Campaign wildcards

GOP Presumptive nominee for President John McCain has caused quite a stir with his latest set of ads attacking his Democrat counterpart Barack Obama. In the first ad titled “Celeb” McCain compares Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and makes the point that while Barack Obama is incredibly popular but has little leadership experience at McCain’s level and that celebrity can’t sustain a commander in chief alone. The ad does well do underscore this point however it fails because it concedes another: Barack Obama is incredibly popular. By the technical definition of popular vote (a good measure of how elections are won — electoral colleges being another story), McCain concedes that Obama may not be ready to lead the country but that McCain isn’t ready to win the presidential election. The ad, by including Spears and Hilton to make a comparison to Obama was successful in getting a lot of intention for its at-first-glance superficial character and belittling tone.

In the second ad named “The One”, McCain’s campaign compares Obama to a messianic character that can do no wrong. The ad is mocking in tone and is good red meat for the base, perhaps the other front besides the swing vote that McCain needs to convince to give him a shot at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue.

The “Celeb” ad is rumoured to have spoiled a surprise appearance by Obama in Chicago at this past weekend’s Lollapalooza where insiders say he was ready to introduce rapper Kanye West on stage. The Obama campaign is said to have been spooked by the ad and didn’t want to fuel talk around the coming volley from McCain. Given this song by rapper Ludacris endorsing Obama over McCain (a song lighting up the American right-wing blogosphere), Obama likely made a good decision by removing himself as an element of a perfect storm of bad publicity. Obama, celebrity, Kanye and Luda. It would have fit well into McCain’s narrative (and all by chance).

The latest in this entertaining story is an entry by Paris Hilton, the famous-for-being-famous celebrity featured in McCain’s ad. First consider McCain’s ad

and now Paris Hilton’s response

In election campaigns, its impossible to predict the wildcards such as the Ludacris endorsement. Further it’s the nature of the race that Obama would have to respond carefully to McCain “Celeb” ad by allegedly canceling on Kanye. Equally as unpredictable is this response by Hilton, which is more tangential to the core, but more viral among those with a surface view of the presidential race so far. While insiders will dismiss this as fodder for Entertainment Tonight and Jay Leno, though that’s where the populace is watching. And for McCain it’s unfortunate that Obama is popular.

My question for John McCain

Senator McCain initially jokes that he’s non-committal on making Canada his first foreign visit, however, he followed this up with the following,

“Certainly, I think that that [first POTUS foreign trip to Canada] is a precedent that there’s every argument to follow that”

“I think it was very appropriate that both President Reagan and President Clinton took a trip to Canada before they took any foreign travel.”

— Senator John McCain

Senator McCain’s visit to Canada as a presumptive nominee for President is unprecedented in history. Before yesterday, no other such candidate for President, Democrat or Republican, has come to Canada during an election cycle.

I wanted to ask a question that was simple, and had the potential for headlines. I believe that McCain’s answer to my question indicates that he sees no reason not to follow the precedents set by Presidents Clinton and Reagan to make Canada his first foreign visit.

Three reporters focused on NAFTA-related stories even after McCain mentioned that he would not address the red meat of the NAFTA-leak story that many Canadian national reporters were after. I felt that these questions were guaranteed to provide non-answers.

Another question regarding Omar Khadr was important and elicited a somewhat uncomfortable shift of burden upon the Canadian government; McCain had mentioned his policy to shut down Guantanamo Bay as a detention facility but may have put Foreign Affairs on guard when he mentioned that Canada has not actually sought to intervene for Khadr.

I felt that Global reporter Ben O’hara-byrne’s question elicited one of the more interesting exchanges as Senator McCain formulated his own on-the-spot policy regarding the exportation of Canadian water and water-security. McCain indicated that it was not a strategy that he would likely be supporting.

John McCain’s remarks today in Ottawa

Thank you all very much. I appreciate the warm welcome to Ottawa, and the hospitality of the Economic Club of Toronto. The reputation of the Economic Club as a place for serious discussion of policy is well known in America, and I am honored by your invitation. There aren’t any electoral votes to be won up here in the middle of a presidential election. But there are many shared interests that require our attention today, and many Canadians here I am proud to call friends.

If you’ve been following the presidential election, you’ve probably noticed that Canada comes up for discussion quite a bit these days. And this is as it should be — because no other nation shares so many ties with the United States. And today the strength of that partnership is more vital than ever. The economic community we have founded, together with our alliance and the values we hold in common, have served our people for decades, and served us well. It will fall to the next president to strengthen these ties still further, adding to the security and prosperity of all of North America.

