Enter Stage Right hands out its awards...

The Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

web posted April 29, 2002

If there was any indication that America's founders failed to build sufficient property rights protection in their constitution, it was proved on April 23. That day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not require governments to pay compensation to landowners when agencies temporarily prohibit them from building on their land.

Although the court said otherwise, the decision effectively means that government can temporarily seize property, known legally as "takings." While the court stated that each case must be examined on an individual basis, we're all familiar with abuses of process that have plunged landowners into legal battles that have taken years to resolve. And although the court refused to consider them takings, if you are not allowed to develop your land, it effectively means that it isn't yours. You simply have the luxury to pay property taxes on it.

What's worse about this particular fight was that the Bush administration and 22 state governments supported the environmental regulators. Only Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas took the side of property rights.

U.S. General Warren Edwards was very impressed by the Canadian soldiers who fought in Afghanistan during the bloody battles in eastern part of that country last month. Two teams of snipers unofficially recorded the highest body count of any unit during the battles near Gardez including a 2 430 kill by one sniper believed to be the longest such kill in a combat situation.

Edwards decided that the two teams deserved to be recognized by the U.S. military so he personally recommended last month that five Bronze Stars -- two of them Bronze Stars with distinction -- be awarded to the men.

The night before the ceremony, however, the Canadian military put a stop to the proceedings. The Canadian military told their U.S. counterparts to wait before awarding the medals for reasons of "Canadian protocol." So what was this protocol? Well, it seems that Canada's government was embarrassed that the American military singled out Canadian soldiers for the honour because it never had any intention of doing so itself. Had Edwards not recommended the medals, no Canadian medals would have been handed out.

Dr. David Bercuson, director of the Centre of Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, said the real reason for the delay was likely official squeamishness.

"Canadians don't kill -- they don't even use the word kill; that's the problem," he said. "I think the military is not sure that the government is prepared to accept the fact, let alone celebrate the fact ... that Canadian soldiers do sometimes end up killing people."

The end result is that some people got quite made. The U.S. soldiers who served with the snipers were angry because their Canadian comrades have been screwed out of their medals. The Canadian snipers, who always refused to brag about what they did, preferred to receive their medals from their peers in the field and not during a photo op in Ottawa.

It's a pathetic government that Canadians keep returning to power. It's a government that ignores the military every chance it gets and only honours them when another nation's military does it first.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted April 29, 2002

Neil RobertsIt's known as Roberts Ridge, at least by the special operations forces who fought one of the bloodiest battles for it during Operation Anaconda. It's named after Petty Officer Neil Roberts, the U.S. Navy SEAL who fell out of a MH-47 Chinook helicopter after it was hit by ground fire in early March.

According to a CNN report on a Pentagon document that has yet to be released, "[It] details some of the most brutal fighting seen by U.S. forces in years including hours of vicious close combat and extraordinary heroism still largely untold."

One of those stories is PO Roberts. Falling from his helicopter armed with only a handgun and some grenades, Roberts landed in a nest of al-Qaida soldiers and began a desperate battle for survival. Witnesses report that he fought back savagely until his handgun was empty of ammunition and he threw his last grenade. From there we're not sure what happened. Differing accounts say that he was captured and executed by the terrorists while others say that he was killed during the firefight.

Regardless, PO Roberts and his comrades in the field represent the best of us. Others were sent in after him and the other soldiers who were trapped on the mountain ridge and several more men died before everyone got off. It's a fitting tribute that Roberts Ridge is named after one of them.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? E-mail ESR with your candidates!



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