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Overrated in 2011: The List

Peter Donolo, Feist, and Mitt Romney’s supposed rivals make Paul Wells’s list


 

1. Peter Donolo. Remember when he was going to save the Liberal Party? He likes old movies! He has the Chrétien mojo! He made a vertical flowchart! Apparently he’s somewhere in Peter C. Newman’s book, saying he ran the best campaign ever! And yet it was all for nought. No, wait, let me check my math. Correction. It was for nought, minus 850,000 votes.

Here, of course, I am nominating Michael Ignatieff’s chief of staff (Fall 2009-May 2011 vintage) as a representative of a certain idea in Canadian politics. Everyone likes Peter Donolo. He is funny, charming, self-effacing. But it is simply not true that high-powered help can make much difference in the fortunes of a political leader. Politics in this country is single combat, and Michael Ignatieff (overrated in 2008, and never since) was the leader no matter who surrounded him. Donolo probably had a clearer idea of that than many observers did. (And yes, here as in other parts of this list, the inclusion of Donolo is largely a mea culpa: I did much of the overrating.)

2. Not-Mitt-Romney. No U.S. political party has cast about so frantically for a nominee besides the obvious front-runner since the Democrats managed not to nominate Jesse Jackson in 1988. Just about every non-incarcerated American over the age of 35 has wound up on the cover of Newsweek this year as a serviceable late-breaking GOP front-runner. The reason is obvious: discomfort with Romney, too bland now, too flip-floppy in the past (“the past” here defined as “his entire career”). It was the Tea Party movement that brought Barack Obama grief in 2010, and Republicans feel it’s Tea Party-ish sentiments that will make the difference in 2012, so they’re not interested in a competent manager. They want pitchforks. Unfortunately, pitchforks are not often associated with stable, thoughtful public figures, so a succession of weirdos — Palin, Bachmann, Perry, Cain — have flamed out. Gingrich is the latest. Good luck with that. I’m pretty sure Romney’s the nominee.

3. Waking the Separatists. We are perpetually told we mustn’t do something because it will awaken separatist sentiment in Quebec. Or scolded because whatever we just did has already awakened separatist sentiment in Quebec. And yet the nap continues. Not funding the Quebec City arena with other Canadians’ tax dollars? Electing a different party outside Quebec from the one Quebecers (suddenly, on a trial basis) preferred? Calling every institution in sight “Royal”? Giving the Habs a unilingual head coach? Zzzzz.

4. Feist.

5. Anger as a Sufficient Response. Badmouthing the Occupy “movement” doesn’t quite hit the right target, I think. Growing inequality and the loathsome notion that a private institution can be “Too Big To Fail” are worth some anger. But anger doesn’t change things unless it is applied to useful ends: a list of specific goals, a strategy for attaining them. Also useless: Facebook groups, rising up. And as we’ve seen in too much Conservative Party policy, anger is also a lousy organizing principle for governance. We will all pay for a long time for crime policy that’s based on being angry about crime.

6. Last words. On Twitter somebody nominated Jack Layton’s farewell letter for this year’s Overrated List, and I thought, wow, that’s gutsy if nothing else. But it was a good letter, so let me broaden the notion a bit.

Layton’s final letter would have touched fewer Canadians if it had been written by a leader who left the NDP with the same dozen or so seats he inherited. Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech would be ignored if he had not pulled Apple back from the brink of destruction and implemented the next big change a half-dozen times.

Last words matter most when they come from people who thought hard, every day, about next moves. So the question for each of us in 2012 should be: What’s your next move?


 

Overrated in 2011: The List

  1. Dot’s four R’s of Canadian politics:

    #1 Reduce. Reuse. Recycle => Reform 

  2. Stephen Harper

    Jack Layton

    Bob Rae

    The ‘war on Xmas’

    All the Repub candidates.

    • Oh, Emily. Where is Obama on your list?  Me thinks you are not paying attention.

      • as always, she never does.

      • Obama will likely be re-elected…although a Repub president would certainly get the American disaster over with sooner, so the world can move on.

