Deborah Gyapong: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dick Morris on Obama's rationale for reducing charitable deductions

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Obama’s plan will cost them $10 billion in extra taxes on the income they allocated to charitable donations. How can the president be so glibly certain that they will not curtail their charitable contributions by a like amount or even more?

Imagine all the harm Obama’s program will cause. Churches will be hit most hard. They account for the largest share of charitable donations, but universities, disease research, hospitals, soup kitchens, and cultural institutions will also be hard hit. So will international relief efforts that funnel aid abroad through churches or directly.

It is totally dishonest for Obama to pretend that his curtailment of these deductions won’t hurt the poor. It will most directly impact them since most of the charities Obama is hurting focus on helping the impoverished.

This proposal is not about saving money. It is about controlling it. By, in effect, transferring at least $11 billion a year from private philanthropy to government spending, Obama empowers the public sector at the expense of the voluntary one.

President Obama’s recommended reduction in the tax deduction for charitable giving reflects his fundamental belief that only the government can or should help the poor. He wants to keep the impoverished directly dependent on the government - and the Democratic Party - for their daily bread.

Hillbuzz is always interesting

I love the fact that these Hillary Clinton-loving gay men also dig Sarah Palin and worked hard for the McCain/Palin ticket when Hillary lost the primary. They are obviously independent thinkers, great writers and, oh oh, pretty pungent observers. My bolds:

Abortion and “Gay Marriage” are the two Pavlovian bells the MSM rings when it wants to distract the public from something else, and to derail a substantive argument with zealotry and emotional terrorism.

The sad thing is, it works like a charm every time.

For Republicans, Sebelius might actually be an ideal Obama H&HS Secretary, as she will not accomplish a single thing in her tenure. Because of her lack of general intelligence, political ability, common sense, or charisma, she will fail at every initiative she attempts, and will most likely become so discouraged by her own performance that after attempting three or four things, she’ll just start coming into the office every day to hold meetings that don’t matter and make objects d’art from the paper clips and staples on her clutter-free, accomplishments-bare desk.

Sounds a lot like her time as Governor of Kansas.

For Democrats who actually want to see healthcare reformed, Sebelius is a terrible choice.

As much as we don’t like him, Howard Dean would have been a better pick. As much as the people of Michigan don’t like her, Jennifer Granholm would have been better than Sebelius. We are stunned we are about to say this, but even CLAIRE McCASKILL, the absolute worst member of the United States Senate, could have done a better job as H&HS Secretary than Sebelius (McCaskill, though proven unable to think for herself or make good decisions, at least has a fire inside her that pushes for the causes her children bug her to believe in).

Sebelius is as fired up and ready to fight as a soggy cucumber sandwich on moldy Wonder bread.

Mark Steyn finds the most interesting facts

" . . . government agencies have to budget for such novel expenditures as narrowing the sewer lines in economically moribund, fast depopulating municipalities because the existing pipes are too wide to, ah, expedite the reduced flow. Even flushing yourself down the toilet of history is trickier than it looks."

The whole article is well worth reading.

The only reason why France could get away with being France, Belgium with being Belgium, Sweden with being Sweden is because America was America. Kagan’s thesis – Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus – will look like paradise lost when the last conventional “great power” of western civilization embraces the death-cult narcissism of its transatlantic confreres in the full knowledge of where that leads.

CHRC issues annual report---ding! ding! ding!

Here's what it says about freedom of speech. (My bolds). Sounds to me like they would like to stay in the driver's seat and determine what Canadians can and cannot say, despite the recommendations of the Moon report.

Freedom of Expression and Hate on the Internet

Throughout 2008 there was a vigorous debate about freedom of expression and section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act – the section prohibiting the electronic transmission of hate messages.

Beyond the heated rhetoric, the current debate is part of a centuries-old question on where exactly the line should be drawn between one citizen’s freedom of speech and another citizen’s right to be protected from harm caused by vilification and hatred.

The freedom to express ideas and opinions is fundamental to both democracy and human rights. Exercising the right to freedom of expression takes place within a context of competing values. With freedom comes responsibility. Human rights are not hierarchical; in fact the rights structure is more accurately viewed as a matrix. As the 1993 United Nations Vienna Declaration explained: "All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis."

Acknowledging that no right is absolute, it is up to legislatures and the courts to strike a balance when one right conflicts with another. The Supreme Court recognized this in its 1990 Taylor decision. The Court affirmed that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows for limitations on extreme forms of speech in order to protect other fundamental Charter values:

... It [hate speech] undermines the dignity and self-worth of target group members and ... contributes to disharmonious relations among various racial, cultural and religious groups, as a result eroding the tolerance and open-mindedness that must flourish in a multicultural society which is committed to the idea of equality...

Freedom of expression and section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act have proven to be facets of our society that continue to evolve. In 2001, the Act was amended to prohibit the use of the Internet or other electronic communication tools to disseminate hatred.

The rapid shift from print to electronic news meant that the media began operating inside the jurisdiction of section 13. The impact of this shift may not have been fully foreseen when the Act was amended.

