Sunday, 25 August 2019
Canada's heroic energy industry will lead the way

The exploitation of native issues by the ENGO activists has been largely rubbish, but the best antidote is to translate the native interest into financial participation in the energy industry

by Conrad Black

I had the pleasure this week of attending a Canadian Energy Executives’ Association (CEEA) annual conference in Banff, always an inspiring setting for any activity. When I was in the energy business many years ago (Norcen Energy Resources, originally the Northern and Central Gas Company), I often met with the Calgary energy establishment. In the mid-eighties they had the air of vintage explorers and promoters, swashbuckling oilmen of the old school, with a stylistic touch of Tex Ritter and John Wayne. In those times, the federal government of Pierre Trudeau was trying to take a large part of the profit from what was assumed to be a steeply rising industry. The price projections in the National Energy Program of 1981 foresaw a quick, straight rise in the oil price, a golden rocket to pay for all the wealth and welfare-distributive dreams of the Pierre Trudeau government. The agenda was a combination of Pierre Trudeau’s political raison d’être of fighting Quebec separatism with distribution of money in Quebec and smaller (Atlantic) provinces, and his Club of Rome, anti-growth and rather socialistic time-warp of the thirties and forties.

This policy made his regime a constant challenge: the indispensable man in saving Canada from the Quebec separatists was also an unregenerate social democrat who found the politics of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher incomprehensibly unattractive. He saved Canadian federalism by being out of step with the wider world, including economically renascent China.

Last week in Banff there was some reflection on the irony that where Pierre wanted to take the money from an industry that he regarded with fiscal greed, Justin Trudeau wants to shut down the same industry, which he regards as a threat to the environment and a menace to the inalienable rights of native people. Where Pierre Trudeau had begun his long incumbency as prime minister intending to fold what was then called the ministry of Indian Affairs, Justin has turned the country’s pockets inside-out to unaccountable native leaders, and has pitched to those who imply that all who have come to this country after the natives have been illegitimate occupiers. It is difficult for me to express the extent of my respect for the resilience, buoyant morale, and sophisticated strategic response of the country’s energy industry and of the new Alberta government to these challenges.

The Alberta government of Peter Lougheed (1971-1984), who was a red Tory who would have had a lot in common in some policy areas with Pierre Trudeau, responded fiercely to the National Energy Program, a severe fiscal imposition on the energy industry and on his province, on fiscal and constitutional grounds. He did not attract as much support as he should have from the rest of Canada because Trudeau was able to portray Lougheed as a “blue-eyed sheik” where Trudeau was sharing the wealth, encouraging greater exploration, and waving the national flag. Now, the energy industry is fully mobilized and has refined its tactics very astutely. It is fighting for Canadian satisfaction of Canada’s energy needs, an ecologically impeccable industry in which there is a substantial participation by talented and proven native and Métis leaders, including the impressive Stephen Buffalo and Gerald Auger. I had the opportunity of speaking with both of them, too briefly but very informatively (for me).

The motto for the conference was “Peace Love Energy” and the able minister of energy in Jason Kenney’s new government, Sonya Savage, has set up a war room to develop the strategy of the energy sector in alliance with the industry to counter the entire coalition of interests and attitudes arrayed against them. Savage is a post-graduate academic authority on environmental questions and has a solid background in pipelines. She has engaged the distinguished former Postmedia journalist Claudia Cattaneo as the chief full-time strategist. The Alberta government and energy industry are preparing to return fire with the ENGOs (environmental non-government organizations) who have flooded the public consciousness with falsely negative misinformation about the effects of energy development on the environment, and with fables about renewable resources. There will be great emphasis on the advantages available to native people who are substantial economic participants, as executives and as owners of land, resource rights and transit rights.

As the CEEA kindly asked me to address them, I took it upon myself to say that they were not facing the persecution of their province and its chief industry alone, and that there were a great many, relatively silent Canadians who knew that native and environmental issues were being unfairly amplified to thwart almost anything the energy industry attempts in the commercial interest of energy production and delivery, and in the national interest, of which energy is a vital component. It is possible to make and lay down practically leakproof pipelines. The environmental prohibitions on tanker exportation in our coastal waters are horse-feathers; there are almost never accidents with large tankers operated by serious ship owners. The supplementary argument about the tankers’ affront to or demoralization of whales is risible foolishness that no accurately informed person would believe.

Kenney is poised now to fight a battle for all Canadians to end our national status as the world’s greatest geopolitical chump

The exploitation of native issues by the ENGO activists has also been largely rubbish, but the best antidote to them is to translate the legitimate native interest into financial and executive participation in the industry and showcase the competitive success of this form of boot-strapping the native community upwards compared to the extravagant victimhood industry endlessly touted by the federal government. Jason Kenney is a proven and agile political leader who would be the federal prime minister today if Stephen Harper had retired five years ago and not suicidally led his party through one of the longest and most inane re-election attempts of any Canadian government since John Diefenbaker tried to sell revocation of Canada’s NATO obligations in 1963. (The main issues put forward by Harper four years ago to galvanize Canadians into re-electing him were Muslim face-coverings for females at public ceremonies and admitting the fewest Syrian refugees he thought he could get away with). But Kenney is poised now to fight a battle for all Canadians to end our national status as the world’s greatest geopolitical chump for exporting 1.9 million barrels of oil per day, much of it at artificially low prices, while importing 600,000 barrels a day because of the spurious objections to pipelining oil from Alberta to Toronto and Montreal.

The entire tenor of the CEEA conference was upbeat and devoted altogether to winning public and financial opinion in a rematch against the authors of the protracted oppression of the industry. Without a trace of self-pity and with little animosity toward eastern Canada as a whole, the Kenney government, in close co-operation with the private sector, is preparing to battle the animosity of those who have embraced confected ecological concerns and the phantasmagorical fears of some native leaders as the best methods of defeating capitalism.

Capitalism always will win eventually as the only economic system aligned with the universal human ambition for more. And it will incidentally prevail as the best way of spreading wealth and opportunity in native communities. There is little evident disharmony on these points with the Alberta NDP; the great Liberal party gained 0.08 per cent of the votes in the past provincial election. Our much battered energy industry, now practically deserted by foreign investors who rightly cannot abide the inanities of wavering Canadian federal official policy, will light the way for Canadian business and public policy.

First published in the National Post

Posted on 08/25/2019 5:19 AM by Conrad Black
Sunday, 25 August 2019
Charles de Gaulle, Emmanuel Macron, and Donald Trump

by Michael Curtis

The meetings of the largest advanced economies in the world indicate that love is now the star dust of yesterday, the music of the years gone by. They rarely produce solutions for the complex problems they encounter, nor end with a fully comprehensive statement. There are few optimistic expectations about the outcome of the meeting in Biarritz, the French seaside resort, starting on August 24, 2019 of the G7, the world’s largest advance economies representing about half of the global GDP based on nominal values. The G7 had begun in response to the oil crisis of the 1970s but has evolved to embrace a lager agenda. 

The 2019 meeting has a potential formidable agenda: among it are issues such as differences on Iran, the drift to protectionism. the trade war with China, lower trade barriers, digital service tax, the decline in world economic growth, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, global tax policy, multilateral cooperation, terrorism, and Brexit, and unexpectedly the environmental threat in Brazil. The host French President Emmanuel Macron has already said, “We’re facing a historic challenge to the world order.” 

Many of the participants at the G7 will have arrived in France at the Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) airport. By a curious coincidence it is exactly 75 years since Charles de Gaulle, then General, entered Paris during World War II, and walked down the Champs-Elysees, from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame Cathedral to the acclaim of thousands of French people, many singing the Marseillaise. It is intriguing to compare his political policies with those of the present President Macron.

Charles de Gaulle in his extraordinary career was founder of the Free French movement initiated on June 18, 1940 ,with a speech in London on the BBC,  leading to a coalition of resistance forces, with de Gaulle as the leader, chair of the Provisional Government of the French Republic, 1944-46, the interim government of France, founder of the Fifth Republic in 1959, and president of France, January 1959 to April 1969. 

For a number of years de Gaulle was the dominant figure in French politics. Not surprisingly he has been compared in importance with Napoleon. Both were successful in persuading the population that they personally embodied the nation, but the important difference is clear. Napoleon, the Emperor, sought a Europe under French domination; the soldier turned politician de Gaulle sought a free France in a free Europe, especially one not dominated by the United States or its ally Britain.  

From the start, de Gaulle spoke of independence from the “Anglo-Saxons,” the U.S. and UK. He was caustic on the issue. The Anglo-Saxons, he said “never really treated us as real allies…they sought to use the French forces for their own goals. I considered I had to play the French game since the others were playing theirs. I deliberately adopted a stiffened and hardened attitude.” Winston Churchill understood this, in spite of the frequent adversarial relationship between them. Churchill said he felt it was essential to de Gaulle’s position before the French people that he should maintain a proud and haughty demeanor toward “perfidious Albion.”

President Franklin Roosevelt was equally troubled by de Gaulle’s attitude and personality and refused to recognize him as the true representative of France. He preferred General Henri Giraud as leader of the resistance until forced by events to recognize de Gaulle in late 1944. 

The witty French writer Jules Renard once pointed out that political ideas resemble panes of glass. Looked at one by one they are clear, but put together they become obscure. This may be true of many politicians, including some in the U.S., but it is overwhelmingly true of de Gaulle. He was brave, a man of personal integrity, cold, vain, egotistical, authoritarian, theatrical, anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist, anti-colonial, myth maker, a lover of France if not of French people or parliamentary democracy.

