Friday, December 22, 2006

Are We Finally Getting It?

You might not know it, but I'm prone to bouts of excessive dewy-eyed optimism. If I put my rose coloured glasses on, it doesn't take me long to be totally convinced that everything is going to turn out exactly the way I want it to. You should know that because what I'm about to say is way out there.

I wonder are we (Muslims and Christians) finally starting to realize that people of faith have far more common interests than differences? Any sincere believer wants the ability to practice their faith and to share it in public. We're fortunate to live in a culture that was based on a fundamental right to practice your faith and express it publicly. Unfortunately there is a real threat to religious freedoms from secularists that wish to totally marginalize religion from the mainstream of our society. A recent example was when a judge in Ontario ruled that a Christmas tree could not be allowed in a courtroom. Hardly news given the battle going on in our culture.

The exciting thing is the reaction of Muslim leaders to the news:
"It's so stupid, I'm at a loss for words," said Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. . . ."If people are offended [by a Christmas tree], I'm glad they're offended," he added. "I think it indicates a serious mental disorder when people want to bring down other people's happiness."
This isn't the first time that Muslims and Christians in Canada have been able to cooperate when the cultural elites are actively working against common values. This fall religious leaders from several Christian denominations and representatives of the other major faiths united in support of traditional marriage.

So, and this is a stretch, if mainstream Muslim groups and Christian groups can work together against the anti-religious secularists in the west, this should protect religious freedoms here and facilitate the dialogue that Pope Benedict is beginning with Muslim leaders. This dialogue, by the way, is the best hope to disable Islamic terrorists; secularists by contrast show disdain for all people of faith, which will only continue to cause tension between Muslims and "the West."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Feeding the World

Poor Gwynne Dyer someone should tell him that the world is overpopulated and we're all going to die nonsense has been out of style for some time. Unfortunately he wrote a panic piece just two months ago:
We are still living off the proceeds of the Green Revolution, but that hit diminishing returns twenty years ago. Now we live in a finely balanced situation where world food supply just about meets demand, with noreserve to cover further population growth. But the population will grow anyway, and the world's existing grain supply for human consumption isbeing eroded by three different factors: meat, heat and biofuels.
Hmm. Obviously Mr Dyer has no connection to anyone actually involved in agriculture. Farmers have been struggling with low commodity prices for the better part of a decade because of over supply.

Agriculture Canada has just released a discussion paper on this topic. One interesting observation from this is, "Since the 1950s, global food production has increased 250%, outpacing a global population increase of 135% over the same period."

The US government still pays land owners not to grow crops on marginal land as a means to limit supply.

Finally the "Green Revolution," which introduced modern farming techniques to developing countries, may be dwarfed by the GMO revolution, where genetically modified crops can be designed specifically for biofuels or increased yields or other desirable traits. Human innovation has proven itself, feeding the world will not be a problem, with demographic trends in many countries on a massive downward spiral, the question is not will there be enough food, but will there be enough people.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I'm sad. The House of Commons voted not to protect marriage today. When former Prime Minister Paul Martin forced the issue on Canadians with an undemocratic vote, we had same sex marriage because of a lack of democracy. Today we have same sex marriage because of a lack of will. I'm especially disappointed in those MPs who voted down the motion in a misguided attempt to make the issue go away. Sorry, it won't just go away.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Canadian Politics Update

It looks like time to trade in my crystal ball. Stephan Dion is the new Liberal Leader, Bob Rae came in third. I haven't given up on Ted Morton in the Alberta Conservative's race, but at this point he's third.

Big Day in Canadian Politics

Christmas has come early for Canadian political junkies like me. Both the Federal Liberals and the Alberta Conservatives are holding leadership elections this weekend. I'm still confident Bob Rae will win the Liberal Leadership for pretty much the same reasons as I had back in September.

In the Alberta race, I just can't call it. It looks to be a two way race between the centrist former Provincial Finance Minister Jim Dinning and the eloquently conservative Ted Morton. Jim Dinning led slightly in the first round of voting, but hopefully his lead won't be enough to see him through.

Ontario Conservatives had a similar choice to make, when Mike Harris, the very successful premier who came to power using a clear and principled election document called the Common Sense Revolution. After successive majority governments, the party started to drift and it became clear that it was time for the premier to retire. Unfortunately Ontario Conservatives took the easy way out and voted for a 'centrist' former finance minister, Ernie Eves, who was a disaster as leader. The party was rightly booted from power and has been in opposition ever since.

I sincerely hope Alberta Conservatives learn from the past and rejuvenate their party with a man with fresh Conservative principles, like Ted Morton. Voting for Jim Dinning is doubly bad for those who want a conservative government; at first it will mean liberal government under a Conservative banner and later after a brutal election, liberal government under a Liberal banner. Alberta, Vote Morton.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pope Defines Common Ground with Muslims

[Dialogue between Christians and Muslims] cannot be reduced to an optional extra: on the contrary, it is a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends. - Pope Benedict XVI

I couldn't agree more. An essential step to ensure peace in this world is through an honest dialogue between Muslims and Christians, which will prevent the most dangerous Islamists from using ignorance and fear to inspire hatred of Christians and incite terrorism.

In his address to Turkey's Religious Affairs Director, Pope Benedict mapped out the common ground that Christians and Muslims have:
As men and women of religion, we are challenged by the widespread longing for justice, development, solidarity, freedom, security, peace, defense of life, protection of the environment and of the resources of the earth.
We are called to work together, so as to help society to open itself to the transcendent, giving Almighty God his rightful place. The best way forward is via authentic dialogue between Christians and Muslims, based on truth and inspired by a sincere wish to know one another better, respecting differences and recognizing what we have in common. This will lead to an authentic respect for the responsible choices that each person makes, especially those pertaining to fundamental values and to personal religious convictions.
Freedom of religion, institutionally guaranteed and effectively respected in practice, both for individuals and communities, constitutes for all believers the necessary condition for their loyal contribution to the building up of society, in an attitude of authentic service, especially toward the most vulnerable and the poor.
Anti-religious secularism such as that in Europe and totalitarianism like that in many Muslim countries is a common threat to both Christians and Muslims who wish to practice their faith in peace. It will take courage and boldness on the part of both Christians and Muslims to accomplish these goals. Pope Benedict has demonstrated he has this courage. May God continue to bless his ministry!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Harper's Achilles Heel?

I don't much like Garth Turner, but his reaction to Mike Chong's decision to leave cabinet was a clear message that Harper's enemies believe they have found his Achilles heel. According to the Guelph Mercury, Turner said: "You're either with him (Stephen Harper) or you're out of the party. There's no room for dissent here and that's the message."

Harper's strict party discipline has many advantages, but when it totally stifles the ability of MPs to speak their minds there's a serious problem a case and point is a recent gag order on Dianne Haskett the party's star candidate in a London by election. The party instructed Dianne not to answer a questionnaire from a local pro-family group. As a result voters in the election were robbed of the opportunity to make an educated decision. A secondary result appears to be that many of her potential voters didn't turn out, leaving Dianne in a third place finish.

Traditionally, the Conservative party has been a party of democracy and free votes, one that empowered individual MPs. The party should return to these roots or give its opposition an easy target to attack them.

BTW, Suzanne at Big Blue Wave has a list of other bloggers who are speaking out against this injustice.

Mike Chong, My MP

Mike Chong, My member of Parliament was on the front page of the Globe and Mail. Normally, that would be a good thing, but when it's because he's resigning from cabinet, it's a little more complicated.

Mike says that by resigning he is taking a stand on principle. You absolutely have to respect that. As St Thomas More said, "I believe that when a man forsakes his own private conscience for the sake of his public duties, he leads his country by short route to chaos." Politicians must absolutely stand on their deeply held principles.

On the other hand, by resigning from cabinet, he's embarrassing his party and his government. There must have been a cleaner option. As intergovernmental affairs minister, surely he could have had a critical meeting in BC to talk about joint reaction to the recent storms, or Newfoundland to talk about the cod fisheries, anything far away from Ottawa, that would have made it impossible to vote on the motion he disagreed with. The other thing, is the motion passed handily 266 - 16; sometimes you've gotta pick your battles.

