Archive for December, 2007

Irony… sweet, sweet irony.

So, it turns out that Orwell, author of the futuristic dystopic novel “1984″ about a government which spies on its citizens, was himself spied upon for long periods of time by his own government’s MI5 division.

Irony, thy name is politics.

Paul’s off for a much needed vacation

As of 10pm tonight, I’m going to be heading off for a much needed and long overdue vacation with my girlfriend and family.  We’re going to be heading to the Florida Keys, and apparently there’s extremely limited internet access in the Keys, so the blog is going to slow down for a bit while I’m gone for two weeks.  However, I do plan on updating the polling resource at least once while I’m down there as well as doing a post when I get my 100,000th hit which should be any day now.

If I don’t return to blogging by early January, please let somebody know because that probably means that I’ve been ‘disappeared’ or become an “unperson” by homeland security.  :)

And, just as a precaution, if any of the good, kind folks from Homeland Security are reading this blog and know who I am (I can’t imagine how they would know, because it’s not like the government has had any shady dealings with telecommunications companies), I would like to take this opportunity to point out that, while I am a Marxist who seeks the abolition of capital and the state, I do oppose individual expressions of political violence and thus am completely and totally harmless.

Globe and Mail grossly inflates Tory support in Atlantic Canada

A Decima poll has just been released to the press which, for the first time in a very long while, shows the Liberals regaining the lead over the Conservatives.

However, in their reporting of the poll, the authors of the Globe and Mail piece falsely claim that the Conservatives have been leading in the polls in Atlantic Canada.  The article states that

“In Atlantic Canada, where the Conservatives had been leading for most of the year…”

This is so far from the truth that it even stretches the imagination as to how the Globe and Mail could be so completely and demonstrably off in its research.

To illustrate how the Conservatives have actually not  in fact been, as the Globe suggests, leading in Atlantic Canada for the past year, consider this rolling average of all polls conducted in the region by all polling firms. 

2007-12-09-atlantic.png

So, not only have the Tories not been leading in Atlantic Canada for most of the year (or any portion of the year for that matter) but the Tories are actually down from their 2006 election results by a statistically significant margin (and indeed have been down from said showing for quite some time).  (see also Polling Report’s stats for Atlantic Canada which confirm what my stats are showing above, albeit in a much more messy fashion).

Paulitics wins a 2007 Unofficial Blogging Dipper Award

Uncorrected Proofs recently ran an unofficial contest to vote for the best New Democrat blogs in 5 categories:

(1) Best Overall Blog;  (2) Best Feminist Blog; (3) Best Labour Blog; (4) Best Partisan Blog; (5) Best Radical Blog

Now, I spend about as much time criticising the NDP as I do praising them, so I was genuinely surprised when I found out that I’d been nominated as one of the three finalists in the “Best Radical Blog” category.  Then, the other day, I was even more  shocked to discover that I’d actually won in the radical blog category especially considering that I was up against Eugene Plawiuk from La Revue Gauche who’s practically a one-man institution in the left Canadian blogosphere.  (Although Eugene was nominated in two other categories and won in the Best Labour Blog category).  So thanks to whoever it was that nominated me and thanks to those who voted for me in the best radical blog category.

Here is a summary of how the awards panned out:

Best Overall Dipper Blog

Nominees:
Accidental Deliberations
Buckdog
La Revue Gauche

Winner: Accidental Deliberations, Best Overall Blog

Best Feminist Dipper Blog

Nominees:
Idealistic Pragmatist
F-email Fightback
Politics’n’Poetry

Winner: Politics’n’Poetry, Best Feminist Blog

Best Labour Dipper Blog

Nominees:
La Revue Gauche
Rusty Idols
The Daily Dissidence

Winner: La Revue Gauche, Best Labour Blog

Best Partisan Dipper Blog

Nominees:
Accidental Deliberations
Buckdog
Northern BC Dipper

Winner: Buckdog, Best Partisan Blog

Best Radical Dipper Blog

Nominees:
La Revue Gauche
Paulitics
Red Menace

Winner: Paulitics, Best Radical Blog

Thanks to Uncorrected Proofs for putting the effort in to run this awards competition. I actually had never heard of Red Menace before, so if nothing else, the awards presented me with a new, and well written, Canadian Marxist blog that I can now add to my regular reading list.

Video: The War on Democracy [by John Pilger]

I recently came across this inspiring and fantastically-directed video is by the progressive Australian filmmaker John Pilger.  This documentary about Chavez and Venezuela features both impressive cinematography and depth of analysis which truly exceeded my expectations.

Enjoy.


Video curtosy of the good comrades at Venezuela Analysis.

Reactions?

Israeli lobby group has begun to pay students to agree with Israeli policy

A pro-Israeli lobby group, has begun a program to pay Canadian and American university and college students to agree with Israeli policy and to voice pro-Israeli sentiment in classroom discussion, and in grassroots organization with other campus groups.

The program, organized by the pro-Israel lobby group Stand With Us Campus, offers $1000 per year to pro-Israeli students or to students who may be enticed to go along in order to receive the prize of $1000 (source).  In exchange for this money, students are to, in Stand With Us Campus‘s own words, “build relationships with their campus groups and individuals” to influence discourse in favour of Israel and then (again, in their words) “report back to SWU campus staff to evaluate program effectiveness and network among themselves to ensure consistency.” (source)

So the next time you hear an undergraduate  student in class claiming that Israel is only defending itself when the Palestinian/Israeli  death toll is more than 14-to-1 in Israel’s favour, just think:  he or she might actually be getting paid to say (and believe) such arguments.

