Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mid-Week Post

The crease of the week.

When Public Personality Deaths Go Bad

How fitting that his death should have been turned into such a thoroughly public spectacle, where from early morn Monday, television anchors donned their most funereal faces, producers dug out the heavy organ music, reporters who would never dream of addressing any other politician by first name only were proudly calling him “Jack” and even serious journalists like Evan Solomon of the CBC repeatedly spoke of the difficulty “as we all try to cope” with the news of Mr. Layton’s death.

By mid-day, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper had offered a few warm words about Mr. Layton’s death and rued that their oft-talked-about jam session had never happened, Mr. Solomon even expressed sniping surprise that “Jack Layton wasn’t the sole focus” of the Prime Minister’s remarks.

Mr. Harper, who clearly had not spent the day watching the national broadcaster and thus was unaware that the NDP Leader’s death was the only story of note, had gone on to mention the families of the 12 people (including six-year-old Cheyenne Eckalook; now there’s someone who died far too young) who perished in the Arctic plane crash on Saturday and the tumultuous events in Libya.

The PM in fact was one of a very few voices of reason to be found on the airwaves — he remembered Mr. Layton kindly and with evident regard, but he had perspective and did not fawn.

And what to make of that astonishing letter, widely hailed as Mr. Layton’s magnificent from-the-grave cri de coeur?

It was extraordinary, though it is not Mr. Solomon’s repeated use of that word that makes it so.

Rather, it’s remarkable because it shows what a canny, relentless, thoroughly ambitious fellow Mr. Layton was. Even on Saturday, two days before he died, he managed to keep a gimlet eye on all the campaigns to come.

The letter is full of such sophistry as “We can restore our good name in the world,” as though it is a given Canada has somehow lost that, bumper-sticker slogans of the “love is better than anger” ilk and ruthlessly partisan politicking (“You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together with progressive-minded Canadians across the country,” he said in the section meant for Quebecers).

The letter is vainglorious too.

Who thinks to leave a 1,000-word missive meant for public consumption and released by his family and the party mid-day, happily just as Mr. Solomon and his fellows were in danger of running out of pap? Who seriously writes of himself, “All my life I have worked to make things better”?

The letter was first presented as Mr. Layton’s last message to Canadians, as something written by him on his deathbed; only later was it more fully described as having been “crafted” with party president Brian Topp, Mr. Layton’s chief of staff Anne McGrath and his wife and fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow.

Mr. Layton wrote it, as Mr. Topp told Mr. Solomon, “in his beautiful, energy-retrofitted house” in downtown Toronto. These people never stop.

The truth like she can tell it!

Some perspective:

The slobbering over Layton by the media was unseemly but not unexpected. The media loves him, as I noted above, because he has taken out the time to spend with them. But they also love his causes: fadish big government, social liberalism, environmentalism, and the host of left-liberal issues that animate the NDP and the left-wing of the Liberal Party. Long before gay rights were popular, Jack Layton was trying to convince the city of Toronto to offer full spousal benefits for gay employees. That was in 1986. And, he said, if the city wasn't going to do it, it should stop offering any spousal benefits. His proposal didn't succeed at first, but he tried again and again and eventually the city was at the vanguard of gay rights.

Campaign Life Coalition has video from the tumultuous days of pro-life rescues in front of the Morgentaler Clinic in Toronto in the 1980s. The footage shows Layton, then a city of Toronto alderman, directing police to make arrests (and the police doing so). At the time, freestanding abortion facilities like Morgentaler's were in contravention of criminal law. A city politician should not be ordering police to make politically motivated arrests and a city politician definitely should not be working with police to defend an outfit like Morgentaler's that was clearly violating the law. The fact that the Supreme Court would later throw out the Criminal Code provisions on abortions does not exonerate Layton's interference in a police matter.

If is mandatory that the obituaries acknowledge Layton's passion and persistence and indeed he had these traits in spades. But it must be noted to what use he put these qualities, namely policies that advanced a left-wing agenda: diminished freedom, the promotion of social envy through progressive taxation and he redistribution of wealth, radical environmentalism that disguises opposition to private enterprise as concern for the planet, support for abortion and other assaults on traditional values. Based on his actions and policies, he hated other people enjoying freedom. As city councilor, there was never a cause he didn't back that didn't diminish the liberty of Torontians, from recycling programs to indoor smoking bans. All that seems perfectly sensible today because Layton and his ilk won the argument but it is folly for us to forget that we, mere citizens, homeowners and entrepreneurs, are less free today because of his actions at City Hall. If the NDP won power in May, all Canadians would be poorer and have less freedom tomorrow. The popular word for Layton's policy preferences is "progressive" but that's just socialism in a nice dress and lipstick -- kinda like Jack's Asian masseuse.

Missing from the obits are any tidbits of criticism. The fact that he and his wife were making city councilor salaries and living in subsidized municipal housing while there were tens of thousands of poor people on waiting lists. The whole Asian massage parlour incident has been buried, even though reporters in Toronto suspect that the events reported by by Sun News in May ("soiled" towel and all) is just the tip of the iceberg of his sexual follies. Christie Blatchord mentioned it, but few others have: Layton was obsessed with politics. Even good stories about him -- how he met his wife and they spent their first Christmas making political signs -- focus on his obsession with politics. It is so damn unseemly. Those who continually seek political office, which is all he did in his adult life, are power-hungry. But you can't say that because he has the "common good" in mind. It is funny how socialist policies are always equated with the common good. 

North Korean professors study at the University of British Columbia:

North Korea has dispatched six professors from Kim Il-sung University to the University of British Columbia in western Canada to study capitalism and the market economy for six months from July, according to sources close to North Korea. 

The professors are enrolled in the university's MBA program, a degree widely considered essential to achieving success in business in the United States and other Western countries. 

North Korea started dispatching students in the 1990s to capitalist countries such as Switzerland to learn about the market economy, but had never allowed them to stay for more than several weeks over fears that their experiences could adversely affect Pyongyang's ideology of controlling its people.

This time around, an extended stay by the six professors from the nation's top school is expected to have a significant influence on North Korean students after they return home. 

During their stay in Canada, the professors will learn about business management theories and market economy systems while living in a college dormitory. Their expenses are being financed by contributions from supporting organizations in Canada and elsewhere. 

Who are these organisations and how can they be penalised? 

South Korea and Japan are threatened right now. People are starving right now. We know from the experience with China that planting sweat shops in the countryside does not democratise the country but lines the pockets of a dictator and those corporations willing to do business with him.

I think the caption says: "You're not the only communist regime UBC cares about, China!"

Michael Coren plugs his new show, "The Arena". Come for the gladiatorial games, stay for the commentary! 

(Sidebar: there might not be any gladiatorial games.)

(Enormous thumbs-up)

Since Aug. 18, Gaza terror organizations have fired 150 rockets, mortar shells and Grad missiles at civilian targets in Israel.   One Israeli was killed and 13 others were injured, including one severely.  The rocket barrages followed a series of terror attacks by Gaza killers near the Israeli sea resort of Eilat, in which 8 Israelis were killed, including 6 civilians.

During the same four-day period, while Israel retaliated against Palestinian terror cells, it also moved the following into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom border crossing -- even as the crossing came under rocket fire:

--46 tons of cooking gas.
--13 truckloads of fruits and vegetables.
--5 truckloads of meat and fish.
--3 truckloads of dairy products.
--23 truckloads of mixed grain for animal feed.
--9 truckloads of mixed food products.
--21 truckloads of construction materials
--6 truckloads of flour

In addition, 100 Gaza patients and their companions exited from Gaza through the Eretz Crossing for medical treatment in Israel.  Plus, 56 staffers of foreign organizations moved through the crossing -- despite two rockets launched in its direction.

Where are the flotilla people in all of this?

Because he's Mark Steyn:

China has our bonds, and thus in a certain sense they have our soul. Or at any rate Joe Biden’s. The big theme of my book’s prologue is that it starts with the money but it never stops there. For three decades, U.S. foreign policy “realists” have assured us that China’s economic liberalization would inevitably lead to political liberalization. As Biden’s wretched remarks suggest, the inverse was always more likely: The reality of China’s economic dominance is Western acquiescence in its repulsive politics.

A poster for the Chi-Com Sadie Hawkins dance. I think.

Somewhat related and incredibly refreshing to hear:

Michael Jenkins criticises the Pope and Catholic Church ("Church that cares a lot about money", Letters, August 24). They are "corrupt, immoral, unethical". And of course, there's "the history of the Inquisition".
Spaniards have demonstrated against the recent visit of the Pope to their country.
So what's going on here? An outbreak of "Cathophobia"? Or is it "Popeophobia"?
Of course not. The Pope and the Church are expected to take criticism on their collective chin.  Why is it that only with Islam does justified criticism get dismissed as "Islamophobia", or "far-right xenophobia"?
Clearly there is some hypocrisy here. 

Thank you!

And now, some bears.

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