Friday, September 26, 2008

Vulgar Conservatism

If you ever venture around the LeftLibertarian Yahoo Group, or read much from the left libertarian blogsphere, you'll notice a term we use quite often - "vulgar libertarianism".

Vulgar Libertarianism is a term coined by Kevin Carson and it refers to those who use libertarian words and ideas to promote or excuse definitely unlibertarian actions. The Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute are examples - they say they promote free markets and enterprise, but have no qualms with government bailouts or the enforcement of laws and regulations designed to favour certain companies or industries to the detriment of others. (Update: To be fair in this instance, the Cato Institute is against the bailout. However, they have been known to indulge in vulgar libertarian at other times, which is why they are included in this.)

For all their talk, these people aren't libertarians, but economic fascists who merely want the state to work for their enrichment and benefit, rather than removing state barriers and enhancing liberty.

With the current meltdown in the US economy affecting our election, we are witnessing the rise of what I call Vulgar Conservatism. That is, the use, by the Conservative Party and their supporters, of the myth that the CPC is a party of small government and free markets. Even some Conservatives I respect and that are normally quite intelligent, are repeating this talking point.

The most obvious example is the idea that only Harper and the CPC are fiscally conservative and responsible to ride out tough economic times. And while Harper talks that way, he and Jim Flaherty act different. As Andrew Coyne pointed out a year-and-a-half ago:

The budget maintains, notwithstanding a $25-billion increase in spending over two years, that the government is showing unwavering fiscal discipline. How? Because it has kept the growth in spending to no more than the growth in the economy, “on average.”

Now, people like me would argue the percent-of-GDP measure is misleading: it implies that, so long as spending has not grown faster than the economy, it has not grown at all. But I suppose that’s within the bounds of acceptable political chicanery.

Or would be, if in fact spending had grown slower than the economy. But, again, the budget’s own figures show that it hasn’t. Program spending was 12.8% of GDP in fiscal 2006, 13.1% in 2007, and will be 13.3% in 2008.

How, then, do the Tories maintain that spending has grown no faster than the economy, even “on average?” By including in the average fiscal 2006, a year in which nominal spending actually declined slightly (though only after a nearly 15% gain the previous year). Just one problem: the Liberals were in power in fiscal 2006, or all but the last two months of it. The Tories are claiming credit for Liberal “restraint.”

Or, as he put it a few days earlier:

"With this budget -- including another 6% increase in spending, on top of last year’s 8% blowout -- Jim Flaherty officially becomes the biggest spending finance minister in the history of Canada.

It’s true. The $200-billion in program spending Mr. Flaherty has budgeted for this year works out to about $5,800 for every man, woman and child in Canada. Even adjusting for inflation and increases in population, that’s more than Paul Martin spent in his frantic last hours. It is more than the Mulroney government spent in its last days. It is more than the Trudeau government spent in the depths of the early 1980s recession. All of these past benchmarks of out-of-control spending must now be retired. Jim Flaherty has outdone them all."[emphasis mine]

That is "vulgar conservatism". Say you are for fiscal responsibility and restraint and act completely the opposite. His assessment of the 2008 Flaherty budget wasn't much better.

This is fiscal conservatism, apparently - outspending Paul Martin, Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau at their worst, while cutting taxes (or claiming to). I was under the impression fiscal conservatism was about reducing taxes and spending, keeping the books balanced and getting government "out of the way".

Then this same Prime Minister and Conservative Party claim that it is the opposition that will drive the country into deficit and only they can keep us afloat. Even after their actual record while in office and even after their own "orgy of pre-election spending", amounting to $8.8 billion or $94 million per day. And after years of massive surpluses under the Liberals, it was the Conservatives that sunk into deficit this spring for a few months. It is the Conservatives that cut $45 million in arts funding under the guise of fiscal prudence while maintaining $1.5 billion in subsidies to the most profitable industry on the planet, oil and gas.

Reminds me of when Jim Flaherty was the Finance Minister in Ontario under Harris and Eaves and drove us into deficit, while telling us we were in surplus. Deja vu?

This is nothing compared to the very idea that someone can be a small-government fiscal conservative on one hand, while demanding the state intervene in private matters such as marriage or abortion on the other. They wish to move the state out of the boardroom and into the bedroom.

Now that is a lot of things - populist, authoritarian, reactionary - but it is not "conservative". It is a repeat of both Reagan and Bush, where promises of small government and fiscal prudence gave way to growth in government and massive debt and deficit.

Right now, no party is fiscally conservative and no party has sensible plans to manage government finances well. But only the Conservative Party is trying to tell you that they are the "natural fiscal responsibility party" when they are not.

Ask your self this - if you suddenly found yourself in a lower paying job, with less income than last year or the year before, would you opt to spend more money or less? Seems Stephen Harper would spend more, but have you stop buying one coffee a day and call it fiscal conservatism and think that will get you through the hard times.

That is vulgar conservatism and that is what the Conservative Party is.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Reason 47,882,900 voting is for chumps...

So after going to the wall and demanding that May be included in the debates as a matter of principle, along with a lot of others in blogsphere, how does the Green Party thank us?

Why by threatening legal action against a blogger for posting a less-than-flattering Youtube video of May, of course.

Isn't that nice.

Don't get me wrong. Leftdog and I are still at odds as to whether May should be in the debates, and I was pretty strong in my criticism of his position over at Red Tory's place. I stand by that criticism. In my opinion, he knee-jerked in a typical partisan fashion toeing the party line rather than examining it from principle. So eager was he to attack the Greens that, as you can see from the previous link, he mistook James Bow for James Bowie. Then, to further his partisan attack, he posted the video in question.

