Sunday, December 07, 2008

Another salvo in Canada's culture war.

Michael Coren is my Grendel. My Green Knight. My Magneto.

Actually, he's none of those things, because while those villains were respected, conflicted and complex, Coren either has become a caricature to me, or he really is that simple, deluded and desperate.

It's probably more accurate to say that he's my Bizarro.

I'm sure that he's a smart man in his own way, but clearly his cognition is impaired. By what, I have no idea. Maybe it's a brain injury. Speaking as a blad man, I can say that Coren's head is kinda shaped funny. I doubt that's it. I figure it's partial paralysis. It's no secret, and not insulting, to note that faith must disengage reason. The Holy Trinity is confusing and contradictory, for instance, so believing it requires that parts of the brain be shut down.

Transubstantiation is another good example. It's bread. To believe that it literally becomes the flesh of Christ is to suspend reason, if only temporarily.

And I've dealt harshly with conservatism before, noting that the persistence of the ideology has less to do with its validity than its simplicity. So there's reason to believe that it's not necessarily faith that impedes Coren's logic circuits, but conservatism. I must note, however, that none of this prevents him from being more widely read, more widely respected and wealthier than I.

He's a week behind in his analysis, which is likely due to the vagaries of his Sun Media deadlines, and as such, he has little to add the the discussion, except the usual batch of insults at pointy-headed liberals. Coren is nothing if not consistent. He can take anything, literally anything, and make it the latest skirmish in the culture war that most of us aren't interested in fighting.

Last week, a report by an academic regarding the Human Rights Tribunal was actually about those poor Christians who are so put upon by Canadian society that they worship in secret, shamefully behind closed doors, constantly afraid that the ever-so-stylish Gay Brownshirts (with their dashing ascots, matching belts and shoes, and neatly pressed trousers) will bust in, and start dragging them off to face the injustice of the Human Rights Commission, convicted of thoughtcrime. Catholics, their churches razed and their masses conducted in hushed tones with guards posted at the doors, fight bravely for their freedom of religion in a society so lost and godforsaken that only 80% of the population identifies themselves as religious, some of whom aren't even Christians, and they labour under the yoke of the agnostic minority.

Coren is, however, up to speed on Canada's political crisis, and, quelle surprise, he parrots the same objections that the CPC has been spouting for ten days. Not content to be able to add nothing new to the discussion, Coren reaches back for some good old-fashioned liberal bashing, and reiterates his basic tired thesis. I say this knowing full well that I repeatedly take his columns apart, and thus am moderately guilty of the same sin. My irony detector is working perfectly well, thank you.

However, Michael needs a spanking. So let's get started.

Stealing power no way to go

There's no need to wait as the title is the best place to begin. The coalition is not "stealing" power. That implies that Steve owns it. He does not. Thank you. Next?
In 20 years of writing columns and hosting radio and television shows in this country I have never known such anger and received as many e-mails, phone calls and letters as over the attempt by the defeated political parties to usurp the democratic process, overthrow the elected prime minister and replace him with arguably the most unpopular and least impressive Canadian political leader since the Second World War.
Ignore for a second Coren's repeated accusations about the "liberal bias" of the media, which he discredits with the first 15 words. This statement might be technically true. I have no idea how much mail he gets. Nor do I care. But there are several assumptions contained here that nonetheless get me reaching for the Tums, muttering, "Jesus, not again."

First, the democratic process has not been usurped. Our system of elections is odd, unfair, quirky and unreliable, but it's the best we've got, and it allows for this sort of thing. As I've said before, I'm not a fan of the policies of any of the coalition parties on the whole, but everything they've done is legal and above-board. Second, the Prime Minister is not elected, and saying it over and over does not make it so. Third, the list of unimpressive Canadian political leaders from the last 60 years is a long one, and I doubt that Dion even cracks the top ten. Off the top of my head:
  • Ernie Eves
  • Kim Campbell
  • Preston Manning
  • Stockwell Day III
  • Joe Clark
  • Peter MacKay
  • Stephen Harper
And that's only the conservatives (in various incarnations, and only in my lifetime). The Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc have more than their share of duds.

