Archive for August, 2007

The NDP are cowards, what should true progressives do?

It goes without saying that by far most serious progressives with any degree of integrity and fortitude oppose our current, antiquated, 18th Century Burkean electoral system.  Now, of course, this precludes the cowards over at the Ontario NDP who have never met a progressive principle they couldn’t betray in some creative fashion either actively or through omission.

Maybe they’re taking pointers on how best to screw over progressive causes from Tony Blair since he seems to have more free time since leaving 10 Downing Street?

Now, it’s no secret that I support the Single Transferable Vote system over the MMP system that the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly ultimately endorsed and which Ontario will be voting for this October.

But, I’ll save you the trouble of reading through my position on that topic.  There’s an even simpler way that we progressives can use to decide which electoral system we ought to support.

The easiest way of deciding which electoral system we progressives should support, is to take a look at which system economic and governmental élites hate the most, and then simply chose that one.  You can bet your bottom dollar that, if élites love it, you most likely shouldn’t.

But how can we tell which electoral system élites most favour and which one they most despise?

Fortunately, while it’s obviously true that élites may B.S. the masses from time to time; it’s also true that they almost never, ever, B.S. each other.  Thus the importance of primary documents.

When I was working as an intern on Parliament Hill, I spent a lot of time going over documents prepared by the Library of Parliament to brief MPs on topics ranging from organic farming to electoral systems.

What I came across was this briefing paper which was prepared during the Mulroney years and which nevertheless remains THE briefing paper used by governmental élites and MPs wanting more information on the subject.

Thus, this is quite possibly the closest thing you can come to a manifesto of the ruling classes on electoral systems.

A simple word counter reveals wonders about which systems élites love and which ones they hate.

The paper discusses 6 different systems:  Single Member Plurality Systems (AKA what we have now), Multi-Member Plurality Systems, Single Member Majoritarian Systems, Party List Systems (AKA what the Citizens’ Assembly indorsed), Party List System Variants, and Single Transferable Vote.

To make it easier, I’ve drawn up pretty diagrams for all to enjoy.

Below, I’ve created tables and graphs used in the briefing paper to document the percentage of words used in support of a given electoral system and opposed to it.

The trend speaks for itself.government-of-canada-electoral-systems.png

Single Member Plurality Systems

Words:

Total words supportive/neutral:

65

100.0%

Total words opposed:

0

0.0%

.

 

  Multi-Member Plurality Systems

Words:

Total words supportive/neutral:

47

67.1%

Total words opposed:

23

32.9%

.

Single Member Majority Systems

Words:

Total words supportive/neutral:

36

57.1%

Total words opposed:

27

42.9%

.

Party List Systems

Words:

Total words supportive/neutral:

52

55.3%

Total words opposed:

42

44.7%

.

Party List Systems: Variants

Words:

Total words supportive/neutral:

55

55.0%

Total words opposed:

45

45.0%

.

Single Transferable Vote

Words:

Total words supportive/neutral:

69

44.2%

Total words opposed:

87

55.8%

.

Out of all of the six systems, the briefing paper spends a majority of its time bashing only one of them — Single Transferable Vote.  And this, despite the fact that some of the systems in the briefing paper are pretty stupid systems (like Multi-Member Plurality, AKA Single NON-Transferable Vote).

So, what should we progressives support? 

Well, élites hate STV, so you should love it.  But it’s also clear that élites prefer our current system to MMP, so, I for one will be supporting the MMP referendum in Ontario this October…. grudgingly.

For more on STV and electoral change, see also:

On changing our electoral system

Steve Paikin repeats popular myth on TV

U.S. Presidential Candidates compared to Canadian political parties

U.S. Presidential Candidates compared to Canadian political parties

Since Howard Dean, the new Chairman of the Democratic Party, spoke at Canada’s Liberal Pary leadership convention last year, I think most people commonly make the false comparison that:

U.S. Democratic Party = Canadian Liberal Party

U.S. Republican Party = Canadian Conservative Party

This causes lots of problems and misconceptions amongst both Canadians and Americans, but especially amongst Canadians.  Canadians tend to root for the U.S. Democratic Party because they feel they’re similar to our ‘natural governing party’ (present circumstances excepted), the Liberals.

But, as I, and many others have attempted to point out, this is very far from the truth of the matter.

I recently decided to have some fun with politicalcompass.org‘s placement of political parties and personalities in Canada and the U.S.. 

