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May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

Paratroopers of the U.S. Army 173rd airborne stand guard at sunset at the Harir airfield, 45 miles northeast of the Kurdish city of Irbil, on Friday March 28, 2003. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

Posted by David Mader at 09:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More SES Numbers

Dan points me to the SES overnights, and notes that they're not that great for the Conservatives (SES headlines: "Liberals Fight Back"). This may confirm what I suggested earlier - that the weekend numbers were an anomaly. On the other hand, while the Conservatives' three-day numbers are negative, those days happen to coincide with a weekend - in other words, the Liberals are doing better when they're not in the news, when Canadians aren't thinking about them. Maybe if Martin lies low for the next three weeks...

Posted by David Mader at 07:15 PM | (0) | Back to Main


You're the leader of a party who's support is falling, with the main opposition party becoming more popular by the day in a four-week election campaign. How do you get back on track? Apparently, you do it by criticizing a provincial government with which you aren't competing - a provincial government, no less, controlled by your own party:

Paul Martin took another shot at the promise-breaking Ontario Liberals on Monday, saying politicians have a duty to plan for the worst.

The comment came during an exchange with high-school students when one teenager asked the prime minister how politicians can be trusted to keep their election promises.

Now it's not entirely clear from the story that Martin was talking about McGuinty specifically. Also, the story plays to the Liberal spin by suggesting that Martin was trying to distance himself from the McGuinty Liberals. I'm no campaign manager, but it seems to me the more Martin talks about Ontario, the longer it's going to stay in voters' minds. I can't help but think the PM is doing more harm than good here.

Posted by David Mader at 06:51 PM | (0) | Back to Main


I must have missed this one: apparently NDP leader Jack Layton said on Friday that he would scrap the Clarity Act, the federal law which established the parameters by which a province could secede from Confederation.

I've never though of the Clarity Act as a left-right political issue, only a Quebec/RoC issue; moreover, it's my impression that the Act is tremendously popular outside of Quebec. I'm interested to know what Maderblog readers think of the Act. I may well be wrong, but Layton seems to be intent on diminishing his reputation as an accomplished politician.

Posted by David Mader at 06:46 PM | (5) | Back to Main

Eye on Israel

Ariel Sharon's withdrawal plan, which encountered strong resistence from the membership of his Likud Party last month, is now faltering in the Likud-dominated cabinet. Sharon has drafted a revised plan and is threatening to drop certain partners from his government, giving him a cabinet majority - but also triggering, in all possibility, new elections.

New elections might be worthwhile at the moment. The withdrawal plan is probably the most momentous policy decision in Israel in a decade, and an election serving as a referendum on the issue would be worthwhile. The difficulty for Sharon is that his own party does not supporthis position, meaning he would not be prime minister at the head of a pro-withdrawal government (unless Labour made him their leader, which seems rather unlikely). Still, a Labour party dedicated to withdrawal would probably do quite well at the polls, making Likud's opposition destructive of its government position.

Posted by David Mader at 02:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main

On the Other Hand

It occurred to me, as I stared blearily at those poll numbers in the paper this morning, that claims of a statistical dead-heat are a little misleading. SES has the Liberals leading the Conservatives 34%-31%, with a +/- of 4%. If you swing the margin to one extreme, you have the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals by a few points. But if you swing the margin to the other extreme, you have the Liberals at 38% and the Conservatives at 27% - almost precisely what other recent polls had found at the start of the campaign last week. Now, the fact that the median results fall within a margin does seem to indicate some upward movement by the Conservatives and some downward movement by the Liberals; still, it's no more accurate to say that it's a 'statistical dead heat' than it is to say that we're at the statistical status quo. Best simply to say that the Liberals' lead has narrowed.

(And keep in mind that I don't know anything about polling or statistics in general).

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

May 30, 2004

Dead Heat

Earlier today I complained that the major Canadian polling outfits didn't keep their websites up to date. I should have bothered to click around a little. Andrew Coyne notes the latest from SES, which puts the Conservatives within the margin of error (.pdf link). "Several things appear to be happening," Coyne says, and you'll have to swing over to his new-and-improved blog to find out what they are. The bottom line: this election isn't turning out the way Paul Martin might have wanted.

Posted by David Mader at 10:08 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Also, I've been told to mention - though I'm a little reluctant to do so - that I have a tipjar, way over there on the right of the screen (scroll down a bit - it's the PayPal button). I've never asked for donations, because I don't blog to make cash, and because most of my readership has been (I believe) students. Maintaining Maderblog isn't all that expensive, but it adds up, and a few dollars a month in friendly donations would help cover the costs. I'm also considering some sort of blog ads, but I'm not crazy about the idea, and I'm not sure I have the readership to make it viable. Of course, if my wonderful readers hit the tipjar, I wouldn't have to worry about selling ad space (he hinted shamelessly).

Just thought I'd let you know.

Posted by David Mader at 09:48 PM | (2) | Back to Main


Maderblog readership has grown over the past few months (even though posting has been decreased this month), and I thought I'd take the opportunity to mention a few things that might not be immediately apparent.

1. Comment! I read all the comments. Sometimes (quite often, in fact) I reply directly to comments. Sometimes I let readers have their own discussion. I monitor, but I do not censor and I do not edit (except to add a hyperlink or to remove a duplicated commment). I will remove a comment if it is either spam or grossly offensive. I think I've erased a total of two comments in my two years of blogging because of gross offense. Maderblog is, or should be, a discussion, and I enjoy all comments, even - especially! - those expressing a contrary opinion.

2. Ask, don't tell. That being said, if you do want to argue with me, be sure you're arguing against something I've actually said. Regular readers know I have something of an unusual writing style. If you're not clear on what I meant to say, ask me - don't just tell me what you're sure I meant. Of course the burden shouldn't be on you, the reader, to decipher my prose, and if I find that I'm misunderstood, I'll clarify. If you think I've said something absolutely outrageous, however, please take the time to go back and have a second look. Chances are (I hope) I meant something quite different, and at least marginally less outrageous. (More rageous?)

3. Ask, don't tell - II. I only have so much time to blog - I work full time right now, and I'm starting law school in August. That means I can't blog every single news story out there - especially since Maderblog has always prided itself on being a general-interest news blog, with particular attention given to international affairs and the war on terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and both Canadian and American politics. Both the content of my posts and my selection of news to blog are colored by my political biases. I'm a liberal-minded conservative, and that will become clear quite quickly to the regular reader. However, even though I proclaim my bias, please do not assume that you can infer my position on an item I have not blogged; similarly, please do not assume that I have intentionally stayed silent on an issue because of some political design. Again, if you want to know what I think about an issue, ask me - don't tell me what you're convinced I think, and don't cite my silence on the issue as evidence.

4. Comment! - II And, finally, let me know what you think about the blog - what you like and don't like, what you'd like to see and what you could do without. I may not listen to you - to paraphrase another Ottawan, "this is the Maderblog because it is my blog, and if it was your blog you'd like it more than me" - but I appreciate all feedback. In fact, I've been gradually reducing the length of my posts (this being an exception) at the recommendation of a reader. If you don't feel comfortable using the public comment feature, please feel free to e-mail me at mader@maderblog.com.

And finally finally - thank you! I hope you keep coming back. Every now and then I meet someone who says, "hey, I read your blog!" - and I can't tell you how chuffed it makes me.

Posted by David Mader at 09:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Europe, Progressive

Instapundit notes a welcome development in Europe. Here's another, although it's slightly less - dare I say it? - titillating:

Fifteen years after shaking off communism, eastern Europe is engulfed in a food revolution, with people no longer content to shovel down meat, boiled potatoes and stick-to-your-ribs-all-day dumplings. From Bratislava to Budapest, eating habits and tastes are radically changing...

Avocados aren't the only exotic foods that locals have had to learn to use and eat. Under communism, vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus were virtually unknown.

Today, virtually everything is available, and in quantities that would have been inconceivable during communism.

No more waiting in line to get the basics, or fresh pineapple or mandarin oranges for a special Christmas treat. These and other fruits can now be bought year-round.

Imagine that: globalization brings choice to the East Bloc, along with the prosperity necessary to enjoy it. When the Gipper gets to heaven, he'll be amazed at how right he was - and how total his victory has been.

Posted by David Mader at 09:15 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Election Resources

At Dan's (well-considered) request, I've added a section at the top of my blogroll/links-bar for Canadian polling firms, which I'll keep for the duration of the federal election campaign. I'm a little disappointed at what's available at each site, though; maybe it's an economies-of-scale thing, but it's also rather lame that the Canadian firms can't manage weekly polls and releases during a federal election. Or maybe I'm lame for not being able to find them on the websites. Could be either.

UPDATE (12:09 EDT): Adam D. tells me these pollsters don't keep their websites up to date, which is too bad, and recommends I add a link to Compas, which does stay up to date.

Posted by David Mader at 11:43 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Buck Up

Mark Steyn tells hawks to stand firm, and suggests that the recent perceived troubles in Iraq are separating the pro-war wheat from the unserious chaff.

Posted by David Mader at 11:31 AM | (0) | Back to Main

May 29, 2004

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

And Patrick Belton is pretty straightforward.

(Though whether the WaPo story is fair and accurate is another issue).

Posted by David Mader at 09:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main

May 28, 2004

Election Watch

Dan, whose work is more or less putting paid to his blogging time, points me to two interesting election-related stories. The first is an EKOS poll which contains some sound-bites Conservatives don't dare believe:

"A minority Liberal government would seem to be an optimistic conclusion for (Prime Minister) Paul Martin," says EKOS president Frank Graves, who believes Canadians are witnessing a "remarkable turn of affairs."[...]