But here's what really galls me about that paragraph. It is the appeal to populism. What Coren is saying is that he got a lot of mail about the situation, and according to his unscientific sample, Canadians hate the coalition. The problem I have is not the number of Canadians who might agree with Coren, but the fact that he uses those numbers against the rest of us. The majority mattered seven weeks ago (when it elected too few Conservatives to hold onto power). It does not, unfortunately, matter now.
People who have never voted Conservative in their lives are promising to support the Tories and diehard Liberals are abandoning their party because they see all this as a battle between the interests of the country and the ambitions of politicians. There is tangible resentment out there and it proves once again how the elitists of the left simply do not understand the greatness and resolve of the Canadian people.
Those first two statements may be true. Again, I have no way of knowing. The problem I have is that, again, the appeal to the numbers. The fact that there are lots of people who hate the coalition is irrelevant. Again, law and precedent are on their side. The second statement is not only nonsense, in that it makes no fucking sense, but it doesn't have anything to do with anything. It's just Coren's overall thesis: liberals are poopie heads. It's also a red herring. He implies that liberals aren't like "ordinary Canadians". It's a weak xenophobic argument, but it keeps getting traction. It further underlines the fundamental weakness of conservatism.
We are not fools. We know that Stephen Harper acted rashly and probably should have waited before trying to abolish public funding for political parties.
Gee, Mike. As my grandmother used to say in less enlightened times, that's mighty white of you. This is something that conservatives all across the country are doing. By admitting that big Steve made an error, they are trying to claim the moral high ground. It goes like this: Obviously, this was a mistake, but-- And it doesn't matter what follows the but, because the idea is to make them look chastened and contrite, so that coalition supporters will look like power-hungry assholes. It also assumes that party funding should be cut, which is problematic for reasons I'll get into elsewhere, and it assumes that it is that particular dick move that fired up the other guys: not the right to strike thing, not the equal pay thing, and not the fundamental idiocy of cutting government spending during a recession.
Most Canadians, however, do not support the separatist party receiving 80% of its finances from taxpayers and they also know that the Liberals traditionally were the party of big business and are in financial trouble for the first time because they do not enjoy mass support and are on the verge of bankruptcy.
Whether or not the Bloc gets that much of its money from the feds is misdirection. It's a statement designed to get the reader seeing red so they can't see the weakness of Coren's position. It's also a made up statistic. Coren has no way of knowing whether or not it's true. The fact that it might be is irrelevant. Remember my post on bullshit? The veracity of the claim does not determine whether or not it's a lie. This is a lie, even if it's true. And the second half of that sentence is incoherent in addition to being irrelevant. Furthermore, it's another cheap shot designed to associate "big business" and "Liberal" in the reader's mind. This is useful because corporations are evil, stupid welfare moms these days, and tying Stephane Dion to the CEO of GM is helpful in villifying him.
This, by the way, is one of the reasons why they charged $90,000 to any person who wanted to be a candidate for party leadership, thus disqualifying most potential contenders. They are selecting a new leader, of course, because they agree that Stephane Dion is not fit to be Liberal chief. Not fit to lead the party but, according to these same Liberals, fit enough to lead the country -- at a time of severe financial crisis.
Right, Mike. We get it. They're broke. The minimum amount required to run for leadership is a necessary evil, I'd wager. Yes, it's essentially undemocratic (requiring any deposit at all to run is undemocratic, but welcome to modern democracy), but those leadership races are expensive, and most of the contenders from the last time still owe money. This is a way to make sure they've got the scratch. Coren also implies here that he gives a shit. He doesn't. The Liberals could nominate Jesus Christ, and Coren would probably convert to Judaism, so that he could still hate the Grits. The party leader/PM thing is a cheap shot at Dion. The Liberals were essentially told that Dion is not fit to lead the country, and since they want their leader to be the PM, they are choosing a new leader.
