Sunday, December 31, 2006

"And, your mama wears combat boots!"

According to an AP story, hamas and fatah are fighting a propaganda battle over the airwaves along with their back alley gang war through the streets of Gaza.

One of the chief slurs they like to hurl at one another on radio is "Zionist".

How ironic.

If either bunch of idiots acted the least bit like the Zionists did, they would have irrigated their plot of desert, found foreign investment for hi-tech industry, opened up numerous businesses to cash in on a lucrative tourist trade and would have built some of the most advanced educational institutions on the planet.

I get dizzy contemplating the sheer stupidity of those battling for power over the Palestinians.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Nothing to fear but ourselves

An Ipsos Reid survey found 76 per cent of Canadians thought 2006 was a good year and are looking forward to 2007, according to a National Post article in today's paper.

I'd have to count myself among the 76 per cent. People who have never travelled outside of Canada or the US don't realize how lucky we are. This is a beautiful, clean country with lots of open space unplagued by poverty. We have a democracy that's the envy of all but a tiny number of the rest of the world's countries. The things we do have to complain about - chaotic weather (even here in Vancouver's Lower Mainland this year), high taxes, high oil prices, the lousy performance of the Leafs/Canucks/Oilers/Flames/Senators/Canadiens (take your pick), etc. - pale in comparison to what about 95 per cent of the rest of humanity is stuck with.

It was interesting to note that satisfaction is lower in Quebec which the pollsters attribute to the general opposition to our military presence in Afghanistan and dissatisfaction with the federal government and BC where the aforementioned weather was given as a possible reason.

The other interesting note was that terrorism is the "great destabilizer" according to the pundits.

Personally, I'm not worried about terrorism, per se. The actions of terrorists are not enough to destroy our way of life or defeat us.

What I am worried about, however, are the terrorist enablers. Inacation against and excuse-making for the terrorist elements pose a far greater danger than the terrorists themselves. Look no further than England and France to see that inaction in action.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Road to Hell

At least one good thing will happen the moment the clock strikes midnight on 2006 - Kofi Annan will no longer be Secretary-General of the United Nations.

A new book about Annan, from author James Traub, is called "The Best Intentions". Presumably, this is supposed to sum up Annan's performance - no matter what happened under his watch, his actions were taken with the best intentions.

Traub should have called the book "Good Intentions" as in the old saying, " the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Annan's Reign of Error and Support of Terror has been an abysmal failure by any standards, unless of course you're a tinpot dictator, an African warlord or religious leader of an arab thugocracy. During his term as UN Sec-Gen, we have seen well-publicized genocides in Sudan and Bosnia along with the usual assortment of human rights violations across the globe. This is added to the UN's complete inability to live up to even its simplest commitments to human rights, the oil-for-food scandal that involved at least one of his own family members and the full-scale use of the security council as an arena to prevent work from being done rather than to reach any kind of reasonable consensus. All this while the assorted delegates to the UN continued to treat New York as though it were Daytona Beach and they were college frat boys on a spring break blowout.

Before he was sec-gen, Annan gave a glimpse of his ability by overseeing the Rwanda genocide, so no one should really have been too surprised.

Of course, he did smile and make nice for the cameras with more dictators and murderers than any person in history, so he does have that going for him. And, he'll forever be remembered fondly by all Israel-haters for his love of bashing the Jewish state and ignoring Arab atrocities. If he'd put even one-tenth the effort towards stopping the massacre in Sudan, something might actually have been done.

Annan took an organization that was already failing to uphold its principles and proceeded to crush it mercilessly into the ground as though he was playing the lead role in the Godzilla vs. Bambi movie.

I think the UN is finished. I don't see how anyone with an iota of intelligence can look at the way that body operates and consider it healthy for the people of this planet.

The new UN Sec-Gen has his work cut out for him. But, he can look at the bright side: it's like being head coach of the Detroit one expects anything but total failure.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Death of a President

What I most remember about Gerald Ford is Chevy Chase's portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live in the show's first or second season. I also remember my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who had found refuge in the US, wiping tears from his eyes as Nixon left the White House for the last time before he could be impeached.

For the next few days, we'll hear all about how wonderful Ford was. If nothing else, he at least had the good sense to leave office when he left office instead of hanging around on the periphery of political society pontificating on every damn thing he could think of and looking like an escapee from a psychogeriatric ward. Jimmy Carter could certainly take a lesson from Ford.

His death did get me thinking about the people who have been President during my lifetime and about the presidency in general. It seems to me that it's been a long time since there has been a really good President, maybe FDR was the last one. Becoming President, or leader in any democratic society, has kind of become a race of mediocrity over the past half century. Certainly the two party system in the US has lent itself to that but media scrutiny has played a big part, too - anyone who doesn't look right or who has been less than perfect in their life before running for President is in big trouble. Then, there is the PC crowd and the candidate handlers who, respectively, look for any statement that can be used against a candidate and look for any way to avoid having your candidate make a statement that can be used against him/her. So, most candidates avoid substance in favour of mindless platitudes.

