Ms Soapbox found herself organizing the sock drawer this morning.
She blames this burst of domesticity on Donald Trump.
She’ll explain how this ties back to Alberta politics in a moment, but first a quick recap of the most recent Trump blowout.
Last week Mr Trump tweeted that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other congresswomen should go back to where they came from, or words to that effect. All four are American citizens, three were “born and bred” Americans (why does everyone use that phrase, it makes us sound like cattle), one immigrated to the US as a child.
The mainstream media and social media went nuts.
They debated three issues:
- This proves/doesn’t prove Trump is a racist. Does it matter? His base and many swing voters don’t care if he’s racist or just plain nasty.
- This demonstrates Trump is a savvy politician; he’s painting the Democratic Party as AOC “social democrats” in order to recapture the swing districts he lost in the mid-term elections. All the more reason for the Democrats to figure out who they are before Trump does it for them.
- AOC should pipe down because she’s undermining Nancy Pelosi who’s done more for progressive causes than anyone. One journalist asked: where was AOC when Ms Pelosi was fighting to get Obamacare through Congress in 2010? Oh please, in 2010 AOC was in university completing a degree in economics and international relations. Furthermore, Ms Pelosi’s past achievements do not justify silencing AOC and other fresh thinkers who are in short supply in the Democratic Party at the moment.
AOC responded to Mr Trump with this: “Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy.”
This is why the Trump tweet and the ensuing media brouhaha are important in the context of Alberta politics where the UCP continue to demonize Rachel Notley, the NDP and their supporters as “social democrats” bent on destroying our way of life by undermining our capitalistic economy.
If the UCP and their supporters want to discuss capitalism, it would help if they understood the meaning of the word and its history.
In his book, Economics for Everyone, Jim Stanford explains that capitalism is just one form of economy. He says homo sapiens have been around for approximately 100,000 years and had an economy the entire time. Capitalism has existed for 250 years. To put this into context, if the history of man is represented by a 24-hour day, then capitalism has been around for three-and-a-half seconds.
Capitalism is defined by two crucial features: profit-seeking investment by private corporations and wage labour. Capitalism comes in many varieties.
Mr Stanford compares the key economic and social indicators of four capitalistic countries, the US, Germany, Japan and Sweden and demonstrates that the country with the highest GDP (US) performs much worse than the other countries on other important indicators including poverty rates, inequality, pollution, incarceration and premature death–leaving one to question the assumption that GDP is a good indicator of quality of life.
Mr Stanford points out “the strategy of incrementally reforming capitalism, while preserving the system’s defining features, has traditionally been the ideological core of the social-democratic movement.”
Or to put it another way, social democrats are trying to make capitalism better.
Now that we’ve cleared that up
So, the next time someone tries to smear the NDP by calling them social democrats, tell them the NDP is working hard to make capitalism better and ask them what they and their UCP government are doing to achieve the same goal. After they’ve listed all their efforts to improve capitalism (not corporatism), feel free to engage in a healthy debate on the respective merits of their policy choices compared to yours.
Because whether weak leaders like it or not, we’re going to debate policy. We’re going to challenge the suitability of old economic policies that failed to address the problems of the last decade (does the financial crash of 2008 ring a bell?) and are now being touted by unimaginative conservatives as our economic salvation.
There is honour in being a social democrat.
I’ll take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rachel Notley over Donald Trump and Jason Kenney any day.
me too !
Sadly, Trump’s popularity has gone up since his offensive tweets. Similarly, the efforts of the Alberta ND’s to attack Kenney during the recent campaign served to strengthen his support.
Brian, it makes you wonder about the voters, doesn’t it. According to a Think HQ poll Kenney’s approval rating went up 15% since the election. He’s now at 56%. The RCMP investigation into the UCP leadership race hasn’t hurt him a bit. The media says voters are focused on the economy, not ethics. What’s weird is Kenney hasn’t done anything to fix the economy and is going to table an austerity budget in the fall. So life will get harder not easier for most Albertans. We’re so gullible.
Oh Susan-on-the-soapbox, you nailed it. Do not stop writing. Please continue to call out hypocrites, liars and forked-tongue speakers.
Wow, thank you Esme! I appreciate the support, especially now in today’s political environment.
I double ditto Esme!!
