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Jay Currie

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10/15/2004

Grownups

[I posted the begining of this as an end to a comment over at the election PoliticsE-Group but found I had more to say.]Kinsella has a rather long history of threatening legal action when people cross lines he arbitrarily draws. A number of Kinsella's threats have been detailed here and in other forums.

It is not a civilized way to behave. It smacks of the schoolyard bullying which he seems so proud of, "but it is said that he can be useful in a stick-swinging, bench-clearing brawl." (from the front page of his website).

Our enviornmentalist friends have a name for this behaviour - slap suits. It is the tactic used by the strong when they want to silence the weak.

What Kinsella is finding out, as Dan Rather did a couple of weeks ago, is that the weak have built networks and those networks even up the odds.

If Ian Scott wants to take down his post, fine. But if he wants to leave it up he has an entire network of people who have his back. Money, research, publicity, media savvy and access - that is all there and waiting.

A little earlier tonight I took a swing through the blogs Kinsella lists at the bottom of his front page. Not one of them has written a thing in support of Kinsella and a couple have suggested he grow up.

Civil societies are run by and for grown ups. There is no room for this sort of over the top, schoolyard bullying.

Kinsella needs to drop his legal silliness and join the grown ups.

(New)The Rather incident taught people who were paying attention a lot about the power of what might be called "distributed commentary". I wrote about it and you can see my piece here. The point was that a completely unorganized, undirected group of bloggers seized on an utterly bogus set of documents and proved, long before MSM (mainstream media) had a clue, that those documents were forged.

This was the first major success for distributed commentary but it is unlikely to be the last. Largely because blogging provides a means, unparalled in history, of gathering, diseminating, correcting and refining information.

As important as the connection function, the swarm of blogs means that each individual blogger is free to chase the part of the story which intrigues him or her. There are no editors deciding how the story should be written; rather there are a bunch of people writing it.

Kinsella is used to operating within the relatively closed, rather cosy, world of big Canadian media. Swimming in that rather small pool there is not much danger of hearing direct contradictions of the Liberal orthodoxy. What I often think of as "The Annex" mind is tolerant of mildly errant children like Naomi Klein - rather proud of her in fact; but cannot imagine that there are people in the provinces - which begin at the 401 who might both disagree and not be troglodites.

For a Kinsella and the rest of the Toronto/Ottawa spinners, the existence of a narrow, orthodox media has been the dominant fact of their entire professional lives. To have that orthodoxy challenged is beyond their comprehension.

Blogging in Canada is in its infancy. There are several hundred bloggers whose readership hovers between a couple of hundred and a couple of thousand a day. This is in stark contrast to the States where readerships of 100,000 a day are not uncommon.

What Kinsella may not realize is that his hissy fit may well be the inflection point where Canadian blogging and online journalism begins to catch fire.


Hype

All bloggers can do is publicise that he has made the threats, which I think he will be very happy about. He may be nasty but he is not stupid. He wants to be known as a political bully, if only to sell his book about how to be a political bully. Postings like Instapundit's, and Cicada's, and mine, are probably the exact thing he wanted to get from his legal round robin.

What this ruckus does show is how important the Internet in general, and the Blogosphere in particular, are becoming in generating publicity. Kinsella, as the author of a book called Web of Hate, does not make the mistake of calling the Internet insignificant while simultaneously raging against it. But to all those who still say that the Internet in general and the Blogosphere in particular do not count for anything, this row will be one more item of evidence under the general heading of 'You Wish'. I mean, if politicians do not rate bloggers, why do they threaten to sue bloggers when bloggers say things they do not like?
samzidata.net
This from England. I had thought Kinsella might just be doing this for the hype - but he seems to be winding it down and, were it just for the hype, he could spin for at least another week.

A Smart Idea

As vicious as the struggle for power in Iraq is, the new government has a war-winning weapon that could, at a stroke, undercut the insurgency, enrich the Iraqi people and create a powerful, long-term force for democracy, national unity and economic development. That weapon is oil.

