How I Met Your Moammar

by matttbastard

PhotoBlog:

State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland called the photo book of Condoleezza Rice found in Gadhafi’s compound “bizarre” and “creepy” even though she hasn’t seen pictures of it. “I think I don’t need to see the photos, but bizarre and creepy are good adjectives to describe much of Gadhafi’s behavior,” Nuland said and went on to say, “It doesn’t surprise me.  It’s deeply bizarre and deeply creepy, though, if it is as you described.”

Resolved:  Moammar Gadhafi is the Barney Stinson of post-colonial despots.

Greatly Exaggerated Rumours, Jack Layton Edition

by matttbastard

Michael Valpy addresses the current conventional wisdom that without Jack Layton, the NDP — and Canada’s left — is now doomed, doomed, DOOMED!

Ahem. Sorry ’bout that. Now, where were we?

Oh! Right.

Valpy:

When polls from the past federal election are closely analyzed, what shows up is that Mr. Harper’s Conservatives were elected by a lot of old people — people over the age of 45 whose electoral participation rate is between 60 and 80 per cent, climbing higher as they climb to meet their Maker. People under the age of 45 were powerfully anti-Conservative but at best only about 40 per cent of them voted. Andif they had voted in the same proportion as the over-45s, there would not have been a Conservative majority; there probably wouldn’t have been a Conservative minority. What likely we might have got is an NDP-led coalition.

So then let’s suppose that half, at least half, of the electorate are powerfully opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism, which is what the polls suggest. Let’s suppose they’re more in tune with Canada’s historic Red Toryism, the political culture that led to, in the words of philosopher George Grant (Michael Ignatieff’s uncle, although Mr. Ignatieff didn’t like his thinking) “a country which had a strong sense of the common good … that was possible under the individualism of the capitalist dream.” We certainly know this is the case in Quebec. We certainly know that younger Canadians, and even a significant chunk of older Canadians, have a strong sense of the common good and don’t like the contemporary conservative ideology of the individual.

Without Mr. Layton — without Jack, le bon Jack — it does not mean Canadians opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism are simply going to go elsewhere or become less engaged with their democracy. It doesn’t mean Quebeckers are going to abandon their fling with the NDP.

First, there is a culture war in Canada; it’s not going to disappear with Mr. Layton’s death. Second, as some of the most astute commentators of Quebec politics have pointed out, Quebeckers don’t take frivolous bon-bon steps in their politics. Their engagement with the NDP is more than a celebrity fling with Jack; it’s a new, sophisticated engagement with Canada.

Thus Mr. Layton can accurately be seen as the catalyst, not the seducer, both of Quebec’s re-engagement with the country and of a debate within the whole country about its political values.

As they say, read the whole damn thing. Valpy goes on to tackle Blatch’s “talented gracelessness” — and the Canadian public’s instant, somewhat overwhelming mythologizing of Layton —  with keen insight.

h/t Stephen Wicary

How Dare Jack Layton Make Canadians Feel Hopeful Again!

by matttbastard

David J. Climenhaga, responding to National Post columnist Christie Blatchford’s now-infamous cranky, contrarian reaction to Canada’s outpouring of love and admiration for Socialist cur Taliban Jack Layton (HISSSSSSS!):

[T]he offending column is far from the worst piece Blatchford has written, and it makes a good point that many of us who loved and respected Layton can surely agree with, or at least concede contains some truth. Its other arguments would better be dismissed with a shrug than with obscenity and imprecation.

I bothered to read this piece only because I came across some of the angry reaction on social media sites. I turned to it with a sick feeling, because I expected from the lead-up to read something truly disgusting, like the odious efforts of Calgary Sun city editor Dave Naylor. I finished it and concluded we should all take a deep breath.

The chief knock against Blatchford’s effort seems to be that she called Layton a thoroughly political creature, and assailed his moving deathbed letter to Canadians with such uncharacteristically big words as “sophistry” and “vainglorious.”

Well, OK, the latter part of this opinion is graceless, even cheesy — exactly as we have come to expect of almost any Postmedia columnist. But really, so what? It does not seem appropriate to me to respond to this kind of drivel by calling its author a “heartless cow,” or worse, or wishing on her the same horrible fate that befell Layton.

Moreover, I think most of us can agree that Blatchford’s silly allegation of sophistry and vainglory is merely a typical response, and possibly a heartfelt one, by a Tory sympathizer who must have fretted deeply about the implications of Layton’s successful appeal to the better angels of our Canadian nature. Even our dour prime minister seems to have been improved by Layton’s sunny vision, which in some circles might be seen as evidence of miraculous powers!

While making some valid points regarding Tory anxiety over Layton’s significant posthumous power, Climenhaga misses the mark: it isn’t Blatch’s petty attack on Layton that most rankles, at least to me. Rather, it’s her arrogant, contemptuous attempt to police the natural reactions of ordinary Canadians to the passing of someone they loved and respected. As far as Blatch is concerned, the massive, spontaneous public display of emotion and affection from coast to coast (including QC — thanks Jack!) is unseemly and worthy of ridicule, another pop-cult spectacle of collective (HISSSSS!) hysteria a la Princess Di.

Now, people tend to get rather prickly when told they are grieving in an inappropriate fashion — hence the vast, vocal outcry. However, I highly doubt anyone at PostMedia is crying. One could argue that all the attention afforded to Blatch, overwhelmingly negative though it may be,  = mission accomplished.

Trolling is, after all, an art.

Regardless, I’m sure le bon Jack could not care less if his final words caused Canada’s fav crotchety wingnut Agony Aunt to throw a public shit-fit. As Climenhaga rightly notes, in this Layton too could claim the mission accomplished mantle with as much, if not more, legitimacy as she (and if the stale mother-son YYZ vaudeville act of Babs and Johnny Kay doesn’t provoke a hearty chortle of righteous satisfaction from beyond this mortal coil, well, I guess I just don’t know Jack).

Don’t get me wrong — yours truly frequently disagreed with Jack Layton over the years. A lot. But, like a vast multitude of my fellow Canuckistanians (including apostate NDP icon Judy Rebick, another longtime Layton foe on the left), I ultimately found myself overcome with a sense that we had lost a statesman, truly a Great Canadian (caps and all).

Ottawa must have been reading the same tea leaves, hence the state funeral offer.

Still, the next time a Champagne Socialist from Danforth dares to die an insanely popular, highly revered public figure, everyone first make sure to check in with Christie Blatchford and co. for instructions on proper grieving etiquette.

Oh, and none of that peace and love hippie-dippy sidewalk chalk bullshit — politics is for cynics and sociopaths goddammit.

Image: Jackman Chiu, Flickr