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ExpatPundit

"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.





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Monday, January 07, 2002

Next time… Please visit again for more stories from the far north, including Heather Mallick’s assault on midwestern Americans. And the poor man's -- better make that utterly destitute man’s -- Chomsky, Rick Salutin!
Proof the U.S. has changed since 9/11! Sadly, former President Clinton's dog Buddy was killed by a car last Thursday. But the events – or, rather, lack of events – following this tragic death indicate how our political climate has changed in the last four months. Had this occurred before then, I think the news story would have been something like this:

Former first dog Buddy killed by car; an angry Congress calls for hearings
--Wall Street Journal draws link to Vincent Foster

CHAPPAQUA, New York (CNNbs) -- Former President Bill Clinton's dog Buddy was killed Wednesday by a passing car outside the family's Westchester County, New York, home. The former "first dog" was struck at about 12:15 p.m. on Route 117, a busy two-lane street close to the Clintons' home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua.

According to police, Buddy was struck by a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old girl after "playfully chasing a contractor" who had just left the residence. Secret Service agents rushed after Buddy when they saw him chasing the contractor's van off the property, and arrived at the scene moments after the dog was struck, New Castle police Lt. John Vize told CNN. The agents immediately took Buddy to Chappaqua Animal Hospital, where the dog was pronounced dead, Vize said.

No members of the Clinton family were at home at the time of the accident. A spokeswoman for the former president told CNN the Clinton family is "deeply saddened" by Buddy's death. A family statement said Buddy was "a loyal companion and brought us much joy. He will be truly missed."

Later Wednesday afternoon, members of the Republican Congressional leadership assembled on the steps of the Capitol to demand hearings into Buddy's death. Speaking to reporters, Senator Minority Leader Trent Lott angrily accused former President Clinton of violating Chappaqua's leash law, and called for a new investigation that could lead to permanent disbarment of the former President and formal censure of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. "It is a disgrace for the country that the Clintons should consider themselves above the law," explained Senator Lott. "We must not expect ordinary citizens of Chappaqua to hold themselves to higher standards than our public -- or formerly public -- officials do."

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay called Buddy's death "yet another in an unending series of Clinton scandals" that have arisen over the last several years. Representative Dan Burton, one of Clinton's fiercest Congressional critics, suggested that subpoenas would be sent within weeks to all members of the Clinton household, and all those ever employed in caring for Buddy. "Bill Clinton's moral turpitude has been revealed once again through his mistreatment of Buddy. How could this man allow his dog to roam without a leash? It's not just illegal, it's immoral."

Later in the day, however, Representative Burton's office circulated a statement acknowledging that Representative Burton had, in fact, let his dog outside without a leash on many occasions during the mid-1990s. The statement continued, "However, I only did so in districts that did not have leash laws. President Clinton did so in a jurisdiction that explicitly forbade such activity under penalty of law. For this reason, according to the statement, there is no equivalence between Representative Burton's "occasional moral lapses and Bill Clinton's criminal activity."

Thursday's Wall Street Journal editorial page sounded a more ominous tone. Noting that Buddy was "frequently by Bill Clinton's side" during much of Clinton's second term, the editorial proposed that perhaps Buddy had "seen something incriminating" and that his demise was not the accident it was purported to be. "First Vince Foster, and now Buddy. The Clintons' intrigues continue to reap a field of suspiciously convenient deaths."

Asked for reaction to the statements by Senator Lott and Representatives DeLay and Burton, and the allegations in the Wall Street Journal, a spokeswoman for the former president told CNN, "No comment."
In defense of Cornel West…sort of. Yes, this whole sordid story is an embarrassment for Harvard, for the professors involved, etc. But a number of bloggers have been heaping scorn on the Web site www.cornelwest.com. I think this began with Inigo Thomas’s “Idea of the Day” posting on Friday. Thomas and others accurately note the pretension and the embarrassing spelling and grammatical errors on the site.

But is it fair to saddle Cornel West with this? The site is copyrighted by a Clifton West; the “contact us” email addresses are for the same Clifton West and one Mike Dailey, who apparently worked with Cornel in making the album. I suspect that, URL notwithstanding, it is not written by Cornel West but rather by others involved in the album. This puts the braggadocio in a different light: it is pretty revolting when an author walks around saying what a great writer he is (right, Mr. Mailer?); it’s not nearly so bad if his co-author sings his praises. Please, please, Cornel West et al. are such a rich treasure trove of material. Let’s not ruin it by being greedy.

Canada’s search for debate in the American press. In his article “The War on Dissent,” in which the above Moore quotes appear, The Globe and Mail’s New York editor, Simon Houpt, writes about his inability to find any “debate” in the mainstream media in the U.S. since September 11. Read his bleatings about the plight of Susan Sontag, who (gasp!) “was pilloried in the pages of dozens of newspapers and political weeklies by the usual cast of curmudgeonly columnists.” And if that’s not bad enough, some sponsors pulled ads from Politically Incorrect! Isn’t that a violation of a person’s constitutionally guaranteed right to a nationally televised talk show?

