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Next POTUS · The num­ber­s, con­sid­ered care­ful­ly, make an Oba­ma win look like a safer and safer bet. Here­with a Cana­di­an spectator’s opin­ions as to why this is and why it’s a good thing ...
On the Hill · To­day I had a bunch of meet­ings in Wash­ing­ton, DC, on­ly one of which I can talk about. The sun was up and the trees a ri­ot of blos­som­s, and it was pleas­ant to walk around, which is what you most­ly do there when you’re on gov­ern­ment busi­ness. We got to meet briefly with Con­gress­wom­an Zoe Lof­gren, and was I ev­er im­pressed. I sup­pose, giv­en that her dis­trict in­cludes San Jose, it’s not sur­pris­ing that she’d be pret­ty tech-savvy, but even so. She’s gen­er­al­ly on board with the no­tion that Open Stan­dards float all boat­s, and she’s in­volved in a bunch of the hot is­sues where these ap­ply: in par­tic­u­lar, with vot­ing law (think: Diebold) and the Li­brary of Con­gress. A very Net-friendly politi­cian ...
Mountain · The left-hand side of North Amer­i­ca has big moun­tain­s, many of them apt to erupt one of these cen­turies, at this time of year all snow-covered. This is one of them ...
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The Greatest Show on Earth · Here in Canada, Amer­i­can pol­i­tics is a spec­ta­tor sport; and this year our south­ern neigh­bors are putting on a ter­rif­ic show. The Wash­ing­ton machi­na­tions get fur­ther and fur­ther in­to you-couldn’t-make-this-up ter­ri­to­ry. My fa­vorite this week: ap­par­ent­ly Repub­li­can supre­mo Ken Mehlman did sleaze­meis­ter Jack Abramoff a fa­vor by get­ting a gov­ern­ment lawyer fired for labor-policy re­form ef­forts that were both­er­ing Abramoff’s clients. Now, while this is an out­stand­ing­ly clear in­stance of cor­rup­tion and evil in ac­tion at the high­est lev­el­s, it’s re­al­ly noth­ing new; hu­man­i­ty is prone to cor­rup­tion, large or­ga­ni­za­tions (both pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor) are where it’s most prof­itable, and there will al­ways be a cer­tain amount go­ing on. What pushed my weirdness-meter in­to over­load on this one is that while the quid pro quo was most­ly at a strate­gic lev­el around large-scale cam­paign fund­ing, in this par­tic­u­lar case Abramoff al­so scored Mehlman a cou­ple of U2 con­cert tick­et­s. There’s just some­thing about U2 tick­ets be­ing used to bribe of­fi­cials to re­sist labor-law re­form that res­onates in all the wrong places. And, for those who like to watch the show, I’m hap­py to re­port that Andy Tanenbaum’s Elec­toral Vote Pre­dic­tor is back; its cheer­i­ly ob­ses­sive track­ing of ev­ery cred­i­ble poll in ev­ery state of the union will add some en­ter­tain­ment val­ue to your dai­ly feed scan­s.
Political Wisdom · Like I’ve said be­fore, I was in fa­vor of tak­ing down Sad­dam. But the crum­bling tow­er of stink­ing lies used to sell the war, then the nau­se­at­ing in­com­pe­tent bru­tal­i­ty with which it’s been pur­sued, have pushed the cost/ben­e­fit equa­tion way neg­a­tive. To­day, on one of the TV shows, US Rep. John Murtha said: “The on­ly so­lu­tion to this is to re­de­ploy. Let me tell you, the on­ly peo­ple who want us in Iraq is Iran and al-Qaeda. I’ve talked to a top-level com­man­der the oth­er day, it was about two weeks ago, and he said Chi­na wants us there al­so. Why? Be­cause we’re de­plet­ing our re­sources, our troop re­sources and our fis­cal resources.” Sounds con­vinc­ing to me.
