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It’s election season in Ontario, and this means two things: 1. We’re having an election soonish. 2. Each major party is releasing asinine attack ads about each other, and it’s pretty funny. Why do political parties feel that it is enough to make unsubstantiated claims about each other in a bid to get elected? That’s the equivalent of a teenage girl spreading rumours about another girl she considers competition for prom queen. (Is that still a thing?!) I wish political parties would stop chirping each other and start telling us what their plans are. And by plans I mean actual plans, not Hudak’s promise to cut eleventy billion dollars in taxes while adding 8 trillion jobs. Come on man!

But most of all, I hate that Facebook knows I’d vote for Kathleen Wynne if by some astonishing turn of events, I do indeed vote. I want to let her know, however, that she’s squandering any support I have for her with her stupid stupid ads. Exhibit A:

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That’s a very bold claim. How did she arrive at those numbers? Did they record him plotting in his underground lair? Thanks for the info, guys.

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They nailed the target demographic with this one. NOT. Just because I go to bed at ten and watch Golden Girls doesn’t mean I am a senior citizen. Does Kathleen Wynne have a  plan to help me be employed securely? Because that would be a nice start.

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What does this even mean? If I had clicked this link, I’d put money on it leading me to a Liberal Party zombie attack plan. Only Kathleen Wynne has a plan for the zombie apocalypse – other leaders have no plan. This is exactly the kind of vague and menacing ad that makes election season fun. I wonder what this is on the NDP site then. They claim it’s a plan, but Kathleen Wynne knows better.

I’m not trying to pick on the Liberals though. The NDP and PCs have been just as boneheaded–if not worse–in their campaigns.

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Some genius thought it would be nice to remind Canadians that all our hockey teams suck and have ended their season with this gem. My favourite part of this is that Wynne is red like the devil. The subtext reads “Put Wynne back in hell where she belongs.” It’s so creepy.

In a move that reached the all-time pinnacle of desperation, today the NDP and PCs each bought ad space on the entire covers of popular newspapers so they could print fake headlines and made-up stats. My favourite is the NDP’s informative chart on the cover of Metro:

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Really? Did they run that poll on their website? How incredibly idiotic–don’t put that on the front page of a newspaper (though calling Metro a newspaper is generous). The NDP may be hurting itself more than helping–how does the working Canadian’s party have enough cheddar to buy TWO newspaper covers? I’m not going to say because of unions, but it’s because of unions. Yet I’m willing to be that unions representing employees in the industrial sector are not well-represented on the NDP’s bankroll. But I digress…

I worked on an NDP campaign in Alberta, and I don’t recall planting any fake polls on the covers of newspapers. These fools are making the PCs look awesome by comparison. And that’s no trivial feat!

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Foreign policy is a political minefield–the world is a big, complicated place, and naming countries things like Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan make embarrassment inevitable. Some politicians are uncommonly adept at navigating the intricacies of international relations, but many err on the side of disaster, giving us countless laughs as we vaguely wonder how these morons became responsible for representing us to the world.

In honor of these morons, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite foreign policy gaffes. But lest anyone think that I am looking down on them, I should say that I too have been known to deliver the occasional zinger. A few weeks ago I confused the President of Russia with poutine, a Quebecois delicacy consisting of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Also, one of my rambling diatribes somehow ended with me comparing myself to Gandhi (because my life has been long and difficult, according to me). I guess we all have these moments…just for some, they are not so much moments as a way of life.

Image: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Mitt Romney = Foreign Policy Gaffe

Mitt Romney didn’t invent the foreign policy gaffe, but he has personified it ever since his failed 2012 bid for the US presidency. My favorite nugget of wisdom from the Romney arsenal came when he attributed the fact that Israel is in better economic shape than Palestine to the Jewish culture. Never before has a politician so succinctly and deeply offended so many different groups of people while making himself sound like the biggest fool America has ever produced.

Other highlights of the trip include Romney questioning whether London was ready for the Olympics, calling Labour Party leader Ed Milliband “Mr Leader” (which is not a thing in England) after apparently forgetting his name, and congratulating Poland, which had an unemployment rate of 12%, on its flourishing economy. On the possibility of a conflict with Iran, he had this to say: “You sit down with your attorneys and [they] tell you what you have to do.” Holy shit. And he lost why….?

