A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

leave a comment »

  • Centauri Dreams reports on a theory suggesting the distant dwarf planet Sedna and its kin were captured from another star in the sun’s birth cluster.
  • Crooked Timber reports on a Dutch court ruling arguing that the Netherlands is legally obliged to reduce carbon dioxide output.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that hot Neptune Gliese 436b has a comet-like tail.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that DARPA is working on Martian terraforming bugs.
  • Far Outliers looks at Comanche inroads on bison herds in the 19th century.
  • Geocurrents maps the recent Turkish elections, looking for patterns.
  • Marginal Revolution argues that the campaign against the Confederate flag couldn’t work if the two American political parties were competing for rural white votes.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares an Economist ranking of the top tne economies in 2050, Indonesia ranking notably higher.
  • Torontoist notes a local publication of nerd fangirls.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that the Russian Orthodox Church’s ongoing losses in Ukraine will marginalize it internationally.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

leave a comment »

  • D-Brief reports on some highly unusual formations, including more bright spots and a pyramid (?), found on Ceres.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the effect the activity of our own sun would have on the discovery of Earth.
  • Joe. My. God. quotes Jim Parsons on how he never quite came out.
  • Language Log reports on multilingualism in China.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the question over state debt in Greece is extending moral hazard to private debt.
  • Steve Munro notes how the TTC has to balance spending on infrastructure and on operations.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on what the Australian equivalent to the New Zealand haka might be.
  • Spacing Toronto wonders why carding refuses to die.
  • Window on Eurasia argues Ukraine should press Russia harder on Crimea.

[LINK] “Straightening Europe’s crooked timber into a democratic eurozone”

leave a comment »

Open Democracy’s Mathew Lawrence considers at length how to improve democratic governance in the European Union, or at least the Eurozone.

The Eurozone’s nemesis – the ongoing Greek debt crisis – has once again returned to centre stage. With Greece’s existing bailout package expiring in just nine days time, today in Brussels the Greek government and its creditors – the ECB, the IMF, the European Commission and the Eurogroup – are meeting in a last-minute attempt to find a deal that can avoid default.

Much is at stake. Without an agreement, Greece risks defaulting, potentially triggering an exit from the Eurozone that could cause economic turbulence across the world economy. For the Greek people, meanwhile, the conditions of the bailout continue to extract a heavy social cost: unemployment has spiralled to 26 per cent, and food consumption has fallen by 28.5 per cent since austerity measures have been introduced. Both sides desperately require breathing space.

Yet whatever the outcome, the latest day of drama is unlikely to be the last. For the intransigence of the crisis is underpinned by a central contradiction: what is necessary is near-impossible politically. Critically, while monetary union necessarily involves losing – or pooling – some form of sovereignty, the creation of the Eurozone and its various coercive economic instruments has not been matched by political or fiscal union, with little democratic accountability or control over the decision-making institutions of the Eurozone. Central to any efforts at reforming the EU must therefore be grasping the nettle implied by the creation of the Euro: the economic logic of monetary union must be matched politically. Monetary union requires deeper fiscal and banking union which in turn requires greater political union.

This necessity – of deeper integration to overcome the debt crisis matched by more effective democratic decision-making within the Eurozone’s structure – is near-impossible, however, in a Europe deeply divided between the interests of creditor and debtor states and their different political economies, between the ‘core’ dominated by Germany and the ‘periphery’ of southern Europe.

Nonetheless, a way forward must be found, both to resuscitate the effective power of the democracies of the debtor states of the Eurozone and to strengthen the economies of Europe more generally. For in an effort to sustain the single currency, the governance regime of the Eurozone has transformed in recent years, progressively neutralising democracies across the debtor states of southern Europe and undermining their right to oppose decisions imposed upon them by a technocratic-led centre. For example, the European Semester System (2010), the Euro Plus Pact (2011) and the Fiscal Compact (2012) have steadily eroded the ability of debtor states within the Eurozone to control their tax and spend decisions, the very stuff of democratic government.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 23, 2015 at 10:57 pm

[LINK] “James Moore heads home”

leave a comment »

Paul Wells of MacLean’s notes that federal industry minister James Moore is leaving politics, to tend to his ill son.

How many people will the Conservatives have left?

Thirty-nine is young to end a career in politics, and while Industry Minister James Moore could well return to public life some day, it was natural that he raised a lot of eyebrows when he announced today he won’t be running for re-election in October. Yet another rat fleeing a sinking ship, some said, as Moore’s announcement followed others, by Conservative figures as prominent as John Baird, Peter MacKay, James Rajotte and (OK, less prominent) Christian Paradis.

But Moore tipped his hand a bit when he wrote, on his web page, about “difficult news about the health of our beautiful son Spencer.”

For a small circle around Ottawa, news updates about young Spencer have been an occasional occurrence for two and a half years.

News reports on Friday revealed Spencer has “a form of skeletal dysplasia that requires extensive care.” Moore has never spoken in public about his son’s health problems. He knew there would be some challenges before Spencer was born in October 2012, and sent his first update to a range of friends, including me, in December of that year. (I’ve known Moore since he arrived in Parliament after the 2000 election. We have dinner a few times a year.)

