Monday, January 18, 2010


Heartthrob of the right seen here practicing her secret weapon

TED MORTON (Stelmach's chosen successor) taking target practice in preparation for 'The Mother of all Tory Civil Wars'

Premier Ed Stelmach and I started at the same time - me as a blogger and Ed as the much loftier premier - and I don’t think I’ve had a positive thing to say about him since. I’m sure there are those that think that I started the blog just to beat up on Ed. Well, that’s just not true. It was conservatives that I was after and unhappily for Ed he was one of them.

Today however, I want to say something nice about him and here goes. His choice of Ted Morton as President of the Treasury Board was an inspired one. Not because Morton will do a good job in the post, to be sure. But because by appointing Morton, Stelmach has set the stage for the Tories to begin neutralizing the irrational but growing support for the Wild Rose Alliance, and in addition for Morton to emerge as Stelmach’s only logical successor. See:
I hasten to point out that neither potential result is particularly good for the people of Alberta. Any party that has botched governing a province for more than 17 years – like the Tories - deserves to belong in the trash heap of history. Furthermore, Morton’s record as a red-meat conservative and a consistent drumbeater for major spending cuts is not likely to improve the lives of Albertans who are sick, who want to properly educate their children, and who want a cleaner environment with some decent roads and bridges in their communities.

But the appointment is great for the beleaguered Tories. Morton’s vaunted skill as a communicator and record as an arch-conservative are no less impressive than those of the charming, motor-mouth Ms. Danielle Smith.

Besides, Morton’s emergence as a real player in the Tory future is likely to make many potential defectors and even some of those who have already bolted to the Wild Rose Alliance rethink their decision. They will remember that Morton has a loud and impeccable history of championing their cause and has worked shoulder-to -shoulder with other heroes in the conservative pantheon of lunacy – men such as Stephen Harper, Preston Manning, Tom Flanagan, and the rest of the sorry lot. This will make it hard for them to continue to support the Smith insurgency.

While having drinks at a decent bar a couple of days ago with one of those wild-eyed right wingers smitten by Smith’s undeniable charms into buying a membership in her party, I suggested to him that some of the new Wild Rose Alliance members might be heading back into the Tory fold now that Morton is in charge of the public purse and looks poised to replace Stelmach. He pooh-poohed the idea saying that it was too little too late and that the exodus into the new party was unstoppable. I replied that quite the contrary, given the track record for shaky loyalty and survival amongst Alberta conservatives, it was indeed likely that many of them would return to the fold, and that Smith’s future as the next Premier of Alberta was now very cloudy indeed. I don’t know if it was my words about Smith’s chances or if he preferred more conservative company – probably both - but he soon paid for his drink and stalked off into the night.

However, the light at the end of the tunnel may be the train for both Smith and the Wild Rose Alliance and Morton and the Tories. The inspired choice of Morton – probably the single most effective decision made by Stelmach during his underwhelming career as Premier - which is not exactly saying much – may result in one of those political bloodbaths that leaves old Tories still divided and their parties engaged in long-term trench warfare, able only to scrape up minority governments in a fractious legislature, and all the while being never far away from defeat.


Anonymous said...

Every why has a wherefore.........................................

Judy J. Johnson said...

Darryl,I agree with your comment in "Report from Alberta" that "...Morton’s record as a red-meat conservative and a consistent drumbeater for major spending cuts is not likely to improve the lives of Albertans who are sick, who want to properly educate their children, and who want a cleaner environment with some decent roads and bridges in their communities."

Your ideas about conservative values are supported by some of the best research out there, particularly the extensive body of work by New York University professor John Jost and colleagues, as well as Bob Altemeyer, professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba. These scholars report significant differences in personality traits and social values between conservatives and liberals. Altemeyer's 1996 book, "The Authoritarian Specter" outlines research findings on qualitative and quantitative differences in the trait of authoritarianism; he found that conservative MLAs in the Alberta legislature (1996)were more authoritarian than liberal MLAs on several measures.

Even though Altemeyer's sample size was small, statistical research on questionnaires shows that the larger the sample size, the more initial trends tend to increase so it's reasonable safe to conclude that this side of the Twilight Zone, the results shown would've occurred, by chance, only 1-5% of the time.

South of the 49th, Jost found that conservatives are significantly (in a statistical sense) more in favour of reducing or removing the deficit than creating jobs; they are also less in favour of equality than liberals. Even more provocative and surely controversial is Jost's findings that conservatives are less cognitively complex than liberals, meaning they are less open to new experiences and ideas.

Given my theory of dogmatism, I suggest that conservatives on the whole are more likely to be ideologically dogmatic (Jost and others use the term closed-mindedness)because of their greater intolerance of ambiguity and their preference to preserve the status quo.