  3. My next move is to pour myself a well earned beer after surviving last minute shopping this morning.

    I think significantly more opprobrium was earned by Donolo, Iggy and Apps than they received in msm. It was ridiculous how Lib brain trust continued to claim they were doing everything correctly while doing poorly in polls and msm was going along with Libs analysis. Natural Governing Party has been destroyed and little to none blame is being assigned – it is just one of those things, could happen to anyone, I guess. I thought appointment of Donolo was sign of how superficial Libs had become – Donolo did something successful for Chretien 20 yrs ago so he must be perfect chief of staff now? 

    I have no idea who going to win Repub nominee – Cain ftw! but he’s out race, alas and alack – but I would be quite surprised if Romney wins nomination. Most of Repub base, at least, don’t even think he’s conservative and evangelicals hate mormons – two groups of religious people having heated discussions about who is more cult like is always entertaining – other than elite, no one likes Romney. I expect to see Perry and/or Bachmann rise again. 

    As far as I can tell, everyone who goes into politics is angered about something – that’s why they go into politics. Anger as organizing principle is prevalent for all major parties – no one talks about how great Canada is and how we don’t need constant supervision by authorities. 

    And Layton’s final letter had good message but it was also rather mawkish. 

    Merry Christmas, Wells.

  4. I tend to think that “Occupy was overrated” is overrated.  Look at the news volume graph (lower graph) for the term “inequality”, for Canada

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=inequality&geo=can&sa=N

    and for the US:

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=inequality&geo=usa&sa=N

    Look at the enormous (7x?) growth the last couple months of news mentions of inequality (with the downturn at the very end of the year; is that just the holidays, or are things reverting to mean?  Will be interesting to see).   That’s more news mentions in the last 4 months than in the previous 2 years.

    The occupy movement significantly increased discussion of inequality in the media (although not, interestingly, in web searches; I think the public is more interested in this topic than are editors).   Completely changing the range of acceptable topics of media discussion is a pretty significant victory.  And the underlying issue is a complex one; there _are_ no simple answers, and latching on to one and promoting it would be a bug, not a feature.

    • well that’s kindof what makes it overrated – for all the talking in the media, nothing substantive has come of it.  if noone was talking about it it wouldn’t have been overrated because it was never rated that high. 

      • We talk about most things before we do something about it.  I don’t know why you expect some instant fix on this when we’ve never had a genuine fix ‘instantly’ before.  Mental health, smoking, being gay, careers for women–we’re still working on most of those things, but we started by talking about it.

        • But there is no direction for the talk.  There is no suggestion for how to remedy whatever it is they’re unhappy about.  There is no indication that there is a legislative body interested in doing something on the basis of OW.  I’ve not heard of any corporations looking to voluntarily institute change either.

          About the only accomplishment they can claim is cities appearing before courts to ask ‘when are we allowed to kick people off public property without interfering with freedom of association?’, and something tells me that wasn’t one of the objectives.

          • Yeah, cool, huh?  This way, it isn’t a case of you agreeing or disagreeing with THE suggested solution–you get to suggest a solution your own self!  And I can suggest a solution, and Paul can suggest a solution, and so on.  The problem we’re finding a solution to, by the way, isn’t “whatever” it is the rising income disparity.  Not income disparity, mind you, but the rising gap.

            There are other things people would like you to consider as well, so it does sometimes sound like a cacophony, but the main message of rising income disparity is always there.

            Granted, it takes some getting used to, this being responsible yourself rather than waiting for someone else to propose things, but obviously it is something we should be getting the hang of since our politicians are far too busy sniping to come up with anything we ALL can live with.

          • I’ve yet to be convinced even that there needs to be a solution.  The quality of living of the bottom percentiles has overall been on the rise.  I don’t find the existence of a gap all that threatening, and most measures to close the gap I feel would hamper overall economic productivity. 

            You can add in higher minimum wages or a guaranteed income program or any number of measures to help those in the lowest brackets, some of which if they could be properly implemented may not even be terrible ideas.  But the gap would remain largely unchanged. 

            Furthermore you don’t want to directly attack it because the 1% already pays a huge amount of taxes.  If you tried to crack down on their wealth accumulation you’d just scare them off to other countries happy to have them.

          • @IDxiv:disqus Yeah . . . unless the tax bite’s a smaller percentage than for the 99%, which in fact it often (not always) is.  But becoming more often.

            And that’s what’s cool about making it a global thing.

