Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Devil's Night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lizzie May Has a Problem

"Ottawa group of four" defying Green Party leadership

When Green Party leader Elizabeth May went to her party membership looking for permission to ignore her own party's rules -- the Green Party constitution called for fixed-date leadership contests -- it was tough to tell whether or not the move should be condemned or applauded.

There was, of course, the sheer sanctimony of it. May has been the loudest complainer whenever she felt that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was breaking the rules. Then again, she was clearly disregarding the rules of her own party.

On the other hand, however, was Sylvie Lemieux. As a member of the Green Party's Ottawa Group of Four, she clearly had some extreme views, and was prepared to give herself the power to enforce those extreme views over others.

Paul Maillet, Quais Ghannem and Akbar Massoui round out the Group of Four.

A conference -- being described as a "peace conference" -- being organized by the cabal has quickly become a case in point.

The conference claims to be discussing “just and sustainable peace”. However, a deeper look below the blanket rhetoric reveals that it's actually about anything but.

According to Maillet, considered to be the ringleader of the Group of Four, the conference's goal is to identify “an alternative approach to conflict that doesn’t lead you down the path of violence."

“We were able to get some academics from the University of Tehran, and we thought that this was a good place to start,” he added.

For the sake of posterity, this needs to be stated again: they thought the University of Tehran was a good place to start. On speakers for a conference in favour of "just and sustainable peace".

However, the real cuplrit for the attendance of Dawood Ameri and Saeid Ameli was Manoussi, who attended an Iranian government-sponsored conference in Tehran during the last year.

The Ameri's Islamic World Peace Forum features several anti-Semitic cartoons. Ameli, who will be keynote speaker, has actually praised Iran for its efforts to protect women's rights, and has falsely claimed that stoning is no longer used by the Iranian "justice" system.

And these are the people that the Ottawa Group of Four are looking to as guides toward "just and sustainable peace".

The utter shamelessness of the Group of Four is utterly astounding. Maillet actually attempts to defend the event by espousing the values of non-violence.

“One of the principal Green party values in non-violence, and this is what we’re trying to practice,” he said. “Non-violence has to mean living these values somehow.”

Of course, this begs questions: does Iran truly practice non-violence when it funds Hezbollah, who in turn launch rockets into Israeli civilian settlements?

Rationally, we already know the question: no. Of course they don't. Maillet is either wilfully ignorant to this detail, or somehow ignorant altogether.

It's hard to tell whether Maillet, a former Colonel with the Canadian Forces, errs on the side of naivete or wilful ignorance.

“A professional peacekeeper does not choose to have conferences with his friends. He chooses to have dialogue and discussion with people with whom he has differences," he insisted. "That is the place you can make gains.”

Of course, what Maillet clearly doesn't understand is that you can only make gains with adversaries who are willing to come to the table in good faith. The Iranian regime -- with whom all of Maillet's prized Iranian speakers are aligned -- never comes to the table in good faith; it comes merely to spread its own propaganda.

Elizabeth May, at least, seems to understand this much.

“You can’t have a dialogue if you don’t have balance," May said. "You can’t be naive about these things.”

“This is not a happy event,” she continued. “If they’re not aware that they’ve put together a conference which is unbalanced, then they’re not paying attention. I hope they’ll cancel.”

If they don't, May will have a serious problem within her party.

What needs to be seen is what May will do if they don't cancel. The Green Party should move to not only cancel the nominations of Maillet and Ghanem, but expel all four members from the party. However, May hasn't committed to this course of action.

At least with Elizabeth May still at the helm of the Green Party, Sylvie Lemieux won't be using it as a platform for the Ottawa Group of Four's extreme tyrant-coddling agenda.

Other bloggers writing about this topic:

Creekside - "A Maclean's Conjob MP Circle Jerk"

John Oglivie - "What Do Elizabeth May and Vic Toews Agree On?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Of Badware and Blogging Tories

Has cyberwarfare come to the Canadian blogosphere?

It's a question perhaps best answered with a question: is this merely the first time we've known about cyberwar tactics in the Canadian blogosphere? It doesn't actually answer the original question, nor does it even answer the question of whether the reporting of as a badware site is part of any such a campaign.

As it pertains to the matter of coincidence, perhaps the internet is one of the few examples where life truly offers any. It is, after all, a large and diverse environment, wherein many different websites, each featuring their own software, interact with one another in a largely unpredictable manner.

It's possible that may at play in an episode that has many visitors to the website encountering this in its stead:
It certainly seems bad.

StopBadware, an organization Google and Mozilla cooperate with to identify so-called "attack sites" define badware as "software that fundamentally disregards a user’s choice about how his or her computer or network connection will be used."

It doesn't sound like anything one would expect to be present on a Blogging Tory site. When one examines the Google diagnostic page, it seems that it isn't even a Blogging Tory site that is the source of the problem:
The website is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a celeb news website. The more important detail is that it isn't listed on the Blogging Tories aggregator.

Considering that the Google diagnostic page explicitly states that has not hosted malicious software, it's clear that the malicious code has been added by a third party: that BloggingTories has merely been used as an intermediary to disseminate malicious software seemingly hosted on to Stephen Taylor's blog, The Secrets of Vancouver, Moose and Squirrel, and seven other sites.

Interestingly enough, none of the sites listed above have been identified by StopBadware as an "attack site".

The question remains: did some technologically-savvy member of Canada's online far-left community deliberately add some bad code to the BloggingTories site in orer to justify reporting it to StopBadware as an "attack site"?

There's no question that many of them are obsessed with the site and would like to see it shut down. Adding malicious code to the site has certainly, at least in the sort term, accomplished the next best thing.

There's no question that Canada's far left is frustrated. No matter what they do, they can't convince Canadians to thoroughly repudiate conservative values, and can't seem to win on their own.

There's no reason to assume that a denizen of Canada's left is behind this: but there's ample reason to ask the question.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Conservative Immigration Bill Must Stand

Tories responsible, will opposition be?

In the wake of a controversy regarding Tamil migrants -- many of them suspected to be affiliated with the Tamil Tigers -- the Conservative government is moving to introduce new legislation that would make it easier to detain migrants who arrive on Canadian territory illegally.

"We're absolutely certain that this meets our international and domestic legal obligations, as well as our humanitarian obligation to provide protection for people who might face persecution," Kenney explained. "We would in fact provide protection and would not send back people, even illegal smuggled migrants, if they are able to demonstrate, in our legal system, that they would face persecution."

"We are confident that this complies with the Charter and our domestic and international legal obligations," he continued.

Immigration policy seems mysterious and technocratic to many people not deeply-versed in its legalities. But, in reality, the ultimate purpose of such legislation is very simple: let the people who belong in Canada in, and keep the ones who don't belong in Canada out.

Very simple.

Canada isn't the only country whose government examined the passengers of the Sun Sea and think twice about admitting them. Britain considered some of those on board the vessel and turned them down.