The site lists both Canada’s political parties and the contenders for the 2008 U.S. Presidential on a standard, two-axis grid with the left/right x axis representing economic matters and the up/down y axis representing social matters (with the top being the most conservative and state-interventionist and the bottom being the most libertarian).

While the site doesn’t list Canada’s political parties on the same grid as the 2008 U.S. Presidential candidates, I was able to superimpose them over each other, scale them to match, and then transcribe them onto this grid to demonstrate that the Democrats are NOT anywhere near the same as the Liberals and the Republicans are NOT anywhere near the same as the Conservatives.

new-left-right-spectrum-canada-us-08.png

As you can see, and as we socialists have been saying for as long as I can remember, the American system is brilliantly devised to always provide an extremely narrow range of opinions which are acceptable for serious candidates to have — more so even than in Canada.  Ignoring the two fringe candidates for the Democratic party who don’t have the backing of enough capitalists to make even a moderately serious run, the allowable opinion divergence covers roughly 28 cells, or, if you like, only 1.1% of the entire available political spectrum.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are much more open than the Democrats at accepting divergent political opinions.  Their spread (again excluding the one fringe candidate who has yet to poll above the margin of error of having any support at all for more than one consecutive poll), covers an area of 33 cells — or only 1.3% of the entire political spectrum.

So we know that American’s have a cumulative choice of only an extremely narrow range of policy options with more than 95% of possible policy opinions in the U.S. being excluded from the mainstream which their capitalistic system permits.

But even the narrow ranges permissible in America do not line up as people commonly think they do:  Liberal = Democrat, Conservative = Republican.

Except for John Edwards, every one of the Democratic Party’s candidates would be Conservatives if they were in Canada — and some of them, such as Bill Richardson, would even be considerably to the right of the Conservatives.

Conversely, the man portrayed as ‘ultra-extreme’ left in the States — Kucinich — would actually be a pretty boring, run-of-the-mill NDP backbencher in Canada.  He would probably closely approximate a Pat Martin or so.  Which, as you can see, in the grand scheme of things, is merely centre-left.

So, should Canadians be rooting for a Democratic victory in ’08 as we always do?  Obama?  Clinton?  Edwards?

I’d say no.  I’d say that more than anything, Canadians — and our American comrades too for that matter — should, in my opinion, be hoping that the Americans’ perverse political and electoral system collapses under its own weight.  Only once Americans have a complete ‘reboot’ of their political system, will they be able to enjoy even a modicum degree of control…. or at least a modicum of control over what brand of capitalist overlords they want to have.

A Democrat in the White House simply won’t cut it.

———————

See also:

How to appear tough on terrorism without doing anything

What should Paul do?

Help, I need my readers’ advice.

As my regular readers will know, I’ve been contemplating expanding Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations now for some time.

I’ve been wanting to develop an American Empire Encyclopedia – possibly as a wiki, but at the very least with a clickable map containing links to academic scholarship documenting the democratically-elected governments the U.S. has overthrown throughout history and the brutal dictatorships they’ve supported.

I’ve also been wanting to develop a home for far left bloggers to put their feeds all in one place and read what each other thinks.  I figure if libertarians, Liberals, Tories, and New Democrats each have one, there’s no reason why can’t we anarchists, Marxists and socialists have some sort of a website to promote each other’s blogs, get more readers, and find new far-left blogs that are interesting.

Now, unfortunately it looks like both of these things will require me to host my own blog and thus to move Paulitics away from wordress (but I’ll make sure to pay wordpress for a domain mapping service so that it redirects).

In order to afford the bandwidth and the hosting services and the domain mapping services, I will have to put some advertisements up on the new blog and that, I realize, is a sensitive issue for leftist bloggers.

My plan for the ads is that I would place the ads in a few select locations (not everywhere like most bloggers) and I was hoping to take from the revenue only the money needed to maintain the site, and then with 100% of the profits that remain, host a monthly or quarterly ‘election’ with Paulitics readers to decide which charity/leftist political party should receive the left-over money.

This way, I figure, not only would we be blogging and expressing important revolutionary opinions, but we would also be able to generate revenue for important charities and revolutionary causes.  These charities could be anything that was democratically elected by you, the readers, such as Amnesty International or homeless advocacy organizations or local charities such as women’s shelters or even political causes such as a particular candidate for the Communist Party, the Marxist-Leninist Party, Quebec Solidaire or the Socialist Caucus of the NDP.

