Friday, March 25, 2011

A Larry David Election

For the fourth time since 2004, Canadians are headed to the election booths to vote on which federal party should lead our nation.

This, sadly, is an election about nothing but egos; a pointless $300-million plus expenditure of taxpayers money that is almost certain to end - barring some extreme public relations stumble by one of the four parties - with almost the exact same make up of Parliament we have today - a Conservative minority government roundly hated by the three remaining federal parties likely to win seats.

Canada has reached a point of political stalemate. This is largely due to the Bloc Quebecois, a separatist party that runs in only about 25 per cent of Canada's ridings (all of them in Quebec, obviously) and wins about 15 per cent of the seats. Canada is one of the few countries in the world - if not the only one - where the taxpayers fund the sitting members and operations of a party whose only goal is to extricate itself and its province from the federation. Failing actual separation - which Quebecers aren't really that interested in anymore, according to polls - they settle for wringing as much money out of the federal machinery as possible and whining to the heavens when they don't get everything they want. Quebecers may not want separation all that much but they do want as many dollars from the rest of the country as they can possibly get their hands on.

The Liberal Party is an utter mess, led by a colourless, professorial policy wonk who might actually have something to say if it were possible to stay awake long enough to hear it. Michael Ignatieff might be a nice guy with a big brain but he's not a politician. He couldn't make a decision if he were faced with the choice of eating a bowl of ice cream or a bowl of arsenic. And, while it should be true that his public image should not disqualify him from the position, he'd be fodder on the world stage. The Liberals have no real campaign platform, apparently choosing to fight the election on economic grounds where the ruling party has a clear edge. There second option is to fight on ethical grounds except for the fact that a "sponsorship scandal" under the previous Liberal regime cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions more than all the mini-Tory scandals combined. The Tories stretch the law - the Liberals last run in office saw them actively break it. Canadians have not forgotten this.

The Tories have bumbled and stumbled a bit. Their leader, and current PM, Stephen Harper also projects a rather drab public image. He's also somewhat autocratic, keeping a tight rein on information coming from the government and repeatedly frustrating the opposition by keeping them fighting for every scrap of paper they can get. This could be easily changed if Harper exhaled every now and again but he's wound tighter than the inside of a golf ball. He is, however, a leader who's been relatively honest. Tagged with having a "hidden agenda" based on his conservative and religious views, he has kept his word and refused to even consider any legislation that would affect societal norms such as legalized abortion and a continued ban on the death penalty. He has kept his personal views entirely separate from his political agenda.

Lastly, we have the New Democrat Party, led by the one leader on the federal scene who has some flair. Unfortunately, for Jack Layton that's all he has - the NDP's platform is one of promising everything without being specific about where the money will come from and of acting like euroweenies on every international issue. Maybe worse, actually, some of the European countries have vastly changed their tune in recent years, admitting that multiculturalism is an abject failure; the NDP has no problem putting and keeping the cult in multiculturalism. They still believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that these kind of policies make a country such as Canada strong rather than facing the truth that weakening our western democracies in the name of "fairness" and "equality" makes us all losers, including immigrants. Layton is also plagued by a recent hip operation and a bout with colon cancer so maybe he forced this vote hoping to get a few sympathy seats. It's not going to happen. The NDP is ridiculously outdated, clinging to an us (socialist/union/labour) vs. them (business) philosophy that is economically ruinous. When given the opportunity in two of Canada's three most populous provinces (BC and Ontario), the NDP was as corrupt as any other party and more destructive.

I vote Conservative because they are a much more moral party when it comes to foreign affairs, often eschewing pragmatism for an actual stance on human rights and freedoms. Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and a couple of his cabinet ministers are among the few politicians in the world who will criticize China, raise the spectre of Iran's nuclear program in a solid way and support Israel in its fight against islamic terror. These are examples - in general the Tories have brilliantly remade Canada's image in the world.

Still, like most Canadians, I was relatively accepting of the status quo. Sure, the opposition parties forced the Tories to spend more on "stimulus" than was needed (by billions and billions) and we'll have to pay that back some day. On the other hand, they have also kept some of the government's nastier ideas from becoming law - for instance, the Tories "law and order" agenda is a complete loser; A US-style approach to the justice system predicated on throwing more and more people in jails thereby justifying the expense of building more jails which thereby justifies throwing more people in jails, etc. Very rarely is throwing someone in jail an actual answer to a problem unless the problem is keeping those within the legal system employed.

