Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Hanukkah

University wasn't like this when I was there

It is exam week right now at UCLA, and all of the students are feeling mighty stressed. It's a good thing Bruins have excellent coping mechanisms for finals anxiety, including midnight howling at the moon as well as running across campus almost naked at midnight of the third day of finals - it's tradition.

Forget about Senate Reform, we need Parliamentary Reform

The only change to the Senate that I would support is eliminating it. Our Parliamentary system would work just fine with just the House of Commons and no Senate. The concept of an elected Senate is an attempt to duplicate the United States Senate which makes no sense to me. The American political institutions are so much different than in Canada. The division of power between the states and Washington is different than the provinces and Ottawa. As well, the division of power between the Executive branches (the president in the U.S. and the prime minister in Canada) and the Legislative branches (Congress and Parliament) is also quite different. Each system has different checks and balances that would not necessarily fit by duplicating either south or north of the 49th parallel. Harper's reform proposals are designed to weaken federalism by having the House of Commons share power with an elected Senate that would be less democratic than the existing House. We would be better served by reducing the current democratic deficit by introducing some form of representation based on proportional vote. So if the Liberals get only 42% of the popular vote, the number of seats they would hold in Parliament could never approach 50-60%. And the Green Party would get some seats by achieving 5-6% of the popular vote instead of always being shut out. The idea of an elected Senate based on regional representation only makes our democratic deficit that much worse. In fact, proportional representation helps any party that traditionally is shut out of power. Based on the last 25 years, in most elections that would include the Conservatives.


For My Politically Correct Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Canada great. Not to imply that Canada is necessarily better than any other country and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual orientation of the wishes.

By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

For All My Other Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Another Christmas Tree Controversy

Here we go again. Another embarrassing example of how political correctness turns tolerance into intolerance. It was recently reported in the media that Justice Marion Cohen ordered the removal of a Christmas tree from the lobby of the Ontario Court of Justice because its a Christian symbol. Now we have to go through a public display of community leaders - from the Premier to Muslim and Jewish groups - to confirm that there is nothing wrong with the practice. Well we know that. And we also know that Justice Cohen is an idiot. In our diverse, multicultural society we should be encouraging communal celebration of holidays. That's why a Hanukkah menorah is displayed in front of the provincial Legislative Building. Frankly, I am embarrassed by this type of attitude from a fellow Jew. There is nothing wrong with Christmas trees in public places - just not in my home.

Be cautious of man with umbrella??

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is this any way to live?

No Way Out For Israel

I find the amount of anti-Israel progaganda in the media to be incredible. I also run into so many bloggers who are totally sympathetic to the Palestinians while demonizing the Israelis. Jimmy Carter's recent book smears Israel and he went further in subsequent interviews to suggest that a much more serious deprivation of human rights has occured among the Palestinians than even there was in South Africa. Even the Iraq Study Group Report seems to suggest that America's Iraq problem was linked to the Palestinian issue.

For almost 60 years Israel has been trying to have neighbouring Arab regimes accept its right to exist with little success. It's response to aggression have been at times questionable and counter-productive. However, Israelis have always been more concerned with security than public relations. They have tried negotiations, trading land for recognition, unilateral withdrawal from occupied land, war, etc. Nothing seems to work. When Arafat was offered just about everything he asked for in a deal worked out by Bill Clinton, he walked away and started the most recent Infitada. I see the most recent ceasefire as merely a cooling off period to give those that support terror an opportunity to re-arm. Hamas which is the legitimately-elected government of the Palestinian people refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist. They are still committed to the destroying Israel - they clearly articulate this over and over again. That is why Canada and other Western countries have withheld foreign aid to the Palestinian government. Renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist would provide the Palestinian government with much needed credibility and support.

I see no solution to the ongoing conflict. The level of distrust, hatred and anguish is so great that I don't see how there can be reconciliation. Moderates can never control the agenda because it is so easy for radicals to take control by acts of violence.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are Terrorists Lurking in California Farms?

It appears that the weapons of mass distruction may be spinach and green onions. California's farming industry is girding for another potential black eye after a second outbreak this year of a potentially deadly E. coli strain linked to its crops. Green onions served in Taco Bell restaurants are suspected as the source of dozens of illnesses in the Eastern United States. The onions came from the seaside region around Oxnard in Southern California. The latest E. coli outbreak followed a similar scare in supermarkets in September that was eventually tied to spinach grown in California's Salinas Valley. It certainly appears that the food chain in North America is quickly becoming compromised.

No Christmas this year in Ottawa

There will be no Nativity Scene in Ottawa this year! The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in Ottawa this Christmas season.This isn't for any religious reason.They simply have not been able to find three wise men and a virgin in the Nation's capitol. There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.