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

Time to Get Kenny Loggins Out of Retirement.

by matttbastard

First they came for the “queers” [sic], then they came for the (apparently heterosexual) Baptist kid trying to take his freakin’ girlfriend to her freakin’ prom:

A student at a fundamentalist Baptist school that forbids dancing, rock music, hand-holding and kissing will be suspended if he takes his girlfriend to her public high school prom, his principal said.

Despite the warning, 17-year-old Tyler Frost, who has never been to a dance before, said he plans to attend Findlay High School’s prom Saturday.

Frost, a senior at Heritage Christian School in northwest Ohio, agreed to the school’s rules when he signed a statement of cooperation at the beginning of the year, principal Tim England said.

The teen, who is scheduled to receive his diploma May 24, would be suspended from classes and receive an “incomplete” on remaining assignments, England said. Frost also would not be permitted to attend graduation but would get a diploma once he completes final exams. If Frost is involved with alcohol or sex at the prom, he will be expelled, England said.

Frost’s stepfather Stephan Johnson said the school’s rules should not apply outside the classroom.

“He deserves to wear that cap and gown,” Johnson said.

Sez P.Z. Meyers:

I also think the school has stepped way out of bounds when it tries to control activities well outside the domain of the school itself. But sure, go ahead and act like repressive tyrants — Mr Frost may well go looking for a more tolerant religion, or will perhaps leave that body of superstition altogether.

Oh, and just in case you thought this couldn’t get any more like a bad Footloose remake:

The handbook for the 84-student Christian school says rock music “is part of the counterculture which seeks to implant seeds of rebellion in young people’s hearts and minds.”

Speaking as an apostate survivor of a rigid private Baptist high school (c’mon, don’t act so shocked), I can attest from personal experience that these sorts of rock-hatin’, boogie-fearin’ true believers really DO hate us for our sweaty, high-decibel freedoms–and ‘us’ constitutes an increasingly expansive category.

Regardless, whatever you do, always remember the following words of incitement from anti-authoritarian negro hedonist George Clinton: “Free your mind and your ass will follow.”

For srs — just ask iconic Midwestern dance floor rebel Kevin Bacon:

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

About That Latest McCain Campaign Flail

by matttbastard

Re: the (illegally) manufactured half-assed October November Surprise currently popping a slow news day, Marc Ambinder (!) breaks it down:

Republicans think anti-immigrant forces are going to be rallied by attacking a middle aged woman in her fifties? This is what’s going to swing independents back to McCain? Reminding people (a) of an actual human face on the receiving end of anti-immigration policies and (b) that the Democratic candidate is personally affected by a complicated issue facing many American families?

Actually, I don’t think the McCain campaign, which, thus far, has been taking a hands-off approach to the smear, believes this blip will be an eleventh hour game changer.  As I said before, issue #1 is still the economy, stupid.  Sure, they might swing a few soft votes in OH, PA and FL.  But I believe the primary motive behind this and other recent over the top accusations against the Obama campaign is to stir up the GOP base in anticipation of making a comeback in 2012.

The notion that this last-minute flail will have a significant effect on the polls is, as Ambinder notes, ludicrous.  Instead, it is merely the latest addition to the increasingly unhinged narrative of fraud, radicals, and socialism to justify losing: not because of Obama’s superior ground game, nor the fact that McCain has run what has been possibly the worst presidential campaign since, um, Kerry ’04.  Rather, all the weeping and gnashing of teeth seems purposefully designed to stir up resentment and class-based grievance, once again positioning the white working class electorate against the darkies, illegals and the poor (to say nothing of the liberal elite boogeyman), with the first black president (who, if you hadn’t noticed, has a scary foreign-sounding name) serving as the ultimate living, breathing wedge issue.

The right is trying to start the culture war all over again, utilizing, as Henry Farrell put it, the mechanisms of Nixonland in the hope they can salvage the flagging fortunes of the current GOP power structure.

Buckle up kids–the next four years are going to be a wild fucking ride.

Related: In response to a passage in Nedra Pickler’s AP report indicating that the information on the immigration status of Obama’s paternal aunt had been leaked to AP by federal officials, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. has penned the following letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff (h/t Taylor Marsh):

Dear Mr. Chertoff:

I was startled to read in today’s Associated Press that a “federal law enforcement official” has leaked information about an immigration case involving a relative of Senator Obama. Even more troubling, the AP reports that it “could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved,” a very disturbing suggesting indeed. This leak is deplorable and I urge you to take immediate action to investigate and discipline those responsible.

I note that this is not the first leak of law enforcement information apparently designed to influence the coming Presidential election — in recent weeks law enforcement sources leaked information about an alleged investigation of a community services organization, a leak that the Department of Justice informs me has been referred to the Department’s Office of the Inspector General and Professional Responsibility.

Such leaks are deeply harmful to the political process, and the American people expect and deserve better from their government and its law enforcement agencies.

Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers