BBC: "Thirteen million UK families will lose an average of £260 a year due to the freeze in working-age benefits, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)." BBC: Benefit Changes, who will be affected? "Hundreds of thousands of UK families will be affected by cuts of £12bn in the UK's welfare budget announced by the chancellor." BBC: Budget Calculator.
In Grimsby, the former fishing capital of England, sandpipers scurry across the tarmac of derelict streets. The sandpiper isn’t a creature of asphalt and paving. It’s a small white-breasted bird usually to be found foraging on British foreshores in groups of twenty or so, scuttling up and down sandy beaches as the foaming forward edge of the sea roars in and hisses back. I’d come to Grimsby to see why, after seventy years of voting Labour, the town was flirting with the United Kingdom Independence Party. After a while I began wondering what had happened to make Grimsby a wild and lonely enough place for the sandpiper to feel at home. It turns out the reason is the same. Someone, or something, abdicated power in Grimsby, leaving swathes of it to rot. But who, or what? And what will the succession be?James Meek in the LRB provides an indepth look at the problems of one northern town, featuring the decline of the fisheries, the hopes resting on new offshore wind energy parks revitalising the town, the difference between Victorian local capitalism and contemporary pension fund driven global capitalism, the leftwing grassroots Ukip campaigners trying to end the dominance of Labour and their parachuted in candidate with a campaign manager engaged to the local candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, heardheaded Greens, the withdrawal of the State and the hollowing out of local control of everyday necessities needed for any town to flourish.
When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. The project – part of a year-long effort to shed light on political polarization in America – looks at the ways people get information about government and politics in three different settings: the news media, social media and the way people talk about politics with friends and family. In all three areas, the study finds that those with the most consistent ideological views on the left and right have information streams that are distinct from those of individuals with more mixed political views – and very distinct from each other. [more inside]
"DES MOINES, IA – Word must have gone out early, either by word of mouth, or by all those social media platforms that conservatives have discovered since 2008, or perhaps by that strange wingnut telepathy only practiced by the true initiates who know all the conjuring words. (People could make Lois Lerner jokes secure in the knowledge that every single person in Iowa who would find them funny was somewhere in the hall.) In any case, the rhetoric at the Iowa Freedom Summit, hosted by Steve King and Citizens United, was startlingly muted. Oh, they hit all the proper notes. Liberty! Constitution! American exceptionalism! And the melodies were consistent; the first few bars were gloomy as they meandered through the many failures of the current administration, many of them largely imaginary, and then the final movement was all sunshine and rainbows and Republican promises of a brighter day. Every speech was like a Requiem Mass that concluded with a rousing chorus of 'Tomorrow.'" Charles P. Pierce of Esquire has some colorful choice words to say about the recent Iowa Freedom Summit.
The death of Eric Garner is a rare subject that conservatives and liberals seem to agree on. Since the decision not to indict , the conservative blogosphere has been filling with outrage– not at protesting hippies, but at the police. The right-wing site Hot Air described it as a moment that "unites left and right" and collected angry tweets from conservatives, some comparing Garner to the Founding Fathers. National Review, which was unsupportive of the Michael Brown protests, is now running pieces by multiple conservative pundits suggesting an "Enough!" moment. Even torture apologist Andrew McCarthy has ventured to suggest that "I thus cannot in good conscience say there was insufficient probable cause to indict Officer Pantaleo for involuntary manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide." Libertarians have long been active and highly effective critics of police violence, but Reason magazine's support for a federal investigation is unusual.
In a wide-ranging discussion about democracy, capitalism, and the American body politic; Chris Hedges interviews political theorist Sheldon Wolin in eight parts. (via) (previously) [more inside]
"The researchers found that conservatives tend to react more strongly to disgusting images having increased activity in regions of their brain that are involved in processing disgust and regulating emotion. The liberals, on the other hand, had increased activity in different brain regions." Study
The Republican Party began selling new web domains ending in .gop today at www.join.gop. Public interest has definitely been sparked, but perhaps not for the reasons Republicans have hoped. [more inside]
Slate: "Prius Repellent is a perfect introduction to one of the Obama era’s great conservative subcultures: the men and women who “roll coal.” For as little as $500, anyone with a diesel truck and a dream can install a smoke stack and the equipment that lets a driver “trick the engine” into needing more fuel. The result is a burst of black smoke that doubles as a political or cultural statement—a protest against the EPA, a ritual shaming of hybrid “rice burners,” and a stellar source of truck memes." [more inside]
After the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canadian prostitution laws (previously), the Conservative Party has introduced new measures that would legalize the sale of sex, but that also criminalize the purchase of sex or soliciting in public, print or online. [more inside]
Killing Conservative Books: The Shocking End Of A Publishing Gold Rush A decade ago, mainstream publishers became convinced they could make millions by churning out books for the right — and now the bubble may be bursting. (SLBuzzFeed)
Jesse A. Myerson described five economic reforms millenials should be fighting for in Rolling Stone. Conservatives were generally aghast at the suggestions. Dylan Matthews at Wonkblog wrote a response, "Five conservative reforms millenials should be fighting for". Liberals disapproved. Both articles argued for I. Employer of Last Resort II. Basic Income III. Land Value Tax IV. Sovereign Wealth Fund V. Public Bank. Ezra Klein discusses the trolling.
