The Quote Of The Year

Eleven year-old David Murphy was sitting in a school bus parked in a gas station while the driver was in the men’s room. The bus began rolling and moved into the path of a large truck. David jumped into the driver’s seat and steered the bus to safety — only to see that it was then about to roll down a steep hill. The determined lad struggled with the steering wheel and again directed the bus away from disaster. When asked to describe how he managed to maintain his nerve when confronted with the second crisis, David said he took one look at the hill, and…

“There was nothing good down there.”

The Canadian Disease

A Canadian official with the authority to investigate breaches of the law and prosecute accused criminals is testifying in a hearing. He is asked what he thinks of freedom of speech; his reply is unexpected, shocking, and almost impossible to believe: “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value. … It’s not my job to give value to an American concept.”

What in the world is going on here? Is the core value of the Enlightenment literally irrelevant to Canadian jurisprudence?

Part of the answer may be that Canada has no constitutional protection of free speech. That leaves the government free to censor expressions of opinion, and punish people for saying things. What things? Any things the government wishes to consider…inappropriate.

Some might suggest that anti-USA sentiment (mistakenly called “Anti-Americanism,” which is an incorrect term because Canadians are Americans, along with everyone else in the New World) has long been popular in the Frozen North. Or perhaps this recent outbreak of harebrained fastidiousness is the natural result of the influence of The Evil Tetrad — Said’s Orientalism, multiculturalism, postmodernism, and Chomsky’s toxic prevarications?

Whatever the aetiology or proximate cause of the insanity, the Canadian Disease must first be described before it can be understood and countered. Begin with this post, which is clear and brief.

Note next that there are four distinct dramas in the tragic cycle:

1. The case against Mark Steyn. He’s a prolific and extraordinarily talented writer who, like all the other victims of the Human Rights Commissions in Canada, has been financially hammered by the persecution. His comments are insightful, so turn to this explanation of how an HRC works, and then read Steyn’s comments when he “won” his case.

He did not win, of course. The HRC found him guilty and dropped the case. Is that merely bizarre, or out-and-out insane?

Steyn spent a lot of money defending words originally published in one of his books. That punitive experience was forced upon him because a portion of the book was reprinted in a magazine in Canada, hurting the feelings of one Richard Warman, of which termite more in a few seconds.

Why did the HRC drop the charges against Steyn, in spite of its unshakable opinion that he was guilty? We shall almost certainly never discover the complete answer. The HRC trolls will not allow visitors with flashlights into their lair, but some informed speculation is available.

2. Ezra Levant’s struggle with the Alberta Human Relations Commission, discussed in this article. See also issue four of the PenPo.

3. The incredible story of Richard Warman. This fellow is part agent-provocateur, part obsessive, part greedy rascal, part exploiter of governmental blunders, and all trouble. Several links lead to facts and opinions regarding Warman: start with this article. Other sources include posts that are unfriendly, presumably neutral, and obviously furious, and/or outraged.

4. Finally we have the tribulations of a racist nutcase who also ran afoul of the HRC. His free speech must be defended, or, as the Canadian Disease clearly demonstrates, eventually none of us will have free speech. Two newspaper articles report on the case: this one and thenthat one.

What do Canadians think of this mess? It’s not possible to say yet, but these crimes against Liberty do tell us something about the national mindset.

The Canadian press is at least partly on the side of the angels, but again, we don’t know whether the following opinions represent popular sentiments: here are a news item and a Canadian columnist’s views.

For many years, Canadians have had a slightly smug, slightly contemptuous view of the giant to the south, and some observers have said that Canadians invented anti-US sentiment. That has never particularly bothered the folks in the USA, because it is only natural that the smaller, less powerful nation will look askance at the larger one. “Let Canada find her way; our next-door neighbors do not have to be like us, nor do they have to love us” has been the US attitude.

If that were the end of it, then there would be no cause for concern — or even to bring the matter up. Polite folks do not exacerbate trivial irritations.

Now, however, we see our neighbors vivisecting their political freedom. The sight is a shock and a disappointment wrapped in a mystery: what has gone wrong? Why have decent, reasonable people suddenly become their own worst enemies?

Canadians have some serious explaining to do.

One must view events in Canada not just with puzzlement and alarm, but with anger. Canada is despoiling something sacred. That is cause for good men of all nations to denounce the censors and inquisitors, and demand that they stand down.