If the trend toward the opposition parties continues, Graves says, it could lead to "serious, perhaps insurmountable obstacles to a majority government.

"In fact, the plausibility of a Stephen Harper-led government is rising dramatically."

Yowza. Paul Tuns has already suggested the same.

The second item Dan highlights is a profile of his friend Patrick Brown, who's running for the CPC in Barrie. Worth a read, since you may be seeing Brown in Parliament in a month.


Posted by David Mader at 04:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Junk Science Watch

A brutal indictment of The Day After Tomorrow:

The much-hyped movie about climate change, "The Day after Tomorrow," which opens nationwide on May 28, depicts a series of catastrophes as the world plunges into a new ice age. In terms of accuracy, the movie is more science fiction than fact...

Yet the movie's depiction of the fallout from climate change stretches reputable science to apocalyptic proportions.

A few choice scenes from the movie include a presidential motorcade flash-frozen on the streets of New York, hail the size of grapefruit demolishing Tokyo, a mass migration of Americans into Mexico and a tidal wave that smashes New York City.

All of which is nonsense, scientists say...

"I think that someone watching "The Day after Tomorrow" should realize that when they come out of the movie they should know, that is not going to happen," said Dr. John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

No kidding. And the source for this dismissive report? That bastion of the conservative news-media, CNN.

Posted by David Mader at 01:24 PM | (4) | Back to Main

May 27, 2004

So Much For That

I guess that's the end of the Presidential Poll Paradox: after more than a month of negative press and bad news for the President, John Kerry has finally started to pick up support; according to a CBS poll, he now leads Bush 49%-41%. There's still a long time until November, and I'm not sure how long Americans can remain pessimistic about the economy (though people can be remarkably stubborn on that front at times); still, I note the good poll numbers, so I should note the bad.

Yes, that's subjective language. It's an election year, and I'm a partisan. But more on that later.

Posted by David Mader at 11:15 PM | (4) | Back to Main

May 25, 2004


K, another couple days of radio silence - the Jewish festival of Shavuoth ('pentecost,' I think) begins at sundown. See you Friday.

Posted by David Mader at 07:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main

He's Ba-ack

After an extended absence, Andrew Coyne is back, just in time for the election.

Posted by David Mader at 01:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

May 24, 2004


... are in order to Dan Darling, of Regnum Crucis and Winds of Change, whose excellent work on the subject of al Qaida and the war in which we're currently engaged has landed him an internship with the American Enterprise Institute. When I encounter folks who still refuse to believe that we are in fact at war, a war that extends across the globe, I invariably point them to Darling's 'Winds of War' column at Winds of Change. His position with the AEI is well deserved, and my disappointment that he will be blogging less is tempered only by my belief that his admirable skills will be put to better use in Washington.

Posted by David Mader at 09:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

I Love the Internet

This begins as unusual, and confidently veers off into the utterly insane. I laughed so hard I cried.

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

This'll Go Over Well in Washington

Reuters: "Canada's Martin Shifts Left, Wants to Be Un-American"

We are different than the United States. We want to be different than the United States. We want to be Canada, and we are Canadians and we're very proud of it," he told a rally on the first full day of his campaign on June 28.

"You can't have a health care system like Canada's, you can't have social programs like Canada's, with taxation levels like those in the United States."

When in doubt, demonize Cousin Sam. And then there's this:

Because he took over as prime minister from fellow Liberal Jean Chretien in December, Martin had Parliament dissolved only 3 1/2 years into a five-year term to try for his own mandate.

The strategy is risky since Martin's support, seriously eroded by a scandal over political patronage, has sunk to a level that suggests he could lose his majority in Parliament.

But Martin appeared to decide the possibility of further bad news was even dicier.

That's international copy, Paul. To coin a phrase: ouch.

Posted by David Mader at 09:08 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The President on Message

Apparently tonight's speech on Iraq will be the first of six leading up to the hand-off in late June. I haven't read/heard/seen the speech yet, but this seems like a sound political ploy. It's becoming clear that as long as the focus is on Iraq, Kerry can't gain ground. The risk involved is that if the focus stays on Iraq, and Iraq 'stays' bad, then Bush risks keeping his own numbers low and therefore keeping a door open for his opponent. But everything involves risks. Right now Bush owns the agenda.

Posted by David Mader at 08:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A Challenge

Let's see it, Al.

('Fraid you're going to have to read all the way to the end of that one, folks).

Posted by David Mader at 08:49 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Maderblog on Message

Stephen Harper, 5/24/04:

Ladies and gentlemen, waste, mismanagement and corruption are not Canadian values. Being Canadian does not mean being Liberal and that’s why the next Canadian government won’t be a Liberal government.

Maderblog, 4/18/04:

Some people say that fiscal responsibility is un-Canadian. They say that making hard but necessary decisions about our fiscal future - and the future of our country - is a foreign idea. I disagree...

I'm Canadian, and the men and women across this country who are sick and tired of corrupt, costly and rudderless government in Ottawa - they are Canadian. And we, Canadians, we won't let any group of Liberal politicians tell us what our country is and isn't.

I'm glad somebody got the memo (he said in jest).

Posted by David Mader at 08:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Did anything happen while I was away?

Kidding, kidding. Election blogging will commence once I recover sensation in my extremities.

Posted by David Mader at 07:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main


It's eighty-nine degrees in Austin right now.

In Ottawa, I can see my breath.


Posted by David Mader at 07:16 PM | (2) | Back to Main

May 21, 2004

Texas Again

We're spending the weekend in Mason, Texas, which is about an hour and a half north-west of Austin. It's gorgeous here. I don't want to say more, lest I spark another wild back-and-forth over Canadian nationalism, etc. (Although I have to ask - who in their right mind puts vinegar on fries?)

Have a good weekend, folks. I'm back in O-town in Monday.

Posted by David Mader at 06:04 PM | (4) | Back to Main

May 20, 2004

Hello From Texas

It turns out Texas is a hot place. Who knew?

Sorry for the lack of postings... actually, I'm not sorry. I warned you, after all. And I'm actually quite enjoying my vacation from the news. I have absolutely no idea what's going on in the world right now. It's somewhat liberating. My only political engagement in the past three days has been the Lileks column in this morning's papers. (Cool). I'll glance at the news, but don't expect any commentary. Do expect some reflections on Texas when I get back. For now I'll just say this: I'm a huge Americanophile, as you all know. I have (or will have shortly) a degree in American history. I watch American tv and movies, and I follow American politics (much more closely than Canadian, too). And for all that, I'm still surprised by the degree to which Texas is just plain different. Different from Canada, and, I'd imagine, different from the northeastern US.

And also this: Americans are richer than Canadians, and that is apparent at every turn. But more on that when I get back.

Posted by David Mader at 11:42 AM | (15) | Back to Main

Greetings From Vancouver

As some of you may have noticed, I've been blogging even less that normal lately.

And no, it isn't that I've become discouraged with the course of the war. You see, unlike certain Toronto Star columnists (and certain friends of mine, for that matter), I define the war that we're in more broadly. Iraq and Afghanistan are not seperate conflicts. They are simply seperate theatres of a broader war. This was not a war of our choosing. It was a war that was declared on us. It is a war that has come to us in Jerusalem, in Lower Manhattan, in D.C., in Bali, in Kenya, in Milan....

And it is a war we have taken to the enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq. The recent fighting in Iraq reminds us that this is not an easy fight. It is, however, a fight that we must win. We will be better off from staying the course in Iraq, and so will the people of Iraq, whose freedom we are fighting for there.

Anyway, if any of you thought that I might be discouraged, don't worry about me.

I have, however, been busy. I'm done business school, and I've started work. I'm out in Vancouver for a few months and I've been pretty busy. I'm not sure if I'll be blogging much over the next while, but if I have time I will be.

Posted by David Mader at 12:44 AM | (0) | Back to Main

May 17, 2004


Blogging will be intermittent for the next week. Obvisously this is because I have realized that the war party is over. I am mired in quag. I have hawked my last chicken. I have finally been persuaded that the global decrease in terror in the past year demonstrates beyond refutation that Iraq has nothing to do with al Qaida, and that invasion has only spawned a thousand bin Ladens.

Also, I'm flying to Austin tomorrow. More when I get back.

Posted by David Mader at 09:24 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Refuting Hersh

Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker article, which I credited and which Adam Daifallah questioned at the National Post's 'Across the Board,' is being called an instance of 'journalistic malpractice' by the Pentagon and intelligence sources.

This is the most hysterical piece of journalist malpractice I have ever observed," said Lawrence DiRita, spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in response to Hersh's report.

A senior intelligence official said the article contains "fantasy," adding, "I haven't found any truth in it."

The unit described simply does not exist, the intelligence official said.

You can't get much more categorical than that. Also, CNN's current anonymous intelligence officials are somewhat more credible - as far as it goes - than Hersh's former anonymous intelligence officials. As I said yesterday, I think Hersh's allegations are at least plausible. Whether they're credible or not remains, apparently, to be seen.

Posted by David Mader at 04:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Deciding the Gag Law

Tomorrow's big news in Canada will be - one way or the other - the Supreme Court's decision on the so-called 'gag law,' a law which restricts the ability of anyone except political parties to engage in political discussion during general election campaigns. The Canadian Press has an article here and Gerry Nichols, vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition - the group behind the legal challenge - has a column on the issue in today's National Post. I've met Nichols, who's a very nice guy, and he's in the right on this one - as a series of lower courts have found. Here's hoping the Supreme Court will decide this case on its merits.

Posted by David Mader at 12:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Oyster Bar Plot

Why is British politics so much cooler than, well, anybody else's?

