common ground

Two Canadian readers have sent me some interesting reading lately.

In one, which unfortunately I can't link to, a Globe and Mail columnist disputes a colleague's claim that Canadian society is as religious as American. In "My Canada Doesn't Include Religiosity," Michael Adams, who has written extensively about Canadian social values, writes, "It is neither elitist nor 'out of touch' to state that Canada is becoming increasingly secular. It's accurate."

Adams acknowledges that "Most Canadians categorize themselves as Christian when asked to tick a box on their census form. . . . Many of us will even claim to be religious." But he reminds readers that although 61% of Canadians say they believe in god, only 28% say religion is very important to them, and just 16% attend religious services at least weekly (with another 21% attending monthly).

After analyzing an extensive Pew Center poll, Adams finds "no evidence of a religious revival in Canada of the sort we see south of the border." He says "Canadians are about half as religious as Americans, and Canadians' and Americans' divergent views of religion are one symptom of a growing disparity between the two cultures."

To which I say: yeah, baby!

Another reader from the north sent me a cool column from the conservative site I quoted a few days ago.

In this column, Fred Reed takes a look at the Bush administration's single biggest strategy and weapon: fear. After visiting Washington DC, he writes, "Fear seemed to be everywhere, or at least to be promoted everywhere, but I wasn't sure who was afraid. Nobody I met was afraid. Nobody talked about terrorism or paid the least attention to Mommy Metro. Maybe just the government is afraid. Or maybe it wants us to be afraid. Maybe it's afraid of us."

To anyone who followed the 2004 campaigns, this is nothing new. Bush's speeches basically ran along the lines of: "9/11 9/11 9/11 fear fear fear fear the gays are coming to get your children terra terra terra fear fear fear".

Reed later writes:
A burly federal cop of maybe thirty slid my passport through a scanner and examined the results on a screen carefully placed so that I couldn't see it. You are not allowed to know what the government knows about you, or thinks it knows.

This blue-suited renta-a-bozo started with the rapid-fire questions. I figured he had watched too much television. "Where are you coming from?" Mexico. "Why were you in Mexico?" I like Mexico. "What were you doing in Mexico?" I live there. "Why are you going to Washington?" "Why, to blow it up, Charlie, with tiny little nuclear bombs concealed in my shoes. Gee, you caught me."

I didn't say this or I'd be hanging by my thumbs in Guantanamo. I pictured the Gulag fleeing Russia and oozing across the bottom of the Pacific, pseudopodia groping, to its new home in the Land of the Free. Lunch.

The new America. No checks, no balance. There's no restraint on the power of these people, and they know it. If you suggest that it is none of their business why an American citizen is going to his country's capital, at the very least you miss your flight. You could easily end up in jail, and nobody would know where you were.
While this is hardly new to me, it is a new source. The libertarian right and the libertarian left do have a lot in common, as someone recently said here.

I have to remember to call the loathsome people in Washington neocons - or better yet, fascists - as opposed to conservatives, since they are not interested in conserving anything.


Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Of course, as a Jew you get to be blamed by both sides.

In another Reed column, he complains about people on the right who tell him the whole Hollywood/Liberal thing is a Jewish conspiracy.


And of course, Bush and Co. is blamed on Jews too via Paul Wolfowitz.

But I could as easily say that we Canadians are responsible for all the worlds evils. Let's see, there's David Frum who came up with the Axis of Evil speech for Bush, and who wrote that book with Richard Perle which said France should be considered an enemy country.

On the left, we've invaded American media & entertainment. Petter Jennings, Alanis Morissette, Alex Trebec, Keanu Reeves, and on and on and on...Obviously its Canadian infiltration of the media thats responsible for all that liberal bias.

laura k said...

I always say, if all else fails, blame the Jews! But maybe I'll start quoting that bumpersticker: Blame Canada! (What's that from, South Park?)

laura k said...

Lest new readers think I'm a rabid anti-Semite: I'm Jewish, and I'm kidding.

Eraserhead said...

Kyle, dont forget Neil Young. :)

L-Girl, most real "conservatives" would agree that the latest crop in DC are not conservative.

I used to be a member/reader of the FreeRepublic until they started dismissing articles and ideas from Rockwell and Buchanan. Everytime I, or a friend of mine, would agree with the above conservatives(who are critical of Bush and Iraq)we would be branded as "tin-foil hat wearers". Which, then led to our ridicule by the Bushbots of FR. Screw them.

I would say neo-con is right on.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

There's been a real push to "purge" anyone who actually believes in the small government stuff from the Republican party. They call them RINO hunters.

Neocons have a philosophy that has nothing to do with smaller government or personal liberty. They state it nicer than I do, but basically its to "rule the world".

Basically the whole neocon ideology is stated here at New American Century (and look who are the founding members):

"The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership."

The founding members:

Elliott Abrams
Gary Bauer
William J. Bennett
Jeb Bush
Dick Cheney
Eliot A. Cohen
Midge Decter
Paula Dobriansky
Steve Forbes
Aaron Friedberg
Francis Fukuyama
Frank Gaffney
Fred C. Ikle
Donald Kagan
Zalmay Khalilzad
I. Lewis Libby
Norman Podhoretz
Dan Quayle
Peter W. Rodman
Stephen P. Rosen
Henry S. Rowen
Donald Rumsfeld
Vin Weber
George Weigel
Paul Wolfowitz

Rognar said...

Actually, I agree that American leadership is good for the world, provided it is enlightened leadership. Unfortunately, we are getting "America First" leadership which doesn't really benefit anyone except Americans and American lackeys.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

There's an old debate.