In Kenney's view, those Tamils who boarded the Sun Sea after being turned down in the course of a lawful application to the UK have simply jumped the queue.

"This unlawful behaviour is nothing more than jumping the immigration queue, taking up space and resources in our immigration and refugee system that should be focused on those who are legitimate and lawfully waiting their turn to come to Canada," Kenney insisted.

In terms of immigration, Kenney gets it: those who should be in, in. Those who shouldn't, out.

There are stark consequences if Canada forgets about this very simple idea.

Of course, not everyone is in favour of such legislation. Wanda Yamamoto, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees, objects. Particularly to the detention of irregular claimants.

"Measures keeping some refugees longer in detention, denying them family reunification and restricting their freedom of movement are likely in violation of the Canadian Charter and of international human rights obligations," Yamamoto complained. "People who are forced to flee for their lives need to be offered asylum and a warm welcome, not punished."

Yamamoto may want to point to any portion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows foreigners to illegally enter Canadian territory with near-complete impunity. But she can't, because it doesn't exist.

If challenged based on its constitutionality, the choice for any court hearing the case is a very stark one: will Canada's immigration laws be decided by Parliament, or by special interest groups with a vested interest in maintaining a substandard and porous immigration policy.

Plugging these holes in Canada's immigration policy is important not only to repairing Canada's Extended Refugee System, but also to addressing security issues like terrorism, and criminal issues such as human trafficking.

The Conservative Party is doing the responsible thing with this legislation -- a point only underscored by the repeated arrival of vessels such as the Sun Sea.

"Since the last vessel arrived we saw a significant drop in Canadian public support for immigration in general and refugee protection in particular," Kenney said. "Our government cannot allow these exploitative criminal networks to continue to violate our immigration laws, undermine the fairness of our immigration system and undermine public support and confidence in that system."

What remains to be seen is whether the opposition is prepared to match the Conservative's responsible approach to this matter; or whether the special interest groups who stand to benefit from blocking a responsible immigration policy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Steyn vs Freud... Who Would've Thunk It?

When Macleans magazine published an excerpt from America Alone entitled "The Future Belongs to Islam", it eventually led to the magazine being subject to a human rights complaint.

Various Canadian Muslim groups objected to the excerpt, and feared it would stir up public hostility against Muslims. There may have been fair reason to worry about this (although the Human Rights complaint itself was clearly frivolous).

But part three of the Century of the Self presents a theme that puts an interesting twist on the Steyn thesis: as a spin-off off an ancient showdown between psychiatric quacks.

The quacks in case are Anna Freud -- the daughter of Sigmund Fruend, who considered the human sex drive to be dangerous -- and Whilhem Reich, who considered a healthy sex life to be the definitive factor of human mental health.

A decidated life-long virgin, Freud was considered to be something of a prude. When Reich's theories came to her attention, Freud took it upon herself to destroy her career.

Reich believed that human sexuality wasn't merely the key to human flourishing in terms of demographics alone. He also believed that orgasm was central to human mental health. By modern standards, it stands out as a lunatic idea, but it's implications for Steyn's argument are intriguing, to say the least.

In the excerpt, Steyn argues a very basic and intuitive thesis: the Muslim world is reproducing at a far faster rate than the western world. In terms of sheer numbers alone, this could put the Islamic world in the position of being able to overwhelm and envelope the rest.

This is certainly a terrifying prospect for many of Steyn's most fervent admirers, who fear Muslims.

Western and Muslim attitudes toward sex are remarkably different. Through innovations in birth control, the western world has embraced sex for pleasure like at no other time in human history, perhaps exempting the height of Roman decadence. The increasing cultural focus on sex becomes most apparent through an examination of pop culture.

Meanwhile, the (at least stereotypical) Muslim attitude toward sex is considered far less enthusiastic.

As individuals, the western world has far more sex than the Muslim world and produces far fewer children. Some may say that birth control is to blame for this state of affairs and while they would be correct, any proposal to eliminate birth control is unequivocally not the answer.

If one were to judge the comparative mental illness of the western and Muslim worlds based on Reich's theory, one may be drawn toward the issue of suicide bombers. It takes a particularly fervent individual to commit to killing themselves as a means of attacking their enemies -- some could consider this to be a symptom of some sort of mental illness.

The irony is astounding: the Muslim world has less casual sex, but more children (whom some would, rightly or wrongly, consider to be candidates for future suicide bombings). If Reich's theories had any merit at all, it would be ironic that the innovations that have allowed the western world to enjoy the mental health benefits of casual sex have also led to a state of affairs in which they've put the western world at a disadvantage.

This is, of course, assuming that one grants credence to Wilhelm Reich's theories (one should not), and that one agrees with Mark Steyn (one may not).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wherein Heather Mallick Makes a Stark Choice (For Britain)

Austerity or oblivion? Mallick chooses oblivion

As many of the world's advanced states trudge forward, economic reality is presenting them with a choice:

Austerity or oblivion.

Britain, who owes 64.6% of its Gross Domestic Product to foreign creditors is one of those countries that is facing some tough choices in terms of its budget.

Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government partner, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, have responded to Britain's looming fiscal crisis in kind. They plan to cut as much as 40% of Britain's national budget in order to get things back under control there.

For her own part, Mallick objects entirely. She wishes to join her voices to those of thousands of Greek and French protesters who have made their decision between austerity or oblivion, and chosen oblivion.

Rather than pare back their demands on the public purse -- at least in the short term -- Mallick and her compatriots have decided to demand that the states in question stay the course toward economic disaster.

After this, there will be no more: an economic collapse that could raze the British economy to the ground. They don't care.

Not that they have no solutions of their own. It just so happens that their medicine would be far more harmful than the disease.

They imagine undercutting core functions of government that they don't care for in favour of maintaining spending to extraneous functions of government that they do. They imagine taxing the living hell out of banks and corporations, not seeming to care where the kind of economic growth necessary to ensure Britain's long-term prosperity will come from.

Canadians already know well the kind of pressure David Cameron and his government are under. When Canada was on the brink of fiscal insolvency in the 1990s, the Canadian government was forced to make some hard decisions as well.

The Jean Chretien government chose to cut things such as education, health care, and provincial transfers. It may have never happened if not for the pressures applied by the Reform Party and individuals such as Andrew Coyne, but the important detail is that it did happen.

15 years later Canada has the fiscal strength to weather what some have described as a perfect economic storm.

In time, Britain may be able to boast the same strength. But not if Heather Mallick has her way. In her own mind, she's chosen for Britain. Fortunately for her, she doesn't have to live there.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Is Foreign Money Involved in the US Election?

United States Chamber of Commerce accused to accepting foreign funds

Speaking recently in advance of the United States midterm elections, US President Barack Obama is attempting a new tactic to stave off defeat:

He's insisted that the United States Chamber of Commerce is running attack ads funded by foreign money.

"We learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign sources," Obama announced. "Are you going to let special interests from Wall Street and Washington and maybe places beyond our shores come to this state and tell us who our senator should be?"