I double ditto thank you Midge 🙂
Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I have some things I would like to bring up, relating to what you said. First of all, unless we are of First Nations extraction, we are descendants from immigrants, or we are immigrants. People (including my ancestors who came from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s), came to North America from other countries to have a better life. Donald Trump has a mother from Scotland, and his father’s parents were from Bavaria, and Germany. Why many people are coming to America, (especially from Latin America and even the Middle East), has something to do with decades of American government foreign policies gone awry. The U.S government does not want to deal with the problems it created. There are people who blame socialism for what is plaguing countries, like Venezuela, but that is not the culprit. Again, it is the U.S government’s foreign government policies that are at fault. With Obamacare, would it not be better than having no healthcare at all? There are people who are very confused as to what socialism even is, and mistake it with communism, which is not the same thing at all. Donald Trump has some integrity issues and some ethics breaches that people would like to sweep under the carpet. With Jason Kenney, there are also integrity issues and ethics breaches that people would like to sweep under the carpet. More fines, totalling over $150,000, (or around that amount), have been issued to members of the UCP camp. The R.C.M.P have also questioned several UCP MLAs. Jason Kenney still has the R.C.M.P investigating him. Most media outlets were trying to be silent on this issue (the kamikaze campaign), but that is slowly changing. Postmedia, which is basically a Conservative mouthpiece, is not going to be able to avoid the problems their Conservative masters are doing. What is hidden in the darkness, will be exposed to the light. The corporate tax cuts by the UCP, have already cost Alberta somewhere in the amount of $4.5 billion. Jason Kenney also wants to mess with public health care in Alberta. He’d like to get rid of it, much like Donald Trump tossed out Obamacare in the U.S. There is still the UCP, (and their supporters) who blame the NDP and Justin Trudeau for what they were not responsible for. This includes decades of fiscal mismanagement by the Alberta PCs, since Peter Lougheed was not the premier, with scandals of the worst kinds, wasting billions upon billions of dollars, and not properly handling pipeline issues, when the CPC, (Jason Kenney’s old political nesting place), had a majority government and triple digit oil prices, and did not help get any pipeline built that went to the B.C coast. Another set of realities is that oil prices have sunk 5 years ago, due to other countries like Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Another pipeline will not make oil prices rebound. From studying and watching the market reports, it is very likely that oil booms are pretty much done for. The Sun had an editorial today (July 21, was the date of the editorial, and when I started typing this response to your blog), that were full of lies and errors. It was titled “The cost of Notley and Trudeau”. It blamed the NDP for seriously damaging Alberta’s economy. It stated that the NDP put a hard cap on carbon emmissions, when in reality, it was Ed Stelmach who put in a carbon tax for Alberta. It also missed the fact that Jason Kenney said that he also supported a carbon tax on large industrial emitters, as does Andrew Scheer. The oil companies have stated that they wanted a carbon tax, years before the NDP, or Justin Trudeau were in power. Also, the article blames the NDP for disrupting the provincial electricity market, when that’s not what happened. The Alberta PCs deregulated electricity, and utilities, in Alberta, making prices soar. Deregulation of electricity, has cost Albertans well over $30 billion. TransAlta was also found guilty of manipulating power prices, and were slapped with a very hefty fine, that power consumers have to absorb. The article also blames Rachel Notley for subsidizing utility companies to close coal fired power plants early, spending around $2 billion. The Sun staff forgot that Jim Prentice, a CPC Environment Minister, wanted coal fired power plants gone from Canada, before the decade was over. Jim Prentice would later become Alberta’s premier, and had a vision of removing coal fired power plants in Alberta. Prior to the 2015 provincial election in Alberta, the goal of every political party in Alberta was to get rid of coal fired power plants in Alberta. The article also makes a claim that Justin Trudeau’s goal was to phase out Alberta’s oilsands. It conveniently avoids (or ignores) the fact that Stephen Harper did say pretty much the same thing to other world leaders at some type of climate conference he attended. Furthermore, the article ignores the fact that economics quashed Energy East, not Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. Both Trans Mountain and Energy East were for export purposes only. The article then quotes the Fraser Institute and says that the Liberal government’s green extremism is costing Alberta and Canada. The Fraser Institute does not see the very costly problem the Alberta PCs created, starting in the early 1990s, leaving Albertans footing a $260 billion cost for cleaning up orphaned oil wells, tailings ponds, and other oil industry related messes. The Fraser Institute was mentioned in the article stating that oil and gas investment in the U.S has risen in the last three years due to deregulation. (They were a key player in influencing the Alberta PCs to deregulate utilities in Alberta.) What happened in America is shale oil discoveries. Alberta’s oilsands cannot compete with this, or the oil that Saudi Arabia has been pumping out droves of cheap oil. This is why the bitumen upgrader facility at Redwater is unprofitable. It is a $35 billion mistake from the Alberta PCs. Very low oil prices make it unprofitable. Jason Kenney said he can’t get out of it either. It came up in the Edmonton Journal fairly recently, once again, but The Sun did not mention it. It was brought up before the 2015 provincial election in Alberta, and helped sink the Alberta PCs. Lastly, the article thought that by removing the Liberals from office, things would improve. This is utter nonsense.