To deploy it, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's government should announce that as of a date certain, a new national investment fund -- call it The Iraqi People's Freedom Trust -- will be credited with a major share of all future Iraqi oil earnings. Revenues directed to the Trust would be invested in government bonds, with a small cash reserve to cover withdrawals by individual Iraqis.
techcentralstation
This really is a very good idea. Not just to end the insurgency but to change the dynamic of clan/tribal and religious relationships and dependencies in Iraq. And what a threat to the Saudis and the other Gulf State leader who see their nation's oil weath as their personal rather than the nation's fortune.

Curious

Important Update A further search indicates that KINSELLA WARREN JAMES DOUGLAS is a member in good standing. (Remainder of post deleted. Which is how the blogosphere corrects stuff.)

Sean Rebuts Kinsella so I don't have to

As to the sorts of things that I get offended by, I would put Mr. Kinsella’s treatment of Damian Brooks and Ian Scott high on that list (I can’t speak to Patrick McClarty’s original post that caused the issue as I did not see it). I’m a firm believer in free speech, and Mr. Kinsella’s actions of late are horribly abusive to notions that I hold rather dearly. Threatening individuals with meritless lawsuits merely to stifle dissent is an abuse of our country’s legal processes. As a professional lawyer, he should know better. Shame on Warren Kinsella for dragging his profession into the mud.
polspy
Go read the whole thing. If Kinsella had written as well a reasoned, intelligent and funny response to the bloggers he would have come out the bigger man, as it is he leaves himself open to this commentary from an American commentor at the BlogsCanada Egroup
I have no idea who Mr. Kinsella is or what he does, but from the looks of this, he needs to grow some stones and quit crying. Threatening to sue your political opponents because they accuse the policies you support of causing bad, unintended consequences is fair game.

It sounds to me like this little man would last about three minutes in American politics.
blogscanada egroup

10/14/2004

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Another mouth-breather wrote about all of this outrageous, Stalinist suppression of the constitutional rights of morons, and he decided to slander my parents (my parents!) in a way that was cruel and cowardly and sick. I demanded that be taken down, too. He wouldn't, and now he is about to learn all about litigation, and all about how focused I can truly be.
warren kinsella
Well the first thing Kinsella might focus on is the difference between slander and libel. And while he is sorting out those definitions he might want to read a sentence or two further and see whether or not the remarks in question, set as they are in a rhetorical question in quotation marks and followed by "and of course, I DON'T REALLY think either of your parents were retarded.." is going to past muster as a libel even without invoking the defence of "fair comment".

That said, Kinsella really needs to give his head a shake and consider whether bringing an action on such flimsy grounds will cover him in glory or make him look the fool.

Kinsella is no stranger to personal attacks. Sean over at Polspydetails his nasty attack on David Janes. He is perfectly willing to put the boots in: in fact as his backcover blurb below, proves, he thinks he's pretty good at it.

Like most bullies, when challenged, Kinsella stamps his little feet and threatens to hold his breath until he looks as drunk as he looks in this picture,(displayed on his blog),

unless he gets his way. If thwarted he goes to law.

OK Warren, it's time for you to GROW UP. The alternative is that you are going to lose a really silly libel action, drag your poor mother through the Courts and be laughed at from one end of the country to the other. (And world wide as this is just the sort of story the blogosphere loves. Nealenews has it up. Instapundit links to the BlogsCanada Egroup)

Here's your climb down. "I over-reacted to a number of posts at a number of blogs. I am sorry. Post as you will but try to be fair."

That's it. Otherwise people are going to draw their own conclusions and realize that your actions expose you as a bully, a hypocrite and man who ceased to matter the day Paul Martin became the Leader of the Liberal Pary.

Your call.


Kinsella's ethics

"In politics, one half of the job, give or take, is trying to do some good. The other half is kicking the living shit out of the other guy. Friends (and foes) tell me I’m good at the second half of that formula. I don’t know about that. I do know, however, that if you don’t ever do the latter, you’ll never get a chance to do the former." — Warren Kinsella
backcover copy, Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics
I guess Warren was firing off those lawyer's letters to keep his "doing some good options" open...

Kinsella's grip

The ever illuminating Paul Jané posts,
It seems as though the Canadian blogosphere has acquired its very own [ed. "coward"] in the form of Warren Kinsella (no link out of sheer spite, he's easy enough to find), Jean Chrétien's former dogsbody.