None of this has anything to do with an economic stimulus package but everything to do with desperate politicians who, though told repeatedly by the electorate they are not required in government, see an opportunity to steal power and run the country.
He's quite right that it has nothing to do with an economic stimulus package, because THERE IS NO FUCKING ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE. If I may be so bold, allow me to suggest that that's part of the beef with Big Steve. Coren also lies about Canadian government in this paragraph. They are in government. You can tell, because they (until Big Steve locked the doors), showed up every day to yell at him. In fact, they make up better than half of the government, which is how they are able to tell him take his economic statement and his resume and look for another position. He also once again calls this stealing, which implies ownership.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Coren is a liar.
The Liberals were told twice in a row that they had lost and the NDP have been told at every stage in its history that Canadians do not want them as federal governors.
This is all framing. Yes, the Liberals did lose votes in the last election. They lost seats. Interestingly, the CPC also lost votes in the last election. Coren would call this irrelevant. It's also another misdirection. Their standing in the last election gave them enough power to kick Big Steve to the curb. Canadians gave the the opposition parties enough power to rule if they banded together. There's simply no way around that.
But none of this seems to matter when dog politicians sniff the bones of governance.
Besides being a shitty thing to say, it's also hypocritical. No one has thirsted after more power in Canadian history than Big Steve. He has sealed the PMO, brooks no opposition, and has his caucus afraid to say or do anything without his okay.
So ambitious are they that they shake hands with the devil and form a coalition with people who are the prostitutes of Canadian politics, who detest the notion of Quebec existing within Canada and will sell their votes and seats to anyone who has the cash or the influence.
The Bloc's stance on separation is quite icky, but it is less evil than stripping women of their right to seek equal pay for equal work. Calling them "prostitutes" is nonsense. Legislation passes or fails because of their votes. They are in the government whether you like it or not. Furthermore, the CPC in its various incarnations has proposed to ally with the Bloc twice. Presumably, they were less devilish then.
The separatists despise Dion, the NDP detest the Liberals and everybody knows that Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff are waiting and watching for the chance to thrust their knives.
They apparently despise Dion less than they despise Big Steve. The internal power struggle of the Libs is another misdirection. It just means that once they decide on a new leader, that guy will be PM. Sound undemocratic? So's letting some pushy dickhead who seems to be mistrusted by most Canadians be the PM. Again, it's the system we've got, and while I'd really like to see a new one, we got what we've got. And those knives in Dion's back can be recycled when the government falls in January.
The Governor General is not to blame, but a former CBC journalist and Liberal appointee married to a hard line Quebec separatist might not be the best person to guarantee the dignity and integrity of our constitutional future.
Quite right, though not for the reasons Coren would think. He wants Big Steve to be in charge, so the GG is a horrible remnant of an archaic tradition. The problem is that she has set a precedent that is dangerous. Coren would, of course, disagree. Now that she's prorogued, I'd wager that Coren thinks the GG is a noble link to our past, and a gentle reminder of Mother England.

As for another election, the wasting of $300 million while people lose their jobs and homes is an open, bleeding wound.

Is this what Canada has come to? Tiresome mediocrities oiling their way through Parliament in the pathetic hope that they will sit in an addled and discredited cabinet.

So what's your answer, Mike? An election might be the only way out of this mess. You're right that it's too soon. But calling the money spent wasted is dangerous. Democracy is worth whatever it costs. Mike would suggest that democracy in Afghanistan is worth the lives of 100 Canadians. Democracy here comes cheap at $300 million. I don't even know where to begin with the second paragraph. It's just name calling.
In the name of all that is good and Canadian, pray on your knees that all this is put right.
The last sentence is pure nonsense, containing nothing, except a call to inaction. Pray? What will that do? To be honest, I want god to stay out of it. The divisions are deep enough without religion.

I don't know how this guy keeps getting published.


David said...

Great post. Thanks for diving into that cesspool for us.

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