            For myself, I suggest that any EMPLOYEE remuneration over 1 million be taxed at 85%.  This is not investment income, or risk-taking self-employed income, or income from inventing something.   But I’d also be willing to start with removing the non-refundable tax credits which takes the progressive tax model and makes a mockery of it.  Or both, of course.  I’m not averse to the living wage idea, but the devil is in the details.

          • My instinct is that massive climbs such as an 85% tax rate above some ‘luxury limit’ come with either massive loopholes or scares off actual talent worth keeping because they can pass the threshold under a different tax regime. An example of one such loophole is a shell corporation with yourself as sole employee contracting your services out to fill executive/celebrity/management duties of other corporation which you are effectively an employee of.  Your excess ‘income’ gets held in the shell corporation safe from the 85% tax rate but available to you when you need it.  This sort of idea is already practiced to some extent of course – but with a lesser gap between the marginal personal income tax rate and the corporate income tax rate than what you propose.
             
            Which is why new programs don’t substantially close the gap, because you can’t take that much more of a bite out of the top 1% than the top 25% without reprocussions.  As for the ‘it’s a global thing’, it seems highly unlikely that all major nations are going to come together and agree to crack down on the rich – there’s too much to gain from being the nation that doesn’t.

          • @IDxiv:disqus Good point about the loophole we’d have to close.  Less of a good point about nations having too much to gain, since we can ensure they’d have a lot to lose as well.  And besides, like what exactly?  Plus, why is it that the 1% is never given credit for nationalistic pride, or the quality of their broader surroundings?  I don’t think just because they are extremely rich that automatically makes them a bad person, but the arguments against taxing them more sure seem to lean in that direction.  Surely, at least some of them balk at this characterization?

          • Things a nation could gain by not joining the ‘we hate rich people’ movement:

            an increase in corporate headquarters and the tax base that comes with them because top talent can be drawn there more easily.

            a general immigration of the wealthy, because while i’m not saying they’re bad people, if you had the option to earn 10 times as much as you currently do by living in another country that offers you an acceptable living environment, why wouldn’t you?  I’m not suggesting there’s a danger of exodus to 3rd world nations.  But if any 1st world nation was willing to take the stand of ‘we don’t mind letting people make as much as someone will pay them with a reasonable tax rate’, it becomes a problem for those that want to take a stand against that statement.

            To further on the not bad people topic, why would you consider nationalist pride a property of good people?  Why do you think emigration to a place where you can get further ahead in life is a ‘bad’ thing to do?   I mean, i’m sure some of the 1% would not emigrate for reasons ranging from family to an attachment to their home to believing the policy was fair, but i’d be very surprised if most fell into that category.

            Adding another loophole for good measure: noncash benefits.  The US attempts to track and tax them, but that’s a mess as you may have noticed when obama was trying to swear in his cabinet and lost a few to IRS issues.  If a company can’t really offer much salary increase in excess of 1 million, maybe they start offering other perks to make up the rest of the salary.  How far do you attempt to go to counter this?

      • I know, right? I mean, if Occupy hasn’t achieved fundamental transformation of society and the global financial system in the six months since it began, it has obviously been a failure.

        • And with the U.S. Congress and the EU etc. doing such a bang up job of solving problems, we peasants should just be quiet and let them handle it.

          • TJ and Jan, I think the problem is that the Occupy movement hasn’t actually made a specific suggestion or proposal about how to achieve said fundamental transformation etc.  Certainly not a coherent one that I’m aware of.

          • I don’t know why you expect them to.  Seriously, you (and by you I mean Occupy criticizers) just want them to suggest something so you can boo-hoo it.  Because you know you will–these are not experts in any fields, mostly, let alone experts in macro-economics.

            My personal thought is that the experts in economics have brought us to the brink of ruin, and the Occupiers can’t possibly do any worse, so I protested so I’ll start for ya.  Stop giving tax cuts.  Raise the taxes back up to where they were before everyone and his dog had a special tax credit, and a tax cut on top of it.

  5. I’d vote for the Media, pariticularly the Parliament Hill Press Gallery types. They claim politicians are always using talking points, but did you ever really watch or listen to them carefully?  On every piece of legislation in the H of C this year, every one of these trained seals was repeating almost verbatim the Opposition Parties’ talking points. I don’t mind their critique of the legislation per se, it was the abject failure of even one of them to produce an original thought. They truely are useless in terms of keeping the citizenry informed.
    New Year’s resolution for you boys and girls – Let’s get off our arses and actually try for an oringinal thought now and then.
    Merry Christmas! 

