Instapun***K.com Archive Listing
InstaPunk.Com

Archive Listing
October 19, 2006 - October 12, 2006

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Scenes from London




Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Portrait of a Statesman
Liberals We Love

Portrait of the senior Democratic PigSenator from New York.

TOLD YOU SO. When the spineless Republican congressional leaders were trying to figure out some way of not dealing with the repeated Democrat filibusters of judicial nominees, we offered our two cents:

WAKE UP! (Not trying to be rude, just to postpone the inevitable...) The Republicans act as if what they do now will affect what Democrats do when they regain the White House and/or control of the Congress. It won't. As soon as the Democrats regain the presidency and congressional control, they will do everything they can think of, bar nothing, to humiliate, castrate, and otherwise destroy the Republican minority, regardless of any temporizing the Republicans engage in now. Why? Because while the congressional Republicans were majoring in agriculture and religion at cow colleges in the Red states, the congressional Democrats were studying "The Prince" at Yale and Harvard. Democrats know about the uses of power even if they have no ideas at all about how to serve their constituents.

All right, so they didn't wait even that long. The point is, there's no reason whatsoever in trying to be reasonable or statesmanlike with Democrats. Drudge is reporting this:

Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer got busy plotting away on the cellphone aboard a Washington, DC-New York Amtrak -- plotting Democrat strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court battle.

Schumer, promised a fight over whoever the President's nominee was: "It's not about an individual judge. It's about how it affects the overall makeup of the court."

Schumer was overheard on a long cellphone conversation with an unknown political ally, and the DRUDGE REPORT was there!

Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, proudly declared, "We are contemplating how we are going to go to war over this."

Schumer went on to say how hard it was to predict how a Supreme Court justice would turn out: "Even William Rehnquist is more moderate than they expected. The only ones that resulted how they predicted were [Antonin] Scalia and [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg. So most of the time they've gotten their picks wrong, and that's what we want to do to them again."

Schumer later went on to mock the "Gang of 14" judicial filibuster deal and said it wasn't relevant in the Supreme Court debate.

"A Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown style appointment may not have been extraordinary to the appellate court but may be extraordinary to the Supreme Court."

If they have any brains or judgment at all, Bill Frist and Andy Card should take Chuck Schumer out for a night on the  town. They can hold their noses throughout, but they should thank their slimy benefactor for being dumb enough to let the truth slip out. He's absolutely right about the Republican record on Supreme Court appointments. All the attempts to nominate relative moderates or "stealth" conservatives have blown up in their faces. The key votes in all the rulings Republicans deplore have been coming from justices appointed by Republican presidents.

It's a curious fact that it's the most obvious ideas that are hardest to prove to people who consider themselves reasonable. What does it take to drive home this one, simple, dead-obvious point? THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

There's no clearer way to state the truth, no set of words that will be easier to understand or more accurate about the situation. There's no need for elaboration if the dunderheads in charge can't absorb the essential reality of this sentence. Therefore, all we can do to drive the point home is to use the oldest and most effective strategem in politics, one the Democrats have perfected to an art form: sheer repetition. So here goes:

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

Are you starting to get it, Mr. Frist, Mr. Card, and Mr. Bush? Yeah, we thought not.

[NOTE: At least temporarily, Drudge removed the Schumer story from his website. But even if it turns out to be unconfirmable, we stand by our advice to the Republicans. The situation really is that obvious.]




Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Canada Day!

One of Canada's remote provinces launches its two fireworks.

REGRET. Yeah, it's a bit late. Canada Day is really celebrated on July 1, but it's impossible to pay attention to it until after the July 4th festivities are over. Even now, I feel kind of guilty discussing Canada Day without having done more to reemphasize the profound significance of the American Independence Day. Yet it may be the case that focusing on the Canadian counterpart will do exactly that. The only possible meaning Canada represents to the U.S., after all, is as a vivid example of "the road not taken."

There were British North American colonies in the 18th century who revolted against Britain and colonies who didn't. That is the real distinction between our two countries. The Canadian colonies preferred monarchical despotism to freedom if the price for freedom was war. Ever since, the Canadian colonists and their descendants have had to salve their egoes by pretending that they made the better bargain, which can only be true if there is something inherently better about the culture they fell into by refusing to shape their own independently.

