Enter Stage Right hands out its monthly awards...
The October 1998 Earth is Flat Award
A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...
It was only a few years ago that Pat Buchanan was being excoriated for a speech at the Republican national convention, a speech where he stated that conservatives were engaged in cultural warfare. At the time I grimaced, knowing it was just the kind of thing that the press would jump on and something that would make the mainstream a little nervous about voting for the right.
Older, wiser, and carrying a few extra pounds, I now know Buchanan was right. Although Buchanan comes from the Judeo-Christian side of things, and I from a more secular point of view, there is a culture battle being waged right now. The battle, unfortunately, is being lost.
It would be easy to condemn Bill Clinton for the crimes and mistakes that he has committed. The alleged crimes have stained his office with disgrace, while his mistakes clearly show a lack of moral center.
But sometimes the crimes illustrate the character of the judges then it does the criminals. Witness the American people.
You were conclusively lied to in January and for the next seven months. A man stared you straight in the eyes and told you that he did not have "sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." That woman? That woman? He lied. And not only did he lie, but he attempted to obstruct the uncovering of that lie -- and many others -- through the protracted use of legal means and obtuse language.
Clinton's perjury may not be impeachable, but nor should it be acceptable to a people who look to the president for moral leadership. He should not be allowed to operate under a lower moral standard simply because he occupies what is arguably the most powerful office in the world, instead he should be held to an even higher standard simply because he occupies the presidency.
He has destroyed a trust which is needed between a president and the people, throwing away something that is needed if one is to govern well.
But his lying and desperate attempt to hold on to his office is expected of a politician. They train themselves to set incredible goals, to reach those goals, and to do what is necessary to protect their gains.
But for all of his lying and evasion, for the damage he's done to the office he was entrusted with, the American people continue to support him. A standard of behavior that none of them would be allowed to get away with in their private lives is given full sanction with every poll released. I used to think that his high poll numbers were a reflection of how well the American economy was doing, but I now believe that Americans simply don't give a damn about what kind of person leads them, so long as their IRAs continue to provide decent returns.
If I was the hysterical type I would proclaim the public ready for the Praetorian Guard gambling for the Empire on the side of a road, how democracy was burning while someone fiddled, or how bread and circuses were more important than leadership, but that's a cheap way to detail a decline I believe may be coming.
Instead I'll say this. This incident has set the stage for a moral decline not only among the leaders of America, but of the people themselves. By giving sanction to criminal activities and plain lying, a precedent has been set. In the future no leader can be expected to act any better than Clinton, and indeed, nor would they have to. By allowing Clinton to make his acts of contrition without any real meaning behind them, the public is setting an standard for every future president.
If in the future you want to decry abuse of power, lying or immorality
among your political leaders, please think twice. I couldn't stand the
Did Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien order Royal Canadian Mounted Police personal to beat, pepper spray and arrest protesting students last fall at the Asian Pacific summit so that then Indonesian Prime Minister Suharto wouldn't see protests of his dictatorship?
At this early date its hard to tell since an investigation into the incident is still continuing, but the facts that have been revealed to date show that there was a plan to monitor and possibly incite a violent protest by students, orchestrated by Canadian security personal.
The last day of the APEC summit last year saw 40 students arrested during a protest which may have gotten a little out of hand, but behind that story was a more odious one. Before the conference, the RCMP allegedly infiltrated the protestors and encouraged them to become more violent in their protests. While doing that, the police also covertly took pictures of all the student leaders and ginned up bios on all of them. Come day of the protest, those student leaders were all arrested, some even before the conference began.
If the police had decided to suspend the democratic rights of assembly and free speech unilaterally it would be scary enough, but there are indications that Prime Minister Chrétien himself may have ordered the crackdown. Notes made by RCMP officers show that Chrétien himself may have directly ordered security personnel to clear away protestors. An aboriginal chief also claims to have seen Chrétien issuing orders to security personnel, though she did not hear what those orders were.
