His sin is an order of magnitude less bad than Blumenthal’s — he lied and claimed a unit prize for himself, which is the more typical sort of resume inflation. But it’s in the same “stolen valour” universe as Blumenthal’s lie, and so it makes any attacks on RB that much more difficult. (Mind you, Blumenthal had stabilized his polling numbers in the mid-fifties — he was probably going to survive anyway. (I mean, who are you going to vote for — a distinguished attorney-general who sometimes lies, or a pro wrestling exec?) This just made it certain.)
Prediction: by this time next year, both Blumenthal and Kirk will be freshman senators.
Initial reports from the Middle East seemed bad — “Ten dead after Israel storms aid ships“.
If that’s the full story, bad Israel.
But hold on — this is Gaza, with a long history of people firing at Israeli targets and then crying foul once the IDF fires back.
Bad IDF — don’t board blockade runners with paintball guns and rules of engagement that let your soldiers be beaten by sticks and stabbed until they get permission to return fire.
Next time, have your boarding party properly equipped, or simply sink the blockade runners once they leave international waters and have been given a chance to retreat.
And yes, make sure — as you did this time — that you have cameras rolling.
Update: Dumb, dumb IDF –
The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances. …
At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost his consciousness.
Only after this injury did Flotilla 13 troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it: You can go ahead and fire. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralized them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back at the commandoes. …
It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence.
Fell right into their trap.
Update again: The IDF is damned lucky it brought cameras –
Final update: Exit thought — if the blockade of Gaza is a crime against humanity, etc., etc., then why is Egypt also maintaining it?
[That's a rhetorical question. Answer is obvious.]
OTTAWA – The Conservatives are widening their gap over the federal Liberals, a new poll by Leger Marketing for QMI Agency suggests.
The Tories lead by 12 percentage points across the country, holding steady at 37% – nearly the same percentage of vote share that delivered a minority government in October 2008.
Liberals obtained 25% of respondents’ support while the NDP received 17%, a three percentage drop from a similar Leger survey last month.
It’s got the Tories in majority territory and now has Warren Kinsella signing on with the coalition backers.
And just wait until the Reformatories announce that part of their platform will be an elimination of the election subsidy. That’s coming, too.
So, things may be moving quickly.
Next election, it’s majority or bust, I think.
Update: There’s a bit of a December 2008 dynamic going on in the regional breakdown, too –
The party is up from 41% to 47% of support in BC and in Ontario, from 39% to 42%, whereas the Liberal Party has dropped from 30% to 28% this month.
In Quebec, however, the Tories are plummeting, the Leger survey suggests.
So, up in BC and Ontario, down in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Double-digit lead in Ontario, though — I’ll take it, and a solid majority, thank you very much.
Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Jan Brewer, etc., etc., etc.
Actually, I’ve noticed that among friends, too — the more uncompromising ones are disproportionately female. Not to say there aren’t ever so many moderate women in the party — just that among those who are hard-core, more tend to be on the distaff side.
What’s up with that?
Further to my post on “Borden” majorities.
That was about the theory. Now let’s look at the reality.
Is Harper on a path to form a majority government?
I think it’s possible. I think the political fundamentals heading into a fall vote, say, are more sound than they were in 2008.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the two men are discovering more in common as the length of Harper’s tenure as Prime Minister grows. Chrétien, too, has always liked a winner. Applying that very yardstick, Chrétien would be the first to note that Harper has not yet been Prime Minister for even half as long as Chrétien was, and that a parliamentary majority still eludes the Conservatives. But Harper is becoming a durable Prime Minister, perhaps even a consequential one. Both men have been lucky in the opponents they faced. Both have been ruthless in pressing advantage. Both manage to endure. …
This week, as they pondered the truly bizarre school year now ending, Harper’s close advisers were feeling optimistic about the boss’s chances of keeping his job for a long time yet.
