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.) 

ISIS: read this

This Matthews guy is smart.

One expert in genocide and war said the government motion neatly manoeuvred Trudeau into repudiating his own party’s foreign policy legacy.

“I think now from a political perspective this is a bigger wedge issue because Liberals were the ones who helped bring about responsibility to protect (R2P), that said we must do more to protect human security. They are now basically turning their backs on that notion,” said Kyle Matthews, senior deputy director at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies with Concordia University.

The mission has already exposed a split in the Liberal caucus. Veteran Liberal MP Irwin Cotler abstained from the first vote on the mission back in October — a decision Trudeau said at the time he respected…

For Matthews, that’s part of the larger problem. He said that the opposition parties are being too narrow-minded when they frame the mission from a combat perspective alone, neglecting to acknowledge Canada’s international legal obligation to prevent genocide.

“The Vatican has come out saying there’s genocide against Christians. The UN came out last week and said that ISIS is trying to commit genocide against the Yazidis. U.S. air power has prevented ISIS from committing that genocide but the Liberals who helped bring about R2P aren’t even mentioning it, and the NDP won’t even mention that a genocide is taking place,” said Matthews.

“Harper is kind of right in that there is a humanitarian imperative here, and not just ‘Harper’s war’.”

The war against ISIS: write your own talking points (updated)

As expected, the Harper government is moving to extend and even expand our participation in the international force targeting ISIS.

The Conservatives – with the possible exception of Michael Chongwill be unanimous in their support for that motion.

The NDP – with no exceptions that I’m aware of – will be unanimous in their opposition.

So what of the Liberal Party? Everyone agrees they are now in a bit of a dilemma. Justin Trudeau strenuously opposed the mission, and even seemed to mock it – but then subsequent polls showed overwhelming support for our participation, and concurrent decline in Liberal support. Trudeau then went on to support C-51.

In light of that, how would you craft talking points for Trudeau for tomorrow today? When he emerges from his weekly caucus meeting office, he will be facing a gargantuan scrum, with reporters demanding to know which way he will vote. It will be interesting.

Below is my stab at some talking points, pro and con.

Continue to oppose the mission:

  • We support our men and women in uniform.  We support efforts to combat terrorism.
  • What we do not support, however, is a military effort that lacks definition, lacks transparency, and is wholly different from what the government said it would be.
  • The Conservative government said we would not have a combat role.  That is what the Prime Minister said, repeatedly.  But it is clear to everyone that we are engaged in combat – and we have already lost one of our men in uniform, just a few days ago.
  • No one seems to know exactly how how Sgt. Andrew Doiron died.  At whose hands? In what circumstances? Why?
  • The loss of Sgt. Doiron is a loss for us all.  He is a Canadian hero, now gone.  We in the Liberal Party believe that we owe all of those heroes – all of those women and men in uniform – a clear sense of their mission.  Its rules of engagement.  Its strategic objective.  Its end date.
  • Canadians are owed that, too.  And, until we get it, we will stand with our troops – but not with this government.

Support the mission

  • Our party – unlike the NDP – is not afraid of a fight.  We do not oppose combat in each and every instance.
  • The Liberal Party of Canada sent Canadian forces into battle to fight fascism in World War II.  To stop genocide, in Bosnia.  To contain terror, in Afghanistan.  It was Liberal governments who made those difficult decisions.
  • Equally, the legacy of past Liberal governments is peacekeeping.  Prime Minister Pearson won a Nobel Prize for Canada’s peacekeeping efforts. We are proud of that legacy.
  • With that legacy uppermost in our minds, the Liberal caucus this morning agreed to support the international effort against ISIS.  We will be voting to extend Canada’s role there.
  • We do so for one reason, above all others: the situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq has gotten dramatically worse in recent months. ISIS has revealed itself to be a well-funded, well-organized genocidal cult – a malignant force unlike any that we have seen in our lifetimes. They are not going away.
  • We opposed the war in Iraq in 2003 because that American-led effort lacked evidence of weapons of mass destruction.  It lacked United Nations support.  In recent weeks, however, the United Nations has clearly documented horrors carried out by ISIS – including the murder and enslavement of children.
  • In light of the UN’s findings – in light of the radically-changed circumstances – we will now support this international effort, with conditions. We want to know the rules of engagement, our strategic objective, and – of course – the end date. If those conditions are satisfied, we will support this motion.

Personally, I see them sticking with their original position – however wrong-headed that was.  I found the “support the mission” talking points were a lot more difficult to compose.  Ipso facto, they’re trapped.

Now you take a stab, dear reader.  Both sides – not just the one you support!

UPDATE: And…sigh. No one can accuse him of simply following public opinion, I guess. And, at least no one is being called a traitor for taking the opposite view (yet).

Your morning moral relativism

If you’re like me, you form judgments based upon a number of variables. You look at the evidence, and you choose.

So, you look at the evidence unearthed by the United Nations, which has reported that ISIS is “selling abducted Iraqi children at markets as sex slaves, and killing other youth, including by crucifixion or burying them alive,” quote unquote.

And if that’s not enough to justify taking action against ISIS in the Middle East, or making it harder to promote terror in Canada – and it should be, for any moral person – then how about this?

If you oppose extending the mission against a genocidal cult, and criminalizing the promotion of terror aimed at minorities (just as we have rightly criminalized the promotion of hatred, for decades) – well, good luck with that.  You can hang with the gun nuts, and I’ll stick with the Pope.