    • Can you offer us a few examples of this?

  6. I’d vote for the Media, pariticularly the Parliament Hill Press Gallery types. They claim politicians are always using talking points, but did you ever really watch or listen to them carefully?  On every piece of legislation in the H of C this year, every one of these trained seals in the media was repeating almost verbatim the Opposition Parties’ talking points. I don’t mind their critique of the legislation per se, it was the abject failure of even one of them to produce an original thought. They truely are useless in terms of keeping the citizenry informed.
    New Year’s resolution for you boys and girls – Let’s get off our arses and actually try for an original thought now and then.
    Merry Christmas!

  7. Qualitatively speaking the gap between rich and poor has never been closer. During periods of economic regression the quantitative gap grows but it narrows when the upswing happens. Alll things fail – that is the norm. Too big to fail guarantees an even bigger failure in the future. Creative destruction is the natural process of commerce. Banks the welfare state and the Euro NEED to fail to prepare the ground for a sustained recovery. Let’s hope all of those things come to pass in 2012.

    • Let’s not, and say we did.


    • Qualitatively speaking the gap between rich and poor has never been closer.”

      Because of actual, specific things we do as a society to pull ourselves towards a middle-class standard. We are in danger of totally losing sight of those specific things, we have already started to do so.

      • What specific things are you referring to specifically?

    • “Creative destruction is the natural process”

      Ooo, I love it when you use oxymorons.  How about “toxic assets”,  “postal service”, “airline food”, or my favorite “business ethics”.

  8. At the turn of the 20th century… Basically 2 generations ago…  My father was born in 1910….  it was standard practice to send  13 year old boys into the coal mines to work for meager wages for the rest of their lives in the heart of the British Empire. The 1%, the   Earls  and royality had dozens of servants basically working for food without any rights and or recourses.  Women were not even allowed to vote.

    The commisions in the armies were given to royality and upper class who fought WW I ro settle their own disputes that did not concern the vast majority of the population.  They ordered 10,000,000 basically peasant / miner/ farmer soldiers to stand in a trenches and shoot each other.  If you didn’t want to fight the upperclass officers would shoot you themselves.

    Compare that to the “Discomfort” and complaints of the occupy movement.  The 99% has so much more in common with the 1% than at any other time in the History of the world.

    The Occupy movement is very very very much overrated.

    • Sure it’s important to keep some perspective on how far we’ve come as a society, but when the behaviour of the 1% begins to threaten the well being of the rest of us then it is time to ask questions, demand answers, insist on changes.
      This kind of relativistic analysis should only be used sparingly; eg., the fact that SH respects our democracy more than the late lunatic in N. Korea is not sufficient grounds  to not expect better, demand more of our govt and to hold it to it’s own empty slogans.

    • We have since landed on the moon, developed computers, and done heart transplants

      So why are you comparing us to 1910 socially?

      • Not socially but economically and quality of live between the 1% and the 99%.    It has never been so close.  We the 99%  enjoy 90% of the lifestyle of the 1%.  good food, travel, entertainment.    Less than 100 years ago the 99% had say 1%  of the  quality of live of the 1%.

        The occupy movement basically has trouble identifying what they are so very upset about.

        • The Occupy movement has no problem identifying the difficulty at all.

          However you are having difficulty with history….and wanting people to live the life of the 1% of 1901 still hasn’t occured.

          However, most people don’t want to have the quality of life of the 1% a hundred years ago.

          • please enlighten me OE1

            What does the Occupy movement want?
             

            What remedy are they seeking?   In the French and Russian revolutions  the 99% were only satisfied with the  death of the 1%.

            Or Is it just a shopping list for the offical opposition?

            I never thought about it but the NDP anti-oil,  pro-environment, really is a solution that takes us back 100 years to simplier times where the 99%  worked hard and died young and never left their village and ate cabbage/potato soup for 8 months of the year. 

          • They want a complete change in the system…and that is the world system.

            It has nothing to do with the NDP,or any local politics…it’s global.