He believed in a policy of grandeur for his country: “All my life I have had a certain idea of France.” It was one of French national independence, and power, not reliance on the  U.S. for defense. He withdrew from the NATO military integrated command, vetoed UK membership in the EEC, forerunner of the EU, encouraged Quebec separatism. Yet he was a contradiction, a nationalist but also champion of Europe.

He was the exemplification of personal courage, walking down the center aisle of Notre Dame Cathedral immediately when he returned to Paris in spite of firing to kill him. He joined the fight against the 58 Nazi divisions still in Western Europe including 10 Panzer divisions. He was also a difficult man, unwilling to bend. He knew the importance of myth: there can be no prestige without mystery for familiarity breeds contempt. 

The earliest example of this was his statement on August 25, 1944 after he had entered Paris through the city gate of the Porte d’Orleans, declaring, without any credit for U.S, forces, that Paris had liberated itself, liberated by its people with the assistance of the enemies of France, with the support and assistance of the whole of France. 

De Gaulle remains a great figure, remembered by over 3,000 roads in France named after him, the Paris airport, and street around the Arc de Triomphe. 

Emmanuel Macron has been seen by some as the modern image of de Gaulle. Macron symbolically continues the Gaullist view of France as a strong power, a country for greatness. He has said that France needs a leader, a strong executive president directly elected by the people. Like de Gaulle, he created a political, parliamentary party to support him. Like de Gaulle Macron is a cultured individual, well read, familiar with Hegel, Corneille, and Henri Bergson. Like de Gaulle, he is an activist as well as remembering that the flame of the gallant French Resistance must not be extinguishable. Macron showed this on August 23, 2019 when French Security forces closed the city of Biarritz , where G7 is being held, using 13,000 officers to prevent violence from the yellow vests protestors, and the “black bloc” anti-capitalist  protestors who use black clothing or masks to conceal their identity, closing the train station and airport, and not allowing anyone on the central beach, in order to present the image of a strong united France.  

Yet they differ temperamentally as well as in policy postions. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who himself had an unhappy life, saw that de Gaulle belonged to “the race of unhappy and tortured souls to whom life will never be a pleasure to be enjoyed but an arid desert.” Macron appears more optimistic and more open to the joy of life, as well as being less frugal than his predecessor.

Yet, Macron, the youngest head of state since Napoleon, believes in a strong presidency, a strong France, and a more integrated Europe. He has taken immediate stands, and accepts the behavior of President Donald Trump with realistic understanding of the differences between them, especially on Trump’s political use of tariffs, on France’s tax on U.S., companies, or on proposals to protect the Amazon rain forest. He has attempted to dilute the influence of Trump by inviting leaders of other countries, African nations, India, Spain, Australia, and Chile, to Biarritz. Macron, opposed the proposal of Trump to readmit Russia which was expelled from G7 in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea. But he has also clashed with other G7 members, especially with Angela Merkel over the environment in Brazil, and with Boris Johnson over Brexit. Irrespective of Trump, there are sharp differences among the G7. 

Macron, who was the guest of honor at the only state dinner at the White House under Trump has been careful in relations with the President. Treating him to the Bastille Day military parade in 2017 and to dinner at the Eiffel Tower gave Trump pleasure. On August 24, 2019 he hosted Trump at an unscheduled lunch at the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz, ahead of the official opening of the G7 meeting. As a result, Trump told Macron “I think I could say that we have a “special relationship,” and we have been friends for a longtime.”

Macron explained his attitude to Trump. It’s very simple with President Trump. If he has made a campaign promise, you won’t change his mind. I respect and understand that. …it is important to say things without compromise, and to try to take up the point we agree on and not give in on the things we disagree on. Macron stated we must find new ways to launch real stimulus and growth, but in view of the divisions among the G7 the meeting is unlikely to produce any kind of unity or consensus, or to issue a final communique on which the parties agree. 

Posted on 08/25/2019 4:02 AM by Michael Curtis
Saturday, 24 August 2019
Solidarity and Sentimentalism at the European Commission

by Theodore Dalrymple

Ursula von der Leyen

It is sometimes easier to coin slogans than to avoid using them. When I read the headline of an interview with Ursula von der Leyen, the newly appointed President of the European Commission, entitled “In Europe, we must stop speaking in slogans,” I thought, “That is not a bad slogan.”

I then recalled the old Logical Positivists, whose main idea was that, to have meaning, a sentence must either be about a verifiable empirical state of affairs or be true by definition. The trouble is that the sentence in which this idea was propounded was neither about a verifiable empirical state of affairs, nor was it true by definition, and was therefore, ex hypothesi, meaningless. The Logical Positivists wanted to do away with metaphysics altogether, just as van der Leyen wants to do away with slogans; but metaphysics, like slogans in politics, are unavoidable. Down with metaphysics, down with slogans!

Of course, a newspaper interview is hardly the forum for profound political reflection or finely-honed argument. All the same, the mixture of cliché, slogan, and evasion with which van der Leyen answered the questions did not bode well. On the few occasions she said something verging on the concrete, it was mistaken.

She was asked, “In the matter of immigration policy, how can the differences [between the European countries] be reduced, given that the gulf between them has grown?” Here is her answer:

The last four years have taught us that simple answers don’t take us far. All that one heard was either “Close the borders and migration will stop,” or “we must save everyone on the Mediterranean.” We have seen that the phenomenon of migration has not stopped, and that there is a limit to the ability to integrate {the migrants]. Therefore a global approach is necessary. We much invest massively in Africa to reduce the pressure to migrate. At the same time we must fight against organised crime so that we ensure that the Schengen agreement [which allows free movement of people between countries party to it] can function because we protect our external borders [i.e. the borders of the European Union].

This evades most all of the difficult questions about immigration. Her answer is grammatically-correct and pleasant-sounding, but with a kind of superb indifference to practicalities, she fails to tell us how either the push or pull that drives migration is to be lessened, apart from “massive investment in Africa.”

She does not tell us who is going to bankroll this massive investment. Is it to be financed via the forced contributions of European taxpayers and to be administered by European bureaucrats? The history of “massive aid investment” on the part of Europeans in Africa has not been happy. The Scandinavian governments “invested” heavily in Tanzania, for example, because its dictator was a cuddly Christian socialist, a kind of Olaf Palme with political prisoners, but in so far as their “investment” had any effect at all, it was to reduce (an already very low) output per head, and to keep the dictator in power without having to change his policies. The Scandinavians belatedly admitted this, but it took two decades for the penny to drop.

If the “massive investment” is not to come from government, with its almost infallible ability to turn investment into liability, who is it to come from, and for what purposes? The answer, of course, must be the private or corporate sector. But why is it, then, that the private or corporate sector, supposedly ever on the search for commercial opportunity, does not already make such investments? How is it to be persuaded to do so? Is the purpose of its investment to make a profit or to reduce migration?

Cliché seems to have entered the very fabric of the new President-elect’s mind. She is an elegant and intelligent woman who no doubt means well, but surely it must have occurred to her that it is a little late in the day for investment, however massive, to halt the pressure that has led a third or more of sub-Saharan Africans—who will soon be three times more numerous than the Europeans—to want to migrate to Europe.

Besides, it is not the poorest of the poor of Africa who arrive clandestinely in Europe; rather, it is those who can, or whose family can pay either the air fare, giving them the chance to overstay their visa, or pay people-traffickers (often several thousand dollars) to smuggle them in. Furthermore, many migrants enter under family reunification schemes inscribed in European law.

A rising standard of living in the emigration centers of sub-Saharan Africa brought about by “massive investment,” were it to occur (which is far from certain), would, for quite a number of years, more likely increase than decrease the migratory pressure, in so far as more people would then have the means to undertake the migration. If this is not absolutely certain, it is at least a distinct possibility, but this thought does not in the slightest inhibit the new President from using the language of the imperative—a way of thinking that might result in the compulsion of reluctant countries to pursue a futile policy at great cost. Moreover, it is very difficult to see how any effective or selective migration policy could be carried out without a closure of borders.

Taking up the point, the interviewers asked whether the Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, was right to arrest non-governmental organizations that rescued migrants in the Mediterranean and brought them to Italy.

Mrs. von der Leyen’s answer was as follows:

It is an obligation for people to rescue the drowning. What Italy wants above all is the reform of the dysfunctional system . . . . I understand that the countries of the European Union with external frontiers do not want to be left to face the challenge of migration alone. They deserve our solidarity.

This is what a friend of mine calls a mashed-potato answer, one that does not address the question asked but succeeds in conveying a vague and non-committal aura of benevolence. Our solidarity: who could possibly be against it? But what would it mean in practice, our solidarity? It would mean spreading out all of the illegal migrants who have arrived in Italy, for example, among the other countries of Europe, whether those other countries want them or not (and, incidentally, whether or not the migrants themselves want to go to the countries allocated to them, an obvious point that I have never once seen mentioned in this connection). In these circumstances, solidarity might not last very long, and indeed might turn into its very opposite: extreme hostility. Note also that the very word solidarity suggests something that those in favour of mass migration are at pains to deny: that the migrants, far from being an asset to the country they have migrated to, are a burden on them.

In her above answer, the President-elect (for purely political reasons) disregarded entirely the evidence that Mr. Salvini’s policy has been a great success, at least from the point of view of preventing illegal immigration into Italy and deaths by drowning of those trying to reach it. He has, in effect, saved incomparably more lives by his firmness than have all the NGO’s put together who try to save the drowning. On the contrary, by encouraging people to try to reach Italy, the self-righteous NGO’s, which make mock of national laws, have in effect underwritten hundreds, if not thousands, of additional deaths. It is one thing to save the drowning whenever you find them, but another entirely to go looking for them. In fact, the NGO’s are a perfect illustration of Oscar Wilde’s definition of the sentimentalist: one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. The costs are imposed on others.

