Down and Out in Harperconia

Saving Canada from devilish deals since 2008

Sweet tit-humping Christ I’m tired. Tired of the chronic lack of accountability in Ottawa. Of a parliamentary press corps that been for far too long too prissy and timid to rightly ferret and call out endless examples Conservative corruption with … Continue reading

SHOCKING: Republican Voter Suppression Efforts Suppress Democratic Votes

The NY Times:

Several recent polls and studies suggest that long waiting times in some places depressed turnout in 2012 and that lines were longest in cities, where Democrats outnumber Republicans. In a New York Times/CBS News poll taken shortly after Election Day, 18 percent of Democrats said they waited at least a half-hour to vote, compared with 11 percent of independents and 9 percent of Republicans.

Wait — it gets better:

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis determined that blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites. Florida had the nation’s longest lines, at 45 minutes, followed by the District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Charles Stewart III, the political science professor who conducted the analysis.

A separate analysis, by an Ohio State University professor and The Orlando Sentinel, concluded that more than 200,000 voters in Florida “gave up in frustration” without voting.

“When I got there, the line was around the building,” said Jonathan Piccolo, 33, who said he had waited nearly eight hours to cast a ballot in Miami-Dade County the Monday before Election Day.

“It’s one of the most sacred rights you have,” Mr. Piccolo added. “They should make it as painless as possible.”

Features, not bugs, kids. Democracy is apparently a major impediment to Real America.

Update: A reminder from comments that voter suppression tactics are a burgeoning export market for Uncle Sam.

Has Centralization of Power to the PMO Put Canadian Democracy on Life Support?

Don Lenihan has a must-read column up today, on how centralization of power to the Prime Minister’s office over the past several decades has atrophied the connection Canadians — especially youth — had with our government, and what he believes this could mean for Canada’s system of democracy:

In the early 1970s, the Trudeau government adopted a new generation of governance tools to make it more effective in the modern-day world. The approach involved rigorous new management practices, and the formation of complex plans — “strategies” — which the prime minister would push forward, using the power of his office.

What wasn’t clear at the time was that execution of these strategies also called for more Executive control over the system. As this came to light, it set in motion a decades-long centralizing trend during which succesive PMOs clawed ever more power away from Parliament.

While opposition parties condemned Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and Harper for weakening democracy by weakening Parliament, these leaders saw increasing centralization as the unavoidable cost of getting things done. And, all things being equal, perhaps they were right.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Indeed, a whole new chapter may be opening. There is growing evidence of a ripple effect that is now reaching other parts of the body politic. If so, centralization may be having a far more profound impact on our system of government than anyone realized.

Falling voter turnout, especially among youth, is a striking example. Elections give citizens a legitimate and orderly way to challenge and change governments. Without them, our democracy would quickly revert to some form of authoritarian rule.

So why don’t young people vote? In particular, why don’t the ones who are protesting tuition hikes in Quebec, or those in the Occupy movement, take their concerns to the ballot box? Don’t they realize that their protests are calling into question the legitimacy of our democratically elected governments?

Yes, they realize this. That is exactly the point. They are taking to the streets because they don’t believe the political system works. They don’t believe it creates real accountability. Once elected, they think a government is essentially free to do what it wants, so they see no point in voting.

If this were just uninformed prattle, it would be annoying, but we would find ways to cope with it. Unfortunately, young people are making a serious point and the evidence for it is mounting.

Take Bill C-38. When replying to charges that it was a Trojan horse, the Harper government argued that it had to get these measures passed quickly to support the economic recovery. In other words, democracy was deemed less important than effective governance.

Okay, but where does this end? We learned a long time ago that, in a contest between democracy and effectiveness, nine times out of ten democracy will lose. Eventually, people will stop trusting the government at all.

Sound familiar? If not, let me spell it out.

It is one thing for opposition parties to accuse the government of being undemocratic. It is another when people take to the streets to do so. It is profoundly disturbing when a whole generation no longer sees a point in voting–or at least it should be.

The lesson here is simple: too much centralization undermines legitimacy. The more scope a government thinks it has to act unilaterally in the name of effectiveness, the less legitimacy those actions will have.

[D]emocracy was deemed less important than effective governance.” Think about that as the cult of libertarianism continues to court a new generation that is both frustrated with status quo politics and has been well-conditioned to respond positively to free-market fundamentalist boilerplate.

Features and bugs, redux.

x-posted at The Agonist

The Real Bev Oda Scandal: Politicizing (& Corporatizing) Canadian Foreign Aid

That now-infamous taxpayer-subsidized luxury hotel switcheroo in Mother London? Small potatoes.

