By Patricia Treble - Friday, May 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Six cities in seven days—Prince Harry’s whistle stop tour of the United States may not leave much time for princely touristing, or partying (insert naked Las Vegas joke here). For one thing, this trip is dripping in serious events, such as a visit to Arlington Cemetery and meeting wounded soldiers (an itinerary is at the bottom of this post). So it’s Harry at his most solemn and most charming, not revealing the most skin.
“He is a soldiers’ soldier and will bring a spotlight on what’s being done to help these outstanding men and women,” said Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Harry’s private secretary during the pre-tour media briefing. There will certainly be no shenanigans on Lowther-Pinkerton’s watch—the ex-SAS officer is known for being very close to Harry, as well as William and Kate, and for running a very efficient, very photogenic royal tour (see Harry’s 2012 Jamaica trip—JLP is the man in the check shirt sitting beside Harry—and William & Kate’s Canadian adventure from 2011). Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got in on the act, saying, “Believe me, nobody’s going to get naked if I’m spending the entire day with Prince Harry” inspecting areas hit by hurricane Sandy.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 18, 2013 at 4:40 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly before QP, the government sent up Roxanne James to report the following.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are angered and in a state of shock over the actions of the NDP leader. This past weekend the leader of the NDP met with convicted cop shooter Gary Freeman, a man who was convicted of attempted murder in the U.S. after repeatedly shooting a young Chicago police officer, Terrence Knox, who was left permanently paralyzed and suffering from the effects of the shooting until his recent death. Rather than face due justice, Gary Freeman evaded the law for several years by fleeing to Canada and living here illegally under a false name. This is the man who the Leader of the Opposition chose to meet with. Sadly, it is telling that the NDP leader has never met with the family of the victim. Instead, he went on national television yesterday to shamefully dismiss the repeated shooting as a mere scuffle. Canadians are getting fed up seeing the NDP stand up for the rights of criminals over the rights of victims and their families time and time again.
Later, during QP, Conservative backbencher Kevin Sorenson stood to hold the government account thusly.
Mr. Speaker, after bashing Canada’s natural resource sector and Canadian jobs while in Washington, the Leader of the Opposition made it a priority to visit with convicted cop shooter, Gary Freeman. The Leader of the Opposition continues to defend this admitted and convicted felon, and pressed for him to be allowed to come on up and live in Canada, despite the fact that Gary Freeman is a citizen of the United States and was never a citizen or lawful resident of Canada. Can the Minister of Public Safety tell the House whether our Conservative government supports this reckless and dangerous idea?
Vic Toews duly stood and responded.
Mr. Speaker, it is truly shameful that when the Leader of the Opposition goes abroad his priority is importing violent criminals into Canada. Mr. Freeman shot a front-line Chicago police officer, not once, not twice but three times, leaving that officer permanently paralyzed. These kinds of foreign nationals, convicted of dangerous and violent crimes, are not admissible to Canada. Reckless policies on immigration, like opposing the faster removal of foreign criminals bill and advocating for those who shoot brave front-line peace—
Ms. James errs in her report. Gary Freeman was not “convicted of attempted murder,” he pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery. The rest of Mr. Freeman’s story is reviewed here.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM - 0 Comments
Michael Den Tandt wonders if the Conservatives will have to stop freaking out about the NDP’s cap-and-trade proposal if they hope to see the Keystone XL pipeline approved by the United States. If the Conservatives think likewise, we’ll presumably see a different tone on Monday when the House returns to business (the Conservatives certainly weren’t shying away from their preferred talking point when the House was sitting a week ago).
Meanwhile, China is talking about a carbon tax and Ontario is thought to be moving forward with cap-and-trade and here is what the woman thought to be President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the EPA told an audience of regulators yesterday.
Addressing a room full of familiar faces at a workshop of state and federal regulators, McCarthy applauded local efforts, such as the nine-state carbon cap-and-trade program in the Northeast United States, for showing Washington a path forward on combating climate change.
“At the EPA we will do our part to build on your success,” she said at the Georgetown University Law Center. “We can find a way instead of having national solutions…to open up opportunities for states to use all the flexibility, the ingenuity, the innovation that you have shown could be done, and just simply get it done.”
Stephen Gordon talks to Global about what international developments might mean for Canada.
As the rest of the world starts to put a price on carbon, any Canadian exporter is going to have start paying that price regardless of where it is located,” said Laval University economics professor Stephen Gordon. Carbon taxes are usually applied to imports as well, so local producers are not disadvantaged, according to Gordon.
