Saturday, January 14

Paul Martin: Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell (who didn't), was recently memorialized in a film by Werner Herzog and was finally eaten by Bears after pushing his luck communing with his sentimentalized, and idealized, four-legged friends in Alaska.

His dopey girlfriend was eaten too (not that they ever slept together much; a simple viewing of the film reveals Treadwell to be a potential ring boy at an Elton John wedding).

But, if there is a tribute to Treadwell, perhaps it should be the bear shit that so captivated him during one scene of the "Grizzly Man" documentary.

Perhaps a bronzed mound of bear excrement, replete with an extended arm holding a video camera, might be an appropriate memorial to Treadwell's self-destructive, ego-manic, nature narcissism.

So, what will the requiem be for our great political bear hunter Paul Martin?

After traipsing around in the wild thickets of Ottawa, old Paul certainly knows his Bear shit. And while his pending loss might lose him some steam -- without losing steamships -- it is time to ponder the relationship Paul has to history, and to the late Timothy Treadwell as an Icarus metaphor.

Paul's Grizzly bear was, of course, the late, great Jean Chretien.Scowling in the woods, his breath hot and fowl, boiling out of only one side of his Tory-biting jaw, "Old Side Mouth" (as the Park Rangers referred to Jean the Bear) waited patiently for Paul -- waiting to strike. And strike hard.

And Strike he has. For the bear-trap Paul's intrepid Park Rangers had set: Shawinigate, Gomery, and wait-times for Prime Ministers in waiting, ended up being, itself, a bear trap that our hapless hunter Paul had stepped into.

So, here we sit in Minority Land, trying to make sense of it all, with a sea of regrets and not enough Troops, Park Rangers, or Liberals in cities --and still the shadow of the great, brooding bear looms.

Jean Chretien, who fought and scraped his way to 3 bear-like majorities before his political hibernation and the discovery of his cache of golf balls and berries for his Quebec cub club, is still eating, though asleep.

Asleep, in Robert Frost-like repose. Fatter. Bigger now, digesting the carcass of his once-tormenting tracker, Paul.

Unlike the religiously underpinning Herman Mellville, whose White Whale ate Ahab's hubris and spite, there is no still water after the thrashing in this "Grizzly Man" story of Park Ranger Paul Martin.

The waters in the park are still churning -- churning in the belly of the beast.

Only now, there's a new Park Ranger in town. The Bear is no longer to be hunted. The bear is gone.

All that remains is the mound. Shall we really bronze it?

Somewhere, out there, Timothy Treadwell understands.

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Sunday, October 23

Terrorism Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry (or Dyslexic)

Even those in the Bush Whiteheouse have come to realize that their rhetorical confections of Orwellian newspeak, wielded so effectively and effusively, have finally, and forever, fallen upon deaf ears.

Even the corn-fed, Heartland, tobacco-spitting Okies have finally twigged to the Pyrrhic fact that "somethin ain't quite right".

Let's look at Bush Whitehouse words and language:

The term WMD itself was a made up term, a bogus acronym, for there is no such military categorization as WMD -- it's either conventional ordinance that includes bunker-busters and fuel-air bombs, or unconventional (chemical), or strategic (biological and nuclear). "WMD" doesn't delineate, or mean a thing. It just sounds scary.

Strategic weapons are independent delivery systems that play solo roles unlike those weapon systems used in combined arms warfare at a tactical level.

Chemical weapons don't make it to strategic either -- they just aren't efficient enough in killing people, or have large enough "killing yields"; "WMD", as a term, means zero: it's a scare tactic word. Rhetorical. It is meant only for effect and doesn't distinguish weapons systems.

Similar rhetoric that doesn't define, qualify, or delineate includes the term "terrorism".

The word is deployed as a rhetorical garnishment and is sprinkled like salt and pepper over the buttered corn of the Republican faithful.

And while it was said that Winston Churchill marshalled the English language and sent it off to war, the same could be said about Bush; but while Churchill was in the gifted class at school, the Bush version comes from Special Ed.

For Bush, dyslexic rhetoric mirrors both policy and Iraqi strategy. It fits. It reads backwards.

Bush would like all Americans to be dyslexic when it comes perceptions. But there are only so many shorn limbs and body bags you can spin before fighting for Iraqi "freedom" becomes obvious code for "we want you to be a Middle-eastern Puerto Rico".

No one went to Iraq because of "terrorism". The insurgency there now (sans George Washington and King George) is an anti-occupier revolt; and an insurgency is an insurgency is an insurgency (just like Gertrude Stein said about roses). So, simply calling an insurgency "terror", or insurgents themselves "terrorists", is a clumsy attempt to denude the insurrection of its anti-occupier political goals.

Indeed, generally speaking, using the label "terror" connotatively dismisses political goals.

Name me one act of political terror that didn't have political goals? Even Anarchists (eg. the Red Brigades, Baader Meinhoff, etc.) had amorphous, grandiose, and unattainable political goals (crazies like doomsday cults don't count).

But when you really think of "terrorism", what comes to mind are defined peoples with a form of political orientation that uses violent expression and tactic: the IRA, the FLQ, the ETA, the Palestinian groups, The Shining Path, etc.

So where did Saddam fit in?

Other than sending cheques to the Al Aqusa Martyr Brigades Saddam has been a non-existent funder of terrorism (you have to go to our "allies" Saudi Arabia for that).

Moreover, Saddam has been a sworn enemy of religious fanatics and fundamentalists.

The Baathist regime itself that Saddam ruled for decades was modelled after Nasser's Pan- Arab Egyptian socialism, a political form derived from Europe.

Secularism, not fanaticism, was a hallmark of Saddam. Women could even drive cars in Saddam's Bagdhad -- and they still can't in Riyad.

Simply put, Saddam was never a state sponsor of terror.

Libya's Khaddafi certainly was, (Pan AM 103 over Lockerbie, a French Airliner over Chad, etc.) Yet, Libya, in another Orwellian twist, is now a Western ally! All is forgiven!

Saudi Arabia has actively funded Al Queda, yet no one invades there. In point of fact, American officials cover up 9/11

Bush calls the invasion of Iraq a war on terror now because Iraq has become his "Bay of Pigs".

Like Cuba in the 60's, the good guys have landed but the peasantry didn't flock to them, or greet them as liberators either.

Because the Good Guys never were liberators.

So what else should the Bush folks call those ungrateful Iraqi bastards anyway, except for "terrorists"?

Surely not "freedom fighters".

That term is taken.

And In dyslexic terms, God is dog.


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Saturday, October 22

Is Wal-Mart Un-American?

The Wal-Mart "business model" is to beat-down local manufacturers to the point where that side of the business cycle goes to China.

The lower prices from Chinese exploited labour then behave like a black hole on the wallets of American consumers who are driven away from local retailers toward Sam Walton and his price-war vacuum.

Being local loses: retailers can't compete -- despite the fact that they've been servicing their local consumer base for eons; local manufacurers get pushed out of operation too.

Wal-Mart claims they save the average American family $500.00 per year. Is this at the expense of America being a service economy only and to the benefit of a foreign economy's GDP?

America developed its economic empire in the 1840's by outproducing England in engineering refinements -- by making, not just selling, products.

What happens to prices when a retail monopoly is gained at the expense of American manufacturing? How about a one-dimensional Colossus that is able to, with impunity, gradually raise prices since local business competition is gone.

It's fair to say that Wal-Mart has a GDP bigger than most countries; and, as a multi-national, it operates upon the principles of its only God: return to shareholders.

