is not a front-runner; after tonight he may not be a serious challenger. He's said, however, that he's looking for delegates, not state-by-state victories, and three states have yet to report (though as of 21:00 CNN is calling Arizona for Kerry). His supporters will be looking for wins, though, and everywhere they look they'll see only Kerry - and, if they look past him, Edwards or perhaps Clark. I think the Dean phenomenon is over.

Famous last words, I suppose.

As for Clark: who knows? Ditto Edwards. Kerry looks to be running away with the nomination. Will one AnybodyButKerry challenger emerge from tonight's mess? We'll have to wait for later returns; I'll have more thoughts as the night goes on.

Posted by David Mader at 09:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Edwards Sets the Pace

As of 19:02 EST, CNN and FoxNews are calling the South Carolina Democratic primary for John Edwards. South Carolina was Edwards' hope, and was - in a sense - his to lose; had he lost, he'd have been sunk. He looks to have one, and may pull a surprise win in Oklahoma as well; if so, and if Clark and Dean underperorm as expected, it could become a Kerry/Edwards race. But there I go predicting again,; you'd think I'd have learned better by now.

Posted by David Mader at 07:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Labour to Support Sharon

Well this answers that:

The opposition Labour party said to[d]ay it will back Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to dismantle Jewish settlements in Gaza, assuring him of a parliamentary majority even if ultranationalists quit the Israeli coalition in protest.

Meanwhile, as David Adesnik notes, Israelis appear to favor a Gaza withdrawal, with one poll showing a 59%-34% split for the move.

Posted by David Mader at 06:44 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Threat we Face

When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, the Left was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute, and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted number in Islamabad in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left couldn't care less.

Steyn has some realistic observations on the state of the war. His conclusion is particularly sobering: "The alternative to pre-emption is defeat. If you want a real "underlying issue", that's it."

Posted by David Mader at 02:26 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Wells on the Throne Speech

Paul Wells, my favourite commentator on Canadian politics, wheighs in on yesterday's throne speech:

a quick read of the text suggests the speech is full of ideas that remain good even though they are identical to the ideas in this old, old, old, old, old government's last four throne speeches.

I love the way steam comes out the ears of everyone in the Langevin Block when I write stuff like that. But of course it's true.

If you're interested in Canadian politics, and you're not checking Wells' blog regularly, then you're missing out.

Posted by David Mader at 02:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

February 02, 2004

No-one But Sharon

Ariel Sharon has announced his intention to remove all Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli prime minister's move was a bombshell because he is considered a founder of the movement to plant Jewish communities deep in Palestinian territories occupied during the Six-Day War in 1967.

His comments, in an interview with Haaretz newspaper, contained the first concrete details of his "disengagement plan", outlined in December. At a Likud Party meeting after the interview, Mr Sharon was quoted by a colleague as calling the settlements "a security burden and a source of continuous friction".

The Telegraph's Mid-East correspondent, Toby Harnden, calls it a crossing of the rubicon for Sharon and Israel:

[B]y stating that removing 7,500 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip was necessary on security grounds and to ease friction with the Palestinians the Likud leader left himself in a position where a failure to act would result in a huge loss of credibility...

The move could help lead to the replacement of the American-sponsored "road map" timetable - never popular on the Israeli Right - with Mr Sharon's own "disengagement plan" first outlined in December.

Under that plan Israel will pull back from the occupied territories to a new "security line" - probably the controversial 375-mile barrier under construction - if, as expected, the Palestinians agree to new negotiations.

Only Nixon could go to China; perhaps only Sharon can withdraw from the territories. The question now is whether Sharon can survive the political backlash and maintain enough of a Knesset majority to see his plan through. The more ardent right-wing parties will bolt, and the left-wing parties will be faced with a conundrum - to stand on their opposition to the disengagement plan and see Sharon's government fall, or to stand behind Sharon and allow the popular disengagement plan to go ahead. I hope for the latter; Israeli lawmakers have a chance to fundamentally alter the situation on the ground. They should seize it.