The U.S. is Canada’s largest trading partner and accepted $330.1 billion worth of exports from Canada in 2011. China ranks number three when it comes to Canada’s largest export destinations, accepting $16.8 billion in exports in 2011. “If Canadian exporters are already paying for it why not send that tax revenue to Ottawa instead of Washington or Beijing,” Gordon said.
And PJ Partington compares coal regulations in Canada and the United States.
The U.S. ambassador has made it crystal clear that as America steps up its climate action it expects us to do better too. The new line from the Harper government is that we’re already there, particularly on curbing emissions from coal power. Foreign minister John Baird recently suggested “maybe the United States could join Canada” on “taking concrete direct action with respect to dirty, coal fired electricity generation,” adding that “we’re the only country in the world that’s committed to getting out of the dirty coal electricity generation business.”
Sadly, Canada isn’t the shining example of coal-curbing excellence that Harper’s ministers are claiming. When it comes to regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) from coal power, we’re doing about the same as our neighbours to the South — and may well be eclipsed before too long. While coal power is America’s biggest source of GHGs, accounting for over a quarter of national emissions in 2010, it accounted for about 11 per cent of Canada’s in the same year. As for “getting out of the dirty coal electricity generation business,” Canada won’t be fulfilling that commitment until 2062.
By John Parisella - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
He’ll need more than vision and good intentions to succeed, writes John Parisella
When President Obama was elected in 2008, many believed American liberalism was about to make a comeback. The economy was in shambles, more than 40 million Americans had no healthcare coverage and the United States was involved in two unpopular wars. Barack Obama spoke of hope and change, as well as an activist government.
Throughout his first term, many on the American left were terribly disappointed that Obama failed to push the liberal agenda. Obamacare did not contain the public option; the stimulus purchase did not include public works programs; the Obama administration was increasing its involvement in Afghanistan.
By the November 6, 2012 election date, the American left made the only rational choice and voted to keep Obama in office instead of staying away from the polls. Many, realizing the systematic obstructionism of the Republicans, preferred to keep Obama in place rather than roll back many of the progressive policies created since the FDR years.
In his second Inaugural Address, President Obama laid out the most progressive agenda since FDR. Even John F. Kennedy did not go as far. The speech was philosophical in tone, militant in terms of priorities and delivered in a manner that many early Obama supporters would have wished. “We the people”, and the words ‘citizen’, ‘democracy’ and ‘equality’ figured prominently. It was clear Obama was talking legacy, but he was elaborating on an agenda for a changing America, and an America whose thirst for more change will not end with his term in office.
Gun control, immigration reform, deficit and debt issues will dominate the first half of his second term. Foreign policy will also continue its shift to a greater emphasis on soft power, diplomacy and multilateral engagement. A close reading of this speech, and you can understand even better the coalition that gave Obama such a sweeping victory. He has chosen to seize the moment.
The U.S. is the longest-living democracy, and the most difficult one to govern. Even when one party controls the White House and Congress, the President is subject to an array of checks and balances. But Obama will need more than vision and good intentions to succeed. He will need skill.
In the first half of his first term, Obama had trouble finding his footing in the complex world of Washington. In the latter half of his first term, he seemed more assured and more willing to use the bully pulpit. Since his re-election, Obama has shown a more pro-active and combative style. This can serve him well, as second-term presidents soon face lame-duck status.
Is this progressive agenda laid out so eloquently just a mirage? The GOP, going through its post-election pains, will not react favourably to such a blatant progressive agenda. However, the President seems to have grown in his job and appears more determined as we saw in the Hagel nomination as Secretary of Defense and the December fiscal cliff debate. At the end of the day, his agenda may well depend more on his political skills than his ideas.
By Patricia Treble - Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM - 0 Comments
Why doesn’t the Canadian Prime Minister warrant the hooplah being lavished on Barack Obama…
Why doesn’t the Canadian Prime Minister warrant the hooplah being lavished on Barack Obama when he’s sworn into office? Surely becoming PM is worth a Mountie escorted carriage ride through Ottawa so he can wave to Canadians lining the procession route. At the very least he should get high school marching bands from all 10 provinces and three territories.
Oh right. Stephen Harper heads the government, not the nation. That’s the job of Queen Elizabeth II and her representative in Canada, Governor General David Johnston. Harper gets the power, but not the pomp–that modestly comes when a new GG is picked and then on a grand scale for the coronation of a new monarch, something that hasn’t happened in 60 years. Drat. Indeed, this is what the Governor General’s website says about the swearing in:
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Tim Harper wonders whether extreme weather and U.S. policy could put pressure on the Harper government to change its approach to environmental policy. The Washington Post’s editorial board notes that 2012 was the warmest on record in the United States and makes a suggestion.
