Stephen Harper: “A Straight Up Guy”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Yeah, “he’s a straight-up guy” alright. One who is currently in the process of weaseling out of his own “fixed election” legislation that he and his MPs were so proudly crowing about not that long ago. A “straight-up guy” who gave Conservative committee chairs a secret handbook detailing ways to disrupt and derail meetings whenever the debate threatens the party’s agenda. A “straight up guy” that’s been implicated in an alleged $1 million bribe made to an independent MP with terminal cancer in an attempt to win his crucial vote and bring down the former government. Well, you can fill in the rest.

Hey, if you’re feeling creative (and a little malicious), why not make up your own lines for these so-called “main street Canadians” to spout? I can post the best ones in an update here and then maybe some tech-savvy progressive blogger can use them to re-mix the ad, replacing the groan-inducing originals with your more comical versions.

Brown & Out…

It’s hard not to speculate about what might have happened had the attempted assassination of Gordon Brown by “Taliban fanatics” on his recent stop-over in Afghanistan not been narrowly averted. It would surely have dealt a huge psychological blow to the NATO campaign, but would it have changed anything?

The World According to Kory

On “dysfunctional” government:

Kory Teneycke, PMO media director, says “this shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone” and reiterates Harper’s position of Parliament being at an impasse. He argues there’s a complete lack of common ground with the Opposition and the Liberals developed a (Green Shift) platform over the summer that makes it “very difficult for Dion to compromise with the government because he’s diametrically opposed.”

Well really. I mean how can Stephen Harper possibly be expected to govern effectively with an Official Opposition that’s actually opposed to the Conservative party? Why it’s just simple logic! After all, 36.27% of the electorate gave Harper a “mandate” to rule with absolute, unquestioned authority until he conveniently decides that the other parties don’t have confidence in the Conservatives and is then forced to declare a potentially illegal snap election in order to “crush” them. Yippee!

On the Liberal Party being just like Communist regimes:

”Conservatives should be marked by realism and the knowledge the Liberal party is one of the most successful parties ever – more successful than the Communist parties in Russia and China and more enduring than Fidel Castro.”

Precisely, and it’s entirely appropriate to compare a democratically elected party that’s formed the nation’s government in 23 of Canada’s 38 parliaments with an uninterrupted 73 year-long totalitarian regime dominated by the 29 year rule of one of the most brutal dictators in history, responsible for the criminal slaughter of millions.

On the economy:

“Obviously, we’re in uncertain economic times; all the more reason to have the certainty of a mandate so you can address the economic challenges as they occur.”

Obviously. Never mind that Teneycke “says Harper stresses another minority government” out of a sense of “realism,” this new minority government will provide the “certainty” that the present “dysfunctional” minority government couldn’t ever possibly deliver. Again, it’s just simple logic, folks!

Bill C-16: That Was Then

Glenn Hubbers, the Green Party candidate for Newmarket-Aurora takes an hilarious trip down memory lane with a number of Conservative luminaries speaking out on issue of fixed election dates. Here, for example, is Peter Van Loan from February of last year:

As I indicated, we have passed Bill C-16 on fixed election dates through the House of Commons. Never again will the government of the day be able to play around with the date of an election for its own crass political motives.

Never again! Well, until now of course, when everything is, you know, different.
As I’ve said before, Harper’s broken promise (presuming he goes ahead and does it) neither bothers nor surprises me in the least, but the flagrant hypocrisy of these sanctimonious phonies is still pretty droll.

Update: The Globe & Mail has a Rogue’s Gallery of sorts on this.

Manifestly Unserious

That’s how Steve Bennen described McCain’s pick for vice-president and I think, aside from anything else (and I’ll get to Palin’s whackaloon religious affiliations in due course, I promise), that it’s an extremely cogent point to make with respect the choice of a person that a number of respected presidential scholars say is “the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era” (McCain’s campaign dismisses them all, including Doris Kearns Goodwin, who we’re terribly fond of, as nothing but “Democratic partisans”).

Surely it has to be apparent, even to ardent McCain’s supporters, that to date he’s been running “a palpably unserious campaign,” as Kevin Drum says. McCain’s campaign director he contends “…seems solely interested in winning the daily news cycle; his staff spends its time gleefully churning out juvenile attack videos; McCain himself has retreated into robotic incantations of simpleminded talking points; and now he’s chosen a manifestly unqualified VP that he knows nothing about.” It is indeed truly astounding to see how the “Straight Talk Express” has shifted down to the lowest gears, intellectually speaking, over the past month or so.

Andrew Sullivan sums up the problem by stating that Palin isn’t the issue, McCain’s judgment is, calling it “completely off the wall” and seriously wondering if there’s “something wrong with him” (mentally, I suppose he means). As I’ve said before, that’s not an altogether unfair or unreasonable thing to suggest, after all, in case you hadn’t heard, he was a POW you know.

Update: I’m just watching various Republican spokesbots spinning furiously on the Sunday morning yak shows talking about Palin and how her experience as Governor amply qualifies her to be the proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency. With that in mind, this recent opinion by Karl Rove on the matter is absolutely hilarious.

Update2: Maybe McCain should have asked the folks at dKos to handle the vetting job for him. The dirt on Sarah Palin is piling up faster than manure from a hog slaughtering plant. BTW, I’ll try to get to that “Dominionist stalking horse” allegation later tonight in the broader context of Ur fascism. I’m just not in the mood for it right now.

Update3: The hilarity rolls on. It doesn’t take a body language expert to figure out what’s going on here.

