Liberals, leaders, lackluster-ness

From that Ivison column Grits are passing around:

Those are all direct quotes.

Now, blinders-wearing Grits will attack John’s opinion column, natch. But having been an aspiring columnist for some time, I can say that John is merely doing what a columnist is supposed to do – being skeptical, being tough on all sides, being anything but predictable.  That’s the job.

And, by the by, he’s right about quite a few things.  The verbal missteps; the vicious expulsion of Liberal Senators; the diktats about how candidates and MPs should think; the confusing and calamitous decisions on ISIS and C-51; the farce that is the “open nominations” promise: it goes on and on, unfortunately.

Does Trudeau need to make some staff changes before the election? I’ve thought that for some time.  Does he need to get some policy in the window, given the suspicion that voters have about his intellect? For sure.  Does he need to stop trying to tell jokes, and look and sound more Prime Ministerial? Yes, yes and yes.  All that.

I still believe he can become Prime Minister, short or long term.  I still believe he has done extraordinary things for the Liberal Party’s organizational and fundraising strength.  I still believe that most Canadians self-identify as Liberal or liberal.

But Justin Trudeau is now slipping downward towards the twenties, and that’s Ignatieff and Dion territory.  And we all know how that turned out.

Smarten up, Justin.  You only get one chance to make a first impression.

The emperor wears no clothes, but the kids bow to him anyway

Driving in with Son Two, Arcade Fire’s ‘Ready to Start’ comes on.  I personally think Arcade Fire are insufferably pretentious/precious, and Win Butler makes Billy Corgan seem shy and retiring.  But this remains a great pop song, and that line in the middle corresponds to my view of quite a bit of politics, these days.

All the kids have always known
That the emperor wears no clothes
But they bow down to him anyway

Stick to your day job, big guy

Just as the Cons make use of their leader’s artistic expression to fundraise, so too do the Libs, now.

Stick to your day jobs, fellas. If this keeps up, Tom Mulcair will start belting out show tunes in Question Period.


Conservative voices, Liberal voices

Hard for Libs (principally those in Ontario) to kvetch about this when they have benefitted from this.  Conversely, it will make it difficult for Cons (principally those in Ontario) to kvetch about this when they have this.

Don’t you love it when the universe balances out?


Harm, self-harm and depression


Investigators are focusing on whether a “personal life crisis” led a Germanwings pilot to intentionally crash a plane into the French Alps on Tuesday, Bild Zeitung reported, citing unidentified security officials.

Authorities are trying to determine whether Andreas Lubitz’s relationship difficulties with his girlfriend played a role in his apparent decision to initiate the descent into the mountainside, taking 149 passengers and crew to their deaths on Germanwings Flight 9525, the newspaper reported.

The first officer, who had a history of mental illness, had to repeat some stages of flight school because of depression and was occasionally listed as “unfit to fly” during his training in Arizona, Bild said.

Over the years, I’ve had too many friends whose depression spiralled downward into suicide and self-harm. At Bishop Carroll, two artistic, sensitive members of our 531 Club killed themselves in 1977. Periodically, I Google their names, hoping to find some evidence that the world remembers them in some way.

And, in the intervening years, I’ve had other friends and colleagues who did self-harm. In the punk scene, in fact, it was pretty common to see evidence of people burning cigarettes into their arms, or slashing themselves with razor blades. I figured most of that was for shock value – the Germs elevated it to a trend with Circle One – but maybe I was wrong about that.

I’m no expert in depression, but I had always assumed that people suffering from it mostly harmed themselves, not others. If the early reports about Andreas Lubitz are true, however, that assumption is plainly wrong. Lubitz’s apparent act of suicide was also an act of homicide, on a massive scale.

Can anyone refer the rest of us to writings on this issue? It’s important, I think, because it may help answer the “why” that lingers over then tragedy of Flight 9525. It’s also important because I suspect we are going to now see measures to exclude people with depression from certain roles in society – like airline pilots.

And, comments are open, as always. Tread lightly, please.

ISIS: I am confused, as usual

Opposing the Obama-led international coalition for whatever reason is one thing. But to actually suggest we have now somehow become allies of Syria’s despicable regime is, well, despicable.

Why the Mike Duffy trial/scandal/whatever won’t topple the government, with bonus ALL CAPS

You all know my views on scandal stuff, but you also know I am a digitized, Internet-based broken record, and possibly not even a person.  To wit: scandal-mongering DOESN’T WORK.

