Friday, January 27, 2006


Canadian voters had three parties to choose from: Way Way Whacked-Out Pinko Left, Imperious Incoherent Venally-Rotted-Out Euro-Left, and Too-Timid-To-Be-Neo-Con Check-Your-Religion-at-the-Door Moderate Left.

Moderation won. Sort of.

It’s a minority government – Conservatives 40.3%, Liberals 33.4%, Bloc Québècois 16.6%, New Democratic Party 9.4%, the other thirteen* ( ! ) parties, 0%.

* such colourful bodies as the Marijuana Party, Communist Party (the official one—the NDP is their “mainstream” stand-in), Green Party, Christian Heritage Party (not the white supremacist skin-heads such a moniker might indicate in Britain, but run for your lives anyway), Libertarians, Marxist-Leninists, and other entities represented by initials standing for God-only-knows-what.

The small-c conservatives of Canada have gone through years of party-affiliation contortions trying to find one banner under which to gather the preponderance of the country which is fed up with the large-L Liberal ruling class. There have been stubborn honorary godfathers, like Joe Clark of the Progressive Conservatives (a “red Tory” mid-leftist boob whose refusal to make a graceful exit ground his party into ignominious dust) and Preston Manning, founder of the Reform Party (who hung on longer than he should have, but deserves most of the credit for striking out from the beaten path and giving western Canada the beginnings of a political voice).

After some false starts (Stockwell Day—a decent man, but not the right one), and some minor blood-letting (getting Peter MacKay to step aside—an experience he found painful, but not nearly so bad as watching his then-squeeze Belinda Strumpet Stronach desert not only him but his party for a plum job in the Liberal cabinet, in the final attempt by now-defunctis Prime Minister Paul Martin to bribe stave off the fall of his government), the Conservative Party of Canada found a name, a leader, and some feet to stand on, and now, with considerable help from the greed, corruption, Anti-Americanism, and complete mental meltdown of Martin’s Liberals, Stephen Harper is poised to move into 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, and try and sort out the mess which is Canada.

I myself am not Canadian, despite having lived here for nearly 65% of my life-- though I now consider myself to have achieved honorary citizenship recently, when I had to wait 2 ½ months for an MRI, and another 3 weeks for the results, through which I discovered that I have ripped cartilage and a totally torn off ligament in my right knee, and that treatment is not recommended. And for this kind of service my husband pays over 40% of his income in taxes. Harper has his work cut out for him.

So CONGRATULATIONS, Canada, on a stimulating exercise in that finest of democratic traditions, VOTING THE SCOUNDRELS OUT! And for that 60% of the country who didn’t vote for it, stand by and get ready to discover that you have nothing to FEAR (despite the Liberal propaganda) from a Conservative government. You might even have a touching reunion with some of your own money and get to spend it on your kids.

[Nota Bene: Could there be any more hopeful sign for the new Prime Minister than that Al Gore already feels threatened by him? Ooh-rah! You remember Al Gore-- that pudgy, flame-spewing failed Presidential candidate who has been living on the planet Spite-nik for the past five years plotting his revenge-- while collecting revenues from his stock in Occidental Petroleum....]

Raymond [J.] de Souza (that’s Canada’s broad-smiling journalist/economist/priest of Goan extraction, not Australia’s sandy-haired lay Catholic apologist/radio host with the Brazilian brogue) got two columns in the January 26 National Post, on two not totally unrelated subjects.

His take on the Canadian election was the view from his native Alberta and the position western Canada has now achieved in being the home-base of the new Prime Minister. In the process he offered some brilliantly-phrased reassurances for those of both the left and right who are viewing the Conservative victory with varying degrees of trepidation, but especially those “social conservatives” who are alarmed that Harper and his colleagues have, on the whole, been unwilling to come out with guns blazing to take on the most contentious moral issues in Canadian society: abortion, the definition of marriage, medical ethics.

