Justin Trudeau Highlights The Hypocrisy Of Canadian Conservatives

Watching the daily onslaught of articles coming out of Canada’s right wing media machine regarding the Liberal leadership bid of Justin Trudeau, one would think a national election was looming.

The National Post has devoted more front page and opinion space to the very early days of a simple party leadership selection than any other comparable contest in recent memory. Before Mr. Trudeau even officially entered the race, article upon article upon article was published assessing this would be candidate, his possible policies, many weaknesses and numerous negatives. Since the announcement of his candidacy, they have pumped out even more.

Why?

Yes, Mr. Trudeau is the son of one of the most revered – or reviled – Prime Ministers in modern Canadian history. He is a highly articulate and confident young family man who is flawlessly bilingual.

But the real answer is that Mr. Trudeau has the Conservatives in Canada scared silly.  In fact, their own internal polling shows that he is a grave danger to their continued electoral success.  Public polling shows that he would win a majority government, if an election were held today. So, not even waiting for him to be selected as Liberal leader, which is not guaranteed, they went on the offensive.

Not to be outdone, Canada’s Sun Media, known as Fox News North, uncovered a 2010 appearance on the television program Les francs-tireurs (The “free shooters”), in which Mr. Trudeau is heard, in french, assessing that in his opinion, the most successful Prime Ministers in modern history were from the province of Quebec. He even includes Brian Mulroney, a conservative on his list. He also says:

 

“Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work.”

 

The timing of this video re-release is curious, given that three by-elections were underway nationally, the tightest of which was in Alberta’s Calgary Center, where the Liberals had a very legitimate and unexpected shot at winning. Despite losing by a narrow four percent, the race was far more competitive than expected and one can speculate that Sun Media was doing its best to help the conservative team.

But just what did he say that was so wrong?

That he feels the best Prime Ministers of the past century have come from Quebec?  That is a view likely held my many, many others and in any case is just an opinion.

The Alberta comment is the more politically troubling one, and Mr. Trudeau quickly apologized and clarified that he was clumsily attacking the current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who is from Alberta.

But remember, it was more than two years ago.  It was for a french audience where Mr. Trudeau was addressing Canadian unity and Quebec’s place within Canada.

Yes – context matters.

And I could easily write an entire series of articles that would illustrate that the political and social views widely held in Alberta are in fact not shared by the majority of Canadians.  I think most Albertans would also agree, as they spend plenty of time themselves pointing out exactly the same thing with regard to the rest of Canada, and Quebec in particular. (Albeit from the opposite perspective!)

But from the standpoint of fairness, this whole manufactured episode fall flat and reeks of unnecessary desperation.  Moreover, Canadian conservatives absolutely hate it when old quotes of Prime Minsiter Stephen Harper are trotted out as examples of his “real philosophy” and “hidden agenda”.  Gems like:

 

“I think in Atlantic Canada, because of what happened in the decades following Confederation, there is a culture of defeat that we have to overcome.”  (Anti-Atlantic Canada)

“As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity, and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions.”  (Anti-Quebec)

“The fundamental strategy of the Liberal party for the last 30 years remains screw the West, get the rest.”  (Pro-Western)

“We [Alberta] are the only province in Canada keeping pace with the top tier countries in the world. Now we must show that we will not stand for a second-tier country run by a third-world leader with fourth-class values.”  (Pro-Alberta)

“Whether Canada ends up as one national government, or two national governments, or several national governments or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion.”  (I’d like to know what is primary…)

and

“You’ve got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.” (Yikes!)

 

Given Mr. Harper’s past ramblings, I would advise the Conservatives to be careful with this strategy.  It could easily backfire.  Alternatively, I would strongly advise Mr. Trudeau that if chosen as leader, he should assemble a team that can use this sort of thing to their advantage in a way the two previous Liberal leaders did not.

More importantly, one can easily surmise that these attacks on Mr. Trudeau are nothing more than a continuing Conservative trend that pits region against region and Canadian against Canadian for political gain, with the long term goal being a more decentralized and less unified Canadian federation.

Canadian voters would be wise to keep this in mind.

 

President Obama Has A Mandate

I hate to break it to you folks still in denial, but President Obama HAS a mandate.

332 electoral votes is a huge win by any standard. As of this writing, he also won the popular vote by about 3.5 million, for a 51-48% win over Mitt Romney.

But the right wing media machine started – even before Ohio was called – to sow the seeds of doubt regarding this mandate.  Even in defeat, they were already laying the foundation for gridlock.  Their mission was simple and overt in 2008, deny President Obama’s reelection by obstruction.  Now, they want to deny him a mandate and a legacy, by making him a “lame duck” from day one.

Already, their pundits are resorting to minimizing a very decisive reelection.  An attempt to quash any talk of a mandate, using phrases like “balance of power unchanged”.

Technically it is unchanged.  But the Democrats strengthened their hold on the Senate by two seats.  In the House? They likely made a small gain as well.  So technically, the Democrats were up all around on November 6th – and yet – no mandate?

