Monthly Archives: February 2008

Political succession, the old fashioned way

Can someone explain to me why Fidel Castro has been succeeded by his brother? Since when does communism equal hereditary monarchy? Ask Kim Jong-il.

It’s instructive to contrast Cuba with Pakistan, where a lot of people are trying under very difficult circumstances to manage a legitimate transfer of political power. It is, unfortunately, far too late to do it peacefully this time. But if they can get the legitimacy right, the violence should subside. I wish Pakistan some of the luck we already had over many centuries.

Sorry, make that millennia. I am regarded in some circles as eccentric because on mild provocation I start explaining about King Alfred and the cakes, and how the descendants of Edmund Ironside married into first the Scottish then the post-Conquest English royal families. But that history is of compelling interest not only for its often ghastly details but because, in the end, the slaughter stopped. Britain basically solved the problem of political legitimacy, and passed that solution on to Anglosphere countries like Canada. Few others have been so fortunate.

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Even I’m rooting for Obama – sort of

Start practising the phrase “President Barack Obama.” It’s not so bad. Except as in “President Barack Obama denied today that his naive and spineless foreign policy has encouraged terrorism.”

It’s annoying when pundits intone that it’s come down to Obama v McCain as they easily could have predicted. But I did predict it, on CFRA radio in December. Possibly I hedged my bets, but I said both parties would take their least unattractive option, and both have. Republicans don’t nominate pro-abortion candidates, which only left the Mormon, the creationist, the asleep guy and the obnoxious hyperactive maverick whom they chose. Meanwhile the Democrats are rationally opting for inexperienced over horrible.

Trust me, folks. It’s over. The collapse of Hillary Rodham Clinton has surprised many people including her. But if revenge is a dish best served cold, I’m having ice cream here. Democrats who applauded Bill Clinton’s filthy tactics against Republicans were repulsed when he turned them on his own party in South Carolina, and she’s lost nine straight primaries since. Yum yum.

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The Archbishop’s words

Rowan Williams should be fired as Archbishop of Canterbury for calling the arrival of aspects of Shariah law in Britain “inevitable” and desirable. But for once this silly man has actually done us a favour.

Consider the harrumphing he provoked from the British government. According to the Daily Telegraph, the chairman of the ominously-named Equality and Human Rights Commission said, “Raising this idea in this way will give fuel to anti-Muslim extremism” while Home Secretary Jacqui Smith babbled, “‘I think there is one law in this country and it’s the democratically determined law. That’s the law that I will uphold and that’s the law that is at the heart actually of the values that we share across all communities in this country.”

It is babble, or worse, because just five days earlier the same newspaper revealed that “Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review. … Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by ministers means that polygamous marriages can now be recognised formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal. The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife. … Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record.”

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No wonder governments stonewall

A lot of bad things have been said about the Harper Conservatives’ grimly sour approach to communications. And rightly so. But why shouldn’t they do it that way?

The obvious response, that it’s not good for our democracy, has considerable merit. But those not hopelessly naive about politics (most cynics are) ought to understand that the question “why shouldn’t they do it?” has two very different meanings.

One is “Why don’t we want them to do it?” which is answered above. But the other is “How might we try to discourage them from doing it?” And on that subject I wish you could have been at Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn and Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s Monday press conference on job protection for reservists called to active duty.

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How the United Nations enables hatemongers

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has effectively endorsed the destruction of Israel. Which tells you all you really need to know.

It tells you all you need to know about the UN, that’s for sure. From “Zionism is Racism” to the Durban conference in 2001 to the upcoming Durban II, this body is viciously, unalterably hostile to Israel. Any interested person can find countless examples like the UN team investigating the fake massacre in Jenin in 2002, which included a guy who’d compared the Star of David to the Swastika. Or the UN Development Program in 2005 paying for T-shirts saying “Today Gaza and Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem.” Or Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other UN officials that same year celebrating the “International Day Of Solidarity With The Palestinian People” by sitting in front of a map from which Israel had been eliminated.

Lots of well-meaning folks keep giving the UN extra chances, figuring it’s a wonderful institution dedicated to peace, justice and world government that by some regrettable misunderstanding keeps acting ineptly vicious. Don’t. You should have no truck with this body not because it goes out of its way to call for the destruction of Israel but because in its day-to-day actions it takes that goal for granted.

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