January 12, 2013

Terry Glavin: Pick a side

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:02

In the Ottawa Citizen, Terry Glavin explains why you need to be on Team Idle or Team Devil:

It all sounds so wonderfully simple. On the one side, we have Canada, a genocidal, racist, colonial settler state that just wants to rape the land and poison the water. On the other, we have sacred indigenous nations that just want to protect Turtle Island and be spiritual about everything. Now, pick a side.

Thank you, Idle No More. Joining a “revolution” has never been so easy, and already, the ramparts are being breached. Prime Minister Stephen Harper hosts a delegation from the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations on Friday. It’s actually a meeting the AFN was supposed to have had with Harper some time ago, but never mind that.

Don’t spoil the excitement.

This is not to say that there’s been nothing worthwhile about the impromptu flash-mobbing and the aboriginal-themed block parties that have been breaking out randomly all over the place in recent weeks.

Nobody’s in charge. It can mean whatever you want it to mean. Wow!

What will happen next? Besides, it’s been almost wholly peaceful and lawful and fun.

But to imagine this as a progressive “movement” requires a certain suspension of disbelief. There are just too many bothersome little contradictions that have to be kept off camera or the whole thing falls apart.

Looking back at the ups and downs of the Vikings’ 2012 season

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:22

In the Daily Norseman, Eric Thompson reviews the Minnesota Vikings 10-6 season:

…let’s take a moment to appreciate how surprisingly well the 2012 season went as a whole. I thought the Vikings would finish with the exact inverse of their 10-6 regular season record. I felt that if everything went well for them, maybe they could scratch their way to .500. But the [insert Jim Mora voice here] playoffs? You kiddin’ me?! Only the rubiest of rubes could have predicted that with a straight face before the season. The Vikings struck gold multiple times in the draft: Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, and Blair Walsh all made an immediate impact. Josh Robinson, Rhett Ellison, and Jarius Wright chipped in with noticeable contributions as well. When you come off a 3-13 season where you were the third worst team in the league, you better kick ass in the draft. Rick Spielman & company did just that and it paid off.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have your all-world cyborg running back return from major knee surgery to come within nine yards of the single-season rushing record either. Adrian Peterson surprised everyone but himself this year. He put the team (and multiple defenders) on his back time and time again throughout the season. If he doesn’t win the MVP in a few weeks, Webster is going to have to change the definition of “valuable”.

[. . .]

So yeah…about that internal quarterback controversy. The Joe Webb bandwagon didn’t just come to a halt last Saturday. It went down like the Hindenburg. Webb confirmed what Arif, Skol Girl, and I all thought after covering training camp this summer. He’s an amazing athlete — it’s just too bad he can’t throw a football. He has an arm like a Civil War cannon; unfortunately, he also has the accuracy of one. At least in the cannon’s case it was usually OK if you missed the target by a few yards. I’ve always rooted for Joe Webb and marveled at his ridiculous athleticism. But if he’s the backup quarterback again next year, something is seriously wrong. That said, I can’t hate on Webb too much. He was thrust into an impossible situation with virtually no game reps to prepare himself. I didn’t think that the Vikings were going to win that game regardless of who was under center. And outside of the first drive it’s not like the play calling did him too many favors. [. . .]

Christian Ponder’s “Injury”: [. . .] the bruising on Christian Ponder’s arm was there for everyone to see. It was definitely a shock when it was announced Ponder couldn’t go just hours before kickoff. The sudden drastic change in Ponder’s status led people to believe that he was being soft and unwilling to play through pain. I saw all sorts of tweets and comments to the effect of “LOL PONDER’S A WUSS HE DOESN’T WANT TO SUCK AGAINST GB AGAIN” or “DURRR FAVRE WOULD HAVE BEEN OUT THERE WITH BOTH ELBOWS AMPUTATED NO DOUBT”. But then we saw Ponder’s arm, which looked like it talked back to Ike Turner too many times. And Rich Eisen said on his podcast this week that he heard the Vikings knew that Ponder wouldn’t be able to go on Friday night. Not exactly your run of the mill owwie, is it?

Is the fact that a meeting took place a victory?

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:08

Andrew Coyne on Friday’s comic opera performance by the Prime Minister and the Assembly of First Nations:

It’s not yet clear precisely what the Prime Minister and Assembly of First Nations chiefs accomplished at their meeting Friday, but the fact that they met at all, after the tumult and confusion of the preceding 24 hours, must be counted as achievement enough.

