Elections: A Tale Of Two Sides Of The 49th Parallel

Why opine on the elections in both the U.S. and Canada at the same time?

The reason is simple: the stakes are pretty much the same in both countries.

Or rather, the fundamental question underlying the general elections in Canada and the U.S. is essentially the same: will the people wise up and rid themselves of the same brand of far right republicans/conservatives?

(Fair warning: this post is a rather lenghty one!)

Expand the post +/-

As many Canadian progressives have pointed out in the last couple of years (yours truly included, bien sûr), today's brand of Canadian conservatism as displayed and promulgated by the CPC is pretty much the same as that of the U.S. Republican party (RNC or "G.O.P.", as it likes to call itself) - including neoconservatism, Christian Right "moral" values, self-proclaimed "toughness on crime", self-proclaimed "toughness on security", boastful (false) patriotism, et al.

And of course, the same talking points are used:
On the so-called self-serving, fearmongering motive behind the "threat" from "Islamofascists/terrorists"? (emphasis added)
"They hate what we see right here in this chamber - a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 09/20/2001;

"The terrorists hate our country, they hate our freedom, they hate everything we stand for in the world." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 03/26/2004;

"I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 06/10/2008;

"And I do believe, though, that this war against extreme Islamic terrorists is the right thing. It’s an unfortunate thing, because war is hell and I hate war, and, today is the day that I send my first born, my son, my teenage son overseas with his Stryker brigade, 4,000 other wonderful American men and women, to fight for our country, for democracy, for our freedoms. Those are freedoms that too many of us just take for granted." - (G.O.P. candidate for Vice-President of the U.S.) Governor Sarah Palin, 09/11/2008;

"They hate open, diverse and democratic societies like ours because they want the exact opposite, a society that is closed, homogeneous and dogmatic." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 06/19/2006.
On "fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here"? (emphasis adeed)
"We are fighting these terrorists with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq and beyond so we do not have to face them in the streets of our own cities." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 10/25/2004;

"We will confront and defeat the terrorists at the heart and center of their power so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 03/26/2004;

"Failure in Afghanistan risks a reversion to its pre-9/11 role as a sanctuary for al Qaeda terrorists with global reach." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 02/10/2007;

"Defeating radical Islamist extremists is the national security challenge of our time. Iraq is this war's central front, according to our commander there, General David Petraeus, and according to our enemies, including al Qaeda's leadership." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, Nov./Dec./2007;

"In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America, and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink. In making those tough decisions of where we go, and even who we target. I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying America, and our allies. We have got to have all options out there on the table." - (G.O.P. candidate for Vice-President of the U.S.) Governor Sarah Palin, 09/11/2008;

"I don't have to tell you ... the risk that terrorism will come home if we don't confront it here (in Afghanistan)." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 06/19/2006.
On "staying the course"? (emphasis added)
"So we've got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 04/05/2004;

"But ultimately what they (the terrorists)'re betting on is that we don't have the stomach for the fight, and we cannot afford to validate that strategy. We can win (in Iraq). We are winning, but we've got to stay at it." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 06/22/2006;

"We've got to stay the course (in Iraq)." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 10/24/2004;

"I hate war and I want to see war ended. We end war when we see victory, and we do see victory in sight in Iraq." - (G.O.P. candidate for Vice-President of the U.S.) Governor Sarah Palin, 09/11/2008;

"We honor those who take risks and make the ultimate sacrifice (in Afghanistan) by making a commitment to staying the course." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 05/17/2006.
On "cutting and running"? (emphasis added)
"We're not going to cut and run (from Iraq) if I'm in the Oval Office." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 04/21/2004;

"We're in this (Iraq) fight to win. These colors don't run." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 12/18/2005;

"I was heartened to hear the president say that we cannot cut and run in Iraq." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 11/05/2003;

"We can't cut and run." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 09/22/2005;