Regardless, I do hope the Tories win this election and with a majority. It will allow them to try to balance our books without the constant hindrance of being a minority government one non-confidence vote away from another election. And, the alternative is ghastly. Because the Tories will almost assuredly win the most seats, the only way another party can form the government is by entering a coalition and said coalition would almost certainly have to involve the Bloc Quebecois. In other words: a government either supported or partly run by a party whose platform is essentially treason.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thoughts On A No-Fly Zone

Normally, I blog with a sort of stream-of-consciousness approach. Let 'er rip, then go back and edit the mistakes. For some reason, I can't edit while viewing the post in editable form, I have to sift through the actual blog post and then go in and correct it.

Anyway, this is not one of those times. The no-fly zone established over Libya actually made me think about a number of things like:

1) What is the point? Unlike Egypt, there is no established movement in Libya touting democracy - or even the most minor of human rights - to take over or work with if Khadafy is removed from power. And, while I doubt such efforts will easily succeed in Egypt, I think they are well nigh impossible in Libya. If all that's going to happen is a) chaos followed by b) more violations of human rights with a combination of c) the additional influence of islamists, I'd be more inclined to stick with d) the devil we know and just finally isolate his ass as the terrorist he is instead of continuously pretending he can be redeemed. The world eventually figured it out with Arafat and, once he was shut away in his compound and unable to practice terrorism freely, the palestinians were far better behaved. After he died and the hamassholes got ahold of Gaza, the situation quickly reverted to what we see today because everyone pretended you could work with a "democratically elected" palestinian government. Well, everybody but Canada, anyway, where our Prime Minister, forever to his credit, told hamas to shove it from day one.

Is it not time we learned from recent history - say Afghanistan and Iraq - that getting into military actions in muslim or arab countries where we don't know who the players really are, where we don't understand the tribal culture or the "society" is just a recipe for expensive, drawn out disasters? Of the three, only Afghanistan really required our attention.

The way I see it, war needs to be fought - especially in muslim countries - with only one goal: to defeat the enemy as severely and quickly as possible to make them realize fighting on will only get them killed. Our wishy-washy western perspective on life is counterproductive to the way we need to wage war in these places because they do not have the respect for life, liberty and rights that we do and yet we repeatedly pretend they do. It's stupid, wasteful and ends up with needless western deaths. Do it fast and do it right or don't do it all.

2) France? Really? F-r-a-n-c-e? Are you freakin' kidding me? One think about Nicholas Sarkozy: he's got some balls. Certainly more then Barack Obama has ever had or will have. Who would have thought the French - the great capitulators of the 20th Century - would take a lead role in an effort that they know will require military action? Or, maybe it's not so unusual - the chances of any Frenchmen actually dying for the cause are pretty small (it's air and missiles only - no boots on the ground).

3) What is Barack Obama doing? I doubt even he can answer that question. Here you have the situation in Libya, the desperate situation in Japan and the leader of the free world is off in Brazil touting its democracy as a model to the arab opposed to, say, the United States' democracy which for 225 years or so has led the world in, well, democracy.

The Obama administration has badly misplayed this - either they should have taken the lead role or stayed out all together. Now, they've put themselves in a position where the US is involved in some kind of military action in 3 muslim countries, it's going to come down to the US taxpayer to fund these shenanigans and the US has no real say in how the effort is conducted or how it will end. My two cents? This is one time the US could have just said to the world, "nah. We'll pass. There is nothing to be gained here and no one, really, worth defending. France? You want it, you got it."

I've taken a fair dose of crap from my more Democrat-leaning friends over the past few years for my instinctive dislike of Obama. But, I think as time goes on, I'm being proven absolutely correct - this man reached his personal Peter Principle level the day he graduated from being a "community organizer".

4) Who chooses the names for these things? Okay, Operation Iraqi Freedom I get. Desert Storm is understandable. This one's called Operation Odyssey Dawn. WTF is that? Sounds like a band one of my kids might listen to. Oddysey Dawn would be better...after all, France is involved and that is odd...

