A Bad Month for Conservatives


Good morning, Democrats!

We’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is: you’re in charge!

The bad news is: you’re in charge.

It looks like we’ll be getting recounts in Montana and Virginia. Given the closeness of the results (especially in Virginia), this is as should be expected, though I don’t expect things to change. The Democratic candidate leads in the Virginia senate race by over 2,000 votes. That’s a statistically significant difference. While I have seen elections overturned on recounts, I’ve never seen more than a few hundred votes change hands. I don’t expect that to happen here.

So, I watched the American midterm election yesterday. It was the first time I’d voluntarily tuned into CNN when there wasn’t some hurricane bearing down on an American city (and, thinking about the calm season we’ve had, that means I haven’t watched CNN since Katrina).

I had little choice because CNN (for understandable reasons) provided blanket coverage of the election while Canadian stations like the CBC (for understandable reasons) did not. But, boy, nothing makes me appreciate the CBC’s nuanced and professionally-presented coverage than a few hours on CNN. By midnight, I was ready to claw my eyes out, and it wasn’t just fatigue.

What is it about American news media that makes things so shrill? This wasn’t some hurricane bearing down on the country, but sometimes it felt like the news presenters wanted us to think so. Wolf Blitzer and others were on high alert mode, jumping on each new “major” result. The best moments came from the Democratic and Republican pundits they had as guests, who were well versed in giving (predictably) political answers in a more calm and distinguished manner.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that exit polls are a pox on democracy. Several votes were “called” for particular candidates the moment that polls closed. In one case, the Senate race for Maryland was hilariously called for the Democratic contender Ben Cardin over Republican challenger Michael Steele. Barely 1% of the vote had been called in but, according to the exit poll data that CNN had on hand, they called it. Meanwhile, behind Wolf Blitzer, the results coming in said:

Michael Steele 4555 - 55%
Ben Cardin 3727 - 45%

So, basically, those exit polls have nothing to do with the ongoing vote tally. We don’t do that sort of thing in Canada. The CBC and other networks would instead wait, until a substantial portion of the ballots were counted, before declaring a particular candidate “elected”. Until then, they’d refer to the ongoing vote tally and declare the first place candidate “leading”.

This just makes more sense to me. It makes me feel like the actual ballot counting counts for something, rather than having its rug swept out from under it by greedy, impatient news media exit polls.

At the other extreme, a winner was “projected” in a Kentucky House race with 100% of the votes counted.

An Open Letter to Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper

I’m usually ragging on your case about our political disagreements and the occasional sense that you don’t respect the voters (for example, Mr. Flaherty, your decision to videotape your Ontario PC leadership speech from Whitby to show that you’re not “too Toronto”), but I have to admit that I feel bad over the furor that erupted this week with your decision to tax income trusts as if they were any other corporation.

You see, I think you made the right call, here. The income trust tax loophole was way too broad, and allowed too many corporations to get out of paying their taxes on a technicality. There were specific reasons for setting up income trusts, but if companies like Bell Canada and Nortel are seriously considering transforming themselves into an income trust, then the program is no longer doing what it was designed to do. As you noted, by closing this loophole, you’ve levelled the playing field, leaving open the possibility that you can lower corporate taxes throughout the sector, without the bottom falling out of government revenues.

Yes, you’re taking it on the nose for having harangued the Liberals for even considering this while you were in opposition. As a political gaffe, this is right up there with Pierre Elliot Trudeau lampooning Robert Stanfield for suggesting wage and price controls, and then imposing them once re-elected. It just goes to show, blind opposition to everything your opponents propose might make for good campaigning, but it can tie your hands once you step into the big chair. Next time, maybe a little nuance is needed in your campaigns.

I also appreciated the announcement you made on income splitting. The fact that a single individual earning $100,000 paid more taxes than a couple earning $50,000 each, never struck me as entirely fair. This is a tax change that I can get behind.

But because of your income trust flip flop, there are reports that you’ve angered your base in Alberta. Energy company executives are ripping up their membership cards and trotting out seniors who claim they’ll have to work an extra five years before they retire. Yes, you can ill afford the loss of their votes in your drive for a majority government across the country, but you’ve won my respect on this issue. You’ve shown me that you’re willing to make the tough decisions, even if it’s more than just unpopular, but that it’s unpopular with those who voted for you.

And, yes, I know that’s cold comfort given that I wasn’t going to vote for you, and I’m still not.

…okay, if you drop your opposition to same sex marriage and drop the defence of religions act, I’ll think about it.

Fear of Hypocrisy or the Hypocrisy of Fear?

Finally, I don’t get it.

I have no problems with homosexuals and homosexuality. I have no problems with sex between two loving, consenting adults regardless of whether they are married or not. I figure as long as people are harming no one, are not harming themselves and are prepared for the consequences, then they should be allowed to do as they please.

In some political circles — not many, but some — I am probably seen as weak on morality. I believe that anything goes. Why, it’s possible that I’m having wild homosexual romp parties in my basement as I type this (assuming that I had the typing skills of an acrobat). I am an acid eating away at the moral fibre of North America.

And yet, I have no interest in homosexual sex. My libido is in check, and more than fulfilled by my loving wife. I don’t go to clubs, and I’ve never done drugs. In my life. I think that if somebody were to describe my social life, it would be conservative.

So, why is it, when we encounter individuals caught seeking illicit homosexual sex, or drugs, or young interns, some of them are some of the very individuals who are championing the moral fibre of this continent? Consider the record:

  • Conservative Christian leader Rev. Ted Haggard, outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, receiving a massage from a self-described male escort. His defense was that he wasn’t in a homosexual relationship with the male escort; he was simply trying to buy some crystal methamphetamine (link).
  • Republican Mark Foley, outspoken proponent of “family values”, caught sending sexually provocative instant messages to various male interns.
  • Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh, outspoken critic of drug addicts, caught addicted to prescription pain medication after famously stating “We have alcoholics and drug addicts in our society, don’t we? And what do we say about them? ‘Well, they can’t help it. Why, it’s genetic. Why, they have a disease. Why, put one thimbleful of scotch in front of them and they can die.’ We totally exempt them from any control over their lives, do we not?”. (Link)

The list goes on.

I used to think that the adage, that some critics of homosexuality were motivated by a loathing of homosexual tendencies that they sensed were in themselves, was simply a case of turning an insult around on the insulter, but now I’m not so sure. It’s almost as though these individuals who champion “family values” and attack those they see as living lives counter to those values, are attacking people outside of themselves because they see something within themselves that they hate; demonizing those around them because of the personal demons on their mind.

If this is the case, I guess a part of me feels sorry for these individuals. Perhaps if they had been able to search their souls, and admit who they are, they could have accepted their characters and focused on building the positive aspects of those characters.

This is important because, while these flawed individuals might share some of the tendencies that they hate in the people they attack, the people they attack who are comfortable in their own bodies don’t engage in the sort of reprehensible activities that these hypocrites illicitly seek.

I know that self-examination is not easy, but the world might be a better place if more of us try it. It would save others from being attacked because of the fears we feel within ourselves.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

I give you, The Diary of Anne Frank, starring Hillary Duff. Link courtesy Cameron.

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