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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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Gay Marriage and the Winning of Elections

Back in February I suggested that whatever advantage Bush would enjoy by having Nader on the ballot in thirty or so states "was entirely destroyed by Bush's feckless decision to support the anti-gay marriage ammendment to the American constitution."

My suspicion is that, when it comes to voting, even Andrew Sullivan will trade off his marriage rights against the clarity of strategic vision Bush represents. But it will be a damned close run thing and utterly unnecessary.

At Oxblog, Josh Chafetz writes about his own undecided state,
By and large, I prefer Kerry on domestic issues. It's not just gay marriage, although I do consider that an incredibly important domestic issue. I also find Kerry's insistence on a balanced budget reassuring, and, as Gregg Easterbrook points out in the new TNR, Kerry has proposed a sensible and much-needed energy policy. More than any specific policy, though, I simply don't trust the Bush Administration. As I mentioned below, it has been distressingly reluctant to admit to any mistakes. As I've written before, it is far too much in love with secrecy. And, as many have pointed out, it has politicized processes and fudged numbers in unprecedented ways. None of these present an idea of government with which I am comfortable. The reason I am still undecided is simply that, as I said above, I find Bush's strategic vision for foreign policy much more compelling than Kerry's (if Kerry can be said to have a strategic vision). If Kerry sufficiently reassures me on foreign policy, I will vote for him.
Damned close run.

Enough Chat

Well there will probably be more.

I just set up a blog called Urban Conservative 1.0. It is designed to be a notebook and think tank on creating a web based, non-trog, conservative magazine.

I want to run it as a group blog. If you want to be able to post send me email and I'll add you to the team. More later...

Howard Wins

Australian PM John Howard decisively beat Labour in yesterdays Australian election. Tim Blair has the details and the anguished wails of the Australian commentariat.

The key thing is that this means America's ally will keep her troops in Iraq and continue to fight the war on terror. Labour was promising to pull a Spain.

Here is Belmont Club's take,
The really horrifying thing about Howard's victory for Labor is that it proves that packaging and spin are ultimately dead ends. It is a cul-de-sac lined with klieg lights and celebrity occasions, but there is no exit all the same because it is the platform of the Labor party that is rotten. The hodge-podge of wacky environmentalists, professional victims, special sexual pleaders etc. have laid a dead hand on attempts to regard any issue, like the War on Terror, with anything approaching common sense. How else to explain why Labor should offer a country of 20 million people, living in close proximity to Indonesia, the chance to downgrade their alliance with the United States.

If the Left were thinking clearly, it would realize that the single most striking aspect of George W. Bush is how ordinary he is. There is nothing in his strategy to combat terrorism beyond a refined common sense. He represents a threat to Liberalism for precisely the reason that an everyman reacting to an extraordinary historical challenge imperils kings and hereditary elites: the prospect he may discover by success in action that royalty with its cant and obscurantism is no better than he.

Let's welcome back on to the world stage the man deemed intellectually inferior to all his Labor opponents; a person said to be singularly lacking in refinement and bereft of nuance. The man who for nearly ten years beat them all and has won another term. Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
Belmont Club

Update: This poster says it all. Plus the Aussi moonbats are in full'em all at Silent Running.


What's wrong with Canadians

The knockout punch may well come from the American electorate in less than four weeks who, in spite of two convincing performances by Kerry and two comically bad o­nes by Bush, are still poised to re-elect Bush by a comfortable margin. I desperately hope that they come to their senses and, as Bush himself implored, look at their records. But the decision ultimately rests in the hands of the American public and that, more than anything else, makes me worry.
dooney's cafe
Max Fawcett doesn't like George Bush. Fair enough. He also doesn't like democracy. He - along with virtually the entire Canadian media and much of the American - just can't imagine how Americans could be so dumb as to re-elect Bush. How could they?

This was much the same sentiment we saw in our own election when it looked like, disreagarding the advice of their betters, Canadians might be thinking of giving an extremist like Stephen Harper a whirl.

