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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Centauri Dreams considers the likely cometary explanation for KIC 8462852.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes an enigmatic dark spot on a white dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on China’s construction of a military base in Djibouti.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the man who promised to reduce the price of an HIV/AIDS medication that his company hiked has reneged.
  • Lawyers, Gins and Money notes that Trump was lying about protesting Muslims in New Jersey after 9/11.
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of ethnic minorities in Ukraine, now and in 1926.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at how the right won in Argentina.
  • Torontoist notes local initiatives to welcome Syrian refugees to Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a Vietnamese trans right bill.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy observes that American states cannot ban Syrian refugees.
  • Window on Eurasia looks on a new Chinese railway passing from Xinjiang through Central Asia to Iran, and looks at the odd Communist-Christian-Muslim mélange being favoured in Russia.

[LINK] “What If Trump Wins?”

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Thanks to Facebook’s Alex for sharing Jeet Heer’s article in The New Republic looking at the consequences of Donald Trump winning the Republican Party nomination. His conclusion, that the precedent of Goldwater’s 1964 nomination suggests the Republican Party will be permanently altered, is frightening to me.

Barry Goldwater’s nomination tore the party in half because he was the avatar of a wider conservative insurgency that displaced the moderate Republicanism of President Eisenhower’s crowd. For the moderates, Goldwater was a frightening figure not only because he adopted extreme positions (opposition to the Civil Rights Act, an unwillingness to disavow the conspiracy-obsessed John Birch Society), but also for his habit of making reckless remarks, like suggesting the Pentagon “lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin.”

Before Goldwater got the nomination, GOP notables and his rivals had attacked him in the fiercest possible terms. Richard Nixon, who was in between presidential runs that year, described Goldwater’s opposition to civil rights as a “tragedy.” New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was a candidate, said, “Barry Goldwater’s positions can spell disaster for the party and the country.” Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton, another presidential hopeful, called Goldwaterism a “crazy quilt collection of absurd and dangerous propositions.”

The hostilities played out on national television during the convention in which Goldwater was selected in San Francisco. Rockefeller and Scranton tried to exert a moderating influence on the platform, only to be met with heckling and catcalls. Eisenhower said the ruckus of the convention was “unpardonable—and a complete negation of the spirit of democracy. I was bitterly ashamed.” The former president also said that during the convention his young niece had been “molested” by Goldwater-supporting hooligans. The disarray of that convention anticipated some of the rowdiness of Trump events, as in the recent roughing up of a black protester in Birmingham, Alabama, which Trump himself egged on and justified.

Goldwater’s campaign had a profound impact on the racial composition of the Republican coalition. As historian Geoffrey Kabaservice notes in his 2012 book Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, “Many progressives and moderate Republicans did not want to participate in the Goldwater campaign in any way, shape, or form. The party’s African-American supporters were a special case in point. … African-Americans comprised only one percent of delegates and alternatives at the convention, a record low. Even so, there were some ugly incidents when Southern whites baited the blacks with insults and racial epithets and, in one case, deliberately burned a black delegate’s suit jacket with cigarettes.” Baseball star Jackie Robinson, then the most famous black Republican, said, “I now believe I know how it felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.”

[. . .]

Goldwater’s hard-right stance on civil rights alienated African American voters from the Republican Party in an enduring way. In 1956, 39 percent of the African American vote went to the Republicans, in 1960 it was 32 percent, and in 1964 it plummeted to 6 percent. Since Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate has never gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote, and usually far less. A Trump nomination could have a similar effect by alienating Latinos, and perhaps all non-whites, thereby making the Republican Party even more monochromatic going forward than it already is.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 25, 2015 at 11:43 am

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO notes the refusal of Bombardier to explain to the TTC, even in the context of an impending lawsuit, why streetcar production is so delayed.
  • At the Broadside Blog, Caitlin Kelly recommends the movie Spotlight for its insights into the importance of journalism.
  • Crooked Timber considers protests at Princeton about racial representation.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting possibilities for direct imaging of the Alpha Centauri system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes plans to close down the last coal-powered power plant in Britain.
  • Far Outliers looks at Russian and German encounters with Papuans in the late 19th century.
  • Language Hat starts a discussion on marginalized languages.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the defense of the mayor of Roanoke that his defense of the Japanese-American internment was not racist.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the importance of the Iran-Iraq War in the Middle East’s downward spiral.
  • pollotenchegg notes language use in Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes how the Kirchner governments in Argentina subsidized energy companies.
  • Torontoist notes a Bloordale artist’s efforts to start a fact box in her neighbourhood.
  • Towleroad notes the belated recognition of a trans widow’s marriage.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the complications of the cut-off of electricity supply from Ukraine to Crimea.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alexander Harrowell is critical of certain plans for devolution that risk creating party fiefdoms.

[LINK] “Evan Solomon on guillotines, long knives and politics”

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Last week, Canadian political journalist Evan Solomon wrote about how the NDP and Conservatives need to renew themselves.

Sixty seconds to debate whether Canada should join the fight in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State. Sixty seconds to make a point about the fairness of income-splitting. Sixty. Seconds.

“The one-minute rule for caucus debate simply doesn’t allow meaningful discussion of complex issues,” Conservative MP Mike Lake wrote in the extraordinary letter he sent colleagues as he was making his failed pitch to be interim leader of his party. “On many occasions, a lack of a good hearing within caucus led to the frustrated [MP] venting outside of caucus. Both scenarios are extremely corrosive.”

Of all the critiques that have emerged about Stephen Harper’s authoritarian style, Lake’s candid revelation that MPs were limited to political haikus behind the secret, closed doors of caucus is, perhaps, the most devastating.

Of course, all parties come together publicly around policy; that’s understandable. And with almost 160 MPs and 60 senators, there was a genuine need for Harper to impose discipline on the debate, but Lake reveals that this was more than a matter of time efficiency. It was emblematic of what he called a “corrosive” internal culture that finally ate away at Harper’s own team and, ultimately, his hold on power. The Conservatives now face a very tough road to renewal.

The NDP faces similar questions about renewal, and a more complex problem of leadership. This week, senior NDP members quietly met to go over their first post-election report on what went wrong. Will Tom Mulcair get to lead the party into the next election, or should he announce he is stepping down before the April leadership review?

Written by Randy McDonald

November 19, 2015 at 12:52 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Centauri Dreams considers what Pluto would actually look like.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the complications facing planetary systems with multiple stars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales updates on the way in Syria.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a bill proposed by Ted Cruz that would ban Syrian Muslim immigrants from the United States.
  • Language Hat notes the discovery of he first abecedary, in the Middle East.
  • Language Log notes the peculiarities of K-pop English.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the concerns of librarians under George Bush about the implications of the Patriot Act for their careers.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the problems facing Muslims on the French job market.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes the lack of evidence that Europeans are more pacifistic.
  • Towleroad notes the opposition of Estonian conservatives to same-sex civil unions.</li?
  • The Volokh Conspiracy provides advice to liberals and conservatives on how to respond to Syrian refugees.
  • Why I Love Toronto highlights the Weegee exhibition on at the Ryerson Image Centre.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about the things important to her.
  • Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram shares a quietly beautiful picture of a Paris café late at night.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a paper suggesting that atmospheric haze on exoplanets might be a biosignature.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that the Earth appears not to have gotten its water from comets, and examines the geology of Mars’ massive Hellas crater.
  • Far Outliers notes initial Soviet goals in Afghanistan and looks at Soviet reluctance to get involved.
  • Joe. My. God. notes panic in the Republican Party establishment over a possible victory of Carson or Trump.
  • Language Hat notes some online resources on Beowulf and the Hittite language.
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of ethnic Germans in Ukraine in 1926.
  • Torontoist notes an architecturally sensitive data centre on Cabbagetown’s Parliament Street.
  • Towleroad notes Ukraine’s passage of a LGBT employment non-discrimination bill.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Putin’s attempt at forming an anti-globalist coalition and notes Russian opinions about Western passivity.

[LINK] “The Prague Café: a brief incursion into Czech presidential discourse”

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Open Democracy’s Jan Hornát wrote about the language of culture wars, waged by the right, in the Czech Republic. (Hint: Rootless cosmopolitanism is always an enemy of the people.)

Czech president Milos Zeman is currently halfway through his first presidential term and it has become more than obvious that his divisive election campaign was not just a calculated move to secure victory, but an enduring political tactic.

The divisions that Zeman aims to foster do not copy class or social status lines, nor are they set along party lines – he distinguishes simply between the “self” (himself and his supporters) and the “others” (his opponents). Zeman is showing little determination to conduct any consensus-building and seems to be constantly working on preserving a separating line between his perceived opponents, which he abhors, and his supporters. This persistent reiteration of dividing points inherently strengthens the positions of both camps (i.e. opponents increase their opposition and supporters increase their support) and translates into deepening divisions within the Czech society.

To be fair, every politician has a camp of supporters and opponents, no public figure is admired by all. Yet, not that many politicians in Western democracies devote so much thoughtful effort into further widening the gap between their supporters and opponents and instrumentally turning them into two irreconcilable groups as president Zeman. To navigate his tactic in public discourse, Zeman – with the help of his agile spokesperson Jiri Ovcacek – has recently formulated an ingenious term that encompasses all his opponents (and thus the opponents of his supporters) and permits him (and his team) to use this metaphor as a clear signal to his followers – the term is “Prague Café” and deserves a brief etymology.

President Zeman first used the term publicly last year as a reaction to demonstrations that took place in the center of Prague on the day of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Protestors held up mock red cards that were addressed to the president, calling for him to step down. Zeman called the demonstrators the “raging Prague lumpencafé”, perhaps referring to Karl Marx’s term lumpenproletariat, which described the social groups which were of no use to the collective cause of the proletarian revolutionary struggle. Since its first use, Zeman simplified the term to “Prague Café” and thus gave way to a metaphor that acquired a prominent role in the contemporary discourse emanating from the Prague Castle. How does the term resonate in the Czech mind? First of all, we can decompose the notion and observe each word separately.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 12, 2015 at 8:45 pm


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