The Pursuit of Happiness

Thom Hartmann just couldn’t resist drawing some obvious conclusions the first World Happiness Report released earlier this week showing that the world’s happiest countries are all in northern Europe with Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands taking the top four spots. Canada came in a respectable fifth and the United States a distant eleventh place.

According to the report: “Happier countries tend to be richer countries. But more important for happiness than income are social factors like the strength of social support, the absence of corruption and the degree of personal freedom.

Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).”

I wonder if someone will remind Stephen Harper of his now infamous quote from 14 years ago when he was vice president of the National Citizens Coalition speaking to a Montreal meeting of the right-wing U.S. Council for National Policy where he lamented the fact that “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

Indeed we are – and maybe it seems, that’s not such a bad thing after all.

“Not Intended To Be a Factual Statement”

Sure to be a classic in the annals of political dissembling.

Funny as this is, it’s also disturbing in the sense that Senator Kyl may actually have believed the lie fed to him by his staff because this is the kind of patently false crap ceaselessly propagated by conservative media, then amplified and further distorted as it circulates within the right-wing echo-chamber like a demented game of ‘telephone’…

I think it fair to say that most liberals subscribe to the notion best expressed by Daniel Patrick Moynihan years ago that “While you are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.” The right-wing (aka “conservatives”) however, appear to dispute this, as witnessed by their total disregard for facts of any kind – to them, a preponderance of scientific evidence with respect to any number of issues count for little when stacked up against their ideological assumptions or personal, often kooky, faith-based beliefs.

Unlike liberals who foolishly “believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality,” as Karl Rove is reputed to have said about “the way the world really works” when talking to New York Times Magazine reporter Ron Suskind back in 2004… “we [that is to say “conservatives”] create our own reality.”

And indeed they do. Turns out, however, that it’s 87% bullshit.

Capitalism: A Love Story

I wonder how right-wingers will express their unbridled loathing for Michael Moore when he takes on the big banks and Wall Street in his new film… I suspect many of them might be forced into actually agreeing with him.

The horror… the horror!

Whatever one might think about his theatrical excesses or minor deceits as a filmmaker (that have been thoroughly documented by his many detractors) or the fact that he’s fat (something wingnuts never tire of pointing out), it’s hard to deny that he was pretty much spot on about the impending fate of General Motors, the corrosive nature of America’s gun-crazy culture, the ideological flim-flammery of the Iraq war, and the malicious bureaucracy driving the for-profit healthcare industry.

Family View of Government

Not sure that I can agree with Lakoff’s theory about differing views regarding government and free markets between “liberals” and “conservatives” being largely based on their family history (i.e., authoritarian as opposed to nurturing) as it seems overly simplistic, but there may be an element of truth in it.

More about Lakoff’s metaphoric model and how the two types of families relate to contrasting views of government can be found here.


Moronic Petroom

And this is helpful… HOW, exactly?

While I can certainly appreciate the feeling of being rather underwhelmed or somewhat dissatisfied by the official equivocations issued by the LPC with regards to the Israeli attacks on Gaza, to suggest there’s a direct connection between Ignatieff’s carefully parsed statement regarding the conflict and the tragic death of 40 people in the bombing of a school run by the United Nations is, quite frankly, depraved and utterly reprehensible.

With all due respect: FUCK OFF.

Anti-American: No We’re Not!

Pictured: Obama supporters celebrating in Grant Park, IL.

Surely one of the most dull-witted and thoroughly obnoxious insults leveled at liberals (or anyone who disagrees with them, for that matter) by many arch-conservatives is that they’re “anti-American.” For some curious reason this irresistible need to impugn the patriotism of others when a political disagreement arises seems to be a trait that’s unique to the Right and was sadly very much in evidence during the heated “discourse” of the last election cycle.

Most notably (although many, many other examples could be provided), Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann stated the other week to Chris Matthews that she was concerned that Barack Obama “may have anti-American views,” and suggested other liberal members of Congress also may be anti-American and should be investigated in some kind of media witch-hunt. Sarah Palin was also no slouch when it came to playing the “anti-American” card, suggesting at a GOP fundraiser that she only liked to travel to “Pro-America parts of this great nation,” she said. Compounding this idiocy, she added that: “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.”

Oh well. That awful nastiness is all behind us now, right?

Like many I suppose, it was striking to see the widespread outpouring of positive sentiment from various quarters and disparate locations around the world yesterday at the election of Barack Obama. The Huffington Post ran a wonderful slideshow on its front page yesterday illustrating this phenomenon that showed candid scenes of jubilant celebration from around the global community that was heartening to say the least. Cynically dismiss it as sentimental piffle or whatever if that attitude happens to float your boat, but I’d suggest that there was something highly significant and worthy of consideration in the world’s reaction to what happened in America the other day.

