The War On Truth

This is political and anti-Trump.

Sometimes I worry about posting stuff like this. I don’t want to alienate any of my readers who are pro-Trump, whom I love regardless of their political affiliation, but we are living in a historical moment and I cannot pretend to be neutral.

Reagan and Nixon had the War on Drugs, George Bush had the War on Terror and this weekend President Donald J Trump started The War on Truth. It began over this photo:

trumpcrowd

The thing is in 2009 President Obama drew a crowd of historic size (1.8 million), partly because of his popularity and partly because it was a historic occasion (first Black President). The next closest crowd size in recent memory was Obama in 2013 (1 Mil) and Clinton in 1993 (800K). Others rarely broke five hundred thousand.

Donald Trump is a divisive President, so he should have been happy with the relatively small, but still decent crowd size estimates, or just said “wait and see” until the facts were published. Instead he had his Press Secretary call a special press briefing to dispute the crowd size estimates and harangue the media, but offer little factual evidence in retort. The whole thing was the basically the press conference version of road rage.

The conference is worth watching, by the way, if only to see how it sets the tone for The War on Truth. I will link to a republican site for it, so you can read how Trump fans see it, but it is easy to find you own version on youtube if you don’t want to give them views.

Here is a nice summary of some of the ‘alternative facts’ aka lies that were said, with evidence.

The size of the crowds was still a theme later in the day when Trump himself spoke out, especially since it appears that the women’s protest against Trump the next day dwarfed the inauguration day crowds, but first a little background.

On January 11, 2017 President Donald J Trump tweeted this, after a round of new revelations about his connections to Russia and a possible blackmail tape:

He then went on to attack the outgoing director of the CIA and the agency’s record in general, and then ended his rant with a veiled accusation of them being the group that leaked the Russian revelations to the media.

Just ten days later President Trump gave a speech to high ranking CIA officers in front of the wall of honor, where stars are displayed for CIA officers killed in the line of duty whose names remain secret where he said this:

“But no, I just wanted to really say that I love you. I respect you. There’s nobody I respect more. You’re going to do a fantastic job. And we’re going to start winning again – and you’re going to be leading the charge.”

So there’s no one Donald Trump respects more than the agency he was attacking ten days ago. Reminds me of another Donald Trump quote about how no one respects women more than him, just after his famous pussy grabbing comments came out into the open. It is a pretty easy to follow pattern for him.

Finally, Kellyanne Conway, the woman who ran Trump’s winning campaign (or was that Comey?) defended these two rants in a media appearance. She said that Sean Spicer was just working with ‘alternative facts’, a rather impressive piece of doublespeak, and then threatened veiled retribution for hard questioning, saying she might have to rethink their relationship with the program.

The first weekend up the Trump presidency was a fight over crowd size. Just wow.

Even if the president thought he was being misrepresented, surely he has better things to do that correct a minor issue like this. The truth will come out over time regardless of initial estimates. Can you imagine if Obama had freaked out like this over his birtherism?

Trump has declared war on the media, the facts, and ultimately the truth because he wants to control the narrative of his presidency. Unfortunately, his own words are what trip him up the most, such as with his comments about the CIA.

I started off Friday sincerely hoping that I am wrong about Trump, because people’s lives are at stake. Now I am virtually certain that I am right, and it is not a pleasant feeling.

Still, the sheer size of the crowds at the women’s protest left me feeling buoyed, at least until I hear the ‘alternative facts’ about those…

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Trump the Iconoclast, Trump the Orthodox, Trump the ‘Hero’

I find it increasingly hard to turn away from the ugly spectacle of American politics. Part of this is envy; I honestly wish that I could have cast my vote (Bernie, then Hillary) in this seminal election, a transition (I hope) from the industrial age to the information age. I live in the shadow of American news and politics, and while I love Canada, it is hard to ignore the tug of that great country south of us.

I often talk about systems on this blog. I feel that systems and institutions are the villains of modern stories more than singular figures.

Enter Donald Trump.