"Cutting and running (from Afghanistan) is not your way. It's not my way." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 03/13/2006.
On the "valididty" of the Iraq war, WMDs, regime change, et al.? (emphasis added)
"The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions - its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror (...) (The Iraqi regime) has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons. It is rebuilding the facilities used to make those weapons (...) Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program (...) (Saddam) is seeking nuclear weapons (...) he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 10/07/2002;

"The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 (...) The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 05/01/2003;

"I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, c.a. 07/2005;

"It is a certainty that the al Qaeda network is pursuing such (weapons of mass destruction), and has succeeded in acquiring at least a crude capability to use them. We found evidence of their efforts in the ruins of al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan (...) containment is not possible when dictators obtain weapons of mass destruction, and are prepared to share them with terrorists who intend to inflict catastrophic casualties on the United States (...) Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network, or a murderous dictator (Saddam Hussein), or the two working together, constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 08/26/2002;

"(Saddam's) had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 03/16/2003;

"Terrorist training camps exist on Iraqi soil, and Iraqi officials are known to have had a number of contacts with al-Qaida. These were probably not courtesy calls. Americans have internalized the mantra that Afghanistan represents only the first front in our global war on terror. The next front is apparent, and we should not shrink from acknowledging it. A terrorist resides in Baghdad, with the resources of an entire state at his disposal, flush with cash from illicit oil revenues and proud of a decade-long record of defying the international community's demands that he come clean on his programs to develop weapons of mass destruction." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 02/02/2002;

"Look, we need a regime change in Iraq (...) I think we also ought to prepare the American public in — in — by way of informing them that Saddam Hussein has these weapons, continues to attempt to improve the — their capability and would not be reluctant to export them to other countries. So we need to keep telling the American people that as well, as well as basically — if I may be so blunt — frightening them — frightening and scaring them every day." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 07/16/2002;

"Sept. 11, 2001 showed that al-Qaida is a grave threat. Saddam Hussein has the ability to make a far worse day of infamy by turning Iraq into a weapons assembly line for al-Qaida's network." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 02/14/2003;

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right (in Iraq). Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending (troops) out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." - (G.O.P. candidate for Vice-President of the U.S.) Governor Sarah Palin, 09/03/2008;

"(...) there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein operates programs to produce weapons of mass destruction. Experience confirms this. British, Canadian and American intelligence leaves no doubt on the matter. Canada should stand with its allies to remove the Hussein regime. Failure to do so is not fitting with the greatness of our history or with our standing as a nation." - (then opposition leader) S.J. Harper, Jan/03;

"Today, the world is at war. A coalition of countries under the leadership of the U.K. and the U.S. is leading a military intervention to disarm Saddam Hussein. Yet Prime Minister Jean Chretien has left Canada outside this multilateral coalition of nations. This is a serious mistake (...) Modern Canada was forged in large part by war - not because it was easy but because it was right. In the great wars of the last century - against authoritarianism, fascism, and communism - Canada did not merely stand with the Americans, more often than not we led the way. We did so for freedom, for democracy, for civilization itself. These values continue to be embodied in our allies and their leaders, and scorned by the forces of evil, including Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." - (then opposition leader and foreign affairs critic) S.J. Harper and S. Day, 03/28/03;

"On the justification for the (Iraq) war, it wasn’t related to finding any particular weapons of mass destruction. In our judgement, it was much more fundamental. It was the removing of a regime that was hostile, that clearly had the intention of constructing weapons systems." - (then opposition leader) S.J. Harper, 08/25//03.
On the "righteousness" of the Afghanistan war, regime change, its progress/success, etc.? (emphasis added)
"In Afghanistan, we saw how terrorists and extremists can use those safe havens, safe havens in a failed state, to bring death and destruction to our people here at home (...) And one of the lessons of that September the 11th day is that we cannot allow terrorists to gain sanctuary anywhere, and we must not allow them to reestablish the safe haven they lost in Afghanistan. Our goal in Afghanistan is to help the people of that country to defeat the terrorists and establish a stable, moderate, and democratic state that respects the rights of its citizens, governs its territory effectively, and is a reliable ally in this war against extremists and terrorists (...) we have made remarkable progress (in Afghanistan)." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 02/15/2007;

"We also began to understand, particularly from the evidence that we uncovered in Afghanistan, that our enemies are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. And we have every reason to believe that if they succeed, they will use them, launching attacks far more deadly than anything we've ever experienced (...) So in addition to going after the terrorists, we are also taking on states that sponsor terror. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime harbored al-Qaeda and brutalized an entire population. That regime is no more." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 09/17/2003;

"(...) I wanted to come and let you know how impressed we've been with the tremendous progress (made in Afghanistan) (...) By fighting enemies, by standing with our friends, we honor both the ideals and protect the security interests of the United States. The victory of freedom in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq, will be an inspiration to democratic reformers in other lands." - (G.O.P.) U.S. Vice-President R. ("Dick") B. Cheney, 12/19/2005;

"I believe that we will succeed. We will endure in Afghanistan. We will take out bin Laden, and we will take out the Taliban. And then we've got a major challenge of a stable government (...) But I think the real crunch is going to come after Afghanistan is settled and then we have to address the other countries, including Iraq." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 10/21/2001;

"(...) I think that so far the NATO engagement in Afghanistan has been largely successful (...) I think Afghanistan is dicey. I think that there are certain areas of the country, particularly along the Pakistani border, that are clearly not under the control of either Pakistan or the Afghan government (...) There has been a rise in al Qaeda activity along the border. There has been some increase in U.S. casualties. I am concerned about it, but I'm not as concerned as I am about Iraq today, obviously, or I'd be talking about Afghanistan. But I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making, that - in the long term, we may muddle through in Afghanistan. So I'm guardedly optimistic (...)" - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 11/05/2003;

"So far, it's a remarkable success." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 03/02/2005;

"Afghanistan, we don’t read about anymore, because it’s succeeded. And by the way, there’s several reasons, including NATO participation and other reasons, why Afghanistan is doing as well as it is." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 10/31/2005;

"Very quickly after assuming office, looking at all of Canada's interests abroad, we determined that the single most important thing we're doing in terms of our commitments, in terms of the risks were taking, in terms of the leadership we're showing, the most important thing is what we're doing in Afghanistan." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 03/12/2006;

"You (the soldiers) have put yourselves on the line to defend our national interests; protect Canada and the world from terror (...) it is in our national interest to see Afghanistan become a free, democratic and peaceful country." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 03/13/2006;

"(...) the Government stands firmly behind the vital role being played by our troops in Afghanistan today. The dedicated Canadians in Afghanistan deserve all of our support as they risk their lives to defend our national interests, combat global terrorism and help the Afghan people make a new start as a free, democratic and peaceful country." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 04/04/2006;

"(...) we have made real progress here (in Afghanistan)." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 03/12/2006;

"Progress is being made (in Afghanistan) (...)." - (then) (CPC) Public Safety Minister of Canada S. Day, 04/24/07;

"Canada and Afghanistan have together made significant progress in the last 14 months, progress that was unthinkable only a few years ago." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 05/22/2007;

"I don't have to tell you the story, the link between Afghanistan and the attacks of 9/11, the oppression and brutality endured under the Taliban and the risk that terrorism will come home if we don't confront it here. You also know the progress we have made since the beginning of the mission over five years ago." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 05/23/2007;

"Let's not forget that on 9/11, terrorism came to our shores (from Afghanistan). So we have to be vigilant and very responsible in continuing to play a role in Afghanistan (...) When the Afghanistan government can take care of its own interests, then we can come home (...) Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan has enhanced its international reputation as a defender of freeedom and democracy. It's a volatile world and we have a very important role to play, as we have in previous conflicts." - (CPC) National Defense Minister of Canada P.G. MacKay, 09/10/2007.
And on the economy? (emphasis added)
"The fundamentals of our economy are strong." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 08/21/2007;

