Wednesday Night #1609

Written by  //  January 2, 2013  //  Antal (Tony) Deutsch, Cleo Paskal, Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

Great photos on Wednesday-Night.com

As was expected, Terry Mosher and his artist wife, Mary Hughson (and Sparky) were wonderful guests. Not only is he a gifted cartoonist, but Terry is a great raconteur and regaled us with stories of reactions to some of his cartoons and their subjects. He was prompted by old friend and colleague, Alan Hustak, along with John Curtin who directed and produced the film biography Dangerous When Provoked.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Terry spoke about where some of his inspiration comes from, favorite targets – including Westmount as a symbol, even though the demographics have changed -, reactions of editors and cartoonists to reader reactions including campaigns obviously organized by lobby groups, intellectual property …. Terry also commented that Canada is one of the most tolerant countries for political cartoons; much of what we take for granted as permissible pillorying of  public figures (and sacred cows) would not be tolerated in most other countries.
Political cartons are not limited to their national audiences, but speak to people in many countries and of many different political regimes. Aislin has, not surprisingly, become a world celebrity in his field and has been invited to judge a number of important international competitions. There is a growing informal brotherhood of the political cartoonists from around the world and those from other countries have been made honorary members of the Canadian cartoonists association. He recently was invited to the Asian Youth Animation and Cartoon Contest, in a small city in the south of China, which is being developed as an animation center. He will return in late spring to “explain Canada through the eyes of Canadian cartoonists”; interestingly, the Chinese hosts have no problem with the content of Canadian cartoons because they are critical of Canadian figures and events.

China, with its strong economy continues to dominate the region, assisting the poorer nations with large infusions of cash for infrastructure and/or development projects. The most intriguing relationship is with India where trade is trumping animosities. Cleo points out that one of the best descriptions of what is happening and likely future developments is M.D. Nalapat’s Sino-Indian trade prospective gold mine

Cleo recently entered into an agreement with German TV news anchor Claus Kleber whereby her book, Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map, has been published in German (Spielball Erde: Machtkämpfe im Klimawandel), showing her as a co-author. This arrangement may be unusual, but the advantage is that the book’s important message will reach many more influential Europeans than would be the case if it were to continue to be available only in English and without the added ‘star power’ of her co-author, who also hosted a two-part TV special on the topic. The fact remains that she wrote most of the book and now has the satisfaction of seeing it climb to near the top of the best-seller list.

The case of the young Indian woman who was gang-raped in Delhi and subsequently died in hospital in Singapore provoked questions about rampant misogyny, corruption and the Indian judicial system, inherited from the British Raj and virtually unchanged since colonial times. The police are not well paid, so bribery becomes an institutionalized method of income supplement, illustrated by the fact that the rapists were easily traced through the bribery records maintained for the school buses that moonlight after school hours. The peaceful protests following the event were more against the rampant corruption than the place of women in Indian society, and were met with force by the police. It is suspected that the government arranged for the victim to be flown to Singapore for purely political reasons (there was no medical reason to move her in her highly unstable condition) in order to avoid offering a physical site for the inevitable riot.

Although the term, ¨fiscal ¨cliff¨ was undoubtedly introduced by creative journalists, the term and reality of the situation demand a rapid solution, or at least, rapid resolution.  In the past it was the United States, but in 2013, it is only China that can afford to ignore such  situations without paying a price.  The Republicans favor a resolution through the reduction of expenditures, the Democrats favor a small tax increase for the wealthy.  As any tax increase would risk a subsequent recession, the least worst solution remains evasive as the ghost of past excesses continue to haunt the country.  It was inevitable that the Republicans, who appear to have put themselves “into a hole”, will ultimately yield to measures designed to solve the problem.  Until that time, the situation remains `perceptive` in the near certainty that any tax increase would lead the U.S. into a recession.  A resolution, although difficult, will undoubtedly ultimately be arrived at.  There is a Wednesday Night consensus that the Republicans erred in missing the opportunity to participate in an earlier solution.
Increased inflation and higher interest rates can be expected to follow any conceivable action.  The stock market has reacted positively to the quasi  resolution of the problem, agreed in the wee hours of Wednesday, but we may expect this to be a blip.    The FTSE, a harbinger of the North American market is encouraging.  The market, currently slightly extended, may continue to be so, but historically favorable in the first quarter; the result of the remainder of the year as yet to be seen.

The Canadian political crystal ball is unusual in that it appears remarkably transparent to some, yet cloudy to others.  Some see the narrowing of differences between the N.D.P. and Liberal parties as a “replay” of the Great Britain experience of long-term Conservative government.  This would require only a 33% plurality for the present Harper government to remain in power for an extended period of time, especially bearing in mind the sudden interest in the NDP  in Québec and the growing population in the Western Provinces.  Others do not predict a Conservative government beyond 2019.

