Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Occupy Wall Street Statement

8 October 2011

Keith Olbermann reads a statement from the Occupy Wall Street protesters

Atwood on Politics

19 February 2009

By politics I do not mean how you voted in the last election, although that is included. I mean who is entitled to do what to whom, with impunity; who profits by it; and who therefore eats what.

Margaret Atwood – The Writer’s Responsibility


8 January 2009

Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.

-James Madison

Politics, capitalism, and morality

8 December 2008

The ever-brilliant  Jürgen Habermas reflecting on the proper role of politics and capitalism with respect to morality:

“Politics turns itself into a laughing stock when it resorts to moralising instead of relying upon the enforceable law of the democratic legislator. Politics, and not capitalism, is responsible for promoting the common good.”

It is not inherently the business of business to promote the public good and we abdicate our responsibility as political actors if we act as if it were. It’s the job of politics to enforce the public good and to pass and enforce legislation which compels business to do what needs to be done to achieve it.

Strange Brouhaha

3 December 2008

So there’s a bit of a political tempest going on up here north of the 49th parallel. The opposition parties have made a legal but highly unusual (unprecedented?)  move to replace the current government with a coalition.  Joey de V posts an excellent summary of the goings on in Ottawa.

Over on Making Light, Graydon does an excellent job of discussing the legal and tactical issues facing the Governor General in comments.

Typically, the PM requests proroguation when the business of the house has been concluded. That means that either the agenda laid out in the throne speech has been dealt with or the government no longer intends to complete it. When the house of commons returns after proroguing, the government is supposed to give a new speech from the throne which sets a new legislative agenda. So, proroguing is a process which sends parliament into recess in order to allow the government to figure out a new agenda.

If the PM’s entire purpose in proroguing the house is to avoid a confidence vote and thus the fall of his/her government then the Governor General should probably not grant this request. The government is only allowed to stay the government as long as it has the confidence of the house and the fact of the Liberal/NDP coalition establishes that it no longer has it. Proroguation doesn’t, therefore, serve the interests of Parliament or the people. It only serves the interests of the party which currently forms the government.

Canadians should remember what it is all too easy to forget. We don’t elect parties or governments directly. We elect representatives who then form the government and who may or may not become part of it.

Slide Into Evil

1 March 2008

7 Social Processes that Grease the Slippery Slope of Evil

…according to Philip Zimbardo, creator of the Stanford Prison experiment. The following is a slide from his presentation at the 2008 TED conference.

1. Mindlessly taking the 1st small step
2. Dehumanization of others
3. De-individuation of self (anonymity)
4. Diffusion of personal responsibility
5. Blind obedience to authority
6. Uncritical conformity to group norms
7. Passive tolerance of evil through inaction, or indifference

Dawson College

15 September 2006

What the fuck was Kimveer Gill doing with a Beretta CX4 Storm and a Glock 9 mm pistol, both of which were apparently legally registered? Clearly, I am sadly ignorant of just what our (Canadian) gun laws mean if someone can get their hands on these kinds of weapons just for shits and giggles. I think the anti-gun-law folks are way off base here. The proper response to Wednesday’s shooting is not abandon the notion of gun control but to re-inforce it; to make it stronger.

The other thing to keep in mind is that it’s really important to think critically about what would have made a difference at Dawson College on Wednesday.

Metal detectors at all the entrances to the school? The guy walked up to the school, shot three people outside and strode in. Even if a metal detector had gone off, that wouldn’t have stopped him from blowing past it. A metal detector will only stop someone trying to sneak a weapon into the building to be used later. Gill wasn’t trying to sneak anything anywhere.

Locked doors that only open for proximity passes? He could have just followed a student in or shot away the glass.

Security guards with guns? Maybe. Maybe they would have limited the number of people he could have killed before being stopped? Is the chance of limiting the damage from another rampage by another killer 10 or 15 years down the road worth living with armed security guards? Not to me.

Faster police response times? How could they have been faster? They were at the college in three minutes, apparently, and went straight in.

I heard one student on The National say that a SWAT team asked him the way to the cafeteria. One thing that might help, then, is if Emergency Response personnel had PDAs with building diagrams for all the major public buildings in their precincts. That might enable them to get places faster once inside the buildings. (This would be helpful for firefighters, too.)

But, generally, lets face it, there’s just not much you can do to prevent someone doing what Kimveer Gill did other than making it harder for him to get a hold of those kinds of weapons in the first place or living with armed security.

Since Gill was apparently some kind of Goth, and was into some apparently very violent video games there’s a lot of speculation right now about their role and the role of Goth sub-culture in his actions. Did violent video games cause him to acquire his guns and then go to Dawson and start shooting people?

If you want to maintain that the games were the sole cause then to be consistent you also have to argue that if he didn’t have access to those games then he wouldn’t have done what he did or something similar. And I find that hard to believe. On the other hand, he was into playing some kind of Columbine RPG that is supposedly out there (really fucking sick) and given that he went to a school and started shooting people it’s hard to believe that playing the game is an unconnected coincidence. It seems reasonable to me that media violence is implicated in what he did. Is the right conclusion to draw that we should impose censorship and ban violent games or certain web sites? It’s a question that should be on the table but let’s not forget that there’s a big price to pay for censorship and that freedom may be worth it even if more people are going to die because of a refusal to censor than would if we did impose it.

And if we’re going to have that debate and be honest about it, then let’s not just pick on video games or the internet. Have a look at Hollywood violence while you’re  at it. And TV, too. I bet you it will be a lot less cut and dried in some people’s politician’s minds once you bring the traditional media into the picture.

Oxymoron: conservative government

16 June 2006

"Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well."

-Alan Wolfe, The Washington Monthly

9 June 2006

Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda accepted campaign contributions from the very businesses she is supposed to be regulating. This isn't the way things are supposed to be. Let's all review the basics, shall we? Policticians are elected by citizens in order to serve the interests of citizens. They should not be accepting money from and forming obligations to businesses – particularly ones they are supposed to be regulating in the public interest.

I know it's naive but, really, we can do better.

There’s such a thing as too polite

24 March 2006

If moderates are unwilling to endure conflict in defence of their moderation, they will effectively have surrendered to the voices of extremism.