From a left elite perspective a George Bush or a Stephen Harper represent the sort of people who just don't get the importance of accepting the decline of the West as just deserts. Both men do not seem to accept the social concensus which allow political elites to get on with the task of governing. These are the sort of men who would cut taxes to stave off a recession. Dear Lord, when will it end.

I have not watched the Presidential debates. I am not inclined to think they are terribly important in this particular election where the choice is so clear.

If you believe that the 8/11 world can be remade then you should vote for Kerry. If you believe as I believe that 9/11 world means there can be no compromise, no failure of will, no pandering to bribed "allies" and corrupt international bureaucrats, then Bush is your only option.

I am not and have never been a great admirer of Bush. I don't think he is ruthless enough and I don't have much time for some of his fiscal policies and none at all for his pandering to his socon base. But those are details; the key thing is that Bush understands the fact America is at war. Kerry, on his record and on his statements in the campaign, has not got a clue.

And, Max Fawcett notwithstanding, the American People know it.

A Demographic Note

In a brilliant piece published in Policy Review in February, Nicolas Eberstadt makes a survery of Asian population trends. There is enough there on the different effects of the aging of Japanese and Chinese society, the Russian demographic collapse and the effect of modernity on birthrates to make a dozen blog entries; but the piece which struck me was,
The most dramatic departure from historic biological norms seems to have occurred in the People's Republic of China. In China's 1953 and 1964 censuses, unexceptional infant sex ratios (104 to 105 for babies under 1 year of age) were reported. In the 1982 census, however, a sex ratio of almost 108 was recorded - and subsequently it became clear that this apparent anomaly was not a temporary aberration. In the subsequent national population counts, China's reported sex ratio at birth rose inexorably - to almost 112 in 1990, then nearly 116 in 1995, and most recently to just under 118 in the November 2000 census.
policy review
What this means is that there are dramatically more boys being born in China than girls. Twenty years down the line this will mean that between ten and twenty percent of the male Chinese population will not be able to find a girl to marry.

The "Missing Girl" issue has been batted around for years, ever since the early 1980s when the trend first was identified. A good deal of ink has been spilt wondering what, if any, implications a floating population of around 50 million men would have for peace. Eberstadt discounts the idea that the surplus of men will lead to a "more martial" Chinese society. Instead he suggests there is likely to be an increase in social tension within China.

I hope he is right.

I am also inclined to think that the gender imbalance is going to set off a significant drive to emigrate from the PRC. For centuries men, faced with barren prospects at home, have set off to new places to, as the expression goes, make their fortune. As the populations of Japan and Europe grow older there will be an increasing need for "replacement workers" (aka tax serfs) to keep the wrinklies in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Currently, in Europe at least, the principle source for new immigrants is North Africa and the Middle East. Which, of course, leads to the difficulties many European nations are experiencing with their Muslim populations. A shift in immigration policy in many EU countries is more or less a matter of time. But the need for immigrants will not vanish.

Which may, in the end, mean a significant influx of single Chinese men.


Comments Up, Fire When Ready

From here the template changes will be pretty minor. But I would love to hear what you think of the layout and how this renders on your machine and browser.

What's wrong with another election?

Crisis, what crisis,
In announcing that a deal had been reached, Minister of Transport Jean Lapierre told reporters in the lobby of the House of Commons that a crisis had been averted, this time. But, "this is not a funny chicken game," he said.
The defeat of the Liberals in the House is a when not if proposition. So what?

If the Liberals are defeated Chuck Cadman - the new Minister of whatever the hell he wants - will give a Tory/Bloc coalition enough votes to form a government. They govern for, say, a year and call an election. Or we have an election right now.

Again, so what. Most Canadians did not vote for a Liberal government. Having another election will give us a second chance to throw what, from the Throne Speech, is a clearly tired bunch of hacks out of office.

I'm just trying to see the downside here...nope, there is no downside.

Bribe the French? Mais Non

SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. the scotsman
Turns out Saddam was right...If the Coalition had waited for a full on, UN Declaration of War, we would still be waiting.

So, just wondering, how would Johnny Cambodia's global test work where some of the graders were being paid off? Hmmm.

Bottom up change

For many Muslims, including those in Iran, modernizing despite the regimes they are saddled with is in direct contradiction to the command and control "from the top" modernization of the Shah of Iran or the Saudis. Which is what makes it so threatening to the theocrats and the despots.

The tools of modernity carry their own agenda. You and I are have conversations which are virutally impossible without computers and the internet. In another tab I am reading an article on Bush and Kerry's mutually exclusive vision of how to deter terrorism. If I want to find a quote to support my position I go to Google. At every turn the net offers connectedness and transparancy -- exactly the opposite values from those embraced by top down tyrants and mullahs interposing themselves between their people and God.

Quite intelligent people have argued that the Reformation and the Enlightenment would never have happened without the invention of the printing press. That technology made information, if not free, then available without the intermediation of the Catholic Church. And, in disperseing the control of information, the printing press carried a significant agenda. It said to the Church, and to the monarchs who claimed to rule by divine right, "There are limits to your rule."

To take another example, before George Soros lost his marbles, his Open Society organization did amazing work in bringing about destabilization of the then Russian satellite states. One of the key tactics was to offer universities and public libraries photocopiers. Lots of photocopiers. So many photocopiers that it became impossible for the state to monitor their use. All of a sudden the underground press, which had been relying on clandestine mimeo machines, was able to publish as quickly as the state controlled newspapers. Once again, the capacity of the state to control and regulate information was compromised and then destroyed.

Satellite dishes, DVDs, computers, cell phones, cheap video recorders and the internet all compromise Middle Eastern regimes' and theocrats' capacity to control what their people think and what their people want.

Right, Template done

Well, almost done...I still have to figure out some layout issues and how to resovlve the conflict between blogger comments and haloscan. But, and this is probably not important to the vast majority of my readers, the whole thing is done in CSS. (I think there is one table tag stuck, but it is going.)

What a job... But feel free to take the CSS for your own 3 col Blogger blog.

Islam v. Modernity I

Even dedicated Muslim intellectuals have failed to grasp the impact of this global effort aimed at destroying their faith, way of life, ethical and moral values. There is not a single Muslim institution dedicated to fighting this terrible onslaught that is rapidly eroding values in the Muslim world. While the great satan is working around the clock, the believers are mostly asleep.

What we urgently need to recognize is the fact that young Muslims are not immune to this terrible onslaught, and that modern secular education, internet, television and encroachment of Western modes of behavior and thinking have so transformed the mental and emotional fabric of our youth that they have very little desire for traditional religious teaching. In order to provide an adequate response to the Western war of ideas, a new approach is needed. Nothing can be taken for granted. The destruction of the moral and ethical system of Islam will inevitably lead to a total destruction of Islamic civilization. Signs of decay are already apparent all over the Muslim world, and unless systematic, organized and well-planned efforts are made to counter the poisonous infiltration, it may soon be too late.
muzaffar iqbal, media monitors network
Dr. Iqbal, President of the Centre for Islam and Science, Sherwood Park, Canada, gets it. He doesn't like it; but he realizes that the real threat to "traditional religious teaching" is the lack of desire on the part of young Muslims.

And the West has just begun to fight.


There is no substitute for Victory

"We have met representatives from Fallujah," the interim deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, said Wednesday. "We have had detailed discussion with these representatives, and we have agreed on a road map or a framework to facilitate the resolution of this conflict in Fallujah."

The talks apparently gained momentum Wednesday after the mujaheddin shura -- or council of holy warriors -- that now governs Fallujah voted overwhelmingly to accept the broad terms demanded by Iraq's government. By a vote of 10 to 2, the council agreed to eject foreign fighters, turn over all heavy weapons, dismantle checkpoints and allow the Iraqi National Guard to enter the city.

In return, the city would not face the kind of U.S.-led military offensive that reclaimed the central Iraqi city of Samarra from insurgents last week, a prospect that one senior Iraqi official said clearly grabbed the attention of the Fallujah delegation.
washington post
This may be critical or it may be a mirage; but either way it is a potent demonstration that in a military situtation military success is critical.

