Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Justin Trudeau, "Common Ground" (2014)

Notes will follow, eventually.

Pg. 119 - "...the blogger, who had been telling his readers I was destined for failure, gave me a respectful nod on his website for taking the time to answer his questions. This was a small thing... but it reinforced my belief that today's activists and supporters expect and deserve direct engagement through the digital media."

Pg. 152 - With regard to progress on issues related to Canada's relationship to First Nations' peoples: "With the notable exception of Paul Martin, who through the Kelowna Accord created a framework and principles to tackle so many of these problems... significant progress has eluded most of our prime ministers."

Pg. 185 - A "First Nations prayer" that Justin Trudeau read at his brother's funeral:
O Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
I stand before you: one of your many children,
I am small and weak; I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made, my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brothers, but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes,
So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.

For those interested in this book, you might also read my comments on related titles:
- Peter Newman, When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada
- Michael Ignatieff, Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics
- Lawrence Martin, Harperland
- Brian Topp, How We Almost Gave the Tories the Boot

Alex Beam, "American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith..." (2014)

The full subtitle for this book is: "The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church."

Page numbers correspond with my digital version, and do not likely reflect hard copy pagination.

Benjamin Moser offers a good analysis of the book in the New York Times.

Some observations that I found particularly intriguing:
54: “The Saints helped the Saints; that was a core tenet of Joseph’s religion. In response to a revelation concerning Enoch, a grandson of Adam and Eve, Joseph encouraged his flock to “consecrate” all their property to the church, which in turn redistributed the collective wealth to families in need. This was pure communism, and it benefited many Mormons who followed Joseph to his first religious base in Kirtland, Ohio, having left their belongings behind them. By 1844, in Nauvoo—Joseph’s “Zion” on the banks of the Mississippi—Joseph had abandoned the law of consecration but had substituted tithing in its place. Observant Mormons agreed to donate one-tenth of their goods or services to the bishop’s storehouse for redistribution to the needy. Joseph often staked newly arrived families to (cramped) living quarters, a house plot, a larder full of supplies, or a portion of a working garden. Converts understood that their fellow Mormons would help them get on their feet, which partially explained the Saints’ missionary successes.”

65: “Around the time that the mass baptisms were ramping up, Joseph embraced Freemasonry, with a passion. There are plenty of reasons he would have opposed Masonry. Upstate New York, where he lived until age twenty-four, was a hotbed of anti-Masonry. The European fraternal order, which had established a beachhead in the New World during the eighteenth century, was widely denounced as a shadowy, atheistic cabal aimed at creating a secret world government. William Morgan, famous for publishing the Masons’ secret codes and rituals in the widely disseminated 1826 book Illusions of Masonry, lived in Batavia, New York, and was supposedly drowned by hostile Masons in the Niagara River. (In a curious twist of fate, his widow, Lucinda, became one of Joseph’s first plural wives.) New York even had its own anti-Masonic political party, which fielded a presidential candidate in 1831. The Book of Mormon, wholly composed in upstate New York, repeatedly condemned the “abominations” of secret societies, with “their secret signs and their secret words . . . [that] they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms” (Helaman 6:22). On the other hand, Joseph’s father and brother Hyrum were Masons, as were several other prominent Saints. It was hard not to notice that almost everyone who was anyone in southwestern Illinois—the lawyers, judges, and leading businessmen—were also Masons. So, with considerable fanfare, Joseph became an entered apprentice mason on March 15, 1842. After obtaining a waiver from the usual twenty-eight-day waiting period, he attained two higher degrees the following day.”

71: “In April 1844, he preached the most famous sermon of his life, what some regard as one of the most famous sermons ever preached in America. As if on a whim, Joseph turned nearly 2,000 years of Christian belief on its head at a funeral service for his loyal colleague King Follett. Joseph had laid the groundwork for a new world order, and for the foundational ritual for his entire church, but that was in secret. Now, speaking in Nauvoo’s East Grove, under a massive canopy of elm and chestnut trees, he unpacked some of the most radical Christian doctrine ever preached on the American continent…Joseph started out with his boldest statement: “We suppose that God was God from eternity,” he shouted. “I will refute that idea. God that sits enthroned is a man like one of yourselves.” “It is the first principle to know. We may converse with him and that he once was a man like us. God was once as one of us and was on a planet as Jesus was in the flesh. I defy all hell and earth to refute it.” Joseph referred to gods in the plural, because he explained that gods evolved from men and were not created ex nihilo, out of nothing. The raw material of godhead was a form of free intelligence that preexisted our creation. From intelligence, God became a man, then perfected himself to become a god. So did Jesus Christ. And so, Joseph said, can you. “You have got to learn how to be a god yourself in order to save yourself,” he proclaimed, “ —to be priests and kings as all Gods have done–by going from a small degree to another—from exaltation to exaltation—till they are able to sit in glory as with those who sit enthroned.” This became the “doctrine of eternal progression,” the Mormons’ supremely optimistic belief in the perfectibility of men and women living on earth. Joseph freed his followers from the strictures of predestination and the inevitability of sin.”

229: “…the dissidents were calling out Joseph’s startling new theology unveiled in the King Follett sermon, his contention that God was once a man who lived on earth, and advanced spiritually under the tutelage of a preceding god. This was indeed blasphemy against the established Christian church, but could a prophet guided by heavenly revelation blaspheme his own theology? Joseph had already rewritten both the Old and New Testaments and created holy rituals, all of them inspired by his direct communications with God.”

259: “Joseph was recapitulating the famous argument of the King Follett sermon, that just as God was the father of Jesus Christ, “you may suppose that He had a Father also.” “Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. . . . I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.” He then cited biblical examples of the plurality of gods, claiming, for instance, that “Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many.”* Smith also applied his modest knowledge of Hebrew, pointing out that “Elohim,” the Old Testament word for “god,” is a plural form, and is almost always used plurally when God, or Elohim, creates the world. It was a stretch to argue that the Old Testament Israelites were polytheists, although Joseph did just that. “In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation,” he declared. “The word Elohim ought to be in the plural all the way through—Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods.” Biblical scholars have called Elohim an example of the “plural of excellence,” akin to the “plural of majesty,” better known as the “royal we.”

Monday, 29 December 2014

Anthony Tucker-Jones, "The Afghan War" (2014)

Subtitle: "Operation Enduring Freedom 2001-2014."

Some observations I found useful:

Pagination corresponds to my digital version, and should not be seen as consistent with the hard copy.

18: “The very day after 9/11 Bush declared the attacks on the American homeland as acts of war and requested Congress provide the resources to fight the terrorists wherever they might be in the shape of $20 billion. Congress’s response was to approve double this sum. The following day US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, confirmed that Osama bin Laden, believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, was a key suspect.”

20: “Initially, al-Qaeda had planned hijacking a total of ten planes with the intention of crashing them into targets on both coasts of the US. The targets would have included nuclear power plants and tall buildings in California and Washington State. This could have been devastating, but as it was just four planes had the desired effect. The US asked itself what had it done to inspire such an act of hatred by militant members of islam? The international community was also put on notice that such outrages would become more commonplace in the world’s capitals over the next decade.
Following 9/11 the international community immediately rallied to the US. The very next day UN Security Council resolution 1368 and General Assembly resolution 56/1 called for immediate international cooperation to bring the perpetrators to justice. They also called for much broader cooperation against global terrorism and this was followed on 28 September 2001 by UN Security Council resolution 1373. Enacted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, it required every member state to undertake seventeen measures against all those who support, directly or indirectly, acts of terrorism.
For the very first time the NATO invoked its mutual defence clause on 2 October 2001, whereby an attack on a member state is considered an attack on all.”

76: “NATO assumed control of ISAF in 2003 and expanded its area of responsibility from Kabul to encompass the country’s southern and eastern provinces three years later. This meant bringing the 12,000 American and other Coalition forces in the region under NATO control. It gave ISAF responsibility for the whole of Afghanistan, with around 40,000 troops. The upshot of this was greater integration in the south with the American-led Operation Enduring Freedom. However, the two operations continued to be directed separately, the rationale being that ISAF had a stabilisation and security mission, while OEF was overtly counter-terrorism.”

94: “ISAF was created in accordance with the Bonn Conference in December 2001. NATO assumed leadership of the ISAF operation on 11 August 2003, ending the six-month national rotations. The Alliance became responsible for the command, coordination and planning of the force, including the provision of a force commander and headquarters on the ground in Afghanistan. ISAF’s mandate was initially limited to providing security in and around Kabul. In October 2003, the United Nations extended ISAF’s mandate to cover the whole of Afghanistan (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1510), paving the way for an expansion of the mission across the country.”

127: “Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) thrown up by the British army’s deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in the provision of a plethora of new military vehicles. Force protection became the primary focus for armoured vehicles, rather than the more traditional mechanised warfare role. While offensive battle groups still played their part, getting forces from A to B and conducting patrols unscathed in the face of a mounting IED threat became a greater priority. In total some 2,700 vehicles were supplied to the British army during the period November 2008 to April 2011 consisting of 18 different types.”

