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An interesting endorsement of John Tory

When you’re an embattled leader of a party that has some of your grassroots members wanting you removed, I’m not sure whether an endorsement by a major daily that is more or less an ideological opponent of yours is good or bad, but that is what the Toronto Star has done in calling for John Tory to remain Progressive Conservative leader in Ontario:

The party has a better chance of mounting an effective opposition to Premier Dalton McGuinty over the next four years and fighting the Liberals in the next election if it stays near the political centre where most Ontarians’ sensibilities lie. That’s why the party should give Tory […]

Democrats for Mitt working?

This won’t tell election watchers 1 way or the other if it’s working, because this is of “Likely Republican Voters”, but check out the new Rasmussen poll on the Republican primary race in Michigan to be held in a few days:

Romney 26 McCain 25 Huckabee 17 Thompson 9 Paul 8 Giuliani 6

Marcos at Daily Kos of course helpfully points the poll out and reminds the Dems in Michigan to “Vote for Mitt” to ensure he wins and a debilitating Republican civil war ensues.

Green Party gaining electoral strength in Toronto’s suburban areas?

If these numbers are true, and if they hold during an election, rather remarkable for the Green Party:

In its two most recent surveys of party preference in the GTA, Harris/Decima has found that the Green party is thriving in the mainly suburban, 905 area code – 16 per cent support in polling carried out over the last week, 17 per cent in a survey carried out toward the end of December. That’s virtually the same support, if not better, than the Green party enjoys in the mainly downtown, 416 area code in the GTA. For the past month, Harris/Decima has been tracking the Greens with support ranging between 11 and 15 per cent among Toronto’s urban voters. There are many implications here for the other, more mainstream parties, especially the New Democrats, who are now routinely placing well behind the Greens – by as much as seven percentage points in December – within the 905 area code…If this trend continues, it will mean the Greens are actually displacing the NDP as the third party behind the Liberals and Conservatives, at least in Toronto’s suburbs.

That’s a stunning percentage for the Green Party, and it’s probably why the NDP wishes to do the Greens no favours on the national stage (ie. not supporting May being in any leaders debate during an election campaign). It’s understandable to try and protect your position, even if it means attacking a party that is basically an ally on the environment. It makes sense though that the Greens would do well in the suburbs – this is an area that has some remaining bastions of “Red Tory’ism” in it, and those voters, who might be socially liberal and who believe in protecting the environment, but are economically conservative, might prefer the Greens to the left-of-centre social democratic/socialist NDP.

All of the mainstream parties, not just the NDP, will of course point out that until the Greens show they can maintain their strength during an election campaign and win some seats, this is nothing more then “parked votes”. That’s a good point, but for the Greens to have such strength now shows that voters in suburbia are seriously considering them as an alternative.

About That “Liberal” Sense of Humour…

Just to be clear at the outset, the “Liberal” in the title doesn’t necessarily just refer to the Liberal Party of Canada, although it has to be said that they’re not exactly a barrel of monkeys these days. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best figure of speech, all considered, but you know what I mean.

It’s a well known fact that “conservatives” aren’t funny. This is something that my more learned friends have assured me can be scientifically demonstrated, if it only it were possible to determine exactly what the nature of this mysterious “conservative” creature might be in the first place so that potential test subjects could be reliably identified. It seems differences of opinion vary widely on the matter. So, we have a bit of a sticky problem actually proving this to be the case, although we’re confident in our bones that it must be so given the mountains of anecdotal evidence at hand seeming to confirm this assertion. As just one example, take the attempted comedy stylings of two noted “conservative” thinkers (hillbilly heroin addict Rush Limbaugh and “perfected Jewess” Ann Coulter) on Fox’s late, unlamented and tragically unfunny “Half Hour News Hour” show. Even sentient right-wingers agreed their performances were painfully awkward, juvenile and mean-spirited. Imagine!

But I want to challenge that accepted tenet of faith a little, or at least attempt to balance off the smug self-righteousness of the Left on this point by drawing your attention to the travails of kindred soul-mate Jon Swift in his recent attempts to lend some assistance to the good but “misguided” folks at The Democratic Daily who wanted to run an ad whose purpose was to generate traffic for a group of smaller liberal blogs. Being the magnanimous conservative that he is, Jon not only acceded to the request, but did a lot more; embellishing the ad with an eye-catching graphic. To be specific, one of the delightful LOLcats creations from his scathing piece a while back on The Doughy Pantload’s new book Liberal Fascism. The picture in question featured a “liberal fascist cat in full Nazi regalia” captioned with the words “I is a librul.” (Just as an aside, there is actually an entire site devoted to cats that resemble Adolph Hitler. Really. They call them “kitlers.” How cute.)