What is “They deserve our solidarity,” uttered without the slightest indication of what such solidarity actually entails, if not a slogan? In fact, there is very little other than slogan, cliché and evasion in the President-elect’s interview, with a leavening of humbug.

Nevertheless, to complain of this is perhaps futile or even dangerous. The problem in Europe is that opposition is also by slogan, cliché, and evasion, often with a leavening of true nastiness.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty

Posted on 08/24/2019 5:35 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Saturday, 24 August 2019
Two NYC Women Plead Guilty to Plan to Build Bomb for Attack on U.S.

From Reuters, via the New York Times,  QNS, and the New York Post

NEW YORK — Two women inspired by radical Islam pleaded guilty in New York City on Friday to teaching and distributing information about the manufacture and use of an explosive, destructive device and weapon of mass destruction, federal prosecutors said.

Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas, both U.S. citizens in their 30s from the borough of Queens, face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced.

Noelle Velentzas (center left) and Asia Siddiqui

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement the defendants studied some of the most deadly attacks in U.S. history as a blueprint for their plans to kill American law enforcement and military personnel.

According to charges, between 2013 and 2015, Velentzas and Siddiqui planned to build a bomb for use in a terrorist attack in the United States. In order to execute their plan, they taught each other chemistry and electrical skills related to creating explosives and building detonating devices. The pair also conducted research on how to make plastic explosives, how to build a car bomb and also acquired materials to be used in an explosive device.

Velentzas and Siddiqui referred to devices used in past terrorist attacks, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing and 1993 World Trade Center attack. The two also researched potential targets of attack, focusing on law enforcement and military-related targets. 

Charges say that Siddiqui’s interest in violent terrorist-related activities was reflected in her written submissions to a radical jihadist magazine edited by Samir Khan, a now-deceased prominent figure and member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”). Velentzas also reportedly spread violent rhetoric, praising the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, saying that being a martyr through a suicide attack guaranteed entrance into heaven. Velentzas specifically singled out government targets stating, “you go for the head” when you commit a terrorist attack.

In a December 27, 2014, meeting, the women also discussed the possibility of attacking the funeral for NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, who was fatally shot alongside partner Wenjian Liu while they sat in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The two would-be bombers were blatant about their support for terrorist groups abroad, court papers state, gleefully watching online videos of a suicide bombing and of ISIS fighters beheading Syrian soldiers. “Why we can’t be some real bad bitches?” Velentzas said in one meeting as she took a knife from her bra and showed Siddiqui and the informant how to stab someone.

When Velentzas and Siddiqui were arrested, law enforcement found propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes and several knives from both of their residences.

Siddiqui and Velentzas are due back in court in December for sentencing.

Posted on 08/24/2019 5:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 23 August 2019
The Epstein Fiasco and the Flaws with Our Criminal-Justice System

The Jeffrey Epstein charges and all aspects of this case are terribly serious, and the case ramifies far beyond the deceased.

by Conrad Black

The death of Jeffrey Epstein is a tragedy at every level. Any suicide is a tragedy other than for people facing intolerable but just punishment for their crimes and for whom suicide is an easier course (Hitler was the most infamous, but recent terrorists and mass murderers are also in this category), or those incurably ill and suffering acute physical pain as well as mental anguish. It is, after all, murder, and a person generally has a right not to be murdered, even by himself. The complete absence of a word of reflection on the human tragedy of an able-bodied man of apparently sound mind supposedly benefiting from a presumption of innocence is shaming. All we have heard is statements of vengeance and of resentment that Epstein had escaped justice. Though he was charged with terrible crimes, Epstein’s life was not judicially in danger. There were, as the attorney general (William Barr) implied, likely sighs of relief or at least of hopefulness that some aspects of the story might be buried with him.

Sex (or any) slavery, exploitation of underaged people, and any sex not entered into by validly consenting adults are all obviously horrifying. The Florida prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, has been so fiercely criticized for the relatively gentle sentence he agreed to with Epstein (13 months in Palm Beach County jail but able six days out of seven to go to work during the day), that he had to resign as Labor secretary. But every legally experienced person knows that cases of this kind are difficult to prove, and Acosta said that the agreement he reached was fair. None of any of these questions about how strong a case the New York prosecutors had were ever raised.

And President Trump was wrong to have tweeted out scurrilous imputations about a connection between Epstein and President Clinton.

I was a prisoner in two low-security federal prisons in Florida for a total of three years (for offenses I have now been found officially not to have committed, as was always my contention). They were not like a metropolitan detention center, which is a maximum-security catchment for those accused of the most grievous crimes in a large city, awaiting processing. In such places as the one where Jeffrey Epstein died, neither the residents nor the so-called correctional officers can be relied upon to behave with any civility. It is scarcely possible to imagine a more depressing environment. But the circumstances of Jeffrey Epstein’s death must include official negligence, and for once the tin-foil hat brigade who claim he was knocked off at the behest of important people whom he could compromise deserves a better hearing than usual. The removal of the acting director of prisons is a start, but the entire bureau, like most of the American criminal-justice system, needs radical reform. It would be a surprising and unsought legacy if Jeffrey Epstein’s death led to any professional elevation of the Bureau of Prisons.

The public should know why it took so long to get any more evidence than was revealed in Miami, and who else was complicit in it all, and where his large fortune really came from. Beyond this case, the media, which with rare exceptions has been obscenely complacent about the rotten structure of the American criminal-justice system, should lift the rock on the corrupt plea-bargain system that enables prosecutors to extort and suborn false inculpatory evidence with impunity to achieve a success rate of over 90 percent of cases, and in more than 90 percent of them without a trial, so impossible are the chances of success for a defendant, regardless of the facts. The Supreme Court slept through many terms, and the country dozed with it as the Bill of Rights guarantees of due process, no seizure of property without just compensation, access to counsel, an independent grand jury, impartial jurors, prompt justice and reasonable bail have all been shredded. The great crusading liberal media have been silent witnesses to the greatest crime of all, of the rights of Americans.

At the same time the dangerous trend to a justice system of mere denunciation must be reversed. Not only is due process a fraud because of the loaded odds in favor of prosecutors, but there is no due process for anyone. The feminist and ultra-feminist lynch mobs make the Red Queen seem like the Solomonic head of the ACLU. The prominent and urbane television interviewer Charlie Rose was accused by eight women of improper conduct well short of sexual assault, in professional circumstances and over a period of years, on Nov. 20, 2017, in a letter to the Washington Post. The next day, after a whirlwind “investigation,” he was fired by CBS and other employers and in the following weeks the number of plaintive women swelled to 50, giving new definition to the movement-name “Me Too.”

I did not care for Senator Al Franken politically and thought he stole his election from Norm Coleman in Minnesota in 2008. But he was deserted by his colleagues in a day and hounded from his high office because of an old photograph showing his hands over the breast of a sleeping beauty queen. He didn’t touch her (though she claimed that he groped her bottom on another occasion), and she wasn’t aware of the photograph until later. He now says he has suffered depressively since. He was an opinionated and often nasty leftist and should have been made of sterner stuff, and should have told his accusers in the Congress to try to make a case for removal by recognized norms and at least fought it out. That he did not does not whitewash the process. In his case, the woman, Leanne Tweeden, is an impressive person, but there was no justice for Senator Franken, no process at all, let alone due process.

The Jeffrey Epstein charges and all aspects of this case are terribly serious. They require thorough exploration, and the attorney general has promised to unearth everything underneath what is known and alleged. This case ramifies far beyond the deceased and his alleged victims and accomplices. The United States is threatened by lynch-mob denunciation-justice compounded by media cowardice and complicity, legislative torpor, and a fundamental lack of any sense of human decency. This is a menace to American civil society and to the status of the United States as a society of laws.

First published in National Review Online.

Posted on 08/23/2019 1:24 AM by Conrad Black
Friday, 23 August 2019
Are “Human Rights Equally Disregarded in Israel and Egypt”?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The Cairo correspondent for the German publicly-funded radio station, Deutschlandfunk, one Cornelia Wegerhoff, in her broadcast on August 8 equated the human rights records of Israel and Egypt. This is what she said, clearly and unambiguously: “Human rights are equally disregarded in Israel and Egypt.” It’s important to note that only after the largest German daily, Bild, criticized Wegerhoff’s report, that a spokesman for the public radio station “regretted” the impression that Israel’s human rights record is comparable to Egypt’s. “This was neither intended by the editors nor by the correspondent herself. We regret this error and have corrected our website accordingly and deleted the audio,” said the spokesman for the radio station.

They may have “deleted the audio,” but hundreds of thousands of people had already heard her original statement; the damage was done. When Deutschlandfunk “corrected” the website, did they merely delete her offending remarks, or did they do what should be done in such cases by the offending journalist? To wit: the original statement ought to have remained, and Wegerhoff herself, not a station “spokesman,” should both have apologized for the original remark and have provided the evidence of what was so wrong about her original equating of the human rights records of Egypt and Israel. Instead, the radio station’s spokesman said the equivalence she made “was not intended” by her. Nonsense. There is no ambiguity, no shade of grey, in the statement that “human rights are equally disregarded in Israel and Egypt.”

