Monday, December 31, 2007

Telegraph names General Petraeus its first Person of the Year

Nuts to you, Time!

From today’s Telegraph:

Today, we put him in the spotlight again by naming Gen Petraeus as The Sunday Telegraph's Person of the Year, a new annual accolade to recognise outstanding individual achievement.

He has been the man behind the US troop surge over the past 10 months, the last-ditch effort to end Iraq's escalating civil war by putting an extra 28,000 American troops on the ground.

So far, it has achieved what many feared was impossible. Sectarian killings are down. Al-Qaeda is on the run. And the two million Iraqis who fled the country are slowly returning. Progress in Iraq is relative - 538 civilians died last month. But compared with the 3,000 peak of December last year, it offers at least a glimmer of hope.

To appreciate the scale of the task Gen Petraeus took on, it is necessary to go back to February 22, 2006. Or, as Iraqis now refer to it, their own September 11. That was when Sunni-led terrorists from al-Qaeda blew up the Shia shrine in the city of Samarra, an act of provocation that finally achieved their goal of igniting sectarian civil war.

A year on, an estimated 34,000 people had been killed on either side - some of them members of the warring Sunni and Shia militias, but most innocents tortured and killed at random. US casualties continued to rise, too, but increasingly American troops became the bystanders in a religious conflict that many believed they could no longer tame.

Things are far from perfect but, after four years in which events did nothing but get worse, the sight of a souk re-opening, or a Shia family being welcomed back home by their Sunni neighbours, has remarkable morale-boosting power.

Where once Iraqis saw the glass as virtually empty, now they can see a day when it might at least be half full.

Hat tip: NRO's Web Briefing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The most hated person in Dallas since J.R. Ewing

If that's not what they're calling Jessica Simpson in Dallas tonight -- they should.

The tuna enthusiast and champion hair flipper was in attendance today at Texas Stadium in Dallas to watch her latest boyfriend/prey, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Romo played his worst game of the year, which was only Dallas’ second loss of the season (to the Philadelphia Eagles, 10-6):

Romo was 13-of-36 for 214 yards. All three pickoffs came on balls forced to Owens. He also was sacked four times, all on the final two drives, when his banged-up hand bothered him so much he dropped a ball while cocking to throw.

His quarterback rating of 22.2 was easily the worst of his career. His previous worst was at home against Philadelphia last December, another game attended by a starlet love interest. It was Carrie Underwood then, Jessica Simpson now. When cameras spotted Simpson in the first half, she tugged the front of her pink No. 9 jersey, then mouthed the word “Romo!”

Well, at least she didn't have to spell it.

Now, in fairness, Jessica Simpson does have loads of beauty and talent. Compared to her sister.

But she is a painfully transparent starf***er, having unsuccessfully pursued Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, before latching onto sensitive singer-songwriter John Mayer. (But he eventually wised up.) Both "relationships" were punctuated by media leaks that obviously came from Simpson's camp.

Now, I don’t really care if Jessica Simpson ruins John Mayer’s career. But my Cowboys? Time to hit the road, Jess.

Update: Chelsea Handler agrees with me:

"Jessica Simpson attended boyfriend Tony Romo's football game. The Cowboys quarterback had the worst game of his career. It's a bad year for the name Simpson. Even O.J. is pissed, he feels like they're making his name look bad."

By the way, I recommend Handler's nighly show on the E! Network, seen in southern Ontario on CH at 12:00 midnight. Her topical panel at the top of the show is very funny, and she has continued to have new shows throughout the writers' strike. (I also recommend E!'s "Talk Soup," which is like three Kimmel monologues in a row.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Well, Chrétien did publish two ghostwritten memoirs . . .

Allegations that someone at the CBC is the Wayland Flowers to the Liberals’ Madame (ask your grandparents) bring to mind this clip from last week:

Steve Paikin: They wanna call you. Are you prepared for that?

“Fifth Estate” producer Harvey Cashore: Well, I’ve gotta, you know, think about what that means. My job as a journalist is not to go speaking to, you know, to be a function or an arm of a committee like that. My stories speak for themselves. So I would say what I’m excited about is they have the power to subpoena people who I couldn’t talk to. Let’s hear what they have to say.
--“The Agenda,” TVO, December 6

Video here. The above excerpt is about three-quarters through.

Now, of course I’m not saying that Cashore himself had anything to do with ghosting or suggesting Liberal questions to Brian Mulroney (and if they were the questions about the wireless spectrum decision, I very much doubt he did). But it will be interesting to see if there’s any response from the CBC.

Update: The Conservative Party has complained to the CBC, and the CBC is investigating. (h/t: Stephen Taylor)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Liberals tried to delay Mulroney’s appearance until after David Johnston’s report

Afraid Mulroney’s testimony will weaken case for public inquiry.

CBC's Cashore suggests he would not testify voluntarily.

This little nugget, reported on TV yesterday by CTV’s Bob Fife and Globe and Mail reporter Brian Laghi, appears to have flown under the radar:

“Actually Lloyd, the Liberals tried to block Mr. Mulroney’s appearance until late January, after the independent investigator sets the terms of reference for a public inquiry. They were afraid that if he shows up Thursday and he shows he didn’t do anything illegal, that the public inquiry wouldn’t be held. The NDP wouldn’t go along with this.”
--Bob Fife, CTV News, December 6

Presumably, this discussion took place at the in-camera meeting of the committee’s steering committee, after Karlheinz Schreiber gave his testimony Thursday.

Video of Fife’s report is here (titled “CTV News: Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reports 3:21”). The above comment starts around the 2:40 mark.

The Globe’s Laghi also mentioned the Liberals’ attempt to delay Mulroney’s testimony, on “Mike Duffy Live,” but video is not available.

Interesting. The party that insisted on having the ethics committee conduct hearings and got Schreiber out of jail with a rarely-used Speaker’s warrant – all while knowing that a public inquiry is coming – tried to delay the appearance of one of the key witnesses after only three days of hearings.

Another interesting shoe yet to drop in this story is whether the journalists of interest, such as Stevie Cameron and “Fifth Estate” journalists Linden MacIntyre and Harvey Cashore, will testify before the committee or a public inquiry.

Cashore appeared on TVO’s “The Agenda” last night, and suggested he would not testify voluntarily, but demurred when host Steve Paikin asked him what he would do if served with a Speaker’s warrant:

Paikin: You know who else they [the committee] wanna call (points to Cashore).

Cashore: Uhm, me. Yeah. (laughs)

Paikin: They wanna call you. Are you prepared for that?

Cashore: Well, I’ve gotta, you know, think about what that means. My job as a journalist is not to go speaking to, you know, to be a function or an arm of a committee like that. My stories speak for themselves. So I would say what I’m excited about is they have the power to subpoena people who I couldn’t talk to. Let’s hear what they have to say.

Paikin: I’m sure you’re thrilled about that. But what happens when the Speaker issues his warrant to get you and put your butt in that chair? You gonna go?

Cashore: Well, we’ll have to see what happens. We’ll have to see.

Paikin: We’ll have to see what happens? What kind of answer is that?

Cashore: (laughs) I’m being a politician!

A link to video of the December 6th show is here. The above exchange is about three-quarters through (there is no time counter on the video).

My guess is that no reporter will appear voluntarily before the committee or inquiry, and would fight a Speaker’s warrant in court.

But it would be interesting to see whether the committee would even take steps to obtain Speaker’s warrants for journalists. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lend me your vote – and some binoculars

Rae veteran Irene Mathyssen didn’t see what she thought she did on Moore’s computer

As an unjustly-persecuted American politician once asked, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”

Perhaps that would be making too much of the swiftly-evaporated voyeurism charge, levelled by rookie Ontario New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen against BC Conservative MP James Moore (for which she has now apologized). But there are few allegations that can be made against a male politician that are more damaging than that he might enjoy pictures of attractive, nearly nude women.

What’s interesting here is that Mathyssen went beyond saying it was inappropriate to view such material on the floor of the House of Commons. She argued that such material is inappropriate anywhere:

“It reflects an attitude of objectifying women and we know that when women and other human beings are objectified and dehumanized, they become the object of violence and abuse.”

As it turned out, however, Mathyssen was more Mr. Magoo than Sherlock Holmes: Moore soon realized that the photo Mathyssen had spotted from several desks away was of Moore’s dog and former girlfriend, who was committing the secular sin of wearing a bikini more than 100 metres away from a gay pride parade (the girlfriend, not the dog).

So, if you’ll forgive me, I couldn’t help but think that Moore could have easily deflected the allegations by saying that he was looking for information about the gay, bi-sexual, lesbian and transgendered communities. Or that he was looking at photos from the 2007 London Pride festival. Mathyssen marched in the parade, and placed an ad in its directory (page 52).

Irene Mathyssen was a cabinet minister in the late-and-unlamented, one-term government of one Robert K. Rae, now carefully drafting the Liberal policy platform for the next general election, which must be just good enough to allow Stéphane Dion to finish second in a minority Parliament. Tonight, he must be grateful that at least he doesn’t have to deal with the likes of Irene Mathyssen anymore. She was Rae’s minister without portfolio for culture, tourism and recreation from October 1994 to June 1995.

Mathyssen’s sputtering outrage over girlie pictures is typical of the attitude that prevailed in the Rae government and still prevails among Old Democrats and Liberals. The Rae government published the notorious Words that Count Women In, a painfully silly “guide to eliminating gender bias in writing and speech” (no, really). Also on its watch, Ontarians witnessed the absurdity of a sex scandal in which a minister had to resign, even though there had been no actual sex performed.

Today, the Liberals were quick to demonstrate that they could still give as good as the Dippers, with MP Karen Redman recklessly piling onto Moore, based solely on Mathyssen’s assertions.

You’d think the Dion Liberals would be more careful these days, having lately been embarrassed that their game of Six Degrees of Schreiber is not turning out how they had hoped. Oh, I forgot: the capacity for embarrassment is unnecessary ballast, to be shed early on the way to becoming a successful Liberal politician.

And now even Mark “Nancy Drew” Holland is pleading that an inquiry, not the ethics committee, is the place to question Schreiber. Um, yeah, that’s what the government said. But in fairness to his suggestion, the benefit now would be that the committee would be free to turn its attention to simpler but more pertinent matters, such as requiring all male Conservative MPs to submit to lie detector tests to determine whether they watched all or part of the "Victoria’s Secret" fashion show on TV last night.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Vote for Schreibergelder!

(But only if you really want to)

My recommendation – “Schreibergelder” – is in the running at Andrew Coyne’s “Name That Scandal” vote. The final four:


Frankly, I’m surprised I made it this far, as I got little support at the original post. But hey, I’ll take it!

Vote here.

“Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”

More bad spelling* from the Liberals

A federal Liberal Party mailing from leader Stephane Dion into a Vancouver riding about the controversial InSite safe drug injection site is under attack as "fear mongering" by the Conservatives, while the New Democratic Party calls it a "waste."

And the mailing, which misspells the word "minister" in referring to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a "rush job" and "confusing," say the two parties.
--24 hours Vancouver, today

* see also the post below