According to Stand With Us Campus‘s literature, so far, the following Canadian and American universities and colleges have a student or students  (or “Fellows”, as they call them) who are being paid to advocate Israeli policy in their discussions and in their extra-curricular campus activity.

(Canadian schools listed in boldvictim-of-israeli-attack.png

Columbia University
Cornell University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida International University
Indiana University
Johns Hopkins University
Lawrence University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
McGill University
Miami Dade College
Northern Illinois University
NYU
Queens College (CUNY)
Rice University
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Jose State University
Santa Monica College
State University of New York at New Paltz
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
The George Washington University
The University of Texas at Austin
Towson University
University of Arizona
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Riverside
University of California, San Diego
University of Florida
University of Michigan
University of New Mexico
University of North Texas
University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
University of Vermont
University of Victoria
University of Windsor
Wayne State University
(source)

standwithuscampus.png

~~~

Note: The images used in this piece are curtosy of Information Clearing House‘s photographic archive of images of the most recent Israeli incursion into Lebannon (the one that was planned months before to await provocation).  WARNING:  If you click the above link to Information Clearing House, the images you will see are much more graphic than the images included in this post.  The images selected for inclusion above were selected because they were generally much less gruesome than the worst of the images of Israeli attacks.

Propaganda in Action: More anti-Chavez attacks dressed up as “news”

From Reuters:

CARACAS (Reuters) – A video of a Gucci- and Louis Vuitton-clad politician attacking capitalism then struggling to explain how his luxurious clothes square with his socialist beliefs has become an instant YouTube hit in Venezuela.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Pedro Carreno was momentarily at a loss for words when a journalist interrupted his speech and asked if it was not contradictory to criticize capitalism while wearing Gucci shoes and a tie made by Parisian luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton.

“I don’t, uh … I … of course,” stammered Carreno on Tuesday before regaining his composure. “It’s not contradictory because I would like Venezuela to produce all this so I could buy stuff produced here instead of 95 percent of what we consume being imported.”

The video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDsdXkY4UlE) had been viewed more than 15,000 times on Thursday, a day after it was posted on the YouTube Web site.

Despite the best efforts of left-wing President Hugo Chavez to instill austere socialist values in its people, the oil-rich South American nation remains attached to consumerism.

This article makes several uncritical assertions which deserve some attention.

First,

“A video of a Gucci- and Louis Vuitton-clad politician attacking capitalism… has become an instant YouTube hit…. [having] been viewed more than 15,000 times on Thursday.”

This reads as if it was written by somebody like my co-worker who is not familiar with Youtube and thus calls it “The Youtube”.  Anybody conversant in the social video site would know receiving 15,000 hits nowhere near qualifies a video as being ‘a hit’.  Just to demonstrate this fact, I’ve highlighted the most popular videos on Youtube today in green:

youtube-popular-videos-december-14-2007.png

So the this putative Youtube “hit” has received less than 4% of the hits of a Brittany spears music video and a video of a guy holding his camera sideways.  Hmm……  Do I smell a Hollywood deal in the making?  If you accept that 15,000 views does not an internet sensation make, then one must ask oneself:  irrespective of all other charges in this piece, what is the newsworthiness of this story in the first place?

Second,

The article asserts that there is something hypocritical or unsavoury about a politician who’s well dressed yet attacks capitalism and advocates for the poor.  Besides being an ad hominem attack (which we seem to be seeing a lot more of these days when it comes to socialists), this seems to suggest that Minister Pedro Carreno is somehow less hypocritical or less unsavoury than a politician who’s well dressed and working to ensure that he gets to keep all the capital he’s accumulated while the poor can do without government assistance and just pick themselves up by their bootstraps.

In fact, we don’t even need to go as far as the Venezuela opposition to find examples of this former type of politician, we in the West, and especially our American neighbours, have plenty of home-grown examples.  While I despise comparing John Edwards to the genuinely progressive Bolivarian Revolution, a fair example could be made that Edwards has likewise been criticized for his luxurious living while using working-class rhetoric while others such as Mitt Romney who’s net worth tops $200 million (USD) and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes who’s net worth is $500 million (USD) both can advocate tax cuts or even a flat tax while not being subjected to similar charges of unsavouryness or hypocrisy.

Now, to be fair, while I support the Bolivarian Revolution, it should be pointed out that this is does not exactly live up to the Paris Commune ideal that Marx praised wherein the maximum salary available to a Commune official was 6000 Francs per year (although, in honesty, I haven’t the slightest clue what that would work out to in today’s currency after inflation).  But the point still stands that the argument made by Reuters is untenable.

Third,

The article asserts that “despite the best efforts of left-wing President Hugo Chavez to instill austere socialist values in its people, the oil-rich South American nation remains attached to consumerism.”

This is misleading on a few fronts.  First off, the socialist project is largely dealing with the horrible fact that workers don’t have enough money to feed themselves yet work in society only to have the surplus of their labour disproportionately usurped by a class of non-labourers.  Thus, socialism is not the same thing as anti-consumerism which is concerned primarily about people who buy too many things and are controlled by their desires for conspicuous and fashionable consumption.

chavez-supporters.pngSecond of all, this quotation attempts to suggest that the left-wing drive in Venezuela is being directed by Chavez in a top-down fashion.  While Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution is not nearly grassroots enough for my liking, it is nevertheless a complete distortion of the situation to say that it is Chavez who is making, or attempting to make a receptive public embrace socialist values.  Clearly, if the socialist drive was coming from Chavez and not the populace, then when Chavez was removed from power in the 2002 coup, the public would have either rejoiced or proven apathetic instead of the amazing popular uprising we actually witnessed to restore Chavez.


Resources:

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