Posted by David Mader at 10:50 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Cats, Dogs Cohabitating

I agree with Howard Dean:

Howard Dean, a physician and a Democratic presidential candidate, on Monday dismissed as "silly" a government inquiry into whether indecency rules were broken during the broadcast of the Super Bowl halftime show when pop diva Janet Jackson's bodice was ripped to expose her right breast.

"I find that to be a bit of a flap about nothing," the former Vermont governor said. "I'm probably affected in some ways by the fact that I'm a doctor, so it's not exactly an unusual phenomenon for me."

Don't get me wrong: I think the episode was indecent. I just don't think the FCC should be wasting its time deciding indecency.

By the way, I can't decide whether Dean deserves crediti or derision for basically bragging about seeing a lot of breasts.

Posted by David Mader at 10:25 PM | (2) | Back to Main


I'm taking a course on trade policy, and we've spent much of January talking about the WTO. For tomorrow's lecture we've read this piece (.pdf file) by Daniel Esty at Yale Law School on the Organization's 'legitimacy crisis'.

As so much criticism of the WTO is, in Esty's own words, 'off-base and confused', it's nice to read a piece that evaluates the Organization for what it actually is. Esty's main concern is that the WTO, made up of appointed experts and without significant input from other actors, lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the world population.

Trade is no longer consiered to be an obscure policy domain best left to technical experts. Instead, trade issues and initiatives are now a major focus of public attention and discussion across the world. The trade regime can no longer function on the basis of technocratic rationality and quiet accomplishments... The organization needs to reestablish its reputation for efficacy and to build new connections to the publics around the world in whose name trade policy is advanced as well as to strengthen the broader institutional structure of checks and balances within which the WTO operates.

Sounds alright in theory, but how to put it into practice? Esty again:

While global elections and thus directly accountable WTO 'politicians' seem a long way off, the trade regime could dramatically improve the quality, authoritativeness, and representativeness of its decisionmaking and, in doing so, enhance its legitimacy... In particular, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can provide a degree of 'connective tissue', linking distant citizens with the WTO.

The mention of NGOs, though, nicely summarizes his suggestion for WTO reform and its weaknesses. He suggests that organizations with interest and expertise in particular issues - the environment, labor, and so on - can bring important perspectives to the WTO policy-creation process.

But Esty betrays himself in his ideas about 'global elections'. He argues that the WTO's drive towards universal standards, along with other facets of 'globalization', represents the advent of a sort of global government. Yet the object of the WTO is precisely the opposite of global governance. Trade liberalization involves not just the harmonization of tariffs and trade barriers, but the reduction of those barriers to nil. Introducing NGOs and other interested groups to the policy-making process would have the same effect as introducing interest-groups to national legislative efforts. These groups have very particular agendas and, as any public-choice proponent will tell you, bring to the table incentives to perpetuate their importance.

The major argument behind almost all critiques of the WTO is that trade liberalization does not - but should - take into account environmental and human-rights effects. The suggestion is that tariffs should not be reduced to zero, but should be stabilized at a level that addresses these concerns. Even if this is true, though - and I'm not necessarily convinced that it is - it's not clear that bringing NGOs and other special interests into the WTO negotiation process in a formal way is the best answer.

WTO defenders often point out that WTO negotiators, as employees of the governments of member countries, are far more democratically responsible than the self-appointed champions of the various NGOs. In fact, the WTO may be as democratically responsible as it can be without becoming totally ineffective in advancing the cause of trade liberalization. I imagine the frustration of liberalization is the objective of many WTO critics; those really interested in the consideration of environmental and other social concerns might be better off focusing their attentions on the WTO's member countries.

But I'm not sure. And, as always, I'm open to disagreement and, better yet, suggestions.

Posted by David Mader at 10:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Cry Freetown

I attended a screening this evening of the documentary 'Cry Freetown' by Sierra Leonean Sorious Samura, hosted by an organization (Operation S.I.C.K.) in which I'm involved. Our group (Stop Inciting Children to Kill) is particularly interested in the exploitation of children in zones of violent conflict, but Samura's film necessarily touches on the broader aspects of the civil strife in Sierra Leone at the turn of the century. It offers a harrowing look at the type of conflict that's tragically common in Central and West Africa.