149: the international intervention in Afghanistan was in many ways a unique operation. While the application of air power and special forces brought the Taliban down, Coalition ground troops were needed to keep the resurgent Taliban at bay and safeguard the fledgling democratic government in Kabul. Like the Balkans Wars of the 1990s, Afghanistan became an unwelcome and often unpopular open-ended military commitment that dragged on for over a decade. As with the war in Bosnia, the campaign in Afghanistan only achieved a precarious peace after more and more ground troops were sucked in.”

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Joey Comeau, "Overqualified" (2007)

Comeau's short book of cover letters written to various potential employers evokes an occasional chuckle, although when the author attempts to evoke some kind of deeper curiosity or pathos through vague references to a family death or tragedy, he left me cold. The threads are too confusing, too ambiguous, too inconsistent, and in the end, left floating without any kind of consolidation or clarification of their importance.

Frankly, Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members (discussed on this site) does much the same job, in a similar fashion, but in a much more readable text.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Murray Rothbard, "Betrayal of the American Right" (2007)

Rothbard is one of the pre-eminent American libertarian thinkers.

This title - written in the 1970s but not published until recently - offers Rothbard's assessment of the diversion of conservative thinking in the United States from libertarianism to statism from the late 19th- to the 1960s.

Rothbard offers a compelling, revisionist narrative history of the intellectual development of libertarian thinking in the United States. He particularly focuses on differences that emerged between libertarians and the Republican Party mainstream around the United States' participation in foreign wars.

Additional notes available soon.

The full text of the book is available at: http://mises.org/library/betrayal-american-right-0

Monday, 15 December 2014

Motley Crue, "The Dirt" (2001)

This book, authored by five members of the band, as well as collaborator Neil Strauss (who also assisted with Jenna Jameson's autobiography discussed on this site), chronicles the excesses (alcoholic, drug, sexual, hygienic, emotional, and beyond) of the band Motley Crue from its genesis to the end of the 1990s.

The book is eminently readable. One of the advantages is that it takes a "Pulp Fiction"-esque, post-modern approach to narrative; it offers multiple, divergent versions of events provided by various band members. This approach also serves to allow band members to introduce their own stories, whether it be about their childhood, their relationships, their insecurities, or their legal troubles. Allowing each member to offer their concerns and experiences as credible and unique makes the book more interesting than a straight, single, authoritative narrative. It also reinforces some of the discussion of band differences, collaboration, mutual suspicion, and flawed communication.

Generally, a fun book, a decent read, and better than much of the band's rather glammy version of West coast 80s rock (excepting - of course - their first two albums, which are fantastic).

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Wayne Larsen, "Tom Thomson: Artist of the North" (2011)

Larsen's book is a brief, easy-to-read summary of many popular stories regarding the life of Canadian landscape painter Tom Thomson, who died in Ontario's Algonquin Park during the summer of 1917, under what has become described as 'mysterious circumstances'.

The book, as part of the Dundurn Press Quest Biography series, was conceived to appeal primarily to high school/junior undergraduate readers. This is important to note in evaluating Larsen's work. It is a basic form of biographical summary, written in clear and accessible language. He has not waded deeply into archival resources, and seems to have likely derived most - if not all - of the book from secondary sources.

The book is a fine introduction to Thomson's life, and certainly better than some biographies. That being said, it is not particularly demanding on the reader, and doesn't serve to challenge or question much of the hagiographic treatments of Thomson traditionally offered.

You can listen to a 2011 interview with Larsen here.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Norah Vincent, "Voluntary Madness" (2008)

Vincent undertook to understand the treatment of mental illness by 'immersing' herself in three different American treatment centres: one a public urban institution, one a private rural institution, and one a private 'progressive' institution in the US mid-west. Not purely a 'tourist' or 'poseur', Vincent believes that she may indeed have some form of mental illness, but her problems are not so debilitating as to render her incapable of researching and writing a book.

Her narrative of time spent in these institutions is believable. She captures details of scenery and thought that those who have spent time in psychiatric wards and asylums, particularly as patients, will recognize. In this regard, the work provides excellent insight, something like the affirmation of experiential commonality that an addict finds in a twelve-step program. She offers the kind of insights that "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" can't, and yet affirms in many respects that the situation in America's psychiatric institutions has not greatly improved or even changed.

Her desire to understand mental illness, to document its treatment and challenge some of the premises under which treatment is premised, was not convincing, however. Her capacity to stand back (or willingness to believe that she was) from her own mental illness, and to achieve some kind of overarching or privileged critical position, is unconvincing. The very reality that someone was putting up thousands of dollars for her to enter and stay in these institutions separates her experience from that of many people who find themselves in them - particularly when entry is not voluntary, but as incarceration by court order. I would expect that forced membership in the asylum not only alters the experience, it alters the perception of the experience. While Vincent is critical of many of her peers in the 'system', she particularly directs attention to persons incarcerated in the final institution (the nicest of the three) who do not seem to 'want to get better'. Of course they don't want to get better! They were sent there by court order. A system for caring for mental patients based on force by its very nature is likely going to be much different than one based on a preventative healthcare model.

You can read a short excerpt at Smith Magazine.

The Guardian offers a very prescient review.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Witold Gombrowicz, "A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes" (1967)

My dating of this work is representative of the date the material originated, not of its publication. The first French edition appeared in 1995, and the English translation followed about a decade later.

Gombrowicz is one of the luminaries of Eastern European (particularly Polish) literature. He authored titles such as Ferdydurke (likely his best-known work), and was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature during the late 1960s. Near the end of his life, as he was ailing in the south of France, a friend asked him to provide herself and Gombrowicz's Canadian wife with an overview of his ideas about philosophy. The book is the result of the notes from these talks.

As an introduction to philosophy, this book is not particularly useful. It is distinctly one man's interpretation of who and what ideas are important, and how thought evolved over time. The notes are sometimes incomplete, or cryptic in their meaning. Preserving these ideas strikes me as unnecessarily hagiographic. I'm not sure that Gombrowicz would ever be identified as being a leading historian of the European philosophic traditions. Nonetheless, for those interested in Gombrowicz's thinking, or the views circulating among the East European intellectual diaspora during the Cold War, the Guide offers unique insights.

You can download a PDF of the book here.

Some quotations that stood out:
First Lesson
Descartes:a single important idea: absolute doubt. Here rationalism begins: subject everything to absolute doubt, until the moment when reason forces us to accept an idea.

Answer: A priorisynthetic judgments are possible in general and therefore in transcendental aesthetics, because time and space are not a property of things but rather a property of the subject. In order for something to exist for us, we must inject it with time and space.

There are three reasons why space does not exist in the objective world outside us, but is an integral part of our consciousness.” First argument. Space does not come from an experience, but is the inevitable condition of all experience. Space is not an object but the condition of the existence of the object. Space does not derive from experience. Second argument. Space is not a concept obtained by deduction. We cannot understand it as concrete, because it is not an object. Space is pure intuition.

Analytical judgments are those which derive from analysis, dissecting a whole into its significant parts.

Synthetic judgments are a posteriori, in other words, based on experience.

For the first time consciousness asks the question: What are the limits of consciousness(of reason)?

Third argument(or rather, consequence). The intuition of space is the inevitable condition of our a priori synthetic judgments, conferring objective reality on things.

Second Lesson
Consciousness is the fundamental thing. Object-subject: nothing more. 1. consciousness cannot be a mechanism, nor broken up into parts, because it has no parts. It is a whole. 2. consciousness cannot be conditioned by science. It is what permits science, but science cannot explain something to us about consciousness. Consciousness is not the brain, nor the body, because I am conscious of my brain, but the brain cannot be conscious.

Time is not a thing that can be tested, but all things are in time.

A priori synthetic judgments are confirmed in experience because they are carried out in time. In the same way, all judgments related to mathematics are a priorisynthetic judgments, confirmed by experience.

Kant demonstrates that only the co-relativity of subject and object can form a reality. The object must be seized by consciousness in order to form reality in time and space.

There is an important boundary between science and philosophy. Science establishes its methods, its laws by experience. But it is valid only in the world of phenomena. Science can give us the connection between things, but not direct knowledge about the essence of things.

To tell the truth, in philosophy, one cannot say anything.

Our reason must be limited to the phenomenological world. The phenomenon is what I see according to my faculties, and my way of seeing things.

the soul is the synthesis of all impressions, because it is man’s self (the soul) which assimilates all impressions. The soul is that which receives the perceptions.

the critique of the idea of the soul consists in demonstrating that all our perceptions are

the concept of thing, in order to reach fullness, must inevitably insert time and space, since the Cosmos signifies absolutely everything that exists. We see a contradiction here, since the Cosmos must be unlimited in time and space in order to include absolutely everything.

Kant lists three theological arguments here to demonstrate the existence of God.

We have an idea of God as a perfect being. But a perfect being, to have perfection, must also have the quality of existing. This argument seems too sophisticated to me. Kant says that the category of existence is a perception. Yet God cannot be perceived.

The world must have a cause since, according to the category of causality, each thing must have a cause. If this is so, God must also have a cause.