Lyndon Johnson was President when I was born. The Vietnam War was the issue of the day. I don't remember him at all. Nixon's legacy seems to have grown in positive stature over the years but he was a crook. Ford didn't have much of a legacy but he did make Chevy Chase very famous. Carter was the worst of the bunch, hands down. Reagan seems to have stumbled into a great legacy although it seems kind of doubtful it was by his own design. Bush Sr. screwed himself on taxes and Iraq. Clinton was basically a lovable psychopath and Bush Jr. is screwing himself solely on Iraq.

Ford seems to be in the middle, which isn't too bad for a guy who was never even elected to the office.

Meanwhile '08 looms. I really hope there's a candidate out there who's liberal on social issues, centrist on financial issues and conservative on foreign affairs issues, as they relate to the West's enemies, out there somewhere.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Executing Saddam

I wonder, whether in the history of mankind, there has ever been such a massive failure in making peace than has been managed in Iraq.

I get really tired of people saying the US is "losing the war". They're not. In fact, the war was over pretty much right around the time George Bush landed on that aircraft carrier and declared "mission accomplished." Had the mission been to rid Iraq of a murderous, thieving thug who threatened his own people and his country's immediate neighbours, Bush would have been right. Getting rid of Saddam was as easy as giving your cat a flea bath - sure, you might end up with a scratch or two, but there's little question the cat will end up in the bath.

What the US is losing is the peace. Despite the millions of intelligent words that have been written about the Islamic mindset and the way the Arab world works, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. figured they knew better. They, apparently, never read Bernard Lewis or Christopher Hitchens or Briggitte Gabriel or Daniel Pipes or Walid Shoebat or dozens of others (sadly, one has to wonder if some members of the US administration have even heard of those people).

(This is not a screed about bashing the US because I believe the US remains one of the few really decent places on Earth. It's not a screed about bashing Bush because, sadly, he was better than the alternative. And, it's not a screed about Muslims, either, because, generally speaking, I only have a problem with the ones who want to saw my head off and convert my children.)

Anyway, had someone in the Bush administration bothered reading any of these or others who have actually studied or lived in the Arab world, they would have realized the one thing that works is overpowering, respect-inspiring force.

Instead, we've seen a mish mash of rebuilding bullshit that included letting people like al-Sadr and al-Zarqawi run amok for months and years rather than killing them because it might have hurt a few bricks on a mosque. This has totally emboldened other US-hating Arab nations like Iran and Syria because they don't believe the US or anyone else in the western world has the balls to take them on if it means filling some body bags. Sadly, people die in war - soldiers and innocents alike - and if you don't want anyone to die in war then you better not ever, ever, ever go to war.

3,000 American soldiers have now died in Iraq which sounds like a lot. It is a lot of people but it is not a heavy casualty count for a war. It sucks that 10s of thousands of Iraqis are dying because the coalition won't commit to the heavy work of wiping out the terrorist fucks who are blowing shit up all over the place. It sucks that the world community won't deal with Iran and other rogue nations. It will really suck if the US cuts-and-runs and renders those American deaths completely pointless.

Anyway, the US made another mistake in "bringing" Saddam "to justice". The soldiers who found him in his hidey-hole should have tossed a couple of grenades in and walked away. Or, if they absolutely had to have, out of some misplaced sense of right and wrong, apprehended him and take him in, the US should absolutely have insisted he not be sentenced to death.

Now, Saddam will be a martyr and the terrorists will have another reason to blow shit up and thousands more innocents will die while the coalition countries wonder why they can't get the situation under control.

A first class SNAFU all the way around...

Makes you wonder what Hillary Clinton can do to top it if she, God forbid, becomes President.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I avoided Blogging for a long time

I have a number of friends who hopped on the blog bandwagon in its infancy. This led me to check out their blogs and to hit "next blog" a lot to see what other people in the world were putting on their's.
Sadly, most of it is either a) crap or b) daily minutaie that's of little interest other than the people who are featured in uploaded cellphone shots pissed out of their gourds on a Friday night and with their shirts pulled halfway up their chests. Some of the intelligent people I'm lucky enough to know actually had or have blogs that are interesting but, again, largely only to those who are interested in particular subjects. I'm not going to pretend I can do any better...
For several years, I was content to stick to leaving the occasional comment on blogs or using Yahoo! messageboards. The messageboard I most frequented ended up as a forum for discussions on many issues. Though the board itself was linked to the Israel/Palestinian conflict, the people who used it had, during the course of some 3 million posts, established relationships way beyond just commenting on that particular issue. I had a lot of good conversations about literature, music, family, religion, politics etc. on that board.
About a month ago, Yahoo! got its ass all in a knot and announced it was changing the way it operated its public forums. Its stated reason was that the boards had become dominated by a few people and it wanted to encourage more dialogue. So, it made a new format that's much more difficult to use. This is the Internet equivalent of New Coke: prohibit your users from the format they like in order to attract people who aren't interested in your product anyway. It's quite the marketing strategy to piss off your customers with no evidence you're going find new ones. What's now been established on Yahoo! is the same people having the same conversations in a much more stilted manner. I can't be bothered. What Yahoo! really needed to do was police itself better to discourage the really racist, derogatory and sick posts.
So, it's blog time. I'm going to try to stick to the point of blogging, which, IMO, is the expression of personal points of view, rather than uploading articles or lots of links. Or, maybe I'll just abandon the idea altogether. I can probably be just as boring as most everyone else.