Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Diagnosis: Enablement - Blogging By Numbers

Looks like stuff and things and other manifestations of the sort have been occurring around the world, which means you - my loyal readers, groupies, and sycophants - are expecting another blog piece. I guess it works out, because I have a lot of things to say about the aforementioned events, but because I lack motivation I want to cover several topics at once, and there's only one format that can facilitate that end. It's blogging by numbers time!!!

1- The only thing worse than the horrific pictures from Haiti is the self-righteous finger pointing by the likes of The New York Times and my local "paper", L'Acadie Nouvelle. The Nouvelle, a second rate French Acadian Newspaper - apparently staffed by writers who failed finger painting in kindergarten - are stuffing their editorial pages with daily columns about how "we failed Haiti, hence, Haiti failed." They're right about the symptoms, but wrong about the diagnosis (sorry, I've been watching too much House). Liberals guided by Saint Clooney seem to be under the illusion that Haiti is the country the world forgot.

Haiti is not the country the world forgot, it's the country the world has been enabling. One pompous editor at L'Acadie Nouvelle called for the formation of a bizarre international coalition of countries that would continue to keep Haiti running with a steady stream of hand-outs. Too bad Smarty McFrench isn't big on researching before spewing forth a litany of self-righteous nonsense. He might have discovered that prior to the day the earthquake devastated the country, there were over 10,000 charitable and foreign aid organizations operating in Haiti. According to the Wall Street Journal, Haiti receives ten times more foreign aid than foreign investment. Jonah Goldberg pointed out that;

"It’s true that Haiti has few natural resources, but neither does Japan or Switzerland. What those countries do have are what Kling and Schulz call valuable “intangible assets” — the skills, rules, laws, education, knowledge, customs, expectations, etc. that drive a prosperous society to generate prosperity. That is where the real wealth of nations is to be found — not in factories, oil deposits, and gold mines, but in our heads and in the habits of our hearts. Indeed, a recent World Bank study found that 82 percent of America’s wealth could be found in our intangible assets."

Feeding the mechanisms that fuel Haiti's poverty may make us feel good about ourselves, but it's the real reason behind the mythical "cycle of poverty" liberals seem to be so dedicated to breaking.

2- Aside from Maxim magazine covers, what is the appeal of the hot tub? Who wants to marinate in a petri dish of bacteria? Aren't the 1970's over?

3- What the GOP needed after the november Gubernatorial wins was momentum. The wins in New Jersey and Virginia were a clear repudiation of Obamanomics and health care reform, but the MSM either outright ignored the results or quickly brushed them away as irrational tea-party induced reactionism. The dismissive attitude of the media was to be expected, but november 2010 was a long way off, and Harry Reid had a vice-like grip on his unruly Senators. Many doubts remained - could a grass roots conservative resurgence combined with a populace movement be enough to return the GOP esse quam videri? How long could the Tea Party movement sustain itself? Such questions seemed irrelevant to arrogant Dems, as the Pelosi/Reid health care monster ploughed it's way through every obstacle that crossed it's path, by hook or by crook.

Our own arsenal was incredibly powerful, but our powder was wet. The Democratic defections in the House, the Dodd/Reid bow -outs, even Barbara Boxer's declining Rasmussen numbers were of little use with november so far off. Reid's soldiers were standing at attention, and the ghost of Woodrow Wilson floated in the wings (have I milked the moment enough?) - but then an unexpected occurance changed the balance.

Not just any kind of unexpected either. It's James K Polk circa 1844 unexpected. It's Swedish female volleyball team "our bus broke down, could we use your shower?" unexpected. The most liberal of senate seats held by the most liberal of liberals, Ted Kennedy, was taken by a guy that not even I had heard of. Against all odds, Republican Scott Brown won what has been described as an "epic" and "miraculous" victory in Massachusetts. Suddenly the equation has changed. Health care is off the table, Cap and Trade is in jeopardy, Democrats are running for cover, and the President is giving incoherent and bizarre speeches that seem like they were ripped out of a Saturday Night Live skit. But will the GOP get the message?