Everything that is in the world must have a purpose, must be the work of God. But if God is teleological, then he himself should be created for an end.

we can never know what the noumenon, the absolute, is in itself, independent of our own perceptions.

Imperatives when the will is autonomous, conditioned by nothing. Example: “One must be moral” is categorical. It does not depend on any condition

Fourth Lesson
What is the will to live for Schopenhauer? He himself says that he uses these words because nothing better comes to mind. In truth, it is more the will to be, because for Schopenhauer, not only do man and animals want to live, but also the rock that resists and the light that persists.

if I myself am a thing, I must seek my absolute in my intuition, what I am in my essence. And, says Schopenhauer, “I know that the most elementary and fundamental thing in myself is the will to live.”

when this will to live passes to the phenomenological world, becoming a phenomenon limited by time and space, then it inevitably becomes divided. By the effect of a law that Schopenhauer called principium individuationis, it becomes individual, specific.

Man can never attain individual happiness. Our will to live forces us to consume others or to be consumed by them. As a result, Schopenhauer analyzes various noble feelings (example: the woman’s love for the child); he demonstrates that all that goes against individual happiness. After that, he likewise shows that what one calls happiness or pleasure is nothing more than the satisfying of a malaise. If you enjoy eating steak, it is because you felt hungry beforehand

Fifth Lesson
Schopenhauer recognizes two possibilities: 1. To affirm the will to live by fully participating in life with its cruelties and its injustices. 2. Not suicide, but meditation.

Art shows us nature’s game and its forces, namely the will to live.

Schopenhauer sees ART. It is meditation that he sets in opposition to life.

Schopenhauer makes a very good comparison in saying that a mediocre man’s intelligence resembles a flashlight, which shines only on what it is seeking, whereas a superior intelligence is like the sun, which illuminates everything. From there derives the objectivity of the art of the genius. It is disinterested.

I was never born. I was never born in 1904. I only know that I have the idea of my birth in 1904 in my consciousness, and that I have the idea of 1904, that is to say, of all the past years. Everything changed in a diabolical way. That changes the universe. There is nothing more than a definitive center which is consciousness and that which passes into consciousness. Consciousness is evidently alon

existentialism cannot produce any philosophy. Me, I am alone, concrete, independent of any logic, of any concept

intuition is direct knowledge without reasoning. Thus existentialism is the profound and most definitive description of our facts concerning existence.

How can one define the characteristics of “the Being in itself,” that is, the being of objects? 1. We have to say that only phenomena exist (Husserl). Everything manifests itself as a phenomenon

The Being in itself is opaque. He is as he is, that is all one can say, he is immobile. He is not subject to creation and temporality, and cannot be inferred from something (like created by God).

Existential man is concrete, alone, made of nothingness, thus free. He is condemned to freedom and he can choosehimself. What happens if we choose, for example, frivolity and not authenticity, falseness and not truth? As there is no hell, there is no punishment. From the existential point of view, the only punishment is that this man has no true existence.

Here on the subject of freedom, Sartre is very categorical. He says that the choice depends only on us, there are no pre-established values, it is our choice which creates them. One could imagine that man, with all his freedom, is nevertheless condemned to satisfy the fundamental necessities of life, such as eating. But this also depends on me. If I choose suicide, food loses all value for me. And from this absolute responsibility of man to himself is born the characteristic anguish of existentialism, as much for Heidegger as for Kierkegaard and Sartre. This anguish is the anguish of nothingness

This phenomenological method is not concerned with God, etc., but only with what is in our consciousness, when it confronts our specific being, our existence. It is phenomenological ontology. Ontology means the science of Being (existence). Phenomenological means that there are only phenomena, and one must not look for something behind the phenomena. In this sense, this method is completely atheistic. Heidegger said that complex arguments are not needed as much as heroic naïveté.

What is existence, that is, man’s specific being? He says: It defines itself by what he calls “ Da-sein,” “to be there” (over there). To be man. To exist as a man. The “Seindes” is a way for things to exist, an absurd atemporal way (a chair, it is but does not know it). But man is also a “Seindes,” and he is conscious of that: being a thing. But he also transcends this (transcendent: that which within me navigates toward the exterior), since man is a thing but he is also something more. He extends beyond the thing. He is transcendent. The word “ Sein,” to be.

curiosity is the superficial connection of man. What are they talking about? In the more profound sense, it is an interpretation of man, of the world, of being, of scientific, philosophical, or religious problems. It is also a way to make existence commonplace, to flee from existence, a way of replacing the profound sense of life by a superficial and limited science. The dramatic thing about man (and here again, Sartre comes to mind) is that man gives a meaning to things by his existence. Now, in dealing with science, for example, he gives it an inauthentic meaning. He falsifies. Existentialism refrains from science.

For Heidegger, it is the Being which appears secondarily as a contradiction of nothingness. 1. nothingness 2. Being. This definition can seem rather unfounded, but actually it leads to an extremely curious and true experience: human existence is in constant opposition to nothingness. Man always threatened by death and annihilation persists like a flame which wants to be revived, fed.

a general characteristic of existence, according to Heidegger. 1. It is “Sorge,” concern. Human life is by no means assured, but endlessly wants conquests, life is to conquer what one does not have. 2. Human beings are limited and have an end precisely because they have nothingness within them. Authentic existence asserts man’s finiteness. It has moral constants. It does not permit having a clear conscience. Never are we what we want to be, but we still want to be. Man is essentially unhappy because he is limited

How does the world appear, according to Marx? The first aspect is its materialism. Marxism is the negation of religion. He considered religion as a product of men to run from danger. And this is an instrument of the higher class to dominate the lower class. Materialism constitutes the negation of idealism, of all metaphysics, of all recourse to ideas. For Marxism, there is only the brutal, concrete reality of life. Second aspect: Marxism defines itself by the well-known formula, consciousness depends on being.

consciousness is a function of our necessities, of our relationship with nature. But since man does not depend only on nature but also and above all on society, on historic conditions produced by that society, consciousness is formed by that society. Consciousness is therefore above all a function of human history. The third aspect: need creates value.

the growing consciousness of humanity lets him organize a society and a state which are above all a system for the production of goods. In this organization, one man must be subject to another, such that it is through the exploitation of one man by another that one arrives at the accumulation of goods. The man who forms a group is subject to the laws of the group, which wants to be strong, and this strength is the consequence of the exploitation of man by man. For example, the army which obeys a single man through generals, etc., or slaves or finally castes, different stages of the feudal systems, classes. It is man who obliges man to work.

Capitalists, that is to say, members of the upper class, buy labor as if it were merchandise, thus at the best possible price. This better price represents the bare minimum that the worker needs to eat and to father children. Surplus valueis formed this way because the worker produces much more than what he is paid; the rest goes to capitalism. The worker always produces more than what he is paid. Such is surplus value. The worker’s labor is subject, like all merchandise, to Adam Smith’s famous economic law, according to which if supply is greater than demand, the value of the merchandise decreases. It is this law which explains the process of devaluation. To curb devaluation, supply, that is, production, must be increased.

Alienated man, that is, he who cannot be himself, is obliged to serve as a machine instead of having his normal life. This theory is fine, but in my view, it does not apply to capitalism. Capital is used to create other wealth, but this exploitation of man by man is not done so much for the happiness of the individual. Capitalism is not exclusively beneficial to the capitalist, since if the capitalist is able to consume his money, he cannot buy more than one hundred hats or a yacht, etc., each year. Where does the rest of his money go? To other factories, other industries, etc., and this is the way that humanity’s technical power becomes greater each time. This exploitation of man by man is a fundamental necessity for human progress, which is extremely difficult for the individual.

Marxism is not an ideology or a truth, it is just simply the freedom from human needs as a source of values. The revolution, therefore, is going to free allmen from natural needs, and on the basis of this freedom, the values will be created by themselves. It must be clearly understood that Marxism is not a revolution of ideas but rather a revolution between concrete men. It is a liberation of man. The new ideas: future thought is unpredictable and will be created by itself in this new human order.

The human race is like all the others; it is improved by a struggle and a natural selection done by life itself. Here we see the most sensational and the most provocative aspect of this philosophy: it is the opposition to Christianity, which, according to Nietzsche, was a morality of the weak imposed on the strong, harmful to the human race and, therefore, immoral.

In Zarathustra (of which he sold only forty copies and gave seven of them as gifts): 1. God is dead. This means that humanity has reached its maturity. Faith in God is already anachronistic. Man ends up all alone in the cosmos. Nothing but life. 2. (Stupid idea.) The ideal of the superman. Man is a transient phenomenon that must be overtaken. Man is thus problematic. He is a bridge and not an end in himself.

Entropy. Loss of energy through radiation. Nietzsche starts from an original cause which produces all the other causes, cause-effects, etc. Automatic process from cause to effect, thanks to which we arrive at the present moment. This will be exceeded by other cause-effects and finally will vanish, and again the first cause will return, etc., and we shall arrive again at the same situation. As time is infinite, this will repeat itself eternally.

I return to this important point about existentialism: the philosopher is in life, one of the major currents of our thinking during the 19th century. The path of this Western thought could be defined by the great questions it asked. 1. The reduction of thought. Thought for Kant becomes conscious of its limits. It already knows that one cannot demonstrate, for example, the existence of God, but that it is just as impossible to demonstrate that God does not exist.

2. The other problem is more difficult, that of life, of becoming. Philosophy, before Hegel, claimed to describe a fixed world in a state of stability where the notion of movement, of becoming, surely was disturbing (already in Greek philosophy), but was not the fundamental problem. Now Hegel is the philosophy of becoming. It is the idea of an imperfection of reason which is in the process of moving ahead, of developing.

The world is a thing, it is understood to the extent that it is assimilated by reason, by a rational consciousness.

Each day, we understand the world better, we are better aware of the reason for every phenomenon. Thus each time the world exists a little more for us. There will come a moment, the final moment of our history and of the human race, where the world will be fully assimilated. On that day, time and space will disappear and the conjunction of subject and object will be transformed into an absolute. Beyond time and space.

Hegel’s philosophy is a philosophy of becoming, which is a great step ahead, since this process of becoming does not appear in earlier philosophies. It is not only a movement, but a progression, since this dialectical process always puts us on a higher rung, until the final outcome of reason,

For Hegel, nature is not creative. It does not advance. The sun, for example, always rises and sets the same way. But what is creative is human evolution, which expresses itself especially in history.

for earlier philosophy, man was subject to a moral law instituted by God or, as in Kant, subject to a moral imperative. In other words, man functions but the law already exists. But in Hegel, everything moves. In advancing, man crafts his own law, and there is no fixed law beyond that which is constituted by the dialectical process. In Hegel, not only man but laws are in progress because they are imperfect.

Existentialism is particularly meant to be a philosophy of the concrete. But this is a dream; in concrete reality, one cannot make arguments. Arguments always use concepts, etc.

reasoning can be done only through concepts and logic, and general laws cannot be formed without concepts and without logic. On the other hand, concepts do not exist in reality

Husserl says: because we can say nothing about the noumenon(thing in itself), we put the noumenonin parentheses; that is, that the only thing one can speak of are the phenomena.

existentialism moves into structuralism.

Curious thing: this rudimentary comparison that I have managed to do can seem naïve. Yet it leads to real concepts, for example, that the human being is empty because of the well-known intentionality of consciousness. If a chair is a chair, then consciousness is never identical to itself because one must always be conscious of something. One cannot imagine empty consciousness.

The Being in itself cannot disappear. It is independent of time and space. It is as it is, nothing more. While existence, the Being for itself, is a limited being, with an end, which dies. (This is at least how our existence appears to our consciousness. Existence must be sustained like a flame.

we are absolutely sure of being free. No one can take away from me the feeling that it is I myself who decides whether I have to move my hand or not. Indeed, when we contemplate other people, they appear to us as the consequence of a cause

freedom is a feature only of existence while causality is the feature of the Being in itself.

The existentialist is a subjective, freeman. He has what one calls free will, unlike a man viewed from the scientific outside, who is always subject to causality, like a mechanism.

to be man is to be subject. It is to have a consciousness which recognizes everything else as object. If I admitted that Witold too has a consciousness, then inevitably I myself am an object for Witold, who is the subject. It is impossible to be subject and object at the same time. Here Sartre was frightened. His highly developed ethics refuses to admit that there is no other man because there are no longer any moral obligations.

We must not forget that man by his body, by his mechanism, belongs to the world dictated by causality, since if we are stabbed, evidently we are going to bleed, like every other animal. Freedom manifests itself only in existence, in that specific being which is the Being for itself.

Man, says Heidegger, must create himself. As he is not a thing, well then! he must become “man.” Banal life simply means to flee from oneself. This is in order to forget and to lose oneself. To become man is only one possibility. One does not use the word “I,” but one uses “one.” “One” goes to the movies. “One” has political opinions. And man identifies himself with his social function. “One” is an engineer, etc. You understand in which direction Heidegger’s probing is going. Man must truly become man.

It is Heidegger who introduced the notion of “completed future.” Man’s time is always the future. He is never there where he is. He is always transcendent.

according to Sartre, a man needs water in the desert because he chooses life and not death. For Marxism, a living being is obliged to choose life and one cannot speak here of free choice.

The dominant class forms the superstructure which creates philosophy, religion, law, which in a word, organizes consciousness. All of this actually serves secretly to maintain the exploitation.

The profound and unique meaning of religion is quite simply to transfer justice to another world.

The big crisis in Marxism stems quite simply from the fact that—as shown by the situation in the East—one works badly and produces very little. And why? Life is hard; if you do not force men to work, naturally they will not work.

the only country in the world which has more or less liquidated the proletariat, except among the Blacks, is the glorious United States, that is, the capitalists. The Socialists, on the other hand, are going bankrupt everywhere for the simple reason that no one is interested either to produce, nor to force others to do so, because there is no interest at stake.

if you allow men to deploy all their energy and their intelligence, inevitably one will dominate the other, one will be superior to the other. But in this case, you obtain a huge amount of energy, whereas if you want equality between men, then naturally you must curb this possibility of superiority.

The big defect in the upper class is that it is essentially a class of consumption. Consequently, it is accustomed to conveniences, becomes lazy, delicate, and degenerate. But now the upper class is increasingly composed of engineers, producers, scientists, intellectuals, lastly, some working people.

Marx’s thesis is that Marxism is an absolute historical necessity which occurs due to inexorable economic laws, by the concentration of capital in a little group that will be annihilated by the huge mass of the destitute. Marxists want to introduce the dictatorship of the proletariat, not democracy but dictatorship

Nietzsche was not a philosopher in the strict sense: he wrote aphorisms, some notes.

Nietzsche considers pessimism to be a weakness, condemned by life and optimism, a superficial (Canadian!) thing

For Nietzsche, life is not good, but we are condemned to life. This leads to paradoxes, such as his admiration for cruelty, harshness (without mercy), and for the whip, weapons.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ron Jeremy, "Hardest (Working) Man in Show Biz" (2007)

Ghost-written by Eric Spitznagel.

This is the third autobiography of a porn industry star that I've read in the last year. Each of them are unique, but this one stands out from the rest. Jeremy - if his reputation isn't already familiar to you - is likely one of the most prolific and longest-lived male actors in the porn industry. He has apparently appeared in about 1,700 movies, and moved on to directing them. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy, 'serious' acting, and now, books.

What is unique about Jeremy's book? He has little negative to say about the industry. He didn't seek it out as a career (he hoped to be a legit actor). He came by it as what he thought might be an entree into serious work, and as an alternative to working with special needs persons.

This leads me to another unique aspect of Jeremy's book. He has a Masters degree in Special Education. He had a good relationship with his parents. He claims to not be a drinker or drug-taker. In this regard, Jeremy's experience of the sex industry, then, comes not from desperation, addiction, depression, or abuse. For him, it seems to have been a pretty decent job that evolved into a career.

Compared to Holmes' and Jameson's books, Jeremy's inattention to the dark side of porn work comes across as disingenuous. This is not to say that everyone's story has to be sad or terrible, but as a male actor who realistically profits off his female (co-)stars, it might have been a good service for him to recognize what like is like on the other end of the penis(es) in the industry. The difference is particularly discernible when he spends time discussing his love of animals, but gives so little attention to ingrained sexism and systemic abuse and risk problems for women and men in the porn industry. Even his discussion of conflicts with the law come across more as failed comedy routines than genuine legal struggles.

The book is entertaining, no doubt, and Jeremy comes across as a nice enough guy; a little naive, a little simple, a little goodhearted. His book is a cotton-candy version of the porn industry. For those looking for fluff, it does nicely. For those looking for something more insightful, balance out Jeremy's view with the biography of John Holmes (another prominent male star of the industry), or Jenna Jameson's book.

A pretty good summary of the book is available at The Bookbag.

My discussion of Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star (A Cautionary Tale)"
My discussion of "Porn King: The Autobiography of John C. Holmes."

Friday, 7 November 2014

Norman Mailer, "Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery" (1995)

If you're not aware already, the Oswald in question here is Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of US President Kennedy. Mailer is one of the US's best-known 'old white male' authors, primarily known for his fiction work.

Oswald's Tale is bit of a "dog's breakfast"; the first forty-percent of the book is a close consideration of Oswald's time living in the Soviet Union. Mailer and associates spent about six months locating and interviewing people who had contact with Oswald, ranging through love interests, co-workers, and KGB agents who spied on Oswald. Information gained from these interviews is supplemented with knowledge gained from documents produced during that time, primarily by Soviet state agencies. The second, sixty-percent of the book consists of Mailer's quoting at length from already-published works, interspersed with his own, rather unique speculations about Oswald's activities and motivations.

The first portion of the book is intriguing, and seems to bring some new insights to discussion of Oswald. The second is far more troubling, in that it offers little in the way of insights, and overwhelms with its dubious psychoanalysis and conjecture.

Mailer does try to use observations from the first section to ground some of his ideas developed in the second. For instance, based on some (rather dicey) proposals that Oswald may have been engaged in some kind of homosexual contact during his stint in the Marines, as well as later in Russia, Mailer later tries to propose that Oswald was perhaps receiving money from a male lover in Texas during the year preceding Kennedy's assassination. Mailer suggests also that Oswald's sapiosexuality might explain his sexual relationship with his wife, which apparently went through lengthy periods of non-interest.

Mailer's ideas are generally fairly loosely developed. While this can suggest openness, it can also lead him into excess. Evidence? Read the two following quotations.

Pg. 491: “All through February and March he prepares himself to strike at Walker. The notion that the General was a Hitler in the making was key to choosing him for a target. The soft underbelly, however, of so lofty a notion – stop the second Hitler before he arises - comes in large degree because of Oswald’s concealed sense of himself – even from himself! – of also being a putative Hitler. A physical resemblance between the two men had to be, consciously or unconsciously, in Oswald’s mind. One need only pencil in a mustache on any photograph of Oswald in profile to feel the force of the resemblance. In his fantasies, would Oswald have refused a Faustian pact? Allow him to steal Hitler’s powers of ascendancy, and he could convert them to his own vastly more idealistic vision. But first he must kill a minor god.”

Pg. 551: “It was as if his murderous impulses could only be gathered if he was without sexual release. To continue his marriage was to condemn himself, therefore, to a life of mediocrity, yet – there is no other explanation for so many of his actions – a sizeable part of him adored Marina, and this quite apart from his full affection for June. For that matter, devotion to June was like an open display of his infatuation with himself. But Marina he loved as his woman, his difficult, caustic contrary, and often wholly attractice wife – even if he could hardly tolerate her for most of the month. Are half of the young husbands in existence all that much unlike him? Or young wives?”

I found Mailer's consideration of history writing, particular when trying to understand the motivations of historical characters, intriguing.

Pg. 605: “This book, however, was undertaken without a fixed conclusion in either direction; indeed, it began with a prejudice in favor of the conspiracy theorists. All the same, one’s plan for the work was to take Oswald on his own terms as long as that was possible – that is, to try and comprehend his deeds as arising from nothing more than himself until such a premise lost all headway. To study his life in this manner produced a hypothesis: Oswald was a protagonist, a prime mover, a man who made things happen… Indeed, this point of view has by now taken hold to a point where the writer would not like to relinquish it for too little. There is the danger! Hypotheses commence as our servant – they enable us to keep our facts in order while we attempt to learn more about a partially obscured subject. Once the profits of such a method accumulate, however, one is morally obliged… to be scrupulously on guard against one’s own corruption. Otherwise, the hitherto useful hypothesis will insist on prevailing over everything that comes in and so will take over the integrity of the project.”

You can read the final two chapters of the book here, on the Frontline website.

A good review of the book by Thomas Powers can be found in the NY Times.

If you are interested in the Kennedy assassination, I have previously discussed the following:

- Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (2007)

- Jeff Greenfield, Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan (2010)

- David Aaronovitch, Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History (2009)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Deborah Lipstadt, "History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier" (2005)

This book details Lipstadt's court battle to prove that her assertion that author David Irving had engaged in a long-standing effort to falsify history: selectively using and misrepresenting documents to cast Adolf Hitler in a favourable light, as well as denying the very existence of an intentional, widespread, systematic, and state-sanctioned effort to slaughter Europe's Jewish population.

The case stemmed from claims Lipstadt made in her 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, wherein she discussed Irving's work as well as the efforts of other 'deniers'. (See my discussion of the book here). Three years later, Irving sued Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin, for libel (stemming from the statements in her book). According to British law, the onus was placed on the defendants to prove that their assertions could be supported by evidence.

Working with an impressive team of scholars and legal minds, arrayed against Irving's rather lacklustre and self-managed representation, Lipstadt and Penguin without a doubt brought Irving low. He was publicly shown to work less as a historian than an ideologue, calling into question the integrity of the entirety of his oeuvre. The revelation of his sloppy, highly biased, and clearly flawed use of documentary sources and other archival materials effectively ended his career as a historian. Banned from entering multiple countries, considered persona non grata by respectable publishers, and saddled with a significant financial burden after losing the case, Irving is unlikely to ever widely enter public consciousness other than as a sad, deluded figure.

As a result of the trial, and her unwillingness to compromise or back down from defending her observations, Lipstadt has become a far more widely known scholar and commentator on 20th-century Jewish history, particularly as it relates to the Nazi regime.

Her book is more narrative of the experiences of the trial, and exploration of some of the choices made in her legal team's efforts. In this regard, it is compelling and informative reading. For readers seeking a closer analysis of Irving's work, however, better sources are available, such as the expert analysis of Irving's work carried out for the trial by Richard Evans, Hajo Funke, and Robert Jan van Pelt. (Electronic editions of these can all be found at the Holocaust Denial on Trial website). Trial transcripts can be found at the same site.

I discuss Lipstadt's 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust, here.
I also discuss her 2011 book, The Eichmann Trial, here.
I discuss Irving's 1996 biography of Josef Goebbels here.

Jenna Jameson and Neil Strauss, "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale" (2004)

Jameson, for those who don't know, is the Madonna of porn.
With a carefully managed career, she has graduated from stripping to magazine work to porn to managing what her husband refers to as a "porn conglomerate". She is the name behind what seems to be a very successful group of websites, cellphone services, films, and still collects royalties from the over 50 films she made before going 'indy'.

Her story both fits within and frustrates how sex industry workers are often portrayed. In her autobiography, she outlines a sordid and tragic history of sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, industry corruption, misogyny, alienation from her family... the list goes on. She also, however, suggests that her life experiences led her to the level of financial and career success, as well as personal satisfaction, that she has attained.

The book is well written, on the whole. It combines first-person narrative, comic-book format, simulated diary notes, interview transcripts, photos, and guidance for those seeking to enter the industry. This variety sometimes comes across a scattershot, but does help to break up what might otherwise begin to become monotonous or repetitive. It sparkles with occasional wit, while not glossing over what outsiders suspect about genuinely negative and dysfunctional aspects of making one's living as a sex worker.

If you are interested in this book, you might also peruse my notes regarding:
- "Porn King", the autobiography of John Holmes written by his wife
- Jimmy McDonough's "Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film"

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Stephen King, "Cell" (2006)

I used to turn to Stephen King novels as 'palate cleansers', something fully to read that wouldn't tax my brain, and to give myself a break from political history books. I can't recall what the last King novel is that I read, but it was likely one from the '80s. Cell crossed by path and as it was fairly short, I thought I might as well poke my toe in the pool and see what King has been up to for the last decade or two.

As the book's title intimates, the storyline revolves around the effects a mysterious 'pulse' emitted from cellphones has on the phones' users. In a few minutes of time, the world seems to have been turned into a maelstrom of neck-biting, flesh-ripping, self-destructive peoploids, chasing each other and the as yet unaffected. The protagonist of the story has just finalized a book deal, and hopes that this change might help save his failed marriage. He is feeling like his life is turning around into something positive, when the zombie apocalypse begins.

For fans of gore and zombies, Cell is a good read. The action starts within the first few pages, and the zombies never disappear as a threat. Sloppy romanticism is kept to a minimum, although King's attempts to undermine it are a little heavy-handed. In particular, most of the efforts to establish a sustained optimism regarding familial or paternal feelings come to naught (and often end in messy death).

The book's ending is a little unsatisfying. Although I'm sure it's intended to be cliffhanger, and perhaps to leave the door open to a sequel, it smacked more of laziness to this reader. It felt like instead of resolving the plot line, King simply stopped writing, got up from his desk and said, "ah, well, that's good enough."

Friday, 17 October 2014

Norman Finkelstein, "The Holocaust Industry" (2000, rev. 2003)

Subtitle: "Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering".

The book is essentially three essays ('Capitalizing The Holocaust', 'Hoaxers, Hucksters and History', and 'The Double Shakedown'), each arguing - with significant reference to media articles, legal activity, and some archival research - how a cadre of Zionists have co-opted the tragedy of the genocide carried out by Nazis during World War II to privilege Israeli political and economic interests, as well as Zionist advocacy groups outside of Israel.

Given the topic, and more so Finkelstein's position, the book is very, very controversial, and I expect it would prove challenging to pretty well any reader. I know that I am hesitant to even write a summary regarding the book, for fear sloppy language or thinking might make me appear to have some kind of hatred that I do not. The book has been characterized as an anti-Semitic attack (by someone whose mother died in the Nazi genocide, as Finkelstein informs his readers).

I will note a few (related) aspects that I found intriguing:

1) Finkelstein notes the tension, and in some respects competition, that has taken place over the definition (historicizing and politicizing) of the genocide carried out by the Nazis as a set of events. He notes that a cadre of Jews has worked to marginalize the importance of non-Jewish victims, or at the least to point to the necessity of understand Jews' experience of the genocide as the lens through which all other victims' experiences must be viewed.