I'd seen the documentary before, but it was just as jarring the second time. The film has not been widely distributed in part because it is so graphic - a fact Samura notes with irony, pointing out that the graphic images are those most in need of distribution and publicity.

Throughout the documentary Samura condemns the failure of the developed world to assist Sierra Leoneans, and he documents the brutality of the UN-sponsored Nigerian soldiers who were sent in to 'keep the peace'. One former child-soldier interviewed at a rehabilitation centre said he hoped the west would provide (I paraphrase) 'jobs, and peace, and forgiveness for what I've done.' In fact the hope or expectation that the developed world would do something - anything - to help Sierra Leone seemed to be nearly universal.

It occured to me while watching that, ultimately, the developed world did do something; in 2000 Britain dispatched soldiers whose original mandate was to help evacuate foreign nationals but who have stayed on, securing Freetown and providing logistical support and training for government forces. More recently, in nearby Cote d'Ivoire, French troops were dispatched to calm a similar government-rebel conflict. And, of course, a (very) small American force was dispatched to Liberia (which sits between Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast) to help enforce a cease-fire between factions.

These are steps in the right direction, but they're not nearly enough. Governments justify the small size of their troop deployments by suggesting that African regional conflicts are best left to African-led peacekeeping forces. Samura demonstrates that in Sierra Leone, Nigerian troops quickly came to be seen as simply one among many factions, and quickly came to act that way as well. It seems to me that this supposed deference to African leadership might not simply play into the regionalism and nationalism of those African leaders whose misgovernance has contributed to the ongoing conflicts. Closer and greater western involvement will not end the conflicts in West Africa, but it will at least show an appropriate level of concern.

I rant and rave on this blog, but I rarely exhort. I don't hesitate, however, to urge you to see Cry Freetown if you have the opportunity. More information can be found at CryFreetown.Org.

Posted by David Mader at 08:53 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Andrew Sullivan:

A couple of hundred people are dead because they were a little too enthusiastic about stoning the Devil. This happens every year. Is it culturally insensitive to ask whether there isn't something profoundly awry about a religion that sends so many to their deaths as part of a religious duty?

James Taranto:

Isn't there something barbaric--in practice, if not in principle--about a religion whose rituals routinely result in such bloodshed?

Asking the question is fine, but I'd expect Sullivan and Taranto - two guys whose opinions I tend to respect quite well - to have given the answer a little more thought. Yes, many pilgrims have died during the Hajj. Does that mean that there's something rotten at the core of Islam? I don't think trampling is a basic tenet of the Hajj. Is it possible to imagine a Hajj without trampling? I certainly think so. Isn't it more reasonable to conclude that responsibility for these tragedies rests with, first, the Saudi authorities responsible for organizing the Hajjis, and, secnd, those Hajjis themselves who allow passions to overcome them?

Think of it another way: stampedes are fairly common at (association) football matches around the world. Is football a death sport? Is there something fundamental to football that causes, year after year, fatal stampedes? Of course not; trampling deaths at football matches are the consequence of poor infrastructure, poor crowd management and poor crowds.

Islam doesn't cause trampling deaths any more than soccer does. Sullivan and Taranto may not be demonstrating prejudice in so quickly suggesting otherwise, but they're certainly demostrating an intellectual laziness that suites neither.

MORE (22:55 EST): Instapundit has more, commenting:

There's no question that the more fanatical Islamofascist ideologues -- and a huge number, perhaps a majority, of Palestinians -- are in the grip of something that might reasonably be called a "death cult," with its worship of suicide-bomb martyrdom as an end in itself. But I don't think that's what's going on here, and I think it's a mistake to paint with too broad a brush.


Posted by David Mader at 07:30 PM | (2) | Back to Main


Riskin, Jessica. Science in the Age of Sensibility. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. 74.