The contemporary commentators who are busily looking for the causes of Canada's recent and increasingly strident slanders of their southern neighbor tend to overlook this first, most important explanation of the hostility. It's not that they have become, through a series of passive accidents, more left wing in their politics than the U.S. It's not that their European worldliness and wisdom alerted them in advance to the dangers of a conservative, God-fearing Texan as President of the United States. It's not that their loftier "green" sensibility has given rise to some new conviction of moral superiority over the more densely industrialized nation to the south. It's that Canada has failed in every possible way to prove to us or themselves that they really were smarter to remain in thrall to a king who ruled their lives from an ocean away. And the bitter consequences of that failure are growing more acute and undeniable every day.

What does Canada Day celebrate? Not the fierce announcement of separation from the Crown documented in our Declaration of Independence, but a beneficent act of the British Parliament to set them free from afar:

British North American politicians held the  Charlottetown Conference and Quebec Conference, 1864 to work out the details of a federal union. On July 1, 1867, with the passing of the British North America Act by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, three colonies of British North America (the  Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) became a federation styled the Dominion of Canada. It consisted of four provinces, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

There are three additional points of interest about this history. First, Canadians had attempted armed rebellion against the Crown at least twice before in the 1830s but failed. Second, the province of New Brunswick was originally created because of the influx of American Tories who fled or were expelled from America for refusing to back the American independence movement. Third, the "Canada Day" which now celebrates this largely bureaucratic event was called "Dominion Day" until 1982. The word offers an interesting mix of connotations. Does it mean "Release from British Dominion" Day? Or "At Last We Finally Have Dominion Over Ourselves" Day? Actually, neither one is completely correct, because it wasn't until 1931 that another act of the Brit Parliament accorded Canada a national status equal to the U.K., which status was earned by the United States in 1783 with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. It's not hard to see why 'Dominion Day" was officially deep-sixed after a typically Canadian period of inaction.

It's ironic indeed that Canada Day happens to fall three days before American Independence Day on the calendar, as if they somehow preceded us into national adulthood. Is this why the Canadians insist on imitating our means of celebrating our Independence Day, with parades and fireworks? (Unless their firecrackers are intended to duplicate the sound of British MPs snapping their valises shut after the critical session of Parliament...?) There may be many Americans who are fooled by this, especially since we are so used to being regarded as a young country by the nations of the Old World with whom Canada has continued to associate itself. But it's worthwhile to remember that as a nation Canada is only 138 years old compared to our 229, which is, by the way, the oldest continuous government in the world, with the sole exception of the U.K.

Canada is in reality our ne'er-do-well younger brother. Too harsh, you say? Consider that Canada is the second largest country on earth in terms of territory. Yet it has just over a tenth of the population of the U.S. We grew because we were attractive as a home and a way of life to people from around the globe, who flocked here to make this country the richest and most powerful in the history of civilization. During the same period of time, Canada has not only languished in terms of population but lagged in terms of per capita GDP -- just 75 percent of ours -- despite the boasts of its derivative Brit-Labor-Party style government. And much of the income they do enjoy is a by-product of their proximity to us: 90 percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the Unites States. Canada is the younger brother we find ways of supporting that he doesn't have to acknowledge so that he can retain his fragile pride.

But little brother also has more problems in his homelife. For a quarter century Canada has teetered on the edge of breakup as its French province Quebec intermittently sues for divorce. Canadian unity has not been annealed by a counterpart to the American Civil War, which may have saved some lives in the short run, but the result is that Canada can never be united by a set of founding ideas, as we have been, because their unity consists principally of the geographic accident that its components were the last leavings of the British colonial experiment in North America. In fact, Canada still styles itself as a "confederation," which is the same loose affiliation tried out by the United States before its failure prompted the writing of the Constitution.