So I'm divided, I have to commend Mike for standing on his principles, but I wish he would have dealt with his concerns in a more discreet way.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Feast of Christ the King

I've always been fond of the Church liturgical calendar. As I understand it, it includes a lectionary that's shared by many mainline protestant churches. The Lectionary has a three year cycle that ensures anyone who attended daily Mass would hear every verse in the Bible at least once over those three years. It also works to draw powerful parallels between the Old Testament, The Gospel, and other parts of the New Testament.

Today is the Final Sunday of the year in the Church calendar. Next Sunday marks the beginning of a new year as we use Advent to prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas. Today is also the Feast of Christ the King. It's a perfect way to end the year and to put Christmas in context. In case you missed it, here are today's readings:

First Reading:
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led
into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14
Second Reading:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:5-8


Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you
the king of the Jews?"

"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"

"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.

Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." John 18:33-37

Wow, what an awesome tesatment to Christ's power and Kingship over us. Long Live the King! (which in this case is eternally!)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Muslim Debates Tucker on Removal of Imams from flight

2 Things:

1) This is my first attempt to embed a YouTube Video I hope this works.

2) On the content. Apparently some Muslims were prevented from boarding a plane for two hours because they were praying, and Muslim groups have loudly objected and called the incident an example of racism and bigotry in America.

Overall, Tucker's got a point. While people have every right to pray in an airport, (what else is there to do?) the Muslim community has to recognize that people have serious concerns about their safety. The way to get acceptance is to demonstrate that you are also accepting of others, and at minimum that you are no threat. A regrettable event, but it's also regrettable if Muslim groups want to use this as an opportunity to condemn our society rather than adapt to it.

One last thing. I have to say I was totally impressed by the Muslim representative here. Tucker was an incredibly hostile interviewer and the spokesman totally kept his composure.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Income Splitting

Please! Income Splitting is the ultimate in fair taxation, allowing families to be taxed on total family income rather than their individual incomes. It will make family accounting so much simpler, rather than having to use complicated tools like spousal RRSPs, and other tax deductions. It also saves the silly problem that arises when one spouse gets a refund and the other has to pay additional tax. The tax cheque gets cashed right away, but the refund takes a lot longer.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

America Alone Part A

I purchased America Alone, last week and I'm about half way through it now. It's a quick read, funny and serious at the same time. However, if it wasn't so enjoyable, I might need to point out that Mark Steyn could qualify for a right wing AdScam. Just like the Liberal ad agencies that sold the same reports to different government agencies multiple times, more than one paragraph was taken from an article that I had read already. Seriously, so far it's an enjoyable read that links the topics he's written about over the past five years into a coherent treatise.

The book is chock full of tough questions for Islamists and appeasers such as this observation about 'moderate Muslims':
But, aside from the few brave but marginalized men like M. Ghali, one can't help noticing that the most prominent "moderate Muslims" would seem to be more accurately designated as apostate or ex Muslims, like the feminist lesbian Canadian Irshad Manji and the California academic Wafa Sultan. It seems likely that the beliefs of Mohammed Atta are closer to the thinking of most Muslims than those of Ms. Maji are.
Fortunately, I know of at least one other brave but marginalized Muslim. Salim Mansur is a Toronto Sun Columnist and a former professor of mine. In order to create any hope for peace we need to encourage more moderate Muslims to speak out so that faithful Muslims do not need to choose to listen only to self-hating heretics or murderous terrorists.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Luv U 2, Elton John

What has Elton John been smoking?

. . . Wait, I don't think I want to know. Anyway, here's the Associated Press article:

LONDON (AP) - Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms
of bias, pop star Elton John said.

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people," John said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine in an interview published Saturday. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays."

"But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion," said the singer, who exchanged vows in December in a civil union ceremony with Canada's David Furnish. "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings, and it's not really compassionate."

John also criticized religious leaders for failing to do anything about conflicts around the world. "Why aren't they having a conclave? Why aren't they coming together?"

John said those in his own field have been similarly lax. "It's like the peace movement in the '60s. Musicians got through to people by getting out there and doing peace concerts, but we don't seem to do them any more," he said. "If John Lennon were alive today, he'd be leading it with a vengeance."

So if I get this right, John Lennon thinks people dislike him because he's gay and their religion tells them to. Hmm, could it be that he's just a condescending @$$.

Seriously, this interview is so bizarre and out there that it seems all you can do is laugh at him and shrug it off. Mostly that's all you can do. The scary thing is coming off of Remembrance Day and thinking of those who fought for freedom, we now face left-wing extremists that want to take away the most fundamental human freedom.

No worries, it will never happen. But that doesn't make Elton any more ignorant.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada, Veteran's Day in the USA. It's a day to look back and remember the sacrifices that our soldiers made to keep us free.

Apparently, many Canadians are failing to even remember. This is sad. The fact that Remembrance Day falls on a Saturday should give many more people the opportunity to attend a Remembrance Day service. Instead, it appears that more people will even miss the minute's silence that is still often observed in many places of business.
November the 11 is celebrated because it coincides with the signing of the armistice that ended the Great War. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars instead it was merely the First World War in a century that has seen our brave soldiers fighting in many venues overseas to protect the ideals of freedom.
Unfortunately, it's no surprise that we are failing to remember. Too often our history is presented as a bunch of names and dates that get jumbled together without a specific story. Somehow we must focus on the overall narrative that shows Canadians and Americans have a proud tradition of heroism in the face of danger and of risking their lives for the sake of others. This is our common history and we must all take time to reflect on it no matter how long we as individuals have been living in the country.
Just a few notes of optimism, the federal government's new Remembrance Day TV ad ties in the sacrifice of today's soldiers who are fighting for the same goals as those who have gone before. There's a movement in place to have a state funeral for the last veteran of the First World War. Finally Ontario is inaugurating a new veteran's memorial.
It is in this spirit of optimism that I will remember and be thankful for the sacrifice of all of those who have served and are serving this country in our armed forces.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bad News?

Stephen Harper must be shaking in his boots. First his alleged puppeteer south of the border had his wings clipped in the election on Tuesday. Now according to the CBC, Canadians are turning against him and the effort in Afghanistan.

Fewer Canadians than ever before strongly approve of Canada's role in Afghanistan, and overall support for the war is down from June. It's only a matter of time until the Canadian soldiers come home tails between their legs and realize their true mission role is to be peace keepers sent to areas where actual combat has long ceased with orders not to actually interfere with the locals.

Oh Really? The bad news is based on a monthly poll done by Environics, one of Canada's least competent pollsters. You'd never guess by the media coverage that this poll shows an increase in overall support for the effort in Afghanistan since the last survey was taken in October. In fact, according to this poll, fully 50% of Canadians support Canada's effort in Afghanistan. (This is a perfect example for anyone interested in earning $500 by exposing left wing bias in Canada's media.)

My only question with the poll is what of the other 50%? I'm certain that our army is more popular in Afghanistan than it is at home. Canadians are on a noble mission that will not only rebuild Afghanistan, but give us a safer world. To all our men and women serving over there, I 'strongly approve' of your efforts!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night USA

I don't know nearly enough about US politics to offer any meaningful analysis of seat counts in tonight's election. It certainly appears that the Republicans are getting punished somewhat in the House of Representatitves. I'm going to say it's likely a good thing. The Republicans were adrift and nothing could be more dangerous than an election that gave them reason to continue to drift. Looking at some early reactions, I found this quote from an MSNBC article interesting:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a likely 2008 presidential contender, said Republicans had lost their way, telling NBC News’ Brian Williams that “many in our base believed we valued power over principle.”

“I think people have a frustration,” he said. “It reflects on the president, as well. We can’t continue to frivolously spend on these pork-barrel projects and call ourselves fiscal conservatives.”

That's definitely a fair statement. But since when does Sen McCain care about the Republican base? Everything I read about the man suggests he holds his own party and the base in utter contempt, simply a necessary evil on his road to the White House. I can make one prediction he'll never get there.

