28 April 2005

The anti-indicator

[source]

Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday blamed Republican “lust for one-party domination” for the GOP campaign to change Senate rules on filibustering judicial nominees, and he assailed religious zealots for driving the effort.

As the Brothers Judd note, now that Al Gore has weighed in a Republican victory is effectively a sure thing.

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26 April 2005

Finally something intentionally funny from Canada

Mugger: Give me all your money.

Victim: But I’m a member of parliament.

Mugger: In that case give me my money.

Johnny

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23 April 2005

Canada's Club Med

[source, source]

Patients fed up with long waiting lists in Canada are fuelling a fast-growing demand for brokerages that arrange speedy service in the United States as well as in Quebec’s burgeoning for-profit medical industry.

Brokers and other similar companies say business has as much as tripled over the past year as Canadians apparently become more comfortable with paying for diagnostic tests, second opinions and even surgery.

They say their patients include not only the wealthy but also middle-class people willing to take out second mortgages or lines of credit to pay for faster care.

Apparently the solidarity in nationalized health care in Canada is breaking down as people people realize that you won’t be turned out in the rain as an exile for popping over to the Ugly Country to the South.

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22 April 2005

Just because we ask for it doesn't mean we'd use it

[source, source]

For the information of Condoleezza Rice, who despite being Secretary of State of her country, continues to demonstrate an ignorance of world affairs at a shockingly consistent level, the notion that the Kremlin exerts a grip on the media is a fairy tale invented in the gardens of Washington. As correspondent of the English version of Pravda.Ru, director and chief editor of the Portuguese version and collaborator for three other Russian publications, two of these being official media organs, I have frequently asked for guidelines from the Kremlin on what line to follow.

The answer: “We are afraid we cannot give you any guidelines as you request. You will have to write the truth, after checking your sources, obviously”, or words to this effect every time the question is posed.

So in order to disprove that Pravda is controlled by the Kremlin, the author writes about how he continually asks the Kremlin for guidance? The fact of asking alone confirms Rice’s point.

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[source, source]

Whoever Britons choose in their general election on May 5, they will get an economy that might surprise outsiders.

Never mind Margaret Thatcher’s tax and spending squeezes and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pledge, at least in the short term, to emulate her fiscal orthodoxies.

Since the beginning of the decade, public spending in Britain as a share of gross domestic product has experienced one of its most rapid accelerations in recent history, outpacing Germany, France, the United States and even traditionally high-spending Canada.

The tax burden is now nearly the heaviest in two decades, and the worsening of the fiscal balance has exceeded every other major industrial country except the United States.

The key fact here is that the UK’s fiscal balance has deteriorated right in step with an increasing tax burden. So much for the “raise taxes to reduce the deficit” theory.

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21 April 2005

There's one thing government monopolies overproduce

[source, source]

California’s public education hierarchy has engaged in what can only be described as a massive disinformation campaign about the extent to which high school students vanish without graduating.

For years, the state Department of Education has claimed that 87 percent of high school students get diplomas, even when outside analysts repeatedly demonstrated that the official numbers just didn’t add up.

[…]

The Harvard project’s data and its methodology almost perfectly mirror what a conservative, pro-voucher group called California Parents for Educational Choice has contended for years. CPEC also believes that when junior high school dropouts are factored into the equation, the true graduation rate may be closer to 60 percent.

There’s no conspiracy, it’s simply in the local best interests of every school to underreport drop outs. It’s no different than production quotes in a Communist system, where everyone generates glowing reports without regard to the facts on the ground. Quite the uncanny resemblance, eh?

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Old Media bias test case #1223, successful

[source, source]

Speaking at a breakfast meeting sponsored by Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality (ANGLE), [DNC Chairman Howard] Dean said while the need for “message discipline” was keeping Democrats focused on its opposition to the Bush administration’s proposal to reform Social Security by allowing private investment accounts, “we’re going to use Terri Schiavo later on.”

“This is going to be an issue in 2006, and it’s going to be an issue in 2008,” Dean told the 200 attendees, “because we’re going to have an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay saying, ‘Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?’”

It’s been a few days and I’m still waiting for the outrage over using this women’s death for political purposes. Isn’t that terribly wrong, especially when endorsed by a political party’s leader?

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Helping people to defeat themselves

[source, source]

Opening a new front in the growing rebellion against President Bush’s signature education law, the nation’s largest teachers’ union and eight school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont sued the Department of Education yesterday, accusing it of violating a passage in the law that says states cannot be forced to spend their own money to meet federal requirements.