We in the United States are very lucky, in a way that’s easy to take for granted. We are surrounded by two great oceans, and by two nations we count as friends. Think of the fate of other nations, and how much of their histories have been shaped by hostile neighbors. Generation after generation, they live in fear, resentment, and competition harmful to the interests of all. Lost in rivalry and distrust are the advantages of regional friendship and stability. What a blessing it is for the United States to have in Canada a neighbor we fear only on ice rinks and baseball diamonds.

The best American statesmen have always understood that Canada is not some adjunct to America. We are firm and fast friends. We are allies, partners in success and adversity alike, and a great deal depends on preserving that unity.

Trade is just a part of what unites us, but a very important part. Last year alone, we exchanged some 560 billion dollars in goods, and Canada is the leading export market for 36 of the 50 United States. This country stands as America’s leading overall export market, and America is Canada’s leading agricultural market. With 60 percent of all direct foreign investment in Canada originating in the United States — some 289 billion dollars in 2007 — our economies draw strength from one another.

A prosperous Canada means a more dynamic and resilient American economy. There are areas where the United States can learn a great deal from your experience. Beginning in 1995, Canada did the hard work to put its fiscal house in order. You reduced spending and brought the budget from deficit to surplus. However, unlike your free-spending neighbor to the south, Canada continued to run budget surpluses even while cutting its corporate and personal tax rates. Lower taxes and spending restraint is a philosophy we should import from Canada.

Our common interests extend to other pursuits as well. The future of our environment, the flows of our energy, and the security of nations — all of these are aided by the close relations forged by our predecessors in Ottawa and Washington. And if I have anything to say about it after January of next year, America is going to expand these ties of friendship and cooperation between our two nations.

At the forefront of our minds, in these years since the Millennium Plot and the events of 9/11, is the security of our citizens. Our governments have made real progress in keeping our borders closed to terrorists and open to trade. Yet this will remain an ongoing challenge and a key issue for the next American administration. Tens of millions of people and vehicles cross the Canadian-American border every year. The two-way trade that crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor equals all American exports to Japan. That transit, and all our crossing points, must remain secure. In extending our security partnership, we can ensure continued flows of people and commerce while maintaining security on which these very flows depend. We need to do an even better job of managing the regular traffic across our border.

Already, we cooperate in preparing for emergencies — exchanging information and manpower to coordinate our response to danger. We have agreements in place to work together in detecting radiological and nuclear threats, to improve security at ports, borders, and airports, and to assist first responders. We exchange public health officers and have agreed on principles for screening intercontinental air travelers in the event of a pandemic. In all of this, we are drawing upon the skills and knowledge of one another, and we are joined in the crucial work of protecting our people.

At the same time, Canada and America are joined in other vital causes around the world — from the fight against nuclear proliferation to the fight against global warming, from the fight for justice in Haiti to the fight for democracy in Afghanistan. I, for one, will never forget the response of our Canadian friends to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was here in Ottawa, three days later, where tens of thousands of Canadians filled the streets on a National Day of Mourning. The Canadian people even took in Americans who has been left stranded by the shutdown of American air space. We in America have not forgotten your kindness. And we will never forget the solidarity, compassion, and friendship of Canada when it mattered most.

We know as well that Canada, too, has suffered casualties in the years since 9/11, and we honor their memory as we do our own. As always in Canada’s history, this nation has been willing to do hard things, even when the costs run high. Along with our other allies, Canada and America are still fighting in defense of Afghanistan — in the honorable cause of freedom for that long suffering country, and greater security for ourselves. To date, Canada has committed nearly two billion dollars to the rebuilding of Afghanistan, including a recent 50% increase at the Paris Conference. It is a generous investment, and a wise one, and together our countries are going to see this mission through.

Even in Iraq, where Canada has not always agreed with American policies, this nation has done all that those differences would allow to help the Iraqi people. In characteristic form, Canada has given generous humanitarian aid and development assistance. And your government has provided more than 770 million in combined assistance and debt relief to Iraq, helping a struggling young democracy at a critical time.

It’s the mark of good friends that they’re willing to correct you, and to do so without rancor. Many Canadians have objected to the policies of the United States in dealing with terrorists, and with enemy combatants held at the Guantanamo prison. It happens that I also regard the prison at Guantanamo as a liability in the cause against violent radical extremism, and as president I would close it. I intend as well to listen carefully when close allies offer their counsel. And even when they don’t volunteer their advice, I’ll ask for it and seek it out.

We’re going to need that spirit in many efforts. We have a shared destiny, Canada and the United States. We are both continental powers, nations shaped by our diverse heritage and our frontier experience. We are also both Arctic nations. And because of this common geography, we must be acutely aware of the perils posed by global warming and take immediate steps to reverse its effects.

Three years ago, I traveled with some colleagues, including Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Lindsey Graham, to Yukon territory, a front line of global warming. We flew over miles of devastated spruce forests, every tree killed by insects that thrive in warm temperatures. As the trees die, fires multiply, and across the region the waters are vanishing. We heard from men and women near Whitehorse whose traditional way of life had been radically disrupted.

All of this is just a glimpse of the grave environmental dangers that global warming can bring, unless we act to prevent it. I was among the first in Congress to introduce legislation to curb greenhouse gasses. If I am elected president, it will be a top priority to enact an energy policy equal to this challenge. A sensible cap-and-trade emissions system, for instance, is a critical part of such a policy. Under U.S. and Canadian leadership, the Montreal Protocol began the process of phasing out gases that were destroying our planet’s ozone layer. That cap-and-trade system removed the threat of acid rain. I believe we can apply it to great effect against the threat of climate change. And here, too, Canada and America can work in common purpose against common dangers.

We must also work to ensure reliable energy supplies and increase sources of renewable energy. As you all know, Canada is America’s largest energy supplier. Not only does Canada have the second largest proven oil reserves in the world, 60 percent of the energy produced in Canada is hydroelectric, clean energy. We stand much to gain by harmonizing our energy policies, just as have gained by cooperating in trade through NAFTA. Since NAFTA was concluded, it has contributed to strong job growth and flourishing trade. Since the agreement was signed, the United States has added 25 million jobs and Canada more than 4 million. Cross-border trade has more than doubled since NAFTA came into force. We have established North America as the world’s largest economic market and the integration of our economies has led to greater competitiveness of American and Canadian businesses. Because of our common market, our workers are better able to compete, and to find opportunities of their own in the global economy.

There is still more work to do. Complying with NAFTA’s rules of origin can be cumbersome and costly. Border delays can pose a serious impediment to trade, the equivalent of a tariff. And even now, for all the successes of NAFTA, we have to defend it without equivocation in political debate, because it is critical to the future of so many Canadian and American workers and businesses. Demanding unilateral changes and threatening to abrogate an agreement that has increased trade and prosperity is nothing more than retreating behind protectionist walls. If I am elected president, have no doubt that America will honor its international commitments — and we will expect the same of others. We will strengthen and extend the open and rules-based international trading system. I aspire to lead a proud, outward-looking America that deepens its partnerships throughout the hemisphere and the world.

Long before NAFTA, America received one of its most valuable exports from Canada in the form of a great statesman, Dean Acheson. He was descended from a great Canadian distilling family and a man who knew Canada well. As secretary of state, Acheson liked to drop by the home of his great friend Hume Wrong, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, for consultation and advice over a quiet drink. As I said, Acheson came from a distilling family.

The relationship was not always smooth. But it was productive. Canada and the United States together gave generously for the reconstruction of Europe. And together, too, we helped to forge the new trading system that restored the prosperity of the world after a terrible war.

We’ve been through an awful lot together, Canada and America, and together we have achieved great things. We have a long shared history to draw from, and deep reserves of good will and mutual admiration. I thank you for all that you have done to advance one of the finest friendships between any two nations in the world today. I thank you for the conviction and clarity you bring to that work ahead for our two nations. And I thank you all for you kind attention here today.

John McCain will do a media avail this Friday

Some reporter friends of mine have been speculating as to whether presumptive Republican nominee for President John McCain will take questions after his speech on Friday at the Chateau Laurier. I just received this from the McCain campaign:

MEDIA ADVISORY
John McCain Travels to Canada

For Immediate Release

Contact: Press Office

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

703-XXX-XXXX

ARLINGTON, VA — U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign today announced that John McCain will visit Ottawa, Canada on Friday, June 20th.

Friday, June 20, 2008

OTTAWA, CANADA

WHO: John McCain

WHAT: Speech hosted by the Economic Club of Toronto

WHEN: Friday, June 20, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. EDT

*Please Note This event is not open to the general public.

WHERE: The Chateau Laurier
Grand Ballroom
1 Rideau Street
Ottawa, Canada K1N 8S7

WHO: John McCain

WHAT: Media Availability

WHEN: Friday, June 20, 2008 at 1:40 p.m. EDT

WHERE: The Chateau Laurier
Laurier Room
1 Rideau Street
Ottawa, Canada K1N 8S7

###

Getting out the vote in the US election

While is was inevitable for some time, Arizona senator John McCain only recently became the official nominee for the Republican Party. Most U.S. observers believe that Chicago junior senator Barack Obama will defeat Hillary Clinton in the Democrat primaries.

Now, the question: in a Obama vs. McCain contest, who is more likely to win? The easy answer for most is Obama. Since McCain has be the de facto nominee for quite some time, the U.S. media has focused primarily on the horserace that is Obama vs. Clinton. In short, the Democrats are getting high profile while McCain’s storyline is wrapped up in the interim. This translates to perceived momentum and this translates well with voters as who is perceived to win will often bring voters on side; people like to pick a winner.

However, Obama has a tough road ahead. He has largely been unvetted by the media and democrats (the internal contest) are reluctant to bring out the heavy ammunition against a potential nominee who may represent the Democrats’ only hope to retaking the White House. If the Dems leave Obama too damaged, he may not stand up well in the main event. However, his kid gloves treatment may in turn be part of his downfall. As we’

Transcript of Jack Layton on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight

The following is a transcript of NDP leader Jack Layton’s appearance on CNN’s Lou Dobbs tonight on March 6th, 2008:

DOBBS: Let’s take a different perspective on NAFTA if we may tonight, this one the Canadian perspective. At least one Canadian perspective and one major Canadian political party that adamantly is opposed to the trade agreement and to the threat of the North American Union.

Jack Layton is the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and he joins us tonight from Ottawa.

Jack, great to have you with us.

JACK LAYTON, CANADA’S NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER: Good to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: The Canadian perspective, on NAFTA a lot of grumbling here and a lot of talk if it should be omitted in our presidential contest as well. Your thoughts?

LAYTON: We think NAFTA is not working well for working families and the middle class. I will just give you a couple examples. Here in Canada we have lost a third of a million jobs in the last three years in the manufacturing sector. The kind of jobs that allow people to pay a mortgage, to raise their kids, to make contributions to the local hockey team — we love hockey here in Canada, and really to the backbone and to the community. And they’re now finding the jobs that are available when they get laid off — out of these plants because their jobs have now been sent off to a far-off land where wages are one one-hundredth of what they are here — the kind of jobs they can find in Canada are minimum wage.

They can’t pay their mortgages, they are really struggling and I know many American workers are finding exactly the same thing. I think it’s time we made a little common cause and make sure the trade deals are working for the people who make the economy work.

DOBBS: I think most Americans would not pay attention a great deal to the fact Canada is a parallel, if you will, universe in terms of these agreements. When you talk about a third of a million jobs, that goes beyond just NAFTA, that goes to Canada’s overall trade policies, does it not?

LAYTON: Yes it does. Just to give you some examples. We ship raw logs from our forest all the way over to China where they are turned into products and they come back and we buy them. We even find sometimes the products don’t meet our standards our here. I heard you talking about toxic toothpaste in the U.S.

We’ve been facing toxic toys here in Canada. There goes the jobs. The trees go and they take the jobs with them and I know the West Coast is experiencing many of the same things. We need some fair and sustainable trade. That’s what we’ve got to put together.

DOBBS: What a wonderful expression. Fair and sustainable trade. In other words, Jack, let me say, I think many people, are surprised as they listen to you talking about the problems with NAFTA from your perspective, those are precisely what we’re doing now.

We’re sending timber and bringing back lumber. We’re exporting soybeans and scrap and taking in computers from China. The principle source of our computers, our consumer electronics and we look like a third world country for crying out loud.

LAYTON: It’s these multinational organizations under this so- called phrase globalization feel they can consume and produce in their own interests. And they are certainly doing very well by it but it leaves a lot of people behind and that’s why we think a renegotiation of trade should take place and today in Washington, our trade critic, Peter Julian was there from our party working with Congress members and legislators from Mexico to set up a working group to set up a working group. That is a bit of good news today.

DOBBS: Real quickly, we are out of time. Jack Layton, Mr. Brodie, the prime minister’s chief of staff, some talk about him being the source of that leak of Obama-gate as it is called here? Your reaction?

LAYTON: I asked the prime minister today in the House of Commons to apologize to the American people for this kind of interference on the democratic process in the U.S. It’s not right, he hasn’t yet apologized and he hasn’t yet fired the source of the leak. So we’ll keep working on that on our end.

DOBBS: It’s nice and it’s absolutely reassuring, Jack Layton, to find that politics are not just a mess here but occasionally up north. We thank you for taking time with us and hope you’ll come back soon as we discuss these important issues for working men and women and their families and both candidates and the United States and Mexico for that matter.

LAYTON: For sure, Lou. Take care.

DOBBS: Thank you. You too.

Up next here, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez at it again. Moving troops up to the border with Colombia, maybe he intends to use them. We’ll have that report.

And five years since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security a few questions remain like why aren’t our borders and ports secure? I’ll be talking with Congressman Lamar Smith about that.

We’re coming right back. Stay with us.

For whatever the depth of this “scandal” for all parties that message on it, it’s a good one for Jack Layton because it fits well into his message track as he advocates on his views regarding organized labour, manufacturing, and free trade. This sets Layton up firmly against our Conservative Prime Minister who stands opposed to Layton’s principled, however misguided, views on most, if not all of these issues. Jack Layton receives great profile here from CNN and if we contrast this to the faltering leadership of Leader of the Opposition Stephane Dion, we find Layton to be more of a credible voice for those that oppose the Conservative government’s agenda.

Also a scandal in Canada is that the news media is focusing more upon the leak on Obama’s position rather than the Chicago senator’s nebulous position itself. The preservation of NAFTA and full political disclosure of the candidates on the issue is in Canada’s best interest. While it is unfortunate that there is now a perception of interference in US electoral politics by Canadian government staff, Canada is better off for having the issue front and centre on the US political stage. Americans are now be able to evaluate the positions of their political candidates on such an issue of importance to Canada. It is to Canada’s advantage that U.S. candidates for president are now being vetted on their position regarding free trade with our country.

In the U.S., the scandal is based on full disclosure of policy in a political campaign (“keeping them honest”, as Lou Dobbs might say). In Canada, the scandal is the inappropriate nature by which Americans were given an opportunity to have an honest policy debate.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be affected by renegotiating or ripping up NAFTA. What’s got the Ottawa press buzzing is which one job close to the Prime Minister (in Ottawa or Washington) may be affected instead.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the Obama leak

It’s official, the Canadian government will be using every available resource to investigate the source of the Obama leak.

In the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister stated:

Well Mr. Speaker, I don’t think I could be plainer, we will take every step necessary to get to the bottom of this. The leak of this kind of information for whatever reason by whomever is completely unacceptable to the government of Canada. It is not useful, it is not in the interest of the government of Canada, and the way the leak was executed Mr. Speaker, was blatantly unfair to Senator Obama and his campaign. Mr. Speaker, we will make sure that every legal and every investigative technique necessary is undertaken to find out who exactly is behind this.

This was a necessary move by the Prime Minister in order to maintain strong diplomatic ties with whoever becomes president in January 2009. Canada cannot be seen to be interfering with the U.S. electoral process and this move indicates that the leadership of this government holds this firm view.

Layton gives Dion some oxygen

Jim Brown, THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jack Layton is admitting there are divisions in party ranks about whether to support the next Conservative budget to ensure that $1 billion in promised economic aid flows to the provinces.

Layton has accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of trying to “blackmail” opposition MPs into supporting the budget, expected next February, by tying it to the aid package.

And with that, the NDP leader signals to Dion that it may just be alright to vote on the budget rather than abstain.

By the way, since when is governance, continuing debate and prompting a party to vote for your policy called political “blackmail”? Is it the default position of the NDP to oppose all moves by the government?

The NDP chief hinted strongly Monday that he’s not willing to play the game, noting that “we have opposed (Harper’s) budgets up until this point because we think he’s taking the country in the wrong direction.”

Too late. Why tip your hand to the Liberals so early?

The Prime Minister is tying promised federal assistance ($) to the budget ($). Opposition parties have called this “political”.

Woo.

Hey, aren’t the U.S. primaries on?

Science and politics

As with most election campaigns, science is never on the top of the minds of voters. Perhaps it is because elections are geared towards appealing to emotion (the irrational) rather to that which is inherently rational: science.

Aberrations can occur when emotion drives science, but since advocacy taps emotion, channeling emotional appeal can be effective for lobbying for or against political action with respect to certain areas of scientific study.

Three such issues are global warming, embryonic stem cells and outer space. Al Gore (of all people) got a number of people passionate about the weather (of all things). However, is climate research the best pursuit for elusive research dollars? Or are people too “hot headed” about the topic? According to its emotional advocates, the “debate is over” and one could conclude from such a conclusive declaration that further research is unnecessary and that it is action which is needed.

Does politics hurt science? A lot of scientific study is accomplished using tax dollars, so politics will inevitably get involved. I spent a year doing malaria research in the United States in 2002. At the time, less than one year after 9/11, I was told that when professors made grant applications to federal funding agencies, they would try to find a link between their research and counter-terrorism in order to secure funding. Now, researchers tie their projects to climate change.

Malaria is an infectious disease and certain infectious diseases could be used in a biological terrorist attack. Similarly, malaria is de rigeur in the climate change debate as warmer swampy areas are breeding grounds for the malaria vector. Unfortunately for our funding, malaria is a highly unlikely infectious disease for use in terrorism and studying new ways of combating the malaria parasite directly (which is what we were researching) has nothing to do with climate. Research dollars are more likely to go to projects that find evidence to support the theory of anthropogenic climate change, not to fund research that treats its theoretical effect. Public money instead more broadly targets climate change to reduce the incidences of malaria by reducing the atmospheric concentration of CO2. This is akin to hitting an infectious mosquito with a proverbial sledgehammer. Governments will spend billions on climate change when lives can be saved at $10 per net and relatively few research dollars to develop new treatments.

Further, money is redirected into projects that are sometimes only tangentially support the theory of human-caused global warming. What do the mating songs of the American Tree Sparrow have to do with climate change, you may ask? Are their songs sadder this year compared to last indicating a warming Earth? Get some research dollars behind that project!

Emotion can also inhibit scientific inquiry. Embryonic stem cell research has proven to be a political hot potato in the past. There is great potential for therapeutic advances derived from such research. Advocates with or without a strong grasp of the cellular basis of life (and/or what constitutes human life) constitute both sides on the debate regarding research involving these cells. In many cases, emotion informs their position on the science rather than their scientific position. George W. Bush took a mediating approach on the issue when it crossed his desk earlier in his term of office: while allowing for research to be conducted on the cells, federal funds would not be used. Did the conciliatory approach cause unnecessary scientific stagnation because the emotional element? Or, as some would argue, were emotionally-driven second thoughts necessary to preserve ethics in science (or at least that which is funded in part by people morally opposed to such research)?

Scientists must always be mindful of ethics as they proceed, yet a populist balancing of complicated scientific understanding and ethics has the potential of being regressive in its emotive and sometimes ignorant reactions on a variety of research topics.

On the other hand, emotionally-driven science can deliver research dollars for tangible and measurable benefit. Consider the amount of resources used pursuing cancer treatment options and even potential cures for certain forms. Certainly this is a better pursuit than spending eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers (which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers)*.

Should science policy discussions be limited to the experts since they are more likely to understand the parameters of rational scientific pursuit? Or should the process be influenced by the general public who possess real (even if uninformed) concerns often times driven by irrational emotion? Politics, often a product of emotion, causes aberrations in the scientific process. Where can we can find the ideal?

The Iowa caucuses are being held tonight. Here are the positions of the visible US Presidential candidates on science (or at least that which intersects politics due to emotionally driven undertones). (graphic from Nature.com)

*apologies to Swift

Bits and pieces

  • The Prime Minister’s website is now featuring kitten adoption profiles. We get it… not scary, ok?
  • Dollar rises above $0.965US, the highest since February 1977.
  • Jason Cherniak will not defend what he has not read, nor condemn it, but that won’t stop him from giving an opinion, thankfully.
  • Steve Janke is tracking Stephane Dion’s gaffe on Chinese-Canadian political history
  • Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition accuses Her Majesty’s Government and Defense Minister of propagandizing a military conflict. “Propaganda” is not exactly a reserved word as people have thrown it around at their political opponents on a variety of topics. However to juxtapose “propaganda” with our government on military/war related matters? If you had heard that an opposition party in a foreign country had accused their government of military propaganda, what would you think? Let’s be more responsible shall we?
  • Probably not the best of photo-ops for Republican Mitt Romney. Again, an obvious problem of juxtaposition concerning the question of loyalties. Whether it’s Canadian Liberals accusing the government of military propaganda, or a Republican candidate for president posing with a sign that suggests that Democrat opponents are as undesirable as Osama bin Laden, we ought to raise the level of debate so that we don’t blur the lines between the opponents who are working for a better country (but in a different party) and enemies that would destroy it.