Trump is a man who has shown absolute willingness to cast aside institutions and ideas. Depending on how you view his motivations this is either a good thing or a bad thing, obviously. I see his motivations as guided by contempt for expertise, the power of persuasion, revenge, desire for personal gain, and an ideology that places wealth and business above all else. Some of his followers see a heroic iconoclast that will break the chains that have held back their country for decades and allow them to cast down their enemies at last.They see him as akin to Alexander confronting the Gordian Knot, as Jesus sweeping the money-lenders from the Temple.

We both might be right.

[What is an iconoclast?  a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions, literally a destroyer of idols.]

Trump shut down the TPP, instantly dealing a blow the flow of decades of globalization. I actually am in favour of this, but mostly because the TPP is full of harmful laws that limit freedoms and make life easier for climate change deniers. If I could bring myself to trust Trump (spoiler: he lies quite frequently), this alone would be enough to gain my support.

I also don’t trust foreign intervention or intelligence agencies; Trump is currently at odds with both.

I can see why some of Trump’s followers view him as a heroic figure, come to break down regulations and set things right.

The problem is that what guides Donald Trump is not a desire for justice or to make America a better place for everyone. Donald Trump’s destruction of institutions and ideas is purely motivated by personal gain and to enhance to power of the wealthy. In this way he often acts like an orthodox republican: spouting tax cuts, attacking climate science, and seeking to enhance the power of the nation with military might over diplomacy.

In this, he is willing to be iconoclastic as well. He does not care about the truth, spewing whatever he reads on his twitter feed without fact-checking. He does not seem to realize the responsibility that seems to come with his office in this regard. His racism and sexism is well noted, but seen by many as a reaction to stifling political correctness, a bullshit claim in my opinion.

Trump is even willing to violate the constitution (article 1, section 9) in order to keep ownership of his business interests, arguing that his voters knew that he is a businessman, wiping out hundreds of years of tradition in a single stroke. What is fascinating is that his followers and party are, so far, willing to go along with this, even though it is a glaring example of the corruption they despise. In fact, the more his corruption irritates liberals, the more some of them seem to like it.

Trump has already changed so much of american politics and he is not even in power yet. And yet, rather than bringing the country into the future, Trump seems to want to return to a mythical era in the past when coal and manufacturing propelled the economy, businessmen were objects of unqualified adoration, and people did not have to give a fuck about political correctness. In this fashion we can see the orthodoxy that shapes his attacks, a hatred of the directions that the country has taken since his youth.

And yet that bygone era has one defining feature that Trump rejects with great vehemence: The Cold War with Russia. Trump loves everything from that time but rejects butting heads with the dictator, Putin. In many ways this is laudable, but in Trump I think we can see how it is motivated by self-interest. The CIA and the NSA have both sounded warnings about Russian hacking in the election and Trump refuses even to talk about it.

I wonder what is in those tax returns, another tradition that he has broken with.

The Reckoning and the Nature of Power in the Domains of the Chosen

Why the Chosen would participate in a system that oppresses the majority of the Gifted?

In my Domains of the Chosen series, the Chosen are the potent, ageless rulers of a sprawling Empire that clawed its way to power after surviving a massive magical cataclysm. The Gifted are those who develop the ability to wield magic, and in the Domains they are considered too dangerous to be allowed to develop their talents freely. The Gifted can choose to become Vassals who are sundered from the most destructive aspects of their magic, or to fight for their right to join the ranks of the Chosen as Gladiators.

The answer, in short, is to view the Gifted as weapons of mass destruction. States with nuclear weapons frown on other states trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, but tend be accepting of those that already have them. This even holds up with enemies: Kim Jong Un is dangerously unhinged and could be a much greater and more lasting threat than Isis, but because seems to have nuclear weapons we must practice detente with him instead of regime change.

The long answer is that the Chosen see other magic-wielders as a threat. The Reckoning began because the powerful Gifted of old began a massive war for dominance. The war was of such impressive scope that new races were created (Armodons and Minotaurs are among these and the created races suffer greater racial stigma in the Domains, because they are the product of magic) and the nations of old were mostly destroyed or became puppet states of powerful Gifted. That war went on and on, ending only when the forces that were wielded spun out of control, resulting in massive storms of Chaotic magic that scoured life from the entire planet and tainted the landscape.

