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Explaining Donald Trump's Popularity To The Political Left

Something that people on the political left don't seem to understand about the nature of Donald Trump's support is that no amoun...

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Monitors

This is the first movie to be made by the Second City theater troupe. It's weird. Very weird.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Worse Than Useless: Trudeau government's report on the terrorist threat to Canada ignores the cause of the terrorist threat to Canada

Support for terrorism at a Toronto al Quds Day rally
Canada's Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, is a long-serving journeyman politician. He does what he's told reasonably well. The new report from his Ministry on the terrorist threat to Canada replicates the Trudeau government's ideological beliefs about terrorism and multiculturalism. Therefore it contains no surprises nor any particularly useful insights.

Though the report appears a useless exercise, it's worse than useless. It seeks to mask and deny the motivation behind the domestic terror threat. By refusing to identify the problem, it makes it that much harder to effectively deal with it. Moreover, this denial is so facile that it prevents any sort of proper understanding of the rationale that leads some Canadian Muslims to embrace Islamic terror groups.

The report states "the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), use violent extremist propaganda to encourage individuals to support their cause. This group is neither Islamic nor a state, and so will be referred to as Daesh (its Arabic acronym) in this Report."

That statement reveals a profound misunderstanding of the nature of religious zealotry in general and of Islamic terrorism in particular.

ISIS or ISIL does on occasion use what the report calls "violent extremist propaganda," showing beheadings and other forms of brutal violence. But the suggestion that they are recruiting adherents who are attracted by the thought, "gee, this can be my big chance to chop off someone's head" is as preposterous as stating that the Islamic state is not Islamic.

While ISIS' version of Islam thankfully is not the version embraced by most Muslims, it is an act of sheer ignorance to deny that it is based to a great extent on certain theological interpretations of Islamic texts and scholarship. ISIS' leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is an Imam with a PhD in Islamic Theology. It would therefore follow to reason that he is in a better position to say what is or isn't "Islamic" than Ralph Goodale.

And it is Islam, rather than "violent extremism," that draws ISIS' adherents. Recruits to ISIS join as their way of showing complete, unrestrained faith and devotion. They are fulfilling the pillar of the religion that requires participation in Jihad. Those joining ISIS are willing to become martyrs and sacrifice as service to Allah in order to get the divine rewards of paradise as promised in exchange in the Koran (Surah 2: 193Surah 61:10-14, etc.) and Hadiths.

This is the inspiration that has led at least sixty Canadian Muslims to join ISIS's ranks and return to Canada.

While explicit support for ISIS in Canada's mosques is extremely rare, the promotion of violence and Islamic dominance over others is commonplace. Yet there is absolutely no mention of Islam as a motive for domestic terrorism in Canada in the Public Safety Ministry's report.

Islamic terrorism and support for it in Canada is not limited to ISIS or al Qaida, the two terrorists groups which were the focus of the report. There is also significant support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas within some Canadian Muslim communities. Though Hezbollah in mentioned briefly as a terror group in the report, it omits noting that there are mosques and Islamic centers, such as the Islamic Society of York Region, where praise of Hezbollah and explicit support for terrorism is commonplace.

Every year in Toronto thousands of Shiite Muslims participate in the so-called "al Quds Day" rallies, organized by the leadership of the Islamic Society of York Region and other local Shiite mosques, in which Hezbollah flags are brandished and terrorists are lauded. Only last month, Nadia Shoufani, a Mississauga teacher in a publicly financed school, spoke at Toronto's al Quds Day rally praising child murdering terrorists.  She was only one of many of the al Quds Day rally speakers to either praise or attempt to justify terrorism

After Shoufani was suspended from her teaching position, an online petition emerged with over a thousand signatories including a number of university professors, such as Ryerson University instructors Alan Sears and Valentina Capurri, decrying the suspension.

In this type of environment, the normalization of support for terrorism within Canadian Muslim communities is being facilitated rather than combated.

The government does not want to tarnish all Muslims as terrorists. That may be a laudable instinct and certainly reflects the truth that most Canadian Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding. But it is also a shameful denial of the nature of Islamic theology as it is practiced in mosques and the dangerous amount of approval for terrorism as an acceptable methodology within Islam.  That is reflect to some extent by poll results showing that about half of America's Muslims feel that their religious leaders have not done enough to speak out against religious extremism. And that does not take into account people like the Islamic Society of York Region's Zafar Bangash who, through the al Quds Day rallies, actually encourage Islamic extremism.

There are a number of prominent Canadian Muslim reformers who have attempted to draw the government's attention to the growing problem of extremism in Canada's Islamic establishment. But in order to maintain the multicultural narrative that 'all is well and all cultures are equal,' those voices are rejected in favor of the established Islamic leadership that turns a blind eye to extremism and tries to paint any serious effort to recognize the problem as "Islamophobia."