2) He proposes that this cadre of Jews undertook a re-historicization and political/economic functionalization of the Nazi genocide in large part as a response to the period of military conflicts involving Israel that lasted from the late 1960s through the early 1970s.

3) Finkelstein spends much of the third chapter examining various claims for compensation, as well as 'repatriation' or return of funds and other goods held in several nations' banking systems (particularly Dutch and Swiss banks). He notes US support for investigation of Swiss banks (and the US calls for quick and willing restitution to be made to victims). He raises the disquieting point that if this is the US position, why has it quashed efforts to compensate descendants of slaves, and flattened demands to seek repatriation and return of money and other goods to victims of the Nazi genocide who had deposited their wealth in US banks? As Finkelstein notes, the US was one of the top three recipient countries of financial resources being exported by Jews from the Third Reich.

4) In his revised edition (I'm not sure about the original), Finkelstein occasionally indulges in some unhelpful, annoying and provocative personal attacks and less than professional use of language. In these portions, the book crosses from polemic to screed. Perhaps his indulgence is a product of the deep hostility that Finkelstein's work generated, but it does nothing to reinforce the sense of objective and informed scholarship. This is unfortunate, and helps to lend support to the idea that there might be more to Finkelstein's attacks than a pure desire to correct our understanding of how the world works.

5) Finkelstein is a graduate of Princeton, was being considered for tenure at DePaul University in 2007, and has published widely on the Israel/Palestine conflict (nine books).

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Michael Bliss, "Right Honourable Men" (1996, rev. 2004)

Subtitle: "The Descent of Canadian Politics from Macdonald to Chrétien".

Bliss presents a selective history of the men he regards as the most noteworthy Canadian Prime Ministers. His commentaries primarily reflect on these men's time as political leaders, exploring their campaigns, the decisions they made, and evaluating their successes and failures.

There are few surprises in the book, if you already have a decent grasp of Canada's political history. If not, Bliss writes an eminently readable book. It is more substantive than the average 'curiosity' reader probably wants, and perhaps a bit light for the academic reader. It would be ideal for a junior undergraduate course text.

Read a sample here.

You might also compare my comments on Bliss' book with those I've offered on Bruce Hutchison's Mr. Prime Minister: 1867-1964, a similar book written in 1965.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Heike B. Görtemaker, "Life With Hitler" (2011)

This is a fascinating biography of Eva Braun, the woman who for over a decade was Hitler's closest female confidante, if not his mistress.

Görtemaker takes on an aspect of the Nazi regime that has rarely been investigated: given Hitler's (and the majority of the Nazi hierarchy's) stance on the proper comportment and role of women in the regime, how was it that Hitler (and his entourage) maintained his relationship with a single young woman who never bore children, who smoked and drank, and who seems in many respects, the exact opposite of the ideal Aryan woman?

Görtemaker is treading on territory where she has few peers. There have been only three biographies written about Braun. This one is exceptional. The author's investigations being vexed by the glaring holes in archival resources. Many letters and other documents produced by Braun and Hitler have disappeared or been intentionally destroyed. Nonetheless, she is careful to assess shortcomings in the existing evidence (primarily testimony provided by members of Hitler's entourage and Braun's family members), which usually leaves her pointing out that more questions than answers exist about Braun and Hitler's life together.

The book features an exceptional array of rarely seen photographs, both of Braun within her own circle, as well as within Hitler's. A quite different vision of the 'Fuhrer' emerges here, less iconographic and more casual: Hitler and friends at the opera, lounging over lunch, etc.

More to follow...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tony Iommi, "Iron Man" (2013)

Sub-titled: "My journey through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath".

As do many music autobiographies, this one starts off really fascinating. Iommi talks about his early years: exposure to music, upbringing, early influences, and how he met the people who would later on influence his work and life. Unlike the members of the Beatles or Led Zeppelin, however, the pre-Sabbath years of Black Sabbath members is not particularly widely known. Iommi's story is also unique in that a work injury as a young man left him without a few fingertips on one hand. The resulting experimentation and solutions he arrived at to enable him to play provide some unique insights into his playing style, and thus the 'Sabbath sound'.

Iommi's details on some of Black Sabbath's most notorious exploits are light, unsurprisingly. He does not shy, however, from taking what might be perceived as pot-shots at some of his bandmates, Ozzy included; suggesting, for instance, that Ozzy is rather scatter-brained and lazy.

With Ozzy's departure from the initial Sabbath line-up, Iommi would remain the only person who would play in all permutations of the band working under that name. His perspective on all of these changes, what makes the band continue on (really, what makes Iommi keep working under that band name), would provide compelling reading for a fan. His analysis and depth of discussion really begins to taper off with the end of the Ian Gillan era. Most of the 80s and 90s get slim discussion. To Iommi's credit, perhaps, he admits that several of the releases of this period were sub-par, either being cobbled together with changing line-ups where personalities were not gelling, or products that were rushed out without the sort of reflection and improvement that they might have deserved.

Iommi's work isn't as amusing as Ozzy's "I Am Ozzy", but is far more informative about the musical decisions, particularly of the 1970s, and the Sabbath reunion. See my review of Ozzy's work here.

Robyn Doolittle, "Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story" (2014)

Doolittle is a Toronto Star reporter who covers the City Hall beat.
While a flurry of books and investigative media pieces have told the Ford story, this is likely the best of the bunch. Doolittle not only coherently assesses the Ford rise to the mayoralty of Toronto, but places the Mayor within the context of his family history, changes within city politics, and as a player within a political 'machine'. Of course, she describes the chase for the now-infamous 'crack video(s)', but to her credit she also relates many of the details of how the Star's decision-making process worked with regard to not purchasing the video, and deciding to go to print with the information it had once the video's existence had been broken by other media.

You can read an excerpt from the book here.

You can read my discussion of a similar book, How Rob Ford Happened (from the National Post, a competitor to the newspaper Doolittle works for). In short, Doolittle does a better job of telling the story. The Post text seems pretty opportunistic.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sam Sutherland, "Perfect Youth" (2012)

Subtitle: "The Birth of Canadian Punk."

Sutherland weaves a nice series of anecdotal tales culled from the memories of the Canadian punks who were "there" during the emergence of Canada's punk scene in the mid-to-late 1970s. His dogged determination in tracking down people who have left behind their punk roots (some to enter the sanctified realm of boardrooms, some to continue to struggle along in the music biz, and other who have simply moved to struggling...) is admirable and produces real insights into an era that is hard to source.

Sutherland's love of the subject, and of researching his subject, comes across in his writing. It is neither hagiography or shock journalism. It is simple and compassionate story-telling at its best. He conveys the spirit of the people, as well as of the music these people made, which is difficult to find. In this regard, Sutherland does a real service in providing something akin to a shopping list for those who want to find out more about Canadian punk, lends impetus to the effort to preserve these works and extend access to them, and increase awareness of the strong and important influence these bands had within their respective hometowns and (much to my surprise) internationally.

The book was received quite positively by critics, as can be seen in this National Post review, or one in Maclean's, this NOW magazine interview with Sutherland, or a similar author interview in Vice magazine.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Rory Leishmann, "Against Judicial Activism" (2006)

Subtitle: "The Decline of Freedom and Democracy in Canada."

This fair assessment is offered in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal.

You can also read the introduction to the book here.

Gregory Klages -
Quotations from, and comments on
: Against Judicial Activism: The Decline of Freedom and Democracy in Canada

"there is not now, and never has been, any mention of sexual orientation in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

"in Egan v. Canada, 1995 SCC, the Court read sexual orientation into the equality rights provisions of section 15 of the Charter...

"In M v. H., 1999 SCC, the Supreme Court of Canada followed up on Egan and Vriend by decreeing that the denial of spousal benefits to same-sex couples under the Ontario Family Law Act was inconsistent with the allegedly implicit equality rights of homosexuals in section 15 of the Charter to an extent that could not be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

"In an attempt to limit the adverse impact of M. v. H. on marriage and the natural family, the Canadian Alliance proposed a resolution in the House of Commons on 8 June 1999 declaring: “It is necessary, in light of public debate around recent court decisions, to state that mar- riage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that Parliament will take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.” Prime Minister Jean Chrétien supported this Opposition resolution.

"With the backing of most Liberal and Progressive Conservative members of Parliament, this Canadian Alliance resolution upholding the historic definition of marriage in the common law of Canada was adopted by the overwhelming margin of 216 to 55.

"In reaction to these illegitimate rulings, Parliament could have invoked its power under the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to enact a bill reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage. Chrétien rejected this option. He abandoned the formal commitment that he and his Liberal Cabinet colleagues had made just two years earlier

"...on 9 June 2005 when the Court handed down one of its rare right-wing decisions in Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General), 2005 SCC 35, which struck down the prohibition on private health insurance in the health and hospital insurance acts of Quebec.

"Under the venerable rules of the common law, freedom of association was so firmly guaranteed that an organization like Rape Relief had an unimpeachable right in law to accept or reject anyone – homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or transsexual – as a voluntary rape crisis counsellor.

