Thursday, June 30, 2005

In Response

I have received a pretty massive response to my last post, in which I explained my personal split from the Tory party--well, massive for me, at any rate. 21 comments as of Thursday night! Who the heck do you guys think I am, Mike Brock?

I'd like to respond, in a way, to some of the thoughts my interlocutors have offered.

Pace Occam, I will not soon reach a tipping point about Canada. I do not believe this country is too far gone. I do not believe that the Liberals have some kind of mystical grip on the country's greeblies. I believe that Ontarians and Atlantickers are, frankly, foolishly biased in favour of the Liberal Party, but I also believe that they are open to alternatives. For me to reach my tipping point about Canada, I would have to see a "Conservative Party" (or reasonable facsimile thereof) which presented a reasonable platform in a reasonable way for at least two consecutive election cycles, only to lose to a visibly corrupt or evil Liberal Party. In my view this has happened once in the last 20 years: 2004. It is not about to happen in 2006, because even if Martin does hold the election he has "promised", and even if he wins, it will not be against the kind of Conservative foe that I describe above. And Occam, how can I honestly give up hope for Canadian democracy when I still have hope for the Iraqi version?

Other commenters accuse me of falling prey to the bias of the CBC, or to the spin of the Liberal Party. Please note: this is utter bullshit. I never--never--believe the CBC. Never. I haven't trusted the CBC to present a fair account of the news once in my entire life. I wouldn't believe the CBC if they said the sun rises in the east. The CBC can go to hell. And the Liberal Party? Holy smokes, Batman, grant me some respect. If you honestly believe that I have split from the Tories because the fucking Liberal Party told me so, then I would simply remind you of the importance of taking the exact amount it says on the little bottle you got from the happy man in the short white coat. No more. No less. And don't forget to take your naps!

One commenter suggested I could have "saved some bandwidth" if in lieu of my longwinded diatribe I had written instead "Stephen Harper is scaaaaaary." I find this disappointing for two reasons. First, I tried to present a coherent argument, starting from principles and moving towards conclusions, with at least one tangent and a handful of observations. I attempted to address counterarguments before they were made. I tried to make a case. "Harper is scary" is not an argument, it's an eructation. It also happens to be wrong--which is the second disappointment with this scary idea. Harper isn't scary. Frankly Martin and Layton are a whole lot more scary, because of their committed opposition to freedom in health care. [Note to commenter MemeWarrior: I do not believe Martin/Layton are engaged in a conspiracy to kill me. I just don't think The Survival Of Me matters as much to them as does The Survival Of Medicare...] Harper doesn't frighten me. He just doesn't offer any reason I should vote for him. As the Flea noted today,
If the Conservative party was opposed to same-sex marriage but were planning to fight the next election on the principle of personal liberty [...], defense of the West against fundamentalism [...] or the principle of less intrusive government and the rights of religious minorities including those religious minorities in favour of same-sex marriage [...] then I would have to carefully balance one party policy against the dangers of continued one-party government and the inevitable risk of corruption such an arrangement brings.

Too bad that Conservative party does not exist.
Harper's not scary. He's just irrelevant. Why would I vote for him?

In the last couple of months, Stephen Harper has focused on two issues: (1) gay marriage is wrong, and (2) the Liberals are corrupt. He has also made a number of smaller points, most of which amount to: (3) anything the Liberals promise, we'll deliver. So if I support the CPC, I ought to do it because I don't want gays to be legally permitted to marry one another, because I prefer a little less corruption, and because I want all the Liberals' spending promises kept.

On the first point, Harper is wrong: morally, politically, and legally. You may offer that this is only my opinion. Just so.

On the second point, Harper offers no plan or proposal that would act to prevent this kind of corruption. His only point appears to be "we're better people than they are". Frankly I believe this is partly true: I believe Harper and Solberg are more honest than Martin and Goodale. I believe the CPC would not take kickbacks--at least, not at first. But all governments become corrupt over time. What would you do, Stephen? What are your proposals? Silence from the gallery.

On the third point, I do not want the Liberals' promises kept. I want them repudiated. Why should I support a leader who says he'll do everything Jack Layton wants Martin to do? It's laughable. I used to think Joe Clark was an idiot for his socialist leanings. I should suddenly think it's okay just because it's coming from Harper instead?

One commenter returned more than once to her sorrow over where Canada has gone. I, too, am sad. I do not take my repudiation of the Tories lightly or with any happiness. I first joined the PCs in 1989. I joined the RPC in 1993, and the CA shortly after it was formed. My CPC membership card arrived in 2004. I am a sincere believer in capitalism and liberty. I cannot tolerate the idiotic and sophomoric leftism of the Liberals and the NDP. I cannot imagine myself, even now, casting a ballot for the Liberals. I certainly do not plan to. But I am not some sort of zombie supporter of the Tory party either, willing to accept any foolishness or any wrong so long as it is carried out under a blue banner. I have my limits.

My limit is this: no matter how corrupt the Liberals are, no matter how much they steal and lie, I will not vote for the Tory party so long as it is committed to repealing equal marriage. Will not.

I am furious that the Tories have brought me to this point. Even a week ago, I believed I was doing the right thing: I could hold my nose and vote Tory, because their anti-gay obsession was sure to fail, and their putative "conservative" policies were eminently desirable. But in the last 24 hours I realized: there are no "conservative" policies--at least, there are no policies that Harper et al want to talk about. All they want to talk about is how gay marriage is wrong. I would be ashamed of myself if my vote were the single vote that put Harper into 24 Sussex, given that the only thing we can know for sure that he would do with his power would be to revoke equal marriage. Tell me truthfully: do we know for sure that he would cut taxes? Raise military spending? Rip up Kyoto? Abolish the CRTC? Disband the Wheat Board? No way, no how. For my money, that stuff all seems negotiable--all except for gay marriage.

I'm sad too.

Maybe Jay Currie is right. Maybe
the CPC has to have its [anti-gay-marriage] spasm and get that out of its system by being massively repudiated by urban Canada in the next election. I am sad that this will mean another Liberal government, hopefully a minority, but the cranks and bigots have to have their day before we can move on to the creation of a fiscally conservative, socially libertarian political party which will reach out to all Canadians.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My tipping point

Occam has made recent reference to Walsingham's essay about a nation reaching its tipping point. Occam and Walsingham maintain that Canada, as a nation, has reached its tipping point primarily because of the willful complicity of Ontarians in the Liberal destruction of Canada.

Maybe. Maybe not. It's hard for me to argue that there is literally no hope for this great country, but I think I can understand their perspective.

Today I find myself at a different kind of tipping point.

In a democratic socialist state like Canada, different political groups are always engaged in a "war of all against all", to use Rand's memorable phrase*. Different pressure groups and political parties strive to violate the rights of others in order to protect what they perceive as their own interests. So business groups want to expropriate the property of homeowners (see Kelo); NDPers want to expropriate the property of businesses (see $4.6 billion); some religious believers want to compel a nation of people to live by one interpretation of their Book (see equal marriage); Liberals want to compel a nation of people to die by one interpretation of their Book (see Medicare). I could go on.

Many principled libertarians (such as Jay Jardine) appear to argue that all the mainstream political parties are eager violaters of our natural rights, and therefore none of them deserve our support. In a way I agree, but unfortunately (and I hate to even mouth these words) I don't think that's very practical. I don't mean to imply a dichotomy between theory and practice. I just believe that we are in a position to choose between a "lesser of two [or more] evils". It may be true that the CPC would violate my rights, just like the Liberals and NDP would, and it is certainly morally correct to aver that one ought not vote for any of them. But I have believed for many years that Canada's "right-wing" parties (PC, RPC, CA, CPC) would violate my rights less, or at least more slowly, than the alternatives. So I have supported those parties, with time, with money, and with my vote. I have done so knowing that these parties were not "morally good" parties, but believing that they were at least morally better than the others--if, unlike Rand, one is willing to bargain about inches of evil.

The actions of the CPC surrounding same-sex marriage are changing my mind.

Harper and the CPC appear to be opposing SSM with a tenacity, a ferocity, that they reserve for absolutely nothing else. Not health care, property rights, war, trade, separatism, terrorism... nothing. It is easy to conclude that fighting an inevitably losing battle against allowing gay Canadians to wed one another must be the single most important thing in the CPC platform. We hear from the CPC nothing but compromise on the issues that will actually affect my personal life: compromise on taxes, compromise on medicare, compromise on fatty foods for Heaven's sake. But on a matter which will not directly affect me at all, the CPC is ready (aye, ready!) to Fight To The Death. It has become readily apparent to me that the CPC doesn't actually care about my issues at all. They evidently care about the issues of those who don't much like gay people, and who don't think homosexuality is normal. But I like gay people--at least, I like them as much as straight people, which is to say I like them as much as I like any individual. And I think homosexuality is normal--at least, it's as "normal" as any type of human predilection in which no-one is injured and in which all participants engage willingly. I accept that for millions of Canadian Christians, Jews, and Muslims, homosexuality is considered evil. They're wrong, and I no longer wish to associate with a party that acts as if it agrees with these Canadians.

