Yahoo! News - Iraq May Give Amnesty to Insurgents


By now, you've probably read about the new Iraqi government's propsed offer of amnesty to insurgents. If you haven't, the details are here:

A spokesman for Iyad Allawi went as far as to suggest attacks on U.S. troops over the past year were legitimate acts of resistance--a sign of the new government's desire to distance itself from the 14-month U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

"If he (a guerrilla) was in opposition against the Americans, that will be justified because it was an occupation force," the spokesman, Georges Sada, said Saturday. "We will give them freedom."

Choking the brutal 14-month insurgency is the No. 1 priority of Allawi's government, and the prime minister is expected to make a number of security-related policy announcements in coming days. Besides the amnesty plan, those include the resurrection of Iraq's death penalty and an emergency law that sets curfews in Iraq's trouble spots, Sada said.

The amnesty plan is still in the works. A full pardon for insurgents who killed Americans is not a certainty, Sada told The Associated Press. Allawi's main goal is to "start everything from new" by giving a second chance to rebel fighters who hand in their weapons and throw their weight behind the new government.

This seems entirely reasonable to me. The government must demonstrate that it is not an American puppet, and that can only be done by taking positions that are counter to US desires. Further, an amnesty drives a wedge between foreign terrorists and the communities in which they run. Exactly to the degree that those communities perceive the new government as independent, they may wish to lay down arms.

Such amnesties are common in the history of civil wars. They do not always succeed. The British attempted one in New York during the Revolutionary War, but only a few thousand "rebels" took advantage of it. After the American Civil War the amnesty was offered to most Confederate soldiers (but not necessarily their officers -- Robert E. Lee, though one of the foremost in the efforts to reunite the nation, asked for but never received amnesty). There remained a violent insurgency in the South for several years, until the "Redemption" movement swept away most of the constitutional changes forced on Southern states by martial law. It was only at that point that the insurgents ceased fighting.

On the other hand, these programs do work sometimes. Iraq seems like a good candidate. The several discrete groups that have been fighting the Coalition have broken apart--al Sadr's army, defeated on the battlefield, may be in a mood to declare victory and cease fighting. If you make them outlaws, they have no option but to carry on the war. Let them go home, and most of them very well may.

There is one final factor that has been completely forgotten by the American press. It is this: Iraqis have not known peace for twenty years. Their sons were impressed to fight in the longest conventional war of the 20th century: the Iraq-Iran conflict. Those who survived were forced to fight the Allies of the Gulf War. Those who survived that saw the suppression of the Shi'ite uprising and the Kurdish uprising. There was, suffusing all of this, the terror of the Mukhabarat. Then, their sons were once again impressed into duty against the Coalition; and after that, guerrilla war and wild-eyed terrorists roaming their cities.

There is every reason to believe that a populace so wearied will take any chance at peace, if they can only be made to believe in it. It's not a bad idea to start by forgiving past offenses -- Saddam and a few of his high-level cronies excepted. That is a promise to the Iraqi people that they will not see their sons turned against their neighbors. From now on the only foe is those who would destroy the new and, genuinely, the common order. | CTV News, Shows and Sports - Canadian Television

A Day in the Life of Colin Powell:

The Scottish King of Arms, Lord Lyon, has gone out of his way to matriculate a coat of arms for Colin Powell. Apparently Powell's father, Luther, was born in Jamaica and therefore a subject of the Crown of the United Kingdom. While the British nobility would never have considered giving Luther arms on his own account, now that he has a famous son they are bestowing a coat of arms on him psthumously. This, of course, means that the arms descend to General Powell. They are "Azure, two swords in saltire points downwards between four stars argent, on a chief of the second a lion passant gules." That is, two crossed swords (points down, hilts up) on a blue field, with four silver stars just beside each of the intersections of the swords. Above that is a red lion walking past on a silver field. The motto is "Devoted to Public Service."

And what service it has been lately. Still, of all the European meddling in American politics, this part is the least bothersome. It's most akin to the way in which Jimmy Carter was granted a Nobel prize to spite Bush, except that Lord Lyon is too much a gentleman to actually say, "The fact that we are going to such lengths to honor Powell is of course a rebuke to Donald Rumsfeld." Whatever--the General was once a great warrior, even if he hasn't been a great Secretary. Surely he deserves a coat of arms if anyone does.

NEJM -- Semper Fi

Life In the Land That Time Forgot:

This is a dispatch from Parris Island. I don't know what to say about it, except that it is right. It captures everything about the misery, the hate and the heat, the suffering of training and the sorrow that comes in its aftermath. It's a bad world, as my old Aussie friend often says.