The video inquestion was created by Stephen Taylor, founder of the Blogging Tories and well known Conservative insider, clearly, in my opinion, as a Rovian style smear against May. The video clearly and purposefully misrepresents what May said in an effort to hurt her.

It seems clear that what Taylor and leftdog are purporting she said ("Canadians are stupid") is not, in fact, what she said - she seems to be agree with the assertion that politicians think canadians are stupid when it comes to carbon taxes. She says "they" not "I"...

So where does that leave us?

The Conservatives are scared stiff, it seems, of Elizabeth May. First they try to prevent her from taking part in the debate. When that doesn't seem to work, the resort to astro-turfing a video and audio clip that totally misrepresents what she said, again, to try to discredit her. Leftdog, in his zeal to spout the party position at the time, goes out of his way to become a "useful idiot" of this Conservative campaign.

And the Green's conveniently respond with poorly worded legal threats against an opponent. Even though I disagree with leftdog's tactics and his ultra-partisanship, use of lawsuits to quash criticism and dissent is absolutely unacceptable in a free society and in this I stand with and support leftdog against this Green Party nonsense.

And, in an irony of near biblical proportions, the Conservatives whinge about the Greens doing it as a further reason they should not be in the debates or taken seriously.

Yes, the Conservatives are upset that a political party is using lawsuits or threats for lawsuits to prevent people from hearing potentially embarrassing audio tape of their leader.

Irony is dead.

In one incident we have the display of arrogance, authoritarianism and childish churlishness from almost all of the political parties. These are the people and their supporters who wish to rule us for the next 4 to 5 years. These are the choices we have when deciding whom to entrust our decision making power for taxes and freedom.

That's the problem with choosing between these clowns - you'll get one of them.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Shorter Stephen Harper ...



Shorter Layton and Duceppe:

"Gravel and Grubs, gravel and grubs!"

Is there anyone out there who really thinks that this election is about democracy and fairness, rather than a naked lust for power?

I have never been so glad I quit the NDP as I am right now.

You know, I may not spoil my ballot, I may vote Green out of spite.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

And now, the lying begins.

So, we are subjected to stupidity again. Harper has broken his own law in order to have an election when it is convenient for him.

Why, exactly, w0uld anyone vote for these power-hungry scum?

Oh and before any of the usual suspects accuses me of being a Liberal, rest assured I'll highlight the Liberals lies as well - and you Dion, Rae and Iggy are queuing them up. And Layton and May as well. Hell the only one likely to tell any semblance of the truth is Duceppe and only then in English Canada because he has nothing to lose.

Tally up the lies. Tally up the orgy of pre-election spending.

And then realize we don't need any of these clowns to tell us what to do or how to act.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Reality Check

This week it seems that the mindlessness if flowing like water. On all sides of the political spectrum, critical thinking has given way to strange, herd-thinking and cheer-leading for "our team".

Take the US election for instance.

To a person, those on the "left" like and support Barack Obama as a fellow lefty and 'liberal'. Yet, his policy and record show that he is, from a Canadian political perspective, the equivalent to a Diefenbaker-Stansfield-Clark Progressive Conservative, not a Liberal. Ironically it should be the Conservatives who support Obama, yet they, almost to a person, stampede to the McCain camp and the Republicans who really are even further right than even the Reform party was. The same people who scream 'Adscam!" when the Liberals are in the room and "Free Speech!" when Human Rights Commissions are mentioned happily support a person - Sarah Palin - who is alleged to have abused her power as Governor to have her brother-in-law fired from the Alaska State Troopers during a messy divorce from her sister and who tried during her term in office as mayor to have books banned from the public library.

And why? Because of the perception that these people are "on your side" or "on your team" - the American right must be naturally allied with the Canadian right, right? American 'liberals' are exactly like the Liberals, no?


This knee jerk, collectivist tribalism allows all kinds of cognitive disonance to take place. Liberals who support same sex-marriage have no issue with Obama, who does not support it. Conservatives who support "family values" and "abstinence only sex education" seem to have no problem singing the praises of Palin, whose 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and is having a shotgun wedding to the 18-year-old father. Or of McCain calling his wife a "cunt". Imagine the reaction if it had been "the other side" with these things happening.

(To be fair, Lore Weaver seems to be the only intellectually honest blogger on this - he is an Obama supporter and a Conservative).

And then there is our own (unofficial) election campaign.

The supposedly "fiscal conservative" Stephen Harper and the CPC promising billions in corporate welfare to Ford, even after running a deficit for a short time this spring and after cutting arts funding less than a week ago under the guise of being "fiscally responsible".

Or of Stephane Dion claiming his failed summer "Green Shift" tour was "consultation" that resulting in major changes to the program, after the multiple polls that showed how unpopular it was.

I could go on but you get the picture.

So, tell me again why its better to have a state, run by uncritical, unthinking, unprincipled, intellectually dishonest dolts who seem to want to equate "left" and "right" to their favourite hcokey team?

So to sum up for those who have trouble understanding:

Obama==Progressive Conservative
Republicans == far right of the Reform Party
Sarah Palin == authoritarian who would be ridiculed even by Conservatives if she were Canadian.
Stephen Harper == mean-spirited political whore in a blue tie
Stephane Dion == mousy political whore in a red tie.

In the end, when the smoke clears, we'll still get taxed too much, we'll still get crappy service from the government, we'll still be fighting religious fundementalism, the US will still be in Iraq and (October Surprise!) maybe Iran, and we will still be bribed with our own money by people who want power for their own good, not ours.

It really doesn't matter who "wins".

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