Friday, December 19, 2008

Avery Dulles & Advent

Avery Cardinal Dulles has died. Requiesat in pace.

Advent is nearly over and my son is now a year old and changing by the minute.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Stephane Dion & the Giant Peach

Stephane Dion should stop talking about elections. No sooner than his leadership was shown to be an unmitigated disaster, he is back on the scene threatening to force another election. Now you might say that this is a fair response to Stephen Harper's claim that his government will treat every bill as a measure of confidence, and you'd be right. But the problem is that the Conservatives have come very close to a majority, increased their share of the urban vote, have a competent leader, and enjoy comparatively lots of cash to spend. In short, Harper can afford to be bullish, and Dion can't.

I can't help but wonder whether or not Dion's rediscovery of his courage has something to do with the American election. There's a strange meme floating about that Canadians will vote left when our American cousins do the same. So then, the logic follows that it would be in the best interests of the NDP and the left of left faction in the Liberal Party to push for an election with Canada is basking in the post-election euphoria (that I will now call Obamarama). I'm guessing that people are looking at the Chretien years that coincided with the Clinton years. But what about the Chretien/Martin years that coincided with the Bush years? Chretien spent 7 years in power with Clinton in office, and Chretien/Martin had 5 years with Bush in office. Moreover, Chretien's 7 years came as the conservative movement imploded and ceased to be a significant political force. It wasn't until 2006, when anti-Bush and anti-conservatism was at it's heyday, that the Conservatives managed to make some progress in Canada. So yea, there's a lot wrong there.

Dion should really be focused nursing the Liberal Party back to health. The Liberals are broke and are facing another bitter leadership race. The most palatable and centrist candidates, John Manley and Frank McKenna, have dropped out. This leaves Bob Rae and his NDP ghosts and Michael Ignatieff and his advocacy of torture as the remainging two choices with the suitable national exposure for an effective leadership. Gerald Kennedy will probably take this time to rebuild his image, and Ujjal Donsanjh, who barely won his riding, has perhaps the worst political history of anyone in Canada. And then there's the question of money, which the Liberals don't have.

Back in business.

Finally! Two important things in my life have ended this week: The nauseatingly-long American election and the nauseatingly-long move to a new home. I am happy for the conclusion of both.

The soul-searching that follows an election has always interested me. As anyone who has participated in the democratic process can attest, it is one of the most revealing experiences at the national and individual level. The Democrats, sore losers of the previous two presidential elections, finally have their man in the executive. The Republicans, sore losers of this election, finally can look to close off a two year slide toward electoral defeat.

Sarah Palin returns to Alaska both a nationally reviled and beloved figure. Reviled by her political opponents and the bitterest losers of the McCain camp, beloved by social conservatives and, oddly enough, Lorne Michaels. Of note is the anonymous abuse she's faced since Tuesday from members of McCain's team. Dirty cloaks and rusty daggers I call it, when a faceless and remarkably classless accusation from your own side conveniently finds itself into the national media.

These accusations from McCain's team should surprise no one. Not that these things are uncommon after losing an election - political parties usually act this way -, it's that it is so indicative of the people McCain chose to run his campaign. These folks know, as the rest of conservative movement knows, that they really blew it. Picking an unprepared candidate for VP was one thing: Most people involved in these campaigns spend months (if not years, in Obama's case) getting coached through interviews and buffing up their policy credentials. What really hurts these folks is that after Palin finally wrestled free of their control, she ran a much more effective campaign. Her worst moments came under McCain's tutelage, her best as her own master. To be sure, if Palin chooses to continue on in national politics, she will have to rebrush her image. And that will take some time, which is something that she has in droves.

So it must be curtains for McCain's advisers, I assume. Their mishandling of Palin, Jeremiah Wright, the financial crisis and the Ayers/Acorn scandals made Obama's campaign that much easier. Of course they're eager to push the blame to Palin, which is a shame: Palin was the sole reason the conservative base started to gain interest in the outcome of this election. Most, if not all the failures of the McCain campaign were completely independent of the Alaskan governor. And even if they disagree with that assessment, why on earth should your vice-presidential pick have that much influence on the fortunes of your campaign? Obama chose an equally questionable candidate in Joe Biden, and managed to keep Biden's several gaffes from become a major interference.

For Obama, the time for careful play is now at hand. It should be remembered by my fellow Canadians and Europeans that Obama's election does not represent a social or political shift to the left in America. Blacks and Hispanics, who voted overwhelmingly for Obama, also voted overwhelmingly for the bans on same-sex marriage. In fact, in all newly blue states, the Democratic senators and congressmen campaigned on socially conservative, populist policies. Hence the need for Obama not to politick the way he has and to honour his own 'promise' to develop a more harmonious political environment. There might be little chance of this happening with a Democrat controlled Senate and House of Congress, but it's imperative to the success of his presidency that he does. Soon the energy and euphoria of this election will subside, and the harsh, ruthless knife of modern day mass-politics will come down.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Michael Coren: The Conservatives are the new natural ruling party

Arch-conservative (Darth Vader levels of conservative) Michael Coren says that the Conservatives are now the natural ruling party of Canada. The Liberals have left the stage, the NDP failed to get near it, the Bloq have no interest or business being there, and the Greens, well the Greens no one really cared about to begin with.

I don't find the term 'natural ruling party' very palatable, even when it is used to describe the political party I currently support. It's just so sickeningly Canadian and provincial, maybe anti-democratic. It's a term that could only come from a country with a highly dysfunctional political system and an overabundance of hubris in its politicians. So no, I don't think the Conservatives are the new ruling party of Canada. I hope they never will be either.

Coren points out that the NDP hoped for 50-60 seats, but only grabbed 7 in the end, making this election something of a failure for them. I hadn't realised that the NDP were so serious, but now that Coren mentions it, I did notice a lot more of Jack Layton talking as if he had a chance at winning a majority. But what sort of party expects to win even 50-60 seats with people like Julian West, Andrew McKeever, Dana Larsen and Kirk Tousaw? Now Layton is once again calling for a grand union of left-wing parties to defeat the Conservatives, including the Bloq Quebecois and the unelected and largely insignificant Greens. Which makes me wonder if Layton believes that he alone could lead a left-wing alliance; surely deference to Liberal leader would be too much to bear?

What of the absurdity of Justin Trudeau? No sooner than he been elected in Papineau, he was removing himself as a leadership candidate for the Liberal Party. Did the media not realize that he's not done a thing yet other than ride off the back of his father's political capital? If that's what counts for merit in today's Liberal Party, or to the media, they're both much worse off than I thought.

Reasoned voices in the media are heralding a return to the Centre for the Liberals, not a further plunge deeper into the Left, despite the overtures of Elizabeth May and Jack Layton. It makes sense to me: Since the Liberals bore a hard turn toward the policies of the NDP and Bloq Quebecois (sans les separatists!), they have effectively abandoned the Centre to the Conservatives. In the past three elections, the Liberals' traditional centrist base of ethnic minority communities, Catholics and Montrealers slowly eroded into the meager collection of barely won ridings scattered throughout Ontario, the Maritimes and Quebec. As we've now seen, these voters - who often come from Liberal voting families (like mine) - are now voting Conservative. All the while Dion's leadership team was obsessed with bleeding votes to the NDP and the Greens (even though May tried her best to stop that), while the major benefactor of ex-Liberal votes was in fact the Conservative Party.