But is that enough?

A virus will consume itself and its host. Businesses and organisms, in the process of persuing vertical food-chain gratification, cannot, or do not, always extrapolate or assess changes to their external environment or measure the impact of their actions.

Intelligent, conscious, creatures by contrast, usually react to more than simple biological function.

If you, for example, have an immediate urge/need to crap in your hat, you may, upon reflection, might have to wear it sometime, so you conclude against it -- you don't crap in your hat.

Wal-Mart is increasingly dependent upon a business model that is beyond American control. And, as the economic and local consumer base becomes more mono-chromatic and less diverse, and as the dependence on ultra-cheap, exploited labour increases, the musical chair-ride starts to slow down.

History shows us that you can't have a permanently cheap labour source forever. The lack of diversity, both at home and abroad, eventually catches up to the Big Box model.

Some would argue that if China gets more expensive in 20 years, you just go somewhere else cheaper. Use another labour force.

However, the globalized model, by the standard of its own principles, is supposed to eventiually ensure economic inter-dependency and, with it, money spreading -- globalization's own internal logic.

So, how can you live by global economic principles and then turn around and declare that one labour market will be permanently suppressed somewhere (like an Adam Smith version of Nineteenth Century Southern plantation Blacks)?

American economic inter-dependancy also seems increasingly contradictory, self-defeating, unsustaining, and schitzophrenic as the Pentagon has been seriously War-gaming China since 1992!

On one hand, you have U.S. business models sucking the Chinese teat at the expense of local Americans, and, on the other hand, the military complex is lining up China's head up with a baseball bat: encirclement alliances, anti-missle defence, space weaponization, etc., -- all at the expense of U.S multi-nationals.

In this kind of jungle, is there any law?

Anti-trust laws exist in America because unbridled capitalism is like unbridled Islamic democracy -- you create that which is antithetical.

The ungoverned process, like a virus, can destroy its host. Democracy can elect dictators and Big Business, through monoply and corporate concentration, can destroy market competition -- and with it, real market capitalism.

Gordon Gekko was wrong. Greed doesn't work.

Sometimes you might want to put the hat back on your head -- even if it's label is Chinese.

It's called political will.

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The Life of Brian

The recent don't-kiss-but-tell bio on Brian Mulroney has rankled many Conservatives.

Mulroney's excesses, and personal, beery, comments on everything from "Flora McDonald ("a stupid twat") or Trudeau ("He f**ked up the country"), etc. will not, however, detract from his political record -- anymore than Mckenzie King's exhorations about Jews or King's predilection for seances with his Mother's ghost.

Despite the fact Mulroney and Trudeau came from opposite political camps, they, at least, comprised, expressed, manifested, and excercised their respective visions: Mulroney the Continentalist, and Trudeau the Federalist/internationalist.

Today we have political leaders who are unoriginal, dull, political bureaucrats: high-school principal types and bank manager personalities bereft of political vision or political panache.

Paul Martin? He was dragged into showing political leadership with the economic plight of Canadian cities.

Stephen Harper? He proposes closer ties with China in response to obstreperous American trade; and he, too slowly, and too timidly, recanted kowtowing to the political-cultural core of the antecedent Reform party with its fixation on Alberta Bible belt precepts and its attendant shoulder chip.

Trudeau, who openly told adversaries in the House to "F-off", or "Fuddle Duddle", courted women half his age; opened the West to China before Nixon; maintained independent foreign policy prespectives by having Cigars with Fidel; wrote in "Federalism and French Canadians" that Quebecers need not be the "white niggars of North America"; and went on to pyschologically, and politically, solidifify the "masters of their own house" Quebec longing, and made us, in the process, read French on our Corn Flakes boxes.

Obversely, Mulroney loved America and Americana. He boozily sang with Reagan, fished with Bush senior, and created Free Trade and that surplus creating engine, the GST (like it or not).

As long as America doesn't totally ruin it's economy, continentalism -- long a Canadian incliniation as much as its opposite -- has been rewarding.

Like them or hate them, both Trudeau and Mulroney had vision -- real, actionable, political vision.

Martin, who is more competant than the politically immature, but bright and bland Harper, has no vision at all -- at least compared to Trudeau and Mulroney.

The stuff of arrogance and power-craving without charm, passion, style, or political vision, is just what we have now.

How Canadian.

And how, unlike most Canadians, Trudeau and Mulroney were. They weren't managers, and they didn't play it safe.

History will be better to them than most of us.

Cheers, Brian.

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Panzer Pope

Now that the Papal incense dust has settled over the former Hitler Youth-turned-Pope, Benedict XVI, its time to have an honest, no spin, look at "God's Rotweiller".

Since 99.9 percent of "practicing" Catholics don't practice what the Pope preaches, why the continued acquiescence to such hypocrisy? Why would almost all Catholics still accept the symbolism of a Pope who is so vastly out of touch with reality: condoms, abortion, etc.

Almost all Catholics do not adhere to the notion that sex is only for procreation, or that orgasm has no place in the function of homosapien pair bonding.

Many Catholics also disregard the quaint edict that Priests shouldn't marry. The notion that human love can only be properly devotional by itself becoming incorporeal, unalloyed and unsullied by earthy, earthly love is absolute nonsense: there is room for both God and booty.

Even Hitler, the Pope's former Cub Scout leader, who ascetically pronounced "My bride is Germany", finally, in his last days, with the Russians knocking on the bunker door, married Eva Braun.

Will modernity ever knock on the bunker of Medieval Papal dogma?

Or will our "Panzer Pope", sitting coiled in his Vatican fortress, sealed off from workaday spiritual reality, continue to try and deploy non-existent dogmatic acceptance on the map of Catholicism?

It’s just like those phantom armies in a delusional Berlin bunker end game.

And it's time more Catholics knocked on his bunker door.

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Wednesday, March 9

The Passion of the Krystal

I do not know of any other religious organization in the world that has been plagued with more accusations of pedophilia than has the Roman Catholic Church.

I also wonder how many AIDS deaths that the Pope has been indirectly responsible for by his condemnation of condoms? Some in the Church have even – outrageously -- compared the act of abortion to be analogous to the genocide of Jews in the 1940’s!

In this shrill context, I find the whole fixation some have with Gay Marriage (and being a “good Catholic”) to be both fatuous and irrelevant.

If the Catholic Church looked inward at its own duplicitous qualities and hoary denials about problems with some Priests -- centuries-old problems – then, perhaps, the nature/nurture argument might become more apparent with regard to homosexuality’s causation; or if, as some would have it, that homosexuality is merely behavioural, and not “nature”, then what element of the Church or its environment has conditioned the behaviour of these diddling Priests? Are the pews too hard, or not hard enough?

Homosexuality, of course, is not about pedophilia, but it is about an innate state of sexual orientation that, it could be argued, manifests in the Church due to opportunity and a victimizing availability.

I responded to these issues today (an oft repeated topic) on “The Michael Coren Show” on CTS Television -- to Michael’s great consternation. He hated me for my inflammatory honesty.

The fact is, not many people in predominately secular Canada care about the Catholic Church or its decrees.

I, for one, as a heterosexual male, am sick to death of the topic of Gays, and Gay marriage. Aren’t you? In am also tired of being put in the position of defending Gay marriage on talk shows and TV panels.

What do Gays or Catholics have to do with the price of eggs or oil?

Let God figure out the rest.