For those of you that have remained blissfully unaware of the situation, Damian Brooks posted a piece criticizing Mr. Kinsella in not terribly flattering terms for his crocodile tears (and those of the Canadian political establishment in general) over the death of Lt. Chris Saunders during the catastrophe on HMCS Chicoutimi a few days ago. I was lucky enough to have the chance to read the post before it was pulled, and, believe me, there was nothing there that seemed actionable.
frozen in montreal
Now the hypocritical dogsbody has the cheek to paper over the Liberals' responsibility for the submarine disaster and the chronic, politically driven, underfunding of the Canadian military with this sad, sad picture of a little boy.

October 11, 2004 - If this photo - of two-year-old Chris Saunders saluting as the body of his father arrives home for the last time - if it doesn't make your heart break, then nothing will.

kinsella
Masters of spin know exactly when to divert the public's attention away from public scandal and towards private tragedy. Which makes the activity no less disgusting.

Kinsella threatens legal action

This disturbs me - a lot:
Upon threat of legal action from the wise, courageous, and apparently unchallengeable Warren Kinsella, I have pulled my previous post.

I'm not a lawyer, like Warren Kinsella, LL.B. I don't know if what I wrote meets the legal definition of defamation, and I can't afford to find out, so I've deleted the post.

But you know what? My hundred readers or so don't need my incoherent babblings to tell them what sort of a person Kinsella is. His actions speak far louder than my words.

Consider me bullied, Warren. For now.
babbling brooks
Now I have not read Damian's post and, to be fair to Kinsella, it might suggested there was evidence of Kinsella's hand in the Abscam cookie jar. But, short of that, it is difficult to imagine what would have got Kinsella's knickers in such a knot.

Apparently, and I rely upon Don's excellent summary at the Politics E-group bully Kinsella also sent a threatening letter to Patrick at the Shamrocks blog.

Kinsella himself writes - and he still does not have permalinks -
Oh, and I have received a very nice letter from one of the many lawyers helping out the Gomery Commission, indicating I might get asked to pop by “in the near future.” Personally, I can't wait. I don't know anything about sponsorship, but I sure know a lot about a particular company!
kinsella
Which is the right way to respond to a lawyer'e letter if you do not feel - or believe at law - you have done anything wrong.

What is unfortunate about Kinsella's bullying tactics is that most people cannot cheerfully say, "and fuck you too, see you in Court". They have neither the knowledge of the law nor the money to hire a lawyer who does.

The enviornmental movement has a name for this sort of legal bullying - "slap suits". Of course Warren has not actually filed suit. He got what he wanted with the weight of his stationary alone.

The rules have not changed much since grade school - bullies get what they want until regular kids stand up to them.

10/13/2004

Not good

U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that a group of 25 Chechen terrorists illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July.
The Chechen group is suspected of having links to Islamist terrorists seeking to separate the southern enclave of Chechnya from Russia, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports.
Members of the group, said to be wearing backpacks, secretly traveled to northern Mexico and crossed into a mountainous part of Arizona that is difficult for U.S. border security agents to monitor, said officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.
washington times
The only thing encouraging about this report is that it comes from the Washington Times which tends to run with stories other media would want more collaboration on. The rest of the story is just a bad Tom Clancey novel - indeed it was the plot of the last Clancey I read except the nuisance (there, I feel much better) was Arab.

The Beginning of the End?

An Islamic militant group said in an internet statement that it had beheaded an Iraqi Shi'ite and follower of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr because he had been spying for US forces.

The statement by Army of Ansar al-Sunna group, which was posted on a web site, said Alaa al-Maliki was a member of Sadr's movement and "one of the most dangerous spies working for the American forces in Iraq against Sunnis".
reuters
It is never good news when a person is beheaded. However, it looks like the foreign Sunni terrorists are now willing to decapitate Shi'ites for alledged collaboration.

As well, as Karl Vick reports in today's Washington Post, the indigenous insurgents in Fallujah are getting fed up with the foreign terrorists in their midst.
Several local leaders of the insurgency say they, too, want to expel the foreigners, whom they scorn as terrorists. They heap particular contempt on Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian whose Monotheism and Jihad group has asserted responsibility for many of the deadliest attacks across Iraq, including videotaped beheadings.

