I have witnessed some of the best minds at Harvard and former top U.S. officials offer conflicting opinions on how to make the best of a very bad situation. But few have talked about how President Obama and Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron are shackled by the follies of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq that cost needlessly so much blood and treasure.
We've all heard scary censorship stories, in which oppressive governments block access to information, and only allow residents of a nation to see, read, or watch what rulers permit. These stories usually start off slowly -- with justifiable censorship activities taking place for the supposed wellbeing of the nation--and escalate quickly. So why, then, are our governments talking about making censorship the default for the Internet in the U.K. and Canada?
Try to find some child pornography. Go on. Head to Google, or Bing, or even a porn-specific search engine, and try to devise a search string capable of returning pedophilic images or video. I'll wait. Once you're done, we'll meet back up in the next paragraph. In reacting to the story of murdering pedophile Mark Bridger, who was an avid viewer of child pornography, Cameron leapt to abandon his conservative ideals and swing the hammer of censorship without stopping to ask the single most pertinent question: How did Mark Bridger find this child pornography in the first place?
Jason Kenney has ratcheted Canadian immigration to 50-year highs, and his ambitions require the public to never, ever regard this as anything but a Good Thing. But in a country where 41 per cent want immigration lowered, that's far from a cakewalk. Even Tory partisans are becoming skeptical. That leaves a scramble to suggest anyone who has problems with Canadian immigration policy must be an intolerant, racist, bigot. That's why Kenney jumped on Twitter a few days later, Kenney viciously denounced David Suzuki's "stridently anti-immigration views" as "toxic and irresponsible."
I've always enjoyed Gérard Depardieu as an actor, but his most recent role, as an international tax dodger, is pure Academy Award quality. For those unaware of his theatrics, Depardieu left France last month in a huff over its proposed 75% income taxes on rich people. This is ironic: His surname in French sounds like it could mean "departure of God" in English.
A key challenge facing Republicans is that of moderation -- can they regain its luster and substance to capitalize on Americans' economic frustration? President Obama is ahead nationally and in swing states largely because Republican excess on the far right has put him there. If Republicans are determined to let abortion, apparent anti-immigrant bias and fuzziness on medicare define their conservatism they will be choosing the choppy seas of undulating radicalism as a base from which to win the bridge on the ship of state.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is demanding that his cabinet ministers essentially get in line like everyone else when it comes to upcoming Olympic traffic in London. In this case Cameron is being proactive and he is setting a good example in a time of restraint. Not only that, but it won't hurt his ministers to mix with the voting public; at the very least they will get to travel like the rest of us.
From a political economy perspective however, the important question is how these debates play out at the policy, and political level. Do what for most detached observers seem like good ideas actually stand up to pressures from lobbying exerted by interests that want to dilute, or further delay the introduction of these regulations (formally expected to be phased in from January 2013)?
Looking at the history of U.S.-Canadian relations, Harper appears to believe that progress in reducing economic barriers for Canadians has been faster and more profound when done bilaterally with the United States. It isn't deepening integration that Harper approaches with caution, but trilateralism.