No Debate… So What?

Rick Mercer rants against the erosion of public debate under the Harper Government® concerning various issues of the day and its paternalistic “My house, my rules” approach to unilaterally enacting decisions…

Um, sorry, but isn’t this semi-dictatorial kind of behaviour the nature of majority governments in parliament and, truth be told, part of the reason we elect them to effectively function as such in the first place? If anything, the virtual autocracy we temporarily grant to our leaders for several years at a time seems to be a feature, not a bug, of our system.

Better Know a Flake

Give it up to the good folks in New Hampshire who last month actually staged a serious 2 hour-long C-SPAN forum for “lesser known candidates” running for President of the United States to broadcast their pitches to hundreds of viewers and answer legitimate questions from the press about government relations, energy, foreign policy and the merits of a pony-based economy…

Most of the flaky Republicans in the first half of the video are eminently forgettable bores; actually just pale imitations of the frontrunners. The real fun is with the Democratic “contenders” scrapping for 1% of the vote in a primary that you probably thought would be won by unanimous acclamation.

Self-described “friendly fascist” Vermin Supreme (that would be the bearded fellow with the giant gumboot on his head) was clearly the most outstanding example of Rhino Party absurdity, with his platform of mandatory dental hygiene and a free pony for every American… Insane “pro-life” homophobe and hateful ranter Randall Terry was equally ridiculous, but not nearly as funny.

Visions of Hell

Imagine being stuck in a room full of jabbering Marylanders in their local Republican Club’s “Iowa Style Caucus”…

For what it’s worth, Newt Gingrich “won” the meaningless event.

Democracy in America

Another day, another nadir of utter stupidity…

“This is what democracy looks like,” the dancing assclowns shouted in defense of their right to behave like jackals at public memorial sites.

Meanwhile, their country is in a total shambles… $15 trillion in debt, 3 “official” wars (several other undeclared ones) are ongoing, 14 million are unemployed, 45 million people are on food stamps (about the same number without any health insurance), 1 in 7 children are homeless, and America boasts the most fantastic income disparity in entire world…

Nice to see that these “democracy” activists have their priorities straight.

Why people vote the way they do…

When sifting through the aftermath of an election and attempting to make sense of the results, a lot of pundits (and politicians) are inclined to invoke the hilarious canard that the outcome reflects “the infinite wisdom of the Canadian voters” or something equally ridiculous. That appellation however never seems to square with the declared motivations of individual voters when quizzed about their intentions and preferences.

For example, take this fellow cornered at an event today who states that he formerly voted for the Conservatives, but is presently ticked off at them for spending too much money on “frivolous things” such as the G20 and is therefore now going to throw his lot in with the Liberals in hopes they will spend less. (Good luck with that!)

As dubious as the foregoing reason may be, there are many that are infinitely worse and more fantastically stupid. For example, I spoke with an elderly man today who’s reason for voting for Stephen Harper was twofold: 1) he thought that the “other guys” would take away his pension; and 2) he was impressed by the fact that Harper had given money to the Japanese for tsunami relief (or as he put it, “that thing that happened”) whereas, he felt, the “other guys” would have “kept it all for themselves.”

Where does one even to begin when dealing with such “infinite wisdom”?


Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman claims that protesters (or “slobs” as he derisively calls them) now camping in Wisconsin’s capitol building are mostly “college TAs, college students, or hangers-on… or unemployed people just looking for somewhere to hang out.”

I guess that statement (which I’m sure the senator will soon come to regret) speaks volumes for the attitude of some lawmakers who much prefer the gentile façade of “democracy” to witnessing a real expression of the concept actually manifesting itself in their hallowed, stink-free place of corporate ballwashing governance.

Revolution 2.0

Wael Ghonim, Google’s Head of Marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, speaking to CNN just shortly after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak…

“They convinced us for 30 years that Egypt had died, that there was no more Egypt. We were all looking for Egypt and thank God we found her today.”

Ghonim, an activist who helped launch the first online efforts calling for protests said that he had confidence that Egypt will not fall into dictatorship again: “Egypt will be a fully democratic state. You will be impressed.”

Certainly the revolution itself was impressive in every respect, so one hopes that the same qualities that enabled it achieve victory against all odds will carry through to the eventual realization of its democratic aspirations.

Snob Story

The concluding part of Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment last week illustrated some of the glaring contradictions between historical fact and fanciful, revisionist fiction when it comes to the disparity between the fundamental values of America’s Founding Fathers and those of the so-called Tea Party movement that has attempted to co-opt them as spiritual leaders of their reactionary, populist cause.

Writing early last year in New York Magazine about the recent surge of populism in the USA, Kurt Anderson succinctly described the “elitist” disposition of America’s framers this way:

…what those thoughtful, educated, well-off, well-regarded gentlemen did was invent a democracy sufficiently undemocratic to function and endure. They wanted a government run by an American elite like themselves, as James Madison wrote, “whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” They wanted to make sure the mass of ordinary citizens, too easily “stimulated by some irregular passion … or misled by the artful misrepresentations” and thus prone to hysteria—like, say, the rabble who’d run amok in Boston Harbor—be kept in check. That’s why they created a Senate and a Supreme Court and didn’t allow voters to elect senators or presidents directly. By the people and for the people, definitely; of the people, not so much.

It’s an excellent article that explores the conflicting dynamic that has existed from the outset in American politics between the “deliberative gentlemen engaged in careful compromise” and “the apoplectic vandals… throwing things overboard.”

Note: The usual warning applies regarding any RTWBM video… HBO may decide to have it pulled down at any time because they’re dicks that way.

Update: As expected, the hyper-vigilant copyright police at HBO zapped the clip that had originally been embedded.

Alternative Voting

The embattled Labour government of Gordon Brown in the U.K. is proposing a new “alterative voting” scheme whereby, rather than simply marking an “X” on the ballot, citizens would indicate their preference for in ranking order for the various candidates on offer.

Apparently, the British Tories are quite outraged about this proposal as analysis of recent past election results indicate they would generally be somewhat disadvantaged by such a complex redistribution of votes. Go figure.

I wonder if the idea might catch on here as an initial step towards electoral reform and a more proportional form of representation. As well, it could be forcefully argued that it might not be an altogether bad thing to encourage people to invest a little more thought into marking their ballots. And yes, this does relate somewhat to a previous discussion about “literacy tests” but in an entirely more positive way…

A Rogue Opinion

I don’t think anyone could accuse Sean Holman (a local political commentator and investigative journalist behind “Public Eye Online”) of being a “Con spinner” by any means, so his opinion on this weekend’s anti-prorogation rallies was, for obvious reasons, quite interesting.

“Many of those criticizing the proroguing of parliament are less interested in democracy and more interested in capturing the kind of undemocratic power that comes with a majority government.”