The metaphor of troubled homelife suggests the image of the unhappy wife. Is it mere coincidence that the carefully compiled list of Canadian celebrities includes the likes of k.d. lang, Joni Mitchell, Alanis Morrisette, Sara MacLachlan, Jann Arden, and Nellie Furtado? Probably. But it's hard not to see some basis in Canadian culture for all those intense "songs about myself" offered up by the sad-voiced girls on their acoustic guitars. And it's not just the women. Who sounds more consistently miserable than Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, and Leonard Cohen?

Is it any wonder that Canada will seize on every opportunity to badmouth its taller, stronger, happier, and more prosperous older brother? Fredo couldn't help resenting his Godfather brother Michael for dominating his life. He couldn't help betraying him at every opportunity. And when you ally yourselves with the enemies of your friends, some part of their ill intentions will rub off on you. That's the story of one of Canada's more recent betrayals, the subversion of the American military and legal institutions it sponsored during the Vietnam War.

A large number of draft dodgers, young men facing conscription for the Vietnam War, decided to relocate to Canada rather than serve in the armed forces. Concentrated in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, this group was at first assisted by the Student Union for Peace Action, a campus-based Canadian anti-war group with connections to Students for a Democratic Society in the United States. Canadian immigration policy at the time made it easy for immigrants from all countries to obtain legal status in Canada. By late 1967, dodgers were being assisted primarily by over 20 independent and locally based anti-draft groups, such as the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme (http://www.radicalmiddle.com/tadp.htm).

Following the dodgers, deserters from the American forces also made their way to Canada. There was pressure from the United States and Canada to have them arrested, or at least stopped at the border. In May 1969 the Canadian government ceased its active discrimination against deserters after facing extensive criticism.

The population of draft dodgers had an impact on Canadian society. The influx of young, educated, and left-leaning individuals affected Canada's academic and cultural institutions. These new arrivals tended to balance the "brain drain" that Canada had experienced.

Canada resented the American policy in Vietnam and Lyndon Johnson's anger at their dissension from his leadership. So they plighted their troth with a set of fugitives who reminded them of their own Tory origins. Yet they couldn't help remembering that fugitives are losers in the long run. This knowledge only compounded their animus against the U.S., which now has to be continually refreshed and rejustified to smother its unwelcome implications about themselves.

Can there be any doubt that this is what is going on with the Canadian response to the Iraq War? Nationally, they are so weak they can't field an army of more than 1,000 or so combat troops, and they don't dare test national unity (Quebec!) by attempting a controversial foreign commitment. All that's left is pillorying the United States for its very lack of the weaknesses that so cripple Canada -- particularly the strong national identity shared by Americans.

In the United States we have a pledge of allegiance to the flag. In Canada, the flag is a recently adjudicated compromise, not a symbolic embodiment of the country's defining experience, but an irrelevant homage to a species of tree.

The red and white used in the National Flag of Canada were proclaimed the official colours of Canada in 1921 by King George V. Although the maple leaf did not have official status as an emblem of Canada until the proclamation of the national flag in 1965, it had historically been used as a Canadian symbol, and was used in 1860 in decorations for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada. The 11 points on the maple leaf have no special significance.

Canadians themselves are suspicious about the validity of their flag, which is why they continue to harbor paranoid fears that the more potent American flag is being smuggled into their currency.

It's difficult to maintain a national identity in a country where nearly all of the inhabitants live within a few miles of the USA, so you can hardly blame Canadians for sometimes feeling that Americans are infiltrating every last aspect of their culture. A tangible expression of this feeling occurred during the 1980s, when every time the Bank of Canada introduced currency with new designs, somebody managed to find American flags hidden in the artwork.

The fun began with the introduction of a new $5 bill in May 1986...

The introduction of a new $2 bill in September 1986 brought claims that it, too, depicted an American flag flying over Parliament (a claim which continues to circulate widely on one of those ubiquitous Internet lists of unusual "facts")...

Three years later, when the Bank of Canada introduced a new $10 bill, the same old rumor was trotted out yet again (perhaps spurred by the implementation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement earlier that year)...