5) When Operation Odyssey Dawn is done can we have Operation Shut Chavez the Fuck Up? The Venezuelan strongman, a close ally of Khadafy's (of course), is whining about the intervention, claiming civilians are being killed. Other than Chavez, the only person claiming this is...Khadafy. Well, both of them know quite a bit about killing civilians but the evidence is thus far lacking that any are being killed by the recent actions over Libyan airspace. Mark my words, Chavez will leave office either in chains or in a coffin. He will never go as a result of a democratic election which he loses. NEVER. I think the UN should pass a motion to drop Sean Penn and Danny Glover from 30,000 feet onto Chavez's head...a three-for-one bonus blow for humanity.

6) We're listening to the Arab League? Seriously? The Arab League? Are you freakin' kidding me? Much has been made that the Arab League supported this idea. Well, that was for the first five minutes, anyway. Once a missile actually entered Libyan airspace, the arabs were back to their normal ways - decrying western butchery.

7) Lessons from China and Russia? Are you freakin' kidding me? Oh, yeah, Putin and the Oriental oligarchs are screaming to the heavens about this horrible intervention in the lives of Libyans. Well, one thing is for sure: when the western world needs some guidance on human rights and messing around in other nations' politics, the first people we will most definitely want to consult head the governments of those two countries. And, the next time I need information about good investing, I'll contact Bernie Madoff.

8) You say Libya, I say Iraq - let's call the whole thing off. With the US State Department already admitting the end goal of this little process is not necessarily to remove Khadafy from power are we not just setting Libya up to be the next Iraq? Let's see: conduct a military action against a despot, ostensibly to get him to stop a military action against innocents and then leave said despot in power for a further indeterminate period of time so he can continue crushing and killing dissenters. Anyone remember how that worked out for the Iraqis and the rest of the world? Which brings me full circle back to point #1...what is the point?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Brain Freeze

Winters are one of two things in Canada. In 99 per cent of the country, they are long, cold and very, very bitter. Where I live, they are long and damp with stretches of a month or more where we record some precipitation every day.

Anyway, by March, Canadians are suffering from cabin fever. They're a little off. Too much shoveling or too much sloshing does strange things to the brain.

Hence, the reason early March is when Canadian university students, aided by all sorts of looney tune supporting groups with fantastical names that usually invoke peace, justice, truth or freedom host Israel Apartheid Week. (It is, by the way, one of my long-held truisms that if any of those four words appear in a group's title, an individual's internet name, etc. that you can be damned sure they stand for exactly the opposite.) This five or six day testament to hate is particularly prevalent in Ontario and Quebec. Like I say, the cold does get to you after a while...

2011's IAW was particularly noteworthy for Nick Day, the elected prefect of Queen's University. Day wrote an article on a useful-idiot lefty Web site complaining of the ongoing genocide of palestinians and signing it in his official capacity as the representative of thousands of students. This particular candidate for an eventual Darwin Award (Rachel Corrie Division) may not escape unscathed, however; enough students at Queen's were outraged and he now faces a recall vote.

Equally, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative) and Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff (Liberal) rightly stepped forward this year to condemn IAW, as did the entire Ontario Legislature. Of censure from the New Democrat Party, the Bloc Quebecois or the fringe Green Party, all left-leaning, nary a word. They wouldn't want to alienate their supporters, I suppose.

Now, it's no surprise that people hate Israel and that IAW and its proponents hide what is actually virulent anti-Semitism behind idiotic labels like "Israeli apartheid". But, what is shocking is that we are, apparently, raising generations of young people with absolutely no understanding of historical fact. Not conjecture but clear fact. Equally, they don't know the definitions of common words like "apartheid" and "genocide", throwing them around as if the rest of us will be convinced merely by seeing them in print. And, let's not forget, modern history - while Day and his moronic cohorts were busy railing all week against Israel, the Arab world remained in severe flux with people actively gunned down in the streets, prevented from assembling or arrested and jailed with little or no cause.

Keep in mind, the IAW is specific to universities. These are the places we send our children to obtain higher learning. Yet, somehow many of the people who attend these universities have bought easily dispelled propaganda which goes largely unchallenged and, even sadder, is often supported by the ivory tower set.