It would be easy to become complacent with this win, but after the bumbling punditry and Monday morning quarter-backing has stopped, the media will be doing a full court press to help stem the bleeding in November. There is no libellous accusation they will not hurl, no minor scandal they will not exploit, no misfortune they will not try to lay on the doorstep of the GOP. The GOP is like a cat in room full of rocking chairs - When they should be strutting proudly with their tail in the air, they get spooked by the media, and start pandering to the imaginary boogeyman called the "moderate voter". Now is not the time to stop the Tea Parties or become apathetic. Conservatives must remind the GOP every day that they can easily lose what the voters are willing to give them in November.

4 - I don't care what this diet I'm on says, skim milk is not - and never will be - a "snack".

5 - I hear I have new young reader from the deep unforgiving liberal vortex of British Columbia, the land of irritating lefties who sip latte's from coffee shops with names like the "The Ethical Bean" and stick those annoying Darwin Fish on the bumpers of their Priora. I hear she is even so bold as to show this blog to her teachers! Hats off to you, Amanda! One day, a political science teacher will tell your class that socialism works in theory. Be ready to raise your hand and challenge that remark. You are a true Hypester.

6 - Time to groove out children.

Cordially

Joe

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Redux - Oh Canada? - From the Archives

While preparing for work this week, I tuned into a popular local talk show. The topic of discussion was whether playing the Canadian national anthem before hockey games served any useful purpose. Several listeners phoned in showing an almost even split between those who thought this was a meaningless tradition, (given that most players on Canadian hockey teams are drafted from other countries), and others who - admirably, if not somewhat clumsily - spoke of the need to preserve tradition in a country that seems hell bent on dismantling what little traditions we have left.

The host, through a clever slight of hand framed the question in a manner that pigeonholed the parameters of the discussion. The topic, formulated by the host, was actually whether or not the national anthem "inspired the players". Yet no matter how slippery the question was, the fact that the program was even having such inane discussion is symptomatic of a much larger problem. The lack of cultural identity.

Ask any bloke or blokette on the street what it means to be Canadian and they will frequently spew forth a litany of ready-to-order items off a check list, most of them declarations about how they are not like Americans. The common version of our watered down notions of national pride boils down to silly tub thumping about how we don't let sick people die because they're poor, how we're all walking saints because we don't carry guns and of course, the ever annoying lament about how we don't start "useless wars". You know you're in deep trouble when you define your national identity in the negative. Who you are, should not be explained in terms of who you are not. If someone were to ask me to define myself as a person and I responded; "Well, I'm not a pedophile, and I certainly don't torture animals", it may make you feel safe about letting me spend the weekend with Spuds and little Johnny, but it speaks very little to what makes me tick - and therein lies in the rub.

In the 1960's we were beginning to mold into our collective psyche what it meant to be Canadian: Honour in combat, the majestic railway that connected this country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, our natural resources and our pioneering ancestors - but there was a counter movement eager to crush this burgeoning sense of national pride. They progressives declared that patriotism was a dirty word and insisted we were all hand-holding members of the kumbaya cult of pan-ethnicity. Their leader? The white-on-white wearing liberal/Liberal hipster Pierre Elliot Trudeau. If America was a melting pot where people of diverse backgrounds and heritage stood proudly under the banner of a united culture that welcomed inclusion, Canada was to become a bizarre soup sitting in an another type of pot, where the burner was never turned on and it's colourful ingredients were left to sit in stagnant cold water.

Multiculturalism - the abra-cadabra, all encompassing, non-threatening name of one the most misguided experiments in social engineering ever hatched. Multiculturalism frowned at any patriotism of the whole and encouraged a strange ethnocentric loyalty to your nation of origin. The result almost a quarter of a century later are ethnic ghettos where poverty runs rampant in large cities and entire swaths of the population that do not posses adequate proficiency in English to compete in the job market.