Don Cayo:

[A]nalysis by Fraser Reilly-King, a policy analyst at the non-profit Canadian Council for International Co-operation, shows substantial cuts to foreign aid in last month’s federal budget are aimed mainly at the same kind of underprivileged countries [that were removed from CIDA's priority list in 2009] – the poorest places in the world. And funds for the better-off political darlings are mostly protected.

Reilly-King’s figures project, starting next year, a winnowing-away of funds for inter-national assistance from an all-time peak of $5 billion this year to $4.6 billion in 2014-15. Over the same period, the share of Gross National Income that Canada spends on aid will shrink to 0.25 per cent from 0.34 per cent, which is less than half the never-attained target set by former prime minister Lester Pearson in 1969.

Wait — it gets better:

The cuts will be felt by 13 cur-rent recipients, he says, eight of them in Africa. One of the countries to be cut off completely is China, a fully justified – if not overdue – move given its rapid economic expansion. But the others to lose out completely include Cambodia and Nepal, which are making progress but were late in catching the Asian prosperity wave, as well as dirt-poor Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Niger.

Yet Ukraine – which has been a priority country for years only because of strong lobbying by Canadians of Ukrainian descent – and fast-rising, upper-middle-income Peru and Colombia are unaffected.

Other countries to duck the axe are Bangladesh, which is very poor, and Vietnam and Indonesia, which are both making rapid progress on their own. Reilly-King points out all the unaffected countries are high on the Harper government’s list of places where it wants to see stronger trade ties.

There’s brazen, and brazen – Oda, proud Harpercon that she is, certainly earns the italicization (and then some):

In an interview with my Post- media colleague Elizabeth Payne earlier this year, Oda candidly conceded that she didn’t separate at all Canadian trade and foreign policy goals from our aid policy.

She also confirmed that CIDA, which has been moving away from its well-established, long-term partnerships with trusted and respected NGOs in the field, is moving more and more to partnerships with private sector partners in the mining and agricultural sectors.

Shorter Bev Oda: Let them eat little cakes — ooh, and freshen up my OJ while you’re at it!

h/t

Related:  More from CBC’s The Current on the debate over CIDA partnerships.

IOKIYAR to Infinity.

Ok, so I know IOKIYAR is (and has been for ages) SOP in DC. Still, the manner in which the Village took Rosengate oh-so seriously (and turned it up TO ELEVEN) but is now suddenly backpeddling re: The Nuge’s semi-coherent call for Obama’s assassination (gosh, campaign surrogates sure do say the darndest things!*) is especially galling.

Steve M. breaks it down:

 [T]he press will shrug off Nugent because the press has been in denial for years about just how insane right-wingers are. No matter what angry, extreme, menacing, paranoid thing right-wingers are up to, the press is always looking for signs that it’s all just a silly phase, all just the work of a few outliers.

Mainstream journalists don’t want to admit that the vast majority of people in the right-wing base agree with every word Nugent said.

They certainly don’t want to believe that there’s any genuine connection between what Nugent said and Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney! Such an upstanding, responsible man! (Never mind that Romney has done the gang initiation and become one of the right-wing crazies. Never mind that his campaign actively sought out Nugent’s endorsement.)

The press acknowledged that Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke remarks were extreme, and mocked Santorum surrogate Foster Friess. But now it’s Romney we’re talking about — the guy who reassures the press that the GOP is perfectly safe and responsible. Unless Romney picks a Palinesque running mate, no one in the press is ever going to believe that any right-wing extremism has anything to do with him — or his voter base, even though what Nugent said precisely captures that base’s thinking.

I don’t believe the Beltway is starting to fall for Romney like it did McMaverick (tire swing!) But without question Village refs are far more easily worked by sharp-elbowed wingnuts than by progressive interests. Plus, Mittens’ rep as a flag twisting in the political winds perversely appeals to reflexively cynical Villager scorn for anything that resembles sincerity & passion (oh so savvy!)

Which is (sadly) good news for Mitt Romney and bad news for those who appreciate reality that is unobstructed by the fuzzy view from the bottom of some stenographic wanker’s highball.

*Politico may titter at wingnut incitement of violence towards members of the US Federal government — including POTUS — but the Secret Service sure doesn’t.

They’re (Still) Just Not That Into You

Sorry, Evangelicals:

Only one in five Jewish Americans holds favorable views of those aligned with the Christian right, a category that includes most of Israel’s evangelical supporters.

[...]

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and published April 3, asked Jewish respondents to rate the favorability of several religious groups. Mormons received a 47% favorability rating, Muslims 41.4%; the group described as “Christian Right” was viewed in favorable terms by only 20.9% of Jewish Americans. In contrast, the general American population, as shown by other polling data, views evangelicals more favorably than Muslims and Mormons.

