The Centre for Strategic Centrism


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The Reviews Are In

Like many Canadians, I watched as CBC breathlessly covered every second of Obama’s Canadian vacation. And reading the reviews afterwards, one article caught my eye. Some highlights:

On trade:

The prime minister responded by giving the president a bit of a lecture, remarking that Canada’s stimulus package “actually removed duties on some imported goods.”

The exchange was an awkward moment in a visit that was intended by both leaders to emphasize their countries’ friendship and longstanding bonds.

On America’s relationship with Canada’s Next Government (patent pending):

If Mr. Obama is not entirely simpatico with Mr. Harper, he may have more in common with Canada’s opposition leader, Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party. Mr. Ignatieff is an author (like Mr. Obama) and a former director of a human rights center at Harvard, where he worked alongside Samantha Power, who advised Mr. Obama on foreign policy during his campaign. 

And of course my favorite part of the trip:


Filed under: Damn Yankees, Oh, Canada

…And They Sure Don’t Build Yachts Like They Used To!

In an interview with a conservative talk show host, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has once again embarrassed herself. Posted by the blog Dump Bachmann and picked up by the MN Progressive Project, the clip has the Minnesota Republican telling KLTK’s Chris Baker that she opposes she stimulus because we’re “running out of rich people in this country.”

Steve Benen organizes some more of the stupidity:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)
* many members of Congress have “a real aversion to capitalism.”

* the stimulus bill includes a measure to create a “rationing board” for health care, and after the bill becomes law, “your doctor will no longer be able to make your healthcare decisions with you.”

* the recovery package is part of a Democratic conspiracy to “direct” funding away from Republican districts, so Democratic districts can “suck up” all federal funds. Bachmann doesn’t think this will work because, as she put it, “We’re running out of rich people in this country.”

* the “Community-Organizer-in-Chief” is also orchestrating a conspiracy involving the Census Bureau, which the president will use to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power for up to “40 years.” When the host said he was confused, noting that congressional district lines are drawn at the state level, Bachmann said Obama’s non-existent plan is an “anti-constitutional move.”

Courtesy Huffington Post.

Filed under: Damn Yankees

She’s Just Not That Into You (Part 2)

It seems like Palin’s givin’ the cold shoulder to conservatives yet again. It seems that this time she’s blowing off CPAC, the biggest conservative party of the year, as yet another step in her pursuit of a more moderate, mainstream image to woo non-rednecks in 2012.

Filed under: Damn Yankees

A Study in Contrasts

For many people out there, there was an assumption that those of us (like myself) who supported Barack Obama’s candidacy did as the result of some willfully ignorant notion that somehow everything would just magically be better with Obama in the White House. Barack Obama’s candidacy represented a lot of things to a lot of people. But for me, personally, the biggest thing about Obama was that he represented a change in tone from the Bush administration. Today we got our first real example of that. 

The Obama administration had its worst day of its short life today, after two top nominees were forced to withdraw. It was an embarrassing day for Barack Obama, personally. But I maintain that it will not tarnish him in any real way because of the honest way that he has responded:


Now contrast that with George W. Bush, famously asked in 2004 about the biggest mistakes of his Presidency until then, was stymied. He assured the press that he had made mistakes, but he just couldn’t think of any of them:

That’s what I love about Obama!

Filed under: Damn Yankees,

Around the Web

  • I’ve met Jason Kenney. I’ve had dinner with Jason Kenney. I think Jason Kenney’s a nice enough guy, though I believe him to be overly-partisan and am disgusted by his current job ethnically/racially profiling Canadians for the Conservative Party. And Kinsella has some highlights Kenney’s record of supporting diversity (pitiful though it may be).
  • Ignatieff has allowed his Newfoudnland MPs to vote against the budget. I’m glad he made that call rather than force his Newfoundland MPs to support a budget that their constituents strongly oppose. It’s important to see a caucus support its leader. It’s equally important to see a leader support his caucus.
  • I don’t know if it’s just my proximity to the ocean, but I can’t help but smell something fishy and it seems to be coming from Senator Brazeau’s office. If he keeps up this pace, he’s going to be the best gift that Harper ever gave to the Liberal Party of Canada.
  • Radwanski’s got a point and it’s a helluva point. Layton has turned the NDP into a party that matters (at least at the moment). But there’s a very valid reason that he’s taking so much flack. If his goal was to rescue the party from obscurity then he is a success. The NDP matters again for the first time since Ed Broadbent. That’s no small feat. However, if Layton was serious about his goal being positioning the NDP to seriously compete to become the Government of Canada, then he is failing spectacularly. The reality is – more than likely – that the task is an impossible one to begin with. But I think it’s fair to say that while Layton has made significant progress, he’s taken the party as far as he can.