Let’s see how wrong she was. In Egypt, when there are demonstrations against the government, people are clubbed, sometimes killed (as in Tahrir Square in 2011), or arrested and, after a speedy trial, sentenced to prison for the crime of having expressed their opposition to the government. Tens of thousands of such critics have been imprisoned in Egypt.

In Egypt, the government is a military dictatorship; international observers unanimously claim that the election held in March 2018 was neither fair nor free. Opposition figures, including some candidates, were picked up and detained on trumped-up “terrorism” charges. Five hundred people whose families have not heard from them are still held in detention. Journalists and members of NGOs have been arrested and jailed or expelled. Their trials are perfunctory; their punishments swift.

In Israel, no journalist is arrested for being against the government. If a journalist makes fun of, or bitterly criticizes Netanyahu or any other government minister, instead of a prison sentence, he’s more likely to be hired as a columnist for Haaretz. No television journalist has lost his job, no bloggers’ websites have been taken down. The freedom of speech in Israel is as carefully preserved as it is in the great democracies of the West. Those Arab members of the Knesset who practically preach sedition from the Knesset floor, in complete freedom, are evidence of Israel’s deep commitment to freedom of speech.

While in Egypt, high officials often — though not always, as in the case of Mubarak and his two sons) – escape punishment for non-political crimes, the situation in Israel is very different. The prison terms handed out to former Israeli Presidents Moshe Katsav (who served five years for sexual assaults) and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (who served 11 months in prison for bribery and corruption) show that in Israel, no one is above the law. Equality before the law is an important human right.

How are Arab citizens treated in Israel? They have the same political rights as do Jews, both as voters and as candidates. Arabs serve in the Knesset, sit on the Supreme Court, occupy high diplomatic posts. There are Arabs who serve, though they are not required to, in the Israeli military, both as officers and men. Arabic is an official language.

The Arabs in Israel suffer none of the disabilities, and share none of the fears, of the Copts in Egypt. The Copts exist not as by right in Egypt, but on Muslim sufferance. Longstanding Coptic complaints include the underrepresentation of Christians in the police, judiciary, armed forces, civil service, government, and education system. There is also a virtual ban on access to state-controlled radio and television.

There have been many attacks on Coptic churches, neighborhoods, priests, and individual believers, by Muslim mobs, intent on terrorizing Christians and putting them in their place. The government has not been able to protect the Copts adequately from such assaults. Their religious rights are not the same as those of the Muslims. They need to obtain permission to build new, or repair old, churches. Unlike Muslims, they are not allowed to proselytize. The Copts exist in a permanent state of fear, never knowing when Muslims will suddenly turn on them, nor  whether the state will adequately protect them.

Egypt has used its extensive anti-terrorism laws to conduct sweeps not just of terrorists, but of all those who are deemed to pose a political threat to the regime. This means political opponents can find themselves unable to have their speeches broadcast; their rallies may be cancelled; they themselves may be detained. The staffs of NGOs, whether Egyptian or foreign, find they are harassed, their offices monitored, sometimes the foreigners among them expelled from Egypt if they are deemed too inquisitive and too hostile. Television and press journalists in Egypt can lose their jobs, if what they broadcast or publish is not to the regime’s liking. The government constantly scrutinizes the Internet;. the websites of bloggers who are deemed critical of the government are shut down. They may find themselves permanently barred from posting anywhere on social media. At present, 32 Egyptian journalists are in prison. Many of the accused in the Egyptian system of criminal justice lack access to lawyers. The health of many of those we might describe as “political prisoners,” who are physically softer than real criminals, often deteriorates in Egyptian prisons.

The German reporter, Cornelia Wegerhoff, also left readers with the impression that the treatment of homosexuals was the same in both Egypt and Israel. But as the newspaper Bild pointed out, there was a massive LGBTQ parade – some 250,000 people – in Tel Aviv, while there has been no parade or any other kind of demonstration on behalf of LGBTQ in Egypt. While homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, homosexuals are frequently the subject of abuse from ordinary Muslims. Police sweeps routinely round up homosexuals, who are then arrested and charged with “debauchery.” Egyptian homosexuals testify as to the fear they feel; few of them dare to come out of the closet. It’s just too dangerous.

Wegerhoff also seemed to think that the “human rights” of women are the same in Egypt and Israel. But in Egypt, the Muslim male rules the family; it is he who dictates how “his” women can dress, whether they are allowed to go out of the house, whether they can attend university, whether they can eat, study, work beside men who are not their relatives. Women’s rights activists, who work, for example, to increase the number of women in the government and higher education, are persecuted in Egypt. Women are treated better in Egypt than in Saudi Arabia and Iran, but that is faint praise. No one should confuse how women are treated in Egypt with the complete gender equality that women in Israel enjoy.

On the Index of Freedom put out by Freedom House, Egypt is rated as “Not Free.” Israel is rated as “Free.” It’s hard to imagine how someone could conclude that “human rights are equally disregarded” in the two countries.

German journalist Stefan Frank may have found the explanation. Frank, who has written extensively about German bias against Israel in the media and antisemitism in the press, wrote on Twitter: “Cornelia Wegerhoff, Cairo correspondent of @dlfkultur, has lost her mind.”

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 08/23/2019 12:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 23 August 2019
Fraud investigator 'was sacked for being white and probing crimes committed by Asians at East London council'

From the Times and the Daily Mail

An anti-fraud investigator claims he was sacked by a council because he is white and the subjects of his inquiries were Asian.Mark Edmunds, 54, is suing for £529,000 in a race and sex discrimination case against the scandal-hit London borough of Tower Hamlets. He joined the council in January 2010 and helped successfully host the Olympics before moving into fraud investigation.

Britain's first Muslim mayor, Lutfur Rahman, had won control of Tower Hamlets in October 2010 but was removed by a court for rigging his 2014 re-election.  

Mr Edmunds says he was removed from his £63,000-a-year job last year because he was 'a white man investigating a service predominantly staffed by Bangladeshi employees where the allegations of corruption were predominantly against Bangladeshi employees'. 

Twelve senior Asian employees were dismissed as a result of Mr Edmunds' investigations. The review found that Mr Rahman had used youth grants to bribe voters.

When he refused to tell a senior youth service officer about his findings, the official “started to pinch the back of his hand and kept repeating to me, ‘Is it because of this’ which I took as a reference to the colour of his skin.”

Mr Edmunds received a sinister telephone call from a woman who laughed and said in an Asian accent: “Something is going to happen” before hanging up.

The investigator was aggressively followed by a car containing three Asian men, believed to be driven by a former employee who had been dismissed because of his findings.

“The threats and intimidation were very real and serious given the history of many of those I was investigating (ie ex-gang members and drug dealers.) . . .  his witness statement says. 'Additionally, while conducting investigations I was regularly accused of being a racist and a bully, when all I was doing was my job, in an attempt to intimidate me and derail the investigation process.'

Assessments found that Mr Edmunds was at high risk and his family in danger: he should be based in a secure room, he and his relatives needed personal safety training and he required portable alarms and a monitored intruder system. Only a small number of these safety measures was implemented.

When an Asian officer in the youth service was interviewed about bogus grant recipients, he allegedly sent an email to human resources accusing Mr Edmunds of being a racist conducting a racially motivated inquiry.

Tower Hamlets removed Mr Edmunds from the case. The investigator claims that the council failed “to investigate the false and defamatory allegation” of racism against him because he was white.  A union official, in an email seen by The Times, said it would be discriminatory for Mr Edmunds as a 'white male' to get a senior role rather than more experienced ethnic minority employees. 

Posted on 08/23/2019 8:21 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 22 August 2019
Religion And Politics

by Michael Curtis

There’s a change in the fashion, there’ll be some changes made today, it’s time to seek something new. Secularism, indifference to or rejection of religion is increasing in the modern age, though religion continues to be important, partly because of the continuing confrontation between Radical Islam and the West, and the plurality of religious as well as political beliefs. A democratic state is supposed to be neutral with regard to religion, but this is not easy to sustain in practice. Every reasonable person will agree on the need for freedom of conscience and some form of separation of church and state, but religious commitment may clash with political demands. 

The classic case illustrating the tension between religious adherence and civic duties is the action of Antigone in burying her brother for religious reasons, thus defying Creon’s decree. The modern version of this tension is present in the French law that makes it illegal for students in school to wear clothing or adornments that are explicitly associated with religion, and in Pakistani laws that ban “defamation of religion.”

The issue of religion and politics has concerned the U.S. since its foundation. The country began with the First Amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This Declaration was reinforced by Thomas Jefferson in his letter of January 1, 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association where he used a metaphor in speaking of building a “wall of separation between church and state.” Metaphors have been influential in political analysis, witness Abraham Lincoln’s “house divided,” or Winston Churchill’s “iron curtain.” The problem is that Jefferson’s metaphor became accepted as a valid description of the relation of religion and politics in the U.S. and has been used to separate religion from public life ever since. But his words remained controversial with differences over the meaning of “wall,” which was distinct from the “non-establishment” of the First Amendment.

Paradoxically, Jefferson’s religious views were an important issue in the presidential election of 1801 which he won. Moreover, he was hardly a secular humanist, He endorsed federal funds to build churches, he signed bills that appropriated financial support for chaplains in Congress and the military, he attended church services in the House of Representatives, and on April 10, 1806, “earnestly recommended to all officers and soldiers, diligently to attend divine services.”

The interaction of religion and politics remains a crucial and controversial issue in the U.S. and elsewhere. Surprisingly, religion appears to be more important to U.S. citizens than to people in other countries since the polls report that religion plays a significant role in their lives. Public opinion polls indicate that 71% of the U.S. population identify themselves as religious, though the proportion is declining, partly because of more racial and ethnic diversity, partly because of immigration, and partly because of intermarriage.  

An important factor in U.S. politics is that Christians, Protestants and Catholics, are overrepresented in Congress in proportion to their share in the population. About 88% of the present 116thCongress identify as Christian: 54% as belonging to one of the different Protestant sects, and 30% as Catholic. One significant difference is the variation between Congress and those unaffiliated with any religious group. About 23% of the U.S. citizenry say they are atheist, agnostic, or simply non-believers. In Congress only one person, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), states she is religiously unaffiliated. 

Over the last decade, governments, including those in China, Russia, and Indonesia, have imposed limits on religious activities, restrictions on religious freedom, religious beliefs and practice, and passed laws favoring particular religious groups, and these restrictions have substantially increased. This increase is also the case with hostile acts against people, such as those based on religious norms, harassment of women for violating dress codes, and harassment and violence by individuals and groups such as neo-Nazis. In addition, there are outbreaks of interreligious violence such as in the situation between Hindus and Moslems over Kashmir. 

The religious-political issue erupts in various forms. One is the decision in 2009 by the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg, in the case of Lautsi v. Italy, that banned the display of crucifixes in public classrooms, holding that the presence of a religious symbol in public classrooms has no justification, and violated the principle of secular education. 

With its verdict in this case, the Court had entered the conflicting realms of politics and ideology. The Vatican opposed the ruling, arguing that the Court wanted to ignore the role of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity, and that it is wrong and myopic to exclude religion from education.

The problem is not simple.Catholic dignitaries, necessarily, have entered the world of politics, especially on sexual questions and above all that of abortion. They, especially the Vatican, are diplomatically active. Most recently, Pope Francis met with Alberto Fernandez, then a candidate and now the virtually elected president of Argentina since he beat his rival Mauricio Macri by 15 points in the primary election on August 11, 2019. Fernandez, first was a conservative, then became a member of the large Peronist party, Justicialist, adhering to principles of the dictator Juan Peron. Fernandez’s policies are difficult to pinpoint ideologically. But he formed a winning electoral alliance, the Frente de Todes. The importance of this is that it was at his meeting with the Pope that Francis urged Fernandez to unify the Peronist opposition, which had been previously defeated, and to reconcile with his then political enemy, the former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Pope Francis in various speeches has indicated the main direction of his political leanings. In 2015, he spoke as the champion of the poor and dispossessed, and spoke of the need to find concrete solutions to combat widespread poverty and environmental destruction. He specifically attacked all powerful elites, drug trafficking, the nuclear arms race, and proposed an international juridical system.

Francis entertained Raul Castro at the Vatican, then visited Cuba. In 2015 he was critical of the U.S. for its sexual policies, and linked the “innocent victims of abortion to children who die of hunger or from bombings.”

On October 1, 2017 at the Italian town of Cesena he attacked corruption as the “termite of politics “ because it does not permit a society to grow. He called, in unusual and somewhat unclear language, for a kind of politics that is neither a servant nor an owner, but a friend and collaborator, neither fearless nor reckless but responsible and therefore courageous. 

Though he has not mentioned them one wonders if Pope Francis is or was linked in some way to the group of left-wing bishops, the so-called St. Gallen group. The group stems from The Pact of the Catacombs, a semi-secret agreement signed by 42 bishops of the Catholic Church on November 16, 1965 in the catacombs of Domitilla near Rome before the end of the second Vatican Council. The agenda of the bishops was to end the richness, pomp, extravagant ceremony of the Church, and they agreed they would try to live like the poorest of their parishioners , to live according to the ordinary manner concerning housing, food, means of transport, and to renounce the appearance and substance of wealth, especially in clothing and ornaments made of precious metals.

Though the implicit message was the centrality of poverty, the message was largely forgotten except in Latin America where it became associated with liberation theology. Some bishops now regard Pope Francis as the symbol of the pact, especially since he leads a simple personal existence by living in a Vatican guesthouse, not in a mansion.

The question in American politics is the degree to which religious views affect secular loyalties and decisions, and whether freedom of religion is a natural right stemming from the Constitution. The founders of the U.S. Republic thought religion had an “instrinsic worth,” and  was a social good. In Western culture the Bible, which sells a quarter of million copies every year, has influenced culture and politics. The intrinsic problem is the religious canons of Christianity and Judaism and the Pentateuch which provide spiritual nourishment do not provide automatic answers not only to questions of faith, as in the fierce dispute between Erasmus and Martin Luther in the 16thcentury, but more significant today to mundane questions. One recent issue: do American restaurants, which cannot discriminate on the basis of race or sexual orientation, have the right to refuse to serve individuals based on religious belief? 

U.S. Catholic prelates are said to vote Democrat, and they, among other things, have denounced a border wall in the U.S. South, sought to abolish capital punishment, get universal health care coverage, reduce poverty. Yet Catholics can reach different conclusions on immigration, criminal justice reform, and above all on abortion or same sex marriage. 

A 2016 Pew Research poll reports that 51% of Americans think abortion is immoral, and are critical 32% of homosexuality and, 8% of contraception use. 

Change on this issue is difficult. 35 per cent of Congressional Democrats are Catholic. Dissenting Catholics have been punished or threatened.

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington was urged to deny Holy Communion to Rep. Nancy Pelosi for her support of liberal abortion laws.

Similarly, Senator Dick Durbin was in trouble 2018 when Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois refused to allow him Communion until he had repented of his “sin.” Durbin’s sin was that he was one of 14 Senators who voted against a bill that prohibited abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization. The Bishop knows that it is a sin to tell a lie. He should have known that Durbin was acting politically, not behaving immorally.

Posted on 08/22/2019 7:11 PM by Michael Curtis
Wednesday, 21 August 2019
Birmingham mosque attacks: Man (with Iranian name) charged with religiously aggravated damage

From the BBC and local newspaper the Express and Star

A man has been charged with religiously aggravated criminal damage after a series of attacks on five Birmingham mosques earlier this year.

The Express and Star reported the damage in March thus

Five mosques have had their windows smashed by sledgehammer vandals during a night of attacks. The vandals targeted mosques across the north of Birmingham between 2.30am and 10am today.

West Midlands Police are treating the incidents as linked and are working with the Counter Terrorism Unit to track down the people responsible, however Chief Constable Dave Thompson said the motive for the attacks was not yet known.

The vandalism comes less than one week after the fatal Christchurch shootings in New Zealand . . .Police were called to the first incident at 2.32am when a man was reported to be smashing windows with a sledgehammer at the Jame Masjid in Birchfield Road, Handsworth Wood.

Around 40 minutes later police were alerted to a similar attack at the Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef mosque in Slade Road, Erdington. Officers began patrols in areas with mosques and came across further damage at Witton Islamic Centre and Masjid Faizul Islam in Aston.

Labour deputy leader and West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson, said: “I’m deeply saddened and disturbed by the attacks that have taken place on mosques across Birmingham in the early hours of this morning. Mosques are places of worship where people should feel safe and I’m appalled that they’ve been targeted in this way.I stand in complete solidarity with the British Muslim community against the growing tide of Islamophobia we are facing in this country.

We have recently seen the tragic consequences of right wing extremism in New Zealand. I hope the Government takes the necessary steps to reassure the British Muslim community and that the perpetrators of these hate-fuelled attacks are swiftly brought to justice.”

Local Councillor Majid Mamood was also very worried and tweeted with energy

Back to the man charged

Arman Rezazadeh, 34, from Greenhill Road, in Handsworth, was detained under the Mental Health Act – but has now been deemed fit to charge and will appear before Birmingham Magistrates' Court on September 12.

The mosques attacked included Witton Islamic Centre, in Witton Road, Aston; Masjid Madrassa Faizul Islam, in the Broadway, Perry Barr; Al-Habib Trust, in Birchfield Road, Aston; Jamia Masjid Ghausia, in Albert Road, Aston; and Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Slade Road, Erdington.

I looked those mosques up on Mosquefinder. So far as I can tell they are Sunni Mosques; specifically Deobandi or Salafi. 

Rezazadeh is an Iranian name. I suspect that Arman Rezazadeh is a Shia Muslim. If Cllr Majid Mahmood has tweeted somewhere thanking the police for apprehending the 'vandals' or calling for prayers for this poor sick fellow Muslim, that he repent and be forgiven for his misdeeds I haven't seen it. 

Posted on 08/21/2019 8:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 20 August 2019
What Does “Allahu Akbar” Mean?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Mert Ney, the convert to Islam in Australia who recently went on a stabbing spree, shouted, as jihadis invariably do, “Allahu akbar.” And just as invariably, in the Western world these two words were translated in two different ways, both of them incorrect. Robert Spencer dealt with the proper translation of this phrase several years ago, so I am merely following his lead in contributing my own astonished mite, that even now, nowhere does one find this Arabic phrase’s meaning accurately conveyed.

According to Agencia EFE, “while being chased in the streets of the Sydney Central Business District during his Tuesday rampage, Ney shouted ‘Shoot me in the (expletive) head!’ followed by ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘God is greatest’ in Arabic).” Also, if you search for BBC stories about other Muslim killers, “Allahu akbar” is always translated as “God is greatest.” It’s the BBC house style, apparently.

The Australian goes with a second alternative, in more-in-sadness-than-in-anger mode: “As he lunged at office workers, the man shouted ‘Allahu akbar!’ — God is Great, probably the best known Arabic phrase in the West; the sublime poetic tradition of ­that language is sadly obscured.” The American newspaper of record, the New York Times, always goes with “God is great,” as does its rival, the Washington Post.