Sunday, February 6

In Praise of Folly

The precedent of invading countries for the purpose of coercion has been around as long as war has. However, to mask such coercion and hegemony in the flag of “democracy” and under the cultural aegis of “we know better’, is dangerous ground.

It’s not just counter-intuitive, it is true: a successful “Americanizing” of Iraq, may lead to disaster elsewhere.

It is common knowledge that Iran has been targeted by the Pentagon for “corrective” action – targeted air strikes on nuclear facilities with ground penetration bombs, as well as command and control centres and de-capitation strikes on the political infrastructure.

Using the military to quell areas that are inconvenient for ruling powers is, again, hoary. Look at China and Tibet, American (and before that Spanish French and British) military intervention in Latin America, Russia in Chechnya, etc. and on and on.

Prior to George Bush, America was the de facto guarantor of national borders following the demise of the Soviet Union. But, the invasion of Iraq has changed all of that.

Remember, there is always a good reason for invasion. There has to be. Even Hitler described his invasions as “defensive”. Hitler!

You should remember two important things: firstly, States can behave as irrationally, and as rashly, as individuals (neurotic, bi-polar, the whole bit); secondly, the old Great Power Alliance structures that we saw before the First World war, are again starting to gather and congeal.

Psychologically, the U.S. has castrated the U.N., preferring it to be viewed as a constraint upon its impatient unilateral actions – which it is; constraint is what the U.N. was designed for.

So, if the U.S. uses Iraqi Americanization as proof of a “post” United Nations world, where Great Powers know better, where does that lead us? Europe, after being bloodied by centuries of such behaviour, knows – and knows better.

The E.U. is now trying to counter-balance American bankruptcy with territorial integrity (however bad Saddam was) and its penchant for unbridled unilateral military reflexes, by engaging in diplomacy with Iran. America has opted out of diplomacy with Iran. The American inference here is that diplomacy is for pussies, unless, like North Korea, they have nuclear weapons and significant artillery assets that can decimate American and South Korean border troop concentrations.

Selective use of principles is bankrupt integrity.

Militarily, the E.U. is also moving away from the George W. Bush idea of the exercise of state power. The E.U. is actually opposed to the “idea” of what America has become, in this regard.

Real influence, according to Clausewitz, is the absence of resistance, what Carl Von Clausewitz termed “friction”. One example is the Cold War, where Western Europe bought the “idea” of America, and Eastern Europe did not buy into the idea of Soviet Communism. It was only a matter of time before the “resistance’ of the people of Eastern Europe collapsed the military dominance of Russia. Embraced ideas and value systems are also what Professor Joseph calls “Soft Power”.

Bush prefers catching flies using the stuff that isn’t sugar. And that’s what the international system starts to smell like.

Tuesday, February 1

It’s Morning In Iraq

Those that used the slogan “It’s morning in America” during the Reagan years are again employing it in Iraq. And while former President Ronald Reagan had his bedtime for Bonzo, the favourite chimp, the monkey of Middle Eastern democracy today has America as its Organ Grinder.

It is the dancing of that Iraqi monkey that is key here: the country has permanent American military bases; the country is now an American dependant; the country is of fundamental strategic importance to the U.S. lying in the geographic centre of the Middle East with the world’s second largest oil reserves within the context of a more unstable, less reliable, Saudi Arabia. And, as world oil resources tighten, Iraq will only increase in strategic and economic value for the Pentagon as an Organ Grinder.

As everyone hears, the word “democracy” is used a lot. But, what is “democracy”? The word is dropped like a cluster bomb repeatedly by the ruling political class and the Pentagon, who, of course, never institutionally employ it themselves, but who use it to justify the flagrant invasion of the sovereign state of Iraq ever since there were no “WMD” (I guess we are just suppose to forget about that); bad dictator notwithstanding, the invasion was about the strategic value of the region and the target of opportunity that it became in the wake of 9/11.

OK. That’s old news. What is not is the use of democracy as a feel-good weapon, where, it is assumed, American dominance is better for them anyway (which may, eventually, be true). In fact, the fractious and fragmented insurgents lost this week in Iraq because they offered no solutions to the people, only the negatives of anti-Americanism and anti-Colonialism, which is not enough when you’re out of water.

However, the problem with democracy is that you can’t have an Organ Grinder to make you jump. You have to actually be the Organ Grinder for it to last. Primitive democratic processes, with weak constitutional liberalism, can elect leaders who are anti-democratic, a Mullah, a strongman, another Saddam – that is unlikely to happen with an American Organ Grinder playing songs for Iraq’s democratic monkey, but there still may be the internal will for it.

Monday, January 10


Tsunami relief is not what it appears to be. A sea change in putative humanitarian sensitivity? No, just the latest feel-good fad.

It's not the awakening of humanitarian awareness that's objectionable--far from it--but the inconsistent and selective manner in which those awarenesses are applied.

In 1994, people were enthralled by the salacious undertow of O.J. Simpson--screw Rwanda and the Holocaust of one million souls.

The ratings-ruled vulture-culture media feed off white carcasses best. Whether it's Nicole Brown Simpson, or blonde kids in Phuket. Darfur, and the rest of Africa, don't have enough good photo ops.

Does media interest determine public interest? Generally, people don't care enough unless they're told to.

So, where is the media responsibility to remind people that the Red Cross is open for business outside of tsunami season?

Within the relief craze itself is there a more subtle, incipient, critical awareness about wealth disparity and the concentration of our wealth in the first world?

Toronto city councillor Michael Walker behaves like a naive clown when he asserts that our city should donate a million.

Should we feel guilty that we are not a shantytown? Where does that thinking stop? No "wave" of interest for the homeless, Mr. Walker?

Maybe this tsunami feel-good fixation only works because it's a "natural" disaster.

If it's man-made homelessness, or war, or a slow death from malnutrition, or AIDS, it's just less sexy, less melodramatic, less cinematic--think of The Day After Tomorrow.

A victim is still a victim is still a victim ... unless you're from an earthquake in Iran where only a quarter of the dough pledged actually made it.

The federal government has been, in relative terms, responsive and generous with tsunami relief money. So, when someone asks me what I've done for tsunami relief, I respond that I already gave at the office.

It's called taxes.

Wednesday, December 8


In our hostile secular society, what could be more iconoclastic than Michael Coren maintaining a consistently religious perspective?

To his great credit, he works with a purpose: Michael Coren wants to make a better world. We have different approaches, but similar goals.

I am left, however, to pick up the pieces of the thorny crown of the non-believer--or the hopeful agnostic.

There I was, infidel me, in the belly of the beast at CTS on the Michael Coren Show, pronouncing my concern over the sexuality of Jesus Christ.

The week before, legions of so-called Christians were calling me on-air wanting to lynch gays for any number of reasons--mainly because they don’t like to play anal cribbage, or bum poker. That’s OK. I can relate to issues of taste and preference.

What always shocks me, though, is the attempt to corroborate an aversion by using the Bible to condemn, and the party line Christians who seem so definite about the sexuality of Jesus.

Here was a man who never categorically denounced homosexuals; who never led a heterosexual lifestyle; who never “healed gays”; who preached love and tolerance and thought nothing of having prostitutes as pals.

On the Coren show panel, I made the determination that “Jesus cares more about where you place your soul than your penis." As a quasi-Christian, I have always had a problem with a God--allegedly a universal being--who'd be concerned with my genitalia.

Well, blow me down. The ever-feisty Coren practically jumped out of his pants (or panties?), and took me to task.

