Wednesday Night #1591

Written by  //  August 27, 2012  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Update: Just to make life more exciting, Isaac menaces U.S. Gulf Coast 7 years [to the day] after Katrina. One WN wit suggests that God is sending a message to Mitt.

The death of astronaut Neil Armstrong has generated numerous tributes tinged with longing for that magical moment when families gathered around little black & white TVs heard for the first time the iconic phrase That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind. One of our favorite tributes Neil Armstrong, the moon’s mystery man was written by Virginia Heffernan, the daughter of dear friends.

Obviously, we have two dominant political topics this week: the Quebec elections and the Republican Convention, each with its own troubling and sometimes deeply bizarre elements. Each should be focusing on the economy and, for the moment, neither is. The Republicans have been derailed by declarations of some of their more extreme and less illustrious elected colleagues, while some of the Quebec parties, having tried the extremist declarations are now trying to outdo one another in the number of promises to voters.

The Republican Convention is fraught with storms- both physical and philosophical. Before addressing the latter, we are happy that, thanks to the Washington Post, we are able to answer the existential question Why the GOP gambled on Tampa in hurricane season – pure politics, of course. “Tampa-St. Petersburg is the biggest swing area in the biggest swing state in the country. Florida is worth 29 electoral votes, and the two counties surrounding Tampa — Pinellas and Hillsborough — are two of just four counties in Florida that flipped from Republican to Democrat between the 2004 and 2008 presidential race. Each went between 53 and 54 percent for President Obama after favoring President Bush four years earlier.”
It is no secret that we are not aligned with the Republican Party. We do, however, believe firmly in an intelligent and loyal opposition. Unfortunately, a number of the current crop of Republicans are neither, and among many others, there is a righteousness that precludes even-handed review of facts and figures. We believe that Mitt Romney is not among these, but we are deeply concerned by his choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate and even more by the disastrous consequences the Citizens United decision, so well illustrated in the current Vanity Fair piece on Boss Rove
In The Crackpot Caucus, Timothy Egan offers “a quick tour of the crazies in the House. Their war on critical thinking explains a lot about why the United States is laughed at on the global stage, and why no real solutions to our problems emerge from that broken legislative body”, pointing out that “On matters of basic science and peer-reviewed knowledge, from evolution to climate change to elementary fiscal math, many Republicans in power cling to a level of ignorance that would get their ears boxed even in a medieval classroom. Congress incubates and insulates these knuckle-draggers.” He also reminds us that Michele Bachmann … is in an unintended joke, a member of the Committee on Intelligence.
There are several controversial items in the Republicans’ platform – you may have noted that a return to the gold standard is on the agenda?
In an interesting development on Sunday, as the Republicans convened in Tampa, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist endorsed President Obama.
Finally, just in case you were not aware of the threat, we are happy to put your minds at rest that the U.N. denies plans to invade Texas but then, as Foreign Policy points out “Of course, that’s just what you would expected him [the spokesman for the Secretary-General] to say if they were planning to invade Texas”.

Then there is Quebec. What to say about the recent polls? On Sunday night,  the Gazette tells us that the CAQ eyes major triumph in Quebec City region — Pollsters are suggesting Legault and his party hold a commanding lead in provincial capital and could be poised to take 12 of 18 seats; CBC is somewhat more sanguine suggesting that “With the numbers so close, the poll reflects a downward trend for the Liberals rather than a formal loss in voters.” The same story details some of the more recent promises from Mme Marois including this whopper: … a plan to offer 3,000 new social and community housing units every year for five years. According to Marois, it would cost $35 million and would allow groups to plan new developments without having to rely on the provincial budget. And if you believe that ….
Meanwhile, Mr. Charest is promising to budget $15 million for the production of children’s television and web shows ‘to give children a taste for culture’. Does anyone remember asking for this? Oh, and you did note that last week, Charest apologizes to anglos saying he would ‘never in his wildest dreams take them for granted’, but admitting that his government could do more to defend the English minority when it feels attacked.
One Wednesday Nighter believes that many minds will not be made up until next weekend, when families get together to celebrate the end of summer. Let us hope that the vaunted gros bon sens of the peuple will prevail at those dinner tables.

Mr. Harper has wisely removed himself as far as possible from the fray, visiting the Arctic and making a few promises of his own, notably the renewed effort to find Sir John Franklin’s ships On another Arctic-related topic, CBC carried a mostly positive story about the increase in tourists arriving by sea at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. It sounds like the community is successfully adapting to the challenges and opportunities and is already garnering considerable benefits.

As always, something about energy and environment – the Romney campaign (back to the Republicans) unveiled a new energy plan that the candidate says will allow the U.S. to achieve energy independence by 2020. The plan involves deregulating the oil and gas industry, opening up more federal lands and offshore waters to drilling, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline between the United States and Canada. Apparently they are not concerned by the dismal Enbridge spill record. Here, however, the debate goes on. According to Canadian Press, Northern Gateway: Enbridge Oil Spill Cleanup Plans Not Specific For Diluted Bitumen, Say Scientists — Enbridge officials confirm the spill response plan they have filed with the federal review panel studying the pipeline proposal deals with conventional crude, not specifically the diluted bitumen the pipeline will carry. But Enbridge says the two react the same way once spilled.
Is this true?

On the other side of the world, Reuters reports that Thousands being moved from China’s Three Gorges – again
China relocated 1.3 million people during the 17 years it took to complete the Three Gorges dam. Even after finishing the $59 billion project last month, the threat of landslides along the dam’s banks will force tens of thousands to move again. As many will remember, we have always had grave reservations about this immense project.

In case you haven’t enough to worry about, Al Jazeera reports that Risk of water wars rises with scarcity Strategists from Israel to Central Asia are preparing for strife in light of the findings of the OECD’s Environmental Outlook to 2030 report that by 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress. There’s an interactive map that accompanies the article, linking to a number of Al Jazeera reports on vulnerable areas.

Our friend John Moore notes that the news and photos of Prince Harry’s ‘strip pool’ have surfaced in the same month that he was featured in Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list.


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