The Review of Section 13 – the Moon Report

In 2008 the Commission initiated a comprehensive review of section 13 and its role in dealing with hate on the Internet. The review was designed to assess whether the current model is the best approach to dealing with electronic hate in Canada. The Commission retained leading constitutional law expert Richard Moon to conduct an independent study, as an integral component of the broader policy review.

Released in November, Professor Moon’s report recommends that section 13 be repealed, leaving the police and the courts to handle all extreme forms of expression. The Report also recommends that if section 13 is not repealed, it should be reshaped to more closely resemble a criminal restriction on hate speech.

Professor Moon’s report also confirmed that while perceptions exist that the Commission targets "offensive speech," this has not been the case. In fact, the Commission uses a narrow definition of "hate" derived from jurisprudence. His review found that: "section 13 cases that have been sent by the CHRC to the Tribunal and in which the Tribunal has found a breach of the section have almost all involved expression that is so extreme and hateful that it may be seen as advocating or justifying violence against the members of an identifiable group."

The Commission is preparing to deliver a Special Report to Parliament in 2009 that will address what needs to change for the Canadian Human Rights Act to remain effective and that will suggest new collaborative approaches to combat hate speech.

Throughout 2008, the Commission welcomed the debate on how to best address hate on the Internet. Dedicated to ensuring that the Canadian Human Rights Act remains effective, the Commission’s preliminary concern is helping all Canadians live with dignity and respect. Prohibiting hate is part of that responsibility.

Beyond human rights laws and the Criminal Code, finding the right balance between freedom of expression and the dignity and equality of all Canadians is a responsibility that belongs to all of us.

This issue raises the question: what kind of society do we want to live in? It calls into question whether to give free reign to extreme forms of expression, or take careful and reasonable measures to ensure that all Canadians can live in dignity and respect. That is the real challenge our society and the Commission must face.

My "false dichotomy" alarm bells just went off.

Government bodies are not the only means to deal with extreme forms of expression. There is censure that is far preferable to bureaucrats and partisan ideologues censoring unpopular (and potentially truthful but painful opinion.)

I think it is far better to have police deal with thugs who issue death threats or call for violence against different groups or individuals for whatever reason, and leave the countering of "extreme forms of expression" to techniques like exposure, argument, marginalization, ridicule and so on. Far better than having government bureaucrats use the power of the state to enforce the latest orthodoxy du jour or political correctness.

Worried about the Conficker worm?

Read this.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Persecution of gays in Iraq--another horrific example of minority persecution

Basically, I think Iraq is better off since the regime change. Under Saddam if you were a Kurd or a Shi-ite, you might get gassed in your village, have the marsh you depended on for food dried up in a water diversion project, or get fed feet first in the shredder.

But as much as things have improved in Iraq, they have become much worse for Christians. Members of the ancient Christian community that has lived in that country since before Islam came into being are now mostly living in exile, in refugee camps in neighboring Syria and other countries.

But that's not all. Fred over at Gay and Right has several reports on the horrific persecution of gays in Iraq.

I hope that Canada and the United States press Iraq to uphold the rights of minorities. No time for what Tarek Fatah rightly calls the racism of low expectations.

Denyse O'Leary's been reading Shakedown

and commenting on some salient quotes. It's a delicious series over at Post-Darwinist.

Part5 is here, including links to the other parts.

She writes:

The thing that most impresses me about Shakedown is that it talks about the reality of living in Canada today. Most of what I hear in media is nonsense, carefully crafted to avoid trouble. The people who craft it may not even realize that they are doing so, in which case I would fully expect them to deny it.

The key point is, many media people don't ask themselves the one key question: "Why can't I say what I know is true, based on best information?" They simply tack away from it.

Please read this whole Douglas Farrow article

Here's an excerpt from Catholic Insight.

To speak of conscience is to come to the third level, where the emphasis falls on the individual. At first glance it may seem odd that conscience should be displaced and even attacked. Conscience, after all, though informed by natural law (knowledge of which is universal or innate) and by religion (which is learned in community), is a faculty that involves the individual in a dialogue with himself; it belongs to one’s self-awareness. So why should those who wish to exalt the individual to the highest place, and to emphasize moral autonomy, make themselves the enemies of conscience?

They do so because the dialogue that conscience demands is not merely a dialogue of the self with itself. It is a dialogue in which the self is questioned, in which the self is called upon to side against itself; that is, to discipline itself by taking up the cause of natural law or of religion. And this is precisely what individualism – the idolatry of the autonomous individual – cannot stand for. Conscience acknowledges autonomy, the freedom of the individual to choose. But it also acknowledges heteronomy, the claim of the Creator and of the common good. It asks the self to choose to submit itself to what is higher than itself. For the individualist, however, there is nothing higher than the self. Conscience is therefore the last enemy to be overcome in the battle for the new moral order.

Get out of hospital alive cards?---chilling story on euthanasia

In the Montreal Gazette, by Hugh Anderson, this chilling column. My bolds.

Imagine carrying around with you at all times a sort of get-out-of-hospital-alive card, sometimes called a sanctuary card. Its message: I do not want to be killed even though my quality of life seems to you to be unbearable.

