Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Icy Wind(bag) Blows From The North....

Sorry about the picture, but it appears to have been Photoshopped.  The fangs and venom are missing.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been attempting to learn more about Canada, it's politics, and it's culture.  As part of my journey of discovery, I came across the following, and because there seems to have been some issues about it disappearing from the CBC site (the CBC is analogous to our PBS) where it has been published, I'm posting the entire article in case it disappears again.  I will at this time admit that over the years, I've detected some sense of anthropological-study like snickers, and a smarmy supercilious air when many Canadians comment about the United States.  But, I just put it off to their being international freeloaders and benign leeches who've hitched a free ride on the US throughout history, and since they can't comfortably deal with that, they resent us.  But this commentary is way over the top of bad manners.  It is one that might even prod some Canadians to apologize for their own previous snarky attitudes towards us simple south of the border people, and let her know about it.  

Heather Mallick

A Mighty Wind blows through Republican convention

Last Updated: Friday, September 5, 2008 | 8:48 PM ET 

I assume John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential partner in a fit of pique because the Republican money men refused to let him have the stuffed male shirt he really wanted. She added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn't already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America's name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right.
So why do it?
It's possible that Republican men, sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman. They're unfamiliar with our true natures. Do they think vaginas call out to each other in the jungle night? I mean, I know men have their secret meetings at which they pledge to do manly things, like being irresponsible with their semen and postponing household repairs with glue and used matches. Guys will be guys, obviously.
But do they not know that women have been trained to resent other women and that they only learn to suppress this by constantly berating themselves and reading columns like this one? I'm a feminist who understands that women can nurse terrible and delicate woman hatred.
Palin was not a sure choice, not even for the stolidly Republican ladies branch of Citizens for a Tackier America. No, she isn't even female really. She's a type, and she comes in male form too.
John Doyle, the cleverest critic in Canada, comes right out and calls Palin an Alaska hillbilly. Damn his eyes, I wish I'd had the wit to come up with it first. It's safer than "white trash" but I'll pluck safety out of the nettle danger. Or something.
Doyle's job includes watching a lot of reality television and he's well-versed in the backstory. White trash — not trailer trash, that's something different — is rural, loud, proudly unlettered (like Bush himself), suspicious of the urban, frankly disbelieving of the foreign, and a fan of the American cliché of authenticity. The semiotics are pure Palin: a sturdy body, clothes that are clinging yet boxy and a voice that could peel the plastic seal off your new microwave.

'Turn your guns on Levi, ma'am'

Palin has a toned-down version of the porn actress look favoured by this decade's woman, the overtreated hair, puffy lips and permanently alarmed expression. Bristol has what is known in Britain as the look of the teen mum, the "pramface." Husband Todd looks like a roughneck; Track, heading off to Iraq, appears terrified. They claim to be family obsessed while being studiously terrible at parenting. What normal father would want Levi "I'm a fuckin' redneck" Johnson prodding his daughter?
I know that I have an attachment to children that verges on the irrational, but why don't the Palins? I'm not the one preaching homespun values but I'd destroy that ratboy before I'd let him get within scenting range of my daughter again, and so would you. Palin's e-mails about the brother-in-law she tried to get fired as a state trooper are fizzing with rage and revenge. Turn your guns on Levi, ma'am.
Palin has it all, along with being vicious and profoundly dishonest. Just hours after her first convention speech, the Associated Press did a good fast listing of her untruths and I won't dwell on them.
I did promise to watch the entire convention so you wouldn't have to, but I discovered a neat trick. I switched between the convention and the 2003 folk music mockumentary A Mighty Wind on Bravo.
They were indistinguishable. Click on a nervous wreck with deeply strange hair doing a monologue on society today and where it all went wrong. Are you watching Christian belter Aaron Tippin singing Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly in the Xcel Centre in St. Paul or the actors from Spinal Tap remixing the 1966 version of Potato's in the Paddy Wagon?
Who delivered this line: "To do then now would be retro. To do then then was very now-tro, if you will." Was it Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family talking about Bristol Palin's shotgun wedding or was it a flashback to the Kingston Trio?
The conventioneers are nothing like the rich men who run the party, and that's the mystery of the hick vote. They'd be much better served by the Democrats. I know Thomas Frank answered this in What's the Matter with Kansas?; I know that red states vote Republican on social issues to give themselves the only self-esteem available to their broken, economically abused existence.