Words To Remember — And Eventually Apply To Some Deserving Wretch

Sometimes a definition or bon mot or epigram is so apt, so trenchant and descriptive, that it must be filed away for future use. Oliver Kamm provides an example of the breed:

(Mr. X is) an extreme example of (in the literary critic Lionel Trilling’s phrase) the adversary culture: a man so bitter about the failings (not all of them imagined) of liberal democracies that he will perceive salvation even in the most reactionary and despotic of movements overseas.

We all know such people. They provide the contrast needed to illuminate the genuinely good folks who would, in a world without exponents of the adversary culture, seem merely ordinary.

Making Sense Of Iraq

The importance of the Iraqi army’s attack on the Mahdi army in Basra is not disputed, but there is an argument over the outcome and meaning of the battle. Foes of the Bush administration portray the fighting as yet more proof of failure (see link to NYT columnist Rich, below), while others say the Iraqis just demonstrated they are building a sovereign nation.

As the lead item in PenPo number one points out, the winner of a critical battle is not always determined by facts.

The government in Baghdad erred in not notifying US forces of the impending attack on Basra until two days before it began, and tactical shortcomings of the Iraqi army (IA) were obvious. First reports claimed the Mahdi army was neither driven from Basra nor humiliated; now the situation is seen very differently.

As well as things went, the most portentous aspect of the battle could turn out to be the role played by Iran. Frank Rich writes in the NY Times that Sadr, the Mahdi army’s leader, is not an Iraqi Quisling in the service of Iran, and…well, OK, he might be, but if he is, it’s just a little bit, and we can ignore it. Rich is simply wrong. He also implies that the Mahdi army won the engagement. Wrong again and yet again.

In a nutshell: the reporting was yet another media disgrace, betraying partisan bias.

Sadr is an unusual figure, even within the subspecies of charismatic terrorist chieftains. A young fellow of viciously violent nature, heaspires to eminence as a holy man. Of course Islam is the world’s only large religion in which that contradiction is possible. Iran plans to use him to extend its power into Iraq, and enrolled him in a course of study designed to lead to ayatollah status. (Imagine a Mafia assassin being sent to school so he can become Pope.) That straightforward plot went astray when Sadr bitterly denounced his Iranian hosts; we shall see whether the spat can be resolved.

(This just noted on the internet: an Iraqi weblogger sees a political opportunity for enhanced national unity.)

Overall, several themes characterize recent events in Iraq:

1. Iran definitely intends to control events as much as possible. If Sadr does not satisfy, the mullahs will look for and create other opportunities.

2. The IA is not mature. Its progress has been good, and its prospects are excellent. Iraqis respect the professionalism of the US military, which they see as a model for both the IA and police. Of particular importance: the IA is more than willing to attack insurgents who are members of the same Islamic sect as the soldiers.

3. As the level of violence declines, the importance of dealing with governmental corruption is becoming more obvious. Iraq, like all of the “third” or “developing” world, is not administered honestly.

US Voters can be forgiven if they have inadequate conceptions of what is really going on in Iraq. The major news media often overlook the most significant developments (such as the aftermath of the horrendous battle for Fallujah). Journalistic blindness often serves partisan causes. When they do report, the media get poor to fair marks for their efforts.

The more people know and understand, the less they will be swayed by demagogic slogans (“Change!”) — and the fewer mock willing suspensions of disbelief will arise. The sheer ignorance of the electorate should be a campaign issue.

Silence Is Celestial

Hewlett-Packard has sold flash drives infected with malware. The company has been very careful not to mention where, geographically, the nasty programs were introduced, so of course nobody is supposed to think the tampering was probably yet another of China’s espionage efforts, such as this devastating coup or this series of attacks. That would be politically incorrect and culturally insensitive.

Resolute Action Does Produce Change

In issue seven of the PenPo, these sentences appear: “Effective military and police action must be taken against violent Muslims. The West must prove repeatedly to the Muslim world that there is no hope of defeating the infidels in battles great and small.”

There is a bit more to it than that. Whenever effective actions of any sort are accomplished, multiple effects can be expected — and so it is in Iraq and other nations where Islam is shedding blood. This report, for example, states that “…many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.”

The NY Times should be commended for having the nerve to publish this story, even though the emphasis the author and the editors put on the facts is familiarly skewed. The full truth is not simply that exposure to Muslim violence has sickened some youngsters; in fact their feelings and statements would never have emerged as they have if the USA had not violently opposed the terrorists.