"Sensible precedents like Canada v. Owen mean nothing to activist judges and human rights adjudicators. They prefer to read their own ideological preferences into the law by subjecting the plain words of the text to large, liberal, progressive, and idiosyncratic interpretations.

"...the Supreme Court of Canada has twisted the original meaning of the Charter out of all recognition. Take, for example, the purported guarantee of freedom of con- science and religion in section 2(a) of the Charter. Under the guise of upholding this guarantee, the Supreme Court of Canada contrived in R. v. Big M Drug Mart, 1985 SCC, to strike down the longstanding Sunday-closing provisions in the federal Lord’s Day Act.

"In an aptly entitled book, The New Anti-Liberals, Borovoy notes: “The terms of the government’s proposed injunction were so broad that they could arguably have prohibited even silent, peaceful, information picketing within easy view of the abortion clinics. A restriction against physical obstruction is one thing; a ban on informational picketing is another thing entirely.” When Boyd obtained the picketing injunction on behalf of Rae’s NDP government, Charles Harnick, speaking for the Official Opposition, denounced the measure as an attack on freedom of speech. Yet after taking over from Boyd as attorney general of Ontario in Premier Mike Harris’s Progressive Conservative government, Harnick did nothing to get the injunction withdrawn. The infamous court order still remains in effect under the Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"...Gibbons once had an abortion. She is eager to protect vulnerable young women from making the same grievous error. To this end, she has insisted upon maintaining a peaceful, prayerful, and nonobstructive prolife witness immediately outside Toronto’s Scott Street abortion clinic in Toronto in violation of Boyd’s freedom-stifling court order. Time and again, Gibbons has been arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated. As punishment for her “silent, peaceful, information picketing,” she has spent close to four years in an Ontario jail as a prolife prisoner of conscience.

"The rule that judges of the common law must follow precedents is the doctrine of stare decisis...

"In conformity with this understanding of the proper role of the judiciary, judges who uphold the rule of law and respect the constitutional separation of legislative and judicial powers do not, in essence, make the law: They only interpret and apply the law to the specific case before the court as the law is found in precedents, statutes, and the Constitution. Blackstone emphasized that in the case of statutes, the guiding rule for interpretation must not be the will of the judge but the will of the legislator

"...the principle affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in A.G. Can. v. Hallet & Carey, 1952 SCC: “Statutes which encroach on the rights of the subject, whether as regards person or property, are subject to a ‘strict’ construction.” This phrase “strict construction” is a technical term denoting the doctrine of the common law that requires a court to construe statutes as con- forming with civil liberties unless the wording of the law contains clear and definite language constricting a fundamental freedom or human right.

"There is no reference to sexual orientation in section 15 or any other section of the Charter. The omission was deliberate. During clause-by-clause consideration of the Charter by the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada on 29 January 1981, New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament Svend Robinson proposed an amendment to include a ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in section 15. The committee decisively repudiated Robinson’s motion by a vote of twenty-two to two.

"Black’s Law Dictionary defines obiter dictum as “Words of an opinion entirely unnecessary for the decision of the case.”

"...human rights tribunals have carried on as usual, ordering mayors from one end of the country to another to issue gay pride proclamations regardless of the preferences of ordinary citizens.

"...the Oakes test represents a power grab by the Supreme Court of Canada that has no warrant in the language or history of the Charter. Nonetheless, Finlayson conceded: “I must apply the Oakes test.” Finlayson had no choice. In the Charter era, he and all other judges on the provincial courts of appeal are no less bound than ordinary citizens to obey the decrees of the Supreme Court of Canada.

"In the opinion of Brockie’s counsel, facilitating the provision of “a non-life-essential service” to one or other of the groups singled out for special treatment in the Ontario Human Rights Code cannot justify a gross violation of the fundamental right to freedom of religion.

"...the hitherto universal and constant teaching of the Christian church that sodomy is no less sinful and wrong than fornication and adultery. In support of this viewpoint, these Christians cite authoritative texts of the Bible such as the explicit reference to the sinfulness of homosexual acts by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1…

GK NOTE: The use of 'authoritative' here is an intriguing bit of rhetoric. The New Testament of the Bible (which includes Romans) is authoritative to Christians only. Why Leishmann chose this piece of Christian scripture, instead of something from the Old Testament or Pentateuch is intriguing, as that would seem to engage a far wider selection of belief communities.

"Given all the heartache and morbidity caused by promiscuous homosexual behaviour, one might reasonably expect that educators, religious leaders, and public officials would do whatever they can to warn young people about the perils of taking up a gay or lesbian lifestyle. At the least, the merits of homosexual practices should be a legitimate subject for public debate…

GK NOTE: Clearly, Leishmann has a bee-in-his-bonnet over homosexuality. Would be admit - given the predominance of heterosexuals - that young people should be even more aware of the perils of taking up a heterosexual lifestyle, given all the heartache and morbidity that such a lifestyle causes?

"Whatcott has first-hand knowledge of the seamier side of the gay lifestyle. He was a homosexual prostitute and drug abuser before converting to Christianity at age eighteen.

"the gay rights agenda

GK NOTE: I find this sort of reductionist titling of political interests troubling, similar to the misnomer of the 'pro-life' agenda. If someone is pursuing the practice of human rights, or even of - gasp - libertarianism, is that equal to being a consumer/advocate of a 'gay rights agenda'?

"Prior to enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it would have been inconceivable for the courts to change the law and the Constitution so that someone like Scott Brockie, Bill Whatcott, or Mayor Dianne Haskett could end up in jail for expressing their views on the lifestyles of sexually active homosexuals.

"Morgentaler, 1988, was a legally unprincipled ruling in which a majority of the judges decided for a variety of conflicting reasons that the minimal restrictions on abortion that Parliament had enacted at Trudeau’s behest in 1969 violated the guarantee of life, liberty, and security of the person in section 7 of the Charter to an extent that could not be justified.

"In the judgment of the Court, the BC government’s failure to provide this translation service in publicly funded hospitals violated equality rights for the deaf as guaranteed in the Charter to an extent that is not reasonably justifiable in a free and democratic society.

"On 28 September 1981 the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its judgment in the Patriation Reference. The ruling was a legal shambles. On the key issue of the legality of Parliament acting without provincial consent to obtain a constitutional amendment affecting provincial powers, the Court was clear: Seven of the judges who took part in the case, including Laskin and Dickson, held that there is nothing “that casts any doubt in law as to the undiminished authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom over the British North America Act.” This same majority also concluded that “the law knows nothing of any requirement of provincial consent, either to a resolution of the federal Houses or as a condition of the exercise of United Kingdom legislative power.”

"In a joint dissent in the Patriation Reference, they pointed out that: “The degree of provincial participation in constitutional amendments has been a subject of lasting controversy in Canadian political life for generations. It cannot be asserted, in our opinion, that any view on this subject has become so clear and so broadly accepted as to constitute a constitutional convention.”

"...the Chrétien government tried to clarify the issues surrounding Quebec separatism by referring the following questions to the Supreme Court of Canada: “1. Under the Constitution of Canada, can the National Assembly, legislature or government of Quebec effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally? 2. Does international law give the National Assembly, leg- islature or government of Quebec the right to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally?”

"Theologically orthodox Christians and Jews hold that God is the supreme moral authority. Saunders gives precedence to the Supreme Court of Canada.

GK NOTE: Or… more accurately, the secular authority of the SCC's interpretation of the Charter. I'm not sure why Leishmann leaves out Muslim's belief in Allah. I wonder if there might be a implicit prioritization of what beliefs are correct for Canadians.

"Saunders explained that in her view: “Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.” In support of this doctrine, she recalled that in striking down the federal Lord’s Day Act in R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., 1985 SCC, Chief Justice Dickson stated: “Religious belief and practice are historically prototypical and, in many ways, paradigmatic of conscientiously-held [sic] beliefs and manifestations and are therefore protected by the Charter. Equally protected, are expressions of non-belief and refusals to participate in religious practice.” Therefore, Saunders concluded that the guarantee of freedom of religion in the Charter sanctions a law that imposes freedom from religion in the public schools.

"...the activist judges on Canada’s top court distorted the law to conform to their own ideological preferences in favour of having grade-school children indoctrinated in the acceptability of families headed by same-sex parents...

GK NOTE: "Indoctrinated." This phrasing suggests that without the intervention of the state/public education system, students would believe in something contrary to the acceptability of same-sex parenting. My convenience sample suggests that little children don't particularly care if another kid has two moms, two dads, or a dad and a mom, or for that matter, two dads and two moms. My sample suggests that kids care a lot more whether the kids around them are fun and interesting and willing to play nice. Perhaps those who are worried about the unacceptability of same-sex parents have been indoctrinated with that belief, and might benefit from exposure to contrary beliefs.

"Within Canada theologically orthodox Christians are in a minority, as are gay-rights activists. When the clashing viewpoints of these two minorities collide, McLachlin maintains that the gay-rights ideology must prevail. “This,” she insists, “is fair to both groups.” Faithful Catholics and Evangelical Christians might beg to differ. From their perspective, there is nothing at all fair about the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in Surrey. It constitutes an unprecedented attack on the democratic rights of all parents who uphold the traditional teaching of the Christian Church on the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour.

"In line with the reasoning in Trinity Western, the Supreme Court of Canada is all too likely to rule that a teacher has no right under the Charter to refer a young student to any counselling service that might help him or her to avoid taking up a potentially lethal homosexual lifestyle…

GK NOTE: If our goal was to establish this right, then we should require the same for referring students considering a potentially lethal heterosexual lifestyle, joining the military, driving a car, smoking, or not wearing sunscreen. The critical problem becomes what proof of 'lethality' is required to justify the reference?

"To justify flouting the original understanding of the drafters of the Constitution, Sankey contended: “The British North America Act planted in Canada a living tree capable of growth and expansion within its natural limits.”

"What, however, has the Supreme Court of Canada done since the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect in 1982? It has assumed the right to change the law and dictate national policies on abortion and euthanasia, on lesbian and gay rights, on Aboriginal land claims and fishing rights, on the admission of refugees and immigrants to Canada – the list gets ever longer. Our judges-cum-politicians on the Supreme Court of Canada have laid down new rules governing the hot pursuit of murderers by the police. They have changed the rules on eligibility for spousal benefits under the Old Age Security Act. They have mandated translation services in the nation’s hospitals and imposed two-tiered medicine on the Province of Quebec. In Operation Dismantle v. The Queen, 1985 SCC, the Supreme Court of Canada even presumed to pass judgment on a key issue of national security. At issue was the decision by the federal Cabinet to permit the United States to test cruise missiles in Canada...

"...abetted by the Chrétien Cabinet, the Court broke the law and violated the Constitution by reading sexual orientation into section 15 of the Charter.

"On 14 January 2001 Bourassa and Varnell generated headlines across Canada by pledging their troth to each other in a simulacrum of a marriage ceremony at the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto.

GK NOTE: The use of simulacrum here is pure rhetoric. If the ceremony was legally recognized, then how could it NOT be a marriage? It is a simulacrum only if the speaker refuses to accept the legitimacy of the act.

"In Roth v. United States, 1957 USSC, the Court dealt specifically with the issue of obscenity in relation to the guarantee of freedom of the press in the First Amendment. Mr Justice William Brennan began his reasons for the Court by reviewing the legislative history of the First Amendment. Among other considerations, he noted that when the provision came into effect in 1792, every state had a law designating blasphemy and/or profanity as statutory crimes. Consequently, he concluded that the unconditional phrasing of the First Amendment was “not intended to protect every utterance.”

"...a product of the abstract and generalized nature of the rights protected by the Charter. The very process of defining the content of the rights protected by the Charter seems inherently political. Many of these rights – most notably the right to ‘equality’ and ‘liberty’ – contain little or no substantive criteria; they resemble blank slates on which the judiciary can scrawl the imagery of their choice.” John T. Saywell has expressed much the same view in The Lawmakers: Judicial Power and the Shaping of Canadian Federalism. He holds that enactment of the Charter gave the Supreme Court of Canada a “mandate ... to fashion the law relating to rights and freedoms.” In the absence of any precedents for interpretation of the Charter, Saywell argues, “the court had a clean slate on which to write its constitutional prescriptions.”

"The 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights declares in section 1 that Canadians are entitled to an array of rights and freedoms, such as “(c) freedom of religion; (d) freedom of speech; (e) freedom of assembly and association; and (f) freedom of the press.” Yet the Supreme Court of Canada did not treat these generalized rights as so many blank slates. Rather, in conformity with the canons of judicial restraint, the Court took the view expressed in 1993 by Mr Justice Ritchie in Robertson and Rosetanni that “the Canadian Bill of Rights is not concerned with ‘human rights and fundamental freedoms’ in any abstract sense, but rather with such ‘rights and freedoms’ as they existed in Canada immediately before the statute was enacted.”

"Monahan notes the consequences: Having given content to these open-ended rights, the judiciary must then “balance” these rights against considerations of general welfare under s. 1.

"Stephen B. Presser, a professor of law at Northwestern University, has pointed out that the disposition of a majority of the United States Supreme Court to adopt interest balancing as an explicit mode of interpreting constitutional rights dates from the late 1930s and early 1940s. He bluntly affirms: “It is a jurisprudential approach that emerged when the Supreme Court abandoned the rule of law.”

"Hamilton rejected this argument. He wrote: The courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority.

"Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former...

"...the Supreme Court of Canada amended the ban on the possession of child pornography in the Criminal Code by decreeing that perverts have a right under the guarantee of freedom of expression in section 2 of the Charter to make and possess for their private use the most repugnant and degrading forms of child pornography.

GK NOTE: Leishmann's rhetoric is off-putting. He may find child pornography offensive. Many people very likely do. Name-calling doesn't seem necessary to support a legal argument, however.

"The appellant in this case was a Vancouver man who had fathered two children with his adult daughter. Consequently, he was charged with violating the ban on incest in section 155 of the Criminal Code, found guilty at trial, and sentenced to five years in prison. Upon appeal, counsel for the father asked the Court to strike down the ban on incest in the Criminal Code on the ground that it violates the rights of incestuous men to life, liberty, and security of the person as guaranteed in section 7 of the Charter.

"Prior to enactment of the Charter and the onset of judicial activism, Canadians who had access to expert counsel could know their legal rights with a fair degree of certainty. Today, that is no longer the case. Activist judges predominate. They routinely flout rules fixed and announced beforehand. Like vacillating politicians, they lurch from one arbitrary ruling to another...

"In October 2002 Paul Martin had endorsed the idea of having judicial nominees vetted by a parliamentary committee

"In an address to the Faculty of Law of the University of Toronto on 6 February 1998, Chief Justice Lamer likewise opposed the idea. He pointed out that the views expressed by nominees to a parliamentary committee would not be a reliable guide to their behaviour on the bench. To illustrate the point, Lamer confided: “Had you asked me at a hearing if I was for or against [abortion], I would have said against.” Why, then, did he back the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Morgentaler, 1988, to strike down the restrictions on abortion in the Criminal Code? Lamer explained: “My reasoning is that unless you have a vast majority of people think something is criminal, you should not make it a crime.” Note his rationale: Lamer made no reference to the current state of public opinion on abortion in his reasons for judgment in Morgentaler, 1988. The conclusion is inescapable: His ostensibly legal reasons for judgment in that case were just a fig leaf to disguise his essentially political decision to strike down the country’s abortion law.

"If the Supreme Court of Canada had been able to draw upon the advice of a public interest officer, it might perhaps have avoided its disastrous judgment in R. v. Askov, 1990 SCC.

"In a dissenting opinion supported by Mr Justice Charles Gonthier in Marshall, she flatly asserted: “There is no existing right to trade in the Treaties of 1760–61 that exempts the [Mi’kmaq] appellant from the federal fisheries regulations.”

"In Canada a limited version of the kind of constitutional authority recommended by Bork for checking the judicial subversion of legislative and executive powers is already available to our legislators. Section 33(1) of the Charter provides: “Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in s. 2 or ss. 7 to 15 of this Charter.” Section 33 further provides that for these declarations...

"Parliament has never invoked the notwithstanding clause, and among the provincial legislatures, only the Quebec National Assembly has made extensive use of the provision. In June 1982 the separatist Parti Québécois government of Quebec prompted the Legislature to invoke section 33 to shelter every Quebec law from Charter review by the courts. After regaining provincial power in 1985, the Quebec Liberals allowed this blanket use of the notwithstanding clause to lapse, but they invoked section 33 in twelve other cases, including, most controversially, Bill C-178, the legislation enacted in 1988 that prohibited the use of English on outdoor commercial signs. Most recently, on 4 May 2005 Quebec education minister Jean-Marc Fournier announced plans to extend invocation of the notwithstanding clause in the Quebec Education Act for an additional three years from July 2005 to August 2008 so that the government can continue to fund Catholic and Protestant schools during this period despite any perception by the courts that this arrangement is incompatible with the guarantee of freedom of religion in section 2(a) of the Charter.

"Saskatchewan used it in 1984 to prevent the courts from interfering with a back-to-work law in a dairy strike. In 2000 the Legislature of Alberta declared that the traditional definition of “marriage” as between a man and a woman in the provincial Marriage Act shall apply notwithstanding the provisions in sections 2 and 7 to 15 of the Charter. However, this invocation of the notwithstanding clause was of no legal consequence because the definition of marriage is a subject matter that comes within the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament by virtue of section 91(26) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

"In an article published in Policy Insights on 1 October 2001, he observed that anyone who arrives in Canada and makes a refugee claim, no matter how transparently bogus, is entitled to free legal counsel and one appeal after another as the case winds through the system.

"The Charter was not, is not, and never will be necessary to safeguard the rights and freedoms of Canadians. However, the same 1982 Constitution Act that entrenched the Charter in the Constitution also saddled the country with a dead- lock-prone constitutional amendment formula that makes it all but impossible for Parliament and the provincial legislatures to get rid of the Charter…"