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Great read on Bananada ...

 
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gmat



Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 7:14 am    Post subject: Great read on Bananada ... Reply with quote

Everybody Does It

Is this it? The moment when the one-party state's internal organs crumble to nothing like an old rou‚ in the final stages of syphilis?

Well, I wish I were that confident. No doubt, as before, Stephen Harper will be running as Boy George: the calmer calmer calmer calmer calmer chameleon. Last time round, to offset the perennial Liberal-media message that all conservatives are by definition extremist rabid fundamentalist nutcakes--and worse, extremist rabid fundamentalist "U.S.-style" nutcakes, Mr. Harper was measured, moderate, soft-spoken and narcolepsy-inducing and, when the sky-is-falling types still shrieked that he was planning to introduce "U.S.-style" health care, "U.S.-style" warmongering, "U.S.-style" non-confiscatory taxation, etc, the rabid leopard changed his spots and all but insisted that a vote for the Tories was a vote for no change whatsoever. Whether the calmer-chameleon approach will prove any more effective this time round is doubtful.

Let's start with that self-proclaimed colossus of the political scene, Warren Kinsella. The other day on his website, he teased: "You want greed? You want corruption? You want kick-backs and toll-gating and all that?"--and then linked to . . . Stevie Cameron on what Brian Mulroney was allegedly up to in 1989, or 1953, or 1867 or whenever it was.

Warren was missing the point. Those of us who are outraged by Gomery Canada don't want an opportunity to get our own sweaty fingers in the sewer. Honestly. Cross my heart and strike me down with one of those memory-disabling afflictions half the Gomery witnesses have been hit with. (Fortunately they made enough out of the sponsorship program to afford the Mayo Clinic rather than the Royal Vic.) We Gomery obsessives don't want just to change to a different set of corrupt officials. If it hadn't been stinkingly corrupt, the "sponsorship" program would have been merely worthless, and I'd rather keep the money and spend it for myself, my own humble business ventures at least having the merit of being self-supporting unlike the swollen ranks of "advertising agencies" and "graphics designers" and "marketing consultancies" with which the province of Quebec is so abundantly endowed, despite the noticeable lack of real businesses to market or advertise or design for.

On the other hand, Warren Kinsella does nicely distil what passes for sophisticated thinking in the political establishment: everybody does it, as Bill Clinton's defenders used to say, and, to judge from the call-in shows I've heard, far too many Canadians are saying today. One day, years from now, these supposed sophists and cynics who can't wait to dial their local radio host so they can shrug insouciantly "Everybody does it" will realize that if anyone in this wretched tale cuts a more pitiful figure than Jean Brault publicly sobbing or Jacques Corriveau claiming that he doesn't remember any of the salient points because he stood next to a fellow with Alzheimer's, if anyone's more pitiful it's them--the "everyone does it" crowd. If you're stopped in the street by a CBC reporter and you tell him, "Oh, everyone does it. That's politics. What's the big deal?", you're not being worldly and cynical, you're being played like a violin by the Liberal party fiddlers. In the diseased Dominion, our rulers are so cynical they're cynical about cynicism: they understand that once a political culture reaches a certain point of decay a large segment of the population is content to take refuge in the pose of cynicism.

How do you get to that point? By going the Kinsella route: Warren evidently feels that two wrongs do make a right. And, politically speaking, he's not wrong. Corruption feeds off its victories. If you've got some nickel'n'dime racket going and it makes the papers and there's a bit of huffing and puffing but in the end nothing happens, then, reasonably enough, you'll conclude that having crossed that line you might as well see where the new line's been drawn. Ten grand? A hundred thousand? A multimillion-dollar boondoggle? And every time you get away with it you lower public resistance and increase the chances you'll get away with the next scam. That's what the Liberals have done to Canada's political culture, which is why you run into large numbers of Canadians who are entirely indifferent to Gomery and equally large numbers who think it the height of sophistication to sneer knowingly that "everyone does it." There's no one quite so naive as a faux cynic who can't wait to fall in line with the herd of iconoclasts parroting the "everybody does it" line: it's the intellectual equivalent of those teenagers who express their individuality by wearing exactly the same clothes as everyone else--like Warren Kinsella in his Ramone-groupie days.