The real problem, of course, is the flag itself. Like the weak country it weakly symbolizes, it is, well, weak. There can be no pledge of allegiance to a maple leaf, which is why we have witnessed the sad specter of an unofficial Canadian statement of general national allegiance spawned in a beer commercial:

Every once in a while a bit of I am Canadian! advertising emerges overnight as a definitive piece of popular culture. That was the case with the Molson Canadian commercial "The Rant," (aka "Joe's Rant") which debuted in late March 2000. (Molson is a noted brewer in Canada, and Canadian is but one of this family of beers, which also includes Golden, Brador, Export, Ice, and Dry.)

Molson Canadian, a beer lagging in popularity, (got) an instantaneous boost in sales with 19-to-29-year-old men, but the ad established itself with the non-beer crowd as a passionate declaration of national pride.

Many have come to see The Rant as a Canadian gospel of sorts, and reactions to it range from choked up to shouting along with its script. The ad is deceptively simple, merely featuring an "ordinary Joe" alone on a stage in front of a slide show of various Canadian backgrounds that cycle while he vents a litany of corrections to common misperceptions about Canadians.

The Rant has become a tidal wave of Canadian affirmation.

What, you ask, could inspire such fevered adulation? Here it is:

    Hey. I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader.

    And I don't live in an igloo, or eat blubber, or own a dogsled.

    And I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada, although I'm certain they're really, really nice.

    I have a Prime Minister, not a President.

    I speak English and French, NOT American. and I pronounce it 'ABOUT', NOT 'A BOOT'.

    I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack. I believe in peace keeping, NOT policing. DIVERSITY, NOT assimilation, AND THAT THE BEAVER IS A TRULY PROUD AND NOBLE ANIMAL.

    A TOQUE IS A HAT, A CHESTERFIELD IS A COUCH, AND IT IS PRONOUCED 'ZED' NOT 'ZEE', 'ZED'!!!

    CANADA IS THE SECOND LARGEST LANDMASS! THE FIRST NATION OF HOCKEY! AND THE BEST PART OF NORTH AMERICA!

    MY NAME IS JOE!! AND I AM CANADIAN!!!!!!!!

    Thank you.

Oka-a-a-ay. All those capital letters are obviously aimed at the citizens of the United States: no need to shout them to a fellow Canadian. The fact that this has been described as a unifying cri de coeur for Canada suggests that we are the only buttress they have for a national identity. They are united by their resentment of us. And unfortunately, because that resentment goes all the way back to the War for Independence they never had, it will never go away.

In a recent article in Maclean's magazine, Fox News anchor John Gibson ascribed Canadian hostility to envy:

When I wrote Hating America, the New World Sport in 2003, the chapter that included Canada (sorry, you shared space with Belgium and South Korea) was called "The Axis of Envy." The Iraq war was fresh. Canadians were sure they only had to yell loud enough to be heard across the border and even the thick-headed Americans would get it. Then came the U.S. election and we notice you haven't had much to say lately.

But as you celebrate your national holiday, I suspect the truth about your innermost sentiment still applies: that precious and delicious pleasure called anti-Americanism is as strong as ever, isn't it?

I thought so.

But I disagree with Mr. Gibson. Envy is about something we think we deserve, or might have had, or should somehow be able to take. The Canadian hostility is deeper than that. The fatal fork in the road was a long long time ago, and there is absolutely no hope that they have the capacity to achieve or steal or blackmail from others (as Belgians and Koreans might still think they can via fair means or foul) what they most lack and most detest in us: Greatness.

Happy Canada Day. Their fireworks are their exploded dreams, which still shimmer and glow before their eyes like a vision of long lost paradise.



Does all of this tell us anything about ourselves? I believe so. But for the miraculous wisdom and courage of our founding fathers, the United States might be just like Canada, with a population of 30 million enervated Europeans, an incompetent socialist government, a social and cultural history lacking in brilliance or innovation, and a role in world politics as irascible pawn of the United Kingdom. Indeed, we might be several such nations, 7 to 10 million strong (or weak), quibbling and sniping and sneering at one another from sea to shining sea. Look at Canada with fresh eyes. It's what we could easily have settled for, a passive mediocrity destined to be a footnote in the history of man. Thank God for the road we took instead, and the giants who built that road so long ago.