My teenage son was quizzing me the other day about his post-secondary options and stated he had no intention (at this point, anyway) of going to university. Seeing as what's going on on numerous campuses, there are a bunch I wouldn't want him near, anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You've Come A Long Way (In Some Places), Baby

March 8 marked International Women's Day. I would have noted this yesterday but I'm a guy so I was watching sports, drinking beer and belching loudly and kind of forgot.

I find the word "International" in the day to be somewhat out of place. Living in Canada, I think women are getting a pretty decent shake. Not being one, my perception may be at odds with how most women feel they are treated generally - whether by men or other women.

To be sure, men still hold the majority of the power positions in our society - politically, in business, economically - but the real tell is in how equal opportunity is and whether the issue of a person's sex influences their progress personally and professionally. This is what International Women's Day should be about, right? That is: the promotion of women as equal members of our society to the point where being a woman is merely a fact and not a factor.

(In order to reach exact equality, of course, we would also need to eliminate programs that give preference to one's sex. I've pondered the relative merits of affirmative action programs and have never been able to wrestle my thoughts to a final conclusion. Perhaps another day...)

Anyway, we are perhaps 70, 75 per cent of the way there in western society? And, the improvement - as for many who were formerly at least partly disenfranchised - has been mostly in the past half-century. The women's movement has brought great, positive changes to our society. I, personally, wouldn't have it any other way. I'm a pretty typical male in how I spend my spare time (see hockey, beer, belching) but most of the people I work with are women and I find them far more intuitive and interested in a creative, positive work environment.

What irks me is that - and here's that pesky word - internationally, the vast majority of women across the world enjoy nowhere near the benefits that we see in the west. Too frequently, this doesn't seem to be much of a concern to the women's rights movement (or, at least, their appointed representatives) in places where women have rights.

This needs to change. When women's groups join in the typical leftist hue and cry - as so many of the prominent ones seem to do - they do women elsewhere a great disservice. In Canada, for instance, these groups opposed and continue to oppose the very just war in Afghanistan (Canada didn't send troops to Iraq) which brought an end to perhaps the most oppressive regime on Earth regarding women and they argue for people in this country to accept cultural customs that are clearly regressive. These kinds of things seem antithetical to me. You can't just gauge progress by your own rights while ignoring so many others living a life with no rights.

It occurs to me, too, that perhaps this is already changing. Traditional "women's groups" don't want to hear this but polls, for instance, regularly show that the American Tea Party movement has as many women - or near as many - identifying themselves as members as it does men. And, while people like Sarah Palin repulse me with their jingoistic, religious-based platforms, it certainly is telling that millions of people identify with her version of "hockey mom" feminism.

Anyway, enough soap boxing. Here's a positive: if you want to help women across the world, go to This is a micro-financing site where you lend $25 at a time to people across the world - usually so they can expand or begin their own small businesses. This is the way out of poverty; the modern day twist on "if you give a man a fish, you have fed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish, you have fed him forever."

I can't speak highly enough of the work kiva is doing. You go through the people looking for loans, you pick the ones you want and in a click of a button, you've given them $25 towards their goal. Kiva provides information on the project, those involved, the lending institution (with ratings for dependability) and sends you an e-mail every time a portion of your loan is paid back. Once a loan is paid off, you can either withdraw the money or lend it to someone else - although why you'd take it back is beyond me, that $25 won't even buy a ticket, drink and a bucket of popcorn at the local cineplex.

I'm using kiva now as main recipient of my charitable donations. So far, every loan I've made has been to a woman or group of women because raising women from oppression and destitution is a clear path forward for all women.

P.S. Please don't pillory me for the header - it's an example of the changes in our society that "You've Come a Long Way, Baby" was once the tag line for a cigarette aimed at women and that, today, calling a woman "baby" is likely to get you punched in the face unless you're Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Great Gall of China

Today, likely because they are feeling the heat of uprisings in the Middle East, the Chinese government announced they would never adopt multi-party democracy or reforms that would threaten the rule of the Communist Party.

Now, to be sure, Communism in China is different than your Marxist-Leninist variety found or previously found in Eastern Europe, Cuba and various other anti-democratic shitholes. The Chinese actually encourage profit-making and enterprise. Their "Communism" is more just a dictatorship over the people for the benefit of the ruling elite without driving people into increased poverty.