Posted by David Mader at 12:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

What WMD?

Hugh Hewitt notes that American troops in Iraq were subject to a nerve-gas attack when a sarin-tipped shell rigged into a makeshift bomb exploded next to a convoy this morning.

The San Fransico Chronicle suggests that " insurgents who rigged the artillery shell as a bomb didn't know it contained the nerve agent," which in turn suggests that the terrorists who rigged the bomb hadn't imported the device from abroad due to its 'WMD' nature. In other words, they just found it lying around.

This story seems to prove, then, that there are sarin-tipped shells lying around somewhere in Iraq. Yes, it's troubling that the Iraqi Survey Group hasn't found a big pile of them yet; still, this seems to undermine the anti-war/Al Franken/Michael Moore/Sean Penn "there never were WMD" argument.

Clarification (12:47 EDT): I suppose I should clarify my remarks, since a number of people seem to think I'm saying something I'm not. I don't mean to suggest that the discovery of this one shell demonstrates the validity of the 'WMD' argument for an invasion of Iraq. I meant simply to point out that the extreme critical view, which suggests that there were never any such weapons in Iraq, and which view seems to be ever more popular, is silly.

UPDATE (13:52 EDT): Here's the AP's story, which features David Kay calling it 'no big deal,' and speculating that the shell came not from an undeclared stockpile but was rather an outlier which was not destroyed after 1991.

Posted by David Mader at 11:30 AM | (5) | Back to Main

Setting Parameters

Reuters has an interesting piece on Israeli security reaction to the Abu Ghraib affair. Coming from Reuters, I imagine it was intended to be a smear piece, but in fact it makes an interesting point:

Israel, perhaps unique in having public debate and legal guidelines on the use of physical coercion against suspects, does not use Abu Ghraib-type methods despite its close ties with the United States on security matters, [Israeli counter-terrorism experts] said.

Some, of course, will see the existence of a public debate over physical coercion as a terrible thing. In fact, such a debate is precisely what America needs in the wake of the Abu Ghraib pictures. I've been struggling to find a language with which to discuss the affair, but my bottom line is that there's a difference between abuse and legitmate physical coercion, which is a necessary component of a serious and robust counter-terrorism campaign and policy. Treating all physical coercion as abuse both obscures the instances of real abuse - which deserve to be investigated and addressed through punishment - and assumes as decided a discussion on the level of coercion we're prepared to accept. That is, I would suggest, a discussion that has not yet happened - but one which must happen if we are to successfully prosecute this war on terror.

The Wall Street Journal takes a step into this debate with their editorial this morning. Let's hope it's the first step of many towards a coherent policy on the coercion of prisoners.

Posted by David Mader at 11:15 AM | (0) | Back to Main

More GMO Sanity

Less than a week after the EU green-lighted GM crops, a UN food agency has endorses genetically-modified foods:

A United Nations food agency is coming out in favor of biotech crops, saying genetically modified organisms have already helped small farmers financially, have had some environmental benefits and no ill effects on health.

In a major report released Monday, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said the main problem with agricultural biotechnology to date is that it hasn't spread fast enough to the world's poor farmers and has focused on crops that are mostly of use to big commercial interests.

The FAO has, perhaps predictably, called for more government regulation of GM crops, ostensibly to ensure the production of crops more beneficial to the world's poor rather than to Big Agriculture. The problem with that approach is similar to the problem of forcing Big Pharma to produce only AIDS drugs - if biotech companies can't produce the agricultural equivalent of Viagra, they won't have the funds necessary to make the less lucrative but more 'socially beneficial' crops.

But details are details; the UN agency's endorsement is yet another instance of GM sanity, and yet another blow to the ludditism of the anti-GMO crowd.

Posted by David Mader at 10:38 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Topless Towers

Oxblog's Josh Chafetz has some notes on being pedantic. Marlowe's line has been wonderfully tarnished for me by that scene in Shakespeare in Love, wherein a procession of aspiring actors audition for the Bard by reading his competitor's most famous line. I can't think of Helen of Troy (not that I often think about Helen of Troy) without hearing a thick working-class accent butchering: "Is vis de face what launched a fousand ships..."

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

May 16, 2004


Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbisias revels in the apparent woes of Canadian warbloggers.

If the above makes no sense to you, then you have not been paying attention to the chest-thumping chaterati of the cybersphere, a post 9/11 class of might-is-right and right-is-might wordsmiths who rode the "War on terror" wave with their warmongering web logs.

But now, with the news getting more dire, the quag more mired and the cost of war ever higher, the warbloggers find themselves on the wrong side of history. And so some of them are putting down their mice and putting up a white flag.

I'm not in a position to deny Ms Zerbisias her pleasure. For one thing, I've quite coincidentally entered a period of reduced blogging in the past three weeks as I've moved from the loose schedule of an undergraduate to the regimented (if temporary) daily demands of the private sector. For another, pro-war bloggers have not hesitated in the past to highlight - and enjoy - the troubles of the anti-war left.

There's a lot in the Zerbisias piece, however, that's illuminating, especially her suggestion that "the war party is over."

There is nothing to celebrate any more. (Not that there ever was.) President George W. Bush's folly is a bloody, costly, tragic, world-dividing disaster that has led to more acts of terrorism by more groups.

This, despite the fact that (as Elizabeth Nickson pointed out in yesterday's Post) the uprising by supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr - you remember Sadr, who was going to drive the Coalition out of Iraq - is being put down, its leaders sueing for peace. This, despite the fact that more and more sovereignty is being handed over to Iraqi authorities - as with the recent transition to a sovereign foreign ministry, an institution Canada did not enjoy until the 1930s - some sixty years after its independence.

In fact, Zerbisias' contention that the war party is sunk, demoralized and discredited, reveals the fascinating assumptions of the anti-war set. For in her smug article Zerbisias never once considers the consequences of a failure in Iraq. What if the supporters of the Iraq war really were "on the wrong side of history?" What comes next? Her celebratory and self-congratulatory tone can only suggest that she envisions a return to pre-Iraq normalcy; if, as she suggests, Iraq "has led to more acts of terrorism," the failure in Iraq will lead to fewer.

Those who've supported the war don't believe that to be the case, of course. Failure in Iraq was always a possibility, but the endeavor was necessary in any case. If the Iraqi project is successful - and, pace Ms Zerbisias, it still may be - we may look forward to a gradual trend towards freedom and democracy that will stop Islamism in its tracks. If it fails, as Zerbisias believes it has failed, we will simply have to confront that Islamism in a different theatre, and on a different scale. Zerbisias' assumption that the failure of the Iraqi war is to be celebrated illustrates the continued refusal of the anti-war set to recognize the reality of the wider conflict in which we're engaged; indeed, it illustrates their refusal even to recognize the existence of the enemy.

And, as an aside, Zerbisias' gleeful riposte to those warbloggers who've criticized her in the past also illustrates the reality of subjective journalism. In criticizing Zerbisias - and even in calling her names - bloggers have never claimed the mantle of objective truth. In engaging the warbloggers, in returning the ad hominems, in betraying her own assumptions about the war and its failure, Zerbisias demonstrates that news reporters are no different from web-loggers - servants to their biases, agents of their agendas, partisans in the great debate of our time.

Reference: Responses from Damian Penny, Kathy Shaidle and Charles Johnson.

Posted by David Mader at 02:25 PM | (6) | Back to Main

What I Said Then

Here's something I wrote a week ago (click "continue reading"). If Hersh's allegations, as outlined below, are correct, the parameters of the discussion will shift. Nonetheless, I think my basic assertions remain solid:

1) There is a difference between abuse - the arbitrary, purposeless mistreatment of prisoners - and maltreatment - the application of harsh measures to appropriate individuals for the purpose of coercing cooperation or extracting information.

2) Maltreatment is a necessary component of interrogation in war. But it can cross the line into abuse. Sexual humiliation through the imitation of sodomy, or threats of violence through the exposure to barking dogs, does not constitute abuse. Actual, coerced sodomy, or the application of violence through dogs, does.

3) The identity of a prisoner matters. Hersh suggests that the Abu Ghraib pictures were used to blackmail prisoners who did not want the humiliating images released. This would make sense as a tactic only of the prisoners in the pictures were prisoners of interest. It would be irrational to humiliate men picked up in sweeps - the 'majority' of prisoners said by the Red Cross and others to be held by the Coalition. The unspoken assumption behind the Abu Ghraib outrage has been that the subject prisoners were innocents abused. Their treatment may still amount to abuse, but it's important to determine whether they were in fact innocents - or whether they were subject to humiliation precisely because of their role in anti-Coalition violence.

4) Abuse is not policy; maltreatment is. On this point I was off the mark - I considered Abu Ghraib to be isolated. Critics, of course, have said from the beginning that it is not. The lasting disagreement centers on the distinction I suggest between abuse and maltreatment. Critics who otherwise glory in nuance have suddenly become absolutists on this question. I don't think the distinction is vague - I think it's fundamental and obvious. I'm not confident, however, that many others will agree.


It is difficult to write about the Abu Ghraib affair. Any attempt to qualify our shared outrage risks coming across as an apology for the abuses. If we are serious about righting the wrongs of Abu Ghraib, however, we must be guided by a number of important principles. It is all too easy to assume the worst about the conduct of military affairs is Iraq based on the disgusting photographs we've seen, as well as the rumors of photographs and videos we've yet to see. We do ourselves an injustice if we do not temper our outrage by addressing any public investigation to the following points:

1) Not all harsh treatment is abuse - Since the revelation of prisoner abuse two weeks ago, media outlets have repeated the claims of human rights groups which allege widespread abuses of prisoners by American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These allegations depend on the grouping of actual abuse - such as the arbitrary humiliation and dehumanization captured in the Abu Ghraib pictures - with practices such as sleep-deprivation which the Army uses to extract information from prisoners. Forcing a prisoner to stand for hours, or preventing him from sleeping by blasting music into his cell, is undoubtedly harsh. It is of a different order, however, from the abuse at Abu Ghraib, which appears to have been motivated only by wanton cruelty.