In so doing, our government, through politically motivated reports like the one produced by Goodale's ministry, undermine the efforts of Canadian Muslim reformers, such as Professor Salim Mansur, Raheel Raza, and Tarek Fatah, who seek to expose and address the support for violent ideologies that have infested mainstream Islamic institutions in Canada.

Its intention may be to contribute to ending Islamic extremism and support for terrorism in Canada. Yet by ignoring the connection between Islam and terror, the Ministry of Public Safety's 2016 Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada allows the entrenched Islamic establishment in Canada to deny the extent to which approbation of violence, anti-semtism and intolerance of mainstream Canadian culture is widespread in mosques and Islamic schools.

Until the government stars listening to Muslim reformers like Fatah, Raza, and Mansur about the nature and extent of the threat we face, it's unlikely the terrorist threat will be reduced.

LEXX: "I Worship His Shadow"

Today is Ellen Dubin's birthday - she's one of the stars of the Canadian cult SciFi/fantasy hit Lexx that aired from 1997 to 2002.

This is the first episode

Friday, August 26, 2016

Clinton’s Colin Powell Excuse

When Bill and Hillary Clinton get caught for bad behavior, they follow a familiar pattern. First deny, then call it old news, then roll out the attack machine of media and political allies to trash whoever needs to be collateral damage to save them. The private email-Clinton Foundation saga is now in phase three, and no less than Colin Powell has been drafted as roadkill.

The Powell-made-Hillary-do-it defense emerged late last week in two parts. The New York Times reported that FBI interview notes turned over to Congress last week show that Mrs. Clinton told the G-men that Mr. Powell had advised her to use a personal email account. The Times didn’t name its source, but in these cases always ask who benefits from the leak? Answer: Mrs. Clinton.

The Times also reported in the same story that the advance copy of a new book by Joe Conason backs up the blame-it-on-Powell story. Aficionados of Clinton scandals will remember Mr. Conason as the most dedicated stenographer in the Clinton stable.
Mr. Conason has written a biography of Bill Clinton, “Man of the World.” And the Times reports that the book relates a conversation early in Mrs. Clinton’s time at State at a dinner party hosted by Madeleine Albright, another former Secretary of State. Mr. Conason writes that Mr. Powell “told [Mrs. Clinton] to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer.”

Mr. Conason writes that this conversation “confirmed a decision she had made months earlier—to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.” The Times notes that Mr. Conason “interviewed both Mr. and Mrs. Clinton for the book.” Voila, the Clintons are back at their old standby, the everybody-does-it defense.

Mr. Powell’s office released a statement saying he doesn’t recall that dinner conversation. And at a weekend event on Long Island, Mr. Powell told People magazine and the New York Post that Mrs. Clinton “was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.” He added: “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Donald Trump Is 2016’s Andrew Dice Clay

Showtime recently aired a six-episode run of “Dice,” a semi-autobiographical series that charts the comedian Andrew Dice Clay’s attempts to revive his career amid the usual array of showbiz roadblocks and wise-cracking naysayers. The show has its share of laughs, and it brings to mind Clay’s standup act, circa 1990. You know, the Diceman—the swaggering, leather-jacketed, chain-smoking, Fonzie-pompadoured comedian with the Brooklyn tough-guy guido shtick and jokes so filthy the antiseptic moniker “adult humor” could barely capture their shock value.

Or you might remember him as his critics portrayed him: racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and every other label our culture can bestow on a heretic. He was a caveman, a hater of all things not male and not white, a harbinger of Western civilization’s decline and fall. Pundits and activists outdid one another in describing Dice’s nastiness, and demonstrations followed him wherever he performed. When he hosted “Saturday Night Live,” cast member Nora Dunn and musical guest SinĂ©ad O’Connor refused to attend.

Never mind that the Diceman was acharacter, and never mind that plenty of comedians in those days assumed an outsized onstage persona, e.g., Bobcat Goldthwait, Gilbert Gottfried, and Emo Philips. What mattered to critics was that Dice was saying things that were beyond the pale. They didn’t much care if they were hearing the character or the man himself. (Besides, it was hard to tell them apart.) His fans didn’t seem to care, either. Whatever else you can say about Dice, he was wildly popular at the turn of the 1990s. He was the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden, and he did it two nights straight.

Was Dice funny? Meh. He went for the lowest-hanging fruit with lots of faux bravado, dirty nursery rhymes, and simple punch lines, and most of his stuff doesn’t hold up today. (Apologies if you think his “hickory-dickory-dock” rhyme was pure genius.) It’s not so much that he was too “offensive” to be funny, it’s that the jokes were almost ancillary to the full effect of the exaggerated character. The Diceman was pure, unadulterated ego; you were supposed to laugh or cringe at his stuff, not analyze it.

What, then, was Dice’s appeal? In short, it was truth. Not “truth” in any kind of noble or literal sense, mind you, but the truth that dwells in the bowels of undistilled honesty. Simply put, Dice’s fans reveled in the novelty of hearing somebody say forbidden things. Just when the term “politically correct” was becoming part of the popular vernacular—and a rallying cry for an inevitable backlash—Dice’s uninhibited male ego carried the standard for that very backlash...

