Saturday, March 26, 2011

How Do We Turn Down the Volume on the Right-Wing Noise Machine?

Last night my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. At a nearby table a customer was discussing the upcoming election, clearly upset that the Opposition had "rejected the budget", seeing it as a "power grab".

My initial knee-jerk reaction was dismay that they had missed the enormity of what had taken place yesterday. The Contempt of Parliament charge is the first in the history of the British Parliamentary system.

It had nothing to do with the budget or grabbing power, and everything to do with stopping a man who believes that he is above the law, and not only has contempt of, but contempt for, our time-honoured traditions, and the people we elect to represent us.

In his brief statement, made after the historic vote, Stephen Harper claimed that the opposition should be focusing on the economy, not an election, but how can they focus on the economy, when he refused to provide the cost of bills he's trying to get passed?

His appearance was only to provide talking points for the right-wing noise machine. And our waitress didn't disappoint. Her parting shot to the misguided couple - "I know. And what's he going to do if he doesn't win .... go back to Harvard?"

What does that mean exactly? The fact that Michael Ignatieff has an opportunity to return to teaching at Harvard, is a bad thing? And why not Oxford or Cambridge, where he also taught?

And what will Stephen Harper do if he loses, or fails to get a majority? Go back to the corporate sponsored Astro-Turf National Citizens Coalition? If your best argument is that the leader of the official opposition may return to teaching at Ivy League universities, then it's time to rethink your arguments.

The sad thing is, however, that the media will also use the same banal talking points. During the Coalition Crisis, few thought to investigate whether or not the accusations of a coalition being "illegal" or "dangerous" were accurate. And fewer still reminded Canadians that Stephen Harper himself had engineered a Coalition in 2004, to take down Paul Martin at the Throne Speech. I'm glad some are now producing the letter of intent, to neutralize another Conservative talking point: "The Michael Ignatieff led coalition".

That was a very sad time in our history, because it exposed our ignorance of how our country is supposed to be governed. Instead Jack Layton, St├ęphane Dion and Gilles Duceppe, were dubbed the "Three Stooges" by the mainstream press, and reduced to "bumbling" status.

Jack Layton has a PhD in political science and an amazing team. Libby Davies, Pat Martin, Charlie Angus and Paul Dewar, to name just a few. None "hapless" or "ignorant" or "dangerous".

St├ęphane Dion is a brilliant academic who wrote the 'Clarity Act' and proved his leadership skills when he stood his ground at an International summit to pass the Kyoto Accord. The Conservatives were able to paint him as ignorant, by capitalizing on his difficulty with the English language. But he is not "hapless" or "ignorant" or "dangerous", either. In fact many Quebecers claim that Dion's English was no worse than Harper's French.

And Gilles Duceppe, was never part of the Coalition in 2008 (though a full partner in Harper's in 2004). He only agreed to support it for 18 months on confidence issues. I have so much respect for Mr. Duceppe. A true progressive with a poet's soul. And yes, he's a separatist, but so was Stephen Harper, when he wanted Alberta to go it alone. And *Stockwell Days' father was actually a candidate for the Western Canada Concept Party, who were also separatists.

But once your name gets fed into the right-wing noise machine, it gets spit out as garbly-goop.

The author of the book shown above, David Cameron, knows a thing or two about the right-wing media and noise machines.

He was once editor of the American Spectator magazine, and responsible for fabricating one scandal after another, to support the Right's attempt to have former President Bill Clinton impeached. Financed by the Federalist Society and the Council for National Policy, Cameron would later come clean about his own involvement in the ungrounded assault.

For a bit of trivia, it was at the CNP annual conference in 1997, where they passed the motion to throw all of their resources behind having Clinton impeached. And it was at this same conference, where Stephen Harper gave his 'I really hate Canadians' speech, saying that their "conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world."

And in another bit of trivia, not that either of these things would ever find their way onto a Canadian trivia show; one of the people responsible for the Clinton fiasco, was the late Paul Weyrich.

Weyrich was once the Godfather of the American Religious Right, but he was also instrumental in helping to get Stephen Harper elected in 2006, when he advised his "flock" not to talk to the Canadian media, who were curious about our fallen PM's involvement in their movement .