The willingness of our soldiers and Marines to risk their lives for Iraqi security is the essential other half of the story. The US military has provided a contrast that allows Iraqis to see what could and can be. This fact is not politically correct, so no one should be surprised that the Gray Lady ignores it. All right; now set ethical concerns aside, and focus on the conclusion the report does not draw, but cannot repress.

The most important aspect of the NYT report is this disguised truth: US resolve in Iraq has paid dividends.

Some Iraqis are changing their attitudes. Though the Koran calls for endless violence, a growing number of Iraqis realize there is a short list of facts they can believe, namely:

1. Peace and self-determination are preferable to the alternatives.

2. The USA is not in Iraq to occupy or dominate. Iraq belongs to the Iraqis.

3. US soldiers and Marines are not monsters, no matter what the media claim (see the lead item in issue five of the PenPo).

4. Religious leaders who preach murder and dictatorship are evil — just as evil as any other murderers and dictators.

We can make an impact in the Muslim world. Good will come of our efforts. As more Muslims see the truth, more will drift away from the bloodthirsty theology of the Koran.

These are facts. Yet the two Democrats currently scrapping for their party’s nomination never mention them, do not want to deal with them, and would be damned by their supporters for bringing them into the debate. Voters should meditate on that sad truth.

Leaping Into Quicksand: We Know What Will Happen, So Why Are We Considering It?

In February of 2005, The Spectator, a British weekly, published an article titled, “Die in Britain, Survive in America.” The author, one James Bartholomew, compared health care systems in the United Kingdom and the USA, and drew candid conclusions. More than three years later, as US politicians dangle the prospect of “free” and/or “universal” health care before the voters — often by simply waxing indignant over the number of uninsured citizens — Bartholomew’s words are still accurate and important. Essential excerpts follow. (As you read, make an allowance for the common British error of using “America” to mean only the USA.)

If you are a woman with breast cancer in Britain, you have (or at least a few years ago you had, since all medical statistics are a few years old) a 46 percent chance of dying from it. In America, your chances of dying are far lower — only 25 per cent. Britain has one of the worst survival rates in the advanced world and America has the best.

…a (British) man…with cancer of the prostate…(has) a 57 percent chance of departing this life. …in America…the chances of dying from the disease are only 19 per cent. Once again, Britain is at the bottom of the class and America at the top.

…those figures…about death rates from various forms of cancer were not just for the rich. They were for the whole population, poor included. That said, yes, it is true that American healthcare is expensive. It is true, too, that the financial burden on people is awesomely unequal; but not in the way you might expect. The seriously poor do not get the worst of it. They get treated for free.

In America, you are more likely to be treated. And going back a stage further, you are more likely to get the diagnostic tests which lead to treatment. …over half of British X-ray machines were past their recommended safe time limit. … More than half of the anaesthetists’ machines needed replacing. Even the majority of operating tables were over 20 years old — double their safe life span.

These facts are the backdrop against which the Democrats contending for the presidency are carrying on their feud. (Hillary is so excitable on this issue that she breathlessly told a story that turned out not to be true, as you’ll see if you read this report in the NY Times.) Before the nation nationalizes health care, voters should ask themselves why, exactly, the USA might be expected to do well what neither Canada nor the UK have managed to accomplish satisfactorily. Could it be that the shortcomings of socialized medicine are inherent, and cannot be mitigated by any nation?

The Penguin Post’s Endorsement For President Of The United States Of America

The nation needs a principled and wise leader — as always. Who’s the man/woman for the job?

Hillary Clinton? She’s smart and energetic, and adds to those qualifications a lust for power that seems utterly devoid of ethical or humane sensibility. She yearns to govern, period. Her seamy past is littered with corruption and ambitious cynicism. Clinging to a husband whom most females would have divorced in disgust two decades ago, Hillary displays a single-mindedness of purpose that reeks of manipulative egotism.

But can she get the job done? She certainly thinks so, in spite of the fact that when she turned her considerable intellect to the task of sorting out health care, she failed spectacularly. The way she runs her campaign suggests that her administration would be as fascinating as a train wreck.

We don’t know what she will do about Iraq — but her core support comes from old-line northeastern Bush-hating Democrats who want to pull US troops out as rapidly as possible. Even if Hillary “Willing Suspension of Disbelief” Clinton miraculously realizes how catastrophic that would be, it would be very hard for her to carry on the current winning strategy. She would be damned as a latter-day Lyndon Johnson.

If Clinton does not win her party’s nomination, she should retire from public life. Her present position in the Senate was never her goal, and she will never be satisfied being in what is probably the most prestigious and exclusive political assembly in the world, so she should pack her bags and go. New York deserves a senator who will show his constituents genuine respect.

John McCain? Having estranged himself from fundamental truths, he is philosophically unqualified. He does not believe in the first amendment to the nation’s constitution, and his stand on immigration is an abomination. He may belong in the Senate — representing Mexico — but no one with his convictions belongs in the White House.

Barack Hussein Obama? He’s not a Muslim, but is he a Christian? Those who attend his church and believe the drivel preached there — andcall the former pastor their spiritual mentor — flirt with apostasy. They are, to put it very charitably, eccentric followers of the teachings of Jesus. That tells us something about Obama’s ethics, intelligence and attitudes. The information is not comforting.

As a Senator, Obama has done little to distinguish himself. His contradictory, vague and ambiguous statements on firearms legislation cater to both sides in the debate, a fact he seems to think no one will notice. The man spouts slogans as if they were magic incantations, which indicates his low opinion of the voters. He seems to have no solid moral underpinnings. His charm and eloquence make him the man in the expensive and beautifully-tailored yet empty suit.

Iraq is Obama’s ace in the hole, the issue he expects to win him the White House. His very “progressive” voting record and his hints that he will pull US troops out precipitously give him clout with voters who are uninformed on the course of events in Iraq. As hard as Hillary would find it to hold out for success in Iraq, Obama would find it much harder. That would create a terrible problem for the nation and the world, for if Obama does deliver on his sly innuendo, Muslim terrorism everywhere will increase. Osama bin Laden has been saying for years that the USA is a sham power that lacks the will to press on to victory. Someone should produce bumper stickers reading, “Prove Osama right – Vote for Obama.”

As president, Obama the novice executive would have to depend on a staff that would run a shadow administration, unaccountable and without an elected hand on the tiller. The nation would be better off with a competent, if somewhat unimaginative, former governor of a big state in the White House.

Al Gore? Ralph Nader? They can be ignored for now; if they surface as potential nominees, their virtues and vices can be discussed.

And then there’s John Kerry. He was so narrowly defeated that one wonders why he does not consider Nixon’s or Reagan’s example, and go those losers-become-winners one better. Is he loath to defend yet again his bizarre past? Certainly his repeated threats to deal with the “lies” told by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have been empty. He may indeed fear full disclosure of his still partially-sealed military record.

For the reasons enumerated above, the PenPo endorses a policy of prayer for the welfare of the nation.

Most voters do not know what is happening in Iraq, and how the US military deals with its gargantuan task there. Because of that, and because of the GOP faithful’s disgust with McCain, it will take two sea changes in the electorate’s opinions to prevent Barack Hussein Obama from becoming the next president.

Addendum: Obama might seem to be trying to effect a sea change in how the press and public view him, for the other day he said:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, a lot of them — like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they’ve gone through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, and they cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Audio is available.

Reaction has been negative, even threatening Obama’s seductive appeal for the mass media. The journalists’ scolding is hypocritical, for reporters and editors know full well that the “progressive” chattering class regards citizens in “flyover country” with contempt. The news media pros know because most of them are members of the presumptuous elite.

Obama’s gaffe was not that he said anything new — this sort of talk is everyday parlance for many hard-core Democrats — but that he let folks get a look at the elitist mindset of the “progressives.” He even aired the goofy Marxist assumption that the economic system is the fundamental determinant of culture.

For insiders, this is tame stuff indeed, but it’s A Bad Show if a candidate includes it in his public pronouncements.

Obviously Obama mistook his audience for “just us important people.” That’s why he felt free to wax condescending about folks who are so economically frustrated that they prefer each other’s company, go to church, and like the shooting sports. It was a “Who can blame the pathetic, ignorant peasants” moment, featuring pop sociology with roots in Das Kapital.

If the past is any guide, this squall will blow over. It won’t cost or gain anybody more than a few dozen votes.

Obama is still ahead, still admired, and still has credibility. Whether he deserves any of that is not the question.