Hard to imagine? In Holland and Belgium right now such cards are in demand. They may become essential in the not too distant future for seniors in Quebec and other parts of Canada and the U.S. who do not want to die before their time because other people believe that killing you is in your best interest, or that you should be assisted to kill yourself.


The strange thing is that we do have an ominous real-life or real-death demonstration of what this kind of thing can lead to. Holland legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide three decades ago, first in practice and later by law. Advocates said it would be limited to competent adults who are terminally ill and ask to be killed. Then it was extended to competent adults with incurable illnesses or disabilities, although not terminally ill. Then it was extended to competent adults who were depressed but otherwise not physically ill. Then it was extended to incompetent adult patients like Alzheimer's sufferers, on the basis that they would have asked for death if they were competent.

And now it is legal for doctors in Holland to kill infants, if parents agree, if they believe their patients' suffering is intolerable or incurable. This is a long way from the soothing image of an elderly person choosing with full understanding to die with dignity, assisted by compassionate relatives and friends.

Then there are such places as Dignitas, one of the Swiss assisted-suicide clinics. An investigation by a British newspaper found that those who could afford the high fee could fly in and be killed within an hour or two. A whistle-blowing former employee said she had seen new arrivals sharing the same elevator with gurneys removing the bodies of earlier arrivals.

Great editorial about importance of doing more than sending a cheque

But when organizers suggest you can work wonders, they want you to consider something more than money.

ShareLife is a call to action, an invitation to get involved, to contribute money, yes, but also to invest yourself in a cause that brings so much comfort to so many people. That is the message that should be resonating with Catholics on the first of three ShareLife Sundays, March 29, when the 2009 campaign is launched in earnest.

In its 33 years ShareLife has grown from supporting eight charitable agencies to 33, helping 225,000 people of all ages, backgrounds and faiths. There are programs for single parents, families and the elderly, for children and teens, for immigrants and refugees. Support goes overseas to dozens of missionary causes and also stays at home to fund the schooling of future generations of priests.

The need is great but greater yet is the challenge amid a recession to support so many worthy causes. Much has been written about the sad state of the world economy. People are suffering. For charities, the pain is two fold. First, high unemployment and overall economic uncertainty threaten contributions. Second, a hardscrabble economy increases demand for services provided by social and charitable agencies.

Governments face the same two problems in tough times, so expecting them to come to the rescue is like looking for flowers to bloom in winter. Too often, though, we’re programmed to rely on governments to take the lead in solving society’s ills rather than heeding the call ourselves.

Free Dominion folks appeal legal decision

I haven't been following this too closely, but that's not to say it isn't important. I'm glad to see Connie and Mark Fournier are appealing. I'm not crazy about some of the more raucous posters over at FD, but it is not a far-right message board as some describe it. Glad this newspaper report strikes the right tone.

A Kingston-area couple who run a conservative online forum will appeal a court decision ordering them to hand over personal details about eight anonymous posters at the heart of a defamation lawsuit.

Connie and Mark Fournier, who run the online forum,said yesterday that they will be in Ottawa today to file the necessary papers to formally appeal a decision handed down exactly one week ago.

That decision ordered the Elginburg couple to hand over personal information about eight "John Does" whose postings are alleged to have defamed an Ottawa- based lawyer. The court ordered the couple to divulge the information before the actual defamation suit is heard.

The couple said in an interview yesterday that they have received messages from people interested in fighting the case, worried about the precedent it may set for future Internet use.

"We didn't think we'd be able to (appeal)," said Connie Four - nier. "There are a lot of good legal minds that have said this has to be fought."

Mark Fournier said the couple doesn't have enough money right now to finance the appeal. They are hoping members of their website, bloggers and forum owners will donate to their legal fund.

Go on over to FD, click on "Recent" and read up on why this case is important.

H/t Blazing Cat Fur

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The dastardly Conservatives---Brian Lilley

Brian writes:

My Press Gallery colleague David Akin is reporting on his blog that the Conservatives are giving $27,124 in funding to Report Magazine, Western Canada's Conservative Voice.

True, the government even put out a press release to promote this funding.

"The Government of Canada is proud to support editorial content that promotes Canadian ideas, history, and culture," said Minister Ambrose. "We are committed to the preservation of our heritage and the promotion of our values to keep our identity strong now and in the future."

Akin, a good fellow in the gallery if ever there was one, also points out that this comes as CBC lays off 800 workers due to a lack of funding and that Sun Media had to close two Alberta weekly papers this week.

Surely this is a plot to push partisan media voices in favour of the government and punish those who oppose Conservative ideals!

If only. Never assume a conspiracy when plain old incompetence will do.

There's something about all this that makes me smell an election in the air.

The Savior State---and the revenge of Samson

Douglas Farrow is one of the foremost thinkers on the Canadian stage and I only wish he were better known.

This week I heard him give two talks, one on the end of Christendom, the other yesterday entitled "The Audacity of the State."

The title was a deliberate play on the title of a sermon Jeremiah Wright gave called "The Audacity of Hope" that Barack Obama used as the title for his second self-referential autobiography.

I have promised myself to do some cleaning today, so I don't have time to write much, but one thing he did in yesterday's talk was eviscerate John Stuart Mill and his truncated notion of freedom and individualism.