But, for the future prosperity of the western world, it's all one and the same. An aggressive China, whose government rules with an iron fist and operates without regard for civilized behaviour, is no better than the old Soviet Union was.

To whit:

The Chinese government props up the worst regimes on the planet - Zimbabwe, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, etc.
The Chinese have zero respect for copyright law or anything else that gets in the way of making money.
The Chinese subjugate their own people and try to spread their influence by over-running and persecuting their neighbours (see Mongolia)
The Chinese artificially deflate the value of their currency so they can keep their exports cheap at the expense of western business interests and workers.
Chinese products, sold in the west, are often shoddy if not downright dangerous.
The Chinese repeatedly block western interests at the UN, refusing to even consider such simple acts as a no-fly zone in Libya which might save thousands of lives.

The list is pretty much endless.

And, yet, we seem to endlessly want to increase our standing with China without calling on its government to do anything in return.


There are democratic nations that can offer us the same products as China. Sure, countries like India, Bangladesh, Mexico, the Philippines and Indonesia aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but they are democracies and they are emerging economies. They do not reflexively act in a way that is contrary to our way of life at every turn. They are not hegemonistic, are not controlled by governments that oversee every facet of life and, for the most part, are actually anxious to be in good standing with the western world.

Were I President Obama (and thank God, I am not) or any candidate considering a run for office in 2012 - Democrat or Republican - I would put making China accountable for its actions at the very top of my foreign policy platform.

If we take nothing else from what's happening in the Middle East today, we need to take this to heart: propping up dictatorships in the interest of "trade" is an untenable position. Eventually, the citizenry under the heels of those dictators get it in their heads to do something about it. And, that leaves us in the position of damaging our trade relations or watching as people are gunned down in the streets for wanting the same things we already enjoy.

Better to take the moral high ground now and refuse to prop up those governments. And, there is no better nation on Earth to start this with today than China. It's unethical and irresponsible for us to feed the Chinese government - Wal-Mart, quite frankly, can go fuck itself.

I now make it a habit when shopping to avoid Chinese manufactured products whenever I can. A shirt from somewhere else might cost me a few more bucks but as long as I can afford to pay the extra, I will.

As for the Chinese government's claim that it will never change: well, to this day no Communist government has made it to its 75th birthday. The Chinese are now in their 62nd year suffering under a Communist dictatorship. Time is running out and we should help hasten the downfall in any way we can, particularly economically, because, in the end, other solutions will prove far less palatable.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Books Worth A Look

One of the thing that regularly astounds me is the absolute dreck that passes for popular literature these days. It's almost guaranteed that if it's on the New York Times bestseller list, endorsed by Oprah or touted in your weekend paper, it will be awful. If it gets made into a movie, even worse.

I suppose some thanks should be given that people still read at all. Really, who needs books when American Idol is on 200 days a year and Survivor is around to fill up the spaces in between, right?

Now, admittedly, I haven't read a lot of popular literature since I was about 16 and Stephen King ruled the roost. But, I did read the Da Vinci Code and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, certainly amongst the hottest books of the decade and they were awful. In fact, the Da Vinci Code was beyond awful. Dan Brown will surely burn in hell, not for degrading the Catholic Church but for writing such incredible gobbledygook. But, these, along with what seems to be an endless procession of vampire-based books that make me want to drive a stake into my own heart are what, sadly, passes for literature in the early 21st Century. Yuck, yuck and extra-double with dripping blood on top yuck.

So, that being said, should anyone stumble across this blog, here are 3 contemporary authors I highly recommend and that I guarantee are far superior to anything usually found on the bestseller lists (I might get to less contemporary favourites another time):

1) David Foster Wallace. Rather than save the best for last, I'm going to put the best at the top. It's hard to describe DFW in a way that would come close to doing him justice. Let's just say he committed suicide in 2008 at the age of 46 and every time I read one of his books I sigh a lot wishing he were still with us because he had half a lifetime ahead of him that could have been used to fill the world with even more of his beautiful, sad, whimsical, philosophical, comical, introspective essays and stories. I could use adjectives ad nauseum to describe DFW and it still wouldn't come close to describing how perfect a writer he was. I will be forever grateful to my internet friend, cat of Austin, Texas, for first recommending I read Infinite Jest.