... the subject of electricity had recently come to mark an apparently unbreachable rift among physiciens.


An 'unbreachable rift'? Really?

Well, that would be hard, I suppose. To breach a rift, I mean.

LATER (15:24 EST): I know this post is a little obscure. I'm just being pedantic: breach and rift are synonyms, so the author is calling a strong disagreement between parties an 'undivisible divide' or an 'unseparable separation'. I suspect she meant 'unbridgeable rift' - where a bridge would bring the two sides together, resolving the division - but the language may simply reflect the academese so common in the books I read. Not that I'm at all one to criticize academese.

Posted by David Mader at 02:32 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Five Gallons of Gasoline

Ali at 'Iraq the Model' has posted a response to those who would tell him the truth about Iraq and the American-led invasion.

Thanks to all the true friends of the Iraqi people, I began to have some doubts and began asking myself real questions and day by day my doubts grew bigger and bigger then I tried to do what I was afraid of during these 9 months. I decided to re-evaluate everything I see and compare it with what it was before the war.

Trust me: Read the whole thing. The whole thing. Right to the end.

One word: ouch.

Posted by David Mader at 11:59 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Backing Down - or Setting Up?

In the past half-week the White House has conceded ground on the budget and on WMD intelligence. Opponents will no doubt seize on these retreats as evidence of the President's errors, and that's true to a degree. It's actually rather refreshing to see the White House acknowledge, even in this backhanded way, some accurate criticism.

I get the feeling, though, that this isn't really an honest response to recognized criticism, but rather a political ploy. By backing down on these issues at the beginning of February, the White House is hoping to neutralize potentially damaging issues well before the '04 campaign kicks into high gear.

Will it work? Too soon to tell.

Posted by David Mader at 11:46 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Flight Cancellations

A number of transatlantic and domestic flights were cancelled this weekend due to both general warnings and specific intelligence about possible terrorist attacks.

Continental Airlines on Sunday canceled a second flight for security reasons, this time a domestic flight from Washington's Dulles International Airport scheduled to arrive in Houston during the Super Bowl.

The decision follows announcements made Saturday by Continental, Air France and British Airways to cancel a total of six flights from Europe to the United States because of a possible terrorism threat, including a concern that terrorists might target the flights to use or transport chemical, radiological or biological materials.

Continental had already canceled Flight 17 Sunday from Glasgow, Scotland, to Los Angeles. Air France canceled two flights from Paris to Washington Dulles Sunday and Monday, and British Airways canceled a flight Sunday to Miami and a flight to Washington from London's Heathrow Airport, citing security reasons. British Airways also canceled the same London-to-Washington Dulles Flight 223 Monday.

This is reminiscent of the pre-Christmas cancellations, and I wonder whether the apparent correlation between flight cancellations and American 'holidays' (of which Superbowl Sunday is most certainly one) is a result of airline and intelligence sensitivity at these times, or an indicator of terrorist planning.

Posted by David Mader at 08:46 AM | (0) | Back to Main

February 01, 2004

Good Game

But believe it or not most of the guys where I was watching didn't seem to catch this. Initial disagreement over whether it was a mistake.

MORE (23:16 EST): That's the last half-time show MTV's gonna produce:

"CBS deeply regrets the incident," spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade said after the network received several calls about the show.

The two singers were performing a flirtatious duet to end the halftime show, and at the song's finish, Timberlake reached across Jackson's leather gladiator outfit and pulled off the covering to her right breast.

The network quickly cut away from the shot, and did not mention the incident on the air.

Timberlake said he did not intend to expose Jackson's breast.

"I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl," Timberlake said in a statement. "It was not intentional and is regrettable."

Regrettable, yes. Also very, very funny.

Posted by David Mader at 11:12 PM | (0) | Back to Main

New Elements

A team of Russian and American scientists are reporting today that they have created two new chemical elements, called superheavies because of their enormous atomic mass. The discoveries fill a gap at the furthest edge of the periodic table and hint strongly at a weird landscape of undiscovered elements beyond.