For Mill and his acolytes the autonomy sought of the individual is the freedom from the restraints of religion and the family. Hmmm, sounds like some modern day libertarians who like the idea of a small state but balk at social conservatism.

Yet what Farrow pointed out in a deft, tightly-argued paper presented to the Catholic Organization of Life and Family's seminar yesterday, is that if the pillars of family and religion are pulled down, society collapses.

One illustration: the Soviet Union, which after a few generations of destroying the family and religion through state run daycare, widespread abortion, persecution of churches, brought about its own doom.

Farrow called it Samson's revenge---because he said the individual who is "freed" up from the commitments and the community of family and religion, becomes an unwitting slave of the Savior State. Just as the blinded Samson, chained to the temple, pulled it down, so will this autonomous individual, chained to the pillars of religion and family, destroy society when he pulls them down.

Soooooooo true. Really, how can you ignore the horrible consequences of the family breakdown we see all around us?

Farrow also pointed out that the whole idea of the secular--which means the present age--comes from Christianity, which set off the secular against the transcendent realm of God and eternity. Because, in Christendom, there is a belief in a God and Savior who is also a King who will judge us at the end of time, governments were more modest. He rejected the idea that the separation of church and state was basically an Enlightenment concept, showing that the separation of the Prelate from the King went way back to the early years of Christendom. Though there were times when the King usurped his role and invaded the realm of the Church with disastrous results, or times the Church overreached and took over the levels of state power, with disastrous results, the efforts to find a proper balance well precede the 18th Century.

With the loss of the belief in anything transcendent, with the loss of belief in natural law and natural justice, and in God and a Savior, nothing is limiting the state from invading this territory with a new religion and a new type of theocracy--the Savior State. Of course, as Farrow showed, it's not really a new idea, for Caesar and other tyrants throughout history have been considered gods.

The Savior State--one that takes care of you from beginning to end---is looming and could lead to totalitarianism, he warned.

So many other excellent papers presented at this conference yesterday.

What is freedom? Is freedom mere autonomy?

Farrow showed that Mill wanted to replace Christianity with a new kind of civic religion that would have its own form of indoctrination. Most interesting.

Anyway....I hope all these ideas soon come out in a book. In the meantime, read his Nation of Bastards.

Without the virtues of self-restraint, wisdom, courage, justice, love, hope and faith incubated and nurtured in families and in churches, society will be a lawless, unruly place overrun with people who have been destroyed by the consequences of sin--their own and that of others.

As Jesus once said---he who sins becomes a slave of sin.

But the remedy is this: Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.

Did Douglas say this yesterday? Don't have my notes in front of me-- something about how those who sought freedom thought that freedom would bring you to the truth.

But really it is the opposite. Freedom of the kind Mills advocated, and the kind our courts and politicians seem to support---this kind of autonomy of personal choice---will lead to death and despair.

Find the Truth first though, and take on the yoke of Christ, and find the freedom for which we were created. It's a freedom to love, to be true, to be faithful, to be people of our word, keepers of promises, pure at heart and all sorts of wonderful things that the autonomous narcissicist of today hasn't a clue about. Joy. Joy. Joy.

Sorry about the typos and the rush, but I have some dusting and other duties to perform.

The Anchoress thanks God for foolish love

So do I.

Faith’s young mother dared to grow; she loves her daughter with abandon. It is - by the world’s measure - a foolhardy love (when is love ever sensible?); it is a love that will eventually bring her to her knees with pain. That’s what love does; it brings the pain - and also the joy. All of it is part and parcel of an authentic, meaningful life lived with arms, heart and soul wide open, instead of a life resolutely, “sensibly,” “correctly” shut and ultimately meaningless. I thank God for foolish love. I thank God for the courage of it, and the richness it brings.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Farzana Hassan responds to Iain Benson

She writes in response to Iain's response to her article (link below)

March 26, 2009

Dear Mr. Iain Benson,

Thank-you for your letter concerning my recent article, “Heritage Canukistan?” (Investigative Project on Terrorism, Washington, DC, March 23, 2009,

Your letter raises, and perhaps, confuses, two important issues.

The first issue is essentially a legal one that I cannot deal with competently, for, unlike you, Mr. Benson, I am neither a lawyer nor legally trained. Only you can judge whether, in the course of the legal effort that you describe, you might have failed in your professional due diligence obligation to protect associates from legal or other complications arising from connections that you might have facilitated. Did you perform your duty to the standard of care required? I do not know and cannot say. People like me must rely on lawyers, courts, law societies and the like, to review such things.

The other matter you raise has to do with the idea of “inclusiveness,” or, as others might say, the need for a “multiplicity of voices.” And, in the context of radical Islamism and outreach, you present me with a question.

... are you saying that no one with any connection to the groups you mention should be part of any round-table or, a very different point, that the round-tables are insufficiently inclusive of necessary counter-opinions?

As a person of integrity, learning and intellectual rigour, you will, upon reflection, realize that you have presented a false dichotomy. You will particularly recognize that, in this complicated world, the option that “no one with any connection to the groups you mention should be part of any round-table” (emphasis added) is so absolutist as not to constitute a serious basis for good-faith discussion. Am I invited to suggest that the grandson of the proverbial milkman of Osama bin Laden’s grandmother would be barred from today’s “roundtables”, because this ancient association somehow meets the definition of “any connection”? By its own terms, the absurdity of such choices virtually rules these options out of serious debate.

So, let us get to the point. As you know, Mr. Benson, this discussion is not really about inclusiveness or expanding the circles of opinion and contribution. Neither is it about prayer, religion in the public square, same-sex marriage, or a host of other serious and legitimate subjects debated by responsible people of faith.

This is a debate about whether extremist apologists , people who would at best seem to be unlikely contributors to religious roundtables, should be permitted to legitimize themselves in the eyes of the public and manipulate innocent religious and other people – including media – through involvement in otherwise respectable forums and groups.

And, indeed, it can be difficult, at times, to determine which groups and individuals are to be avoided. But this obligation – religious and ethical and, perhaps, legal – is not nearly as challenging as some would have us believe, including some of those who might now stand before us, in embarrassment, as a result of their having blundered into associations with such individuals and groups.

For many brave people have recognized their duty to guard against those seeking, whether through the host of extremist Muslim Brotherhood-oriented organizations, or others, to subvert Canada’s democracy or constitutional traditions. Indeed, this is why no competent outreach authority will be unaware of the Brotherhood’s Strategic Memorandum of 1991( As a competent interfaith person, you will have understood the implications of the Memorandum. Other readers, however, may need to be reminded that it is this document, accepted under the rules of US court evidence, that finds the Muslim Brotherhood specifying that “their work in [North] America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” One can sense that it might be important to distinguish between certain kinds of Islamic representative groups.

In fact, it has not in the past been beyond the ability of many brave people, including those not benefiting from legal education, to identify, for several reasons – hatemongering apologetics and so on – those groups and individuals who should be scorned. Many other conscientious people have been called upon to sacrifice their safety and peace of mind, by speaking out against radicals. Some people, Muslims and non-Muslims, occasionally facing fatwas and often from outside the comfort of interfaith platforms, have been prepared to pay a steep price for doing the right thing. And their trials have been all the greater for having added to their burdens the need to penetrate the cover and the “laundering” that interfaith activists have inadvertently given radical front organizations and individuals.

In light of this, and of observations to follow, it is difficult to resist an unpleasant impression: that those who would reduce the current Islamic interfaith outreach crisis to a parochial tension between the “orthodox” and the “reformist” – curious designations for outsiders to impose – are indulging in self-deception of the highest order. Only one thing would be worse: a self-serving attempt by those who have embarrassed themselves through naive engagement, to write off vital concerns about radicals’ manipulation of media and outreach as a mere plot by some Muslims to “smear” the “orthodox” with charges of extremism. A cynical form of damage control, this would, I am pleased to say, be beneath the dignity of those interfaith activists with whom I have had the pleasure of associating.

So, just how hard has it been to determine which organizations were to be kept at bay?

As a lawyer, Mr. Benson, you will appreciate that the harassing lawsuits I refer to are generally matters in the public domain – some of them having commenced years ago, and having concluded – as are the patterns of “silencing” associated with them. So, too, the outline of aggressive human rights commission activity by Islamist interests. Meanwhile, Congressional, scholarly and other material on such entities abounds and has long been available through the crudest of Internet searches. And for the convenience of all, there is the famous list of the unindicted co-conspirator organizations ( identified by the US Justice Department in the course of the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial. Several of these entities have Canadian chapters and arms operating in this country, and engage, when permitted, in credibility-building interfaith activity.

But, as a person whom I presume to be a competent interfaith activist and a competent lawyer, you will doubtless already know all of this and have been guided in your every action by this fundamental knowledge.

Yours sincerely,

Farzana Hassan

Interesting profile of GK Chesterton

I didn't know this. Cool.

After all, Chesterton was still an Anglican when he published Orthodoxy in 1908 and remained one until 1922. Even after his conversion, while totally secure in his new faith, he seemed to harbor more reservations about it than trouble Oddie.

“It may be,” Chesterton wrote, “that I shall never again have such absolute assurance that [Catholic doctrine] is true as I had when I made my last effort to deny it.” As an Anglican he had taken communion infrequently, and he did not alter this practice after his conversion. Furthermore, he was never the kind of Catholic who believes either that the Church can do no wrong or that other sects and religions can do no right. While he regarded the Reformation as the most disastrous turning point in English history, he was also clear that the reform of medieval Christianity had been urgently required. Furthermore, Chesterton never wholly reconciled himself to the foreignness of Rome. “By every instinct of my being, by every tradition of my blood” he declared, “I should prefer English liberty to Latin discipline.” Equally, he showed no eagerness to visit Lourdes and no enthusiasm for the cult surrounding St. Thérèse de Lisieux. He also continued to admire the Anglican Book of Common Prayer—so much that he defined it as “the last Catholic book.”