The Chosen represent the Gifted who survived because they set aside their differences (temporarily, for survival) and made a pact with the people with the only safe haven around, Krass. Krass needed the Chosen for extra protection, and to help feed and shelter the massive influx of refugees that made their way to the city. The covenant they made was to the benefit of both groups; people hated the Gifted because of The Reckoning, but they needed them to survive. The Chosen needed shelter and could not survive without people (someone needs to grow food, make clothes, etc).

But The Chosen are not a monumental group. They are old enemies who often trust each other less than than anyone else. Any new Gifted who reaches the status of Chosen, migt be an ally for an enemy faction. Thus they use the Great Games as a way to control who has a shot.

It is also worth noting that by the time any Gladiator has a chance to join the the Chosen they have a large amount of popular support from years of public performance in the Arena, which counteracts the lingering fear of the Gifted for most citizens.

Finally a key point is that the Gift is not hereditary. The Chosen do not have a greater chance of having children with the Gift than anyone else. Thus any Chosen with children has a large chance of having ungifted kids; if they love those kids then they have an automatic desire to protect them from other Gifted. If the Gift were hereditary I expect things would play out very differently, with magical-aristocractic families ruling over ungifted peasant slaves.

In the end it is all about power. We can see the lengths that people go to keep and amass power throughout history, frequently killing their own family members and engaging in horrifying  atrocities. In the Domains of the Chosen, magic is power.

Fantasy Tropes & Theory: Oaths in The Domains of The Chosen

The idea of the oath, promise, or word of honour is prevalent has been prevalent in Fantasy fiction for some time. The roots of these oaths are the divine promises of mythology and religion as well as the deep bonds of faith and trust required in feudal societies. The old idea of oaths might seem naive to the modern sensibility, especially in a world full of phishing, misinformation, and purposeful double-speak, but it is worth noting that honesty and keeping promises are still big issues with North American voters — and that they are punishing ‘establishment’ candidates because of this.

I circumvent the idea of a verbal contract in the Domains of the Chosen with magical oaths. The basic rundown of these oaths is that if they are broken, something bad happens to the oathbreaker, similar to the sword of Damocles. These binding oaths are part of the very foundation of the Domains, the glue that binds the Chosen to the Covenant, the Warbound to the Legions, and so on. Here is the oath sworn by the new Chosen in Bloodlust: Will to Power.

A million citizens gave voice to the Oath along with them.

“I give my oath to serve and protect the city of Krass,”…Power flowed

“I give my oath to defend the citizens of Krass,”…into Gavin and Sadira

“I give my oath to obey the laws of the people,”…and through them

“I give my oath to act to prevent The Reckoning,”… gentle, but irresistible

“I give my blood to seal this oath, freely in good faith,”…like the tide

“My oath is my honour, and my honour my life,”… scouring them

“I am Chosen, I serve!”… and binding them.

And that’s that, all of the Chosen get along well, magically compelled to follow the oath, and the series ends right there, right?

Astute readers noticed early on that the Oath is based on the interpretation of the Oathbound. What Chosen Moltar thinks is good for the Domains and necessary for their protection is very likely different than what Gavin or Sadira thinks. Their actions in the book flow from these interpretations.

Even more astute readers may have noticed a different reference to Oaths, mentioned in passing in a conversation between Gavin and his father, and how a powerful oath might take precedence over another.

I began to examine these ideas in Bloodlust: Red Glory and Bloodlust: The Blades of Khazak Khrim. Blackcloak Sax, a surprisingly popular character, is placed on the trail of a conspiracy that led to the death of a popular Gladiatrix in Red Glory, which leads him to a nest of heretics that almost kills him in Frostbay. Unable to get to the root of the heresy, he calls on aid.

In my next work in the series, Bloodlust: The Roots of Ruin (Or maybe Bloodlust: Oathbreakers), I gather more of these disparate threads. Oaths, lies, and loyalties are revealed and tested. It will be awesome, of course. Better than cats.

