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Security – how far is too far?

There is a lot of hubbub about the new security measures that have been put into place in the wake of the attempted bombing of the Detroit-bound flight on Christmas day. Passengers bound for American destinations are being subjected to a lot more scrutiny at the point of departure – especially if you are unlucky to be travelling on a passport from one of 14 countries that the U.S. deems to be a threat.

Though I don’t really understand why poor old Cuba is on the list – and I thought Obama would have a different approach to Canada’s fave sun-spot!

But I digress.

Here’s the thing – the Americans have every right to set the rules with regard to flights that are over their airspace or that land in one of their ports of entry. It’s called “sov-er-eign-ty”. Yes, the full body searches are invasive and in 99.999999% of cases, completely unfounded and unnecessary. Yes, they are engaging in racial profiling, which most Canadians find objectionable. Yes, they are delaying the travel plans of millions – some with kids, with mobility problems, etc. And yes, I do think they are being overly paranoid.

So, here’s a thought for those who are offended by the American actions.

DON’T TRAVEL TO THE U.S.!

It’s a crazy notion but it just might work!

I mean, I know that some Canadians need to travel there for work purposes. I know that there are hundreds of thousands of folks on this side of the border who have family in the States who they would like to see now and then. Yeah, yeah – I get all that and you know what? You’ll have to put up with the new measures no matter how much you bitch, holler and scream.

But most Canucks CHOOSE to go to the U.S. for purely recreational purposes. They want the sun of Florida, the craziness of NYC or the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon. So you either choose to forgo all of this OR you resign to being subjected to the new security crap. Very simple.

I rarely go to the States. The last time I was over the border was about 7 years ago when my wife and I went camping in upstate NY. And I don’t have a driving need to go there anytime soon. On one hand, I can count the number of places in America that I would like to visit (Grand Canyon, New Orleans, San Francisco, NYC and Boston) but I wouldn’t feel deprived if on my death bed, I hadn’t gotten around to any of those places. I would much rather see the Pyramids, cruise the Greek islands, go to the Arctic, visit Peru… and the list goes on.

So, the bottom line, kids – you don’t have to like what they are doing down in da South der. But they have every right to do as they wish. And if you can’t accept that, then stay in Canada or travel to somewhere else.

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Double standards – Presidential security

There is a painfully clear difference between the thicknesses of the security envelope that surrounded George W. and that which protects the current President. The recent presence of a protester with automatic weaponry at a Arizona rally at which Obama was speaking speaks volumes to how things have changed between the 43rd and 44th Commanders-in-Chief.

Here is some coverage of a 2002 Bush visit to (coincidentally) Arizona:

On a campaign swing through Arizona on September 27, President Bush was met by hundreds of protesters in both Flagstaff and Phoenix who addressed many issues but chiefly opposition to war. Reuters reported that, “As Bush addressed the Iraq situation in Flagstaff, a protester shouted out ‘What’s the real reason Mr. Bush — oil money?’ She was quickly led away.”

In Phoenix, police on horseback moved to reign in the protest crowd as it flowed off the sidewalks, provoking the arrest of six people, including legal observer Eleanor Eisenberg, Executive Director of the Arizona Civil Liberties Union.

And in Cincinnati:

When Bush delivered a major pitch for war in Cincinnati on October 7, up to 5,000 people protested outside the Museum Center while he spoke. When most of the crowd returned to nearby Laurel Park for a closing rally, a few hundred blocked the exit from the Museum Center. Police on horseback rode through the crowd to disperse it, and arrested six people by one account.

And here is what all the stylish folks are taking to protests where Obama is speaking.

PH2009081803559

Why is this so? Are the Secret Service under orders to let rednecks be rednecks and let it ride? Have the rules concerning Presidential security changed – as in become laxer? I doubt it. Budget cutbacks?  I hesitate to pull the race card because I think that if anything, Obama’s race would guarantee him MORE security not less due to the overt and implied threats against him because of the colour of his skin.

