Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Posts Tagged ‘conservatives

Canadians think Justin Trudeau represents the real change from Stephen Harper

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The Liberal Party of Canada is back in power after a 9-year absence during the reign of the Harper Government. For the first time in 11 years, the Liberals have a majority government.

Canadians had the longest campaign — 78 days — in modern political history. The country wanted change, but had to decide between Tom Mulcair of the NDP or the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau. Though Mulcair and the NDP had the early edge, perhaps they got a little cocky. Trudeau took awhile to find his voice, but once he did, the Liberals rose in the polls.

Stephen Harper wanted nothing to do with the English language broadcast consortium debate. Tom Mulcair took the Conservative bait and said he wouldn’t be there if Harper wasn’t showing up. Mulcair made that decision when the NDP was doing well. By the time of the scheduled debate (which wasn’t cancelled), the NDP was in 3rd place. A chance to debate with all the non-Conservatives would have been valuable.

There were more debates than usual: 4 instead of 2. But that 5th debate would have helped the NDP.

Here are links to our 2015 Canadian election coverage courtesy of our sister blog,

2015 Canadian election: Some final thoughts

Section 331 of the Canada Elections Act gets attention south of the border

Justin Trudeau begins new era as Canada’s newest prime minister

Our 2015 Canadian election coverage comprehensive guide

Canadian Canadian politics coverage


Is Harper Government playing politics with 2-year Governor General extension?

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This column courtesy of runs here with complete permission.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has extended David Johnston’s tenure as Governor General of Canada for an additional 2 years.

Though the Governor General technically represents the Queen in Canada, how long the Governor General serves depends on the prime minister.

The Governor General usually serves about 5 years in the role in Canada. Johnston has been in the role since October 1, 2010.

The end of a 5-year term would come right around the federal election, provided that election is on time. Extending the term is not the surprise; extending the term by 2 years is the surprise.

Roland Michener was the last Governor General to serve as many as 7 years (1967-1974), though a few have served 6 years. Michaëlle Jean, Johnston’s predecessor, served 5 years and 4 days. Adrienne Clarkson, Jean’s predecessor, served about 10 days short of 6 years.

Jean was appointed by Paul Martin in 2005, so Johnston has been Harper’s only pick. Jean was helpful to Harper in 2008 when she prorogued Parliament, ensuring that the Conservatives would remain in power.

We were told in the announcement last week that the extension was also to cover Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017. Plausible, but the real impact will be serving through the next election and beyond, no matter which party wins the election.

The fixed election date that Harper and the Conservatives pushed through is designed to call for an election every 5 years. The Governor General’s term lasts 5 years, so the 2-year extension would change the timing so that the two don’t collide.

If Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair is the new prime minister, they will end up with a Governor General they didn’t pick for 2 years.

The presumption for Harper’s decision — besides him making the decision and not the Queen — is that the announcement implies that Harper will win in October … or September or August.

Every politician thinks they will win an election; acting as if that is guaranteed to happen comes across as pompous.

Of course, Johnston’s 2-year extension is subject to change if someone other than Harper wins this year, though expect Johnston to remain for a few months at absolute minimum.

Restaurants, open carry guns not a good mix

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This column courtesy of runs here with complete permission.

Would you be more likely to eat at a restaurant where you wouldn’t run into someone visibly carrying a gun?

If confronted with large guns in a Chipotle, my instinct would be to get my food to go.

We’ve seen several chains — Chili’s, Chipotle, Sonic, Jack in the Box — express concern over open carry demonstrations, most notably in Texas.

Restaurants try to not get involved in political discussions. After all, restaurants are all about customers and food. They want left-wing and right-wing people to come eat there.

We’ve written about Chick-Fil-A from the other side of the political spectrum. Will gun enthusiasts react similarly to chains that discourage open carry?

The good news for those chains is that they may not have to pay a high price for their actions. Those on the left are more about boycotts than those on the right. Also, the restaurants are concerned with open carry vs. concealed carry.

To be honest, I’m still learning about concealed carry since I live in the last state to switch to concealed carry (and we didn’t even vote on this) and next to the 49th state to go to concealed carry.