Some even dare speculate about the prize that has eluded Harper until now: a parliamentary majority. No prime minister has ever won one after falling short twice before. Harper has proven perfectly capable of sabotaging his own lucky streaks. But Conservatives argue that long-term trends favour their chances much more than the Liberals’. Which is why, even as Harper once again opens up a comfortable polling advantage over Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals, he is content to avoid an election for as long as possible. Time is on the Conservative leader’s side. …
Sources say that ever since his fall economic update in 2008 goaded the opposition parties into trying to replace him with a coalition government, Harper has consistently resisted pressure to call a quick election—or to concoct some other legislative finger trap that might provoke the opposition parties to rally against him. Last autumn, Ignatieff returned from a difficult summer recess to declare that Harper’s “time was up” and it was time to force an election. Public opinion quickly polarized sharply, and Harper enjoyed an autumnal polling honeymoon better than any he’s seen as Prime Minister. Some advisers urged him to call a quick election to capitalize on Ignatieff’s weakness. “The PM strongly resisted, not only calling an election, but any initiatives that could possibly be perceived as trying to start an election,” a senior Conservative source said. …
Privately, Jean Chrétien has been known to make gentle fun of Harper’s inability to rack up the kind of consecutive majorities that seemed so easy for the Chrétien Liberals through the 1990s. But even Chrétien would concede that a narrow victory beats a defeat, especially if hope of better days still lies tantalizingly ahead. It’s that attitude that must give him a lot to talk about when he runs into Stephen Harper these days.
Polls are now showing the Tories up 8-10 points on the Liberals. (Leger – 12%, EKOS – 8.2%, Harris-Decima – 9%.) That’s better than where Harper was in August 2008, just before he dropped the writ to try to win his majority against Dion.
It is Harper’s strength — or Ignatieff’s weakness — that has people talking coalitions up again, as the only way to push him back to Stornaway.
Stephen Harper’s lock on lead raises coalition stakes
Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton may want to get their minds around the controversial issue of a coalition or merger, given new national opinion poll numbers showing Stephen Harper’s Conservatives firmly locked in minority government territory.
And Ignatieff is being compared to Joe Clark. (By Powers, mind you.)
Piling on Michael Ignatieff isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Soon people are going to have to invoke a mercy rule. But most of the abuse he’s getting these days is not coming from his opponents, it’s coming from members of his own party. …
For a variety of reasons, I suspect, we are starting to see different Liberals get ahead of their leader and subsequently appear to diminish the credibility he has with them by advocating for a significant rethink of how the party appeals to Canadians. Vibrancy in any organization is a good thing. But when the leader of a party is as disconnected from his supporters as Mr. Ignatieff appears to be, it makes for challenging times.
It may be premature to observe (though that has never stopped me before), but Ignatieff is starting to remind me more and more of Joe Clark circa 2000-2003. Ignatieff and Clark are both decent, thoughtful men. Clark in that time was going through similar circumstances to the ones Ignatieff finds himself in now. … Clark’s deafness to his party, his hubris and a caucus that was losing confidence in him made him give up the leadership of the party he so loved for a second time. The rest is history …
On the other hand — the latter article may speak against Harper winning his majority. Once the right got itself sorted out and united, the Liberals did not win another majority — Paul Martin’s perceived strength begat his weakness.
If the Canadian political left manages to unite in some way before the next election, whether it be a formal party merger or an electoral accord, Stephen Harper had better watch out.
If they can’t, however — then yes, I think that Harper’s on the cusp of a majority.
I was tremendously amused by NDP advisor Brian Topp’s attempt to pre-spin a possible future Harper majority government.
The Victoria Day long weekend is just passed. And we are almost done with the British post-election analysis here in Queen Victoria’s former largest North American colony. There seems a rough consensus around the following themes:
First, as long as our dysfunctional, undemocratic and unrepresentative electoral system hands a majority of Quebec’s seats to the Bloc Quebecois, it is hard to see how the New Democrats, the Conservatives or the third party (as measured by leader popularity) can put together a “majority” government.
Second, dancing somewhere between 35 and 40 per cent of the vote (the combined vote of the former Reform and Progressive Conservative parties, still not built upon), the Conservatives likely go into the summer in the best position to prove that consensus wrong. But “success” for them would be a Borden majority — a dangerously narrow technical “majority” built on rural British Columbia, Alberta and blue Ontario. …
There is a possibly more credible fear that some sort of new progressive combination would drive right-wing Liberal MPs across the floor into Mr. Harper’s arms, along with 5 to 10 per cent of the Liberal vote — sufficient to give Mr. Harper a more solid Borden majority. This is a painful avowal of weakness. It is a sad thing to believe one’s own party cannot hold itself together, or manoeuvre effectively in the parliamentary reality before us today.
