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"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.


Thursday, May 23, 2002

But...but the ads seemed so sincere. Here is the official press release described by Charles Johnson and Howard Fienberg regarding the apparent failure of the Saudi advertising blitz to galvanize American public opinion in support of our allies the Saudis. It presents the results of a new poll by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates.

No doubt the Saudis will chalk this up to Zionist spin control, and will make great hay out of the fact that the chief contact for the survey is Jewish (Michael Cohen). But how will they explain the Fabrizio and McLaughlin part?
Is Pejman a shriner? Jon, who apparently swears allegiance to something called the "Fifth Galactic Invader Force", notes that


Yes, we are all individuals! Andrew Sullivan takes exception to Eric Olsen's complaints that he is not particularly committed to the blogging "community." (Personally, I preferred Virginia Postrel's take on this.):

By the way, the tedious Eric Olsen has been whining that I'm not a blogging team player by responding to his every email.... But can I say a word about the notion of a "blogging community" to which we allegedly owe obligations, deference and respect? Phooey. The reason I'm a blogger is because I'm a pesky individualist who simply wants to write what I think and have a great interaction with readers in real time.

Give me time, and I'll post an anagram converting ANDREW SULLIVAN to PESKY INDIVIDUALIST. But the sad truth is that this maps far more easily into:

Meet my mayor, take 3. Back in February, I introduced you to the mayor of Toronto, Mel Lastman. You may remember the minor matters of his secret out-of-wedlock family whom he chose not to support financially, his ill-fated embrace of Hells Angels who were celegrating their entry into the Toronto drug trade, and his untimely comments regarding Africans and cannibalism (all this and more, here). Or you may remember his vaporware announcement of a new film studio in Toronto, which led to the following quote (and I still say that few mayors will ever have this written about them):

"Some accused Mr. Lastman of using the announcement to spruce up an image tarnished by a handshake with a biker, an unintended racial slur and a paternity suit launched by two men who say they are his children."

Sadly, Mr. Lastman may actually face a challenger in the next mayoral election. (What will I do for material if he goes?) Councilman David Miller appears to be preparing for a run. Yesterday, Lastman attempted to browbeat Miller in council...and lost both the vote to censure Miller and the related PR battle.

His Melship made his second funniest joke yesterday, during a horrendously botched attempt to punish Councillor David Miller, a rapidly emerging rival who is basing his still undeclared mayoralty bid on bold charges of cronyism and worse in the Lastman camp.

"You will never be mayor of this city because you say stupid and dumb things!" the mayor thundered across the council chamber.

Saying stupid and dumb things has never hurt Mr. Lastman. In fact, his record suggests that regularly doing so is a prerequisite for success in the big chair.

The vote on whether Mr. Miller violated council rules during a debate on Tuesday may not make the same headlines as the handshake from Hell, but it shook the foundations beneath the twin towers of 100 Queen Street West.

The mayor not only lost control of council on a crucial vote, demonstrating that his main rival enjoys surprisingly broad political support; he virtually launched the Miller campaign, and on a high note.

It was a breathtaking display of aggressive political ineptitude, highly suggestive of a political turning point.

A turning point? I hope not. David Miller is smart, ethical, and careful with words. He'd be no fun at all.
Tit-for-tattered analogy. As I've written before, I really like journalist Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail. In most of his articles, he just seems so damned exasperated with every participant of whatever conflict he happens to be covering. But I thought he erred in his headline today (of course, this could be an editor's miscue): "Tit-for-tat Killings Bedevil Middle East." Apparently, the "tat" is the killing of civilians in Israel by armed Palestinian militants, and the "tit" is the killing by Israeli soldiers of the armed Palestinian militants who planned the attacks on civilians. [Aside: let's see how many more hits I get by using the word "tit" in this post.]

Memo to Koring:

This is tit-for-tat: Armed militants or soldiers on side A kill civilians on side B. Armed militants or soldiers on side B then kill civilians on side A.

This is not tit-for-tat: Armed militants or soldiers on side A kill civilians on side B. Armed militants or soldiers on side B then kill the armed militants on side A that planned the attack on side B.

Slightly more pedantic response: Tit-for-tat strategies were publicized most thoroughly by Robert Axelrod (note: the guy who actually submitted the tit-for-tat strategy to Axelrod was a professor at University of Toronto). The idea is: I'll be nice until you aren't nice, after which I'll be not nice. So let's think back to when Israel was being nice (i.e., December-January). Lots and lots of suicide attacks. Being nice didn't elicit niceness from Al Aqsa and their buddies. If anything, the attacks increased. So it's clear that Al Aqsa is not playing tit-for-tat, but rather a deadly form of "defection" strategy.
Clinton still rules! Go ahead, Sullivan, Goldberg, and the rest of you. Snipe all you want about Clinton. He still rules on the international stage! In Russia, matryoshka dolls (where one doll is inside another doll, and another, etc.) featuring Clinton are outselling Bush dolls 2-1:

The Clinton doll takes tourists back to a simpler, pre-Sept. 11 time, when the world was obsessed with Mr. Clinton's office romance. "Inside are his friends," smiled Igor, proudly pulling the Clinton doll apart to reveal a few familiar faces. Monica Lewinsky, of course, in her blue dress, and Paula Jones.

