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The Earth is Flat Award

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

web posted July 24, 2000

If you haven't heard by now that Hillary Clinton allegedly called Bill Clinton's congressional campaign manager Paul Fray a "f****** Jew bastard" in 1974 you've been avoiding the media, something that can be easily forgiven.

I'm not going to take Hillary Clinton to task over the allegation since it has yet to be proved that she actually did say it. Rather, it is media itself that once again has reserved itself a spot in the coldest part of my heart. Although they actually reported on the allegation, it is the manner in which they covered the story that I found interesting.

Take yourself back to a time not too long ago when a Republican nominee faced allegations that he was a regular cocaine user back in the 1970s. The evidence against this nominee was non-existent, save for a book that made the charge without so much as one piece of evidence that could be checked out. That, of course, didn't stop the media from pounding said candidate with questions about his past for weeks. The story eventually lost its legs after no evidence could be found to support the allegations.

Contrast that with the charge of using an anti-Semitic slur back in the early 1970s, about the same time that Republican candidate was allegedly visiting another plane of existence, which Hillary Clinton faces. Although the media has dutifully asked the expected questions, there is no feeding frenzy despite the fact that three people claim to have actually been in her presence when she allegedly made the comment.

If they aren't doing their job only half-heartedly, some members of the media are actually spinning the story to attack those who brought the story to light. One of them is Salon magazine's Jake Tapper, a writer who accuses Republicans of spreading the "dubious" allegations. The regular villains are responsible for the allegation, wrote Tapper on July 19, people like Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Matt Drudge and even Rupert Murdoch, with the "right-leaning Aussie's fingerprints [found] all over the story's procession through the media food chain."

But that's Salon magazine, the most prominent online apologist for the Clinton Administration, and it's expected that they would rather attack the messengers then investigate the message itself. What disappoints me - as it usually does - is the manner the story was handled by the media. They have once again proved that soft gloves come out if the accused is a Democrat while Republicans can expect a cauldron.

Proving once again that he is a petty man who doesn't deserve to be called a leader, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien refuses to say when - and if - he will announce a byelection so that Canada's newest party leader can take a seat in the House of Commons.

Chrétien even refused to promise he'd call a byelection in time for Stockwell Day to win the Okanagan-Coquihalla seat before September. That means Day could be left out of the Commons when Parliament resumes for the fall session.

While Chrétien has six months to call the byelection, the prime minister traditionally calls for a quick byelection so a new opposition leader can gain a Commons seat quickly. Chrétien himself was extended that courtesy after winning his party's leadership in 1990.

Doubtless it's because Day, the newly minted leader of the Canadian Alliance, is head of a populist conservative party which will give Chrétien's Liberals a serious run for their money in many parts of the country. I can understand that because in politics there are no such things as free rides. The person in the big chair is the one that makes the decisions and they will inevitably rig the process so that it favours them. It may disappoint me, but it doesn't surprise me.

What disgusted me is that Chrétien stated the reason why he wouldn't call the election is because he wanted to "consult the people of the riding. I want to hear what they have to say."

The people of the Okanagan-Coquihalla spoke in the last federal election when they elected Jim Hart, a candidate from the Reform Party, the predecessor of the Canadian Alliance. Hart is resigning to be with his family and to give his new leader a seat so that his voice may he heard. Not only should Chrétien heed the voices of constituents in the riding, he should also take note that the Canadian Alliance is the Official Opposition in Parliament.

While Chrétien claims to be "looking forward to confronting" Day over the Canadian Alliance's platform, it seems he just doesn't want to do it on level ground. A true leader.

web posted July 17, 2000

Opposed to abortion? Attacks against doctors are your fault.

That seemed to be the message in Canada last week after a doctor who performs abortions in Vancouver was stabbed, reportedly over the testing of abortion pill RU-486.

Stockwell Day, the newly minted leader of the conservative Canadian Alliance, is well known for his opposition to abortion. Within hours of the attack on the abortionist, Day was asked by reporters whether his type of beliefs had created the atmosphere which lead to the stabbing of Dr. Garson Romalis. Repeatedly. Clearly angered, Day responded that, "I utterly condemn violence. I hope the full weight of law is applied to the individual when they are apprehended."