Thank you for your comments Dwayne. Let me pick up on the ones relating to blaming Notley and Trudeau for killing Alberta’s economy. A thinking person would not accept the drivel we’re being fed by the UCP and Postmedia, but it’s always easier to blame someone else instead of think things through.
You mentioned The Sun saying Notley damaged the economy by imposing a cap on oilsands emissions. She imposed a 100 megatonne cap, oilsands emissions are sitting at around 70 megatonnes today. We could increase emissions by 40% and we’d still be okay, so the cap in and of itself is not hurting investment. The same goes for the ridiculous assertion that Trudeau is killing the oilsands by blocking pipelines. Alex Pourbaix, the CEO of Cenovus, said when Trans Mountain, Keystone XL, and Enbridge’s Line 3 are built “the industry probably has a significant runway before we have to worry about market access again.” It’s important to note Keystone XL and Enbridge’s Line 3 are being held up in the US, not by Trudeau’s Liberals. Trudeau bought TMX, what else do people want him to do, declare war on Minnesota?
Susan: Well said. The Sun thought that Rachel Notley was responsible for the coal phase out. It was Jim Prentice who wanted it to happen, in the CPC, and as the Alberta PC premier. It would have happened anyways. The Sun editorial staff is so obtuse that they forgot that Stephen Harper made the remark of the oilsands needing to be phased out. People still fall for these fabrications.
Trump’s main target seems to be Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota congresswomen who was born in Somalia and has attracted the most attention in recent months. The irony is if she did take Trump’s advice and “go back home” she would find the place crawling with American advisors and US drone strikes. Seems Somalia is in a full blown insurgency. For a second there she may even think she’s back in the USA.
Well said ronmac. Trump’s justification for telling the four women to “go back home” is that they criticized the treatment of immigrants at border camps–anyone who criticizes the greatest country on earth is disloyal and should leave–however he never once suggested HIllary should “go back home” to England or Wales or the Netherlands, when she criticized American’s healthcare, education, immigration, taxation system, etc.
The “criticize the USA and you’re gone” rule only applies to Americans who are people of colour, the white ones get to stay, but in Hillary’s case, behind bars.
He is a truly odious man.
In many ways the Donald is getting all the blame, unfairly I think. He’s just continuing immigration policies established long before he came on the scene. He’s become an easy target.
Hillary Clinton. She was Secretary of State in 2009 when she gave the okay for a military coup which overthrew the elected president of Honduras. Hondurans point to this event as the start of a downward spiral, leading to a flood of refugees at the border. While Trump gets all the blame Clinton gets off scott free.
Fair point ronmac. Although some people would argue Trump can be excused for this behavior because Obama, Clinton, Bush, etc started it. In my view they’re all culpable.
Wonderful post – sometimes I just don’t understand people. Could not wrap my head around Trump’s election, nor Kenny’s – just doesn’t make a peck of sense to me.
Thanks Carol. I think you put your finger on it…there wasn’t any sense behind these elections, just a feeling of victimhood. Emotions are so easy to manipulate.
Yes and people fall for it – unfortunately!
Thanks Susan – on the tweet: Tusk (President of European Council) and Trudeau in Montreal last week quite appropriately condemned the tweet – about the Quebec Government’s just passed legislation on the wearing of religious symbols which is highly discriminatory and clearly racist – not a tweet peep or comment……
John, excellent point. It looks like Trudeau commented on Quebec’s legislation on June 20, and some premiers also expressed their concern, but you’re right, it has not attracted anywhere near the attention it should have.
The fact that a current UCP Alberta cabinet minister travelled to the U.S. to take part in Trump’s 2016 election campaign is proof positive that the two conservative iterations share the same ideological bent — the belief in unbridled capitalism at any cost.
One can only hope Albertans will come to the realization that Trumpism — and by extension Kenneyism — are the same tired, old, regurgitated conservative dogmatic policies that have been punishing working class families for generations. When it comes to conservative’s love of “trickle down” economics, I personally prefer not be trickled on by political pissants.
J.E. I agree with you but find myself totally sidetracked by your clever use of language, Pissant is such a wonderful word, I know it means insignificant or contemptible but it conjures up a more vulgar and appropriate image, especially in this context. Thanks!