People can think what they like. Canadians are free to think homosexuality a sin... although one wonders why it seems to be treated so much more seriously than other more injurious sins, like adultery or neglectful parenting. Actually one does not wonder at all. It is terribly easy for the self-righteous to condemn a sin which it is impossible for them to commit, such as having a romantic interest in one's own sex if one happens to have been born straight. A white man may as well consider Africans sinful because they have dark skin. This way of thinking is abhorrent to me. Yet I accept the right of people to hold abhorrent views, and I accept the right of churches to promulgate hatred from their pulpits. I believe in freedom of speech. I just don't want to be the one holding the song sheet.

This has been my tipping point. I am no longer willing to endorse this aspect of the Conservative Party. I made a mistake. I thought it was okay, to bargain away the rights of some Canadians, because other rights (of mine) were at stake. In this political war of all against all, we are each obliged to make this kind of choice, to the extent that we participate in politics at all. I can choose to support Christians and Jews and Muslims in their hatred towards gays (i.e. I can vote CPC), or I can support socialist fools in their hatred towards America and freedom and property of all descriptions (NDP), or I can support corrupt wardheelers in their hatred towards liberty in health care (Liberals). I was willing to make the first choice, because the others were too hideous--and, let's face it, because I'm not gay. It was easy for me.

But it's not easy any more. I was willing to let the CPC's homophobia slide, in part because it was so obviously a losing cause. The Libs and Dips and Bloc were going to pass SSM, so who cares if the Tories wanted to wage a quixotic battle in opposition? I guess the answer today is: I have decided that I care.

I don't mean to pretend some kind of rediscovered virginity in my politics. I know that to engage in democratic politics in a socialist state is to compromise some values--to violate some rights--in the hopes that one can defend and protect other values and other rights. But I have tipped past that point with today's CPC.

If they were willing to say "private health care is a Canadian right," if they were willing to say "we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies in fighting terrorism," if they were willing to say "we support amending the Charter to protect Canadians' rights to property," then I might be willing to tolerate the CPC's distaste for gay people. After all, the NDP and the Liberals actively want me to die: in opposing private health care, these parties are acting to hasten the deaths of any ill Canadian. I'd pick hatred over suicide any day. But that isn't my choice, is it? The CPC aren't offering me anything to balance the hate. It's not hate with a side order of health care freedom. It's not hate with a delicious creamy topping of liberty. It's just hate. And that's not good enough.

So why today? After all, this is nothing new. The CPC have been backsliding away from every single policy in the platform for months now--well, except for the whole gay-people-suck policy, which is evidently carved in mystic runes upon the very living rock. What's new is not the policy weakness. It's today's promise, the first promise Harper has made about what he would do if elected PM. He would overturn equal marriage.

I was wrong. The Flea was right. Jay Currie was right. I was wrong. I cannot support this Tory party. They take my money, they take my time, and they offer me nothing but all-gay-marriage-all-the-time in response. And when the dust has finally begun to settle, once the policy options again open up for Harper and his team of otherwise bright souls, what does he do? He promises to Keep Fighting The Good Fight so that my lesbian friends can't be married.

I can't take it any more.

I'm tipped.

*I am reliably informed that this phrase originates not with Ayn Rand but with Thomas Hobbes, specifically Leviathan. For example, see here. My apologies. My literary background is inadequate to the level of philosophy to which I aspire! ;-) This is what comes from a non-liberal-arts education, I'm afraid... Thanks to commenter "MemeWarrior" for the correction.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It's anguish, people, not bias

Read Paul Wells' rant to Stephen Harper.

Read it.

I hope Harper reads it too.

Paul Wells is an interesting commentator. He is uncompromising and, occasionally, vicious in his denunciations of Martin and his cronies. But because he is sometimes biting about the Tories, he finds himself the target of a lot of "anti-bias" bile. I guess the argument goes something like this:
The mainstream media is biased against Harper.
Wells is part of this media.
Wells says [nasty thing] about Harper.
Therefore Wells is biased against Harper.
QED!


Well, bullshit. (Thanks to Occam for my newfound vulgarity. Hey, Occam*--can I say "suck this"? Heh heh.)