            PS….100 years ago we had cars and phones and trains

        • Thank goodness for Walmart eh! If i ignore the fact that i have to replace a good half of my consumerables every couple of year i’d be just like jimmy Patterson.  

  9. 1. Agree. Accept the people who picked Ignatieff are still writing policy docs for the LPC – Apps – why?
    Ignatieff was a disaster from beginning to end. Currently the liberal membership is attempting to wrest control away from the Toronto centric crowd…finally.

    2.Why not Gingrich? As Will points out he’s a perfect fit for the majority is democracy is always right tea partiers. Seems to be a choice between the loony, the the moronic but entertaining, the dull and fipfloppy – read normal politician and the truly dangerous, unhinged populist cum deluded extremist…IOWs the dream tea party candidate.

    3. I’m a Trudeau liberal, so i’ve no objection to calling the separatists bluff from time to time; but some of those moves are, drip by drip  likely being stored away in some secure humiliated us vault, handy for whenever the need arises. Things like the silly royal stuff and thumbing our noses at official bilingualism are not helpful, or even necessary.What’s next, a rerun of Dominionism?
    Or…maybe they’re simply beyond caring what we are doing – i don’t think so, i hope not – that would be sadder in its own way than an angry parting.

    4. Who’s Feist?

    5.Agree, anger without action/purpose/focus/a goal is pointless. Although i think the OWS movement will continue to, and has had an effect that hasn’t fully played itself out yet…sort of a catalyst rather than revolutionary force. More surpises to come, maybe?

    6. Yes, respect must be earned – it’s not a given.

    *7. Twitter.

    So far i’ve resisted, but i see no good reason to participate in the semi – conscious, rambling, half formed thoughts , gossip and group think of my fellow human beings – most of which is better left unsaid.[ am i being too negative? Is blogging any different? I like to think so!]
    It’s like everyone has discovered an insatiable desire to operate without a safety net, or something. As someone who worked at heights for some of his wasted youth i know the value of good safety lines and tie backs…er, mostly which we didn’t have…but that’s another story.
    Hope i can hold out awhile longer.

    Merry Christmas macleansians all.

  10. How about Jack Layton as the most overrated?  No one wants to say it, but let’s look at some details.  He took his party to its best standing because the traditional juggernauts in Quebec were spent, people admired his tenacity despite his illness, and Michael Ignatieff couldn’t provide a simple answer for why he was frequently absent from Parliament.

    The most significant thing he did was die.  I’m not saying that to be facetious, but when people die in the way he did, they’re immortalized.  If his health improved, and he continued as opposition leader, the story would likely centre on the capability of his opposition, and people wouldn’t be deify him as they did for the second half of the year.

    Regardless, his political achievements aren’t overwhelming.  If becoming opposition leader requires such celebration, then what should we bestow on the likes of John Turner, Kim Campbell, and Paul Martin who went one step better?  The difference is that he died.  He wrote a calculating letter, and he capitalized on people’s emotions. At the end of the day, this did very little to alter Stephen Harper’s will — which his how success in opposition might be defined.

    • Because he displayed enormous courage once he decided to go for it. Many a lesser man would have passed on the election or just quit. I was never a big fan of Jack or the ndp, but really i would have thought he had more then earned his due.  

  11. 1.  Peter Kent’s comments published daily in every Canadian newspaper giving his best Paris Hilton impersonation.  Big drama with nothing behind it because the facts were never questioned by any media outlets. 
    2.  Listening to answers given by any politician from the Conservatives on any issue.  There are never any facts.  Even US leaders put ours to shame.  They have all the numbers, all the back story.  They are practiced speakers.  Apart from some of the Republican candidates, of course.
    3.  The Occupy Movement was important in its sense of solidarity as a global movement uniting all people crushed by Globalization and WTO that destroyed democracy. 
    4.  Print journalism is over rated because it cannot show the truth.  I get more of the story from reading the comments fleshed out and twitter followups.  I get the news faster elsewhere, and it’s unfiltered.
    5.  Next move – agitate for rehabilitation of Canada for a more open society.  No more closed doors deals, fragmented divided country, oil dominated oligarchy.

  12. Good stuff. And you’re right, I suppose Michael Ignatieff can’t be added to the list this year because, for anyone paying attention in 2011, his drawbacks were already pretty apparent. 