Lie works for Palin

But surely they know Barack Obama is not planning to finish off the ordinary hillbilly when he adjusts tax rates. He's going to raise taxes on the top 2% of Americans and that doesn't include anyone at the convention beyond the Bushes and McCains and random party management. So why cheer Palin when she claims otherwise?
Is it racism? I'm told that it is, although I find racism so appalling that I have difficulty identifying it. It is more likely the dearly held Republican notion that any American can become violently rich, as rich as those hedge funders in Greenwich, Conn., who buy $40-million mansions unseen and have their topiary shaped in the form of musical notes.
When Palin and Rudy Giuliani sneered at Obama's years of "community organizing" — they said it like "rectal fissure" — the audience ewww-ed with them. Republicans dream of a personal future that involves only household staff, not equals who need to be persuaded to vote.
So I'm trying to imagine the pain of realizing, as they all must at some point, that it is not going to happen for them. It's the green light at the end of the dock. It's the ship that never comes in, gals, as Palin would put it. But she won't because the lie works for her. It helps her scramble, without compassion, above all those other tense no-hoper ladies in the audience.
American politics isn't short of smart women. Susan Eisenhower, Ike's granddaughter, who just endorsed Obama, made an extraordinary speech at the Democratic convention (and a terrific casual appearance on The Colbert Report as Palin was speaking). The Republican party has already consumed nearly all of its moderate "seed corn," she said aptly. Time to start again.
Eisenhower, a scholar and journalist, has a point. Or am I only saying that because she's part of the thoughtful demographic that I'm trying to reach here? Think, Heather, think like a Republican! The Skeptics, shall I call them, are my base, and I'll pander to them as ardently as the Republican patriarchs tease their white female marginals.
This Week
Mad Men is scaring me (AMC on Sunday nights). What has Matthew Weiner, a writer fromThe Sopranos, created, a period soap opera about reality and façade or a horror series on a localized war between men and women? Was Episode 6 of Season 2 a costume drama about the Madonna/whore complex or the operatic rendition of one simple thing, human cruelty?
Or maybe I'm seeing too much into it and it's just a sexed-up version of the Republican convention.
Oh, and in case you think that might be an aberration......here's her earlier article about John McCain. If she was an American, I'd laugh at her attempt at rapier wit, but since she's not....."them's fighting words!"   It seems as if she has a long term envy-hate affair with the US, probably due to having grown up in small rural towns in Northern Canada and wishing she was anywhere else but there.

 I have a feeling that when she's in London, she talks the same way about her fellow provincial Canadians, while wishing that she could have a real passport - from the UK, or maybe the US.  It hurts even more to read this pompous drivel from a woman who looks like Ladybird Johnson does now.

Internet alert: John McCain does not compute

Last Updated: Friday, July 25, 2008 | 4:49 PM ET 

I don't mind that 71-year-old John McCain thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border, or that he believes Czechoslovakia still exists, or that the war in Afghanistan appears to have slipped from his memory. He's no dumber than George W. Bush who was just fine in the view of most Americans until recently.
I don't even mind that Bush has remained at the same level of stupidity throughout his presidency — dumb as a button from start to finish — while McCain's mental best-before date is advancing so fast as to be apparent even in TV clips where he isn't speaking.
That isn't new for Americans, who claim to yearn for Ronald "The Napper" Reagan. The president is stupid; the president is old. No change there, then.
What bothers me is that McCain can't read this.
For John McCain does not compute. It's not that he doesn't go online, it is that he can't — even to do "the Google." He says Bridget and his other kids help him. "They go on for me. They get me Drudge. Everybody watches Drudge."
Which means that McCain thinks the internet has "shows" that you "watch" like TV sitcoms — and he doesn't mean YouTube either — not getting the concept of a "site" made by people "online" consisting entirely of "downloaded" clips that you can "link" to.
The clips can be as cute as a Swedish baby laughing like a battery-powered giggle basket or as momentous as Barack Obama giving a great speech in Germany while McCain visitsSchmidt's Sausage Haus in German Village, Columbus, Ohio.
If you left McCain alone in a room with a computer, he wouldn't know how to turn it on, much less log on, double-click on a browser and find www.CBC.ca or any website, even his own.  MORE....

Whoa!  Looks like I'm not the only one who took exception to her comments, and of all people, he's a Canadian!  He appears to have greater familiarity with her, and does a good job of painting a picture of someone who appears to be in need of professional therapy. Thank you very much Mr. Kay! I might just have to review my opinion of them....