"I have seen the future, and it's riots"--Dalrymple

Feral young men with an expression of urban predation on their faces stood around on street corners in nylon tracksuits and hoods, muttering f---ing this and f---ing that to one another. About half the people in the street were unemployed young immigrants, mainly of Middle Eastern origin, on the lookout for a bit of small-scale trafficking. Some took advantage of free Internet access in the public library—a concrete building aesthetically suitable as the headquarters of the Stasi—to look at inflammatory political sites or to search for women.

I have seen the future, and it’s riots.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gerard Lafreniere becomes a priest at 80

I especially enjoyed writing this story.

OTTAWA - When Fr. Gerard Lafrenière was nine or 10 years old he told his mother he wanted to be a priest.

He maintained that dream even after he married Gisèle Viau at the age of 30, became the father of an adopted son, Georges, and embarked on a career in the insurance business.

On March 26, Lafrenière’s dream was finally realized when, at the age of 80, he was to be ordained in St. Joseph’s parish in Orleans, where he has served as a permanent deacon for 30 years.

“I had this on my mind my whole life,” he said. “(God) came and got me by the neck and said, ‘It’s your time.’ ”

He received the call from God, but the push came from his wife. She died in 2007 but, while terminally ill, she said to him several times: “Why don’t you become a priest?”

Steve Crowder and the Obama Song

I’m the first to admit it; Music is not my “forte.” However, due to the staggering number of misinformed Americans, I decided to employ some Child Education/Propaganda tactics in the latest video. Plus, everyone likes Billy Joel! Well except for his daughter…She could have had Brinkley’s looks but wound up with her dads mug. Poor girl.

Here’s to hoping that this sing-along can get through the Obamabots calcium deposited skulls!

Ezra Levant and Nigel Hannaford in Ottawa

I had a most interesting but odd day yesterday. In the morning I neglected my morning prayers and got involved in tracking down an 80-year old man who was ordained to the priesthood last night. Put together little story that was quite heart-warming. Then the rest of the day, I talked on the phone to various people on background on some stories I'm considering and looked forward to hearing Ezra Levant and Nigel Hannaford speak that evening.

Well, I had a scheduling conflict. Yesterday was the Feast of the Annunciation and the Feast of Title of my little Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As I was preparing to leave, I could hear a still small voice asking me if I really did put God first. So instead of heading downtown right away to the cocktail party I had looked forward to all day, I went to evening prayer and mass. It was glorious and just what my spirit needed.

Afterwards, I had about ten minutes afterwards to drive to Ottawa, find a nearby parking space and get up to the Rideau Club for the last half hour of the panel discussion sponsored by the Fraser Institute.

A friend of mine always likes to talk about the little graces Our Lady provides when we listen to her Son Jesus. It's what she told the wedding of Canada organizers when they ran out of wine. "Do as He tells you," she told them, and they did, and Jesus performed his first miracle---turning water into wine.

My friend likes to mention all the little graces---the water turned into wine--that she believes the Blessed Mother has provided her in her life. We don't really need the wine, but oh, it sure is nice.

So, because I did as He told me in a small way by going to mass, what should I find upon nearing the Rideau Club but a nice, cushy parking space only a few blocks away. So I made it in good enough time to hear a substantial part of the discussion, which was great. But it gets even better.

Gerald Langlois was there. I had met him exactly a year previously at the March 25 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case involving Marc Lemire. It's also where I met Mark Steyn for the first time, and where CHRC employee Dean Steacy had to answer for his jadewarr identity.

After the discussion period ended, some of the people were to go into a private fundraising dinner. As I was preparing to go home, Gerald told me he had bought a ticket to the dinner but had to leave and invited me to take his place. When Jesus turns water into wine at the request of His mother, he does not create cheap wine with a screwtop cap.

So I got to spend the evening with Ezra, Nigel, Dr. Roy, and a few other bloggers who may prefer to remain anonymous, and others. So thank you Gerald, and thank you God for prompting that generosity!

Anyway, I'm not going to report on everything I heard since you can find excellent material on Ezra's Shakedown tour over at his site. Here are a few comments that I thought were interesting:

Nigel Hannaford (who is an editorial writer fro the Calgary Herald) on human rights abuses by so-called human rights commissions: "I do not undertasnd why this is not a cause for moral outrage."


Ezra talked about his being compelled to endure his interrogation because the Alberta Human Rights Commission has the right to enter his home without a warrant and seize documents, even his hard drive. He pointed out that even if he had been accused of murder, he would not be subjected to warrantless searches.

He also spoke about the videotaping of the interrogation that has since had more than 700,000 views on YouTube. He decided a record was necessary so a transcript could be developed in case he was found guilty and appealed to a higher court. He also thought maybe he'd be able to circulate the YouTube videos via email to 50 friends and that maybe news would spread and perhaps 10,000 people might see them. He was astonished that on the first weekend they were posted about 100,000 people viewed them, makign them among the most-watched videos on the YouTube service.

Ezra said that when he first started his blog, he had a bit of trouble finding news pegs for his entries. He had to scour the media for new reports on human rights commissions so as to have something to write about. "Now not a day goes by whehre there isn't a scandalous story," he said, noting that now some journalists like Joseph Brean of the National Post have made hrcs their beat. He also mentioned a "legion of bloggers" who have been covering the issue.

