Archive for July, 2009

Even intelligent media elites generally don’t understand the appeal of “the blogs”

3597001560_86894d8b7bDon Newman, the former host of CBC Newsworld’s marquee programme Politics, gave an interview in a recent edition of The Hill Times wherein he touched on the subject of blogs and blog readers.  His comments on the phenomenon of blogs are elucidating in part because he is by no means an ignorant man nor does he normally demonstrate any obvious partisan bias toward one of the five big mainstream parties or the other.  He is, in short, a living embodiment of the well-meaning yet nevertheless reactionary nature of the mainstream media which, I would argue, makes his opinions highly indicative of the media elite’s overall opinion of blogs.

Newman has generally positive things to say about his own profession in this same interview, but he makes it explicitly clear that he views blogs as either a negative development or at the very least not as a positive development.

What are the reasons, you ask, why he believes this?  Newman explains:

“They’re just people’s opinions and some of them are obviously used by political parties or people with political points of view to push.… There are a lot of people who can’t tell the difference between reading The Globe and Mail blog, or CBC.ca and reading a political blog that someone is writing either to entertain themselves or promote a political cause.”

In short, blogs are a negative development because they represent just an ‘ordinary’ person’s opinions as opposed to a paid political operative or professional journalist’s opinions.  Furthermore, people can’t differentiate between the real journalists’ opinions (which Newman believes should be listened to) and the opinions of these ‘ordinary’ people.

Now this formulation, as it stands there, isn’t technically an argument since it doesn’t have even the most basic structure of a syllogism.  Thus most people who subscribe to this belief, when they put it in the form of an argument, tend to posit that bloggers, unlike real journalists, are generally more ignorant and therefore that the rise of blogs is a negative development.

This, however, is a red herring.

I, for one, am a blogger and I have more education than many if not most journalists.  Ignoring my years of ground school and two pilot’s licenses, I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in political science from one of the top three political science post-secondary institutions in the country and then I went on to obtain a Master’s degree also in political science and also from the same institution.  However, the vast majority of readers of this blog probably didn’t know that about me and they (hopefully) don’t care about it either.  Blog readers understand that arguments stand or fall on their own merits irrespective of the personal pedigree (or the perceived or actual ignorance) of the author.

And herein lies the crux of why media elites do not get the phenomenon of “the blogs”.  Media elites still operate in a profoundly conservative and Burkean worldview that places a high premium on the importance of listening to the ‘right people’.  This is obviously so, since the ‘right people’ to listen to according to the media elites — the so-called experts — are themselves.

New format for Paulitics Multimedia Resource

The Paulitics Multimedia Resource continues to grow and add new documentaries and other new audio and video.  While I will be adding a new documentary and a couple of new speeches later on next week, feel free to check out the new format of the Multimedia Resource.

untitled4

untitled1

untitled2

untitled3

New European report on anti-semitism is shocking, but for different reasons

Warsaw GazaThe British government has commissioned a shocking new report from the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA) which among other things argues that the law should be changed so that political commentators cannot draw comparisons between the actions of the Israeli state and those of Nazi Germany.

Antony Lerman writes:

“If you said ‘the way the IDF operated in Gaza was like the way the SS acted in Poland’ and a Jew found this offensive, hurtful or harmful, you could, in theory, go to jail.”

However that is neither the most shocking or hypocritical aspect of this report.  No, that prize goes to the section of the report which argues that one of the ways antisemitism is manifested is by:

“Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”

Israel and the United States, of course, both permit and praise the Israeli military as well as Israel’s “sovereign right to defend itself” (source, source, source) while at the same time requiring and expecting the Palestinian government to renounce violence and agree never to develop a military (source, source, source).

To read The Guardian‘s fantastic piece on this report, click here.

Now available: The 2009 Canadian federal election projection model

Federal election projection model

Paulitics is proud to present the free, downloadable Paulitics Projection Model.