As it turns out, according to ABC News, there is truth to one of these claims, but not the other. The US Chamber of Commerce does, it seems, accept revenue from foreign companies and foreign affiliates. However, there seems to be no evidence that the US Chamber of Commerce is using those funds to pay for their political campaigning.

The Centre for Responsive Politics doesn't seem convinced by Obama and the Democrats' desperate attack.

"We have no idea if the Chamber or any 501(c) organization as defined by the IRS code, is taking foreign money for the purposes of playing politics," exmplained CRP spokesman Dave Levinthal. "Saying that that foreign money is actually going toward attack ads or any type of messaging in the political realm, you just don't know. It's speculation and nothing more."

For the Obama administration, it seems that the issue of foreign money is a manner to attempt to stir up discontent surrounding the Citizens United decision, which lifted restrictions on third-party election spending in the United States.

"The Chamber is throwing tons of money at these races and they haven't done that before and you can't disaggregate it," explained Dartmouth College Political Scientist Ronald Shaiko. "But the Chamber appears to be meeting the letter of the law in what they're doing. Plus, they've got plenty of money and they really don't need to be bringing in foreign money to be doing what they're doing."

To Shaiko's eye, however, there's little difference between outright electoral interference and the manner of lobbying considered more mundane by American standards.

"For over a decade now we've had the door open to foreign influence in the political process, policy process," Shaiko continues. "If we're equating political influence via lobbying with political influence via elections, I wouldn't want to draw the distinction."

But so far as an attempt to stir up discontent, Shaiko expects that this strategy will fail.

"This isn't going to help the White House win votes by doing this," he concludes. "They're grasping at straws."

Perhaps this is because the Democrats themselves have been accepting foreign money as well.

The Democrats have been found to have accepted $1.02 million from Political Action Committees linked to foreign companies.

"This is not foreign money per-se, but these PACs are certainly populated by people who work for foreign companies," explains Levinthal.

These groups have made their donations public via the Federal Election Commission. Meanwhile, the Democrats are demanding that the US Chamber of Commerce reveal its donor lists to the American public.

"All you have to do to clear up the questions is reveal who your donors are from," insists White House advisor David Axelrod. "It is an insidious, dangerous thing when people can contribute huge sums of money to run negative ads in campaigns and never confess or allow to their participation. It opens the door to all kinds of chicanery."

"Any interest group can write a $10 million check to try to defeat a candidate and no one will ever know exactly what their involvement was," Axelrod concludes.

Of course, one can just as easily defeat a candidate with thousands of small cheques -- foreign- or domestic-sourced -- as with one large one.

There's ample reason to suspect that the Democrats have received a large number of foreign donations and used them to fund their campaigns -- particularly small donations that don't need to be reported to the FEC.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It Wasn't About Integrity, It Was About Politics

University of Winnipeg group falsely dresses their political grievances in language of integrity

A tiny group of University of Winnipeg students made what they must regard as a remarkable statement recently -- but one that was really only remarkable in the brazen extent of its own self-edification:

They think the University of Winnipeg should only grant honourary degrees to individuals who agree with their political views.

That was the basic theme that emerged out of a protest by a miniscule group calling itself the Coalition for Integrity in Academic Accolades. As is the case with so many members of Canada's far left, their definition of integrity is one that begins and ends with their own political views.

"[Toews’] policies are in direct opposition to the notions of compassion, justice, acceptance, inclusiveness, human rights and equality," said Brittany Thiessen. "As a university which values these notions, I along with many others, believe that honouring this man is unacceptable."

Thiessen's Care2 profile largely speaks for itself. There, Thiessen declares that her aim is "to promote and protect human rights and equality for all. End discrimination and social/economic/racial/gender/sexual inequality worldwide."

Spoken like a true grievance monger.

Among Thiessen and company's other grievances are Toews vote against same-sex marriage, his government's plan to build new prisons, and his acknowledgement that some of the Tamil migrants that arrived by boat this past summer could have been terrorists.

The Winnipeg Sun's brief photo essay tells one all one needs to know about the objections raised by these individuals.

"Ask me what Vic Toews said during his speech at the national pro-life conference," reads one sign. "Ask me about how Vic Toews supports an American-style war on drugs," reads another.

The latter sign is categorically false -- Conservative anti-drug policies provided additional funds for treatment of drug addicts while focusing enforcement toward those who distribute drugs. Compare this to American drug policies which are primarily aimed at users.

Moreover, the other sign-holders outrage that Toews would disagree with her on abortion really only casts her reaction as part of the effort by pro-abortion groups to silence their opponents on university campuses.

The Valedictorian for the U of W's convocation, Erin Larson, took her speech as an opportunity to air her own grievances against the honour.

“While I’m immensely proud to be an alumnus of the University of Winnipeg and extremely honoured to have been selected valedictorian, I have to admit I’m not proud to share the stage with everyone who is on it today,” Larson -- piercings and all -- complained. “I feel the University of Winnipeg has recently suffered a profound loss of integrity due to the actions of the administration.”

Former Liberal Foreign Affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy was not impressed.

“I think it’s important to point out that I don’t think Mr Toews used his platform to express political views,” Axworthy said. “He talked about what it meant to be a student. I think that was the unfortunate part, that [the valedictory address] was used as a way to make a political statement, not a statement on behalf of the graduates.”

“I respect the way the students had a quiet protest and I think it was a respectable way of doing it, but I wouldn’t say the same for the valedictorian,” he concluded.

Simply put, the protest against Toews' honourary degree wasn't about integrity at all. It was merely about politics: about one group's attempt to enshrine their own political views within the university administration to the exclusion of all others.

God forbit that the University of Winnipeg would want to honour Vic Toews, an alumnus, with an honourary master of laws degree for becoming the Minister of Public Safety.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No Tears For This Guy, Either

There's no question that police acted unacceptably in the wake of the G20 riots in Toronto.

The weak response to the initial riot was followed by a strong-arm response that was in no way, shape or form acceptable. Moreover, provoking that response was the actual goal of the Black Bloc rioters themselves. In effect, police simply gave the rioters what they wanted: a reason for the public to distrust the police.

That being said, some self-lionizing crusaders have also taken the controversy as an opportunity to take their attention-seeking behaviour to a whole new level.

Take, for example, Toronto's Derek Soberal. In a video being passed around the Canadian blogosphere, Soberal is trying to pass himself off as a victim of police brutality -- but there's reason to doubt his story.

The video begins with Soberal being confronted by police during the G20 Summit, demanding to see his ID. The video does not show any event precipitating the demand. Soberal showboats while he refuses to produce identification for police.

Not wanting to be arbitarily singled out by police is one thing. But Soberal's showboating becomes thematic as the video continues, as he recounts a story about randomly approaching a police car. He announces to the officer inside that he's been appearing on television and radio, then asks him a question about police activities during the G20 Summit.

