A tale of two elections – Part 2

Posted November 12, 2008 on 3:01 am | In the category Canada, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Mackenzie Brothers

Among the many interesting but not earthshaking side effects of the Obama election is an overdue tempering of a kind of understood superiority that had taken over the Canadian view of their way of governing when compared to that of the US for the last decade. After all about ten years ago, US politics was completely dominated by a grotesquely overblown miserable little sex scandal of the old kind that ruined the final years of an otherwise apparently more than capable president, only to be followed by a most curious piece of vote counting that brought to power an obviously incapable president who was even re-elected. During the same period Canada was governed by a series of mediocre leaders who made everyone wish for just a touch of the intelligence, charm and cold determination of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. But when the same people looked south, it was clear that Ottawa was a centre of charisma and excellence when compared to whoever was sitting in the White House.

It may well turn out that Barack Obama will not be able to fulfill the great hopes that have inevitably been placed on him (probably nobody could), but he’s already done a great deal just by winning this election. Now the world can stop dumping on the Americans for not even being able to run their own fair elections while telling every one else to become democratic, and Canadian commentators can stop preaching to them about their lack of benevolence towards the downtrodden, while ignoring the often scandalous state of their own aboriginal communities. Because while the Americans, against all odds, voted for someone named Barack Obama to be their leader, a smaller percentage of eligible Canadian voters confirmed, in the most boring election in memory, the re-election of a prime minister whose name they could scarcely remember after his first term in office.

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A Tale of 2 Joes: The Plumber and The Turncoat

Posted November 8, 2008 on 11:58 am | In the category Election 2008, Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin, Politics | by Jeff

Joe’s with us today. Joe, where are you?” McCain called into the crowd, “Where’s Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today…”

In the post-election haze it is easy to bask in America’s victory over racism and the incompetence of the McCain-Palin campaign. Or to relish the schadenfreude of the ongoing mud slinging between the McCain and the Palin camps. But a couple of annoyances remain to be addressed.

John McCain introduced us to Joe the Plumber and used him as an emblematic American workingman for the last few weeks of his bizarre campaign. The man is a certifiable ignoramus who misrepresented himself as a potential purchaser of a plumbing business, is not a licensed plumber, does not pay his taxes, believes social security is a “joke” and compared Senator Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.

Well, surprise surprise: this Joe has a new “watchdog” website in which he will “bring together individuals who want to help others, while at the same time ensuring our government keeps answering our tough questions.” You can get what is called a “Freedom Membership” to the website for $14.95. This will include a copy of his book due out in 6 weeks which makes him Joe the Speedwriter. One more reason to thank Senator McCain.

Joe the Turncoat is, of course Joe Lieberman, certainly one of the most unctuous, pious, arrogant men to ever grace the U.S. Senate. The only visual more disturbing than poor Cindy McCain standing forever frozen in place behind her husband at every campaign stop was the ghost of Banquo in Joe Lieberman drag smirking while his pal John continued to throw shit at his opponent’s good name.

Now Joe wants to come back to the Democratic caucus and keep his Chairmanship of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee. This after attacking the Democratic ticket at the Republican convention, on the campaign trail, and at virtually every opportunity on radio and TV. The fact is that Lieberman did nothing for McCain – the Jewish vote went for Obama at a higher rate than it went for Kerry four years prior and his state of Connecticut came through with only 37% of the vote for McCain. So maybe Lieberman was actually working for Obama…….

But Democrats have to ask themselves whether they really need Lieberman whose career has four more years before the Connecticut voters finally puke him out of office. We shall see.

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The Lost Honor of John McCain

Posted November 3, 2008 on 11:39 am | In the category Election 2008, McCain, Obama, Palin | by Jeff

For many if not most Americans the presidential campaign has gone on far too long, been characterized by too much ignorance and character assassination, and is ending with the passing away of an American hero’s honor. This passing can best be characterized as a political suicide, committed out of desperation, with a lack of respect for the American political process, and lust for power. Among its collateral damage is the loss of respect for science, rational thought, truth, and civil discourse.  When 23% of Texans believe Obama is a Muslim, when white voters in Pennsylvania express worry that a President Obama would enslave white Americans, when a significant number of voters allow themselves to believe that Obama is “palling around with terrorists”, and when elements of the press present ludicrous formulations by candidates as legitimate grist for the campaign mill, then we are all cheapened.

When faced with questions regarding some of the nastier slurs of their campaign, McCain advisors always refer to the fact (sic) that they are only doing what the Obama campaign has done. Anyone who has watched the campaign over the past few months knows this to be untrue. Obama has been accused by McCain and his know-nothing running mate from Alaska of being a terrorist, of being a socialist – (perhaps even a Marxist!) – of being ready to raise everyone’s taxes, of supporting total sex education for kindergartners, and aiding in voter fraud. None of these charges is true and of course they know it but in the ultimate insult to the American people they peddle the accusations over and over again in the hope that enough confused or ignorant voters will fall for one or more of them. And of course they are right to a degree.

I have never been a fan of the “man-in-the-street” interview because it makes it too easy for journalists to avoid trying to analyze what is real and what is not and it typically gives airtime to airheads like Joe the Plumber. But it does, after all, expose the quality of thought that is out there – the woman from Pennsylvania who said she feared Obama would  “enslave the white race”, or the poor souls who believe that Obama is a Muslim and – ergo – not fit to live in American let alone be president. OR the people who rant about Obama’s tax plan without bothering to know what the plan actually is, and et cetera.  This points to a larger problem than the venality of people like McCain and the ignorance of people like Palin. In our headlong flight away from elitism into the dark recesses of ignorance we are creating a culture in which people are too lazy to do the work of a democracy; too lazy to read, too lazy to think, too scared to explore differences, and too satisfied with the mediocrity of so much of American politics and culture. McCain’s choice of Palin is a vivid reflection of that mediocrity and either a harbinger of things to come or merely the last shovelful of dirt on the grave of John McCain’s honor. Regardless of who wins this election there will remain the question of just what McCain thought he meant by his slogan, “Country First”.

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