So, given that this would be a big move, and one which would require the implementation of advertisements to pay for the newly-found overhead, I wanted to ask my readers what they thought and what their advice was.

I’ve created a poll for this topic and I’d appreciate it if you’d all go and vote to give me your opinions.  You can find it here:

Vote Now!

Proof of Big Brother tactics at SPP protest (pics + vid)

It was easy to miss, but here are three examples of Big Brother tactics at the SPP protests this week in Quebec.  One of which is your standard George W. Bush doublethink, the second of which gives some interesting circumstantial evidence of government conspiracy to crack down on protesters (and has become an internet sensation), and the third of which proves the culpability of the government and police but which hasn’t been reported anywhere that I am aware of.

#1. As many of you know, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico (“The Three Amigos”)  met yesterday and the day before to negotiate a backroom, undemocratic deal to harmonize regulations at the behest of North America’s CEOs.

This summit took place, behind closed doors and meetings were carefully arranged to transpire without public scrutinty.  Afterwards, “The Three Amigos” emerged to the only public scrutiny the meetings would receive: namely George W. Bush reassuring the public that nothing offensive to public morals took place while the public was forbidden from listening in.

So, it was a boring, uneventful series of meetings in which nothing which the public would disapprove of took place, but the public was still nevertheless forbidden from seeing these uneventful meetings?

#2. The following video has recently become an internet sensation because of youtube, digg.com and reddit.com.  It shows three very suspicious ‘protestors’ who come to a peaceful protest with stones and rocks in hand seeking to provoke a confrontation.  It shows fairly reasonable circumstantial evidence that they were actually police informants designed to create cause for the police to crack down.  When confronted with the realization that the crowd surrounding them has realized this, they ‘give themselves up’ to the police.

Now, the other part of the story that has been widely reported, is that after these three were handcuffed, a picture was shot which showed that two of the ‘protesters’ had the same boots as a police officer.

spp-protest-boots-1.png

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The Toronto Star linked to the youtube video, but their report still suggested that it could have been a coincidence.  They wrote that:

“Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.”

Clearly, it takes no time at all to see that the protestors have the same boots as ONE of the police officers.  That hardly qualifies for investigative journalism.  And in and of itself without further investigation, this can still be dismissed as a coincidence by the government or by skeptics.

#3. But the part of the story that hasn’t been reported is also the part of the story which proves that all this circumstantial evidence above is not merely a series of coincidence.  The picture below shows that it’s not a matter of these protestors coincidentally having the same style of boots as one of the police officers, but rather that they have the exact same boots as all of the police officers.

spp-protest-boots-2.png

 (Original, hi-rez picture source here — look for yourself)

I made this image when I started to notice something as I was looking over the super-hi rez version of the same image.  If it didn’t take me long to figure this out, no journalist worth his or her salt should have missed it.

Take a look at the way the seam of the leather at the back of everyone’s boots falls in a straight line from the ankle towards the heel.  It doesn’t taper outwards away from or in towards the achilles tendon.  Nor does it curve in any way around the heel and converge towards the achilles tendon.  Rather it runs straight and perpendicular to the sole of the boot.  Notice anything similar between everyone’s boots?

If it wasn’t just one of the officers, then all of the evidence above is not merely circumstantial.  If all of the evidence of police interference in this protest is not circumstantial, then from this everything else, including the media’s complicity in this story, follows.

I fought Hitler and all I got was eternal damnation??

tshirt-eternal-damnation.pngIf anybody out there in reality-based reality was searching for more proof that right-wingers use some pretty tortured logic, search no more.

This is an except from a comment that was left a few days ago.

“I’m reading about what they [by “they” he means the Republican/socialist side in the Spanish Civil War] did in Spain when the commies attacked the state it is scary. Especially when you read the stories vs hearing that they killed 10% of the population of madrid. Killing 10% sounds tame you hear that every woman between the ages of 10-50 had been raped and how they killed all the nuns is more a cult of satan.”

That’s right folks, you read that first part correctly.  Despite the fact that there were two sides in the Spanish Civil War — the Republicans who supported the national, democratically-elected socialist government versus the anti-democratic insurgent Nationalists who were supported by Hitler and Mussolini and led by future dictator Francisco Franco — it was the side which supported the government which attacked the government.