He then insists that the police officer in question assaults him while arbitrarily demanding to see his ID. He offers security camera footage as evidence of this. But there's a problem. At approximately the 5:23 mark of the video, the security camera footage that will allegedly show him being assaulted skips. The security footage has clearly been edited at the exact time of the alleged assault.


It's a question the creator of the video doesn't seem to want asked, let alone do they want to answer:
At first Soberal insists he was "pushed" by the officer in question. He later insists that he was "hit". His story is changing.

He shows himself making a show of the incident to anyone who will listen, including bystanders on the street.

All the video actually demonstrates is that Soberal ran from the police. It doesn't demonstrate that Soberal was assaulted in any way, shape or form. The security evidence is doctored to eliminate any evidence one way or the other, so all the viewer has is Soberal's word.

There's a simple word for what Soberal is doing in the video: it's called shit disturbing. He seems to go to some rather spectacular lengths, including running from the police, in order to accomplish this end.

It seems fair to ask why the security camera footage has been edited. It seems fair to ask if the creators of this video are hiding something, and it seems puzzling until one looks a little deeper into the creators of the video -- in particular Press For Truth, and Infowars, both groups involved in the 9/11 "truth" movement.

As anyone whose paid any passing amount of attention to the 9/11 "truth" movements comical "Building 7" claims knows, the primary tactics of these groups is to present the illusion of evidence. In the case of World Trade Centre Building 7, they use dark, blurry and grainy YouTube videos to attempt to refute the eyewitness testimony of Firefighters, Police and EMTs who were on the scene.

They claim that Building 7 was a controlled demolition, and that the damage to the building was not catastrophic. Firefighters, Police and EMTs who were on the scene testify to the existence of a massive hole in the building, directly below a penthouse on the building which eyewitness accounts hold to have fallen first.

The illusion of evidence seems to be at play with the Soberal video as well. Soberal says he has video evidence of the alleged assault. The video doesn't seem to ever actually provide it.

In order to shed tears for Derek Soberal, one would have to assume -- simply assume -- that he's telling the truth, even despite him changing his story. It would be easier to believe him if he weren't being demonstrably evasive; but evasive he's been.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: The Wrong Advice for Canada

CCPA pushes far-left peacenik ideology over reality

Canada's most reliable source of far-left drivel dressed up as "academic research" has offered some advice on Canada's planned purchase of F-35 fighters:

Kill the deal.

"This is a massive commitment of defence spending on 'flying Cadillacs' that is being driven by defence contractors, not by a clear-eyed view of Canada's defence needs," explained the CCPA's Steven Staples, who wrote the report. "The main point is that we have time and we need to change the way we think about our aircraft. We don't need them for bombing missions and there is no real Russian bomber threat."

"Let's also investigate the acquisition of the next generation of unarmed, long-range, long-endurance, pilotless aircraft," he concluded.

Put emphasis on the "unarmed".

It's a foolish assumption on the CCPA's to suggest that Canada should make its long-term defence planning decisions based on the current lack of a substantive threat from Russian bombers, given that with Russia's increasingly-aggressive stance on foreign policy this is almost certainly subject to change.

Moreover, it's foolish for the CCPA to suggest that Canada should make its long-term defence planning decisions when the CCPA's own pet causes would actually require Canada to have these kinds of capabilities.

Case in point: the CCPA has often suggested that Canada should return its military focus to peacekeeping in order to help meet the demand for missions in places such as Darfur.

What the CCPA chooses to omit from these recommendations is that, all too often, modern peacekeeping missions are combat missions. Combat missions require air support, and there is no fighter jet better optimized for ground support than the F-35.

This renders Staples' suggestion that Canada should invest in unarmed aircraft all the more ludicrous. Such aircraft would be nearly useless in a combat scenario, and no more useful in terms of maintaining arctic sovereignty: whether the ideology of the CCPA permits them to admit it or not, these aircraft require the necessary firepower to repel an invader.

The CCPA's other bit of advice -- extending the operating lifetime of Canada's current fleet of CF-18s -- is also a crock. The operating lifetime of an aircraft can only be extended to a finite amount, and Canada's fighters are about to reach that.

It's a sobering reminder that the CCPA -- who deign to give advice to the Canadian government -- have no clue what the hell they're talking about. They live in a far-left ideological fantasy world.

One that the Liberal Party seems perfectly content to offer to join them in. They've suggested that if they form government before the deal is completed, they'll scuttle it.

Of course, Canadians should remember what happened the last time the Liberal government cancelled a military procurement upon taking office. It was the contract for helicopters to replace the Sea Kings. Jean Chretien called them "flying Cadillacs" as well.

That grossly irresponsible decision led to the deaths of Canadian pilots, just like scuttling the CF-18 replacement would.

The very most that can be said for the CCPA is that they've never had to be responsible for the consequences of such a decision. The Liberal Party already has. And it seems that they just never learn.

It probably helps that fools like the CCPA keep providing them with one more far-left audience to pander to, giving them an incentive to never learn.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Tears For Alex Hundert

Black Bloc terrorist sympathizers decry alleged injustice

Across Canada yesterday, small handfuls of Canadians rallied in support of a terrorist.

For those whom the face of terrorism is a militant Muslim extremist, they would do well to reevaluate that image. As in this case, the terrorist in question is Alex Hundert, who is responsible for organizing numerous Black Bloc protests across Canada.

Predictably, Hundert's sympathizers decried the injustice of his incarceration. They claim that Canada is oppressing him, regardless of the facts.

“I’ve organized alongside Alex for about four years now. It’s personal for me that my friend is being arrested by police after being at a panel,” whined activist Chelsea Taylor. “They are really ratcheting up the levels of police harassment and intimidation.”

Of course what Taylor declines to mention is that Hundert's arrest isn't a case of "police harassment" or "intimidation".

In fact it was the Black Bloc Hundert helped organize who intimidated fellow protesters and bystanders during the G20 riots. Arresting them is not a case of "police harassment", it's a simple matter of gettinging criminals and terrorists off of Canada's streets.

And what a shame that is. Not.

Unshockingly, Hundert himself continues to try to pass off his disingenuous claim that he's been repressed.

"Too much attention has been paid to a small number of cases of repression, particularly my own, when people need to be focused on and fighting back against broader patterns of oppression that flow from the racist capitalist system propagated by the G20 states, their corporations, their militaries, and their police," Hundert is reported to have recently said to "an ally".

Of course for Hundert to claim that he's being repressed is brazenly mendacious. He has been in the practice of organizing violent political protests designed to intimidate Canadians. That is the definition of terrorism.

Moreover, Hundert's protests have also been designed to provoke violent police response. It's unfortunate that the mismanagement of the G20 riot by law enforcement eventually led to unacceptable responses. In that regard, Hundert got what he wanted.

But whether his supporters like it or not, Hundert seems to have done the crime. Now it's time for him to do the time. This time around he's declined bail, which is a good thing: it keeps him in jail where he belongs.

Now all that remains to be done is to ensure that Alex Hundert is sentenced to as much time as the Canadian justice system allows. Alex Hundert belongs in jail, and it's up to the courts to make sure that he stays there -- and his followers can just go right ahead and cry the rest of Canada a river.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For the Far Left, Defeat for Canada is Victory For Themselves

The ideologically parochial left has reminded Canadians what they really care about

Observers of US politics may remember the outrage that many Americans felt when the Republican Party was caught celebrating Chicago's failure to win its bid to host the Olympics.

US President Barack Obama had lent his political star power -- strong at the time, but waning ever since -- to the bid. Republicans crowed that the loss of the Chicago Olympic bid was a defeat for Obama.

Commentators such as Rachel Maddow condemned the Republicans for having cheered against their own country. They were right to do so.

Today, as Canada withdrew its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, it's worth taking some time out to identify those Canadians who are almost certainly celebrating Canada's defeat; and celebrating it for partisan or ideological gain.

Canadians like Michael Ignatieff, who suggested that Stephen Harper's government hasn't earned a seat on the Security Council. Canadians like Murray Dobbin, who spewed a bizarre diatribe about US imperialism laden with anti-Israel rhetoric. Canadians like Robert Fowler. Canadians like Paul Heinbecker.

Reportedly, among the Canadians who cheered against Canada receiving a Security Council seat wasn't former Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to child and maternal health at the G8 and G20 summits.

"You don't have to use the words human security. It is a reflection of the same view that there are a lot of vulnerable people in the world, who are not given the protection of the laws in their own countries," Axworthy said. "It's two years that could really be a very innovative time for Canada coming out of the G8 and G20 and other initiatives."

Axworthy was more than willing to put partisanship aside for his country. It's a shame that those with a partisan or ideological motive to ignore Canada's increased international profile won't do the same.

It's not that they can't. It's just that they won;t.

They're too outraged that Canada won't sacrifice its own interests by blindly backing the global left-wing agenda -- things such as the scientifically-invalid consensus on anthropogenic climate change.

The ideologically-selfish and parochial far left has reminded Canadians what they really care about: their extreme agenda, and nothing else. They celebrate when Canada loses on the global stage because they believe that defeat will advance their agenda in the hearts and minds of Canadians.

But Canada's sparse collection of far-left ideologues may be shocked to see this turn against them.

"Most Canadians believe — and this is born out in public opinion polls — that partisan politics stops at our borders and we should speak with one voice on the world stage," explains Carleton Unviersity's Fen Hampson. "Whether we have 'earned' it or not, Canadians want to see us secure a seat on the Security Council."

"Partisans of all political stripes and diplomatic persuasions should tread carefully, especially on matters like this where Canadians expect their leaders to take the high road," he concludes.

Unsurprisingly, Canada's far left simply won't take the high road. Not when there's ideological gain to be had.

For them, Canada's defeat on the global stage is victory for themselves.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ed Miliband Swearing Off Class Warfare?

Labour leader reaffirms commitment to universality

When it became evident that former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stood little chance of winning the 2010 election (well beforehand), he resorted to what some would consider to be a fairly typical Labour Party tactic:

He picked on British Conservative Party leader (and now Prime Minister) David Cameron's Eton Hall education.

Needless to say, it didn't work. David Cameron and the Tories marched onto victory in the 2010 election and partnered with the Nick Clegg-led Liberal Democratic Party to form a government.

Brown's successor, Ed Miliband has eschewed class warfare by addressing one of the core principles of the welfare state: that of universality. Under universality, social programs are expected to pay out to all citizens, even those who are much, much more well off than their fellows.

Including millionaires, who Miliband insists would continue to receive child benefits under a Labour government.

"I'm in favour of that yes, and I'm in favour of it because it's a cornerstone of our system to have universal benefits, and frankly there aren't that many millionaires in this country," Miliband explained, although he doesn't deny that the benefit is primarily meant for the poor.

"Families on £45,000 need child benefit in my view and it's a way that society recognises the costs of having kids," he continued.

And though he plans to ensure that even the wealthiest would keep such benefits under a Labour government, he isn't planning to take his foot off the taxation pedal. Rather, he plans to levy higher taxes on banks and raise additional revenues by pursuing tax evaders (although the latter will itself require a generous investment of resources into investigative agencies).

One presumes that Miliband's imagined bank tax hike will be in addition to the global bank tax accepted by Prime Minister Cameron. So even as Miliband promises not to tax the wealthy while denying them benefit, he clearly still plans to squeeze them for as much tax revenue as he can imagine; this to avoid programming cuts.

While Ed Miliband clearly wants to avoid publicly declaring war on the wealthy, he isn't shying away from calling on them to fund programs that will offer them comparatively meagre benefits.

Is it class warfare of another variety? It will be up to Britons to decide.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Transcend This, Frances

Frances Russell transcends reality

In a recent column in the Winnipeg Free Press, Frances Russell has found a unique partner for her periodic spleen-venting at Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Frank Graves.

That's Frank Graves of EKOS and "envoke a culture war" fame.

Russell seems rather puzzled that what she seems to believe is a progressive majority can't overcome Harper and his Conservative government.

The amusing thing is that she's tantalizingly close to the answers, even if she can't quite get over herself long enough to get there.

At one point, Russell seems to admit -- if one should indeed take this as a matter for admission -- that "Canada's progressive majority has fragmented". She cites a four-way split between the Liberal Party, NDP, Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois.

In other words: Russell seems to confuse the Liberals and Bloc for progressive political parties.

For the particularly intellectually-lazy denizens of the far left, it's an easy mistake for them to make. The laziness helps.

Certainly, there's a large progressive wing of the Liberal Party. But there's also a strong conservative wing of the party as well; one powerful enough to keep the party stable everytime it's pulled back to the right (more on this briefly).

The suggestion that the Bloc Quebecois is a progressive party at all is actually rather laughable. Although they frequently drape themselves in the trappings of left-wing politics, it's important to remember that the BQ is founded on racial politics, not welfare politics. If they believed that Quebec could be won accordingly, they could just as easily be the Quebecois equivalent of the British National Party.

People like Russell don't like to acknowledge this: the idea that the votes cast for the Bloc are cast in favour of a progressive ideology as opposed to one form or another of Quebecois parochialism is ideologically soothing to them, regardless of how ficticious it is.

But as John Ibbitson points out in The Polite Revolution, both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are built out of two factions.

For the Conservative Party, it's a western wing built as the Reform Party and founded on the values of libertarianism and social conservatism, and an eastern wing built as the Progressive Conservative Party and founded on fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.

For the Liberal Party, it's a Mitchell Sharp/John Turner/Paul Martin wing of the party, founded on fiscal conservatism and decentralism, and a Walter Gordon/Pierre Trudeau/Jean Chretien wing of the party founded on social liberalism and centralism.

The Liberal Party is the party of Paul Szabo every bit as much as it's the party of Bob Rae.

If the Liberal Party were to fragment -- as Ibbitson suggests that both the Grits and Tories would under proportional representation -- the emerging coalition would clearly slide toward conservatism, provided that they could reach a detente over social issues. Perhaps the kind of detente that's been reached within the modern Conservative Party.

For Frances Russell, it should be an alarming prospect. But she seems to think she's found an answer: Frank Graves and cultural warfare. His weapons of choice seem to be the long-form census and the long-gun registry.

Of course, he doesn't want to seem like he's promoting cultural warfare, like he did to the Liberal Party. Instead, he wants it to seem like he's just trying to help Stephen Harper find the extra 1% or so of public support that he needs to win a majority government.

"I can't for the life of me figure out why a guy who needs two points, or one point, would start shoring up an already tenacious base with this red meat," Graves explains. "that doesn't appeal even to the six or seven per cent of new voters he captured in 2008."

"When he gets into a comfortable position and even when he's not, he and some of his closest advisers can't seem to transcend their core values," Graves continues. "How could anyone in his camp explain to him how doing the various things from prorogation to eliminating the long-form census, to launching a huge war to get rid of the long-gun registry to removing abortion from maternal and child health (would work). It doesn't make any sense."

Apparently, it doesn't occur to Graves that there are entire ridings -- such as NDP MP Peter Stoffer's -- that could quite easily swing over the long-gun registry. While the Liberal Party almost certainly plans to campaign on that topic in a future election -- using sophistry, fear mongering and emotional blackmail -- the ridings they will win on this issue are the ridings they already have. Canadiands could expect to see several Liberal rural ridings swing to the Tories.

The long-form census issue is a much more debatable topic. Unless the opposition finds the wherewithall to bring down the government before the next census is conducted, Canadians may well find the voluntary long-form to be far less painful than the so-called experts insist it will.

And it will certainly remind Canada's far left precisely how far Canadians really support their agenda. If they can't be convinced to provide their data voluntarily on the basis of their need for that information to justify vast portions of government programming, it will be hard to the statements Canadians will be making on the size and role of Canadian government.

For her own part, Russell seems to be acting on an impetus to help Graves turn the "culture war" narrative that he himself brought up on the conservatives by suggesting that it's Harper and the Tories who are waging a culture war.

It's laughable. The far left has literally begun to think of their ideology as definitive of Canadian culture. It's a shameful and selfish notion, but not one that Canada's far left has proven particularly resistant to.

Russell also wishes to pass Graves' advice to the Liberals along: he suggests that the Liberals, if in government, should cancel the construction of new prison space and the purchase of new fighter jets. He suggests that the Conservatives should produce environmental policy amicable to the left.

It's typical of a Liberal Party strategist: suggest that the Tories should acquiesce to their agenda, and advise the Liberal Party to govern irresponsibly.

Never mind that policies like the disgraceful 2-for-1 credit were deemed necessary due to poor conditions and over-crowding in Canadian prisons. Never mind that Canada's fleet of CF-18 fighter jets is currently reaching the end of their operating lifetime and need to be replaced.

One thing Canadians should remember is that the last time the Liberal Party came to government, oen of their first act was an irresponsible cancellation of a contract for new military helicopters -- and should remember that the lives of Canadian pilots were lost because of it.

Another thing Canadians should remember is that any proper statiscal analysis of reductions in Canada's crime rate is nearly erased in its entirety by decreases in the reporting of crime.

What Frank Graves recommends to the Liberal Party is political irresponsibility for partisan gain. Apparently, to Graves, this kind of irresponsibility isn't something that needs to be transcended, but conservative values are.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Quest for Total Control

In part two of The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis outlines how the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud were applied in an effort to try to prevent a mass movement like the one present in Nazi Germany from ever emerging in the United States.

Ironically, the progenitors of these efforts wound up seeking precisely the kind of total control that the Nazi Party had sought in Germany.

Sigmund Freud believed that psychoanalysis could, at best, help people understand the internal forces within their own minds. His daughter Anna Freud, however, had different ideas entirely: she believed that people could learn to control these internal forces.

Of course, if an individual could learn how to control these forces, it isn't unthinkable that other people could learn how to control them on the individual'a behalf.

This at least partially seemed to be the impetus behind the National Mental Health Strategy introduced by Harry Truman's government in the post-war years. It mixed a demonstrable actual need -- the need to find ways to effectively treat the post-traumatic stress disorder, known then as shell shock, that many American veterans had returned from the war with -- with the desire to manipulate peole for economic or political gain.

The focus of these efforts was on identifying psychological barriers to certain acts, and removing them.

Political authorities turned the techniques of psychoanalysis toward creating a stable American society -- toward building a common identity that would lead toward constructive collective action.

But this is exactly what the Nazi Party had sought to do in Germany. They recognized a German society that had become unstable under the dual strains of the Great Depression and post-World War One political instability, and sought to establish Nazism as the means by which stability would be restored to Germany.

In some regards, they succeeded. The irrational behaviour of the German masses under Nazism were directed toward rationed -- if not rational -- ends.

To this end, the efforts of Anna Freud and her contemporaries were potentially self-defeating.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Throughout the United States, the Far Left is Seething in Outrage

Somewhere, in the United States, hard-core leftists are branding Seth MacFarlane a traitor.

In the most recent episode of Family Guy, MacFarlane teams up with Rush Limbaugh to ridicule the extreme stereotypes the far left holds of conservatives.

Afer learning that Limbaugh is visiting Quahog, Brian first degenerates into sputtering nonsensical epithets (at one point even prompting Stewie to offer him a do-over). However, after reading one of Limbaugh's books, Brian becomes a full-out dittohead... at least for a time.

With Limbaugh's full support, Brian stops thinking for himself, and promptly believes everything that Limbaugh tells him to.

Naturally, in the end Brian returns to being what Lois describes as a "hard-core liberal". He was never a conservative at all, mostly because he never understood how to be.

Regardless of what some would-be conservatives have to say about it, torture is not a conservative value. Rather, quite the contrary. Conservatives believe in rule of law, and torture is contrary to the rule of law.

Having never been a conservative himself, all Brian can offer is the left-wing cariacture of conservatives.

If not for the participation of Limbaugh himself, many conservatives would likely be outraged. But with Limbaugh's cooperation, the episode instead becomes a parody of everything that the far left thinks about conservatives -- including about Fox News.

For example, Lois declares everything on Fox News to be lies. And even things previously true become a lie once mentioned on Fox. Sounds like the basic knee-jerk reaction that many leftists offer to anything appearing on Fox News.

The Limbaugh episode of Family Guy should offer clarity to the terms of the debate between left and right in the United States. Unfortunately, it probably won't. It will probably just leave the left branding Seth MacFarlane as a tratior.

Seed Newsvine

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Sheer Comedy of George Galloway

Galloway no threat to Jason Kenney

George Galloway unequivocally shouldn't have been allowed into Canada.