Hockey and America · I man­aged to catch a few of the games in the just-completed World Ju­nior Hock­ey Cham­pi­onship. If I’d been more or­ga­nized I might have been able to go to some of them since they were right here in town, but hock­ey turns out to be ex­cel­lent HDTV fare and it was ter­rif­ic en­ter­tain­men­t. While we won the fi­nal 5-0, that wasn’t fair to the Rus­sian­s, who were a strong, fast, skilled team; they had at least as much tal­ent as the Cana­di­an­s. I think they were out-coached; plus our goalie Justin Pogge, whom nobody’d ev­er heard of be­fore, went in­to brick-wall mode in the first third or so of the game, against a mere hu­man there would have been two or three or more Rus­sian goal­s. Any­how, once you got past Cana­da and Rus­si­a, the oth­er re­al­ly good team in the tour­na­ment was the USA. And here’s what’s weird and dis­turbing: the mostly-Canadian au­di­ences were ac­tive­ly cheer­ing for any­one play­ing against the US, and oc­ca­sion­al­ly boo­ing the Amer­i­can­s. Grant­ed, economically-literate Cana­di­ans are mad at the US for egre­gious NAFTA abuse, and we’re ter­ri­fied of the con­se­quences of our neighbor’s lu­natic fis­cal and trade deficit­s. And of course, from the mushy Cana­di­an cul­tur­al cen­tre, Dubya and the neotheo­cons seem like be­ings from an alien plan­et. While, like most Cana­di­an­s, I dis­ap­prove of many ac­tions of the cur­rent US ad­min­is­tra­tion, like most Cana­di­ans I al­so like most Amer­i­can­s. And it’s just mo­ron­ic to take out po­lit­i­cal gripes on a bunch of ea­ger, ded­i­cat­ed, young ath­letes. But hav­ing said that, if there were any doubt that the USA has a ma­jor public-relations prob­lem, boo­ing hock­ey fans a half-hour over the bor­der should dis­pel it.
US Politics — Creepy · I see that in our south­ern neigh­bor, the Pres­i­dent has promised to ve­to anti-torture leg­is­la­tion and the Vice-President is try­ing to get the CIA ex­empt­ed from it. I hate jump­ing to con­clu­sion­s, and I’m wor­ried; I read a lot of news, and it makes me won­der whether the fac­tion cur­rent­ly gov­ern­ing Amer­i­ca is heav­i­ly pop­u­lat­ed with greedy vi­cious ly­ing thiev­ing sanc­ti­mo­nious un­der­hand­ed heart­less ve­nial creep­s. That is what the ev­i­dence sug­gest­s. But like I said, you wouldn’t want to jump to con­clu­sion­s.
Callous, Inept, and Racist · That’s from the last para­graph of this re­mark­able first-person New Or­leans nar­ra­tive. The high-level re­crim­i­na­tion dance has be­come pre­dictably par­ti­san, and I as­sume it will end when those in charge re­ceive the usu­al Wash­ing­ton pun­ish­ment. But the cops on the ground, once this is over can a whole bunch of them please be sent to jail? I’d nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly heard of Gret­na, Louisiana but it’s go­ing to go down in his­to­ry as the place where the cops drive off refugees at gun­point, then steal their food and wa­ter. [Up­date: In­ter­est­ing meta-story. I orig­i­nal­ly linked to this sto­ry over at an Emer­gen­cy Med­i­cal Ser­vices com­mu­ni­ty site (the au­thors are both EMS work­er­s). But then it van­ished, as did the ver­sion at Craigslist. It turns out that the au­thors are, well, com­mies of the old school, and this ap­par­ent­ly spooked the sites host­ing the sto­ry. While com­mies have en­hanced suspension-of-disbelief ca­pa­bil­i­ty, they are not a pri­ori liars, and now I see via Rogers Caden­head that, class-struggle is­sues aside, the sto­ry is ap­par­ent­ly true.]
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