POP QUIZ FOR AMERICANS: Quick. Name a famous Canadian political figure besides Margaret Trudeau (NSFW). Does it matter? No.




Monday, July 04, 2005


Poverty ends in Africa
& other holiday hijinks


An aerial view of Africa showing the economic change that
occurred between 12 pm and 8 pm EDT on July 1, 2005.

AGAINST ALL ODDS. Chalk another one up to the miraculous powers of pop music. Without mentioning the names of more than two African countries or the once august initials 'U.N.', the idealistic youth of the world struck a fatal blow to the most pernicious human condition in the history of the species Saturday. On ten stages around the globe, musicians slew poverty in Africa by making their audiences aware of its existence.

Who knew it could be that easy? In recent decades, the major industrialized nations spent $500 billion on 550 million sub-Saharan Africans trying to help them emerge from a hell of famine, disease, genocidal one-party dictatorships, and continent-wide per capita income of less than $500 a year. How can we ever forgive our leaders for not realizing that the only possible solution to the crisis lay in the reunion of David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd? With all the resources at their disposal, couldn't they have figured out that poverty quakes in dread at the thought of Madonna shouting the F-Word to everyone on earth via a global satellite hookup and Paul McCartney leading a half-hour worldwide chorus of "Hey Jude"?

Apparently, some observers still haven't gotten the message. In the London Sunday Times, a cynic named Simon Jenkins had the nerve to criticize not only Sir Bob Geldof's Live8, but the legendary precursor event LiveAid.

Live 8 is clearly an echo of Live Aid, Geldof’s money-raising spectacular for Ethiopian famine in 1985. Live Aid was a spontaneous response to what television presented as a crisis. Its outcome has been hotly debated, most recently by David Rieff in this month’s Prospect magazine. Showering money, trucks and food on Mengistu’s Ethiopia entrenched a vicious regime and aided one of the most cruel forced migrations in history. Ethiopia was never short of food.

Live 8 seems to acknowledge this critique. The £20m it raises will go not on poverty but on itself. Not a penny will go to Africa. Indeed a potential fundraising opportunity, which might at least have bought a planeload of anti-Aids drugs, has become an exhibition of high-tech media co-ordination and a celebrity fiesta. Geldof has given up on money. He rephrases Lennon’s “All you need is love” as “All you need is awareness”.

That's not a very nice thing to say. Didn't he watch the fifty or seventy explanations offered up by MTV's crack socio-economic pundits about how the "awareness" was going to force callous G8 bigwigs to finally fix things? You know, by making them aware that the kids just weren't going to stand for any more no money, no drugs, and no hope in Africa? He couldn't have, or he wouldn't have said this:

All this asks to be taken seriously as politics. So let’s do so — and as more than background schmooze for Blair’s G8 spectacular at Gleneagles. The G8 is not a decision-making body but a “conversation” between rich nations. It has no constitution and no executive. The United Nations, not the G8, is the proper forum for collective action on world poverty.

Targeting the G8 is in truth a hangover from 1960s left-wing agitprop, which held that the evils of the world were due to capitalism and colonial exploitation. Conventional wisdom was to dump the West’s surplus savings and produce on Africa, and then to wail when the continent was predictably corrupted. At a rough estimate some $500 billion was tipped into Africa over the past 40 years. Most observers maintain this contributed to political instability and a negative growth rate.

Probably, Mr. Simon Jenkins is just jealous of Sir Bob Geldof. Is he rich and famous? Did he ever have a big hit once with a band like the Boomtown Rats? And sure enough, when you look more closely at what Jenkins is saying, that's the deal. He's green with envy.

Geldof disagrees. He is a big-time interventionist. He claims legitimacy not by democratic mandate but by the dubious franchise of rock concert attendances. He tells his audiences that they do not need to give money or think. They can feel better just by chanting a mantra like monks. Awareness is self-defining. It accepts no responsibility for any political outcomes. Blame is transferred to elected politicians.