So how do we turn off, or turn down, the right-wing noise machine, that is clearly deafening society to the erosion of their democracy?

Cameron started an organization called Media Matters in America, where he exposes the lies and half-truths, of many headline grabbing news stories.

In Canada, we have many concerned citizen movements including UnseatHarper/Defend Democracy, that I am proud to write for. Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper, Catch 22 Harper Conservatives,, ....

And collectively our voices will be used to drown out the noise.

Can you hear it?

The grinding and clunk of the right-wing noise machine as its motor burns out, replaced with the melody of millions of small voices speaking up for democracy.

Music to my ears.


* Stockwell Day, Sr., was long associated with the Social Credit Party of Canada. In the 1972 federal election he was the Social Credit candidate running against New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas in the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan—The Islands. Day, Sr., supported Doug Christie and was a member of the Western Canada Concept.


  1. The saddest irony is that nobody actually voted on the budget at all, let alone voted it down. There wasn't time, because of the contempt ruling.

    I just finished posting the Harper Coalition Proposal on my blog too, so I'm glad to see others pointing it out too.

  2. Usually, having someone smart and well-travelled as a boss is a good thing. More so for a PM.

    Some people prefer uneducated people (Stockwell Day, Jason Kenney...) as ministers. Beats me!

  3. "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
    -- Winston Churchill


    Modeling and Leadership.

    Milgram’s finding that defiant (confederate) Teachers almost always inspired defiance in real subjects fits in nicely with other studies in social psychology that reveal the “power of one.”

    An early demonstration of this took place in a famous conformity experiment run at Harvard in the late 1940s. Subjects were surrounded by confederates who deliberately gave obviously wrong answers to questions. Usually the subjects went along with the wrong majority at least some of the time.

    But if, in another condition of the experiment, one other person gave the right answer, real subjects were much more likely to “do the right thing”--even though it meant joining a distinct minority rather than the majority.

    Many times people know that something wrong is happening, but they don’t do anything because they know other people are also aware of the situation. As a result, all can trap themselves into inactivity.

    A vivid example of this occurred in an experiment in which subjects were answering surveys in a New York City office building, and the room began to fill up with smoke. If a subject was alone, he usually left the room. But if three real subjects were seated together, they usually stayed in their chairs even though the smoke eventually got so thick they couldn’t see the surveys anymore. When asked why they hadn’t gotten up, their usual answer was, “The other guys didn’t get up.”

    I don’t want to overgeneralize this point. At Jozefow one man stepped forward and about ten others followed when they saw it was safe to do so. But hundreds of others stayed where they stood.

    “Courageous leaders” can become isolates in a flash. But when things are obviously going wrong and everyone is frozen by everyone else’s inactivity, all can perish for exactly the same reason that racing lemmings do. Often one person can steel another, and another and another, until many are working together. You don’t have to form a majority to have an effect. Two or three people speaking out can sometimes get a school board, a church board, a board of aldermen to reconsider authoritarian actions.

    Lack of any opposition teaches bullies simply to go for more.

    But it takes one person, an individual, to start the opposition.

  4. ......................................

    Facts don’t cure misinformation

    snip snip: He was reporting on research at the University of Michigan, which found when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in new stories, they rarely changed their minds.

    In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts were not curing misinformation. “Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”

    Suffice it to say that, while “most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence,”

    …the research found that actually “we often base our opinions on our beliefs ... and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.”

    What’s even worse is that the most misinformed people (the most gullible, the most fanatical, perhaps) are the ones who vote the most reliably. The Creationists. The people making $40,000 a year who support tax cuts for billionaires to the detriment of their own lives and their kids’ schools. People with no healthcare who protest against it at Tea-party rallies. An entire voting bloc of people who do not believe in what others would deem objective reality. THAT, dear readers, is at base, what we are dealing with in America today and it’s a problem that’s here to stay. You might say it’s the red, white and blue brontosaurus in the room that no one wants to talk about: The willful ignorance of America’s right.


    RWA: right-wing authoritarian followers

    snip snip So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views. Instead he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional.