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Many thanks for your analogy, Ms. Lowther. I hope to put it to good use myself sometime! -David
Hi there: Actually, dictators do have elections, all the time - Saddam had one just before he was ousted. They're just not free and fair. Cuba is tough, a uniquely American phobia. I think Main Street Americans have been ready for at least a decade to re-embrace Cuba, recognizing - as Darwin says - that the Castros have been running a comparatively benign regime in a world whose Mugabes and lawless Somalias we know far more about now than in more media-primitive times. But the hidebound Beltway status quo, on both sides of the aisle, simply won't change. And the fierce anti-Castro Cuban community in swing-state Florida knows its inordinate power and uses it. For all that Cuba's living conditions for everyday people have vastly improved since Batista, the fact that, as Rob invokes, there is no genuine freedom of expression ruins the whole thing for me, at least. I can credit - I have to, it's tangible - the improvements, especially in universal health care. But I cannot abide the price in freedom withheld. That said, continued U.S. sanctions don't serve either country well, or they would have had some effect after all these decades. Darwin, I agree on applying my Switzerland metaphor to Afghanistan. We have to face certain facts, that the Taliban now controls all but one province - they've actually gained ground since our more substantial and sustained military commitment following our initial, post-9/11 toppling of the Taliban. I don't want to get into it here, but ISAF and the occupiers (i.e. us) obviously got it terribly wrong. With Texas and many states, notably in the South, it's crucial to note how limited a governor's powers are, and how seldom the legislature is in session. During George W. Bush's six-year tenure, for instance, power was effectively held by the Speaker of the state House of Representatives, and that's as both men wanted it. Bush was free to continue attending to his business activities (principally the Texas Rangers and the massive real estate development around the new Ballpark at Arlington, as well as strategizing his presidential run), and the Speaker - a Democrat, as it happens - had pretty much free rein to run the state. These two men got along tremendously well and agreed to the arrangement I've described, which is not uncommon among Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and the other smaller-population Southern states. Texas stands out as being the one huge state that adheres to this custom and practice. I believe its legislature is in session for just three or four months of the year. In Governor Bill Clinton's Arkansas, I believe it's three months. So while one can to some degree judge a governor's likely competence in the WH on his or her gubernatorial experience - Dubya's record in Texas was misleadlingly positive. Ironically, in big-state Florida, brother Jeb was a far more effective and hard-working governor, in part because of his competence but also the far higher demands of the top job in Tallahassee over its counterpart in Austin. In the coming contest, if it were to come down to Romney, Huntsman and Palin for the nomination (though we might now be past the filing deadline for Palin), you'd have to match the relatively inactive governments in Salt Lake and Juneau with the much tougher challenge of running the Bay State. Plus, Boston is a media centre, with great public scruitiny of elected officials. By comparison, the Deseret News is now Boston Globe, and the LDS is overwhelmingly the major power in Utah. Indeed, the News, the #2 daily in Utah by circulation, is owned by the Mormons.
Hi MLC: Many thanks for your research in showing the illogical disparities, one of the many reasons capital punishment is a abomination. Among the others: 1. It is not a deterrent to crime. 2. Mistakes are made and Innocent people are executed - an error that cannot be remedied. 3. Public defenders, notably in Texas, are underpaid and ill-trained. They routinely fail to call witnesses for the defense and fall asleep at trial. This was documented, I believe in a Harper's essay on Alberto Gonzales, then tasked with assessing death-row cases for his boss, Lone Star governor George W. Bush. 4. Only the Almighty, whomever you perceive it to be, has the moral authority to take the life of an individual in cold blood once he or she has emerged from the womb. 5. State-sanctioned killing in cold blood compromises the morality of the state and the people of that state, especially those who enable that state to function as such. 6. It is a violation of every medical practitioner's professional moral oath to take a life in cold blood. Thus, executioners are not medical professionals, and this explains why they so often botch the procedure, inflicting excruciating pain on the condemned. 7. In executing the condemned, society deprives itself of the opportunity to learn from criminals more properly sentenced to the indefinite loss of their liberty why and how they acted as they did in being sentenced to life imprisonment. This was notably the case, for instance, with Albert Speer, Hitler's architect, condemned to life imprisonment at Spandau Prison. Speer's copious writings in prison were illuminating about Hitler, the Third Reich, and the psychology and methodology of Nazis in documentation not otherwise available. 8. Typically, death-row inmates wait some 10 years or so to be executed, as their many appeals are exhausted. California, which gets around to executing very few of its death-row inmates, incurs a cost of something like $5 million for each prisoner it ultimately kills. A life term would be less expensive for the taxpayer.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2011 on Sick. at David Olive's Everybody's Business
Hi Darwin: Yes, that occurred to me. But it's a post about crises we should be consumed with more than a post about 9/11. As for GP, 440,000 Americans died in WWII and America manages to keep the honouring of those dead and that grisly 3 1/2 years to one memorial day a year, rather than spreading it out, lucratively, over three weeks.
Hi Paul: I grieve for the 58,000 U.S. dead from the Vietnam conflict. But we rarely hear about the four million Vietnamese dead (approximately two million in each of the north and south), and the civilian death toll in Laos and Cambodia. Pol Pot's victims were yet more "collateral damage" from the Vietnam war. In Iraq, the low estimate of civilian deaths is 200,000, ranging to 600,000, against roughly 4,000 U.S. military fatalities.
Hi Peter. I take your point. Now why don't you read about the recent, widespread measures in Europe to restrict immigration of the "right" kind of people, which runs counter to your observation about Europeans fighting ugly stereotypes? Otherwise, a refresher on my own concerns about Lewis' more than occasional superficiality are linked to in the above post. Hi Rob: At the time I would have wished the British could overcome their longstanding Europhobia to join the eurozone. And don't kid yourself, Maggie was playing to that ugly side of the John Bull character. That said, the eurozone has failed its first test, and to the degree Thatcher and her ministers were wary on that score, they have been vindicated. (And thanks for your kind words, Rob.)
A festive balloon would complete the serene tableau, for sure. But I've been off them for awhile - "ballooning deficit," "ballooning war costs," "ballooning Botox demand." The latter appears to be the new Ritalin, prescribed for everything. I might turn to it to get the chick weed out of my lawn...
Hi Steve: I think I did correctly ID this as Naomi Wolf's work, not Klein's. There's a strident tone in Klein that I didn't see in selecting this essay. Hi Boff: Couldn't say it better myself, thanks! That last question is a rhetorical one, I think: We lost out on a great deal by having half the population excluded from the conservation for millennia.
Hi Darwin Yup, I should have noted that comment was directed at U.S. readers. And thanks for alerting me to the "Colbert SuperPac." I gotta find out what that's about!
Hi Mark: I am going to give serious thought to that. Bob and Doug were delightfully harmless, though. I need a threatening and dumb as a bag of hammers Canadian icon. Hi Hayden: It most certainly is worth looking into. The brake against panic about the Fords is that they are a mere two votes among 44. But if they have a power bloc on council they can routinely rely on - and I do see their surrogates come forward quite often - then we should be writing about that. I had to hold my nose voting for Smitherman. Your depiction of his "campaign" is more accurate than mine. I think he would have proved difficult to work with.
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2011 on Twin Freaks. at David Olive's Everybody's Business
I wondered about using that headline, but Cole Porter got the better of me (again). The voodoo to which he's referring, of course, is the romantic spell he's been put under by a wonderful gal. Supply side economics is as bankrupt as Mao's great leaps forward, but as recently as the Bush tax cuts skewed to the rich, it lives on. I'm with ECS that Greenspan & Co. still believe the markets are "self-correcting." Bernanke is a Greenspan protege of sorts, although at least he didn't literally sit at the feet of Ayn Rand, as the ill-named "Maestro" did. I also agree one of our greatest threats is the eradication of our species. We have to get away from the rhetoric of saving the planet. The planet will be fine. It's humans and tens of thousands of other species that are in mortal danger. The #1 immediate threat, for me, is the "loose nukes" in the hands of terrorists, home-grown and otherwise.
WW: That's the kind of thing I can imagine a younger Tom d'Aquino doing, but not John Manley. Manley has the naivte for it - no sense of how it could backfire - but he's also afraid of his own shadow.
My theory is it's the writers for Jon Stewart, always fearing a sudden drought of material. The Kochs, alas, are no Lamar Hunt. The Hunts were dolts. The Kochs have business acumen, whatever one thinks of their politics - which are, in any case, too widely known to count as a conspiracy.
HI Rob: I had noticed McGuinty dissing the West. There's nothing to be gained from that politically or in policy. For sure he's not bosom buddies with Harper, whose local rep apparently is Rob Ford. I don't know whether it's Harper or the way Ford comes on, but Harper always looks so uncomfortable, grimacing even, when Ford gives him a hug and a squeeze.
Hi Darwin: I agree, I would have preferred that Obama demand, maybe in his first year, that the Bush tax cuts have to go. As for Obamacare, it still leaves, last I read, about 15 million people without coverage. So universal it ain't. (Though that's down from 55 million without coverage.) As to maintaining the status quo on the private sector, Obama's on record - I have copies of the speeches - saying if he could start from scratch he'd go with "what they have in Canada." But dismantling the status quo would put several hundred thousand employees of private insurers on the street, not a step to be taken as U.S. unemployment already was soaring. What the Dems should have fought harder for was the "public option" component, which I'm confident would have drawn most Americans in over time, making for a gradual extinction of the private-sector insurers. Unfortunately, there were just too many conservative Dems, most from the South and rural states, plus the turncoat Lieberman, to get a public option incorporated into Obamacare. Hi WW: I hope Mr. McG is able to make it three in a row. I've been impressed with his commitment to reinventing the province's industrial base. Not sure why he doesn't sell that story. Obama has occasionally referred to "the American family," a winsome expression. When I did a book on his speeches in 2008, I noted his many exhortations about parental responsibility and concluded he was running for "Father in Chief." I rarely gave the Bush twins a thought, but with Obama I seldom hear a speech without thinking of his kids, certain that he's thinking of Malia and Sasha. Tough to "out-kid" Bachmann, though, who raised, what, 32 adopted kids? Federal Grits just got a huge gift from Layton. He would have taken up a lot of space. Much as I admire Rae, he's looking more like yesterday's man by the day, and he'll always be a no-sale in Ontario. I wanted Kennedy, but he turns out to be as lazy as the day is long. Let's hope the leadership race brings out some fresh faces, folks with vigor and vision.
Great discussion. I confess your thoughts are clearer than mine on this one. Part of me wishes, a la Darwin, that Obama had gone out a made a case, coast to coast, for America as a "caring society" and let the chips fall where they may. "If I lose, I'll leave having defended what I believe to be your best interests." Instead, it was a lot of backroom, positioning - I'm just glad it happened in the summer as I expect most voters will have forgotten, as they already have the death of bin Laden. Sorry about the links, Boff - did you click the Wiener one first!? I will have to disagree with Darwin on how challenges to incumbents often end in tears for the party. Reagan challenged Ford, who lost to Carter. Carter might well have pulled it off in 1980 had he not been so vigorously challenged by Ted Kennedy. Gore was wounded by Bradley. Ahead of 1996, Clinton's top advisers ID'd and kneecapped any all prospective challengers to Clinton's re-nomination, including, for starters, Jesse Jackson. Krugman was early - in Jan/Feb issue of New York Review of Books - in calling for a challenger to O. Eric Alterman has something recently on what that won't happen and wouldn't be a good idea. It's highly unlikely a challenger would win the nomination, but a strong bid to do so by Hillary Clinton or Al Gore, say, would weaken the Dem's ultimate standard-bearer going into the general. In any case, on Obamacare alone, I think the incumbent deserves re-election. I'm not sure anyone knows what game he was playing this time, just that he had a lousy hand. Even at that, I see varying accounts insisting the Medicare and SS are now vulnerable to being slashed, and other liberal fiscal hawks disappointed that O and Congress didn't lay a glove on either of those entitlements. I suppose we have to wait for this "supercommittee," but it will have its share of voluble Dems (who, typically, were largely AWOL on the debt ceiling fiasco).
