War, what is it good for?
Remember that lyric? For Edwin Starr, war – and the song “War” – was good enough to represent a number one hit in the spring of 1970. Released at Vietnam’s nadir, “War” was the biggest hit of Starr’s career, and held the top spot on the Billboard charts for weeks. In the intervening years, it has been covered by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
In the intervening years, too, the sentiment at the centre of “War” has been mooted plenty of times in legislatures and parliaments. War, what is it good for? Anything?
As Canada hovers on the brink in Iraq and Syria, it’s a question that will be debated ad infinitum. Is war good for anyone, politically?
For the prime minister, it is obvious that participation in the international coalition against ISIS is a matter of great principle. Only a cynic would characterize Harper’s position as a total fraud.
Only a fool, however, would believe that politics has not entered into Harper’s calculations. As he prepares for an election next year, the Conservative leader is well aware – as Jimmy Carter learned – that unsuccessful military escapades in foreign lands can have unhelpful electoral consequences back home.
Conversely, ISIS’ defeat could provide Harper’s Conservatives with what they most desire: re-election. To understand why, one need only review the respective positions of Messrs. Mulcair and Trudeau.
For the NDP leader, it is parliamentary business as usual. In respect of virtually every military conflict in which this nation has rightly involved itself in recent decades – Afghanistan, Kosovo – the CCF/NDP have always said “no.”
Their military policy is not to have one. Forever sitting on the sidelines, making chirpy speeches about humanitarian measures, doing little — that is the NDP.
It hasn’t hurt them, arguably, in places like Quebec (although the province’s new premier favours military intervention). But, when one considers ISIS’ campaign of murder and torture and enslavement – when one considers that ISIS’ barbarism has even been condemned by al-Qaida as too extreme – is not the NDP’s indifference to genocide tantamount to complicity?
Mulcair will argue, and has, that Canada is better equipped to deliver humanitarian aid, not military support. But that is sophistry: humanitarian and military efforts are not mutually exclusive. Canada can do, and has done, both.
So, we know where Harper and Mulcair stand – one is for war, one against. But what of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals?
In recent days, Lloyd Axworthy has stated his unequivocal support for action against ISIS. “[ISIS] have to be whacked, and whacked good,” says Axworthy, who is on the party’s progressive left, and who is still regarded by Grits as its most effective foreign affairs minister in modern times.
Former Liberal leader Bob Rae, similarly no hawk, has taken a similar view. In an op-ed dismissing comparisons to George W. Bush’s misadventure in Iraq, he wrote: “Islamic State represents a clear and present danger to the people over whom it rules, to any minorities around the area, to the region and potentially to the world.”
Revered former lieutenant-general Romeo Dallaire said likewise: “I don’t see how it’s possible to contain ISIS without having boots on the ground.”
For now, however, Trudeau has disregarded the advice of the likes of Axworthy, Rae and Dallaire. For now, he has aped the NDP’s position. It hasn’t hurt him.
Says Trudeau: “The Liberal Party of Canada cannot and will not support this prime minister’s motion to go to war in Iraq.”
Understood. But Trudeau would do well to occasionally heed the wisdom of the likes of Axworthy, Rae and Dallaire.
And to recall that “War,” in the end, was just a song.
You have no idea, none, how huge this is for me. What I own should give you a small clue:
- Two (not one) Twin Peaks boxed sets
- Maps of Twins Peaks
- Laura Palmer’s diary
- Twin Peaks cookbook
- Tape of Agent Cooper’s dictations
- Several other Twin Peaks books
- Framed picture of Laura Palmer which I kept in my bedroom
Funny story about the Laura Palmer picture. Upon seeing it, a girl I dated asked me: “Is that your ex?” Me: “Yes. Yes, it is.”
Anyway. Twenty-five years after my world-famous Twin Peaks theme parties, this. God, this is so awesome.
I hate doing that, as you folks well know. Nothing more boring than the media gazing fixedly at its own navel.
However, this morning’s developments are actually rather, you know, newsworthy:
The properties include The Toronto Sun, The Ottawa Sun, The Winnipeg Sun, The Calgary Sun and The Edmonton Sun, as well as The London Free Press and the free 24 Hours dailies in Toronto and Vancouver.
Post-bureau review – a process that could take a long time, admittedly – will Yours Truly still be found in your morning paper, smiling up at you on Tuesdays and Fridays?
Beats me. Who knows. In the meantime, onward and upward.
At 53,000 words. Not any good, mind you, but there’s 53,000 words of it.
Oh, and may be moving and there may be some changes about to happen, too. Other than that, all is good. Watching Son Two play field lacrosse out in Miserysauga, and things are good. Except for the Miserysauga part.
If you are likely to like what likely voters like, then you are likely to be wrong. Get it?
No? That’s alright – nobody else really understands what “likely voters” are, either. But pollsters are pontificating about “likely voters,” yet again, and all of us should be wary.
Case in point: this week, an outfit calling itself Angus Reid Global declared that, among “likely voters,” the Harper Conservatives and Trudeau Liberals are now tied.
Said the pollster: “Among those who are likely voters, the Liberals and Conservatives are tied, with both parties earning the support of 33 per cent.”
Really? That’s not what the past year-and-a-half of polls have said. In all but a few cases, in fact, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have been shown to be ahead, or far ahead. Why is it so different with a poll looking at so-called “likely voters”?
In their appended page about methodology, the Angus Reid people said they applied “a weighting structure that further adjusts our sample to reflect known variations in voter turnout – specifically across age groups – while also filtering based on respondents’ own identified reported past voting patterns and habits.”
What does that mean? Who knows. But it, um, likely means the pollster changed the results they got to (a) reflect the fact that older Canadians tend to vote Conservative, and vote more often and (b) reflect the fact that if a Canadian has voted one way in the past, they are likely to do so in the future.
If that sounds, er, like a reasonable way of peering at mountains of polling data, you’re not alone. This writer, and many others, got burned in Ontario’s election, big time, when we started to believe in this “likely voter” category hooey.
Right until election night on June 12, it made sense to us that “likely voters” were the demographic that pundits and politicos need to pay the most attention to – and, as such, the Ontario Liberals and Ontario PCs were therefore tied in voter intention. According to “likely voters,” Ontarians wanted change, and they were prepared to consider Tim Hudak’s PCs as the best vehicle for delivering it.
On election night, however, some of us were over at the Sun News Network, readying to pontificate about the results. Before the polls closed, I ran into pollster David Coletto, and asked him this: “Um, have you pollster guys worked out what this ‘likely voter’ category is, perchance?”
Said David: “No.”
The rest is history. The “likely voters” weren’t nearly as “likely” as we’d been told, were they? A (very likeable) Kathleen Wynne and her Ontario Liberal election team won a majority when (a rather dislikable) PC campaign team – a team that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with their 100,000 pink slips craziness.
Do we in the media, and sundry pollsters, learn from past mistakes? Ha! Surely you jest! Here we are, three months and a bit later, and we’re back to believing balderdash and baloney about “likely voters.”
Once bitten, twice shy. Fool me once, yadda yadda.
Just forget about the polls, folks, which get things wrong more than they seem to get things right, these days. Justin Trudeau is ahead, full stop.
That’s what my gut is telling me, and I shouldn’t have ever stopped going with it. Hasn’t failed me yet.
You should do, um, likewise. You’re likely to be closer to the likely outcome.