Politically, a knock on capitulation in Fallujah would more than counter Bremer and the no-WMD's report.

Kerry has to argue that Iraq is going down the toliet under Bush - a victory in Fallujah would reduce the insurgency to Sadr City and random, nasty, suicide bombings. Sadr City is, in theory, supposed to be under the control of al Sadr who has made his peace with the interim government. Without the Sunni insurgency, the Americans and the Iraqi security people could work away at bringing Sadr City to heel.

The suicide bombings will go on as long as there are fanatics. That could be a while.

As I said, this could be real or could be a mirage; what it does indicate though is that the insurgents in Fallujah have seen what happened in Samarra and, to a degree, realize the jig is up.

Urban Conservative title suggestions

Over at Let it Bleed a discussion has broken out about a title for the Urban Conservative. Bob kicked it off with, "I think it's a grand idea, but one desperately in need of a new moniker". So far my favorite is,
For the Anglophiles, I would suggest "Locke and Loaded," the former being a great British thinker and the latter being a UK lad mag (it's a few notches below FHM or Maxim in terms of literate content but still occasionally entertaining, and also more open to bare breasts than its rivals). BTW: there's nothing wrong with clubbing seals. When I was young, back in Newfoundland, all of our baseballs were made of sealskin just so we could prepare ourselves for adulthood while at play.
But I have to like "Fascist Farm Report" Rick McGinnis who thinks this would ping the irony meter.

Bob himself, for reasons known only to himself, suggests "Billy".


Hook a Big One

The Tyee is running an email subscription drive. Now, there will be plenty of my readers who, on exposure to The Tyee's lefty sensibility will wonder why in the world I am urging you to subscribe.

The reason is simple: those of us on the right - or where ever the hell I fit - have one great advantage over our friends on the left, we can afford to hear other opinions. The Tyee is sharp, thought provoking and a long way from simply repeating the usual lefty positions. Better still, it is committed to stories with actual news value.

So, raise your blood pressure and sign up. It's free and it will give you a rare insight into the wacky world of BC politics.


Taking flight with Colby

You've likely all read this, but I try to postanything which makes me laugh out loud,
The truth is, all things being equal, I'd probably pay a little more to be relieved of the slightly oppressive comedy stylings of the WestJet flight crews, and, as a morbid connoisseur of aviation accidents, to fly Airbus rather than Boeing. But all things were not equal in my controlled experiment. Air Canada jumped the gun during boarding and left passengers loitering in the jetway for what seemed like hours. In 10 years' time my knees won't be able to tolerate such foolishness. Big Red served one of its Play-Doh-and-roughage inflight meals for free, whereas WestJet was selling excellent sandwiches for cash on the barrel. Even as a consumer-cum-hostage, I'll take good food over free food every time.

I was plunked down near fussing infants on both flights (of course); the Air Canada stews clucked with helpless sympathy, but the chief attendant on the WestJet flight borrowed the child from its grateful mom and used some weird magic -- possibly transdermal heroin? -- to quiet it instantly. I'd have given that woman a kidney right then if she'd asked.
colby cosh

Yup, It's a Meme

Over at The Tyee Michael Fellman,the house American politics analyst gives the Kerry debate turnaround another kick. I commented,

Yikes, it's the meme...Yes, Kerry the closer. Turnaround time. For the next thirty days we are going to be told by an increasingly frantic MSM that now Kerry is taking the gloves off, letting it rip.

The problem with that scenario is that the pros in the Democratic party are pulling advertising in states like Virgina, looking at post debate polls which leave Bush with a 3-5 point lead and, most importantly, have already corraled the entire 43% of likely voters who would vote for a fence post rather than Bush. Clever of the Dems to have given their base that option rather than an actual candidate like Dean.)

Kerry is a compromise between the Moore Dem base and the Clinton pros. It finally dawned on him a week or two ago that he was going to lose his base if he didn't actually come right out and say that he was against the War in Iraq despite all of his prior statements of support for the invasion.

