Monthly Archives: October 2015

Smart and Dumb

I, along with a lot of Canadians I suspect, have spent much of the past week not reading about Justin Trudeau as either the Second Coming or Chief Rider of the Apocalypse. He’s neither.

Smart people, regardless of party, are intrigued with how Trudeau is going to set about governing. He has a lot of choices, a fairly vague set of election promises and 39% popular support. Dumb people are foaming at the mouth and finding ever more scathing things to say about the Liberals, Premier Wynne, marijuana legalization and Canada’s international commitments. (Given the farcical nature of Obama’s feckless non-commitment to wiping out ISIS we are well out of any combat role in that fiasco.)

I have no doubt that Trudeau will have to throw some red meat to his base and, unlike Harper, he might be bright enough to do that at the outset of his term. He also has a lot to actually do with assorted international conferences to attend and a Cabinet to appoint and priorities to set.

Smart people will wish Trudeau well as he embarks on his Prime Ministership. Dumb people are going to try to stoke the 24 hour outrage machine and hysterically nitpick the guy.This is dumb because it is so patently partisan. Smart people want Trudeau to be ready and to be the best Prime Minister he can be. The Liberal Party and Trudeau himself are likely to be wrong about any number of things and, as those errors are made, it will be time to point them out and suggest better alternatives. But Trudeau has to make the errors first.

Smart conservatives, after they have been annoyed at losing and after they have realized that it was not just Harper’s fault – a realization which seems to be taking a bit longer than is reasonable – need to get to work considering where they lost the 8% of the electorate who swung over to the Libs. What was it about the Harper government’s approach which alienated so many people? It will be a lot more useful to think about where modern conservatism is going in Canada than it will be to fire spitballs at Trudeau.

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Soundings

I live in a little place far away from the hubbub of the cities.  For the last few weeks when the conversation rolled around to the election every single person I talked to went out of their way to say something negative about Harper.

Which is how elections are lost.

Win the Election, Lose the Speech #elxn42

I think Harper looked relieved. He’s done. He may find honour in history, he may not. Hard to say. Difficult to put a finger on the great achievements of the Harper era. “Not sinking the boat” is, of course, a good thing; it is not the stuff of legend. Delighted he resigned; but, typically, he didn’t mention that in his speech.

But then we had Justin. Complete with namaste bobbing, beautiful wife. He had the one great opportunity politics affords a man. He had won an national election convincingly. Seats, so far as I can tell, in every province. The NDP destroyed, the CPC humbled. This was his night.

He gave a speech of profound vacuity. There was no there there. He was tired, he was hoarse, he was out of ideas before he even starts the job. “In Canada the better is always possible.” Really? Really? Is that all you have Justin?

I forced my kids to listen to this speech on the assumption that a triumphant politician would give the speech of his life and that is always worth watching. This wasn’t. This was a platitude stacked on a cliche drizzled in a woo woo syrup; we spoke, he listened, he’ll keep listening..

KOOKOOKACHOO

Showtime #elxn42

Polls closed everywhere but BC and Yukon.

Hints of Red wave. The question is whether the 60% popular vote going Grit in the Maritimes rolls forward. That suggests a collapse of Tory vote.

Next PM called by CBC: Trudeau.

Update #1: Calling it for Justin with polls still open in BC is interesting. If you are an ABC voter rather than voting strategically you might well vote your preference. It is very early and the lead is very small. The red wave could continue of sputter out. If it sputters out Libs staying home in BC or NDPers not voting strategically could make a difference.

Update #2: The Tories are getting some points on the board and, to a tiny degree, the Libs are stalling out a bit. We may yet have a long evening.

Red Tide in the Atlantic #ELXN42

CBC – which seems to have a rather nice web presence tonight – is calling Libs elected or leading in 32 Maritime seats. Clean sweep.

This is a much anticipated and predicted result. If there is anything interesting here it is that the NDP got no where.

However, it is a net loss to the CPC of 14 seats which will be challenging to pick up. It is also a loss of 6 to the NDP. Strategic voting? Have to have the popular vote to figure that out but it looks a bit as if the ABC vote went to the Grits. (Handy Wiki map here.)

