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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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5/01/2004

General Strike!

Interesting way to spend May Day.
"When the ferry workers went out, I got the sense that something was happening (in the grassroots labor movement) in the province," said former local Labor Council president Mike Keelan, now active with the action coalition, during the cheque presentation. "That got deflated with the back-to-work legislation. I get the same sense with the HEU (situation). We're at the edge of a precipice and if we stand together, we can defeat these people."
the tyee
I posted earlier at Shotgun about the looming public service general strike which looks good to go on Monday. This is going to pose a real dilemma for British Columbia's NDP. On the one hand there is nothing which they would like to see more than the Campbell government being forced into a corner by public sector unions who are raising the standard of social justice. And, realistically, the NDP having lost a great deal of labour sympathy during its time in office, has no choice but to support the public sector unions.....But, such support carries two huge risks. The first is that most British Columbians are not members of strong public sector unions and are going to be more than a little angry by about Day 2 of any serious job action. The second is that Carol James, if the polls are right, stands a decent shot of becoming Premier next time out. The Liberals are in popularity freefall and a General Strike is not going to help.

What Ms. James has to remember is the old story about riding a tiger: the riding is the easy part, its the getting off which is dangerous. The temptation will be to support the public service unions down the line; but the strategically smart move is to support the rule of law.

If James really wants to win votes and keep her activists happy she might look to the possibility of brokering a deal when Gordo is about punched out. Which could happen very quickly if the strike spreads.

In 1983 Jack Munro met with Bill Bennett and Norman Spector and cut a deal to end "Operation Solidarity". In the present case, James could boost her credibility and her support from non-socialist British Columbians by intervening on behalf of the strikers. That intervention, however, has to be seen as protecting the workers while upholding the rule of law in the face of the Liberal's rather nasty use of retroactive legislation.

It is the opportunity for James to win the next election long before it is even called.

Update: A rather better worked out version of this post is now up at The Tyee.

4/30/2004

Sounds good until you think about it

Paul Martin took a little run at the United Nations at the Woodrow Wilson Institute. He suggested that the Security Council be replaced with a working group - G-20: John Ibbitson gives us the bullet:
Mr. Martin formally proposed an initial meeting of heads of government that would most likely include the G-8 plus Australia and the major developing nations -- such as China, Brazil, India and Indonesia.
globe and mail
Looking at the press reports it is pretty much a non-starter as a means of addressing what is wrong with the UN. Who gets to be "representative"? If such a body is to have any credibility it would have to include the current permanent members of the Security Council - even the ever obstructionalist France - plus, for sake of argument: India, Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, Egypt. But then who? There are seven slots left. Minimally you'd have to think at least one more Eastern European, one more black African, one non-Muslim Asian,(which I suppose could be Australia), another South American, a Central American leaving one slot for Canada and a third round pick to be announced.

Now I am sure I've left out someone important; but the fact is that this is yet another harebrained scheme which tries to pretend that a) somehow nations can represent other nations when, in fact, they can't, b) that there is something virtuous about multi-lateralism which is absent from alliances.

There is no doubt that there is a lot wrong with the United Nations. but there is even more wrong with the long term Canadian devotion to multi-lateralism as a solution to the troubles of the world.

Yahoo! bump

The Currie plan for solvency in our time took a baby step forward today with my Mesothelioma Attorney Blog moving up two places to #8 on the front page of a Yahoo! search for "mesothelioma attorney". As frequent readers know, "mesothelioma" is the highest priced keyword on the internet and, in combination with "attorney" is much valued by the tort bar.

With the Google IPO out today, the whole world of search engines and context sensitive advertising is in the spotlight. The ability of search engines to deliver targeted customers to web based merchants is at the heart of the revenue model both Yahoo and Google are employing.

The meso experiment has been interesting as it reveals that the advertising robot employed by Google is very efficient indeed. It turns up quickly and figures out exactly what is on the site. Similarly, Yahoo's indexing bot is pretty darn quick. It arrived on the blog about a week after I submitted the blog for inclusion.

The only disappointment is the Google bot itself. No sign of it and I submitted the site at exactly the same time.

Of course people will point out that if I used a paid submission it would up and running; but my sense is that the real value of search engines in what is going to be a very competitive universe, will lie in their ability to include new sites very quickly. A lot of the web is gently falling into decay. The exciting sites of 1999 have not been updated for two or three years. Links break, things fall apart; but if the search bots fail to even include new sites the overall utility of the web will level off and then begin to decline.

Part of the reason I am inclined to think blogs and a blog style web publishing regime will gradually replace the static sites which appeared so very groovy four years ago is that blogs really do make it easy to be fresh. Now, if we could just convince the search engines that fresh is good....