And we (well, not me, but the MSM) laughed when Gore went on and on in 2000 about putting Social Security and other benefits into a "lockbox." I will check out what seems to be the amazing ALEC. Maybe I can find a blog-post and newspaper-column equivalent. I've heard that many preachers lift there sermons from the Internet!
Thanks for spreading the word, WW. Yes, DB, it's such a wonderful quote, maybe first imparted by Fetherling in his Canadian Media Studies course at Rye High in the late 1970s. But I can never remember the name of the paper, so many thanks. I do recall S.J. Perelman on a transcontinental train trip, asking the porter for a newspaper, "And the poor fellow, obviously hard of hearing, brought me a copy of the Los Angeles Times."
Hi JK: I particularly like that last line, a zinger. And it's true, ironically: the president can have America make war without anyone's say-so, as LBJ did in Vietnam. The irony is that by contrast the most well-meaning and compassionate president has comparatively limited power over the domestic-policy crises you so well enumerate. Unfortunately, we're not mere bystanders. I fear the U.S. already is in a double-dip recession, and we're going to suffer as 20% of our GDP is exports to the U.S. If the loonie doesn't lose ground as a result it will only be because the greenback is slipping in tandem.
Mr. Mcnamara, I'll start here as your comment gives me the greatest concern. I'm pretty sensitive about twins since two of my former sisters-in-law, still dear friends, are twins and I've absorbed more than 30 years of twins lore, studies and academic and medical surveys on the topic, which greatly interests me. As other commentors point out, the reference is indeed to the TV drama "Twin Peaks," a depiction of a moody, dark and bizarre place. I'm one of the few folks I know who thinks PC has been a great advance in our civility, and I did give this thought and felt it would not be offensive to twins. I am sorry it has caused annoyance for you. Much as recall springs to mind with these two, it's a practice I don't care for. For that matter, I dislike term limits, which you notice we don't have in Canada. Term limits render U.S. presidents and governors lame ducks the moment they're elected to their second and last term. Unless you're Doug Wilder or Mark Warner, who became lame ducks when first elected since Virginia governors are limited to just one term. On recalls, was Schwarzenegger such an improvement on Gray Davis? (And I like Arnie's progressive-conservative politics, but California, with its multitude of ballot propositions, is simply impossible to govern.) No, I'm afraid it's for the other 42 members of council to stymie the Fords' uncouth ways - a counterpoint leader or leaders need to emerge from among members of Council - and I suppose the media, though the boys take little heed of that except to be strengthened in their wonky behaviour even by constructive criticism. Mayors are weak in Canada, having just one vote on council like the others, and not having the power U.S. mayors do to write their own budgets and appoint department heads. Which brings us to the remarkable Mayor Nenshi, who uses his "bully pulpit" to advance causes that strengthen Calgary, and in doing so he is a great credit to his city across N.A. I had him in mind, alas, in despairing at what Toronto has by comparison. And I'm sorry, Rob, but any thought of keeping Calgary a secret is long past - The Economist now ranks Calgary, out of 200+ world cities, as among the top 10 "most liveable" cities on the planet, so the secret has not only escaped Calgary but Canada. Brace for waves of immigration. And this is before Calatrava's remarkable, landmark Peace Bridge is completed, which will bring even more international attention. Hi Brian: As it happens, far from demonizing David Miller, I regarded him during his entire time in office as one of our best mayors (and I'm a lifelong Torontonian). And I said so, though municipal politics was not my "beat" during his time in office. For that matter, the Toronto Star, as the Ford brothers will tell you, is regarded by them as an enemy (yes, they do think in terms of enemies and allies), and even the slightly more generous Globe they regard as "socialist" (watch the YouTube I linked to, where they berate the Globe's then city hall columnist). This is what I mean about anyone who disagrees with these guys. Really, I'd be afraid to draw to their attention that their shoelaces are undone, they're so hypersensitive to criticism. Quite apart from that, I didn't vote for Ford (oy!). So I have nothing to "own" on this one. Only the pro-Ford Sun does among media. (I didn't monitor the Post's campaign coverage.)
