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Accidental Deliberations: On soft support

Ezra Klein discusses Ray LaRaja and Brian Schnaffer’s graph of U.S. donor policy preferences against political donations:

Klein’s take involves a comparison between the graph and the U.S.’ discussion about political polarization. But it’s worth wondering to what extent the same theory might apply in Canada – and how they might in fact conflict with current party strategies.

After all, the most obvious uncertainty on Canada’s political scene involves the fight for centre-left voters – with the NDP, Libs, Greens and Bloc using much of their effort to seek to win over and retain that cohort alongside (Read more…)

350 or bust: Senator Inhofe Destroyed By Colleague Versed In Science

In the U.S. Senate this week, Senator Klobuchar called for Unanimous Consent to pass a resolution acknowledging that climate change is occurring and that it will continue to pose an ongoing risk. Senator James Inhofe objected to the resolution. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse offered this in cogent, informed response. *  

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Katrina vanden Heuvel criticizes the U.S. Democrats’ move away from discussing inequality by in favour of platitudes about opportunity for the middle class. And while Matthew Yglesias may be correct in responding that the messaging change hasn’t resulted in much difference in Democratic policy proposals, it’s certainly significant when a political party makes the choice to take poverty and inequality off the table as a vital part of the argument for its policy consensus.

- Meanwhile, Stephen Elliott-Buckley reminds us that the 1% tends to get its way in policy debates (Read more…)

350 or bust: Get Ready To Dial In For Climate Action

If you live in the United States, and you are concerned about climate change, circle Monday June 23rd on your calendar. From the comfort of your own home, you can support action on climate change and the over 600 climate-concerned citizens who will be on Capitol Hill that day meeting with every congressional office to […]

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Margaret Somers and Fred Block write about Karl Polanyi’s critique of the free-market myth and its increased relevance today: (F)ree-market rhetoric is a giant smokescreen designed to hide the dependence of business profits on conditions secured by government. So, for example, our giant financial institutions insist that they should be free of meddlesome regulations while they depend on continuing access to cheap credit—in good times and bad—from the Federal Reserve. Our pharmaceutical firms have successfully resisted any government limits on their price-setting ability at the same time that they rely on government (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, discussing what Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found (PDF) in looking at which preferences actually shape U.S. public policy – and what needs to happen for the needs of the general public to be given some actual weight in government policy choices.

For further reading…- Again, Larry Bartels, Kathleen Geier and Paul Krugman are among many who have also commented on the study.- Sanders Deionne charts the connection between lobbying payouts and tax giveaways for a number of large U.S. corporations. – On the Canadian side, I’ll point again to Therea Tedesco and Jen (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Krugman expands on the Republicans’ insistence on privileging inherited wealth over individual work: (N)ot only don’t most Americans own businesses, but business income, and income from capital in general, is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people. In 1979 the top 1 percent of households accounted for 17 percent of business income; by 2007 the same group was getting 43 percent of business income, and 75 percent of capital gains. Yet this small elite gets all of the G.O.P.’s love, and most of its policy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Edward Robinson laments the willingness of European centre-left parties to abandon any attempt to argue against austerity even when the evidence shows that’s the right position to take: Centre-left parties in Europe appear to have completely lost the argument for pragmatic fiscal policy, much in the way that US Democrats seemed to lose their own case precisely at the moment when stimulus was working. Consider again how little financial commitment it would have taken to have shored-up confidence in Greek sovereign debt via Eurobonds. Greek debt in 2010 represented only 3.6% (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Arizona’s Odious Anti-Gay Bill

That people who claim to be civilized and intelligent could support such odious legislation that panders to the worst in human nature shows how much farther our species has to travel up the evolutionary ladder:

George Takei rips ‘extremist’ Arizona Repubs: ‘How do people like that get elected?’ (via Raw Story )

Actor and activist George Takei refused to back off on Monday from his threat to encourage a boycott against the state of Arizona if Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signs a bill legalizing anti-LGBT discrimination, but he told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell that…

(Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: An Epidemic of Stupidity

Starting with Tim Hudak and then progressing stateside, this post will attempt to merely display the range of prodigious stupidity that North America seems to be cursed with.

First, to young Tim. It seems that each time the beleaguered leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives opens his mouth, one of his bipedal extremities fills the gap. His latest example of reflexive and profound ineptitude came almost immediately after the two byelections held on Thursday. Losing to the NDP in Niagara, Hudak, in what apparently passes for smart strategy in his mind, saw fit to insult the voters in that area, essentially (Read more…)

350 or bust: 350 or bust 2014-01-30 08:21:22

* Thank you, President Obama, for using your “bully pulpit” to publicly confirm the accuracy of climate science. Now, what the world needs is action based on the science, not business as usual: Obama’s Hopelessly Wrong On The Environment: Here’s The Reality of What We Face. (

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich confirms the seemingly obvious reality that poverty and inequality are in fact major obstacle facing the poor. And Paul Krugman explains why any successful progressive movement in the U.S. will need to discuss inequality and the hoarding of wealth to challenge the entrenched (and expanding) influence of those who already have the most: (J)obs and inequality are closely linked if not identical issues. There’s a pretty good although not ironclad case that soaring inequality helped set the stage for our economic crisis, and that the highly unequal distribution of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Ted Cruz: For God (& country’s) sake, talk to Conrad Black before you shred your Canadian passport!

