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Still the most talented politician of our generation


 

Dan Gardner lauds Bob Rae’s ability to contradict himself with absolute conviction.


 
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Still the most talented politician of our generation

  1. Anybody going to laud Harper for his outright lying ability, as demonstrated in his interview with Mansbridge tonight on CBC?

  2. I thought Harper did a good job on the National. But Rae is clearly Canada’s Bill Clinton sans the scandal and sans the successful administration.

  3. But then Mr. Gardner spent most of last week saying that Canada had no economic concerns.

  4. Rae, what shall we say: that thought must cross his mind every morning when he gets out of bed. “What shall we say today!”

    The answer to the question is, of course: “whatever the people want to hear.” It’s that simply to men like Rae. Why give him anymore light of day?

  5. could be some interesting times
    in Canada when the provincial
    parties start forming coalitions
    the liberals in ontario did not
    win the 2007 election.
    liberals got 42.2%
    conservativd 31.6
    ndp16.8%%
    green 8.0%
    56.6 % of ontarions voted against the liberals

  6. Gardner is a hack. There was a federal election in October. The Conservatives could not win a majority. They refused any compromise that would benefit Canadians.

    A very different set of circumstances than those faced by Liberals in this latest party crisis.

    To equate the two as somehow equivalent is not journalism. It is bulls**t.

  7. Sisyphus,

    If you can show me something I wrote, Sis, which a careful and fair reader would summarize as “Canada has no economic concerns,” I will give you a crisp new $100 bill.

    And, um, if I can show you one — or three, or half a dozen — statements which say the opposite, will you give me that C-note?

    Dan

  8. Oh, and Archangel, your point is not quite the profanity-backed blindingly obvious conclusion you seem to think it is. But never mind. Let’s say you’re right. You still have to contend with the fact that on Monday Mr. Rae found it appalling that the full Liberal membership would not vote for the leader and on Tuesday he found it acceptable the full Liberal membership would not vote for the leader. Or am I missing something?

  9. Dan Gardner,

    Pleased to see you defending your position. Dehackifies you.

  10. Dan Gardner,

    To me, “expressing [one’s] deepest conviction” and expressing equanimity in defeat are the marks of honesty and integrity. Unlike a certain Prime Minister, Mr. Rae behaves as a statesman ought.

    He does not deserve the sort of gratuitous scorn your innuendo offers.

    And I believe my use of mild profanity serves to stress how strong a distaste I have for duplicitous pronouncement on the part of journalists, some of whom wouldn’t understand integrity if it slapped them in the face.

    Having a “soapbox” for to use in broadcasting your opinion gives you a special responsibility to strive for circumspection.

  11. “for to use” heh, heh. And regrettably, English is my one and only language.

  12. Paying for “fair and balanced” journalism does not become you ( or me ), Mr. Gardner. I read your blog … or, to be clear, I used to read it. It’s there for all to see.

  13. Sisyphus,

    Only just today scanned Mr. Gardner’s blog. I don’t get what you mean.

    Seems quite interesting so I bookmarked it. Besides, he’s entitled to his opinion, if indeed it is his own and especially if it is informed and relevant.

  14. Whatever. All I see the usual….reporting based on public statements from officials.

  15. Sis,

    You stated as fact that I am ridiculous because I said X.

    I responded, that I would be pleased if you could show me even one instance in which I said X.

    You ignored my response. Instead, you answered me with a petulant little insult.

    Are you a Member of Parliament?

    Dan

  16. Rae reminds me a lot of Joe Biden. The ability to sound sincere and authoritative while talking complete and utter bollocks is certainly a skill, but not one I like in pols. Also, many in the msm seem to have a crush on Rae and are happy give him a pass when says one thing on Monday and the complete opposite the next.

  17. Dan,
    A lot of commenters here have a real problem with any journalist who dares to criticize a politician without at the same time criticizing that politician’s opponent. They appear to be convinced that such criticism can only be evidence of bias, bribery, corruption or stupidity.

    They also have difficulty with people who can separate their feelings for a politician from their views on their politics.

    Hence all the personal animosity that frequently overwhelms otherwise interesting threads.

  18. They appear to be convinced that such criticism can only be evidence of bias, bribery, corruption or stupidity.

    …and laziness. Don’t forget laziness.

  19. No, not an MP. I just fail to see why I should do your work for you when your writings are there for all to see if they have the interest. I read it and registered my opinion on it. And I would only note that your interest in the topic seemed to ebb when the reality of recent data revealed the unreality of your position.

