Campaign Update: The Candidate of Sarcasm

Posted July 24, 2008 on 3:59 pm | In the category Election 2008, Iraq, Politics, Press, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

As the campaign continues its endless stroll through the backwaters of American thought, the contrasting styles of the Obama and McCain campaigns is striking. While Obama tries to discuss serious issues in a serious manner McCain has decided to release his nasty, ill-tempered psyche from the trunk of the Straight Talk Express. At every opportunity he snivels and whines about Obama’s popularity, blaming the press for Obama’s political successes and continually sneering about how wonderful the Surge has been for the Iraqi people. He does not remind us of how incredibly destructive of the U.S. national interest the war has been focusing instead on his narrow definition of success in Iraq. A success so far not experienced by most Iraqis – including especially the dead ones and the millions of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan. Nor, apparently, does he have the sophisticated intelligence to identify the role played in Iraq by the Sadr militia’s unilateral truce and the U.S.’s bribery of Sunni tribes to fight with the U.S. troops. The question for McCain is “are we doing better now than last year?” – the Obama question is, “why the hell did we invade in the first place and was it worth wrecking the U.S. armed forces and economy?’

McCain has in recent weeks blamed Obama for the price of oil, and snidely talks about Obama’s relative youth – an issue one would think McCain might wish to avoid. He (and most of the press) touts his “experience” in foreign affairs and the press allows him to invent a non-existent Iraq-Pakistan border and discover in 2008 the country Czechoslovakia – a country that has not existed since 1992. But in the end it is his unattractive persona that turns McCain into one of the least attractive of American types: the smug, manipulating, nasty know-it-all with no real substance – only the greed to be president.

In their anger the McCain campaign’s operatives sarcastically refer to Obama as “The One”. Were I in Obama’s campaign I would have to refer to McCain as “The Zero”. It is a perfect reflection of his level of intelligence, honesty and grace. That the press is still sucking up to him is to their shame.

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California burning

Posted July 16, 2008 on 3:01 am | In the category Environment, U.S. Domestic Policy, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

There is no shred of good coming from the out of control fires up and down the coast and in the northern mountains of California, except that there are still many courageous and daring firefighters willing to take on the filthy and dangerous business of trying to control them. So far it has been a torturously futile attempt as lightning strikes start new fires long before the worst of the old ones are contained. For anyone who has spent time in places like the Yolla Bolly or Trinity Alps mountain preserves or the wilderness area east of Big Sur (not to mention easily accessible Big Sur itself), as my brother and I often have, it is a tragically sad spectacle to see these beautiful places being destroyed for at least many decades. For as natural as lightning burns have always been, bringing in long-lasting good with the temporary bad, these fires seem different. They are way too early, they are happening because there has been no rain in many parts of central and northern california since the winter, and there is not enough available water to fight them in a co-ordinated way.

These are the canaries in the coal mine of climate change and big, beautiful (for the most part) California is surely one of the most vulnerable places on earth as much of it has been built in almost desert-like locations which must import water to sustain life on the scale that has been placed there. And water is what California does not have enough of, particularly southern California and especially the megalopolis of San Diego to Santa Barbara. For decades the waters of northern California and the diverted Colorado River have kept these places water-solvent but that time is coming to or has already reached an end. 20% of the California budget is devoted to pumping the waters of the north to the south, especially from the Sacramento River delta, whose dikes are now considered under a greater threat than were those of New Orleans before they broke. If the salt water of San Francisco Bay breaks through into the fresh water of the delta, the nightmare scenario, it is hard to imagine the future of Los Angeles. It is in any case hard to imagine how a life style pushing rice field agriculture, green lawns, swimming pools and golf courses can be tolerated,as it should be perfectly clear by now that water is the most valuable of all commodities for life – gas is incomparably less important – and that in southern California it is being wasted in an intolerable fashion. There are no replacements – the Colorado River is being siphoned dry by all the states it runs through. Neither Oregon nor Washington have any water they are going to spare for their wasteful southern neighbours, and it is against the law to export water from water-rich Canada, even if it were so inclined. San Diego is now setting up desalinization pilot projects, but this process causes many problems of its own and cannot solve the basic one – much more water is being used than is available. Perhaps Governor Arnie, who seems to have a good understanding of the problem, can convince some of those professors at his best universities to come to grips somehow with this really existential problem..


As The General Speaks His Mind, Journalists Lose Theirs

Posted July 2, 2008 on 7:41 am | In the category Election 2008, McCain, Politics, Press | by Jeff

“[McCain] hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron. I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”

Retired General Wesley Clark set off a brief firestorm over the weekend with the above quote and Senator McCain and the press immediately went nuts. Now, it is easy to understand that McCain would be a little upset since having been shot down and suffered imprisonment seems to be one of his most salient features, but what the hell is wrong with the press?

One can parse Clark’s quote a thousand times and still not come to the conclusion that he was saying anything other than what he said – that “…getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is [not] a qualification to become president.” But the print and TV press went bozo over it, implying that to have said that was to criticize McCain’s service to the country, thereby implying that getting in a plane getting shot down actually IS a presidential qualification.

Having gone through a long, tedious primary season we now look forward to the familiar process of the press avoiding analysis of issues and focusing on the “horse race” via the meaningless minutia that the press deems worthy of blowing up into something superficially serious.

It will most likely be ugly, nasty, and stupid. And come next January we will have a new president who will most likely have been elected without benefit of a smart, sophisticated, analytical press.

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The Great White North celebrates

Posted July 1, 2008 on 2:28 pm | In the category Canada | by Mackenzie Brothers

It’s July 1, Canada Day, and my brother Doug and I have decided to finally give into the many annual requests from around the globe and, in our role of Canadian idols and icons, help the world celebrate the event. Canada Day, as many will now realize, takes place exactly four days before rival US Day, documenting the speed of the Great White North’s fathers and mothers of confederation – loyalists, Quebecois and First Nations working together – in establishing the globe’s largest nation (at the time, Russia not having yet expanded eastward) exactly four days before the rebel USers followed suit. It is a tale told by an idol, full of sound and fury and signifying the birth of a nation reaching from sea to sea to suddenly unfrozen sea. As my brother Bob put it in a moment caught by one of Youtube’s most revered sites, this land is great because it is great, white and north. In addition, as other sites will testify, it is the only nation which will pass along crucial tips on how to roll your owns while wearing mittens and how to get a mouse in the Molson bottle so you get a free 12 pack.

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