South of the Border… Not Quite Down Mexico Way

  • The withdrawal of Daschle’s nomination for HHS Secretary is the first big loss for the Obama White House. The reality is that I don’t think that this will weaken the Obama White House in any real way. But Daschle was going to be a key player in the administration in an important portfolio.
  • It seems as though some parties really enjoy losing. After being reduced to little more than a Southern rump, the Republicans seem to have established their stars: Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. I’m not sure which one is a worse choice. But the Republicans seem to be sticking to their guns (no pun intended) on the notion that the road back to the White House runs through whichever bar has the reddest necks in the hillbilliest outpost in America. Good luck my friends.
  • I can’t say that I really know what exactly McCain’s plan is. He seems to be enjoying teeing off on Obama at the moment. For the life of me I can’t figure out what the plan is.

Filed under: Damn Yankees, Oh, Canada

She’s Just Not That Into You

Here’s a question… Am I the only one having a good laugh at the fact that Tina Fey impersonee Sarah Palin is going rogue on the entire Republican Party?

Palin, the plague wrought upon the nation and the GOP by John McCain in a desperate attempt to woo those female voters who were disappointed to see Hillary Clinton lose the Democratic nomination, was the darling of the party. She’s a gun totin’, book burnin’ small town Republican and proud of it. At least they thought she was. 

First came word that she would be supporting Obama’s economic stimulus plans. Now it’s important to keep in mind here that she was by no means alone as a Republican Governor in this decision, as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other Republican Governors made the same determination. But the Republicans are trying to mount some opposition to the stimulus and her support was likely expected.

It now seems that Palin’s office lied to House Republicans. When asked if she would join her colleagues for a retreat in Virginia this weekend, she declined citing urgent business that would keep her in Alaska this weekend. It turns out, however, that she was in Washington, palling around with the Washington elites at the Alfalfa Dinner. You know those Washington elites, don’t you? Those are the ones that she railed against during the campaign and ridiculed Barack Obama for being too close with. 

Now that she’s secured herself a reputation as the darling of the inbred, bible-thumping Republican base – the constituency one needs if they’re going to secure the Republican nomination – she is attempting to use her new-found prominence to reposition herself as all the things that she initially proved herself to not be: moderate, literate, intelligent, etc…

If there was ever any doubt about what Sarah Palin truly is, I think we’ve found our answer (and it’s not a “maverick”) and we found out what she charges, too!

Filed under: Damn Yankees,

We’re Sorry We Tried to Screw You… Now Gimme!

Imagine the cojones you’ve got to be carrying around to have tried to screw Obama during the Democratic Primary by raising doubts about the extent to which he will protect American industry and then – after he’s managed to overcome the hurdles you tossed in front of him – begging him to give you an exception to the detriment of American industry! 

Let’s be clear about this… I’d like to see a Canadian exemption as much as anyone in this country (save for the people whose jobs directly depend on the steel industry) and I’m as big a proponent of lying to oneself as you’ll find in this world. But come on, Stock! You’ve gotta be kidding!

Filed under: Damn Yankees, Oh, Canada, , ,

Making a Splash

When competing in a large field of candidates, the object of an ad is – as much as anything else – to stand out. This commercial acomplishes just that for Charlie Wheelan, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and one of 15 competitors for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace Rahm Emanuel in Congress.

The commercial is apparently being done by Bill Hillsman, the man behind the clever commercials that put Paul Wellstone on the map.