The true Orwellian nightmare of multiculturalism in all its glory is a nefarious little group of jackbooted bureaucrats called the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Anyone who doesn't like a magazine article or feels excluded from some facet of society can drag magazine editors, writers, artists, priests and even night club owners in front of the commission. Last year, Canadian writer Mark Steyn was ordered to appear before the commission after a complaint was launched by the Canadian Islamic Council over an article he wrote in Mclean's magazine that warned of the ever growing threat of radicalization within the Islamic community. They didn't like it, so in the spirit of free speech for all they hauled Mr. Steyn before the tribunal which almost led to his brilliant cautionary tome "America Alone", being banned in Canada.

Woodrow Wilson, the first American President to try - but ultimately fail - to turn America into a Canadian-style welfare state with a pimped-out European fascist whip was a bit more heavy handed. He routinely shut down newspapers and even had his own personal goon squad at his beck and call to intimidate those who spoke out against the government. Now Canadian citizens are being forced to endure the same type of bullying, albeit under the guise of a "Human Rights Commission".

It's all a bit disheartening that we've reached a point where sober minded people debate whether or not we should still sing the national anthem at sporting events. Perhaps soon, such quaint traditions will be but a memory if the jackbooted intellectual thought police at the Canadian Rights Tribunal have their way.

Cordially

Joe

Friday, January 08, 2010

TSH 2009 Year In Review - The New Year's Blog!

Just before I started pecking away at my New Year's blog, I realized that we are stepping into a new decade, and perhaps a decade in review blog would be more appropriate than a year in review piece. It then struck me that writing that sort of thing would be rather long and tedious, and I am far too lazy and lacking the proper motivation for that sort of undertaking. It takes me forever to write about what happened last week, let alone the last 10 years. I could have lied to you and wormed my way out of the whole mess with some quasi-scholarly wonking about how when our AD/BC system was set up, the concept of "0" wasn't well recognized in Europe, so they started with the famous "year one" - but that tripe is not set in stone, as 1980 to 1989 was considered a decade, and most scholars view the first decade of a new century as running from 01 to 10.

Anyway, I'm pretty much avoiding a decade in review article on principle, as I generally find them bizarre and pointless, and again, that whole unmotivated/lazy thing comes into play. Now, I realize my New Year's blog is one of the most anticipated articles I write every year, and after the overwhelming response to my "Enemy at the Gates" piece, I thought I might get out of writing it altogether, but my editor, the lovely Mrs Leger, starting shaking a bag off M&M's, saying "You can do it Joe, you can do it!" So, enticed by the prospect of M&M's, I got right to it, only to realize that she didn't have any M&M's at all - she was just putting her hand over her mouth and going "chika chika chika" and I was too dumb to look - friggin' infidel. Anyway, let's get on with it.

Worst Decision of the Year - The election of President Barack Obama

How are you liking your hope and change? Americans had a choice between a decorated War Hero with 30 years of experience in both the House and the Senate or a slickster from Chicago who barely served two years in the senate and whose closest friends and advisers range from convicted criminals to a guy who bombed a Police Department, The Pentagon, and The United States Capitol building. Sounds like a no-brainer, but somehow Americans didn't vote for the seasoned politician with a reputation for reaching across the aisle and compromise. They threw away their vote for some guy who had nothing to say but "Yes We Can" and "We are the ones we've been waiting for". What the hell does that even mean? Now Americans are getting hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending and taxes, a massive and unworkable health care bill no one asked for or likes, and an attempted terrorist attack that almost killed 260 Americans. How do you like that change?

(yeah yeah, he was elected in November of 2008, but it can take months before the symptoms of herpes show up too...not that I would know anything about that. )

Best Article of the Year - Fossil Future by Jonah Goldberg

The cover story of the July 6th issue of National Review by Jonah Goldberg, "The Beauty of Drilling from an Oil Platform - Fossil Future", was a fascinating and humorous first-hand account of Goldberg's time aboard a drilling platform that dispelled many myths about this plentiful and largely untapped resource.

Worst Movie of the Year - Avatar.