Posted by David Mader at 02:27 PM | (0) | Back to Main

How Charitable

Al-Qaida has tabled plans to attack the State of Israel - until it has successfully destroyed the United States.

Oh, and established a global Islamist empire.

Al Qaeda's presence in the Palestinian territories today is limited to rank-and-file operatives, usually Palestinians or Jordanians, who are closely monitored by Israeli intelligence.

The operatives maintain close links with Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, two groups responsible for most of the suicide bombings targeting the Jewish state.

The Israelis believe the United States is al Qaeda's primary objective and that Israel will be dealt with in the final stage of its global plan...

Reuven Paz, a veteran of Israel's intelligence apparatus, said the goal set for al Qaeda 20 years ago by its main ideologist, the late Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian, is to create a single Islamic state that would encompass the world.

Either the Israelis are lying when they say al-Qaida isn't an immediate threat to them, or we in the West are indeed facing a war.

[Via Neale News, which has quickly become a daily must-read.]

Posted by David Mader at 01:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

I Read the News Today - II

Two hundred dead or wounded in Arbil, Iraq:

Two suicide bombers strapped with explosives blew themselves up in nearly simultaneous attacks on offices of two Kurdish parties in Iraq Sunday, killing and wounding as many as 200 people, officials said.

"According to what I have been told the number of wounded and martyrs at the two headquarters may approach 200," an official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said.

Among the dead were the deputy governor of Arbil province and the city's police commander, witnesses said. Party sources said at least some of those killed were senior officials.

Authorities suspect the Ansar-al-Islam terrorist group, which has ties to al-Qaida.

Posted by David Mader at 01:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

One hundred reformists resign in Tehran.

The mass resignation, announced on the floor of parliament and carried live on Tehran Radio, followed three weeks of daily sit-ins and repeated threats to resign over the actions of the Guardian Council, a conservative body with the power to screen candidates and veto legislation.

The council last month rejected 3,600 of some 8,000 prospective candidates -- a rejection rate five times higher than four years earlier, when the reformists easily won control of the parliament. More than 80 incumbent reformists were among those candidacies the council rejected.

The ensuing controversy approached a crescendo on the weekend, when the council agreed to restore only 1,160 candidacies, and none of the reformist leaders.

"Now the totalitarians have decided to eliminate republicanism, and after that Islam, by forming a show parliament. We have no choice but to resign," said Mohsen Mirdamadi, a leading lawmaker, in a speech to parliament announcing the 108 resignations. Later in the day Reuters news agency quoted reformists as saying the resignations reached 117.

"They want to cover the ugly body of dictatorship with the beautiful dress of democracy," Mirdamadi said, referring to the Guardian Council move to bar candidates from the poll. The speech was broadcast live on state radio.

That's a nice illustration of the paradox that is Iranian governance - an angry reaction by a democratic-minded reformer to a totalitarian manoevre by a theocratic council is broadcast live on state radio.

The Iranian people have, by many accounts, become more and disenchanted with the 'reformists' under President Khatami, but it's not at all clear that they therefore support the clerics in this power struggle. For years now a significant section of the Iranian populace has agitated for peaceful democratic reform. The clerics seem determined to remove that avenue of change. Without a peaceful option, will the Iranian people finally acquiesce to tyranny?

Or will they finally demand their freedom by force?

Posted by David Mader at 01:18 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Not the Way to a Modern State

A fascinating article from Reuters, of all places, gives an all-too-rare glimpse of life on the ground in the Palestinian territories:

"Law is only a word in Palestinian areas," murmured Roula al-Shashir, widowed at 29 by a gunman who mistook her husband for a factional foe and who moves about town today without fear of arrest...

"We see the guy who shot Shouib moving about openly because no agency has the power or will to seize him," said Roula's brother Faris al-Shashir as she wept at home in Nablus, worst hit by the gang crime which is increasingly afflicting Palestinian cities.

