Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Ian Lovett reports on the use of "capital appreciation bonds" in California to ensure that future generations pay an inflated price to private-sector developers for infrastructure today.

- Justin Ling's review of Joyce Murray's message about electoral non-competition pacts is well worth a read - but I'll particularly highlight this part:
Do you want Stephen Harper to be defeated in the next federal election?
Alright, we’re already off to a rocky start.

Politics of negation is dangerous, ugly, and unfortunately rears its ugly head very often in leadership campaigns.

“Elect me and I’ll stop [gay marriage/abortion/separatists/Toronto elitists]” has long between a rhetorical sledgehammer that’s good at getting gut reaction from ignorant people. Nothing more.

So when Joyce Murray asks me if I want Stephen Harper to be defeated, my immediate answer is ‘no’ — I want a government that, if possible, is more competent than our current one. Everyone should want that. Murray, like Trudeau or Garneau, should be making a case that she can do that. Not offering an Ocean’s Eleven caper on how to dupe the prime minister.
- But of course, there's loads of room for improvement on the government we're currently stuck with. And on that front, Steven Shrybman points out just the latest example in commenting on Harper's dubious assertion that his party's misleading robocalls weren't in breach of CRTC regulations, while Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault laments the fact that the Cons are trampling on access to information more and more as their stay in office drags on.

- Herbert Gans discusses how the U.S. media can contribute to genuine democratic debate far better than it currently does. And Rick Salutin laments the state of the CBC in having fallen into the same infotainment format as other broadcasters:
The gold standard for anchors was the U.S.’s Walter Cronkite. He was ready to stand up against the state and the flow and was solid as the bronze statue of the American revolutionary minuteman who stood “by the rude bridge that spanned the flood/ His flag to April’s breeze unfurled.” He had rhetoric and a voice to accompany it: “All things are as they were then except — You Are There.” When president Lyndon Johnson heard Cronkite turn against the Vietnam War, he said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the country.” Compared to Cronkite, Mansbridge isn’t an icon, he’s a barometer.
He’s happily gone with the flow — and the pressure. CBC has become numero uno for crime stories, weather coverage (today’s snow), product launches, celebrities and awards gossip. None of this is new, or news, and CBC itself doesn’t contest the point. The penny story was another example but the one that probably propelled me into this anchor obit was their infinite overkill on the new BlackBerry. (To give CBC radio its due, Carol Off did an item about that on As It Happens.) Also, to be clear, the Z10 drowned in pseudo-journalism everywhere. That’s my point: why have a public broadcaster if it duplicates everybody else’s obsessions? Nor do I want to romanticize the old CBC news. It was pompous and often misleading. But at least it distorted stories I cared about.
- Finally, Murray Mandryk rightly recognizes the significance of Jack Mintz' report on Saskatchewan's incoherent potash royalty structure.

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