The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

PPG summer offensive lacks heroes

They've seen comrades shot down in flames. Their best attacks have failed to stop the enemy.

Worse still, they've been unable to win the hearts and minds of the people. They hate to admit it, but the war is going poorly.

Stephen Harper is winning.

It's been five months since the Parliamentary Press Gallery declared the War on Harper, proclaiming themselves the unofficial Opposition.

With the launch of attacks by Israel on Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, the press saw their best opening yet. It was time to unleash the feared MSM Summer Offensive.

First came the Katrina Flank Attack.

The Harper government was too slow to react to the fighting in Lebanon. They didn't care about Canadians in Lebanon. Too slow. Too little. It's Stephen Harper's fault.

Unfortunately, nobody agreed with the press gallery. Canadians thought the government did a good job given what they had to work with.

No. No. You don't understand. It's not us saying it. We're professionals. We have editors. We don't cover wars in our pyjamas. It's the victims. The evacuees. They're the one's who blame Harper. You can't contradict them.

No dice.

The public still didn't blame Stephen Harper. Not even when the first man off the first rescue ship made a beeline to the television cameras to sing his tale of woe. Blah, blah, blah, no air conditioning.


What a fiend Stephen Harper is. How can you run a rescue without AIR CONDITIONING.

Sadly, the MSM were the only ones decrying the complete absence of air conditioning for evacuees. The public began throwing around words like "ingrate" to describe the Lebanese refugees. And NO AIR CONDITIONING never became the rallying cry the Parliamentary Press Gallery hoped it would.

In fact, the Sunday O'Protest rallies against Canada's inaction in Lebanon couldn't excite even the standard rent-a-crowd. In Winnipeg, barely 100 people turned up although stalwarts like Nick Ternette confessed a month ago that virtually any protest could count on 200 "progressives'" to show up. Against globalism? 200. Against the U.S.? 200. Against Israel? Only 100?

(One reporter counted 150, but he included about 50 people who showed up because they thought the protest was part of the Fringe Festival. They were the one's who applauded at the end.)

With every assault on Harper Hill repulsed with heavy casualties, the media switched tactics.

The Globe and Mail delivered a story that Stephen Harper personally interfered with rescue efforts, the control freak.

PMO wanted crisis kept under wraps, sources say.
By Doug Sanders (Cyprus), Mark MacKinnon (Beirut), Gloria Galloway (Ottawa)
July 20, 2006
Globe and Mail, Page One

Their source? Anonymous, of course.

Sadly, nobody was buying. In fact, it looks like the public has finally learned that "anonymous sources" claimed by MSM reporters for exclusive anti-government stories either don't exist or are really anybody willing to support the reporter's personal bias.

Finally, the MSM sent in their remaining reserves. A poll.

PM's stance on war splits Canadians
Almost half say support of Israel is inappropriate, poll finds
Juliet O'Neill, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, July 24, 2006

It showed that Canadians were split on Stephen Harper's response to the Lebanon crisis. 45 percent said his position is "fair and balanced" and 44 percent said it was "too pro-Israel."

That is if you didn't read the poll too closely. But wiseacres did and kept pointing out that the reporter who wrote the story conveniently ignored the 11 percent who thought Harper wasn't being pro-Israel enough.

In other words, 56 percent of Canadians supported Harper's stance, even if some wanted more from him. And only 44 percent were opposed.

Given that the Conservatives have the support of only 37 percent of the public in the latest post-election poll, that means 20 percent of the electorate who weren't planning on voting Conservative support Stephen Harper.

No wonder the elected Opposition can't agree on a position that the unelected Opposition can use in the War on Harper.

The press gallery had to resort to suppressing fire.

Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, leaped into the fray ( ) warning that international law just might declare that some political leaders were guilty of war crimes if they approved "bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians."

Just who did she have in mind?

Making up a new law that applies only to one government engaged in military action, is one thing, but when that government happens to be a Jewish state. Well, there used to be a name for that kind of thinking.

The Liberal Party of Canada thinks Louise Arbour is just the kind of Canadian they want to see. That's why in March they tried to recruit her to run for leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, something the MSM failed to mention when reporting on her unique opinion of Israel's right of self-defence.