Rarely has the penchant of native leaders for what a former prime minister’s chief of staff, Derek Burney, has called “theology” been on such open display. The whole future of the country seemed to hang on whether ministers and chiefs met in a hotel or in a government building, or whether the Prime Minister and the Governor-General attended at the same time or in sequence.

In the process, it became more evident than ever just how divided the AFN has become: among the other unresolved matters as I write are the future of AFN chief Shawn Atleo and, one has to think, the AFN itself, with much of the organization now in open revolt against his leadership. The proxy issue may have been whether to attend the meeting, but the broader conflict is foundational.

By their decision to participate, Atleo and his supporters were not just staring down the demands of what I’ve called the fundamentalists, many of whom have taken up the flag of the Idle No More movement. They were casting their lot with a more pragmatic, forward-looking vision of natives’ future. By no means were they signing onto the whole of the present government’s reform agenda, but they were signalling a willingness to work with it. That took enormous courage, and it is vitally important that the government respond in kind.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 50 years on

Filed under: Americas, Books, History, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

In The Atlantic, Benjamin Schwarz looks at the myths and realities of the standoff between the Soviet Union and the United States over Cuba in 1962:

On October 16, 1962, John F. Kennedy and his advisers were stunned to learn that the Soviet Union was, without provocation, installing nuclear-armed medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. With these offensive weapons, which represented a new and existential threat to America, Moscow significantly raised the ante in the nuclear rivalry between the superpowers — a gambit that forced the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. On October 22, the president, with no other recourse, proclaimed in a televised address that his administration knew of the illegal missiles, and delivered an ultimatum insisting on their removal, announcing an American “quarantine” of Cuba to force compliance with his demands. While carefully avoiding provocative action and coolly calibrating each Soviet countermeasure, Kennedy and his lieutenants brooked no compromise; they held firm, despite Moscow’s efforts to link a resolution to extrinsic issues and despite predictable Soviet blustering about American aggression and violation of international law. In the tense 13‑day crisis, the Americans and Soviets went eyeball-to-eyeball. Thanks to the Kennedy administration’s placid resolve and prudent crisis management — thanks to what Kennedy’s special assistant Arthur Schlesinger Jr. characterized as the president’s “combination of toughness and restraint, of will, nerve, and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated, that [it] dazzled the world” — the Soviet leadership blinked: Moscow dismantled the missiles, and a cataclysm was averted.

Every sentence in the above paragraph describing the Cuban missile crisis is misleading or erroneous. But this was the rendition of events that the Kennedy administration fed to a credulous press; this was the history that the participants in Washington promulgated in their memoirs; and this is the story that has insinuated itself into the national memory — as the pundits’ commentaries and media coverage marking the 50th anniversary of the crisis attested.

Scholars, however, have long known a very different story: since 1997, they have had access to recordings that Kennedy secretly made of meetings with his top advisers, the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (the “ExComm”). Sheldon M. Stern — who was the historian at the John F. Kennedy Library for 23 years and the first scholar to evaluate the ExComm tapes — is among the numerous historians who have tried to set the record straight. His new book marshals irrefutable evidence to succinctly demolish the mythic version of the crisis. Although there’s little reason to believe his effort will be to any avail, it should nevertheless be applauded.

[. . .]

The patient spadework of Stern and other scholars has since led to further revelations. Stern demonstrates that Robert Kennedy hardly inhabited the conciliatory and statesmanlike role during the crisis that his allies described in their hagiographic chronicles and memoirs and that he himself advanced in his posthumously published book, Thirteen Days. In fact, he was among the most consistently and recklessly hawkish of the president’s advisers, pushing not for a blockade or even air strikes against Cuba but for a full-scale invasion as “the last chance we will have to destroy Castro.” Stern authoritatively concludes that “if RFK had been president, and the views he expressed during the ExComm meetings had prevailed, nuclear war would have been the nearly certain outcome.” He justifiably excoriates the sycophantic courtier Schlesinger, whose histories “repeatedly manipulated and obscured the facts” and whose accounts — “profoundly misleading if not out-and-out deceptive” — were written to serve not scholarship but the Kennedys.

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