After another jihadi, Cherif Cherkatt, opened fire at the Strasbourg Christmas Market last December, CNN offered still a third alternative: “ A gunman who opened fire near a popular Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg shouted the Arabic phrase ‘Allahu Akbar,’ meaning ‘God is greater,’ at the time of the attack and was also carrying a knife, a Paris prosecutor said Wednesday.” For CNN’s reporters, it’s always “God is greater.”

In an increasing number of papers, they often get around the problem by not bothering to translate “Allahu akbar” at all. They leave it in Arabic, and let the reader decide for himself what that phrase means. But that’s a dereliction of duty. It’s the journalist’s job to make the meaning of important foreign phrases clear. And “Allahu akbar” is, when used by jihadis, a very important phrase indeed.

The Daily Mail is one of those that no longer bothers to offer a translation: “A woman has allegedly shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ before stabbing two people with a box cutter in a supermarket in southern France.”

Le Monde and Le Figaro and The Times (London) and The Telegraph are among the many leading papers that do not translate the phrase. Perhaps their reporters realized that there was something not quite right about each of the three versions on offer (God Is Great, God Is Greater, God Is Greatest), but weren’t sure what to do about it, and decided not to translate the phrase at all. Anyway, we all know what the phrase means — don’t we? No.

“God is Great” is the least disturbing of the three off-the-rack translations of the Arabic phrase. For Believers in one of “the three great monotheisms,” that’s just a statement of fact: God Is Great. What Believer would disagree? No comparisons, invidious or otherwise, are being made.

“Allahu akbar” can be used in a wide variety of ways. It may have nothing to do with Jihad, but be an expression of fatalism, or dismay, or astonishment, or pleasure: That maple tree collapsed in a storm and smashed in the roof. Allahu akbar. I failed my driving test. Allahu akbar. The stock market went down 700 points this morning. Allahu akbar. He won the lottery. Allahu akbar. I’m taking early retirement and going to sail to the Galapagos. Allahu akbar. Or it might be a way to express appreciation of various kinds: Just look at Gisele Bundchen on the cover of Vogue. Allahu akbar. Or: Your grandchildren are so darling. Allahu akbar.

But none of those expressions — of fatalism, dismay, pleasure, appreciation, etc. — have anything to do with what “Allahu akbar” means when it is uttered by jihadis. It’s what Mohammad Atta intended to say when, in a letter to himself, he wrote of his intention to utter “Allahu akbar” on the plane he would commandeer, as a terrifying war cry, sure to “strike terror” in the hearts of the Infidel passengers. It’s what Major Nidal Hasan yelled when he killed 13 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. It’s what Said and Cherif  Kouachi shouted as they murdered the staff at Charlie Hebdo. It’s what the Muslim who rammed his truck into pedestrians in Nice shouted. It’s what the terrorists who shot up the Bataclan nightclub yelled. It’s what the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby kept repeating, as they first ran him down  and then dismembered him with knives.

When shouted just before, or while committing, or just after committing, a violent act against Infidels, the context tells us that “Allahu akbar” must be understood as a war cry, a supremacist or triumphalist exclamation. We can terrorize, we can defeat you, the Infidels. Grammatically, it means ”Our God is greater.” Greater than what? is the obvious question. Semantically, to properly convey its meaning, it has to be translated by adding a few additional words: “Our God is greater than your God,” or “Our God is greater than anything you can think of.”

Why is it that the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Guardian, when they bother to english it at all, continue to translate “Allahu akbar” as  “God is great”? Why does the BBC stick with “God is greatest”? And why can’t the Western media that, with “God is greater,” come the closest to what the phrase means, convey the proper meaning by adding a few words: “Our God is greater than your God”? It could reflect ignorance: they just don’t know what the phrase, when used by jihadis, means. Or it could reflect a deliberate desire not to convey the true meaning of the phrase, with its obvious supremacism that can only harden hearts and minds against Muslims. And that, of course, would never do.

Now  supposing some intelligent journalists — even at the Times, even at the Post — are willing to concede that the best way to translate the phrase “Allahu akbar” is “Our God is greater than your God.” But they are faced with doubters, who insist that that translation is too long and too unwieldy  for a newspaper article. Just think, they say, of how it would read: “Mert Ney shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘Our God is greater than your God’) as he stabbed random people in Sydney.” Or imagine someone on the radio saying it: “Said Kouachi shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘Our God is greater than your God’) as he ran from the office of Charlie Hebdo.” It could be rejected for its length alone. There is a simple way to convey the meaning of “Allahu akbar,” without having to add all those  words. That is to begin with the possessive pronoun: “Our God is greater.” The “Our” is in obvious opposition to the unstated “Your.” And the triumphalist essence of “Allahu akbar,” when a jihadi uses  the phrase — “Our God is greater than Your God” — is properly conveyed.

First published in Jihad Watch. 

Posted on 08/20/2019 8:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 19 August 2019
Ivanka Trump Learns That No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

by Hugh Fitzgerald

From Newsweek, which in its headline to the story includes the phrase “Trump’s Muslim ban”:

Ivanka Trump was ridiculed this weekend after wishing “Eid Mubarak” to Muslims celebrating the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The greeting, translated as “Blessed Feast” is used as a salutation during Islam’s high holidays. Eid al-Adha, which this year runs from sundown August 10 to sundown August 11, honors Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s command.

In Islam, the son of Abraham who is nearly sacrificed is Ishmael, not Isaac.

After posting the greeting on Twitter Sunday morning, the first daughter and presidential advisor was derided as “Nepotism Barbie” and accused of Islamophobia for her association with the Trump administration, which instituted a travel ban on visitors and immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries in 2017.

Your father instituted a Muslim ban,” tweeted Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery.

“Psst, don’t nobody tell Nepotism Barbie here how her father tried to ban all Muslims from entering the United States,” wrote Smirking Chimp blogger Jeff Tiedrich.

In February 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The White House described the order as a preemptive attempt to keep out dangerous individuals from unstable, predominately Arab countries.

The White House did not describe E.O. 13769 as an attempt to keep out dangerous individuals “from unstable, predominately Arab countries” but, as the Supreme Court agreed in its decision in Hawaii v. Trump, from countries that  “do not share adequate information with the U.S. for an informed decision on entry, and also from certain other countries because their aliens created national security risks.” Trump showed the Court that the limits he put in place were tailored to protect American interests.

Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States,” the President’s Executive Order 13769 warned.

The ban has been labeled racist, Islamophobic and anti-immigration—and Ivanka received full brunt of criticism Sunday following her olive branch toward the Muslim community.

Yes, the ban has been labelled – most unfairly — as “racist, Islamophobic, and anti-immigration.” “Racist”? Let’s remember that among the countries included in the ban are North Korea, Venezuela, Somalia, and Iraq, where people of at least three, and possibly four, different racial groups live.

“Islamophobic”? That’s the all-purpose word that is now used to inhibit, or to attack, perfectly rational islamocritics. Even if we were to allow its employ, it can’t reasonably be applied to E.O. 13769. Two of the seven countries covered by the so-called “Muslim ban” are non-Muslim. There are 57 Muslim-majority states, and only five of them are affected in any way by the ban. Two Muslim states, Iraq and Chad, were on the original list, but when it was determined that their ability to monitor their own citizens for security purposes, and to share that information with the American government, had sufficiently improved, they were dropped from the list. No Muslims coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and 45 other Muslim countries have seen any change in their status. No Muslims coming from France or Great Britain or Germany or a dozen other European countries will be affected. Those who are outraged by what they misleadingly call a “travel ban on Muslims” should be reminded that for 95% of the world’s Muslims, nothing has changed. Furthermore, individuals from the affected countries can even apply for an exemption, and may be allowed in on an individual basis. All this has to be kept constantly in mind, and constantly repeated.

Nor can the ban be described as “anti-immigration.” It says nothing about immigration in general, or more pointedly, nothing about the flood of Hispanic immigrants entering our country through our southern border. Of the nearly 200 countries in the world, would-be “immigrants” from only five of them are covered by the ban, and as those countries improve their own security apparatuses and sharing of information, like Iraq and Chad, they too will be dropped from the list of those covered by the ban.

“Imagine being the advisor to the president who created the Muslim ban and tweeting this,” wrote novelist Molly Jong-Fast (The Social Climber’s Handbook).

Your father is bigoted against Muslims of all nationalities,” wrote Justin Hendrix. “Your duplicity is despicable.”

The “despicable duplicity” here is not that of Ivanka Trump, but of those who criticize her for a two-word greeting to American Muslims on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha feast. She is being whipped from pillar to post because, being the daughter of the man who imposed the “Muslim ban,” she must surely be a supreme hypocrite.

But the hypocrisy here is not hers. It belongs to those who continue to deliberately describe E.O. 13769 as a “Muslim ban,” despite the Hawaii v. Trump decision, in which the Supreme Court upheld the ban as constitutional because it was not a “Muslim ban.” To repeat: countries were included in the Executive Order only if they did “not share adequate information with the U.S. for an informed decision on entry, and also from certain other countries because their aliens created national security risks.”

Would it have mattered if someone other than Ivanka Trump, say, Secretary Pompeo, had wished Muslim Americans “Eid Mubarak”? No, the same charge of “hypocrisy” would have been leveled at him for belonging to an administration that imposed “the racist, isalmophobic, and anti-immigrant Muslim ban.” Anyone in the Trump Administration who wished Muslims “Eid Mubarak” would be attacked as “a hypocrite.”