Scientists can’t yet know to what extent man-made emissions influenced the heat and calamitous drought. But the result is nevertheless ominous, “a huge exclamation point on the end of several decades of fairly consistent warming,” as NOAA’s Deke Arndt put it. The year offers a vision of what will happen more often on a planet that is heating — slowly and fitfully, not every year warmer than the last, but inexorably.
There is still uncertainty. Though they have a range of estimates, scientists still do not know exactly how sensitive the global climate system is to human carbon emissions and exactly how steep the long-term temperature line will be. Predicting the consequences of a given temperature rise is also difficult. That’s an argument not for doing nothing but for managing the risks, spending now to avoid the likelihood of much greater costs later, as any good business would do in the face of certain threats of uncertain magnitude.
The smartest hedge would be a national carbon tax. It would marshal the market’s power to wring carbon out of the economy, putting decisions about the direction of energy and manufacturing in the hands of consumers and businesses that meet their demands, not Congress and interest groups that lobby lawmakers. When people must pay something for their pollution, they pollute less and invest in cleaner alternatives. A carbon tax would provide more certainty to industry and investors who currently can only guess at what climate policy will look like year to year.
By Kevin Freking, The Associated Press - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 5:26 AM - 0 Comments
Congress taking new look at doing away with $1 bill in favour of dollar coins
WASHINGTON – American consumers have shown about as much appetite for the $1 coin as kids do their spinach. They may not know what’s best for them either. Congressional auditors say doing away with dollar bills entirely and replacing them with dollar coins could save taxpayers some $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.
Vending machine operators have long championed the use of $1 coins because they don’t jam the machines, cutting down on repair costs and lost sales. But most people don’t seem to like carrying them. In the past five years, the U.S. Mint has produced 2.4 billion Presidential $1 coins. Most are stored by the Federal Reserve, and production was suspended about a year ago.
The latest projection from the Government Accountability Office on the potential savings from switching to dollar coins entirely comes as lawmakers begin exploring new ways for the government to save money by changing the money itself.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
In the United States, the carbon tax discussion continues.
From the National Journal.
Over the next two years, the president will have one more chance to push carbon-pricing legislation through Congress—this time, however, with a distinctly different political profile. As early as next year, Congress is expected to take up a sweeping tax-reform package that would lower corporate rates and eliminate loopholes in the tax code. As part of that process, support is growing for a carbon tax, to be paired with a cut in the payroll or income tax. The strongest supporters of the idea are conservative economists—including Gregory Mankiw, Mitt Romney’s economic adviser; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who advised Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign; and Art Laffer, President Reagan’s chief economic adviser. Republicans want to find a way to cut taxes on work or income—and many, at least, don’t oppose the idea of moving that tax over to carbon pollution.
The idea taking shape is to tuck a “carbon-tax swap” into a broader reform package, framed as conservative fiscal policy and championed by Republicans. That could provide the political cover it would need to get through Congress, although it will still require an uphill push. One big challenge will be to get enough Republicans, and many coal-state Democrats, to sign on to something that will inevitably be labeled an “energy tax” by groups like Americans for Prosperity, the super PAC linked to the oil conglomerate Koch Industries.
From the Washington Post.
Here’s a riddle: If Congress doesn’t want to raise income tax rates but wants to raise revenue, what can it do? One answer: Pass a carbon tax.
A relatively moderate-sized carbon tax could raise $1.25 trillion over the next decade, a huge chunk of the money needed to bring the federal budget deficit under control. And the idea is getting a closer look now that the election is over and the “fiscal cliff” is looming.
A White House official says the President isn’t planning to propose a carbon tax.
By Chris Sorensen - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 10:31 AM - 0 Comments
China-bashing is all the rage in the U.S. Beijing is pushing back
As the U.S. election looms, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been eager to blame China for America’s economic woes. Both are running ads that paint China as a job-stealer, an intellectual property thief and a currency manipulator. Romney’s campaign has called China a “cheater” in international trade, while Obama has accused Romney of offshoring American manufacturing jobs while running his private equity firm.
The rhetoric is amplified by concerns about the $1.15 trillion worth of U.S. Treasury bills that China holds, ostensibly threatening Washington’s financial independence. “I love Big Bird,” Romney said during the first debate, spawning a torrent of Twitter jokes. “But I’m not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.” Beijing hasn’t found the campaign threats nearly as funny. A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry urged both candidates to “do more things conducive to China-U.S. mutual trust and co-operation,” while China’s official news agency, Xinhua, called the China-bashing an election-year ritual that “leaves Americans with the impression that China is responsible for their country’s decline.”
