Ted Morton, the former Finance Minister and unsuccessful PC leadership candidate, was holding court at the Manning Foundation. He was going to give a speech on how a bunch of lefty carpet baggers (aka the “Two Minute Tories”) hijacked the PC leadership selection process to the enduring detriment of the Blue Tories.
The party faithful clustered around him to exchange pleasantries. Ms Soapbox worked her way to the front of the line and introduced herself as a Two Minute Tory who’d made the unfortunate mistake of voting for Ms Redford in the last PC leadership race.
Mr Morton stared blankly at this creature shaking his outstretched hand. A smart politician would have leapt at the chance to validate his theory that progressives buy PC memberships to elect the “least objectionable candidate” (his words) because after 40 years of continuous PC reign that candidate will become the next premier of Alberta. Instead he mumbled something and looked helplessly in his wife’s direction. Oh well.
To give Mr Morton his due, he gave a very enlightening presentation, although perhaps not in the way he intended.
Here are the highlights:
Two Minute Tories wreak havoc: Mr Morton flashed up charts and graphs demonstrating that in the last three leadership races a dark horse (read: undeserving contender) used the Second Ballot Strategy (buying a whack of progressive voters with ridiculous promises) in order to take down the front runner.
Nancy Betkowski—who’d been groomed to become the PC’s first female premier—was trounced by Ralph Klein. Jim Dinning lost to Ed Stelmach of all people. Mr Morton admitted that his own “anyone-but-Dinning” campaign helped push Mr Stelmach over the 50% threshold. Wouldn’t that be galling!
Finally, in 2011 Gary Mar (a deserving PC in Mr Morton’s eyes) lost to the interloper Alison Redford who deployed the Second Ballot Strategy with lethal force and bought off the public employees’ union, the United Nurses of Alberta and the teachers’ union in order to ascend to the Premier’s office.
This is curious. The PCs have been buying votes with pre-election promises for decades. The only difference here is who was bought (if indeed they were). Apparently providing corporate welfare to Big Oil is less objectionable than providing public services to Albertans.
Right vs Left: Mr Morton quickly fell into the classic political shorthand of Right versus Left. (Presumably there is no “in-between”). He suggested that Ms Redford would continue to pander to the “party of tax collectors” at the expense of the “party of tax payers” until financial sanity returned to government.
He referred to the post-Regan and Thatcher eras which split voters into two camps: those who give more in taxes than they get and those who get more than they give and want to get even more. The inflammatory rhetoric is alive and well at the Manning Foundation.
NOTE: This Right/Left view of the world is myopic and creates a tremendous opportunity for a centrist party to mobilize voters focused on issues (health, education, environment), not party labels.
The Urban/Rural Divide: Due to a quirk in demographics the urban/rural divide is drawn at Battle River—the south was populated by US migrants; the north by eastern European immigrants. The south is the birthplace of new parties that rise like a tsunami and unceremoniously wipe out the ruling party. The Wildrose is following this historical pattern.
Vote Splitting on the Right: The PCs are losing rural support. They need to craft a coalition of Edmonton and Calgary voters (edging out the Liberals and the NDP) in order to succeed.
This creates a real danger that the conservative vote will be split between the PCs and the Wildrose, and, to quote Mr Morton, “it would be a shame if Alberta went Left by default”. At this point Ms Soapbox exercised supreme self-control and did not leap out of her chair and shout “Yessss!!!
The future of the PC Party: When asked whether the PC party was dead, Mr Morton replied, “Maybe, maybe not.” He didn’t elaborate but I will. There are two possible scenarios:
The doomsday scenario: The Wildrose and PCs split the vote and Alberta “defaults to the left”. Mr Manning issued a warning: Do not underestimate Alberta’s small “l” liberal base.
25% to 30% of Albertans are Liberals. The Liberals could rise again if the party (1) finds a new charismatic leader—someone like Calgary’s mayor Nenshi literally “walks on water” and would capture the urban vote in Calgary and Edmonton in a heartbeat (a solemn hush fell over the crowd), (2) ditches the Liberal name and severs all ties to the federal Liberal party and (3) develops some new policies (presumably conservative ones).
The miracle scenario: The Wildrose bridges the rural/urban divide by focusing on issues not ideology. For example, the concerns of rural land owners and environmentalists are aligned.
This sounds like a tough slog given the Wildrose’s ideological bias toward the corporatization of government by privatizing anything that moves and its belief that the free market will solve all ills. The enemy of my enemy may be my friend—but only until the skirmish is over, then it’s back to base camp.
Ms Soapbox swore she’d never again become a Two Minute Tory and vote for the “least objectionable candidate”, however Mr Morton says this is an effective tactic. So what do we do?
Do we continue to throw a monkey wrench into the PC leadership selection process? Will this drive even more Blue Tories into the arms of the Wildrose? Will this split the conservative vote or make the Wildrose even stronger?
If we support the “least objectionable candidate” will she and her incompetent party destroy what’s left of our public services over the next four years?
Do we ignore the PC leadership selection process all together and focus our attention on strengthening…who? The Liberals, the NDP, the Alberta Party or the Green Party?
Bottom line: the Manning Foundation, Alberta’s leading conservative think tank, thinks there’s room for a centrist party in Alberta…will somebody please get their act together!!!
I struggle with this so much. I too voted PC in the end, and like you, regret it (well, kind of). The provincial Liberals are a lost cause I feel because of the very people behind it, not JUST the leader. The Alberta Party which I very much wanted to work, has failed…I am not sure if new leadership can really bring it back. I think we erred in not being bold enough frankly, for not having the courage to loudly argue for progressive ideas. At the moment, I am personally looking towards the NDP who at least do THAT much.
Jeremy, the leadership issue is key. Some leaders like Mayor Nenshi care about their constituents and communicate this with every fibre of their being, others bounce around on the airwaves and fail to connect. I’m watching all of the new leaders (Alberta Party, Greens) with an open mind. The next two years are critical!
Great as usual, Susan. I fear poor old Ted has become a whiny anachronism, thank god.
But you are totally right – the gap between the old school ‘right’ ‘righter’ and ‘left’ is growing and PC has gotta go – more continual and blatant pandering to big oil while ignoring & abusing Albertans is unacceptable. (See Wetlands’policy’ & AER).
Speaking from a totally centrist position – I actually live ON the Battle River (albeit on the north side) – I have been working towards filling that gap for several years now, as one of the founding participants in the all-party collaborative initiative that is the Alberta Party. Check it out and watch our Leadership event on Friday evening that will be livestreamed at http://www.albertaparty.ca. Ideas before ideology – what a great idea!
Midge and Jeremy: I like the Alberta Party’s centrist perspective and its support of “ideas before ideology”. The AP has a much better chance at making this work than the Manning Foundation who are using issues like the environment to attract potential members who would otherwise not be remotely interested in small “c” conservative ideology, kind of like a bait and switch tactic.
Here’s how the Manning Foundation VP responsible for training described it to me. I asked about the age old problem of engaging young voters. He responded with the usual stuff about young people getting their information through social media, not newspapers, etc, and then he said the Foundation had hired the only pollster who called the BC election correctly (can’t remember his name). The pollster says young people aren’t interested in ideology, only in issues. If you can engage them on an issue you’ll be able to pull them through to your politics.
This is what Preston Manning is getting at in his comment that landowners and environmentalists share the same concerns. We saw this when the landowners and environmentalists brought the TCPL Keystone XL pipeline to a grinding halt because TCPL refused to change its route to avoid the Sand Hills in Nebraska. But this was a unique situation. I don’t see such an alliance solidifying into support for a far right-wing political party.
Midge, thanks for the link. I’ll be watching!
Hi Jeremy. We haven’t failed. We are just getting started!
Political parties are not born fully formed. The Alberta Party had two years before it had to fight an election. Some would say it failed… but the warped “fear vs anger” campaign that was waged was void of ideas. The Alberta Party may be a bit of an empty vessel, but if more people of good will populate it, it may have the greatest potential of anything else to coalesce moderate, rational voters.
Agreed, the “lakes of fire” fear factor had a lot to do with progressive voters swinging back to the PCs at the 11th hour. However Jeremy has a point in that the AP was still feeling its way when it was thrust into the election. That’s why the next two years are so critical.
Contrary to what Ted Morton and Preston Manning believe the PCs are NOT pandering to progressive voters; in fact they’re cutting public services to demonstrate they’re just as “fiscally prudent” as the Wildrose (god help us). This presents a golden opportunity for a progressive party to get a crisp clear message out to the public. Brian Mason is very clear. Now we need to hear from the Alberta Party and the Greens. The Alberta Party will elect a new leader on Sept 21. Then we’ll have all three progressive leaders in place and progressive Albertans will be able to throw their support behind the party that best sets out the progressive vision.
I was a two minute Tory, myself, once. I joined to try to stop the Klein machine. It was the Klein people who deftly negotiated the change in the PC rules to open the voting to two minute Tories. It worked in his favour, just as his handlers hoped it would. I haven’t been a happy Albertan since. Mr, Sour Grapes Morton shouldn’t blame the system his own party created. So typical of the man! I pray his fears all come true. I intend to do my best in that regard. I see potential in the Alberta Party.
Amen to that! It was very entertaining to hear Mr (SG) Morton gloss over the fact that (1) he was primarily responsible for letting Ed Stelmach win the leadership race due to his aggressive “anyone but Dinning” campaign and (2) he was entirely responsible for triggering Mr Stelmach’s resignation which catapulted Ms Redford (who he referred to as Ms REDford) into the premier’s office.
I too pray that Mr Morton’s worst fears come true!
I was not a two minute Tory and I would not be able to be a two second Tory. I also was not at Ted Morton’s presentation because if I was I would have thrown a shoe at him, so I stayed home. Ted Morton’ s ideology is completely foreign to me. Just like Manning and Danielle Smith they believe that the concept of market is divine revelation. Yes it is for the Gods that work for Wall and Bay Street. For the rest of us, it is pure garbage and any belief that the market should run our lives is to me total lunacy. Of course for those who take advantage of this ideology because they know they always win, the concept is indeed something given to us by God. Again for the rest of us it is pure legalized robbery and is still going on everyday all day and the government turns a blind eye to it. Millions of Canadians have their financial accounts messed with for the benefit of the financial institutions but the Federal Government is way more interested in those that smoke pot. They are extremelly dangerous.