The revamped ad was a big hit with the folks at TDD and even Markos at Daily Kos agreed to run it. Somewhat disingenuously, Jon goes on to say: “I was sure it would be very popular with the readers of the Daily Kos, who are renowned for their great senses of humor and their remarkable ability to laugh at themselves. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.” The ensuing storm of righteous indignation, offended sensibilities, and utter cluelessness, is absolutely hilarious. Not intentionally so, but high comedy nonetheless.

Almost as soon as the ad began running a Kossack named CMFoster began a campaign to have the ad removed entirely. “All I am asking is that for once we get rid of the offensive material and make the advertiser realize they need to be more responsible for the content they place on this or any other site. To make a cat look like Hitler just make Liberals look worse than we are sometimes already portrayed to be,” wrote CMFoster. He was soon joined by a Kossack named Man is 5, who wrote, “Ummm — what the hell is that ‘Support Liberal Blogs’ ad on the front page? Did you just not notice that the cat looks like Hitler? Am I missing something here? Seems to me Hitler was a fairly conservative individual. And I’m not so sure that promoting liberal blogs with his image, even in adorable kitty form, is such a good idea. What concepts did the client reject?” You might think that they would be in favor of supporting small liberal blogs or that they might have had better causes to put their energy into but instead they decided to hound poor Ms. Leavey, who put a lot of very hard work into this campaign, until she decided that she had no other recourse than to remove the offending graphic. Eventually, she replaced it with another, less provocative picture, my “Librul Treehugger” LOLcat and the Kossacks turned their attention to more pressing matters like whether the New Hampshire primary was rigged by Hillary Clinton and Diebold.

There’s a moral to be had there about generalizing over much, I suppose. On the other hand, if you read the rest of Jon’s piece — and I’d urge you to do so — it becomes abundantly clear that while the Right may not have an absolute monopoly on being utterly humourless, they’re certainly market leaders in this particular field and charging ahead all the time. This is evidenced by the catastrophically dopey reactions of Ron Paul supporters to Swift’s speculative doubts about the actual existence of “Ron Paul” owing to the fact of having never heard of him until recently and that he’s never mentioned by the media. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Stirring up the hornet’s nest

Just a little update to my last post talking about Markos of Daily Kos openly calling for the Michigan Democrats to keep Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race by voting for him in the open primary and securing a victory. We have had Fox News now covering this (but with their usual inaccuracies that Markos pointed out and corrected in a follow-up posting) and from that same piece, we find out not only did CNN’s “The Situation Room” cover it, but they were able to get quotes from Mitt Romney (who only wanted Republicans to vote for him) and Mike Huckabee (who made a pitch to the Democrats to […]

Political mischief in the US primaries.

American politics can be odd at the best of times, but this is an oddity among oddities: some US states allow open primaries where anyone who is a registered voter can vote for presidential candidates in either party. In otherwards, even if I was a registered Democrat, I could vote in the Republican primaries, and vice versa. Independent voters are also allowed to vote in either/or.

One state that allows this is Michigan, and it is Michigan that the folks at the biggest liberal Democratic blog Daily Kos are looking to stir up the pot a bit – specifically Markos Moulitsias, the proprietor of Daily Kos is:

In 1972, Republican voters in Michigan decided to make a little mischief, crossing over to vote in the open Democratic primary and voting for segregationist Democrat George Wallace, seriously embarrassing the state’s Democrats. In fact, a third of the voters (PDF) in the Democratic primary were Republican crossover votes. In 1988, Republican voters again crossed over, helping Jesse Jackson win the Democratic primary, helping rack up big margins for Jackson in Republican precincts….With a history of meddling in our primaries, why don’t we try and return the favor. Next Tuesday, January 15th, Michigan will hold its primary. Michigan Democrats should vote for Mitt Romney, because if Mitt wins, Democrats win.

Markos goes on to reason that with Michigan Democrats not being able to vote in their primaries because of a rule violation the Democratic National Committee suspended the state over, they have nothing to lose by voting for Romney and helping to carry him to a victory in Michigan. The logic is this:

John McCain is currently enjoying the afterglow of media love since his New Hamsphire victory, while Iowa winner Mike Huckabee is poised to do well in South Carolina. Meanwhile, poor Mitt Romney, who’s suffered back-to-back losses in the last week, desperately needs to win Michigan in order to keep his campaign afloat. Bottom line, if Romney loses Michigan, he’s out. If he wins, he stays in. And we want Romney in, because the more Republican candidates we have fighting it out, trashing each other with negative ads and spending tons of money, the better it is for us. We want Mitt to stay in the race, and to do that, we need him to win in Michigan.