Filed under: Damn Yankees

Joe the Plumber

Joe the Plumber. Seriously. Aren’t this guy’s fifteen minutes up? The man is like a bad reality television series. Let’s see Joe do jobs that he is completely unqualified for! In the series premiere, he starred as a plumber who does not have a license to work as a plumber in Ohio.


In the second episode, he was a spokesperson/celebrity endorser for John McCain. In this episode, highlights included his insights that a vote for Obama was a vote for the destruction of Israel. He would later explain that he really doesn’t know much about international politics and would encourage people to research the issues for themselves. And of course towards the end of this episode (after McCain lost) he explained that he really disagreed with McCain on a lot of policies.


In this week’s exciting season premiere, Joe becomes a war correspondent for Pyjamas Media (the tin foil brigade of “political commentators” who blog from their parents’ basements about how terrible liberals are. The man lacks any military experience; any journalistic experience; or any understanding of the region and issues involved. So obviously he’s the perfect choice for a conservative blog. He’s going to go interview ordinary Israelis – the Ze’ev the Plumbers, if you will – about their perspectives on the war. Asked about the security risks associated with becoming a war correspondent, he offered that he believes he’ll be taken care of by God as a Christian (I’m just hoping he makes this sort of comment to the Israelis he interviews).


The man is a caricature. I have less of a problem with Joe, himself, than I do with those people that continue to give this man a platform from which to share his ignorance for no apparent reason.

Filed under: Damn Yankees, ,

Rebutting Radwanski or Let’s Speak Franken-ly

I enjoy the televisions on domestic flights with WestJet and Air Canada. I really do. I used to fly a lot more than I do now. When I was working on Parliament Hill, I was on a plane at least a few times every month, usually for about 5 hours each ride. Nowadays, I’m only one a plane a few times a year. And I really do enjoy the option of watching a movie or sporting event on domestic flights. But I really used to love plane rides because of the serenity. I’d get the window seat, put in my headphones, turn on some music and just relax with a book for a few hours of uninterrupted reading. Now, I still bring the iPod and the book, but I’m less likely to use them, at least for the entire flight.


Since moving out to the West Coast, I have begun taking regional flight more often. The smaller, regional carriers don’t have television in the seatbacks, fortunately. And so, a few months back, I was relaxing on a West Coast Air flight from Vancouver and pulled out the copy of The Atlantic Monthly that had conveniently arrived in my mailbox that morning. For those of you that have never read the magazine, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. It’s my favorite (though, as Wells often laments with all American magazines, the delay between publishing and receiving it in my mailbox is uncomfortably long.


Anyway, Radwanski highlighted an old article the other day in his post, The Anti-Obama, from that particular issue penned by Joshua Green. I remember this because of how much I had enjoyed the article. Radwanski picks out some of the highlights of the old Franken that were mentioned in the article – lunging at a protestor at a Dean rally, a rather undignified incident with Bill O’Reilly – as reason to believe that Franken’s being elected to the Senate could prove a greater boon to the Republicans than the Democrats.


I, for one, couldn’t disagree more strongly. The point that I believe was so clearly made in Green’s piece was that the Al Franken that Minnesotans saw on the campaign trail was a very different Franken than the one Americans were accustomed to seeing on Saturday night Live or the left wing provocationalist of Air America Radio.


In my estimation, Franken seems completely aware of the weight of his baggage. The same righteous indignation that gave him the profile that allowed him to take the nomination was a thousand-pound weight around his ankles from day one of the general campaign. Republicans came after him ferociously with every inappropriate joke and comment he had ever uttered (as they ought to have done). His election to the Senate was – in many ways – in spite of his previous success and notoriety, not because of it.


Read the article for yourself. And watch the video pieces done to accompany it on the Atlantic website. Make up your own minds. But I expect Franken to much more closely resemble his friend, Paul Wellstone, who held the seat until his death in a plane crash only days before the 2002 mid-term elections.


I believe that Franken will be a no-nonsense, DFL-style Democrat. I expect him to work with farm-belt Republicans. And by contrast with Radwanski’s post, I am confident that he will fit well into Obama’s plans.

Filed under: Damn Yankees,