We see the tiny signs banning guns from property, reminders that guns would otherwise be allowed in the building. Still getting used to this new world.

Police officers eat a lot in restaurants, and they are armed. Open carry but not in a way that the open carry protesters are doing. They don’t bother me in the slightest. First of all, you should eat where cops eat because they know the best places to eat. But if something were to happen, then I would feel safer.

The eating environment is preached on both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives talk about family values and eating together as a family; liberals do too but conservatives are louder on this topic. The eating environment should be about comfort, whether dining at home or in a booth in a restaurant.

For most people, seeing heavily armed private citizens while eating in a restaurant is not a comfortable environment for digestion.

Drive-thrus, when available, offer a compromise. Those carrying serious guns can keep them in the car while ordering their food.

Open carry vs. concealed carry might be splitting hairs, but in a restaurant environment, this can make a huge difference. May never get used to the idea of concealed carry, but that looks smarter compared to open carry.

We mentioning the police. They are armed and everyone knows it. But the police do so in a way that isn’t, well, obnoxious.

People need to respect guns. And people respect people who respect guns. Police really respect their weapons. These open carry protesters aren’t respecting their weapons.

The eating experience doesn’t always have to sacred, but it should be enjoyable. And ideally gun-free.

Farm Bill split should lead to frank food stamps discussion

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Instead of being subtle about its hatred for food stamps, the GOP is being openly hostile by splitting food assistance away from the Farm Bill. But for too long, the combination of subsidies for rich farmers and food assistance has stifled the conversation about changing our food approach.

So to match the aggressiveness of the GOP, the Liberals and progressives and Democratic politicians should fight back to not only hang on to the current food assistance but also increase its effectiveness. Dems would also benefit with pointing out some of the side issues involved in food assistance, such as raising the minimum wage. When fast food workers can’t afford to eat, when people are working more than one job and are still having trouble, the food system is broken.

For more on this, check out the latest column from our sister blog,

The uphill battle mayors have to fight to remove soft drinks from SNAP assistance

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The following column ran June 25 on our sister site, Getting rid of soft drinks from purchase with SNAP assistance should be a snap. Thanks to corporate pressure, and the politicians bought with such clout, the tasks of big city mayors will be that much tougher.

If soft drinks didn’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, would you be able to buy them with food stamps? Of course, you can also buy diet drinks on food stamps, but the primary reason for why you can buy soft drinks on food stamps is corporate pressure.

18 big city mayors are fighting to limit those receiving SNAP assistance from buying soft drinks with SNAP funds.

The mayors should have the liberals and conservatives on their side in the fight. Liberals don’t like the idea of buying soft drinks on food stamps because they’re not healthy. Conservatives don’t like the idea of buying soft drinks on food stamps because they’re cheating the government.

Yes, conservatives wouldn’t like the government to tell people what they can buy and not buy on food stamps, but the government already does this.

“It is time to test and evaluate approaches limiting SNAP’s subsidization of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that are contributing to obesity,” — from the letter from the mayors to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

In the battle for a better food system, not being able to buy soft drinks with SNAP assistance is a no-brainer. So why does the chances of this happening are highly slim?

Conservatives, especially those in the House of Representatives, don’t like food stamps at all. We’ve seen this in the votes on the Farm Bill.

Some of them wouldn’t like SNAP even if it worked better or more efficient. Even though we believe heartily in food stamps, we know they can work better.

By spending more money on actual healthy food, the food assistance can work smarter to improve the lives of those who have suffered a setback. More work should be done to help people spend SNAP assistance at farmers markets in a true win-win. Well, a true win-win except for large corporations and the politicians that love them more than their constituents.

Many of these politicians in the House believe heavily in food spending to go to large farms that don’t need the subsidies, including literally their own pockets.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) has been the most egregious of those who are willing to subsidize rich farmers instead of people struggling to eat, though Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is more famous of those who personally get large subsidies from the farm bill and vote against SNAP assistance.