Fr. De Souza sums up what we can all expect in the short term: “the range of what is discussable will change…” and “preventing things from getting worse is itself no small accomplishment…” These may appear to be pretty tame as political ambitions go, but the fact is (as Paul Martin would say, endlessly), even these simple changes represent a kind of revolution some of us had begun to doubt we would see in our lifetime. ¿¡Viva la revolución!, eh?

Fr. De Souza’s second entry in Thursday’s paper has to do with the first Encyclical Letter by Pope Benedict XVI, called by its opening phrase Deus Caritas Est, or “God is Love”. The article is a good summary of the text, and de Souza alludes only briefly to the fact that there are a great many people for whom it might come as a surprise that this Pope actually understands about God being love— because they have so long cultivated the utterly false impression of Josef Cardinal Ratzinger as, not to put too fine a point on it, a cold-hearted hard-ass.

I’ve never seen him in the flesh myself, though apparently that was never too difficult for those who frequented Rome, for it was his habit to walk alone between his apartment and the Vatican offices, and to give friendly greeting to anyone who recognized him. But I am at least toe-deep enough in the Church establishment to know, or have met, many people with first-hand experience of both this Pope and his predecessor—enough to know that, for those who’ve had a “close encounter,” Papa Ratzi will eventually be known as much for his sweet nature as his orthodoxy. No surprises here.

Next to Fr. de Souza’s column was the usual bucket of journalistic cold water, the latest outpourings from His Lutheran-ness, Leader of the Disloyal Opposition, Fr. Hans Küng, the Tootling Tutor from Tübingen, crabby heretic and thorn in the flesh of Holy Mother Church. In a spasm of magnanimity Küng praised the theme of his former faculty colleague’s first Encyclical, but added his customary caveat, to the effect that the Pope would do well to follow this promising sign by violating everything he stands for and being completely untrue to both his Church and himself.

Specifically, Fr. Küng recommends that Pope Benedict show his “love” for Catholics who have rejected the Church’s consistent teaching on contraception, the indissolubility of marriage, and priestly celibacy by changing the teachings to accommodate the rejectors. Yeah, like that’ll happen, in this eon or any other.

You don’t show your love for people by lying to them. You don’t fulfill your responsibility towards God’s children by letting them run wild and never insisting that they mustn’t play with moral matches lest they get fourth-degree burns on their precious souls.

What kind of Holy Father would a Pope be, and what kind of Divine Father would God be, if neither one of them gave us boundaries, or the belief that we are capable living up to what is asked of us? Pope John Paul II, of happy memory, never failed in either of these responsibilities, especially toward the young—he asked everything of them, never condescending, always believing in their capacity for self-mastery. Fr. Küng continues to project his own moral flaccidity on the rest of us, and presses the Church to fall into line. I think not.


For the sheer pleasure of reading a beautifully-written piece about character, brotherly love, and the sweetness of memory, have a look at columnist Charles Krauthammer's eulogy for his late brother, Marcel, whose untimely death from cancer occurred on January 17. One is rarely so moved by the story of a stranger. Requiescat in pace.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Entire country gets a three-on-one break-away

In June of 2004 American wonder-blob Michael Moore decided to show his customary respect for anyone other than Americans by paying Canada the compliment of crossing the northern border and illegally interfering with its federal election. To nobody's great surprise he was stumping for the ruling Liberals, which put him squarely on the side of, among other things, confiscatory taxes he himself would never be willing to pay (as we learn from Peter Schweizer's exposé of left-wing hypocrisy, Do As I Say (Not As I Do), not to mention giving his approval to laughable lies, systemic corruption, and massive theft from the taxpayer.

Well, like a bad penny Moore's back,
spouting off to Canada with his unsolicited advice on how to vote today, despite his aw-shucks disclaimer, "Far be it from me, as an American, to suggest what you should do"-- which is exactly what he's doing. But again, to nobody's great surprise, it doesn't look like anyone is listening. He is yesterday's blob, and we're not into day-old.