You don't have to like Bush or his policies or his deficits or his frat boy bonhomie to realize that Kerry is possibly the worst Dem candidate since Gunner Dukakis reported for duty.

The Americans, and the rest of us, need better candidates. But Kerry's tendancy to self inflicted wounds seems to have dogged him from the swamps of Cambodia, er Viet Nam, to his mondo goofy salute at the podium of the Democratic convention. Now, the best that can be said of his debate performance is that he beat Bush in the last hour when a little less than half the initial viewers were watching.

No doubt that cheered up the base and the DU/Indymedia/Moore end of the party; but the effect of that will be to deny Ralph Nader 3% in thirty states. It will not help beat Bush.

Meantime, a fair number of the Clintonesta pros have, to coin a phrase, moved on. Hillary, having passed the poison chalice to Johnny Cambodia, is hiring.

Meanwhile, back at the Quagmire

In a stunning blow to Johnny Cambodia's campaign,
American and Iraqi forces in Samarra finished retaking the last insurgent-controlled neighborhood early Sunday, completing a relentless three-day push through this ancient city in a first step toward wresting control of important central Iraqi areas held by Sunni guerrillas.

With the city in hand, American commanders said they were beginning the second phase of the operation, turning over the city to the Iraqi police and military forces the same way they took it - one neighborhood at a time.
the new york times
The question now is whether, using this model, the US can maintain operational tempo and take Falluja.
"That's when the tide really turned, when we started firing mortars back at them," said Lt. Shawn Tabankin, who led one of the platoons moving into the city. "They were already surprised, but when we started throwing indirect fire at them, they just disappeared."

In past fights in Iraqi cities, insurgents have had time to regroup after the first assault, often buying time by initiating negotiations. But in Samarra, the guerrillas appeared to be thrown off balance by the continuing attack. Some insurgents fled and others tried, unsuccessfully, to counterattack.

The idea, Colonel Hubner said, was to panic the insurgents at the opening of the battle in an effort to scatter them. "We studied what had happened in Najaf and elsewhere very carefully, and we learned some important lessons," he said.


The X-Prize is won. What next?

Start with $200,000 90 minute hops. But look carefully at the extension of the technology to allow low and then high orbital flights. Perhaps not with the Spaceship One team. More likely in collaboration with that team.

It leave NASA looking a tiny bit redundant which is great. NASA should be out at the cutting edge not at the soon to be commercial end of the market.

It is much the same logic as satellite. Initially there needed to be government doing the heavy lifting; but once the technology was mature it became a private industry.

Office Done, Template to follow

It was a glorious weekend on the island. Sunny, warm, wonderful. Our neighbour had an improptu picnic lunch for ten on one of the terraces and it felt very much like we were in a votka commercial - well except for the babies and kids running around.

So I worked on pushing my office (well closet with a computer) to completion rather than sitting inside and swearing at Blogger which, after all, is kind enough to host this for free.

We are heading into winter. Here that means a lot of rain, a bit of cold and the sunlight shortening day on day. It also means a lot of writing and research and blogging.

The American election is going to occupy some space here. I am fairly certain Bush will be re-elected. Not because he is outstanding; rather because the Democrats have picked a man just slightly more limited than Bush. Again.

But I also want to spend a lot more time looking at culture and technology and thinking about the happy idea of asymetrical federalism. (A situation which, arguably, has been the silent and hidden agenda of Canadian federalism since Trudeau.)

And, to cast a hostage to fortune, I want to take a look at actually creating an Urban Conservative Magazine online. Worthy as the Western Standard is, there is simply no way it is reaching past the Conservative/Reform base. Maisonneuve, The Walrus: online David Beers The Tyee are all magazines of the left which try to go beyond the left and into the culture. I think that - and a sense of humour - is possible on the right.



As I fiddle with my template I ran across this fine site. Stop Canadian Good conservative that I am - ha, ha - I thought this was going a bit far....go read it.