Igor stopped to consider the fourth doll, a blond woman with a striking resemblance to Mr. Clinton's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a senator. "I'm not sure who this one is," Igor said with a shrug. The fifth and final doll carries a picture of a saxaphone.
Canada, the worker's (hic) paradise. There is a big, ominous labor action on the horizon. If it occurs, it will affect millions of people and grind crucial commerce to a halt. I am talking about the LCBO workers' threatened strike.

What's the LCBO, you ask? In Canada (or at least in Ontario), the sale of liquor by retailers is largely prohibited. If you want to buy that case of beer or that bottle of wine, you have to go to one of the 600 government-run, government monopoly liquor stores. These stores are run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. [There are some exceptions that I don't understand where supermarkets are allowed to carry a minute supply of certain alcoholic beverages.]

I'm not an afficionado of liquor stores (or of alcoholic beverages, for that matter), but these stores are pretty much what you'd expect. Pricey, with a reasonable but limited selection. The LCBO stores all have the same architectural appearance and have exciting names including -- and as far as I can tell, entirely limited to -- "The Beer Store" and "The Liquor Store."

As a result, liqour store employees (the LCBO has 5,000 of them!) are unionized, and at the moment they're angry. Mostly about the threat that the sale of alcohol might (gasp!) be privatized:

One of the major issues is job security. The government has announced it wants to increase the number of franchise stores, which the union says will cost jobs.

"We are of the view that [this] is a back door to privatization," [union official Gerry] Chaykowsky said.

Holy cow! Imagine letting alcohol sales be handled by private entities! Then who'll do this incredibly effective advertising?
Oh, Canada, we sort of stand on guard for thee, part 2. The Ontario government has announced that they uncovered a sleeper cell of al-Qaeda terrorists in the province, and they're pleased to say that the cell has left. 'Course, the government doesn't know where they've gone:

Police in Ontario uncovered a "sleeper cell" of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network but allowed the would-be terrorists to flee Canada because they had not broken the law here, Bob Runciman, the province's Minister of Public Safety and Security, said yesterday.

Mr. Runciman -- who blurted out the startling news to reporters before he advised Ernie Eves, the Ontario Premier, on the matter -- said he was informed by law-enforcement officials at a special briefing in Toronto late Tuesday that members of the terror network had been lying in wait in Ontario.

"It was a cell of al-Qaeda. They were in Ontario. It was a sleeper cell, that's the term used by intelligence officials," the Minister said before the morning meeting of the provincial Cabinet.

"There were not charges, it was simply a case of keeping close tabs on their activities and they ultimately closed down shop and moved out of Ontario. These were foreign terrorists," Mr. Runciman said....

Perhaps the most important piece of information in the story was:

"We couldn't arrest them. They're citizens like you and I. They were being watched very closely and if they did engage in any kind of criminal activity, that action would have been taken," Mr. Runciman said.

If it is true that these are Canadian citizens involved in terror activities, perhaps it is worth revisiting the issue of how these gentle folks entered the country and obtained citizenship. (Note that I am implicitly assuming that these were naturalized and not native-born Canadians.) I'm still waiting for my landed residence -- equivalent of a green card -- ten months after arrival in the country. It doesn't seem fair that terrorists should be able to jump the queue.

This episode had the humorous side effect of giving the provincial Liberal party leader, Dalton McGuinty, a chance to call the Conservatives "soft on crime." He continued:

"One of the lessons of Sept. 11 surely was that terrorism has no boundaries. [Mr. Runciman's] responsibility is not to export terrorists, it is to arrest terrorists," the Liberal leader said.

A police officer with experience tracking violent extremist organizations also questioned the value of displacing the group and then calling it a success.

"No one just shuts up shop like that. They move to another area, but that doesn't solve the problem. You shift the problem somewhere else. Would you call that a success?" the officer said.

Based on this, maybe many Canadians would.
A Smoking Gun? It's hard to get a more definite link than this: Liberal Minister Don Boudria's staff has been directly linked to what appears to be a sweetheart advertising deal in Quebec. The deal funnelled a $56,000 contract to Groupe Everest, a firm with strong ties to the Liberal Party, without any competitive bidding at all -- in direct violation of Canadian law.

To make matters worse, the hapless Boudria vacationed at the mansion of Groupe Everest's CEO, and apparently his check to cover the rental wasn't cashed until after this scandal broke, which rightly or wrongly raised the specter (excuse me, "spectre") of further conflict of interest. The story so far: Boudria's son gave the check to the CEO's wife, who instead of cashing it gave it to a priest as a charitable donation, who tried to cash it but couldn't because it didn't have his name on it and who thus was planning to ask the CEO's wife about it next time he saw her. Except that first the priest filed an affidavit swearing that he had cashed it, and then backpedaled to this story.

Best line of the day goes to Alliance MP Gerry Ritz, commenting on the priest's inability to remember whether he had deposited the check or not: "He'd be a great guy to go to confession to, because he'd never remember what you told him," Mr. Ritz said.

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