On Friday the Toronto Sun performed a tremendous public service by publishing "218 reasons NOT to vote for the Liberals" This is a solid effort-- no Letterman Top Ten List of embarrssing little funnies, but a 218-count indictment of a cabal of crooks. Okay, Canada, cue the dancing beavers, the strutting lumberjacks, the gap-toothed shinny-kings, the Dudley Do-Right patrol, and the Majestic Moose and Goose procession, and tell these Lying Liberals to go Sugar-Off!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

2006 – THE NEW YEAR is upon us…

… and then some. But we’ll just pretend it’s not too late to proffer “turn-of-the-year” reflections and bits o’ news. (Had lots of pictures too but after about five hours of struggling with this miserable entry, I have given them up.)

For starters, some
advice from Sgt. Grit: Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR.


That’s the extended essay part—scroll down. But first:


The final English-language debate last Monday among the four candidates was a typical piece of Canadian political theatre, Farce Division, since only three of the candidates are actually running for the big office (Prime Minister) and one of them is running to be the federal representative who ushers Québèc into independence and Canada into slow disintegration.

The debate featured the spectacle of Paul Martin, leader of a Liberal Party which has ruled Canada almost non-stop for about 70 years, babbling like he’d consumed 26 cups of coffee, engaging in an intra-provincial hissing match and near-fisticuffs with fellow-Québècois and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, while dough-faced Conservative Stephen Harper and apple-cheeked socialist Kumbayah-master Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party looked on.

Canada may actually be looking at Regime Change on January 23.The Liberals are already blaming Bush.

as Hollywood prepares to release
film on Bernardo/Homolka sex-crimes

Every so often another cheeseball director decides to make a film or TV movie which purports to “explore the psyche” of some grisly serial killer. By far the majority of these excursions leave the viewer with more than they needed to know about the details of the act of murder, but not the least bit more enlightened about what makes these deviates “tick” – so the audience feels doubly cheated, having learned nothing and having come away with no real excuse for watching the tripe. Moreover, the viewer is complicit in the transaction by which the film production has rubbed a barrel of salt into the wounds of the victims’ families and friends in exchange for sweeps-week or box office dollars.

It’s all set to happen again, as the feature film Karla opens on January 20, a revisiting of the twisted lives and nauseatingly sick crimes of Ontario’s own Paul Bernardo who (with a never-determined degree of assistance from his steely little bride Karla Homolka) kidnapped, raped, degraded, murdered, and dismembered two innocent teen-aged girls (and captured much of it in home movies) more than ten years ago.

In the name of justice, decency, charity and mercy, BOYCOTT THIS TRASH.

ITEM: Word came out that over the Christmas holidays President Bush was reading
Imperial Grunts by Robert Kaplan. I, for one, was delighted to hear it—it’s about time the President got a good briefing about what the American military is doing on his watch: how they are the ones winning hearts and minds; shaping the future; carrying out the one-on-one diplomacy which will be the most determinative factor in the new alliances with Afghanistan, the Middle East, and other places (like the Philippines) where Islamist fascists have gotten a foothold and need to be pried loose. Up till now there hasn’t been a great deal of evidence that Bush actually knows what they’ve been up to day to day. If he’s finished the book, he’s ahead of me—I’ve only read the excerpt in The Atlantic. Worth a look.

ITEM: IRAQ VOTES—AGAIN—December 15 -- reported over 70% turnout—makes North Americans look like lazy, complacent JERKS. Over here the professional feminists have paid ZERO attention to the greatest advance, in the shortest span of time, for any group of women in HUMAN HISTORY.

ITEM: TED KENNEDY (puffy Massachusetts Senator and renowned long-distance swimmer) is said to be writing a children’s book.

It will be written from his dog’s point of view. The dog is a water spaniel. It’s name is “Splash.”