For the life of me I don't know how Paul Wells votes in federal elections. If I had to bet, I'd lay a dollar on his being generally a federal Liberal--seeing as he's a bilingual Easterner and all, and we're just playing the odds here. But to be honest I think he's more interested in the "good government" side of things than the ideology. 'Cause when I read Wells smack Harper upside the head, the emotion I detect is anguish. Not hate. Not disgust. Not even dislike. Just a desperate hope that Harper would do a better job.

I think the "Wells = MSM = bias" crap is defeatist empty-headed rubbish. If Paul Wells is biased against Stephen Harper, well then I must be biased too, because I think Wells is (get ready Occam) fucking bang on.

[D]o something[, Stephen]. Change your game. Because right now, with your endless hectoring rant about the Liberals and your utter tabula rasa blank frickin' slate when it comes to your own plans for the Conservative government that you seem to believe Canadians should want, you resemble no leader so much as Joe Clark.

Remember him? Remember his last days? Criticizing the Liberals on the Iraq war without saying what he'd do? Rising, day after day after day, to demand that the documents be tabled? Scowling and whining about process? Empty and cranky all at once?

Remember how, by the end, the Liberals were laughing before he'd even said a word? Remember how you used to laugh at him?

That's the guy you're turning into, in what are starting to look like your own last days in politics. If you're so smart, fix it.


If there's a more damning indictment in Canadian politics than "you're turning into Joe Clark", I don't know what it could be. Harper can fix this. He's only a few points back. People don't like the Liberals. They want to vote for something better--not a happier barbecue guest, for fuck's sake, but a better leader. Our policies are better. Let's talk about them.

Now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Nope. Can't say that.

I've really enjoyed reading all those lists of things you can't say in Canada (and thanks to Jerry Aldini for the link roundup). Of course, you can say them, but you just might as well kiss that academic promotion goodbye!

Let me add to something Colby Cosh pointed out. One of his never-said-in-Canada lines addressed the hypocrisy of some within the pro-choice lobby:
It's also completely inconsistent for feminists to stand on their individual classical-liberal right to total personal inviolability--when it comes to abortion--and to proclaim an illiberal doctrine of collective, identitarian rights in every other sphere of human activity.

I don't claim to have invented the following, but here's my Verboten in Kanada contribution:

A woman is allowed to visit a private abortion clinic and pay out of her pocket for the privilege. A woman is not allowed to visit a private obstetrician and pay for the privilege. Which is to say, "two-tier medicine" is A-OK when it comes to pregnancy care... just so long as the baby ends up dead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Laugh out loud. I mean it. None of that "LOL" sh*t.

RightThinkingPeople, on the Jackson acquittal:
And somewhere on the planet Zebulon-Rhomba, Michael's birth parents are clapping their cilia together and hooting softly into the dense, methane atmosphere.

Most Interesting Political Analysis I've Read In A While. Warning: No Swearing Is Involved.

Ghost of a Flea peeks out of his pop culture niche to present us with what I can honestly say is a fascinating perspective on Canadian politics: specifically, what the Conservative Party has to do to get elected. Flea manages to do this without once relying on the Usual Staple Of Sensible Middle-Canadian Analysis ("move left, young man!"). Instead, he bases his evaluation on a psychological/sociological theory called Transactional Analysis, which plots behaviour on two axes: Hostility vs. Friendliness, and Weakness vs. Strength.

It deserves to be read in its entirety. I will only steal the best single line from the piece:
Remember, your political views (whatever they may be) are sensible and based on a clear-headed assessment of the facts while the general public, lacking your perspicacity, only perceives the truth, so evident to you, through a glass darkly.

Heh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Chapter 7 - In Which Our Protagonist Uses Several Very Naughty Words Indeed

I'm not kidding. If bad language bothers you, then I invite you to take a tour of my blogroll.

Still here?

Fine. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Continue reading this tripe.

Friday, June 10, 2005

You know what? I'm just tired.

I had a conversation a few years ago with an American friend (hello Brad!) who obsessively followed Canadian politics. At the time, I was obsessively following American politics, and I couldn't figure out where he was coming from. I mean, American politics is all about ideas, right? War! Peace! Freedom! Slavery! It's like a movie with all the big names in it. See Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in George Lucas' new Shakespearean Blockbuster! Produced by Spielberg and Filmed in Imax!

My friend pointed out that, in contradistinction to American politics, things actually happened in Canada. Maybe the characters were forgettable, and the actors unknown, but there was Plot With A Capital P. Parties were destroyed! Parties were born! Separatists won... then lost! Today's widely accepted dogma ("The Liberal Party will respect the [same-sex] rights identified by the Supreme Court!") is tomorrow's rejected cant ("The Liberal Party will not respect the [health care] rights identified by the Supreme Court!").

