politics, United States

The American Scene

It’s been a while, so I’ll ease myself back into the blogging chair with something general. Lord ™ knows, there’s material aplenty.

It’s been a year and a half since Barack Obama took office; a year and a half since hope for the birth of a new sanity in American politics was kindled in my heart. Well, as our Snow Barbie is wont to say, “How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?”

Yes, I’ll admit it, I was naive enough to dare hope that Obama’s intelligence, native ability, and vision were going to birth a new era.  I was in error – American politics when played “for real” is at best a crab-bucket and worst a pig-shit wrestling match. Native ability is worth nothing when you’re greased and rolling.

I was an idiot.

I was an idiot because I believed that the American people had collectively risen above issues of race and had chosen a superior candidate to lead them into a new day.  I was an idiot because on election night, 2008, I ignored the misgivings I felt when only 53% of the voting public actually voted for Obama over that pair of drooling idiots the Republicans put forward. Even then I said to myself, “Self, why on earth should this election have been this close?”

I was an idiot to believe that the Tight White Right would just sit there and let this smart, handsome, black man just stand there and preside over them. Furthermore, I was an idiot to think that the Republicans wouldn’t attempt to risk and destroy anything and everything in order to deny their opponents even the slightest accomplishment.

Welcome to the pig shit.

Here is the level of political discourse in the United States:

  • Barack Obama is not a Christian
  • Barack Obama is a Muslim
  • Barack Obama is not American
  • Barack Obama is a socialist
  • Muslims can’t build a mosque anywhere
  • Anchor babies. Yes, anchor babies. Fuck.

And what of the political scene?

  • Americans are still afraid of their shadows
  • Fear is still the chosen tool of the Right and is winning the battle against reasoned argument in public discourse. Go figure.
  • Democrats, nominally the Left in the US,  continue to buy into the notion that their views are somehow childish and in order to appear “all growed up” they have to face the “reality” as proposed by Wall St. lobbyists.
  • Democrats are going to get rolled in the fall, will lose the Congress and beginning a cycle of  investigations and recriminations that will make it look like Ken Starr was giving Bill Clinton a warm stone massage.

Sigh.

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Don Martin: Shooting the messenger or hates the troops?

You decide:

The former commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan delivered as expected yesterday, armed with an open microphone, before an assembled media horde.

It was a slightly queasy military tactic.

Mr. Stogran, a retired colonel, assembled a heartstrings-tugging entourage of physically disabled, mentally handicapped and disease-plagued veterans from Canadian missions going back decades. He then co-ordinated their attack based on the common view that fighting this government and the courts was more frustrating and painful than facing their actual combat enemies.

The veterans gave every appearance of being props in Stogran’s personal war.

No, no, no, he insisted several times. This was not about him. It was about the thousands of victims tangled up in a military bureaucracy that foot-drags, stonewalls and obstructs on ways to ease the plight of injured veterans and their families.

Perhaps, but only five days separates the retired colonel’s pink slip and his blast of condemnation over the slow pace of progress on issues that have been gathering political and legal dust for years. The only newsworthy development on this file? Pat Stogran is not getting his contract renewed for another three years.

I felt slightly queasy reading this column. Unfortunately, the National Post has decided to attack Stogran’s personality rather than investigate his complaints about Veteran’s Affairs, which are all too true. We can take this as a signal of how Harper plans to attack this problem…rather than actually taking care of our wounded soldiers, he’ll smear and besmirch the man his government appointed as their ombudsman.

Stay classy, National Post and Conservatives everywhere.

PS – I apologize for linking to the National Post here. Won’t happen again (until the next outrage, at least).

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A quandary solved

The quandary is thus: How can a trained economist who learned (presumably) about proper statistical methodology, specifically the danger of biased sampling, move to make the national census a biased and thus useless dataset?

The answer: Stephen Harper is destroying the sample set because he is an economist. Good data most often refutes his ideology and the ideology of his base. Therefore the best way for Harper and his neoconservatives to retain power over the longterm is to destroy the dataset. As an economist, he knows exactly the best way to destroy the data. He’s probably been planning to destroy the census since his earliest days in the so-called National Citizen’s Coalition (which, once again, is none of the three).

Canadian politics, Conservatives

If You Build It, They Will Come

Real life and some small amount of trouble wrapping my head around mind-boggling brick-stupid has caused me to be a little late with this post but I have a question that needs answering. Where exactly is Stockwell Day going to get the occupants for his new prisons if said prisons are needed to imprison the perpetrators of  “unreported crime”? Crimes which, by their very definition, produce remarkably few convicts. The crimes are unreported. That means that they either haven’t been discovered yet but once they are we can use the prisons that we already have or, and I think that this is more generally the case, we the people just don’t care about the “crime” in question. I don’t see any point to jailing some frosh for a year because he got a good deal on an ounce of weed, or made whatever lifestyle choice gets up the Conservative’s collective ass this week.  And when the hell did the Conservative Party start believing in the value of statistics again? Last month they were all about saving us from that tyranny? Stephen, Stephen, why hast thou forsaken us? Oh yeah, to pander to your base. How’s using one thing that they hate to justify (loosely) doing something they like working out?

This whole thing is making my head bones hurt so I’ll close with one more question. Now that the goal of the conservatives seems to be losing power by making  Iggy look like a good choice again, could they please stop governing based on what makes a small band of tar sands shitkickers happy?

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Inception

I made the mistake of reading some reviews about this film by prominent Canadian bloggers before seeing the movie. They didn’t like the film. I, on the other hand, loved the film. It was a new concept, and an interesting story. The bloggers in question had me thinking that it was simply an overblown heist caper, but it wasn’t. The ‘heist’ was secondary to the main question of the film, which was a question about the very nature of DiCaprio’s character. I won’t say any more, lest I ruin the fun.

Also: The ending was very frustrating, because I always crave answers. But I understand the artistic choice of that ending, however much it frustrated me.

PS: One particular blogger was right about one thing – dreams aren’t linear, as portrayed in the film. Oh well; the film was still entertaining as hell, even if you have to suspend your disbelief on the way we actually dream.