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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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What the French are Good at they deny

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy this year tabled legislation making 'soliciting by any means, including dress, position or attitude' punishable by up to six months in prison, but a recent survey showed 63 per cent of the population would much prefer the reopening of France's notorious 'maisons closes' - the state-regulated brothels immortalised by Toulouse Lautrec, Flaubert, Zola and de Maupassant - which were closed over a century ago.
link the guardian
Taking advantage of the EU an English woman beat the French at their own game by running an escort business modelled on the extrodinary success of Madame Claude in the 60's and 70's. The French have her on trial and the government is looking even more idiotic than usual.
The prosecution lawyer laughed as she cross-examined the accused on why her women were pictured wearing skimpy underwear, if they were to provide only companionship ('It's like Miss France. One picture fully-clothed and one in a swimsuit,' the defendant replied). Even MacDonald looked cheerful, repeatedly making the public benches laugh as she explained her business.
Delightful. Far better the French stick to farce than blunder about in international politics.

The War with France

Tony Blair's efforts to seek agreement with France and Germany over Iraq suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday when French President Jacques Chirac bluntly insisted that power should be handed back to Iraqis in a 'few months'.
link the guardian
Tony tried and failed. The fact is the French, at least under Chirac, cannot stand the idea of American power and they will seeminly do anything to thwart it. Which means, from a realist perspective, that the sooner they are sidelined the better. There are many other nations who are capable of a pragmatic approach to world affairs. Whay anyone is paying the clightest attention to France beats me.


Pitch like a Pirate

Perfect. I can talk like a pirate without actually havin't'learn any pirate trash talk. thankst'Jim Elve at Blog Canada for t'gracious link. I am Ahoy! posedt'be pitchin' a P2P story t'an editor and he wanted t'pitch in pirate. This should do it. Avast, go see Captn Jim.

Hey, that Blogging thing

The ever unreadable Macleans magazine has taken a look south of the border and seen that good magazines have blogs. So now they are sending out Paul Wells to dish. Good for Paul and welcome.
Now as bloggers know the sure fire way to hit the bigs blogging is to have the Prof mention you. Instalaunching and all of that. Well's has managed the Canadian equivalent by having Colby give him a shout out. OK, he's launched....commence fire.

Point Made

Mr Byrne said smoking played its part in the death 500,000 Europeans a year and was too important an issue to be left in the hands of national governments.
link the telegraph
The uber nanny state strikes.

One of the more interesting battles of the 21st century will be between the centralizers who really do believe that the greatest good can be achieved by a few very wise people ruling the world and the decentralizers who don't believe for an instant that people are so stupid as not to know what they actually want. The EU is the perfect storm of centralism.

Euro Sinking

Full on journalism. Boris Johnson writes at witty length about the fractures in the EU.
Just as the Maastricht negotiations reached their mid-point, in June 1991, there was worrying news from the Balkans. Here we all were, trying to forge a federal state, and the Serbs and the Croats were on the point of destroying federal Yugoslavia. In a Dada-ist diplomatic venture, the EC decided to send a special "troika" mission from the Luxembourg summit, to see if they could knock heads together. The mission was a total farce. The trouble was, the European countries couldn't work out which was the more detestable of the two, the Serbs or the Croats. The Germans seemed to like the Croats, on the slightly worrying grounds that they had been good solid Nazis during the war. The British and the French had a certain symmetrical philoserbism. Endless conferences were convened under the auspices of the EU, usually in the Hague, chaired by Lord Carrington. I remember almost nothing about the negotiations, except that they were abortive. Mainly, I remember the disgusting deep-fried cheese patties we were given. It is a wonder that the Dutch look so tall and healthy, when you consider what they eat.
link the telegraph
The lesson of Bosnia seemed pretty clear. Europe supplied dithering and appeasement. The Pentagon supplied violence, and a solution.

