Saturday, August 22, 2009

That which we call a rose

In 2004 Avalon Roberts unsuccessfully attempted to push Stephen Harper out of his seat in Ottawa, taking 18.4% of the vote in the riding of Calgary Southwest while running under the federal "Liberal" banner. Given that the Liberal vote share in this urban (!) riding slumped to less than 10% in last fall's federal election, it would surely be an odd outcome if Calgary Southwest voters in Glenmore were to send the same Avalon Roberts to Edmonton as a "Liberal" MLA in 2009.

It should thus come as no surprise that it is not the damning "liberal" tag but the redeeming "conservative" label that is of recent blogger interest in the context of this byelection. As an aside, I will note that the Enlightened Savage proved his chops as a PC party player with this latest blogpost of his, not least because of the apparent alacrity with which he and/or Ken Chapman moved to scrub their Twitter feed histories after Chapman outed the anonymous "Savage" by tweeting congratulations for the blogpost to the Twitter account which the E.S. holds under his real last name. Given the Stelmach government's affinity for the timely and judicious suppression of information, perhaps the Hansard will soon record a government MLA again pointing out the presence of our anonymous blogger in the Leg gallery and calling on the "the House" to give our pleasant PC party partisan another well deserved "warm welcome"! The "Nation" now anxiously ponders the question of whether the Enlightened but Unilluminated Savage will follow the example of TinyPerfectBlog and consign his blog to the coffin out of fear of exposure.

But as revealing - or not - as this little incident is, let's turn our attention to another anonymous PC blogger: "Shane" at CalgaryRants. Shane's latest charge against the Wildrose Alliance is that some of its supporters have stooped to "McCarthyism" by "trying to make [PC Calgary-Glenmore candidate Diane Colley-Urquhart] come off as a CARD CARRYING LIBERAL". The received wisdom, of course, is that liberals don't go to heaven. In all 50 US states more people self-identify as conservatives than as liberal despite the fact Democrats have significant party ID advantages in 30 states and Republicans in only 4. While some recently departed "liberals" may be found climbing Mount Purgatory, "LIBERALS" are not to be found this side of the Stygian marsh, and for the card carriers among these are the greatest torments reserved, befitting their place in the ninth circle of Hell.

The first thing that's odd about the Ranter's charge is the fact that the offending Senator McCarthy was not a private citizen. He was a public office holder and member of a government committee with a name that many who were subject to its investigations would be inclined to introduce scare quotes to, to wit, the House Committee of "Un-American" Activities. Is it possible that in a blinding fit of enthusiasm for the Colley-Urquhart campaign our PC Party volunteer could have confused some private citizens expressing concerns about a public office holder and member of an investigative government "rights" commission with, say, public office holders and members of investigative government "rights" commissions? What should we make out of the fact that the president of a foundation named after a "Liberal" Calgary MLA has also made an issue out of "human rights commissions’ censorship"? Our Calgary Ranter seems to regard such attacks as peculiar to those on the political "fringe". Supporters of the "George Bush like WAP" (to use Ken Chapman's loaded label term for the Wildrose Alliance party) may wish to let the first Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre respond to this assumption of fringiness:
The Alberta legislature recently confirmed the provincial commission’s jurisdiction over offensive speech, but [Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission Jennifer] Lynch notes 'not without a chorus of ‘boos’ from the far right.' The Chumir Foundation, other organizations and individuals presented carefully constructed arguments against Alberta’s hate speech provision. It is disrespectful to dismiss our reasoned objections as 'boos' or to comment on the Alberta debate without adequate knowledge of it.

The second thing that's odd about the charge of McCarthyism is that it is being leveled by a card carrying "Conservative" (I'll be seeing you in the seventh heaven!) in a post-VENONA world. As Harvey Klehr noted on PBS NOVA:
It's unfortunate that Venona was not made public much earlier. Certainly for the last 30 years or so we've had fierce debates about McCarthyism, for example. The extent of the Soviet danger, I think, would have been a lot clearer had Venona been made public. I think a lot of the bitterness and rancor in American political life might have been avoided had we known the truth.


Calgaryrants said...

Brian, Brian...why so angry? I do not post anonymously... I have only had 2 cups of coffee, but cannot follow your logic and vague references here? Your anger just proves my point about you...

Anyways, perhaps you are angry over the Calgary Herald Editorial article yesterday, which expressed the WAP's need for QUALITY candidates? ( I am sure they were not including you in that lot...?) I really do not want to get in a pissing match on this blog( no one will read it anyways.) because I get more readers before noon than you were able to vote for you at the last election.
Best of luck to you...

Brian Dell said...

Travis Chase, whose remarks you were mostly taking issue with, may indeed be "angry", but I don't consider myself in that category since I am less inclined to be morally outraged by something than I am to see the irony of a situation or the incongruent foibles that people exhibit. McCarthyism, for example, was named after a public official sitting on an overly aggressive government investigative committee and it is the picture of of Colley-Urquhart demanding to know of people dragged before the commission "are you now or you have ever been gay intolerant / racist / insert pejorative term here?" that smacks of McCarthyism. There is no threat of state power behind the charges leveled by unelected Wildrosers, and even if there was, there is nothing especially ominous about being a "Conservative / Liberal / Republican / Democrat in name only". It thus strikes me as ironic that you see Colley-Urquhart as the VICTIM of McCarthyism, and moreover that you'd use the term when self-identified conservatives like Anne Coulter have argued on the basis of information from the Venona project and the (partial) opening of Soviet archives that McCarthy was basically right.

Anyway, we have to make do with either the B team or True Believers labouring for love because the supposed A team knows that all of the time and money put into a campaign will be wasted unless it is put into a campaign for the PC party nomination. But should the Wildrose Alliance ever form the government, we'll get the A team because the system is 35% of the vote gets everything and 15% gets nothing. It will be all B team players for the PCs then, because to attract any True Believers you have to first give them something to believe in!

Calgary Rants said...

Fair Enough Brian! Although I disagree with your position, I see you position. Good post..

Anonymous said...

I think the veracity with which so many PC supports hurl labels and insults at the Wildrose Alliance indicates how much fear this byelection is generating within the old boys club.

The facts are plain: Ed Stelmach has horribly mismanaged the Alberta Economy and is increasingly viewed as an inept premier.

His few 'conservative' based policies have been on the social front, while his fiscal policies are all hugely left leaning.

I can't wait for the common sense leadership of Danielle Smith to bring in the next era of Albert prosperity!