I honestly would love to agree with with the centrist view and the success of the Alberta Party but I really do not beleive it.
The Alberta Party is a great group of people but the resources are very limited and to make it into the political mainstream without
millions is kind of almost impossible. Furthermore I personally do not believe that the majority of the Alberta population is at the
center. People do want the Universal Health Care, but politically I do think that most Albertans will turn to the Wildrose rather than the
Agreed, I too can’t fathom this unshakeable faith in the free market–especially after the financial collapse in 2008 that destabilized global markets and ruined so many lives. Your characterization of the Wall Street crowd as gods is pretty accurate. Apparently the US dollar plunged and stocks and bonds skyrocketed when Larry Summers withdrew his name from consideration for the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. Financial analysts say this is because the man is known as “difficult” and would have made the Fed more chaotic at a time when a cool steady hand was required. This made me wonder whether the US dollar would have soared and stocks and bonds would have cratered (and who would have made a pile of money as a result) had he gotten the job…no wonder they think they’re gods!
I sincerely hope that Alberta won’t turn en masse to the WR but that may be the result if the centralist/left can’t get its act together. As Mary said it’s a winner take all game in Alberta.
Thanks for your comments Carlos…as insightful as ever!
Carlos, I’m with you on the shoe tossing thing but I don’t believe the eye the government is turning is blind at all and I doubt that you do either. Astounded that while more and more evidence shows that austerity is completely ineffective, here we go again/still.
I don’t know why, but the recent backlash against a strike on Syria oddly enough gives me a tiny glimmer of hope that more people are saying “we won’t get fooled again.”
So strange to me that people I know, educated people, ‘good’ people, insightful people choose to vote against what they fear rather than for what they value. Never works, never has worked. In some warped way, I say bring it on WR!! Let’s all jump into that libertarian abyss that wraps itself in the ‘let’s all work together just like after the floods’ sheep’s clothing and then we’ll see what that slash and burn utopia really looks like…but that’s on bad days.
I like what William Munsey said elsewhere that we either take big risks or roll over and croak. I sure hope all individuals and parties who are interested in moving in a different direction will take that seriously. Solidarity should be verb. Thanks for the space to rant!
Thanks for this Susan. I would happily strengthen the NDP, Alberta Party, Liberals and Greens. I think most progressives in Alberta are increasingly afraid to be perceived as too “leftist” so there’s a rush to the centre. Labels are labels and while they don’t tell the whole story, they are useful shorthand. Why not just claim the label and take away its power to be used as a weapon against you/us? One more question and one concern. Question: Why are progressive parties who don’t want old labels still so insistent on qualifying their progressive views with “but we still support, so called, free enterprise”? I see that as an outdated and misleading label for many reasons. Concern: Splitting the centre and handing another default victory to the right. Happy as I am to see more centrists/progressives, I can’t escape the reality of the winner take all system we have in Alberta.
Bingo! The small “c”conservatives make no bones about where they stand–reduce taxes by privatizing everything you can because the market place is so much more efficient. The NDP are also crystal clear on their support for public services. Perhaps that’s why Danielle Smith picked Brian Mason and not Raj Sherman as her opponent in the upcoming debate at the U of A.
I share your concern about splitting the centrist/left vote. I wonder whether a charismatic leader might drawn all of the progressives into his party whatever that may be. Like you said, many of us don’t care about labels. We just want to see forward movement!
Thanks again for your comment Mary. Welcome to the Soapbox!
The blind eye I meant is to the fact that Financial Institutions in Canada mess with our financial accounts in so called ‘legal ways’ and steal billions of dollars a year. This is known, books have been written about it but the robbery continues. The Federal Government does absolutely nothing about it because a lot of the people behind this are their friends and contributors.
Susan I do agree with you about something like a Progressive Front, but in Alberta I find that thought basically as possible as visiting paradise. The leaders do not want just a piece of the pie, they want it all. A lot of egocentrism along with fear and lack of vision and so the PC power continues. I have written to all the leaders and those that replied said openly NO WAY.
Daniel Smith chose Bryan Mason because she knows she has the propaganda necessary to shoot him down. I hope not but I do not think that Bryan will make it well.
Mary and Carlos: I thought I’d get a few words in here before the shoes start flying! Seems to me we’re in solid agreement that things have to change. Mary and I might be a bit more optimistic than Carlos that even here in PC dominated Alberta, change is possible. Many of us are yearning for a good leader and don’t really care which progressive party he/she represents just so long as he/she has the wherewithal to drum up some excitement and bring us along with him…so what kind of leader are we looking for?
Well Susan, it sounds like you had an interesting night. I am surprised that Ted Morton, being a political science professor, wouldn’t be able to see the phenomenon of the “Two Minute Tories” in a broader perspective. I’ll bet his students get it.
This situation, sadly, arose because after forty years of one-party rule, a good segment of the populace figured the only way they could influence an electoral outcome was to compromise their values, buy a PC membership, and vote for their leader. It is a pitiful commentary on the state of democracy in Alberta, but shows the desperate lengths to which people will go to make any effective change. Not an easy thing to do, trying to tip the process on its head- and selling one’s soul into the bargain.
The “purists” who stuck with their parties should be a little more sympathetic. As one of the patients in my husband’s dental practice said to him when he was deliberating hard on a procedure, “Well, doctor, do SOME thing. Even if it’s the wrong thing!”
That aside, I’m hearing more talk about the NDP as an option. It’s kind of interesting to look at them with “fresh eyes”. I must say, they are true to their values, and for a small party, they seem to “punch above their weight”.
Funny you should mention Ted Morton’s students “getting it”. He told us that he tested this theory on his students. Two of them got into a heated debate about whether progressive voters would actually buy PC memberships in order to vote for the least offensive choice (from a progressive perspective). One student said that would never happen and the other said, are you kidding, it’s like throwing a beer bash on Saturday night and leaving the front door open, you’ll get a lot of uninvited guests. The PCs changed their leadership selection rules to make the process more democratic but this opened the door to outsiders who subvert the process for exactly the reasons you set out. Says something about the sorry state of democracy in this province, doesn’t it?
With respect to Brian Mason, I really hope the Smith/Mason debate comes to the U of C…I’d love to see these two duke it out!
The “two minute Tory” moniker is a masterful piece of marketing and like all dogma, does not entirely tell the whole story. More on that later. I admit that Ms. Soapbox convinced me to follow in her footsteps (I still rue the temporary lapse in sanity) and got my membership to vote for who I thought would ultimately be our best bet for Premier.
We lived in the United States for a number of years and encountered a similar situation to that of the two minute Tory. I met a number of Republicans who registered as Democrats (would you call them Defiling Democrats?) so that they could vote in primaries to ensure the weakest candidates would be nominated, and then on the actual voting day, pull the lever for the Republican candidate. (You can only register as a Republican or Democrat or Independent and cannot carry more than one membership as you can in Canada.). The part that is different is that the two minute Tories really wanted to make a positive difference and selected who they thought would be the best PC candidate, not the worst (unfortunately the hard core PCs didn’t see it that way). These Republicans had a sneering, in your face, nasty attitude and truly believed the ends justified the means.
All of this started me thinking about the left of centre (and the people it attracts) versus the right of centre (and the people it attracts.) The Manning Centre event attracted a lot of right of centre people, plus the left of centres Soapboxes plus one Liberal blogger. People were generally nice but when told of our affiliation with the two minute syndrome, faces contorted, and the friendliness became contrived. I listened carefully to both the nature and tone of the questions and answers during the event. I found the air in that room created almost a sense of entitlement, that free enterprise is the only economic model and that anyone who wanted government intervention could not cut it in the real world. I did not hear any semblance of compassion. I also did not hear anyone say “Let them eat cake” but it was sure implied.
All of this finally leads me to what it is to be Canadian. I always felt we are a compassionate society, a tolerant society and that we are truly in this together. Locally, that spirit came out during the floods in Calgary. We had young and old, rich and poor, and all colours and political/religious affiliations helping each other. The conservative model and its assorted dogmas would not have allowed that sort of intervention.
Great comments Mr Soapbox. I’m so glad you brought up the American example and linked it to the small “c” conservatives we meet at the Manning Foundation last week. Both groups demonstrate an almost fanatical belief in their ideologies, to the point where any fact that contradicts their belief is dismissed or massaged into something palatable. We saw that in the US when President Bush was pushing the country into the Iraq war. Every time I raised the concern that there was no evidence of WMD my Republican friends would revert to the argument that the CIA must know something the people don’t know and we simply have to trust them. Trust the CIA–are you bananas!!!???
We need to remind voters of what it means to be Canadian (nicely set out in your last paragraph) and challenge them to find the political party that best exemplifies these values.
PS Thank you for coming with me to the Morton speech, it was great having you by my side as we navigated our way through that utterly alien environment!
Go Susan Go
Bananas indeed. Who trusts that Mafia? Well of course George Bush did but then again does he have a brain to start with? These Manning Foundation type people mix politics and religion and become so fanatic that it is basically useless to even talk to them. It is unreal.
I am still trying to picture you navigating your way through that environment. If it was me I would get out as unbalanced as the Costa Concordia. It must have been a treat.
Carlos, you made me laugh with the reference to the Costa Concordia. I reverted to my undergraduate training as an anthropologist because they were just as incomprehensible as the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea! 🙂
OMG that is funny – I bet
It was interesting reading your take on that American Republican in Calgary, aka Ted Morton, who surprise, surprise has been busy all these years subverting Canadian democracy. It is not by accident that his student, Stephen Harper is now disassembling Canadian democracy in the same precise fashion that Morton and his American Republican friends in Calgary had planned for Alberta.
Preston Manning and his “institute” is greatly over-rated, just as the Fraser Institute is in Vancouver. These are not “think tanks” because they do not produce any new ideas; these are purely propaganda mills for those that actually hope to install a system of economic anarchy not only in Canada, but around the globe. It stems from the same source as the ones that subverted the American Republican Party of Ike Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. They call themselves “libertarians”, but these are really followers of Ayn Rand, who was the one that made the case that capitalism is actually a religion, not an economic system. You will recall that this crowd believes in “the invisible hand that moves markets”, etc. etc.