Haven't even seen it and have no intention of doing so. I don't care how pretty it's supposed to look. I'm not going to waste three hours of my life watching some condescending enviro-lecture by James Cameron. Yeah I get it James - humans are mean, nasty and evil and will no doubt one day be massacring emaciated smurfs on far away planets. Maybe someday I'll see it after falling into a quasi-vegetative state during a spelunking accident and someone will slip it into the DVD player at the special care home I'll soon be living in.

Most Disappointing Movie of the Year (with a few caveats) - Inglorious Basterds

2009 was a terrible year for movies, but a great year for performances within those terrible movies. The best example is Inglorious Basterds, another over-rated, over-hyped piece of nonsense from the ever declining talents of Quentin Tarantino. However, a virtually unknown Austrian named Christoph Waltz as "The Jew Hunter" Standartenf├╝hrer Hans Landa gave us one of the most memorable acting performances in recent memory. The opening sequence of the film, as well as the bar scene with British actor Michael Fassbender as Lt. Archie Hicox, are cinematic perfection in an otherwise campy and unremarkable film. There were, however, some films of note that are worth renting on Beta cassette, Stingray, or whatever the kids are calling those movie playing thingies these days.

Best Movies of the Year

1 - The Hurt Locker - An unrelenting, pulse pounding action movie about a bomb disposal unit in serving in Iraq.

2 - Sunshine Cleaning - From the makers of Little Miss Sunshine comes another darkly comic and touching film, quirky and human with a wonderful script by Megan Holley.

3 - Is Anybody There? - Michael Caine and the talented young child actor Bill Milner explore questions of death and redemption. The film never quite seems to be able to smoothly gel the competing plot lines, but it's worth seeing.

4 - Dead Snow - What happens when a group of German medical students pick the wrong cabin for a winter weekend vacation? A delightfully fun spoof of conventional horror films that involves a gruesome attack at the hands of an army of Nazi zombies. Good fun, but not for the squeamish.

5 - A Christmas Carol - In a year filled with duds, the one movie I avoided seeing until the bitter end turned out to be the best movie of the year. Robert Zemeckis and Alex Silvestri have created a breathtaking and faithful adaptation of Dickens' timeless novel. This movie was by far the most surprising treat of the year.

6 - Up In The Air - Jason Reitman hits a home run with his 3rd directorial outing. Both comic and bleak, George Clooney gives perhaps his best performance to date alongside the formidable Anna Kendrick.

Political Play of the Year - Harry Reid

Now, before you drag me out into the streets with a screaming mob in an auto de f├ę revival, hear me out. The political play of the year goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Yes, he's a weasel, and I suspect that repeated incantations of his name could probably summon unspeakable creatures from the bowels of hell itself - but what he managed to do was remarkable. The Democrats' health care bill is an obscene disaster that promises nothing but billions of dollars in new spending, sky-rocketing tax hikes on the middle class, and reduced services to seniors. Still, as the bill came close to being booted into oblivion, he fought tooth and nail to bring 60 of the most disorganized and unruly Democratic Senators together to pass this thing. Did he skirt the bounds of ethics to win some of those votes? I have no doubt he did, but his dogged determination and crusading won the day in the end. Republicans could learn something from that kind of unrelenting persistence.

Album of the Year - Regina Spektor's "Eet"

Eet is more tame and restrained than Spektor's previous two outings, but it remains a powerful album that was a welcome treat for her ever-growing fan base.

What would Happen if you Drank a Bottle of Drain-o?

I suspect you would die a painful death as your insides singed like goats on fire.

Best Decision of the Year - Marrying my editor

As a general rule, this sort of thing should be avoided the way children should avoid sticking forks in power sockets, but marrying the lovely Miss Claire - now the lovely Mrs. Claire - has made me the happiest blogger (and man) in the world. I love her dearly, and my life is all the richer for having her in it.

A Final Thank You

Thank you to all my readers, from all parts of the political spectrum, for making The Straight Hype the success it is today. Thanks most of all to my wife and editor Claire, and my brother and glue sniffing webmaster Paul. I could not do any of it without your support, and I thank each and every one of you for your loyalty. God bless you.

Happy New Year!

Cordially

Joe
(I know I missed lots of stuff...feel free to add your own thoughts - we do have a comments section.)