Enter Stage Right hands out its monthly awards...

The March 1999 Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

The easiest way to figure out what some in the media want is to simply look at the things they are reporting on.

Take, for example, the coverage of the future plans of America's First Lady, Hillary Clinton. Beginning earlier this year, stories began appearing in various media outlets about the possibility of a run for the U.S. Senate in New York -- despite the fact that she doesn't live in the state. I have little doubt the story was seeded in the media by those close to her as a trial balloon to determine how popular she is, but the gusto to which the press has taken to the story is sickening.

Led by CNN, a large number of stories -- filled with the breathless quotes that media sycophants only wish they could say themselves -- have appeared about this "possible" Senate run.

But what if she doesn't run? How can she be convinced?

Well, the media answered that question by running Clinton against two prominent New York Republicans, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Senator Al D'Amato. A CNN/Time poll conducted in February found that, not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton would defeat both men. The easiest way to convince someone you want them to do something is to tell them other people support you.

I am a journalist. I make my living reporting the facts of something that has happened to people that were not there. It is a sacred trust that has been placed with me because I am trusted to tell the truth. I may have agendas, beliefs and axes to grind, but when it comes time to write the story I have to tell the truth as I know it.

This does not mean that I make up stories or invent themes as part of a campaign to influence people who trust me to simply tell them what happened. The mental gymnastics that the media is engaging in over Clinton's possible run is best left to the columnists and pundits who are paid to have an opinion. It is their job to report on things which have yet to happen and to do it in a brazenly partisan manner.

That said, I predict that Hillary Clinton will win if she does run for the Senate. The reason for this bold prediction is simple: The media wants it.

The differences between Canada and the United States are not as deep as some people would like to believe, especially since both our present governments are remarkably similar.

U.S. President Bill Clinton -- with no shortage of bravery or arrogance -- told Americans recently that he would give them their money back as the country records huge budget surpluses, but what if they did the wrong thing with it? We couldn't have that happen could we?

When it comes time to giving money back to the people it was taken from, Canada isn't much different. Sure, we may say "Eh" and pronounce "about" by saying aboot, but budget surpluses are handled the same way.

On February 16, Canada's Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin told Canadians that after nearly three decades of expanding taxation, all they deserved back was $1.13 a day. That, say experts, is how much the average Canadian family will enjoy after Martin's tax cuts take effect.

Of course, since taxes aren't indexed in Canada, that $1.13 will be eaten up by inflation before I fill out my next tax form.

For all the talk of tax cuts, Canadians will pay almost $37 billion more in personal taxes in 1999-2000 -- an increase of 39 per cent -- over 1993-94. Even with the latest tax reductions, Ottawa's take from all forms of taxes and fees will this year represent 17 per cent of the gross domestic product, one of the highest totals in the past two decades.

Like Bill Clinton, Paul Martin does not trust Canadians with their own money. Both governments would rather use surpluses to shore up socialist government programs -- Americans cry about their Social Security program while it's the health care system that Canadians carry on about -- then give it back.

But blaming Martin -- or Clinton -- is a bit unfair when we deserve some of the blame. We, after all, take it with only a minimum of complaint. They may have no vision, we have no courage.

The March 1999 Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

Conservatives in Canada took what may be an important first step in February to defeating the country's governing Liberal Party when they voted to support a motion calling for the creation of a new party.

For those unfamiliar with Canadian politics, the Liberal Party has been able to achieve successive federal election wins because the conservative vote in Canada is fractured between the populist Reform Party and the more liberal Progressive Conservatives. Reform is immensely popular in Western Canada, and has translated that into official opposition party status, while the Progressive Conservatives count on support in Ontario and to the east into Atlantic Canada.

That division in the vote has allowed Jean Chrétien's Liberals to maintain its grip in the House of Commons, and barring the miraculous nationwide rise of the Reform or PC parties, will continue to form successive governments in the future.

Delegates to the United Alternative (offsite link) convention, largely held because of Reform Leader Preston Manning's desire to unify the right-wing vote, supported a motion to merge the Reform and Tories. Any merger, which has yet to be approved by either party, faces tremendous hurdles. Many Progressive Conservatives virulently despise the Reform Party because of unfair accusations of racism (Reform's Members of Parliament are probably more ethnically diverse than the Tories ever were), extremism and because they see the collapse of their party as partly the fault of the Western-based party.

And that opposition -- mostly importantly by PC Leader Joe Clark -- means that the official United Alternative movement may die before it is ever born. But the vote did herald what could be a new beginning.

Polls have confirmed that Canadians are willing to support a political party composed of Reform and Tories as long as it is perceived not to be racist or extremist. Tory delegates to the convention -- who, in honestly, only made up a minority of delegates -- signaled with their vote that a merger or a movement of votes to Reform is possible, meaning that a united right-wing in Canada could happen in the near future.

So while an immense shakeup of Canadian politics may not come directly out of the United Alternative convention last month, it may instead come indirectly. Tories, seeing the irrational intransigence of men like Clark and John Crosbie, may themselves begin to move over to a new right-wing political party.

Whether Clark likes it or not, a nascent unification movement may well begin and it will occur with or without him. The only winners will be Canadians who will once again have a viable national party as an alternative to the tax and spend Liberals. It seems, that only delegates to the convention knew that.

As you may have read in Steve Martinovich's piece Defending the defensible, famed Hollywood director Elia Kazan will receive an Academy Award to honour his tremendous body of work later this month. It's a move that fans of film feel is long overdue and an honour that his critics wished would have never occurred.

Kazan is hated by many people in Hollywood for testimony in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in which he named those of his peers as past or then present members of the Communist Party, resulting in many shattered careers and lives.

As Defending the defensible points out, Hollywood was rife with Reds between the 1930s and 50s. Prominent writers, directors and actors belonged to or were friendly with the Communist Party of the United States of America and lent their support to an ideology which called for nothing less than the destruction of democracy and capitalism, and did it with nothing less than murder and brutality.

Kazan isn't being honoured for his testimony in front of the HUAC -- his movies are good enough to merit the honour -- but he should be. Whether he believes it or not, he helped stopped an evil enemy from extending its tentacles into America's mainstream. That is reason enough to be honoured, even if Hollywood liberals don't like it.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? Email ESR with your candidates!

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