"He is mentally deranged, has distorted the image of the resistance and defamed it. I believe his end is near," Abu Abdalla Dulaimy, military commander of the First Army of Mohammad, said.
washington post
Zarqawi has a 25 million dollar bounty on his head and, if the Fallujah natives are getting fed up it is not going to take long for one tribal group or another to decide to grab the bounty.

It is interesting to note that the Americans are using what amount to modified Israeli tactics in detroying safe houses and attempting to target the insurgent leadership. These tactics are aimed at making harbouring terrorists increasingly risky, indeed lethal. By building pressure in Fallujah the scene is being set for a final break between the native insurgents - who seem willing to negotiate terms - and the foreign terrorists who are practicing the politics of "no surrender".

By keeping up the pressure the possiblity of a negotiated stand down increases. Not quickly, but steadily.

10/12/2004

The Rebel Sell

via Darren Barefoot, this piece in This magazine,
If we were really worried about advertising, for example, it would be easy to strike a devastating blow against the “brand bullies” with a simple change in the tax code. The government could stop treating advertising expenditures as a fully tax-deductible business expense (much as it did with entertainment expenses several years ago). Advertising is already a separately itemized expense category, so the change wouldn’t even generate any additional paperwork. But this little tweak to the tax code would have a greater impact than all of the culture jamming in the world.

Of course, tweaking the tax code is not quite as exciting as dropping a “meme bomb” into the world of advertising or heading off to the latest riot in all that cool mec gear. It may, however, prove to be a lot more useful. What we need to realize is that consumerism is not an ideology. It is not something that people get tricked into. Consumerism is something that we actively do to one another, and that we will continue to do as long as we have no incentive to stop. Rather than just posturing, we should start thinking a bit more carefully about how we’re going to provide those incentives.
this magazine
Heath and Potter, the authors, are both philospophers which can often mean they will avoid logical errors and ad hominum, though they put the boots to Naomi Klein rather effectively. Go read it if you have a minute.

No, it's just because she writes so well

That's the title of an article in the NYT Magazine about research indicating that chocolate makes you live longer. What is this scientific reason? Oh, I don't know. I didn't read the article. The title alone convinced me to eat chocolate. What if the text raised doubts about the value of eating chocolate? If it was a title about eating brussels sprouts, I would examine the text quite carefully.
ann althouse

Sully Watch

Ann Althouse - who must be sleeping with Glenn Reynolds for all the linkage he gives her - is sensing the same wobbles over in Andrew Sullivan land,
Sullivan hasn't declared his support for Kerry yet? I guess I don't read him enough anymore to have noticed he hasn't literally declared his support. I do read him enough to know he's "excitable." He used to idolize Bush so much. Maybe in the end, he's going to find his way back to Bush!
ann althouse
Which way Sully jumps is not all that important except in the sense of wanting to see if his outrage at Bush's support for the FMA will trump his fundamental doubt that Kerry has any clue about the war on terror.

The nuisance remark of Johnny Cambodia's is on practically every blog I read. Just a dumb thing to have said.

Svend would be proud

Quebec's Human Rights Commission has ordered a used car salesman in Sorel to pay a gay man $1,000 for a derogatory comment made three years ago.

In 2001, Marcel Bardier told the man's travelling companion to keep an eye on him because he was a "fifi", a french word that equates to "fag".cbc
Well thank God he used a French perjorative otherwise he would have been in real trouble.

The really sad part of this is that I read this at the Volokh Conspiracy. Which comments,
Now, it's obviously not nice to call someone a "fifi." But when the State can punish individuals for "inappropriate" comments they make in private, noncommercial contexts, the slippery slope towards authoritarianism is steep indeed.
This must stop and stop immediately. part of stopping it will be to hold Harpers feet to the fire on the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

It's about oil

Oil prices shot past $54 (U.S.) a barrel Tuesday to touch another record high after the International Energy Agency said world demand is climbing faster than expected and warned the impact is now showing on the global economy.
globe and mail
At a guess, this current oil price is a blip reflecting everything from hurricanes to strikes in Nigeria; but the long term trend for oil prices is not down.

Is this a problem? I don't think so. While there will be adjustment costs and displacements the fact remains that, adjusted for inflation, oil is still a bit cheaper than it was in the 1980's.