That’s a new term for me. A “Borden majority”. Not a real majority, you see. Just a “Borden” one.
If Stephen Harper managed to build on his current strengths and squeak across the finish line into majority government territory with small gains in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, the Tory caucus in the 41st Parliament of Canada would look somewhat like this:
BC – 23 seats, AB – 27 seats, SK – 13 seats, MB – 10 seats, ON – 60 seats, QC – 14 seats, NB – 6 seats, NS – 5 seats, PE – 2 seats, NF – 2 seats, 1 seat in Nunavut — total of 163 seats.
That’s a nation-wide majority government. Weaker in Quebec than one might like, but still with national representation.
Can Harper do it? Well, that’s another story. The polls have it within his reach.
Back to this funny term, “Borden majority”. What did people think at the time? Heck, what did the people of Quebec think at the time?
Here’s the Montreal Gazette in 1911:
In 1911 the total vote cast was 1,307,000, or 230,000 more than three years previously. The Conservatives’ vote was 669,000, or, if the vote cast for Mr. Joseph Russell in East Toronto be added, 671,000. The Liberal vote was 625,000; the independent vote, excluding that cast for Mr. Russell, around 10,000. Mr. Borden’s majority was nearly 47,000 over the straight Liberals, while the total majority from all sources against the Laurier Government was over 51,000. Thus the popular majority scored by Mr. Borden in 1911 was greater than that scored by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in any election except that of 1904.
Topp is, in other words, spinning like a top.
Which is fine — that’s his job. We just don’t have to believe what he says.
Am still fascinated by the guy who snuck into Harvard and almost got away with a degree.
Was chatting with a college friend, and she and I could clearly come up with a better fake resume than his — but then, we know the real thing. (Still, he should have, too — went to class with all these people for years…)
Blumenthal maintains his twenty-five point lead.
See? “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” worked for fifty-three percent of Connecticut voters.
They like Dick — they’re not going to throw him overboard for a lie about his service in the Marines.
I’m not tremendously surprised… people are sophisticated; they know politicians will lie from time to time.
Newly prominent Senate race: WA — Dino Rossi has jumped in.
This is definitely a winnable seat for Republicans now.
Which gets us back to… a slim but not trivial chance that the Senate may change hands this fall.
We are seeing the death of “soft power”, says VDH:
There will be no more lectures on soft power and a Baltic-to-Mediterranean postmodern culture. Suddenly European Union expansion is dead in its tracks. The question of Turkish membership, after a decade-long controversy, has been settled without so much as a demonstration. The Europeans don’t want another Greece in their midst; the Turks don’t want German bankers running their sagging finances. A soaring Euro was supposed to reflect the sobriety of socialism; instead, it hid its profligacy, but only for a while.
So the welfare state is discredited. In the past, we used to be warned that static population growth, vast public-sector employment, early and generous retirement benefits, and high taxes were not sustainable. In recent years, those lectures were caricatured as partisan or hypothetical. No longer. The Greek meltdown — with Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain on the brink — has shown that European socialism does not work. Bankruptcy, not politics, is the final arbiter: Individuals, firms, and nations either buy particular bonds or they don’t. And a nation like Greece, in turn, either pays what it has borrowed or it doesn’t. All the op-eds in the New York Times cannot change that fact. …
The new world order as envisioned by Obama in January 2009 was, I think, supposed to look something like the following: A social-democratic America would come to emulate the successful welfare states in the European Union. These twin Western communitarian powers would together usher in a new world order in which no one nation was to be seen as preeminent. All the old nasty ideas of the 20th century — military alliances, sovereign borders, independent international finance, nuclear arms, religious and cultural chauvinism — would fall by the wayside, as the West was reinvented as part of the solution rather the problem it had been in its days of colonialism, imperialism, and exploitation. A new green transnationalism would assume the place of that bad old order, a transnationalism run by elite, highly educated, and socially conscious technocrats — albeit themselves Western — supported by a progressive press more interested in effecting social change than in merely reporting the tawdry news.