But what would have happened if neither Ivanka Trump, nor anyone in the Trump Administration, had wished Muslims “Eid Mubarak” on the occasion of Eid al-Adha? The furor from Muslim organizations and individuals, with CAIR and Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour leading the pack, would have been tremendous.

Let’s imagine CAIR’s statement, read by an aggrieved-looking Nihad Awad:

“I stand here today, as a representative of the largest Muslim civil rights organization in America. I am – we are – deeply troubled. There are only two holidays in Islam. Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. Yet the Trump Administration could not be bothered to recognize Eid al-Adha with a greeting to Muslims in America. Even just a simple “Eid Mubarak” would have been welcome. How do you think this makes us, as Muslims and as loyal Americans, feel?  It’s a way of telling us we don’t really belong in this country, that – as our President said — ‘we should go back to wherever we came from.’ Our whole community is being systematically disrespected by this Administration. None of us should be surprised. This is the same Administration that imposed the famous Muslim travel ban. This is the same racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant President who when he was a candidate proudly said that ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’

“I implore other Americans, especially our Christian and Jewish brothers, all those in the interfaith movement, to stand with us, to share our pain, to let this Administration know that an assault on any of us – Muslim, Christian, or Jew — is an assault on all of us. This for us is a time of deep sadness and even fear. We saw what happened at Christchurch. We saw what happened in El Paso. The hate, all the hate, has to stop. Come visit our mosques. Come get to know us. Come share your questions and concerns. When Americans get together, we can accomplish great things. From this day forth, let’s work to put the haters out of business.

“Thank you. Salaam aleikum.”

Hypocrisy? Despicable duplicity? What do you think?

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 08/19/2019 3:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 18 August 2019
Gallic Lycanthropy: ‘It’s not the pale moon that excites me’

by Theodore Dalrymple

Wolves have returned to the neighbourhood in which I have my house in France. It borders the département in which the so called Beast of Gévaudun, presumably a wolf, a pair or a pack of wolves, terrified the population in the middle years of the eighteenth century, killing perhaps a hundred people. Three miles from my house, local people have painted a slogan across the road: Morts aux loups, death to wolves. Feelings run high.

Differing attitudes to the return of the wolves in France are emblematic of the social divisions in the country revealed by the Yellow Vests. The metropolitan élite is in favour of wolves and re-wilding. They point out (correctly) that the reintroduction of wolves into the Yosemite National Park in the United States was followed by a remarkable increase in biodiversity: top predators are essential for the ecological health of an environment. Moreover, Spain has a population of wolves seven or eight times the size of France’s, and local economies have not collapsed. The last documented wolf attacks on humans in Spain that I have been able to find occurred in 1974, when a wolf attacked and killed a young child and a baby. Bulls kill more than wolves in Spain.

But to those who live in the countryside, the élite’s lupophilia smacks of the same kind of airy condescension as President Macron’s tax on diesel, designed to save the world from global warming at the expense of les ploucs, the relatively impoverished bumpkins who needed their diesel vehicles to get around with reasonable economy and have no choice but to drive long distances. The élite would not, of course, have to live with the practical consequences of their desire to see wolves prosper and multiply: at base, theirs was an aesthetic approach to the whole question. They liked the idea of wolves rather than the reality of meeting them in the flesh, and ideas for them are what count.

Wolves are not yet present on my land, at least as far as I know, but their spread seems inevitable. Would I welcome it? There are not many sheep around, and when my distant neighbour decided to keep some free-range goats I should have been glad of a few wolves to keep them in order. They were terrible: only death deterred them from eating everything in sight and climbing on our roofs.

In a review in the Spectator for 23 February on a book about wolves, we read the following

‘Every educated person today knows that wolves don’t eat people, [the author] Radinger writes (I didn’t know this, and a statistically insignificant poll among my reasonably educated friends returned a range of responses, including the conviction that wolves are baying for our blood).’

Whether wolves actually eat people is not the question, however: it is whether wolves attack and kill or injure them. It seems that of latter years there has been the same kind of effort to downplay the dangerousness of wolves as that which went into persuading us that cannibalism was a myth and had never really existed. Wolves are friendly, wolves are nice, wolves tell us something about how we ought to live.

This is not the traditional view, of course. When the last wolf in France was killed in 1922, it was a cause of rejoicing, not of ecological lamentation. An ancient enemy was defeated once and for all. Scholars think that about 3000 people were killed in France by wolves over the three centuries before their extirpation: not a major cause of mortality, but not testimony to their innocuousness either.

Now the wolves are back, this time as undocumented immigrants from Italy. They are fanning outwards through the country, and it is thought that there are now about 360 of them (11,000 is the figure I have seen quoted for their apogee in the three centuries aforementioned), and that they are increasing in number at a rate of 10-20 per cent per year.

France has not only de-industrialised, it has deagriculturalised, at least in areas of intrinsically low agricultural productivity (the more productive areas are fast going over to agribusiness). The land is returning to nature, with a large increase in deer and boar populations, ready prey for wolves. The boar, by the way, are more often than not cochongliers, a cross between domestic pigs (cochons) and boar (sangliers), sometimes deliberately bred for the benefit of hunters because the fecundity of cochongliers is so much greater. They are a menace for gardeners.

But wolves prey on sheep as well as on wild animals, and this rather obvious fact has opened a breach between those who welcome their return to France as a sign of beneficent re-wilding and biodiversity, and those small farmers who are trying to wrest their livelihood on parcels of infertile land by means of sheep-raising. The wolves now kill 10,000 sheep or more a year France (about 0.2 per cent of the sheep population), but because of the fear that their presence induces, a flock’s productivity after a wolf attack declines dramatically. The losses are, of course, concentrated in the areas where the wolves live, and may be so catastrophic for the farmers, who are never very far above the subsistence level, that they decide to throw in the towel. Sheep farmers in wolf-infested areas have to protect their flocks from wolves by means of fences and shelters, or by the keeping of a special breed of dog, all of which is expensive even though subsidised to an extent by the government. Permission is given to farmers in special circumstances to cull the wolves, about 40 a year, provided they can show that the wolves have caused damage that cannot be prevented any other way than by killing them; but the penalty for an unauthorised killing of a wolf is up to a year in prison and a fine of 15,000 Euros.

There are many, perhaps most, offences against human beings that are treated far more leniently by the law. Man may be a wolf to man, but not a wolf to Wolf.

First published in Salisbury Review.

Posted on 08/18/2019 10:04 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Sunday, 18 August 2019
“There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam.”

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Ayatollah Khomeini famously proclaimed: “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.” His own son said he had seen Khomeini laugh only once. It happened when Oriana Fallaci, the celebrated Italian journalist, was interviewing him, and asked him about the chador, the full-body garment that Iranian women were forced to wear in the new Islamic Republic. In fact, she had to wear one for the interview.

“How do you swim in a chador?” Fallaci asked. “Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress, you are not obliged to wear it,” Khomeini replied. “That’s very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I’m going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.” She removed her chador. The interview was called off.

After a day had passed, Khomeini apparently had reconsidered, and Fallaci came back to interview Khomeini; his son Ahmed had asked her not to mention the word “chador” again. But Fallaci did. And Khomeini laughed. After the interview was over, Ahmed told her that it was the only time in his life that he had seen his father laugh.

Last year the Iranian government showed that there is indeed no humor in Islam and no fun in Islam. It shut down a leading newspaper, Sedayeh Eslahat, because in one line of one article, the teeny-tiniest of little jokes was made. Almost a year later, the paper remains closed; there is apparently no sufficient penance for humor.

Here’s the story:

Reports say Sedayeh Eslahat ordered shut by top prosecutor for ‘desecrating’ family of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.

Iran’s top prosecutor has ordered the closure of a reformist newspaper on charges of “insulting” Shia Islam, according to media reports.

Mohammad Jafar Montazeri ordered the shutting down of Sedayeh Eslahat for “desecrating” the family of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, the Fars news agency reported on Friday.

The article that caused offence was about a female-to-male gender reassignment surgery, according to The Associated Press, which cited Iranian media reports.

It was published on the newspaper’s front page on Thursday and carried the headline: “Ruqayyah became Mahdi after 22 years.”

Ruqayyah was the daughter of Hussein and the article was published during Muharram, a holiday in which Shia Muslims mourn the Imam’s death.

‘According to Shia Islam, Mahdi is the name of the 12th Shia Imam who has lived since the 9th century.

In a letter published by Fars, Montazeri said the article caused “protest during these days of sorrow”, and ordered the editor of Sedayeh Eslahat be punished over its publication.

Iran is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) press freedom index.

In August, Iranian courts jailed seven journalists and ordered them to be flogged publicly over their coverage of protests by the Dervish minority.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the “horrifying sentences laid bare Iranian authorities’ depraved attitude toward journalists.”

The Islamic Republic clearly does not believe in a free press. It is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in press freedom. Also last year, it shut down a news outlet focusing on Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish minority, which had reported on protests by the dervishes, Sufi Muslims long mistreated by a Shi’a establishment that disapproves of their ways. Two of the outlet’s editors received long sentences.  A Tehran Revolutionary court sentenced news editor Reza Entesari to seven years in prison, 74 lashes, two years of exile in the northeastern city of Khaf, a two-year ban on leaving the country, and a two-year ban on political and media activity.

Another editor, Mostafa Abdi, received an even more severe punishment. Abdi was sentenced to 26 years and three months in prison and 148 lashes, in addition to two years of exile in the southeastern province of Sistan Baluchistan and two-year bans on leaving the country and engaging in political and media acts.