The war of words highlights how high tensions are running on both sides. That’s because both countries are under intense economic pressure. America is trying to pull out of a crushing recession (and a debt of more than $16 trillion) and put millions back to work. China is desperate to maintain economic growth, the glue holding the country of 1.3 billion together, while in the midst of a difficult leadership transition (tarred by the Bo Xilai corruption scandal). Caught in the middle is a $503-billion trade relationship that’s emerged as a cornerstone of the global economy.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Andre Picard sees breakdowns of communication and leadership around the XL Foods recall.
Mr. Ritz was minister during the listeria crisis. His government commissioned a report from Sheila Weatherill, which cost taxpayers $5.3-million. Obviously, he has not read or understood that report, which, in addition to its technical recommendations for improving food safety, had two overriding messages: 1) That communication by the CFIA and the government more generally were appallingly bad and 2) there was a “void in leadership” that contributed to the deaths.
Today, as the E. coli tainted meat outbreak demonstrates, communication is as bad, if not worse, and the void in leadership is even more gaping. That void is a greater threat to the health of Canadians than any bacterium.
An 11th case of E.coli poisoning has been confirmed. The recall in the United States now includes approximately 2.5 million pounds of meat and Hong Kong is now conducting its own recall. XL Foods would like to reopen its plant in Brooks, Alberta. The CFIA will conduct a detailed assessment of the plant on Tuesday.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
In 2007, economist Greg Mankiw wrote an op-ed for the New York Times to argue for a carbon tax. Mr. Mankiw is now an economic advisor to Mitt Romney. Mr. Mankiw is, in fact, among three advisors to Mr. Romney who have advocated carbon pricing (though Mr. Romney officially opposes a carbon tax).
A spokesperson for the candidate’s campaign, meanwhile, did not mince words: “Governor Romney opposes a carbon tax,” she said. A stand-alone tax on carbon will never fly with Republicans, economists and analysts say. But one that is pitched as a single dish in a buffet of tax reforms just might, says Arthur Laffer, an economist who worked in the Reagan administration during the last major reform of the tax code in 1986.
“The one reason why we all just go dingers and hate carbon taxes is because it’s a tax add-on,” Laffer said in an interview. “It’s an additional tax and an additional encroachment of government on the private sector and will actually hurt the economy. That’s a real problem. So therefore, if you can find another tax that is worse than a carbon tax and replace that tax with a carbon tax, I don’t know of many people who would disagree with that.” Laffer called income taxes the “single most damaging tax that you can imagine,” because they penalize nearly every American for contributing to the economy.
Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott has introduced carbon tax legislation and former Republican congressman Bob Inglis is advocating for a carbon tax. Ezra Klein has a dream that carbon pricing will be part of a grand bargain between Democrats and Republicans. Matthew Yglesias recently made the case again for taxing carbon.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
On how geography threatens the U.S., makes Africa poor and may alter our economy
American foreign affairs journalist Robert Kaplan, 60, is the author of 14 books, many about U.S. strategic imperatives and the re-emergence of long-standing cultural tensions hidden by Cold War politics. His new book is The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate.
Q: You write that the West, especially the U.S., has lately been ascribing too much influence in geopolitics to human agency, especially air power, and not enough to the literal facts on the ground.
A: That’s a fair summation of the book, but it’s much wider than this. Since the end of the Second World War, with the emergence of economics in a big way, of financial institutions, of political science, of international relations, of human rights organizations, of an intellectual global elite that never existed before, geopolitics has been downplayed and especially geography. There’s this feeling that we’ve overcome geography—the global elite talks in terms of, “We can do this and we can do that”—as though it doesn’t matter. This book is a corrective.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 12:26 PM - 0 Comments
In conversation with Mike Doherty
Martin Amis moved from London to New York City last year, and his new novel, Lionel Asbo, has widely been viewed as a parting shot at his native U.K. But Amis himself sees it more as a goodbye hug, even though it’s a satire about a lout who wins a lottery and becomes a ridiculous public figure. Over the phone from a lodge in British Columbia, the author of Money and London Fields spoke with Maclean’s about America, England, new beginnings, and what he’d like to leave behind.
Q: Are you on holiday now?
A: Yeah, sort of. My wife [writer Isabel Fonseca] is doing a travel piece, and I just tagged along. It’s all hiking and kayaking and whale-watching, and I’m an indoorsy type. It’s great, ’cause I don’t have to be taking notes or involving myself in anything. I can just get on with my stuff.
Q: You’re now based in Brooklyn, I take it, for family reasons?