One thing is very clear about this entire group; most are not well schooled in science, and for most of them, their theology is worse than their science. Many of these “born again” christians (such as Manning and Harper claim to be) in fact are NOT applying the lessons taught by Jesus Christ Himself, and the examples are far too numerous to elaborate here. Most of this crowd for example, do NOT follow Jesus’s teaching on the separation of Church and State for example, and most do not follow the teachings of Christianity either. To my way of thinking Manning, Morton & Company are really the North American brand of Taliban, fundamentalist to the core of being fanatical, and completely disconnected from learning and science.
With respect, I do not agree with you about the need for a “charasmatic leader”. In fact, we could have a complete “dull leader” and win an election provided the members of the party actually wanted to win. But in Alberta, most who belong to the other parties in fact do not work at what they must do to win. They must WORK, and do the hard political work. Most in Alberta are not prepared to say they joined some other party and then give reasons why their friends and family should do the same.
As for the Liberals, picking up failed PC members to lead the party is a basically bad idea, as was the case with Nancy Betkowski, and now with Raj Sherman. What is needed even more than a leader, is a Party President willing to do the hard work of organizing a political machine capable of tturning out the vote and keeping the support of members completely disgusted with Alberta’s One Party State.
Finally we need to take drastic action and stop the perversion of Alberta Politics in Calgary, where the largest group of Americans outside the Continental US live. We need to stop and punish all non citizens who interfere with Canadian elections. And that particularly goes for those Calgary Oil Barons that have financed the WildRose, whose sustainable support in Alberta could not fill a thimble.
That is my take on it, and thank you for your blog, its very interesting reading.
Joe, I’m with you on your assessment of the Manning Foundation and the Fraser Institute–“think tanks” these are not! With respect to my view that the progressives need a charismatic leader, the reason I raise it is that the Liberals have had two leaders, Kevin Taft and David Swann, who are intelligent, thoughtful and courageous, and yet they failed to ignite the voters. Brian Mason is clear in his thinking and quick witted to boot, however he hasn’t been able to mobilize enough votes to mount an effective opposition either.
You may be right that the real problem is not having enough members who are prepared to work hard for the party, I don’t have the background to comment, but I have observed on the municipal level (Calgary) that volunteers come out in droves for a leader they trust and find accessible.
Well said Joe – thank you for this post. I could not agree more. Unfortunately writing is something that I do with great effort because it is difficult for me to organize ideas as well as I should in order to be clear and effective. I loved this post and I think that you are absolutely right.
The biggest problem with these Ayn Rand followers is that they forgot she was basically dreaming and economic system for the novels she wrote. Then suddenly with the help of idiots like Alan Greenspan, the whole novel became the second Christian Bible. It is very sad indeed that we are all paying an enormous price for this. Furthermore people like (i.e. Ezra Levant) continue to blame what they call the nany state, that has been a non entity for 3 decades. With the help of big money and the control of the media they are dragging this failure as long as they can because of course it favours their pockets a great deal and somehow makes them feel more Christian!! Yes they are the Christian Taliban and just like the other cousin they should be taken out and fast.
Carlos, I liked your reference to Alan Greenspan. I’m reading Jeffrey Sachs’ book The Price of Civilization. Sachs, a Harvard economist who works on the global stage, says that Greenspan continually overlooked the “severe risks of his own policies and thereby helped stoke several financial crises, including the megameltdown of 2008”. (p 91). Can you imagine being tarred by a fellow economist with bringing the world to the brink of economic collapse and still having no idea of the role you played in this mess?
PS You’re a fine writer…
Well I just happened to know about Alan Greenspan obcession with Ayn Rand. At one point in the 90s I was so intrigued to so many references to this woman that I decided to read her biography. I was astounded how she controlled the whole group she was involved with. Nathaniel Branden a very well known psychotherapyst was her lover and he seemed not to be able to move or think without her consent. I believe he has written a book about this. It sounds like the Rasputin of neo-garbage. The fact is that she controlled them all. She is one of the causes of the 2008 meltdown along with Milton Friedman. This I believe will be in history just like other social catastrophes we have seen in the past like Hitler, Stalin, Khmer Rouge….etc. The number of victims is not as clear as in these past events but if you think about it the consequences are terrfying. Very little has been written about it but it will come out one day. Thousands of people have commited suicide as a result of their financial failure. Countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland in Europe are done for at least 2 or 3 generations if not forever. The midlle class has disappeared in many countries or are in the process of shrinking. Still neo-conservative writers are blaming the nanny state!!! It is absolutely a cult and we all know how difficult it is to get all that false psychology to change. People are victims of a world wide illusion, they are taken advantage by devious Finacial Institutions, and still they continue voting for the people that are the real perpetrators. It is not diffcult now to realize why despite what Hitler did, Germany was up to a certain point behind him. In Africa we had a similar situation in the 1970s when white repressive governments were replaced by even more dangerous communist governments by black leaders that sent millions to their deaths. Not a word was said for years. Mugabe is just one of those nuts.