Now, Infinite Jest isn't for everyone. It has footnotes that are almost books in themselves - DFW was known for his extensive footnotes, and I think he probably used them so that he could explore nooks, crannies and tangents that were vital to his thinking but would have subtracted from, or at least confused, the actual story. Infinite Jest weighs in at 1,400+ pages and it took me a good three months to work my way through it, often reading paragraphs multiple times to ensure I grasped the meaning but sometimes just to savour the construction a second or third time. When I got to the end, my first impulse was to flip back to page 1 and start again. This I will do eventually but in the meantime there were other books of his to get to and I haven't reached the end yet.

DFW wrote three or four novels (one is yet-to-be published and I've already pre-ordered it, to give you an idea of how much of a fan I am). The novels have several things in common: they are all set in the near future but in a slightly alternate universe so that you recognize the time, the places and the world around you but also that they are a little off-kilter. This unsettles the reader enough to make you pay close attention but not so much as to make you think you're reading science fiction.

He also wrote numerous essays which are compiled in several collections. His most famous writing is probably an essay about a week he spent on a cruise ship (it can be found in the collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again - see, even the title makes you sit up and take notice).

If 1,400+ pages sounds like it might do you in, try the above mentioned essays or another collection, Consider the Lobster, or his first novel The Broom of the System. Or anything else you can find with his name attached (including David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Becoming Yourself - his detailed article - 150 pages or so - of spending five days on the road with DFW doing a book tour - the lucky, lucky bastard).

2) Ben Elton. Elton is a British comedy writer whose books usually center around common themes of the moment. So, he's written books about the War on Drugs (High Crimes), the environment (Stark), traffic (Gridlock), reality TV (Chart Throb and Dead Famous), social networking (Past Mortem), the recent recession (Meltdown) and a few others.

Elton's books contain often-befuddled characters caught up in situations they can't control or that they try, without success, to control. He is a pure comedy writer even when tackling serious themes. He writes great airplane books. I recommend Chart Throb, Stark and High Crimes as three of the best. What Chart Throb does to these karaoke contest singing shows that have swept the western world left me near tears in spots because I know too many people who waste too much of their time on that dreck and he captures the silliness of it all so perfectly.

3) Gerald Seymour. Seymour is another British writer but unlike Elton, his books are very serious. He writes what would generally be known as thrillers only they're not.

What sets him apart from more popular authors like John Le Carre, Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy is the way he frames his characters. They are all flawed, every single one of them. And, flawed in ways that means even the heroes aren't really heroes, they're just people doing their jobs and often only so that they can escape their pasts.

Seymour's books are written in shades of grey even when the issues are black-and-white. His protagonists have often committed unethical acts but are still ethical people. His antagonists are the dirtiest mofos around (terrorists, mob bosses and the like) but they have depth and character. The endings are rarely pretty because, in actuality, events such as those he describes rarely end with everything tied up nice and neat. I recommend The Collaborator and The Untouchable as two of the best I've read although I've only been able to find about half his novels so far here in Canada.

Among contemporary writers I'd also recommend Michael Chabon (serious literature with a funny side - and one who did have a good book become a good movie - The Wonder Boys), Bill Bryson (travelogues with a heart and explorations of just things that interest him - try A Brief History of Nearly Everything), David Sedaris (comedic essays - Me Talk Pretty Some Day was brilliant) and James Lee Burke (crime novels set in the Louisiana bayou - I like the Dave Robicheaux series but there are too many to mention, just trust me). They all spring to mind when I sit and think about it for a few seconds.

Give some of them, any of them, a go. I guarantee you will never disgrace your home with Dan Brown again.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

So, my morning paper devotes much of a page earlier this week to speculation that Moammar Khadafy is bats in the belfry, shithouse rat NUTS. Myriad analysts weighed in on this speculating he's lost the thread and that his speeches and rhetoric - not to mention actions -since the unrest in Libya broke out show he's divorced from reality, unable to process events around him and suffering from a variety of mental illnesses.