Who's influencing reproductive policy in Canada? Unfortunately, the difference between the religious right in Canada and our neighbours to the south is not so much doctrinal as it is window dressing. The Tea Party’s "late term abortion" red herring with its attendant gruesome imagery very much parallels the "gender-selection" trope of the Conservative base in Canada. It’s a matter of media and public relations, knowing your audience and playing to its sympathies.
"Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner — has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for "a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation," according to documents obtained by [David Corn and] Mother Jones." Photo Gallery: Meet Groundswell's Major Players. Also: Groundswell's Secret Crusade to Crush Karl Rove // (Via) [more inside]
Online pornography to be blocked by default in the UK, announces Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech today. Internet users will have to contact their ISPs to opt out of the filter. Possession of pornography depicting rape will also be illegal. Here is the full text of the speech. Coverage by The Independent, the Telegraph, and a shortened video of the speech at the Guardian. [more inside]
Conservative MPs have drawn up an “Alternative Queen’s Speech” with radical policies - "The 42 bills also include legislation to scrap wind farm subsidies, end the ringfence for foreign aid spending and rename the late August Bank Holiday “Margaret Thatcher Day”. Britain’s relationship with Europe features prominently in the action plan, with draft laws setting out how the UK would leave the European Union and a Bill to prevent Bulgarians and Romanians winning new rights to work, live and claim benefits here from next year. All of the proposals were laid before the House of Commons last night after the Tory backbenchers hijacked an obscure Parliamentary procedure by camping out in Westminster for four successive nights." [more inside]
The New Elitism of Internships "Now we have fresh evidence, straight from the highest halls of power, that the world of internships is a morally bankrupt free-for-all, a new glass ceiling in the making: the Tories have been auctioning them off at a recent fundraiser, as reported in the Mail on Sunday and called out by Jackie Ashley on Comment is Free. The Mail reported that prestigious internship positions in a range of industries (finance, hedge-fund work, fashion, media and so on) recently raised more than £20,000 for the Conservatives at the exclusive Black and White party." [more inside]
When conservative pundits write about climate change, they're more likely to mention Al Gore than science.
Jens Spahn is a parliamentarian in Germany's centre-right party, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and a committed Catholic. He is also gay, and has been openly so throughout his 11-year political career. While he does not focus specifically on gay issues, he advocates equal civil rights for gays and lesbians (including gay marriage, tax parity and adoption rights) from a conservative position. He does not regard this to be a contradiction.
During his tenure as George W. Bush's campaign manager and later as chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Ken Mehlman helped push an anti-gay agenda which eventually led to legislation that banned same-sex marriage in 21 states. He came out of the closet in 2010. Since then, he's openly supported gay marriage. Now, his newest endeavor, Project Right Side, is trying to attract conservatives to the fight for marriage equality. He discusses the non-profit's goals in a WSJ editorial: Making the Same-Sex Case. [more inside]
The Long Con: Mail-order conservatism From The Baffler.
Years of labour peace between the government of Ontario and teachers came to an end this year. Like their colleagues in British Columbia, Ontario teachers and support staff are complaining of unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional legislation -- the Putting Students First Act, 2012 -- that gives the Education Minister, Laura Broten, unchallenged power to ban strikes, job actions, set compensation and benefits, and to take over local school boards who are non-compliant. Ontario school boards are unanimously opposed to the Act, which reduces their power, and so are teachers and support staff, who feel the government is manufacturing a crisis. Most see this as a cynical ploy to capture public support for two by-elections this week that could nudge the Liberal government into majority status. ETFO and OSSTF, two of the teacher unions involved, have repeatedly pointed out that "the school year is not in jeopardy", that they had already accepted a wage freeze, and that local bargaining is proceeding well. As legislation looms aheads, teachers, support staff, and labour activists are wondering: is this the end of collective bargaining for the public sector? [more inside]
"The wide-ranging Forum Poll for the National Post sought the opinions of a sample of Canadians of voting age... The voting intentions, if actual ballots, would translate into a minority government for the NDP." The Canadian public is on a distinct tilt to the left, says a new national public opinion poll. Criticism of the Conservatives' spring budget, Bill C-38, continues: it is "anti-labour" (repeals The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act; reforms Employment Insurance) and "guts the Fisheries Act"; a website protest against the bill is planned for June 4. [more inside]
Following an amendment in the recent Conservative Party budget, VAT on 'Baked Goods' will be re-instated. In response, the question of whether or not David Cameron once ate a Greggs pasty infects the British press. The Telegraph have a live blog covering what has been termed by some Pasty Gate
Canada is planning to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty. CBC, BBC, AFP. The Herald Sun claims that this is to allow shale sands oil extraction.
If mainstream conservatism is a “philosophically flabby movement,” and I won’t argue that it isn’t, this is not evidence of its success but simply of its exhaustion and lack of imagination. Perhaps conservatism should thrive on loss and defeat, but I see little evidence that the conservative movement in America understands that it has already lost on many fronts. There is an illusion of success that the most recent election has kept alive, but it is a temporary one.As the campaign for the Republican nomination for president gets weirder by the minute, what does it mean to be an American conservative? Daniel Larison and Corey Robin debate the changing nature of conservatism.
Bonus: A Liberal Reads the Great Conservative Works
With the Ontario provincial election campaign still extremely close (warning: PDF link) in its last days, the Conservative party sends out a gay-baiting and trans-baiting direct-mail ad. [more inside]
"Starting in an austere room where they are made to sit quietly, symbolizing Europe, the children will pass through an obstacle course to arrive at a brightly decorated party room (the New World). Red-white-and-blue confetti will be thrown. But afterward the kids will have to clean up the confetti, learning that with freedom comes responsibility." This, and many other fun activities from The Paideia School of Tampa Bay's Tea Party Summer Camp.
'These children don’t recognize the flags of their home countries, but they can all sing "Jesus Loves Me."'
Shit Harper Did Does exactly what it says on the can. Example: "Canadian PM Stephen Harper weakened regulations so that more pesticide residue could be left on your fruits and vegetables." "Harper decorated the government lobby in parliament with photos of just himself, instead of the traditional portraits of former Prime Ministers." And much more.
The British Government wants to ban porn from the internet. The move would force ISPs to block all pornographic content unless users had 'opted in' (providing a handy list of people who wish to view pornography) and is said to be motivated by a desire to combat the early sexualization of children. There is no word on how 'porn' is to be defined.
Organized religion's increasing identification with conservative politics is a turnoff to more and more young adults. Evangelical Protestantism has been hit hard by this development. 'After 1980, both churchgoing progressives and secular conservatives became rarer and rarer. Some Americans brought their religion and their politics into alignment by adjusting their political views to their religious faith. But, surprisingly, more of them adjusted their religion to fit their politics.''Throughout the 1990s and into the new century, the increasingly prominent association between religion and conservative politics provoked a backlash among moderates and progressives, many of whom had previously considered themselves religious.''This backlash was especially forceful among youth coming of age in the 1990s and just forming their views about religion. Some of that generation, to be sure, held deeply conservative moral and political views, and they felt very comfortable in the ranks of increasingly conservative churchgoers. But a majority of the Millennial generation was liberal on most social issues, and above all, on homosexuality.' [more inside]
Scientists working for the Canadian government aren't allowed to talk to journalists without permission from Ottawa. And the restriction isn't limited politically sensitive topics like climate change and the Alberta oil sands -- the co-author of a recent Nature article about flooding at the end of the last ice age was told to "wait for clearance from the minister's office" before talking to reporters about his work. The policy has only been in effect at Natural Resources in Canada since March, but Environment Canada has had the same rules since 2008. (Previously.)
Following days of uncertainty not witnessed since 1974, David Cameron makes a hasty entrance to 10 Downing Street, an hour or so after Gordon Brown made a surprisingly hasty exit. [more inside]
Polls open in the UK General Election. This has been one of the closest election campaigns in decades, with all three major parties polling within a few points of each other. [more inside]
Potential Conservative MP Philippa Stroud founded an evangelical church that tried to 'cure' homosexuals by driving out their 'demons'. Stroud is head of the Conservative thinktank The Centre for Social Justice, lauded as the most influential thinktank in Britain who have heavily influenced David Cameron's views and policies on the family. [more inside]
Yesterday, the leaders of the three largest political parties in the UK engaged in a live televised election debate for the first time in history. Most commentators seem to agree that Nick Clegg, the leader of Britain's perennial third party the Liberal Democrats, made the best impression in yesterday's first of three weekly debates leading up to the general election on May 6. The progressive-leaning Guardian even goes so far as to claim that he is now prime ministerial material.
This being Metafilter you will undoubtedly ask, "how does Cory Doctorow figure into all of this?" Well, he agrees with Nick on the Digital Economy Act. Then again, Nick is agreed with quite a lot.
This being Metafilter you will undoubtedly ask, "how does Cory Doctorow figure into all of this?" Well, he agrees with Nick on the Digital Economy Act. Then again, Nick is agreed with quite a lot.
"My exact words were: I’d like to overthrow the government. I was a young firebrand and I wanted to answer honestly. I was very angry about the social injustice in Britain under Thatcher and I’m delighted that came into the show." - former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel on the shows 80s political stance. Terrance Dicks and Andrew Cartmel on Newsnight. Meanwhile former Doctor David Tennant gives his veiws on the Master-like characteristics of Tory leader David Cameron.
Lifestyles of the White & Suggestible opens and closes with a Conservative of Color. The singer heard (but not seen) in the background is Lloyd Marcus, who provides the American Tea Party Anthem. Obama doesn't think it's about racism. Neither does Republican Chairman Michael Steele. An introduction to the beliefs of Conservatives of Color: Emancipation Revelation Revolution
Canada's Tourism Minister, Diane Ablonczy, was stripped of responsibility for a Marquee Tourism Events Program budget of $100 million, after she gave $397,500 to Toronto's Pride Week festival, which attracts a million tourists to Toronto every June. The story was broken by backbench Conservative MP Brad Trost in the blog LifeSiteNews.com, who stated that most of the Conservative cauacus was shocked at the award, and that Ms. Ablonczy was stripped of the budget as punishment. Pride Toronto's response. The Tories run damage control.
"How do you talk about something like gangsta rap from a conservative perspective?" he said. "Are you going to critique it, or just disagree with it?" Friedersdorf tried gamely to square that circle in a piece exploring his conflicted feelings about dancing to Lil Jon at a wedding, but it was an essay that could have been written only so many times. A post-mortem on Culture11. (previously)
A recent study [PDF] conducted by Benjamin Edelman (Harvard Business School) found that conservative and religious states consume the most online porn. "The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1,000 home broadband users....Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election..." [more inside]
The conservative (post-election) Crack-Up. In the wake of their recent defeats, many American conservatives have formed a circular firing squad, with some arguing that the GOP needs a little less GOD, while others say it's just a matter of returning to their roots. At this point, it looks like the party is headed for civil war and electoral disaster. Democrats and liberals may be enjoying the show these days, but what does the future hold for the GOP? (Previously.) [more inside]
Anti-Conservative site Vote For Environment, has had over a million hits in just 12 days. Previously.
Culture en péril - In these Canadian election times and in response to the recent Culture cuts from Conservatives - three of the best Quebec talents in music, theater and humor join forces and hit back hard (lol) with a highly satirical imagining of the replacement program (captioned).
Newfoundland's Progressive Conservative Premier registered his Anything But Conservative campaign today with Elections Canada. The same agency also deemed that the online vote swap on Facebook is in fact legal. They're hiring.
Policy Exchange, the same British conservative think tank who brought you reports such as the tastefully titled The Hijacking of British Islam (previously), have released a new report, Cities Limited (pdf), which states that the only solution for people living in the North of Britain - where unemployment and poverty are high - is to abandon their homes and move south. Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, minced no words in his response: "This report is rubbish from start to finish. I think the author himself said it might be a bit barmy. It is barmy. I gather he's off to Australia. The sooner he gets on the ship the better." Conservative bloggers have been very quick to distance themselves from the report, some going as far as to blame it on Liberal Democrats. Co-author of the report, Tim Leunig, a lecturer in economic history at the London School of Economics, defends his position.
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