    I wonder if that’s why you left off Pauline Marois. If one were to take her now-distant 90something % approval rating from her party at face value, she was a massive disappointment in 2011, presiding over an historic meltdown of the PQ. But perhaps you never believed in her or her hold on her party, in the first place…. 

  13. Merry Christmas all.  Not a mention of this great feastday from Macleans?  Banknotes, Supreme Court politics, and another snotty piece on why Canada is better than the US.  Nary an enfleshed God to be seen.

    Ah well.  As Steyn put it:  who celebrates a birth nowadays anyway?

    • Well that’s probably because people were having a holiday with feasts and gifts thousands of years ago….long before Jesus was ever heard of.
       
      Solstice, Saturnalia….

    • “Much of the developed world climbed out of the stream. You don’t need to make material sacrifices: The state takes care of all that. You don’t need to have children. And you certainly don’t need to die for king and country. But a society that has nothing to die for has nothing to live for: It’s no longer a stream, but a stagnant pool.”

      What a load of revisionistic , selective crap. There was no golden age, pre industrial, pre state social reforms. There was largely a short brutal life and often a messy lingering death – for the common man that is. Not much worth dying for either; and not many worth dying for.
      The great war finally gave the lie to that older lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and right to die for your country.
      Styn is still peddling his ahistorical cultural bilge i see then.

      • You honestly don’t see that some things are worth sacrificing oneself for, do you. That is very sad.

        Today is the feast in honour of God becoming man in order to sacrifice Himself for you. Merry Christmas.

        • Merry Christmas too you too!

          And yes i do believe in the concept of sacrifice [ why draw that easy conclusions merely because i reject Styns?] It’s as you say the very embodiment of love – there is none higher as Christ himself said. It’s just a question of what we sacrifice ourselves for.

          I just refuse to trust the easy shibboleths of revisionists like Mark Steyn. Nor will i buy into his agenda. At best he’s a deluded romantic myth maker at worst he’s possibly much much more dangerous. I might consider taking him more seriously if he was  more serious and rigorous an empiricist – such as Nial Ferguson; i have reservations about his work too but i don’t distrust his agenda nor the reliability of his research particularly.

          • Merry Christmas too you too!
            Thank you. May you and yours be truly blessed this day.

            “The great war finally gave the lie to that older lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and right to die for your country. “

            Disagree with Steyn all you want, but that statement suggests that you don’t see the worth of dying for one’s country.

            You can’t have it both ways: if self-sacrifice for another is good, then dying to defend your country can be good. Your country is nothing more than a lot of other people.

            Steyn’s point was twofold:
            (a) you can’t support a welfare state for very long when the population is decreasing because the pensioners quickly outnumber the workers. This is arithmetically indisputable, so put aside your distaste for Steyn and think about it for a microsecond.

            (b) The last 40 years has seen the “Me” generation’s philosophy prevail, namely that one need not consider the impact of one’s actions on future generations, nor one’s debt to past generations. This leads to, among other things, the notion that having more than two children is not worth the trouble. It also leads to the notion that one can spend one’s nation into deficit and not worry about the cost to future generations.
            Again, put aside your antipathy to the messenger and examine the message. Then object on logical grounds if you can, not personal biases.