Quite frankly, I think they're full of crap. Moammar Khadafy is no crazier today than he was a month, a year, a decade, four decades ago. Which is to say, that if he was so acceptable to so much of the world over at least part of that time, he's done nothing to indicate he's any different a person today. He has been, for more than 40 years, a dictator, running his country as his personal fiefdom, promoting terror abroad, stealing from the nation's coffers and killing those who oppose his rule. There is nothing new in his bid to stay in power and nothing surprising about his "fight or flight" reaction to the challenge to his regime. He has nowhere to flee to and so he has done the one thing available to him - try to crush the rebellion. That's not crazy - had any of us done the same things Moammar Khadafy has done over the years, we'd be doing the same things now, fully aware that failure is almost certainly a death sentence.

He may very well succeed in hanging on to power. The longer the situation remains as is, the more likely it is the protesters will give up, run out of steam or just be killed in significant numbers so that they run away. We can look at what happened in Tiananmen Square, Zimbabwe and the Sudan as examples of how fickle the world is when it comes to holding other governments to account for their actions over the long term.

Let's look at who's really crazy here:

The UN: among other things, it put Libya on the UN Human Rights Council despite consistent evidence that the only rights a human has in Libya is the right to do exactly what Khadafy's regime tells them to.

England and Scotland: remember the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Magrahi, the Lockerbie bomber sent home on compassionate grounds to placate Khadafy and earn British Petroleum some extra oil contracts? al-Magrahi, supposedly suffering from advanced cancer and with less than three months to live continues to curse this planet with his presence two years later. Meanwhile the Scots and English have played an endless shell game of passing the blame around.

Russia and China: as all of this killing has gone on in Libya, they, as usual, have refused to act in concert with the US and the EU to rein Khadafy in or at least prevent the continued slaughter of innocent Libyans.

Venezuela: No doubt Hugo Chavez is just as "crazy" as Khadafy. He can't even bring himself to condemn the killings, saying the evidence he has doesn't support the contention that Khadafy is firing on his own citizens. My own personal hope is that the unrest in the Middle East eventually takes its toll in places like Venezuela which are also run by strongmen who crush dissent and curb any and all civil rights that could possibly threaten the regime.

Turkey: swerving his own country ever more into the dangerous territory of islamic shithole, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said moves such as no-fly zone over Libya (to prevent bombing of innocents and oil fields) were inconceivable. Dead muslim brethren aside, Erdogan doesn't mind cozying up to dictators and, Turkey, once one of the few reasonable secular muslim states, is becoming ever more radicalized and divorced from the western thinking it, at one time, was working hard to incorporate into its own society.

Most of the rest of the free world: sadly, our leaders embraced Khadafy after he "renounced" terrorism and gave up his nuclear program. This, by the ridiculous standards under which we now operate in the west, redeemed and legitimized Khadafy's rule, leading, in part to the situation there today.

The US administration: okay, maybe not crazy. But how is it that Obama threw Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak (a bastard but still "our" bastard) under the bus within days of the unrest there but waited two weeks to basically make any comment on Libya (a long-time American enemy) and when he did, did so with the most tepid of "demands" that violence stop? Another obvious case of recent American foreign policy being nothing but sound and fury signifying nothing. I'm not saying it's the US's responsibility to act in this instance (it's not) but, really, that's the best Obama and Secretary of State Clinton can come up with as people are gunned down in the streets?

The reality is that the last world leader who actually called out Khadafy for what he is was Ronald Reagan. Reagan, you remember, tried to off Khadafy, for which he received universal criticism and condemnation. While he didn't manage to kill him, he did manage to impress upon the Libyan leader that there were consequences for fucking with the US. Subsequent administrations backed off from isolating him and, thus, we have what we have.

Khadafy, rather than being crazy, has played the world for the suckers we are - pushing the limits and then drawing back when he crossed the line. And, doubtless, he would have continued down this path for an indeterminate future time period had the unrest elsewhere not spread to his own country. The one thing he couldn't account for was an uprising throughout the arab world - and no one else saw that coming either.

It would be very nice if someone stuck a bullet in Khadafy's head in the near future. But, people like him don't survive as long as he has by being crazy. Rather, he is cold and calculating with an overwhelming sense of self-preservation. To pretend otherwise is to vastly underestimate the continued danger he poses to Libyans, his neighbours and the free world.