It is unknown at this moment whether Splash will be encouraged demonstrate how, if he’d been around in 1969, he might have been of assistance in hauling a certain young woman from eight feet of water off Chappaquiddick Island.

You absolutely cannot make this stuff up.

The whole exercise could not be more tasteless if Kennedy had named his dog “Kopechne”.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Apparently what happens in New Orleans
doesn’t really happen. That truth was the first thing washed away by Hurricane Katrina started to become obvious in late September, when the myths of rape and murder among the storm’s refugees were pretty soundly debunked, along with tales of uncontrollable mayhem in the Superdome and wild west gunfights in the streets.

With December came a more specific statistical analysis of the known dead: about 1,000 for all of Louisianna, with no sign that either the storm, nor its instigating sorcerer (President Bush) discriminated on the basis of race, gender, or socio-economic status. Victims were fairly evenly black and white, male and female, and residents of poor and well-off parishes.

We await (hopelessly) the abject apologies of race-baiting big-mouths like Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, with their willing accomplices in the hand-wringing press, for everything from unhinged wailing (Wolf Blitzer was the best: “They’re so poor, so black…”) to deranged bald-faced lying (Farrakhan: the levees “may have been blown up so that the water would destroy the black part of town”). The citizens of New Orleans and greater Louisianna await (hopelessly) the abject apologies of airhead mayor Ray “Schoolbus” Nagin and clueless, testy governor Kathleen “Call-my-decorator” Blanco and heavy-lifting Congressman William “Where’s-my-stuff?” Jefferson for enjoying the limelight of elected office without bothering to read the fine print on the social contract that says “your constituents are to be served and protected, not soaked for perqs and ignored.”

Tick, tock, tick, tock……

ITEM: HILLARY GOES ALL BOADICEA -- becomes instant expert on armor

Senator Hillary Rodham Broadbottom has her knickers in a twist about the
alleged inadequacies of military body armor being used in Iraq. Apparently more people died from being shot where the armor wasn’t than those who were shot where the armor was.


Mrs. Clinton would have our infantry covered from buzz-cut to toenails with ceramic plates and Kevlar, and has blasted the “incompetent… unforgivable… Bush/Cheney policy” which allows soldiers and Marines to go into battle lacking sufficient coating to make them look like the lumbering Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Is she on to something? As the saying goes, “Ask the man who owns one.” -- that is, ask the guys who have to wear the stuff. “Baghdad Guy” for instance:
To start off with, no, our body armor is not perfect. It has
its vulnerabilities which I won't get into for obvious reasons, but overall it does a remarkable job of protecting soldiers, marines, airmen
and everyone else who wears it. Body Armor has saved numerous lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and it will continue to do so, especially as it is modified to better meet the threat we face. However, there are limitations as to how much armor you can add onto an individual and maintain his effectiveness as a soldier: when I step out the gate I am wearing on my person body armor, a kevlar helmet, my M4 rifle with a few hundred rounds of ammunition, my M9 sidearm with another hundred rounds of ammunition, 2-3 quarts of water, a portable radio,night vision equipment, and numerous other odds and ends. Butt naked to full combat load probably adds about 40+ pounds to my frame, give or take a grenade.

When someone designs an affordable lightweight polymer that allows for freedom of movement but can stop a 7.62 mm round (kind of like the batsuit in Batman Begins), sign me up, but until then let me move freely so I can avoid getting shot in the first place.

And this interesting take on the problem from

Neptunus Lex :

… reminds me of a story coming out of the days of Vietnam-era attack aviation. A couple of engineers were reviewing the history of aircraft that had landed badly damaged by anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles. The junior engineer turns to the senior guy and says, "You know, there’s a real pattern developing here of aircraft taking hits to the horizontal tail and on the trailing edge of the wings. Maybe we should put more armor there?”
The senior engineer, concerned as always with the impact of adding weight to an aircraft design disagreed, chiding the junior guy gently, “No, you’re seeing the pattern exactly wrong. All of the battle damage you see is from aircraft that returned. It’s the places where you’re seeing no damage that we need more armor. Those aircraft didn’t make it back.”