If reason prevails, a 'blue-ish' Liberal such as Michael Ignatieff or Keith Martin will secure party leadership. But all is not reasonable in the Liberal Party caucus these days. Ujjal Dosanjh, who just barely kept his Vancouver riding against a first time Conservative candidate, has announced his intention to one day seek a leadership nominations. Bob Rae's aspirations are well known. Both of these candidates are ex-NDP premiers and decidedly men of the Left. And each carry much unpleasant baggage with them from their times as premiers in British Columbia and Ontario respectively. A Dosanjh or Rae leadership would be, a la John McCain and George Bush, a repetition of existing policies. We all know how that usually turns out.

Colin Powell: Man of Mystery

I don't know how to respond to the press's response to Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama. Wasn't Powell a hated arch-neo-conservative fascist only a few years ago? Wasn't it Colin Powell who helped start the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Wasn't he a Reagan and Bush Snr., appointee that was parachuted into the White House to watch over that incompetent monkey president? It just goes to show what a timely endorsement can do for one's reputation.

I don't think it's an issue of race, despite what that ignoramus Rush Limbaugh wants people to believe. I think it's an issue of popularity: Nothing hurts a politician more than being out of sync with the nation's mood.

How to win attention and alienate people

Vernunft at the The New Skeptic discusses Christopher Buckley's defection from the 'right' to the 'Obama'. I think Vernunft gets it right enough: Buckley's departure is looking less and less like a serious, political decision and painful exile and more like a self-serving attention grab. Usually it works out like this: person defects, presupposes the hatred of their former comrades, writes book. It amazes me that these brave souls survive the process.

More often than not, these incidents involve someone leaving the Right for the Left, and making a big, big deal about it. Do people leaving the Left for the Right do the same thing? I can only speak of Canadian examples, but when David Emerson did it (he had been elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal MP and then joined the Conservatives a few days later), he played down the entire affair. However when Belinda Stronach left the Conservatives for the Liberals, she made sure it was national news for several days in a row. Emerson made sure not to say anything disparaging about his former colleagues; Stronach made it as if she was being persecuted out of the party. I don't doubt that both switched out of personal gain, but the way each handled their situation couldn't have been more different.

Abp. Chaput says...

... Catholic supporters of Obama should stop kidding themselves. Supporting a candidate who has promised to make his first act in office the repeal of every state-level abortion restriction doesn't square with Catholicism. While his overtures towards poverty alleviation and a potentially less hawkish foreign policy are noble in and of themselves, they are ultimately rendered irrelevant by his hawkish pro-abortion policies.

Catholicism has always considered abortion the unjust and evil taking of an individual's life. In contrast to war, in abortion there is no necessity, no proportionalism, no justice, no self-defense. And heck, American voters have absolutely no guarantee that Obama is going to be suddenly less hawkish than Bush once in office. While it would be in his political interests to avoid extending America's military into new and potentially long term conflicts, there is absolutely no way anyone can know what sort of decisions he will make as president. So while we may or may not turn out to be an authentically anti-war president, we do know how he feels about abortion and what sort of attacks he will launch against the pro-life movement.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flailing the Greens

I expected the Green Party to at least win one seat this election. No really, I truly did. I don't think that since the late 1980's was there such a strong environmentalist streak within the national political mood. Elizabeth May successfully petitioned to be included in the televised debates. Jim Harris had provided the infrastructure, funding and legitimacy to the party after years of peripheral involvement in the federal square. The time was ripe for the Greens to finally elect their very first Member of Parliament, so what happened?

A lot of things went as planned: The Greens capitalized on the newly refreshed environmentalist movement and increased their take of the overall vote. Almost 1,000,000 Canadians opted for a Green candidate, an increase of 300,000 from the 2006 Federal Election. In fact, they were the only party in Canada to actually increase their total votes. But despite this, the Greens failed to win a single riding, and even lost their lone sitting MP to a Conservative.

The mistake was primarily May's decision to develop an uncomfortably close relationship with Stephane Dion, the doomed Liberal leader. May advocated strategic voting, urging Green voters to choose the Liberal candidate rather than the Green candidate. The goal, apparently, was to keep Conservatives from winning seats, rather than increasing Green representation. May also developed a bizarre non-compete agreement with Dion, choosing not to field a candidate in the Liberal leader's home riding. These agreements might have improved May's standing with Dion, but they cost the Green Party itself precious funding in lost votes. It remains to be seen just what May was hoping for. A place in Dion's cabinet perhaps? A cozy job in Ottawa as Minister of the Environment? Whatever one can say about her actions, post-election it is clear that a good deal of her efforts were for the advancement of Elizabeth May the politician, not the Green Party.

We're now hearing some interesting things from depths of the Green Party. One senior Green has come out against May's renewed call for a coalition against Stephen Harper and her strategic voting policy. Another Green has come out and stated that the goal of the Green Party is, amazingly, not to exist as a political entity but to influence other political parties, acting as some sort of publicly funded lobby group. And of course we still have Elizabeth May, simultaneously announcing a party debt of $2,000,000 and her new plan to topple Stephen Harper's government without ever setting foot in the House of Commons. These are the sounds of party suffering from a bad case of indigestion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I saw Bill Maher on Charlie Rose....

... and I was both impressed and disappointed.

Impressed, because Bill Maher was able to give credit to Rick Warren for being a serious Christian. Maher said he appreciated that Warren was so earnest in his personal journey to be Christ-like, that Warren felt poverty and global warming were serious issues.

Impressed, because Maher will say something so blithely stupid*, piss you off, and then chum up a silly smile and make you forgot he ever offended you at all.

Impressed, because Maher brings North Americans to attention about the problem of Islamism in Europe and secularism's inability to confront it.

because Maher brings North Americans to attention about the problem of Islamism in Europe and secularism's inability to confront it, and then says only secularism can confront it.

Disappointed, because Maher spent a lot of time explaining his self-described fact based, rationalist atheism, and then threw the rationalism out the window when it suited him. In response to Francis Collin's claim that the Gospels are eye-witness accounts, Maher countered that they couldn't be because the earliest written copies didn't appear until several decades after Christ's death. Maher, an educated man I assume, should be aware of the historical veracity of the Gospels and the Jewish oral tradition - two things which make Collins look like the one going by academic consensus, and Maher look like the coo-koo making up stuff.

Disappointed, because Maher speaks highly of Europe's secularism, but doesn't (or chooses not to) realise that secularism is itself a Christian - specifically Catholic - political concept. He lauds Europe's atheism, but fails to see its philosophical and practical limitations.

Disappointed, because Maher makes a point of saying that Europe hasn't collapsed because of atheism and atheistic secularism. Maher must have heard something about World War Two, where the Nazis - who were atheists - killed off over ten million people. And he must have learned about Communism, which is of course atheistic, and has lead to the killing of tens of millions of people since 1917.

Maher would make a lot more sense if he simply sought out irrationalism regardless of whether or not it comes cloaked in religious terms or cloaked in irreligious terms. Atheistic regimes of the last 90 years alone have been more murderous, more anti-science, and more authoritarian than any religious regime so far in history. Yet this intellectual, social and political history is completely ignored or quietly dismissed as aberrations. Maher wants to convince people to join his cause, and like Coke and Pepsi, he just might find new customers in the post-Christian circles of North America and Europe. But to create an honest and serious critique of 'organized religion', he needs to do a lot more than just repeat the talking points of the New Atheist movement and engage the history of anti-religion and atheism.

::postscript:: Maher's co-interviewee, co-producer of Religulous Larry Charles, didn't fare as well. He isn't blessed with the same charisma, or better yet, puppy-dog charm, that lets Maher get away with saying offensive and stupid things.* Charles looked like the type of guy you wouldn't want your children standing near in a Starbucks, and surprise, his answers were equally suspicious and repellent. His was a sidekick effort to Maher's, and the less time he spent talking, the more credible the premise and argument of Religulous remained.