I was dragged into the rhetorical woodshed, as Coren polemically pulverized me, again and again, about my relative lack of knowledge about Christian doctrine (he’s right), about my lack of understanding regarding scripture (he's sorta right), and about the consistency of the internal logic of the Bible regarding homosexuality, and how we do, in fact, have irrefutable and definite--indeed intimate--knowledge of how Christ, as a God-man, lusted.

Really? Did Jesus like blondes, then? Green eyes? Brown? My guess is that spiritual entities are beyond such corporeal musings.

Judge a man by what he does, not by what he says. But, in the case of Jesus, it is about an interpretation of what he says, not by actions or by categorical statements--however hard you try and slice it. Remember, much of the Bible has no problem being categorical about what to do and what not to do: “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Ass ... or his donkey."

Coren pointed out that Jesus stated that he was the continuation of the Old Testament--a work that condemns Queer as Folk with fire and brimstone. Coren reminded that on his travels Christ had told an adulterer that forgiveness is not the equivalent of a Get Out of Jail Free card, and how the nature of forgiveness itself still involves adhering to, and observing, moral precepts.

What of the moral precepts of God? The one who made gays anyway? Please don’t try and tell me Liberace was a man-made event. And, if it wasn't for homosexuality, there likely wouldn’t be a CBC drama department either.

As one who cringes at the notion of anal sex, or even the suggested man-on-man action in that Alexander film made by Oliver Stone, I find it hard to reconcile the notion of Christ’s antipathy for such inanities with the love and tolerance that he preached. Perhaps the real question should be, will Christ ever forgive the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas?

Is the moral character of a person, and his capacity to love, really determined by where he parks his penis?

Michael will say that I don’t know my Bible as completely as he. To which I will respond that the question of the internal logic of one Star Trek episode is not determined by me seeing the entire series.

Now, beam me up--but, for Christ’s sake, don’t bend me over.

Thursday, November 18


In 1968, on a remote, little known, and otherwise unimportant hilltop outpost in Vietnam, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army gathered. History records it as the siege of Khe Sanh. For what seemed an eternity, the enemy shelled the hilltop fortress: mortar rounds, rockets, and artillery. Many Marines were wounded by shrapnel or blown away completely.

When the enemy melted back into the thick, dark green, triple canopy of the Vietnamese jungle, so did the raison d'etre of Khe Sanh. Its significance existed in direct proportion to the concentration of enemy forces that surrounded it.

Like much of counter-insurgency warfare, it is about attrition for conventional forces: kill as many as you can, or, at least until they relent or are coerced to become politically pliable. The problem for the occupying conventional force, whether it is Vietnam, Iraq, Israel in south Lebanon, France in Algeria, etc. is that insurgents cannot go home. They are already there. And there is a never-ending supply of manpower.

Simply put, the Viet Cong and NVA were willing to lose longer than America was willing to win. Will the same be true in Iraq?

Fallujah has some interesting historical precedents, and one I like to look at is Khe Sanh. The Marines stayed there back in 1968 because that's where the battle was. It was where the enemy was dug in. So, the Marines dug in more. Similarly, Fallujah was where the insurgents were supposed to be. However, we now know that most melted away when the Marines gathered to attack, the civilian population--the alleged non-combatants--were allowed to leave.

It has now been estimated that three-quarters of the Sunni insurgents did, in fact, leave. Now the question becomes, what have the Marines really won by taking Fallujah? Those that stayed there were already committed to dying. Those that chose to leave preferred to return and fight again.

The recent controversy surrounding the killing of the wounded insurgent is a testament to the problem: counter-insurgency, the kind of war Colin Powell refused to fight, is unwinnable when the population turns. Moreover, the mounting frustration from fighting it, and the nature of fighting amateur civilians, also engenders a kind of nihilistic Apocalypse Now attitude and brutishness that removes the moral high ground. The result is a reinforcement of the downward spiral for the occupier, in this case, America in Iraq.

Powell knows that America neither has the military doctrine, the kind of forces needed, the amount--most estimates say at least two more divisions--or the political will, to fight a protracted counter-insurgency.

Rarely is such a war a war of necessity; therein lies the essential problem. It is also why American political will is alloyed, impatient, and questioning.

Ask the Vets of Khe Sanh. When the enemy moved away, so did the hilltop's strategic significance. And in Iraq you are not fighting a city or a place, or even a military front structure as in WW1 or WW2 or Korea. In Iraq you are fighting a mood, an interpretation, a culture, a feeling. Perhaps unconsciously, the very facts regarding the nature of counter-insurgency led to an unintended irony: the code name for the Marine operation in Fallujah was called “Phantom Fury”.

History shows us that tribal geography, while still mass in the scientific sense, is too mercurial to crush with a boot. Lawrence of Arabia said it best: "Fighting guerillas is like eating soup with a knife".

Monday, November 8


George W. Bush's re-election illuminates an important point about Canada: We often define our identity by what we are not.

That we are not Americans, posited pyschologically in such a transnational culture where New York and Los Angeles are cultural capitals for Canada too, is no small thing.

Bush 43's victory is just as alienating south of the border, given how those big coastal cities feel just as disenfranchised.

Does that mean we, in Canada, do not subscribe to prioritizing "moral issues", as ascribed to those in Ohio at the exit polls? Are we in Canada less moral?

No. In fact, we Canadians possess the greater morality. Our progressiveness better facilitates Christian notions of humility, tolerance, non-violence and acceptance.

Canada's concept of multiculturalism is underlined by the notion of loving your brother as yourself (that is the inherent ideal); a concept whose moral antecedent is the precept of being equal before God.

Pot smoking and abortion? Michael Coren may disagree, but those are blatant baubles of permissiveness that distract from our overall, over-arching approach: We show restraint.

One historical example is our treatment of Native populations. While America practiced outright genocide--something Hitler himself referenced during his assault on Russia--Canadians practiced live and let live within the confines of military neutralization. Similar restraint was shown against the French (neutralized not eradicated) and with the Indians more recently at Oka. And even in October 1970 during the FLQ crisis. (A show of force as a deterrent, without overt oppression that would bolster and solidify a popular ethnic uprising.)

While the FLQ wanted to goad the Feds into over-reaction, they didn't. Whereas, in America, a much oppressed and justifiably violent Black minority was brutally attacked and punitively terrorized by a State agency. (See: Dr. King versus the famous homosexual, J. Edgar Hoover.)

Police and State militia riots against the public have been common: The Civil War, Kent State, the '68 Democratic Convention In Chicago, Seattle a few years ago, all through the South for decades and decades.

Add to those examples the Patriot Act--exercised with much more enthusiasm and much less restraint than our version here--Nixon's IRS attacks on enemies of the state--which often meant comedians and authors--the House Un-American Activities Committee, Mcarthyism, etc.

The list of foreign nationals and populations that have been subjected to outright devastation, and administrative torture by Jesus-loving America, is just too long.

I believe America refers to that list often. In fact, the list of American atrocities and conquests is formally taught. The list is called "American history".

History, like the nightly news, is often bloody--and it often excites us. Of course, Canadian history, by contrast, is not unlike Jesus or Ghandi.

By the standard of American history, those two hippies were boring until they themselves were the victims of violence.

While the bloodied, and bloody, War President gets ready for four more we, here in Canada (especially Ontario and Quebec) recognize that we share a mutual antipathy for the cultural half of America that Bush cultivates and represents.