Time for bed, but we'll see what the morning brings.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Santo Subito!

Pope John Paul the Great has been credited with an authentic miracle. A complete and medically inexplicable recovery of a male lung cancer patient was apparently brought about after his wife's prayers through the great pope.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Countdown to the Pope's Visit to Turkey

Expect more incidents like this in advance of the Pope's visit to Turkey on November 28. Radical Islamic terrorists have high stakes in preventing the Papal visit and the serious discussions he proposes to have with rational muslim leaders. An understanding between the Catholic church and muslims is probably the world's best chance at peace. If mainstream muslim leaders express respect for the church, faithful muslims may follow and the radicals will become isolated. I commend the Pope and I pray that he will continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

London North Centre - Vote for Dianne

Dianne Haskett is running to be the Member of Parliament for London North Centre in the by-election slated for Nov 27. She's London's former Mayor who has impressive legal credentials and demonstrated that she had the nerve to stand up for her principles by refusing to declare Gay Pride day in the city of London, she was fined $10,000 by a kangaroo court otherwise known as a human rights tribunal. Londoners subsequently re-elected her with a resounding majority. Her decision spoke to her strength of character and that she was willing to stick by her decision despite intense media pressure. As the mayor who brought the Canada Games to London, she's more than qualified to guauge the will of her consituents and accurately represent them in Parliament.

Voters in London North Centre are priviledged to have the opportunity to vote for her. Canada's government will be better off on Nov 28, if the voters choose to send her to Ottawa.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hat's Off

Hat's off to everyone who participated in the blogburst to make sure the Court Challenges Program (CCP) stays dead. I'm just sorry, I never had a chance to participate earlier.

In September, the Conservative government made the decision to cut it's funding along with other questionable programs in an effort to save Canadian taxpayers $1 Billion. Now lawyers that benefited from the program and big labour have teamed up to try to resurrect the program. Let's hope the program stays dead.

When the program was in effect, Canada probably had the most schizophrenic law making procedure of any developed democracy. Here's the system briefly:
  1. Bill presented to House of Commons for first reading.
  2. Bill debated and voted on by H of C.
  3. Bill sent to committee.
  4. Bill debated and voted on by committee.
  5. Bill presented to H of C for second reading.
  6. Bill sent to committee.
  7. Bill debated and voted on by committee.
  8. Bill presented to H of C for Third reading.
  9. Bill presented to Senate.
  10. Bill debated and voted on by Senate.
  11. Bill presented to Governor General or Queen for Royal Assent.
  12. Royal Assent Given.
  13. Heavy Criticism of new law by activist groups opposed to democracy.
  14. Anti-Democracy activists challenge law with high priced lawyers funded by taxpayers.
  15. Half hearted defence mounted by government with high priced lawyers funded by taxpayers.
  16. Activist judges overrules Parliament, strike down law, or rewrite law.
  17. Media chides politicians and Canadians for ever making the law in the first place.

With any luck, the death of the court challenges program will mean the end of the last few steps (13 - 17 in red) of our schizophrenic law making process.

Again, hat's off to all the courageous bloggers to raise the issue. BTW, if you live in Canada and haven't yet got involved, it's not too late to contact your MP and congratulate them on the decision.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Peter, Be Nice

So the controversy surrounding Puppygate continues even as Peter MacKay tries to put the accusations that he called Belinda Stronach a dog behind him.

All I can say is Peter, be nice and apologize. Not everyone has the same gifts as others. Besides, comparing Belinda to a dog is both childish and inaccurate . . . Dogs are loyal.

Finally, the next time your tempted to make fun of someone's physical attributes. You should be aware that some have suggested you have a bit of an eagle beek. I personally wouldn't make fun of you for that, but others might.

Don't Waste Your Time

If you're ever in Toronto, don't waste your time at the Ontario Science Centre. I always understood that the Centre's purpose was to engage the public and particularly young people to cultivate an interest in Science. Apparently not.

The Centre's website states its mission is to, "To delight, inform and challenge visitors through engaging and thought-provoking experiences in science and technology." The current management seems to interpret this as a mission to force feed flavour of the month, political ideological ideas down the throats of their visitors. I visited the Centre last Thursday, here are a few observations:

As soon as I entered the main exhibit area, (which is 5 floors down who know's what the other 4 floors are for?), there was a survey question which went something like this, "new studies indicate that tounge piercing can cause infections and increase exposure to AIDS, would you risk getting a tounge piercing?" You could vote as many times as you wanted. The results were then posted up in lights. No mention that this was as unscientific as a survey could get, or the obvious bias in the question.

Then I entered the communication technology section. The first exhibit I entered had a black and white checkered floor and a sign that said step only on the black tiles. At the end of the tiles there was a message board that said, "Did you step on only black tiles, if so why? What are other people doing? Nothing would have happened if you stepped on the white tiles. As a society we are trained to follow signs, without questioning why." Ok, you pompous twits, I followed the directions because I expected some sort of optical illusion or something engaging. There was an implicit promise that there would be something half-way interesting when I followed the directions. In stead, you break the promise and call me a putz, well stuff it.

Next, I entered the "What is Truth?" display. It was the newest looking exhibit. It was also a complete waste of time. Just a bunch of exercises in moral relativism, truth depends on perspective crap. In a 'SCIENCE' Centre, give me a break. It would have been honest to say things are not always as they appear, but instead the message is everyone has a different perspective an no one is more right than anyone else. Oh yeah, the Earth rotates around the sun. It doesn't matter what your perspective is. That's the truth. Don't pretend it's any different.

Next we moved into the "sports" section, this is where all the traditional science centre activities were. If you have to go, spend your time here. The only problem is most things are old or broken. We looked at an exhibit that was supposed to show how an organ worked, the only problem was the motor running the fan was louder than the sound coming out of the organ pipes.

Next we saw the section on the human body. We walked in and we saw a wall of contraceptives. Wait a minute, most of the Centre is targeted to 10 - 12 year olds, I guess the human body is just a sex machine. Right beside the contraceptives was a display of how the foetus develops with impressive pictures, but the word descriptions were pathetic, 'after X days the cells form into a fluid sac that attaches itself to the uterine wall.' No human life here. I don't expect pro-life apologetics, but some more neutral language would be nice.

There was the obligatory lung display to demonstrate smoking is bad and so is second hand smoke and the stool samples that say, North Americans don't know how to eat. To be fair, the human body section looked like it had some interesting stuff, but the Centre closed before we could see it all.

There may not be anything wrong with the individual exhibits, smoking is bad for you, we should eat better, and we should be aware of our biases, but overall the preachy tone of the Centre is too much. This, along with the antiquated displays make me feel that neither donors, tax payers or visitors are getting value for their money.

Save your time and money and do something else.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Good Riddance

Continuing the Spirit of Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that Garth Turner has been suspended from the Conservative caucus. The self righteous loud mouth claims to have his supporters in mind saying, "I work for the voters — the people, the taxpayers. After that, I heed my party and the political establishment. All are important, of course, but the people come first." That's not entirely accurate, Garth comes first and whatever will generate publicity and give him a bigger soap box.

I trust that this means the Conservative nomination will be open in his riding and that Halton voters will have a chance for a real conservative on the next ballot.

Hat's off to the Conservative Party today.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Handy Man

Last fall we had new windows installed in our house. Last night, more than a year later, the trim is up around the windows!

I rented a Nail gun after work and went to work for about 4.5 hours. It's amazing what even a desk jockey can do with the right tools. Right now I should be putting some trim up in the bathroom while I still have the gun.

I guess that means I have to go. A handy man's work is never done. (Psst . . . that last sentence is talking about me! Go figure.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Be Honest, Ms Magazine

Ms. Magazine has organized a petition for women who have had abortions and want to remove laws that restrict abortion. An MSN story headlines, "Ms. magazine names women who had abortions: more than 5,000 signed petition saying they are unashamed of decision."

All I can say is be honest. The magazines effort is a transparent attempt to influence laws in the United States. More than likely it's also a reaction to the very successful Silent No More campaign where women share their touching stories about why they regret their abortion.