Your comment and question about Alan Greenspan is just another example. Sometimes I want to believe that he really does not realize the mess he helped create, but I cannot accept it. I think these people just do not care period. Unfortunately the Universal justice I always wanted to believe exists and it is behind the saying ‘What goes around comes around’ does not really exist at all. These people just take advantage of everything and have no respect for anyone else. This is after all what Ayn Rand so much believed to be the solution for all our problems!!! What is even more worrisome to me and like Joe has also pointed out in his previous message is that most of this garbage is supported and put in practice by so called religious people – INTERESTING!!!
After a summer of not-so-serious reading, I will have to stimulate my grey matter and pick up this book you mention, Susan. Mind you, anything to do with “economics” has a narcotic effect on me; I have a reputation for falling asleep if there is an accountant speaking anywhere in my vicinity! I came across this article written by CBC’s Washington correspondent, which seems to expand on some of the issues being discussed in these lively conversations. It is interesting that the Republicans have a similar subspecies of party dissenters, akin to Two Minute Tories. They are called RINO’s : “Republicans in Name Only”. http://www.cbc.ca/news/the-tea-party-s-take-no-prisoners-gut-obamacare-budget-showdown-neil-macdonald-1.1862514
Elaine: Jeffrey Sachs is a wonderful writer who relies on prose, not charts, graphs and formulas, to make his point. He’s also very idealistic. He has wonderful ideas for ending poverty and moving society forward for the benefit of us all. The tricky part is that people need to set aside their own self interest and embrace the greater common good for his ideas to work. Yes…well…moving on.
The RINOs story was fascinating. Sounds like the Republicans (and maybe even the US) will be killed by their lunatic cousins in the Tea Party. This sentence was particularly telling: “They are ideological zealots and populists who believe their mission is to save the country and banish the infidel president. Eventually, the public will make them pay, but not before the damage is done.” I worry that we’re in exactly the same position in Canada, the only difference is our Tea Party nutters aren’t as obvious as their US counterparts.
Susan to be very honest to you I do not think for a moment that Alan Greenspan cares at all what Jeffrey Sachs or for that matter the president of the US is saying or thinking. These people are wired differently. They are smart but they are also devious and not much can be done about it other than fighting them with words or with courts. The problem is that by the time someone is strong enough to get these people in court, the damage has been done and it is sometimes beyond belief. This neo conservative movement is a farse and it is now clear to me that it was purposedly built to cause great damage in society. It is malicious and has no respect for the human condition at all. As long as we are all working to serve the elites, they just think it is a success.
I know that I am not a fine writer but thank you for your kind words. I get by and I like to be involved in these discussions.
Carlos, yes, these people are “wired differently”. I’m not sure their objective is to damage society as much as it is to benefit themselves. To put it very simplistically, society appears to be made up of the “we’re all in this together” crowd who support public healthcare, public education and the elimination of poverty and the “it’s all about me” crowd who’s focus is, well, themselves first and others later, maybe, if they’re worthy. There was an interesting article in this week’s Economist that said that the US economy has started to stabilize but the gains from this recovery are going to an “extraordinarily small share” of the population (ie. the richest 1%). It notes that while Americans are not going to string up the wealthy but their fury is growing. I’m not sure I’d agree with the Economist…who knows just how this “fury” will manifest itself.
Susan I forgot to let you know that with this entry by Joe where Harper and Mafia are very rightly called the Christian Taliban, CSIS wil be giving you a call – 🙂 🙂 🙂
I think that a couple of follow-up comments are in order. First of all, Ayn Rand’s writings are not some kind of benign piece of scholarship; rather it is toxic and malignant in the same fashion one finds in Mein Kampf.
The actual historic facts surrounding this Muscovite are starkly different from what her promoters would have you believe. The facts are that Rand was clinically diagnosed with “borderline personality disorder” and with a secondary “narcissistic personality disorder” and the facts are that she was a drug user because it “enhanced her writing” (her own words).
None of this is particularly surprising or even important except for the fact that recent studies in psychology have shown that people with this condition are strongly attracted to each other with that “ah ha, I have finally found the answer” kind of response rather than any critical thinking.
These recent findings may provide deeper insight into how political movements like those started by Hitler, Stalin and Rand drew their energy from their surroundings, not unlike how a hurricane draws its energy by passing over warm water.
People who uncritically look at Rand, do not see the very real dangers inherent with this movement, even though she and her lover (she was a married woman and she was having an affair in a lurid fashion that apparently had her husband’s permission) did discuss how the movement was becoming a “cult” which perhaps is still another related manifestation of this phenomena. The gun violence now sweeping the United States has close parallels to the thuggery that took place in the Third Reiche before WWII
The second item I wish to address is the point made about CSIS, or if you prefer, “The Northern Office of the CIA”. The facts are that this clandestine organization and its members are employed by our government to break the laws of other countries and to conspire to harm people in other lands; that is what they do by their own charter, and of course if we call a spade a shovel, we would correctly term them “organized criminals”. In the USA, in the 1970s, the Church Commission found that they were allied with the Mafia and engaged in killings throughout Central America, at one point even killing Catholic priests and nuns who were US citizens.