"From this experience we have learned that the Palestinian Authority is really 1,000 competing authorities who cancel each other out -- a lot of officials or semi-officials with their own groups of gunmen. We don't know whom to turn to for justice."[...]

Distinctions between nationalist militant and criminal gang activities have blurred as Fatah has splintered into armed groups, many spun off from Palestinian security services disabled by Israeli offensives in the West Bank.

A regional Fatah official who asked not to be named said 90 percent of gang lawlessness could be traced to people still on a Palestinian Authority payroll...

[P]olitical analysts and biographers of Arafat say the anarchy has thrived in his system of overlapping security services and political appointments designed to prevent others forming power bases to contest his rule -- but which have also provided cover for abuses of public office from top to bottom.

"This is President Arafat's secret of survival. But it is not the way to a modern state," said Tayseer Nasrallah, a Nablus Fatah leader who advocates democratic reform.

The article is heavy on the idea that Israeli occupation and military pressure has undermined Palestinian efforts at law enforcement, and it's an idea that has substantial merit (although we saw this week what Palestinian policemen are capable of, when motivated). It goes without saying that under the current circumstances - however they be classified - the creation and maintenance of a functioning democratic society in the Palestinian territories is impossible.

But the article should suggest that the removal of Israeli forces - and the satisfaction of even a broad set of Palestinian demands - will not lead to peace. Until the Palestinian territories are governed by a responsible and responsive government committed to the human rights of both its own citizens and the citizens of the State of Israel, there will be no peace, and no domestic tranquility.

Posted by David Mader at 01:32 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Belinda and Mugabe?

The danger of running a big, multi-national company before getting into politics is that someone could dig up some unsavoury dealings by your company.

Like, for instance, selling armoured vehicles to one of the world's worst dictators.

Sixty-six Magna-made Steyr vehicles, manufactured in Austria, were shipped to Zimbabwe in November, 2002. The European Union has an embargo on arms sales to the African country, which has been accused of abuses of civil liberties. The Steyr troop carriers are used by Zimbabwe's army and police.

The sale — permitted through a loophole because the vehicles are not equipped with guns — has led Amnesty International to protest in writing to Steyr and the Austrian government.
"We as a country and our companies should not be supporting the brutal repression of the Zimbabwean people," said Clement.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by David Mader at 01:25 AM | (0) | Back to Main


Just watched Traffic (the movie) on TV. I hadn't seen it since I saw it in the theatre three years ago. I wasn't sure how it would stand up. Some movies blow you away when you first see them, but pale on a second viewing. Traffic is not one of those movies. It remains as powerful a statement on the hopelesness of the drug war as I've ever seen.

Posted by David Mader at 01:15 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Why We Fight

I know we blogged this a few days ago, but I'm posting it again because its worth reading again. And if you haven't read it yet, then you really must. A defining belief of Maderblog is that the fight against evil goes on every day. The war in Iraq, the fight against Al Qaeda, the defence of Israel, these are fronts in the same war. Yet the biggest threat to our society is not terror, or even WMD. The biggest threat is the weakening of the Western will to fight.

My mind has often gone back to our arrival in Belsen as I stood beside my commanding officer, a First World War pilot and a man of great integrity. Before us was a huge mound of bodies near the Jewish quarter of the dreadful huts. My CO asked: "Molyneaux, did you ever think you would see such an example of what one group of human beings could do to another set of human beings?" I innocently replied: "Perhaps this evidence will ensure that it doesn't happen again."

Shaking his head, my CO said: "I hate to think you may be mistaken."
Increasingly, the general public weakens in its resolve. Under the label of moderation, it is fashionable to plead for understanding; to do a Chamberlain and settle for a piece of crumpled paper in the mistaken belief that the word of dictators and terrorists can be trusted. Today, we should reflect on our responsibilities, and those of our governments, to stand up to the prejudice and tyranny that can still, today, lead to genocide. These events happened in my lifetime. They are not lost in the past; they could still happen again today.

Read it all.

Posted by David Mader at 01:08 AM | (0) | Back to Main