Rep. Fincher, in responding to Biblical verses from Juan Vargas (D-CA) on taking care of the least of the brothers and feeding the hungry, responded with his own Bible quote from the Book of Thessalonians, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Fincher is quoting from a letter from Paul, not from the Gospels. The reference in the Bible is to people who gave up their jobs to wait for Christ’s Second Coming, certainly not applicable here. On top of that, the verse he quoted was exalted by socialists, including Vladimir Lenin.

We should also point out to Rep. Fincher that 80% of those on SNAP assistance are working.

The Environmental Working Group notes that Fincher has received nearly $3.5 million in federal subsidies from 1999-2012, nearly $560,000 in one year alone. Fincher reportedly got about $70,000 last year as a farm subsidy.

Fincher also supported a proposal to expand crop insurance by $9 billion over the next 10 years, a bill where he would literally personally benefit.

A couple hundred people in the House — not all of them Republican, but most of them. Let’s say half of the Senate, another 50 people. The thousands of people directly affected by the potential sales of soft drinks, though the factory worker won’t get as much out of the deal as corporate executives. Let’s be generous and say that adds up to 300,000 people. That’s 300,000 out of 300 million people who are in favor of people on SNAP assistance buying soft drinks. But they have the power.

Big city mayors are the politicians who see the impact of soft drinks in poor neighborhoods. They know what is at stake. Those in Washington? Honestly, not so much.

Conservatives cry out that Washington can’t run things as well as states can, because the states are closer to what the people want. Well, city mayors are closer than states. And the reason why Washington isn’t up to speed on this isn’t because Washington can’t do so. Lift the corporate pressure on politicians and you’ll be amazed at what Washington can do.

Sandy Hook is latest time to finally have gun control discussion

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While many questions pour from the horrific Connecticut school shooting, the one question that comes up in all of these mass shootings is “Will this be the time that we finally start changing the gun laws?”

Columbine was horrible but that didn’t change anything. You would think the assassination attempt on a sitting Congresswoman would unnerve Congress into doing something. Or the Aurora movie theater shooting. Or Virginia Tech.

Something did feel different about the Sandy Hook shooting. True, young children died in the other shooting. A 9-year-old girl died in Tucson. A 6-year-old girl died in the Aurora shooting.

Was it finding out that the kids were shot more than once? Was it that the authorities took pictures of the kids faces so the parents could identify them rather than seeing the horrible damage to their little bodies? Was it that the teachers and principal who lost their lives trying to stop the gunman? Was it the idea of kids hiding in closets and teachers pleading with students to be quiet until the good guys could show up?

Was it that all the kids were 6 and 7 years old? Was it that the number of students killed was 20? Was it that next year’s 2nd grade and the following year’s 3rd grade are essentially gone from this school?

Was it that the damage was so bad that almost all of those who were shot were killed. Think about that. Even in the coverage of the shooting, we didn’t hear much about the wounded. Two kids made it to the hospital before dying from their wounds. Ambulances were turned away before the carnage was that thorough and devastating.

The Dems in Washington have run away from this issue since the assault weapons ban expired. Up to now, President Barack Obama hasn’t shown much desire to use any political capital on this issue. For all the cries about “a black president taking guns away from white people,” Obama’s track record on guns to this point has gone against the wishes of his base.

At least Dems want to do something on gun control, loopholes, assault weapons. Finding a Republican who wants to tackle these issues is as likely as Honey Boo Boo taking etiquette lessons.

We could run a list of suggestions and requirements to improve the gun attitude in the United States. Closing gun show loopholes and bringing back the assault weapon ban would make a huge difference. When we mean “assault weapons ban,” that would be one without the loopholes of the 1994 bill.

The conservatives, political and non-political, have their usual cries. “This isn’t the right time to talk about this.” “Criminals don’t pay attention to gun control laws.”

They are right on one point: laws won’t be enough. Loopholes and an assault weapons ban will help greatly, but they aren’t enough. Those on the left try to fight conservatives directly on the gun issue, but forget that conservatives don’t even offer a non-gun solution.

Why aren’t conservatives fighting for more money for mental health coverage? Why aren’t conservatives fighting to make things easier for those with mental issues to get help through our convoluted health care system? If conservatives don’t think guns are the issue, ask them what else can we do?