*Maher says that he doesn't believe in vaccinations. Yes, he says that he doesn't believe in vaccinations. So, if we really listened to this herald of rationalism, we'd be much more enlightened toward atheism, but mostly dead or sick as a result.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pissing myself

We are a funny bunch. Main Street? Wall Street? Kitchen Table? Boardroom Table? Can't we just fucking say 'banks' or 'corporations' and 'people who work at banks' or 'people who work at corporations'?

The stupidest thing about these euphemisms is what they're attempting to accomplish. Class antagonism really should be a dead thing, especially in a society that still provides its members with economic mobility. We certainly don't need our politicians and media workers (who are rich) bringing back the ghosts of Marxism past. To be sure there is an antagonism between the few rich folks and the common, not as rich folks, which affords these euphemisms more life than they really deserve. And yet, there's just as much antagonism between the not-so-rich and the poor, perhaps even more, and it's rarely spoken about.

I suppose the comparison between 'kitchen tables' and 'dumpsters' doesn't carry the same weight as the other ones. We middle class people don't like to be reminded that we really are not the ones getting completely fucked over by economic bailouts. We like to feel like we're the truly downtrodden, the truly good people who are getting less than we rightly deserve. We especially don't like to be reminded that it's us, not the super rich, who completely fucked ourselves and the people below us. We took out lines of credit we couldn't afford, we created unsustainable spending patterns, we leased our cars, tv's, couches, and cell phones, and we pretended that nothing bad would ever come of it.

I haven't had caffeine or sugar since June; perhaps the 12oz Mocha wasn't such a good idea.

Monday, October 06, 2008

NDP Part Deux

Always setting new standards, the NDP have one-upped themselves. Their recent attack ads, which discussed the increasing weird 'new strong', have received a new touch. Instead of drum beats and a husky, female voice, we now have Jack Layton the man with Jack Layton the cartoon.

Yes, a cartoon! First, a grumpy cartoon Stephen Harper turns his back on a cartoon family with a coughing son. Harper vanishes, only to be replaced with a smiling Jack Layton. Layton you see, will somehow (I think he's planning to use magic) bring thousands of doctors and nurses into Canada, and make sure the ones we have will stay. To be fair, the NDP does have an outline of a plan that could increase the number of doctors in Canada, but it's far from the overnight express package they're making it out to be. In fact, their plan would take at least 8 years to bear fruit, and even then, relies more on the goodwill of medical students than anything else.

I have to wonder at the wisdom behind the NDP's attack ads that focus exclusively on Harper. The votes the NDP is currently winning aren't coming from erstwhile Conservative voters, but from erstwhile Bloc Quebecois, Green, and Liberal voters. Shouldn't they be attacking Dion's inabilities to lead a meaningful opposition, his mishandling of the carbon tax, and his 'third choice' candidacy?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Democratic Poopaganda

The NDP's televised ads are nothing short of hilarious.

The new strong? What the hell is that? If Layton is talking about manly social strength and economic vitality, just when has the NDP ever been associated with any definitions of strength or fiscal competency?

Maybe the funniest thing is that those ads seem to be doing a very good job at pulling Liberal voters to their camp. Last I checked the national polls, the NDP was bucking at 20%, while the Liberals were struggling to maintain 24%.

My last question: Could Dion beat Layton in an arm wrestle?

Catholics don't care about genital warts

I just saw an ad urging women, ages '9-26', to receive Gardasil vaccination. Gardasil is of course the famous drug that prevents, in the vast majority of studied cases, human papillomavirus, HPV. HPV can increase the risk of cervical cancer, throat cancer, and genital warts. Schools are offering free vaccinations as early as grade 5, and some schools, like the Catholic ones in Calgary, aren't going for it.

From the Catholic perspective, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Gardasil. It is by all accounts a very effective and even life-saving drug that will undoubtedly help thousands of Canadians every year. But there is something wrong with a STI drug being given to girls who haven't even reached puberty yet. Of course, the critics will say, there is the few 9 year-old girls who tragically will be sexually active at that young age. But their situation is not the norm, and we should make sure it never is, lest the next devastating STI epidemic is thrust upon us. And the hyper-aggressive advertising, the type which vilifies parents who may have reservations about their children receiving the vaccination at a certain age, is just plain wrong.

I'd like it if the Catholic school boards that aren't suitably excited about Gardasil advance their arguments a little better. Make sure the rest of Canada understands why you think it's worth thinking twice about giving children drugs that are explicitly designed to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases. Otherwise, it makes Catholics look like fundamentalist nutters who'd rather circle the wagons than make peace with the natives.

Most of all, the Gardasil phenomenon is an opportunity for Catholic school boards to initiate a very important discussion with the rest of Canada. I can think of a few elementary questions to start from:

- Canadians should re-examine the sexual education children receive in public and private schools to make sure the children are not exposed to dangerous and potentially life threatening infections. I've always thought that the best way to do this is to follow the tried and true ABC format of sex-ed: Abstinence; be faithful; or use a condom.

- At what point should children be exposed to sex-ed? When should the role of the parents in this matter be usurped by a teacher? How exactly do we get parents to maturely and responsibly discuss these things with their children?

- Should we aggressively advertise a drug to minors?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Russia what?

With the collapse of Washington Mutual, the impending failure of Bush's bank bailout, and the purchase of AIG by the US federal government, not many people have heard anything about the current financial crisis in Russia. It seems most Westerners are nervously discussing the possibility of the return of an antagonistic and imperialistic Russia rather than the return of an impotent, imploding Russia. But all is not well in Putin's playground, despite his best attempts to keep us looking the other way.

A fair chunk of the Russian crisis is a side-effect from the American crisis. Some Russian banks have billions invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Oil and other natural resources have also been trading for much less than earlier in the year. But then a lot of this insecurity comes from the neo-autocrats themselves. Take this for example: Putin's silly criticism of the steel company Mechel dropped it's stock by 38%. This in turn weakend market confidence, with foreign investment taking the worst hit. And then Putin criticized Mechel again, and after a slight rebound of 15%, its stock dropped a further 33%.

As of today, Russian markets are at the point of collapse. The federal government has injected $44 billion into the three largest Russian banks. Trading has been suspended several times. Things are not looking good at all. Just thought you'd like to know.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Palin's interview...

... gives me the impression that she is fast approaching Dan Quayle level's of crappiness. And I thought Stephen Harper struggled with the press.

What the?

Justin Trudeau, a Liberal Party candidate, told CTV News on Tuesday that the Canadian 'arts and culture' industry is what defines Canada, and thus should continue to receive federal government funding. He also claimed that it is an $85 billion industry, that employs close to 1 million people.

So... should anyone tell the rest of the Liberals that this guy is an idiot, or should we watch while the Conservatives do it for us? If the arts industry was an $85 billion dollar industry, it would be the biggest 'arts' industry in North America and Europe. Bigger than Hollywood. Bigger than professional sports. Bigger than TV and video games.

And since when did the notoriously esoteric and gnostic arts and culture industry become a defining characteristic of Canada? It might be for the few folks involved in it, but for the vast majority of Canadians, it's just not. As for the foreign invasion argument paraded about by Jack Layton, who despite his claims to be a voice for ordinary Canadians immediately abandons that tune to come to the rescue of the status quo, doesn't hold water anymore: Canadians willfully choose to watch American programming when it's offered, and avoid the CBC's Canadian programming religiously.