Heather Mallick


Heather Mallick's Bio
Heather Mallick grew up in small towns in northern Canada and now lives in Toronto. She has an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto, concentrating (very hard) on Virginia Woolf, and has worked as a reporter, copy editor and book review editor at various print newspapers. She wrote a column called As If in the Globe and Mail for several years, as well as a political column for the New York Times Syndication Service. Her writing now appears onCBC.ca, fresh every Monday. Her first book, Pearls in Vinegar, was a modern version of the tenth-century Japanese pillow-book diary of Shei Shonagon. It was published by Penguin in 2004. Her second book, Cake or Death, a collection of original essays about finding consolations for living through the Bush era, was published by Knopf in 2007.  
She is passionate about Canadian nationalism and human rights. She reads full-time, mainly biography and history, her areas of specialty being post-war Britain, the Nixon era and the literature of the 1920s-30s, covering Mitfordiana and the Bloomsbury Group. Interests: Gardening, art history (which includes photography), architecture, patisserie. Marital status: Yes, very much so, with two stepdaughters. 
.She also writes for the Comment is Free section of the Guardian.co.uk. Her website is www.heathermallick.ca

View from across the pond....

For those of us here in the US, here's some of what the BBC is presenting to it's audience.  It's always good to get out of your own sandbox and check out what the other folks are thinking about. 

By the way, those houses in Sicily sound like a great deal!

Finally, the fight is on....

Finally, it begins for real....

No more puff pieces and lob-ball interviews.  No more "anchors" being allowed to opine during the "news". Real Questions, real follow-ups.  The inevitability of any one candidate is no longer assumed.  The fight is finally on, and let the best fighter win. 

In an election for President of the United States in North Carolina Tuesday, Republican John McCain suddenly and breathtakingly surges to a 20-point win over Democrat Barack Obama, 58% to 38%, according to this latest exclusive SurveyUSA election poll conducted for ABC11-WTVD.

SurveyUSA NCtracking polls, McCain had led by 8, 5, and 4 points. Today: 20. McCain has gained ground in every demographic group. Among men, McCain led by 9 last month, 27 today. Among women, Obama led by 2 last month, trails by 12 today. McCain holds 9 of 10 Republican voters; Obama holds 3 of 4 Democratic voters; independents, who were split last month, break today crisply for McCain, where, in the blink of an eye, he is up by 25.  MORE....

McCain Now Winning Majority of Independents

Majority of independents now prefer him over Obama, 52% to 37%

PRINCETON, NJ -- John McCain's 6 percentage-point bounce in voter support spanning the Republican National Convention is largely explained by political independents shifting to him in fairly big numbers, from 40% pre-convention to 52% post-convention in Gallup Poll Daily tracking.
By contrast, Democrats' support for McCain rose 5 percentage points over the GOP convention period, from 9% to 14%, while Republicans' already-high support stayed about the same.  MORE....

McCain Rings Up $5M At Chicago Fundraiser

Amount Averages To $1 Million Per Hour Spent Here

Republican John McCain raised about $5 million in Chicago Monday night, or about $1 million for each hour he spent in Democrat Barack Obama's home town. 

CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports the only glimpse of McCain the public got came as his motorcade departed. Like every Republican presidential nominee since 1984, McCain appears to regard campaigning in heavily Democratic Illinois a waste of time. 

Raising Money is why national Republicans come here, and McCain took away an astounding $5 million. Several dozen of the biggest contributors who had dinner with him told CBS 2 McCain's elated by new voter opinion surveys showing that, for the first time, he's ahead of Obama.

"Everybody in the room said 'wow.' This was even beyond what many expected. He is wonderfully self-confident but not cocky," said McCain contributor Craig Duchossois.  "The senator is clearly ecstatic about the polls," said Ronald Gidwitz. "He's very comfortable right now in his own skin. He sees the momentum going in his favor. He is the man who looks like a winner."

Straining to reach money goal, Obama presses donors

After months of record-breaking fund-raising, a new sense of urgency in Senator Barack Obama's fund-raising team is palpable as the full weight of the campaign's decision to bypass public financing for the general election is suddenly upon it.

Pushing a fund-raiser later this month, a finance staff member sent a sharply worded note last week to Illinois members of its national finance committee, calling their recent efforts "extremely anemic."

At a convention-week meeting in Denver of the campaign's top fund-raisers, buttons with the image of a money tree were distributed to those who had already contributed the maximum $2,300 to the general election, a subtle reminder to those who had failed to ante up.