Remember, George W. Bush narrowly “won” the Electoral College in 2000 and lost the popular vote – but the GOP insisted he had a mandate. When he was reelected in 2004, he won 286 electoral votes with a popular vote margin of 3 million and he famously said:

“I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That’s what happened in the — after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I’ve earned capital in this election — and I’m going to spend it for what I told the people I’d spend it on”

With President Obama’s victory numbers so much better, why the different assessment of a mandate and political capital now?

As Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan proved during this past campaign, facts are irrelevant and inconvenient.  When confronted with them, the new GOP recoils and doubles down on deceit.  Look at the shameless attacks on statistician Nate Silver.  His numbers were spot on.  Absolutely remarkable.  But they attacked him for being partisan.

Yes, the GOP and their media thinks a sober assessment of polls and numbers are partisan, just as they think facts are partisan and inconvenient. (As I have said here before, facts are non-partisan.)

This group of politicians and their media have been proven completely wrong and exposed as out of touch with reality.  This not only puts them in an awkward position, but leads to some rather desperate reactions:

  • Appearing with John King on CNN, Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer expressed complete contempt in a hate filled assessment of the election results and refused to even consider the need for an increase in tax revenue in the next budget.  She focused instead on calling President Obama the most divisive president ever.
  • Donald Trump tweeted the need for a revolution.  He said the Electoral College had to be abolished, while thinking that Mr. Romney was winning the popular vote. (The President won the popular vote, and even if he had not, see Bush 2000)
  • George Will, Jennifer Rubin, Charles Krauthammer and many others in the right wing media spent weeks writing what ended up being false campaign propaganda in an attempt to sway your thinking.  They were either lying or are incompetent as journalists.  I suggest reading them in the future only for entertainment purposes.

Any student of human nature will tell you that you can learn all you need to know about a person by observing their actions over a period of time.

Applying this same principle, we can easily discern all we need to about the current crop of right wing media contributors and their political masters in the GOP.

And the results are very telling indeed.

 

Yes, US Voters Need to Ponder A Change – In Thinking

First, a disclaimer for the US voter:

I will not offer you a voting preference for the November 6 Presidential election. That’s correct, I am not going to pick a side. I will however, ask you to think about your country and its future, and to become a higher information voter. You can pick a side for yourself. For the honestly open minded, it will be an easy conclusion to draw.

First, know this – the average voter in the US is taken advantage of and taken for granted. Politicians pander to you with well researched phrases of very little detail, designed to trigger an instinctual emotional response.  They take advantage of the fact that you often have a very short attention span and prefer not to be too involved in thinking about politics. Let’s lengthen that attention span for the next few minutes.

I want you to ask yourself a basic question: what do you know?  What do you really know as an absolute, as fact?  Not spin, not what you’ve heard, not what you feel, but what do you know?

And then apply that to three questions: who is better for the economy, who can you trust, and what is the ideal America, as a country?

 

The Economy

Four years ago, when President Obama was elected, how was the economy?  How is it now?  What do the facts say?

Spin and rhetoric aside, Business Week has a great report, based on actual data that sums it up.  Here is an example of their GDP assessment:

 

Yes, after a near depression, the economy is growing.  The GOP counters this by saying “not fast enough”, but this is insulting to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics and reeks of immature impatience.  And to then go on to say that swapping occupants of the Oval Office will speed up the recovery borders on the ridiculous.

Oh and by the way, the stock market has had nearly unprecedented success while President Obama has been in office.

The only conclusion one can draw from this indisputable information is that this President has managed the economy pretty well, under some pretty horrific circumstances.

So what would the GOP do differently?

Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have been short on budgetary specifics and what little they have offered in details has been widely discounted as not adding up.

Mr. Ryan’s infamous budget has been factually debunked by top economists all over the world and exposed for its hidden agenda. Mr. Romney’s proposed budget would require “very large cuts in Medicaid, education, health research and other programs“.

Numbers don’t lie.

 

Lies

Or as the press most graciously refers to them – “misleading statements”.

Instead of adding up a tally of who has told the most “mistruths”, and both sides have had their share, lets focus on a few that are central to the challenger’s campaign.

The President’s apology tour?  Even the Christian Science Monitor says it never happened.

Jeep shipping jobs to China? This astonishingly dishonest ad buy in Ohio has even been shot down by Fiat’s CEO.

A Libya cover-up?  There is no way, at this time, to be certain of what really took place with regard to the attack in Benghazi. However, if we can overcome our short attention spans for a moment, it is pretty easy to look back at other such events, and understand with the benefit of hindsight how confusing the intelligence was before, during and immediately after they occurred.

To suggest that a sitting President would intentionally ignore requests for help is beyond credibility.  And even if one could consider it, to think that a President would do so in an election cycle is naive at best.