The doctor who writes closes it well, following the anguish of a mother who lost her only son with a song drifting over the swamp:

When I go outside, I can hear the shouts floating across the water, the young recruits out there sounding off in unison as they go out for their morning run, flat-out gung-ho at 6 a.m. The shouting sounds as if it is coming not just across the marshes but across the decades, and I swear sometimes that I can hear what they are shouting — all that Marine tough-guy talk:

Lock and load!

Ready on the left!

Ready on the right!

Ready on the firing line!

Failure is not an option!

Good to go.

Thank God for that chorus, but what a price to join it! What bitter thanks are offered to its singers: death, and separation from love, and the attentions of a divided citizenry and a divided Congress.

Yet they are owed thanks, and kinder attentions. On the behalf of the keepers of the flame--an Order of which they are chiefer members than I myself--I thank them, and pledge them my friendship and trust. Semper Fidelis, as the lady says.

BLACKFIVE: Senators and Congressmen Against The Troops

Y'all Back Home Read This:

I hope you'll all reflect on this post from BlackFive. However, those of you back in the great state of Georgia will please notice that Majette, who wants your vote for the US Senate, voted against this bill. That's not to be forgotten in November. I can't vote against her, being temporarily a Virginia citizen, though a Georgian by heart. Y'all can, and ought to do.

Thanks to Doc Russia for the link to B-5. Sorry you're having such a rough week, Doc.

IOL: South Africa

Guns and Families:

"How will we protect our families now? Criminals prefer unarmed victims... and so does the African National Congress."

Thus begins an article on the new "Firearms Control Act" in South Africa. It quotes one Charl van Wyk, chairman of Victims Against Crime, who said: "A law that made it impossible to defend one's family was an illegitimate law." Indeed it is.

On which topic, I purchased a revolver today. It's a new Smith & Wesson M66, which is a K-Frame chambered for .357 Magnum. Come autumn, I would like to augment it with a carbine in the same caliber, although I may buy a rifle for the deer-hunting season instead as I gave my last longarm to my father to defend his home. He'd made do too long with my grandfather's single-shot break action 20-gauge shotgun, a fine weapon against squirrels and rabid dogs, but of little use in running off determined bandits. I passed over to him my Mossberg 500, which will make the job much easier.

I reflect that my father is highly unusual among my clan in that he has not concerned himself with owning or carrying firearms. My great-great-grandfather, Tom Clanton, was one of the most famous gunfighters in post-Civil War Tennessee. He used a lever-action rifle to kill seven men in one night. Interesting fellow--he'd held a whiskey-making license for the Union Army (my father's family were Union men, having abandoned the Quaker faith in favor of warfighting for human liberty; my mother's family were Confederates, having no use for foreign interlopers telling them what to do. I come by both positions honestly). After the war he ended up in conflict with the proto-KKK "night riders," in a series of conflicts that ended very badly for them and left him to grow old and feared. He was acquitted of eight killings, those seven plus one other fellow who turned in his still to the authorities. That last was deemed justifiable homicide by the jury.

His son, my great grandfather, was involved in his first gunfight in the Tennessee hills as a teenager. The occasion was a girl, of course--if I were starting this family history earlier, you'd see that motif has been regular one. His enemies ambushed him, and he would have been killed but that one of the local elders--a black man, as it happens, who remembered his father with kindness--took him aside, warned him, and pressed a revolver into his hand. He survived, and grew quite old in turn. Along the way, he managed to earn enough money as a farmer to send seven sons to trade school.

My grandfather was one of these. He became a welder, and the first tradesman of the family. He was three times rejected by the US Army during WWII: in spite of his repeated attempts to enlist, when they realized that he was a welder they rejected him and sent him back to work at the shipyards. He eventually worked at Oak Ridge, where the first atomic bombs were constructed. After the war, he ran a body shop and service station for long-haul truckers on the new interstates. He carried a handgun everywhere, as did his wife and eldest son, my uncle. In spite of their longstanding friendships with the black community, the service station was not spared in the violence of the Civil Rights movement. They had to defend it, although I understand it was without fatality on any side.

My grandfather did what his father had done, and saved so that his sons could do better than he had. Both of them went to college. My father, who was a drill sergeant in the US Army, took a white-collar position. For whatever reason, he didn't carry on the family habit of going about armed, although his father continued it nearly until he died at the age of eighty. He did carry on the tradition of educating his children, although I was able to help out with scholarships and work. I hold three degrees in history and philosophy.