A: Just over two years ago, my mother died, and within a week, the prognosis for Christopher Hitchens was available. That got us thinking about mortality and my wife’s mother and stepfather. We thought, “They’re not going to be around forever.” At this point, it looked as though Christopher might well have lived for five or 10 years more, and those two considerations were enough. It was expressing no disaffection for England.
Q: That said, over the years you have mused about moving to the U.S., because Britain is “not exciting.”
A: The truth is, I’ve never been interested in British politics—or interested only to the extent that it relates to American politics. There’s undoubtedly a kind of gravitational attraction exerted by the centre of the world. Things that happen in Washington matter all over the world, and that has long ceased to be the case for London.
Q: You covered the Iowan Republican primary for Newsweek, and you’ve described Mitt Romney as looking “crazed with power.” What do you make of his running mate, Paul Ryan?
A: It seems to me quite an aggressive choice, making no bones about the fact that this is a plutocratic-leaning party, that money has entered politics in the last couple of years much more obtrusively than ever before. It seems that the Republican party’s just burning itself out and I think will lose the election and will then have to go back to the drawing board. Q: The Tea Party continues to splinter the GOP. A: Only a heavy defeat would get rid of them entirely, but I think the social issues that keep bobbing to the surface, like gay marriage and abortion, are losing their grip on the populace at quite a rate.
Q: What did you make of all the brouhaha in the press about your move to Brooklyn?
A: So far I’ve had a very nice welcome. I had a very weird exit from England. In America, there isn’t the suspicion of writers that there is now in Britain, because everyone understood that writers would play a part in defining a new country. Britain would be so very resentful of any attempt to define it, because its culture is so much more deeply embedded.
Q: Does that also explain some of the spleen that’s been directed at the subtitle of your new book: “State of England”?
A: Yeah. That was all a sinister coincidence, really, because I was halfway through the book when we had this fairly sudden decision to move. And it does look like my verdict in leaving was that novel, but that’s erroneous. It was more my affectionate evocation of Britain.
Q: Some reviewers have critiqued Lionel Asbo as being derogatory toward the working class; they focus on Lionel, who’s a criminal, rather than his hard-working nephew, Des, the book’s other main character.
A: He’s a celebration of the working class. It was much more of a challenge to create Desmond because of the inherent difficulties of making goodness interesting on the page. Something that Dickens, who was my great god when I was writing this novel, in fact failed to do: his goodies are famously insipid and dull. We don’t read Dickens for Little Nell and Esther Summerson; we read him for Quilp and Carker—all the villains and the wags and the eccentrics. That’s where Dickens’s energy goes. To channel energy into a good character is very difficult, and not very many writers have made goodness, happiness, the positive, work on the page.
Q: Your last novel, The Pregnant Widow, has an epigraph by 19th-century Russian socialist Alexander Herzen. Lionel Asbo’s sections start with variations on the chorus of the Baha Men song Who Let the Dogs Out. How did it work its way into the book?
A: It was the initiating idea. Ideas for novels often come from an overheard conversation, or something you see in a newspaper—Lolita began life that way. I was reading about someone who, as an act of revenge, unleashed his pit bulls on the infant of his enemy; that was the first thought I had when the novel was taking shape in my unconscious. I wanted that kind of chant, that incantation, because the lines are very resonant for me.
Q: When Lionel’s pit bulls are treated well, they become loving, and when they aren’t, they’re violent. Is this a metaphor for the English?
A: Well, a universal metaphor. One other surprising thing about the novel snuck up on me as I was writing—it’s to do with intelligence. Desmond idealistically cultivates his own intelligence and worships it and values it, whereas Lionel hates it; Desmond [observes] that Lionel gives being stupid a lot of very intelligent thought. And I realized that all my life I’ve hung out with people a bit like Lionel and Desmond; even the most law-breaking of them is in fact amazingly vivid and articulate and expressive. I feel that down there, in the underclass, there is a great deal of thwarted, trapped intelligence. It becomes self-destructive, and then out of that comes a sort of delight in stupidity, which nearly always includes a delight in violence. There was an old [Tony Blair-era] Labour slogan that just said, “Education, education, education,” and I found myself very strongly agreeing with that, and feeling that that is in fact the core political question. I see the job description of the novelist [as] playing some sort of role in the education business.
Q: You’ve said recently that the novelist has to love his characters as well as his readers. Is this different from your oft-quoted sentiment that “the author is not free of sadistic impulses”?
