In May of 2016, Barack Obama took time out from an official visit to Southeast Asia to sit down with the late Anthony Bourdain in a tiny street café in Hanoi, to have a bowl of Bún chả, a bottle of beer, and a chat. Obama was the president of the United States; Bourdain was the host of a renowned travelogue television show focused on food and culture, and a former chef. Two middle-aged blokes sitting on plastic stools in a restaurant on the other side of the world, sharing a meal while musing about the simple pleasures of different foods, the benefits of making peace with former enemies (they were in Vietnam, after all), and of the need to connect with strangers in strange lands. And, weighing in on such weighty issues as whether it is ever ok to put ketchup on a hotdog (apparently not). Their brief chat spoke volumes about America’s place in the world.Continue reading “Respect and Trust: Lessons Learned Over Obama and Bourdain’s Bún Chả”
The US impeachment hearings have been compelling political theatre. Even though the outcome is largely pre-determined (the Democrat-led House will vote to impeach, the Republican-led Senate will not vote to convict), they still represent drama and intrigue. No-one is quite sure who will rise to the occasion, who will sink to new depths of obsequiousness, and who will emerge from anonymity to capture the admiration or ridicule of a nation. We wonder what preposterous story Republicans will next put forward to either deny or excuse presidential behaviour that for any of the 44 previous presidents would have been an open-and-shut case for impeachment. We watch in astonishment as the Republicans on the committee argue in favour of their own irrelevance. And as the domestic and international credibility of the US political system withers. Fascinating stuff. Continue reading “The Impeachment Show – Farce and drama in three acts.”
As most of the world realises, climate change is real, potentially catastrophic, and caused/exacerbated by human activity (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions). The evidence is overwhelming.
Climate change should be an apolitical issue. It affects all people, regardless of location, economic status, or political stripe, and demands action from all people. Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be a non-partisan, politically neutral, shared necessity. Should be.
There are opponents, usually on the conservative side of the spectrum, who resist any reasonable action on climate. Among this group of detractors, deniers and do-nothings are those who dismiss climate activists as politically driven opportunists – wanting more to advance a socialist revolution rather than to save the planet. How can they say this? Because climate activists are doing everything they can to portray climate action as an element of a socialist revolution. Their objective appears to be a radical transformation of society (i.e. “System Change”), bundling action on climate with action on social issues. They aren’t helping. Instead of convincing those who need to be convinced that combatting climate change is not a radical idea, the activists seem hell-bent on making it a radical idea.
“Marge, come here! There’s money coming out of the walls!”
Doug Ford’s Conservative government is spending millions of Ontario tax dollars to complain about a federal carbon tax, which he argues will cost Ontarians dearly. But, the television ads which have cluttered the airwaves for the past few weeks show a different picture – a puzzled man sitting on a sofa reading a newspaper, watching a stream of cash spurting from a heat vent onto his living room floor. A stunned-looking woman filling up with gas being treated to a cascade of coins flowing from the pump. Grocery store shoppers side-stepping the money shooting out from between ketchup bottles. Contrary to DoFo’s intentions, the ads show that under a federal carbon tax, cash streams in, not out.
In Britain, Theresa May is trying to get the House of Commons to pass a Brexit agreement within the next three weeks, having been given a short extension by the EU. She had a draft agreement – it was so bad that the Brexit Secretary, the man in charge of negotiating the agreement with the EU, resigned from cabinet because he “could not in good conscience” support the agreement he himself had just negotiated. The withdrawal agreement has been overwhelmingly rejected by the House twice. But, May’s only option is to keep re-tabling the same agreement, hoping that the House will change its mind. Remember that definition of insanity?Continue reading “That’s it? Yet Another Take on a Canadian “Crisis””
To argue against the scientific conclusion that human activity is fueling climate change and that it will likely result in catastrophic consequences, is to put oneself in the same bracket of scientific credibility as flat earthers, young earth creationists, and Gwyneth Paltrow. The overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists have determined that the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere will lead to more severe weather events, unprecedented droughts and floods, a rise in sea level, and record high temperatures. It’s already happening, and it’s projected to get worse. So how are conservative leaders dealing with the issue? By hiding from it.Continue reading “Risky business: How conservatives are rolling the dice on climate change”
The Trump economic “miracle” is just a big house of cards.
“The Economy is soooo good, perhaps the best in our country’s history (remember, it’s the economy stupid!)” Donald Trump via Twitter September 10, 2018
As Donald Trump lurches from one lie to another, one national embarrassment to another, and one moral failing to another, Republicans forgive his behaviour and deficiencies by focusing on the economy. A common refrain heard from likely Republican voters is, “He’s not perfect but he’s really turned our economy around.” A Republican ad running just before the midterms warns that [the strong economy] “could all go away if we don’t remember where we came from.” Where they came from, according to the Republicans, is an economic nightmare of high unemployment and slow growth, apparently just “a few years ago.”Continue reading ““But the economy….” If that’s what’s keeping Trump and the Republicans afloat, they’re in trouble.”
Justin Trudeau explains economics and international relations to Donald Trump
We’ll accept this agreement, but we should now seek to diversify our economy away from the US. Our neighbour claimed to be our friend, but tried to shake us down for lunch money. Now that he’s settled for just some pocket change, the relationship doesn’t go back to where it was. With friends like that, we need new friends. Continue reading “The Art of the Deal – How to Lose Friends and Respect”
Doug Ford is poised to become Premier of Ontario, Canada’s largest province. And it’s not funny.
Back in 2014, Rob Ford was nearing the end of his term as Mayor of Toronto – a term that was, shall we say, chaotic, tumultuous, ridiculous. Mayor Ford had become an international laughing stock, as a result of his erratic, bizarre behaviour both in and out of office, fueled by a not-so-secret fondness for alcohol and crack cocaine. And Doug Ford was at his brother’s side during the whole sordid mess – as designated apologist, denier, cheerleader, co-sponsor of hare-brained ideas, and aggressive challenger to anyone questioning Rob’s ability to oversee North America’s fourth largest city while under the influence.Continue reading ““If you liked my brother………” The ridiculous notion of Doug Ford as Premier”
“I’m shocked, shocked to find that tech companies are selling users’ data.” “Your sales proceeds, sir.” “Oh, thank you very much.”
As I’m writing this, Mark Zuckerberg is making some interesting stops on his apology tour. Zuckerberg, the beleaguered head of Facebook, has been invited to explain to legislators in the US, Britain, and other jurisdictions, just what exactly Facebook has been doing with its users’ personal data. My expectation is that the current congressional hearings will achieve little more than providing an opportunity for representatives to do a little grandstanding, and getting Zuckerberg to wear a suit and tie. Those representatives are not prepared to take the steps necessary to guard individuals’ privacy when dealing with not just Facebook, but thousands of companies. Continue reading “Nice suit, Mark. Now, let’s take this privacy matter out of your hands.”