I myself have enough concealed-carry licenses that, with reciprocity, I can carry from Key West to Vermont as long as I avoid a few of the less civilized states. Looking back over the roll of years, I can't see any good reason not to do so. The family holds itself together in spite of, not because of, the movements of nations. That mine exists, and has survived and prospered, is not due to the Civil War or WWII or the Civil Rights Movement. It is due to family love, courage, hard work, savings, and a good revolver close to hand. That is the recipie I suggest to you all, for whatever trials Fate may have in store.

Right Thinking Girl: Love In A Time Of Danger

"The War on Terror is Not a Real War"

Someone I know said just those words to me earlier this week. I couldn't help but remember them when I read this moving account by a young woman trying to help a 9/11 survivor sort things out. If it's not a war, I don't know what word we can use for it.

Backcountry Conservative: Medals of Honor Stolen

Stolen Medals:

Apparently someone broke into the museum on the hanger deck of the USS Yorktown (CV-10), not too far from Charleston, South Carolina. (A quick digression--it's a great trip to head out there and tour the ship, and the nearby submarine.) Jeff Quinton reports that several Medals of Honor were stolen.

The FBI is investigating. I think they are correct to assume that it's likely the thieves will try to sell the things out of state. If you hear of or see anyone trying to sell Medals of Honor, you can contact the FBI and report it.

San Francisco rolls out the red carpet for the Clintons


Thank you, Senator Clinton, for providing us with such a clear picture of your program in a few simple words. Rhetoric never gets better than this:

We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.
Understood. Out.

America's Missed Photo Opportunity (

Press Corps Whines:

The Washington Post today has a piece called America's Missed Photo Opportunity, subtitled, "Suprise Transfer of Sovereignty Lacks Memorable Positive Picture." The piece begins with the press' idea of what such a moment should look like:

Salah Nagm, the head of news at the Middle East Broadcasting Centre that runs the Arabic satellite channel al-Arabiya, said it was possible that the ceremony would join other historic images -- momentous handshakes on the South Lawn of the White House or Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel -- that are graven on the memory of this region. He couldn't know, of course, what the event would look like. But as a man who deals in images, he knew it might have enormous impact.
But instead:
No one, it seems, had bothered to call the Arabic-language channel that says it has the largest viewership in Iraq. Their cameras were not even in the room when Iraq was reborn as a sovereign nation (or "so-called sovereign" in the local parlance).

"I don't know what they were thinking -- they didn't tell anybody," said Abdul Kader Kharobi, an assignment editor at al-Arabiya, a few hours after the transfer at 10:26 a.m. local time. There was no frustration in his voice, just disgust and a lot of weary irony. The Americans have been all but incompetent in manufacturing images, he said, and yet what does it matter? After Abu Ghraib, and after what he believes was a sham investigation into the March 18 killing of two al-Arabiya journalists in Baghdad by U.S. soldiers, who believes the Americans anyway?

Kharobi first learned that the transfer might happen early from statements by the Iraqi interior minister, who was in Turkey for the NATO summit. But, he said, despite the best efforts of one of his reporters to get more information out of members of the Iraqi delegation, no one offered anything specific. It seemed like a rumor, or confusion.

Ten minutes later, he learned that the transfer was already a done deal. And so the event that might have produced the most public, ceremonial moment in the birth of a new country was a private, invitation-only event. A war of images, of toppled statues and looted museums, of captured Americans and mangled children, a war whose ending was marked with a premature victory celebration on an aircraft carrier more than a year ago, was given another ambiguous marker. Iraqis were once again nominally in charge of their country, but al-Arabiya, for the moment, had no way of proving it to its viewers.

The day continued like that. There had, in fact, been a camera in the room in Baghdad, and the video that emerged showed a weary-looking L. Paul Bremer on a yellow sofa. The actual transfer of power came with the exchange of a large blue portfolio, but who was running the camera at this critical moment? And why was someone standing in the way?

"The camera was positioned very badly," said Kharobi, who, despite deep skepticism of American intentions, is hopeful that peace, at least, will follow soon.
We are used to the press attempting to present the US as inept, and seeking voices that will accomodate their desire. The sea of anti-Americanism in which these comments swim is as deep as the Persian Gulf. Who expected this fellow to say anything positive?