Gossip Guys

“I have to deal with him every day”

President Obama is probably still haunted by a hilarious private conversation he had with France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011 regarding Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu. What’s the harm in a private exchange between colleagues, you ask? Their mics were on and everyone in the world heard the whole thing:

Sarkozy: I cannot stand him. He’s a liar.

Obama: You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day.

There’s something so charmingly schoolgirl-esque about this conversation that makes me laugh and laugh. Netanyahu probably begs to differ.

“Today I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever”

In 1984 President Ronald Reagan put the Kremlin on alert with some inappropriate comments made during a sound check before a radio show. He proclaimed: “my fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Russia’s leaders were not amused, and had to be convinced that this was only a little-known facet of Reagan’s twisted sense of humor.

“Esta vieja es peor que el tuerto”

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica learned about the importance of making sure one’s mic is off when an offhand comment he made–loosely translated as “this old lady is worse than the cross-eyed guy”–made it to the ears of the “old lady” in question. He had been referring to his Argentine counterpart Cristina Fernandez and her late husband Nestor Kirchner, who suffered from an eye condition. The comment was received in customary Argentine fashion–that is, with a healthy dose of drama and its own jaunty theme song.

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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Joe Biden starts a war with Iran and kills the Irish PM’s mom

I  believe Joe Biden is an extraordinarily competent politician, but you wouldn’t know it from his long history of gaffes. At a campaign rally last year, supporters were surprised to learn that the US was at war with Iran–Biden asked them if they knew anyone serving in “Iraq or Iran.” Oops!

Similarly disturbing was when, during an introduction of the Irish PM, he mentioned that the PM’s mom (God rest her soul) used to live on Long Island. Trouble was she still did, and it was actually the PM’s dad who had passed away. And that’s why Obama keeps him behind the scenes now.

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Matthew Yglesias

“Russia’s big and so is China”

This one’s almost too easy, but I’ve never enjoyed a challenge anyway. George W. Bush was famous for his quirky (read: asinine) comments, and, much to the consternation of Americans, he was loud and proud in the international arena. He greeted Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi with a cheery “Amigo! Amigo!”, clearly forgetting that Italian and Spanish are two separate languages. He famously gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel a creepy shoulder massage. He excused himself from his last G8 summit with the words “goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter” with an accompanying air punch as Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy stared in disbelief. Is it wrong to say I miss the humor that President Bush injected into US foreign policy? Probably, but I still do.

“The people of Peru deserve better”

Dick Cheney did nothing to help his relations with Venezuela when, while lamenting the harm that Hugo Chavez was doing, he declared that “the people of Peru deserve better.” Sure they do–and so do the people of Venezuela, the country that Chavez led. Not cool, dude.

I’m sorry if this list seems a little America/GOP-heavy, but they make themselves pretty easy targets. Any accounts of stupidity in other countries are welcome. Perhaps it seems wasteful to spend so much time on stupidity, but it will always be in the world; the only thing we can change is our reaction to it.

Ok so technically one can only jump the shark once–it’s supposed to be the moment in which things irrevocably go from good to bad, as in the show Happy Days, when Fonzi jumps over a shark wearing a pair of waterskis in a desperate ploy to keep the show relevant. How, then, does John Kerry keep on jumping that shark, always managing to recover only to jump it again?

As US Secretary of State, Kerry arguably has one of the most rhetorically demanding jobs in the world. One false word out of his mouth could literally blow up the world. So it’s more than a little mind-blowing to me the way Kerry often seems to think out loud, say his actual opinion, and stand up for something about which he feels strongly. His predecessor, Hillary Clinton, was the opposite–she flew under the radar for the most part.

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Kerry, on the other hand, has been making headlines since his 1971 Senate testimony that helped end the Vietnam war. Even back then he didn’t mince words; as msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell observes, “John Kerry didn’t play it safe when he testified against the war,” and called him “the most valuable kind of war hero, the hero who helps end the war.” Kerry’s bold speech called out several Democrats by name and could have spelled the end of his political career. Instead it earned him a place in the hearts of many Americans who had begun to feel like pawns in their country’s proxy wars against the USSR.

And actually Kerry’s display did come back to haunt him during his 2004 presidential campaign. A closer examination of his war record and his history of opposition to the Vietnam war ultimately culminated in a shark-jumping moment for his campaign. (It didn’t help that America was then embroiled in multiple wars as a result of the September 11th attacks.)