The idea is that a promise can be twisted, even a magical one. We see that all the time in real life. The problem is that with magic (or a supposed divine agency) backing up an oath, fewer people will expect those covenants to be perverted than they would a mundane verbal contract, creating a vulnerability than the clever can exploit.

‘Man’ on the Street Interviews: Why do so many people support Sauron?

I have been working on my next book release, Blade Breaker (Shadow Wolf Sagas #1) and I am somewhat busy. So instead of a regular post today I am going to indulge in my interest in politics.

Some of you may not know this, but I am an ardent supporter of the Free Peoples of Middle Earth. I cannot understand why any reasonable person would ever supports Sauron. Yeah, I know Denethor and Boromir failed, and Frodo did not live up to expectations, but I could never bring myself to support a faction that is directly associated with Melkor. I mean seriously, that dude will destroy the planet to get what he wants.

Now I know that will rile some of you up. So, in an effort to understand the other side I have sent veteran reporter Stinkyknob Spleenripper the half-troll out to ask orcs, men, and others why they support Sauron. Here are some of the opinions we gathered.

Sharku, goblin warg rider

“I don’t really care about him, but I don’t care about Gandalf or Minas Tirith either. I don’t support either side, deep down. But I think it would be funny if someone like Sauron actually won. It might shake things up in Middle-Earth.”

Bolg, son of Azog (note that Bolg did this interview on the condition that we point out that he was also in the books, or as he put it, the not bad version of the Hobbit)

“Sauron says what he means and doesn’t mince words. He isn’t afraid of what anyone thinks of him. I’m tired of the political correctness of the Free Peoples. I mean if I want to call Dwarves and Hobbits stunties, isn’t that my right? If I want to chop them up and eat them, isn’t that part of my culture and heritage? We need a leader like Sauron to stop this tide of Free Peoples before they tear down the border walls of Mordor and let all these jerks in. Have you ever seen an elf work a day in your life? No.”

Gorbag, a Captain at the Black Gate

“Sauron is strong on security. He is the best leader. After the fall of Isengard that is exactly what we need. If you don’t like a fiery giant eye watching you, I have to ask what you have to hide? You’re probably soft on Rohorim. Where do you think all the grass in Mordor went? That’s right, the horses ate it. They ate or grass. Sauron is the only one who can save Middle-Earth.”

Olog-Hey, a Cave Troll

“Middle-earth is broken. I support Sauron because we need to hit rock bottom before we can fix anything. We need to break the system before we can get anywhere. I mean look at all these Free Peoples leaders. Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel… they’re all basically the same. They aren’t fixing anything! They nearly gave the ring to that monster Boromir for fuck’s sake!”

Hoarmurath, Nazgul

“Sauron has executive experience. He’s a Necromancer. I think that a guy who can get the economy of Mordor running efficiently can do a better job with Middle-Earth than career leaders like Denethor and Theoden.

Sauron knows how to negotiate. He is the most convincing man you have ever met. Trust me on this. No one else would have been able to get this ring on on my hand. Once he told me about his tax plan, I just couldn’t resist.

Sauron will make Middle Earth great again. Then we will finally be able to show the Noldor that we are the greatest land of all!”

Zerleg, Easterling

“I saw a Hobbit yesterday, outside of the Shire! They love drugs and will eat all of our food. We need better border security. Only Sauron has a plan that will guard all of the approaches from the West. Only Sauron is willing to use Giant Spiders to protect us.”

Thoughts on the Canadian Election

This is political, and not directly related to writing or fantasy in general.

We had an interesting election here in Canada this Tuesday. A man who has held power for over almost a decade and has been an influence on Canadian politics for even longer has been defeated resoundingly, even taking losses in places where he was though to be invulnerable.

stephen-harper1

Stephen Harper

Harper was a conservative’s conservative. His greatest accomplishments were political, uniting the fragmented Canadian right wing which was lost in the wilderness after many years of Liberal rule and leading them to power. If the CPC survives his defeat then he deserves credit for that, at least. He, along with his media allies, are also responsible for the crushing defeat of the Liberal party, their longtime rivals. At one point the party was declared dead, losing even official opposition status as Harper’s CPC trampled them into the dirt. This led to the rise of the NDP, my favoured party, which captured official opposition status.

Mulcair and Layton

Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair

Jack Layton was a popular figure in Canadian politics. He died from Cancer in 2011, and was succeeded by Tom Mulcair, who led the party this election. The NDP kept the faith for left leaning political junkies like myself after the Liberals were beaten down. Layton was much loved, engineering the NDPs highest seat total ever, and a hard act for Mulcair to follow. And then there’s Justin Trudeau:

justin-trudeau-20141112

Justin Trudeau

Trudeau was the last great hope for the Liberals and the worst nightmare of the Conservatives, who hated his father, a popular prime-minister (But not popular in all of the country, of course). He came on strong at first, weathering the CPC media assault as only someone who has been under media scrutiny his entire life can. He seemed to stumble a year before the election, but ended up convincing the people of Canada that he was the best choice to unseat Stephen Harper, showing great acumen in defeating opponents who led him for most of the race.

Here are some salient points about the Canadian Election

The Lead Up

  • A year before the election the CPC were on shaky ground. A scandal broke out over the way the Prime Minister’s Office handled one Mike Duffy, a CPC senate appointee. Stephen Harper gave contradictory testimony in question period and his credibility dipped.
  • Then ISIS became an international sensation, which coincided with a series of attacks in Canada that left two soldiers dead, and an assailant shot dead in parliament. Security is a conservative strongpoint and so PM Harper immediately took control. He introduced bill C-51, which is Canada’s version of the patriot act, which Trudeau signed on and Mulcair opposed. He also introduced C-24, which received less attention, but was kind of a big deal as well (we will get to that later)
  • Mulcair stood firm against C-51. This was his proudest moment. He was initially hammered in the media (which usually ignores the NDP), but as Canadians examined the bill he ended up looking better and better for opposing such a knee jerk reactionary, monstrous bull. Eventually he took the lead in polls. Meanwhile Trudeau and his liberals looked weak for not opposing the bill, essentially for political reasons and dropped to their lowest point in years. Harper strengthened his base, and readied to attack the NDP.

