Saturday, October 11, 2008

Globe and Mail Endorses Harper

Their motto seems to be "Don't worry. He's not that bad."

The concern that everyone else in Canada has is that, under a minority government, Harper and his ilk have not been able to put forward their full platform. We're not just talking about the social conservatives and their anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage platform. We're talking about the man who hates Canada's status as what he calls "a Northern European welfare state". We're talking about a guy with an advanced case of America Envy. He wants private healthcare. He wants a big, aggressive military to play with.

The concern is that Minority Harper and Majority Harper are two different people.

The Globe and Mail editorial board recognizes his dominating streak:
"far too much a solo runner in the team game of politics"
"gratuitous characterizations of parliamentary critics as Taliban sympathizers"
"an underdeveloped appreciation for the basic tenets of pluralism"
"denigrations of the keepers of critical checks and balances in our political system"

They add this:
"Whatever you think of him, the Stephen Harper of today is not the Stephen Harper of 2004 or earlier."
Yes, so don't worry about that stuff about Canada being a horrific welfare state. The new Harper is actually okay with the way Canada works. He is no longer sickened by our non-capitalist ways.

But this bit takes the cake:
"There is no reason to think he won't continue along the same trajectory if re-elected"
Really? I think that there's every reason to think that his trajectory will change the moment he gets a majority. All that stuff about being too bossy? How do you think that's going to get better if he gets more power?

I have a hard time believing someone could write an editorial that starts by mentioning Harper's megalomaniacal domination of Parliament via the PMO and then tries to soothe us and tell us it's okay because he'll be softer and more communicative when he has complete control of Parliament.

But then, journalists don't always have to make sense. They just have to sell copy and satisfy advertisers.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Not Dion's English That Was The Problem

I'm not a big fan of the Liberal party, but this video bothers me quite a bit.

Listen to the question being asked at 1:20 in to the video. Of course Dion is confused. The interviewer doesn't understand how to speak English.

"If you were Prime Minister now, what would you have done about the economy?"

That doesn't make any sense at all. The interviewer obviously doesn't understand the English language and Dion does. It's unclear what the question means.

There are two legitimate ways to ask that question.

You can ask the question in the present tense, using "were" in the subjunctive (i.e. I wish I were, if I were ... etc.):
"If you were Prime Minister right now, what would you do?"

Or you can use the past tense:
"If you had been Prime Minister for the last two years, how would you have handled this crisis?"

The question as it stands, as it was asked, makes no sense. It's as if the the interviewer had asked, "If I gave you a sandwich made of baby seal meat right now, would you have eaten it two years ago?"

Of course Dion's confused. I get confused when people babble at me in broken English too.

It's pointless to make fun of Dion. You should spend your time mocking the illiteracy of CTV's interviewer and the obvious and intentional cruelty of airing this nonsense.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

These People are Nuts

With a hat tip to the Democratic Underground for leading me to this stuff from here.

There is something really, really frightening about these people.

Has anyone really begun to understand why people's brake lines are being cut in Toronto? What possesses someone to do that over an electoral preference? What sort of insanity is this?

There's something wrong with the right wing, conservative methodology of invigorating its followers. There's something wrong with their motivational techniques. They're pushing people to absolutely insane levels.

Look at the comments on this blog post regarding the "worst" consequences of an Obama presidency.

"a repeat of Nazi Germany"
"death of free speech"
"Obama surrendering the USA to Vladimir Putin"
"Having to wear a brown shirt"
"installment of Sharia Law"

And, oooh, let's call him "Hussein".

Just take a moment to read some of those comments. We're talking about frothing-at-the-mouth angry lunacy here. I know even intelligent people can spell poorly when under duress, but I'm guessing these aren't the smartest people either.

Do you want to know why your brake lines are getting cut or your abortion doctors are being shot? It's the irrational hate rhetoric of the right wing, promoting ridiculous notions about the left, that pushes people to this level of insanity. It's not a joke. These people really are completely off the deep end.

I can't imagine how you could even reach them to demonstrate that they're simply wrong about so many of the things they're saying.

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Naked Politicians

So the Prime Minister can't seem to hold on to his popularity. Perhaps the whole "We're Better Off With Harper" campaign, in which the whole election was set to ride on the popularity of Stephen Harper over other leaders, wasn't such a good idea. Too many eggs in one basket and all that. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to muzzle the other candidates and have them avoid local debates.

The G&M article proposes this in regards to Mr. Harper's sinking popularity:
There have been a number of theories offered for Canadians' growing coolness toward Mr. Harper as the campaign progresses, most focusing on his response – or perceived absence of response – to the gathering economic crisis.

That seems to be the popular theory. No one is considering the fact that when faced with a potential period of unemployment most of us would prefer a more sympathetic government. The Conservatives are less attractive when we're looking for a social safety net. We might just be on the receiving on "austerity measures" which would naturally be "for your own good in the long run".