With the gradual defrosting of the Arctic, there is a general consensus that a continuing good Russo-Canadian relationship would indicate that Canadian politics will remain local until about 2019.  The reality, however, is that that region will become increasingly global, that China will remain an increasingly major world player and that Canada will be increasingly affected by the opening of what is essentially a new frontier.

As 2013 slowly unfolds, it does so with some trepidation mixed with the hope for a resolution of world problems and the universal joining of hands between people who, were they walking about unclothed and speaking the same language, would be indistinguishable from one another.

T H E  P R O L O G U E
Warmest wishes to all Wednesday Nighters – past, present and future – for a New Year, filled with achievement of fond dreams, good news, happy surprises, love and laughter in the company of like-minded (or not) friends. Above all, we wish you health, peace of mind, and prosperity.

Starting 2013 on the right foot, we have cause to celebrate this Wednesday – the return of Cleo Paskal (see her most recent piece for HuffPost Expert — West Helping Wahabbi Winter Spread to Syria) to the fold; Cleo’s presence has enabled us to entice Terry Mosher and his wife Mary Hughson, who, some of you may not know, is the designer of all of his books. We look forward to hearing about their plans for Terry’s lecture tour in China on the art of political cartooning.

We are not quite sure whether or not we should celebrate the fiscal cliff developments – they seem to change with every new bulletin. Perhaps Tony Deutsch will interpret the will-you-won’t-you-join-the-dance for us, taking into account Warren Buffet’s opinion: Forget the “fiscal cliff”, it will be women who save the economy. The Wall Street Journal gives minute-by-minute coverage of the on-going saga.

As we join the pundits and just about everyone else in looking back over the past year, we are not impressed. 2012 has been a generally mean-spirited period. Top honors go to the U.S. political campaign and subsequent circus over the fiscal cliff, but the field is crowded for second place and high on our list would be the continued, ruthless devastation wreaked on Planet Earth.

Exception made for events surrounding the Diamond Jubilee in the U.K., which were admirable in all respects; the positive developments in Burma/Myanmar – not perfect, but heading in the right direction; and the recent ‘breakthrough’ in negotiations between the Philippine government and the region of Mindanao, a hopeful beginning? Violence is rampant from the Middle East (notably Syria) and Africa (Mali) to the appalling assaults on individuals – especially women – in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In Decoding the Political Buzzwords of 2012, Geoffrey Nunberg selects ‘Big Data’ as his Word of the Year. We cannot fault his logic, although we could have wished for a field of more positive competitors. The much over-used Respect, along with its Siamese-twin Tolerance, are concepts largely absent from individual and national actions throughout the world. Cooperation and Compassion are also victims of the current mood despite outstanding examples of both in individual actions. We would add Consultation and Transparency as highly desirable for Canada’s political lexicon.

We invite you to offer your suggestions modelled on Adriana Huffington’s list of New Year’s Resolutions she would like to hear which includes the light-hearted:
“I will reach the fifth stage of grieving — acceptance — about Ohio, and send out a ‘Sorry I blew that $300 million’ card to my 2012 donors.” ~ Karl Rove
and
“I will have caller ID installed in my delivery room.” ~ Kate Middleton
to the more serious:
“I will remember that my mandate isn’t just keeping inflation low but also keeping employment high.” ~ Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
“I will set a DC precedent and actually produce a tangible result from my gun control task force.” ~ Vice President Joe Biden.

We can keep this one going for a couple of weeks and accept written submissions from those who are absent.

And we do hope that you will be with us to launch a New Year of respectful, tolerant, cooperative and compassionate discourse at the always consultative and transparent Wednesday Night Salon. Sherbrooke Street – unlike many other parts of the city, is clean and neat, so parking should not be a problem.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1609"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson January 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm · Reply

    A WN market maven points to some good news from 2012 – of course, based on North American markets.
    Based on my expertise … I do not agree about “being not impressed by 2012”.
    Although the Canadian market only appreciated by 4%, if you owned Parkland Fuel you would have got
    a 5.7% dividend plus a 49% capital gains (as we did) for a total of 54.7% gain, or, if you were adventurous, you would have made 176% on Ainsworth Lumber.
    The NY market did better, the S&P500 was ahead by 13.4%; but there were some better performers,
    as for example Cincinnati Bell that was up by 80.8% despite no dividends.
    Of course we had some losers, but got rid of most at a small loss.
    This is what one gets for not being worried about Europe or the Euro or Fiscal Cliff.

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