And the last word from the ‘Nam Chopper maxims of Col. Glen “Smoke” Burgess, USMC (Ret.), via Sgt. Grit: If you are wearing body armor, the incoming will probably miss that part.

Put it all together and I think we’ve earned the right to say to the junior Senator from New York: Shut up, you silly, stupid woman.

ITEM: MR. AND MRS. BILL GATES share Time’s “Person of the Year” award with BONO.

Their least-known humanitarian project: STIFLING DISSENT IN CHINA

Bill Gates’ computer empire has already made headlines by (a) helping the Chinese government control the flow of information by agreeing to install programmed suppression of Microsoft-served weblog entries containing certain words like “democracy” and “human rights”; and (b) helping the Chinese government to locate (and thereby prosecute) dissidents using Microsoft computers to disseminate unacceptable messages. Now they have co-operated with the government by shutting down a Microsoft-served weblog on which a Chinese blogger was discussing controversial news.

Microsoft: Making our world a better place, one gag and conviction at a time.


That’s at least something we can all agree on. Where we part company is on what exactly were the lies, and who was telling them.

Back when the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy came out, and there was some controversy over the various actors’ reflections on whether or not it was appropriate to draw parallels between the fictitious battles for Middle Earth and the all-too-real battles against Al Qaeda and its sponsors, my sense was that the left-leaning types who rejected the parallels probably assumed that we pro-war crazies saw in those waves of Orcs, sweeping down upon the cornered Good Guys, the faces of Islamist “militants.” Not, in my view, a wholly unjustified interpretation of those scenes.

However, at the time I expressed a somewhat different take on those brilliantly executed scenes of descending hoards, especially the terrifying attack at Helm’s Deep in film II (The Two Towers). What I saw in the deformed bodies and ghoulish monster faces of the Orcs was the physical embodiment of The Lie, and the overwhelming power of an accumulation of Lie upon Lie upon Lie. This was evil incarnate. This was the vision of why Satan is called The Father of Lies.

Lies have been the overriding theme of this year’s global political discourse. The loudest, most heavily-covered and most oft-repeated refrain declared that “Bush Lied”—that George W. Bush took the United States into war in Iraq by means of a conscious lie: that Iraq possessed WMD (weapons of mass destruction), which subsequent searches have discovered did not exist.

The latter part of this statement is itself an easily demonstrable lie, since anyone who has actually read the relevant parts of (1) the 9/11 Commission Report, (2) the interim report of weapons inspector David Kay, and (3) the final report of weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, knows that there was no such finding as “WMD did not exist.”

The former part of the statement— that Bush consciously lied when he stated, in full agreement with every major intelligence agency on the planet, that there was clear evidence that Hussein’s Iraq possessed significant quantities of material and production capacity for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons —is a judgment call about the interior motives of one man, which must be based on a preponderance of evidence. Analyzed with any decent measure of objectivity, the case for presidential lying cannot be made—not even close.

That was the biggest of the Big Lies this year, but not really the most heinous. Nor would it have been the most damaging had the Bush administration been possessed of the minimal political sense which their jobs would seem to require. As Big Lies go, the “Bush Lied” lie is HUGE, but it was also lame, transparent, desperate, and crushable.

Equally persistent were the Katrina lies, the Plame/Wilson lies, and the torture lies (on both sides!).

The less frequent but far more heinous, outrageous, hateful, and consummately evil BIG LIE of the year was that (to quote that mouthy, light-weight, totally-out-of-his-league, token extreme leftist of FoxNews’s Newswatch, Neil Gabler) “Iraq is a DISASTER, and everybody knows it.” Or, put in more honest and specific terms: the American military is losing the war, has accomplished nothing, and has wasted the time, money, and lives this battle has cost—that their efforts are unwelcome, that they are the enemy, that they want to come home and should be withdrawn ASAP.

