Sunday, December 02, 2007

Fascist Flanagan - Steve's Brain

Just as George W. Bush had his machaeveliian monster committed to do anything to win, so does Stephen Harper. After watching Tom Flanagan on FOX owned CTV slamming Dion, I nearly burst out laughing. The American model of SPIN is identical to that used by Flanagan from the University of Calgary.


The Walrus Magazine, October 2004

The Man Behind Stephen Harper
Marci MacDonald

Consternation rumbled across the country like an approaching thunderhead. For aboriginal leaders, one of their worst nightmares appeared about to come true. Two weeks before last June's federal election, pollsters were suddenly predicting that Conservative leader Stephen Harper might pull off an upset and form the next government. What worried many in First Nations' circles was not Harper himself, but the man poised to become the real power behind his prime ministerial throne: his national campaign director Tom Flanagan, a U.S.-born professor of political science at the University of Calgary.
Most voters had never heard of Flanagan, who has managed to elude the media while helping choreograph Harper's shrewd, three-year consolidation of power. But among aboriginal activists, his name set off alarms. For the past three decades, Flanagan has churned out scholarly studies debunking the heroism of Metis icon Louis Riel, arguing against native land claims, and calling for an end to aboriginal rights. Those stands already made him a controversial figure, but four years ago, his book, First Nations? Second Thoughts, sent tempers off the charts.
In it, Flanagan dismissed the continent's First Nations as merely its "first immigrants" who trekked across the Bering Strait from Siberia, preceding the French and British et al by a few thousand years -- a rewrite which neatly eliminates any indigenous entitlement. Then, invoking the spectre of a country decimated by land claims, he argued the only sensible native policy was outright assimilation.

Aboriginal leaders were apoplectic at the thought Flanagan might have a say in their fate. Led by Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, they released an urgent open letter demanding to know if Harper shared Flanagan's views. Two months later, Harper still has not replied. For Clement Chartier, president of the Metis National Council, his silence speaks cautionary volumes. Martin's minority government could fall any minute, giving Harper a second chance at the governmental brass ring. "If Flanagan continues to be part of the Conservative machinery and has the ear of a prime minister," he worries, "it's our existence as a people that's at stake."

Who are these men -- for they are, without exception, men -- in Harper's backroom brain trust, collectively dubbed the "Calgary School?" Flanagan won his conservative spurs targeting the prevailing wisdom on the country's native people -- what he calls the "aboriginal orthodoxy." Others like Rainer Knopff and Ted Morton -- Alberta's long-stymied senator-elect -- have built careers, and a brisk consulting business, taking shots at the Charter of Rights, above all its implications for the pet peeves of social conservatives: feminism, abortion, and same-sex marriage.

...But what binds the group is not only friendship, it's a chippy outsiders' sense of mission. In a torrent of academic treatises and no-holds-barred commentaries in the media, they have given intellectual heft to a rambunctious, Rocky Mountain brand of libertarianism that has become synonymous with Western alienation.
That neo-conservative agenda may read as if it has been lifted straight from the dusty desk drawers of Ronald Reagan: lower taxes, less federal government, and free markets unfettered by social programs such as medicare that keep citizens from being forced to pull up their own socks. But their arguments also echo the local landscape, where Big Oil sets the tone -- usually from a U.S. head office -- and Pierre Trudeau's 1980 National Energy Policy left the conviction that Confederation was rigged against the West.
They also share one beef not confined to Alberta: exasperation at Ottawa's perennial hand-wringing over Quebec. In a 1990 essay in the now defunct West magazine, Barry Cooper, Flanagan's closet departmental pal, advised Quebec separatists that if they were heading for the federal exit, they'd better get on with it -- or, as he now sums it up, "The sooner those guys are out of here the better." Cooper and David Bercuson, now director of the university's Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, promptly followed up with Deconfederation: Canada without Quebec, a polemic that rocketed to the top of best-seller lists and sent shock-waves across the country.
...Little is know about the shadowy, sixty-year-old professor who is staying on Harper's post-election payroll as a senior advisor from Calgary. Flanagan declined to be quoted in this story. In Ottawa, where he has refused to interviews for the last three years, some journalists regard him as a modern-day Rasputin manipulating a leader sixteen years his junior. But in Calgary, one of his former students, Ezra Levant, publisher of the eight-month-old Western Standard magazine, cautions against generational cliche. These days, Levant sees Flanagan and Harper more as "symbiotic partners." But he does not disagree with a Globe and Mail report that once referred to Flanagan as the original godfather of the city's conservative intellectual mafia. "I call him Don Tomaso," Levant says, "He is the master strategist, the godfather -- even of Harper."
For the Calgary School, in turn, intellectual inspiration has always run north-south, not east-west. Its papers are studded with admiring references to the most controversial figures on the U.S. conservative landscape. In his argument for aboriginal assimilation, Flanagan repeatedly cites Thomas Sowell, a black Republican who became the darling of the Reagan-Bush right for attacking affirmative action. Not surprisingly, most of the group's policy prescriptions -- from an elected senate to parliamentary approval of judges -- would have one effect: they would wipe out the quirky bilateral differences that are stumbling blocks to seamless integration with the Unites States.
But Shadia Drury, a member of the U of C department until last year, accuses her former colleagues of harbouring a more sinister mission. An expert on Leo Strauss, the philosophical father of the neo-conservative movement, Drury paints the Calgary School as a home-grown variation of American Straussians like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who share their teacher's deep suspicion of liberal democracy. Strauss argued that a ruling elite often had to resort to deception -- a noble lie -- to protect its citizens from themselves. To that end, he recommended harnessing the simplistic platitudes of populism to galvanize mass support for measures that would in fact restrict rights. Drury warned the Globe's John Ibbitson that the members of the Calgary School "want to replace the rule of law with the populism of the majority," and labelled Stephen Harper "their product."
If so, there's no mystery of the appeal of Strauss' theories to Flanagan or Cooper, who edited Strauss' thirty-year correspondence with Voegelin, Faith and Political Philosophy. "Strauss believed that good statesmen have powers of judgment and must rely on an inner circle," the University of Chicago's Robert Pippin told Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker last year. "The person who whispers in the ear of the King is more important than the King."
From his summer home outside Washington, Kornberg scoffs at charges that his proteges are ultra-rightists masquerading as anti-establishment eggheads. "Their extremism has been greatly exaggerated," he says. "It wouldn't be surprising if it came from the University of Toronto or McGill. It's the fact that it's a provincial university out West that people find outrageous -- how dare they ?!"
Given that our census has been contracted to Lockheed Martin, and our Canadian Pension Plan is vested in US military industrial stock, I'd say ol Steve and Tom have been having quite a party with a "minority government." Just think what they would do with a majority...Canada has been withdrawn from the Kyoto Accord, our Prime Minister snubbed an Intl AIDS conference, and we now are the laughing stock of the world on environmental issues, oh and we are committed to guard the UNOCAL (Chevron) pipeline across Afghanistan and that bumper poppy crop. Oh those Neo CONS, they are consistent in their drive to destroy democracy and create a fascist corporate state - it is called treason.
While our news media gives us about as much news as the US corporate drones of commerce.