The magazine is abusing women a second time by asking women who have had abortions to sign on to the statement: "I have had an abortion. I publicly join the millions of women in the United States who have had an abortion in demanding a repeal of laws that restrict women's reproductive freedom."

I'm sure there's something liberating for women to publicly confess that they had an abortion, rather than keeping it secret. But this petition misses the point, they should not use women as political ammunition, it would be more useful if they were creating a forum for those women to come to terms with what they had done.

Down Boy

Chuck Strahl has been all over the Canadian Wheat Board like a dog on a bone. During the last election, the Conservatives made an ill advised promise to get rid of the Wheat Board.

The Canadian Wheat Board is a democratic organization that represents all wheat producers and markets all wheat produced in the Western Provinces. These monopoly selling powers allow the board the ability to have leverage in setting prices rather than being simple price takers in a commodity market. A market report from an independent market research firm made this observation yesterday:

Wow! The world buyers and sellers of wheat are finally coming to the realization that supplies are running seriously low. This could mean the world agricultural markets are finally making the great transition from cheap to dear that the energy and metals markets did.

After previous reports saying the Aussie crop could sink to 10 million tonnes, new reports are now indicating Ukraine might suspend or limit its exports. With European supplies down and wheat prices rising fast there, buyers are wondering where to go for wheat. The U.S. does not have a lot. Canada does but a lot of wheat in the west is in the strong hands of a Central-Desk seller known as the Canadian Wheat Board!

The market power the wheat board holds was also recently recognized by provincial ministers of Agriculture:
“The removal of the single desk would result in a serious financial loss for western Canadian grain producers and would have far-reaching negative effects on
short-line railways, independent inland grain terminals, the Port of Churchill and trade with the U.S.,” Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk said.
Like every monopoly, the Wheat board should be held accountable. The wheat board recognizes this saying:

As an organization, we are fully aware of the extensive debate surrounding the future of the CWB. We believe that it is critical that farmers have the benefit of a free and open debate. Any restrictions which stifle this debate will not do it justice.

Our position has always been that farmers, through the plebiscite called for under the CWB Act, must vote on any changes to the mandate of the organization. The CWB works on behalf of the farmers of Western Canada, and it is the farmers of Western Canada who should decide its future.

Instead of allowing a free debate among producers the Government placed a gag order on the wheat board and issued a press release that made Minister Strahl sound eerily undemocratic and borderline arrogant:
"The CWB reports to Parliament through me, and should not be attempting to
undermine this government’s policy objectives."
Whoa! I thought this government was about grassroots democracy, statements like this one undermine that message. Minister Strahl should let this one go and let Prairie farmers decide the best way to operate their wheat board. Down Boy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Not Prime-Ministerial

Poor Iggy. He was the darling of the media and the heir apparent to the Liberal leadership. But even with all the attention and the big name support, he wasn't able to garner enough delegate support to put himself within striking distance of victory. Now he's clearly doomed, not because losing any key supporter matters, but because he's shown himself to be about as decisive as Paul Martin.

Until recently Ignatieff has been intellectually honest and supportive of the war against terror. By stating that Israel committed war crimes in its defensive conflict against Hezbollah, he's demonstrated that he's willing to be swayed from his morally defensible position. He cannot win now. He cannot recover from this. Those Liberals who are anti-war, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist etc, will never support him because of his past positions. Those Liberals who supported his principled stand have been betrayed and no apology can take away the fact that he was willing to abandon his principles to pander to voters who would not support him anyway.

This policy flip flop matters because his credentials as an authority on the struggle against terror were so strong. His flip flop leaves a dark stain on his character. He's finished before he even started. Poor Iggy.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bye Bye Kofi

The UN Security Council has officially endorsed their nominee to replace Kofi Annan as the next UN Secretary General.

Ban Ki-Moon hails from South Korea and had the support of 14 out of 15 countries on the Security Council, only Japan withheld their opinion. CBC has some decent analysis on Mr Ki-Moon here.

But the best part is Kofi Annan is going to be history, and not a moment to soon. He has been totally irrelevant and counter productive during this summer's crisis in Lebanon. The level of corruption under his leadership has been disgusting, and I better stop before I get on a roll. I'm sure I'll get to do some UN bashing in another post. The main thing is that the UN will have a new leader, who appears to understand the need for reforming the UN and the need to fight terrorism. I wish him luck, unfortunately he's going to need more than that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday weekend is wrapping up. Mine was awesome with 2 huge Thanksgiving dinners and plenty of opportunity to get outside and enjoy the amazing fall weather.

I also took time to reflect on my many blessings, particularly at mass this morning. The Gospel was the story of the Good Samaritan and our priest's message was simple. When we realize that every good thing we have (our food, shelter, families, jobs, health and abilities) are all gifts we have no choice but to be very thankful. Then when we realize how generous God has been to us, we should react by being equally generous to those around us. Normally my prayer life is mostly about asking for things so the call to just be thankful is very welcome.

Thanksgiving is probably the greatest secular holiday that our country has to offer. Regardless of your particular denomination, almost regardless of your religion, Thanksgiving is call to recognize that so much of what we have is a totally undeserved gift. For this reason, I respectfully ask everyone to refrain from calling this holiday Turkey Day; it robs the day of all meaning, and it ignores the fact that ham is an equally important part of the meal.

I hope everyone here in Canada had a Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope everyone else feels welcome to join us.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Comedy, Iraqi Style

Great article here about the new Iraqi Comedy show, "Hurry Up, He's Dead." Some highlights:

After a summer of the worst violence since U.S. troops toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, tens of thousands of Iraqis are finding solace and amusement in a new television show whose dark satirical humor makes it an Iraqi version of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show."


In the next day's episode, Saaed joyfully announces that the Americans are finally leaving Iraq. Referring to the U.S. secretary of defense, Saaed, sitting behind his news desk, says: "Rums bin Feld said the American forces are leaving on 1-1," referring to Jan. 1.

He's giddy, raising his arms in the air. Then he realizes he's made a mistake. The soldiers are leaving one by one, not on 1-1. He computes in his head what leaving one by one means and announces that the soldiers will be gone in 694 years. He starts to cry; Iraqis watching the show howl.

Political Satire; I wonder how long that would have lasted in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This is good news for freedom, and the best part is the show might actually be funny.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Religious Freedom in Danger

Judging by the aggressive response of Liberals against an alleged bill to protect religious freedoms. Religious freedoms in Canada don't seem very safe. The comments on to the article show widespread disdain for the rights of religious Canadians to refuse to marry same sex couples.

The spite and disdain that many elitists apparently have for religious freedoms, underlines the need for this type of law. Even better, parliament should vote to have an honest debate on the merits of same sex marriage. That's really the only way to solve this issue.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pope Benedict's Meeting with Muslims

I just read the speech Pope Benedict gave to Muslim Leaders at his summer residence on September 25. It deserves to be widely reported in the Arab and the Western Press. Here are some highlights:

I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God."

Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together.


As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco, "Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favour peace and agreement between peoples"

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.

Excellent. This was so much more clear than his controversial university address in Regensburg, which I tried to read but simply couldn't plow through. I saw three clear messages the September 25th address:
  1. The Church and the Pope respect the desire of Muslims to submit themselves to the will of the creator.
  2. Pope Benedict recognizes that the future of Catholics, Muslims, and the entire world depends on a sincere meaningful dialogue between Muslims and the church.
  3. The starting point for this dialogue is reciprocity, which would grant Christians living in Muslim dominated areas the same religious freedom that is given to Muslims in Western countries and other Christian areas.
I believe the Holy Spirit guided the Church in preparing this address. I also believe that this message, much more than the Regensburg address will be a defining moment in Benedict's ministry as Pope.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Virtual Life Chain: The Big Blue Wave Pro-Life BlogBurst

Today concerned citizens accross North America are participating in the Life Chain as a testament to the value of life at all stages.

Thanks to Suzanne at Big Blue Wave there's a blogburst in defence of the fetal rights.

I'm happy to be part of it. The miracle of creation is so extraoridinary it's breathtaking when I pause to reflect on it. It's equally breathtaking that God is so gracious that he allows us to be participants in his plan. But one thing I cannot grasp is how anyone being so intimately involved could ever think to abuse the process by aborting an unborn child or destroying an embryo to harvest its cells.

The threats against unborn children seem to grow each year. At the thin edge of the wedge, there are the heart-wrenching stories of young women who are so scared by the prospect of having a child that they feel abortion is their only option. Often these young women can be helped by simply knowing about the many caring people who are willing to help them through their pregnancy and help them raise the child, or even offer it up for adoption.

The unborn are facing even greater threats from chemical abortions through drugs such as RU-486, and from predators that wish to destroy young embryos to harvest their cells.

Now more than ever we must remember the humanity of these yet to be born children. Fetal rights are human rights and if we do not defend their rights, we will diminish our own.

PS - This is my 100th post on this blog. I'm thoroughly enjoying blogging even though I can't always find the time to do it.

PPS - If you are called to raise awareness about some of the tragedy of abortion, here's one worthy organization.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Country Music

I grew up on Country music and would aggressively fight anyone who dared try to change the dial from my local country station (BX93). Straight through high school and university nothing but country music would do. However, when I met my wife I started to appreciate other kinds of music so that I started listening to classical, pop, soft rock, oldies, etc. In the last couple years I've discovered some talented Christian artists, talk shows and radio drama (my current favourite).

In the last five years or so Country music has apparently become more popular. There are a lot of radio stations offering it, but so much of the new stuff was artificial, patronizing and loud. When a Toronto country station started playing Jan Arden, I just tuned out. I couldn't listen to a "New Country" station for more than 2 - 3 songs before something incredibly annoying like the Dixie Chicks or Toby Keith (who was fun at first, but is just a jerk) would force me to turn the dial.

I was travelling a lot for work this week, and I tuned in to a few country stations. There are two songs that really stick out. The Truck Got Stuck, and I'd Rather be Lucky are both great new traditional sounding country songs. Last Wednesday I tuned into a country station about a half hour away from home, and I never changed the dial. I hope this is a sign of things to come.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Stephen Harper's speech to the UN General Assembly was truly remarkable. Stephen Harper is not only a brilliant strategist, but a great statesman. Who knew?

Stephen Harper eloquently set out the justification for the UN mission in Afghanistan, and while praising the accomplishments of the UN made it clear that it must be more effective and accountable. It was well done, and if you haven't seen it, read it.

Here's our man in action:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bob Rae - The Next Liberal Leader

I think it will happen. The Globe and Mail / CTV poll of Liberal party membership shows a very close race for Leader of the Liberal Party. Of course, delegates elect the leader of the party and not members, so you can only read so much into the poll. Michael Ignatieff, being the perceived front runner and having the advantage of organizing since the last election, most likely has a stronger position among delegates than among the general membership.

But, the poll results are interesting 19% favour Ignatieff, and 17% Bob Rae. Bob Rae is significantly stronger when you add second and third choice responses. Add it up and you have to come to the same conclusion as pollster Allan Gregg, "if you had to put money on it, you'd bet Rae right now." It makes sense to me, I can't see Liberal Party members who actually swallowed all the soft power pabulum fed to them by Lloyd Axworthy and the rest of the Chretien Liberals would ever be able to vote for a pro-Iraq war leader like Ignatieff.

Conventional wisdom, which is on display in the comments on the Globe's article, has it tha Bob Rae can't win because he has too much baggage from his time as the NDP premier of Ontario. I don't think that's the case. Even after the devastating deficits, social engineering, and unfocused leadership from his government, I still remember people saying Bob Rae was "the right man in the wrong party." If he can keep that reputation in Ontario even after severely damaging the province's economy, the man can obviously sell himself.

An election with Bob Rae as leader will also give Canadians a clear choice between a Liberal party that is solcialist, pacifist and socially progressive, or a Conservative party that promises to improve Canada's reputation on the world stage, and make the country a competive place to do business and a safe place to raise a family. This is an honest choice that Canadians deserve.

I think Bob Rae will win, and I hope he does.

On the other hand, it would be way more fun if Ignatieff won. Half the Liberal party would bolt over to the NDP, and you would be looking at one of the largest majority Conservative governments in history.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm a Radical Christian

This is craziness. On ABC's The View, Rosie O'Donnel said, "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam." What's even more sick is her studio audience applauded loudly at her statement. I've never been more glad that I don't own a TV, if this is the kind of crap that's out there.

MSN has interesting coverage and a follow up discussion, with a panel that includes two female "media analysts" who defend Rosie and one white male Republican trying to help people understand how utterly ridiculous this is. Left wing extremists like Rosie are equating "radical" Christians with terrorists who deliberately target civilians and who would kill us all given the opportunity.

In the discussion, the two female analysts defined radical christians first as isolated individuals that would blow up an abortion clinic, but then they expanded the definition to include people who hold up signs with offensive slogans, then included people who don't believe in widespread distribution of condoms. It's a good thing the discussion was short or they would have had two thirds of the country described as radical Christians.

I happen to be what they would call a radical Christian. No, I haven't blown up any abortuaries lately, but I believe in Jesus Christ and that in itself is radical. Canadians will remember how the mainstream media tore up Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day several years ago, calling him scary because he believed in creation. But it doesn't matter where you are, if you press a secularist left winger, they will have to tell you that believing that God created the world, lived among us in the person of Jesus, then died and rose again is totally radical and contrary to everything they believe. Catholics who believe that God makes himself present in the Eucharist, must be just plain nuts to them.

I think its fair to say, Christ himself was a radical. He basically said as much:
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." Luke12:51-53

It's OK that crazies like Rosie O'Donnell think that we're extreme. I have a similar opinion of her. The real insanity is that she and others could try to make a link between murderous Islamic terrorists and those Christians who merely disagree with mainstream public opinion on some issues. That Ms. O'Donnell would make the link is intolerant, offensive, and has no value in a civil discussion.

ABC should take away her soap box.

PS. If this seems a bit contrary to my recent post on free speech, it's not. Rosie has every right to her opinions no matter how deluded, however, she's not adding anything useful to public debate there's no reason for her to have a rant on a major televison network. Maybe she should try blogging instead; It's easy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Scandal - Canada to Send Tanks to Afghanistan

War-Mongering Prime Minister Stephen Harper will single handedly lose the next election, cause Quebec to seperate from Canada, and allow the Taliban to retake Afghanistan. Experts warn his insensitive decision to send tanks to Afghanistan may also cause people's feelings to get hurt.

Maybe it's just me but I don't have the same desire to panic as Murray Brewster, whose article for the Canadian Press has been widely republished. Here are some of his choice observations:
A Montreal political scientist said if there are casualties from Quebec, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives could end up paying a heavy price in political support in a province already deeply opposed to the war.
Members of the famed Royal 22nd Regiment - the fighting Van Doo - are scheduled to ship out to Afghanistan next year as part of a planned rotation. Moving up the deployment of other Quebec units could create a political problem for Harper, if there are casualties among them.

That would bring the war more sharply into focus for Quebecers at time when Conservatives are trying to win their support, said Pierre Martin, a political science professor at the University of Montreal. "It will hit home much more strongly."

Umm, Quebec soldiers, like all Canadian soldiers have volunteered to serve and are well trained professionals. Any suggestion that they should not see the same action as soldiers from other provinces is disrespectful and foolish. Hey wait there's more:

But there is a danger that the appearance of heavy armour in the chalky, mud-walled villages and towns will backfire in the battle for Afghan hearts and minds.

"If you see tanks in your streets it's hard not to think about it as an army of occupation," said Gavin Cameron, a specialist in counter-insurgency wars at the University of Calgary's Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.

By buttoning down inside a tank, Canadian soldiers could also end up losing personal contact with locals, which is crucial in building public support.

