Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fifty Shades of Gerry

Given the success of “50 Shades of Grey” I have decided to write my own “erotica” novel in a literary attempt to become a billionaire.

Here’s what I have so far:

Chapter One

Sterling Nash sat by the roaring fire, a chilled glass of champagne in his hand, when she entered the room.

With her long, cascading blonde hair and her ruby red lips, Sterling thought she looked like a goddess.

“Welcome,” he said in his most sexy-sounding voice.

“Hi,” she responded. “By the way the fireplace isn’t lit and that’s a glass of Pepsi you’re holding.”

“Well, champagne isn’t exactly cheap,” Sterling noted “And the logs were too damp to catch fire. But never mind that, let’s get more comfortable.”

He started to slowly unbutton his shirt.

“Stop that!” she demanded.

“But this is an erotica novel,” he pointed out with flustered exasperation. “Wait till you see what happens in Chapter Two.”

“Yeah, well there won’t be a Chapter Two you pervert. In fact, this book is over right now.”

Sterling watched in dismay as she spun on her heels and marched out the door.

Then in a blatant effort to pad the novel’s word count, he just sat there puzzled for several minutes.

Finally, Sterling took a sip from his Pepsi and muttered, “I wonder why suburban housewives think this stuff is so hot?”

Friday, August 24, 2012

In Politics Nothing is Innocent

Free political lesson: If you want to attack an opponent you have two basic options. You can attack them for a) all the bad and dangerous stuff they do or b) for all the good and harmless stuff they do.

Yes, that’s right, in politics you can actually attack somebody for doing good and harmless stuff!

How is this possible, you ask?

Well, let me give you three recent examples of ways in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under assault for doing things any rational person would see as completely innocuous.

Case Number One: Oh My God!

What Harper Did
The Prime Minister, like millions of other Canadians, belongs to a Church, in this case the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Nothing wrong with that, right? After all, in this enlightened age we don’t attack a person for their religious beliefs, right? In fact, embracing Christian and spiritual values might even be considered a good thing, right? Wrong! Harper’s religion apparently makes him dangerous.

Why It’s Bad
Check out, here, here and here, and you will see why Harper’s choice of churches has some people in a tizzy. Basically, the argument goes like this: 1) Harper belongs to an oddball Christian cult. 2) Harper makes his policy decisions based on this cult’s superstitious teachings 3) this explains why Harper is “anti-science” and why he hates the environment. Of course, it’s all nonsense, but sometimes nonsense works.

Case Number Two: Attack of the Photo Op

What Harper Did
During his visit to Northern Canada, Prime Minister Harper did what all politicians do: he took part in a dopey, innocent photo op. More specifically, he drove an ATV. Lots of people, of course, drive ATVs. It’s a fun, outdoorsy activity, yes? Nope! When Harper drives one, it’s a crime against humanity.

Why it’s Bad  
Turns out ATVs should actually be called “Death Machines” on account of riding one of these vehicles will apparently destroy the planet. Or at least that’s how Harper’s critics reacted to the photo op. While many saw Harper’s little ride as harmless, his critics basically argued that by driving this instrument of Satan, the Prime Minister revealed himself to be someone who derives sadistic pleasure from desecrating our pristine environment. This in turn, means his ultimate goal is to strip mine the entire country! Also bad is that the ATV in question was not (horror of horrors) built in Canada. If you are going to despoil our delicate eco-system, you should at least do it with domestic products!!

      Case Number Three: At least he didn’t call it the Hitler Expressway

What Harper did
Recently the Harper government named a stretch of Ottawa road after John A. Macdonald. Surely, this must be the least controversial measure any Canadian government has ever undertaken. Macdonald was Canada’s first Prime Minister, he was a Father of Confederation; we name highways, schools and federal buildings after him. His picture adorns our ten dollar bill. He’s a national icon, for Pete’s Sake. Yet, amazingly even this action rubbed Harper’s critics the wrong way.

Why it’s Bad
The Ottawa Citizen ran an op ed by author Timothy J. Stanley who informed readers that Macdonald was actually a white supremacist! And so Stanley urged the Harper government to drop the Macdonald moniker idea and name the road after a former Liberal Prime Minister. And I suppose if Harper refuses to do so, his critics will take it as a clear sign that the Prime Minister must be a racist.

So now you see how political spin works.

You can take a person who goes to Church, who partakes in outdoor activities and who appreciates our nation’s history and turn him into a bible-thumping, white supremacist who likes to trample on endangered flowers.

Aint politics wonderful!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Harper and Flanagan are a couple of wusses

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his onetime sidekick Tom Flanagan are couple of wusses.

I say that because neither man seems willing to take on their ideological opponents in a fair fight.

If anything, they want to use state power to silence their adversaries.

And to me this is extremely troubling.

I come from an era when conservatives were willing and eager on take on the left. The group I used to work for -- the National Citizens Coalition--- certainly wasn’t afraid to tackle all comers.

During my 20 years or so at the NCC, we battled big union bosses, bureaucrats and politicians of every partisan stripe.

True, we didn’t win every tilt, but our opponents always knew they had been in a fight.

Indeed, the NCC of my day left so many bruises on so many sacred cows, the political establishment decided to strike back.

In 2000, then Prime Minister Jean Chretien enacted what we called a “gag law.”

This law had one purpose and one purpose only: to silence groups like the NCC during federal elections.

It imposed strict limits on how much money individuals or organizations could spend on “political advertising”, meaning the NCC could no longer freely or effectively express its views.

Of course, we tried to fight back. Under our then president - Stephen Harper -- the NCC valiantly waged a costly legal battle against the gag law all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Harper argued the gag law was an infringement on every Canadian’s right to free expression; he argued it would give professional politicians a monopoly on setting the election agenda; he argued it would have a chilling effect on democracy.

Alas, this was a fight the NCC and Harper didn’t win; the Supreme Court ultimately ruled the gag law constitutional.

It was a stunning loss for the NCC and an even bigger loss for freedom -- yet all hope was not lost.

In 2004, Harper, who by then was running for the leadership of the Conservative party, signed a pledge to repeal the gag law.

Yet six years have passed since Harper became Prime Minister and still he has not kept his promise to restore free speech to Canadians.

The gag law is still on the books.

And so Harper is now treating his adversaries the way Chretien treated the NCC.

Maybe like Chretien, Harper sees the advantage of a law which censors his opponents.

Or to put it another way, maybe he is just afraid of open, unfettered election debate.

And Harper isn’t the only Conservative displaying intellectual cowardice.

Tom Flanagan, an academic, a prominent conservative and Harper’s former campaign manager, recently wrote a column calling for Ontario to impose its own Chretien-style gag law.

Flanagan, like Harper, once opposed gag laws as attack on free speech.

So why does he support them now?

Well it seems he doesn’t like the fact that a union front group called “Working Families” spent a lot of money on ads in the last provincial election, urging voters not to support the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

To Flanagan this sort of advertising is wrong, which suggests he only believes in free speech as long as he agrees with what’s being said.

Of course, if Flanagan and Harper had confidence in the value of their ideals, they wouldn’t need to rely on gag laws.

They would be willing to put their principles to the test and let voters decide.

At any rate, Harper and Flanagan should come out and openly admit their fear of debate.

At least then they would be honest wusses.