Still, there are several responses that ought to be made:

1) Images aren't as easily manufactured or controlled as the press would like to believe. The particular picture that comes to symbolize an event depends on visceral public reaction more than it depends on the press. You can put an image up over and over, but if it doesn't speak to what the public itself believes to be true and right, it won't take.

2) Images can also be constructed after the fact. Say "Washington crossed the Delaware" to anyone in the United States, and an image leaps to mind. The image itself is improbable, a later invention of a fertile mind.

Similarly, the photograph of the Marines raising the flag atop Mt. Suribachi was taken after the battle was over. The original raising of the flag--which occured under fire--was not photographed. So, they went back and staged it again with a bigger flag, and got some pictures for the folks back home.

3) Last, and most important: it is the success of an event, not the image, that counts. We all remember the "momentous" handshakes of the Israeli peace process, but who cares? The peace process was a fraud. We remember Chamberlain holding his documents high, too, but only with scorn.

There have been times in history when images have changed the course of human events. The Tet Offensive is one such--the press' images convinced Americans that the fight was being lost, when in fact Tet was a success for America and South Vietnam. What should have been a celebratory atmosphere became, instead, an erosion of support.

Still, it's not the image that counts. Victory counts. The only reason to worry about images is to prevent the press from having its way, and once again convincing Americans that we are losing when in fact we are winning.

Yahoo! Mail -

Freedom Week:

Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette has noticed that Iraq's Independence Day and our Independence Day come within a week of each other. He has therefore declared the entire week to be a new holiday, "Freedom week." He urges celebrations, and surely they are deserved. Iraq's security may not be assured yet, but honestly, neither is ours--and it never will be. The naysayers who point to the need for security in order to celebrate "true" liberty in Iraq fail to understand the nature of the thing called liberty. It is always a fight. Some places seem relatively safe, but there is no safety. There is only courage, and devotion to arms in the pursuit of justice. That devotion we name "chivalry."

Greyhawk is asking for donations to a fund that aids servicemen, called Soldier's Angels. You might drop by and have a look around their site.

True Believers

True Believers:

The handover was two days early. What sort of man now leads Iraq? A month ago, one would have expected a cautious fellow, suspicious of his American friends, but experienced at playing both sides in the intelligence game. Allawi might have been just that kind of Prime Minister, but for one thing: a bloody assassination spree led out of Fallujah, the very town he had struggled to protect by restraining the United States. Zarqawi created a new understanding in Allawi's mind when the terrorist promised to kill the PM.

Today Allawi gave a short speech. His choice of words lets you know that he has become a true believer, and has openly decided where Iraq's best interests lie:

At a hurriedly arranged ceremony to swear in the new government, Mr Allawi promised to crush the "outlaws" responsible for the violence which has left hundreds dead.

"I warn the forces of terror once again. We will not forget who stood with us and against us in this crisis."

With us or against us. Sometimes, even in the heart of the middle east, such simplistic clarity is possible.

Marine Corps News> Marines take the reins of Camp Al-Mahmudiyah

Marines at Mahmudiyah:

Those of you following (as I am) the career of "Da Grunt," fighting man of the 2/2 Marines, will notice that his unit has taken over Camp Al-Mahmudiyah. This is a return-trip for them, as they had been deployed there in March. This is an interesting place to me for one main reason: it's an example of "cultural sensitivity." "Camp Al-Mahmudiyah" was established by the 101st Airborne, who called it Forward Operating Base St. Michael. It has not been a pleasant place in spite of the name change. It might have been better to have continued to invoke St. Michael, whose name was the war cry of the angles according to Catholic tradition. Then again, the Marines expect to guard the streets of Heaven when they die, as it says in the Marine Corps Hymn. I suppose they might feel that they could let Michael have the day off, being in the same line of work.

Cambodian lessons in anti-terrorism

Thailand Ponders Counterterrorism:

I am developing a fondness for the good people of Thailand. This article ran originally in the Bangkok Post:

Whatever the immediate effects, it is important to know, and vital to exploit the fact that the terrorist gangs have such tiny leadership cores. To be clear, authorities must double and then redouble efforts to identify and then to track and stop the leaders of al-Qaeda, JI and allied terrorist groups. It is beginning to appear that cutting off the head of the terrorist gangs can prevent attacks. Since the US invaded Afghanistan and put the Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders to flight, there has been no successful terrorist attack in America. Similarly, since Thai and Indonesian police arrested JI leader Abu Bakar Bashir and operations chief Hambali, the violent movement has had only one terrorist attack. The bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Indonesia last year appalled most of the JI members, because nearly all victims were Indonesians. Clearly, the arrests of the JI leaders was a huge setback.
Emphasis added. That's a happy phrase: "Cutting off the heads of the terrorist gangs." They are, of course, speaking figuratively.