2) Interrogation is nasty business - The abuse at Abu Ghraib would not be excused, of course, simply because the soldiers sought to retrieve information from their captives. We must understand, however, that harsh measures of interrogation will be necessary if we are to win victory in Iraq - and in the wider war on terror. In determining the scope of abuse at Abu Ghraib, we must distinguish acceptable interrogation procedures from unacceptable abuse. For instance, the New Yorker magazine recently published a photo showing a naked Iraqi man cowering before two leashed dogs. This scene is undoubtedly disturbing, but it is disturbing by design: psychological pressure allows interrogators to extract information without applying force. The magazine's reporter alleges, however, that he has a later photo showing the man bleeding from the leg - ostensibly as a result of a bite from one of the dogs. The threat of violence is a useful tool in obtaining the cooperation of otherwise-hostile prisoners. The realization of that threat is rightly abhorrent to us. In investigating Abu Ghraib we must distinguish between the threat and its realization, and we must determine when the latter has occurred.

3) Every prisoner has a story - The unspoken assumption behind our reaction to the Abu Ghraib photos is that the abused prisoners are innocent. That is a necessary component, for instance, of the comparisons between American and Ba'athist abuses. A National Post editorial identified Abu Ghraib as "the place where Saddam Hussein would inflict medieval torture on his subjects," and lamented the possibility that "Americans would use the facility for a similar - if not quite similarly brutal - purpose." The prisoners brutalized by Saddam and his sadistic sons tended to be political prisoners, tortured because of the offense they gave to a murderous despot. The prisoners in Abu Ghraib today are terrorists and criminals, imprisoned either for waging war against Coalition forces or for waging war on Iraqi civil society.

It's possible, of course, that some of the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib have been wrongly imprisoned. The Red Cross has alleged that as many as ninety percent of prisoners there had been wrongly detained. Moreover, even those properly detained should not be subject to the arbitrary cruelty of true abuse. An investigation of Abu Ghraib must determine how many prisoners should not have been there - and whether those innocents were among the abused.

4) Abuse is not policy - Many commentators have suggested that Abu Ghraib has destroyed America's moral credibility in Iraq by demonstrating that there is no practical difference between Ba'athist tyranny and American occupation - at least as far as the treatment of prisoners is concerned. In the absence of WMD stockpiles, the moral imperative to remove tyranny is the most prominent justification for the Iraqi campaign. If American jailers are no better than their Ba'athist predecessors, that moral mission is undermined. But the comparison rings false. Under Ba'athist tyranny, torture and abuse of prisoners was not an aberration - it was policy. Under American occupation, torture and abuse of prisoners is not only an aberration, it is a crime. If the purposeless humiliation and dehumanization captured in the pictures was organized, widespread and institutional, then America will lose her moral standing. If it was arbitrary, isolated and personally-motivated, the moral distinction will remain.

As we probe the depths of the Abu Ghraib scandal, we must not let its horrible details obscure these important principles. Where harsh treatment is arbitrary and purposeless; where it extends to physical brutality; where it is applied to the innocent; where it is widespread and institutional: in these instances we see true abuse. We must commit ourselves to identifying instances of such abuse - for it has certainly, tragically occurred - but in our disgust we must not automatically assume that abuse is the defining feature of the endeavor in Iraq.

Posted by David Mader at 12:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Unfit to Fight

Seymour Hersh has another article in the New Yorker which seems to be spawning two separate story lines in the Sunday papers. The first is that the Abu Ghraib pictures were part of a Pentagon-approved psychological warfare operation initially applied to high-value al Qaida operatives in Afghanistan but later extended to Iraqi insurgents. The story is best summarized by Lorne Gunter at the National Post's 'Across the Board' (inexplicably still no permalinks):

Hersh's main contention is that a super-secret intelligence gathering/prisoner interrogation operation was set up in the deepest depths of the Pentagon following the invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. Known as an SAP (for special-access program), perhaps 200 people knew of it or were involved in it. It used on-the-edge methods to extract intelligence from "high value" al Qaeda prisoners...

Only the very best and most knowledgable American operatives are used in SAPs. SAPs have separate command-and-control headquarters, each one of them. And they are used only in the rarist of cases... With just 200 people in the know, and using their shadowy techniques only on the highest level terrorist prisoners -- suspects involved directly in the running of and planning for al Qaeda -- the quality of the program was ensured. Seasoned professionals in special forces and the spy/interrogation game, people who know instinctively how far is too far and don't have to be told, were the only ones working the SAP on al Qaeda. And it was working. Real bad guys were being equeezed for info that led to the death or capture of other real bad guys.

But when the US Army in Iraq found itself blind, intelligence-wise, about the insurgency there, Rumsfeld (if Hersh's sources are to be believed), authorized the expansion of the SAP to Abu Ghraib. Most importantly, the expansion included the Army Reserve military police officers who we have all seen abusing prisoners in those disgusting photos.

The second story-line proceeding out of the Hersh article is the idea that the US, or the CIA, or the Pentagon, is running a worldwide network of prisons which critics - and the media - have started to call a new Gulag archipelago.

There's a lot I want to say about this, but it can be summed up as follows: I think both suggestions are likely true. I think it's quite possible the Abu Ghraib prison photos were not in fact evidence of arbitrary and cruel 'entertainment' but rather part of a program designed to coerce Iraqi prisoners to divulge information. I think that has all sorts of ramifications which will amount to nothing because of the refusal of the media - and all those beating the Abu Ghraib drumb - to distinguish between arbitrary and programmatic maltreatment. I think the public will similarly fail to distinguish between actual torture and programmatic maltreatment. I think any 'backlash' against the media will be in support of the individual soldiers now being court-marshalled, and not in support of the ideas which motivate the program of maltreatment Hersh identifies. I think America's mission in Iraq will ultimately falter because of this inability to recognize the necessity of brutal behavior in war. I think that failure will demonstrate that we, as a society, remain fundamentally unprepared to win the war in which we're engaged.

Hell, we're not even prepared to fight.

Posted by David Mader at 12:11 PM | (1) | Back to Main

May 14, 2004

Hi There

If you're here via Ghost of a Flea, you're probably looking for a link to the Nick Berg video. Before I tell you where I find it, let me abuse my position as author of this blog to say the following:

1) I really, really hope you aren't looking for this video because you get a rise out of snuff. I don't think that's the majority of you - I think that most of us were horrified by the brutality of the murder and frustrated by the complete and purposeful lack of mainstream-media coverage.

2) You might want to read this. Yes, it's self-congratulatory, but it's also quite right.

The URL you're looking for is in the comments to this post. Whether it's still good, I don't know - I still haven't brought myself to watch the video.

Posted by David Mader at 06:19 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Riding Polls

Do any of the major Canadian polling firms do riding-specific party-preference or voting-intention polls during the election cycle? Do the parties? If so, does anybody know where I can find results?

And if not - why not?

Posted by David Mader at 03:56 PM | (5) | Back to Main

Arrests in Talmud Torah Firebombing

Five Montreal residents have been arrested in connection with the firebombing of a Montreal Jewish day-school last month. From the Globe:

Four males between the ages of 18 and 20 and one woman in her 30s were arrested at 6:15 a.m. Montreal police would not specify where they were arrested or release any names.

“We are not mentioning much at this point because it's not over,” said Montreal police media relations officer Ian Lafrenière, adding that there may be more arrests.

Notes the CBC:

In April, the library of the the St. Laurent area school was destroyed and an anti-semitic note was left on the door.

The note said the fire was in retaliation for Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

CTV News adds:

Since that incident, gravestones at one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Montreal were vandalized. Earlier in May, police were called in to investigate after swastikas were drawn on several stones, and the word Hitler was scrawled on another at the Back River Cemetery.

The incidents are not thought to be linked. The Toronto Star runs a wire report from the Canadian Press, which adds:

[Montreal police spokesman Ian] Lafreniere did not give the nationalities of those arrested, saying there was some information police did not want to reveal so as not to jeopardize the investigation into other possible suspects.

He said any arraignment would not occur before Saturday and that possible charges include arson, mischief and conspiracy.

These arrests indicate clearly that Montreal police have been actively investigating the matter. Their efforts are to be applauded, and we can hope that the perpetrators of that shameful attack are brought to justice.

Posted by David Mader at 03:30 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Corn Laws

The EU has approved in principle a type of genetically-modified corn, but EU laws - and I use the term loosely - will prevent it from being sold and distributed.

If we assume that obesity is a self-correcting problem, will the EU's irrational opposition to genetic modification lead, over time, to a less healthy population than in countries where crops are improved through bio-engineering?

Posted by David Mader at 12:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

May 13, 2004

Weapons in Space

Matt at Living in a Society has some worthwhile thoughts. I absolutely agree that the opponents of the weaponization of space have never adequately explained quite why space should not be weaponized. In any case, it's already something of a non-issue: as was pointed out to me the other day, certain weapons - namely long-range ballistic missiles - enter space in the course of their trajectory from launch-site to target. Why is it ok for them to transit through space, but it's not ok to place devices in space to block their transmission (as the more 'star-wars' versions of the plan would do)? Of course most opponents of BMD would say that ballistic missiles are not ok, but then we get into the debate over MAD and, beyond that, to Kellog-Briand and so on.