Markos mentions other factors like how embarrassing it would be for the Repubs if the Dems are the ones who push Romney over the top – and he further thinks it will lead to increased infighting and bickering over the legitimacy of a win if Romney were to pull it off.

I can’t imagine this type of a scenario in Canada if local ridings had open voting for their particular party’s nominees in each riding. An organized turnout from other parties to vote for a specific candidate for a specific party they felt their own party/person would have a better shot of getting elected against would cause chaos everywhere. It is not this way everywhere in the US, but I think that’s one aspect of the Presidential race that should be done away with. If you’re a member of a party, you can vote in your own party’s primary – no one else’s. I’m not even sure I’d allow Independents to vote down there in Party primaries, because as I understand it, people who are members of the 2 political parties can drop their party affiliation and register to become an “Independent”, and that also could be used to skew the voting results.

I know the party system up here for picking candidates has it’s flaws, but on the whole, I think I’ll take what we have up here over what they have down there.

UPDATE: Markos posts an update to his original post reacting to some of the feedback he’s gotten and explaining the idea further. In addition, 2 more big influential liberal Democratic-supporting blogs and bloggers have come out in support of the idea: Atrios (Duncan Black) of the blog Eschaton thinks it’s one of the better ideas he’s seen (while taking shots at some of the Kossacks for moaning about how it doesnt feel right), as does Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake at the bottom of this blogpost.

Update 2: There is now a “Democrats For Mitt” group at Facebook,”because the GOP deserves the very worst”. Hilarious.

Conservative Loathing

Let me just add a little codicil to my previous post and suggest that this phenomenon of what can only be described as a sneering contempt for one’s own party and the vast majority of people who likewise support it (or at least vote for it from time to time) seems to be unique to ideologues and partisans of the Conservative variety. I’m unaware of a similarly conflicted animus of contemptuous self-loathing within the ranks of diehard Liberal or NDP partisans, although I have to confess that I don’t generally mix with such people, so I could be well be wrong about that.

Perhaps in private, some Liberal zealots (almost a contradiction in terms right there) feel that those who vote for the party are somehow insufficiently “big government” or “Statist” and that some might even have dangerous tendencies towards entrepreneurialism and free market economics. Goodness, some of them may even lean too heavily towards fiscal probity and circumspect accounting theories! Some could even be against crime and heretically pro-American!

Similarly, maybe there are some ardent Dippers who feel that the Revolution just isn’t coming along at a fast enough clip, its teaming 17 percent of the electorate simply not working to maximum efficiency as they go about the business of undermining the economy, secularizing everything in sight, creating mountains of stifling government regulations and imposing their rigid materialist dogma on the foundational moral pillars of our society. After all, what with God stubbornly flying in the face of Nietzsche and being not quite dead yet, there’s always a big hill for deterministic heathens to climb in that department!

All kidding aside though, while some Liberals, Dippers, and Greens are unquestionably more passionate about their politics, their ideology (although it’s arguable whether the Liberals actually have one these days, but that’s another discussion) and commitment to their party’s given assortment of “aspirational goals” than the “average” voter is, it’s almost inconceivable to imagine any of their diehards disparaging the majority of those voters from the “mushy middle” who support them from time to time, other than perhaps to deem them as being “soft” in terms of their dependability come election time. And while they might express disappointment (sometimes profoundly so) in their own party, the thought of comparing them to… well, I don’t know what, really seems out of the question. I think it’s fair to say that the three parties of the “Left” (or “progressives” if you prefer) are each, in their own way, reasonably true to their values and beliefs.

The same however it would seem cannot be said of the Conservatives. Their diehards for example have no compunction whatsoever about comparing their largely disinterested, vaguely left-of-centre supporters drawn from the “mushy middle” and even the self-declared Conservative ones in various regions of the country to a party and a group that they
regularly demonize as being the perfidious embodiment of everything that’s wrong with society. Moreover, they apply this same label of scornful derision to their own party establishment!

It’s quite curious really. Is it possible that despite the extensive papering over of various differences within the party and notable ideological rifts that existed up until a very few short years ago, there’s still a roiling identity crisis within the Conservative Party? Is the confident self-assurance of the Big Blue Machine more illusion than reality? Perhaps the only thing holding this rickety contraption together is the bonding glue of power and the “magnetism” of a leader who managed to revive the political fortunes of “conservatives” at a singularly opportune time with a selfishly appealing yet simplistic agenda, but with no real vision. At least not a truly “conservative” one, according to some.