“I actually did vote for the $87 billion…before I voted against it”

But he rose again, like a Fonzi-phoenix from the shark-ashes…only to jump the shark again in 2006, when he was caught making a joke about soldiers serving in Iraq. (Kerry maintains that it was a misunderstanding.) But perhaps most damaging was his change of heart about the war in Iraq. He had initially voted in favor, but later changed his position, leading Republicans to ridicule his perceived lack of resolve. His awkward and contradictory attempts to explain his new position produced a bonanza for Republicans and a headache for Democrats, though I find it admirable that he had the courage to change his mind after receiving more information. Nevertheless, he jumped the shark with these explanations and lost all Democratic support for a 2008 presidential run.

Not quite BFF’s

“Sure, he could turn over every bit of his weapons to the international community”

Kerry learned an important lesson in diplomacy in September, when an offhand remark he made about how Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, could avert a US-led attack was taken as a serious proposal. Within a few hours of Kerry making this comment, Russia and Syria were already making plans to turn over Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons to international control. A blindsided and bewildered Kerry tried to backtrack, but the wheels were already in motion, and by the time UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon threw his support behind the proposal/”rhetorical argument,” there was no turning back. This led to headlines such as “Did John Kerry just accidentally find a workable solution for Syria?” I wish my mistakes worked out that well…

…and then it got stolen by the one single most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood.

Kerry’s recent comments about Egypt don’t seem destined to have the same miraculous effect that his Syria arguments did. In an effort to make nice with Egypt’s army-backed administration, Kerry has been busy lambasting the Muslim Brotherhood for stealing the 2011 revolution from young, secular-minded Egyptians. His comments are a pretty obvious ploy to show that the US is not in cahoots with the Brotherhood, but they appear to have emboldened Egypt’s rulers to impose new restrictions on freedom of assembly. Now secular activists are being arrested–79 on Tuesday–and the embattled nation seems poised for another bout of devastating civil strife. By no means is Kerry responsible for all of this, but it is worth wondering if these events are in part a result of Egypt’s leaders feeling supported by the US. I’d say this is another shark-jumping moment for Kerry, though his comments aren’t the usual off-the-cuff Kerry accidents, but seem more like a change in the official stance of the US administration.

John Kerry will go down in history as an ambitious and impassioned Secretary of State. His major undertakings include the resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict, helping broker a deal to end the Syrian civil war, and a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran; given his reputation as the Energizer Bunny of international relations, he just might achieve these goals. Luckily for us, it seems that jumping the shark agrees with John Kerry.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada’s reaction to the nuclear deal in Iran served to highlight an ever-weakening area of the Harper Government: foreign policy. As I have pointed out a few times before, our policies convey a hawkishness that is uncharacteristic and unworthy of Canada’s peacekeeping record. And while it is great that Foreign Minister John Baird feels secure enough with Canada’s state of affairs to loudly point out other countries’ failings, most of what Canada does now on the international stage is an awkward combination of punching above our weight and refusing to engage in sane discourse with other international actors.

Take the aforementioned Iranian deal as an example. A day after it was closed, Baird held a press conference to inform Canadians (because the rest of the world didn’t care) that Canada is “deeply skeptical” of the deal and will keep all sanctions against Iran in place. “Dammit,” said the thousands of Canadians of Iranian descent who must keep their money in their mattresses because they are not permitted to have a bank account. “What sanctions?” asked Iranian officials, the least of whose concerns is Canada’s refusal to sell maple syrup and lumber to them.

But this isn’t the first time Canada has had words with Iran’s new government. A few weeks ago an op-ed published by Baird angered Iran’s administration so badly that Iran’s foreign minister called his comments “disrespectful” and “rude,” stating that they “show total lack of understanding, in fact, absolute ignorance with regard to the realities in Iran.” Yowza–he really pissed them off! But honestly, what did they expect from a man who suddenly cut all diplomatic ties with Iran a year ago?

image: kc schabaum

John Mundy, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, even went on record saying Ottawa’s reaction to the deal was “unnecessarily hostile,” pointing out that negotiations are the only way to end the cycle in which “one side increases sanctions, the other side increases their nuclear program, and unless both sides agree to step back that eventually would lead to a confrontation.”