McGill student warns Jewish freshmen to get ready to face campus anti-semitism

Congratulations, new college freshmen! Welcome to what will undoubtedly be some of the most exciting years of your life. Get ready to meet new people, learn things that fascinate you, and figure out who you are and who you want to be.

If you’re Jewish, you should probably also prepare yourself for the various forms of anti-Israel sentiment, and maybe even anti-Semitism, you’re likely to encounter on your new college campus.

In the past year alone, as a Jewish student at McGill University in Montreal, I’ve been called a “Zionist b—-.” I’ve been told several times that Jews haven’t suffered (never mind the Spanish Inquisition, Eastern European pogroms and centuries of violence and marginalization leading up to the Holocaust). I’ve seen my friends mocked for their Judaism in crude, hateful language on popular anonymous social media platforms. When I asked if a student publication would write about instances of anti-Semitism on campus in its end-of-year issue, I was told that those instances were already covered in “mainstream Zionist media.”

By no means do I defend every action of the Israeli government, but Israel as a Jewish homeland plays an integral role in my identity. I love Israel and firmly believe in its right to exist, just as I believe in a Palestinian state. I also consider myself a liberal and care deeply about a range of injustices, including gender inequality, homophobia and the racial opportunity gap.

Yet so many of my liberal peers, with whom I share so much common ground, have actively excluded Jewish students from their social-justice organizations. The activist community’s demonization of Israel is apparent again and again in my interactions on campus. These clubs propagate the idea that Zionism underpins many of the world’s problems, as well as claim that Jews have no right to feel connected to Israel and that any Jew who does feel a connection to his or her religious homeland is part of the problem. Despite many of our shared values, my Jewish peers’ and my attempts to reach out to these groups have often been dismissed...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The academic pendulum may be starting to swing back

The preposterous ideology that gave rise to campus "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" was bringing academic Liberal Arts into a state of ridicule and profound disrepute. It was a matter of time before there was either push back or the end of any value to a liberal art education.

The University of Chicago has finally decided it was time to push back:

...The University of Chicago recently made it clear to its crop of incoming students that academic freedom and inquiry remain pillars at the institution, and that the university does not support "so-called" trigger warnings or offer safe spaces that allow students "to retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own...

'Borders are the worst invention ever!' according to EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker

Under-fire EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker risked widening divisions with European leaders today by saying borders were the 'worst invention ever'.

He called for all borders across Europe to be opened, despite the chaos caused over the last year from the flood in refugees fleeing Syria and the wave of terror attacks hitting various continent's cities.

The remarkable comments will further undermine Mr Juncker's precarious position as European Commission President...

The most idiotic use of court time since the twitter trial

Seriously, a woman gives water to suffering, dehydrated pigs in a truck and some prosecutor is actually stupid enough to take this to trial.

Between this and some other abuses, there really does need to be a look at how some prosecutions are handled by Ontario's Crown Attorneys. 

A trial begins Wednesday for an animal rights activist charged with mischief for giving water to pigs that were in a sweltering truck on their way to slaughter.

Anita Krajnc of Toronto faces jail time or a maximum $5,000 fine for providing water through the narrow openings of a metal trailer to the pigs as they were headed to Fearman's Pork Inc. in Burlington, Ont...

Matthew Lau: When corporations bully, unions provide the muscle

In a new publication to mark International Youth Day earlier this month, the Canadian Labour Congress painted a grim picture for workers today, and in particular, young workers. The economy is on a fast track to being a polluted unequal capitalist dystopia, according to Big Labour’s biggest alliance. Yet, salvation is possible — but only by strengthening the labour movement.

The congress says what Canada desperately needs is more and stronger unions to champion workers’ rights and protect young workers from what “a massive consolidation of corporate power.” While decrying excessive corporate power makes sense, it is a bizarre position for the Canadian Labour Congress to take. In reality, there is no greater enabler of unfair corporate power than the labour movement itself.

Think of it this way: If Burger King hired goons to forcibly bully McDonald’s franchisees into not opening new locations and competing for Burger King’s customers, we would rightly decry Burger King’s unfair corporate power. But the Canadian Labour Congress supports the same principle, by opposing free trade and calling for the government to protect Canadian corporations in certain industries by forcibly blocking competitors. What screams “a massive consolidation of corporate power” louder than the use (or rather, the abuse) of the coercive power of the state to protect corporations from competition?

In addition to campaigning for protectionism, Big Labour also supports the expansion of corporate welfare. For example, Unifor, Canada’s biggest private-sector union, is loudly calling for the federal government to “invest” in Bombardier. So, even while it claims to oppose the “massive consolidation of corporate power,” here’s the labour movement absolving corporations of the need to stay competitive, and capitalized, by effectively serving their consumers...