Palestine Civil War

While the world press seems to think Arafat is gaining in popularity and that this matters, in another part of the Palestinian forest Hamas and the Dahlan wing of the PA's security service were duking it out.
But tonight in Gaza City, it was Palestinian security forces that clashed with Hamas gunmen, in a dispute that demonstrated the turbulence in Palestinian politics. Palestinian hospital officials said at least 13 Palestinians had been wounded, all but three of them civilians.
Samir al-Mashharawi, a senior Palestinian official, said Hamas members had burned down a police station and thrown grenades.
link nyt
Unfortunately there is going to be a lot of these sort of low intensity power struggles in the fractured world of Pali politics. While the ISMers want to pretend the Palis are just a sad bunch of victims of Zionist tyranny, the fact is the Palestinians have been waging faction fights with bloody losses for three decades. Arafat is a master of the art of using his terrorists and gunmen internally to intimidate and kill people opposed to his rule. Hamas has done much the same thing. The only victims are non-political Palestinians who would like nothing better than an end to the rule of the troll of Ramallah.

You Faggot!

OK, have I just broken the law? Now that Bill C-250 has been enacted into law the rules on hate crime have been extended to include remarks directed at gays or lesbians.

Frankly I am not a fan of any sort of hate crime legislation regardless of who it protects. If you hit a person your motives really do not matter. Bashing a guy in a bar with a pool cue because you think he stole your beer or wants to be your boyfriend is wrong in either case.

It does raise an interesting question - listening to kids on the bus I hear expressions like "That's so gay.", "What a fag!" and so on. Is this hate speech? Is it criminal? Similarly, if the Mullah of Calgary (aka the Catholic Bishop of Calgary) continues to issue fatwas condemning all who vote in favour of gay marriage to burn in hell will he be charged under the Criminal Code? Frankly, it would almost be worth it to stick the Mullah in the dock and see how he can square Christ's message of love with the twisted anti-gay invective coming from the Grand Ayatollah in Rome; but it seems to me that the idea that religious freedom, particularly the freedom to preach hateful screeds on social matters, is fundamental to the Charter.

Besides, the only thing worse than seeing Svend rant is watching him gloat and we've had enough of both this week.

Retry, Cancel, Abort - All options for the RIAA

The New York Times/CBS poll on file sharing in the United States, conducted at the height of the litigation in terrorem campaign of the RIAA says that only 36 percent of those responding said that file sharing was never acceptable.
The persistent lack of guilt over online copying suggests that the record industry's antipiracy campaign, billed as a last-ditch effort to reverse a protracted sales slump, is only the beginning of the difficult process of persuading large numbers of people to buy music again.
link et seq. nyt
The climbdown is already beginning with incoming RIAA chairman (and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out Cary) Mitch Bainwol cheerfully declaring that exterminating 'pirates' was the last thing on the RIAA's mind,
"It's a two-step process," he said. "I don't think anyone has an expectation that file-sharing becomes extinct. What we're trying to drive for is an environment in which legitimate online music can flourish."
Which would explain why suing 12 year old public housing honours student and Grandpa Pickle down Texas way is such a brilliant idea.

A better idea is a private copying regime,
Several legislators, including Senator Coleman, have called for a re-examination of the notion of "personal copying." Some critics have have suggested that Congress could force the record companies to license their material and find a way to tax Internet users to pay them, essentially legalizing file sharing.
which I wrote about over at Tech Central Station. And the music biz has to learn to love P2P and use it to promote records...which starts with an apology to Grandpa Pickle.

The UN's Dilemma

"The worst fear of any of us," said Shashi Tharoor, an under secretary general whose entire career has been spent at the United Nations, "is that we fail to navigate an effective way between the Scylla of being seen as a cat's paw of the sole superpower and the Charybdis of being seen as so unhelpful to the sole superpower that they disregard the value of the United Nations."
link et seq. nyt
Er, yes. but don't tell the French. the difficulty is that in order to be any use at all the United Nations has to be able to act. It cannot act if it is being held hostage to the antique Great Power pretensions of France and Germany. Nor can it expect much sympathy if its total policy commitment is to the ongoing humiliation of the West and the promotion of any dusky dictator based on the fact he is not white.