The signs of concern have become evident in recent weeks as early fund-raising totals have suggested that Obama's decision to bypass public financing may not necessarily afford him the commanding financing advantage over Senator John McCain that many had originally predicted.

ObamaTax 3.0

The good news is that Barack Obama said on ABC Sunday that he might not go through with his plans to increase taxes.
The bad news is that the economy has to be mired in recession to avoid the largest tax increase in the nation's history.....
[Barack Obama]
For the record, here is what he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
Mr. Stephanopoulos: "So even if we're in a recession next January, you come into office, you'll still go through with your tax increases?"
Senator Obama: "No, no, no, no, no. What I've said, George, is that even if we're still in a recession, I'm going to go through with my tax cuts. That's my priority."
Mr. Stephanopoulos: "But not the increases?"
Senator Obama: "I think we've got to take a look and see where the economy is. The economy is weak right now. The news with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, I think, along with the unemployment numbers indicates that we're fragile. I want to accelerate those tax cuts through a second stimulus package, get more money into the pockets of ordinary Americans, see if we can stabilize the housing market, and then we're going to have to reevaluate at the beginning of the year to see what kind of hole we're in."
Even individuals staring down the barrel of Mr. Obama's tax increases should not wish for an economic recession to give them a reprieve. The relevant point is that it was early last year, when the "Bush economy" was still humming, that Senator Obama first proposed pushing taxes sharply upward on "the wealthy," while giving what he calls "tax cuts" (actually they are credits, not rate reductions) to "the middle class."
At the time, Mr. Obama was the long shot in the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes, and it made some political sense to reassure the party's intensely liberal primary voters with class-war boilerplate on taxes.....
The reality is that the creators of new jobs in the economy are more likely to be rising entrepreneurs or filers under Subchapter S, who typically pay taxes at individual rates. Hanging three or four tax millstones around their productive necks in January if the economy is weak will likely produce unimpressive growth and job numbers in the first year of the new Obama Presidency, and likely beyond. That in turn could drag down the Democrats in Congress who will get credit for voting these higher taxes into law.....
Thus Mr. Obama's unambiguous answer Sunday to whether he'd insist on his tax increases if the economy is in an official recession: "No, no, no, no, no." It seems Mr. McCain is right that taxes do matter.
Mr. Obama's most ardent primary supporters may not like it, but we'll take the five "Nos" as evidence that Senator Obama may be learning the difference between liberal doctrine and sensible governance.  MORE....

How Obama lost the election

Here's a lengthy, insightful, and bare knuckle analysis of Obama's campaign, and a prediction about the November election.  Read the full article to see if you agree with the author regarding the negative influence Michelle Obama has had on her husband's campaign.....

How Obama lost the election 
By Spengler, Asia Times Online

DENVER - Senator Barack Obama's acceptance speech last week seemed vastly different from the stands of this city's Invesco Stadium than it did to the 40 million who saw it on television. Melancholy hung like thick smog over the reserved seats where I sat with Democratic Party staffers. The crowd, of course, cheered mechanically at the tag lines, flourished placards, and even rose for the obligatory wave around the stadium. But its mood was sour. The air carried the acrid smell of defeat, and the crowd took shallow breaths. Even the appearance of R&B great Stevie Wonder failed to get the blood pumping...... 

The Democrats were watching the brightest and most articulate presidential candidate they have fielded since John F Kennedy snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And this was before John McCain, in a maneuver worthy of Admiral Chester Nimitz at the Battle of Midway, turned tables on the Democrats' strategy with the choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate......

Obama will spend the rest of his life wondering why he rejected the obvious road to victory, that is, choosing Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential nominee. However reluctantly, Clinton would have had to accept. McCain's choice of vice presidential candidate made obvious after the fact what the party professionals felt in their fingertips at the stadium extravaganza yesterday: rejecting Clinton in favor of the colorless, unpopular, tangle-tongued Washington perennial Joe Biden was a statement of weakness. McCain's selection was a statement of strength. America's voters will forgive many things in a politician, including sexual misconduct, but they will not forgive weakness......

That is why McCain will win in November, and by a landslide, barring some unforeseen event. Obama is the most talented and persuasive politician of his generation, the intellectual superior of all his competitors, but a fatally insecure personality. American voters are not intellectual, but they are shrewd, like animals. They can smell insecurity, and the convention stank of it. Obama's prospective defeat is entirely of its own making. No one is more surprised than Republican strategists, who were convinced just weeks ago that a weakening economy ensured a Democratic victory......