If you look in hindsight at their “work”, you will find for the most part that their “intelligence” was rarely accurate, and often was downright dangerous. We are far better off to simply disband CSIS, like we did with the Airborne Regiment, when it went “rogue” and began operating outside the “rule of law”.
What the Taliban and their Christian branch in North America both require is the first disarm them so they are not a danger to themselves or others, and then they all need treatment for their various mental conditions.
Danielle Smith, who claims to be a “libertarian” and follower of Ayn Rand on the one hand, with a very traditional Eastern Christian grandfather from Ukraine on the other, cannot see the glaring contradictions in her own past and culture, let alone her politics. She is a danger to herself and to others.
Even a cursory examination of their “platform” will show that it is filled with contradictions, mistakes and falsehoods. Their claims are delusional and delirious, not unlike the kind of zealotry seen in the Hitler Youth and the Young Communist League, hell bent on killing each other.
The reality is that the first and primary “crisis” in the economy today is in the lack of reforms to the Business Corporations Act, which places an overemphasis by management to produce profits at the expense of all other corporate legal and social responsibilities. The economic meltdown of 2008 was due entirely to the problems in this governing legislation that failed to protect the vast majority of middle class Canadians and Americans.
So its a mistake in my view to regard these right wing movements as being legitimate political movements, rather they are examples of the kind of social disease that swept Europe in the 1930s, and led to civil war in Spain, and eventually WWII.
Fascinating points Joe, particularly your point on the cult of personality. I too am concerned that a leader with a compelling personality can cause his/her followers to abandon critical thinking. First we have the issue of the leader’s ability to manipulate his followers (as you point out people with certain personality disorders are gifted in this area). Second, there’s the problem created by a population that’s too tired, lazy or uneducated to read and analyze the information being presented to it (or in some cases being withheld from it).
We need to continue to test what we’re told. To my way of thinking the most important activity human beings should engage in is to ask questions. Is this true? Why is it true? If it’s true, can it be changed? If not why not? Of course this means that we need to engage.
Thanks for your thought provoking comments Joe.
Just a couple of points. It was Alan Greenspan, NOT Ayn Rand who wrote the “capitalist manifesto” in the novel “Atlas Shrugged” (read Ravi Batra’s scholarly work, “Greenspan’s Fraud”)
Secondly, the dubious credit for the commodification of currency goes to Milton Freedman at the Chicago School, whose ideas generated record levels of uncertainty in the commodity markets for everything from pork bellies to gasoline.
You are correct that leaders must motivate their followers, but that does not have to be done by a “charasmatic leader”, just look at someone like Stephen Hocking who has electrified his followers with his ideas in physics while labouring under some terrible speech disabilities.
The leadership that we need is someone who can motivate, and someone who can be capable of letting a concensus emerge from the group he is leading, which is the hallmark of a democratic leader. In contrast, there is the autocrat, who believes his ideas are better than anyone elses, which more often then not is a false notion. Putin and Harper are examples of autocrats, which is why people rightfully hate them.
You cannot debate the irrational, the crazed or the foolish. However, you can most certainly slay irrational, crazed and foolish ideas that require both logic and humour to drive a stake through its heart. And you must reach further into that cauldron of insanity, craziness and foolish to emerge with a deeper understanding of how these ideas break loose of their moral moorings to raise havoc with human civilizations. Hitler’s racism, or Stalin’s paranoia propagated, in precisely the same fashion that we saw in the South American Jungles with Jim Jones, and today with the “tea party” followers for Sarah Palin and Ayn Rand whose ideas if seriously followed, would lead directly to civil war, murder and mayhem. These are the ideas of sociopaths, not rational ideas rigourously tested by science and reality and human experience.
Understanding how this works in “homo sapiens”, is perhaps to single most important question of our time, because this irrationality coupled with powerful ideas, tools and weapons are too terrible to contemplate.
Susan, as a lawyer you know that the “rule of law” does not have to pass a very difficult test to be acceptable, it merely has to do better than civil war to be embraced by most people who understand the horrors of war. For those that seek the “glories of battle”, these usually are the same ones that despise the more enlightened concepts of “the rule of law” as a substitute for civil war. Such laws as for example, International Law, or the Geneva Conventions on War, or the International Conventions against torture, human rights violations and the use of prohibited weapons; does not interest them because they have no commitment to these universal values.
As lawyers, you should be leading the charge to indict war criminals and other sociopaths like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfwitz, Richard Perle, including George Bush (both of them) and Henry Kissinger for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The legal work to get the indictment from the International Criminal Court for all lawyers is “Job One”. Most certainly Syria’s Al Assad should be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, as should the pro-CIA/American President of Georgia for launching ethnic cleansing wars against civilians in his own country.
The skills and training required to arrest and extract criminals are well known and operations of this sort are essentially well planned commando operations that have been used successfully since WWII. The need however is to first get the indictments into position so that it begins a lawful process where these criminals can be held to account for their actions and activities. And in that, I include all those that write and incite hatred against an identifiable group, such as for example, First Nations or Middle Class Working Families.