Civilities of Clash

I accused you and others of anti-patriotism. You didn't dispute my accusation. (Schoolyard taunts don't count.) Do you know why you didn't, Shaidle? Because you can't. You are incapable of disputation. (Circle-jerk "fisking" parties don't count.)
kevin grace on kathy shaidle
While I am delighted to see a spat between two socons of the sterling credentials of Grace and Shaidle - it distracts them from worrying that when the lectionary rolls around to Leviticus, Svend's storm troopers will prance up to the altar and, after stealing the Communion plate, arrest the reader for a hate crime - Grace does have a point in that Shaidle did not directly address his accusation. I rather thought I had in my post of 22 April. But I had not taken KMG as actually accusing me of anti-patriotism.

Apparently he was.


I have always been a little puzzled by the concept of patriotism. As a device for generating meaningless slogans it's damned handy - For King and Country and all that. But what does it actually mean to be a patriot? A Greek root, my OED tells me, patrios, of one's fathers: the definition, truncated, "One who defends or is zealous for his country's freedom or rights."

Presumably, to be anti-patriotic would mean to be against one's fathers and supine or indifferent to his country's freedom or rights.

My own view of the war on terror - which as KMG well knows is a shorthand for killing the Islamofascists before they kill us and not a "war against a technique" clever as the turn of phase is - is a war to protect a patrimony for which my father and grandfather each risked their lives. One in the trenches and then in the air over France in the First World War the other in a corvette in the North Atlantic in the Second. Not only am I not against what these men and their brothers in arms accomplished on Canada's behalf, I am in awe of their sacrifice and their valour. They gave Canada her freedom and her rights.

So, am I by suggesting that it is in Canada's interests to support the United States in the war on terror which I believe is being fought out in, inter alia, Iraq, supiine or indifferent to those rights and freedoms? Of course not. I think Canada's direct interest is to help demolish the poisonous radicalism which has seeped into Islam. I think that because I believe that radicalism is a direct threat to the West and to Canada. (Not to mention the pernicious effects it has for the women, moderates and non-Muslims in the states in which it has been allowed to grow unchecked.)

The fact that my views happen to co-incide with the views of the present American administration does not mean that they are any less an expression of Canadian patriotism and concern for the Canadian nation. My view, which has been reflected here with numbing regularity, is that defeating the Islamofascist attempt to impose a nasty, theological totalitarianism on the Muslim, and possibly the entire, world by force must be resisted by whatever means possible.

I also think that, on balance, it is almost always in Canada's interests to be allied with the United States. While there may be times we disagree, our relationship with America is the single most important relationship we have in the world. With America we need to pick our fights and Iraq was the wrong fight.

Invading Iraq and removing Saddam was a useful thing to do. Saddam was certainly supporting terror if only by paying the homicide bombers' families his bounty. (Of course he was far more deeply involved, but that would have been enough.) He had utterly corrupted the United Nations with his bribes and kickbacks. He defied the one body Canada loves to support by refusing full co-operation on the WMDs which he may or may not have had. But, most of all, Saddam needed to go because he was murdering, torturing and brutalizing his own people.

Was this Canada's fight? I think it should have been. Part of the freedoms and the rights my father and grandfather fought to protect was the idea that, in extremis, Canada reserved the right to help the victims of state terror. We could easily have said in the Second World War - Germany, nasty place, not our problem. (A position we, to our shame, did adopt during the long rape of China conducted by the Japanese in the run up to that war.) And had Germany, in 1940, sued for a separate peace with England, we could easily have said, "Great, problem solved." and gone home. But I cannot believe that a Canadian patriot would, in fact, be so craven.

For a moment, imagine the situation where America - rather than France and Russia - had been in bed with Saddam and an EU coalition had decided regime change was in order because of the documented atrocities Saddam was committing against his own people and because their intelligence suggested he had WMDs and was working on delivery capacity which could hit Europe. Would Canada have supported an invasion and sent troops? I hope so.

Even if America was opposed to a particular war I would hope that Canada would choose her own path in light of her own interests because that is the legacy of my father and grandfather, as zealous in the defense of their nation, as I am teaching my own sons to be.

4/29/2004

Slow Posting

Lots of personal stuff and, I hope, a move to attend to. Blogging may be intermittent.

4/28/2004

Don Cherry Rules!

Over at Shotgun The Meatriarchy has suggested starting a meme to subvert the CBC's silly Greatest Canadian Contest. And who better than the CBC's own Don Cherry? None of this silly PC stuff about Louis Riel or PET - just Grapes with his seven second delay.

You can go here to vote. If you have a blog join the meme. Voting closes on May 5.