Ezra spoke of EGALE's reasons for not wanting to shut down hate speech: 1) it identifies the hater rather than letting them fester anonymously. Identification means that other means of civil society pressure can be brought to bear: marginalization, letters to the editor, denouncing, and non-governmental means to put pressure on the purveyor of hate speech.
2) it provides a teaching moment for those to explain why the speech is hateful, or racist or false
3) (this may be Ezra's, not EGALE'S) We should not outsource our personal social responsibility to the Nanny State.

For example, if someone makes a racist joke at your workplace---do you call a human rights commission and have it take 400 days to come up with a ruling on whether the joke was appropriate? Ezra asked. Or do you use up some of your social capital by taking the joker aside and kindly telling that person to "live up to a higher standard" and "to be a better companion."

No one's rights are being violated by the state in this kind of exchange, he said. "To steer someone the right way is a harmonious act."

Nigel spoke of the way the state has chosen "winners and losers" among various groups, noting that things can be said about the Catholic Church that could never be said about other religions.
He called this a dangerous "categorization of society."

Though initially set up to give people experiencing discrimination a speedy solution and a quick solution, human rights commissions are now engaging in a "pernicious attempt to control public discourse."

The Galloway affair came up. Ezra repeated what he's said in his blog that he agrees with his being kept out because of his fundraising activities for Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. "It's being spun as a free speech argument by the Left," he said. "If only they cared as much about the free speech of Canadian citizens."

He also noted that keeping Galloway out suddenly made a lot more people interested in seeing what he said. Thus the move gave him a huge amount of publicity. "It shows how you can't stop ideas."

In Australia there are 1300 banned websites, he said. These websites are so secret that even the urls aren't given out. Instead they were given to the Interet providers who were to block them.
Well, someone sent the secret list to So of course, Ezra, who had never heard of Wikileaks, went to check out the banned list. Many of the urls were disgusting and obviously child porn sites, he said, making the desire to ban them understandable. (He said Wikileaks is now on the banned list!) But a Dutch fork lift company and a Queensland dentist is on the list, too. Much interesting stuff on Wikileaks by the way. Enjoy reading it while you still can.

Thailand, which has a pedophile problem, also has a list. So does Denmark!

"Once you open the door an inch, there is no stopping it," Ezra said.

Nigel wound up the discussion with this: "I salute Ezra as a genuine free speech hero."


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who speaks for Canadian Muslims?

I just got a phone call from Richelle Wiseman of the Centre for Faith and Media, and soon I will be posting her response to the article by Farzana Hassan when it is ready. She disputes many of the assertions in the article.

She raised some interesting questions in her telephone call---about who speaks for Canada's Muslims. Her concern is that any Muslims who are not secular are smeared as Islamists and by extension any groups that have anything to do with them. She says in her work dealing with hundreds of Muslims over the years, none want to impose Shariah law on Canada or have an Islamist agenda.

So, I await her response and the Manning Centre's, because I understand they will have one as well.

Meanwhile, I am posting a response Iain Benson from the Centre for Cultural Renewal sent to Farzana Hassan. I think he makes excellent points about the need for a multiplicity of voices from the Muslim community in panel discussions:

Dear Farzana Hassan:

I don't believe we have met. I found your article "Heritage Canukistan"
for IPT News March 23, 2009, passed on to me by a friend, dealing with the Centre for Faith and Media (CFM) and the Manning Centre etc. most interesting and very well written.

My question is this: are you saying that no one with any connection to the groups you mention should be part of any round-table or, a very different point, that the round-tables are insufficiently inclusive of necessary counter-opinions?

Your answer to this question is a critical one. In Canada at the moment with ignorance about the nature of so many Islamic associations being, as you noted, wide-spread, I would favour discussions and the airing of "dodgy connections" rather than leaving such things hidden. In particular I think that involving more rather than fewer "muslim spokespersons" would do everyone good.

As a lawyer myself acting on inter-faith coalition cases in the past (the Same-sex marriage litigation for example) we asked around about Muslim involvement in the cases (already having Christian groups well represented, Hindus and Sikhs and some Jewish involvement) but the name we were given was that of Abdulla Idris Ali. He is now identified with one of the groups on your list of bad actors. Nothing in his affidavit would be of concern, I would think, to orthodox (conservative) Muslims but the fact remains- - we did not know who was properly representative with respect to "the Muslim voice" on such an important issue.

Here is the make up of the Affiants for our side of the case for your interest and you will see Abdulla Idris Ali listed:

Affidavits on behalf of the “Interfaith Coalition” in the “same-sex marriage” litigations, for example,
were filed on behalf of Judaism (Rabbi and University of Toronto political theorist David Novak), Roman
Catholicism (Professor Ernest Caparros, professor of Canon law at the University of Ottawa and Professor
Daniel Cere, Catholic political theorist at McGill University), Islam (Abdulla Idris Ali, Past President of the
Islamic Society of North America)
, and Evangelical Protestantism (Professor Craig Gay of Regent College).
In each case, focus of the affidavits were: the teachings of the religious perspective with reference to the nature
and place of marriage, the need for respect for the other groups and citizens irrespective of their sexual
orientations, and concerns about where a reconfigured constitutional norm would place the religious groups
themselves. On appeal, various “reformed” religious groups appeared in an effort to counter the traditional
religious voices.
My point is this. If one is going to involve Islam (widely construed) in discussions of citizenship, constitutional litigation or what have you, one is necessarily going to have to recognize the splits, divisions and differing perspectives within the communities that make it up in Canada. As information becomes available from reliable sources, that connect in ways we can know to be reliable, information that certain people or groups are connected with those who advocate terrorism, then such people and groups should be identified and de-legitimized where they seek cover from legitimate projects of whatever sort. I think we can agree on that.

