Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michael Harris concludes that we're currently stuck in a golden age for political falsehood and deceit:
(T)here are problems with blotting out inconvenient truths with self-serving Newspeak. It’s catchier than a flu-bug in a pup tent. Quite a few pairs of pants are on fire in Ottawa these days because cabinet ministers and senators have learned from the PM that the truth is what you need it to be. It can mutate, transform, even shed its skin. The trick is to say what you need to be true at a given moment.
Perhaps the wider truth here is that we live in an age of deception.

In the banking industry, the global price of money affecting $300 trillion worth of contracts was rigged for years by the collusion of traders and brokers. Crappy mortgages were sold as blue-ribbon investments. Giant hedge funds traded on insider information and even the drug cartels found banks eager to do their monetary laundry.

In big business, accounting firms lied for important customers, companies like SNC Lavalin paid huge bribes to unsavoury but influential characters to win contracts, suppliers sent fake parts to their military customers to boost profits — and mining companies abused workers’ rights in foreign countries in a way they would never try back home.
Parties of all political stripes have had their share of liars and cheaters, just as they have had a goodly number of visionaries and public benefactors. But when lying and cheating morph into a model of governance where citizens not only don’t know, but can’t know what’s going on, democracy becomes what H.L. Mencken called a fancy abstraction for the collective fear and prejudice of an ignorant mob.

It is an old chestnut, this matter of the limits of raw power. Can you really say two and two is five, that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, that war is peace?
- But of course, a deliberate effort to suppress inconvenient truth makes for an essential part of allowing lies to stand unchallenged. Which brings us to the Cons' orders that Arctic research is to be permitted by DFO scientists only if the government has the ability to hide the results.

- Meanwhile, Hannah McKinnon thoroughly critiques the Cons' dishonesty when it comes to climate change.

- Finally, Karl Nerenberg reminds us that Stephen Harper had a wide range of choices in dealing with the Senate, and consciously chose to set a new standard for corruption and patronage. The CP reports on the likelihood that Pamela Wallin and other Con Senators used public money to serve as campaign shills for their prime ministerial puppet-master. And Tyler Sommers is the latest to suggest that abolishing the current upper-chamber monstrosity is a necessary first step to any more democratic system.


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