Obama, in short, is long on brains and short on guts....... Obama could have allied with the old guard, through an Obama-Clinton ticket, or he could have rejected the old guard by choosing the closest thing the Democrats had to a Sarah Palin. But fear paralyzed him, and he did neither......Combine a child's response to serial abandonment with the perspective of an outsider, and Obama became an alien species against which American politics had no natural defenses. He is a Third World anthropologist profiling Americans, in but not of the American system. No country's politics depends more openly on friendships than America's, yet Obama has not a single real friend, for he rose so fast that all his acquaintances become rungs on the ladder of his ascent. One human relationship crowds the others out of his life, his marriage to Michelle, a strong, assertive and very angry woman......

By all rights, the Democrats should win this election. They will lose, I predict, because of the flawed character of their candidate.  MORE....

Winning the War Against Insurgents

Winning the War Against Insurgents

Can the US, or any other nation-state win a war against terrorists, or insurgents?  The history of such conflicts; Viet Nam, Algeria, the Soviets in Afghanistan, Israel against Hezbollah,  the US against al Qaeda, leads most to say that insurgents wine.  Primarily because the extended conflict destroys popular support for the conflict.  If true, the future looks bleak for Democracies, or those nations that aspire to be Democracies.

Yaakov Amidror, a retired Israeli major general, disagrees with this assessment. In a recent study published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience, he convincingly argues that states can beat non-state actors.  It's a 42 page PDF, but an interesting read for those interested in geo and cultural conflicts.  Amidror concludes:

"one can essentially vanquish terror, even if it is a victory that only prevents terror from successfully implementing its plans, while it does not influence the terrorists’ intentions. Victory of this type requires constant and determined effort from the moment that it is attained, for if not, conditions will revert to their former sorry state as soon as the terror organizations deem themselves strong enough.
An evaluation of the war on terrorism must address the question of the level of victory over terror that can be obtained under conditions of the battle theater – total victory, temporary victory, or sufficient victory – and how one can improve the level of victory over time. It is clear that such a discussion is relevant only if one embraces the contention that the democratic state is essentially capable of subduing the terror that menaces it."

Interestingly, here's a piece from Today's Wall Street Journal reviewing Bob Woodward's new book "The War Within".  It would have been more appropriately posted with my earlier post about Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane  excerpted from the same book.  Between all the hold-over Democrats in the State Department, Justice Department, and the overly-cautious and resistant General officers in the Military, it's a wonder that President Bush has managed to accomplish anything....

Generals Behaving Badly

When Abraham Lincoln famously sent word to Gen. George McClellan that he'd like to "borrow" the army if the general wasn't planning on using it, the commander of Union forces likely did not take it kindly. McClellan, after all, was a man whose letters home referred to Lincoln as an "idiot," "a well-meaning baboon" and other colorful language.
[Main Street]
Gen. George Casey.
In the first few pages of "The War Within," Bob Woodward opens with another presidential remark that offended another wartime general. This time the recipient was the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey. During a videoconference with Baghdad, the president said, "George, we're not playing for a tie. I want to make sure we all understand this." Gen. Casey, Mr. Woodward writes, took this as "an affront to his dignity that he would long remember."
Whether or not Gen. Casey long remembered, "The War Within" makes clear his disdain for his commander in chief. If the views and remarks attributed to Gen. Casey are not accurate, Mr. Woodward has done him a grave injustice. If they are accurate, they come as further evidence of the obstacles President George W. Bush had to overcome to get his commanders to start winning in Iraq.
Opening with Gen. Casey also says something about Mr. Woodward. There's a case, I suppose, for using the general who opposed the surge to open what is hailed as the definitive account of that surge (not to mention using Robert McNamara, the Defense secretary who helped lose Vietnam to end the book). Surely, however, that would be the same case for wrapping the definitive account of the strategy that brought Robert E. Lee to Appomattox around Gen. McClellan.
Gen. Casey, after all, was the commander who all along maintained that the solution in Iraq was for America to draw down its forces -- even after the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. He was the commander who later that year was given his own chance to secure Baghdad with Operations Together Forward I and II, and failed. Most of all, he is the commander who was wrong when the president was right to insist that Baghdad could be secured and al Qaeda dealt a harsh blow with more troops.
Gen. Casey's continued adherence to a failed strategy does not make him a dishonorable man. It does make him an odd choice to serve as the foundation for the charge that the president was out of touch with the war. As evidence, both the general and the journalist point to questions about how many of the enemy we were killing as a sign that "the president did not get it."
Then again, maybe it's Gen. Casey and Mr. Woodward who did not get it.  MORE....