NDP leader Jack Layton, fresh from condemning CUPE Ontario's declared anti-Israel policy platform (What? He's never condemned CUPE Ontario's declared anti-Israel platform?)
said Stephen Harper was trying too hard to be George Bush. Layton declared Canada should abandon the war on terror and get back to peacekeeping. Maybe join a UN peacekeeping mission to Lebanon.

He failed to mention, and the MSM failed to remind its audiences, that there is a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. And it has been completely useless. And that there are Canadians on the useless peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Which makes Layton's position doubly useless.

And now that a Canadian peacekeeper in Lebanon has been killed, will Jack Layton accept the blame?

Thwarted at every turn, the media has called up its reserves, aka the victims of the fighting.

A special medal has to go to CTV's Lisa Laflamme for her emoting, above and beyond the call of duty, over a story Monday of a woman in whose house the eight Canadians were killed in Lebanon.

After reporter Janice Mackey Frayer finished the story, Laflamme pulled out all the stops to show how much she was moved by the woman's story. She looked like she was auditioning for the role of Norma Desmond in a revival of Sunset Boulevard by her sincere oversincerity.

Elsewhere, we face a constant bombardment of victim totals. 200 killed in Lebanon. 300 killed by the Israelis. 350. 400. Sorry, we're just trying to keep up. And most of them civilians.

And everytime we hear that, we ask, how many were not civilians?

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz wrote an interesting article on civilian casualties for the Los Angeles Times.

THE NEWS IS filled these days with reports of civilian casualties, comparative civilian body counts and criticism of Israel, along with Hezbollah, for causing the deaths, injuries and "collective punishment" of civilians. But just who is a "civilian" in the age of terrorism, when militants don't wear uniforms, don't belong to regular armies and easily blend into civilian populations?

We need a new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare. A new phrase should be introduced into the reporting and analysis of current events in the Middle East: "the continuum of civilianality." Though cumbersome, this concept aptly captures the reality and nuance of warfare today and provides a more fair way to describe those who are killed, wounded and punished.

There is a vast difference - both moral and legal - between a 2-year-old who is killed by an enemy rocket and a 30-year-old civilian who has allowed his house to be used to store Katyusha rockets. Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter. There is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism.

Finally, there is a difference between civilians who are held hostage against their will by terrorists who use them as involuntary human shields, and civilians who voluntarily place themselves in harm's way in order to protect terrorists from enemy fire. These differences and others are conflated within the increasingly meaningless word "civilian" - a word that carried great significance when uniformed armies fought other uniformed armies on battlefields far from civilian population centers.

Today this same word equates the truly innocent with guilty accessories to terrorism.

The domestic law of crime, in virtually every nation, reflects this continuum of culpability. For example, in the infamous Fall River rape case (fictionalized in the film "The Accused"), there were several categories of morally and legally complicit individuals: those who actually raped the woman; those who held her down; those who blocked her escape route; those who cheered and encouraged the rapists; and those who could have called the police but did not.

No rational person would suggest that any of these people were entirely free of moral guilt, although reasonable people might disagree about the legal guilt of those in the last two categories. Their accountability for rape is surely a matter of degree, as is the accountability for terrorism of those who work with the terrorists.

Read the whole thing at

For a less clinical, more personal side of the civilian casualty debate, read 'Lebanon Israeli Crisis' ( a passionate blog we came across on our regular search of the blogosphere.

In the meantime, the battle against Harper continues unabated.

The latest bulletin from the front lines came Monday from June Taber, of the Globe and Mail.

Relations are still not ideal between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the media, as witnessed on his recent trip to Europe.

Mr. Harper spent nearly a week with 21 journalists but not much time talking to them as he went from London to the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, and then on to Paris. He may have given the shortest wrap-up news conference in the history of the G8 when he took five questions from Canadian reporters and then left, leaving Russian journalists miffed.

Reporters who travel on the same plane with the Prime Minister, and who pay their own way, rarely see him because he is at the front in a private room with his officials. There is still no date set for the annual dinner between the Prime Minister, politicians and the media.

They pay their own way and still never see the Prime Minister. They're heroes, we tell you. Heroes.

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