4/27/2004

Things you don't want to hear from a Marine

"Surrender, you are surrounded," they said. "If you are a terrorist beware, because your last day was yesterday. In order to spare your life end your actions and surrender to coalition forces now. We are coming to arrest you."
telegraph

Rebuilding the Library

From: Larry Moore

Sent: Friday, April 23, 2004 12:33 PM

To: OPLA members

Subject: Donate to the OLA Fund for the United Talmud Torah School

-+-+-

As most of you will be aware from the Headline Story on the OLA Web site for April 19, the OLA has set up a Special Fund in support of the United Talmud Torah elementary school and its library. The OLA's position has issued a Statement about the bombing that may also be found in the Headline Story for April 8. The OLA Board of Directors launched this fund with a $1,000 donation.

Members are invited to donate towards the Fund by cheque or credit card. A tax donation receipt will be issued by OLA. To donate by MasterCard or VISA, phone 1-866-873-9867 toll free or FAX card number and expiry date information 1-800-387-1181 toll free. Send cheques, made payable to OLA/United Talmud Torah School Fund, to: Ontario Library Association, 100 Lombard St., Suite 303, Toronto M5C 1M3.

In discussions with the school, books may be sent instead of contributions. However, the school will only accept new books. It is the feeling of OLA that the school should be redeveloping its collection according to the needs of the curriculum of the school and of the reading and other needs of the students identified by the librarian and the school. Contributions allow that work to be done in a professional way.
james bow
As james points out, this is the first charitable fund set up to help repair the damage, physical and spiritual, done by the coward(s) who torched the library. I'm sure they won't object to donations from the general public.

Of Church and State

The comments on my post about David Warren's conclusion that Islam and democracy are incompatible have been worth reading. James Bow asks, "How would you categorize King Henry VIII's declaration that he be the head of the Church of England?"

Or, James, the imposition of the Commonwealth with Cromwell in the unlikely position of Lord Protector.

Which is largely my point. The creation of a real distinction between Church and State may well have been anticipated by certain sections of Scripture; but it took a long, long time for the Christian world to draw a bright line between the private sphrere of belief and the public square, (to mix a geometric metaphor). However, once that line had been draw the West surged ahead notwithstanding the periodic attempts of the religious to use the state to impose one or another versions of God's law.

To draw a rather shakey parallel: the Holy Roman Empire in which, when people could agree on who was in fact Pope, the Pope crowned the Emperor, was the closest thing the Christian world has produced to the Caliphate which Mark Cameron suggests is hardwired into Islam's DNA, "In Islam, Mohammed was both religious prophet and political leader of the Islamic state. The idea of Caliphate has a single head - the Caliph, who is the Pope and Emperor rolled into one."

My own sense is that the future of Islam is captured by these quotes from a story on the calls for jihad in England buried in a story which Sean pointed to in the New York Times,
Mainstream Muslims are outraged by the situation, saying the actions of a few are causing their communities to be singled out for surveillance and making the larger population distrustful of them.

Muhammad Sulaiman, a stalwart of the mainstream Central Mosque here, was penniless when he arrived from the Kashmiri frontier of Pakistan in 1956. He raised money to build the Central Mosque here and now leads a campaign to ban Al Muhajiroun radicals from the city's 10 mosques.

"This is show-off business," he says in accented English. "I don't want these kids in my mosque."

Other community leaders look to the government to do something, if only to help prevent the demonization of British Muslims, or "Islamophobia," as some here call it.

"I think these kids are being brainwashed by a few radical clerics," said Akhbar Dad Khan, another elder of the Central Mosque. He wants them prosecuted or deported. "We should be able to control this negativity," he said.
new york times


It would be a radical distortion of Christian history to take the Puritan desire for the creation of God's Kingdom on Earth or the Medieval Church's regulation of virtually all personal and political activity and pretend it never happened. It did. Just as ignoring the waves of Islamic fundamentalism and expansionism pretty much from the time of the Prophet would mis-represent Islamic history.

The critical element which I think Warren's article missed is that the current wave of jihad is very different from the waves which proceeded it. This time the mullahs are right -- if they do not defeat the Great Satan, the Little Satan and the mini-Satans of the EU, Islamic fundamentalism will be drowned, once and for all, in the modern world. The mullahs and Ayatollahs and incendairy Imams will be left powerless. The old ways, the honour killings, the veil, the endless repetition of the Koran, the dispair of the villages, the certainty that this must all be someone else's fault, will collapse.

There will always be Islamic cranks - Lord knows Christianity has its share ranging from Ian Paisley to Pat Robertson - preeching on street corners and on the Internet. But the unstoppable combination of technology and prosperity will leave them without power or followers or money. For a few years, with the short sighted forebearance of some Islamic states, these cranks will, no doubt, cause terror. But with attacks in Saudi, Jordan and Iraq all the cranks are doing is hardening the mainstream of the Muslim world against the very idea of a theocratic nirvana.

The Christian Churches, Protestant and Catholic, did not embrace their dis-establishment. Fiery sermons, full scale wars, slaughters, and gunpowder plots were thrown against the advance of a purely secular state. In the end, the day was won by individuals who, while they might well have been devout Christians, were convinced that this was a route to personal salvation rather than a guide to national government. There is no reason to believe Muslims cannot reach the same conclusion.

