Friday, September 26, 2008

US Presidential Debate 1 - Live Blogging

9.07 pm - McCain brings up Ted Kennedy (to me it sounds tacky - an obvious ploy to be classy).

9.20 pm - Did Obama just promise a tax cut for 95% of the USA, AND promise to build schools and bridges and stuff? Wow.

9.27 pm - God this is boring already. They are not going after each other at all. Memorized set pieces.

9.30 pm - "Using a hatchet where a scalpel is needed" - fantastic line from Obama.

9.37 pm - Obama goes after McCain - "you agree 90% of the time with Bush!"

9.39 pm - McCain gives a feeble reply and then brings up "I have been in Senate for a long time". Reference to his experience?

9.40 pm - McCain reply to Iraq is standard. "We are winning in Iraq, general is good, etc. etc."

9.41 pm - Obama's reply hasn't set any fires either. He says what he has to say (I disagreed / we should have been in Afghanistan). He should have accused John McCain of lack of proper judgment (bring up the 100 years).

9.43 pm - Brings up the surge which should be a plus point. Rightly brings up the O' Reilly show and Obama's daft comment ("surge worked"). Obama's reply should be interesting.

Obama says McCain thinks war started in 2007. Brings up early quotes and the slam "you were wrong". McCain is grinning like an idiot.

Now it's getting interesting. McCain says Obama doesn't understand the difference between tactic and strategy.

9.46 pm - McCain gets emotional (or tries to) with a story about how soldiers are running up to re-enlist to go to Iraq. Obama's background "this is not true" is not enough. He has to be forceful.

Obama explains his funding troops issue because it was a timetable issue. Question is - will it fly?

Obama is spending too much time on was this a wise war. He should pull out the bus into a ditch story he used in the debates against Hillary.

Did I say this debate is boring?

9.50 pm - McCain is pulling out names. He is boring, and I don't understand the point he is trying to make.

However Obama is not countering him forcefully. They are too used to being scripted.

9.51 pm - Obama rises to the Afghanistan issue. He says no one in Iraq has anything to do with 9-11. He says there was no Al Qaeda there. He says he always wanted to put troops there (should be music to Harper's ears).

Obama just mentioned Pakistan! When will he say he will bomb it? Now he brings up poppy trade.

AH PAKISTAN. "We have got to deal with Pakistan!" Let's see ...

9.53 pm - McCain replies. He promises not to abandon the Afghanistan again like they abandoned freedom fighters after they fought off the Russians. Does he know those freedom fighters are now the Taliban?

"I am not prepared to threaten Pakistan at this point." Good line. Works.

Obama is being schooled by McCain on the Afghanistan issue. Unbelievable.

9.56 pm - Obama is not blocking McCain at all.

"Pakistan is a very important element in all this."

Now, Obama is explaining his "bomb Pakistan" speech.

Haha, Obama brought up 'bomb Iran' and North Korea speech of McCain. This is good, now.

"If Pakistan is unwilling to cooperate we have to make some decisions," says Obama.

"We were anti-democratic," says Obama. Boy, he got guts to say that.

Now McCain calls Pakistan a 'failed state' when Musharref came to power.

So far Obama has come back with some effect on the Afghanistan issue.

9.58 pm - McCain brings up Bosnia, Kosovo and some other thing (yawn). Oh ya, Somalia. Why is he bringing that up? What has it go to do with Afghanistan. Oh, he has a record of being involved with national security issues, he says.

10.00 pm - One hour gone and so far no fireworks or gotcha moments. How long is this again?

Obama is now saying "he got a bracelet too". What? First time on live TV presidential candidates are debating on who is wearing bracelets.

"Let no US soldier die in vain again".

If you have a drink to every time Obama said "John you are absolutely right" and "our troops are doing a good job" you would be drunk by now.

"We are having enormous problems in Afghanistan because of Iraq."

He brings up McCain's "muddle through Afghanistan" comment.

10.02 pm - McCain scolds Obama for not visiting Afghanistan. He knows his VP pick got a passport only last year, right?

10.03 pm - Iran comes up. This should play to McCain's strength. Will he bring up Obama's readiness to talk to that leader?

Israel makes its first appearance.

"We cannot have a second holocaust." Woah! Did he watch Palin's interview?

Now he says Iran is lousy. They have a lousy government and their economy sucks, something to that effect. So if Iran has a nuclear weapon this is a threat to Israel and the world. I get it - Iran sucks.

OK. So what are you going to do about it?

10.06 pm - Obama correctly says Iraq war has emboldened Iran.

"Senator McCain is absolutely right." Again? Grrr!

Says he wants tougher sanctions.

"Tough diplomacy." Again, Obama brings it upon himself to bring that topic.

10.08 pm - McCain then latches on to this comment, saying talking with Ahmedinajad would give him a propaganda platform. "This will legitimize their behavior".

"I will sit down with anybody, but there has to be preconditions." McCain declares. Seriously he is more Bush while Bush is now more Obama.

10.10 pm - Obama says McCain's own adviser Kissinger says US should talk with Iran without preconditions. Very good gotcha moment, but next minute he mumbles the difference with preconditions and preparations.

Um, tough to say. Kissinger will surely come out with a reply now in McCain's favour.

10.12 pm - Obama says McCain doesn't even want to meet with a NATO ally, the President of Spain. He didn't expand on that.

McCain says he doesn't even have a seal! Haha, this is good stuff now. He calls Obama's approach "dangerous", followed by "he doesn't understand".

10.16 pm - The moderator cuts off just as they were getting fired up. McCain spews a great joke about a supposed meeting between Iranian President and Obama to great laughter.

10.19 pm - Obama explains his position on Russia, followed by McCain. McCain is very calm and cool and spews a lot of names.

"I saw three letters in Putin's eyes. K-G-B." Good quote. Wonder if Putin is watching.

10.24 pm - Obama follows McCain's cool explanation (and history lesson) with a proper explanation of its own. He is holding his own on Russia and Georgia.

In some ways this debate is boring but in other ways it is showing up the very different characteristics of the two men. McCain reacts and is on-the-spur whereas Obama can see the big picture and nuances with foresight.

10.29 pm - Will we have another 9/11? Ooooh.

A pause of silence. I think both candidates are shocked at the question.

McCain says we are safer but not safe yet.

Obama says we are safer in some ways. Er ... Will you say your opponent is right again!

Yes! Obama praises McCain on the torture issue (really! shut up about him already.) but fails to mention that McCain changed his mind on the torture issue lately.

McCain again says Obama doesn't understand.

10.32 pm - Obama makes a great point summation that over the last 8 years the focus on Iraq has made them less safer - "weakened our capacity to project our power throughout the world".

I see another Liblogger Last Canadian Exit... is also live-blogging the debate.

10.35 pm - McCain says he knows the veterans know he will take care of them. Wow. It sounds good. Republicans are all about good sound bytes.

Aha! Obama talks about his Kenyan father. And American dream. You can tell he is dying to give a speech!

Aha! McCain brings up his POW experience. He says he doesn't need any on-the-job training. Ouch. This is a nasty old man.

10.37 pm - It's over. I think I can safely call this a boring 0-0 draw.

Dion wishes Muslims on Laylat al-Qadr

Today I was pleasantly surprised to see a statement from Stéphane Dion, the leader of the Liberal party and the Hon. Leader of the Opposition in Canada.
On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all of you who observe Laylat al-Qadr during Ramadan.

As this is the holiest night of Ramadan, when the Qur’an was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad by God, I know that you and your families will be taking this opportunity to pray, to reflect and to meditate.

I would like to highlight the important lessons that come from this spiritual evening. This night teaches values of sincerity and forgiveness which I believe should be a part of every person’s life. Your culture and religion, which espouses these principles, help to demonstrate the richness of diversity that Canada has and our country is a better place for it.

As you gather at your mosques or in your homes with loved ones tonight, I wish you a rewarding day.[source]
It's really reaching out to Muslims. I have seen politicians greet us on Eid before, but this is specific, man.

And then we have Walmart with Ramadan specials to know we have truly arrived!As an aside you gotta love how Walmart has 2-for-1 (Ramadan AND Eid Mubarak) on one banner - truly lower costs!).

One person is missing in action though - our Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Listerio-gate and the $70 billion plan

Elections are all about moments.

Today, Dion had two moments gift-wrapped to him.

The first - Dion's 70 billion dollar plan to invest in infrastructure. By all counts it's a winning plan and it's a great plan.

1) In times of recession (which is what we are under now regardless of what Flaherty says), the government should spend in building infrastructure (roads, transits, etc) as these are great for not only helping you out of recession, but for future needs.

2) Who can say no to more transit and roads and bridges?

3) And where's Harper's plan to tackle Toronto's crowded streets and Montreal's crumbling bridges?

The second, a cabinet minister who jokes about people dying. I saw one post title on Liblogs that captured the sentiment perfectly.


Even Bill Carol on 1010 CFRB in the morning (a strong conservative) was aghast at this guy. This is a resignation offense. I would attack Harper in the debates with this.

"You had the option sir. You could have fired him. You chose not to."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Harper in Favour of Selling off Canada's Natural Resources?

Dion is missing doing one thing this election.

Setting the agenda by announcing new policies.

Today, however, Harper has offered him a golden chance.

Harper would relax foreign ownership rules

Even though it's a Friday, we must get on this and be all over Harper immediately.

Do we really want more of our natural resources in the hands of the Chinese, Indians and Americans?

Already, most Canadian businesses know the routine - have a great idea, run a great business, and then when you reach a critical mass, be bought by a larger American company.

Our mines and mineral wealth are eagerly eyed by the growing Chinese, and our water and energy always precious to the Americans. Kissinger once famously said, "What is ours is ours. What is theirs is negotiable."

And to that type of mindset, WHY do we need to make ourselves easier to sell?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

UPS and Skirts

I have been following these stories with some interest.

Muslims fired over long skirts, tribunal told

Worker hiked skirt to be safer at work

As an armchair critic I have to say UPS is wrong on this issue and they have to change their guidelines if necessary to ensure these women's religious guidelines are met.

There are no two ways about this - a Muslim woman HAS to cover to below her knees. It is not the case they they are applying to Hooters for a job - a job which is basically at odds with their religion. These women were applying to be line workers at UPS and those jobs should be open to everyone.

There is a line in the sand and the UPS guidelines cross it.

It is not the case that Harper can make about women needing to unveil their faces for identification - something not mandated by law by the way - the safety guidelines that exist are either outdated with today's society or exist for more malicious reasons - and need to be changed.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Harper's To Lose

And so we are off.

At this moment I have to confess it is hard for me to imagine how Dion would win this election. From the Star:
Harper will run on his record, outlining the tax-cutting promises kept since the 2006 campaign, and slammed the Liberal "green shift" plan to tax carbon fuels and offset the impact with other income tax cuts and subsidies for hard-hit sectors and individuals as a risky gamble.
I believe Dion hadn't had time to fully sell his Green Shift to the general population.

At work, hardly many people know the details of the Green Shift. More people know about the tax increase on pollutants than the income tax relief that Dion has proposed. With the Green Party also doing well, Dion could leak support to them as well.

All in all, it will come down to the English debates where Dion has to invoke a "gotcha" moment vs Harper - and I am not a big optimist that his English will improve sufficiently in time.