Friday, September 30, 2005

Postscript on the house-painters

Subsequent conversations have revealed that the non-Iraqi half of my painting team (the Sal and Sam Show) is Iranian ("Persian" as he specified). I cheekily congratulated them on getting along so well.

They are, in fact, the Type for the future of the Middle East: two working guys with children in school, who have sought refuge where they are free to function without fear, and to chatter together about how defective the Canadian school system is. I suspect they would not be here at all if life offered them any prospects in the places they left-- they just want what everybody wants, and you can't yet get it there.

Today's exchange yielded Sam's assessment that elections in Iran are a farce since there is no real freedom, and Sal's repeated endorsement of George Bush, especially of his belief that the Middle East must learn the ways of modern democracy if its people are to survive. When Sam from Iran asked me about my children, and I told him the eldest is in the Marine Corps, Sam said, "God bless him."

Amen to that, my friend. Bless 'em all.
Hugh Hewitt sets us all straight on the subject of excellence in journalism. (Excellence, thy name is Mark Steyn.) :

... [M]ost of the people at CBS appear not to have heard of Steyn. I rest my case. It is like a physicist not hearing of Einstein.
Iraq, DeLay, Ambassador McKenna, etc. --
As exciting as watching paint dry?

Complete chaos domestically-- nearly the whole interior of the house is being painted, some of it covering that original coat of Builder's Beige from 16 years ago. The computer has been swathed in plastic for days, accessible only by sitting sideways and squinting.

One of the painters, interestingly, is an Iraqi immigrant, with family still back there and elsewhere in the Middle East. We've had one long conversation during which he expressed an understandable distress at the level of danger still present in some areas, and recited the litany of propaganda he has absorbed about Dick Cheney and oil money. Nevertheless-- bottom line-- he thinks Geroge Bush is great, and has given Iraq a better future.

Speaking of which--
I find myself on the elite email list of those who get to review the incendiary draft-thoughts of David Warren before he cleans them up for general consumption in various papers. His September 11 column, however, retained its flammability in print, and has been exciting tremendous response as it is volleyed around the American blogosphere. Kudos to the Hermit of Parkdale, who is inexplicably hesitant to take up recent offers of a guest-slot on a Dallas radio call-in show.

One of David's recent unfiltered circulations forwarded the following item of interest [possibly from the Ripley's Believe It Or Not section of Items Buried On Page Twenty-Three of the Tumbleweed Daily Herald Express Mail Tribune]:


Did you know that 47 countries have reestablished their embassies in Iraq?

Did you know that the Iraqi government currently employs 1.2 million Iraqi people?

Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?

Did you know that Iraq 's higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers, all currently operating?

Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2005 for the reestablished Fulbright program?

Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational?! They have 5- 100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment.

Did you know that Iraq 's Air Force consists of three operational squadrons, which includes 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport aircraft (under Iraqi operational control) which operate day and night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 Bell Jet Rangers?

Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion?

Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?

Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?

Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq ? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical

Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?

Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?

Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?

Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consists of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?

Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004?

Did you know that 2 candidates in the Iraqi presidential election had a televised debate recently?


Instead of reflecting our love for our country, we get photos of flag burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at the presidential motorcades. The lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves two purposes.

It is intended to undermine the world's perception of the United States -- thus minimizing consequent support.
And it is intended to discourage American citizens.
'Nuff said.

DeLayed Reaction--

Austin TX prosecutor Ron Earle has finally completed his prolonged quest to the top of Mt. Doom in hopes of throwing House Majority Leader Tom DeLay into the belly of the lava lamp. This is apparently a fairly regular outing for Earle, who has made similar attempts to dispose of various Texas politicians (mostly conservative Democrats) and corporations (which he spared, providing they coughed up donations to Earle's favorite causes).

Many months ago a prominent member of the Houston contingent of my family had this to say on the DeLay question: "He's one of those politicians who is such a sleazy operator that you're glad he's on your side because you'd be scared to have him working for the other team."

Kind of makes you feel warm all over. Smarter people than me have concluded that this prosecution is roadkill from the get-go, and that salivating Democrats who are busy piling on have merely taken up one of them unregistered Texas firearms and shot themselves in the other foot (the first having been winged in the Great Katrina Massacre).

And from the Northern Kingdom: Frank McKenna, Ambassador to the United States from Ottawa Junior High--
Speaking at a business luncheon which was also attended by the American Ambassador to Canada (David Wilkins), Canadian Ambassador McKenna made pleasant coffee-and-dessert chit-chat by announcing that, "The government of the United States is, in large measure, dysfunctional." Among his clarifications of this charge was the criticism that American elected legislators have "so much independence of political party loyalty... that everybody in their own way is a freelancer, going off in different directions."

Ah yes, much better to have the Canadian system where the electorate casts its ballot and then evaporates from the consciousness of its representatives. Americans will be shocked to discover that a member of Parliament may only vote according to his, or his constituents', personal and political convictions when officially given leave by the party leader to cast a "free vote"-- usually reserved for issues of conscience like gay marriage or abortion (at least that's how it used to be-- the present Liberal government has denied even this exercise to its hapless caucus).

Ex-squeeeeze me? asks the incredulous American. You mean an elected legislator can't necessarily cast a vote that represents what he actually believes and supports unless given permission by the party leader? You mean a "free vote" is an exception, and not the rule of every day and every moment of a representative's political life? This is democracy?

Yes, dear, Canadian style. As is a government where holders of the highest offices spend years lining the pockets of their supporters with millions of tax-payer dollars buying votes and favors that will appease its first-class citizens (of Québec), at the expense of its second-class citizens (everybody else) [a scandal many Canadians had to find out about from the American blogosphere because there was a gag order on the most damning evidence about suitcases full of cash, backroom payments to thugs, and other such grisly details]; a government that is running a surplus because it has confiscated ever-increasing amounts of tax from its worker-bees, money apparently not needed but collected because the habit of annual shake-down is so hard to break; a government that has allowed over 100 known war criminals to live within its borders and escape prosecution, not to mention the tens of thousands of known immigration-law violators who have simply disappeared when released on their own recognizance while awaiting a pro forma hearing.

The hypocrisy is irritating. The sheer bad manners and adolescent need to boast is embarrassing. U.S. Ambassador Wilkins, possessed of that particle of class so lacking in his Canadian counterpart, flicked away the gratuitous insults like they were gnats at his ear-- the appropriate flick-off to an insect nation.

Pardon me-- it's the paint fumes, shurely.