More than anything else, it highlights the massive disconnect between self-proclaimed populist politicians like Jack Layton, the Liberal Party, and the needs of normal Canadians. I say this as a student of art history and visual arts, and the son of a hardworking mother who owned her own dance and performing arts school. Why not earmark the money for people training in the arts, like we do for everyone else, and then let them sink or swim on their own merits?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Man stabs priest after viewing The Da Vinci Code


My prayers go out to Fr. Canistri and they especially go out to the assailant, Marco Luzi. Christ, bless and keep them both in their hour of need. Santa Maria please intercede for the physical healing of both men, and particularly for the spiritual healing of Marco. Amen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are the irreligious stupid?

The survey says... yes!

At least that's what some folks want to interpret from this.

I don't share the enthusiasm of some who want to point fingers at the 'new' atheist movement (just a bunch of legal positivists about 50 years behind schedule) for gifting us a generation and a half of complete spiritual morons. I know, they're not morons, they're just different. That's why we should happily accept their wholesale rejection of rational thought and traditional religious belief has a good thing. I digest...

But in reality my fellow Catholics have as much to do with this situation that anyone else. As far as I know, we're alone in having a clear duty to spread the Gospel to everyone, and as far as I know, we're, by the numbers, unusually shitty at it. How many times have we sat by while this anti-scientific tripe gets passed about as if it is honest Catholicism? Speaking for myself, many times. And now that I've read this survey, I hope I won't be such a sitztinkler the next time it happens.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Christmas in America!

I wrote a little while ago that it was the Democrats election to lose. In their excessive vitriol toward Sarah Palin, they managed to rally disaffected independents and discontented Republicans to her cause. These attacks against her personal life - especially those directed at her disabled new son and her pregnant daughter - did nothing but sell her to the electorate. So it wasn't all that unexpected when the official Democratic strategy switched away from her personal life and focused attention on her as a politician.

This new strategy was immediately effective. Palin's track record as a politician is light, though not as light as it would seem, but light nonetheless. Obama and the Dems scored easy hits against her rising star by simply bringing up her recent mayorship of the tiny Alaskan town of Wasilla. But these attacks were nothing compared to the damage Palin did to herself in her Charlie Gibson interview, which highlighted her greeness better than any Democratic attack ad. The Democrats were simply sitting back and letting Palin (and McCain's lousy campaign strategists) do the dirty work themselves.

But wouldn't you know it, the Democrats and their supporters are forgetful. Even with Palin's star fading as fast as it rose and with Obama's call for a end to the rumour-making, they just couldn't help themselves. Enter Charles Rangel, a popular Democrat out of New York, who had the foresight to call Palin a 'disabled politician'. That might be an accurate assessment from his point of view, but his choice of words couldn't have been worse. Saturday Night Live jumps in too, showing a skit that insinuated Palin's husband indulged himself in an incestuous relationship. And on top of all of this, you have several supermarket tabloids, greeting shoppers every day with more ludicrous rumours about Palin's personal life.

And so we start the week with the GOP still in close contention and the final results of the election anyone's best guess. Well done, guys.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jeremy Hinzman: Stay or Go?

Wtf? Jeremy Hinzman volunteered to join the army. He volunteered to join a part of the army that was specifically combat based. If he didn't want to go to war, he shouldn't have voluntarily signed a contract with the f***ing army.

And so it is that I'm torn between caring for Hinzman and not giving two shits about his duplicitous ass. He's father of two and a husband, so there's that little gumball for my empathy to chew on. He's also the one who decided to sign a contract with a group of guys in the government who could at anytime send him somewhere to kill someone. He's also the fellow who undermined his own conscientious objector claim by stupidly announcing that he would participate in defensive combat operations, but not offensive ones.

To some he's a hero, to those with a brain he's a insolent man-child. Seriously.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Jack Cafferty of CNN asks his readers, will Barack Obama’s race cost him the White House? The posted answers offer up the response Cafferty is looking for: Yes, people don't like him because he's black. Cafferty gives us the statement that the only attacks that 'hurt' Obama were the ones that associated him with Jeremiah Wright, the now infamous racist preacher Obama listened to every Sunday for over 20 years. Cafferty dissects the info for us, letting us know that the 'angry black man' image that popped up during the Wright scandal didn't sit well with whites.

There are two things about Cafferty's assumptions that I think are deeply flawed. First, there is nothing specifically racist about not liking the 'angry black man' image that Wright personifies so emphatically. Wright preaches a twisted version of the Gospel that allows no room for repentance, reconciliation and the salvation of humanity, all on the assumption that race trumps all. I don't think most people, of any race or creed, Christian or otherwise, wouldn't find it healthy to ingest Wright's gospel on a weekly basis. Obama was hurt by Wright because Wright is an asshole, not because Wright is black.

Second, there's no question that some white, Hispanic, and Asian voters will avoid Obama's name come November because of racial prejudices. The burden of racism has been with us all of time, in varying forms, and it's not going to magically disappear or get worse because of this election. But it's a stretch to say that these racist voters represent a large enough margin to gift the presidency to McCain. These voters, who I assume are automatically generalized as Republicans, have supported a presidency with two major black members: Condi Rice and Colin Powell. These folks have also supported a Hispanic attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, and elected Bobby Jindal, of Indian ancestry, in Louisiana, and Mike Steele, the black vice-governor of Maryland. The proof is in the pudding, no?

Lastly, Cafferty speaks of racism as the elephant in the room. That's true, but not in the way Cafferty thinks it is. If anything, this election could be decided by black folks voting for Obama over McCain because of race. It's not as difficult to digest of course, blacks choosing a candidate because of his blackness, because of the checkered history of race relations in the US, we can have some empathy. But it's still racism.

PS - Another poster from the site, Pliny, makes a good point: "If race were still a factor with the ability to swing elections Obama would never have been able to become the Democrat nominee. If Obama loses it will be because of his liberal ideology and bad policy positions."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to lose an election

I've always said that this election is Obama's to lose. And lost it he may, thanks to the recent contributions of liberal bloggers, Andrew Sullivan, Us magazine, Joe Biden, and now South Carolina Democrat Carol Fowler.

Remarking on Sarah Palin's nomination, Fowler had this wonderful contribution: "[McCain chose a candidate] whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.”

Yea, so... Fowler later offered up an apology, stating that her comment was actually an attack on single-issue voters (ie, pro-life folks), as opposed to anything else. Single-issue voters, eh? I suppose Obama supporters who find him singularly appealing because of his black father (Oprah and her book club), or the supporters who chime that he will bring 'change' (everyone), are single-issue voters too then? I doubt Fowler and every other Democrat that is perennially bothered by single-issue voters, is actually bothered when those single-issues happen to coincide with the Democratic Party's platform.


Vernuft at The New Skeptic has had enough of this election. Me too. It's easy to say that it's saturation has everything to do with the machinations of two of the self-styled agents of change of the Democratic Party. Thanks to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, people were talking about this election long before they really should have, or so we like to say.

That's a fair enough assessment which holds a kernel of truth: Obama and Clinton knew that their campaigns would need to be quickly off the mark in order to capitalize on the ever-slowing decay of the GOP. They also knew just what kind of beast their opponent was, and so the race to win the hearts of the disaffected electorate and the mainstream media, which was once decidedly pro-Clinton, was launched months, if not a year, before official campaigning began.

But I like to think that it just wasn't the Obama or Clinton's power grab, or the media's hard-on for Democratic candidates. I think the weakness of the Presidency, from mid-2005 to early 2007, had as much or more to do with the saturation than anything the Democrats did. My idea follows as such: Since the Republicans were in a state of disarray, they quickly became a side-show the much more positive developments in the Democratic Party. It wasn't that there was a vast, left-wing conspiracy - people just don't like hearing about the collapse of one political party, whose members were breaking rank and back-stabbing each other just to retain a modicum of a positive public image. The catastrophes of Mark Foley, Larry Craig and Jack Abramoff aren't exactly the type of news most people like to hear about everyday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Clarifications on a Wednesday morning....

With a few moments to spare (2 hours until work, baby & wife swimming at Y), I'd like to revisit those poor, pathetic thoughts I threw out in my last post. In no particular order, by the way.

Russia: Many commentators in the West seem to agree in general that Russia's invasion and subsequent annexation of South Ossetia heralds the former Soviet empire's return to the world stage. Coupled with this idea is the assertion that the United States somehow failed to make good on it's self-assigned role as protector of its allies.

Russia's actions against Georgia, are not representative of its abilities on the global level. This is first and foremost an unfortunately typical conflict between a core post-communist state, and a former satellite post-communist state, played out within a tiny, isolated geographical area. An American style 'rebuilding', a la Iraq, this is not. If comparisons help, and they often work for me, think of this as the US invading Grenada, as opposed to Afghanistan or Iraq.

As for the reaction of the United States, it's easy to call it a tactical and political failure. But then this assumes that the United States is the only guarantor of state-sovereignty, and completely ignores the role of the European super-powers of Britain, France and Germany. Certainly one of the main criticisms of American interventions has been their lack of unilateralism, and yet when push came to shove, everyone, looked to the United States to check Russia's power. So far only France has take major steps toward addressing the threat of a militaristic, aggressive Russia, which says a lot more about the ability of the EU and it's member states than it does about America.

Sarah Palin: Being of the conservative flock, I'm extremely partial to Sarah Palin. Only two weeks after she popped up on the scene, she's taken a lot of abuse and, so far, stood steady. If she makes it through this election without embarrassing herself (those veep debates will have a lot to do with that), I could see her rising far above any other female politician has, including Senator Clinton.

That said, I'm less convinced that she was a poor veep choice than I previously thought she was. She's taken a lot shit, more shit than any male politician would take, and is still standing. That's a good sign. I thought that once the torrents of abuse came in from Obama's supporters - which is often alarmingly misogynistic, sexist, and out right cruel (see the rumours/comments about her son, Trig) - she'd wither and withdraw from the race. Now I don't really see that happening, especially since the abuse is drawing a lot of sympathy from soft-conservatives and liberals who otherwise would have completely ignored her.

Stephane Dion (and Lizzie May): As I said before, I could see Dion winning a minority government this election. I don't feel the CPC has done enough out East to win over disaffected members of the LPC, and I certainly don't feel they've made enough progress in urban centres in British Columbia. But now things may not been as they were last week when I was almost certain Dion would win. First off, he's looking like an idiot for supporting Lizzie May's quest to be included in the leadership debates - the same Lizzie May, the leader of the GPC, who has made her partiality toward Dion public, and even made a non-compete agreement with him in one riding.

I've some empathy for May's demand to be included in the debates, but there are more hurdles the GPC needs to jump through before they deserve to be invited. They need to win - win in a contested election - a single riding. I don't care if they have 'official party status', or that a former Liberal MP conveniently defected to their cause, to be at a leadership debate you should have at least one riding that was won in an election.

UPDATE: Lizzie May and the GPC will be represented at the televised debates after the network commission in charge of such things reversed its earlier decision. I'm happy they're there, but I am skeptical, or maybe cynical, about the GPC's ability to contribute anything to the national conversation at this point. This is not to say that the GPC doesn't play an important role in Canadian politics, but that without any sort of the federal experience to draw upon, it will be difficult for them to articulate their policies more than they already have in the few media soundbites they've already given us over the past two years. Nevertheless, I'm of the 'more democracy = better democracy' mindset, so more discussion is for me always a positive thing.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

There's just not much to say...

I've been busy lately. Actually, I've been busy all year since the little baby surprised us all by being born last December. And with this business comes complete and utter apathy toward blogging once the sun goes down. This despite all the news that's fit to blog on. What can I say?

Well for one, I could say that I think Sarah Palin has a lot potential to become a major influence in American politics and the GOP, but is a weak veep choice.

I could also say that Russia isn't a 'world power', rather a regional one, despite it's recent and many claims to the contrary.

And I could also, and finally, say that Stephane Dion may win an election, but will lose government soon after.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One more time...

I promise to make this the last post in my Obama trilogy. No crappy prequels or cartoon spin-offs will follow.

From Keith Pavlischek of First Things:
Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic): By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.

Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School): “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”

Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of Pennsylvania): “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.”

Dr. Jerome LeJeune, “the Father of Modern Genetics” (University of Descartes, Paris): “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence.”

Rick Warren: At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?
Sen. Barack Obama: Well, I think that whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.

That's it. Promise.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

And more on Obama....

Rick Warren shows us the real Barack Obama...

Rick Warren, the famous, best-selling, megachurch pastor, recently hosted a forum featuring both presidential candidates. As I'm sure you heard. Warren commands by most accounts a large part of the evangelical vote, so just how well McCain and Obama handled themselves last night will no doubt be represented this November.

Warren asked each candidate at what point they believed a baby recieved human rights. McCain answered that he believed those rights were imparted at conception, and mentioned his 25 year pro-life record. Obama naturally didn't choose to highlight his extreme pro-choice record, and decided to answer the question like this:
human rights… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade.
And there you have it. Take it as it folks. Senator Obama is running for the highest office in the United States, and yet he feels that such a question is beyond his pay grade, even though he is already an employed legislator.

::postscript:: If we consider that Obama feels that such a distinction cannot be made by the judiciary or legislative bodies, then we must conclude that he feels that the question can be answered theologically by the Christianity which he professes allegiance to, and scientifically by the scientific world. Hence, since Christianity is clearly opposed to the abortion (I call upon the Didache and the philosophical and theological arguments advanced by the Catholic Church here), and 'science' has proved without question, for over 40 years, that separate, human life occurs at conception, we must admit that Obama is both a shitty Christian and unwilling to heed empirical evidence when it disagrees with him. And that my friends is one crummy candidate for president.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

LifeSite drops the ball in a serious way.

The problems with this article are legion. First, check out the ledes: "The film could easily be seen to portray good as a weakness used and repeatedly exploited by evil" and "The movie was visually and viscerally stunning but deeply disturbing, even diabolic." That's just two of the first few sentences. Author (and site editor) John-Henry Westen doesn't waste our time in getting his message across. The Dark Knight is the devil and will make stupid people do evil things. That itself is an interesting take considering the film's plot. If you remember, the Joker gets stupid, evil people to do evil things, but cannot get good (and maybe stupid) people to do evil things. In fact, that's pretty much the summation of the plot right there. Just how Westen missed this, and then wrote an article on the movie is beyond my simple brain.

But hey, just a few paragraphs later, Westen dives even deeper: "As sick and scary as that scenario [the Joker's description of his scars] is, it is nevertheless one with which a great many of today's youth - deeply scarred internally - will easily identify as they too have been subjected to domestic violence." Ah, yes - all those kids whose parents abused them will find their perverted moral reference point in the Joker. Because before the Joker, they found themselves sympathizing with Hitler, Pol Pot and other famous criminals who had similarly difficult childhoods.

Not to be outdone by himself, near the end of the article, Westen drops this bombshell: "Seeing the film only a few days after the very disturbing and unexplainable beheading of a passenger on a Canadian bus, I could not help wonder if the perpetrator had seen the Batman film. " Oh. My. The murder of an innocent man by a psychologically disturbed man is being linked to the Joker? That's a pretty big non sequitur - and a gigantic post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy if I've ever seen one.

Unfortunately for LifeSite, men like Westen are what make the social conservative movement so unattractive to many people. The Dark Knight is one of the first movies in a long while to deliver a message of redemption and sacrifice that actually resonates with the public. And rather than using it as an opportunity to discuss these basic-yet-vital concepts with a larger audience, Westen prefers to circle the wagons.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Will Saletan (for such a smart guy, he's really quite stupid)

Will Saletan - columnist for Slate - is really smart. And very stupid.

How do I know?

Well, I read his letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services concerning a possible regulation that would protect a health care worker's right of conscience. In this potential regulation, a worker would not be compelled to provide artificial birth control, or any 'abortafacient', if doing so compromised their personal beliefs. For Saletan, the overall message of the draft is that artificial birth control is wrong, and it's use should be generally discouraged.

Saletan is naturally quite upset, and thinks that he has spotted the Achilles' Heel of pro-life opposition to artificial birth control. In his view, pro-life folks are opposed to birth control because it 'prevents' implantation and thus causes a de facto abortion. Aha! says Saletan, so too does breast feeding. And therefore, in fairness, that also should be discouraged by pro-lifers.

As someone with a very shallow understanding of pro-life philosophy, Saletan's jeering is understandable. But it's also very stupid. Pro-life folks have never, ever, claimed that family planning or preventing pregnancy is wrong. What they have said is that the foreign introduction of a chemical which prevents implantation is akin to abortion. In fact, artificial birth control taken in heavy doses does cause an abortion itself. Saletan himself admits that birth control causes what amounts to an abortion, but dismisses that very fact because the abortive effect is difficult to observe. In it's place, Saletan sarcastically argues that breastfeeding, due to it's preventative effects on implantation, should be discouraged as well.

I suppose at a basic level Saletan does have a point, since breastfeeding can prevent implantation. But here's the rub: It is a natural act, necessarily produced by the mother to nurture the infant at it's most delicate state. It's primary function is not to prevent pregnancy, although it also can have that effect. Artificial birth control however is inherently designed to prevent a pregnancy - and even end it if implantation does occur.

Artificial birth control, by it's own nature, part and parcel of the process of aborting an infant. After reading the letter, I got the feeling that Saletan knows this, but is so steeped in leftish doublethink that he cannot bring himself to admit it. Hopefully he will someday, because not only is his letter not intelligent, it's also painfully not funny.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The King is dead...

Any student of politics has at one point encountered some who scoffed at the medieval concept of the divine right of kings. Actually, you're more than likely to encounter it every other week, particularly if you are interested in political philosophy and theory. I suppose the reasoning is this: The divine right was a system level, institutional, concept that legitimized the rule of the strong over the weak. So it then follows that when the upstart American colonists, and later the upstart French anti-clerical terrorists, did the world a great favour by smashing the hegemony of monarchical rule.

Now all of this is fair - I wouldn't trade my liberal democracy for a medieval monarchy. But then again, there's more to the divine right of kings than just having the final authority over a realm and its subjects. Kings were also expected to live by a certain code of Christian ethics. If a ruler fell afoul of the Catholic Church, ie. Christ-on-Earth, his opponents and his subjects were able to legitimize rebellion against him. So, for example, if a ruler is heavily taxing subjects, or even terrorizing them, it would be possible for this ruler to be justly deposed.

This legitimization of dissent came to a close during the late Renaissance. Niccolo Machiavelli pointed out that a ruler is responsible to himself, and must work to maximize his gains. There was to be no obstacle to his rule. Suddenly, religion became the instrument of the state. This new reality was compounded during the Reformation, when opposition to a prince instantly associated any dissenting voice with the enemies of the state religion. This fomented a new type of dehumanization - of the ruler, and of the subject.

Once the ability of a dissenter to reference a higher moral authority, the Catholic Church, it was open season. For the new Protestant kings and princes, there was no fear of rebuke from Rome. Likewise, for the Catholic rulers, there was considerable leeway. Civil war atrocities could be rationalized, and ecclesial opposition was muted, if not already in outright support. For the first time since the Roman Empire, religion sought legitimacy from the state, rather than vice versa.
So now in our time, we are faced with a state that now believes itself to the sole purveyor of legitimacy. For the state, nothing is sacred but the state. It almost makes you wish for a king again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight (and the best trailer of the year)

Like so many other moviefiles, I flocked to a theatre near me for the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. I won't go into a detailed review, since Nick Milne of The Daily Kraken already has in greater detail and eloquence than I ever could. Nonetheless, I will give you this: It is the first time a movie has lived up to it's hype. First time.

What fewer people are talking about is the trailer for the upcoming movie based on Alan Moore's timeless graphic novel, The Watchmen. The Watchmen is one of the few comics/graphic novels that captures the immensity of great literature. It is primarily a meditation on the corruption of power and the irrationality of cold, solitary rationalism. But then, it's much, much more, and I invite anyone who has yet to experience it to do so.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Fear & Loathing of PZ Myers

PZ Myers, the self-styled scrouge of Catholicism ... a lot of cyber ink has already been wasted upon discussing his latest exploits. So briefly: Myers has called for people to send him stolen, consecrated Eucharists (crackers in his lexicon) so that he can publicly defile them. This is in response to the strange case of one Webster Cook, whom himself stole a Eucharist and then claimed to receive death threats from angered Catholics.

There is something very revealing about the lengths Myers will go to prove his atheist credentials. Disrupting the Mass, promoting theft of ecclesial property and defiling the Eucharist aren't simply rude and unlawful, they're jarringly desperate. Content men don't attack others, but men fast running out of time and ideas do. Pascal pointed this out over two hundred years ago: Men despise religion; they hate it, and they fear it is true. Myers cannot believe that something might exist beyond his reckoning and so he must attempt to destroy it, lest his own limitations be laid bare for all to see.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


BOSTON -- When he was playing professional soccer in Chile, Chase Hilgenbrinck would seek comfort in the churches to satisfy his spiritual needs and remind him of childhood Sundays spent at Holy Trinity in his hometown of Bloomington, Ill.

Even after moving back to the United States last Christmas to play Major League Soccer -- a dream of his, but just one of them -- Hilgenbrinck felt the pull of his religion.

"I felt called to something greater," Hilgenbrinck said. "At one time I thought that call might be professional soccer. In the past few years, I found my soul is hungry for something else.

"I discerned, through prayer, that it was calling me to the Catholic Church. I do not want this call to pass me by."

Hilgenbrinck accepted the calling on Monday when he left the New England Revolution and retired from professional soccer to enter a seminary, where he will spend the next six years studying theology and philosophy so he can be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

"It's not that I'm ready to leave soccer. I still have a great passion for the game," he said in a telephone interview. "I wouldn't leave the game for just any other job. I'm moving on for the Lord. I want to do the will of the Lord, I want to do what he wants for me, not what I want to do for myself."

A 26-year-old defender who was the captain of the Revolution's reserve team, Hilgenbrinck will attend Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. After finishing his studies, he will report to his home parish in Peoria, Ill., for assignment.

"He said it was time for him, that he had been thinking long and hard," New England vice president of player personnel Michael Burns said. "Purely from a Revs standpoint, it's too bad. But a lot of players leave the game not on their own terms. He's clearly left on his own terms, which is great for him."

Raised in a Catholic family of regular churchgoers, Hilgenbrinck played soccer at Clemson and hooked on with the Chilean first division after he went unpicked in the 2004 MLS draft.

Far from home, he began to seek out familiar surroundings.

"I fell back on what I knew, and that was the Catholic Church," he said. "I grew up as a Catholic. I was always involved in the church, went to Catholic schools. It was when I got out on my own that my faith really became mine. I really embraced it. I didn't have to go to church any more, I was free to really believe what I wanted to believe.