A: Ah, [laughs]. Well, I think they don’t completely rule each other out, but it’s become clearer and clearer to me that the world is there to be celebrated by writers, and in fact this is what all the good ones do, and that the great fashion for gloom and grimness was in fact a false path that certain writers took, I think in response to the horrors of the first half of the 20th century. Theodor Adorno’s line, “No poetry after Auschwitz,” is in fact contradicted by Paul Celan, who was writing poetry in a Romanian labour camp.
Q: Is it harder to get across the idea of celebration when writing about the Holocaust, as with the novel you’re working on now?
A: Yes, it is slightly more difficult, but interesting. And [I’m writing about] an absolutely hateful character, but Nabokov, who was always a very good guide in these things, was convinced that the way you dealt with extreme villainy in fiction was not to punish it. Your villain is not to be tritely converted, as Dickens tended to do, but the novelist’s job is bitter mockery, and that’s part of how I’m going at it.
Q: I understand that when Christopher Hitchens passed away, you felt that he left you some of his joie de vivre.
A: Yeah. It was surprising, because the death is a disaster, but what surprises you in the ensuing months is that—and wouldn’t it be nice if it were universally true—it’s as if you have the duty to feel that love of life. His was very strong—stronger than mine, I always felt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they do bequeath you that? It warms you, but it also warms your memory of them.
Q: You called the publication of last year’s biography of you by Richard Bradford, for which you were interviewed, a “regrettable episode.” Do you hope that one day a better book will be written about you?
A: Yeah, eventually. But I haven’t thought about it. It was vanity that got me into that first one, but vanity is, I suppose, part of the job. It would be nice, but it doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is being read after I’m gone. I think every writer thinks about that. It’s nicely complicated, and it keeps you honest, because you won’t be around for that.
Q: Much has been written about you and your father, Kingsley, as two generations of uncommonly successful writers. Your son Louis writes non-fiction, and when she was 10, your daughter Fernanda published fan fiction in The Guardian about Harry Potter. Should we be on the lookout for a third generation of Amises on the literary scene?
A: [laughs] As my first wife said, “Yet another nightmare writer is going to appear on the horizon.” I don’t know. I don’t even speculate about it; I think even if I do, that creates a bit of unwelcome pressure for [my children]. I certainly would never encourage them to write. Not that I don’t think it’s a wonderful way to spend your life.
By Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 4:57 AM - 0 Comments
Republicans blast Obama’s handling of economy
WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the national debt has topped $16 trillion, the result of chronic government deficits that have poured more than $50,000 worth of red ink onto federal ledgers for every man, woman and child in the United States.
The news was greeted with a round of press releases from Barack Obama’s Republican rivals, who used the grim-but-expected news to criticize the president for the government’s fiscal performance over his 3 1/2 years in office. Obama has presided over four straight years of trillion dollar-plus deficits after inheriting a weak economy from his predecessor, George W. Bush.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
No Labels, a bipartisan organization pursuing democratic reform in the United States, revives the idea of introducing Question Period into the congressional system.
We should take a cue from the British Parliament’s regular questioning of the prime minister to create question time for the president and Congress. These meetings occasionally may be contentious, but at least they force leaders to actually debate one another, and defend their ideas.
Here’s how it would work: On a rotating basis the House and Senate would issue monthly invitations to the president to appear in the respective chamber for questions and discussion. Each question period would last 90 minutes and would be televised. The majority and minority would alternate questions. The president could, at his discretion, bring one or more cabinet members to the question period and refer specific questions to them.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 7:28 AM - 0 Comments
The heat wave along the eastern seaboard has some politicians a little hot under…
The heat wave along the eastern seaboard has some politicians a little hot under the collar, the New York Times reports.
“It’s not just ice cream that’s melting down out there,” reports Michael M. Grynbaum, who lists examples.
Exhibit A: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. After touring an affected county on Saturday, he was asked about plans for a legislative session. “Are you stupid,” he shouted. “On topic! On topic! Next question.”
Exhibit B: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg when asked about a skirmish at a local swimming pool in which lifeguards were attacked by teens. “Well, what do you want me to say?”
Christie’s opponent, Democrat Richard Codey, suggests Christie could use some help keeping his cool. Quipped the state senator: “The governor probably would have been better served with his time in going with Alec Baldwin to take a class on etiquette and manners than in addressing the legislature.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, June 29, 2012 at 10:48 AM - 0 Comments
Not event the leader of the free world is immune to misinformation.
Not event the leader of the free world is immune to misinformation.
President Obama’s Affordable Care Act may have been upheld by the Supreme Court, but two news outlets delivered early reports that the mandate had been struck down. The screwups live — on TV and online — got just about as much press as the ruling for a time.
Both CNN and Fox News Channel rushed to deliver the ruling to their viewers. They just happened to have been wrong. Each outlet reported that the mandate had been ruled unconstitutional, a crushing blow to Obama.
Turns out it wasn’t just average viewers that CNN and Fox tripped up. Obama was just outside the Oval Office when he was told that the act wasn’t upheld. Senior administration officials say that the president stayed calm. It was only a few more minutes until White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler gave him thumbs up and the correct information.
By macleans.ca - Friday, June 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
A seven-year-old girl in Chicago was shot dead while selling cold drinks and candy…
A seven-year-old girl in Chicago was shot dead while selling cold drinks and candy at a street-stand with her mother. Heaven Sutton is now the 253rd victim in Chicago’s murder rate this year.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was furious over the tragedy.
“Where in your world experience do you take a shot at another adult next to a kid,” he said in a press conference Thursday. “Near a child? How dare you?”
Sutton’s mother, Ashake Banks, believes the shooter was a gang member targeting someone else and her daughter got stuck in the middle.”But they really didn’t even care,” she says. “They killed my baby.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
A new $5 sin tax on Houston strip clubs will help finance the city’s…
A new $5 sin tax on Houston strip clubs will help finance the city’s backlog of some 4,000 to 6,000 rape kits that have gone untested.
According to a federal bill introduced in Congress last month, the national backlog of untested rape kits has reached 400,000.
The tax, dubbed the “pole tax,” was promoted by city council member Ellen Cohen, passed earlier this week in a 14-1 vote. It could generate up to $3 million for the city.
Supporters of the bill say that strip clubs should bear the brunt of the tax since their establishments can have unhealthy attitudes toward women and sexual violence.The tax will be implemented during the next two weeks.
Before tackling untested rape kits, Cohen helped move legislation that placed a $5 fee on “sexual-oriented businesses” when she was a state legislator in 2007. The proceeds go to victims of sexual abuse in the state.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 9:15 AM - 0 Comments
Police say the “bath salts” drug had no part in the brutal cannibalism attack…
Police say the “bath salts” drug had no part in the brutal cannibalism attack against a homeless man in Miami. Rudy Eugene, 31, was dubbed the “Miami Zombie” after he chewed off the face of a homeless man on the MacArthur Causeway in late May. He was then shot to death by Miami police.
It was first thought Eugene was high on a designer street-drug that usually contains at least one amphetamine, like methylone or mephedrone. It can smoked, snorted, or injected, and can cause hallucinations, paranoia, and violent behavior. But not only did Eugene not have bath salts in his system, there was no evidence of LSD, cocaine, heroin, PCP, oxycodone, or amphetamines. The only drug he had in his system, according to medical examiner reports, was marijuana.
Bath salts have thought to be at the root of several attacks, including a 20-year-old who attacked a 77-year-old woman with a shovel.
The U.S. Senate has since passed a new drug legislation that would permanently ban bath salts—all it needs it President Obama’s signature.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 7:14 AM - 0 Comments
How’s this for an unlikely pair: the American Civil Liberties Union is defending the…
How’s this for an unlikely pair: the American Civil Liberties Union is defending the Ku Klux Klan’s right to adopt a highway in Georgia.
Earlier this month, the KKK was denied by Georgia’s Department of Transportation when they attempted to adopt a highway, saying “an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern.” The KKK was trying to take part in the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, but Georgia said it would hurt the state’s image, and would serve as a “distraction” to drivers.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“Two weeks ago, the Georgia Department of Transportation rejected an application filed May 21 by Harley Hanson, who calls himself the exalted cyclops of the Georgia Realm of the International Keystone Knights of the KKK, and his wife.”
A representative for the white supremacist group said adopting the highway wasn’t a publicity stunt. “Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.”
Following the rejection of their bid, the ACLU announced they would take on the KKK’s request for representation in a dispute against the state of Georgia since it’s a free speech issue.
This isn’t the first time the ACLU has defended the rights of white supremacists: in 1992, they petitioned the federal court to order the town of Elkton, Maryland to allow the KKK to hold a march.
By Alex Ballingall - Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 7:57 PM - 0 Comments
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law mandating the “realignment” of the way California puts people behind bars.
Being “tough on crime” has meant two things in California: severely overcrowded state prisons, and a huge budget deficit (US$16 billion).
With an eye to tackling both issues—and under order by the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce overcrowding by 137.5 per cent, a curiously specific figure that adds up to 30,000 prisoners—Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law mandating the “realignment” of the way California puts people behind bars. That is, the state is passing the buck, shifting responsibility for prisoners convicted of “nonviolent, non-serious, non-sex crimes” from the state to counties.