I would also like to indicate my ungratitude for the image provoked by the following line comparing Harper to Robespierre:
“Because there was no sense that if he took his clothes off, he'd be the same as the rest of us,” the social scientist said.

Ugh. Not what I need in my head this early in the morning.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What? It's a Great Ad.

Okay, it might seem a bit childish, but it gives off the atmosphere of "let's break it down to the simplest level". The point gets across and it gets across without actually pooping on anyone.

It reminds a bit of the "This is you brain. This is your brain on drugs." ads. And I'm not just saying that because the guy in those ads was bald. (Is that guy who gets drawn in later a doctor who shares Jack's hairline, or Jack himself? If it's a doctor - very clever).

Bold, simple and clearly declaring the difference between one side and the other. The NDP have a plan, the Conservatives do not.

If only the entire election were based on clearly declared positions like this, instead of nonsense and poop.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

The Sky is Falling: Blame Mortgagees

A common refrain I'm hearing in reference to this apparent disaster we're in is that the fault lies with the people who took out mortgages that they can't afford. In that vein, we should do nothing to help out because these people deserve it.

It's not often referenced in real newspapers but it's there in the mouths of right-wing pundits, bloggers and Republicans (who like to blame "minority lending" specifically).

I hate to tell you, but it's not working out that way.

First of all, this crisis is spreading far, far beyond the actual people who took out those bad mortgages. It's hardly morally acceptable to say that retired senior citizens who have responsibly paid off their mortgages deserve to have their retirement funds destroyed.

Second, the people who took out those mortgages received professional financial advice that told them the risk was easily manageable.

We received professional advice when we went to get our mortgage. We were advised as to a maximum house value and mortgage payment based on salary data our bank required of us. (We live in Canada where there are rules about these things). We looked at those numbers and said, that's okay, we'll get a much smaller house than the maximum we're allowed. We're conservative that way.

The people who took out these subprime mortgages were advised that they could afford these houses using some financial trickery (overappraising the house, using the extra money as mortgage payments, selling the house for more). Not everyone is smart enough to see through this tale, especially when all of the financial advice is consistent (consistently bad, but how do you know? Think "trepanning" or "bloodletting".)

Do people deserve to be punished when an entire industry has intentionally and maliciously led them astray, en masse, for its own aggrandizement?

I wouldn't think so, but you may differ.

I don't mind watching all those subprime mortgage brokers suffer. They won't, mind you, but it wouldn't bother me if they did.

What bothers me is that the rest of us are going to hurt while they fly high. That's why the government has to step in and return confidence to this arena - and that will require heavy-duty regulation.

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Maybe Libertarianism is Fleeting

I'm trying to understand why the Tory numbers are dropping.

Dion and Layton didn't perform all that well in the debates. No one is really jumping on the Listeria investigation and deaths. So what's going on?

I would like to submit to you that a significant number of the people who vote Conservative, the people that call themselves "Libertarian", are actually just "selfish when they're winning".

If you have a good job with good benefits, reasonable security and the likelihood of easily changing jobs, you can afford to call yourself "Libertarian". They you vote Conservative and curse the people without jobs as being lazy and irresponsible. You want tax cuts and cuts to social services because, hey, those people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

But the economy is changing. People are becoming a little less sure of their jobs. Sure, it looks like your little company is doing alright, but we could be looking at millions of layoffs across the country. The stock market is plunging. Credit is hard to get. Maybe your boss is walking around shaking his head because he knows how dependent everybody is on overnight lending and venture capital.

Suddenly, your "Libertarianism" doesn't look so good when you might just end up on the outside looking in. You might just end up as the guy without the job. Maybe three months from now, Prime Minister (with a majority) Harper will be looking out at you and saying, "Hey, take care of yourself". Suddenly the shining light of independent, capitalist, free-market glory doesn't look so good.

Maybe you start to realize, in tough times, you would rather have at the helm people who have historically given a damn about other human beings.

Maybe you don't vote Conservative because, quite simply, selfishness points you in other direction. Instead of "Hey, take care of yourself", your cry will become, "Hey, someone take care of me!"

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dion on the "Socialist Approach"

So Dion has given up on winning the election and now just wants to make sure he stays opposition leader. He has a few words for Jack Layton and NDP supporters.
Mr. Dion said the NDP leader is a far cry from leaders like Tony Blair who moved their socialist parties to the moderate middle.

Right. Let's compare actual socialism to Tony Blair's "third way", which is generally described as, "exactly the same as the first way, but dressed up to look like the second."

I don't want Tony Blair's Iraq-war-supporting socialism in my country, thanks.

Dion warns us of "the old socialist approach with Layton" and Dion should know. After all, Bob Rae is now a member of the Liberal Party - a position I can only assume they offered him for intentionally destroying socialism in Ontario through his ridiculous policies that caricatured more than represented anything any real person believes about socialism.

Sorry Mr. Dion. You should be attacking the Conservatives, not the NDP. The fact that you're wasting time attacking the NDP simply shows that you're more concerned about job security than principles.

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