Thursday, May 19, 2005

Followup to Last Post

Well, it would appear that the Liberals stayed alive, 153-152. Couldn't be closer.

What's truly striking in the wake of this vote, however, is the reaction. One of the things that seem to seperate Canadian and American opponents to the current regime is that the former is perfectly willing to break up the country over it. There is an unsettling trend in the Canadian right to threaten to break up the country because their ideas are unpopular with the majority outside of a few western provinces: specifically the province of Alberta.

It might be more political economic than anything else, considering that Alberta is essentially a petro-state. Provinces already have a lot of power in Canada, though, and it seems to be little more than a direct assault on representation by population. Considering how close Stephen Harper's Conservatives are to the Republicans, this may not be accidental, but Canada is not the United States.

(Actually, there's a question. I'll assume that it isn't treason in Canada to advocate the seperation of a province, otherwise there'd be a lot of Quebeckers in jail right now. Is it so in the United States? If, say, a bunch of Californians with real power said they wanted to leave the Union and worked to have it happen, are they just activists, or traitors?)


I never thought I'd be saying this, but Canadian politics appears to be a hell of a lot more interesting than American politics right now.

Look at what's going on up in Canada. You've got a government embroiled in a massive scandal, on the verge of defeat, defending its fragile minority government through legislative trickery that nobody had ever heard of 6 months ago. You've got a massive about-face on the federal budget, where 4 billion in tax cuts are turned into 4 billion in social spending, thanks to a deal between the ruling Liberals and the small (yet possibly decisive) social democratic NDP. That deal left the Liberals still a few seats behind...

...and then the most high-profile member of the Conservative party aside from its leader, Belinda Stronach, switches to the Liberals, giving them a critical boost that may keep their government together...

...if one of two independents, (one's a disaffected Liberal and the other's a former Conservative who lost the nomination and won the riding anyway and is suffering from cancer) goes along with it.

And the best part? Up until the announcement, Stronach was not only widely credited for being responsible for the creation of the party she left, she left her Conservative boyfriend, Peter Mackay, at the same time. He didn't even know what was coming.

(He used to be the leader of the Progressive Conservative party. He sacrificed it to join it to the larger, but far more right-wing, Reform party under the "Conservative" banner. He and Stronach were the best known couple in Ottawa.)

Oh, and the whole thing happened because the current leader of the Conservatives, Stephen Harper, is making deals with Quebecois seperatists to try to become prime minister, despite the boost that it gives to people that, were Canada like the United States, would probably be branded traitors.

Fun stuff, huh?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


I hope it's as apparent to readers as it is to me that the flap over Newsweek is all about censorship and intimidation.

It's an attempt to discredit Bush's opponents, and also to further leverage the "tit-for-tat" technique of equating right-wing nonsense with the honest truth. Open support for White House talking points has always run into the issue of, well, their factuality, and the knowledge that sooner or later the truth will come out. The "balancing" game helps with that, but sooner or later people will notice that one side is getting all the flack, and the other isn't, and begin to make up their own minds.

If it can be reversed, however, then the admissions of fault on one side can be matched up against the hardheaded repetition of the other, and the conclusion will be that the latter must be correct. On individual issues, all it takes is one small mistake to open up a crack in credibility and the whole thing dies. That's what Newsweek provided, even though it's well known that torture techniques involving the desecration of the Koran take place. Torture will continue, but reportage of it is enormously weakened in the United States, because the media will be terrified of being burned again.

(Sure, Bush's arguments may not be credible, but a growing variation on the old Microsoft truism is in play: nobody gets fired for buying Bush.)

What's truly worrisome is the allegations that people died due to Newsweek's reportage. I'm smelling "more in sorrow than in anger" censorship here, a new and improved "loose lips sink ships" aimed at Wrongspeak. Every reporter who finds out how brutal the treatment of prisoners has become will be hounded by those saying that he could kill people. Some of those people will be editors. Others will be shareholders. Others will be winger bloggers, who won't care whether or not it's true or not if it contradicts the party line.

We all know where this is headed, including those who are backing Bush. I guess the question is whether it's really worth it. The question I'd ask of instapundit et al is this: What happens when it's the "libertarians" in the firing line?

"At first they came for the liberals..."

Edit: On the other hand, it's odd to see a putatively liberal Canadian like Warren Kinsella torpedo his credibility like this:

This is appalling. Not only they did they "get it wrong," they actually contributed to DEATHS of people around the globe. This is one of those rare instances where the Muslim community, and the U.S. military, have a shared interest in putting behind bars any of the journalists and editors associated with this extraordinary libel. But, thanks to the absurdities of the First Amendment, that isn't likely to happen anytime soon.
Needless to say, I imagine that most Canadian liberals are a little more sensible than this. Hate speech is one thing, but this is quite another. What is Kinsella thinking?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Memo

It's funny... the "memogate" name was hoovered up for the attack on CBS, when it really should have applied to this memo, which shows that the decision to go into Iraq happened in 2002, and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

James Wolcott called it "devestating" and Media Matters has complained about how incredibly little attention its getting from the media. I imagine that most people believe that it's because they don't want to ruffle Administration feathers. Personally, I have a different take, which is that it's not being reported because, well, it's not really seen as news.

After all, at this point, pretty much everybody who is knowledgable and honest about the whole thing knows that Bush made the decision in early 2002. They also know that the Bush administration will rearrange their interpretation of reality for conveniences' sake. The majority of the American people know it (and the minority still probably believe Iraq was tied with 9/11), the media knows it, the Dems know it, the Repubs know it, and certainly everybody outside the United States knows it. It's just that nobody speaks up about it, because it's "ancient history" and the same old talking points will get trotted out on Fox.

(Of course, conservative media will gnaw away at anything indefinitely if it will benefit the cause, but the SCLM ain't that.)

This is, of course, exactly what the administration was shooting for. Hold off long enough that the media's quest for novelty pushes it on. It worked! Fancy that.