Lie, after lie, after lie, after lie, after lie, after lie.

These are lies that the Bush administration has never told, but they are lies which would have had no life in the public eye and ear had the administration done its job and trumpeted the truth by all the means that are easily available to them. When, last fall, the administration FINALLY went on the offensive against the flood-tide of lies which had swirled over the land for months and months, knowledgeable supporters of the war effort were delighted and relieved, but some of us were still scratching our heads at the content of the “pushback” speeches—HE STILL DIDN’T GET IT!

What needed to be put forward was the fact-laden, graphic (as in MAPS), hero-rich history of what has been accomplished in Iraq—not necessarily proclaimed aggressively or as a challenge to nay-sayers, but told PROUDLY, documenting and glorying in the historic significance of the elections, the civility of the constitutional compromises, the (YES) enhanced quality of life for many, many Iraqis in most parts of the country.

Here's a piece of info some of us have known about for nearly three years, but the Bushies have not found occasion to revel in publicly: the Saddamite genocide against the Marsh Arabs, and their subsequent restoration and return, with the help of the American military. Jay Nordlinger previews his own longer dead-tree article, at NRO.

Mr. Bush and his staff have maintained a kind of “need-to-know” dribble of information in our direction, without seeming to have a clue about what it is we really NEED to know. The poll-numbers tell us that Bush may well have pulled his tail-feathers out of the fire, but not because he fought back with the best political arms and ammunition, tactics and strategy he had at hand—that he succeeded (so far) tells us just how profoundly the American public WANTS to hear evidence that their country is fighting the good fight; how tenaciously they have held to their conviction that we are in a war for the preservation of liberty and the best of our culture, that we have what it takes to prevail, and that our fighters in the field are doing precisely that.

Americans have also wanted to know what they could do to serve while "standing and waiting." Well, for starters there's Spirit of America -- probably the most effective means for ordinary citizens to directly assist the military in improving the lives of Iraqi civilians, police, and military. That the profile of this organization is still operating under the radar, and its supporters still number only in the thousands, is shameful -- sort of equivalent to having only a handful of Americans aware that Kate Smith wanted them to buy War Bonds in 1945.

At the end of the infamous Christopher Hitchens/George Galloway "debate" (verbal slug-fest), Hitchens closed with about the most profound and unarguable thing anybody said all night: would have more to be proud of... if you could after tonight, point to something that you have done to help build up the new Iraq. Point to something that you were doing to help the Iraqi women's organizations who indeed do have to combat fundamentalism. Point to something you had done to help unearth the mass graves, and console the relatives of those who are found in them. Point to something you had yourselves contributed to the emancipation of Kurdistan. You could do something perhaps something to help the new Iraqi press and media acquire some more modern equipment on which to conduct this debate. Why don't you think of the possible nobility of that alternative?

Here's what one person (me) has been able to contribute to for the future of Iraq through Spirit of America, since reading about the organization in April of 2004 on

--Television equipment for Al-Anbar province
--Sewing machine for women's center in Ramadi
--Tool kit for Iraqi tradesman
--Democracy project (training and prep for first election)
--University textbooks
--Operation snapshot -- instant cameras for kid-fun at checkpoints
--Gifts for children
--Development of virus-free Arabic blogging program
--Second election news coverage
--Recreational equipment for Iraqi army base at Tal Afar
--Cell-phone for Lebanese activists at Freedom Camp, Beirut
--Irrigation for Al-Anbar agricultural co-op
--Children's classroom supplies
--Rubber 25-gallon water barrels
--Iraqi Orphans project
--Repair of women's radio station in Baghdad
--Equipment for Najaf teaching hospital cardiac unit

Why do this? Because every Iraqi to whom an American soldier or Marine shows support and confidence is one less Iraqi ready to blow American heads off-- maybe my kid's, if that's where he's sent this year.

