04.24.2017 07:44 AM

Twitter irritants and political certainties

So, I opined on Twitter that the neo-Nazi Le Pen cannot win in the next round of the French residential elections. It’s a widely-held view; the odds are decidedly against the Trump-favoured fascists in the next round.

That single tweet elicited this response from an Ottawa actor (who, tellingly, is a New Democrat):

So, I found that rather irritating, because it fell into one of the categories of Twitter things that are rather irritating to me:

  1. People who ask me to do their research, instead of doing their own damn research.  Also, rhetorical tweets.
  2. Passive-aggressive tweets.
  3. People who tweet hate, naturally.
  4. Humourless, pious people who are online hall monitors, perpetually tsk-tsking everyone else, and acting like God made them the arbiter of all that is morally/ethically/politically correct.
  5. People who (like Sean, above) who cling to the (now popular) view that nothing is knowable.

In politics, you hear from the Not Knowable People all the time.  They’re like the Pharisees of the modern age.  To wit: you guys all said Kathleen Wynne wouldn’t win in 2014, but she did! You guys all said Donald Trump wouldn’t win in 2016, but he did!  Ha!

[Pithy responses, respectively:  The Ontario Libs didn’t win so much as the Ontario PCs lost.  There’s a difference, idiot.  And: Trump didn’t win.  He cheated in the electoral college, with the help of Russia and thousands of hackers, and Hillary got three million more votes than he did, which should count for something in a sane universe.]

This crew – this “nothing is knowable anymore” crew – drive me bananas.  Like the Pharisees, mediocrity is their medium.  Beige is their colour, and tapioca is their manna. They never take any risks, they never venture a strong opinion, and they are therefore never shown to be wrong about anything.  Like J. Alfred Prufrock, they doubt everything and know nothing.

As you might have gleaned over the past 15 years or so, the author of this web site is not shy about offering an opinion every so often.  He – and I know him quite well, so trust me – likes people who are colourful and creative and who take risks.  He despises Prufrock-like bureaucrats.  Dare I eat a peach?

I do, I do.  I dare. I’m going to keep daring to eat peaches, bushels of ’em, until I am booted off this mortal coil.  As my journalism prof Roger Bird said to me in response to a post a few days ago:  “You were a part of the continuing reward of teaching in the School of Journalism. It took a very short time for me to recognize stars soon after they walked through the door. You were among them of course. Beyond that, you were a shit disturber. My inner rule for such was, don’t get in their way. Clearly I followed the rule and you went on to do much good in the world.”

I will keep Roger’s note around until I croak.  It is a wonderful and needed shield against the Know-Nothings on Twitter. Meanwhile, you Twitter people who are lazy – or who hate, or who are too clever by half, or who are pious, or who say nothing is knowable?

You irritate us, but you won’t ever beat us.




  1. I had a dipper last week on Disqus mansplain to me (now I know why women #@#$% hate that sh#t) that Canadian taxation is a system of control and that government can basically manifest money at the drop of a coin via the Bank of Canada and that taxpayers don’t have to pay anything back because, again, taxes are a form of control. (This was all in relation to a comment on Pat Stogran who I served under at CFB Calgary running for the NDP Leadership.) Then another informed me that veterans have no greater advocate than the NDP, but wouldn’t thank me for my service because Canada won a Nobel.

    I believe that many in the NDP are on crack. Best to let them maintain their sense of moral superiority while losing national elections in perpetuity.

  2. Luke says:

    The ‘nothing is knowable anymore’ concept is tedious, sure, but predictions of the future always bear their risks. Better to have an opinion and stay vigilant, right? So I think that guy has a point.

    Nevertheless, I agree with you about Le Pen’s odds. Not good against a centrist. Which is good for the rest of us. Better would be if she lost outright in the run-off, but at least she isn’t against the far left.

  3. Kevin says:

    Don’t know if I’m really guilty, or if it’s just the Catholic in me, but I recognize myself in too much of that. Uncomfortable…

  4. Will says:

    Never mind “winning”—the only reasons Trump got a single vote outside his immediate family were:
    a., misogyny;
    b., he was enough of a sociopath to pretend he’s been a successful businessman (he’s famously been lying about how rich he is for decades), and other people are polite enough that when someone says, “I’m a billionaire,” we don’t say, “No, you’re not, you moron, and take off that stupid wig.”

    One of these factors is going to actively work against Le Pen (at the end of the day, the Your Ward News cretins who make up her theoretical base are not going to vote for a woman), and the other one is not going to work for her. She doesn’t have Trump’s ego—thank God, I can’t think of anyone else in the world who does—and so she won’t be able to lie as outrageously as he did during his campaign. As a woman running against a man, she’d be called out if she did (whereas as a man running against a woman, Trump faced no serious effort to shut down his bullshit).

    Anything is *possible* in politics. That doesn’t mean all outcomes are EQUALLY possible. LePen might have a ~1% chance of winning if her very young, very inexperienced opponent pulls a Horgan. I don’t think anyone is disputing that. But “sometimes unexpected things happen in politics” does not mean “we can never predict anything about anything – tomorrow it might be sunny or it might rain hot lava, those things are equally plausible!”

    • tf says:

      My aged mother who lives in southern ontario and who has never expressed a political opinion to me that I can remember, said “of course Hilary lost, she’s a woman.”
      I never felt so confident in determining misogyny in Trump as at that moment.

  5. Russ says:

    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though chequered by failure, than to take rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that that knows neither victory nor defeat.

    Theodore Roosevelt

  6. Kevin T. says:

    Anytime an NDP supporter tweets sanctimoniously, a soccer match gets its dive.

  7. Ridiculosity says:

    There is great freedom to be found in Not Giving A Shit what other’s think about you.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Tired of it All says:

    Theirs is an increasingly broad position which means, frankly, the death of the West.

  9. P. Brenn says:

    I dont know but I either agree or disagree with you..better than always being on the fence.

  10. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I expect her to win but hope to hell she doesn’t. Glad she lost the popular vote, both in number and in percentage terms in the first round.

    • Miles Lunn says:

      While I could be wrong, Macron has a much bigger lead than Trump or the remain side in Brexit ever had. The real danger is rather complacency that many assuming Macron has it sewn up will just stay home. Unlike with Trump or Brexit, the far right in the last three opportunities in Europe actually under performed rather than over performed polls. In Austria last December, it was neck-neck when in the end it was a 7 point spread against them. In the Netherlands the polls nailed every party except Wilder’s PVV which did worse than polled and the first place finisher, VVD who did better. In France while the polls were reasonably accurate Le Pen matched the worst poll in the final week for her. The reason for this is turnout in all three mentioned above was much higher than Brexit or Trump and in the latter two which were multi-party not binary, you had a lot of undecided up until voting day who decided on voting day, but most of them weren’t going for Le Pen or Wilders, just deciding on which alternative to choose. Had turnout been 78% like in France or 81% like in Netherlands, I am pretty confident Hillary Clinton would have won the election whereas had turnout been only 57% (what it was in the US) in both, Le Pen likely would have come in first and perhaps Fillon would have advanced while in Netherlands Wilders would have been a lot closer not 8 points behind. Essentially the hard right has a loyal motivated base that will always show up, but very limited appeal beyond that.

  11. Robert Frindt says:

    Every military disaster in history started with overconfidence; and every political disaster as well.

    I think we are at a point where it is a lot wiser to be like Nassim Taleb’s “Fat Tony”, who claims “nobody knows nuthin’

    than it is to be like Taleb’s “Dr John”, who thinks he has the future wired with his fancy math and statistical models.

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