The Administration should join the suit and get the Court to rule that no Federal regulations need be followed by the states unless accompanied by sufficient federal funding to do so. That would truly end the era of big government

That would be so sweet…

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France foreign minister comes out in favor of wars of aggression

[source, source]

During a state visit to China, French Premier Raffarin threw support behind a law allowing China to attack Taiwan and continued to push for a lift of the EU arms embargo.

At the outset of a three-day visit to China, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he supported Beijing’s “anti-secession” law on Taiwan, and vowed to keep pushing for an end to an EU arms embargo that could open the door for Paris to sell weapons to the Asian giant.

One is only left wondering whether this is about getting bribed by China or yet another effort to damage the USA and its allies at any cost.

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20 April 2005

You can't get more unilateralist than that

[source, source]

Only George Galloway could upstage his own manifesto launch. […]

Or he would have been if it had not been for Salam Pax.

The “Baghdad blogger” was at the event to make a film for Newsnight, and he managed to snatch a brief interview with Mr Galloway before the Respect candidate dashed off to his meeting with the lawyers.

“I know who you are,” said Mr Galloway, warily eyeing Mr Pax, whose weblog gave the world an insight into the lives of ordinary Iraqis in the run-up to the US-led invasion.

Mr Pax wanted to know why Mr Galloway wanted the immediate withdrawal of occupying troops from Iraq.

“I really don’t think we are going to agree on this. You supported the war and I opposed it,” said Mr Galloway.

“You welcomed the invasion of foreign armies into your country. I opposed it. So we are not going to agree on this, which is why I didn’t think it would be productive to have a discussion with you and I do have to go now.”

But Mr Pax - whose real name has never been revealed - pressed the point.

Galloway: “I just want to be honest with you. You can not demand that our armed forces occupy your country - that’s a matter for us.

“It’s not a matter for you - it’s a matter for us. Now I think there are millions of people in this country who think the war was illegal, was wrong shouldn’t have happened and should be immediately withdrawn from. We are entitled to that point of view and we are.”

Mr Pax “shouldn’t have supported” the war in the first place, added Mr Galloway.

But Mr Pax countered that would be tantamount to supporting the continuation of a regime like Saddam’s.

Galloway: “We are not going to agree on this. You are a supporter of the war. You are a supporter of the occupation and I am an opponent. Your family joined the puppet government.”

Now, some might attack Galloway for being so parochial and indifferent (if not hostile) to the Iraqis. But that’s been his position and that of his supporters and party from the beginning. They’ve never cared a particle about Iraq or Iraqis, except ones that cut big checks for their bank accounts. But still, it’s hilarious to hear the statement that “You can not demand that our armed forces occupy your country” — isn’t the occupation vastly unpopular according to Galloway?

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At least it's a voluntary tax

[source]

Now what word would describe a private company providing a service in an area where the service has not been provided before?

If you said “Tax” then you too can be a British MP:

Independent ATMs do not get the interchange fee for cash withdrawals, but are paid for balance checks and rejected transactions. Because of this, big banks actually profit from letting charging ATMs into the market, as they don’t have to provide as many machines themselves or pay as much in interchange fees… Good for business, but what about customer service? While some people use charging machines for convenience—preferring to use one in the pub at a cost, rather than walk down the street—some citizens don’t have any close access to free machines.

The Treasury Select Committee is concerned this is a “tax on the poor.”

To quote the narrator of Spongebob Squarepants, “Yes, they are all idiots.”

Does this mean that Old Media websites that charge for content are taxing readers because there is equivalent content available for free?

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We know what's news

[source]

The L.A. Times ran a front-page article this week about nepotism in Congress. The article contains new information about large payments to family members by several prominent Democrats, including Barbara Boxer […]

But guess what? This new information was buried on page A18. And who was the only politician named on Page A1? Why, that would be Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose payments to family members are old news

[…]

That pretty much fits normal news practice, right? New information on A18, old news on A1.

Well, isn’t bad news about Donkeys by definition old news, while similar tales of Elephants is always new news?

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19 April 2005

Better to immolate yourself than light a single candle

[source]

Phillip Adams declares:

The US Commander-in-Chief has the world’s worst record on capital punishment.

George W. Bush presided over 152 executions during his six years as Texas governor. By contrast, China once executed 1,781 people in just three months during 2001, according to Amnesty International. Bush would’ve needed to execute 42,744 Texans during his governorship to equal that rate.

This kind of exaggeration always astounds me. Are people like Adams just that parochial / ignorant, or have they so succumbed to logo-realism that they honestly believe that Bush is such a bad person that he’s the worst in every category? Or have words for these people and their audiences so lost meanings that it’s simply incantations with a well known stimulus / response property?