All of these projects are administered through the military, primarily the Marines. Apparently Congressman Murtha and his fellow-pinheads want to withdraw from this. Not likely. Anyone can join in the effort, for any amount of money. Don't pull out-- pull together. CRUSH THE ORCS!

So what is the real story of the military effort in Iraq and Afghanistan under the Bush regime? I cannot help but think of Shakespeare (actually that happens a lot, under many circumstances), who put into the mouth of his sometimes controversial character, King Henry V, these words to his troops:

And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here.

A little over the top? Maybe. But most of the troops who've been there, by an overwhelming margin, express views that are pretty much in line with this quotation. And that's no word of a lie.

A final word from Col. Burgess, via Sgt. Grit: The madness of war can extract a heavy toll. Please have exact change.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


... but sadly, it's a tragedy, and a cruel one. There are villains in the piece, and it will take some time to know exactly who they are. If it proves that the mining company was careless with its workers' lives, they will top the list-- but mining remains a tremendously dangerous job in an environment which will never be entirely under human control. People whose lives depend upon the mining enterprise are therefore always braced, to some degree, for the freak accident that brings disaster.

As a result, one is almost tempted to place greater blame on whoever it was who communicated to the families what he was clearly in no position to assure-- that the trapped men had been found alive-- ALL of them-- there never seemed to be any doubt in that aspect of the bogus report. Yes, it was probably the product of emotion and wishful thinking, and there was probably a certain logic to believing that a call for medical assistance, oxygen, etc. (which undoubtedly took place) was evidence of life, enough to spark the telephone chain among on-the-spot rescuers acting on their hopes and emotions. It was, nevertheless, irresponsible, and, in the end, profoundly cruel.

Those who actually possessed the authority to provide official communications are equally high on the villain list, even if they were unaware that false news had been carried to the families, and that unwarranted celebration had broken out. It was their duty to get the truth, for good or ill, to those who had been keeping vigil. It could not possibly have taken more than three hours to produce at least a preliminary indication that all was not well, and that optimism was not a good idea. It should have taken no longer than half an hour after the men were found to give official word that they were, at best, unconscious and unresponsive, and perhaps that efforts to resuscitate were underway but no final word on success was yet available. Anything less than this was, again, irresponsible and cruel, regardless of whether they had any idea that down the road at the Baptist church there was premature jubiliation in progress.

There will, of course, be an impulse to blame the media for their wildly enthusiastic dissemination of unsubstantiated good news, and the swiftness with which they all seem to have switched the story to the safety violations at the mine indicates that their has been pants-wetting panic in the executive suites of the major networks, both MSM and cable. However, I don't place them so much on the villain list, since the vast majority of those whom they have misled are not people with a personal stake in the fates of the miners. The media are less villains than totally unprofessional dupes in this messy business. They were roused from their midnight naps by the rumble of new developments, were met by cheering, weeping, ecstatic family and friends of the victims, and took the mob jubiliation at face value.

Not a single news organization appears to have found it necessary to confirm with persons in authority the accuracy of happy reports, or even to suggest that response should be tempered until they were able to do so. They did not suggest that there was anything to be read in the fact that a news conference, apparently scheduled for a particular time, did not take place and was postponed indefinitely. They simply launched into that notorious exercise in journalistic laziness, the "How did you feel?" interview, as well as creeping ahead to the, at that point, rather tasteless next news cycle story about the safety violations.

Now that they have humiliated themselves and had their full-tilt-boogie screw-up exposed, they are charging into the corporate malfeasance story, and have pushed past it into the "What kind of legislation should be proposed?" phase of the not-yet-commenced inquiry.