The Campaign

  • Harper’s Strategy should be familiar to anyone who has seen a modern conservative campaign. Many of the bills he passed made it harder for people to vote. C-51 declared war on terrorists, which oddly enough also included people who harm the “economic interests” of Canada, which played to conservative fantasies of jailing hippies. C-24 literally introduced the idea of SECOND CLASS CITIZENS in Canada, which certainly nabbed the nationalist, anti-immigration vote. He was for oil, against renewable energy, muzzled scientists, and ignored a plee to start an inquiry into missing aboriginal women. Going into the election Harper had all the weapons he needed to win, despite being scandal ridden and unpopular, he just needed to deploy them properly.
  • Harper, using rules that he wrote, made the campaign longer to give the CPC opportunity to bring its deep coffers to bear.
  • Harper refused to engage in traditional debates at the CBC, opting for friendlier broadcasters where questions could be controlled. He strictly limited media access to himself and his candidates, showing unparalleled message control, but looking a little like a paranoid micro-manager at times.
  • Mulcair was riding high for most of the Campaign. Unfortunately for him, the traditional media are allergic to the NDP, and basically criticized him for anything they could. At one point they actually called him arrogant for running like a front-runner, when he was the front-runner. This is the cross the NDP must bear, and will bear until they get some media support of their own.
  • Trudeau seemed to flounder in the early days of the campaign. The conservatives bashed him constantly with ads noting how he was young and not ready to be PM (Harper was the same age when he became PM, with exactly the same amount of experience) and also a teacher (conservatives these days hate teachers, something about unions and lefty propaganda). He made some odd statements about running a deficit and growing the economy from the heart outwards that were roundly mocked by the media (but not by voters, which is key here)
  • The Conservatives engineered themselves several boosts during the midpoint of the campaign. A sudden budget surplus, which mas mostly smoke and mirrors (selling of assets and dipping into EI funds) gave them a boost among their base who really care about security, taxes, and the economy (except the jobs part).
  • A second boost came from new baby bonus cheques — these are the conservative strategy of ’boutique’ tax cuts meant to win them support with certain groups, essentially by bribing them with some sort of fiscal incentive. This is where Trudeau showed an acumen that really should have warned his opponents: he hopped in with Mulcair to show that the baby bonus was smoke and mirrors since it was taxable, but then he offered his own, better version of said bonus, tax-free, and aimed right at lower/middle income Canadians. (I think the line was “Ill cancel Stephen Harper’s baby bonus, which Tom Mulcair supports, and stop sending cheques to millionaires. I’ll use that money to give middle class families a bigger bonus, tax free.)
  • As the midway point was reached the media turned to the Duffy trial, which had proven to be an achilles heel for the conservatives before. The CPC was smashed and sunk to third in the polls. Harper looked finished, but he knew this was coming and had actually prepared.
  • As Harper sunk, Trudeau and Mulcair began to battle each other. Nobody really questionned why Trudeau was rising though, at least not in the coverage I watched.
  • As the Duffy trial became boring again, Harper deployed his secret weapon. It is pretty much confirmed that he hired Lynton Crosby, a monstrous asshole who engineers xenophobia into victory for conservative parties from australia to the UK. He started using words like “old stock canadians” in his speeches. He stripped a terrorist of citizenship using the powers given to him by C-24. Then he deployed his greatest weapon of the campaign — the Niqab.
  • The Niqab ‘debate’ was an example of dog-whistle politics. A woman wanted to wear her Niqab during part of an citizenship cerimony. She even offered to wear a wire so they knew she was saying the words and so on. But the press went into a frenzy of islamophobia. The CPC surged and the Duffy affair was forgotten as the Canadian election suddenly became about us versus them.
  • The NDP, which was strong in Quebec, was smashed as Mulcair stood his ground on the right of people to wear the Niqab. Unfortunately for the NDP, much of their strength came from the places where the anti-Niqab crowd was the most rabid. This was exactly what Harper wanted, and is actually a very astute, if incredibly ugly strategy when it comes down to it. Most Canadians were offended by the debate in the end, but with his base behind him 100% (all of the time, no matter what — as long as he wins) and his enemies splitting the remaining vote, Harper was withing striking distance of a minority Government.

The Grand Finale

  • The Last week was a frenzy of activity.
  • Voter turnout increased by a massive amount. (61% up to 68%, a huge jump)
  • First Nations leaders, angered at Harper’s refusal to call an inquiry about the missing aboriginal women, called on their people to vote en masse, creation an increase of 270% in first nations voters,
  • Some idiot dissed Atlantic Canada, saying that it had too few seats to matter.
  • To shore up support Harper held a rally with the Crack dealing and Crack smoking Ford brothers, conservative stalwarts.
  • Trudeau kept moving up. As the election day dawned most people thought he would get a majority. It turns out that he was constantly consulting voters and creating an appealing platform while trying to be as positive as possible (the Jack Layton strategy). He actually moved left of the NDP, who were too busy trying not to alienate people who thought they might be secret communists to notice (can you tell how much I hate the way our media portrays the NDP?). In the end he came out strongly against the Niqab ban, smashed C-24 as uncanadian, and even managed to seem like he might be ok on C-51 and the TPP. Canadians saw him as the clear alternative and rewarded him with a majority.
  • VISION mattered. Trudeau articulated a vision of Canada that brought people out to vote.
  • Jon Oliver delivered an awesome plea for Canadians not to vote Harper.
  • The American Media noticed that Trudeau was handsome.