The new system allows for more flexibility—county sheriffs have far more latitude than state prison officials, being able to place criminals under monitored house arrest or send them for mental health treatment rather than to jail. But the move has also downloaded major costs onto cash-strapped local governments.
Still, for Brown, it’s been a success. New statistics show inmate populations have fallen to a 17-year low.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 8, 2012 at 2:41 PM - 0 Comments
Before QP yesterday, the Conservatives used four members’ statements—from Shelly Glover, Randy Hoback, Bernard Trottier and Pierre Poilievre—to lament that Thomas Mulcair would prefer to bail out the “sumptuous European welfare state countries and the wealthy bankers that lend to them”—a “reckless” plan that would apparently “kill jobs and put a huge burden on the economy here at home.” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty then criticized Mr. Mulcair during QP, in response to questions from the NDP leader, and after QP, in a scrum with reporters. Today, another members’ statement—Mr. Poilievre, again—was dedicated to bemoaning it all.
All of this seems to have been inspired by the leader of the opposition’s questions in the House on Wednesday. Mr. Mulcair noted that the Prime Minister had, in an interview with the CBC, expressed concern about the global impacts of the European economic situation, but that, in April, Mr. Flaherty had refused to go along with other G20 countries in contributing to an IMF initiative to backstop Europe. The following is the closest Mr. Mulcair comes to endorsing a Canadian contribution to the IMF’s fund.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister pretends to be concerned now, but two months ago in Washington the Conservatives were singing a different tune. At the G20 meeting in April the Minister of Finance led the effort to block an international plan to resolve the European economic crisis. He told European countries “to step up to the plate” and fix the problem on their own, as if our fate were not intimately connected to theirs, and he gets applause for that from the peanut gallery. When will the Conservatives stop lecturing European countries and put forward a real plan to protect and create jobs here in Canada?
Of the developed economies, only Canada and the United States are declining to participate. Mr. Flaherty’s concerns are, at least partially, related to the IMF’s governance structure. Germany has publicly registered its concerns with Canada’s reluctance.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:47 AM - 0 Comments
Daniel Kitts notes an interesting detail of the Obama campaign’s general election plan.
But the Obama indictment of Romney in the economic sphere will extend beyond Bain and the Bay State: It will go to character. It will drive home the idea that Romney is a skillful but self-serving plutocrat whose résumé is replete with self-enrichment but who has never cared an iota about bettering the lives of ordinary people. One tagline that the campaign is considering using—“He’s never been in it for you”—encompasses Bain, Massachusetts, and every Gordon Gekko–meets–Thurston Howell III gaffe he made during the primary season in one crisp linguistic swoop.
That, Kitts suggests, sounds an awful lot like something the Conservatives liked to say about Michael Ignatieff. There is probably an interesting comparison to be made between the two politicians and not only because they sort of looked like each other in their younger years. Both are privileged sons of accomplished fathers. Both have pasts that complicate their presents (Mr. Ignatieff as a free-speaking academic, Mr. Romney as an elected centrist). Both struggle with the “retail” aspects of modern politics. And now both will be depicted by their opponents as aloof, arrogant strivers who aren’t in touch with the realities of the common man.
Mr. Ignatieff should probably be dispatched to the States post haste to follow the Romney campaign for a couple weeks and write about what he sees.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 4, 2012 at 4:57 PM - 0 Comments
In the House, the prime minister and government have considerable control over day-to-day operations. This allows governments not only to set the agenda, but to carry it out with ease. The prime minister commands the steadfast loyalty of his MPs, largely through a carrot-and-stick approach; co-operative MPs might be rewarded with cabinet posts or coveted committee positions, while rogues can be — and at times are — punished with removal from caucus or even barred from running as a candidate for the party in future elections. All of these are vestiges of prime ministerial power. The party caucus has little leverage with which to counterbalance the prime minister’s power because party leaders are chosen (and replaced) by the party at large, rather than by the caucus. Thus, the government’s MPs have no effective mechanism through which to stand their ground against a very powerful leader or effectively represent his or her constituents.
In a rebuttal, F.H. Buckley argues that the Canadian system is preferable to the current American system.
That Canada’s current economic situation is better isn’t necessarily an argument for our Parliament (as one wag joked on Twitter, it’s actually an argument for adopting China’s system of governance). That the Westminster model is more efficient has been noted by various observers over the last few years as the U.S. Congress has descended into dysfunction. But a simple either/or debate oversimplifies matters. The American system isn’t inherently dysfunctional: one of its biggest problems is a rule that didn’t exist until 1975. (The Senate is ripe for reform.)
Buckley concludes with a nod to Ruth Ellen Brosseau. Continue…