Then, did you know that every woman between the ages of 10 and 50 was raped?  I know, I was surprised to learn that too.  But I suppose we’re not supposed to think rationally about how plausible that is, we’re just supposed to have faith that it’s really true.

Now, I’ve skipped over the whole “10% dead” figure used — because I guess, considering the absurdity of the other claims in that paragraph, it’s comparably reasonable to assume that 100% of the dead in the Spanish Civil War were attributable to to Republicans and that the openly fascist Nationalist side, I presume, must have used flowers and daisies and marijuana to overcome the Republicans.  I also figure we’re just supposed to use faith and assume that since Spain, at that time, had a population of 23.7 million and since 500,000 were killed, that somehow that equals 10% of the population and not the 2% that our fancy reality-based mathematics tells us it should be (source: here and here).

But really, it’s the last phrase there that makes this guy’s comment truly art.

The Republicans — the people in the conflict who were fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the future dictator Francisco Franco, the people who were defending the democratically-elected republic against a fascist dictatorship-in-waiting — were more like a “cult of Satan” than the side supported by Hitler.

Who ever said right-wingers can’t be ‘creative’ with logic when it suits their purposes?

————- 

For those of you in the reality-based community who want to watch a really fantastic segment on the Spanish Civil War that Democracy Now! did a while back, you can find it here:

Democracy Now!  Fighting Fascism: The Americans – Women and Men – Who Fought In the Spanish Civil War

Who ever thought the French Revolution was funny?

There are comic geniuses such as Robin Williams — masters of time and rhythm — and then there are geniuses who also just happen to be comedians such as British comedian/political commentator/author Mark Steel.

Never in my life have I ever had as much fun listening to a talk about the French Revolution.  The best part, in my opinion, was his routine near the end on the teacher in the classroom schooling all the idiots who thought that there actually were WMDs in Iraq.

I wish every university professor was like this guy.

Mark Steel: Vive la Revolution! Socialism2007 conference. (Part I)

Mark Steel: Vive la Revolution! Socialism2007 conference. (Part II)

Mark Steel: Vive la Revolution! Socialism2007 conference. (Part III)

(note: even though this last clip says “part 2″ at the start, it’s actually part 3)

Thanks to Doug from If There’s Hope… for these great Mark Steel clips.  I found some clips from Steel’s talk on Marx a few days ago, but Doug’s site made me want to post these first.   Stay tuned for Steel’s routine on Marx.

Top 100 Canadian political blogs

Here’s a sort of ‘top 100′ list for the Canadian political blogs which I compiled for fun (I know, I’m at work right now and I’m bored and I have a really distorted sense of ‘fun’). Actually, the idea wasn’t really mine, I stole the idea from a post that Greg from democraticspace.com did back in 2006 and I decided to expand it to a top 100 list, take out the now defunct sites, and update the rest.

Just a few caveats to keep in mind when going over this list. First, about one third of all blogspot blogs that I entered into alexa.com‘s traffic analysis generated no data. For some reason though, all other blog hosts such as wordpress (and all people who host their own blog) seemed to register just fine. So, if you don’t show up on the list, don’t take it personally, it’s possible that alexa just doesn’t have data on you. Second, I believe that the traffic ranking at Alexa is based on the past 4 months or so, so if you’ve been taking the summer off (as I believe Rick Mercer has) then your traffic rank will probably reflect that more than your normal traffic flow. Third, this isn’t an exhaustive list. What I’ve done is taken Greg’s list, deleted all the blogs which no longer exist, and then simply went down the list of blogs at Bound By Gravity, starting at the top, until I filled in enough empty slots to equal 100.

If I’ve left out some blogs that generate data on Alexa.com (and are, say, under the 7,000,000 mark) and you’d like them included in the list, feel free to comment below with the Alexa url of the blog traffic overview and I’ll add it as soon as I get a chance.

.

