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.

HezboLiberal's New Home

The mock website Hezbo Liberal can now be found here, courtesy of the Western Standard.
If you link to the original website, you will find a threatening letter from the Liberal party. It's funny how the party thinks it can get away with crushing free speech. I predict they'll spend a long time in opposition.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

1600 years ago

Around 400 AD, St Augustine said this to God in his Confessions:
You do not draw near to any but the contrite of heart, and you are not found by
the proud, not even if they could number with curious skill the stars and the
sands, and measure the constellations, and plot the courses of the planets.

It's interesting the more things change the more they stay the same. St. Augustine was writing about early astronomers who could predict the movement of the stars. It still seems true today, university professors are some of the least likely people to understand God's existence and this is despite their often proclaimed intellect and their understanding of the very foundations of physical life.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Eucharist

Perhaps the most defining teaching of the Catholic Church in contrast to other Christian denominations is the focus on the Eucharist and the understanding that we are really eating the flesh and blood of Christ when we receive communion. Of course, the belief is strongly rooted in both scripture (John 6: 25-69) and the teaching of the apostles.

It's still a difficult thing to grasp that how simple bread and wine can be transformed into flesh and blood. But during a homily this morning it struck me that this isn't very different from the more basic belief shared by all Christians that God took on human form in Jesus while still maintaining his undiminished divinity.

If we can accept the incarnation then we should surely be able to accept that He makes himself present in the Eucharist because that's what he said he would do.

Status of Men Canada

Kudos to Suzanne at Big Blue Wave for making a splash with her campaign against Status of Women Canada. Along with Real Women Canada and a host of other bloggers they are rightly questioning why such a blatantly onesided organization receives government funding.

It seem's they've picked quite a fight with a network of feminists who have made it their business to invent crises about "gender equality".

Let me offer a truly Canadian compromise. Change Status of Women to Status of Men Canada. The new association could take on new initiatives to explain:

Why a disproportionate amount of men are in Canadian prisons.
Why life expectancy for Canadian men is less than that of women.
Why fewer young men attend university than young women.

This way the angry feminist activists can keep their jobs, just slightly change focus.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Catholic Coke

I really enjoyed this ad for Coke Light.

Thanks to Ed Pie for pointing it out.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mock Website: Hezbo Liberal Party

This is very funny. I love the story about a mid East compromise to only half destroy Israel.

Thanks to Paul Tuns for the link.

Hamilton Diocese Bishop Stands Up

Catholics should not attend a fundraiser featuring former President Clinton, according to auxiliary Bishop Gerard Bergie. The fundraiser is sponsored by the Catholic Family Counseling Centre. However, bishop Bergie suggests that it's inappropriate for a Catholic organization to host someone who has done so much to oppose the teachings of the church.

The bishop is right, it would be irresponsible for a faithful catholic to purchase a $500 lunch ticket when much of the cost will go to pay Clinton's hefty speakers' fee.

While the Catholic hierarchy always comes under fire for making statements about politicians, it's necessary that the church be absolutely clear about its moral teaching. When so called Catholic organizations promote individuals or ideas that are opposed to the teaching of the church it sends mixed messages that can confuse both catholic laity and the general public. The bishop should be commended for his moral clarity.

Mark Steyn Linked To Me

I just think it's really, really cool that Mark Steyn, columnist to the world, linked to this website. In case you didn't see it's right here. I'm not sure how long it will last, but I'll take the 15 minutes of fame.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Stem Cell Technique

Why is it that I get a sick feeling every time I read a headline that says something like, 'Major Ethical Dilemma Solved'?

It happened again when I read this article, New Stem Cell Technique May Help Solve Political, Ethical Debate on the front page of today's Globe and Mail. When I first saw the headline I hoped it was a feature on the healing potential of adult brain cells, a truly ethical and truly promising technology.

Instead this supposedly ethical breakthrough is simply a new technique for harvesting cells from an embryo. As the Globe describes:
By plucking a single cell from a human embryo at a very early stage, researchers
at Advanced Cell Technology say they have generated two new stem-cell lines
while the embryos remained intact and continued to develop.

I might start to be convinced if one of these embryos had successfully been implanted in a mother and became a healthy baby. If the scientists haven't taken that step, they simply cannot know whether or not the embryo has actually been harmed.

I'm reminded of an email a well meaning acquaintance sent me a few years ago. The news was that the abortion pill RU-486 was a major ethical breakthrough because it would mean fewer abortions. In fact, the exact opposite was true as the drug induced a chemical abortion.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

China May 'Lease' part of Russia

Russia may lease 1 million hectares of land to China for 49 years according to this story from Radio Free Europe. (If following the link, it's the fifth story down).