Or something.

Posted by David Mader at 03:57 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Nick Berg Thread

Andrew Sullivan notes that blog traffic was way up yesterday, and he suggests that it was the result of folks looking for information about Nick Berg. (Instapundit also noticed the bump. Sullivan and Instapundit both suggest that this demonstrates the increased interest the American public seems to have about the story relative to the Abu Ghraib scandal.

I have a few scattered thoughts about the issue, but nothing coherent. My interest was piqued by my father's suggestion that there's more to Berg's story than we've heard, and it's certainly true that we haven't heard everything - for instance, we don't yet know (as far as I know, though I haven't had time to look) why he was in custody, and why he was interviewed by the FBI. I'm posting this to offer an open comment thread - let me know what you think, either of the execution itself - I hope we can all agree on its brutality - or on the wider issue of Berg's stay in Iraq and the days leading up to his abduction.

Posted by David Mader at 03:17 PM | (5) | Back to Main

What He Said

I noticed something similar watching the news last night.

Posted by David Mader at 02:43 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Busy Day

Apologies; more soon.

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

May 12, 2004

Ottawa-Centre Revisited

Yesterday I posted on the Parliamentary race in my riding of Ottawa-Centre. Don at All Things Canadian has been number-crunching, and he suggests that unless some Tories throw their votes to Broadbent, the Liberals may take Ottawa-Centre once more.

Posted by David Mader at 04:20 PM | (7) | Back to Main

The Press

The AP has an interesting round-up of Arabic press reaction to the beheading of an American in Iraq. Here's the lede: "Arab media reacted cautiously Wednesday to the videotaped beheading of an American civilian by Islamic militants in Iraq, with some newspapers conspicuously playing it down or even ignoring it."

For reference, here are the front pages of the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe and Canada's National Post.

A CBC Radio news report this morning suggested that the murdered American was known to western reporters, having stayed at a Baghdad hotel where many reporters are housed. While some have suggested that the press would ignore this murder in favor of the Abu Ghraib scandal, I wonder whether the personal connection won't influence the reports filed out of Baghdad in the coming days.

Posted by David Mader at 12:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Adam Daifallah and Paul Tuns weigh in on the Presidential election, offering explanations for the President's continued popularity and predicting a Bush win in November.

I'm not sure I share their confidence, but their arguments are sound. Have a look.

Posted by David Mader at 11:21 AM | (1) | Back to Main

May 11, 2004

Context Revisited

The beheading of an American in Iraq seems to have reminded many that there are orders of brutality. See Sullivan here and here.

In response to the inevitable: of course this doesn't excuse the abuse at Abu Ghraib. But it certainly renders comparisons to actual tyranny absurd.

Posted by David Mader at 07:51 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The Mexican Air Force has been spotting 'em.

Posted by David Mader at 07:32 PM | (0) | Back to Main

If Lawn Signs Decided Elections...

Ed Broadbent would have Ottawa-Centre in a lock. Well, he'd have the Westboro/Highland Park neighborhood in a lock, anyway. My father suggests that those people who would put up lawn-signs have put up lawn-signs; if that's the case, there are more politically-assertive NDP-supporters in this end of the riding. The question is how the less assertive voters will vote.

I had written Broadbent off as a celebrity candidate with little hope in a Liberal stronghold like Ottawa-Centre. The rash (if you'll pardon the expression) of orange lawn-signs suggests that voters here may be having second thoughts.

Posted by David Mader at 06:31 PM | (5) | Back to Main

Parsing the Difference Between Head and Body

More disturbing images of prisoner abuse in Iraq:

After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off.

Moral distinction? What moral distinction?

Look, I've been saying for a week now that I find it difficult to write about Abu Ghraib since any statement which qualifies outrage with reason risks being seen as apology. I know that's pretty dense prose, but I don't think you have to have an advanced degree to figure out that I don't apologize for the abuses which have taken place.

Claiming that this abuse somehow demonstrates that Iraqis suffer the same "death, torture, and terror at the hands of a tyrant" as they did under Hussein, however, is absurd. Whatever the motivation for such hyperbole, it serves only to obscure the actual and terrible abuse which has taken place.

Posted by David Mader at 02:30 PM | (2) | Back to Main

But Does He Mean It?

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin believes that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction - and he believes those weapons are now in the hands of terrorists:

"The fact is that there is now, we know well, a proliferation of nuclear weapons, and that many weapons that Saddam Hussein had, we don't know where they are," Martin told a crowd of about 700 university researchers and business leaders in Montreal. "That means terrorists have access to all of that."[...]

"I believe that terrorism will be, for our generation, what the Cold War was to generations that preceded us," he said. "I don't think we're out of it yet."

These comments, along with Martin's assertion that "The cause of terrorism is not poverty, it is hatred," are encouraging. But they raise a political question. Liberal pre-election ads leaked to the Globe & Mail newspaper demonized Conservative leader Stephen Harper by declaring that "If Stephen Harper was prime minister last year [sic], Canadian troops would be in Iraq this year." But if Martin believes that Saddam had WMD, then surely the same could be said about him; if not, it would mean he is unwilling to act in the face of a grave threat. So which is it?

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

Sanity from the Red Cross

The Red Cross has been at the center of allegations of abuse in Iraq, and with good reason: they've been on the ground for months, and have witnessed and documented both abuse and harsh treatment (see my thoughts from yesterday). But while the organization sees abuse in Iraq, they also see progress:

The Red Cross said it wanted to keep the report [leaked last week] confidential because it saw U.S. officials making progress in responding to their complaints.

Too bad this is buried halfway through an obscure wire report, as opposed to - say - the front page of the papers which have been calling for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation.

Posted by David Mader at 11:26 AM | (0) | Back to Main

May 10, 2004

Defining Deviancy Up

[Note (5/14/04): If you're here from the Middleman, you might want to check out this post once you've finished reading what follows. You might. Or you might not. Up to you, really.]

One of the major allegations of the Abu Ghraib scandal is that abuses are 'widespread.' These allegations are generally based on the reports of human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross, as summarized in this press report. The problem is that these groups tend to have a much broader definition of 'abuse' than most.

The high-value detainees were deprived of any contact with other inmates, "guards, family members (except through Red Cross messages) and the rest of the outside world," the report says.

Those whose investigations were near an end were said to be allowed to exercise together outside the cells for 20 minutes twice a day...

The report says that in coalition prisons "ICRC delegates directly witnessed and documented a variety of methods used to secure the cooperation" of the inmates "with their interrogators." The delegates saw detainees kept "completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness."[...]

This apparently meant detainees were progressively given clothing, bedding, lighting and other items in exchange for cooperation, it says.

The photos from Abu Ghraib are disturbing, and are considered abuses, for two reasons: first, because many involve the application of coercive and even violent force above and beyond what might reasonably be expected in the course of confinement and interrogation, and second, because many involve the public humiliation of the prisoners for no discernable purpose beyond the amusement of the guards. Humiliation is made public both through the grouping of detainees in shameful positions - such as the now-infamous pyramid - and through the very act of photography itself.

The activities highlighted by the Red Cross above are not necessarily or automatically abusive in the same manner. Holding a prisoner in isolation, restricting his bathing and exercising opportunities, and even depriving him of clothes - these are neither publicly humiliating (assuming they are not public) nor unduly violent. When American soldiers told Red Cross officials that the practices were "part of the process," they were not being wanton. They were telling the truth.

And the truth is simply this: this is how civilized nations conduct interrogations.

Uncivilized nations cut fingers off. To start.

The Red Cross makes other allegations about what I would call 'true abuse,' and those allegations must be evaluated and investigated. But in claiming a widespread pattern of abuse the Red Cross and other organizations are assuming as decided a debate over interrogation practices that has not occurred - and which, I submit, they would not win. Real abuse happened at Abu Ghraib. It is terribly important that it be investigated and the perpetrators punished. It is inaccurate and misleading, however, to overstate the incidence of abuse by expanding its definition to include interrogation practices that many would consider unfortunate - but necessary.

Posted by David Mader at 10:20 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Attention Damascus


President Bush plans on Tuesday to impose economic sanctions on Syria for allegedly supporting terrorism and failing to stop guerrillas from entering Iraq, people involved in the deliberations said.

Congressional sources said Bush was expected to curb future investments by American energy firms in Syria and prohibit Syrian aircraft from flying into the United States.

Bush was also expected either to block transactions involving the Syrian government or to ban exports to Syria of U.S. products other than food and medicine, the sources said.

I think this puts Syria quite publicly in the 'against us' column. It's about time.

Posted by David Mader at 09:24 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Just Leave Already

The Spanish Minister of Defence seems to be a Clintonian word-monger:

Bono said Spanish troops in Iraq were "subject to international law, which prevents us being an occupying and offensive force."

Then - pardon my French - what the hell are you doing there? Handing out daisies? The real story is that the Spaniards have apparently refused - whether in theory or in practice is unclear - to hand over wanted clerics to the US. Spain is in the process of withdrawing its forces from Iraq, and not a moment too soon: if these are the rules by which they're operating, they are - or should be - unwelcome.

Posted by David Mader at 09:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Petard-Hoisting in Ottawa?

I heard Peter Mackay on the radio this evening discussing the Guité/Brault arrests. He pointed out that these arrests stem from a two-year-old investigation, and not from the Auditor-General's revelations earlier this year. (Yes, the sponsorship program is so scandalous that it has promted numerous criminal investigations over the years). The assumption is that the Liberals will use these arrests as a means of neutralizing Adscam during the imminent election campaign, arguing a) that action has been taken and b) that discussion of the issue is inappropriate since the matter is now before the courts.