Supreme Court As An Election Issue

Given the percentage of likely voters who have registered concern about the activities of the Supreme Court, one must wonder what role potential Supreme Court appointments will play in voters' choice come November....

60% of Voters Say Supreme Court Should Base Rulings on Constitution

Thirty-two percent (32%) of likely voters say the Supreme Court is doing a good or excellent job. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% give the Honorables poor ratings.

During his acceptance speech.... at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota, John McCain told the audience, “We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench.” Most American voters (60%) agree and say the Supreme Court should make decisions based on what is written in the constitution, while 30% say rulings should be guided on the judge’s sense of fairness and justice. The number who agree with McCain is up from 55% in August.

While 82% of voters who support McCain believe the justices should rule on what is in the Constitution, just 29% of Barack Obama’s supporters agree. Just 11% of McCain supporters say judges should rule based on the judge’s sense of fairness, while nearly half (49%) of Obama supporters agree.  MORE....

Way Up North (to Canada)

In an effort to aid my fellow American's (US, that is) understand their neighbors to the North, and in fellowship with my daughter-in-law's family who still live there, eh, I'm on a mission to learn and present as much information about the Frozen Chosen as I can find. This may be painful for some, but I intend to persevere...... 

Simultaneous campaigns - completely different political cultures

L. IAN MACDONALD, Freelance Published: Monday, September 08

For the next five weeks, with the overlay of the Canadian and U.S. elections, voters will have a daily opportunity to compare the similarities, and note the differences, of the political cultures in the two countries.
To begin with the obvious, as we have just seen, party conventions are very different events in the two cultures.
In Canada, nominating conventions are competitive, while in the U.S. they are coronations........The best Canadian conventions of modern times were the Conservative leaderships of 1976 and 1983, four-ballot nail-biters that chose Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. 
By contrast, the last competitive U.S. conventions actually decided on the floor, were the selections of John F. Kennedy by the Democrats and Gerald Ford by the Republicans (over Ronald Reagan) in 1976. For the rest, with the exception of the odd floor skirmish over the platform, U.S. conventions have been scripted television pageants.
The economy is clearly the top issue in the U.S., and in Canada's it's heading that way. Where the economy was ranked only third behind the environment and health care a year ago, it is moving into first place. While Canada technically avoided a recession in the second quarter of this year, and added 15,000 jobs in August after a shocking loss of 55,000 in July, the rising economic uncertainty is one of the reasons for Stephen Harper to go to the polls while the going's still good. About half of Canadians still think the country is moving in the right direction.........
The U.S., the richest nation in the world, is still having a debate about universal health care in a country where nearly 50 million people have no coverage at all. In Canada the debate isn't about whether the public health care system is broken, but largely about how to fix it.........
On energy, both Obama and McCain have pledged to end America's dependence on foreign oil, by which they mean Mideast oil, not Canadian oil and gas, to which the U.S. has access it takes for granted. That's one reason for Obama to be very careful about suggesting re-opening the NAFTA, of which McCain is an unqualified supporter.
On the environment, everybody on both sides of the border wants to save the planet from global warming, but Dion is the only party leader in either country to propose a carbon tax to do it.  MORE....

Posted: September 08, 2008, 6:17 PM by Kelly McParland

  MONTREAL • The spokesman for Stéphane Dion’s campaign was testy after reading gobs of negative press: “Why do you guys even bother covering this election?,” Mark Dunn snapped to any reporter within earshot. “You think it’s all over.”

Of course it’s not, silly, despite a Montreal newspaper poll pegging the Conservatives deep into majority territory with 183 of the 308 seats, which has all the markings of a rogue poll to me.

Even if the trend is correct, voters only snap to attention once a campaign starts and that leaves perceptions about the party and its leader open to another 34 days of spin and manipulation before any die is cast.

But there’s no denying Mr. Dion is meeting early expectations of leading a flaccid tour that shows signs of a wafer-thin organization on the ground, even in party strongholds.

The Liberals are the three-pillar MTV party -- concentrated in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and only a remnant of its once-mighty self everywhere else.

