Monthly Archives: October 2010

Shaking up the elites

Within a week the American political landscape will be altered almost as dramatically as Toronto’s would have been had — to take an absurd idea — Rob Ford become mayor. Oh, that actually happened in Toronto. This could start to get exciting.

I am sure Republicans will regain the House of Representatives and probably also the U.S. Senate. This is not where the smart money is but I am not the smart money. I am a pundit. However, my prediction of a Republican victory in the Senate is not the product of wishful thinking nor is it a prediction of a Republican victory. To begin with, I do not regard electoral victories as transcendent or permanent. I grew up when the world really seemed to be going up the spout, and was delighted to see Thatcher, Reagan and John Paul II emerge. But when I read my friend John O’Sullivan’s The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World, a convincing argument that we can’t possibly be in the mess we’re in now, my reaction was: if those three changed the world, it sure changed back fast. Continue reading

Too much information

So now we’ve all seen pictures of Russell Williams in stolen lingerie and read ghastly details of his murders and other sex crimes. Have we learned anything about the nature of evil?

I hope so, because we have surely been on a trip through hell this week and if we did not go there to learn something important we may be suspected of disgraceful voyeurism. Indeed, my initial reaction to this week’s news coverage was that it was lurid and grotesque. Permit me to quote the tee-up from this very newspaper on Monday: “It’s not yet clear whether anyone, least of all Williams himself, will offer any insight into his state-of-mind. The case promises to draw reporters and columnists from across Canada and the U.S. (The Citizen is sending a team of seven to cover the sentencing.)”

How many journalists does it take to type “He was convicted of unspeakable sex crimes and sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years”? Continue reading

Honey, I sunk the navy

One of the saddest things in the newspapers is the collapse of British military power. A century ago Britannia ruled the waves and a good thing too. Now they seem ready to cede the waters to the Chinese or Iranians and lose the Battle of Britain by default. Might I ask why?

Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph revealed that the British air force is going to cut its purchase of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters from 138 to about 50, and probably get rid of all its Tornadoes, shut two bases and ditch almost 5,000 people. But you just know how politicians talk when doing something ruinous and dumb.

“We’ve got aeroplanes that are ready to do dog fights with the Soviet Union air force. That’s not right,” droned Tory PM David Cameron. Whereas not having aeroplanes at all is right because … ? Continue reading

My kind of town, D.C. is

Washington is a great city. This sentiment might shock my American and libertarian friends, who consider the place a wretched sinkhole of bloated arrogance, destructive politics, horrifying deficits and liberty-destroying anti-Constitutional policies, which they always manage to make sound so tawdry. But it has a really nice free zoo. Where’s ours?

It is not a frivolous question. Washington is a city that works. Congress might be a dark star orbiting a twin at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue and the city has its share of poverty, misery and terrible public schools. But I am enthralled by D.C.’s clean, well-maintained graffiti-free parks, its free museums and zoos, its outstanding subway, and its superb historical monuments and important organizations within comfortable walking distance of each other via about six million Starbucks outlets. D.C. is a great place to visit and the worthy capital of a great nation. Continue reading

Aliens in high office

Apparently the UN has not in fact decided to appoint an ambassador to the little green men. Despite what you read in the newspapers, Mazlan Othman, head of its Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), is not being made responsible for co-ordinating humanity’s response to alien contact. What a lost opportunity.

In the first place, as columnist Lorne Gunter noted, if invading aliens were to pull a “take me to your leader” stunt on the UN, there is every hope that their lethal hordes would perish slowly and miserably in a massive bureaucratic tangle of delay and inefficiency, their deadly laser blasts only making the red tape hot and sticky while the forms in triplicate gave off suffocating smoke.

In the second place, Unoosa would make a great name for an alien. Continue reading