Obama can still push that story, but more and more Americans disagree with his 21st-century vision. Stuck in the past, they instead believe that capitalism, not socialism, brings prosperity; that to reach a green future we need to survive for now in a carbon and nuclear present; that all, not some, laws must be enforced; that our country is different from others and needs to maintain the integrity of its borders; and that there are always going to be a few bad actors abroad who must be deterred rather than appeased.
We will hear all sorts of angry charges as these dreams die, but that will not mean they are not dead — even if we are lucky and they go out with a whimper rather than a bang.
Ed Koch thinks we’re a laughingstock:
Have we lost the will to stand up to the bullies of the world? The administration points with pride to the fact that it is proceeding with sanctions against Iran at the Security Council and that it succeeded in bringing Russia and China to the point where they too have agreed to vote for sanctions. To accomplish this, however, the US had to agree to Russia’s delivering arms to Iran, e.g., an anti-aircraft system that would be used to shoot down US and Israeli planes that might in the future seek to eliminate Iran’s nuclear facilities. With respect to China and getting its consent to vote with us, we dropped sanction measures that would have crippled Iran’s banking and financial institutions and prohibited the sale of gasoline to Iran, which has no conversion facilities, which would have devastated its economy.
Some will say that pointing out these failures of will is jingoistic. I believe these failures to stand up for allies and most importantly to stand up for ourselves is why we are taken less seriously by nations throughout the world than should be the case. When others fully respected us, we were able to keep the world at peace. We are losing that ability with each passing day, as we demonstrate our unwillingness to teach the bullies of the world the lessons they deserve.
Speak softly and carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt said. President Obama speaks apologetically and carries no stick at all. No wonder North Korea torpedoed that South Korean warship, something they would not have done in all probability if China had not quietly approved. No wonder Brazil and Turkey thumb their noses at us. We have become a laughingstock.
I don’t know.
I would say this: given all the charges that were levied at the United States during the Bush years, it is useful to try out the policies advocated by his liberal critics, both at home and abroad.
If we then see — as I believe we are! — that they bring sub-optimal outcomes, well, that’s how it goes.
Instant update: Incidentally, it is the drawing of that contrast that has been the main goal of American conservatives since 2008:
“Now, Limbaugh has a mantra: ‘Real conservatism wins every time it’s tried,’ ” Chafets says. “By ‘real conservative,’ he means Reaganite conservatism. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen. But it looks to me like it’s going to be tested in 2010. And if the Republican Party, having moved to the Limbaugh-Reagan right, scores a big victory, I think that’s going to be interpreted in the Republican party as vindication of Limbaugh’s belief.” …
After the Wall Street Journal article, Rush continued to insist that no true conservative could vote for the president’s porkulus bill; Republicans who did would be considered “moderates,” one of Limbaugh’s supreme insults, and dealt with accordingly. GOP congressmen took this threat seriously, especially after Limbaugh’s listeners began bombarding them with e-mail and phone calls. Rush, who is a realist, didn’t think he could block the bill, and that wasn’t his intention. The Democrats had a clear majority, and he wanted them to pass the stimulus alone, to completely own the spending, which he was sure would prove to be unpopular and ineffective. He got his way, too. Not a single Republican member of the House voted with Obama, who Limbaugh was now calling “The Messiah.” Bipartisanship, which Rush considered political and ideological surrender, was off the table. The Republicans were an opposition that would oppose. “I have hijacked Obama’s honeymoon,” he happily announced.
Remember the breaking point issue? Would the Dems have reached it with Blumenthal’s serial lies and exaggerations of his service in the Marines?
They apparently have not hit the breaking point in Connecticut, which is interesting.
Now it’s the GOP’s turn. Will we reach the breaking point with Nikki Haley?
My prediction? No. People — whether they actually believe her or not — will accept her stout denial that any affair took place.
Update, next day: See? People are either skeptical, or want to be. And the latter is enough. (Just ask Bill Clinton!)
Update again: Yep. The guy’s a douche, whether or not the story’s true.