"Conservative" and "Liberal" are empty terms. A "Liberal" in Saudi Arabia is not the same thing as a "Liberal" in France. A "Conservative" in Russia isn't the same thing as a "Conservative" in Canada.

That's why I like Political Compass www.politicalcompass.org. Libertarian, Communist, Totalitarian, Capitalist, etc. are definable political philosophies.

laura k said...

E'head, I've heard that about the Freepers - that it's "agree with us or get out". That's freedom for ya. It's so easy to dismiss people as "conspiracy nuts", rather than examine what they're saying.

It's something I'll never understand about "the right" (for lack of a better term, I'll just use that one for now). Why is it that *everything* one of their guys does has to be good? Why is all criticism forbidden, "love it or leave it"?

Rognar said...

The Republican Party is a finely-tuned machine constructed for the sole purpose of getting elected. It requires discipline and unquestioned loyalty and dissent is not tolerated within the ranks. The Democrats will never be able to achieve this level of solidarity because there are too many special interests with often divergent opinions in the party fold, the unions and the environmentalists, for example.

laura k said...

The left (as opposed to the Democrats) is always more fragmented and fractious than the right, because leftist thought welcomes critical thinking and diverse opinions. Problems and solutions are assumed to be complex. On the right, answers are simple, boiled down into slogans and images, meant to stir the emotions rather than the brain. Today's sound-bite media dovetails very nicely with a fascist state.

When I say "left" I do not include totalitarian states, even if they purport to be leftist. Obviously there have been plenty of *supposedly* leftist governments where criticism and dissent were not allowed.

laura k said...

Re special interests: The Republicans are beholden to myriad special interests, known as the Oil Industry, the Coal Industry, the Banking/Financial Industry, etc. etc.

The supposed special interests of the Democrats - women, labor, environmentalists, gays - are the interests of people - people who want to support their families, have health care, breathe clean air, enjoy equality. The special interests of the Republican are corporations, whose only interest is unfettered profit.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I think the Republicans have some new special interest groups. I don't see how a bigwig at Shell cares who I bow down and pray to as long as I buy a big SUV and use lots of gas.

The profit people were easy to understand. If it cuts into profits, its bad. But now that you have the whole "morals & values" special interest groups involved in the Republican party to.

As for neocons, they're only interested in morals & values as a tool to get themselves elected. If the morals get in the way, they're quickly thrown aside. Remaking the world in their image is the name of the game.

Of course, the left is interested in remaking the world according to their beliefs as well. The only difference is that doing it by force would be against the left's principles.

Rognar said...

L-girl, you are absolutely right. The Democratic Party is the party of the artists, the altruists and the freethinkers. Unfortunately, diversity is weakness when it comes to politics.

laura k said...

"As for neocons, they're only interested in morals & values as a tool to get themselves elected. If the morals get in the way, they're quickly thrown aside."

Absolutement. And something euphemistically called "values" is a smokescreen for "live by our rules". As Jon Stewart asked, How is being against gay marriage a value? (Answer: it's not.)

"Unfortunately, diversity is weakness when it comes to politics."

True. sigh

Rognar said...

It occurs to me reading the original post that you are probably not aware of the history behind the rather odd wording of the title of article "My Canada Doesn't Include Religiosity". It is very likely you will encounter "My Canada Includes....." or "My Canada Doesn't Include...." in the future. The original phrase was "My Canada Includes Quebec". It was the slogan of the anti-separatist forces in the last Quebec sovereignty referendum in 1995. Variations have been used ever since in articles and op-ed pieces on the nature of Canada.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

"Actually, I agree that American leadership is good for the world, provided it is enlightened leadership. Unfortunately, we are getting "America First" leadership which doesn't really benefit anyone except Americans and American lackeys."

After reading this comment, I think America's days as a superpower are short with Bush & Co. running the show.

America's power is based on 3 things:

1) Leadership
2) Economics
3) Military Power

Let's see:
Leadership - Hmm..Bush may be leading, but the rest of the world certainly isn't following.

Economics - They let the American dollar, the standard of the world, fall. Investors start moving to the Euro. The BRIC (Brazil-Russia-China-India) are on the march to become the worlds largest economies

Military Power - A few thousand lightly armed rebels manage to bog down eight whole divisions of the mighty American military due to complete incompetence of planners in Washington. And unlike Vietnam, there's no superpowers funding the other side.

laura k said...

Rob: Thanks! I know what you mean about phrases like that. I sometimes see NYC-related headlines or expressions and wonder if non-New Yorkers get it.

Kyle: I wish. We wish. I can't see it happening in our lifetimes. I think the crumbling of the facade of democracy - and the continuing conglomeration of corporate/fascist power - is more likely.

Either way, I'm glad I'll be observing it from north of the border.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

On the topic of common ground, here's an article from Lew Rockwell mentioning just that.


And he does mention a fundamental truth. Basically liberals (specifically socialists) and libertarians (right & left) desire the same end result. They disagree on how to get there, but they're going to the same place.

laura k said...

Interesting stuff - very good. I guess the biggest difference between those groups would be how they see the role of government. The "anti-state, pro-market" title with which Rockwell announces himself is very different from my view. But he does make a lot of sense on many issues.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

That's a fundemental difference, and probably irresolvable. Libertarians believe that the government prevents people from reaching their full potential, whereas socialists believe the market is exploitive.

However, both groups believe strongly in civil liberties, and neither have much in common with neo-conservatism. Better to unite than to let the neo-cons win.

But then again, in a two-party system it doesn't really matter who you vote for. The Democrats aren't really liberals, and the Republicans aren't really conservatives.

laura k said...

Exactly! Well said.