We *really* need to change the words we use to describe what’s what. The Powers That Be have managed to replace the concept of “citizen” (someone with rights AND responsibilities) with “taxpayer” (someone the government and the ubiquitous ‘they’ are robbing). The federal and provincial versions who call themselves Conservatives are not. They are Authoritarians. Call them what they are.
BP: this is a very good point. We need to reintroduce the concept of “citizens” and “the public good” and “public service”. As a friend pointed out many times, Harper took the word “progressive” out of the party’s name for a reason.
I love your perspective and how we all need to take a look to our future not relive the past! Thank you for your posts!
Thank you Bettylyn! It’s becoming increasingly clear that too many politicians have no vision for the future and are simply recycling ideas from the past. This combined with the victim mentality will get us nowhere.
As usual, Susan, an excellent blog. I particularly like the perspective that says, “social democrats are trying to make capitalism better.” Unfortunately Capitalism has been kidnapped by a Corporatism that has gained such power it’s difficult to see how the victim can be rescued by democratic institutions.
Thanks Munroe. Jim Stanford argues we can improve capitalism by moving closer to the Nordic model. He suggests three strategies: (1) develop a tolerance for larger deficits and debt, (2) raise taxes and tout the benefits of new public programs and investments, and (3) link new public programs and investments to a full employment economy. As you point out (and Stanford would agree), this isn’t going to be easy. I wonder whether young people who’ve finally figured out their quality of life won’t be as good as that of their parents might provide the spark to make this happen.
Just a few observations, if I may:
– on The Donald’s resurfacing of the old “America: Love it or leave it” trope, in my view, the better attitude should be “Love your country enough to always be trying to make it better”. And, indeed, each & every one of us—other than Indigenous people—is either an immigrant, or a descendant of immigrants (some Indigenous activists reject the “migrated from Siberia 30,000+ years ago” theory of how the Western Hemisphere was first populated, perhaps because some racists & bigots try to say it means they are also immigrants, and so have no inherent right to the land; but multi-generational population drift in prehistoric times does not constitute immigration: there were no humans here to displace before the first peoples came).
– on capitalism, in my view the NDP in particular has been too timid in recent years, advocating to nibble away at the edges of what is, essentially, a dysfunctional economic system, pushing for tiny, incremental changes. What we need is a,wholesale revamp of our economic model, one which preserves our human rights and liberties, but which flips the capitalist paradigm on its head by creating an economy that works for the people it serves, and not the other way around. What we need, is a more truly socialist system, with a mixed economy, still democratic in political affairs and government, but one which has far more public intervention in the economy: regulating commerce to ensure true competition in those market sectors that remain free & unfettered, and creating public enterprises to intervene in market sectors where competition is inadequate or where the market is failing. We also need Constitutional changes that codify that only natural persons—i.e. human beings—have Charter rights, but that commercial corporations do not. Commercial corporations exist only as creatures of government, and their rights should be limited to those that are explicitly granted to them via statute or regulation.
– I would also like to see system whereby private businesses doing business with the government, who receive taxpayer money to do work for the government, are required to keep their books and financial reporting fully transparent: businesses that want to keep such information private need not bid on government contracts.
Jerrymacgp these are excellent suggestions. I had forgotten that even in Canada corporations can avail themselves of Charter arguments. The Alberta Civil Liberties Centre says corporations can’t invoke Charter rights (it can’t claim it has certain rights or freedoms), but they can defend themselves by raising Charter arguments and demonstrating a law is unconstitutional (it claims a law cannot stand because it breaches the Charter and therefore has no effect). http://www.aclrc.com/who-can-make-a-charter-claim
The question of the NDP going too fast or not going fast enough is an interesting one. Jim Stanford suggests the path forward should be one that isn’t limited to smoothing out “the system’s rougher edges” but includes policies that push for better social and environmental well-being AND measures to strengthen and stimulate investment spending. He calls it reaching into the “core of capitalism” to supplement private investment with investment in the public and non-profit sectors. This would require raising taxes (we certainly have room to increase taxes here in Alberta) to fund these investments. The goal is a high-investment,sustainable, full-employment economy.
The challenge of course is getting capitalists who benefit from the existing system to focus on the greater good as opposed to their own bank accounts.
You are right, Susan, I find few people understand capitalism vs. socialism vs. communism, and that social democracy (as we see in other countries) is capitalism with a strong safety net. In your definitions, you could also include the concept of “ownership” of enterprises- state vs. private. Good blog- well done.
Graham MacFarlane Jason Kenney’s neo Stalinist statement was quite offensive, to someone with a background in the countries Josef Stalin adversely affected, including myself. Does Jason Kenney know the difference, between socialism, and communism, or what communism actually is? Another (former) UCP MLA was comparing Rachel Notley’s carbon tax to the Holodomor, which was another dark period under the reign of Josef Stalin.