It's a sad day in so many ways, but certainly another black mark on the media that run on emotion instead of information. Comparisons will be made with the most hysterical over-reaches of the Hurricane Katrina coverage, although that doesn't seem quite fair. Katrina was an opportunity to embarrass federal authorities, an agenda which was carried out best by those who deliberately ignored matters of both fact and law which were entirely accessible to anyone who wanted the truth. (That they have issued almost no correctives in the face of a mass of information contradicting the most outrageous and sanctimonious media-perpetuated lies tells us all we need to know about their agenda.)

All who covered the mining disaster were at the mercy of the people running the rescue effort, and wishful thinking and empathy stampeded into the needless information gap between those on the inside and those waiting in agony on the top. The newshounds have been caught once again behaving like teen-agers let loose with the school's A/V equipment, this time with the best of intentions, but nevertheless having done no small amount of harm, to their own business if nothing else. They were unlikely to admit having learned anything from Katrina, where the violations of journalistic ethics were legion and the lessons much more important, but perhaps they will be chastened in their genuine grief for this terrible turn of events, and remember the value of concepts like objectivity, sourcing, and W5H (who-what-when-where-why-and-how) truth.

There will be lots of moving photographs associated with this story in the days to come. To my mind, it already has an icon, Mr. John Casto, a friend of three of the dead, who was permitted to speak at length to Miles O'Brien of CNN. He was a wonderful, unpretentious image of working America: grammar a little faulty, accent unmistakeably rural, perspective on life decidedly foreign to the guys with the suits and mics and cameras, but utterly mainstream to those of us in the real mainstream. He told of the joy and pain of the community, with the eloquence of radical (in the literal sense) faith and virtue. I think the newshounds were momentarily mesmerized, and were jerked back into urban consciousness only when Casto nodded directly at each of them (O'Brien and the unseen camera operator) and called them "brothers" because "I believe in Christ." Whoa Nelly-- camera backs out, thanks for your time, now back to you, Anderson...

I guess Jon Stewart can now be taken off "miracle watch" (see below) -- but it could have happened, and it would have been a real one. In fact, should 27-year-old Randal McCloy Jr., the lone survivor, recover, the case for at least one miracle will be strong indeed.
Miracle status unconfirmed

Twelve of the thirteen miners trapped deep within a West Virginia coal mine have been found alive and are at this moment being taken to area hospitals for examination and treatment.

In a country where ordinary citizens are increasingly forbidden pray with friends at school, to sing Christmas carols or give non-denominational invocations at public gatherings, or to place religious objects on their own desks in the workplace, politicians and electronic media mouthpieces continue to have total freedom to invoke God, prayer, and miracles in times of community crisis. Spokescritters have unleashed a torrent of this kind of rhetoric, flowing at full speed over more than 40 hours of agonized waiting as the miners were rescued. West Virginia public officials and mining company executives did not hesitate to do the same.

While one member of the mining crew was lost near the explosion site, it has been roundly and repeatedly pronounced a "miracle" that the other twelve took refuge even deeper in the mine and survived.

The final verdict on whether or not this consistutes a miracle will be left, as it no doubt should be, to that font of wit and wisdom, John Stewart of the The Daily Show-- that pundit without peer who, you may remember, upon hearing of the Air France disaster of August 3, 2005, where a fully loaded airliner skidded off the runway at Toronto's Pearson Airport and plowed into a ravine, instantly bursting into flames, made a clear and dispassionate case for there having been nothing miraculous whatsoever about the fact that all 309 passengers and crew on board escaped alive. No doubt bucking for a spot at the Vatican as one of the Supremely Serious and Important People Who Decide These Things, Stewart's prounouncement on the air crash was thorough, uncompromising, and definitive (not to mention cynical and contemptuous), and we expect that by Wednesday midnight he will have deftly executed the deconstruction of all preposterous claims of "miracle" now littering the public discourse about these miners and their rescuers, whose actions, like those of the Air France crew, consisted pretty much in remembering their notes from first aid class and following the standard directions found on their survival gear. What's the big deal anyhow?