While there may have been some rational fear for Suharto's safety, I believe that the actions were taken so that the visiting dictators of Asia could visit Canada and be impressed at our version of Asian values. No embarrassing protests, no worrisome reminders of the brutality of men like Suharto and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Neat, clean and orderly.
If Chrétien did order a crackdown, he should resign. If this country values freedom of speech and assembly, and if the prime minister did issue orders, then he should go. Freedoms under this Liberal government have been steadily eroded, whether through increasing taxation and regulation. Those, however, are legislative restrictions on our freedoms and can be reversed.
Our choice is simple. Do we accept violence and intimidation from our police, or do we expect constitutionally guaranteed freedoms to be defended by the prime minister? That choice is yours.
The October 1998 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.
You are the king of your own world.
Let me set the scene. You are a respected lawyer known for your fairness. Your educational pedigree is among the finest in your profession, with degrees from George Brown University, Brown University and Duke University. You've clerked for Warren E. Burger, served as counselor to the attorney general, solicitor general of the United States, and a judge with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. You are married with three children.
You are as happy as a clam.
Then one day, you are picked out of your obscurity by the Attorney General of the United States and tasked to investigate alleged illegal activities in the White House. You are a Republican and everyone knows it, but you accept the job.
In the beginning you are asked to investigate an old land deal which a lot of people, including the AG, think was a bit too shady even for a politician. You are then asked to expand your investigation to include the firing of seven long time White House employees apparently at the instigation someone very high up, then the appearance of hundreds of F.B.I. files in the White House, mostly the enemies of the resident of the Oval Office.
If that weren't enough, you are asked to also investigate the sordid details of an alleged cover-up of an affair with a young intern at the White House. Having an affair with an intern is not a federal crime, but lying about it, or asking others to do so, is. So your inquiry is once again expanded to include it. Allegations so far involve possible perjury, suborning perjury and obstruction of justice.
The very White House which indirectly appointed you now attacks you as a vindictive lunatic, bent on a politically motivated effort to destroy the president. This president spends millions of dollars concocting inane defenses as to why he and his staff shouldn't help with your legitimate investigation. Even the public, who should have some interest in the honesty of their moral leader, despise you. Rumours are continually spread about you.
You could have left this insanity and accepted the position of dean of Pepperdine University's law school, but the very people who wanted you off the investigation then attacked your decision to leave. You stayed on and continue to take abuse like few others in your position have.
And though you suffered a four-year jihad, one marked by constant struggle and an ever expanding look into a heart of darkness, you finally deliver a report which details nearly one dozen possible grounds of impeachment, more than even Richard Nixon was faced with. By any measure you have achieved an amazing success.
Was it worth it? Only you can answer that.
Always a group to stand up for themselves, 10 000 gun owners showed up on Parliament Hill in Ottawa last month to protest the Canadian government's plans to force three million firearms owners to register seven million firearms. It was one of the largest protests in the capital's history.
Ostensibly done for safety, Bill C-68 may the first step to the confiscation of all firearms in Canada.
Bill C-68 does nothing for safety. It will not prevent criminals from purchasing firearms on the streets. It will not stop a repeat of an incident which saw 14 women killed in a Montreal college by a crazed gunman, largely the reason for this legislation.
But it will allow the government to track the ownership of firearms by all citizens and cost over $140 million before the first weapon is registered on December 1. It is too late to stop the registry. The federal government planned this a long time before unleashing it on the public and allowed no debate.
Despite that, gun owners should in force to decry another erosion on personal freedom by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Justice Minister Anne McLellan. Speakers from across the political spectrum, both liberals and conservatives, Canadians and Americans, spoke against the bill during a four hour rally.
But this is a government that is not interested in the views of its citizens. It has arrogantly ignored the wishes of Canadians over two terms and shows no signs of changing.
Unlike other Canadians, however, at least gun owners continue to speak up for their rights.
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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