“An Army of Locusts”

It’s stunning to me that in a world where radical jihadists “inspired by God” can send planes hurtling into skyscrapers killing thousands of innocent civilians and setting off a deadly so-called global war against terrorism, where intractable inter-religious conflicts have raged in recent years (and continue to be fought in many cases) in Bosnia, Chechnya, Côte d’Ivoire, East Timor, Kosovo, Indonesia, Palestine, Sri Lanka, and numerous other places around the globe, that anyone could regard religion as anything but “dangerous nonsense” as Richard Dawkins has so rightly labeled it.

And yet, we non-believers are steadfastly assured by people of faith that our concerns about religion are needlessly strident, hysterical, and completely without foundation, and at the very least, they most certainly shouldn’t be applied in any way to Christianity which, we’re repeatedly told, is a loving and beneficent faith.

Well, we’ll see about that. Meet Todd Bentley, a 32-year-old, prodigiously tattooed, body-pierced, shaved-head Canadian preacher who’s been leading a continuous “supernatural healing revival” in Lakeland, Florida, a city of half a million located smack-dab in the middle of the panhandle, that its 19th century founder Abraham Munn had originally thought of naming “Red Bug” for some curious reason.

Bentley himself has temporarily stepped down from his position with the Abbotsford, B.C. based Freshfire Ministries and his role as main attraction at the “Lakeland Outpouring” as it’s called due to the fact that he “entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff,” as ministry officials put it in a recent press release. What’s of far more concern than another hypocritical charlatan like Bentley claiming to be a prophet (there never seems to be any shortage of those in the world), or the laughable fraudulence of his faith-healing shakedown, is the truly disturbing ideological movement behind it, as outlined in this eye-opening article by Casey Sanchez of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to Bentley and a handful of other “hyper-charismatic” preachers advancing the same agenda, Joel’s Army is prophesied to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian “dominion” on non-believers.

“An end-time army has one common purpose — to aggressively take ground for the kingdom of God under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Dread Champion,” Bentley declares on the website for his ministry school in British Columbia, Canada. “The trumpet is sounding, calling on-fire, revolutionary believers to enlist in Joel’s Army. … Many are now ready to be mobilized to establish and advance God’s kingdom on earth.”

Joel’s Army followers, many of them teenagers and young adults who believe they’re members of the final generation to come of age before the end of the world, are breaking away in droves from mainline Pentecostal churches. Numbering in the tens of thousands, they base their beliefs on an esoteric reading of the second chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joel, in which an avenging swarm of locusts attacks Israel. In their view, the locusts are a metaphor for Joel’s Army.

Nothing to worry about when it comes to Christians, huh? But wait, it gets much, much better.

Joel’s Army believers are hard-core Christian dominionists, meaning they believe that America, along with the rest of the world, should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law. There is no room in their doctrine for democracy or pluralism.

Dominionism’s original branch is Christian Reconstructionism, a grim, Calvinist call to theocracy that, as Reconstructionist writer Gary North describes, wants to “get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”


Rick Joyner, a pastor whose books, The Harvest and The Call, helped popularize Joel’s Army theology by selling more than a million copies each, goes the furthest on Elijah’s List in pushing the hardliner approach. In 2006, he posted a sermon called “The Warrior Nation — The New Sound of the Church,” in which he claimed that a last-day army is now gathering and called believers “freedom fighters.”

“As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel’s Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces,” Joyner wrote. “In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”

In a sort of disclaimer, Joyner writes at one point that God’s army “will bring love, peace and stability wherever they go.” But several of his books narrate with glee what he describes as “a coming civil war within the church.” In his 1997 book The Harvest he writes: “Some pastors and leaders who continue to resist this tide of unity will be removed from their place. Some will become so hardened they will become opposers and resist God to the end.”

Two years later, in his book The Final Quest, Joyner described a vision (taken as prophecy in the Joel’s Army world, where Joyner is considered an “apostle”) of the coming Christian Civil War in which demon-possessed Christian soldiers enslave other, weaker Christians who resist them. He also describes how the hero of the novel — himself — ascends a “Holy Mountain” in order to learn new truths and to acquire new, magic weapons.

If, as Dawkins asserts that religion is a “virus of the mind,” then it has to be said that the Joel’s Army theology is an intensely noxious strain of it.

Sukkot This

It’s hardly a secret that I take a generally dim view of religion, so it should come as no surprise that it strikes me as a little irksome that the timing of Stephen Harper’s upcoming “Fixed Election Spectacular” might be postponed by the griping of a religious minority group.

As reported in Globe & Mail today, the Canadian Jewish Congress has written a letter to His Portliness complaining that holding an election during Sukkot would make it difficult for some Jews to get to the polls and would rob political parties of workers. For fellow gentiles unfamiliar with the holiday, Sukkot is kind of like Jewish Thanksgiving that pays homage to a group of people back in the Bronze Age who, according to the Old Testament, had to live in lean-to shelters for a week.

Look, I know that it’s always like venturing into a minefield (yes, bad analogy) whenever dealing with an issue involving Jews, but it seems fair to ask whether a vitally important election that’s urgently needed to break the critical impasse resulting from the “dysfunctional” parliament that Stephen Harper has decided lacks confidence in his supreme powers of statecraft, should be delayed for who knows how long, simply out of politically-correct deference to a religious minority group that would rather be spending their time improvising unsightly sukkas or parading around with a bunch of symbolic twigs and sticks in Great Hosanna thanking their otherwise wrathful sky god for providing some primitive camping supplies on their ahistorical flight from Egypt thousands of years ago.

By the way, it’s perhaps a little ironic that an election might be put off by a holiday that’s also known as the “Feast of Booths.”