Good thing then that Canada was not involved in the negotiations and was probably not asked for input at any point in the process. This is indicative not so much of the world powers’ opinion of us, but rather of the new niche that Canada’s foreign policy as of late has engendered. Canada has abandoned any strategy and tact that diplomacy would require, and instead prefers to shout loudly from the sidelines. From the sidelines because we have been steadily withdrawing from any international body that we can, ostensibly due to our focus on improving our ties with other countries by way of multilateral trade agreements (but in reality so that John Baird can say whatever he wants without having to back it up with money).

But as Mr Mundy observed, diplomacy is not a game of chicken, but rather a willingness of both sides to make concessions while still (implicitly) insisting on core necessities. It is hardly espoused by Baird’s condescending attitude toward Iran–he tersely stated that “Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.” Fair enough, but how has Canada earned this right? By engaging in industrial espionage? By its Prime Minister declaring that Canada will not accept no for an answer on the Keystone Pipeline? Or perhaps by ominously threatening to withhold aid to Palestinians when their leader won a vote at the UN for Palestine to be recognized as a state?

In the worst sort of irony, Canada’s human rights record actually came under fire this past September in a UN review. Among the most vocal complainants were Belarus, Cuba, Russia, and–yep–Iran! Instead of accepting the recommendations like a responsible country, the Harper government lamented the entire practice of having its record reviewed by countries with less-than-stellar records. How productive. In fact, our response to these countries’ concerns led the UN to send an envoy to investigate our treatment of indigenous peoples. Baird was unavailable for comment as he was busy clinging to a shrub while the moral high ground he had been perched upon crumbled into the sea.

Baird has termed his fun new style of international (dis)engagement “made-in-Canada foreign policy,” as if Canada has somehow discovered the magic key to foreign policy that had eluded all of humanity until now. This is highly unlikely. Also unlikely is our government realizing that excessively hardline rhetoric and refusal to dialogue with…well, anyone, is an inaccurate representation of Canada’s national character (as well as an egregiously counterproductive modus operandi). The international community will only begin to listen to what Canada has to say when we make a genuine effort to engage with international organizations and stop making unconvincing threats. Until then, it’s the shrub for us.

This is terrible, but I follow politics in part because I love watching ridiculous people do and say stupid things. The amount of joy I take in this is not healthy or productive–my time could be better used trying to get these fools out of office, but I’ve always had a soft spot for messy people.

However, this was the week I noticed that the messy people are getting louder and crazier, and it’s kind of starting to depress me. The stupidity is getting more creative and downright ironic at times. Here are some examples.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro granted himself emergency powers to deal with an emergency of his own creation

Aspiring dictators, take note: All one has to do is muck things up so badly in one’s country that it devolves into a chaotic cesspool of looting, inflation, and crime. Then you can yell “EMERGENCY” and people will give you even more power to fix it! That’s a nifty trick. Granted, Maduro can’t be blamed for everything that’s wrong with Venezeula…but he sure has tried his darndest to make everything that much worse. If Santa Claus gets confused and doesn’t show up on real Christmas, hopefully Maduro can turn himself into Emergency Santa Claus.

Chris Toman, through Macleans.ca

Rob Ford mocked a Councillor in a city hall session for drinking and driving

Yeah….picture it: Valentine’s Day night, Miami, 1999. A youngish, wasted Canadian throws his hands up in the air and proclaims, “go ahead, take me to jail!” to a puzzled Miami cop. I think we know who that Canadian was.

US senators worry that the temporary deal with Iran to stop nuclear activities will become permanent

Speaking about this temporary deal, Sen. Bill Cardin (D-Md.) vowed that “we will not stand by and let this be the final deal.” Um I think that’s why it’s called a temporary deal. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) predicted that “you’re going to see on Capitol Hill again a bipartisan effort to try to make sure this is not the final agreement.” Yup. I’m pretty sure everyone’s on board with that, actually.

John Kerry clarified the situation, observing that “nothing is agreed on until everything is agreed on.” Ah. Actually I’ll give him that one–he’s just spent the past week in nuclear negotiations.

Liz Cheney reminds us all of the distinction between political beliefs and real life

When Liz Cheney characterized the issue of gay marriage as “just an area where we disagree” (referring to her sister and her sister’s same-sex partner), she ignited an awesome public feud in which her sister told Cheney she was on the wrong side of history.