"I looked to strengthen my personal relationship with Christ. And when my personal life started to flourish, I couldn't turn my back on that relationship."

Hilgenbrinck was signed and cut by the Colorado Rapids before he landed with the Revolution. He played in four MLS games for New England and started in both of the Revolution's U.S. Open Cup matches this month.

Although he has felt the calling for some time, Hilgenbrinck also knew it would be easier to continue playing soccer. He tried to convince himself that he was not ready, not deserving, or not in a hurry.

"I was putting up a bunch of barriers, saying I'm not worthy to be called to something like that," he said. "But, one by one, the barriers started to come down."

With a short window in which he will be able to play professional sports, he considered postponing the priesthood until after his career was over. But he decided with the same certainty that he could not allow himself to wait.

"Trust me, I thought of that," said Hilgenbrinck, who in his studies came across the saying, "Delayed obedience is disobedience."

"We are all called to do something. I feel like my specific call is to the priesthood. So, no, it was not possible to continue with soccer. It's absolutely inevitable."

Hilgenbrinck had his initial interview for the seminary last July, followed by a rigorous application process. There were written tests, personality screenings, background checks, fingerprinting and meetings with three different psychiatrists to make sure he had the right temperament to be a priest.

At first, he told no one, lest they influence him one way or the other: "I really wanted it to be a decision between me and God," he said.

There were more tests in January, and in March Hilgenbrinck learned he had been accepted to the seminary. A few weeks ago, he met with Burns and Revolution coach Steve Nicol.

"We weren't exactly sure what he was going to say, because it's not what you usually hear," Burns said. "When he said it, I was glad. I was glad for him. This is something that he clearly wants to do, and we wish him all the best."


Happy Summer! For the first time in weeks, it actually feels like the summer ought to feel. You know, warm weather, no rain and such. But alas, I am inside, weathering my latest illness (the flu). So in between other time-wasting-yet-restful-activities I have returned to my neglected blog to offer up a paltry posting.

- World Youth Day 2008: Akin to previous events, the Australian progressives - atheists, leftists - have launched attack after attack on the Catholic youth visiting Sydney and on the Church in general. Judging from the content of these attacks, I suppose these progressives are in fact so advanced that they have already completed the evolutionary cycle and are now at the level of bed-wetting neanderthals. Really now - telling Catholics that their sexual ethics are 'wrong', all the while sitting on top of a society rife with abortion, abusive birth control, involuntary sterilizations, and levels of sexually transmitted diseases that have reached epidemic levels, is just plain stupid. I have to wonder, is it so much to entertain that the Church, in its 2,000 year existence, might have learned a thing or two about sex?

- Henry Morgentaler: However outraged I was that Dr. Morgentaler received the Order of Canada, I was not surprised. The ruling elites of this country are so far removed from reality I'm sure they would have honoured Margaret Sanger with a snowflake if they had the chance. But the biggest concern on every Catholic's mind should be the soul of Dr. Morgentaler and the souls of those people his actions have put in danger. Forgiveness is a heavy cross.

- CHRC: Yes, Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant won their respective battles, but what of the other, smaller scale lawsuits that still endanger democratic rights in Canada? It would be a mistake to call the war over, for it I fear is just beginning. These folks in the HRC's will not go down without a fight, and lacking any iniative from the federal Conservatives, this will have to be a grass-roots, gritty conflict that will span many years. Read Five Feet of Fury for more details.

Monday, June 30, 2008

2 1/2 Cheers to Spain

However much I enjoyed the footballing clinic that is the Spanish team, I couldn't muster up much enthusiasm for their well-deserved win.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Happy Euro 2008

Football's second best tournament starts today.

I still haven't decided on a favourite. I think Germany could do well, although their age is an issue (half of the team is over 30). Greece haven't improved enough to repeat, but they did do well in the qualification, so who knows. One team that I guarantee to fail is Holland. They have been rated as favourites in every major tournament since they won the Euros in 1988, but haven't done anything since. I don't see them doing anything this year either.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saving Burma, one jimmy hat at a time

Some news is just too strange not to be true. If you had anyone doubts about the competency of the hacks who populate the UN, let them be laid to rest with this story:

Bangkok - The United Nations will send nearly a quarter of a million condoms into cyclone-hit Myanmar to help needy survivors with no access to contraceptives, a UN official says.

So far, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said it had sent 72 800 condoms to survivors struggling to maintain their family planning after the storm hit in early May.A total of 218 400 condoms would be delivered, UNFPA aid advisor Chaiyos Kunanusont said.

"We don't want regular use of contraception disrupted. An emergency usually damages the health system, so people don't have access to condoms and contraceptives," said Chaiyos.

Flights were also carrying reproductive health kits, which included razors for cutting umbilical cords, clean sheets for delivering babies and enough contraceptive pills and injections to last 3 390 women three months.

The supplies were meant to serve about 300 000 people, Chaiyos said.

Cyclone Nargis left 2.4 million people in desperate need of food, medicine and shelter, the UN estimated, but Chaiyos said not all of the affected people would need family planning supplies.
"Not every single woman is using contraceptives in Myanmar. We're basing this on regular habits," he said.Cyclone Nargis left at least 133 000 people dead and missing, and aid groups had complained that supplies were not getting to survivors quickly enough because of limitations imposed by the ruling junta.

H.o.l.y.C.r.a.p. I wish for the sake of those Burmese who are already suffering even more that this wasn't true. A bunch of Western elites sending boxes of latex rather than food, water and emergency medical supplies. Because if there's one thing people who have just had their homes and lives destroyed loved to do, it's have risky sex. I suppose this reminds me tangentially of why people believe in God: there has to be justice.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Barack Obama '08: Kill them babies

One of the more interesting and yet predictable developments in the American presidential election is the declaration of war between 'Obama's Catholics' and the rest of the Catholic Church. A few days ago, the Catholic blogosphere finally starting talking about something other than the Pope's visit to the US after a group called 'Roman Catholics for Obama '08' announced the compatibility of supporting Obama and being a faithful Catholic. These Obamaniacs would like the rest of the Democrats, and other Catholics, to believe that there is nothing wrong, contradictory, or even just plain stupid about supporting Obama in lieu of his position on abortion and infanticide.

Obama's voting record on abortion is well known - he is one of the few top tier politicians who have received a '100%' score on abortion from NARAL. That's more than both Clintons, Bush, McCain and Kerry. He (Obama) has even exceeded the expectations of the pro-choice movement by opposing the Born Alive Infant Act, which requires that children who survive an abortion be given life sustaining treatment. Not bad for a Senator with less than ten year's experience.

Back to the RCO's. According to their magisterial interpretation of Catholicism, because Obama supports policies that could hypothetically reduce abortion and poverty, that oppose the death penalty, his opposition to the War in Iraq, and his abilities to blow smoke up people's asses, there is nothing wrong with a Catholic supporting his candidacy. F*ck off. Is this really what these guys expect people to believe? Let me tell you this, if you are a Catholic, and you think supporting the most pro-abortion presidential candidate is a-o-k, you're incredibly stupid. Or you're incredibly disingenuous.

I think perhaps some of the confusion that could be clouding the minds of my fellow Catholics has to do with the shite leadership and formation they've received. But that's only half of it. No matter how crappy our Catholic education was, and is, the Church has never, ever wavered on abortion. It is one of the singularly great evils of our time and of all time. It is worse than war. We are duty bound to oppose it.