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18 April 2005

Oh, so now I have to actually show up?

[source, source]

The Boston Globe on Friday retracted a story by a Halifax-based freelance writer that purported to describe the opening of the seal hunt.

The story, which was published Wednesday, contained details that “hunters on about 300 boats converged on ice floes, shooting seal cubs by the hundreds, as the ice and water turned red.”

However, the seal hunt was actually delayed until Friday morning due to bad weather.

What, is there some rule that when reporting on an event, it must have actually occurred? Whatever happened to the “fake but accurate” defense?

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13 April 2005

Taxing away the barbarians

The Trustafarian Leftists don’t notice the estate tax as it is because they’re wealthy enough that they can afford to take the hit without a slip in lifestyle. The people it hits are entrepeneurs on the way up who are big enough to have to pay the tax, but not so big that they don’t notice it. (If you have most of your, say, $4.5m net worth in a big illiquid asset—a closely-held business—and have to pay tax at 40%+ marginal rates on everything over $1.5m, the tax is a big issue for you.) In effect, the estate tax is not a tax on inherited wealth so much as it is a tax on upward mobility.

Maybe that’s why the Trustafarian Leftists like the estate tax so much—it reinforces social stratification by reducing the opportunity for the “wrong” sort of people to accumulate wealth.

Mike Morley

It’s a universal human tendency to want to pull up the ladder right after you’ve climbed up.

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Watch me pull a plot out of my hat

[source, source]

Catching U.S. officials slightly off guard, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking a long-term security partnership that could keep U.S. troops there indefinitely and make permanent the military relationship that began when American forces invaded his country in 2001.

I was going to drop this on one of the lefty sites I engage on, but I’m sure they’d just that clearly Karzai is just a CIA plant, dancing to the mental commands beamed at him from the neo-cons’ orbital mind control lasers and Burns is just spinning on behalf of Cheney via the Halliburton cabal.

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Surely there are worse campus newspapers...aren't there?

[source]

The Daily Illini, student newspaper at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reports that alum Rick Kaplan, now president of MSNBC, spoke on campus on the subject of blogging:

He said bloggers can act in a mob mentality and may not be accurate in their reports.

“The bloggers’ accuracy rates are good for baseball, not for journalists,” Kaplan said. “A baseball player can make seven out of 10 at bat and be highly respected. If journalists are only right seven out of 10 times, this would be terrible.”

Which raises an obvious question: What is Ted Williams—whose lifetime batting average was a mere .344, and who only once, in 1941, did better than four out of 10 at bat—doing in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

That’s not surprising. This is the newspaper that, while I was in school there,

  • Reported on an election and gave three different vote percentages for a candidate on the same page.
  • Reported breathlessly on the release of a “colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid” in to a stream on campus. It turned out to be the chemical called “water”.
  • When the University wanted to raise the required average for student employees to C, the editorial board resigned in protest.
  • When I told my friend there to not put floppy disks on steam radiators because they’d melt, that made her the local computer expert.

We always referred to it as the “Daily Idiot” and it frequently lived down to the name.

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UN-American

[source]

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank gives the game away, though:

Most Republicans skipped the hearing, leaving Democrats largely unchallenged as they assailed Bolton’s knack for making enemies and disparaging the very organization he would serve.

That would be the U.N.—but of course the American ambassador to the U.N. is supposed to serve America, not the U.N.

They try so hard to keep up appearances but get tripped up by the little things like this.

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12 April 2005

It's not the crime, it's the coverup

[source, source ]

On March 24, former Congressman Bob Livingston was sent an e-mail by a New York Times editorial page staffer suggesting he write an op-ed essay. Would Livingston, who in 1998 gave up certain elevation to be House speaker because of a sexual affair, write about how Majority Leader Tom DeLay should now act under fire? In a subsequent conversation, it was made clear the Times wanted the prominent Republican to say DeLay should step aside for the good of the party.

Livingston in effect declined by responding that if he wrote anything for the Times, it would be pro-DeLay. But this remarkable case of that august newspaper fishing for an op-ed piece makes it appear part of a calculated campaign to bring down the single most powerful Republican in Congress. The Democratic establishment and left-wing activists have targeted DeLay as the way to end a decade of Republican control of the House.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s yet one more indication of the strong political bias that operates at the NY Times. On the other, it is the opinion page, why shouldn’t its proprietors look for opinions that are in agreement with theirs? I suppose it comes down to whether the NY Times is still pretending to be a non-partisan source of opinions as well as news.