Yahoo!

The Currie plan for solvency and, of course, world domination, took another step forward with the debut of the Mesothelioma Attorney blog at #10 of the first page of Yahoo search for Mesothelioma Attorney. Riches uncountable will no doubt follow.

I note that Google's spider or bot or whatever the heck it's called has yet to find the site.

4/25/2004

A Gimlet Eye

It is after staring at such hard truths, and many like them, for a long time, that one concludes Islam and democracy are incompatible. Moreover, where democracy has been successfully introduced into an Islamic culture -- the one clear example is Ataturk's creation of modern Turkey -- it could be done only by directly attacking and suppressing all public expressions of Islamic authority. In other words, Turkey could only be democratized by being simultaneously de-Islamicized.
david warren
David Warren is, perhaps, drawing rather a long bow. Not because his reading of Islam is wrong; rather because it assumes a level of zealotry which is arguable.

The entire history of the West, particularily British Constitutional history, has been a slow evolution away from the unity of the Christian Church and State. But, realistically, it took - depending on how you count - about 500 years.

Warren rightly points out that this evolution had its roots in Scripture and that the Christian tradition underwrote the drive towards the Enlightenment. But what also happened, and this was critical, was the Reformation. Basically the division of the Christian world into hemispheres one of which followed doctrine which gave supreme authority to the Pope, the other of which rejected Papal authority. While the Anabaptists loudly proclaimed the end of heirarchy, Lutherens, Anglicans and a host of other Protestant sects, asserted their right to differ.

In his article Warren dispairs of the Islamic world ability to embrace demoracy because,
Whereas the whole idea of the Sharia, universal in Islam, runs counter to the notion that human beings can vote to determine anything of importance. God -- Allah -- has decreed the right structure for society from the beginning of time. Ours is to live exclusively by the light of his Koran, which specifies an entire social order, both civil and religious, in remarkable detail.
david warren
Much the same can be said of the Christian's reliance on the Old and New Testaments as the rules for the Kingdom of God. You really can't get much more specific than Leviticus. The old joke about the Baptists being down on sex because it might lead to dancing captures the flavour of the Christian zealots who, to this day, try to impose their religious views by power of law.

At some point, and I would argue this point was no more than a century ago, Christianity was transformed into a religion of personal salvation. It was a transformation, much decried by fundamentalists and tradionalists alike, which recognized that the State could no longer be used to "supress vice and promote virtue". And that recognition came about because Christians could no longer take seriously the idea that anyone who was not of their faith, or their particular sect, was automatically going straight to Hell.

Now, it is quite possible to argue that this moment represented the end of Western Civilization; but it is equally possible to pinpoint it as the beginning of the modern world in which faith is exclusively personal and the public square is left to public rather than personal business.

This is a transformation which is independent of democracy and of Christianity- after all, democracy is simply a way of deciding public issues and which issues are public - it took place just as profoundly in the totalitarian, officially atheistic nations behind the Iron Curtain. Most importantly, it does not threaten Christianity or Islam or your right to dance.

The only pre-requisites for the transformation is an express recognition of the individual as the social unit and the willingness of a society to grant each individual the maximum possible privacy. And note, that is privacy, not liberty. Privacy is the absence of interference, liberty is the presence of freedom. The two are not unrelated, but privacy is more important to the invention of the modern world.

Much of the Islamic world, and we would do well to remember that India has the third largest Moslem population in the world, is torn between the zealotry of the Wahhabi heritics and the much more relaxed, materialist, secular longings of a rising Muslim middle class. For the moment, the zealots are making the running simply because they are acutely aware that the current struggles in the Islamic world will leave them at the margins.

Powerful people, people with wide, deep, popular support do not use suicide bombers and hostage taking as political tools. They don't need to. But, as power, as the Caliphate, is swallowed into the ever expanding maw of individual privacy, mad mullahs and annoyed Ayatollah will toss fatwas and teenagers into the battle against the modern world. And they will lose.

Not because the Koran is wrong or that Sharia is as barbaric as Liviticus; rather because not one of those traditions contemplated the possibility that I might write this piece and publish it without ever once having to ask permission. To bring about Sharia, al-Qaeda has had to use the internet, satellite phones, jet airplanes, rocket propelled grenades, C-4 vests and nitrate explosives. The achieve its ends it has had to embrace their destruction. The future is knocking at every door in Islam. Satellite dishes can pick up more than Al-Jazzera. Computers can do more than provide Fatwas online.

When 9/11 brought the Western worrywarts out in force to ask, "Why do they hate us?" and "Why this, why now?" it was very rare to hear anyone suggest that this was the last gasp of a dying splinter movement in a civilization which is being relentlessly, and successfully, seduced by the future.