It's not hard to understand why some Russians would be concerned about the national security implications of ceding control of such a large swath of land and rightly questioning, "What will happen if the Chinese don't want to leave the otherwise unpopulated area of Russia 49 years from now?"

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

AIDS Politics Costs Lives

Congratulations to the Ottawa Sun for recognizing that Stephen Harper made the right decision to skip the aids conference because it was too politicized. Here's part of what they had to say:
For a while there last week, especially if you were tuned to the “host broadcaster” CBC, it looked as though the main purpose of the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto was to attack the leader of the host country.

After all, not a day went by without someone publicly chastising PM Stephen Harper for not attending the event — even though Health Minister Tony Clement spent five days there. For good measure, Canada was repeatedly criticized for not spending enough on HIV/AIDS (even though Canadian taxpayers paid $6 million toward the conference), for not making good on its pledge to help send AIDS drugs to Africa and for not promising to keep Vancouver’s heroin-injection site open although Clement promised immediate reviews of both).

No wonder Harper decided that no policy or funding announcements would be made during the conference because he felt the issue had become too “politicized.”

The politicization of the issue is costing lives. I find it appalling that people who are supposedly working to win the fight against AIDS would boo Bill Gates for merely mentioning that programs supporting Abstinence and Faithfulness are effective in the fight against AIDS. In fact, they are the only two sure fire means of prevention. Restricting prostitution is another very effective preventative measure. Other artificial technologies such as condoms or microbicides are also potentially valuable tools in slowing the spread of AIDS, but they will never be perfect.

AIDS activists would do well to listen to the man who donated $500 million to their cause and use every tool available to prevent the disease. Otherwise, people might think that they are only trying to prolong the crisis to maintain a need for their industry.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Great Line Plain and Simple

Mark Steyn has a great line to finish this article on the British government's successful thwarting of a massive terror scheme.

"Absent a determination to throttle the ideology, we're about to witness the unraveling of the world. "

OK, maybe it's a bit dramatic, but I think the point is valid. It's almost an excercise in futility to expect to win every tactical battle with terrorism. We must win the battle of ideas, and to do that we must offer something more substantial than a muddled strategy of appeasement.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Maple Boosterism Defined

The thought hit me the other day that I'm very happy Mark Steyn coined the phrase Maple Boosterism. In case you haven't heard the term before let me describe it simply.

Maple Boosterism: Any activity or serious of activities that seeks to promote Canadian patriotism by appealing to vague concepts or symbols which are unlikely to offend anyone, but ignore Canada's rich history.

As Mark describes, Maple Boosterism can often leave a Canadian feeling confused, thinking, "I guess I should feel proud to be Canadian, but why don't I?"

Examples of Maple Boosterism were everywhere when the Liberals were in power. Flag Day, Adscam, and 'da Canadian Values' come to mind. I don't know if there's anything wrong with Maple Boosterism in and of itself, it's just when there's nothing concrete at all to be proud about it just makes you feel empty.

I can't say if there's an exact opposite to Maple Boosterism, but promoting Canadian patriotism by remembering our proud history, our ties to the Commonwealth, or honouring our soldiers currently serving abroad would be close. These substantial issues that truly call us to be patriotic are part of what we are beginning to see from Stephen Harper.

The change comes not a moment too soon. I couldn't put my finger on why I hadn't felt proud to be Canadian in a while, but now that the cause has been identified I can recognize lame attempts at boosterism for what they are.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

National Council Takes a Step in the Wrong Direction

The Conservative Party's National Council has decided that candidates who have lost more than 2 elections must get special permission to run a third time. Don Plett, the President of the National Council, explained that they are trying to stop candidates from "gate keeping" or preventing other candidates from seeking the nomination. This move is as wrong as it is unnecessary.

The current nomination process requires potential candidates to convince the majority of party members in their riding to vote for them as the next candidate. Potential candidates can sign up new members right up until a deadline that is usually only a couple weeks before the vote. Since a committed challenger could easily sign up a thousand or more new members, the only way to secure the nomination is to be persuasive enough to sign up members and convince them you're the right one for the job.

The Conservative Party has a proud tradition of being the most democratic major federal party, even to the point of having a leadership election process that gives every member a vote. Don Plett is a Western Canadian former reformer, if there's anyone in the party that should be aware of the importance of giving grassroots party members a voice it should be him. Taking away power from the individual members and giving it to a national body far away from the local decision making process is the last thing I expected from the party.

I hope and pray that I do not see the day when the party leadership overrides the democratic choice of a local party association to decide who the best candidate to represent their interests is.

N.B. If you want to express your concerns, here are the names and email addresses of the National Council members.