Consider that this same incumbent made the risky call to kill Osama bin Laden, against vociferous opposition from close advisers, during this same election cycle.  Consider if the mission had failed, if soldiers had died. Then consider the ensuing firestorm in the press and from the GOP and what that would have done to his reelection chances.

He made the call, know this all fully. It is difficult therefore, to think he would have treated Libya any differently, had he been given the chance via credible information and communication.

While this fits a narrative long espoused by the GOP of this President being “not up to the job” and while our own expectations in the era of Twitter and Facebook are of instantaneous proportions, intelligence gathering and assessment, from half a world away, does not work that way.

And believe me, you don’t really want it to work that way.

 

What kind of America? 

I have a couple of large ideas I want you to ponder for a moment.

First, with the help of an excellent article by Charles P. Pierce over at Esquire Magazine, it might be a good time to revisit the often cited founding principles of America.

I strongly suggest you read the entire article, and focus on these main points:

“The Declaration of Independence is a lot of things, but a laissez-faire charter of rights isn’t one of them — and the Constitution itself lays a burden of commitment on all of us to maintain those things in which we have a common interest, including the general welfare and the common defense. We, The People is more than a statement of purpose. It is an acknowledgement of an obligation to each other.”

 

“We owe each other a debt. We owe each other an obligation. That is the thing to which we truly commit ourselves if we follow our Constitution. It is a charter that enumerates individual liberties, but it is not a license for unbridled greed or reckless political solipsism. We owe each other a debt and we owe each other an obligation, and because of these fundamental American imperatives, there are things that we own in common with each other, and that we are obliged to protect for our posterity. The water. The trees. The wild places in the land. We lose sight of these truths sometimes.”

And the most important thing Pierce says, in my opinion, is this:

A basic philosophy of selfishness is being inculcated into our politics. It will render us incapable of reacting when our democratic patrimony is swindled out from under us. There are thieves abroad in the land, making off with the blessings of the political commonwealth, and their most basic alibi is that it never existed in the first place. Once we accept that as our true history, the future is pretty much lost.”

The emphasis is mine, and I think Pierce articulates in one article, the whole reason for the existence of this website – to cut through the lies and manipulation.

Pierce’s reminder of what America was really set up to be, ought to be in your mind when you consider what I would describe as a worst case scenario from Juan Cole.  First, let me say that I have been a fan of Juan Cole’s writing at Informed Comment for some time.  His insights on Middle East affairs is required reading.  And while he doesn’t hide his political leanings, I think in this article, he makes a couple of points that should nevertheless be considered:

“The mainstream media and even Democrats have been slow to call Mitt Romney’s deliberate falsehoods “lies.” But after just calling them what they are, it is also important to analyze their meaning. Lies on Romney’s scale do not simply show contempt for the intelligence of American voters. They show contempt for democracy, and display some of the features of capitalist dictatorship of a sort that was common in the late twentieth century.”

 

“Capitalist dictatorship has many similarities to fascism, but differs from it in lionizing not the workers of the nation but the entrepreneurs of the nation. Fascism seeks a mixed economy, whereas capitalist dictatorship privileges the corporate sector and attacks the non-military public sector. But both try to subsume class conflict under a hyper-nationalism. Both glorify military strength and pick fights with other countries to whip up nationalist fervor. Both disallow unions, collective bargaining and workers’ strikes. Both typically privilege one ethnic group within the nation, marking it as superior and setting up a racial hierarchy.”

Now admittedly, Cole’s hyper-partisanship is not something aspired to here at The Wary Lemming.  So why do I include it?

First of all, his political views do not in any way negate his points.  And more importantly, if Pierce is correct that the US Constitution has been re-interpreted by those who are inhabited by selfish greed, then what are they turning the country into?  As crazy as Cole’s argument may seem upon first reading, the real worry is that if voters allow themselves to be manipulated and in some cases disenfranchised, it is impossible to know what will result.

Before we dismiss Cole as wrong, ponder the right wing attacks on the bailouts of GM and Chrysler, including attacks on the unions – and their now feigned concern about jobs being shipped to China – whipping up that nationalist fervor.    Ponder the overt fear from the right wing that America is becoming a nation of minorities – as articulated by Mr. Romney himself, and wonder how that manifests itself in attacks against a visible minority President. Ponder their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which borders on indefensible, and ask yourself why you shouldn’t be concerned with each other’s general welfare.

Oh, and remember, the “Big Lie” is by definition, one that seems credibly impossible.

 

Final Thoughts

As a last thought, I will simply refer you to some links following this article that highlight some of my earlier thoughts on truth, facts and politics.

I also urge you to vote.

And as I told my readers in Quebec, Canada during their recent election, it is far more productive to vote for something than to vote against it.

Vote for whom you think best suits your personal priorities, but also consider the priorities of your family, your community, your state and your country.

And this is important:

With so many things to assess, resist the temptation to simply stay home.

I guarantee you that if you do stay home, you most definitely will not get the President you want.

You’ll get the President someone else wants.