While Cheney is entitled to her own beliefs, it’s pretty cold of her to want to deny her own sister the right to marry, and thus many Republicans find her stance suspect and hypocritical. Cheney’s response? “I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate towards them. I believe that is the Christian way to behave.” That statement makes me imagine she’s bringing them casseroles every few days with a note that says, “sorry you’re gay.” Perhaps her sister should send her a casserole with note that says, “sorry you’re stupid.”

Sarah Palin compares debt to slavery, moving an MSNBC host to suggest she put feces in her mouth

Palin espoused a commonly-held view among the craziest of the Republicans that the federal debt was akin to slavery–but assured everyone that she wasn’t being racist. Nope, just really stupid! She also warned against the “seduction” of “free stuff.” It’s health care, and it’s not free, but those are just irrelevant details.

Martin Bashir recognized Palin’s uncanny wisdom by suggesting she would be a prime candidate for a punishment used on slaves involving putting fecal matter into their mouths. Bashir later apologized for getting a little too real, and for giving our future Chinese masters torture ideas.

How do I make them like me?

John Kerry tries to befriend Egypt using the tactics of a 13-year-old girl

I love this guy, but sometimes he makes me cringe. This week he observed that Egypt’s 2011 revolution was “stolen by the one single most organised entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood.” It wasn’t so much that this statement was untrue, but more that it was an obvious ploy to appease Egypt’s current administration.

Kerry is bold in asserting that many, if not all, of the Arab Spring revolutions have been hijacked by religious groups, and I doubt he was ever fond of the Muslim Brotherhood. I just sometimes wish that the US would acknowledge these things in a timely manner, rather than when it suits them. Remember that at the time of the coup, Obama was “deeply concerned.”

trudeau attack pamphlets

Conservatives try to take my job of making fun of people

Don’t mess with me, guys, or I’ll take you down or whatever.

Let’s hope this coming week brings less stupidity and more intelligence on the part of our politicians. Except for Mayor Ford, that is. Because I love him forever.

So I am reluctant to add to the attention on Toronto’s..um…situation, but Rob Ford made a fascinating comment yesterday that put a lot of things into perspective for me. Check out this succinct summary from The Telegraph of just a fraction of the shit that went down at city hall yesterday:

“This, folks, reminds me of when, when I was watching with my brother, when Saddam attacked Kuwait,” Mr Ford said, sparking astonished laughter. “And President [George HW] Bush said, ‘I warn you, I warn you, I warn you, do not.’”

“You guys have just attacked Kuwait,” he warned, promising to do “everything in my power” to defeat the councilors who voted against him and promising “outright war in the next election”.

His brother denounced the council session as a “kangaroo court” and a “coup d’etat”.

WHAT WHAT WHAT? This is so fantastically out of control–both the Fords seem to have abandoned any hope of saving their careers and are now clearly trying to draw as much attention to themselves as possible.

While I’m grateful to them for giving me some much-needed laughs, the comparisons to Kuwait are shockingly offensive to the many who lost loved ones or their lives in the invasion. Maybe the Fords aren’t aware that there’s a world out there, and most of it is even shittier than Etobicoke.

And let’s take a critical look at this. Here is the Fords’ arch-nemesis, Coun. Adam Vaughan:

ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE / TORONTO STAR

Here is Saddam Hussein, apparently sitting in someone’s basement after a rough night:

image: The Telegraph

Ok so that’s not his finest hour, but I think we can all agree he’s one scary motherfucker. The Fords have somehow made the logical leap that Vaughan deserves to be compared to Hussein. One is responsible for millions of deaths and the arbitrary invasion of a nation. The other supports bike lanes, more stringent gun laws, and (admittedly) has actually been accused of waging a war–on nightclubs. In fact, Vaughan unfairly blamed College Street pub Crown and Tiger for a shooting that occurred in 2012, much like Hussein blamed Kuwait for declining oil prices in 1990. Ah. that one was a thinker–I see the connection now. Thank you, Ford brothers!

And that’s not the only parallel that Rob Ford’s situation shares with the Gulf War. Much like the Iraq-Kuwait conflict, the chaos at city hall can be in part attributed to a nasty border dispute. In the case of the Gulf War, Hussein justified the invasion on the grounds that Kuwait historically belonged to Iraq, so he was just taking it back. The fact that Kuwait is an oil-rich territory had absolutely no bearing on his decision whatsoever.

