Megapundit: When Irish eyes are darkening with rage

Must reads: Dan Gardner on Mark Steyn vs. the sock-puppets; Christie Blatchford and Thomas Walkom on the Toronto 18 trial; Richard Gwyn on Obama.

Must reads: Dan Gardner on Mark Steyn vs. the sock-puppets; Christie Blatchford and Thomas Walkom on the Toronto 18 trial; Richard Gwyn on Obama.

Business as usual in Ottawa
Flaherty trips over Bernier, the Dippers flip-flop, John Baird is bad for the environment and John Robson is charmingly irascible. Move along, nothing to see here…

Jim Flaherty’s tenuous grip on the finance portfolio is part of “an unstoppable chain reaction” that sometimes follows “the removal of a weak link,” says Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star—particularly when those weak links have stunning ex-girlfriends who used to run around with bikers. For one thing, Maxime Bernier’s disastrous leave-behind manoeuvre provides a good opportunity for Stephen Harper to put a more congenial presence in charge of the books. But the Liberals, knowing a shuffle is coming, are now demanding Flaherty resign over job losses in the auto sector—which would normally be “over the top,” says Hébert, even for Ottawa—in hopes he’ll either “dig in his heels” and look even more pugnacious, or be shuffled, which they can portray as a “demotion.”

The National Post‘s John Ivison looks at the NDP’s change-of-mind on whether Canada should attend the so-called “Durban 2” conference on racism next year in Geneva—a sequel to 2001’s edition in South Africa, which quickly descended into bad anti-Israeli farce. First the NDP were agin it, Ivison notes, but now—based on the “assurances” of UN muckety-mucks that the Libyan, the Iranian, the Pakistani and the Cuban on the preparatory committee will keep things civil—they want Canada to “play a helpful role.” It sure “smells like politics,” as Ivison says. But as usual, the NDP’s position was never particularly convincing. NDP MP Bill Siksay was demanding we attend just four months ago.

An oddly subdued Susan Riley, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, says the government’s immediate dismissal of Jean Charest’s and Dalton McGuinty’s cap-and-trade system, and its criticisms of Stéphane Dion’s carbon tax before it’s even been released, suggest “an incoherence in Tory policy and a lack of seriousness: it doesn’t matter what other political leaders are saying about climate change, it matters who is saying it.” It’s not that she’s wrong; she’s certainly not. But even if we don’t always get something revelatory from Riley, we’re at least used to getting some righteous indignation!

John Robson, also writing in the Citizen, is all cranky because he gets too many silly press releases from government departments about all their ostensibly important—but actually unimportant—announcements. We get them too. Our advice is to keep the ones you want, delete the ones you’re not interested in, and go on about your day.

Obama’s all well and good, but where’s ours?
“The Draft-Hillary-for-VP movement is open, public and forceful,” John Ibbitson writes in The Globe and Mail, which is itself “unprecedented” in party history and—annoyingly, for Barack Obama—ensures that Clinton “continues to dominate the narrative” even after her defeat. That, and the idea that he can’t win without her, are actually reasons for Obama to look in another direction, Ibbitson suggests. “If it appears that he was forced to bring Ms. Clinton onto the ticket despite his own misgivings, voters will ask, then how will he stand up to the blustery dictators from Tehran to Havana with whom he has already agreed to negotiate?”

It’s no myth that Obama is young, inexperienced, and hasn’t “accomplished anything especially remarkable” in the Senate, Richard Gwyn writes in the Star. So assuming (as Gwyn does) that Clinton won’t be Obama’s running-mate, he says that recasting Obama as a doer rather than just a talker will involve “put[ting] Clinton behind him” as quickly as possible. And “the most effective way” to do that will be to “put himself directly in front of [John] McCain.”

The Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe doubts Obama can do all the things his lofty rhetoric promises—not with peak oil and climate change, which “has been hitting the country hard with tornadoes, fires and hurricanes.” (Oh, for the days when presidents never had to deal with natural disasters!) Still, she says it would be nice to hear a little oratory, a little grandiosity, from Canadian politicians. “Can you picture Stephen Harper on stage, microphone in hand, waxing eloquent about Canada becoming the world’s last, best hope?” she asks. We can, actually. He looks like a jackass.

Sock puppet theatre
Colby Cosh
, writing in the Post, says the most striking thing thus far about the BC Human Rights Tribunal’s hearing in the matter of Maclean’s, Mohammed Elmasry and his so-called “sock puppet” law students from Osgoode Hall is the revelation that the complainants never actually proposed that a “mutually acceptable” author write the exhaustive response to Mark Steyn’s piece they wanted the magazine to print. Cosh suspects Maclean’s wouldn’t have run the article no matter who ran it, but he says the fact they had so badly misrepresented their case in the media “should be fatal to their case in the court of public opinion.”

A recent study by French demographers shows that only five per cent of France’s “surging” birthrate is attributable to immigrants, Dan Gardner notes in the Citizen, a fact that “blows a mosque-sized hole in [Steyn’s] America Alone.” Perhaps, he suggests, the sock puppets might “simply have written a rebuttal and … sought to publish it in one of the many liberal media outlets that would have welcomed a short, sharp, shot at a notorious conservative pundit.” Instead, Gardner suggests this “handful of Muslim goofballs [is effectively] now hard at work promoting Mark Steyn’s book.”

He said, she said
The Star‘s Thomas Walkom and the Globe‘s Christie Blatchford provide an interesting lesson in comparative courtroom reporting from the trial of the youth accused of participating in the “Toronto 18” terrorism plot—particularly when it comes to the alleged ringleader’s attitudes towards Jews, as heard on audiotapes of police wiretaps.

Says Walkom: “He lectures the others on the ethics of stealing from rich non-Muslims (all right) and of treating Jews as enemies (not all right unless they support Israel).”

Says Blatchford: “Jews, the leader had told [an alleged] co-conspirator and two others a month earlier, you can kill with abandon. Because of what they had done to Palestine and ‘stuff like that, they’re all our enemies. It’s not enough to say they’re only my enemy in a certain part of land, they’re your enemy everywhere you see them….every single Jew is your enemy.'” In Canada, he added, “you weren’t compelled to attack them or anything, but if one was boldly walking down the street with a sign that read ‘pro-Zion, pro-Zion, whatever,’ or if he ‘wears a big Jewish thing’ …, well, you should think about it.”

Duly noted
Lorne Gunter
, writing in the Edmonton Journal, dismisses the idea of boosting Alberta cabinet ministers’ pay “to attract good people to run for public office in the province.” “Why save the biggest raises for those who, because of geography or gender or political favours done for the premier, are lucky enough to make it into the inner circle?” he quite reasonably asks. In fact, Gunter suggests, making MLAs’ jobs part-time rather than full-time—as they were until 1971—might attract “better candidates … because they wouldn’t have to give up their careers, professions, families, farms or businesses.”