Lessons Learned

  • The conservatives underestimated Trudeau and his team.
    • Trudeau is smarter then thy think he is: The Conservatives famously said during one debate that the bar for success for Trudeau is to show up with his pants on. While this is red meat to their base, who reveled in hating Trudeau, it seems that many of them believed it and were caught with their own pants down when he turned out to be more than just a pretty face.
    • Trudeau’s political team had a smart plan that involved Canadians in creating a winning platform. The slow and steady gains show that this was a winning strategy.
    • Conservatives will blame everyone under the sun for their loss, including maybe dear leader, but it might be time to rework the old platform. Trickle down and wedge politics is getting old, guys.
  • The NDP got hammered, yes, but their strategy going forward is much clearer,
    • Mulcair scored points on C-51 and opposing the TPP.
    • Tech leaders seemed attracted to the NDP because they opposed C-51 and the TPP, which harm the businesses of the future in favour of the current dominant interests. Marrying the NDPs socially progressive policies with innovative business support could be a winning platform.
    • Relying too heavily on one region (Quebec) was bad. Most of Canada is politically volatile. (see insulting Atlantic Canada)
    • The NDP needs a strong media ally.
  • Social Media mattered. Strategic voting was very strong in this election. People also showed up to early voting in crazy amounts and
  • Dog Whistle politics can win, but it can also backfire. Harper’s use of the Niqab to get back in the campaign after the Duffy Dip was sleazy, but cunning.
  • Trudeau and his advisers were much, much smarter than anyone thought, Their strategy was solid, building a platform that Canadians could love, and stealing NDP votes by leaning left while the NDP moved to the centre to rumble with the CPC.
  • Whoever pissed off Atlantic Canada should have kept their mouth shut. Having an entire region vote for a single party in every riding is usually reserved for conservatives. Atlantic Canada has now demonstrated just how important it is, politically. They can give support, and they are willing to take it away.
  • There were very few promises made by any side this campaign. I remember campaigns where politicians would come up with hundreds of promises. The new media makes that type of campaign a liability since people can track promises much more easily.
  • The Conservatives ran on their economic record. The finance minister lost his seat,
  • The Conservatives ran on their support for the troops. Canadian Veterans ran against them.
  • It is fucking stupid to call a gruelling, long, brutal campaign against a guy who is a decade younger than you and immune to attack ads. While Harper and Mulcair were tiring, Trudeau was hitting his stride.
  • Ultimately Canadians did not fall for the politics of division. Good for us.

Political Snuff Porn

This is a blog post about Canadian politics, terrorism, and the pornographic nature of attacks ads. I usually wrote about fantasy, systems, and history, but politics and propaganda are easy enough to relate to Fantasy literature.

The situation is familiar, even to those outside of Canada. A powerful incumbent politician who had led the country for close to a decade is facing a strong challenge in the next election. Prime Minister Harper’s economic plan is as deflated as the price of Texas crude. In response to a shooting on Parliament Hill last year he introduced C51, an ugly piece of legislation which gives spy agencies a host of new powers, including ignoring the rights of Canadian Citizens who the government deems terrorists. Of course, the definition of terrorist in the bill is so vague that it can include any form of protester and specifically includes economic threats or threats to state power. While many supported this stronger powers against terrorists early on, people have become very wary of C51. What was was once a strong position for the incumbent has eroded, but he had nowhere to go without backtracking, hence the attack ads. [Link for those who wish to read more]

This particular ad juxtaposes heavily edited footage of an opponent (Justin Trudeau) with fairly graphic images of Isis murdering people. The intent of the ad was to make everyone terrified of what Isis will do to Canada if this opponent is elected. The fact that they chopped up and distorted the man’s speech is grotesque enough, but actually recycling parts of the vicious terrorist propaganda of Isis for political purposes may actually be a new low, even for professional politicians. I mean, stop and think about it for a moment: Isis creates these videos in part to sew fear, as terrorists are wont to do, then our government, takes parts of these same videos in order to sew fear, in this case in order to increase their electoral chances. Both use the same footage to create fear and both say that the only way to avoid the fate shown in the video is to side with them. The only real difference is that Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives (what else?) say that they will protect us from Isis.  We should be scared, but only of seeking other options.

One of the definitions of pornographic is “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction”. By that definition, political attack ads are almost always pornographic. However, there is a specific term for the vile movies that use actual death to ply their audience: snuff. Our government has created political snuff porn.

Happily Canadians have reacted strongly against this ad, and it has been pulled. Still it is bad enough that Isis is using these kind of videos to attract attention and cause fear, but to have politicians in a western democracy using this kind of footage for their own ends is deeply disturbing.