To say that nothing can be done about this, that these shootings are just going to happen is the ultimate cop-out. Tuning out what happened at Newtown, CT, Aurora, CO, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech isn’t going to work. Or so we hope. The question is whether those that want to make things better will spend political capital, and whether those who don’t want to make things better can offer solutions, even if they don’t involve gun control.

Conservatives insist liberals want sharia law, but sharia law appeals much more to the right wing

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One flower that stems from the pollen of political allegations are sensationalized theoretical conclusions about the other side. Most people think of them as weeds.

“If we do what the liberals say, we’ll end up like Karl Marx.” “If conservatives get their way, we would constantly be at war and our senior citizens will eat dog food.”

Okay, so most of the manure that are sensationalized theoretical conclusions come from the right-wing because 1) they are good at it, 2) they secretly like being scared, and 3) they don’t really know what liberals would do because it’s so easy to not hear what they’re saying.

Conservatives view liberals as “commies.” Liberals view conservatives as “religious nuts.” Then again, conservatives don’t think Lenin (or Lennon) when they think of commies, they think of Stalin and Brezhnev, neither of which are figures that liberals love. Liberals associate Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell with what conservatives speak, though to be fair, Robertson came out recently telling GOP presidential candidates that they are going too far. Pat Robertson. Seriously.

Mostly out of ignorance, conservatives paint liberals with broad strokes that most liberals would say, “Uh, not quite.” This is easy for conservatives to do because liberal media, what little there is, can be ignored rather easily. Liberals know how to listen to Thom Hartmann, even if it is with a tinny AM radio to a signal that goes down to 1,000 watts at night; most conservatives and moderates have never heard of Thom Hartmann.

This isn’t about the ongoing liberal-conservative war in as much as this is about one new allegation from conservatives that has been spreading for sometime that is not only so wrong about liberals, but also if the allegation were turned around, would fit conservatives to a tailored T.

“If liberals had their way, we would be under Sharia law.”

Even for conservatives, this is difficult to fathom. Liberals somehow want a conservative take on Islamic law, one that punishes people in harsh fashions for accusations that either are things liberals think are OK (gay people) or crimes that don’t fit the punishment (highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated).

In fact, the more you read about sharia law, the more U.S. conservatives would embrace it, not liberals. Religious dogma that can’t be questioned, a harsh justice system with no mercy or exceptions, severely punishing those that love outside marriage, where husbands “rule” and wives “drool,” mostly after being knocked unconscious by their husbands.

“But wait, that’s not fair. Most conservatives would argue against a lot of those points. Some conservatives think the government should not worry about what happens in the bedroom.”

Yes, some conservatives want the government to stop worrying about our sex lives. But not the conservatives we hear from and not the loudest conservatives these days.

Conservatives think they know a lot about communism through the eyes of Karl Marx, but they really don’t. But they have experience with something called “communism.” The vast majority of conservatives and most liberals don’t have much experience with Muslims, much less Sharia law. However, this doesn’t stop conservatives pundits and politicians, including GOP presidential candidates, from saying liberals want sharia law.

Liberals who do have some idea about sharia law aren’t the ones lining up hoping for sharia law. Find us a liberal, one liberal, who wants sharia law in the United States. One. The Chicago Cubs will win two World Series titles before you find one liberal who is begging for sharia law to come to the United States. For non-baseball fans, the Cubs haven’t won 1 World Series since Teddy Roosevelt was president.

The MSM has adopted a olé strategy toward covering conservatives, so getting answers is difficult as to why conservatives think liberals want sharia law or addressing the 180° contrast where sharia law is better suited for conservative interests.

If you are a conservative person who wants sharia law in the United States, feel free to speak up and let your voice be heard. If you are a conservative person who doesn’t like sharia law, then you have a duty to speak up and say that liberals don’t want sharia law. Elements of pure communism (not Soviet rule) have some appeal to liberals, no element of sharia law appeals to liberals. And if you are a conservative person, especially a pundit or politician, who still thinks liberals wants sharia law, then we suggest you do some research. 15 minutes later, you will change your mind — 45 minutes later if you don’t know how to work the Google.