Accusations of sexism in US primary contest.

As I’ve mentioned prior, there does seem to be a fair bit of pundits on the TV who really are antagonistic towards Hillary Clinton – some of it based from when her husband was in office, no doubt, others who may just not like her because of her personality or whatever.

However, one fellow who seems to really have it in for Hillary is Chris Matthews of MSNBC. Some of the blogging folks at the Democratic supporting blogs have gone even further – charging that Matthews has gone over the line with his criticism of Hillary and that he is uttering sexist remarks (not all of the bloggers making these […]

Conservatives=Democrats. Who knew?

Funnily enough, some additional confirmation of my “theory” of there being an inordinately large disparity in opinion between “The Blogging Tories” and “average Conservatives” was unintentionally provided yesterday by none other than self-described “cyber-sherpa” Kate McMillan. When attempting to define Canadian conservatism for her witless American hosts at BlogTalkRadio, she said:

“You get moving east [beyond Manitoba] and conservatism there is really again, except for some pockets, it’s almost, you know, liberalism. It’s left of centre no question about that. ‘How shall we best deliver socialized Medicare?’ is kind of [laughs] the definition of conservatism in the east. As it stands we don’t even have a truly conservative party in the way that Americans do. We have Democrats and hard left socialists.”

So there you go folks. With a few exceptions, in the eyes of “Canada’s Best Blogger” Canadian conservatives, at least west of the Rockies and east of the Great Plains, are nothing but a bunch of lefty Democrats. And apparently, the same goes for the Stephen Harper Party of Canada! It seems they’re guilty of some pretty egregious false advertising according to Ms. McMillan.

Of course, Kate’s observation isn’t exactly original. As our friend Jay alluded to in the comments on the previous thread, back in 2005 Bruce Gamble wrote in the National Review that “to paraphrase Bill Clinton, it all depends on what the meaning of the word ‘conservative’ is. A Canadian conservative is similar to a moderate Democrat here. There is no true conservative party in Canada, as we know conservatism.”

Kate does however add a somewhat novel twist to that by factionalizing the definition of conservatism, differentiating it according to region. Even so, it seems awfully schizophrenic to be demonizing the Democrats (and “liberals” in general) on the one hand as little short of being the root of all societal evil and then to turn around and draw a direct comparison between them and the party you support as well as the majority of people who likewise support that party. When exactly does the cognitive dissonance kick in over there in BT Land?

BTs: Not Your “Average Conservative”

Scott was kind enough to extend an invitation to guest blog recently if the mood took me, so I’m going to take him up on his offer in order to share with you a completely obvious insight that was brought to my attention a couple of days ago. Although it may seem self-evident, perhaps it’s timely reminder for many of us to consider when taking stock of the opinions expressed by that voluble group of bloggers inhabiting the far reaches of Jupiter known as “The Blogging Tories” or simply “BTs” for short. Some of us, of course, have other, rather more colourful and derogatory names for the group, but in deference to Scott, I’ll save those for another time and place.

We’re often given to believe that the folks who constitute the BTs are a fairly representative cross-section of so-called “conservative” or at least right-wing viewpoints that generally reflect the broad diversity of opinion amongst supporters of the Conservative Party of Canada and that taken together it may be possible to form some idea of what the “average” Conservative voter might think. Indeed, simple logic would seem to dictate that to be the case given the sheer number of people involved. After all, the site is comprised of approximately 300 blogs and is claimed to be viewed by over 30,000 people every day. According to Wikipedia (for whatever that’s worth), it is “the most popular non-MSM Internet group in Canada.” Goody for them. Although those numbers can seem daunting, at least within the realm of domestic political “blogosphere” (yes, I too loathe that word, but we’re stuck with it for the time being), it’s important to remember what an infinitesimal number of people this actually is in the broad scheme of things. In reality, 30,000 readers is approximately the circulation of a small city dog trainer, so let’s keep things in perspective. Of course, on the other hand, it’s twice the number currently watching Fox Business Channel, so there is a certain amount of relativity involved. It’s tempting to digress into speculation regarding the presumed influence of blogs, but let’s save that for another day and concentrate on this, I believe, quite fallacious notion that the BTs fairly represent a cross-section of mainstream “conservative” opinion.