Family values? Well, crazy Uncle Sam that shows up but at the family reunion farting, with a shotgun in one hand, and the Bible in the other, isn't expelled exactly--just sighed at. People get out of the way. Roll their eyes, and quietly excuse themselves. The rest of Uncle Sam's family may even be really nice people.

This "rest of America", the America of the multi-cultural cities, sighs along with us too.

You're not alone, Canada. Just more aware that outlook and perspective, more than blood, is thicker than water.

God Bless Canada.

Saturday, October 30


Who will benefit from Osama's latest video?

Republicans point out that a disastrous Pentagon briefing regarding missing explosives in Iraq will now be forgotten; that a fabulous cock-up during a Bush rally in New Hampshire where the confetti cannon prematurely ejaculated--quite a metaphor for an adminisitration that has repeatedly gone off half-cocked--will also be hidden by Osama's shadow.

So, what of it? Democrats will say the video of the on-the-lamb Terror King just proves Bush didn't get his man.

On the other hand, easily spooked "Security Moms" in America might want to keep the devil they know and vote for Bush.

Like everything in this election, voters will be split.

Republican strategists will say that Osama doesn't want Bush elected. He mocks Bush! A vote against Osama is a vote for Bush!

Dems will show the obvious double-think: Osama knows that mocking Bush helps him. Osama is also voting for the devil he knows--George W. Bush.

Democrats are appropriately nervous about anything that might throw off their clear momentum. The "undecideds", it is commonly understood, usually break against the incumbent.

Is that the way it will be now? After Osama? Will they break for Bush?

I say Kerry. Why him?

Because Americans are divided on this too: unhappy about Osama being at large, but angry at Osama insulting their commander-in-chief, with some persuaded to vote for the very Bush Osama mocks.

Many others, alone in that voting booth, will acknowledge that while Bush is a man of action, his confetti cannon was aimed away from Osama on Iraq; and that yes, on 9/11, Bush really was reading a book about a talking goat to school kids.

It seems Osama and filmmaker Michael Moore both agree about the feckless fact of Bush's dithering on that fateful day.

Politics, indeed, makes for strange bedfellows.

Monday, October 25


Retailers and hobby shops that sell historical Nazi dolls, marketed to adult collectors, are under fire from the Jewish community. These figures are like G.I. Joe, but cost around $90, and feature accurate reproductions of their appearance on the battlefield.

But taste can't be legislated. Moreover, one person's atrocity is another kid's war game. The much-respected Jewish periodical Commentary points out America's genocidal exploits against its Native population. And while Canada's record was far less murderous, the results were the same. That never stoped kids from playing Cowboys and Indians, did it?

What is the real problem with these Nazi dolls? A blatant death camp scene is one thing--but historical models, model airplanes and dioramas featuring Allied Forces against the Germans or Japanese are standard hobby shop fare. The uniforms and equipment are reproduced with an exactness to an unbelievably arcane degree: spring 1944 camouflage Yugoslavia, etc.

The whole teapot tempest arose when an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor came across a Totenkopf SS doll, representing a combat division that fought the Allies in Normandy. He was offended.

I'm offended by many things too. But I'm not trying to tell others what to do, what to buy, and what to sell.

Were the Native Americans offended by Western movies? What about publishing? Hundreds of titles are released concerning Hitler and the Third Reich every year. Does that make every bookstore owner a Nazi? What about the A&E network? If it wasn't for interest in Hitler, they wouldn't have any programming. It seems every other show on the channel has Adolf Hitler as its star.

Publishers know that any book with a Swastika on the cover will sell. Just look at Philip Roth's latest novel, The Plot Against America.

New York intellectual Susan Sontag once wrote an essay called "Fascinating Fascism" where she talks about the iconography of tyrannical power and its application to sexual fetishism.

Black leather Gestapo-wear, indeed: "Please whip me Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S., I've been so very bad."

While I applaud Holocaust survivors everywhere, enough of this politically correct over-sensitivity. Do blacks protest Civil War dolls and reenactments? Remember, the good side won that war too.

Why not buy a Nazi doll and assume representational revenge by making an "Abu Ghraib" scene. Pull their pants down. Take a picture, even.

Far more insidious is the real incitement and de-sensitizing aspects of computer games like Grand Theft Auto. Now there's a social problem. Many Jewish kids, unfortunately, play that game too. Bad taste is an equal opportunity player.

We live in a world of questionable taste. We live in a world with exaggerated cultural narrative representations of darkness and evil where Nazi-esque images, like Captain America's nemesis "The Red Skull", literally take on comic book dimensions.

So, perhaps we arrive at not just "insensitivity", but the nature of identification.

God himself would be a castrated angel without the horns and goathead below him. For the Devil is the contrast required to appreciate the victors.

I maintain the real devil is the ignorance that would seek to ban historical representations and of those who hold that their own approaches to catastrophic historical events be viscerally understood by others. That's just not going to happen. Jewish grandkids of Holocaust survivors can be historically impudent, too.

If you're not an Armenian, you may not be aware of the Turks. Should you be? Of course. In the abstract, at least.

It's in the abstract, away from the real smell of cordite and death camps and blood, where we return.

Nazi dolls--like books, war movies and model tanks--stimulate discussion of these awful days past, and of the great wins and sacrifices made for civilization, including the Holocaust.

If all we did 50 years ago was beat a bunch of pansies, what kind of victory would it have been?

[NOTE: The pictured figure of Erwin Rommel is sold at the Silver Snail on Queen St. W. Wasn't he killed by Hitler, too?]

Friday, October 15


A trio of self-anointed feminist activists has called upon Canada to sponsor a resolution at the U.N. calling for the condemnation of anti-Semitism.

Why? Are people implying that virtue can be legislated? What about racism in general?

Jews represent one per cent of America, and the rest of the country--aided and abetted by demagogic Christian fundamentalists--are given the impression that Islam is a vile belief system.

If the mainstream press, virtually at any point since 9/11, replaced the word "Muslims" with "Jews", many would understand the pervasive, un-admitted, arch-bias that exists.

The real goal is to make the distinctions between Osama and peace-loving Muslims; between Palestinians who want statehood, and those can't see beyond their hate. Hell, America can't even make qualifications about who attacked them: Was it Iraq, Osama, or Arabs in general?

While the Jews in Canada, and all of us along with them, lament ethnic vandalism, it should be remembered that Jews have never been safer and have never received so much support. (Military and economic integration between the U.S. and Israel is absolute.)

Moreover, it remains hard for many--like Aboriginal people for example--to feel the pain of Jews who are, probably, the most successful ethnic group in North America. How many CEOs are Aboriginal? How many, for that matter, are Portuguese?

Worse still, is that many Jews, consciously or not, use anti-Semitism and its spectre as a club to deflect critisism of Israel, as if any hint of such thing must really be veiled bigotry.

So what is the reality? The reality is that in order to guard Jewish votes in the American election there has been not a whiff of Israeli policy discussion. Ariel Sharon has operated carte blanche.

Personally, I believe Israel's long-term security interests are not served by this approach. Indeed, much of what exists as anti-Semitism today should be subsumed as anti-Westernism. I don't blame Israel for this lack of leadership. It is an American problem as the region is an American protectorate.

When people proclaim that in fighting anti-Semitism they are, by extension, defending everyone, and that anti-Semitism itself is universalized to represent all bigotry, the question must be asked: Why posit an ethnic focus at all? It is disingenous to claim universality when it is predicated upon ethnic partisanship.

If we are to make a universal plea, let's start with Aboriginals who are subjected to much more prejudice--more than African-Canadians.