Closer to home, a cursory glance at various “liberal” and “progressive” blog postings all appeared to be strenuously expressing similar feelings of not only joyously welcoming America’s emergence from what had been the seemingly interminable gloom imposed by the willful ignorance, Medieval quackery, and insufferable arrogance of the Bush-Cheney regime, but also looking forward with optimism to energetic renewal of dialog and engagement on many fronts.

But back to the matter at hand: “Anti-Americanism”… So, what does it actually mean when one Canadian levels this charge against another because of their political views? In the Canadian context the charge of being “anti-American” obviously takes on a wholly different meaning than being “unpatriotic” as is the case south of the border, although the underlying motivational dynamic likely remains the same and it has to be seriously wondered whether the people casually flinging it around really even appreciate the distinctions involved.

I’ll leave the matter open-ended because after giving the subject some amount of thought I came to the conclusion that the onus here really should be placed on those making the charge to substantiate what exactly is meant by it. While I could ramble on and on at great length about the historical roots of “anti-Americanism” in some discursive, highly convoluted way tracing it back to the eighteenth century and following its subsequent branches hither and yon through various strains of political thought in Europe and Canada, it would be presumptuous of me to do so because it’s uncertain that’s related in any way to the particular rhetoric that we’re dealing with here.

So here’s the question to those who employ this term as an insult: What is it that you’re actually saying when you invoke this expression?

Death to Pepperland!!!

Stephen Harper is a mean-spirited control freak and he doesn’t like artists.

Sadly, this seems to be the best message the Liberals (and the progressive “left” for that matter) can come up with at the moment.

There’s a HUNDRED REASONS here, but I rather doubt anyone much cares that Stratford isn’t getting the same level of federal matching funds as Edmonton is, or that the Museum Assistance Program was cut in half.

Update: Nice to see that everyone has their priorities in order.

Update2: There really is no irony left in the world when “Chucker Canuck” attacks Jason Cherniak, whom he calls “quarterback of Liberal cyber-strategy” (There’s a newsflash — quarterback… Liberals… strategy… Who knew? ), for unleashing “heaps of venom over what they see as unfriendly reporting.” This from an anonymous clown who proudly sports a badge on his sidebar supporting John McCain for some mysterious reason. Hello…. Earth to Chucker!

The “Emotional Left Rail”

I have to confess that I had never heard that peculiar expression before its employment by “Blogging Tories” beefy head honcho Stephen Taylor in a piece outlining why he feels that Omar Khadr shouldn’t be repatriated to Canada for trial. Oops, I’m sorry. Did I say “feels”? I should actually have said, “why Taylor thinks with cold, hard logic”… Good gravy, not feels! Perish the thought.

Irrational emotionalism is, of course, the hackneyed, condescending framework in which Taylor attempts to characterize the attitude of “left-wingers” regarding this contentious issue in order to trivialize it:

As a conservative, I have for the most part found intellectual solace in logic on issue tracks where my bleeding-heart friends usually hug the emotional left rail. The broad-arching free markets help rise more people out of poverty than knee-jerk social and emotional reaction to give hand-outs to sustain a substandard of living is but one example where cold right-wing logic is a better and more constructive end that short-sighted albeit well-meaning emotionalism. I have always believed that right-wingers act upon what they know to be true, whereas left-wingers act upon what they feel to be true.

There’s so much wrong with this bogus tripe that it’s hard to know where to begin, but let’s consider Taylor’s phony “example” for starters. Here, “broad-arching free markets” are pitted against “hand-outs to sustain a substandard of living” as the best means of helping “rise [sic] more people out of poverty” thereby conclusively demonstrating the triumph of conservatism over liberalism, one presumes.

Unfortunately, the comparison is a patently false one for obvious reasons. It supposes, for instance that “liberals” are somehow opposed to the free market, which is clearly not the case. The sort of programs that are alleged to be the result of a “knee-jerk… emotional reaction” aren’t even defined at all beyond having their motivation and objectives cartoonishly mocked, so how can one even attempt to make a comparison? The simple answer is that you can’t make any sense at all out of this slovenly, wooly-headed fluff — which is somewhat ironic given that Taylor purports to be a champion of “cold right-wing logic” that he hilariously claims is a “hallmark” of his ideology. How refreshing it would be to see some actual evidence of this assertion in practice. Alas, scan the gamut of “The Blogging Tories” and scarcely a shred of it will be found.

A little added comedy bonus comes in the last sentence above where Taylor states that he’s “always believed that right-wingers act upon what they know to be true, whereas left-wingers act upon what they feel to be true.” This fatuous, faith-based claim might possibly have some validity if what so-called right-wingers “know to be true” was actually based on facts rather than is more frequently the case, specious rubbish that stubbornly lodges itself in the space between their ears.

As for Taylor’s actual point about Khadr, I’ll address that in a later post.