Written by Randy McDonald

June 19, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Canada, Politics

Tagged with , ,

[LINK] “Could Canada be tomorrow’s superpower?”

leave a comment »

Noah Smith’s Bloomberg View article on Canada’s potential was widely syndicated, ipolitics.ca being one of the many sources which picked it up. The critical comments here are worth noting, too.

I just finished reading Adam Tooze’s “The Deluge,” a history of how U.S. economic power changed the course of history during the world wars. It’s almost impossible for people today to realize what a big shift this was — to much of the world’s population, the U.S. has always been the Big Country, the driver of markets, innovation and geopolitical stability.

Right now, U.S. hegemony is waning. With only a quarter the population of China, there is essentially no chance that the U.S. can continue to reign supreme in the economic sphere unless China suffers a stunning collapse. But in the longer run, what shifts can we expect in the balance of economic power? Expect the U.S. to make a comeback, since its openness to immigration allows the country’s population to keep growing even after fertility levels out. India’s huge population, of course, will make it a great economic power as well.

But during the next couple of centuries, there is another country that I think has a surprisingly good chance of becoming an economic and cultural superpower. That country is Canada.

With a population of only 31.5 million (in 2013), a famously frigid climate and a below-replacement fertility rate, Canada would seem an unlikely candidate to become a superpower. But Canada has three huge, fundamental strengths that will almost certainly be telling in the long run. These are natural resources, good government and an almost unbelievably tolerant and open culture.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “We were promised Tory The Consensus Builder”

leave a comment »

Spacing Toronto features John Lorinc’s article arguing that John Tory is not the consensus-builder promised to the electorate.

[I]n the wake of last week’s near photo-finish on the Gardiner vote, I couldn’t resist going back to the roll call on council’s August, 2009, decision to submit a draft terms of reference for an $8 million environmental assessment on a proposal to remove the eastern leg of the road we love to hate.

David Miller, then in the mayor’s office, handily marshalled a sturdy 26-10 majority in support of a document that was unambiguous about the direction the city and Waterfront Toronto wanted to go. Among the supporters way back then were these four suburbanites, all of whom supported the hybrid option last Thursday: Glen DeBaeremaeker, Frank DiGiorio, Norm Kelly and Giorgio Mammolitti (yes!).

[. . .]

My point in this little compare-and-contrast exercise is not to whine about council’s choice, but rather to note the relative margins of victory for two seemingly contradictory decisions. Miller, at the time, was limping away from an exceptionally bruising garbage strike, which was resolved only after a concession by the City that many people saw as a capitulation by the mayor. Traffic congestion, moreover, wasn’t much different than today. Despite all that, plus the fact that three reliable downtown councillors missed the vote, Miller, who’d come out publicly in support of removing the eastern end of the Gardiner, delivered a strong margin of victory.

Now let’s think about Mayor Tory last week. Just six scandal-free months into a first term, he should be sitting on a veritable mountain of political capital. He won office by selling himself as the great unifier. His base of electoral support, what’s more, extended well into the old City of Toronto, and neighbourhoods that don’t typically vote for conservatives.

Yet for all that, plus numerous pre-vote pressers, speeches and media appearances, Tory’s victory was as flimsy and unstable as could be, and turned on some transparently phony motions to study ideas — tunnels! tolls! tolled tunnels! — that every single sentient person at City Hall knows will never see the light of day.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The Evidence is in—John Tory is the Mayor of the Status Quo”

leave a comment »

The Torontoist editorial is clear.

We had it confirmed that John Tory treats the mayor’s office like a political party machine. The talking points uniformly spouted by the councillors loyal to him, the stench of Nick Kouvalis, the assemblance of friendly lobbyists—all of this speaks to organized, command-driven, party-line politics. The fact that he was clearly upset that Jennifer Keesmaat dared to contradict him in public (he could not even deny that he had tried to silence her when asked about that allegation) demonstrates that Tory seems to believe that he has some sort of authority over her responsibilities to the public—and it is eminently believable, given his extensive corporate executive background, that he would consider her “his” employee on some level.

But more important than Tory’s tactics in this political fight was his inspiration, and it is what got him this gig in the first place: John Tory is Mr. Status Quo, the do-nothingest of do-nothing candidates. He will talk your ear off about change, of course, because every politician has to do that in order to look Serious, and Tory cares a great deal about looking Serious. But what was marketed as change was effectively an expensive but very slight modification to the existing Gardiner East as the “hybrid” option. (His speech to the Empire Club, featuring at least 36 falsehoods or misleading statements by our count, was illustrative in this regard.)

Ultimately, John Tory’s base looks at present-day Toronto and says “more of the same,” because John Tory’s base is wealthy and satisfied. The mayor rode to electoral victory thanks to the people who are already doing well in Toronto, and more of the same, for them, means more of them doing well. Tory has chosen to try to deliver what his base expects; councillors loyal to Tory work in lockstep towards that.

But at least he isn’t Rob Ford.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 15, 2015 at 10:29 pm


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 455 other followers