Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The E-Mail So Nice He Sent it Twice!

Every so often here at the Nexus, we get some mail.

Today, we recieved a hilarious bit of correspondance from yet another jilted debating partner -- Randall White of Counterweights "magazine" (which is actually little more than a blog with delusions of journalistic grandeur.

Needless to say, Mr White isn't very happy with me:
"Mr Ross:

I take it this is your email address, and I've now had a quick look at your assholery site. If I'd seen it earlier we would not have published even as many of your comments as we have.

In any case I did want to let you know that we will not be publishing any more. And I have declined to keep your last submission. No one is obliged to play host to such a rude and ignorant guest forever. It would be different if what you said made sense. But it really doesn't. And having looked at your assholery site for 30 seconds or so I think I now have a better idea of why.

Anyway, if you do send any further notes we just won't publish them. It's the least you deserve.

To me what you really lack is any kind of class at all. I certainly don`t want to live in a country that looks like your website! And rest assured I will work very hard to ensure that never happens.

Randall White
for counterweights magazine

And what, praytell, could it be that Mr White is so outraged over?

Oh, the usual.

It actually stems from a bit of online tripe in which Mr White suggests that the recent announcement by the Bloc Quebecois entails a "Conservative/Bloc alliance".

This, of course, required that I and the incomparable Bruce Stewart to step in and point out the fallacy of their rhetoric:
"In order for that 'Conservative-BQ' alliance to actually be an alliance there would have to be some kind of long-term accord between the two.

Other than that the BQ has decided that they may not necessarily want an election, there doesn’t seem to be any such accord at all — not like a signed coalition accord. But, hey. Details, right?
At which point Stewart took it upon himself to grind the point in a little deeper:
"Do you suppose you could reconsider your choice of terms?

An alliance presupposes negotiations, agreements, etc, not merely the coincidence of Party B voting 'yea' (or, in this case, 'oui') to Party A’s motion.

I am aware that there are a number of commentators out there desperate to give life to this meme, but it’s merely making all those other authors look foolish. Perhaps you should consider what it would do to your reputations to join them in this?
At this point, the delightful Mr White decided to respond:
"The Counterweights Editors have asked me to reply, on their behalf, to the interesting points raised by Mr Ross and Mr Stewart above.

We are answering them together, since in the first place they are raising essentially the same objection to our use of the term 'alliance' in connection with the Conservative Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois.

First, note that we used the term in the headline to a February 2006 article about the early days of the Harper minority government`s first term in office. If Mr Ross and Mr Stewart care to click on the link above and take a look at the historical article in question, they will see that back then Michel Gauthier, House leader of the Bloc Québécois, told Bill Curry of the Globe and Mail that his party 'intends to keep the Conservative minority government in office for a good while,’ encouraged by the Tories’ openness toward Quebec.'

This seems to us quite in keeping with the ordinary dictionary meaning of the word 'alliance': eg, 'combination for a common object' (Shorter Oxford) — which does not specify any 'signed coalition accord' or even 'negotiations, agreements, etc' Mr Harper`s party made the first more informal move, by showing a special 'openness toward Quebec' (which culminated, some will remember, late in 2006 with the parliamentary resolution that the Québécois constitute a nation within a united Canada: a concept that both Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff agreed on at that point). In response to this openness, the Bloc kept Mr Harper`s government in office for some considerable time. That certainly qualifies as an alliance as far as we`re concerned — an informal rather than a formal one, no doubt, but an alliance nonetheless.

Subsequently the Tories’ openness toward Quebec faltered, for reasons Mr Ross and Mr Stewart might want to enlighten us about further. And the Liberals had to pick up the burden of ensuring that it was not necessary to hold yet another Canadian federal election every month or so. They have now said that they have carried this particular can long enough — and the burden has fallen back on the Bloc and the New Democrats.

Note, of course, that we did not use the term 'alliance' in the headline to our article here, dealing with Canadian federal politics in the middle of September 2009. That would be inappropriate for what the Bloc has chosen to do this coming Friday. And so we have just said '‘Separatists’ will keep Harper minority government alive.' Now, as far as what 'alliances' may or may not unfold, informally or otherwise, among the current collection of conservatives, 'separatists,' and perhaps 'socialists' who wind up supporting the present Harper minority government — but it is too early to speculate about that, of course.
Well, one would wonder precisely where to start with the "esteemed" Mr Randall White.

