Tagged Politics

Canada Relations

Geography has made us neighbors, history has made us friends, economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies.

— President Robert F. Kennedy on US / Canada relations.

The US President’s first foreign trip is highly symbolic. Yesterday President Obama reinforced a long standing tradition and made Canada the destination for his first foreign trip. President Bush’s first foreign trip was to Mexico. US / Canada relations were strained throughout his entire term. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford never visited Canada at all.

Granted, this trip was more than a pit stop than an extended visit. He arrived in the morning to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, ate through a working lunch, held a joint news conference, met briefly at the airport with the leader of Canada’s opposition party, and was back home in the White House in time for dinner.

Even though he only had time to pop in for a quick chat, I am glad that my native country is back at the top of the list for our new US President.

Government

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

— Mark Twain

As I watched the latest meltdown from the latest cabinet confirmations I can’t help but think that Mark Twain may have been on to something in his assessment of people who run for political office.

It has been obvious to me for a long time that congress is broken. I couldn’t quite articulate exactly how I thought it was broken but I knew something was wrong. And then I discovered Lawrence Lessig’s latest mission. Partnering with Joe Trippi, he is determined to change congress. He makes a powerful case that lobbying and special interests have eroded the very foundations of the constitution.

Lying

What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Like most children, my parents raised me with an unending plea to always tell the truth. In my mom’s eyes, a clean conscience was to be valued above all else. “Besides,” she always said, “if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.” I have carried this commitment to truth and honesty with me, almost to a fault. It has served me well.

As I have observed the global meltdown of the financial industry I can’t help but believe that it has been forever transformed by a blatant lack of trust. When the banks stopped lending it was clear that they no longer believed one another. The Bernie Madoff case was the icing on the cake. It seems to me that it will take a long time to restore trust and confidence into the financial system. In the process, I am not sure what kind of “financial system” will actually emerge on the other side.

Checks and Balances

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

— Lord Acton

I was born in Canada and came to the US between my sophomore and junior year in high school. One of my first courses in my newly adopted country was high school civics. I learned with a newcomer’s sense of awe about the three branches of government and their important role in each checking the power of the other. It is highly attributed that this system of checks and balances is the genius of the America.

In the intervening years since those wide-eyed high school years I have been a casual observer of the reality that power and money are self preserving. …

Redefining WMD

MSNBC ran the startling headline this morning: Man arrested near Capitol faces WMD charge. How intriguing! Was a criminal mastermind skulking through the streets of DC with a nuclear bomb in his trunk?

[The suspect] tried to manufacture a “weapon of mass destruction, that is, an explosive device capable of causing multiple deaths or serious bodily injuries to multiple persons, or massive destruction of property,”

At the height of the Cold War, “weapons of mass destruction” meant nuclear warheads that were capable of eliminating broad swaths of humanity with a single explosion. With the onset of the “war on terror” we expanded WMD to include bio-weapons that could infect the water supply for an entire city or chemicals that could poison the air of a local community. …