 

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The Burbs #ELXN42

Harper, CPC, Rob Ford

Who has let those dreadful people in?

The night before E-Day and the campaigns are pushing, hard or not, to hit the last few swing seats. Smart war rooms have closed down the news cycle and are throwing what resources they have left at GOTV efforts for the Day. (Really smart campaigns have been working the advanced polls to get as many of their committed voters “in the box” before E-Day as possible.

The media seem to be hedging a bit as the polls are pretty inconclusive – JT up a bit, but then there is EKOS… – but they are all pretty sure Harper screwed himself being seen at a Ford Brothers shindig on Saturday night.

Chris Selley marked the desperation:

And then, there was Saturday night — a brand new low for a conservative party that has abandoned so very many of its conservative principles. Drugs or no drugs, the Fords’ politics is a flailing, nihilist mashup of spite, fantasy and delusion masquerading as “Respect for Taxpayers.” The Tories wear that now. If they lose on Monday, they will have utterly debased themselves doing so. national post 

Young Justin, fresh from discovering that one of his key campaign aides has been peddling advice on how to reach out to the new Prime Minister, went deep Annex on Harper:

Trudeau, asked during an appearance in Montreal about the prime minister’s association with the Ford brothers, said Harper should be “embarrassed that he’s having to count on the support of Rob Ford for his re-election.” national post

The Fords touch a very deep-rooted snobbery which lies at the heart of Canadian politics. Rob Ford’s fall from a weird sort of grace was, from the Annex and the deep bunkers of the CBC and the Toronto Star all the way to the languor of the virtual common room which the Globe and Mail effects, a much needed correction in the Canadian universe. People like the Fords, brash, uncouth, beer-drinking – Labatts not artisanal – get up the noses of the decent people who recycle, cry for refugees and are convinced global warming is the moral challenge of our age.

Oddly the people whining about Harper sharing a stage with the Fords were not going to vote for Harper. The question is will Ford Nation turn out? Harper probably has very little time for the Fords; but he needs the votes they can bring in order to win the suburban ridings which ring the orange and red ridings of downtown Toronto.

Like most Canadian elections, this election is not going to be won in the downtown core of Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver or Calgary: it will be won in the burbs. Burbs where Ford Nation and the bluer sort of Tory feel right at home. The years that Jason Kenny has invested in the Sikh and Chinese and Hindu communities have made whole tracts of the burbs winable CPC seats. An ethnic strategy which recognizes the social conservatism of many ethnic communities is about to be tested.

The Canadian “middle class” does not live downtown. It lives in cul d’sacs and townhouses and Vancouver Specials. For a decade Harper and the CPC have been weaning it away from the Liberal Party. Ford Nation is about aspiration.

Aspirational, middle class, voters are a huge part of this election. Either the CPC strategy has worked and these voters will stay aligned with Harper and the CPC and their pocketbooks  or it will have failed and those voters will take a flyer on JT.

Chris and Justin are “shocked and appalled” that Harper would take seriously these sorts of people. It will be interesting to see if Harper has made an astute political bet or if Ford Nation is just déclassé bluster.

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Splits #Elxn42

So, here we go. Last few days of the campaign. Mulcair dropping, JT rising, Lizzie May ready to double her seat total – Victoria is in play.

Will the kids with the smartphones show up? The Lying Jackal figures that if they do JT wins. But will they?

As I drove down the highway with my buddy the Mad Monk we were talking about the election. He is NDP to the core. The question is the splits. This election has been about getting rid of Harper. The Libs and the NDP are both pitching themselves as the ABC party. But neither have closed the deal. Strategic voters, whose numbers are impossible to determine, are supposed to vote for the non-CPC candidate in their riding who has the best chance of beating the Tory. But tribes are strong. For a Dipper to vote Liberal is more than a little problematic. Perhaps the younger ones. A Liberal, carried away by Trudeau’s weird version of hope and change? Voting NDP is voting for no hope and no change. They probably get that.

