The Wrecking Crew

How Conservatives Rule

A few offhand allusions have been made in the comments here to Thomas Frank’s latest book that’s been described as “A no-holds-barred exegesis on the naked cynicism of conservatism in America” and so perhaps it’s especially appropriate at this moment to trot out this talk he gave back in August at Powell’s in Oregon about the central thesis of the book…

The Wrecking Crew is something of a companion piece to his marvelously insightful 2004 work What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America that examines in more detail the modus operandi of the ruling coalition that’s dominated American politics for the past thirty years.

In his new book, Frank explains that, rather than dismantling and cutting down on the “big government” they claim to hate and despise, they have instead simply sold it off, and rendered it largely impotent through a combination of deregulation, defunding and the deliberate cultivation of bureaucratic and administrative incompetence.


Chances For a Majority

This Hour Has 22 Minutes clarifies the minorities’ position on majorities.

In semi-related news, Craig Chamberlain, a member of the Guelph Mercury’s Community Editorial Board has some trenchant observations about the Harper government of the past two years:

I have seen in Harper a man who really does not have a lot of time for Parliament or democratic process, apart from it all being a necessary nuisance and useful to the extent that it serves his purposes.

Harper has governed as though he had a majority in the House of Commons. Canadians didn’t give him a majority in January 2006, and I didn’t see any respect for that from him. He was mandated, vote-by-vote in that election, to lead the governing party in a minority government, which for me means he was mandated to work with the other parties.

He did not do that.

Chamberlain maintains that Harper’s “style of government” isn’t “a good fit with who we are as Canadians” and slyly notes that even Gilles Duceppe of the BQ is saying the same thing.

A Confusing “Blizzard of Words”

Urgh. They just finished re-running the Palin-Biden debate from last night on CTV’s NewsNet. What on earth is Tom Velk smoking? A “great communicator on the level of Ronald Reagan…” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Here’s an example of one of her more memorable “blizzard of words” as her incoherent ramblings when departing from her talking points have been deemed:

“I’m not one to attribute every man – activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet… What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?”

ThinkProgress has some more on the “debate” and Palin’s reliance on “notes” of some kind.

Update: Via LuLu at Canadian CynicThe Sarah Palin Flowchart!

The Limits of Power

Bill Moyers discusses recent American history former US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University, former director of its Center for International Relations (from 1998 to 2005), and author of several books, including American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War and most recently, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.

It’s a fascinating discussion and possibly one of the best articulated critiques of American foreign policy (and the current economic crisis) that I’ve run across in a long time. Note that the video provides links to the following parts of the interview or you can watch the whole thing on the PBS website.

Sen. Bernie Sanders on the Bailout

Sen. Bernie Sanders proposes amendment to make the wealthiest in US shoulder the costs of the bailout.

As one commenter at Real News said: “Alas, there’s more chance of an Afghan moon-walk than the wealthy ever lifting their collective snouts in agreement to his, sadly, doomed proposal.”

Palin’s Apocalypse

From Real News: Does Sarah Palin believe in the Anti-Christ? Does she believe true Christians will be whisked up to heaven sometime in the near future? Does she expect Jesus to come back to earth in our lifetimes and battle the armies of Satan? Would biblical prophecies about Armageddon influence her foreign policy positions on Israel and Russia? These are urgent questions the media have failed to ask. According to Chip Berlet, a leading expert on the Christian right, mainstream reporters tend to view apocalyptic fundamentalists as a “silly little side show” in American political life, when, in fact, one of their own may soon be a heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the world.

Check out this report from the American News Project. Very unnerving.

Post Debate

For whatever it’s worth Adam Radwanski at the Globe & Mail called the debate for Dion “narrowly – very narrowly – on points.” I would have said the same, but for Harper.

According to an online Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Canwest News Service and Global National, 31 per cent of voters said Harper won the debate. Layton was second with 25 per cent, followed by Elizabeth May with 17 per cent and Stéphane Dion just 15 per cent. The survey also asked viewers to select the person who “sounded and acted most like a prime minister.” Harper scored 47 per cent, Layton was second with 24 per cent of the vote, 16 for Dion, 7 for May, and 3 for Gilles Duceppe.

Was anything learned in the debate? Well, we know that the Conservatives don’t have a platform and seem not to have any plan for dealing with the economy.

Update: Another clip from the debate.