First off, one would wonder if he could really define the word "alliance" at all. After all, one could check how the dictionary does:
Hmmmm. "A close association of nations or other groups, formed to advance common interests or causes." "A formal agreement establishing such an association, especially an international treaty of friendship." Seems like not even remotely what Mr White said the dictionary definition of "alliance" is.

But even beyond that, is White's argument even defensible? Is the Conservative party's "openness to Quebec" enough to establish an alliance between the Tories and the Bloc, even without any kind of a formal agreement between the two, as White suggests?

Not when one considers that federalist political parties in Canada try at all times to remain "open to Quebec". They certainly don't try to advance the cause of national unity by being closed to Quebec.

By White's logic, the Liberal party, NDP and Conservatives would be allied with the BQ, by simple virtue of their "openness to Quebec".

But apparently, that isn't all. White also wants to argue that Stephen Harper's decentralist policies represent another link in the alliance between the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois:
"If you go back and look through the newspapers of early 2006 you will see that many observers, especially in Quebec, and especially among so-called soft nationalists in Quebec, believed the new Harper minority government was potentially offering a more decentralized view of the Canadian federal system, within which at least various degrees of Quebec’s traditional nationalist aspirations would be able to find more breathing room. Mr Harper even gave speeches in Quebec on this subject — and they were quite different from the related speeches of, eg, Pierre Trudeau or Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. I could get into many more details here, but that would take up more space than is really available in this context."
So, then, by White's logic, the Conservative party and Bloc Quebecois are allied on the strength of a mutual belief in decentralism.

But again, White would be wrong. Decentralism has been a demand not only the Bloc and Parti Quebecois, but also of the Liberal Party of Quebec and the Action Democratique du Quebec. By White's logic, that would make the Conservatives allied with all three of Quebec's provincial parties. At least on one count this would be true. It's well known that the Conservative party and the ADQ worked together to help lay the framework for a greater Conservative breakthrough in the 2008 federal election (it didn't work, as the ADQ turned out to have trouble of its own).

So not only can White not defend his argument according to the dictionary definition of the word "alliance", but he can't even defend it based on the Conservative party and Bloc Quebecois' mutual interests in decentralism and "openness to Quebec". After all, other political parties share each interest.

So what really is the source of Randall White's outrage?

What is it, specifically, that he's outraged about?

The idea that corrupt governments should be held accountable?

Noting that the Conservative party plans to win a majority in the next election?

Noting that the Wildrose Alliance won a seat in Alberta?

The idea that support of a government's fiscal agenda tends to entail confidence in that government?

The idea that post-recession planning could help end the deficit faster?

The idea that overzealous reformers should be contained?

Noting that the NDP has chosen to support the Tories EI bill?

Mocking ideologues who make bad arguments? (Come to think of it, he very clearly does object to that.)

The suggestion that destroying religions is a bad idea?

Musing over whether or not the NDP's aforementioned support for the Conservatives' EI bill means there may not be an election?

Musing that the Liberals and Green party are set to have a showdown over environmental policy in BC?

Defending religiously-motivated environmentalism?

Writing about what a fucktard Charlie Sheen is?

Writing about the dilemma Barack Obama's association with hip hop music poses for his Presidency?

Noting that a country's foreign policy past can come back to haunt it?

Suggesting that 9/11 victims were people? (Seems fairly intuitive to me.)

Noting that Barack Obama's own party won't pass his health care legislation?

It could be those things. Or maybe he just can't handle losing an argument. After all, he wouldn't be the first one.

But the hilarious thing is that Randall White was agitated enough to send that delightful e-mail twice. It's usually the hallmark of an extremely irrational individual to get quite that excitable about losing a fairly elementary debate.


  1. Yeah, this was fun. So was my email response:

    "Mr White,

    If I thought about this country in as clearly a dogmatic and (quite frankly) foolish manner that you do, I'd be threatened by the ideas represented at The Nexus as well.

    Listen. It isn't my fault that you can't defend your arguments. If you're really that distressed by it, I'd say you should know precisely what you need to do about that.

    In conclusion, thank you for your lesson in manners. I sincerely assure you that you can go fuck yourself in the face with it.

    Best regards,
    -Patrick Ross"

    Oh, to be worthy of the privilege of commenting at Counterweights!

    But if Mr White is reading this, he need worry not. I'll be gracious enough to let him comment here to his heart's content.

    After all, I don't feel the need to silence my opposition.


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