"The U.S. economy has some strains but its underpinnings remain strong and resilient." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 11/13/2007;

"I don't think we're headed to recession. But no question, we're in a slowdown." - (G.O.P.) U.S. President G.W. Bush, 02/28/2008;

"I still believe the fundamentals of our economy are strong." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 08/20/2008;

"There has been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street. People are frightened by these events. Our economy I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times." - (G.O.P. candidate for President of the U.S.) Senator John McCain, 09/15/2008;

"Canada's economic fundamentals and the oversight of its financial system remain strong." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 04/08/2008;

"Canada's economic fundamentals remain strong." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 07/30/2008;

"The Canadian economy's fundamentals are solid." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 09/15/2008;

"At the moment there are problems in the Canadian economy, but we aren't in a recession." - (CPC) Prime Minister of Canada S.J. Harper, 09/15/2008.
Notice how they also tend to contradict themselves while hanging on desperately to the same talking points as time goes by and as they keep being proven wrong - whether with regards to justifications for going to war, to the Taliban ressurgence in Afghanistan, to the success of the surge in Iraq, to any tangible, significant and sustained progress in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, and even with regards to the economy.

This last week of the McCain-Palin campaign constitutes a paragon of such dynamic - one driven by the 2nd, 4th and 5th Principles of Incompetence. Lying and obfuscating are second nature to them to such degrees, thus ever compelled to distort and exaggerate facts and the truth, that they just can't keep up with reality anymore as events keep on unravelling their lies and fabrications.

Hell, the McCain-Palin has been lying so much about everything and anything (from crowd attendance at rallies or fishes loving oil rigs, to Alaska contributing a whopping 20% to the whole of the U.S. energy needs, via selling state corporate jets on eBay or promising to put the federal checkbook online when this is already implemented), including tap dancing, flip-flopping and side-stepping so as to finding themselves twisted into impossible knots, that this campaign has crossed the threshold of the ridiculous into the great beyond of the absurd.

And this is not counting the outright, shameful lies and fabrications concerning their opponents - including of course accusing them of being guilty for what they have done/are doing (examples here, here, here and here).

Which in turn reminds me of this:
They lie, they misrepresent, they use decoy arguments and make ad hominem attacks. For them, the use of duplicity, of secrecy, of arguments of (non-existent) conspiracy, of fact (and non-fact) selectivity/cherry-picking, of quacks/fake experts, as well as putting forth logical fallacies, are simply means to an end.

And this "end" is the following: to promulgate, support and defend their beliefs or their ideologies.

Truth be told: these are the only things that truly matter to them.
Harper and his Harpies are no exception to this (numerous examples can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, among many) - not counting their staunch support/defense of Bush/Cheney doctrine, policies and vision, stance on Kyoto and obfuscation/disinformation on global warming, seeking backdoor/underhanded ways to render abortion illegal, stance against same-sex marriage, et al..

In fact, we get the exact same playbook:
A) Blame everything on the previous "liberal" government;
B) Rewrite recent history;
C) Politicize the apparels of Government;
D) Pander to/adopt Christian Right fundamentalist values;
E) Be a warhawk/chickenhawk;
F) Use faux patriotism (and fearmongering).
All things considered, including the utterly disastrous eight years of the Bush-Cheney regime, one would be tempted to conclude that the republicans/conservatives are facing a definite booting out of government in both Canada and the U.S., once these elections are over and done with - right?

Not so fast - sadly enough.