Jews are never refused a job anymore because they are Jews. Can the same be said for all other groups?

Is anti-Semitism overrated? Let's just say that, in our society, I cannot think of a safer, cozier, more conventional cause. Today, with a strong, vibrant and influential Jewish community able to hire feminist activists like Irshad Manji for redundant speaking engagements, it makes anti-Semitism as a cause celebre, a cause du jour, even more attractive.

Monday, September 13


The notion of transforming the Middle East, and the policy of westernizing a centuries old Iraqi tribal culture to become a Western liberal democracy is cultural, if not imperial, hubris.

Do they really want what we want?

The people of the region are a long way from Western notions of constitutional liberalism, or the process of democracy itself. If provided with the process itself, devoid of constitutional liberalism, the people of the Middle East would elect a religious dictatorship; for Middle Eastern Islamic theocracies are, at the very least, indigenous--if not the actual natural will of the people.

(Try putting that in your "We the People" pipe and smoking it.)

Allies like Russia have no history of democracy either. Many Russians, in the wake of Chechen terrorism, have openly pined for Stalin; our neighbour Mexico, is a corrupt narco-economy more than a democracy. Nor is there "democracy" in much of the rest of the world.

But democratic-lack has never been an impediment to cooperation. In fact, tinpot dictators are preferred by the West.

When Americans use the word "democracy", it is usually code for acquiescence. Just as much of the world, when they hear the word "globalization", they also hear "monocultural".

What about the successful models of democratic imposition: Japan and Germany?

Japan and Germany were rebuilt as consumer markets and as bulwarks against Communism. There was the specific need, in the case of Japan, to contain the Soviet Pacific fleet at Vladivostok and to protect the Pacific sea lanes. In the case of Germany, America needed to save Europe from Soviet incursion and utilize Western Germany as a showcase for free-market systems.

Moreover, Germany has shared cultural assumptions--despite the German ruling class response to the Enlightenment--and Japan, when forced, always semed to exhibit a willingness to adapt to, and adopt from, Europe.

Can the same be said for the Middle East?

Politically reforming others in our image requires two ingredients: absolute committment from America and its allies, and cultural buy-in on the part of the target state.

Does America have the political will when its national security in a uni-polar world is not directly threatened?


Do Arabs trust/like/respect America?


Saturday, August 28


The "trickle down" economic theory posits the notion that those at the bottom benefit most when those at the top benefit most. Therein lies the inherent contradiction.

"Run the country as a business!," decry the corporate pundits. "Efficiencies only occur in the private sector!"

Let me ask you then: How efficient is your elderly Mother? Or baby daughter? Or Alzheimer's patient?

How "efficient" is the infrastructure in Newfoundland?

Corporate profit imperatives are not the only principles by which a society can be run.

A government's role is not only about creating the conditions for corporate success, with the assumption those efficiencies simply "trickle down" to the bottom rung of the social classes.

Governments, by definition, do different things than big business. Governments, like citizens, are not shareholders.

Does that mean that governments, like multi-nationals, should be unbridled?

The answer is no. Government bureaucracies never seem to have enough money. In that way, their self-interest and greed takes on a life of its own. Like an organism that exists to feed--like corporate profits.

And while big cities inherit, by magnitude, social problems that other places don't, many of those problems can be immediately helped by throwing money at them directly--from the bottom up, in other words.

A healthier bottom also helps big business. Can there be a "trickle up"?

We're seeing the attenuation of the middle class, who are shouldering a disproportionate amount of the tax burden.

Do corporate elites secretly, or unconsciously, prefer a land-holder position like earlier agrarian societies, or third world countries like Latin America and the Philippines where millions go without and a small group of families have everything?

While corporations have moved into a hyper "post-national" phase, the citizens--at least the ones who are not shareholders--remain circumscribed.

Profits don't need passports.

And they don't have faces either.

Monday, August 2


An integrated car and truck bomb attack on several Christian churches in Baghdad today was prompted, say insurgents, by America's attempt to adulterate, alloy and weaken Islam.

These people in Iraq aren't stupid. They may not read all the Pentagon and NSA briefing papers, but the get the gist of it. They know the plan.

Let me tell you about the plan--and the mindset that spawned it.

Prominent neo-conservatives, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, took part in a 1996 study prepared for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recommending a turn away from the Oslo peace process.

In fact, much of neo-conservative writing, from the tepid An End To Evil, to the Hitlerian Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunites In American Foreign and Defense Policy, fixates on a militarized Middle Eastern foreign policy, an absurd fixation with Israeli defense, and a colonial attitude toward Muslims.

What the "white man's burden" was to British colonials in Africa applies today to neo-conservatives in the Middle East.

Take, for example, their approach to the faith of the people of Iraq. In May 2003, a document circulated around the civilian authority in Bagdhad discussed removing Islam as the state religion: "Only as a last resort should we agree that Islam should be the religion of the state."

The document was circulated to neo-con academics--such as Bernard Lewis--and George W. Bush's "six pack" of State Department sidekicks.

While neo-con critics cry conceptual overreach and a lack or pragmatism, I think there is more than hubris at work here. Theirs is an ignorance born of arrogance.

Transformation of a centuries-old tribal culture into a McDonald's drive-thru is no different than the imposition of dictators like Thieu in South Vietnam in the early-'70s.

Americans didn't recognize, or care, about the Vietnamese struggle for independence. Americans never qualified the differences between a nationalist banner, and one subsumed by Communist ideology.

Today, with the same ignorance, we've conflated the Middle East's many divisions into simple black and white American projections.

The world is in colour--more than red, white, and blue.

With these neo-con policies prevalent in the Middle East, and a rank obsession with Israel as a prerequisite, where will Arab moderates be?

We are quickly turning the region into a Central and Latin American model.

The difference is that these folks will kick the U.S. back.

Can you blame them?

Tuesday, July 13


The day will soon come when the Middle East will no longer be of geo-strategic importance.

The West will have weaned itself off of the industrial heroin that is oil, and will proceed to prioritize other precious resources--like water.

So, what will befall the muddle of the Middle East without the West?

What will the severance of the military-economic integration of the U.S. and Israel mean for American taxpayers and Israelis?

Peace, probably.

Surprised? Without the American occupation of an Arab state, and--as America's proxy--Israel's occupation of Palestine, there is, at least, a chance of peace.

Moreover, without the effect of suppression, there is greater moral credibility and authority for the West.

It's easy to talk about peace when you're an occupier, when you have all the cards. "Peace" is really code for compliance, acquiescence, submission--whether it's in Iraq, Vietnam, Palestine, or Chechnya. At least, that is how the have-nots in the military power game feel.

Self-determination has never been a reward for good behaviour. But does that mean suicide bombers should prey upon civilians? No. But that is the context. Far too often the term "terrorist" is employed to denigrate the substance of the other guy's political argument.

Without the West, without the American bail-out, Israel would have to form regional alliance patterns of its own.

There may be a India/Pakistan-like stand-off with Iran, but that will be the natural course of events in the region anyway.

Iran will get the bomb. No one will be able to stop that.

Ultimately, the best security for Israel is a secure and independent partner in Palestine.

Why? With the advent of portable nuclear weapons, all the fences and walls in the world can't stop the hate.

An oil-free world, with a regionally marginalized Middle East, will find its own balance, and with it, its own peace.

An absent American shadow will not be as dark as some in Israel fear. It may, in fact, be brighter.

Monday, July 12


When Erasmus wrote In Praise Of Folly in the 16th century, he was addressing notions of virtue and the imagination; that reason alone was not enough to attain either virtue or perfectibility.

There is a false reason afoot that places blame on age and experience with regard to women.

The facts are that, increasingly, women in their thirties, with their biological clocks waking the neighbourhood and their own neurotic natures, are marrying abruptly. Then, just as abruptly, they are ditching the sperm donors.

The men are left with their heads and cheque books spinning.

Younger women have their own problems, but psychopathic nesting isn't one of them.

I have found that the same men who roll their eyes at my callow pussy plight, sanctimonious in their notion of identifying youth itself as the culprit, the feeble link in the romantic chain, are themselves only a soft, pubic hair away from romantic eviction--somewhere between the fourth and fifth level of Dante's shitstorm.

My friends who are working on their first or second divorce will, when pressed, tell you that they really don't know a goddamned thing about women.

But it's nice to pretend.

Hugh Hefner told me to rejoin the battle, and keep them young, they're more idealistic that way. And less likely to be fixedly circumspect.

After all, there's plenty of time to be a battle axe. Don't believe me? Just look across from the kitchen table and tell me what you see.

Then invite me over for dinner to meet your daughter--if she's still in college ...

Sunday, July 11


Incipient mortality is not an awareness I would immediately ascribe to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Yet, on the printed page, there it is.

He seems timeless: Forever gazing through the opaque glow of a Highball at a pool adorned with naked centrefolds.

In a word-averse, but suprisingly intimate, autobiography, Hefner's Little Black Book, the pajama-clad Don of Debauchery waxes as his body, and legacy, wanes.

At the end of his book, Hef tells a story of the Grim Reaper coming to his mansion, only to be seduced by drinks, pools, food, and women: "With so much life, death wasn't welcome."

Hefner is an interesting artifact of Americana. A clear iconoclast 40 years ago; today, the man is simply a self-exiled cultural pioneer.

Hef always was self-exiled. He rarely left the Playboy Mansion. He still doesn't.

Last week, I spoke with Hefner from California about his thoughts and experiences.

And while it's easy to take a shot at the old war horse, there is a dignity, sensitivity, reflectiveness, and a refinement about him. Not a stilted refinement of consumerism, instead a refinement born of understanding.

"Don't cut off ex-girlfriends if you can help it," says Hef. "Otherwise, you cut yourself off from a part of yourself."

More wisdom: "Always wear your heart on your sleeve ... women remember kindness and recognition more than money."

A complex man, there are contradictions: In marriage, Hef was entirely conventional. He says he never cheated. (Maybe that is unconventional.)

In interviewing Hef for the second time, I don't doubt his sincerity regarding romantic idealism. Nor do I doubt his ability to dream big and contest conventional boundaries--and self-limitation.

Perhaps that will be Hefner's heftiest legacy.

Sunday, June 20


Right wing white man John Derringer castigates and dismisses documentary filmmaker Michael Moore as a rank propagandist. Derringer should add a word to his vocabulary: Polemical.

Americans saw little of the polemicist spirit--or decent discourse at all for that matter--from any of the mainstream media leading up to, and during, the Iraq war.

Here in Canada, beyond yours truly, virtually no commercial radio broadcasters questioned the rationale of the Bush administration.

"When I was growing up in Flint, MI, we watched Canadian news to get the real story on the war in Vietnam," Michael Moore said to a packed house at the Varsity Cinemas on Friday night. He was fielding questions following the Canadian premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11.

He clearly feels comfortable in Toronto, since Film Festival audiences have been so supportive.

Moore is anticipating the firestorm of hate he'll receive once the film opens. "I wanted Canadians to see it before Americans did. And I needed to come up here and just visit with Canada."

There is something of the honorary Canadian about Moore: his objective remove, his essential morality (we are not trigger-happy), his ethical prerogatives. So, why the controversy?

The controversy lies less in the explication of known facts about Iraq, the Saudis, and Bush's many intellectual shortcomings. More from the huge visceral impact in the presentation of these events, characters, and victims.

Moore's documentary is simply the most powerful, pulverizing polemic to be released since The Battle of Algiers was shown in 1965 and denigrated France's colonial war in Algeria.

Moreover, Moore's film will be, in my view, comparable in its cultural impact to the publication of the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in the 1860s--a novel which decimated international support for the Confederacy.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is more powerful than what was experienced during the protest movement for the very fact that we feel above it.

There is a notion that we are of a "post-Vietnam" era, one that is beyond unnecessary wars. An era that is past nasty, internecine, self-recriminating squabbles.

The fact is, many of the same long-hairs that protested the Vietnam war, are now neo-con Republicans that gleefully wrap themselves in the flag and support their President and stomp their little feet at the scent of dissent.

Moore points out that only one Congressman has a son actually serving in Iraq--or in the forces, period.

That politicians, as parents, might have to sacrifice their own, and do greater due diligence, is a blatant truism that regularly needs reinforcing.

For it is always easier to send Blacks and poor whites off to die. It reminds me of the General who asked the hawkish, desk-bound and corpulent Richard Perle if he was going to suit up with the Special Ops, or just wave his pen.

Many are concerned that this highly provocative documentary could lead to an assassination of the filmmaker.

Having spoken to some who work with Moore, and who are also worried about his safety, it is highly possible that he may be killed for his authorship.

The truth hurts.

Thursday, June 10


When Richard Condon wrote The Manchurian Candidate in 1959, he was spooked by, and spooked, the Cold War zeitgeist to further frenzy with the notion of a brain-washed political insider--the ultimate Trojan Horse.

The recent musings by Conservative M.P.s on a variety of issues, from abortion to same sex marriage to minority language rights, to the role of the Church in government, to increased political control of the Supreme court, smack of an angst-ridden, chip-on-the-shoulder, regional protest party--exactly what the name change was supposed to erase.

The Conservatives were supposed to be more centrist, more national. And since Canadians vote parties out more than vote them in, methinks some folks out West misunderstand what current poll support really represents.

What we're seeing is the old serpent of politicized, religious fundamentalism sticking its head out of the Tory swamp, emboldened now by new political fortunes.

Many disaffected Liberals, of which I am one, would really like to see a change in government. But there seems to still be a problem with the structure of central Canadian power politics. This is where Ontario and Quebec call the shots. However now, Quebec has sided for a rejectionist, "Quebec First" platform under the regional Bloc, while the West tries its hand with its own regional disaffection/protest party--"Conservatives"; with a large provisional attempt to make the Conservatives "Ontario-friendly" in order to expand their regionalized roots.

The problem with reforming the reformers, and the reformation of the Conservatives, is that you can take the reform out of the Alliance, but you can't take the Alliance out of the Reform. However way you call it, it is still, in terms of its base political culture, a regional protest party.

The proof of this lies in the coded language used where the base understands, but where the rest of the media see oblique thrusts.

A case in point is abortion. Instead of Steve Harper saying, "An M.P. can introduce a private members bill and we can take it to a vote, but I, personally don't want it ... I, personally--as a leader--wish to avoid these divisive issues. I, personally, don't agree with abortion, but, as a political leader, I understand that this debate itself should be aborted. A woman has the right to choose."

Harper needs to express his political views, instead of hiding behind "the right of M.P.s to express themselves".

So, if you are in the political center, this is what any leader would say, more or less:

On Gay rights: "Apparently, God made queers too. Basically, religion and politics don’t mix. And, if a man has been with another man for 30 years and nursed him for 10 while he was dying, why should his no-good next of kin--that never saw him--get the preferential treatment just because he wasn't allowed to marry."