Canadian Political Blogger rank. Site name (& url) / site’s global Alexa ranking

  1. Paul Wells / 70,893
  2. Small Dead Animals /133,987
  3. Matthew Good /187,454
  4. Le Blogue du Québec / 210,363 (blogue francophone)
  5. The Politic / 274,126
  6. Progressive Bloggers / 283,480
  7. Steve Janke / 318,783
  8. Antonia Zerbisias / 324,154
  9. Garth Turner / 356,627
  10. Blogs Canada / 378,886
  11. Blogging Tories / 396,832
  12. Damian Penny / 455,529
  13. Vues d’ici / 460,543
  14. Vive le Canada / 461,727
  15. Amériquébec / 469,643 (blogue francophone)
  16. Emotion Creator / 484,553
  17. Andrew Coyne / 551,817
  18. Warren Kinsella / 593,125
  19. CalgaryGrit / 614,119
  20. Western Standard / 664,824
  21. Ken Chapman / 683,125
  22. Samantha Burns / 732,689
  23. Gen X at 40 / 735,226
  24. Werner Patels / 738,070
  25. Joseph Facal / 821,472 (blogue francophone)
  26. Montreal Simon / 840,565
  27. Stephen Taylor / 850,234
  28. Colby Cosh / 889,912
  29. Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations / 911,369
  30. Bound by Gravity / 912,488
  31. Dust my Broom / 939,419
  32. Abandoned Stuff / 949,762
  33. Scott’s DiaTribes / 954,036
  34. Canadian Cynic / 1,013,469
  35. David Akin / 1,070,642
  36. James Bow / 1,104,491
  37. Getting it Right / 1,113,156
  38. Girl on the Right / 1,166,381
  39. Red Tory / 1,175,715
  40. Far and Wide / 1,360,164
  41. Rick Mercer / 1,372,926
  42. April Reign / 1,387,411
  43. Prairie Wrangler / 1,440,822
  44. The Galloping Beaver / 1,455,318
  45. La Revue Gauche / 1,486,069
  46. Jordon Cooper / 1,518,839
  47. Canadian Cerberus / 1,553,403
  48. Buckdog / 1,591,003
  49. Big Blue Wave / 1,715,540
  50. Daveberta / 1,762,705
  51. The Blog Quebecois / 1,772,550
  52. Liblogs.ca / 1,870,127
  53. Jason Cherniak / 1,929,394
  54. Big City Lib / 1,960,969
  55. Larry Borsato / 2,065,636
  56. Section 15 / 2,065,958
  57. The Monarchist / 2,066,261
  58. The London Fog / 2,067,851
  59. Jay Currie / 2,190,102
  60. Stageleft / 2,238,667
  61. Green Bloggers (Canada) / 2,252,729
  62. democraticSPACE.com / 2,391,081
  63. Quebec Politique / 2,575,012 (blogue francophone)
  64. Un homme en colère / 2,653,297 (blogue francophone)
  65. Urban Refugee / 2,661,034
  66. Accidental Deliberations / 2,717,441
  67. Devin Johnston.ca / 2,718,187
  68. Idealistic Pragmatist / 2,725,501
  69. My Blahg / 2,800,670
  70. Uncorrected Proofs / 2,891,152
  71. Adam Daifallah / 3,018,846
  72. Political Staples / 3,222,345
  73. Marginalized Action Dinosaur / 3,302,191
  74. Rootleweb / 3,327,246
  75. Dr. Roy’s Thoughts / 3,622,245
  76. The Vanity Press / 3,622,958
  77. Crawl Across the Ocean / 3,625,835
  78. JimBobbySez / 3,632,287
  79. Bill Doskoch / 3,637,532
  80. Verbena-19 / 3,672,713
  81. The Spirit of Man / 3,787,343
  82. Cathie from Canada / 3,789,273
  83. Peace, Order and Good Government, eh? / 3,794,370
  84. Odd Thoughts / 3,796,069
  85. Canadiana’s Place / 4,020,291
  86. Unrepentant Old Hippie / 4,284,573
  87. A BCer in TO / 4,802,829
  88. Dawg’s Blawg / 4,817,302
  89. Red Jenny / 4,838,538
  90. East-End Underground / 4,874,982
  91. The Cylinder / 5,185,136
  92. Maxwell’s House / 5,533,134
  93. WingNuterer / 5,563,968
  94. Woman at Mile 0 / 5,610,425
  95. Begin Each Day… / 5,623,330
  96. HarperBizarro / 5,626,895
  97. Liberal Catnip / 5,776,892
  98. Antagoniste / 5,797,151 (blogue francophone)
  99. Blogging Dippers / 6,135,616
  100. Fuddle-Duddle / 6,238,129

Resources:

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the comments section beneath each post on this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the blog's author and creator. Individual commentators on this blog accept full responsibility for any and all utterances.

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