That wasn't enough for the media who then demanded to know whether Day supported tougher sentences for those who attack abortionists. But Day would not back a call for a special, tougher category of crimes for crimes committed at abortion clinics. He said his party advocates stiffer sentences for all violent crimes. That wasn't enough for one reporter who continued to pester Day, finally earning an angry response from the CA leader.

"How would you like me to spell it out? Denounce, condemn, outrageous, untenable . . . there is no way I would countenance anything like this," said Day.

If it wasn't the media, it was pro-choice groups like the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League who pinned some of the blame for the attack on the right-wing party and Day.

"This really comes as no surprise to us at CARAL, because of the amount of anti-choice, extremist rhetoric that there's been out there, especially on the part of the candidates for the Alliance," said CARAL's Marilyn Wilson.

Day has never hidden that he is personally opposed to abortion, but has said he would not move to criminalize it or change Canadian law unless there was a citizen-led movement to do so. Real extremist stuff there. I guess it is for CARAL and Canada's liberal media.

Surely you've an essay on what happened to America's Founding Fathers after they dared to sign the Declaration of Independence? ESR printed Rush Limbaugh Jr.'s version here earlier this month. Along with that essay, there are several versions floating around which essentially tell the same story: many of the signers ended up losing either their lives, property or family...or all of the above. It's the type of story not told in schools anymore because that time would be better on sensitivity training.

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, the lone conservative voice on that newspaper, discovered just that. His Independence Day column (published July 2) happened to be on the fate of the signers. Ostensibly, it wasn't his choice of subject matter that angered the Globe's liberal elite, but the fact that his essay sounded similar to all the other essays written on the subject.

After reading Limbaugh's version and all the others circulated by e-mail, Jacoby did his own research and found some errors. Correcting those errors, Jacoby then wrote his own column. The Globe announced days later that they would suspend him for four months without pay because he failed to inform readers that his column was based on other similar writings. The newspaper stopped short of declaring him a plagiarist and called their response "balanced."

If he wasn't a plagiarist, why was Jacoby suspended? Jewish World Review editor in chief Binyamin L. Jolkovsky says it's obvious:

"In the past, Jeff had the audacity to question frequently, and with eloquence, what is more and more becoming the accepted norm in this era of moral revisionism. His views are conservative and based upon his value-system as a Sabbath-observant Jew. It is no secret that some of his coworkers -- 'colleagues' is hardly the apt word -- at the Globe wanted him purged, as documented by several media accounts."

No secret at all why...

web posted July 3, 2000

It's a good thing that U.S. President Bill Clinton was "satisfied" at the outcome of the Elian Gonzalez saga while Attorney General Janet Reno was "very pleased" and that she wanted everyone to "join me in wishing this family, and this special little boy, well."

How this special little boy will be "well" in a communist slave state was a question left unanswered by Reno but it's just as well that she didn't try. It probably wouldn't have been very pretty.

It's also an interesting reversal of history -- and the repeat of another odious incident -- that most Americans are happy that Elian was sent back to a country that will force him to work in the sugar cane fields when he's not in school. Back when Fidel Castro first took power, over 14 000 children were sent out of Cuba by their parents to the United States to ensure that, while they wouldn't see their family for years, they would at least live in freedom.

The exodus, Operation Pedro Pan as it was known, had the support of the public, various levels of government and religious groups. American families opened their homes and their hearts to children who often spoke no English and had no family here. It's the type of thing that shows the true character of a nation.

Having Elian sent back to Cuba reminds me of another incident as well. Just before the Second World War a ship carrying hundreds of Jewish families left Germany for...well, anywhere they wouldn't be forced to wear yellow Star of Davids on their clothes to identify themselves as undesirables to their former friends in the neighborhoods.

The ship went to nation to nation seeking safe harbour but was continually refused. The ship eventually returned to Germany and its passengers later found themselves in various concentration camps.

The parallel isn't the same obviously. Elian, unless he becomes an anti-government activist, doesn't have to fear joining the 75 000 people that Castro has had murdered for various reasons while the fate of the Jews was all but sealed the moment Adolph Hitler sat in the big chair at the Reichstag. That incident, however, also showed the character of nations.

Right now it's hard to find much good to say about the character of America. There's little you can do to regain it because that ship already left as well.

web posted June 26, 2000

That Ralph Nader is a millionaire who invests his money in the stock market is hardly surprising. Like Nader, there was another philosopher who wrote anti-capitalist screeds calling for an end to the classical liberal way of life. His name was Karl Marx. Seems one of the primary movers of communism loved to invest money in the London Stock Exchange.

Nader has received a lot of press over the years for his rumpled suits and cheap shoes, but the fact of his wealth was known -- just not widely reported by his doting press. Although he publicly proclaimed poverty, Nader spent most of his time at his wealthy sister's house...bourgeoisie living without the bourgeoisie bill.

After years of refusing to reveal the extent of his wealth, Nader recently went beyond the call of duty and filed a 21-page filing with the Federal Election Commission that was more detailed than required. Although he claims to give away 80 per cent of his after-tax income, Nader's finances are firmly in the black.

Nader has a net worth of at least $3.8 million, including $1.2 million in stock in Cisco Systems Inc. He owns smaller amounts of five other technology-related stocks and has more than $2 million in two money-market funds. He lists no debt. He also admits to making at least $13 million since 1967 in royalties, honoraria, interest income, and writing and television fees. Nice work if you can get it.

Of course, news of Nader's secret financial empire didn't seem to disappoint his followers in the mainstream media. Despite his wealth, they wrote glowingly about Nader's decades old Underwood typewriter that needs a new ribbon, how he hasn't owned a car since the 1950s, and how his television is a small black and white model with spotty reception. Life must be rough.

"Aside from modest personal expenses, I have always treated my income as a de facto philanthropic fund for many projects and institutions that serve the interests of consumers, the environment, labor and more accountable business and government," he said in a statement attached to his federal filing. "In short, monies I earn are for strengthening civil society."

I don't begrudge Nader his millions, I would have done the same if I were in his position. With one exception, I wouldn't have played the pauper while having a net worth more than most people.

The 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.

web posted July 24, 2000

Small miracles are all we can expect when it comes to freedom these days. One of those occurred on July 17.

Late that night, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The legislation, which would have banned nearly all forms of Internet gambling, was voted on under suspension on a 245-159 vote, falling short of the two-thirds needed for passage. The bill had an impressive and diverse group backing it including the casino industry, the FBI, the Christian Coalition, the National Council of Churches, and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Despite its defeat, if 60 per cent of members voting in favour of something can be termed a defeat, failed to dissuade Goodlatte who says he'll bring the legislation up for a vote again in the near future.

"I am pleased that more than 60 percent of my colleagues in the House understand the importance of this vital legislation," Goodlatte said in a statement. "It is of utmost importance that this legislation is passed and signed into law this year. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is vital to protect our children and communities from the problems of addiction, crime, bankruptcy, and family difficulties that come from gambling."

It's interesting to note, however, that Goodlatte didn't try and ban all forms of gambling. It's also interesting to note that the casinos aren't shy with handing out money to Republicans either. Still, what bothers me and Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) is that online gambling was treated differently.

"Regulating commerce on the Internet different from other commerce is a dangerous precedent, and invites significant new regulation of the Internet," Cox said. "We can do better than this. ... we will do better than this."

That last sentence should scare everyone who believes people should have a right to decide what to do with their time and money and take the responsibility that comes along with the decision. We can at least feel satisfied that 40 per cent of the House did the right thing and vote to keep government out of yet one more aspect of our lives. For the time being at least.

web posted July 3, 2000

It's rare that the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision that both conservatives and some gays applaud. While both claim they are fighting for legitimate rights, neither considers the other's position to have much merit.

The exception to the rule occurred on June 28 when the court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America can bar homosexuals from being troop leaders. The justices by a 5-4 vote overturned a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that the dismissal of a gay Scout leader had been illegal under the state's anti-discrimination law.

The Boy Scouts, which also exclude atheists and agnostics as leaders, said it has the right to decide who can join its ranks.

While most gays supported James Dale's suit against the Boy Scouts, many others did not because they saw the inherent flaw in an argument which demanded that their rights be respected while simultaneously arguing that the freedoms of association and free speech do not exist when it suits them.

Whether you agree or not with the beliefs of the Boy Scouts, the ruling was a victory for freedom. It essentially means that private organizations, like the Boy Scouts, are allowed to set their own standards for membership. It protects the essential rights of freedom of association and free speech for all, whether Boy Scouts or gay.

It's not a surprise then that the ruling was applauded by people on both sides of the cultural and political divide.

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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