On The judiciary: "The Supreme court must interpret the laws under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You know, Constitutional Liberalism has been called 'unjust' many times before. Like when the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch in Washington overturned the democratic will of regional politics in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi in the early sixties."

On Iraq: "OK. I was wrong. I fucked up. I believed what the Bush team said about the imminent threat bullshit. Knowing what we know now, we should've let the inspectors do their job, then re-assess on the basis of more evidence, and then pursued Bin Laden with greater vigour. No Canadian boys should die especially when the predicate for the war is proved to be false."

Since our old friend Mulroney went to the political fringes of Quebec to gain a foothold there, and in the process creating Bouchard, there has been no "national" party except for the Liberals, who, are themselves now shut out of Quebec (according to polls).

I’ll be interviewing Steve Harper very soon. I will look him in the eye and he will not escape direct answers–-which will show whether he is really a national leader or a protest fringe player in his heart, and in the heart of his real political culture.

That's the question: is he a national leader? Or, culturally and politically, is he the Manchurian Candidate Trojan Horse of Alberta religious and regional values?

Come to Jesus, Stephen.

Come to me first.

Friday, June 4


I had the chance on Thursday to chat with Ron Rosenbaum, the author of Those Who Forget The Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism. His previous work, Explaining Hitler, took a decade to compile. Both books are a collection of essays by thinkers, academics, and journalists.

Rosenbaum was asked to explain the reason for Jew bashing. His reaction was blank. Despite years of studying the topic, this prolific writer and editor was reduced to an exasperated shrug.

That's because there's no rational understanding when it comes to the Judeo-fixedness of hate.

Jews on this continent have been extremely successful, so, why the fuss? "North America is not a problem for Jews," Rosenbaum admits.

OK. If that’s true, then why all of the "media monitoring"? Why the public protests against desecrating Jewish homes, schools and cemeteries? Are normal people really for hate? It's really a case of constantly preaching to the converted.

Revealingly, in his book's introduction, Rosenbaum uses the word "equanimity" in the pejorative. He's really saying Jews should be vigilant--even around here. So, North America could be a problem then I guess.

This determination frustrates and disappoints me because he vast majority of Gentiles do "get it". Moreover, no one has not hired someone in North America in recent memory for being Jewish, yet, discrimination with other groups is still a problem; where some Jews also participate in the problem as discrimination knows no cultural border.

Even when we look to history, specifically WW2, we find a mixed response from some Jews. This, despite the fact that those of us who lost relatives to Hitler in war, where we lay in opposition against the Nazi worldview, it still, somehow, doesn't seem good enough.

However, the very idea of a dominant ethnicity, a majority that somehow has a collective voice derived from specific origins, is a thing of the past.

Where homogeneity once reigned, and Anglo-Saxon life was once agrarian--no Sunday shopping, and the main divisions existed within Protestant circles (with the main divide being Catholic), that society is now secular and diverse. Today, divisions are cultural, rather than religious.

Nowadays, being Anglo means an urban workaday existence. In most instances, the culture of thought is larger than the religious grouping. Two city dwellers, despite having different languages and backgrounds, will have stronger cultural links with each other than a couple of hicks from the sticks.

What does it matter if one of the urbanites is a Jew? Myself, I have more in common with Seinfeld than Stompin' Tom.

Rosenbaum's also book features a couple of pieces on Mel Gibson's sores and sandals epic, The Passion of the Christ. I pointed out that no one walked out of the movie theaters to hunt down Jews. The opposition from Jewish groups and individuals was hysterical, and not commensurate with the thing itself.

"Passion plays have a history of inciting hatred," Rosenbaum countered. Mel Gibson's dad, he informed me, is clearly an infamous anti-Semite, and Jews are again cloaked in the classic "deicide" role in this movie.

Well, so what? Can't the 1st century Pharisees be depicted in a certain light without painting all Jews as Christ-killers? Don't we depict Mafia types on TV without saying that this is what Italians are all like? Of course not.

I asked Rosenbaum what the problem was with Jews, given how Christ was a Jew. No answer.

How did the Romans get off so easily? They killed him, and Christ wasn't Italian.

Christ had to die for all of our sins--for Christian sins. No Christian sins, no death.

Maybe we should stop blaming Jews ... and look more at the Mafia.

The real problem lies with international relations: in the Middle East, the West has exacerbated regional divides through a militarized foreign policy in Iraq, and a heavy-handed--albeit effective from the perspective of suppression--support for Arab ghettos in Israel.

The hatred in the region is immense. This is where The Protocols of the Elders Of Zion is taken literally, and where 9/11 was started by Jews.

Where will it all end? Depressingly, Rosenbaum seems to believe that a second Holocaust, in an era of portable nukes and desperate enemies is all but inevitable. Where there's a will, there's a way. He calls it, "Hitler's posthumous victory".

There is only the whiff of the embers of this hatred in North America. What burns brighter is an urban society where everyone eats bagels--devoid of deference for its cultural associations, undeterred by texture.

Thursday, May 27


Just because the JFK murder is still highly suspect, and questions remain in the killings of RFK and Dr. King, it does not mean that all that follows from Princess Di to 9/11 is a further manifestation of an invisible, over-arching control lashing out.

Conspiracy freaks believe that all can be explained by an elite group--a focused, organized cabal of either Bilderbergers, Jews, Freemasons, the Royal Houses of Europe ... or all of them working in concert forming a "shadow government".

The questions--unformed--that come from the inarticulate masses here are: "What is the nature of historical process?", "What are the underlying forces that influence historical events?" and maybe "What is the role of the individual and the poorer classes in the shaping of society?"

Some people, already politically cynical, seem to have an enhanced sense of disenfranchisement from power centres due to the fact that more wealth is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

To some extent, conspiracy freaks are railing against this displacement, expressing disdain at some mysterious incohate external--an external that seems to shut them out and marginalize their voice.

Conspiracy freaks trust nothing. They say it's all a lie. They point out that Watergate showed us how manipulative government can be.

I point out that Watergate was the high watermark of a free society uncovering the moral Machiavellian rot.

For the freaks, though--many whom have just not done enough good, old, fashioned book learnin'--ignorance is bliss.

There's nothing to learn, they say. It's simple. Those that ignore it are stupid, or part of the problem.

For my money, the takeover myth by unseen forces is really anti-Semitic code. And to soften the Jew-bashing, conspiracy buffs add WASP groups like the Freemasons and the Skull & Bones society to soften the blow. Oh, and let's not forget the Royal Houses Of Europe.

Ask one conspiracy freak about the year 1789 and you'll get a blank stare.

What bothers me is that the more I read, the more people I interview, the more Professors I consult, the more I know I need to know more.

I find that ignorant, uneducated, intellectually lazy or completely vacant types, people who don't even know history, international relations, or the right questions to ask, who have never set foot in a lecture hall in their lives, know better--indeed, they know it all.

Theirs is an all-encompassing theory of control by elites that explains everything. Where there are no accidents, no revolutionary convulsions, no lack of certainty, it's all predictable. Where everything has order and is ordered. Pre-ordained, even.

It is comforting to them that there is never chaos, that they are excused by events for which they have no relationship or influence; that everything has a direct source, an organized explanation; that the world unfolds like a movie, and all they have to do is watch.

For the conspiracy freaks, the world is not them.

Please excuse me now while I find my Masonic Temple ring and go see some Jews for a meeting.