Yet even in Montreal ridings where by-elections were supposed to be held this week, places where you might expect the party machine revved and ready to back their party leader, event crowds were small and muted with nary a Dion sign to be seen.

The tone and modest substance of the first full day of the campaign were equally odd. After the Conservative war room accused the Liberals of plotting to raise the GST and end daycare subsidies if elected, Mr. Dion unleashed a tirade of denial in both official languages.  MORE....

Eight Weeks To Go.....

In eight weeks we will have an answer (well, maybe - I guess after Gore V. Bush we can't say that with certainty anymore) as to who will be the next President of the United States.  My own take on the process is that the election is a crapshoot at this point (hmmm, I'll have to look up the Vegas odds for the election).  Neither of the candidates has really laid out a strong philosophical foundation for their various issue item arguments (Health Care - What should the government's role be and why? / Taxation - What is their philosophical basis for the architecture of our tax structure, and what will be the resultant broad impact of their approach? Etc....), so it's difficult to asses how the American voters will line up. Hmmm, that raises another question - who's going to vote, or not vote?

What we'll probably see over the next eight weeks are individual campaign reactions to world events; gaff's on the part of one or more of a candidates team or supporters; more tabloid news items on one or more of the candidates; a speech or two; and a couple of "debates".  The economy will undoubtedly, and should, play a large part in the debates.  Despite the absence of laying out their philosophical basis for their approach to the economy, each candidate has at least put forward some thoughts on how they would address health care, jobs, taxes, and national security.  So, from these "entrails" we're left with figuring out how they might actually handle the issues.

John McCain is somewhat easier to feel that you understand.  He's got a longer track record, we kind 'a know who's advising him and who his friends are, and even his quirks are predictable.

Barack Obama is completely different.  We really don't know who he is, and are unsure how to predict his moves.  We really don't know who his friends are, because he's disavowed those we thought were.  We really don't know who's advising him, and since he's been somewhat teflon-like in his development and not leaving many traces, he's hard to predict.  Maybe the better analogy for him would be a point guard in basketball; faking right, and going left.

Is this the best approach to choosing our President?  It can't be, but it's what we've got at this moment.

On Nov. 4, Remember 9/11


Balint Zsako
THE next president must do one thing, and one thing only, if he is to be judged a success: He must prevent Al Qaeda, or a Qaeda imitator, from gaining control of a nuclear device and detonating it in America. Everything else — Fannie Mae, health care reform, energy independence, the budget shortfall in Wasilla, Alaska — is commentary. The nuclear destruction of Lower Manhattan, or downtown Washington, would cause the deaths of thousands, or hundreds of thousands; a catastrophic depression; the reversal of globalization; a permanent climate of fear in the West; and the comprehensive repudiation of America’s culture of civil liberties.
Many proliferation experts I have spoken to judge the chance of such a detonation to be as high as 50 percent in the next 10 years. I am an optimist, so I put the chance at 10 percent to 20 percent. Only technical complications prevent Al Qaeda from executing a nuclear attack today. The hard part is acquiring fissile material; an easier part is the smuggling itself (as the saying goes, one way to bring nuclear weapon components into America would be to hide them inside shipments of cocaine)..........
So what we have is one presidential candidate who still seems to be casting about for an overarching strategy; and another one who is not entirely sure whom we’re fighting. We can hope against hope that in the next two months, these two men will discuss, in a deliberative and encompassing way, the best ways to protect America from what some nonproliferation experts believe is a nearly inevitable attack. We should, in fact, demand that this conversation take place, because nothing else matters.  MORE....
Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, is the author of “Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.”

History Test

Age And Experience: The Reagan Resume

When President Reagan assumed office on the eve of his 70th birthday, U.S. inflation under his predecessor had zoomed from 5% to 15%, the prime interest rate had soared from 6% to 21% (the highest since Lincoln), 30-year mortgages were 18%, gas stations had long lines and even-and-odd license-plate days, and the communist Soviet Union had overthrown and seized seven more countries in strategic areas around the world.In the previous 10 years, according to Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, Russia had spent $104 billion more on its military and $40 billion more on research and development than the U.S. This resulted in four new ICBMs, the Backfire bomber, the SS-20, missile-firing submarines, new tanks, new air defense systems and whole new classes of ships. The Soviets had huge tactical nuclear superiority in Europe.......Now read the rest of the story, because you may be surprised at what you've forgotten, or didn't know....MORE....

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