Let that sink in for a sec: USians who ID as Jewish heart Mormons and Muslims more than they do right-wing Evangelicals — even (especially?) so-called ‘Christian Zionists‘.

C’mon, people — dance harder.

That’s it. You can almost smell the love.

Today In The Annals of Stupid Backlash Tricks

Flash: Aggrieved Daily Caller Ex-College Republican thumbsucker (is there any other kind?) has a megasad cuz his bike was stolen (if stats hold true, by a blackity-blackblack black kid!), causing him to boldly and ham-fistedly declare:

“I am Derbyshire! (Burp.)”

Roy Edroso:

Judge must be over 30 by now, but apparently he’s never been robbed before, because this has caused him to turn against all black people, and to relinquish the “white guilt” that once made him watch Norman Jewison movies.

Perhaps sensing that even ordinary racists would be disgusted with his whining, Judge invents wimpy liberal friends beside whom he can look butchly Politically Incorrect. Unfortunately, this is how the gentleman essays to roll:

Hearing the kumbaya song from my liberal friend, I immediately thought of a phrase Piers Morgan had recently used…

I think Jesus just carried his Smirnoff Ice into the next room.

Also: Trigger-happy Bernie Goetz wannabe George Zimmerman decides the only way to set the record straight!!!1 (and help pay mounting legal bills) is to resurrect teh Geocities, express his sincere gratitude to the proud supporters who vandalized a black cultural centre on his behalf, & implicitly (if perhaps inadvertently) give the side-nod to Koran-burning Fla Islamaphobe icon Terry Jones.

(Oh, and, as per a Zimmerman family proxy, apparently Holder totally <3s the NEW BLACK PANTHERS, because he’s, well, not Derbyshire, if ya catch my meaning).

Sheesh.

If white people were black people (and vice versa) we’d have a deluge this AM of self-righteous black folks tut-tutting on teh cablez (‘this is why you can’t have nice things’, etc).

Thankfully (for white folks), structural racism isn’t a zero sum game.

Not at all.

Update: Gosh, Judge sure didn’t display all that much ‘guilt’ prior to his recent purported epiphany:

Now, if you read Judge’s past writings, his white guilt does not seem to have exerted an especially strong pull:

no one would have the guts to tell the truth. It was not Asians or whites or Indians who were wilding in Georgetown. It was black teenagers. Illegitimacy and fatherlessness in black urban areas like Washington, D.C. has created an entire class of youth who have been weaned on gangster culture and have absolutely no impulse control. …

That was the old, encumbered-by-white-guilt Judge writing. I’m a little frightened of the new version.

Also, this previous  ZOMG EPIPHANY from Judge, re: why it’s ok — nay, absolutely vital — for decent Christian cycling enthusiasts to passionately hate pro-choice women (shorter: babiez > bitchez).

h/t Steve M.

Jacked from the 140 (Because sometimes that’s all you need)

Seriously, dub tee eff?

Update: Yes, kids you too can be Warren Kinsella’s Next Idiot (after Dawg, that is).

David Banner on the Shooting of Trayvon Martin: “We Have to Get Some Type of Legislation Now.”

Gulf Coast hip hop impresario David Banner drops some straight knowledge re: Trayvon, race, and class in the US of A in this BlackEnterprise.com interview:

“The fact [is] we have to get some type of legislation now.

“What do we want to see implemented to make sure this doesn’t happen again because y’know American culture, now that we’ve seen this happen it’s going to take something two-times as bad as this to even get peoples attention.”

h/t Colorlines

The Pre-Butterfly Effect

Gee, I can’t imagine why the gender gap between the Democratic Party and the GOP has widened into a yawning chasm:

HUNT: Let me ask you this. The Democrats of course say you are waging, the GOP is waging a war on women. I know you don’t agree with that, but looking at the polls, you have a gender gap problem. Recent polls show a huge, huge margin for Democrats among women voters. How big a problem is it? How do you close it?
PRIEBUS: Well, for one thing, if the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars. The fact of the matter is it’s a fiction and this started a war against the Vatican that this president pursued. He still hasn’t answered Archbishop Dolan’s issues with Obama world and Obamacare, so I think that’s the first issue.

Don’t worry, ladies (Or should I say larvae?). I’m sure Ann Romney will be happy to take some of your concerns down for the boys to look at later, once they’ve finished girding their loins for the latest pre-fab Culture War skirmish.

I hear she’s an absolute wiz at shorthand.

h/t Echidne

Image: Flickr, used via Creative Commons