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10 April 2005

Diplomatic immunity

One report:

[source, source]

Tension increased in the Gaza Strip on Saturday as Israel Defense Forces troops shot dead three Palestinian teens in Rafah. Palestinian militants retaliated by firing at least 25 mortar shells at Gush Katif. There were no injuries.

[…]

Senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad sources announced that the incident was an Israeli violation of the calm and that they were free to retaliate. However, they said they were still committed to the cease-fire.

Interesting, in light of this other report:

[source, source]

Israel called upon PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Friday morning to act quickly against those firing Kassam rockets, Army Radio reported.

The call comes after a Kassam was launched at Sderot Thursday night, after three months of quiet.

So it’s a truce-breaking event for the IDF to kill some Palestinians who were apparently not playing soccer yet Israel can only “call” on the PA to stop lobbing explosive rockets at Israeli homes. Does this seem a tad bit uneven to anyone else?

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07 April 2005

Local coherence only, please

[source]

If you want to see, under a microscope, just how our “intelligence failures” happen, I recommend this article on the assassination attempt against the Pope. (Thanks to Lastango.)

Read how the NYT and the elite media instantly ran with the story that Mehmet Ali Agca was some sort of neo-fascist right-winger. And refused to touch the evidence of his Bulgarian connection. (If you read the story it might sound familiar. Agca goes penniless to Bulgaria yet stays in a first-class hotel and comes out with $50,000. Does it perhaps remind us of Terry Nichols making multiple extended trips to the Philippines despite having no apparent income? Hmmm? What, you haven’t heard that tale? I wonder why…)

They didn’t want to know.

It was the despised middle-brow Reader’s Digest that broke the story. And even after they did the Gasping Media tried their best to bury the story.

And our precious CIA didn’t want to know either. It resolutely ignored the most blatant evidence. And even when the Bulgarian connection became clear, it didn’t want to make the obvious inference of Soviet involvement.

Why? You know why. For the exact same reason the networks never show the falling towers of the World Trade Center, or the people jumping to escape the flames. Because they are appeasers. Because they know that if the American people know what’s going on, they will demand that the United States defend itself. They will vote for leaders who favor strong defense.

And the New Class knows that those are precisely the people who shouldn’t be allowed to hold political office.

It seems to me that the New Class thrives in a world where the petty little details are clear and unambigious while the big issues are vague and unclarified. A process and procedure for everything but never ask what it’s all for or what is needed to sustain it.

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06 April 2005

If you judge by race, you need a score card

[source, source, source]

A lawyer for the professor whose remarks about Sept. 11 victims touched off a firestorm wants officials to clarify how they intend to prove he is an American Indian, asking if they plan to use “the Nazi standard for racial purity.”

A University of Colorado faculty committee is investigating whether professor Ward Churchill should be fired over allegations he plagiarized others’ work, and that he falsely claimed to be an American Indian to give his work more credibility.

“Do you wish to employ the Nazi standard for racial purity? Do you wish to employ the standard adopted by the United States government for determining Japanese ancestry in order to qualify for internment?” attorney David Lane asked in a letter dated Monday to acting chancellor Philip DiStefano.

Oh yes, I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve long wondered why those oppose racial preferences don’t point out this kind of thing, that ultimately racial preferences require racial identity cards. Leave it to the radical left to be the ones to finally admit it.

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UN-responsive

[source]

The second searing irony for me is that the American neoconservative right has occupied the moral high ground in critique of [UN Secretary General Kofi] Annan, outflanking the left, which sits on indefensible territory in his support. But if prevention of genocide and protection of the vulnerable are not core priorities on the left, then what is? If anyone’s values have been betrayed, it is those of us on the left who believe most deeply in the organisation’s ideals. I am mystified by the reluctance of the left both in the US and the UK (the Guardian ’s coverage, for example) to criticise Annan’s leadership. The bodies burn today in Darfur - and the women are raped - amid the sound of silence from Annan. How many genocides, the prevention of which is the UN’s very raison d’être, will we endure before the left is moved to criticise Annan? Shouldn’t we be hearing the left screaming bloody murder about the UN’s failure to protect vulnerable Africans? Has it lost its compass so badly that it purports to excuse the rape of Congolese women by UN peacekeepers under Annan’s watch? Is stealing money intended for widows and orphans in Iraq merely a forgivable bureaucratic snafu?

The Left has never cared for people, only for controlling people. It is just that, Communism and its ill-bred brother Socialism having failed, nothing remains for the Left to hide their contempt behind.