If these arrests are not linked to the current controversy, however, these arguments don't wash; if these arguments do have substance - in other words, if they are indeed in response to the most recent scandal - it would be evidence of political pressure on - or at - the RCMP. It may be that the Liberals were caught as off guard as the rest of us by today's arrests. The moment they begin to spin, however, they enter a world of political trouble.

Posted by David Mader at 07:19 PM | (0) | Back to Main

In Other News

While the Abu Ghraib scandal has apparently been undermining the neoconservative project in Iraq, Arab ministers have agreed to a draft document endorsing the principles of democracy and human rights in anticipation of a summit in Tunis later this month.

Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem told reporters after three days of talks in Cairo that the document also called for an independent judiciary and promoting civil society, and covered the status of women in the Arab world.

"The most important features of the draft declaration is that it asserts the need to develop the Arab system of government and civil society...in the field of deepening the practice of democracy," Belkhadem said.

Even if the Abu Ghraib scandal widens, American forces withdraw from Iraq and President Bush loses in November - three eventualities I wouldn't bet on - this trend towards some sort of democratization will stand as evidence of the achievements of the past three years.

Posted by David Mader at 03:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Guité Busted

Chuck Guité, the bureaucrat at the center of the Adscam scandal, has been arrested by the RCMP for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Also arrested is Jean Brault, president of marketing firm GroupAction which benefited from the sponsorship program to the tune of millions of dollars.

Two immediate reactions:

1) This scandal isn't just political, it's criminal;

2) There will be an election call within the week.

MORE (15:01 EDT): Similar conspiracy-theorizing at the Shotgun.

MORE STILL (15:07 EDT): Paul Wells seems to be of a similar mind: "Oh, come on, you don't really need me to tell you what to think about the Guité bust, do you?"

Posted by David Mader at 02:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main

On the Other Hand

David Frum stands in defense of Donald Rumsfeld. And he highlights the practice - increasingly common among critics - of confusing criminal abuse with non-criminal military practices - and with the wider conduct of the war on terror.

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


Andrew Sullivan this morning is a must read. I don't agree with him - I think he's exaggerating Abu Ghraib - and I don't see how the signs of progress he notes - including the isolation of Sadr - have been fundamentally undermined by this scandal. Nevertheless he makes a strong, well-reasoned and impassioned argument. Read it.

Posted by David Mader at 09:44 AM | (0) | Back to Main


In this morning's paper, the National Post calls on Donald Rumsfeld to resign.

I think the Post is getting carried away, and I think they're wrong on this one. I'm trying to figure out the degree to which my opinion is based on my partisanship. That partisanship has two aspects: first, I simply like Rumsfeld, and my knee-jerk reaction is to defend him; and second, I know that Rumsfeld's removal will be used to attack Bush politically. Since I want Bush to win politically, and since I think Rumsfeld's resignation would be more of a political liability than his maintenance in office, I want him to stay.

Partisanship isn't all of it, though. I tend to agree with Instapundit, who warns of both minimizing and maximizing Abu Ghraib. But I acknowledge my biases, and I hope that counts for something. In the next little while I'm going to argue my substantive case for Rumsfeld - either here or, hopefully, in print - and when I do, keep in mind my political partisanship - and my acknowledgement of it.

Posted by David Mader at 09:29 AM | (0) | Back to Main

May 09, 2004


Reuters has a mini-profile of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently reforming the Israeli economy as Minister of Finance. Free-market reforms are long-overdue in Israel, and I suspect - as the article suggests - that Netanyahu will ride his successes in the Finance portfolio to another ministry atop a Likud government.

Posted by David Mader at 09:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Chechen Leader Killed in Bomb Blast

I have absolutely no idea what the ramifications of this are, but there's no doubt it's news.

Posted by David Mader at 02:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

May 07, 2004

New Media v. Old Media

Intersting piece on how newspapermen are trying to react to text-messaging. I think the language of 'threat' and 'danger' more or less sums up old media's problem - they see news as a business that they want to monopolize, rather than as an industry they might improve. I don't think, as some do, that new media like weblogs will usurp the role of newspapers or that newspapers will die out; the fact is that news-bloggers still rely on the reporting done by the press wires and newspaper reporters. At the same time I think it's certainly true that papers could greatly improve their product by making better use of new media gadgets. Text-messaging allows immediate, on-the-spot 'reporting' - it should be harnessed, not combatted.

Posted by David Mader at 04:46 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Robinson and McGill

I don't know quite how I hadn't heard about this yet: in last Sunday's Montreal Gazette, McGill history professor Gil Troy spoke out against the decision to award Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, an honorary degree at this spring's convocation. For the record, that's my convocation.

Three hearty cheers for Troy, who will undoubtedly face the contempt of his fellow academics. As we're now seeing in the non-coverage of the Oil-for-Food scandal, academic and media elites tend to assume that anything with a UN label is incorruptible and necessarily praiseworthy. And yet the UN conference on racism and xenophobia at Durbhan, which directly preceded 9/11, can arguably be said to have marked the emergence of the new anti-semitism which is now rearing its ugly head in Europe and Canada. As chairperson of the conference, Robinson was responsible for the proceedings - which, as Troy notes, descended into the most vile public displays of anti-semitic demagoguery in decades. As Troy also notes, and despite the withdrawal of American and other delegates, Robinson declared the conference a success.

Robinson should not perhaps be unfairly punished for her complicity in the Durbhan farce, for she was complicit largely through inaction - an unwillingness to confront the absurdities and outrages of the delegates and non-delegate participants. But an honorary degree is not a right to which Robinson is due. It is a specific honor which cannot help but denote approval by the granting institution of the career of the recipient. Awarding Mary Robinson an honorary degree will not cause outrage. But Robinson represents precisely the moral cowardice, the refusal to make value judgements, the irrational demand for equivalence which is helping to hide - and promote - a resurgence of racial hatred.

Posted by David Mader at 12:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main

May 06, 2004

The Context

The Wall Street Journal reminds us that we only know what we know about Abu Ghraib because of the army's own inquiries. And Glenn Reynolds wonders whether those alleging a 'cover up' aren't overplaying their hand.

Posted by David Mader at 10:24 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Most Important Election Ever

Paul Martin has announced that the upcoming election is the most important election EVER.

Ever? Like more important than the elections where Canadians chose whether or not they wanted free trade? More important than the election when Canadians chose whether or not they wanted conscription? More important than the many, many other elections when Canadians chose between starkly different visions of our country.

This comes from the man who has laid out no clear vision of where he wants to take the country and no clear reason why he needs an election now (except to get a "mandate" to go and negotiate some kind of agreement with the provinces on some issues that he hasn't decided on yet).

Of course, none of those other elections involved a leader with anything comparable to Paul's towering ego. This must be the most important one ever!

Posted by David Mader at 04:51 PM | (0) | Back to Main

'This was the real deal.'

Andrew Sullivan reminds us of the President's wonderful humanity. This doesn't show competence to reconstruct Iraq. It doesn't show competence to oversee the American economy. It shows honest-to-goodness humanity.

Posted by David Mader at 04:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main


UN envoy and former Arab League honcho Lakhdar Brahimi has arrived in Baghdad, and the reception he's meeting must be warming some 'neo-conservative' hearts.

Iraq's political parties stepped up criticism of the veteran diplomat, seen by Washington as crucial but seen by them as a threat to their chances of assuming substantial power after years spent fighting Saddam Hussein.

"The mechanism Brahimi is working on with the occupation authorities lacks credibility and fails to assess the situation in Iraq," said a statement signed by eight parties.

"The project violates the interim constitution and opens the way for the previous regime's men to return to power, leading to division and instability."

Yuh-huh. This guy is bad news every which way, and his involvement smacks much too much of the 'strong-man' approach I mentioned earlier. The CPA should start listening less to the 'world community' and more to Iraqis in determining how they want to be governed. And here's a hint: they don't want the UN to have much to do with it.

Posted by David Mader at 03:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Despicable [Retracted]

Boris Johnson ideologically crosses the floor and surrenders any claim to reasonable standing in the Daily Telegraph. I cannot read the entire piece - I find myself shaking with anger. To suggest that the abuses committed by American soldiers demonstrates that American occupation is no better - no different - than Ba'athist tyranny is outrageous. It takes only the most basic sense of reason to realize that whereas torture was policy under Hussein, torture has been treated - for more than five months - as a criminal abberation by the US military. We only know about these abuses becuase of an army investigation. Perhaps aware of the absurdity of his claim, Johnson sows the seeds of denial and revisionism by suggesting that torture did not in fact take place under Saddam, since no pictures exist.

Only those utterly unconvincing mass graves.

As you can tell, I'm finding my voice on this issue. It's becoming increasingly clear that many who have either been long opposed to or long ambivalent about the Iraq war are using this outrage - and it is an outrage - to argue that the entire operation is equally outrageous. From the anti-war left this is to be expected. From nominal conservatives like Johnson it is not. If Boris Johson - and other observers, conservative or otherwise - wish to damn the coalition effort in Iraq, they are welcome to do so. But to slander that coalition through spurious comparisons to brutal tyranny - complete with denials and apologies for that brutal tyranny - is as disgusting as it is disgraceful.

RETRACTED - 14:24 EDT: I fought through the rage - as apparently Johnson did too - and finished the piece. Now it's my turn for shame. I retract my post in its entirety (insofar as it applies to Johnson), and hope I will learn my lesson. For the record, here is Johnson's conclusion:

Because that fact remains: that we got rid of him, and, whatever the cruelties of the American jailors, Saddam was worse.