Michael : Mike's Message : FAQ

Whew, Close Call:

I spent part of the afternoon watching the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a movie that has probably been the unconscious inspiration for a large part of my life. The end of the movie arrives, credits roll, and there near the very top is an inauspicious name. Fortunately, it's just a case of mistaken identity:

I am also not the Michael Moore who directed Elvis in 'Blue Hawaii' and Harrison Ford in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' or the Michael Moore who was the Assistant Director on 'Spiderman,' or the one who was in 'Stalag 17'.
Glad to hear it.

Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Observer review: The Origins of the Final Solution by Christopher Browning


Audacity is not limited to the French, it seems. Out of the AFP today (no link as yet):

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Sunday urged the West to cooperate in breaking down the infrastructure and financial assets of terrorists, in talks with Western diplomats in Jeddah. 'We tackled the question of the financing of terrorism and discussed ways to fight terrorist infrastructures and those who condone the phenomenon and defend its followers,' Saud al-Faisal told reporters in this Red Sea port city.

'Terrorism cannot survive attacks on its infrastructures, which are also found in Western countries. That is why we have asked Western countries to cooperate with us to stand up to this scourge,' he added.

You can always count on the Middle East to be at the forefront of new ideas. Still, I don't know if we should engage in anything so heavyhanded. If we give him this, next he will be suggesting a "Global Coalition Against Terrorism" or something radical like that.

L'actualit� internationale sur

Another Victory:

Following the news today, one would think that Turkey was the scene of the latest disaster for the war in Iraq. Google News at this hour lists only news about the Turkish hostages taken in Iraq, and nothing else from Turkey on its front page. Search for "NATO," and you still find that the top collection of items is about the protests in Turkey aimed at George Bush's attendance at the NATO summit.

Meanwhile, the conservative (for the French) newspaper Le Figaro ran this piece of analysis yesterday:

Un compromis devra pourtant etre trouve. La France est consciente que ses theses sont tres minoritaires au sein de l'Otan. Paris ne s'oppose pas a une "demarche d'unite" de l'Alliance en Irak. Mais ce ne serait pas l'Otan en tant que telle, plutot certains Etats membres volontaires, qui participeraient a la formation des cadres de l'armee irakienne... La France envisage elle-meme de creer, peut-etre en Jordanie ou dans un emirat du Golfe, une ecole de formation de gendarmes irakiens.

Quant a "l'assistance technique" que l'Otan pourrait apporter aux nations engagees dans la force multinationale en Irak, les autorites francaises n'ont rien contre, a condition qu'elle soit discrete... La querelle franco-americaine est surtout affaire de symboles.

That is, in English:
A compromise [with America] will have to be found. France is conscious that its views are greatly in the minority in NATO. Paris does not oppose a a 'show of unity' for the alliance in Iraq. But, it can't be NATO as a whole, but rather a volunteer effort by member states who participate in the formation and training of the Iraqi army. France herself envisions the creation, perhaps in Jordan or in the Emirates, a school for training the Iraqi police.

When it comes to offering 'technical assistance' to Coalition forces in Iraq, France doesn't have a problem with NATO doing so as long as it is discrete. The quarrel between France and America is all about symbols.

France probably thinks it is winning the war of symbols, if it takes as its measure the obedience of the news media in continuing to portray Bush as an isolated loser whose coalition is falling apart. Indeed, the opposite has happened: the Coalition has expanded to include even France. Not only NATO, but the EU has voted to support the operation.

The NATO summit, all but unmentioned on front pages distracted by protests and hostages, has been a victory for the United States, the Coalition, and Iraq's new government. It is not possible to fight terrorists without developing a resistance to terror. You have to look past their efforts to frighten and to fray by fomenting discontent among the peoples of the West. Look past, and you see the first hints of a new dawn in Iraq, the first such light to brighten Mesopotamia in more than thirty years. Our enemies are doing their worst, and we our best. It seems this extends even to 'turning the other cheek' to the French desire to see us scorned in public, even as they aid us in private.

Fair enough. Forgiveness is noble, and the pursuit of justice is a higher calling than vanity or pride. But France should beware that there are other smiths forging symbols. Those smiths seek for their material weak convictions, and hearts they think might be moved by horror's lever. "Provocative weakness" draws eyes from many halls kept in the wastelands of the world.