Those poor Krakatoans

Sorry for the conspicuous lack of posting. While my heart has always been with self-published, sometimes real life requires my attention too. The littlest poodle is now five months old, and armed with two new lower teeth (his first), perfect for slicing finger tips. The poodlette is doing well too - honestly, how is it that women can bring a child into the world, and then selflessly devote themselves, heart and soul, to his care? Amazing.

On my account, I have been enjoying time since school ended; it's given me a chance to weigh up my options. It's looking like I'll be in school a lot longer than I originally anticipated, which is both a good and bad thing. Good in that I find this second bout of schooling much more enjoyable than the last, bad in the sense that I find this second bout of schooling much more enjoyable than the last.

Since this is my first blogpost in one and a half months, I feel I should comment on something. Here's something: How do we cope with the passing of a generation?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Transgendered tomfoolery!

So a woman who identifies herself as a man is pregnant. Wow. My wife just had a baby and she happens to be a woman to boot. No reporter was present for the birth of our son, and no pictures of her pregnant frame were published on any website. After reading about Thomas Beatie, nee Tracy Lagondino, I'm feeling like we got a bum deal.

Honestly, why the hell is this even a major story? Unless you have a hate on for biology and scienece, this story is about a woman getting pregnant via artificial insemination. For those who desperately want the world to treat it as the first 'male pregnancy': We won't. This is about a pyschologically mixed up woman using her pregnancy as a publicity stunt. It's happened before (pregnancy as a publicity stunt) and if it tells us anything, it's that we know now that Tracy Lagondino will be one shitty parent.

Islam: We're No. 1!

Muslims have done it! Islam has finally overtaken Catholicism as the world's single largest religious denomination. Mohammedians around the world rejoice, thine hour of victory is at hand!

So says a report published by the BBC in which a Vatican bishop claims UN census data shows that Muslims outnumber Catholics by a small margin. About 17% of the world population is Catholic, while 19% is Muslim. That means there are about 120 million more Muslims living today than Catholics - a first we are told since the Middle Ages.

Now this is an interesting story, not in the least because Islam has a great deal of self-worth wrapped up in its image as an unstoppable force (one Muslim student in my political philosophy class today spoke of how impressed she was by the sheer 'power' of Islam, before admitting that she was in fact a Muslim herself). What's even more interesting is that the claim is robbed entirely of its value once it's realised that it relies upon flawed methodology. If there is going to be a comparison of Islam to other religions, it has to be against the entire religion, not just one entity within it. Catholicism is but one of several massive Christian denominations falling under the umbrella of Christianity. Islam is an entire religion. Comparing Islam with Catholicism is only useful if you want to point out the sheer numbers of Catholics vis a vis the world's second largest religion.

A better and more accurate comparison would between Christianity as a whole and Islam. There are around 2 billion Christians, and anywhere from 1.1 to 1.3 Muslims. Of course if this comparison is made, the story loses all of its appeal, since Muslims don't want to remember that there are substantially more Christians and Christians don't want to remember there are another 4 billion people that need to be converted. An even better and illuminating comparison would have been to compare the number of Sunnis or Shi'as to Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

Christiantiy makes up 33% of world's population, but that's not important to Christians. We are of course commanded to spread the Gospel to all the corners of the world, but we are first required to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbours. If we don't do that, it doesn't matter if there are 2 billion Christians or 200, since it's always been quality (or better yet, charity and fidelity) over quantity. Jesus Himself was aware of this during His life, asking his disciples whether he would find any faith on earth when he returns. It's never been a numbers game for us, even if we actually are winning.

::postscript:: I can't help but notice this story comes straight from a mid-level, previously unknown Vatican bureaucrat just after the baptism of Cristiano Allam at Easter. That baptism made many Muslims of shallow and disordered religiosity upset, which in turn tends to make wooly-kneed Westerners uneasy. It's as if someone out there was trying to lessen the shock to the Islamic world that Muslims do, and quite often when they are freely allowed, become Christians.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Do Canadians have the balls to boycott the Olympics?

This evening the CBC ran what can only be considered a massive peice of pro-Chinese pro-Olympics propaganda. The situation in Tibet was only mentioned in passing; the real story, the CBC thinks, is that athletes might miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity. Call me callous, but when a government murders 700 innocent Tibetans, whose 'crime' we should remember was desiring an end to Chinese occupation of their country, I don't give a sh*t about the athletes. If these athletes wanted to make a point, they could boycott the games in a show of solidarity with Tibet.

I hope, and I think, many Canadians will boycott the Olympics. Canadians are traditionally a people very concerned with the plight of the world's oppressed peoples, or so we say we are. Take this then as a litmus test: If Canada boycotts the games, then we can take solace in the knowledge that we don't let our affections govern our commitment to advancing international human rights.

Let's not let ourselves down.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Law & Order was once a good show....

... until it attempted to tackle 'real' cases.

I was reading over at Jihadwatch about a Law & Order episode that depicts the murder of Christian girl, by her Christian father, for having a Muslim boyfriend. Critics of the show, and they are legion, are pointing out that this is a gross misrepresentation of a real issue: Muslim fathers killing their daughters for dating non-Muslims and/or not practicing Islam as fanatically as they do. Two Muslim girls were recently killed in Texas for dating non-Muslims, and last summer in Canada we had a similar story of a girl being killed for refusing to wear a hijab. What we don't have is a story of a fanatic Christian father killing anyone over a religious issue, let alone his own daughter. And yet Law & Order makes it seem to millions of viewers that it does happen. Go figure.

There are of course very practical reasons for smearing Christians rather than Muslims. One is that, like it or not, there is always the lingering spectre of sectarian conflict. Another is Western society's penchant for persecuting minorities since the Englightenment started 300 years ago. But most importantly, Christians will take the smear, whereas Muslims won't (just ask Theo Van Gogh, the Danish cartoonists or Christians in Iraq). Hence Law & Order having a Christian, rather than a Muslim, murdering his daughter for dating a heathen.

Folks who drink this tripe up are what worry me. If someone can honestly sit throught this episode and think, 'by golly, those darned Christians!', then our society is in real trouble. Why? Because for someone to believe that, they'd have to be utterly divorced from reality. And you know, a lot of people watch Law & Order.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mikhail Gorbachev is NOT a Christian...

Well, I was wrong. I was gullied into believing that Mikhail Gorbachev had in fact returned to his Christian roots, but alas, it was simply a case wishful thinking and an over-enthusiastic journalist. Thus, I have changed the post.

"However, as someone who dabbled in Marxist philosophy and politics, I'm interested to know what lead Gorbachev away from the logical positivism of Marxism/Leninism and toward Christ."

I wrote this last Wednesday when I thought Gorby had reverted. He hasn't, but I still want to know what's keeping him an atheist.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Happy belated St. Patrick's Day! Belated? Well, yes! Since no feast day can fall in Holy Week (or Pasche for you Frenchies), St. Pat's was moved to March 14, though not many people noticed. Since it is Holy Week, and thus No Beer Shall Be Consumed, I think it's worth remembering a few details about St. Patrick's life.

St. Patrick was kidnapped as a young man and was sold into slavery in Ireland, spending six years in captivity before escaping and returning home. In a dream he was commanded to return to Ireland to spread Christianity, which he did apparently right away. Although he did not actually drive all the snakes out of Ireland in a literal sense, he did drive out slavery, centuries before it was outlawed in continental Europe. Thus it's ironic that many Irish have forsaken their Christianity, only to still celebrate the life of a Catholic saint. Without St. Patrick Ireland would have been just another backwater island, mired in the Dark Ages, rather than a beacon of enlightenment and civilization.

So for all those folks who will be drowning their metaphysical sorrows tonight in green beer and poorly poured Guiness, here is a section of St. Patrick's Breastplate:

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.