Yet oddly enough, now that the blatant judicial activism of "Justice" Richard Mosley has resulted in Galloway's entry, Canada should keep him here for as long as possible.

This is because Galloway has pledged himself to ending the career of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Considering that Galloway is in no way, shape or form a threat to Kenney's career, this would actually be a welcome use of Galloway's time -- it prevents him from using his time even less productively as a despicable propagandist for various Islamofascist elements, including the President of Iran.

Galloway announced that he will sue the federal government -- a suit that will fall flat on its face in light of the detail that he did, in fact, provide material support to Hamas.

Aside from this doomed ambition, Galloway has another doomed ambition -- taking on Jason Kenney.

"Jason Kenney, I'm challenging you to a public debate anywhere, anytime, in any venue you choose," Galloway declared.

One wonders how Galloway would address questions about providing thousands of Pounds Sterling directly to Hamas -- recognized as a terrorist organization in Canada. Fortunately, the media don't seem to be asking him that question, allowing him to tell lies such as the following:

"Let me make this clear, I am not, nor have I ever been a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism or any kind of security threat to Canada," he lied. "But I think I am a threat to Jason Kenney's political career, and I intend to continue to be so until he's gone."

It's an incredible whopper of a statement. One half of it easily confirmed as mendacious, the other half simply untrue.

After all, Galloway is no threat, whatsoever, to Jason Kenney.

In the 2008 election, Jason Kenney received 44,987 votes. His nearest challenger received 6,193. All three candidates who opposed him received 14,853 votes in total.

There is literally nothing George Galloway could do to harm Jason Kenney's chances of reelection, and that includes standing outside of his Calgary Southeast riding office day and night.

In fact, when one considers how George Galloway has been spending his time, this would be a far better use of his time.

Seed Newsvine

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Whitman May Find Immigration to be a Tough Sell

Nicky Diaz affair poisoning immigration debate in California

In the debate over the future of immigration policy in California, the name of Nicky Diaz will likely be one that resonates for a long time.

Diaz is the former housekeeper of Republican Gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman. She's also an undocumented and illegal immigrant. Whitman claims that Diaz had presented fake documents when she was hired to clean for the Whitman family, and that Whitman fired her after learning of the alleged deception.

Democratic nominee Jerry Brown, however, sees a goldmine in the Nicky Diaz story. So much so that he hosted Diaz at a press conference, and is using the story to score political points on his opponent.

There may be many to be scored. Among the accusations against Whitman are that she failed to pay Diaz a proper wage, and that she mistreated her.

All this while Whitman makes immigration central in her policy platform. Whitman opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, and wants government to crackdown on the hiring of undocumented migrants.

At a recent debate, Brown accused Whitman of hypocrisy.

"You're going around this state saying employers must be accountable for hiring unlawful people, there ought to be raids on businesses, there's no path to citizenship," Brown crowed. "This is a terrible thing we have -- all these millions of [illegal] people, but you don't want a path to citizenship."

Of course what Brown fails to acknowledge is that there's already a path to citizenship for immigrants. It's supposed to begin before they cross the border.

Caught in a compromising situation, Whitman was unable to defend herself with such simple details. Rather, she resorted to attempting to shame Brown for what she termed crass exploitation of the story.

Brown clearly had his answer: shame Whitman instead. Regardless of whether or not she's done anything wrong, it helps that she looks guilty.

"You don't just bring in semiserfs and say do our dirty work, and then we're finished with you like an orange and just throw it away," he countered. "That's after you've squeezed it. That's not right."

It's a shame that the Nicky Diaz story has poisoned the immigration debate in California. With so many municipalities in California boycotting Arizona over its immigration law, California needs to be awake to the reality that they have a stake in the matter beyond trying to appear politically correct, and needs a clear vision of how it can best move forward on the issue.

Jerry Brown's stance on the matter -- supporting the Dream Act -- is to support a wrong-headed approach that risks introducing a further incentive for migrants to enter the United States illegally, undemrining border security.

Meg Whitman's opposition to the Dream Act may be harder to sell to California's traditionally-liberal population, but is more likely to lead to a constructive solution to the immigration issues confronting California.

Cracks in the Coalition?

Tory backbenchers beginning to grumble

As the British Conservative Party's convention continues, Prime Minister David Cameron must be looking forward to (hopefully), a peaceful conference.

Unfortunately for Cameron, it's a little too much to ask right now.

With the party readying itself to face acrimonious protests to planned cuts to the public budget, Cameron also has to face discontent within his own party, over how many concessions the Tories have made to their coalition partners.

"It seems as if the Coalition is proceeding on a basis of continuous appeasement without consulting the backbenches," complained long-time Tory MP Christopher Chope.

"Ministers are effectively being held to ransom by a small group of Liberal Democrats, who are in a sense the tail wagging the dog on too many occasions," he continued. "I have spoken to Conservative ministers and I know a number of them share those frustrations."

But if Ministers are feeling the pressure, Chope said that backbenchers are feeling it even more intensely.

"The whips are being heavy handed beyond anything I can recall in threatening the termination of political careers before they have even started," he fumed.

1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady, who is responsible for representing the views of backbench MPs to the party leadership, suggested (more diplomatically) that being so ham-fisted with backbench MPs is not a wise move, and that party leadership needs to be constructively engaged with backbenchers.

"We will be more effective in holding the party together and making sure that we function as a team if we have that very good process of communication in both directions," Brady said.

This will certainly be a challenge for Cameron with more and more of his MPs seemingly beginning to feel that they're holding the short end of the coalition stick.

Oddly enough, they aren't.

Many observers have expressed marvel at the amount of the cuts outlined by their election platform that they'll be able to implement. Considering that the Conservatives are very much relying on the Lib Dems for their survival, it's remarkable that they haven't had to offer more concessions than they already have.

It would be difficult for Cameron to elicit any more concessions out of the Liberal Democrats. Even with their suffering polling numbers giving them a clear incentive to ensure the coalition's survival, they have to draw the line somewhere if they're going to survive at all.

Christopher Chope and Graham Brady have every right -- and responsibility -- to voice their concerns. They'd just better be careful about demanding that David Cameron bite off more than he can chew.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Well, That's One Way to Deplete Your Political Capital

Critics right about Michael Fortier

When assessing the criticisms made of former Conservative Senator and former Conservative Parliamentary candidate Michael Fortier's suggestion that a fixed-date sovereignty referendum be held every 15 years in Quebec, the only real question is whether or not they go far enough.

Fortier recently suggested that a sovereignty referendum should be held every 15 years.

NDP MP Thomas Mulcair denounced the idea in no uncertain terms.

"I've been in politics for a very long time. This is probably the silliest idea I've ever heard in my life," Mulcair said. "It is supreme idiocy to propose a referendum with a fixed periodicity like that. It would destabilize."

To call Fortier's idea silly is a severe understatement. In fact, it may be one of the worst ideas proposed in the history of the Quebec sovereignty debate.