We should never knowingly or naively support terrorists or their fellow-travellers.

You do recognize, however, that this process of learning what groups are legitimate and what ones (often with wide sounding representative names) are not takes time and is not the easiest process for "outsiders." Yet it is the "outsiders" in many cases who wish to see a genuine discussion furthered for the good of Canadian citizenship and the common-good.

In this respect your work as an investigative journalist is very important and you quite rightly pointed out the fact that the people and groups you mention may well have made some false steps due to lack of knowledge of the deeper waters in the Muslim communities in Canada. I don't think they would deny that and would want, in fact, more accurate assistance going forward.

In addition, my first question remains; should we involve wider discussions with a wide variety of groups so as to best show the diversity of viewpoints in Canada? That is the approach I would favour but I am looking forward to hearing back from you on this.

I'd like to keep this dialogue going and hope you will be part of round-tables in the future as you obviously add an important and civil perspective to an area that frequently discourses at too high a volume for anyone to hear what is being said.


Iain Benson

I am of the impression that Farzana Hassan would probably agree with the view that roundtables are "insufficiently inclusive" of different points of view. (See Iain's point in italics above). I agree. I think that it is dangerous to assume that there is one spokesperson for the Muslim community or for the Christian community or the Black community or the gay community---you name it.

Space is needed at the table for a multiplicity of voices. But I also think that Canadians need to be aware of soft jihad practices, lawfare and other techniques and not be dismissed from the table as Islamophobic for raising the subject. There were, after all, a couple of twin towers that were exploded by some terrorists in the name of Islam.

BTW, the Canadian Islamic Congress, which I did not like for its lawfare use of human rights commissions against Mark Steyn and Maclean's Magazine or its president's anti-Jewish remarks, actually issued a responsible brief (by Khurrum Awan, no less) in support of traditional marriage. The Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) supported same-sex marriage. be continued.

Who speaks for Canadian Muslims?

Creation a form of defecation? my goodness

David Thompson interviews Stephen Hicks on his new book about postmodernism. (h/t Dr. Sanity). Please read the whole thing. It will help you understand why we have come to such a devastating impasse in politics (my bolds).

SH: Pomo is rhetoric-heavy, yes. But rhetoric is a tool, so one can ask how it’s being used and why it’s being used that way. The postmodernists have rejected reason, and along with it concern for evidence and consistency. What then is the purpose of rhetoric? In pomo practice, there are a couple of possibilities.

One is that rhetoric becomes a kind of subjectivist expressionism - you play around with language and hope that something interesting pops out. Derrida is often like this - I think of him as a performance artist of postmodernism. In its darker moods, this approach recalls a line from Kate Ellis, a sympathetic-to-postmodernism commentator, who noted “the characteristically apolitical pessimism of most postmodernism, by which creation is simply a form of defecation.” Whatever’s been processing and churning up inside you - you just let ‘er rip.

The other use of rhetoric is politically-charged persuasion. Pomo rhetoric becomes long on emotionalism, ad hominem, and so on, and it becomes short on logic and evidence. But the point of such rhetoric is effectiveness, not truth.

You mention that much pomo political rhetoric is anti-capitalist and champions unlikely causes such as fundamentalist Islam. Here the pomo are taking a page out of Lenin’s and Marcuse’s playbooks.

Monday, March 23, 2009

President Twitter? ouch!

". . . he's about to turn into President Twitter, telling all of us what he's doing in real time, from pickup basketball to fixing the bonus mess at AIG.

It is what happens when you are a pleaser. So far, President Obama sure seems to be one of those, and this comes from somebody who would have voted for him twice if they'd let me.

Last week, Barack Obama became the first sitting President to appear on "The Tonight Show," and despite putting his foot in his mouth about the Special Olympics, he got laughs and pulled big ratings, though that's really supposed to be Jay Leno's job, not his.

The night he was on with Leno, he joked that being in Washington is a little like "American Idol," the only problem being that "everyone is Simon Cowell." But the way this President is going lately, don't bet against him showing up there, too, trying to keep Scott, the blind singer, on the show.

Before Leno last week, he was on ESPN, filling out his brackets for March Madness. Sunday night, he was back on network television, CBS this time, "60 Minutes" with Steve Kroft, where he seemed to think he was still with Leno, yukking it up about money to the point where Kroft said that people were going to think the leader of the world was acting punch-drunk.

Obama was the candidate of the modern world, the first presidential candidate to see the possibilities of the Internet, not just for raising vulgar amounts of money, but for instant access to the voters as well. In many ways, he is the first President of the BlackBerry world.

[and that was by an Obama fan!]