Of the estimated 300 bloggers who form the BT aggregate, from my own investigations I would estimate that at least fifty or more of them are completely inactive, or consist of just a limited number of posts by people whose enthusiasm for the pastime quickly waned, or who simply lost interest gradually over time for one reason or another. Who knows, some may even have joined the choir invisible for all we know. Without question however, it can be said from experience that only about ten percent of the total number of member bloggers are active on what could be called a regular basis and of those 25-30, an even smaller group of highly popular blogs account for the majority of the BT’s overall readership. So now the idea of a “representative cross-section” or any possible concept of “average” becomes a much more dubious proposition because in reality what we have is a very tiny number of self-appointed pundits tendentiously preaching to a relatively small audience of readers that for the most part has a predisposed, if not rigidly hardened ideological bias. “So what? That’s just stating the obvious,” you might say. And that may well be so, but all too often it seems many people seem to mistake the viewpoints expressed by the BTs as being somehow typical of mainstream “conservative” thought and opinion. This is especially so when regarding the aggregate as a whole, perhaps because of the remarkable “sameness” and lockstep congruity of their opinions, for the most part. However, it’s often referred to quite justifiably as “echo-chamber” for not altogether illegitimate reasons. There’s another expression involving a circle and a certain agitated motion that comes to mind as well, but again, we’ll leave that aside whilst in Scott’s more genteel digs…

As an example of the above, rarely is heard a discouraging word about the present government or any of its policies, or indeed anything that might not venerate the magisterial leadership qualities and absolutely brilliant political stratagems of the Prime Minister. Flip-flops, broken promises, half-baked ideas, missed opportunities and such are all uniformly met in most instances with an eerie silence across the board, pierced only by the sound of crickets chirping. Well, that’s understandable, given that most bloggers are fierce, partially blind partisans and nobody expects them to necessarily present anything resembling a “fair and balanced” view of things. I could list a number of other issues on which BTs generally seem to agree such as the perilous menace of radical Islamofascism threatening our very existence (and our society’s creeping “dhimmitude” leading inexorably to our collective servitude), or the notion that anthropogenic climate change is a vast global wealth transfer scheme cooked up by a nefarious conspiracy of liberal scientists and socialist utopians to destroy western civilization and force us back into the Stone Age or some such rubbish. But are these really ideas held by your mainstream, garden-variety Conservative voter? Methinks not.

Some compelling evidence of the contention that they’re most certainly not might be found in a recent news story that prompted this observation in the first place. Yesterday, the Canadian Press reported on a CP/Harris Decima survey that “suggests Canadians so overwhelmingly favour the Democrats, it barely matters whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton win Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.” Respondents said they felt closer to the Democrats by a 4-to-1 margin with 49 per cent of Canadians expressing “a fondness” for the Democrats while only 12 per cent did the same for Republicans. In itself that may not seem terribly significant, until you look at the breakdown of the numbers showing that even “self-described Conservatives” favoured the Democrats by a 47 per cent to 23 per cent margin! Now compare that to the BTs, each of whom, almost without exception has declared open and even sometimes quite enthusiastic support for one Republican candidate or another in the American presidential race, or has at one time or another expressed a predictable degree of outright hostility to the Democratic field. Even where an open endorsement may not be present, there’s certainly no shortage of scathing commentary on offer, together with a steady diet of articles about Hillary Clinton (or “Billary” as she’s most often referred to — gosh, those BTs are soooo witty!), John Edwards (Will we never stop hearing about his expensive haircuts and big house? Oh, and did you know he’s a trial lawyer!), and now Barrack Obama (you know, the black guy with the fishy, Muslim-sounding name) being routinely served up on a daily basis as warmed-over dishes lifted from the tables of RedState, Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, and so on. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine any BT stating an open preference for a Democrat — any Democrat — as opposed to whichever impending GOP trainwreck might be barreling down the track. One other interesting figure of note from that CP article was the remark of pollster Bruce Anderson who said: “…the number of Canadians who characterize themselves as right-wing voters is just above 15 per cent, while a similar number are self-described left-wingers and the big majority say they’re in the middle.”

So, not only are the BTs outside of the mainstream of political thought in general, but so too are they outside of the mainstream even of self-described Conservative voters. In other words, they’re nothing but hyper-partisan, ideological extremists. Perhaps we should be mindful of that when presuming what so-called “conservatives” think about a given issue or characterizing them this way or that by way of sloppy generalizations simply because of distortions spawned by the dyspeptic bloviations of a few outspoken individuals narrowcasting on blogs. The truth of it is that no matter how they may be aggregated to give the artificial impression of widespread consensus amongst “average Conservatives” the BTs are anything but that. All they actually can be said to represent is their own usually quite extreme opinions and perhaps those of a relatively small number of likeminded hard right kooks. Well, it’s a theory…

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