In the summer of 2018, there were large anti-government protests in many Iranian cities. Angry crowds shouted “Death to Khamenei” and “Reza Shah,” as well as “Death to Palestine” and “Leave Syria Alone and Deal With Iran.” No newspaper in Iran dared to cover these protests, but of course, videos of the crowds, posted to social media, could not be stopped.

But what was being objected to in the Sedayah Eslahat case was not the contents of the story, but merely a little joke by the editors that apparently was deemed sufficiently “sacrilegious” to warrant not a fine, or a temporary closure, or the firing of an editor, but rather, the shutting down of the whole newspaper. The article was about gender reassignment surgery. It reported; it did not endorse. But the editors thought it would be mildly funny to describe the female-to-male change, in an allusion all Shi’a would instantly recognize, as being one where a female humorously called “Ruqayyah” (the daughter of Imam Hussein, grandson of Muhammad), having waited 22 years for the operation (the girl in the story was apparently 22), changed — remember, it was a joke, just a joke, for god’s sake — into the male “Mahdi” (the Mahdi is the name of the 12th Shia Imam who, the Shi’a believe, has been living, though hidden, since the 9th century). It was not meant to be disrespectful — the editors would have had to be madmen to try that — but rather, an affectionate allusion that all Shi’a would instantly recognize.

This is something the Iranian regime’s dour masters have a hard time comprehending. It’s what sane people of a normally humorous bent call “a joke,” or, if you prefer, une blague, uno scherzo, ein Witz, un chiste, shutka. The Iranian editors, their newspaper now closed for almost a year (with no indication that it will ever reopen), and awaiting their own  personal punishment, showed they have a sense of humor. Those in the regime who shut them down, for a single sentence clearly not meant disrespectfully, following the example of their Glorious Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, on the other hand, clearly do not.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 08/18/2019 9:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 18 August 2019
GCSE student disqualified after 'over zealous' examiner mistook vegetarianism for Islamophobia

From the Telegraph

A GCSE student was disqualified over “obscene racial comments” after an “over-zealous” examiner mistook her vegetarianism for Islamophobia, it has emerged.

Abigail Ward, a 16-year-old pupil at Gildredge House school in Eastbourne, east Sussex, was penalised for making remarks about halal meat during a Religious Studies exam in June.

She was informed later that month by the exam board OCR that she had committed a “malpractise offence” and the punishment was “disqualification from the whole qualification due to obscene racial comments being made throughout an exam paper”.

But the disqualification was subsequently overturned when it transpired that such comments were nothing more than Miss Ward, a strict vegetarian, expressing her distaste for halal butchers.  

Mrs Ward and her husband contacted their daughter’s headmaster, who she said was “just as angry and shocked as we were” and promised to investigate what prompted the exam board’s intervention.  Mrs Ward said “It just made me angry – the fact that you can’t even say anything like that and when asked a question in the exam, you can’t even express your feelings. Philosophy is all about debating and getting your opinion out. I can’t believe how pathetic it is. It was probably an over-zealous, over-righteous examiner”.

Appealing OCR’s original decision, Gildredge School wrote to the exam board, explaining that Miss Ward's comment in the exam "...which I find absolutely disgusting" relates to her being a vegetarian and finding halal butchers disgusting. He explained that the reference was not made in relation to Muslims, and that there are no other comments made in the paper that could be construed as racist.

Upholding the appeal, the exam board later apologised for the “upset and stress” they caused to Miss Ward and accepted that their original letter “describing the frequency and severity of the comments was inaccurate”. 

But what if the school and parents hadn't insisted on an appeal? That stigma would have clung to this girl for years. And if she hadn't been vegetarian and better able to justify her disgust for animal slaughter in general (PC and eco friendly) rather than the Halal method v the humane method? 

Posted on 08/18/2019 7:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 August 2019
It's now extraordinarily hard to argue Trudeau deserves re-election

Unless he runs the most persuasive election campaign in Canada’s history, Trudeau and his partisans should be thoroughly punished by the voters for a combination of incompetence and deficient ethics

by Conrad Black

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waits to speak about Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion's report that he breached ethics rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case regarding SNC-Lavalin, at a press conference in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., on Aug. 14, 2019.Andrej Ivanov/Reuters

I believe the key to evaluating the ethics commissioner’s report on the SNC-Lavalin affair is the commissioner’s determination that in intervening on behalf of the corporation to see that it received a fine rather than being prosecuted, the prime minister was acting “in his own political self-interest.” My contention has been and remains that he was acting in the national interest, the interest of the province of Quebec, and of the city of Montreal, as well as his own political interest and that he is entitled to the benign presumption that his principal motivation was the public interest as represented by all those jurisdictions. I think the commissioner, Mario Dion, is mind-reading in a way deliberately biased against the prime minister. He is presuming that the prime minister’s own personal political interest was his principal motivation. I don’t think it would have affected Justin Trudeau’s political interest very much if SNC-Lavalin had been prosecuted and simply departed the jurisdiction, inviting the federal justice minister and everyone else in this country to get stiffed. In fact, Trudeau could have put on a fine histrionic performance with all the usual pious bunk about the rule of law, Canada being above suspicion, principle before filthy lucre, and so forth. It would not have been of much help to the 10,000 people SNC-Lavalin laid off in Quebec, but it could have been a boffo performance.

It is hard to conceive of a more severely, amateurishly and sleazily bungled operation

With that said, it is hard to conceive of a more severely, amateurishly and sleazily bungled operation as this entire initiative, which all participants must have realized was one of acute sensitivity. Once he realized that the-then justice minister, Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould, was digging her heels in, he should have informed Parliament that he was revoking the decision in the national interest and the eminent domain of the federal government to exercise the remedies of justice prudently in calculating competing priorities of national revenue, humanitarian concerns to avoid unnecessary job layoffs, the desirability of retaining in Canada such a sophisticated international engineering company, and the direct fiscal interests of the junior jurisdictions, the country’s second-most populous province and second-largest city. This would have been the open and appropriate way to do it, and though there would have been debate about it, Parliament would have supported the prime minister’s decision, and it would not have lingered as much of a controversy. It would have been Ms.Wilson-Raybould’s decision whether to resign or not on the principle involved, but there would not have been any move to expel her from the Liberal party unless she became extremely publicly abusive.

Former attorney general and current Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks to supporters during a news conference in Vancouver on May 27, 2019. Jackie Dives/Reuters

The public denials that any pressure was asserted on the minister were utterly false, and lying to Parliament is traditionally a cause for resignation or dismissal. The assertion that Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s continued presence in the government was proof that she had not been pressured or involuntarily shuffled out of the justice ministry to veterans’ affairs was dishonest as well as insane, as her immediate resignation from cabinet made clear. Having, in pretty full knowledge of the facts of this shabby business, supported the prime minister and voted to expel Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal party, it is unlikely that Liberal MPs will now reverse themselves and desert the prime minister, having unanimously supported him on the same facts before the release of ethics commissioner’s report. As Parliament will not be sitting again until after the election (barring the invocation of a so-called emergency and the deferral of the election date, a very dodgy option), Parliament’s judgment of its state of confidence in this prime minister will be evoked to the electorate of the country, and this shambles deserves to be a prominent campaign issue. Unless the combined opposition parties and the media are completely ineffectual, or the prime minister reveals a genius for political conjuration hitherto completely unsuspected, the government should face a very difficult campaign to retain the confidence of the country.

Lying to Parliament is traditionally a cause for resignation or dismissal

I have expressed in this space before my reservations about the laws governing the conduct of Canadian businesses in other countries and there is no reason to reopen that subject. The law is the law and if an international company doesn’t like the legal framework in the country where it is headquartered, it should change jurisdictions before it breaks the law in the country of its corporate residence. SNC-Lavalin was obviously very cavalier in its attitude to its home jurisdiction, lobbied vigorously and at the least, with marginal legality at times, to avoid the heaviest possible retribution for its past acts that gave rise to this controversy, and seems to have made a serious effort to make amends and resolve the issue with a hefty fine. The minister of justice was completely within her rights to opt for prosecution rather than a fine, and was following the advice of her department’s chief prosecutor. The facts that I think it is a poorly conceived law, a mistaken decision and that she was an incompetent minister of questionable judgment are all irrelevant to this issue. She committed no impropriety in this case, only poor tactical judgment in not resigning rather than consent to be shuffled to another department.

A pedestrian passes in front of the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. headquarters in Montreal on Feb. 11, 2019. Christinne Muschi/Bloomberg

Misleading Parliament on the scale that Trudeau did, with the full support of his caucus, whatever the MPs’ private misgivings, on the heels of the even more scandalous and malicious prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, all overlaid on a very inadequate general performance in government for the past four years, should place the government as clear underdogs in the election in two months. Unless Trudeau runs the greatest and most persuasive election campaign in Canada’s history, he and his partisans should be thoroughly punished and defeated by the voters for a combination of incompetence and deficient ethics that this country has not seen in Ottawa before. The Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s comments on Wednesday were appropriate, though he was technically not accurate about the absence of a precedent. John A. Macdonald was caught red-handed soliciting and receiving money from backers of the Canadian Pacific Railway for some of his candidates in the 1872 election. He gave the greatest speech of his career to Parliament but was defeated in the sentiment of the House of Commons and then in the general election. Of course he returned for four more consecutive general election victories. But he accepted no money personally, dealt with the matter squarely, and was sent to the penalty box for a term.

Making the case to re-elect this government was never going to be easy, but it has now become extraordinarily difficult.

First published in the National Post.

Posted on 08/17/2019 9:08 AM by Conrad Black
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