So much for my early morning meanderings. Keep on blogging Darryl!

Judy J. Johnson
Author of "What's So Wrong With Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief" (Prometheus Books, New York, 2009).

Darryl Raymaker said...

Thanks for your comments Judy.

My experience confirms the findings. As for Authoritarianism, conservatives are forever trying to run the lives of individuals, believe in heavy handed police work, harsh puishment, retribution as opposed to rehabilitation,corporal punishment, capital punishment, and debtor's prisons - unless of course they or their loved ones are facing justice. Liberals are conservatives who are under arrest.

They do not believe in equality and fight like hell to maintain the status quo to keep disadvantaged people in a position of disadvantage. Hence their attacks on quotas or affirmative action pans or even employment equity. And forget about Women's rights. In the case of the United States, it has always been conservatives who have fought against civil rights progress.

And they prefer to live in the last generation, for sure.

A Pity but true.

John Prince said...

Excellent comments Judy & Darryl! My humble contribution, by way of quotes, to our discourse...

"Conservatives do not believe that people can work together and help each other so they do not believe in government and law. Instead they believe in a dog-eat-dog, everyone on-their-own and out-for-themselves society where the strongest survive and it doesn't matter what happens to everyone else. So whenever conservatives gain power they abuse it and use it to get money for themselves and their friends."

"I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.” – John Stuart Mill

Judy J. Johnson said...

Darryl, you've given many good examples of dangerous dogmatism that too many conservatives flaunt with pride. Their dogmatic, authoritarian values are largely responsible for the unregulated, unsupervised capitalism that allowed big banks and Wall Street to plunder Main Street, with serious consequences for the global economy and social services.

Economic and political dogmatism is the bottleneck on freedom’s horn of plenty. To question the entrenched beliefs of dogmatic economists and politicians would threaten their deep psychological needs for certainty, safety, and dignity. These people don't enjoy sharpening their ideas on the abrasive steel of dissenting voices so they're rarely attuned to the other. In contrast, liberals like David Swann are respectful of opposing ideas--Swann knows that to listen or read about only those ideas that agree with his own would entrench biases and stifle objective inquiry. Ron Liepert he is not! And Lieper's not alone.

Given the research, I suggest that liberals are better able to suspend judgment as far as humanly possible and explore multiple views because they can tolerate ambiguity. They seldom use condescending frowns or sarcasm to intimidate others. Having watched several sessions of the legislature, Swann and most of his caucus confront the issue, not the person; they're capable of being fully present in the moment. Seems to me that relative to conservatives, liberal MLAs hold their "truths" in a more reasoned, conditional, and probable manner; they're not final and absolute. I'm not suggesting that all liberals are open-minded paragons of virtue any more than all conservatives are closed-minded bigots longing for the return of public lynching, but from what I see in the AB legislature conservatives provide abundant examples of dogmatism--in the raw!
That's why I'm working on a sequel to my book that explores dogmatism in the body politic. It will be controversial but it's based on solid research (well, as solid as political and psychological research can be given the nature of the subject matter. I'm trying to pin down wet watermelon seeds here!). The challenge is to be open-minded about dogmatism!

Your blogs give me ideas and examples to include in my writing.
BTW, I have a new website at

Judy J. Johnson said...

Thank you John Prince for the very apt and thought-provoking quotes from John Stuart Mill--I might use them! Judy J.

Darryl Raymaker said...

John - That Mill guy was a smart one alright! These days we see the Conservative Darwinian, Trickle Down, and Gordon Gekko greed is good theories all too often. That is what is behind the Republican (and some Democratic) obstructionism in the United States Congress. And that is what Harper is trying hard to import into Canada in a big way.

And Judy - you contributions are always appreciated. You get it!

I would add that many of the dogmatists of which you speak (I often refer to them as ideologues) indulge in their narrow and mean-spirited mindedness to line their pockets or to survive politically. I look at John McCain's performance these days and compare it to his earlier years in the Senate. He has become as dogmatic as the rest of his Reupblican pals because he is faced with a political challenge in the next Senate election in Arizona by a far-right Republican lunatic. People like Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska - a democrat - who fought aagainst Obama's health care plan is a shill for the insurance lobby (Mutual of Omaha comes to mind in Nelson's case). The same is true of the notorious Senator Lieberman of Connecticut, a so-called Democratic, who represents a state that is infested with insurance companies head offices. Many of the Obama's opponents' campaigns have been financed by the insurance industry.

One of the problems that liberals have these days is that the body politic are looking for quick and simple solutions to their problems. It is also attracted to what it sees as decisiveness as opposed to anything that appears indecisive. Liberals must show as they examine all sides of an issue that this is an intelligent process to public policy and obviously in the public's best interests. At times, that is quite a challenge.

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