I apologize.

Posted by David Mader at 02:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Freedom Works

"I want people to learn that freedom works, that limited government works. We know what has lifted more people out of short and brutal lives: It's economic freedom. Let's celebrate it rather than sneering at it the way intellectual elites of America do."
-John Stossel

Pretty obvious stuff. The sad thing is that Stossel is probably the only person on US network TV who'd actually say that.

Posted by David Mader at 12:29 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Paul Tuns points out that yesterday was the anniversary of the death of noted terrorist Bobby Sands.

Sands died in prison after 66 days of a hunger strike. He was demanding that IRA prisoners be treated as POWs rather than as common criminals.

I think that its easy for folks on this side of the pond to forget how nasty the war in Northern Ireland was, for so long. This is a good reminder.

I've always thought that you'd have to be particularly tough, or particularly crazy, to kill yourself on a hunger strike. Either way, a rather nasty enemy. Yet that's the kind of person the British had to defend themselves against. The provos were a nasty, nasty bunch.

The British fought back with the kind of toughness required, though. At least, they did then. They basically just let Sands die. Its interesting to think about how the Canadian government would react to something like that.

I recently read a very interesting book called Bandit Country. It focussed on South Armagh, a part of Northern Ireland right on the border with the Republic. For years, it was the most dangerous posting for British soldiers. If you're interested in learning about that conflict, or are interested in the subject of anti-terrorism in general, I'd highly recommend it.

Posted by David Mader at 12:13 PM | (0) | Back to Main

What Went Wrong

The Telegraph puts its finger on the contradictions within Coalition reconstruction efforts.

The drawback of the State/CIA/Foreign Office approach - the 'strongman' approach - is that it hasn't worked in the past, and seems unlikely to work in the future. The drawback of the Cheney/Rumsfeld/'neoconservative' approach - democratic enlargement - is that it's so damned hard. But despite the difficulties, I remain ideologically committed to this latter approach, simply because it's the only chance we have, I think, to defeat Islamism before its spread becomes total. If the Middle East develops some form of democracy or representative government, the seeds will be planted for the emergence, over time, of a pluralism which will undermine Islamist radicalism. If we go back to the status-quo - 'benign' dictators who mouth platitudes to the west while simultaneously selling themselves to radical domestic elements in order to maintain power - it will only be a matter of time before Islamism becomes the governing ideology - in a literal sense - of a wide swathe of the mid-east. When that happens, the west will have to confront both a grand-scale military conflict as well as an ongoing campaign of terror at home.

Posted by David Mader at 11:42 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Abu Ghraib

I still haven't found a voice with which to speak about the current scandal - which is rapidly moving beyond its factual borders to become a full-fledged election-year political issue. But Glenn Reynolds seems to know what to say. See his remarks on Kerry's spin here, as well as his emphasis on results, not rhetoric, here.

Andrew Sullivan also says what needs to be said here (See 'Glenn on Iraq). And James Lileks comes out swinging - and in defense of Donald Rumsfeld - here.

Posted by David Mader at 10:55 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Tons of Tuns

I highly recommend you read more or less everything written by Paul Tuns, who's been blogging up a storm not only at his own blog, Sobering Thoughts, but also at the Western Standard's Shotgun.

Posted by David Mader at 10:18 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Best Apology Ever

Wouldn't want to offend anyone in the "aging sex kitten community" now, would we?

Posted by David Mader at 01:26 AM | (0) | Back to Main

May 05, 2004

Long Posts

Sorry, I know people don't like 'em. But these have been thoughts that aren't quite comprehensive enough to be made columns, but are a little too complicated to fit into 150 words.

Posted by David Mader at 05:13 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Trade and Wealth

Just as Tony Blair announces an initiative to reform the African economy, the outgoing head of the UN's Conference on Trade and Development says that trade talks aren't enough to ensure developing-country prosperity.

It's hard to tell whether Ricupero means to say what the article suggests he's saying; it may be that the reporter's grasp of economics is loose enough that he's distorted the message. It's certainly true that trade talks aren't sufficient to bring prosperity. But the article makes Ricupero suggest that trade itself isn't sufficient: "Countries can't benefit from easier access to foreign markets unless they get help to improve their infrastructure, train staff and attract investment, said Rubens Ricupero." Well. This seems to conflate absolute and comparative advantage - as long as a country has a different cost-curve for some sort of manufacturing, it will trade (and so benefit); it doesn't need to be absolutely-better than any trading partner at any manufacture or service.

Ricupero also sound an odd note in saying that "countries in sub-Saharan Africa have enjoyed special low tariffs on exports to the European Union for 30 years, yet many still are the poorest countries in the world because they don't have the capacity to produce and export." Preferential access to European markets may, in fact, be a double-edged sword: access is typically limited to certain products, and developing-world consumers suffer by having to pay full-tariff prices on European goods. Qualified liberalism is not liberalism.

Now I'm not sure that Ricupero is actually saying that trade is insufficient; I think he may simply be saying that trade can be bolstered by ensuring that infrastructure is available, and that the natural development of infrastructure as a consequence of trade is too slow. And his remarks later in the story suggest that he is quite well aware that one reason trade talks have not yet brought developing-world prosperity is because they have not yet brought free trade: "Ricupero said the biggest issue to tackle in the talks is the fact that current WTO agreements virtually outlaw government subsidies to producers of manufactured goods but still allow rich nations to pay hundreds of billions of dollars annually to their farmers." Yes. The answer is not, however, to subsidize developing-world production; it is rather to pull down the distorting developed-world barriers, allowing developing-world farmers to get a fair return for their labor.

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

Those Pictures

I haven't said much about the pictures of coalition soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. In part this is becuase the story broke while I was away from my computer; in party it's because every time I tried to put something to paper (so to speak) it came out sounding like I was minimizing or trivializing the abuse. I wanted to emphasize that we only know about these pictures because of an ongoing military investigation which predated public knowledge of the abuse; in other words, the military found out about the abuse, investigated and acted, without waiting for a public outcry. I wanted to highlight the absurd cultural relativism involved in crediting the statements of Iraqi prisoners who say that American humiliation is infinitely worse than the physical torture of the Saddamite regime. But the fact is that any qualification seems like a defense, and those who engaged in the abuses deserve no defense. They deserve punishment.

As I read this piece by Barbara Amiel in the Telegraph, however, something occurred to me. Many of those who are using this revelation to condemn the entire project of democratization are the very same who excuse terrorism by pointing to psychological factors. If a suicide bomber is 'understandable' (few go so far as to say 'forgivable') because his murder is an act of despair caused by the supposed adverse conditions he faces, is an abusive soldier not also 'understandable' because of the averse conditions which greet him in Iraq? We who reject the defense of suicide bombers have good standing to condemn those abusive soldiers, aware that no circumstance can excuse their excesses. But many of those currently displaying an unbecoming level of satisfaction at the negative reaction to this story might do well to consider applying their understanding in a more consistent fashion.

Posted by David Mader at 01:35 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Back in Health, Back in Action

The rumours that Margaret Thatcher may be returning to active political life is good news for British conservatives. It's also just plain good news: Thatcher has been fighting ill-health for some time, and the death of her husband Dennis seemed to slow her down considerably. Her decision to return to the political arena seems to indicate that she feels more confident in her own health. We wish her continued good health, good fortune - and good luck at Westminster.

Posted by David Mader at 12:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Time to Lead; Time to Change

Sometimes it all just comes together.

Three interesting pieces in today's National Post may offer a program for the Conservative Party of Canada in the upcoming election. (All pieces are behind the Post's iron-curtain subscriber firewall). Siri Agrell reports on the supposed demise of the political party, with voters disenchanted and unable to see substantive differences as pragmatic (or opportunistic) politics predominates. Andrew Coyne suggests that the campaign will be largely issue-less, and that the Liberals are going to run on a program of demonizing the Conservatives, regardless of stated Conservative positions. And George Jonas remembers the rise of Thatcherism.

If a) party affiliation is at a low, and b) the Conservatives are going to be demonized no matter what they do, then the Party might want to act on Coyne's advice by c) adopting an unapolagetic program of classical liberalism. Agrell's piece suggests quite strongly that the Canadian public is both uninspired by today's political parties and simultaneously desirous of being inspired. This is a public ready to be led. Canada does not face the same sort of crisis that Thatcher confronted in 1979, so Canadian neo-Thatcherism need not involve the same drastic measures. Still, a clear program of democratic reform and economic liberalism based on sound conservative beliefs may form a new sense of identity and purpose with which Candians may come to identify.

Unabashed conservatism has generally been seen as a sure way for right-of-center parties to lose elections in Canada. And yet despite the disclosure of a scandal which should have sunk any government in the liberal-democratic world, the Conservatives still trail the Liberals - who are expected to win yet another majority government. Standing for conservative principles should not be an act of desparation; it may simply be that the time is right - the conditions present - and the populace pepared - for the advent of a common-sense conservatism on the national level.

Posted by David Mader at 11:17 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Athens: The Latest

Here's the latest wire piece on the Athens bombing. Greek authorities are pointing the finger at domestic anarchist groups, and are maintaining that the bombing had nothing to do with the upcoming Olympics. I think the second assertion is a bit of a stretch, but the lack of casualties, the lack of a second target location, and the lack of a claim makes the first assertion more likely.

If these were domestic terrorists, of course, then it raises the prospect that these Olympic Games are going to bring all sorts of nutters out of the wood-works.

Posted by David Mader at 10:38 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Teen Bomber Recruiter Charged

Israel has indicted a fifteen-year-old Palestinian on charges that he recruited fellow teens to become suicide bombers:

The court said Nasser Awartani recruited a 16-year-old who blew himself up at a military checkpoint and another teen who was caught with a bomb strapped to his body. Awartani was the key contact between youths in the West Bank city of Nablus and two militant groups, the court said.

One is almost tempted to sympathize with this boy - for at fifteen he's still a boy himself - who after all must be seen as some sort of a pawn in a larger and more sinister plot. In fact, court may be the most appropriate venue for punishment: youth does not excuse responsibility, and I have a feeling Awartani's adult minders will face justice not in a courtroom but staring down a helicopter-launched missile.

And I remind you, in case you've forgotten, of intifada cards.

Posted by David Mader at 12:13 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Bombs in Athens

Three bombs have gone off in downtown Athens, two simultaneously and another about a half-hour later, apparently intended to harm rescue workers. The AP reports, as does Reuters. Bloomberg doesn't add much. A caller to SkyNews gave warning of the bombs, but apparently not with an intent to avoid injury. No motive was given.

The bombs apparently targetted ceremonies marking the beginning of the 100 days leading up to the Summer Olympic Games. The question now is whether these bombs were the work of Islamists or the leftist groups which have plagued Greece for decades.

Posted by David Mader at 12:06 AM | (0) | Back to Main

May 04, 2004

Sharon's Strategy

Many people have asked why Ariel Sharon put his Gaza withdrawal plan to a vote only of Likud members instead of a vote of the general electorate which he would have been much more likely to have won. Looks like a huge mistake, right?

But wait, what's this? Remember the condemnation that greeting Sharon when he first proposed the plan? Bush was the first to come around and support the plan, and it was a huge deal when he did, because the rest of the world had condemned it.

But now?

Senior envoys of the United States, Europe, Russia and the United Nations gave a qualified endorsement on Tuesday to the stated intention of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in spite of the rejection of that plan by his own Likud Party.

Hmmmmmmmmm. Next to the settlers, Sharon now looks like, of all things, a bit of a moderate. To the point that even the Europeans are now saying that his plan might not be so bad after all. This is a huge win for Sharon. He has moved the goalposts on this issue.

Is it too much to think that maybe, just maybe, he had it planned out all along? That Sharon was smart enough to know that the setters would react as they did, thereby making him look more moderate and inceasing his ability to win support for his plan on the world stage?

After all, as the press reports on Sharon's "failure" to win the referendum haven't ceased to remind us, nobody knows the settlers as well as Sharon, their long-time champion.

Interesting, eh?

Posted by David Mader at 11:55 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Issues and Elections

Yesterday the National Post suggested that Candians were approaching the upcoming federal election as essentially issue-less.

Today Prime Minister Paul Martin has indicated that he will run on reforming health-care - though 'reform' is perhaps intentionally vague. Meanwhile, Paul Wells suggests that Martin is picking his issue based on polls - and that he's making a political and electoral mistake.

Posted by David Mader at 03:21 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism

Here's a fascinating story out of Vienna. Austrian plans to name a square after Austrian Theodore Herzl, organizer of modern Zionism, are being opposed by the Arab League, who say that the move would "not serve the cause of good relations between Austria and the Arab-Islamic world." (Is that a threat?) Apparently Herzl "represents a sad memory for Arabs and Muslims."

Those who maintain an iron-clad distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism argue that the former involves criticism of the State of Israel on the basis of its policy decisions. Herzl, however, predated the State. He organized world Jewry politically to lobby simply for the existence of a Jewish state. To protest Herzl is to protest not the State of Israel but the idea of Jewish self-determination. Those who would demand 'understanding' of Arab-Muslim culture would do well to demonstrate their own understanding of Jewish culture - and to refrain from demonizing that culture's more prominent exponents.

Posted by David Mader at 02:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

May the Fourth be With You

I say that every year. Still cracks me up.

Posted by David Mader at 09:27 AM | (3) | Back to Main

May 03, 2004


The Telegraph commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of Barronness Thatcher's first general-election victory by recalling how brave her program of economic reform was; Mark Steyn argues that the Thatcher revolution remains incomplete.

Posted by David Mader at 11:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

You Don't Say

Overweight Children More Likely to be Bullied
I'm shocked. Shocked.

Posted by David Mader at 09:53 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Alan Bromley is sick and tired of smug Liberals. And he's not gonna take it anymore.

"Didn't Saddam use weapons of mass destruction against the Kurds in northern Iraq, against the 'marsh people' in southern Iraq, against the Iranians? Didn't he threaten to send poison-tipped missiles into Israel? Didn't Israel destroy his nuclear facilities in the 1980s? Didn't he kill, over 35 years, 1.5 million people or so, or more than 3,000 per month, every month? As offspring of the Holocaust, did you prefer we wait until he has more capabilities for killing? Is it your hope, like our dead brethren in Germany, that if we try to acquiesce, we will be overlooked? Have you learned nothing?"


Scratch a liberal, I say, and you often end up with a McCarthyite, bent on trying to destroy the character of every conservative, or even a mere questioner.

Posted by David Mader at 09:50 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Zero Intelligence

Zero Intelligence is a blog dedicated to documenting the riduculous and tragic policy known as zero tolerance.

Zero tolerance policies, implemented by schools in their attempts to "fight" violence and drugs, all too often lead to draconian punishments inflicted on innocent students, like the 5 year old suspended because his fireman Haloween costume contained a plastic toy axe.

Zero tolerance policies are a national disaster in the United States, and are becoming more widespread here in Canada, so they're an issue well worth keeping an eye on.

Posted by David Mader at 05:54 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Fall of Joe Clark

He walked stiffly over to Sen. Willis and stuck out his hand. Harry didn't take it. Instead, he barked:

"Who the hell are you?"

"I'm Joe Clark and Mr. Grosart sent me down to help out."

Harry sized him up and said: "Jesus Christ, Grosart must be out of his mind." Looking back, maybe Harry had ESP.


Pat MacAdam gives us a long and very interesting history of Joe Clark. Well worth a read.

Posted by David Mader at 05:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Paul Martin = Anthony Eden?

Or is he John Turner?

Douglas Fisher has some thoughts about who Paul Martin reminds him of.

He smiles well, and socially he's ingratiating, but in what he parrots officially he's platitudinous and boring. He's interested in almost everything and convincing on little. Without a script, he's a cliche-monger, unable to think up cogent stuff while on his feet or in scrums.

Although he grew up the son of as industrious and engaged a politician as we've had, he shows little knowledge of political history.

Clearly, he would be lost without his Earnscliffe handlers, who seem both conceited and adolescent, a mix indicating a brief prime ministerial run for their puppet.


Posted by David Mader at 05:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Underestimating Grapes

Last week I suggested that Don Cherry's departure from the CBC would not be widely lamented. In the comments to my post Charles challenged my analysis; it looks like he's right, as the National Post reports that a large majority of Canadians want Cherry to stay with the CBC.

Posted by David Mader at 04:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Pulling Two Ways

David Frum discusses the tension central to Iraqi reconstruction. I hope, of course, that the second vision he discusses wins out, but I fear that, until November at least, the first will remain predominant.

Posted by David Mader at 04:13 PM | (0) | Back to Main


I guess I've hit the big-time; comment-spam is flooding the blog today (well, maybe not flooding). I'm going to try to get MT-Blacklist up and running, but it may take a while; if you see random ads for naughty products, rest assured they will disappear before long.

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

Aghajari Again

Longtime readers will recall the story of Hashem Aghajari, an Iranian teacher sentenced to death for his criticism of the clerical regime. Aghajari's sentence led to violent student protests - and the violent suppression of those protests. The sentence was struck down in January 2003, but has apprently been reinstated. Iran continues to thumb its nose at domestic liberty, even as it funds and organizes terror abroad. Observers - including myself - have counseled allowing Iran's simmering opposition to run its course and topple the theocratic tyranny in Tehran. As Iran continues to defy the democratic west - and the democratic opposition - patience may begin to wear thin.

Posted by David Mader at 01:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More on Withdrawal Plan

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has indicated that he will modify his withdrawal plan in the wake of a Likud Party referendum that found significant opposition to the plan. There are suggestions that Sharon will withdraw from only some of the Gaza positions and change the route of the West Bank fence.

The West Bank will be contentious regardless, but I think anything less than a full withdrawal from Gaza would be a mistake. Any Israeli presence there will remain a liability; better to get it over with in one fell swoop than leave a presence that will remain a flashpoint to be dealt with down the road.

Posted by David Mader at 12:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

New Schedule

As I mentioned last week, I've got a new schedule - I'm working business hours - so blogging will adjust accordingly.

Posted by David Mader at 12:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

May 02, 2004

Prodi's Pop Quiz

Q. How might the President of the European Commission best convince Britons that giving Brussels even more power would be a terrible mistake?

A. By declaring that a popular rejection of the proposed European Constitution would cause Britain to 'pay a heavy political cost.'

Honestly - does Prodi think that his vague threats will be persuasive? And if he does, just what exactly does it tell us about the nature of the political core of the European Union?

Posted by David Mader at 11:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Likud Rejects Withdrawal Plan

Good coverage by the Associated Press. Now that the US - and others - have expressed what amounts to a commitment to withdrawal, it's bound to come to pass regardless of this vote. The party's rejection will, however, affect the domestic political Israeli scene. There are rumours of a snap election, but with Sharon's party nominally opposed to his key policy, I don't see how he could win a mandate. Because the general public seems to favor the plan, however, it's possible that Sharon will be able to put together a working coalition in the Knesset - at least on the issue. It will be interesting to watch.

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