According to a recently published book, The President’s Secret Service, by Robert Kessler, former President George W. Bush received 3,000 realistic threats a year. The author states threats against President Obama have increased 400%.

Here’s my theory: I think the president has given orders that the gun-totin’ rednecks be left alone so the Administration does not to appear too anti-gun in the eyes of the public. In America, to be anti-gun means that you are anti-American and by corollary, anti-freedom. It is enough of an uphill battle for Obama to avoid being bogged down in the partisan quagmire that is Washington D.C., let alone being tagged as actively anti-gun. Many swing areas that voted for him would swing back to the Republicans on that issue alone.

What a marked different between my country and that to the south. Many in the United States – helped by an unbelievably powerful gun lobby – live by credos that were set down hundreds of years ago by their nation’s founders. The anti-Obama caste likes to use this national allegiance to anachronisms and myths to its utmost advantage.

Last week, a man with a gun strapped to his leg held a sign outside an Obama town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., that read: “It’s time to water the tree of liberty.”

“The tree of liberty has to be watered with the blood of patriots” is a quote from Thomas Jefferson – a long dead and largely irrelevant man in the modern world.  Calling for martyrdom worked in a world of extreme violence, inequity, barbarism and Empire that was the 18th century; a world without a means to affect change without taking up arms. This world does still exist in many less-developed nations in places like Africa or the Middle East; where America is currently fighting wars against peoples that believe in martyrdom as fervently as did Jefferson. But that world is no longer relevant in 21st century America…as much as the right wing nuts would like its citizenry to believe it otherwise.

But what about the Fifth Estate, you say? That pillar of unbiased commentary that provides the necessary context to be used by the citizenry to make their own judgements?

Ah, yes.

America – grow up and smarten up.

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Health care, and all things in the public good…

I have yet to post anything about the weird health care debate in the States.

But courtesy of and inspired by a wise Canuck blogger at Enormous Thriving Plants, I now must urge you to read the following great post about why we really do need a government and how they can, believe it or not, run a public program well and efficiently.

My health care in my country is just fine, thank-you.

Why does the conventional wisdom rail against all things state-run? It is as dogmatic as religion. Unfounded in fact and rooted in myth and fantasy…

Very entertaining post… thanks.

get.a.brain.morans

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New Canadian Ambassador grilled by empty chairs!

The Globe reports that the next U.S. Ambassador to Canada coasted through the committee hearing yesterday.

While it was not expected that there would be a particularly difficult hearing, the process was streamlined somewhat by the fact that only one of the 21 committee members bothered to show up for the hearing. This, of course, can signify one of two things:

  1. The Senators are absolutely, 100% confident in Obama’s choice and shucks, there really isn’t a better person for the job, or
  2. The Senators rank the relative importance of Canada-US relations somewhere between relations with Botswana and what’s for lunch at the Senate cafeteria.

A bit humbling, eh?

In any case, Mr. Jacobson seems like a nice enough fellow. He was in Canada once when he was 7.

At Senate confirmation hearings, David Jacobson, 57, recalled how a half-century ago on his first trip out of the United States he was taken to Canada.

“Despite my mother’s protestations that he would get us all killed, my father stopped the car in the middle of the bridge at the border. I will never forget my parents reaching from the front seat in Canada back into the United States and my sisters and I reaching forward into Canada. If anyone had said to that seven-year-old in the middle of that back seat on the Ambassador Bridge that some day he would be appearing before this great committee as the nominee of the President to be Ambassador to Canada, I can assure you that he would not have believed it,” he said in a statement prepared for his nomination hearings.”

He knows that he and his family will need warm clothing.

“I’m from Chicago so the weather doesn’t scare me,” said David Jacobson, following an appearance at the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee on Wednesday. “My family and I have planned to go up there and buy very warm coats and we’re ready to go.”

I guess that’s good enough for me!

jacobson1500_159821gm-aThe next guy to live in that big house in Rockcliffe.

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