Yep, there’s nothing Canadian media folk like better than trying to catch Americans not living up to those snooty ideas that we so annoyingly bandy about. “Freedom of speech – disappears in an instant during war. Gotcha!” This is pretty much one of the four story lines that play through virtually all such news and opinion up here. We’ll get to the other three in the near future.

Note that Houpt is paid to do his research and writing for a living. Note that he is living in NYC. Note that this is a “week in review” article, which presumably means that he has had substantial time to actually research and write it, as compared with a conventional news article. And yet somehow Mr. Houpt is unable to stumble across any dissent or debate in the mainstream U.S. press. While I am living in Toronto, scanning the media only in my leisure time, and I have no trouble finding editorials in the Times, the Post, Slate.com that raise reasonably nuanced issues.

Michael Moore, Canadian-style. Okay, this is about 2 months out of date, but I don’t recall seeing it pointed out anywhere else. Some pundits noted that Moore seemed to tone down his rhetoric after returning to his NYC home in late September. Perhaps his Web site became less vitriolic, but the same cannot be said for his comments to the media outside the U.S. In the spirit of a U.S. film celebrity who hawks pork products on Japanese television and hopes that the American public doesn’t find out, Moore has continued to spew forth insulting and demonstrably untrue sound bites to the foreign media. You’ve got to read the examples in this article, which originally appeared in the Globe and Mail. No, wait, let me put them here:

“'I still can't get out of my head how three guys with box cutters keep 90 people at bay. And yet I don't want to blame the victims for not doing anything. But what is it in us -- they cut one person's throat, we watch one person die and then we're paralyzed with fear? What is that?'"
"Moore is trying to tread carefully, but he believes the national character is revealed in both the media's obsequiousness and the apparently passive behaviour of the passengers on at least two of the planes. 'We're a nation that is very weak-kneed and very weak-willed, and we talk a big harrumph, alright?'"

Insulting: Not content to blather on about the perfidy of American policies, now Moore prefers to assault the character of the victims of September 11. Actually, this shouldn’t be a shock. For all of his bluster re: taking on the rich and powerful, the vast majority of Moore’s cinematic and television efforts center on embarrassing the working stiffs who have the misfortune of, say, being the doormen or garage attendants at places frequented by CEOs. (This point was made in an excellent article in some journal several years ago; I remember nothing about who wrote it or where it appeared.)

Demonstrably untrue: Why were the passengers passive? Because, thanks to forty years of hijackings courtesy of the noble freedom fighters with whom Moore feels such common cause, we all know the pre-September-11 hijacking routine very well: Sit still and wait for the plane to land somewhere. Then wait until 1) the hijackers are given some of what they demand (if the demands are being made of, say, the French), or 2) the hijackers agree to surrender or are assaulted Entebbe-style. Either way, sit still and the probability of survival isn’t that bad. This changed on September 11…and as soon as passengers realized that this was the case, they fought back. But recognizing such courage in Americans would be anathema for Moore. He certainly wouldn’t be “on the nightly newscast of every Western country, practically” if he were to actually tout any virtues of the U.S. or its citizens.

Bonus boast: In the same article, Moore notes that his site is getting more than one million hits/week, which he interprets as evidence of people’s desperate search for “alternative sources of information.” As one of the million hits back then, I suspect that the primary motivation for most of these visitors was to see if Moore had actually written that horrendous line about the terrorists hitting the wrong (i.e., full of non-Republicans) planes.

ExpatPundit -- “But enough about us. What do you think of us?”

Thanks for visiting ExpatPundit, written by an American expatriate living in Canada for the foreseeable future. With luck, this blog will have two distinctive features.

First, it will provide a window into the peculiar and often disturbing notions about the U.S. (and the world) that appear in the Canadian media. It's strange to be an American expatriate in Canada. One of the strangest things for me is the broad-brush way in which Canadian news outlets consistently describe Americans' tendency to view the world in a broad-brush manner. Typical headline: "All Americans Think That All Canadians Think The Same Way."

Canadians spend a lot of time discussing how and why they are different from Americans, and guess who usually gets the short end of these invidious distinctions? This has always bothered me a little, and since September 11 it has caused the veins in my forehead to throb visibly. After lacing into some other guests at a dinner party last week on this very subject, I realized that I’d better start a blog to blow off steam, or my neighbors will stop letting their kids play with my kid.

Second, I suspect this will be more middle-of-the-road than many blogs out there. When I read or listen to nearly anyone right of center, I find myself oozing to the left; after the next exposure to the left of center, I slither right. (I almost called this MedianPundit to signify this, but that sounded even duller than ExpatPundit.) Of course, living in Canada, where the far right parties could easily accommodate Lowell Weicker, I find myself listing rightward.

Please visit often to see some of the more outrageous examples of erroneous, and usually anti-American, reporting and editorializing that goes on up here. Plus all the other usual stuff. Plus door prizes, if that will help.

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