...Live 8’s demand is apparently that governments should up the Sixties game and assume the mantle of global welfare. Voluntary giving to charity should become compulsory. The humanitarian urge should be nationalised. In addition, outcomes do not matter. Geldof is quoted in the International Herald Tribune as claiming that something must be done “even if it doesn’t work”. For him, doing something useless even if harmful is a moral advance on doing nothing.

We'll let the results speak for themselves. Wait till Mr. Jenkins sees what Africa has become over the weekend. For example, here's a photograph of the continent's once desolate northeastern coast.


New African housing:  this coastal stretch used to be huts, desert, and
dungpiles. This happened while Snoop Dogg was performing in the U.K.


He'll sing a different tune then, won't he?

FOURTH OF JULY
. Live8 aside, this was a very big holiday weekend in the U.S. of A., and we can't let it go by without acknowledging the tremendous historical importance of Independence Day, as well as the sacrifices made by those who fought the good fight when it counted. In a time wen the mass media are increasingly scornful of patriotic remembrances and displays, we were heartened that the prestigious American Movie Channel chose to honor the American Experience with a showing of "Independence Day: The Fourth of July."



We believe all Americans should take a moment or two to reflect on how close we came to losing the American Way when the evil aliens attacked that time, and only a handful of heroes -- like Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum and President Bill Paxton -- had the guts and brains to win that terrible war for independence. Hats off to them, and to AMC for all the good work. Let us never forget.

MISCELLANY (PSAYINGS.5Q.79-80).

GOOD. The sports highlight of the weekend was Venus Williams's come-from-behind victory in the longest Ladies Final in the history of Wimbledon. Repeatedly on the edge of defeat, she simply refused to lose and then gave us the additional gift of a victory celebration so joyous and delightful that the memory of it brings smiles even now. Congratulations to a true class act.


The Champion

BAD. The word doesn't do justice to MTV's coverage of Live8. It has to be supplemented with others: incompetent, self-indulgent, venal, embarrassing, shallow, and boring. If there's any justice in the media world, this very worst of all cable networks, and its slum companion VH1, will soon depart the stage it has disgraced and degraded for at least the past decade, and the ascendant power of the internet will speedily reduce it to an awful memory.

UGLY. Some elements of the crazy left are so vicious and repellent that even a liberal or two will speak up to denounce them. We congratulate the blogger who decided that the egomaniacal law professor Brian Leiter needed to be taken down a peg or three. (HT to Glenn Reynolds.) Here's a sample of his thoughtful analysis.

I said a long time ago that the current Democratic leadership was actively harming the poor by failing to become an effective force in arguing for their interests. The wealthy and comfortable apparachniks of the Party, and the tenured supporters of the party like Leiter, live well while the poor and near-poor struggle.

If they were doing their jobs - if they were building a powerful and effective force for progressive values in this country - no one would mind that they were doing well by doing good. But the reality is that they are marching the Democratic Party off a cliff, and their arrogant blindness - and the fact that they revel in their arrogance - is one of the main reasons. Not only does it drive away what Leiter calls the "brainwashed" "cowed" and "fooled" by it's affect, but it leads to a myopia and unwillingness to change, react, and cope with the reality that is far from "easy." So we get bad people expounding bad politics.

Brian Leiter is a cliche, and he has almost nothing original to say. But it's still worthwhile to put people like him in the spotlight once in a while to remind us that the Howard Deans and Tedd Kennedys are standing atop the shoulders of a vast army of arrogant twits.

UGLIER. Ward Churchill:

"For those of you who do, as a matter of principle, oppose war in any form, the idea of supporting a conscientious objector who's already been inducted and has combat service in Iraq might have a certain appeal.

"But let me ask you this: Would you render the same support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under the line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of a unit - that kind of resistance?"

Churchill's comments stop short of advocating fragging. But he tells the audience that fragging was a major factor in destroying American effectiveness in Vietnam.

I wonder how the mass media would react if a conservative called on college students to start fragging their America-hating professors.

Well, I don't really wonder. I just kind of yearn.

JUST PLAIN WEIRD. Can anybody help me figure this one out?


What were you thinking when you put on that necklace? Laurie? LAURIE?

I'll be waiting right here for your explanations.




Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to InstaPunk.com Learn More