This is just silly. I don't think the tanks will be used to patrol the marketplaces. The military commanders will naturally use the tanks in targeted operations, i.e. in traditional battle. Why a so called expert would suggest otherwise just doesn't make sense. Here's my favourite line:
Calls to Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's office were not returned.

Why not just say, hey I waited to the last minute to call the minister's office?

There's no scandal here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

United 93 the Movie

Well, today's September 11, and I've been intentionally avoiding reading any news coverage or blogs, or commentaries about how the world has changed in the last 5 years. I was stuck in a room forced to watch "the National with Peter Mansbridge" on Friday night, and I cannot bear taking the risk that I might be exposed to any more CBC-esque retrospectives.

Fortunately, last night I rented United 93. It's an excellent film about about how events were unfolding on the morning of September 11th. The movie is simply an historical account how things were unfolding at civilian and military aviation headquarters, and of course on United Airlines Flight 93. The movie pulled me in instantly and I was so involved I remember noticing how my heart was racing and my hand was shaking each time I tried to take a sip from my coffee cup.

The director was absolutely committed to realism, contacting every family of the victims of the plane crash. The acting was incredible especially at the FAA headquarters, I noticed why when the final credits listed "as himself" at least a half dozen times.

The film completely steers clear of social commentary and simply presents the facts in an engaging and gripping manner. It's a fitting tribute to the victims / heroes on flight 93. If you haven't seen it, rent it, its well worth 2 hours of your time.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dangerous Precedent - Hate Crime Sentence

A 63 year old Alberta man is going to jail for 16 months followed by 36 months probation for having an offensive website.

I'm going to sleep better tonight knowing that the world is a safer place with an old crank who wanted to spout off online behind bars.

Seriously, Reni Sentana-Ries' website, the Federation of Free Planets, and his opinions are outrageous, vile and disgusting. Anyone who denies the holocaust has more than a few screws loose. I shouldn't even need to state that, but I will lest anyone get the wrong idea.

I do have a major problem with the fact that he was arrested and jailed for simply stating his opinion, however misinformed that might be. I'm especially concerned about the words of the crown prosecutor:

Crown prosecutor Steven Bilodeau said outside court that the conviction and sentence sets a benchmark for similar Internet hate-crime cases.

"The Crown wanted a strong message because it's the first hate-crime conviction
involving hate on the Internet," said Bilodeau, who handles technology and
Internet crimes.

"Putting hate on the Internet means everyone can see it, not just the people you run into on the street corner and it's really hard to get rid of."

The crown did send a strong message, freedom of speech in Canada is not as safe as we may think. Hate Crimes are often fake crimes. Our criminal code is full of laws to protect society from nut cases like Reni Sentana-Ries, if he were uttering threats or defaming individuals he could have been prosecuted under any number of laws. In this case he's only being jailed for holding a disgraceful opinion.

It's probably just as well that nobody will read this man's diatribes any longer, but a dangerous precedent has been set for the next person who posts an unpopular viewpoint on their website.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Neat Idea: A Conservative Cruise

The Western Standard is hosting a cruise for its readers. Sounds like a great idea, fun in the sun and some great conversations. The only question I have is security. With all these sharp conservative minds in one place, what's to stop the Iranians from having a submarine lurking around in the Pacific just off the coast of Northern Mexico?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bush Defines the Fight for Freedom

In today's speech by President Bush (previous post) we heard an impassioned defence of the war on terror and the justification for the US struggle in Iraq. The president used strong words comparing the terrorists to Nazis and Communists. More importantly he defined the ideological battle that the world faces:
The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation -- the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism -- the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest.

This war is about the fight for freedom, properly defined as, "the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty." I believe this may be where the true battle lies, to convince Americans and other free people that freedom is still worth fighting for. Imagine a world where simply professing your faith is a cause for summary execution, now remember that world is only a few thousand miles away.

Unfortunately the concept of freedom itself has been hijacked. Thanks to activist courts and organizations like the ACLU (alternate link), freedom is now often associated with a sustained fight against any religious references in the public sphere, defending terrorists and supporting irrational rights such access to some of the most vile pornography imaginable.

We must first remember what freedom is and why it's essential to be free. We must also remember that the most basic freedom is the freedom to practice your faith and to share it publicly. Then it will be clear how important it is to resist the terrorists who seek to take away that essential freedom and kill as many of us as possible along the way.

President Bush's Bold Defence of the War

President Bush gave a bold defence of the war on terror and the major front in Iraq. It was a lengthy address but it bears repeating. Here's the speech entire speech (minus the lengthy intro). My comments to follow in the next post.


At this hour, a new generation of Americans in uniform is showing great courage in defending our freedom in the first war of the 21st century. I know that Legionnaires are following this war closely, especially those of you with family and friends who wear our uniform. The images that come back from the front lines are striking, and sometimes unsettling. When you see innocent civilians ripped apart by suicide bombs, or families buried inside their homes, the world can seem engulfed in purposeless violence. The truth is there is violence, but those who cause it have a clear purpose. When terrorists murder at the World Trade Center, or car bombers strike in Baghdad, or hijackers plot to blow up planes over the Atlantic, or terrorist militias shoot rockets at Israeli towns, they are all pursuing the same objective -- to turn back the advance of freedom, and impose a dark vision of tyranny and terror across the world.

The enemies of liberty come from different parts of the world, and they take inspiration from different sources. Some are radicalized followers of the Sunni tradition, who swear allegiance to terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. Others are radicalized followers of the Shia tradition, who join groups like Hezbollah and take guidance from state sponsors like Syria and Iran. Still others are "homegrown" terrorists -- fanatics who live quietly in free societies they dream to destroy. Despite their differences, these groups from -- form the outlines of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology. And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam.

The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. (Applause.) On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation -- the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism -- the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest. As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty. (Applause.)

We're now approaching the fifth anniversary of the day this war reached our shores. As the horror of that morning grows more distant, there is a tendency to believe that the threat is receding and this war is coming to a close. That feeling is natural and comforting -- and wrong. As we recently saw, the enemy still wants to attack us. We're in a war we didn't ask for, but it's a war we must wage, and a war we will win. (Applause.)

In the coming days, I'll deliver a series of speeches describing the nature of our enemy in the war on terror, the insights we've gained about their aims and ambitions, the successes and setbacks we've experienced, and our strategy to prevail in this long war. Today, I'll discuss a critical aspect of this war: the struggle between freedom and terror in the Middle East, including the battle in Iraq, which is the central front in our fight against terrorism.
To understand the struggle unfolding in the Middle East, we need to look at the recent history of the region. For a half- century, America's primary goal in the Middle East was stability. This was understandable at the time; we were fighting the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and it was important to support Middle Eastern governments that rejected communism. Yet, over the decades, an undercurrent of danger was rising in the Middle East. Much of the region was mired in stagnation and despair. A generation of young people grew up with little hope to improve their lives, and many fell under the sway of radical extremism. The terrorist movement multiplied in strength, and resentment that had simmered for years boiled over into violence across the world.

Extremists in Iran seized American hostages. Hezbollah terrorists murdered American troops at the Marine barracks in Beirut and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Terrorists set off a truck bomb at the World Trade Center. Al Qaeda blew up two U.S. embassies in East Africa, and bombed the USS Cole. Then came the nightmare of September the 11, 2001, when 19 hijackers killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children.

In the space of a single morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. We realized that years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. Instead, the lack of freedom in the Middle East made the region an incubator for terrorist movements.

The status quo in the Middle East before September the 11th was dangerous and unacceptable, so we're pursuing a new strategy. First, we're using every element of national power to confront al Qaeda, those who take inspiration from them, and other terrorists who use similar tactics. We have ended the days of treating terrorism simply as a law enforcement matter. We will stay on the offense. We will fight the terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)

Second, we have made it clear to all nations, if you harbor terrorists, you are just as guilty as the terrorists; you're an enemy of the United States, and you will be held to account. (Applause.) And third, we've launched a bold new agenda to defeat the ideology of the enemy by supporting the forces of freedom in the Middle East and beyond.