Cole’s Notes version as to why:

  • The media/politico chattering class call EVERYTHING a scandal, and always append “gate” to the end of same, to no discernible effect
  • The public ALREADY think EVERYONE in politics is a crook, so the breathless revelation that someone involved in politics is a crook ISN’T A REVELATION TO THEM
  • Joe and Jane Frontporch, the aforementioned public, HAVE HEARD THE HYSTERIA AND HISTRIONICS TOO MANY TIMES, and don’t believe any of it UNTIL THE PERP IS LED AWAY IN AN ORANGE PANTSUIT AND HANDCUFFS
  • Joe and Jane believe THE REAL SCANDALS are things like the lack of a JOB, or having to lay in a hospital corridor to get HEALTH CARE, or spending BILLIONS ON SECURITY and deranged, lone-wolf fanatics still figure out a way to kill innocent people – those are THE REAL SCANDALS, not someone expensing something by bona fide mistake, or consensual adults with zipper problems

Ipso facto, we give you JOHN BARBER, who GETS IT.  The Mike Duffy “scandal” WILL HAVE NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER, EVER:

…It is expected to take several weeks to flesh out the details, with the help of the innumerable auditors, officials and functionaries who will dominate the witness stand. Duffy might end up with a slapped wrist, which would be vindication compared to the outrageously unfair slagging he has so far received. But he is just as likely to emerge with head held high and the Crown’s dubious case in ruins.

In either event, the rest of us will be left wondering why this country remains so pathetically incapable of staging a decent political scandal.

In this week’s Hill Times: ten reasons why the Grits and Dippers won’t dance

These are some of the things that happen every four years: leap year, a total solar eclipse, the Olympics, and the FIFA World Cup. 

Oh, and debate—ad infinitum, ad nauseam—about the Liberals and New Democrats coming together to defeat the Satanic Stephen Harper Conservatives. That, too, happens every four years—and, when there’s a minority Parliament, it happens with even greater frequency. 

Thus, this past week, when a mischievous ‎Tom Mulcair started musing out loud about the progressive/coalition/cooperation thing yet again. Columnists columnized about it. Reporters reported on it. Commenters commented on it.  

Here we go again.

Take it from someone who has actually written a book, Fight The Right (available at all fine bookstores near you), that expertly dealt with this issue: Canadian progressives coming together to oust the dastardly, rebarbative Cons is a non-starter. 

Herewith, 10 reasons why: 

1. Well, they super hate each other. Per the immortal words of Sally Fields, inverted, they really, really do. For myriad reasons—cultural, ideological, political—each party heartily detests the other. Each regards the other as a threat, not a partner. 

2. We’ll say it again: the cultures are radically different. The NDP loathe the Liberals, mainly, because they regard them as a party without ideology and therefore principles. Oddly, most Dippers prefer the Tories—“because they at least believe in something.” Grits, Dippers say, don’t. 

3. The Liberals think they can win on their own: Trudeau’s party, despite their reduced Parliamentary status, ‎are much more popular than they ever were with Michael Ignatieff or Stéphane Dion. They genuinely feel they have a shot at power, and they genuinely do. So who needs a coalition?

4. The NDP think they can win, too: But it isn’t what you think. New Democrats know, in recesses of their big, bleeding hearts, that they lack enough broad-based support to enthrone Mulcair in 24 Sussex Dr. So, privately, they would be content to stay where they are—as a strong official opposition. In so doing, they keep the hated Liberals out of 24 Sussex Dr., too. 

5. Coming together now looks bad: if the Grits and the Dippers somehow join forces, they will be both admitting, de facto, that they cannot win the 2015 election. That isn’t good for grassroots morale, and it’s something mean old Stephen Harper would have a lot of fun with.

6. Coming together after the election is even worse: As before, any attempt to form a coalition post-vote will be depicted by Harper as a bloodless coup. It worked in 2008-2009, and it will work again 2015.

7.  Mulcair doesn’t like Trudeau: In private, New Democrats are scathing in their assessment of the Liberal leader. They see him as the literal embodiment of everything they dislike: all charisma and no conviction. All trust fund, no street smarts. Mulcair therefore regards Trudeau as unfit to shovel the driveway at Stornoway. 

8. Trudeau doesn’t like Mulcair: to the Liberals, Mulcair is the main impediment to regaining power. And, after the Pacetti-Andrews schmozzle, Trudeau wouldn’t trust Mulcair for a New York minute. And he doesn’t. 

9. The policy divide is a veritable chasm: take, for instance, C-51. The New Democrats appear more interested in using the anti-terror bill as a club, a wedge, with which to beat the perfidious Liberals. Their desire to actually, you know, oppose C-51 seems almost secondary.

10. Their view of federalism could not be more dissimilar: Mulcair, to federalist Liberals, is a venal crypto-separatist. His Sherbrooke Declaration, his equivocation on Quebec nationalism, enrages Liberals—who see themselves, still, as the only party capable of Keeping Canada United. 

There you go. Mulcair can have his fun, and the columnists can fell forests to print opinion pieces about it all. 

But an NDP-Liberal coalition is never, ever going to happen. 

(Or not in this four-year cycle, at least.)