The Cons have abase and then they have a halo. People who do not identify as Tory but who are not attracted to either the NDP or the Libs. They may not actively like Harper but they don’t hate him either. They are the difference between 33% and 39%. Third place or a majority. The CPC knows this.

I told the mad monk that, all things considered, the CPC have managed to keep hope alive for both the NDP and the Libs. They have to because a sudden shift to the Libs or the NDP will sink a hundred CPC seats. The media are so far in the tank for the Grits that actual information has more or less ceased to flow. They want the bandwagon effect to kick in. Will it?

I am awful at predicting elections. I am up at Kate’s prediction pool with 183 seats for the Tories. I don’t think the kids will show up and those who do will be just as likely to vote Green as make a difference. I think the niqab will win Harper seats in Quebec – and the rest of Canada. I think that the idea of JT as Prime Minister is not all that attractive to a serious fraction of the voters, even the ones who hate Harper. And I think that the NDP and the Liberals are going to come second, by a hair, in thirty to fifty seats simply because neither of them is an overwhelmingly attractive, electable, ABC choice.

Harper is not dumb. Nor is is warroom. They have kept Trudeau and Mulcair in this. The collapse of Mulcair in Quebec means seats for the Tories and, perhaps, for the BQ who will likely support Harper in Parliament.

Outside the Annex, Ontario is shifting to a two party race. Mulcair is essentially sunk beyond a few, public servant rich, ridings in Ottawa and a couple of hipster enclaves in TO. Now we see if Trudeau can break out in the burbs. If he can’t Harper has, at minimum, a minority.

Do the kids show up? The mad monk tells me that as he scrutineers the advanced poll he’s seeing lots of kids. Could happen. My bet is against.

But I am usually wrong.

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Islam is a Race?

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“Islam is a religion. But “Muslim” is a signifier, and the signified is not your reassuringly white neighbour. Let’s dispense with the disingenuous distinctions of Muslim-baiters and see their xenophobia for what it is—racism in another guise.”  Dr. Dawg

I commented….

What a silly position.

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”

—–

The Dawg wants xenophobia to be racism (which is, presumptively, just so damned evil). And he deems Islam to be a religion which, amazingly, is the only racialized religion on the planet. (Oh, and by the way, in other contexts, race is simply a social construct which, I suppose, allows it to be applied, like whitewash, to any instance where it might be useful.)

Now a reasonable person might query, “Why does Dawg want Islam to be a race?” What is useful about converting a religion into a race? How does this assist our understanding of that thing? Or, cynically, is racializing Islam designed as a last ditch attempt to prevent us from understanding that thing?

—–

Here is a suggestion. Try running the argument that Islam is only superficially a religion; scratch the surface and you find a political ideology as fully elaborated as conservatism, liberalism, socialism or fascism. Rather than trying to fit up Islam as a race – which either does damage to Islam or to the common sense idea of race – why not pay attention to its distinctly political elements.

Do races have “law”? Islam does. Do races have a singular position on the Jews? Islam does. Do races have specific views of homosexuality? Islam does. Do races have injunctions as to how to treat non-members? Islam does. Do races have strictures as to how to treat women? Islam does. Do races proselytize? Islam does.

—–
One may be xenophobic or racist with respect to an actual race; but rejecting a political ideology is neither. It may be prudent. It may preserve political positions which are the basis of our society and culture; but it cannot be racist.

For the “progressive” left the defence of Islam should be a deep and enduring embarrassment. Every progressive principle, from basic human equality, feminism, anti-discrimination, anti-slavery, anti-imperialism is violated repeatedly and doctrinally by Islam.

Yet you excuse it. You accuse people who want to fight the evil politics of Islam of the very worst of progressive sins: racism. Because, for some reason, you seem convinced that it is somehow your duty to welcome the agents of your own destruction to your own country and culture. You have this weird need to prostrate yourselves before a politics of brutality, conquest, rape and subjugation.

You’ll have to excuse me if I can’t join you in your political and cultural surrender.

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The Peasants Are Revolting

Over at Dr. Dawgs full on Harper Derangement is the order of the day:

Good to know our caring government under feminist Stephen Harper is keeping tabs on barbaric cultural practices, by turning us (by which I guess I mean “old stock Canadians,” so, alas, I am not in their number, although being born in the UK may carry honorary status) into a nation of informers.

Let me put in parentheses my previous comments on this bone-headed, nugatory notion. Let us focus instead upon the drift of this election campaign, and Stephen Harper’s increasingly racist overtures to the unwashed. Dr.Dawg

I commented:

Oh Dear the “yokels” and the “unwashed”, being thoroughly unenlightened, are failing in their duty to follow the lead of their betters and have noticed that there may be a few issues with mass Muslim immigration. Disgusting.

Worse, that spiv Harper doesn’t even have the grace and breeding to use dogwhistles in herding his flock. The dreadful man is throwing raw meat to the rubes and, to no one’s great surprise those Ill-educated reactionaries and rednecks are eating it up. There is, I fear, a very real danger that the 80% of bigoted Canadians (90% in the idiot reaches of Quebec) will take this opportunity to try to undo forty years of enlighted immigration and refugee policy by voting for those revolting CPC candidates.

The Wal-Mart classes are restless.Time to clutch the pink pearls and person the checkpoints surrounding the nicer, leafier, bastions of tolerance in Canada’s more sophisticated urban centers. Lock down the common rooms and charcuterie bars, disguise your Prius and avoid being seen with your Said (or books of any sort really): the proles are on the move.

And remember, if those plumbers, rig workers, housewives (I know, but they still exist in the more primitive rural villages), shop owners, IT pros, nail techs and farmers get the bit between their teeth, they threaten every bit of the Trudeaupian progress we have made in the last fifty years.

I have to say I am not entirely surprised. Calling the majority of the population yokels, the unwashed, bigots, racists, homophobes and Islamophobes every time they failed to understand that the progressive agenda was for their own good has, perhaps, alienated them from progressive leadership. Lecturing them from the ramparts of big media – the CBC, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star – year after year without a dissenting voice has, I’m afraid, left them impervious to reason. In fact, strictly between ourselves, having the bien pensantalternating between insulting and ignoring them has left many “old stock”, white, rural, suburban and even working class urban Canadians vulnerable to precisely the sort of base appeal Harper is making right now.

Here’s the really bad news: while it may not be apparent in our enclaves, there are many more of these dreadful people than you can possibly imagine. Despite all our hard work, our successful march through the institutions, our success in prohibiting discussion of consensus topics, our increasing ability to exclude opposing points of view from the media, the great white blob of recalcitrants remains embedded in the fabric of the nation.

The beast Harper looked vulnerable at the beginning of this campaign. After all, no one we knew would think of voting for the thug. But Haper has a low, animal, cunning. He is unafraid of the great white blob. He has been seen at hockey rinks at 6 in the morning and obviously buys his suits in some dreadful mall. His wife has stayed at home with the children. He is, obviously, one of them. He does not need to dogwhistle – the blob knows its own.

So, beware. The unwashed, the yokels, the bigots and the rubes have been summoned. All we can hope for is that, once they have vented their fury on niqab wearers they will resume their slumber. The alternative is simply too awful to contemplate.

Hero

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The Chris to remember is 30-year-old Chris Mintz, the student and Army vet who was shot at least five times while charging straight at the gunman in an effort to save others.

Mintz did so on the sixth birthday of his son, Tyrik.

“It’s my son’s birthday, it’s my son’s birthday,” he was heard to say as he lay wounded.

When word of Mintz’s heroism reached his kin in his native North Carolina, his cousin Derek Bourgeois was hardly surprised.

“It sounds like something he would do,” Bourgeois said. daily beast

Ancient as I am I hope I would have the courage to do that. I hope my sons would as well.

There really is only one right response to murder. You try to take down the gunman.

Not that it is much of an honour these days, but I hope Mintz is invited to the White House and given his well deserved 15 minutes of fame. More than that, I pray he survives his injuries and enjoys, belatedly, his son’s birthday.

 

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