Megapundit: Le voyage de Babar

Must-reads: Don Martin and James Travers on Harper and the Green Shift; Conrad Black on a dreadful Nixon biography.

“Screw everybody”
Stéphane Dion just wants to save the planet, people. Why must you complain?

Sun Media’s Greg Weston claims that at $40 per tonne (which would be the price of carbon in four years, not immediately), the Green Shift “would slap a whopping tax of $1.1 billion” just on Ontario’s five fossil fuel-burning electricity generating plants, “increasing the cost of operating them by a staggering 80% or more” and raising Ontario Power Generation’s overall operating costs by “at least 20%.” “By coincidence,” he sneers, “the one province where electricity bills won’t be touched by Dion’s plan is the one with all that hydro power—Quebec. Imagine that.” (Indeed, we’ve long suspected Dion simply invented the idea of anthropogenic global warming as a way to win Papineau back.)

“Dion’s puckishly labelled Green Shift is complex, vulnerable to unintended consequences and may prove beyond his limited powers to explain,” says the Toronto Star‘s James Travers. (“Puckishly labelled”? Really?) But by responding with his patented mixture of “defensiveness and aggression,” he says Stephen Harper is doing him a huge favour. “To dismiss it so crudely is to underestimate global determination to tackle climate change as well as pent-up domestic willingness to accept collective responsibility and, within reason, pay the price,” Travers believes.

The Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin also notes Harper’s “uncharacteristic blustery reaction”—”calling the plan ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’ and warning it would ‘screw everybody across the country'”—and wonders why our Prime Minister’s “deeply analytical brain” couldn’t come up with anything better to say. If you believe John Baird, it’s because he was (in Martin’s words) “giddily tongue-tied” over Dion’s carbon tax flip-flop, which will soon catapult the Tories over Eden’s ramparts and into “the promised land of majority rule.” (Sounds like something Baird would say, alright.) “But it could also mean that the Conservative war room, which thought it had a choreographed reaction for every conceivable Liberal action, was flat-footed by Dion.” (Understandable, really. They only had, you know, weeks to plan for it.)

“It will take a massive technological revolution to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, and anyone who says otherwise is kidding you,” says The Globe and Mail‘s Margaret Wente, citing various experts, and even “as we ditch our gas-guzzling SUVs, the Chinese are buying 20,000 new cars every day.” Thus, though she doesn’t come out and say so, we can only assume she thinks the carbon tax is a bad idea. Which is especially strange since she herself argues “it’s a good thing to start figuring out how we can eventually wean ourselves off fossil fuels.”

The London five and the Toronto 18
Convicted terrorist Mohammed Junaid Babar, a witness at the ongoing terrorism trial of Mohammad Momin Khawaja, is “the reverse of the fictional French elephant of the same name who left the jungle, visited a city and returned with the benefits of civilization for his fellow elephants,” writes the Globe‘s Christie Blatchford in a rather odd and distinctly vituperative piece. “Mr. Babar left Manhattan, visited the wilds of northern Pakistan, and wanted all the more to blow civilization to smithereens.” Throughout his journey, she argues, he and his fellow travellers were enabled by the Internet, which has “normalized the jihadi leanings of Western Muslim youth, much as it has done for pedophiles.”

In this case, unlike with the Toronto 18, the Star‘s Thomas Walkom notes that “a reputable court has ruled that there was a real [terrorist] plot. Last year, a London jury found five young British Muslims—the men Khawaja is alleged to have helped—guilty of terrorism.” (The youngest of the convicted Brits was 23, for the record, and Walkom describes Khawaja himself as “young” too. He’s 29.) “For a government seeking convictions,” he adds—nudge, wink—it’s awfully helpful that it can decline to show so much evidence to the defence on grounds of national security.

Dead presidents
In the National Post, noted felon and Richard Nixon biographer Conrad Black releases the hounds on an apparently vastly inferior portrait of the 37th president by Rick Perlstein, calling it a “lynching.” “Nixon is portrayed as a mutant who snuck into the White House and remained there until the Washington Post, New York Times and CBS pulled back his shower curtain and revealed his cloven feet,” Black accuses. Neither his “distinguished war record” nor his roles in taking down Alger Hiss and Joseph McCarthy and “bringing the Republicans out of isolationism and flat-Earth conservatism” are credited. Instead, says Black, Perlstein “gives Nixon no credit for anything but a manic, corrupt, rat cunning.”

John F. Kennedy “remains something of a deity in Berlin,” Andrew Cohen reports in the Ottawa Citizen, as the 45th anniversary of his visit to Berlin and his “ich bin ein Berliner” speech approaches. “It wasn’t that complicated, really,” he writes of Kennedy’s initial impressions of the wall, which had been strategically obscured by the East Germans. “For JFK, Berlin was on the frontline of freedom and Berliners were its stout defenders. As a free people, the United States would stand by them.”

Duly noted
In the wake of the residential school apology, the Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe receives what she terms a “legitimate expression of disgruntlement” from “a member of Vancouver’s Jewish community” asking “where aboriginals were when native leader David Ahenakew uttered hateful remarks about Jewish people.” Turns out some of them (Matthew Coon-Come, for example) were denouncing those remarks in no uncertain terms, while others weren’t—thus proving, we’d say, that aboriginals don’t form a cultural monolith any more than Jews do. People less kind than Yaffe might be tempted to describe this woman’s complaint as an ill-timed expression of irrelevance.

The Globe‘s Jeffrey Simpson takes note of a report from the U.S. Congress’s General Accountability Office claiming that both the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police are a long way from full functionality and effectiveness—in contrast, he suggests, to the Manley report’s claims of “measurable improvements” having been made. To this Simpson appends his usual, infuriatingly smug complaints about ineffective counter-insurgency techniques and the porous Pakistani border, noting the recent prison break and increases in suicide bombings.

The Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington says the Toronto District School Board “should be ashamed” of its “loony decision to restrict its new Grade 11 course on the study of genocide … to three cases: The Holocaust, Rwanda and Armenia,” to the exclusion of the Ukrainian Holodomor. He doesn’t quite come out and accuse them of doing so because they’re a bunch of Stalinists—indeed, he acknowledges the TDSB’s stated reason, which is that there isn’t enough time to study every genocide. But he says that’s “rubbish. Any knowledgeable person can present an arguable case in an hour.” Amazing—at that rate, they’ll be done high school in three weeks!

“As a B-list pundit who’s often asked to moderate public events starring true A-listers,” the Post‘s Jonathan Kay has dealt with many “men in tennis shoes”—that is, those not-quite-all-there “verbal assailants” who show up at various public forums to exercise their democratic right “to act out and make lots of other people squirm in their seats.” No one is immune, he notes—not even Peter Munk, whose appearance at a Toronto bookstore this month was marred by a man in tennis shoes (and an “ill-fitting jacket,” Kay imagines, “T-shirt advertising a political party that no longer exists, focused stare, tote bag full of leaflets and odd homemade food items”) accusing his corporation, Barrick Gold, of various crimes against humanity and mother nature.