The sponsorship racket is Canada's Oil-for-Food scandal. Indeed, they functioned in remarkably similar ways. But, in fairness to Saddam, he's a psychotic dictator from a ruthless blood-soaked basket case of a state. What's Canada's excuse?

Well, the same excuse as always: "national unity." "National unity" was the Liberals' justification for Adscam and Flagscam and all the rest in the first place. Now they're threatening to run as the "national unity" party against those rabid extreme "U.S.-style" conservatives. If so, it's important to remember what "national unity" actually boils down to: it means Quebec federalists and Quebec separatists bribing each other with money raised in the rest of the country. In the sense that Quebecers of all persuasions are united in their determination to milk the nation, the "national unity" strategy worked. Jean Brault himself is a splendid example of "national unity" in action: he received money from the federal government to promote national unity and used it both to make illegal donations to the P‚quistes through his workers and buy tables at Liberal fundraisers, where he papered the room with his separatist employees who got a free meal in exchange for cheering M. Chr‚tien. Can't get much more "national unity" than that, can you?

Are you or any of your neighbours so wealthy you can afford to give Jacques Corriveau's personal bank account $5 million for doing nothing? Yes, yes, I know technically M. Brault gave M. Corriveau the five mil or maybe M. Corriveau gave it to M. Brault or maybe they both gave it to each other simultaneously. But in the end you paid for it. And you got zip in return.

M. Corriveau claims not to be able to remember anything now, and nor does Mr. Martin. What did they not know and when did they not know it? Gilles-Andr‚ Gosselin billed the government--i.e., you--for 11 hours work a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for the whole of 1997, which works out at an awful lot of "national unity" but apparently not enough to warrant any photocopies or memos in triplicate or anything else which might suggest what he'd done for all that dough.

These fed-sep Quebec grandees may be suffering a little public embarrassment at the moment, but in the elite golf clubs and swanky restaurants life goes on and I'll bet no-one's cutting 'em dead. If the Liberals are re-elected, these chaps will still be part of the circle.

Canadians cannot afford this lavish scale of "national unity." Indeed, we need a lot more national disunity--real alternative visions competing for public favour, not just the phony-baloney choice offered in Quebec, between "federalists" and "separatists" who are in full agreement on everything. That being so, what bothers me is why the polls aren't worse for the Liberals. What do they have to do for the average apathetic not-especially-political anglo-Canadian to let go? The minute an election's declared, the CBC and the Toronto Star will come on side and we'll stop getting features on Adscam and start getting in-depth investigations on Tory plans to bring back back-street abortions and mandatory readings of Leviticus in gay bathhouses. And then some of those wobbly Liberal voters will wander home, in Ontario's riding-rich 905-belt, in Quebec's West Island, in the Maritimes, where Messrs Brault and co. might well be seen as simply beneficiaries of mega-pogey.

If it was a question of renewing the party's intellectual energy, a spell in opposition would do the Liberals good. But, if you're used to millions of dollars for doing nothing, you don't look on it that way. The Grits will be playing to win, and playing hard.

And, if they do win, life in Quebec will go on and the next scandal will involve billions and even more people will shrug, "Everybody does it." No, they don't. And, if the ones who do do it keep on doing it, they'll cost us our country.

M Steyn - May 16
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The minute an election's declared, the CBC and the Toronto Star will come on side and we'll stop getting features on Adscam and start getting in-depth investigations on Tory plans to bring back back-street abortions and mandatory readings of Leviticus in gay bathhouses.


Laughing
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gmat



Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes Mith, that one had me laughing too. Love or hate him, Mr. Steyn can write. Laughing
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, it looks as if it's already started:
Surprised

Quote:
Was it Laureen who finally made her husband go to his room for a time-out? If so, where was she a week ago? The politics of rage has backfired in Stephen Harper's face, and he's going to pay an awful price. However disgusted people may be with the Liberals, they're not going to forget that the alternative is a snarling, mean-eyed pit bull.

It's okay to be angry at the Liberals. Who isn't? But it's not okay for the guy who wants to replace them to have such an obvious anger-management issue. It's not okay for him to hold his breath and turn blue unless he gets his way this very second. And it's really not okay to act as if he, personally, wants to tear Paul Martin's throat out.