Rand should have long ago and been arrested and made to explain how her writings inspired the mass murder in Central America by CIA killers like Howard Hunt, who was the psychopathic killer that was the CIA station chief in Guatemala where he helped organize an illegal coup against a democratic government and elected leader. Hunt you will recall was the same criminal that was convicted for the Watergate break-in, proof if ever you needed it, that these cultists are far removed from democratic values and ideals. Indeed Casper Weinberger was a convicted felon that ran Bechtel Corporation which did deals with Peter Lougheed on the tar sands in Ft. McMurray. Or have a closer look at the criminal underclass that made Bre-X possible in Alberta, complete with its ties to the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia and with Peter Munk’s company where surprise, surprise Bush Sr. and Brian Mulroney (our very own) sat as directors whose faked interest, gave this fraud so much traction.
Just look here in Canada for another example of a CSIS oversight board member, now hiding in the jungles of Central America, trying to evade extradition for corruption activities in Canada.
If you placed a suitable bounty for the arrest and delivery of these indicted criminals to the International Criminal Court of Justice, if the fees are high enough, I am sure that you will round up all of them, not unlike the bounty hunters of old. And until that is done, these criminals will continue to do their crimes with impunity because most believe they have a privileged position that is above the law.
It would be fascinating don’t you think, to place Ayn Rand in the docket and have her explain how her writings were not responsible for the death of thousands, just as it would be fascinating to place Adolph Hitler or Josef Stalin in the same docket and demand answers to these same questions.
I am convinced that the social diseases would not take long to surface in a courtroom in the hands of skilled counsel.
As for our politics, voters today are the sleeping giant, when they awake, they will follow a leader who will promise and deliver to them workable solutions, and it will not matter if he is charismatic or not. It will matter that he can listen and help build a consensus on a given course of action.
Is it not fascinating that Morton’s contempt for “Two Minute Tories” expresses the same contempt of PEOPLE that we see over and over again in the writings of Rand, Hitler and Stalin?
I think that contempt for voters speaks volumes about the man who taught Stephen Harper everything that he knows.
Joe, I’m not able to comment on the bulk of what you’ve said here, but I do have a comment with respect to the rule of law. I don’t agree that the threshold for the rule of law in Canada is low. The rule of law is founded on legislation passed by governments that we as citizens have elected to represent us. If the rule of law is being ignored it is likely for one of two reasons. A majority of the citizens have decided that the law is no longer appropriate (the example of women fighting for the vote comes to mind) or a majority of the citizens have become are so disengaged from events around them that they don’t know or don’t care that the law is no longer being enforced. The first situation requires citizens to pressure the government to change the law so it better reflects societal values, the second situation is a mess and is something that we should all fight to change.
Susan, I was making an observation from a wider perspective than just Canada, not that some of this does not apply here. The “rule of law” was developed out of the history of civil war in Britain and the “hundred years war” which gives you some idea of the persistence of civil war, once it really gets started. The “rule of law” is a substitute for war, and as long as most people agree that it is marginally better than civil war, you have the beginnings of civil peace. Lawyers and Judges have a special responsibility to not skate too close to the thin part of that ice, but increasingly more and more are doing just that these days.
At one time, a disbarred lawyer was completely removed from any and all aspects of the profession, but that today is no longer the case, and in too many instances it has become a revolving door in law practices, where a disbarred lawyer leaves by the front door and comes back through the back door, with a few minor adjustments.
We have seen what Senator Cools talked about as “civil molestation” by lawyers abusing their opponents by loading up costly processes to wear them down rather than ever discussing the merits of the dispute or disagreement. No where is this abuse more prevalent then with Wills and Estates in Alberta, where its open season on seniors and their life’s savings, as corporations swoop in to appropriate these life savings for themselves so that the children of these seniors never see anything their parents had intended, however meagre that may have been.
I don’t think enough professionals fully appreciate the role that professionals played in bringing to an end the “Great Terror” of the French Revolution; and today the legal profession, including those in Canada, are too fickle to address the hard questions of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other massive crimes against persons, particularly when that happens to be perpetrated from your own country.
How many CSIS members are going to be put on trial for their role with torture in the Arar case for example? And will Don Rumsfeld face the death penalty for ordering water boarding torture on precisely the same basis that Japanese officers who had done the same to Allied prisoners and who were hung for their crimes? I doubt it, not in my life-time.
At least that judge in Spain tried to bring a mass killer to justice, only to see him released by the High Lords in London.
In my view, there are a few good members of the Law Society of Alberta, but there are so many problems that this society is not willing to properly investigate, that it should be placed under the trusteeship of lawyers from outside of Alberta. This society has been corrupted by the One Party State, and that has widened to include too many provincial court justices that tow the party line, rather than operate independently as the “rule of law” requires.
Finally we have banned lawyers from participating in trials as members of juries, and we insist upon the separation of courts from the legislatures by insisting that Crown Ministers “not talk” to sitting judges. But we have yet to insist on the full separation between legislatures and courts by permanently banning lawyers from seeking public office. This is not unlike the requirements of the Geneva Accords that obliged medical personnel to be unarmed.