February 20, 2009

Which of these doesn't belong?

After watching all the footage of Obama's visit yesterday, it's hard not to think that:

1) There are a lot of expectations on him and in turn he must be feeling a lot of pressure; and

2) He comes across as someone able to handle all that pressure with ease and a dash of coolness.

However for me, every time I saw Obama standing next to Harper, the two of them waving at the crowds, something or more specifically, someone, looked out of place. And it definitely wasn't Obama. Unfortunately, Harper looked like just some dork that was hanging out with the new president.

It's like one of those moments where a sports team has just won a championship, on the last play, made by the star of the team. The crowd is cheering the heroics and everyone wants a piece of the hero. Then, the just-arrived from the minors, who can't be named by a single fan, who didn't once see any action, jumps off the bench and waves and cries at the crowd like he made the big play to win it all or is the closest friend of the star.

Standing next to Obama, that was Harper yesterday. He was the 'nobody' trying to bask in some of the glory and steal a moment of spotlight without ever contributing to the moment. The reality is at best he was just 'that Canadian Prime Minister guy' and at worst, which is likely closer to the truth, he was just another guy waving back at a crowd that didn't even notice him there and were waving at the star next to him.


February 16, 2009

Fate at Her Best

In today's Toronto Star there's a great opinion piece on Naomi Klein. The main premise is about how she's withholding judgment on Obama. Klein may be optimistic about the new president but a couple early decisions have concerned her; the appointments of former Clinton crewmen that are at the heart of Clinton's less-than-finer moments.

The piece is definitely an interesting read.

The part that got me grinning though was the comment on Milton Friedman. It shouldn't be a surprise from many of my writings here that I have little love for Friedman. Between my undergrad and more recent research and current reading of books such as Klein's 'The Shock Doctrine' and John Ralston Saul's 'The End of Globalization', I see little use for the simplistic, self-serving, hole-wridden garbage that Friedman championed.

Anyway, what got me smiling is that the $200-million Milton Friedman Institute being built by the University of Chicago has been put on hold because funding has disappeared due to the current economic crisis. The very same crisis that has been caused by the type of policies that Friedman influenced and encouraged, caused millions of lost jobs and has as many families into precarious positions and has now put a stop on a tribute in his honour. Though I'm not sure what they're trying to honour here.

I don't think making the poor poorer, or devastating the stability and prosperity of Latin American nations, or allowing corporations to bankrupt families and nation is something that deserves tribute.

Friedman, at best, had some interesting ideas that differed from the mainstream. Ideas worth some inflection and curiousity. However, there are holes in his theories. Some of those are massive and doesn't take a learned scholar to point most of them out.

Unfortunately Friedman was a man that refused to admit his ideas were flawed and were unworkable in reality even while they were obviously causing more harm than good for those that adopted them or worse, were forced to use them. Worst of all he preached these ideas to generations of impressionable students and to the ears of the political leaders he conferenced with. Friedman deserves a tribute as much as Osama Bin Laden deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

There's nothing better than the cruel humour of fate. She's got a warped mind at the best of times and saves her best for those most deserving. And in this turn of events, she's showing-off just a little. Hopefully, with the time off we can all reflect on her latest offering and realize that Friedman only deserves our abhoration.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)