  20. “I read it and registered my opinion on it.”

    No, you made a statement of fact. Entirely different than an opinion.

  21. archangel – I’m not sure what “scan” means but you have to dig down to pg. 4-5 for his pronouncements on the economy.

  22. Sis,

    Here’s a paragraph from one of my columns which pretty much sums up what I have written about the economy recently: “What we are almost certainly looking at is a serious downturn that will cost jobs and hurt like hell. In other words, it will be like the early 1990s. Or if it’s particularly bad, like the early 1980s. What it will not be like is the 1930s.”

    I’m curious. Can you direct me to data that contradict this?

    Or are you — still and again — misrepresenting what I wrote?

    Dan

  23. I think Bill Simpson has it exactly right; people are so partisan they can only see what their tiny little partisan hearts will allow them to see. Anything else is blasphemy. But then, Dan has written about that, too.
    Examples:
    Nov 19 – We are a conservative species.
    Oct 4 – Why your guy wins every debate.

    I wonder if something more sinister isn’t afoot: is there a concerted effort to make participation in political discourse so painful that it actually discourages long term interest?

  24. Brad – I’m pleased to see you’ve actually read the blog. That’s good.

    Mr. Gardner – Since we’re in the mode of quotation-without-context I’ll finish off with your own words that provide an indication of the dismissive attitude …. ” get a grip, people”.

    Hope this is running up the hits on your site.

  25. This discussion also neatly illustrates another problem we have with the current debate about the economy, which is competitive catastrophising.
    “The economy is bad”.
    “No, it’s terrible”.
    “No, it’s a disaster”
    “We’re all doomed!”

    Which leads into the next little round of “who’s got the biggest stimulus”.

    “We need to pump in $20 million.”
    “That’s not enough. We need $30 million.”
    “You obviously don’t care about starving children and sick pensioners…it should be $40 million”

    And so on and so on.

    Pathetically enough, Harper has now joined the game. “Look at my stimulus! The liberals said it was small, but really it’s huge!”

    As Dan Gardner said “…get a grip, people”.

  26. Brad,

    Dan Gardner wrote this:

    “One of the most important discoveries of cognitive psychology is confirmation bias and it’s unfortunate consequence: Belief routinely determines evidence, not the other way around. This is an enormously important and pernicious fact.”

    So I guess even evidence is insufficient to convince Dan and the rest of us. Since there is no evidence presented to support the contention, should I believe it?

    If God is omnipotent can he create a weight so heavy even he can’t lift it?

    And your point about something sinister afoot surely applies to a guy named Kody, I’ll venture.

  27. Hey, I’m happy when at least a few people in the media start talking about evidence. Although that in itself can become an issue in a society governed by the so-called wisdom of normal distribution, which is what Nassim Taleb maintains prevented most people from believing that the economy what destined to tank quite a while ago.

    The next step for journalism is to rediscover the value of subversion and for journalists to resist quoting each other so much.

  28. There is a line between skepticism (“show me good evidence or I won’t believe you”) and cynicism (“I’ll sneer at you no matter what you say”). Some of the people here have gone so far past that line I doubt they can even see it now.

    Sisyphus: Over and over and over I wrote that this economic crisis is real, it’s bad, and it’s going to get worse. My point is simply that, bad as it is, it’s not as bad as some of the it’s-the-Second-Great-Depression types have made it out to be. Yes, I’ve been “dismissive” of alarmist statements unsupported by evidence. But that there is an economic crisis? No fair-minded reader would say so.

    Archangel: There’s a vast literature on confirmation bias. I discuss it in my book. Or you can just Google it. And no, confirmation bias does not mean no one can be convinced by evidence and so let’s all thrown our hands up in the air. Like all psychological biases, it is only a tendency, not a straitjacket, and we can overcome it if we make the effort to think carefully and really consider contrary evidence and opinions.

    Which is clearly a description that does not fit the mental habits of some of the people here.

  29. Ti-Guy: “The next step for journalism is to rediscover the value of subversion and for journalists to resist quoting each other so much.”

    Dan wrote about that, too, I just can’t find it on his site to cite.

  30. Dan Gardner,

    On your 12:29 comment, I agree with you on confirmation bias. I admit to being provocative, but I hope in a “not nasty” way.

    And I might consider adopting an “Anti-Profanity” policy a la Robert W. Service to bolster my peaceful intention.

    But to abandon my confirmation bias entirely? Painful.