The freedom agenda is based upon our deepest ideals and our vital interests. Americans believe that every person, of every religion, on every continent, has the right to determine his or her own destiny. We believe that freedom is a gift from an almighty God, beyond any power on Earth to take away. (Applause.) And we also know, by history and by logic, that promoting democracy is the surest way to build security. Democracies don't attack each other or threaten the peace. Governments accountable to the voters focus on building roads and schools -- not weapons of mass destruction. Young people who have a say in their future are less likely to search for meaning in extremism. Citizens who can join a peaceful political party are less likely to join a terrorist organization. Dissidents with the freedom to protest around the clock are less likely to blow themselves up during rush hour. And nations that commit to freedom for their people will not support terrorists -- they will join us in defeating them. (Applause.)

So America has committed its influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism. We will take the side of democratic leaders and reformers across the Middle East. We will support the voices of tolerance and moderation in the Muslim world. We stand with the mothers and fathers in every culture who want to see their children grow up in a caring and peaceful world. And by supporting the cause of freedom in a vital region, we'll make our children and our grandchildren more secure. (Applause.)

Over the past five years, we've begun to see the results of our actions -- and we have seen how our enemies respond to the advance of liberty. In Afghanistan, we saw a vicious tyranny that harbored the terrorists who planned the September the 11th attacks. Within weeks, American forces were in Afghanistan. Along with Afghan allies, we captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters; we closed down their training camps, and we helped the people of Afghanistan replace the Taliban with a democratic government that answers to them. (Applause.)

Our enemies saw the transformation in Afghanistan, and they've responded by trying to roll back all the progress. Al Qaeda and the Taliban lost a coveted base in Afghanistan and they know they will never reclaim it when democracy succeeds. And so they're trying to return to power by attacking Afghanistan's free institutions. And they will fail. (Applause.) Forces from 40 nations, including every member of NATO, are now serving alongside American troops to support the new Afghan government. The days of the Taliban are over. The future of Afghanistan belongs to the people of Afghanistan. And the future of Afghanistan belongs to freedom. (Applause.)

In Lebanon, we saw a sovereign nation occupied by the Syrian dictatorship. We also saw the courageous people of Lebanon take to the streets to demand their independence. So we worked to enforce a United Nations resolution that required Syria to end its occupation of the country. The Syrians withdrew their armed forces, and the Lebanese people elected a democratic government that began to reclaim their country.

Our enemies saw the transformation in Lebanon and set out to destabilize the young democracy. Hezbollah launched an unprovoked attack on Israel that undermined the democrat government in Beirut. Yet their brazen action caused the world to unite in support for Lebanon's democracy. Secretary Rice worked with the Security Council to pass Resolution 1701, which will strengthen Lebanese forces as they take control of southern Lebanon -- and stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a state.

I appreciate the troops pledged by France and Italy and other allies for this important international deployment. Together, we're going to make it clear to the world that foreign forces and terrorists have no place in a free and democratic Lebanon. (Applause.)

This summer's crisis in Lebanon has made it clearer than ever that the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran. The Iranian regime arms, funds, and advises Hezbollah, which has killed more Americans than any terrorist network except al Qaeda. The Iranian regime interferes in Iraq by sponsoring terrorists and insurgents, empowering unlawful militias, and supplying components for improvised explosive devices. The Iranian regime denies basic human rights to millions of its people. And the Iranian regime is pursuing nuclear weapons in open defiance of its international obligations.

We know the death and suffering that Iran's sponsorship of terrorists has brought, and we can imagine how much worse it would be if Iran were allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Many nations are working together to solve this problem. The United Nations passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities. Today is the deadline for Iran's leaders to reply to the reasonable proposal the international community has made. If Iran's leaders accept this offer and abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions, they can set their country on a better course. Yet, so far, the Iranian regime has responded with further defiance and delay. It is time for Iran to make a choice. We've made our choice: We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution -- but there must be consequences for Iran's defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

In Iraq, we saw a dictator who harbored terrorists, fired at military planes, paid the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, invaded a neighbor, and pursued and used weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions demanding that Saddam Hussein fully and openly abandon his weapons of mass destruction. We gave him a last chance to comply -- and when he refused, we enforced the just demands of the world. And now Saddam Hussein is in prison and on trial. Soon he will have the justice he denied to so many for so long. (Applause.) And with this tyrant gone from power, the United States, Iraq, the Middle East, and the world are better off. (Applause.)

In the three years since Saddam's fall the Iraqi people have reclaimed sovereignty of their country. They cast their ballots in free elections. They drafted and approved a democratic constitution and elected a constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. Over the same period, Iraq has seen a rise of terrorist and insurgent movements that use brutal and indiscriminate violence to frustrate the desire of the Iraqi people for freedom and peace. Al Qaeda terrorists, former elements of Saddam's regime, illegal militias and unlawful armed groups are all working to undermine Iraq's new democracy. These groups have different long-term ambitions, but the same immediate goals. They want to drive America and our coalition out of Iraq and the Middle East, so they can stop the advance of freedom and impose their dark vision on the people of the Middle East. (Applause.)

Our enemies in Iraq have employed ruthless tactics to achieve those goals. They've targeted American and coalition troops with ambushes and roadside bombs. They've taken hostage and beheaded civilians on camera. They've blown up Iraqi army posts and assassinated government leaders. We've adapted to the tactics -- and thanks to the skill and professionalism of Iraqi and American forces, many of these enemies have met their end. At every step along the way, our enemies have failed to break the courage of the Iraqi people; they have failed to stop the rise of Iraqi democracy -- and they will fail in breaking the will of the American people. (Applause.)

Now these enemies have launched a new effort. They have embarked on a bloody campaign of sectarian violence, which they hope will plunge Iraq into a civil war. The outbreak of sectarian violence was encouraged by the terrorist Zarqawi, al Qaeda's man in Iraq who called for an "all-out war" on Iraqi Shia. The Shia community resisted the impulse to seek revenge for a while. But after this February bombing of the Shia Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra, extremist groups mobilized and sectarian death squads formed on the streets of Baghdad and other areas. Our Ambassador reports that thousands of Iraqis were murdered in Baghdad last month, and large numbers of them were victims of sectarian violence.

This cruelty and carnage has led some to question whether Iraq has descended into civil war. Our commanders and our diplomats on the ground in Iraq believe that's not the case. They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, while the overwhelming majority want peace and a normal life in a unified country. Iraqi leaders from all backgrounds remember the elections that brought them to power, in which 12 million Iraqis defied the car bombers and killers to claim, "We want to be free." (Applause.)

Iraq's government is working tirelessly to hold the nation together and to heal Iraq's divisions, not to exploit them. The Iraqi people have come a long way. They are not going to let their country fall apart or relapse into tyranny. As Prime Minister Maliki told the United States Congress, "Iraqis have tasted freedom and we will defend it absolutely." (Applause.)

America has a clear strategy to help the Iraqi people protect their new freedom, and build a democracy that can govern itself, and sustain itself, and defend itself. On the political side, we're working closely with Prime Minister Maliki to strengthen Iraq's unity government and develop -- and to deliver better services to the Iraqi people. This is a crucial moment for the new Iraqi government; its leaders understand the challenge. They believe that now is the time to hammer out compromises on Iraq's most contentious issues.

I've been clear with each Iraqi leader I meet: America is a patient nation, and Iraq can count on our partnership, as long as the new government continues to make the hard decisions necessary to advance a unified, democratic and peaceful Iraq. Prime Minister Maliki has shown courage in laying out an agenda to do just that -- and he can count on an ally, the United States of America, to help him promote this agenda. (Applause.)

On the security side, we're refining our tactics to meet the threats on the ground. I've given our commanders in Iraq all the flexibility they need to make adjustments necessary to stay on the offense and defeat the enemies of freedom. We've deployed Special Operation forces to kill or capture terrorists operating in Iraq. Zarqawi found out what they can do. We continue to train Iraqi police forces to defend their own nation. We've handed over security responsibility for a southern province to Iraqi forces. Five of Iraq's 10 army divisions are now taking the lead in their areas of operation. The Iraqi security forces are determined; they're becoming more capable; and together, we will defeat the enemies of a free Iraq. (Applause.)