It is safe to say the last few weeks, the last couple of months, have proven my friend right. And frankly I'm tired of it.

I don't want to gross anyone out, but Canadian politics is becoming like some kind of weird mass porno. There's no foreplay, it's all just... er... well, you know. Non-confidence! Confidence!! Betrayal!!! Counter-betrayal!!!! Bribery!!!!! Fraud!!!!!! Judicial Bombshell!!!!!!! Makes you want to reach for the remote control before the kids walk into the room.

And through it all, the polls snap around like a jib on a spinning boat.

When I click on MSNBC or FoxNews for some respite, I get either the tedious (will the Democrats invoke cloture before their own filibuster ensures that hsadgyalwru72bi... sorry, fell asleep on the keyboard there for a sec) or the Avert-Thine-Eyes disgusting ("Well, Brian, the question is whether Michael Jackson performed any actual sex acts during those overnight stays" hork hork hacccccchhhh gag). And frankly it's a relief.

I think too much plot is getting to be bad for my health. I need less plot. Maybe no plot. Couldn't Ottawa just all go to Hell? Temporarily, I mean.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sinister plotting

Let me point you to an interesting discussion over at Sinister Thoughts, asking the question "how could the NDP form a minority government in Canada".

I'd like to add my meta-thoughts to the tactical proposals I have left over there: the fact that Dippers are asking--and attempting to answer--this question is seriously good news for the CPC. This suggests that some NDPers are looking past propping up Martin's Liberals, and considering how they could be victorious in a general election. The CPC needs this kind of thinking from the left, because if the NDP decides to vote against the Libs (because they think they could do well in an election) then Martin is well and truly sunk.

Go Jack go!

I hope I don't have to add that I don't want the NDP to form the government, and I think if that happened my head would explode. But the NDP has to do well--and has to believe they will do well--for the CPC to succeed.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Book Tag--a temporary distraction from Gurmant Grewal's quick trip into footnote history!

Tagged by The Monarchist.

I'm surrounded by books at work, many of which have meant a lot to me in the professional sense... but I'm going to limit my answers to personal "recreational" books.

Number of Books I Own: Probably around 200. I've moved across the continent a few times in the last several years, and each time has involved divesting myself of piles of books I wasn't likely to read a second time. Now that I'm settled again, I'm starting to accrete once more.

Last Book I Bought: the original Star Wars Trilogy, by George Lucas, Donald Glut, and James Kahn. Maybe I could make something up about buying The City And Man (Leo Strauss) or Utopia (Thomas More), but That Would Be Wrong.

Last Book I Read That I Could Discuss At A Swanky Dinner Party With My Eyebrow Arched To Underline My Fascinating Interest In The World Around Me, And The Historical Currents Which Sweep Man Along To His Destiny: Two Roads to Sumter, by William Catton.

Last Book I Really Finished: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.


Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me (in no particular order):

(1) Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and all of Ayn Rand's non-fiction (e.g. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal--please read the Amazon review! It's hilarious!)... except The Romantic Manifesto which left my fancy untickled. Rand has deeply influenced the way I see the world. Like the generation of capitalists and libertarians before me, I am indebted to her.

(2) Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era, by James McPherson. Without a doubt the best single-volume treatment of the US Civil War that I have read. A fascinating and wonderful book.

(3) The entire "Discworld" series by Terry Pratchett. I particularly enjoyed some of the more recent ones, including The Truth and Going Postal. Absolutely hilarious satirical fantasy, and Pratchett gores all the right oxen. I can re-read these books over and over.

(4) Systems of Survival, by Jane Jacobs. A very interesting book, told through the conceit of a series of dinnertable conversations by a disparate group of thinkers. Jacobs identifies and provides evidence for the existence of two completely distinct moral codes: the guardian code, and the commercial code.

(5) The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson. I have had a great time reading this book to my kids (again and again and again and again until my eyeballs start to bleed out of sheer happiness!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *koff*). Seriously, this is a very fun book which allows me to indulge my need to speak in a variety of silly voices. The Gruffalo is the best of Donaldson's several books, although I also like Room On The Broom.


You're it:
Ravishing Light
Heart of Canada
Shenanigans
Joel Fleming
Japnaam Singh
Rempelia Prime

(Have you noticed how people tend to tag other bloggers of approximately the same ... er ... I don't know, pull? Heft? So high-power bloggers tag high-power bloggers, mid-level types tag other mids, etc. Life is high school.)

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