Toronto’s situation is a little different. Etobicoke is not an oil-rich territory. It is a land full of rich, conservative people (and not the classy, Conrad Black/finance kind of conservative) and terrifying crack dealers. Much to the downtown liberals’ dismay, Etobicoke joined Toronto in the Great Amalgamation of 1998. The historic event was, ironically enough, an effort to save money by joining six municipalities into one MEGA-SUPER-INSANELY-POWERFUL TURBOMUNICIPALITY.

The festering resentment Torontonians have felt ever since then accounts for the uncommon bitterness with which they have treated Ford. Until he gave them a whole lot of other reasons, of course. But whether in the Middle East or in Eastern Canada, border disputes can escalate quickly when underlying tensions are brought to head.

It is often stated that Hussein invaded Kuwait as a convenient way of paying his debts from Iraq’s conflict with Iran. Here we see another parallel with Toronto’s current situation: tax-and-spend liberals are obviously attacking Ford so they can get more money for financing bike lanes and nightclub raids. Maybe they’re run up some debts they don’t want the public to know about; maybe they’ve spent just a little too much on swimming pools or whatever money-burning scheme they are funding this week. The tax-and-spenders are fed up with Ford’s tough attitude towards budgeting and want him gone so they can make Toronto into one giant bike lane. Which is, like, totally the same thing as funding a war with Iran.

All I can say to Mayor Ford is, THANK YOU FOR DRAWING OUR ATTENTION TO THIS EGREGIOUS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. He has allowed us all to see the many parallels between the Gulf War and the scandal that has resulted from his crack-smoking. It’s totally the same thing. In fact, I’m going to call up the UN immediately and propose a resolution. Adam Vaughan will be captured two decades later looking decidedly less clean-shaven after having spent years hiding out in Scarborough, and justice will at last be restored to Toronto.

Spain has officially left the EU bailout fund this week, and we are getting reports that it is officially “out of recession.” So what does a country “out of recession” look like?

image: Associated Press

Hm. Maybe by “out of recession,” people mean that Spain has doled out so much recession in the past few years that it has no more to give. It’s fresh out of recession and has now replaced it with garbage. I don’t care what the official parameters defining a recession are–strikes by students and garbage collectors, an unemployment rate of over 26%, and a GDP growth rate of -1.4% last year don’t seem like evidence of Spain’s emergence from recession.

In fact, Spain’s youth unemployment rate reached an abysmal landmark in late August when it hit 56.1%. So if anyone is curious why Spaniards aren’t busting out the rioja to celebrate the end of their recession, this could have something to do with it. There have been mentions of disincentives to work, but Spain has been busy for the past two years dismantling its welfare state, and the recent protests are a reaction to this. People also have to realize that Spain is the proud inventor of “machismo,” a charming little spin on patriarchy. I cannot imagine that Spanish men are happy about not being able to fulfill their traditional role as providers for their families. It’s hard to fathom that a country that holds the matador up as an example for men would be very accepting of the dude who sits on the couch watching Betty la fea and drinking…whatever it is that Spaniards drink. Rioja?

Foto: EL PERIÓDICO.

The high expectations placed on men as fearless providers is partly responsible for the awful way unemployment is affecting Spanish society. The current generation of young people is now called the “lost generation,” and there has been a rise in cases of “youth machismo,” young Spanish men’s reaction to feeling professionally impotent.

The New York Times had a great piece on Spain yesterday that draws attention to the way youth unemployment is pulling at the fabric of Spanish society. The quote that really got to me was one from a young, educated girl who had to leave Spain to work in a stockroom in the Netherlands:

“Leaving your country should be a decision, not an obligation.”

Does this sound like someone who is taking advantage of disincentives? The next person to say that word to me is getting smacked. That article is full of highly educated youth searching frantically for a job, even if it’s as a clerk in a grocery store. This clearly illustrates that the issue is not that no one is trying to find a job–the issue is that there are no jobs.

I am extremely confused. Who decided that Spain was out of recession? A recession is defined as “a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.” Spain’s GDP has been falling for eleventy-million consecutive quarters (also known as since the beginning of 2012).

As this chart illustrates, Spain’s GDP had taken such a beating since 2008 that a recovery will take many years. But since its GDP is projected to increase by 0.1% in Q4, it is apparently out of recession now? Tell that to the PhD-holding Spaniard wading through trash to get to her job interview for a temporary position at the grocery store.