Run Silent, Run Deep (

"Run Silent, Run Deep":

Don't miss this review of a new book on the submarine service. It's a history of submariners worldwide, and it sounds like an interesting take on the business.

Leonardo da Vinci... refused to actualize his design for a submersible for the benefit "of men who practice assassination at the bottom of the sea."

A coroner's court in Kinsale, Ireland, agreed with Leonardo that assassination was indeed the business of submarines, when on May 10, 1915, it declared "the Emperor and the Government of Germany" guilty of murder in the sinking of the Lusitania. Any doubts that the chivalry of maritime combat had become one of the first casualties of submarine warfare had been laid to rest barely three weeks into World War I, when the U-9 singlehandedly sank the British 7th Cruiser Squadron off the Hook of Holland. And there was another, especially sinister feature to this encounter -- after having torpedoed the British cruiser Aboukir, the captain of the U-9 then lingered to pot the two British cruisers that rushed to rescue the Aboukir's drowning crew. The message was clear: Any captain who slowed to rescue shipwrecked sailors or loitered off an invasion beach offered his ship and crew to ambush by these heartless killers of the deep.

To some degree that characterization is even more apt in the age of the "boomer." In theory, the boomers lay under water precisely in order to engage in nuclear assassination--in order that, even if America's cities and silos were wiped out by the Soviets, we could still return the fire. The threat they represented was one of the major reasons not to engage in "nuclear war-fighting," as the Soviet doctrines called it. America never believed in nuclear war-fighting: our military preferred the Mexican standoff. The Chinese, who were even more sanguine about the possibility of winning a nuclear exchange, are the current foes who have to be kept at bay.

It's an interesting argument. I've had two close friends in the submarine service, and I have to say that they make good friends. People who learn to keep their cool in those close quarters for months at a time, and under the kinds of stresses that go with the nuclear service, are people you can rely on utterly. However morally complicated the role of the submariner, the man himself is likely to be one of the best the Navy has to offer.

It's also amusing that there are a series of hand gestures I've never seen anyone use except submariners. They replace the more common sweeping hand gestures that most Americans use with gestures close to the body, elbows in, short and sharp. I don't know if they're even aware of it, but I'm sure it comes from a life of having to gesture in places with very little room, and many buttons that you shouldn't strike by accident.


O Canada:

Mark Steyn has a good column this week on Canada's elections. One of the issues he thinks gets less debate than it deserves is the health care system:

The other day, as I was reading about the Liberals' exciting $9 billion "plan", my eye fell on a small story in a side column at the foot of the page about two twin boys born at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. That's in Alberta. Their mother, Debrah Cornthwaite, had begun the day by going to her local maternity ward at Langley Memorial Hospital. That's in British Columbia.

They told her, yes, your contractions are coming every four minutes, but sorry, we don't have any beds. And, after they'd checked with "BC Bedline", they brought her the further good news that there was not a hospital anywhere in the province in which she could deliver her babies. There followed seven hours of red tape. Then, late in the evening, she was driven to Abbotsford Airport and put on a chartered twin-prop to Edmonton, in the course of which flight the contractions increased to every two-and-a-half minutes.

Would you want to do that on your delivery day? They don't teach it in Lamaze class. Instead of being grateful to the greatest health care system on the planet, Mrs Cornthwaite's husband Brandon has been deplorably "divisive" and compared it to that of a Third World country. He has a point. There are circumstances in which citizens of developed nations occasionally find themselves having to be airlifted to hospital -- if they live, say, deep in the Australian bush or the interior of Alaska. But the Cornthwaites are a stone's throw from the province's biggest city.

Sorry, no beds. Try the neighbouring jurisdiction.

With Canadian healthcare sliding toward its logical conclusion -- a ten-month waiting list for the maternity ward -- here's a question to ask your Liberal chums: Do you seriously think your $9 billion "plan" will make two cents' worth of difference? Anymore than did your $21 billion "plan" to save heath care back in 2000? And, whether it’s $9 billion or $21 billion or a hundred billion trillion gazillion, won't most of it just get sucked up in the maw of bureaucracy? And the rest will go to miscellaneous expenses like chartering Cessnas for pregnant moms?

This is the real reason why socialized medicine won't work in the United States. American women are just too violent. I refuse to even imagine what my wife's reaction would have been to such a proposal--"We've got no beds, but sit tight for seven hours, and then we're flying you to Alabama." Whee.