          • Oh i do object on logical grounds, not just personal antipathy – though i’m sure that plays a role in my view of Styn. Something about him, Coulter and the like sets my teeth on edge. That said it would be churlish to disagree with them purely on those grounds.. That might be ok if there was any evidence he or Coulter  has an interest in testing their theories; i haven’t seen anything to convince me otherwise to date.In the simplist terms he doesn’t provide compelling evidence for the premise of his arguements, much less his conclusions. Both problems may be serious but are not likely to yield to easy analysis.
            Styn is always driving at the obssession of the far right that it is all a massive consiparcy of the socialist welfare proto fascists. . I don’t see the evidence for his chain of events – the wefare state bred the me generation with all its undesirable outcomes. What role has consumerism played in the deterioration of standards? Is globilization and the almost iconic like regard for the so called science of economics only contributing to the disconnect to the deeper values of culture? 
            My feelings about self sacrifice are complicated [ as i assume they are for most thinking individuals]. As i said it depends on what the sacrifice is for and whether there is real choice at its core. The quote is one that is closely associated with the war poet Wilfred Owen. I believe it represented a pivotal moment in our society – dying for one’s country would from that time on require the consent of those asked to sacrifice, and the cause must be seen to be just. The second world war for instance clearly met those standards. The great war at its very best only offered the stark choice of which empire do you want to prevail – ours or theirs.  It had no moral core, was largely an exercise in group think and is often said to have made the second inevitable.
            Does that mean i despise the sacrifice of those who went? Certainly not. Something about the sheer scale and almost inconceivable courage of the young men who went renders me almost mute, but the value of their self sacrifice was in spite of the war aims of its inept and callous architects; the so call to duty, to country, honour and the glorification of warfare leaves me cold. If it could ever be said those values had real virtue, then the lies,the stupidity [ Orwell claimed stupidity and hypocrisy were the two chief faults of the British Empire]  and the self serving hypocrisy of our leadership did much to bring about the modern cynicism that prevails as regards duty to one’s King or country.       
            I’m not a pacifist, I believe evil must eventually be opposed. It’s just that i don’t trust the Styn’s of this world to draw the right conclusions about what that evil might be, its scale, or what’s really at stake and what must be done about it.

  14. I love this, a lot. 

  15. don’t you be dissin my girl, now. merry feistmas, please write another book on harper, the last one rocked.

    julian brown

  16. Donolo is 10 times the man Paul Wells will ever be.  Paul has made a career sitting back in his easy chair, making snide comments at those who actually had the courage to stand up for what they believe in.

    Peter has been in the trenches, fought for his country, and come out the other side. 

    Wells is secure in knowing that whatever he says or does, he will always have a job, being a critic to those who had the balls to stand up for what they believe in.

    • How on earth you see Wells’ nomination of Donolo as being somehow personal or even a dismissal of Donolo’s abilities is beyond me.

      • Well, Peter’s mother is naturally very defensive about any perceived criticism.

  17. To my great surprize   late Havel had the  EXACT same   words   about love and hate ect…as jack had in his   afrewell letter… just another  stuff why I  never liked Jack and his  ways…. I know i am rude but we must see the light.

  18. #4 is fighting words. But I will let that lie.

    #5 …”the loathsome notion that a private institution can be “Too Big To Fail” are worth some anger.”

    Maclean’s is too big to fail.  It has to be subsidized by the government.  Rogers is too big to fail.  It has to be protected from takeover by foreigners, and allowed oligopoly rights to distribute cable TV at an immense profit.  Rogers protected from takeover and unlimited competition as part of the telecomm oligopoly.  The CBC is to big to fail.  The central Canadian aristocracy keeps telling the rest of us that the Liberal Party is to big to fail.  

    RIM is basically toast, and arguably that failure is far more significant than the failure of Rogers or the CBC or Bell would be.  While Steve Jobs was eating RIM’s lunch, Lazaridis was kissing up to people like Wells funding the Perimeter Institute (and Balsillie was chasing a hockey team) rather than doing the most important job.

    Canada would probably for the Swedish solution if our banks got into trouble, rather than with an American style bailout.  But then a lot of the Central Canadian aristocracy owns bank shares and bank debt, so who really knows.

  19. I like the list, except for one small thing: I think there is a difference between being “angry” about crime, and believing in the concept of justice.  Justice is not revenge.  Justice is not retribution.  I don’t think conservative crime policy is about anger, nor is about higher crime rates, it’s about the fact that people believe in many cases criminals receive no justice whatsoever.

    Even under circumstances when the possibly of reoccurence is nil, such as when one murders one’s spouse, or when one commits a crime targeting a specific individual, that does not mean the perpetrator should go free, because there is no risk of reoccurence.  There is the concept of justice, where one must serve for one’s crimes irrespective of whether one is rehabilitated or not. 

    Canada’s crime policy has been weak on justice, with light sentences for serious crimes, no jail time whatsoever for serious crimes, and in many cases a slap on the wrist for one reoffense after another, serial offenders who have use the justice system like a revolving door.  The conservatives have been addressing this issue.

    • Good points.  I disagree with most of the elements of the Conservatives’ omnibus crime bill, but Liberals, Dippers and their ilk need to be wary of falling into the trap of merely defending the status quo.  There are elements of the status quo that are not acceptable.

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