Campaign 2008: Riding the Road of Trivialities

Posted March 28, 2008 on 4:38 pm | In the category 2008, Election 2008, Politics, U.S. Domestic Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

As the interminable Democratic campaign for president drags its weary ass along the Trivialities Turnpike it is worth asking how the hell we got on this road to begin with? Serious issues abound – the failed Iraq War, a looming failure in Afghanistan, a weakened NATO unwilling to push the fight in Afghanistan, a weakened American military, a dollar in the proverbial toilet, an enormous budget deficit, a looming or actual recession, shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security, rampant international distrust of the United States, a non-existent Middle East policy – and the list goes on.

And what are we being fed by the media? John McCain’s barbecue menu and the great spitball fight between Senators Clinton and Obama. The press moves from spitball to spitball, manufacturing intensity on fundamentally trivial issues. They capture the public’s interest and create temporary shifts in polls that then feed the horse race mentality of a press unable to focus on the real issues that determine the state of the world and of America’s declining quality of life. Do we really care all that much that Geraldine Ferraro thinks Senator Obama is “lucky to be black?” Or that Senator Obama’s former Pastor has said some stupid things mixed in with a justifiable rage over much of what America has done to blacks for over 200 years? Or whether Bill Clinton plays his typical cheap tricks? Are those the only kind of issues that can capture the American peoples’ attention? Are we really so ignorant of the world or so lazy that we cannot put the effort into thinking about serious issues and identifying trivialities for what they are? Or have we simply turned it all over to a shallow, irresponsible press?

For a lengthier and stronger look at these concerns see Matt Taibbi’s latest piece on his website: The Smirking Chimp – here is a taste:

We can’t focus for more than ten seconds on anything at all and we’re constantly exercised about stupid media-generated non-scandals, guilt-by-association raps, accidental dumb utterances of various campaign aides and other nonsense — while at the same time we have no energy at all left to wonder about the mass burgling of the national budget for phony military contracts, the war, the billion dollars or so in campaign contributions to be spent this year that will be buying a small mountain of favors for the next four years. – Matt Taibbi

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Canada and Kosovo

Posted March 20, 2008 on 2:33 pm | In the category Canada, China, Europe, Russia, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

It took Canada more than a month to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, a clear display of reluctance to follow the lead taken by its closest NATO allies, Germany, France, the UK and the Unites States, almost immediately upon Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Canada is not the only significant power to not follow this lead with any enthusiasm, and the list of those who have declared they will not do so is long and daunting – Russia, China, India, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Cuba, both Koreas, almost all of Africa, Central Asia and most of Kosovo’s neighbours – Serbia, of course, but also Bosnia-Herzogovina, Greece, Macedonia, and Cyprus. Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria all took longer than Canada to decide and near-neighbours Slovakia, Czech Republic and Ukraine have not recognized Kosovo. Albania, on the other hand, was the first to recognize and remains one of only 3 countries to actually establish an embassy in Pristina, the others being the UK and Germany.
Canada’s reluctance to recognize Kosovo as an independent state is closely related to the absolute refusal of Russia, China, Spain, India, Mexico and Indonesia to do so, a group of politically completely unrelated countries that make up the majority of the world’s population. They have one thing in common; they all have minority ethnic or religious populations striving for independent status. Most dramatically this is now playing out in China, but all these countries have separatist movements which often use violence as a political weapon. As long as there are Basques in Spain, Sikhs in india and Uigurs in China, Spain, India and China will not be recognizing unilaterally-declared separatist states. Quebec was Canada’s problem in this context and, as predictably as the sun will rise, the separatist Bloc Quebecois immediately congratulated the Ottawa federal government for recognizing Kosovo, saying that it had given a separatist government in Quebec the precedent it needed to do something similar. China, India and Spain will not be following that lead.

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