On the one hand, the nation-wide lead of the Democratic Party Obama-Biden ticket over that of the insanely absurd McCain-Palin (or should that be Palin-McCain?) G.O.P. ticket is on average slim, in contrast to what one would expect. Since the McCain-Palin campaign keeps on doing their best to make the elections about character instead of issues (like Bush-Cheney did in 2000 and 2004), banking on the general state of misinformation and/or non-information in the electorate, it looks like indeed too many among the American People are either falling for this same old song and dance, or are being confused by it just enough so far - which may tip the balance in favor of the McCain-Palin ticket in the end. Consequently, we may be facing a situation whereby the Democratic ticket has a slim majority of the total suffrages (say, 51% to 49%) and yet loosing out on the electoral college votes attributed per state (a somewhat facsimile of 2000). Nonetheless, there is hope here that the Obama-Biden may win the day clearly and definitely - although, again, not by the landslide that would be logically expected under the circumstances.

On the other hand, hope is slim in Canada that Harper and his Harpies will lose the elections. Whereas the current McCain-Palin ticket acts like a bad parody of themselves, Harper and the CPC act more like the Bush-Cheney ticket and G.O.P. of 2004. Consequently, these elections are being driven first and foremost (of course) about character, instead of issues. And this is working largely because this is playing on the general state of misinformation and/or non-information in the electorate (as in the U.S.) and because of Harper apparently having no "strong enough" opponent to truly challenge him and his party. Indeed, the LPC and its leader Stéphane Dion have been (and are still) too busy triangulating, seeking to run on their proposed "Green shift carbon tax plan" and making lavish billon dollars promises (see here, here and here, as examples) without any clear plan on how to pay for it all, while missing out on efficiently pushing issues that could sink Harper and the CPC (e.g. women rights/issues, the Afghanistan mission - which Harper is dodging by flip-flopping/backtracking and now giving it an end-date of 2011, the "In-and-Out" scandal, the Bush emulation, et al.), in addition to Dion seemingly behaving like a Dukakis/Kerry hybrid (of the 1988 and 2004 U.S. elections, respectively). Conversely, although the NDP and its leader Jack Layton have apparently learned the lessons of previous elections by challenging Harper only (and not the LPC at the same time), they keep underselling their own electoral platform (which still needs a little bit tilting towards the center) in favor of making no-plan billion dollars promises as well (examples here, here and here) while playing the "character" game above all (although Layton has apparently learned to play the character game this time around - one example here - but it will not be enough to put him over Harper and the CPC). In addition, many ridings lack actual NDP candidates (in mine, I see Jack Layton/NDP signs, but no candidate names). In between, Harper has the field wide open to criticize both Layton and Dion for their big spending promises. This whole situation is further compounded by the media's apparent amnesia (or timid mentionning) of Harper/CPC scandals, gaffes and woes (examples here, here and here; and see another list here) - again, in a similar situation as that of the 2004 elections in the U.S. and in sharp contrast to the current 2008 U.S. elections.

Taking these considerations altogether, we get the following result: a recent Canwest News Service/Global National poll indicates that Canadians' pick as would-be best Prime Minister stand at 49.9% for Harper, 30.5% for Jack Layton, and 19.6% for Stéphane Dion. Granted, such polls are inherently biased towards incumbent Prime Ministers; nevertheless, a recent Canadian Press/Harris-Decima poll indicates the voting intentions of Canadians as follows: 36% for the CPC, 27% for the LPC, and 16% for the NDP. Hence, it looks like we are heading right back were we started in 2006, ending up with a Harper minority government again (at best) - which will mean at least two more years (if not four) of Harper governing as if he heads a majority government, being enabled to do so as in the last two years by the two other opposition parties which will be again too busy with their re-evaluations and triangulations (if not having to choose a new leader yet again, in the case of the LPC).

Although it is a given that I will not vote for Harper and the CPC, I find myself being frustrated by the fact that I just can't decide yet on whether to vote LPC or NDP - in large part due to overall unfocused campaigning on their part.

Need I say that I am not happy at all by the way things are apparently playing themselves out - in both the U.S. and, especially, in Canada?

(Cross-posted from APOV)


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