The more interesting question is whether higher energy prices are an opportunity. The last time oil prices went up it was a huge opportunity for Japanese and other Asian car makers to supply the smaller, more fuel efficient cars the world wanted. There was not a lot of technical innovation involved - just smaller, lighter cars with correspondingly less powerful and therefore more fuel efficient engines.

This time the potential for real technological and cultural innovation is there. Improvements in materials science mean that, for example, more and more metal parts can be replace with composites, hardened fibres and a host of other weight saving tricks. Hybrids, with gasoline and electrical power controlled by sophisticated computer power management systems are already on the road and high fuel prices will ensure the incentive to make them better.

(Update: thanks to my commentor Darcey I checked out the Sacramento Bee which has a batch of articles on this issue. Handy factoid - in 2003 there were 43,435 hybrid registrations in the US, this year, up to May, there were 29,907.)

However, the real fuel savings may end up coming from a cultural shift. At the moment, SUVs and mini-vans make driving very small cars a bit of a gamble. A Navigator Honda Civic collision can have but one outcome. However, as fuel prices rise, there may well develop a demand for the fuel efficient equivilent of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

It would not be difficult to allow cars which rate, say 50 mpg or better, to use existing HOV lanes regardless of the number of people they are carrying. That would be a quick change to the regulations. (Well, actually a bill passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Arnie in late September allowing cars getting 45 mpg or better to use HOV lanes. It still requires Federal approval but this should be in place in California January 1.)

More radically, recognizing that there is really no reason for people to drive SUV's to work, a road tax could easily be set up which would charge a nominal few dollars for trucks and mini vans to enter downtowns. Smaller, more fuel efficient, cars would not be charged the tax.

Higher oil prices will drive up gasoline prices and that, in itself, should be sufficient to ensure people's next car uses less gas. But encouraging this shift through incentives and dis-incentives might hasten the process.

Of course, as more cars go further on less gas, demand for oil will fall. So will its price.

Smuggling and Human Nature

Jeremy Lott has a great interview with Joel Miller author of Bad Trip, a detailed disection of US drug policy, over at Reason.
That points to problems with enforcement but it also shows the incredible amount of ingenuity and craft that people will put into their smuggling. It includes things like building submarines, training pigeons how to carry packets of drugs across borders. It includes smuggling substances inside of things, disguising them as other things, including taking opium and soaking blankets with it and smuggling the blankets, taking cocaine and mixing it with plastic and fiberglass resin and creating things out of it like dog kennels and bathtubs, and then extracting the cocaine once it's across the border. There's no way to test for it without testing every single item: you can't smell it, can't see it. The only way cops can get it is if they're actually taking chips out of these products and testing them.
reason

10/11/2004

Yippeeee!

My Thanksgiving is made. Debbye of the wonderful Being American in T.O. is back. I missed her common sense and absolutely dead on outrage. A lot.

10/10/2004

For anyone who missed the memo

When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''
nyt magazine
Right. Well I'm pretty relieved to know a putative President of the United States sees terrorists as a nuisance. I'd wondered what to call people who make those irritating messes in the middle of New York City streets with their messy aiplanes.

Those guys beheading folks in Iraq..nuisance. Bombs in Bali, big nuisance. Madrid? A nuisance but at least the enlightened Spanish socialist knew how to deal with it.

Can't beat this sort of nuanced approach.

On the Left Losing

I have been reading some Australian blogs to catch a flavour of the aftermath of Howard's historic victory. I ran across this which, I think, has caught the Left through out the world,
In the wake of Howard's election victory, I've been hanging about in some left-wing discussion threads, largely with a view to gloating but also to study the range of reactions.

One thing that strikes me is the unshakeable certainty of their own moral and intellectual superiority that pervades the left-wing mindset, even when every factual indicator screams the opposite.

If they lose an election, it's not because their policies were crap, it's because the voters are stupid. That's the arrogant, elitist attitude that gets up people's noses, and which has resulted in the failure of the Republic referendum and the Labor Party's long relegation to the Federal Opposition benches.

There is no questioning of fundamental values or philosophies here; only a mind-numbing faith in existing doctrines, and a conviction that all that's needed is the right tactic and victory will result.

It's disturbing to see such stupidity in people who would be considered intelligent by other measures. Some on the Left might develop the maturity to question their own assumptions; the rest will be left behind by history.
evilpundit