Recently, we also launched a major new campaign to end the security crisis in Baghdad. Side by side, Iraqi and American forces are conducting operations in the city's most violent areas to disrupt al Qaeda, to capture enemy fighters, crack down on IED makers, and break up the death squads. These forces are helping Iraq's national police force undergo retraining to better enforce law in Baghdad. And these forces are supporting the Iraqi government as it provides reconstruction assistance.

The Baghdad Security Plan is still in its early stages. We cannot expect immediate success. Yet, the initial results are encouraging. According to one military report, a Sunni man in a diverse Baghdad neighborhood said this about the Shia soldiers on patrol: "Their image has changed. Now you feel they're there to protect you." Over the coming weeks and months, the operation will expand throughout Baghdad. until Iraq's democratic government is in full control of its capital. The work is difficult and dangerous, but the Iraqi government and their forces are determined to reclaim their country. And the United States is determined to help them succeed. (Applause.)

Here at home we have a choice to make about Iraq. Some politicians look at our efforts in Iraq and see a diversion from the war on terror. That would come as news to Osama bin Laden, who proclaimed that the "third world war is raging" in Iraq. It would come as news to the number two man of al Qaeda, Zawahiri, who has called the struggle in Iraq, quote, "the place for the greatest battle." It would come as news to the terrorists from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and other countries, who have to come to Iraq to fight the rise of democracy.

It's hard to believe that these terrorists would make long journeys across dangerous borders, endure heavy fighting, or blow themselves up in the streets of Baghdad, for a so-called "diversion." Some Americans didn't support my decision to remove Saddam Hussein; many are frustrated with the level of violence. But we should all agree that the battle for Iraq is now central to the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We will not allow the terrorists to dictate the future of this century -- so we will defeat them in Iraq. (Applause.)

Still, there are some in our country who insist that the best option in Iraq is to pull out, regardless of the situation on the ground. Many of these folks are sincere and they're patriotic, but they could be -- they could not be more wrong. If America were to pull out before Iraq can defend itself, the consequences would be absolutely predictable -- and absolutely disastrous. We would be handing Iraq over to our worst enemies -- Saddam's former henchmen, armed groups with ties to Iran, and al Qaeda terrorists from all over the world who would suddenly have a base of operations far more valuable than Afghanistan under the Taliban. They would have a new sanctuary to recruit and train terrorists at the heart of the Middle East, with huge oil riches to fund their ambitions. And we know exactly where those ambitions lead. If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities.

We can decide to stop fighting the terrorists in Iraq and other parts of the world, but they will not decide to stop fighting us. General John Abizaid, our top commander in the Middle East region, recently put it this way: "If we leave, they will follow us." And he is right. The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq. So the United States of America will not leave until victory is achieved. (Applause.)

Victory in Iraq will be difficult and it will require more sacrifice. The fighting there can be as fierce as it was at Omaha Beach or Guadalcanal. And victory is as important as it was in those earlier battles. Victory in Iraq will result in a democracy that is a friend of America and an ally in the war on terror. Victory in Iraq will be a crushing defeat for our enemies, who have staked so much on the battle there. Victory in Iraq will honor the sacrifice of the brave Americans who have given their lives. And victory in Iraq would be a powerful triumph in the ideological struggle of the 21st century. From Damascus to Tehran, people will look to a democratic Iraq as inspiration that freedom can succeed in the Middle East, and as evidence that the side of freedom is the winning side. This is a pivotal moment for the Middle East. The world is watching -- and in Iraq and beyond, the forces of freedom will prevail. (Applause.)

For all the debate, American policy in the Middle East comes down to a straightforward choice. We can allow the Middle East to continue on its course -- on the course it was headed before September the 11th, and a generation from now, our children will face a region dominated by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. Or we can stop that from happening, by rallying the world to confront the ideology of hate, and give the people of the Middle East a future of hope. And that is the choice America has made. (Applause.)

We see a day when people across the Middle East have governments that honor their dignity, unleash their creativity, and count their votes. We see a day when leaders across the Middle East reject terror and protect freedom. We see a day when the nations of the Middle East are allies in the cause of peace. The path to that day will be uphill and uneven, but we can be confident of the outcome, because we know that the direction of history leads toward freedom.
In the early years of our republic, Thomas Jefferson said that we cannot expect to move "from despotism to liberty in a featherbed." That's been true in every time and place. No one understands that like you, our veterans, understand that. With the distance of history, it can be easy to look back at the wars of the 20th century and see a straight path to victory. You know better than that. You waged the hard battles, you suffered the wounds, you lost friends and brothers. You were there for dark times and the moments of uncertainty. And you know that freedom is always worth the sacrifice.

You also know what it takes to win. For all that is new about this war, one thing has not changed: Victory still depends on the courage and the patience and the resolve of the American people. Above all, it depends on patriots who are willing to fight for freedom. (Applause.) Our nation is blessed to have these men and women in abundance. Our military forces make this nation strong; they make this nation safe; and they make this nation proud. (Applause.)
We thank them and their families for their sacrifice. We will remember all those who have given their lives in this struggle -- and I vow that we will give our men and women in uniform all the resources they need to accomplish their missions. (Applause.)

One brave American we remember is Marine Corporal Adam Galvez, from here in Salt Lake City. Yesterday Adam's mom and dad laid their son to rest. We're honored by their presence with us today. (Applause.) About a month ago, Adam was wounded by a suicide bomb in Iraq's Anbar Province. When he regained consciousness, he found he was buried alive, so he dug himself out of the rubble. And then ran through gunfire to get a shovel to dig out his fellow Marines. As soon as he recovered from his injuries, Adam volunteered to go back to the front lines. and 11 days ago, he was killed when a roadside bomb hit his convoy.

Here is what Adam's mom and dad said about the cause for which their son gave his life: "Though many are debating the justification of this war, Adam believed in his country -- Adam's belief in his country did not waver, even to the point of the ultimate sacrifice. It's our hope and our prayer that people share the same conviction and dedication to our troops and fellow Americans." (Applause.)

Our nation will always remember the selflessness and sacrifice of Americans like Adam Galvez. We will honor their lives by completing the good and noble work they have started. (Applause.) And we can be confident that one day, veterans of the war on terror will gather at American Legion halls across the country, and say the same things you say: We made our nation safer; we made a region more peaceful; and we left behind a better world for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)

Thanks for having me. May God bless our veterans. May God bless our troops. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gotta Luv Rummy

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may not always be the most endearing personality. However, he's spot on when he says those people who want to "blame America first" suffer from "moral or intellectual confusion." You can't get much more plain spoken than that.

There really are too many people that seem willing to believe some absolutely bizarre theories about how America has brought the tragedy of terrorism on itself. The latest craze (and I mean craze literally) is that America staged the 9/11 attacks. Give me a break, there is absolutely no reason why the government would do it and the numerous cell phone calls from plane passengers gave us first hand evidence of what was actually happening.

Then there are those who focus on US mistakes such as Haditha and Abu Ghraib. Well even Rumsfeld acknowledges that mistakes are made in every war, but to focus on these in absence of the larger, just mission is at best myopic and at worst dishonest.

My personal favourite line of reasoning for the anti-war crowd is "it's all about oil." Umm hello, have you seen gas prices these past few years? The best way to secure cheap oil is to cozy up with dictators who are desperate to sell the stuff to pay for their corrupt lifestyles. That's what the French were doing with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and to a lesser extent that's what America's doing with Saudi Arabia and others. The war could never be about oil, because America would always have access to it anyway.

The war in Iraq was only ever about the war on terror and it was the most reasonable response to a dictator that claimed to have weapons of mass destruction and seemed only to keen to use them. Rumsfeld's description of those opposed to the war on terror as confused is apt enough. Unfortunately with so many hair-brained conspiracy theories being talked about in the media and docudramas, there is some cause for confusion.

However, when it comes to those on the left and in the media who are promoting some of these theories, Rumsfeld is being far too charitable.