Mr. Annan believes that one problem is that the United Nations does not reflect the world as it exists today. The Security Council, he argues, must be enlarged, with new members added to both the group of 10 elected nations that serve two-year terms, and the group of five permanent members that hold veto power: the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia.
A bit late but Kofi is on the ball at last. Step one, take away France's veto. Step two, look at India, the second largest Muslim nation in the world, look at Brazil, look at Japan. Perhaps to ease the blow to misguided French pride, it might keep its veto for two year rotations with these other nations. Adding a few more non-veto nations might make some sense but it might be a good idea to require some sort of commitment from any new Security Council members - troops, elevated aid spending, human rights improvements - tangible measures of commitment towards civility.

So long as barbarous nations are allowed the same voice at the UN as nations seeking to further civility there is not going to be much progress made. And if there is no progress the UN will cease to matter.


Pot Legal in British Columbia?

While the Liberals continue to get confused about same sex marriage they have not managed to pass the legislation decriminalizing marijuana. Happily for my stoner audience, a British Columbia Provincial Court Judge, Patrick Chen, has ruled that the current law on simple possession no longer exists. Now the ruling of a mere Provincial Court Judge is a long way from the last word on the matter; but it will serve as the basis for arguments dismissing simple possession charges throughout British Columbia.

No, Regina v. Kurtis Lee Masse does not mean that pot is legal in B.C.; well, maybe. A more cautious approach would be to say that there is now some precedent to suggest that simple possession is no longer a criminal offence, at least until a superior Court overturns Chen, J.'s decision.

It will be interesting to see what happens for the next few months now that prosecuting simple possession is even more of a waste of the Crown's resources. Because if it is anything less than the end of civilization as we know it begins to makes sense to ask whey we are bothering with the really nutty idea of "decriminalization". After all, if people are allowed to smoke pot pretty openly and without fear of prosecution and the sky does not fall what exactly is the point of having any legislation against pot? (I mean other than placating the anti-drug zealots in the US but that is a really bad reason.)

If a few months of fairly legal pot do not bring pillage, rapine and teen suicide then Madame Justice Prowse's dissent in the Court of Appeals in which she wrote, "In my view, the evidence does not establish that simple possession of marijuana presents a reasoned risk of serious, substantial or significant harm to either the individual or society or others." becomes even more compelling. From which it follows that any attempt to re-criminalize simple possession, even at the level of demanding a token fine, is unlikely to be upheld in the Courts.

Good for Justice Chen! Legal Beagles can read R. v. Masse here. It is a carefully reasoned judgement and it is difficult to see a) how other Provincial courts will be able to ignore applications based upon Chen's reasoning, b) that there is much of a basis for an appeal. In fact, Chen's decision reads more like a decision from an appellate Court.

What the RIAA isn't telling you

I linked to Courtney Love's analysis of the music biz about a year ago; but here it is again because it's important to rmember who the real pirates actually are.

Koo, Koo, Ki Choo

At the launch last night of Vancouver
the buzz was about the soon to be launched new magazine, The Walrus. Well, actually about the idea of $2.50 a word. About five times the going rate at Southam papers and dangerously close to enought that being a freelance writer would make sense. The Globe and Mail had a good article on the mag yesterday. It would be a great thing if the magazine can manage to hit critical mass and with 5 million in the kitty they should be able to get through the birth pains fairly easily. From there it will all be a question of quality and whether there is a market for that quality left in Canada.


Gilligan's Errors

The Guardian, which has provided very clear and iontensive coverage of the Gilligan affair has a story on Gilligan's testimony before Lord Hutton. A must read for Hutton Inquiry followers as it details Gilligan's pathetic trail of errors and then his utterly lame self-justification,
The initial complaints were about any suggestion that the intelligence in the dossier was invented or fabricated, which Gilligan said he specifically denied during the programme. He said he never tried to take an exact verbatim note of Dr Kelly's words.

