Wednesday, September 3, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

A few good rants -- on

One of the perks of having my own blog is that I can post about pretty much anything. I try to keep the ratio around 50% on world politics, 25% on domestic politics, 15% on academia, 9% on popular culture, and 1% on Salma Hayek (as opposed to Friedrich von Hayek).

Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on is about 50% on football, 25% on humorous asides about current events, 20% on "megababes" (his word) and 5% on serious rants.

Unless, like me, you like football there's a chance you would miss some of the good rants. So as a public service to the blogosphere, let me put Easterbrook's rant from his column two weeks ago about Toronto mayor Mel Lastman's comments following the Northeast blackout:

In the hours after the blackout, Toronto's mayor Mel Lastman declared that the problem must have started in America but, "Have you ever seen the United States take blame for anything?" Mel, we've taken the blame for more awful errors than anyone can count -- the bomb that hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the destruction of the Iranian Airbus among many others. Just a few months ago, in a case that every Canadian except, apparently, the mayor of Toronto knows, America took the blame for the four noble Canadian soldiers whom United States forces killed with friendly fire in Afghanistan. America accepts lots of blame because we are out defending the free world: and equally important, defending the notion of freedom. Year after year, liberal democracy spreads and tyranny continues its retreat, because year after year the United States surrenders blood and treasure in this vital fight. Canada sleeps well, with very small defense expenditures and thus more money to spend on itself, because the United States stands guard.

Canada's recent track record at taking the blame? In 1993, a Canadian commando unit in Somalia tortured a civilian to death. The Canadian military and the Ottawa federal government denied responsibility, then engaged in a three-year cover-up. Here is a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation summary of the cover-up and investigation, plus CBC's lament that "The government's decision to cut the inquiry short left many questions unanswered." So people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, eh? Regardless of whether the power is on in the glass house.

Indeed. Here's another excellent rant on an issue I failed to blog about out of sheer laziness, the Ten Commandments flap in Alabama. This is what Easterbrook has to say about Alabama Chief Justice (and unofficial chief jackass) Roy Moore:

Moore further said that the First Amendment precept, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion," does not apply to him because "I am not Congress." Drag this incompetent lunatic out of the court quickly, please. Anyone with entry-level knowledge of Constitutional law knows that the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, was intended to extend the Bill of Rights to state governments; that a 1937 Supreme Court decision specifically declared that the First Amendment binds state officials like Judge Moore.

As a church-going Christian... I find it deeply embarrassing when Christianity is associated, in the public eye, with hucksters like Moore. I find it embarrassing, too, when Christians supporting Moore's hunk of stone suggest that a big object in a public square is what matters, rather than the power of God's message itself. Anyone who needs to look at a big object in order to believe, doesn't really believe.

Indeed again.

UPDATE: This Jay Drezner post reminds me why I like football so much.

posted by Dan on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM


Please increase the 1% Salma Hayek blog ratio to at least 5%. I'd do it myself at P&F except that I'm afraid to incur my wife's wrath. As is, I have a hard enough time to get her to read my posts regularly!

posted by: Robert Tagorda on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Well, the U.S. was by no means quick to take responsibility for the deaths of the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, or even to acknowledge it as an event. It did eventually and under some duress-- not the behavior that one might decently expect.

posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Easterbrook also completely gets his retelling of the Somalia Affair wrong. You really saw this as a "good" column?

posted by: BruceR on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Speaking of Salma, check out "Salma Hayek vs. Friedrich Hayek Scorecard."

posted by: Roger Sweeny on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

I've read TMQ for the last four years (it was with Slate until last year when the column moved to ESPN) and always found it extremely enjoyable. During football season, it's the column I most highly anticipate every week.

posted by: Ryan Booth on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Mel Lastman is Toronto's Marion Barry. This is a guy who said, while in office, that he didn't want to go to Africa because he was afraid of being boiled in a pot. I'm not kidding. He's a blithering idiot, and every country has their share.

Americans would be well advised to ignore Canadian politicians when forming opinions about US-Canada relations. We are led by spineless, opportunistic, self-righteous idiots. Speak to a Canadian cross-border shopper or a snowbird vacationer if you must; I'll bet you'll be received warmly. Just don't listen to our politicians.


posted by: Mark on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Gotta disagree with Mark on ignoring Canadian politicians. We are indeed led by spineless, opportunistic, self-righteous idiots up here, but they didn't elect themselves.

Easterbrook is absolutely right. Lastman is a jerk. But there have been so many Canadian politicians saying stupid things about America and Americans (remember Herb Dhaliwal - "Bush is no statesman"? Carolyn Parrish - "I hate those bastards," Francine Ducros - "Bush is a moron," and don't get me started on Yasser's pal Svend Robinson).

The big question for me is, why? Why would Canadians elect so many bozos who feel safe in expressing these despicable anti-American sentiments? My best guess is that anti-Americanism in Canada has the same inspiration as elsewhere: jealousy.

posted by: Patrick Brown on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

-Dan, what's your opinion of the name "Redskins" as a racial slur? Easterbrook has been writing ad naseum on this.

-Matt Yglesias had suggested that Easterbrook should convert his column to a blog.

-I like Peter King's Monday column more than Easterbrook's, because Easterbrook spends half the column on the same things every week (blitzing is bad, bad NYT predictions, play-fake on 1st-and-goal, etc.).

posted by: Hei Lun Chan on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Hei Lun,

I think Gregg makes a good point -- note that he makes a clear distinction between the Redskins, which is derogatory, and the Chiefs and Braves, which are more laudatory.

It doesn't matter if Easterbrook blogs or not. He's just a good writer.

Sorry, I'll take Easterbrook over King in a heartbeat. The former devotes 20% of his column to megababes; King devotes 20% of his column to coffee>. No contest.

posted by: Dan on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Mel Lastman is an idiot but he's a product of Ontario and to besmirch the rest of Canada due to his sins is as bad as thinking that stupidity in New York or California is all that matters in the US. I love TMQ and have read it for years but Easterbrook has treated complaints about Canada as a running joke in his columns for a while now. He's only partially right about the Somalia affair because the Canadian military had admitted more than his brief treatment of the matter conveys. As a hint, there isn't a Canadian Airborne Regiment anymore. It's fine to say that the US is more responsible than shallow critics will admit to but Easterbrook doesn't know enough about Canada to make his own charges against Canada stick. As for ascribing Canadian anti-US statements to jealousy, well you could say the same of US anti-Canadian statements.

posted by: Andy on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

That's true, Patrick. Canadians did indeed elect this lot of scumbag politicians. But, without getting into a boring conversation about our flawed parliamentary system, it is particularly vulnerable to the kind of political fragmentation of the right we see today. The result is a government that received - what - 32%? 35%? of the popular vote but is supposed to speak for all Canadians.

So we end up with politicians who, while playing to base anti-Americanism, know that they are unlikely to suffer for it politically. Nonetheless, most Canadians - at least those I know - reacted to your aforementioned anti-American examples with disgust.

Plus, Don Cherry supported the Iraq war, and that's good enough for me.

posted by: Mark on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Say what you want about Greg- the best name for a football team-

"The Flaming Thumbtacks!"

That's right, all hail McNair.

Go Titans!

(football will de-intellectualize any conversation forthwith.)


posted by: Tman on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Mel Lastman is a right-wing idiot, people. And he isn't alone. The right-wing party in Canada considers Mandela a terrorist.
Canada is mad about the non-apology for Americans killing four Canadians. We're also angry about things like softwood lumber that will put you all to sleep.
"But, without getting into a boring conversation about our flawed parliamentary system, it is particularly vulnerable to the kind of political fragmentation of the right we see today. The result is a government that received - what - 32%? 35%? of the popular vote but is supposed to speak for all Canadians."

40%, with five major parties in the election. More than the PC and CA put together. The other 25% of the vote went to parties to the left of the gov't. Elected dictator my ass. Besides, Bush supporters shouldn't be mentioning the popular vote as a measure of who should be in power.

posted by: sym on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Dan, if you're reading: I encourage you to cut out the "indeed"s and "heh"s. The Instafool is no one to emulate. You're a hundred times smarter and that much more interesting. Find your own style.

posted by: on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Not that I have any objection to applying the Bill of Rights to the states, but I left law school with the impression that the "incorporation" theory (the doctrine that most of the Bill of Rights became applicable to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment) rests on very shaky foundations. Clearly the incorporation theory is good law now, because the Supreme Court says it is, but was it in the minds of the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment? I doubt it.

posted by: Aaron Baker on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Sym, if you want to pretend the Liberal party is representative of Canadians, go for it; 63% of the population voted, so your Liberals credibly speak for about a quarter of us. The Liberals are a bunch of anti-American, cowardly political mercenaries who stand for nothing but winning elections. When faced with the most important geo-political issue of the last half-century, they chose, along with the French, to abandon Iraqis to slavery, rape and genocide. Thanks to Chretien, Canada, when not being ignored, is reviled by its most important economic, strategic and political partner. Quite a legacy. *golf clap*

I can't wait to see what another decade of misrule will bring.

posted by: Mark on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

There is something about depending on somebody else for defense that leads countries like Canada and most of those in Western Europe into giddy irresponsibility and a farcical sense of self importance that would be entertaining if it were not so tragic.

posted by: Jerry Carroll on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Mel Lastman is an idiot.

Do you know who cares about Lastman?


posted by: Toronto tenants association on 09.03.03 at 03:00 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?