Canada or USA? USA or Canada? Texas Senator Ted Cruz, visible between the signs, ponders what he should do. Actual Tea Party favourites may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Mr. Cruz waves bye-bye to his fellow Canadians … maybe; Lord Black of Crossharbour.

It’s said here that Calgary native Ted Cruise needs to make an appointment to have a serious chat with Conrad Black before he makes any rash and irrevocable decisions to run his Canadian passport through the shredder.

Mr. Cruz is now the junior Senator from Texas and a favourite of the Tea Party, a group that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Katz looks back at how the U.S. abandoned its poor – and how that choice continues to affect people across the income spectrum today. And Michael Valpy discusses how Canada can and should avoid travelling any further down the same path – with his “Big Four” ideas focusing on mandatory voting, proportional representation, a guaranteed basic income and protections for vulnerable workers.

- Jeffrey Simpson describes the Cons’ narrow focus on about 10 per cent of the Canadian electorate in the lead up to the next federal election, while Andrew Jackson (Read more…)

In This Corner: Revealed! Who killed Kennedy!

November 22, 1963. Death of a president. Birth of an industry.

There have been an estimated 40,000 books (seriously — this is an actual New York Times estimate) written about John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 2,000 of which deal with the assassination 50 years ago today. And in those 2,000 books, there are about half that many conspiracy theories.

I’m a bit of a low-level follower of the Kennedy assassination. I say low-level, because compared to people who have spent five decades obsessing over the event, I’m a minor leaguer. But I think I have a better-than-average knowledge of the assassination, and (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: What If

….everything you thought you knew about our democracy was an illusion? The following video, made before the last U.S. election and directed toward an American audience, will doubtlessly resonate with Canadians who despair of our current state:

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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Armine Yalnizyan points out that Canada has followed the global pattern in which income growth has disproportionately been directed toward the few people with the most to begin with: Canada’s story pales in comparison – and so does our access to comprehensive and timely public data about the top 1 per cent. But the data we do have reveal the same troubling trends. In each phase of economic expansion since the 1980s, the top 1 per cent of Canadian tax-filers took a bigger share of income growth, and less of the hit in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- There was never much doubt that the Cons’ demolition of Canada’s long-form census was intended to ensure that we lack data needed to develop evidence-based policies – and that the effects would be most significant among the most marginalized (or exclusive) groups. And Toby Sanger, pogge and the Globe and Mail editorial board all lament the result, while Sara Mayo observes the suspicion that the data trashed by the National Household Survey includes information about the ultra-wealthy.

- Meanwhile, Frances Russell highlights how the Cons are creating an expectation of falling standards (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Saturday Night Special

While I plan to do more with this topic tomorrow, the following video, via The Raw Story, offers some interesting insights on the minimum wage in the United States. All of the points made, moreover, are equally applicable to Canada.

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich asks a few impertinent (but important) questions about plutocratic encroachment on the U.S.’ political system.

- Catherine McKenna explains why it’s important to try to make a difference in our political system. But Chris Cobb reports on what happens to those who try under the Cons’ regime.

- Gerald Caplan wonders whether anybody involved in the Clusterduff – including Stephen Harper, his chief of staff, his hand-picked senators and his core office staff – has ever told anything approaching the truth. But I think we’ve already established the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Globe and Mail weighs in on the Lac-Mégantic tragedy by pointing out that we should be far more concerned about public safety than technical defences and excuses. Saskboy notes that as soon as a corporation’s business choices lead to a massive public disaster, the result is a claim that it can’t be responsible for anything. Julian Sher looks at the history of cost-cutting by railroads including MMA, while Heather Mallick focuses on the issue of single-engineer trains.

- Stuart Trew catches Jean Charest and the Fraser Institute actively encouraging increased Canadian prescription (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz makes the case for free trade talks to be based on the public interest rather than the further entrenchment of corporate power and siphoning of wealth to the top. But there’s little reason to expect a meeting of corporate and government figures to produce that result – particularly when (as the New York Times editorial board points out) the main area of agreement between the U.S.’ main political parties involves a mutual willingness to make public services and regulatory bodies subservient to the immediate interests of the business (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Kathleen Geier makes the case for greater progressive activism at lower levels of government – and the point applies with equal force in Canada:

(T)hose of us who want to build a more progressive America would be well-advised to pay relatively less attention to presidential races and more attention to politics at the state and local level. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Because state and local races tend to have lower turnout, you get more bang for your activist buck. A relatively small but well-organized and committed group of activists (Read more…)

350 or bust: Grassroot Activists Gather On Capitol Hill To Lobby For Carbon Tax

  * It was no easy feat trying to keep my cool while racing in my high heels between Congressional and Senate offices in the scorching D.C. heat last Tuesday. More than once I wondered about the wisdom of leaving behind the comfortable Red Lake summer to join nearly four hundred other citizen lobbyists from […]

350 or bust: The Obama Tar Sands Pipeline

Is the Keystone XL pipeline really what President Obama wants to leave as his legacy, for future generations to remember him by – and curse him for? * Meanwhile climate destabilization continues as unabated as our carbon dioxide emissions: Czech PM Declares Emergency As Floods Threaten Prague: Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas declared a state of […]