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05 April 2005

Old Media credibility watch

[source, source]

I looked at the twenty [Pulitzer Prize] photographs and broke them into groups on the basis of content. Here are my results:

  • U.S. troops injured, dead, or mourning: 3 (2, 3, 11)
  • Iraqi civillians harmed by the war: 7 (4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 18)
  • Insurgents looking determined or deadly: 3 (6, 15, 20)
  • US troops looking overwhelmed or uncertain: 3 (7, 12, 14)
  • US troops controlling Iraqi prisoners: 2 (16, 17)
  • Iraqis celebrating attacks on US forces: 2 (1, 19)

Equally telling is what the photos don’t show:

  • US forces looking heroic: 0
  • US forces helping Iraqi civillians: 0
  • Iraqis expressing support for US forces: 0
  • Iraqis expressing opposition to insurgents: 0

I suppose in the vein of the arguments that the reason there’s no good news reported about Iraq is that there is no good news, we’ll be told that there are no photographs of the omitted types, nor such events to photograph in the first place.

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04 April 2005

Eating the seed corn

[source, source]

The case file of the French homeboys who joined the Iraqi jihad contains a startling photo.

It’s the mug shot of Salah, the alleged point man in Damascus, Syria, who authorities say arranged for guns and safe passage into Iraq for extremists from Paris. Salah has a serious expression beneath a short Afro-style haircut. He looks as if he’s posing, reluctantly, for a middle school yearbook.

When Salah left for Damascus with the jihadis last summer, he was 13 years old.

While some are concerned about the appeal of jihad to boys this young, I find it a sign of weakness or desperation if the Caliphascists are reduced to using boys this young in actual operations. As the conflict becomes more complex, with both sides learning and counter-acting the other side’s tactics, depending on 13 year olds to at a minimum execute in this increasingly demanding environment is not a winning strategy. People talk about how the conflict in Iraq is generated well trained, experienced jihadis. But if that were true, why would the Caliphascists need people like Salah in the field?

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Oh, Canada!

[source, source]

While publicly denouncing the killing of Zahra Kazemi in July 2003, Canadian officials were also quietly allowing an Iranian government official to visit Canada, according to documents obtained by CBC Radio.

Iran had requested that one of its officials, Seyed Abu Talib Najafi, be briefed on the workings of Canada’s new Advance Passenger Information database, designed to identify potential threats to civil aircraft before they board.

[…]

In dozens of e-mails, there is no mention of Kazemi, and no one questions why Canada would help Iran, considered by some to be a brutal police state. As well, no one asks why a government with a known track record of sponsoring terrorist attacks might want information about a new passenger security screening procedure. [emphasis added]

At first I was outraged at the “considered by some” — who wouldn’t so consider the Iran regime? Then I remembered what former President Clinton said and I had to admit the accuracy of the statement. One is still left with Canada making an effort not only to brief the Iranian official but to keep it quiet so the excitable types wouldn’t get excited. So the officials involved knew it would provoke an outrage but didn’t seem concerned about why that was.

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03 April 2005

UN-surprising

[source]

Freedom House does an annual list of the world’s most oppressive regimes. To some of us, it doesn’t come as a surprise that six of the 18 nations on the list are members of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

I think that nobody will be surprised by this. People with clue would expect it, and UN boosters won’t believe it or will discard it as un-surprising Right Wing Death Beast propaganda.

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01 April 2005

Libertarianism vs. libertinism

Via Best of the Web and the Amarillo Globe, we have this quote from bioethics professor Andrew Johnson:

Persons cannot rightly be forced to make their bodies available as incubators to unwanted nonpersons for nine months, especially considering the physical dangers, emotional trauma, and drastic life-changes pregnancy often entails.

I agree. However, unless it was rape then no one was “forced” in to being pregnant. Unless you’re willing to take full responsibility for your own actions, you’re not a libertarian, you’re a libertine. That’s the real difference between the two.

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Oh, Canada!

[source, source]

The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected claims by francophone Quebecers to let their children attend English language schools.

In a unanimous decision, the country’s top court has upheld the language legislation in Quebec known as Bill 101 — which obliges French speaking parents to send their kids to a francophone school.

Two things spring to mind upon reading this example of the kind of oppression our neighbors to the north suffer under:

  • We can see now that the Quebec language laws are not about permitting the use of French but mandating it.
  • The rot’s gone deep if this kind of thing is supported by a unanimous decision
  • It says all one needs to know about the desirability of being a francophone in Quebec that having francophone children needs to be mandated by the force of law. I guess Canada now has the “Berlitz Wall” that we can only eventually suffers the same fate as the Berlin Wall.
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