  31. Dan – but when the basis for your conclusions ( in December ) are cheery StatsCan data from September I walk away.

    Then a few days later new data indicates job losses worse than the US ( pro-rata ) I checked to see if you had adjusted your view as the real economy pain starts to kick in. No. And that’s fine. As your man Andrew Sullivan says, adjusting positions and judgment are is the role of columnists, not bloggers. But some acknowledgment of updated data would have been nice. Even if you didn’t alter your conclusions.

    Conclusions which are without value, by the way. Nobody, at this point, knows where the economy is or where it’s ultimately going. Journalists, in whatever format, get to pretend otherwise, I guess.

  32. Sisyphus, you really are living up to the moniker you have chosen. The modern day version is to bash your head against a wall repeatedly.

    Gardner gave a perspective piece on the economy asking us all to have some – perspective that is – when discussing the economy in relative terms to the Great Depression. You can keep importing new rationale for why you dismiss him but you can also keep missing the point and your confirmation bias will just keep convincing you you’re right.

    Take a break and leave your rock at the base of the hill for a day.

  33. Some of the people here have gone so far past that line I doubt they can even see it now.

    I don’t know about that. Some of us just don’t see any value in giving journalists the benefit of the doubt at all anymore (for reasons that should be abundantly clear by now). Why should we? We’re not their parents.

  34. Right, Brad. Sorry for trying your patience. Mine, as your classical reading may note, is endless.

    But I will go back to reading economists on the economy. They make more sense.

  35. Ti: Who asked for “the benefit of the doubt”? What I would like is for people to judge the quality of what I write by the quality of what I actually write. Don’t build a straw man, pin my name on it, and set it on fire.

    Which takes me back to my friend, Sisyphus.

    First, Sis, the economic projections are not mine. They come from the OECD and other economists. Now, maybe you wish to quarrel with them. Fine. But that would require looking at how they put those projections together and objecting to the specifics of their methodolgies. A sneer would not do.

    Second, Sis, your point about the data I cited being old (data lag, almost by definition) is valid. Which is why I wrote the following in my column: “It’s also important to acknowledge that these data, like all data, lag a little. Economists agree that things are worse in the fourth quarter. Modestly negative growth is expected.”

    Adjust my view? Why would I adjust my view? I wrote that the economic crisis is real and getting worse. But I also noted that Canada has had a much better performance than the US through almost all of 2008 (we’re still net positive for job creation on the year, while they’re way negative) and therefore we have to realize that the situation faced by the two economies is significantly different. I’d love to know how the how the most recent data change any of that.

  36. Sorry, Sisyphus, your latest comment wasn’t posted when I wrote mine.

    So I didn’t get a chance to ask: which economists do you read? Because the economists I read would find nothing controversial in what I wrote because it’s based on basic statistics and projections created by — wait for it — economists.

    Please find another target for your lofty condescension

  37. Ti: Who asked for “the benefit of the doubt”? What I would like is for people to judge the quality of what I write by the quality of what I actually write. Don’t build a straw man, pin my name on it, and set it on fire

    Don’t take it personally. I’ve been pretty contemptuous of the mainstream news media for quite a few years now.

  38. In no particular order or frequency – Krugman ( of course ), Galbraith (James ), Baker, DeLong, Thoma, Roubini, Freeman. And the happy gang at PEF. But who cares anyway.

    Oh, and I’d recommend Stiglitz on your good friend Naomi.

  39. For what it’s worth I don’t find anything at all controversial in what Dan wrote, but I’m not exactly Brad DeLong.

  40. I’ve checked your blog out, Mike. And what you say is true.

  41. “I’ve checked your blog out, Mike. And what you say is true.”

    I’d like to think that’s usually the case.

  42. Sisyphus appears to have the politician’s ability to answer questions that suit him/her and to ignore the ones that don’t.

    A smug list of economists s/he allegedly reads was awful quick, but none of the specific points asked by Gardner respecting the criticisms levelled at his writing are acknowledged.

    Ti Guy – “Don’t take it personally. I’ve been pretty contemptuous of the mainstream news media for quite a few years now.” I think you basically made his point. Your contempt is so far out in front that it arrives before your mind does.

  43. I think you basically made his point. Your contempt is so far out in front that it arrives before your mind do

    I’m not criticising Dan Gardner. I don’t read his column. I’m just being cranky. Our news media…sucks. And there’s no point pretending it doesn’t.

  44. Ti-Guy don’t worry, we have the Macleans blog. I haven’t been more addicted to social networking since World of Warcraft.

    The paper version might go the way of the Tribune, but the blog will keep on ticking…

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