Paulitics was the #1 most accurate election forecaster for the 2007 Ontario Provincial election and the Paulitics Projection Model was able to accurately predict 96% of all 2008 federal election results*. This powerful tool is now available at your finger tips for free.

You may download it by clicking the button below.

Please note: Once you download the document, you will see a prompt asking you whether you would like to allow “macros” or not. You must click “allow macros” for the program to work.

download

This program operates on Microsoft Excel. It has been tested and proven to work on Microsoft Excel 2003 and Microsoft Excel 2007 (for Windows Vista). The program should work on earlier versions of Excel, but it has not been tested on these earlier versions. If you have any questions or problems running the program, please feel free to post a comment below.

___________________

*Based on entering the 2008 election result data into the 2006 projection model.

Israel solidifies its control over web 2.0

A while back here at Paulitics, I discussed the campaign by the Israel lobby to pay university students to agree with Israel in classroom discussions, university clubs and in rallies.

This programme and the overwhelmingly pro-Israel North American (and, to a lesser extent, European) media coverage were however not enough for the powerful and extremely well organized lobby.  The Israeli lobby then created a desktop application called “Megaphone” about which many political commentators still remain blissfully unaware.  Megaphone serves as a syphoning tool which has the power to instantly send pro-Israel activists flooding into any online discussion, web poll or other forum where Israel is being discussed in order to grossly unbalance the discussion thus creating the impression among Internet users that Israel’s support is both much wider and deeper than it actually is.  However, as frightening and undemocratic as these two operations were, they pale in comparison to what the government of Israel is doing now in terms of making “crimestop” a reality.

The Israeli press is now reporting that, in addition to the considerable influence of the Israeli lobby, the government of Israel has decided to marshal its state treasury to the cause further unbalancing the already obscenely unbalanced debate over Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.  The government of Israel will now directly pay pro-Israeli agents and bloggers to infiltrate online discussions, message boards, online newspaper comments et cetera with a ubiquitously pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian message.

UntitledIn the original Paulitics post on StandWithUs.org, I commented on their Orwellian use of doves and other peace imagery despite the fact that Israel has steadfastly rejected international law which calls for the right of all refugees to return to their homes and the Geneva conventions which proscribe against the acquisition of land through military conquest.  I can now without reservation say that I was dead wrong in my initial estimation of the situation.  Calling the initial programmes “Orwellian” does a disservice to the now genuinely Orwellian levels of deception and subterfuge being engaged in directly by the state.

On the bright side, however, if all of the favourable and unballanced meainstream media coverage; an impressive array of applications and an intimidating lobby group are together not enough to secure Israel’s outright hegemony, then there surely is hope that the illegal Israeli occupation is unsustainable.

Liberal Party supporters are least likely to believe their party shares their values: poll

A while back, the Strategic Counsel released a poll that managed to slip passed my attention until just now (source).

Many of the findings are fairly banal, however I was surprised to discover this one particularly interesting finding.  It turns out that of the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Québécois; Liberal Party supporters are the least likely to believe that their own party shares their values.

party shares your values

I’m not quite sure what that means.  Is it an indication that the Liberals are a “big tent” with people with many divergent ideas all peacefully coexisting together?  Or, does it mean that the Liberals have alienated their own supporters more than any other party and thus their supporters are tending to support them not because they agree with their policies but rather simply as a way of punishing some other party?

I’ll leave that for you to decide on your own.  But either way, this would suggest to me that the normal data on the relative ‘softness’ of each party’s support conceals something very interesting happening with the Liberals.

Thunder Bay economy will still get a major boost, despite best efforts of federal Conservatives

Bombardier1About eight days ago John Baird, the Conservative Infrastructure Minister, gave his second figurative “F— you” to struggling workers in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  This gesture comes in addition to his literal “F— you” to Toronto mayor David Miller earlier this month.

(Yes, he actually said “F—”.)

