The most disturbing expression of this government’s relativism is what one might call its relativization of knowledge. That it could casually dismiss the unanimous expert opposition to the bill, without bothering to offer a rebuttal, shows contempt not just for those involved but for the whole concept of expertise. Experts can sometimes get it wrong, of course, even where they are agreed. But the insinuation here is that they are wrong because they are experts, of which their very unanimity is further proof.
That way lies madness, as we saw in the long-form census “debate.” It takes us into a partisan Bizarro World, where the more indefensible the policy is, the more it must be correct — for the more universal the expert dissent it arouses, the more this is taken as evidence, not that the policy is crazy, but of a kind of academic class hatred of the Harper government.
That’s one possible explanation, certainly. The other is that it’s crazy.
… under any normal government, this would be considered fairly devastating stuff: not only near universal expert opposition, but a widely held suspicion that the bill, far from merely flawed, is expressly designed to tilt the next election in the Conservatives’ favour. As for Mr. Poilievre, the revelations that he had acted in such consummate bad faith on such a critically important bill — failing to consult, ignoring some experts’ advice and misrepresenting others — would ordinarily be career-limiting, to say the least.
But this is not a normal government. It does not operate in the usual way, nor does it feel bound by the usual rules. After all, if this were a normal government, it would not have as its minister for democratic reform such a noxious partisan as Mr. Poilievre, whose contempt for Parliament and its traditions registers every time he rises to speak in it.
Think Andrew’s onto something here?
Bill Moyers on Dark Money, the Attack on Voting Rights & How Racism Stills Drives Our Politics
Published on Jan 27, 2014
http://www.democracynow.org - Legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers joins us to discuss his latest investigation which explores how the influence of large, untraceable political donations known as “dark money” have become the greatest threat to democracy in the United States. In “State of Conflict: North Carolina,” Moyers and his team explore how wealthy right-wing donors are greatly influencing state politics. “This is more than North Carolina,” Moyers says. “It’s a harbinger of how organized money is the greatest threat to democracy because it unbalances of equilibrium. Democracy is suppose to check the excesses of private power and private greed and if money disestablishes that equilibrium we’re in trouble.” Moyers, the host of “Moyers & Company,” also talks about the long fight to secure voting rights. Fifty years ago, he was serving in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration at the time of the “Freedom Summer” campaign in 1964 and the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Moyers has won more than 30 Emmy Awards. He also was a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, served as press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson, and was a publisher of Newsday and senior correspondent for CBS News.
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@NYTimesKrugman hits it out of the park. Why don’t we have a guy like this up here?
Photo: Silhouette Man wonders WTF is wrong with Americans.
Some years ago, I read a book by Barbara Tuchman titled The March of Folly. It was so influential, for me at least, that I used it in my master’s thesis. It was a historical survey of societies pursuing policies contrary to their own interests. Tuchman examined several examples (Renaissance popes prompt Protestant secession, the British loss of the North American colonies, the United States in Vietnam), but one of the common themes was that the stupidity of these policies wasn’t something that only became apparent with hindsight. No, the sheer idiocy had to be obvious right then and there.
Of course, Silhouette Man makes the point a lot more succinctly. And it applies to Canada as well.
(H/t Brad Fraser and James Shakey.)
Apparently the U.S., unlike India, has moved past its own backward history of victim-blaming. Apparently, I am to believe, according to the New York Times and Nicholas Kristof, that it is India which must deal with its sexual violence. And the Good Mr. Kristoff and the New York Times know this because the US has dealt with its own sexual violence. It’s now in the past, judging from the smug authority of the Times.
(h/t Stephanie Guthrie and Sarah Barker)
In the late days of the campaign, there has been a chorus arising in the elite political media about what a grubby, wretched campaign this has been. It has not been a battle of big ideas, they say. It has not been a clash of grand visions. (They’re wrong about that last part, as we will demonstrate shortly.) It has not transported them to lofty heights of democratic ecstasy. Yeah, and it hath harshed all their mellows unto the many generations. I’m not exactly sure what these people expected. American politics has degenerated into a grubby, wretched business. American elections have become a staggering money-drunk mess reeling from one catastrophe to another, culminating in the Panamanian clusterfuck that has been unspooling down here over the last four days, and which will come to a cacophonous crescendo on Election Day, when, I guarantee you, something you absolutely did not think ever was possible here in the World’s Greatest Democracy will come blundering out of the swamps and scrub pine to fascinate and horrify us all.
From @mtaibbi, a Christmas message from Wall Street | #classwarfare #uspoli
Apparently, we’d all be in much better shape if the poor were as motivated as Steven Schwarzman is to make America a better place.
But it seems to me that if you’re broke enough that you’re not paying any income tax, you’ve got nothing but skin in the game. You’ve got it all riding on how well America works.
You can’t afford private security: you need to depend on the police. You can’t afford private health care: Medicare is all you have. You get arrested, you’re not hiring Davis, Polk to get you out of jail: you rely on a public defender to negotiate a court system you’d better pray deals with everyone from the same deck. And you can’t hire landscapers to manicure your lawn and trim your trees: you need the garbage man to come on time and you need the city to patch the potholes in your street.
And in the bigger picture, of course, you need the state and the private sector both to be functioning well enough to provide you with regular work, and a safe place to raise your children, and clean water and clean air.
The entire ethos of modern Wall Street, on the other hand, is complete indifference to all of these matters. The very rich on today’s Wall Street are now so rich that they buy their own social infrastructure. They hire private security, they live on gated mansions on islands and other tax havens, and most notably, they buy their own justice and their own government.
Matt Taibbi plays his violin for the poor, victimized, super-rich of America. The sociopathic ways they behave, their parasitic and corrupting effect on civil society, and their open contempt for everyone else … of course, there aren’t any lessons for Canada in any of this.
Nor could we possibly see any of this in terms of class, because of course, this is America, where anyone can make it to the top if you just work hard enough. Bootstraps and all that.
(Say the C word, Matt. Come on. You can do it.)
- The Sun: Demonizing organized labour, no matter what | #cdnpoli #onpoli
- @mtaibbi on How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the #OWS Protests | #Occupy #OccupyTO
- @Cityslikr, @NickKouvalis, and the need for civility in public discourse | #TOpoli #TeamFord
- Beyond the Port Lands: Dragging Swamp Ford for the remnants of civic engagement