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2011 on Twin Freaks. at David Olive's Everybody's Business
Hi Rob: Your good wishes remind me of the greater comity we have in our public life than many nations. We are stronger for it. As you know, Mr. Harper of course issued a lengthy statement Monday wishing for Jack and his family a speedy and complete recovery, in time for resumption of Commons debate in September. Darwin, many thanks. I have adjusted my hastily written post - composed through tears, I'm afraid - and that was after waiting a full day. No excuse, though, for such basic mistakes, for which I apologize. Blogging etiquette calls for readers to be informed of the original, erroneous phrasing. Since your post provides this, I'll let it stand at that. Regarding NDP leaders determined to help govern, rather than be obstructionist 24/7, I was thinking of J.S. Wordsworth's deeply held pacifism that caused him to break with his own caucus in 1939 in opposing Canadian entry into the Second World War, and Tommy Douglas' later opposition to Trudeau's invocation of the War Measures Act. These were anything but gratuitous, though, so even here your point holds. As traditionally the third party, and occasionally holding the balance of power, the NDP has naturally been in the position you describe. Then again, ahead of the latest, May 2, vote, Layton could not abide the proposed Tory budget despite Flaherty and Harper on separate occasions conferring personally with Layton to accommodate a great many of his concerns. I was also thinking of Jack's long service in municipal politics, which in Toronto is non-partisan, and where dealmaking today with yesterday's adversary is routine. I covered city hall long before Jack came along, during the days of the bulldozing of then Metro chairman Paul Godfrey, and Jack was the extreme opposite as a consensus builder respectful of ideological opposites with whom he sought to get things done. On Blaikie, it's true, certainly, that his fellow parliamentarians would not have voted him as deputy speaker had they not great respect for his long years of service. But before it came to a vote, Jack talked privately with Harper and the other leaders, making the case for Bill, and Blaikie would not have been under consideration without that, a process Jack described for me at some length when I asked how it had come about, since there had been hard feelings prior and after the last leadership contest about a Toronto MP winning the leadership, given that the Westerners in caucus had for many years made up the majority. Blaikie was their standard-bearer, and Layton felt it necessary to show respect for that in as significant a way as a third-party leader could.
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2011 on Layton. at David Olive's Everybody's Business
Ah, Darwin, if only our Star webmasters had better filters, or I had a staff to remove these promptly. But I do enjoy your ripostes! Cheers, David
Thanks WW: You've just explained why the last four posts on Reich's blogs have been on the jobs strategy Obama should be adopting. Reich was none too pleased with his fellow Rhodes Scholar, Clinton, either, once Clinton got into "triangulation" mode with the awful Dick Morris - the one revealed smack in the middle of the 1996 DNC to have a thing for the toes of women other than his wife. Dear Mr. Galbraith. Many thanks for taking the time to write. I've re-read my post and it must have been difficult for you to read. I have a commonplace book, and the section on your dad runs 26 pages of single-spaced quotes. Come to that, I did a post in 2009 linking you with Krugman, Stiglitz and Reich as a sort of positive four horsemen whom progressives such as myself need to monitor for ideas and a sense of where the current progressive administration is or should be heading. As the regular commentor above correctly notes, Mr. Obama's team hardly seems progressive these past few months. I apologize for using your dad's legacy as a "convenient foil," as indeed I did. And especially for dwelling on this one aspect of his larger-than-life persona. And I am delighted to have your detailed note for future reference. (Yes, I also have a bulging file on JKG, for even Richard Parker was unable to capture the entire essence of his man, marvelous biography though it is.) Your dad quotes LBJ thusly: "Did y’ever think, Ken, that making a speech on ee-conomics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else." Self-deprecations was a motif: As your dad himself wrote, he once complained to JFK about an otherwise flattering NYT profile that described him as arrogant. "I don't see why not," you dad quotes JFK as saying. "Everybody else does." Oh, he was modest. And was, and still is, well-loved.
Hi Darwin I'll ask around the newsroom, starting with out QP bureau, and see what our folks know about this character. Many thanks, Cheers, David
I'm sorry to hear it. Thanks for the update. Not that it matters, but I haven't even heard of CC. I guess for the question is what do you want on your headstone, He died filthy rich, or was the greatest player in the game? I have a feeling it can't be both, but I'm old fashioned that way.
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2011 on Let's hope so. at David Olive's Everybody's Business