"The intention here was to convey the essence of what Dr Kelly told me and the form in which it is conveyed is a three or four-minute radio piece. It is impossible to say everything he said but the concern is to report it accurately and fairly."
link the guardian
Reading Gilligan's evidence it is pretty clear why No. 10 could not let his misconstructions, outright lies and sly implications go unchallenged. What remains unclear is why the BBC would have put its reputation on the line to defend Gilligan. In fact, Richard Sambrook, came close to actually apologizing for the manner in which the Gilligan story went on air. And allowed that Gilligan's email to the Foreign Affairs Committee members was "improper". However, Gilligan is still on the BBC payroll which says all that needs to be said about how the BBC is currently run.

BBC Unravels

Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who sparked the cataclysmic row between the government and the corporation, today insisted the broad thrust of his story was true but admitted to a series of mistakes that threaten to undermine the corporation's case.

He said he did not mean to accuse the government of inserting the 45-minute WMD claim into last September's Iraq dossier "knowing it was wrong", describing the phrase as "slip of the tongue".
link the guardian
Ooops. While Gilligan is dancing as fast as he can the fact is he was just making it up when he reported on the dodgy dossier. So why did the BBC protect him? Likely because the BBC so devoutly hoped that what Gilligan was saying was true. Call it the majic beans theory of journalism. You can report what you hope is true so long as it is within the ambit of your personal definition of the public interest.

John Howard on Mugabe

Australia's prime minister, John Howard, angered Pretoria by announcing that Mr Mugabe would not be invited to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Nigeria in December because Zimbabwe's record on human rights had not improved.
link et seq. the guardian
The South Africans are miffed. They are of the old line African School which says that, no matter what, no African state should be held to account for the suffering it inflicts on its own people - well, except for apartheid South Africa but that was, well, different. Howard is having none of it.
He described the lack of progress in Zimbabwe as a "veritable tragedy", and said: "Its people are starving. Their choice of government has been denied to them. Their economy is in ruins. In these circumstances it would be a travesty if Zimbabwe were to be represented at the Abuja meeting. I welcome the decision that has been taken by Nigeria not to extend an invitation to President Mugabe."
Good on him.


Orson Scott Card on Copyright

Card takes on the record companies and makes the case that they are not actually losing sales and that killing sharing would gut their market. (via Slashdot)

Winning the War

via Andrew Sullivan
Even more potentially fatal to the Arabs than the fact that they cannot ever win a technological duel with the West is their Manichean tendency to perceive in wholly black or wholly white. In the Middle East the middle ground is hardly ever occupied, and entire populations hold volatile and extremist views. This is traceable perhaps to the austerities of the desert and nomadic life, and is one of the great and magnetic attractions of Islam?severity, certainty, and either decisive action or righteous and contented abstention. In Arab-Islamic culture, things go very strongly one way or they go very strongly the other, and, always, a compassionate haven exists for the defeated, for martyrs, as long as they have not strayed from the code of honor. In the West, success is everything, but in the Arab Middle East honor is everything, and can coexist perfectly well with failure. The Arabs have a noble history of defeat, and are acclimatized to it. Their cultural and religious structures, far less worldly than ours, readily accommodate it. Though wanting victory, they are equally magnetized by defeat, for they understand, as we used to in the West, that the defeated are the closest to God.

The West seems not to know, George W. Bush seems not to know, and Donald Rumsfeld seems not to know, that there can be but one effective strategy in the war against terrorism, and that is to shift Arab-Islamic society into the other of its two states?out of nascent 'asabiya and into comfortable fatalism and resignation. The British have done this repeatedly, and the United States almost did it during the Gulf War. That the object of such an exercise is not to defeat the Arabs but to dissuade them from making war upon us means it is more likely to succeed now than when it was joined to religious war in the Crusades or to the imperial expansion of Europe. Now we want only to trade with the oil states even at scandalous expense, and not (assuming that "nation-building" is properly allowed to atrophy) to convert, control, or colonize. How, exactly, does one shift Arab-Islamic society into the other of its two states?
link et
The war in Iraq should have been an expedition originating in the secure base of Saudi Arabia, from the safety of which the United States could with immense, husbanded force easily reach anywhere in the region. The eastern section of the country, far from Mecca and Medina, fronting the sea, with high infrastructure and large spaces for maneuver, basing, and an air-tight defense, is ideal. Had the Saudis not offered this to us, we might have taken it, which probably would have been unnecessary, given that our expressed determination would likely have elicited an invitation. As it was, we were willing to alienate the entire world so as to thrust ourselves into a difficult situation in Iraq, but unwilling to achieve a commanding position in Saudi Arabia for fear of alienating the House of Saud. One might kindly call this, in that it is about as sensible as wearing one's clothes backwards, "strategic hip hop."
This article by Mark Helprin is critical reading if you want to understand what it will take to defeat the Islamofascists. It is long and dense and worthwhile.