Fortier seemed to argue that, at least in the short term, fixed-date referendums would help define what Quebec's political debate is really about.

"If you take sovereignty out of the equation, they agree on 95 per cent of the topics, so what are we doing?" Fortier explained. "Let's just get them together, and you and I and everyone around here will benefit from their wisdom and the fact that they are all working on the same team, because they are all left-of-centre."

"As a federalist, I prefer that we never have another referendum," Fortier concluded. "But I'm a realist."

Of course what Fortier likely doesn't appreciate is that permanent, ongoing fixed-date referendums would place Quebec sovereignty permanently on the agenda in Quebec. It sends the message that Quebec sovereignty is inevitable, and that all that matters is which referendum finally delivers a "oui" vote.

It precludes the idea of Quebec separatism, as an issue, ever being laid to rest. It isn't merely a silly idea, it's lunacy.

"With ideas like that, everyone can understand why [Michael Fortier] was never elected in Quebec or elsewhere," Mulcair concluded.

And he's right. Conservatives and Canadians alike should be thankful that Michael Fortier was defeated in the 2008 election, and should be hoping against hope that he never decides to run again.

The Rationality of Irrationality

In part one of Adam Curtis' The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis investigates how the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud were exploited in by Edward Burnays -- a nephew of Freud's -- to develop marketing techniques that exploited people's emotions to make them believe that emotionally-driven decisions were being made rationally.

What Burnays kick-started has over decades grown into marketing techniques whereby products are no longer sold, but rather the idea of a lifestyle.

As Benjamin Barber points out, sometimes the lifestyles being marketed are at odds with the products themselves. During the average sports telecast, for example, one will encounter ads for sporting goods such as Nike and Reebok. The idea is that one will buy the idea that by buying these goods they'll be able to emulate their sporting heroes.

During the same telecast, however, one will also encounter ads for fastfood restaurants and alcohol. This lifestyle message is at direct odds with those offered by the producers of sporting goods.

After all, few professional athletes are frequent visitors to McDonald's restaurants. Those who over-indulge in Budweiser and Smirnoff vodka will certainly not enjoy long-term success.

The fast food and alcohol advertisements are much more in tune with the lifestyle choices of the average sports spectator. As Barber notes, the lifestyle promoted through these telecasts is not one of actually playing hockey, football or basketball, but rather of being a spectator.

A lifestyle of watching, not one of doing.

Without the work of people like Edward Burnays, such things would never have been possible.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Worth Repeating: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Not Necessarily Batshit Crazy

Calculating Iranian President more dangerous than a crazy one

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drove the US delegation out of the UN General Assembly by alluding to 9/11 "truth" theories during a speech, the general media narrative was that he's batshit crazy.

This isn't without good cause. A quick perusal of 9/11 "truth" theories quickly reveals those who believe such theories to be demonstrably nuts -- Scott Stockdale's objections and all.

But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have seized upon a key strategic interest with his comments: keeping the international community divided.

As the University of Alberta Gateway's Ryan Bromsgrove points out, Ahmadinejad has managed to solidify his position at the head of an anti-Western, anti-capitalist global bloc (regardless of how genuine he could possibly as such, considering that he leads a mass oil-exporting country).
"The focus of the media has been on his suggestions about 9/11, and how the US delegation walked out on his speech. Relatively few news stories say much about what else he said -- he opened his diatribe with a religious criticism of capitalism, then moved on to the international response to 9/11. He described three potential viewpoints on the attacks -- that they were carried out by a terrorist organization, that they were the work of the American government, or that they were co-ordinated by a terrorist organization with the support of the US government -- and what groups he thinks holds each one. Critically, however, he didn’t reveal which he himself ascribed to. He then went on to remark that the wars spawned by 9/11 killed thousands more people. This was followed by a reasonable plea for nuclear disarmament and nuclear energy, and ending with a lengthy religion-infused call for peace, justice, love, and the end of capitalism."
Moreover, how "reasonable" a plea for nuclear disarmament from the leader of a country that is currently in the process of arming itself with nuclear weapons is also extremely questionable.

But aside form this detail, Bromsgrove seems to have seized upon a successful gambit to make himself look reasonable, and his global adversaries seem unreasonable:
"Regardless of what Iran’s actual motives may be when it comes to nuclear weapons, power, and world peace, what is key is that much of the speech had the appearance of being reasonable. But by provoking western countries to walk out with two minutes of conspiracy nonsense, Ahmadinejad cunningly allowed himself to appeal to his own country, allies, and those sitting on the fence, while also being able to claim that despite making some very reasonable calls for peace and nuclear disarmament, the West wouldn’t listen to him. Sure, the western media will predictably demonize him, but he has nothing to lose there. Where it counts for him, he’ll likely strengthen his own support -- indeed, Iranian MPs released a statement giving their full support to Ahmadinejad’s speech before the UN General Assembly -- while making it look like it’s the US who are unwilling to negotiate"
Of course we know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't interested in world peace by any means. He's more interested in keeping power in Iran, and he seems to know that repeatedly stirring up hostility against Iran will keep him entrenched among nationalistic elements within Iran, while continually feeding hostility against Israel will give Iranian nationalists something else to look at.

Underscoring Ryan Bomsgrove's article is a sobering reminder: while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may want the western world to believe him to be crazy, a calculating Ahmadinejad is much more effective -- and dangerous -- than he would be if he were merely crazy.

Should Diane Abbott Make the Cut?

Abbott wants to be Municipal secretary in shadow cabinet

With the Labour leadership campaign finally behind him, Labour leader Ed Miliband now needs to look to establishing his Shadow Cabinet.

It's only natural that the other leadership contenders would line up to be considered for roles. Diane Abbott is clearly no different.

Although it probably won't, Abbott's status as the token female candidate of the campaign should probably cast some doubt on whether or not she'll receive any such role. After all, Abbott couldn't even convince electors within her own riding that she would make a good leader. Support for her leadership was scarcely more than 20% in her own riding.

But Abbott clearly seems to think of herself as a contender for Shadow Cabinet. She's even picked a portfolio out for herself -- she wants to be the Communities and Local Government Secretary.

"London and the inner cities do not get enough representation and I’d like to see that change," she announced. "Multiculturalism, gang crime and housing look very different in London than the rest of the country."

But given the level of support for Abbott within her own riding, and the anemic level of support for her leadership in general, it may be far to speculate if she would have made the cut for the Shadow Cabinet under Labour's customary rules.

Prior to Tony Blair's tenure as Labour leader, members of the Shadow Cabinet used to be chosen by the party's Parliamentary caucus. The leader would assign portfolios once the Shadow Cabinet was chosen.

Tony Blair discontinued this practice.

If Ed Miliband were to reinstate this practice, it's fair to speculate if Abbott, who unequivocally was not a serious contender for the leadership, would make the cut.

Judging from the support she received in the leadership campaign, the available evidence seems to suggest "probably not".