Jason Kenney has no clue about what he says. A pampered individual that has done nothing but confusion and lying is now suddenly an important voice in the right wing milieu. Why? Because they are all together a bunch of pretentious people.
Scheer is now trying to get to the top of the group and so he comes up with statements about Milk. My goodness, there is nothing else to talk about but the Food Guide. Are we not so lucky?
The real question is – can he talk about anything else without being a clown?
Carlos, Scheer’s Food Guide/milk comments really take the cake, don’t they. They remind me of the perennial debate about Trump’s intelligence. Is he smart and pretending to be dumb or is he just dumb. I think he’s a dumb bully, which at the end of the day appears to be all the Far Right wants in a leader. That’s why I think Scheer is going to have trouble in this election. He’s not a believable bully. If he’s elected it will be because people are mad at Trudeau, not because they’re happy with Scheer.
Dwayne, I too wonder whether Kenney knows the difference or is simply banking on the public not knowing the difference. Either scenario is damning.
Graham, thanks for bringing up the concept of ownership. It’s important. As you said, few people understand these concepts which is why manipulative politicians like Kenney can scare voters with words like socialism, Venezuela, communist and NDP and get away with it. They know an uneducated electorate will vote against their own interests every time.
Susan: I do read The Sun on occasion. In today’s Edmonton Sun Letters section, (July 23, 2019), someone took The Sun editorial staff to task for the article they’d written on July 21, 2019, where they were blaming Notley and Trudeau for Alberta’s economic and energy related woes. The letter writer was quite bold and slammed the anonymous article writer(s), and called it an “utter disgrace to the world of journalism” They were absolutely right with their comments, but The Sun tried to defend themselves. I can only imagine the flack they will get back from the misinformed, in future letters, poorly trying to justify the UCP, and Conservative parties, like the Alberta PCs, and the CPC, and thinking they did things right, when they did not, (the sole exception being Peter Lougheed’s government). There are still smart people out there, which is good. However, we need more of them to show people what is really going on, and to get out and vote, when the time comes to do so. I might add that I don’t know if this letter was edited. Because, when I wrote letters to the Edmonton Sun, they were edited. In one letter, I brought up the fact that the Alberta PCs wasted billions upon billions of dollars on so many scandals, since Peter Lougheed was not the premier of Alberta, and it was omitted. If they did print an Alberta PC scandal that I mentioned, in another letter I sent to them, the amount would be twisted.
Yes they do edit letters and quite a lot. I have stopped writing to them because what they do is shameful. They warn about it so they do not care. Other than this blog and a couple more it is basically impossible to criticize the UCP. This is all of course part of the process to make them look good and it is dishonest. This has been going on for years and, in my opinion, it has contributed to the fact that we are the only province with governments that last 43 years. There is no democracy in Canada but in Alberta it is not even felt.
Lorne Gunter from the Edmonton Sun is responsible for a lot of the misinformation going on in Alberta and he does not care at ALL. He seems to be highly paid to be a dinosaur and he seems to enjoy the role anyway. He is against EVERYTHING. It is ridiculous. But life goes on and he is probably doing better than most other journalists – survival of the fittest is their motto. If misinformation means survival – SO BE IT.
Dwayne as you and Carlos point out the Sun (and I imagine the Herald) edit letters which I agree is shamelful. They include a note at the bottom of the Letters to the Editor section that says keep it to 150 words, include your full contact details, and “you may be edited.” I sent a letter to the Herald once only to have someone (I’ve forgotten who) send me an email telling me my facts were wrong and they wouldn’t publish my letter unless I fixed it. I sent them backup supporting my facts. I can’t recall if they published my letter but I thought getting chastised by the Herald for being factually incorrect was pretty rich coming given the stuff they publish on a regular basis.
Carlos I read an article about Glenn Beck, the American TV host who became very rich spreading lies about the Democrats. He said he always considered his stuff “entertainment” not news, and was sorry now that people like Trump used him to further the populist cause. I found that infuriating but it’s no different from Boris Johnson who just last week went on stage waving around a smoked kipper. He said he’d gotten it from a newspaper editor who got it from a fisherman who said his costs of sending kippers through the post had skyrocketed because the EU bureaucrats insist each kipper has to be accompanied by a plastic ice pillow. Turns out that was a lie. It’s a British regulation, not an EU regulation that requires fish sent through the mail to be iced.
They lie and count on us to prove they’re lying and when we do, their loyal base says it’s fake news. It’s nuts!