Debbye over at Being American in TO takes a run at CNN's Christiane Amanpour:
Brown then asked Amanpour if there was any story during the war that she couldn't report.

"It's not a question of couldn't do it, it's a question of tone," Amanpour said. "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."

Ah, tone. Colour me suprised that she wanted to report on what things "looked like" rather than things as they were. You were wrong, bitch. The Arab street did not rise up, there was no house-to-house fighting, and no US casualties in six figures in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Admit you misread the future and get over it.

Still, as someone who faithfully watched both DoD and CentCom briefings, I will reflect briefly to wonder just exactly what she might consider "fear and self-censorship": the incessant cries of Quagmire early on in the war, the armchair generals who missed the fact that land forces were charging up the middle without being preceeded by a horrendous pounding of towns and villages by air, or the reporters at the CentCom briefings who even had jokes as to who would ask the Daily WMD question?

How about the incessant cracks that the soldiers were unprepared and had only played war games on computers? Sheesh, even I recognized that, when the troops halted, then were not "bogged down" but building up their hit points. That's pretty basic stuff, CNN.
I really, really hope I never get Debbye mad at me.


OK, I'm amazed. Somewhere on Slashdot today - and I would love someone to email me with exactly where, mention was made of my Tech Central piece on the legal status of file sharing in Canada. This site, which averages about 70 hits a day, has had 700 today. And those are, of course, derivative hits. They all come from Tech Central. The really strange thing is that when the piece went up on Tech Central I got 250 hits, when a mention of the TCS piece went up on Tech TV I got around 400 over two days. Great fun. Of course, to put it in perspective, Colby Cosh gets 600-1000 hits a day just through shameless self promotion.
UpdateDoug from Toronto, eh wrote to tell me it was on the front page of Slashdot...OK.

Hi Slashdotters

Yes, I am number challenged. The proposal for a levy in the Blame Canada article should have been 1/10 of a cent a MB. And I should have included a 3 - 5 Gig cap for this levy.

David Warren on Arafat

It is moreover clear from the polls in Israel, that the country demands the removal of Arafat, who is their single most deadly and dangerous enemy. The threat he offers has grown larger than that of Osama or Saddam to the U.S. And if the Israeli military have finally been ordered to directly attack Hamas and other terrorist leaders, why not remove the queen bee from the hive?

The world will wail, and undoubtedly the Arab Street will fill. The U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, will utter sombre statements. President Bush himself either has or has not expressed himself to Prime Minister Sharon privately. And the removal of Arafat will be, at least in the short term, extremely inconvenient to immediate American interests throughout the region.

But it will also strike to the heart of the long-term problem, as did the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It will compel the Palestinians to form a new leadership, and it will communicate the Israeli will to survive to the Arab world at large. No single act, since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, is likely to have a more positive actual effect on regional security -- after the debris has cleared.
link david warren
Debbye over at An American in T.O.(from whence the Warren reference) worries that killing the troll "could result in some Arab nations unleashing everything they have on Israel (which could well include Saddam's missing WMD)." I doubt it.

While the Arab world, for official consumption and propaganda purposes are 1000% percent behind Arafat, there has never been a great deal of love lost between the Palestinians in general and Arafat specifically and the Arab world. From the point when Jordan fought a bloody civil war to expel the PLO forward the Arabs have been paying lipservice to the idea of Palestine. Saddam was happy to send $25,000.00 a kid to the parents of suicide bombers.

The Arab world did not much like Arafat before 9/11, they liked him even less afterwards. Then the entire Arab world had the rug pulled from under it by the Anglo-American Baghdad 500. The Arab street shut the hell up having seen just how efficient American and British (and Australian) arms were.

So, Israel shoots Arafat. What? Syria invades? Egypt blows its billions in US aid and rolls across the Sinai? Jordan is a quiet ally of Israel when it comes to the Palis. So whose left? The big stick in Iraq can be waived in several directions with drive times less than a few hours.

The missing WMDs? Well if Saddam couldn't manage to deploy them when his own regime was going down it is unlikely that they are going to be used to avenge a man who outlived his usefulness twenty years ago. Especially as once the Israelis know which country let the WMD loose that country will no longer have a capital city.

No, the only worry about shooting Arafat is the Western Left but they are not really a factor anymore having blown their credibility supporting Saddam.

Fire when ready.

The Nation of Nice

RAPAHOE COUNTY - The Falcon Creek Middle School teacher who left class Thursday after administrators rejected his teaching plans for Sept. 11 was placed on administrative leave Friday until the district believes he is "emotionally" prepared to return to the classroom, he said....

Ritter on Wednesday showed his class of 13- and 14-year-old students a CNN-produced video that included images of Sept. 11 victims leaping from windows. He did not have district approval to show the video, Amole said.

Jeanette Washington, a student curriculum administrator, dropped by Ritter's classroom while he was playing the video "America Remembers," and Ritter later was called out of class to meet with principal Cynde Fischer.
link denver post
Insulating kids from 9/11's full horror is the soccer moms' idea of appropriateness run amuck. These were not six year olds. These were kids who, no doubt, went home and played GTA3.

The sugar coating of the raw reality of 9/11 has to stop. If it doesn't the left, the Islamofascists and the nice at any cost folks who run NGOs, insignificant European countries like France and the UN will gradually minimize the destruction of 3000 lives. (Which are, after all, no more than the number of people killed in road accidents in America for a month? year? I forget...)


Ruthless, I'll show you Ruthless

via LGF
There was a fire in a Riyadh jail on Monday and at least 67 prisoners were killed. Debka suggests the prisoners killed included Al Qaeda members rounded up in the recent Saudi 'crackdown' (BBC quotes) on terror.

Who would want these jihadists dead? Well, Al-Qaeda for one. They may have known too much. But mambers of the Saudi Royal Family and the Saudi religious establishment and the Saudi intelligence agencies all have reasons to follow the maxim "deadmen tell no tales." Of course it could just have been an accident.


Apparently I am not the only person who would like a bullet between the troll of Rhamallah's beady little eyes. Here's a very unscientific, biased and correct poll.

Burns on Iraq

via Andrew Sullivan
We now know that this place was a lot more terrible than even people like me had thought. There is such a thing as absolute evil. I think people just simply didn't recognize it. They rationalized it away. I cannot tell you with what fury I listened to people tell me throughout the autumn that I must be on a kamikaze mission. They said it with a great deal of glee, over the years, that this was not a place like the others.
link et seq. editor and publisher
For some reason or another, Mr. Bush chose to make his principal case on weapons of mass destruction, which is still an open case. This war could have been justified any time on the basis of human rights, alone.
John Burns knows what he is talking about. He writes for the New York Times and was in Baghdad for the war. As the whiners and the wobblers try to find ex post reasons why the war should never haver been fought, much less won, they should pay attention to Burns and the other reports from a liberated Iraq. It is never too late to learn something.


Blog Quebecois makes the doleful observation that when it comes to political asssination the Europeans have we North Americans beat.

Getting it wrong at the BBC

Sir Richard Dearlove head of MI6 was before the Hutton Inquiry today.
Asked about the government's assertion that Saddam could have ordered biological or chemical weapons to be fired at just 45 minutes' notice, Dearlove said it was ''a well-sourced piece of intelligence.''
link reuters


Old Europe takes a hit

The Swedes said no to the euro today. Whatever else it means the rejection of the euro was certainly a rejection of the old European tradition of elites determining what is best for the nation,
The governments of the 12 countries that signed up for the euro on Jan. 1, 2002 never consulted their electorates on whether to consign national currencies to the scrapheap -- probably because majorities would have voted against such a move in a number of key states.
link et seq. upi
The rejection of the euro is more a rejection of the anti-democratic tendency of the EU than the specific economic issue. Although, it should be pointed out that Sweden has twice the growth rate and half the unemployment of the eurozone member countries. More than that, the Swedes were sending a message,
Maj. Britt Theorin, a Euro-parliamentarian from Persson's own party, urged the premier to "think over what has happened and listen to the people."

"It is a vote against the elite and if the elite don't understand this it will lead to even greater problems in future elections," said the no-voting deputy.

Winning the Real War

Various editorialists and bloggers are wobbling on Iraq. Most of all they are questioning whether or not the agenda of using Iraq as a beacon in the Middle East makes sense and if it can actually work. The skirmishes and the errors seem to be mounting up and the wobblers take this as a sign that the Bush notion of pre-emption is wrong at root. Steve denBeste, who I think is likely the most intelligent member of the blogosphere wades into the quagmire with two related posts. The first is on the transformation of the Middle East which the invasion of Iraq has set in motion. denBeste is an engineer by training and wants hard evidence and data before he ventures an opinion; but when he does venture an opinion you can bank on it. The second, equally lengthy, post is on the desperation of Hamas and the other terrorists of the world.

There is no point in quoting denBeste: he has perfected the long form blog entry and with that perfection comes the need to read the entire thing, often twice. Set aside half an hour and learn a great deal.

Back Pak?

Bernard-Henri Levy's piece on Pakistan in the Washington Post is being linked all over as it should be.

I remember reviewing Salman Rushdie's novel Fury for the Ottawa Citizen shortly after 9/11 and being struck by his Pakistani/Indian Muslim cab driver,
For all his rage and amazement at the sheer excess of America, Professor Solanka has managed the transition from the past to the future. His education, his marriages and his career have all taken him far away from the insular, communitarian world of Bombay. How far he has come is underscored as he takes a cab up Tenth Avenue. Solanka is assailed by his cabbie's, whose name translates to Beloved Ali, curses cast upon all New York drivers.
"Unclean offspring of a shit-eating pig, try that again and the victorious jihad will crush your balls in its unforgiving fist. Malik Solanka, listening into the explosive, village accented Urdu, was briefly distracted from his own inner turmoil by the driver's venom.....what had so comprehensively gotten his goat?"
Rushdie's answer, surprisingly gentle in light of the fatwa condemning him to death for writing The Satanic Verses, is
"When one is too young to have accumulated the bruises of one's experience, one can choose to put on, like a hair shirt, the sufferings of one's world.....Beloved Ali was Indian or Pakistani, but, no doubt out of some misguided collectivist spirit of paranoiac pan-Islamic solidarity, he blamed all New York road users for the tribulations of the Muslim world."
In a way the South Asian fundamentalists mix the horror of the partition of British India with the ideology of Islamofascist jihad. For Muslims in Pakistan and in India, which is the second largest Muslim nation in the world, the issue is not actually humiliation at the hands of the West; rather it is the legacy of murder and revenge which predates Indian independence and partition. BHL's concerns about the Pakistani intelligence service as a refuge for jihadists make more sense in light of the ongoing war with India over Kashmir and assorted other issues than they do as a simple extension of the Saudi financed world of Islamofascism.

As BHL points out in his piece, the Pakistanis have the bomb and they have certainly helped other nations on their way to getting it. What is even more worrying is that the government of Pakistan and its intelligence service may be split on the question of providing bombs or the materials for bombs to jihadists. Frankly, a split should be the basis for pre-emption of that threat. Let the world scream; better the world than the people of Boston or San Francisco or Vancouver.