No matter how deeply Mr. Harper may despise him, it is not okay to accuse Paul Martin of playing politics with cancer victims (even if it might true). It's not okay to claim the Liberal government has no legitimacy (when it clearly does), or to unilaterally declare a no-confidence vote on dubious grounds, or claim we're in a constitutional crisis when we aren't, or smear the entire Liberal Party and everybody in it as "morally reprehensible" and "corrupt" (even though some of them are).

Sure, Canadians are cheesed off. We're in a cranky, vengeful mood. But we don't want a killer dog for prime minister.

Yesterday, Mr. Harper ditched the pit-bull routine and did his best to morph into a cocker spaniel. "There do have to be limits to how far we go," he said, as if somebody else had unleashed the attack dogs in the first place. Wisely conceding that the vast majority of the public doesn't care whether a confidence vote comes right this minute or next week, he promised to stop holding his breath and turning blue over it. Mercifully, he even withdrew the cancer card. Concerned citizens will now be spared the bizarre spectacle of sick men forcing themselves to crawl to Ottawa to defend their party's honour.

"I have done some reflecting this week on what's gone on," Mr. Harper said, in an effort to undo the damage. "My father used to tell me, 'Be careful when you fight a monster lest you yourself become a monster.' "

The best thing for Mr. Harper would be a Liberal win next week and an election some time far in the distant future. Far enough for people to forget the monster.

Stephen Harper's worst political liability isn't that he's cerebral (Pierre Trudeau was cerebral, too), his inability to project himself as Everyman (ditto), or even his lack of bonhomie (Mr. Trudeau didn't much like glad-handing and kissing babies either). It's his unrelenting negativity. We all know what he's against. But we have no idea what he's for. Mr. Trudeau, like all successful politicians, was able to project optimism and hope. He was able to make us think, for a time, that we belonged to the greatest little nation in the world. Mr. Harper just projects fed up.

"People aren't looking for great men and women," says political pollster Allan Gregg. "They're looking for good ones." This being Canada, we're also looking for nice ones. We admire niceness. We think niceness is our defining national trait, and so it's no surprise we want our leaders to be nice, too. Paul Martin may have many flaws. He may be second-rate, ineffectual, even opportunistic and untruthful -- but deep down inside, we think he's nice.

Mr. Harper is no dummy. Lately he's been working furiously to project his inner nice guy. He's been trying to out-fingerpaint Mr. Martin at friendly kindergartens. He's been snatching babies from their mothers' arms to plant kisses on them. This is, in my view, a waste of time, because people don't believe it.

What's more amazing is the radical makeover he has performed on his party platform. Although most people haven't noticed, he has scrubbed it clean of any trace of unpleasant right-wing residue.

My girlfriends here in latte-land don't believe me when I tell them that the Tories' platform is now almost identical to the Liberals'. You can look it up. Forget that scary Bible-thumping stuff. Today, Mr. Harper appears to stand for most of the things that Liberals stand for. He has endorsed a form of national child care, the goals of Kyoto, bilingualism, immigration and the Canada Health Act. By saying he'd bring no law forward to change the existing law, he implicitly accepts Canada's current approach to abortion, which is to have no law at all. He endorses legal same-sex unions. In other words, on social issues he's positioned himself somewhere to the left of Bill Clinton and John Kerry.

Mr. Harper has worked hard to make us forget about those angry old white guys who used to make us so allergic. He's tried to lock them in a box and throw away the key. He has replaced them with attractive, camera-ready young ethnics like Rahim Jaffer and smart women like Diane Ablonczy, Rona Ambrose, Diane Finley and Bev Oda (to say nothing of the beauteous Belinda). He's got as much or more female firepower than the Liberals. And if he's got a hidden agenda, I can't detect it. So far as I can tell, his agenda is out in plain sight. His agenda is to get elected.

Stephen Harper, in fact, has done everything right. He has united the party and taken it to the centre, which is the only way it can possibly win. His opponents are exhausted, scandal-ridden, badly led, deeply unpopular, and on the ropes. This should be a slam dunk.

But there's one problem he hasn't licked. He hasn't gotten rid of the angry white man who leads his party. And that man is going to beat him. mwente@globeandmail.ca



Reminiscent of most other editorials during the last election campaign: "sure the Conservatives are ahead in popularity, but you're not actually going to vote for them, are you?"

Parts in bold were my doing. Not everybody wants to read a whole article.
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