David Miller, who has been lobbying for a $300 million stimulus package from the federal government, last week had his request officially denied by the Harper government.  The City of Toronto had plans to spend the more than $300 million in stimulus money to offset the cost of purchasing 204 Bombardier LRVs which were to be built in Thunder Bay, ON — one of the hardest hit cities in Canada in terms of employment rates and property value.

BombardierWhat adds even more insult to injury is that the reason the federal government gave for denying the $300 million wasn’t that it was too great a sum.  Indeed the figure is exactly equal to Toronto’s share of the federal stimulus package.  Instead, the Conservatives argued that Toronto can’t get the $300 million federal assistance in buying 204 Bombardier trains BECAUSE the money will be spent predominantly in Thunder Bay and not Toronto.  The federal Conservatives, in short, were trying to fight to stop federal money from being spent in Thunder Bay.

Just to reiterate: the Harper conservatives are trying to stop $300 million from being spent in Thunder Bay because they would rather see the money spent in Toronto on several small projects despite the wishes of the mayor of Toronto and the Toronto City Council.

None of this, so far, is new news.

What is news, however, is that the Thunder Bay economy will still be getting this major boost despite the best efforts of the federal conservatives.  While Baird and the federal Conservative Party seem perfectly willing to play political games with this struggling Northern Ontario community — to say nothing of TTC public transit users in Toronto — the reports which began last week are now confirmed and the purchase of the 204 Bombardier LRVs has been made official.   In order to keep its intended purchase with the Thunder Bay Bombardier plant, the Toronto City Council was forced to cancel six large-scale capital infrastructure projects scheduled for all around Toronto.

While the prospects of being a Conservative candidate in Toronto are never particularly good, I certainly would not want to be a Thunder Bay Conservative candidate in the next federal election and have to explain that one to the voters.  Come to think of it, I also really wouldn’t want to be a Liberal candidate and have to explain why Thunder Bay-ites should vote for my party which voted to support the Conservative government and and keep them in power through confidence vote after confidence vote.

Sources:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/657018

http://www.thestar.com/article/656267

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090609/Baird_Toronto_090609/20090609?hub=TopStories

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2009/06/30/ding-ding-toronto-orders-its-bombardier-streetcars.aspx

Happy ‘the-country-I-was-born-in-is-the-best-country-on-earth’ Day

NationalismThis week marks the newly-proclaimed “Sovereignty Day” in Iraq (June 30), Canada Day here in Canada (July 1), and the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States.

I’ve always thought that it was the most fortunate of happenstance that, throughout history, most people who believe Canada to be the best nation on earth just happen to have been born in Canada; most people who believe England to be the best were born in England; most people who believe France to be the best, were born in France and so on and so forth.  The Americans are actually the luckiest of all in this regard since not only do a majority of them believe they live in the best country on Earth, but a recent poll found that a supermajority (61%) of Americans also believe that God — the putative creator of the universe, heaven and hell — has literally blessed their country specifically and has not similarly blessed any other country in the world (or universe?).

In honour of these august nationalist occasions, it is worth sharing some of my favourite quotes on nationalism and patriotism.

~

Shaw“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior because you were born in it.”
-George Bernard Shaw

“Q: If you find so much that is unworthy of reverence in the United States, then why do you live here?
A: Why do men go to zoos?”
-H.L. Mencken

“Nationalism is an infantile disease.  It is the measles of mankind.”
-Albert Einstein

“A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by a common hatred of its neighbours.”
-William Ralph Inge

“Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist J. Krishnamurtidictatorship… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
-Hermann Goering (Nazi party official)

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? It is because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
-J. Krishnamurti

“The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The working men have no country. We cannot take Douglasfrom them what that have not got.”
-Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency.  Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded.  Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”
-U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, 1957


Resources:

home page polling resource

Click below to download the

Paulitics Blog Search

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.

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.

Reddit

Progressive Bloggers

Blogging Canadians

Blogging Change

LeftNews.org

Paulitics Blog Stats

  • 790,871 hits since 20 November, 2006

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers