This election comes down to a choice. -headline, Globe and Mail, Apr. 25.
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This election comes down to a choice. -headline, Globe and Mail, Apr. 25.
...that the Tories would define him with attack ads before he could define himself.
The Tories' first wave of anti-Iggy ads, the "Just Visiting" ads that skewered him for being out of the country for 34 years, broke way back in May 2009. It was proactive, a pre-emptive strike - and cost a rumoured $3 million. Worth every penny, in hindsight.
That Iggy chose not to respond is odd of both him and his Official Opposition leader team. Why, just five years earlier John Kerry self-destructed by feeling it below him to debunk the Swift Boat ads. It's not as if Iggy could have missed that, Kerry representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate and all, and Iggy toiling at Harvard, which I believe is located in the Bay State and hosted the DNC that nominated Kerry as the Dem presidential candidate.
Any-hoo, the Tories unleashed a second set of anti-Iggy ads that ran from last November through early this year. These again asserted that Ignatieff is a power-hungry carpetbagger - "He's not in it for you."
Again, no counter-attack. Partly it's that the Iggy, like Kerry, would not deign to stoop to "his" level. Partly it's that the Grits didn't have a coherent message with which to respond in any case. And the Tories simply have way more money.
An irony of Chretien's election-finance returns, conspicuously too late to harm Chretien himself, is that they wiped out the Grits' corporate donor base. They also took out the Dippers' union donors, but Layton, on becoming leader, quickly built a grassroots small-donor base to replace it. Grits didn't do that, even after Howard Dean's campaign pioneered online small-money donations, in 2004, and Obama took that up 50 notches and raised more campaign funds than any presidential candidate in history. Didn't the Grits know about this? I mean, it was in all the papers.
The CPC, meanwhile, has the unsurpassed small-money donor machine, a legacy of its grassroots Reform beginnings.
Noting how flush the Tories were even after securing a second victory in 2008, Rick Mercer warned that the Tories had also become rather fond of attack ads. (Guess the Grit brain trust doesn't watch the CBC, either.)
Look, if you're going to blow a $6-billion hole in the budget to further enrich fat-cat corporations with a windfall they don't need and didn't ask for (and which won't create the advertised jobs supposedly justifying this piece of mal-economics), and it doesn't cost you an election, then the sky's the limit.
Gross understatements of the true costs of prisons, and then of 22nd-century ultra-sophisticated fighter jets we don't need? We'll give you a pass on those. A mid-campaign disclosure of exorbitant toilet-building scattered across Tony Clement's riding pre-G8 summit? No problem. A party so paranoid it's revealed to have accumulated potentially damaging quotes by its own leader since the early 2000s, at the direction of former Harper chief of staff Tom Flanagan, no less - a tome that weighs in at 500 pages. That's a Nixonian dose of oppo-research done on yourself. (So far, no enemies list, but if one materializes, I hope to brag of being on it. I am on Enbridge's, because I keep failing to pay for gas my Dad hasn't ordered or used since passing away 10 months ago.)
All to say that today's Tories-step-into-open-manhole story is destined, like the above, to last maybe one news cycle.
It's a fun story, though. Irony abounds.
Patrick Muttart (pictured), whiz kid credited with slicing and dicing the electorate into soccer moms and Tim Hortons patrons that the Tories could selectively appeal to with a congeries of specialized tax cuts that transformed the Income Tax Act into Swiss cheese, is accused by Sun Media controlling shareholder Pierre Karl Peladeau of providing the upstart small-c conservative Sun TV network with a photo purporting to be Ignatieff in battle garb and generally whipping small-l liberal across North America to get with Dubya's program to invade Iraq.
Which Iggy in fact did, he provided liberal cover for neo-con Bush's gang of regime changers with a series of New York Times Magazine apologias both for the Iraq war and "extreme interrogation." (This while he headed Harvard's Carr Center for human rights. But I digress.) Iggy was in Cambridge at the time, not wearing U.S. army fatigues in Kuwait.
Turns out the fellow in the shot isn't Iggy, but a U.S. soldier. This fact was uncovered by Julian Assange's operatives, but accomplished by Sun Media itself, with immense skill and determination in scouring Google Images. Peladeau accuses Muttart of trying to discredit his new right-of-centre TV network as an agent of the Tories by getting it to use the dubious photo.
Actually, if I was Peladeau I'm not sure I'd be entirely displeased about that, since Sun TV currently has the bigger problem of trying to prove it's more than a repeater of foreign video clips with skirts. Unfair? Hey, it wasn't my idea to cross-promote the new network by making its afternoon "anchor-babe" the entire front cover of the Toronto Sun, accompanied by a photo gallery of online eye candy of the said former CBC anchor.)
Conveniently for Muttart, Peladeau employs at Sun Media one Kory Teneycke, who also once worked in Harper's PMO, as media spokesthingy. You'll recall how Teneycke, as a lobbyist, later struggled in a most embarrassing way in trying to wrestle CRTC approval of a third (3rd) all-news TV channel for Canada. (The U.S. gets by with two, CNN and Faux News. With 10% of the U.S. population, we already had two long-established and competent - i.e. news, not rabid-opinion - all-news spin-offs of the CBC and CTV.)
Encounters in the CRTC bunker in Hull turned out to be a tougher for Teneycke than his revolving door, post-PMO gig as head of the lobby seeking to impose 5% ethanol and other biofuel in our gas tanks, which miraculously became federal policy in 2008, two years after Harpo took power. Ethanol, as we know, requires more energy to produce than it generates when combusted in your Ford F-150 pickup. It also raises food prices, when corn production is diverted from food and livestock-feed uses. But that's another story.
Like fellow ex-PMOer Teneycke, Muttart turned lobbyist. He now toils at a Chicago-based "high-stakes public strategy" firm called Mercury Public Affairs USA. Muttart returned to Canada when the writ dropped to help part time with the Tory campaign. Alas, Sun Media looked closely at the photo and decided against using it. Decided instead to trace its immediate provenance. And he had a mole friend inside the Sun empire named Kory Teneycke. (And Pierre Karl wonders why his new TV network is widely regarded as a CPC front...)
You don't mess with Pierre Karl, as striking Videotron and Journal de Montreal workers have learned to their grief. The revelation of the dubious photo and the Tory campaign announcement that Mr. Muttart is abruptly persona non grata and presumably enroute to the Loop came within nanoseconds of each other this morning.
The unfolding of these events will please the CBC and Ekos pollster Frank Graves no end. Just last year, Muttart, in his post-PMO capacity, was on Roy Green's Corus Radio Network show excoriating Graves for offering the the Grits advise based on his demographic data, despite having never been on the Grits' payroll, full or part-time.
Since Ekos at the time was also polling for the CBC, this was proof positive to the Harper image guardians that Graves was in a grave conflict of interest, so to speak. So said Muttart, tearing himself away from lobbying legislators in Springfield or Washington. (You have to understand, as a government or private-sector employer of such people, that it's near-impossible to know at any given time for whom exactly they're working, regardless of where their cheques are coming from.)
Mr. Graves felt himself to have been out of line, and apologized all around, including to the PM. Just the same, Muttart smeared Graves as a Liberal contributor - over and over again to the point of monotony. This despite Roy Green noting at the top of the interview that Graves is, or was, a bipartisan donor, having given a little more than $11,000 to the Liberal Party but also $449.04 to the, er, Tory candidate in his own Ottawa riding.
Here's the fun part, though, given Muttart's singular genius - his one claim to fame - of parsing the electorate, as Karl Rove taught all the emulators of his generation to do - so that appeals for support could me made to them in isolation of the rest of the country. Here's Muttart on the Roy Green show skewering Graves for doing what earned Muttart his own reputation in getting Harper elected in 2006 and 2008:
You know, this guy [Graves] is telling the Liberal Party that they should go out and attempt to divide Canadians, you know, putting the Liberals on the side of tolerance and the Conservatives on the side of racism and a whole bunch of other things. Now, Graves, in his half-hearted apology, said he doesn't believe that the Prime Minister is a racist. He simply believes that the Prime Minister attracts a disproportionate number of racists as party supporters. It's offensive, it's inappropriate, and it just demonstrates how unacceptable it is that the CBC has hi on as their neutral pollster on party politics.
To utter that last line, you'd have to believe that pollsters/policy advisers/ad gurus/bagmen Allan Gregg, Keith Davey and Dalton Camp were holograms and not entries in The Canadian Encyclopedia. With the likes of Muttart as Harper's erstwhile deputy chief of staff, you begin to understand Harper's failure to connect with, well, Canada and its history. Apart from maybe Victoria and Sir John A, I doubt the majority of this PM's inner circle from 2006 to the present could tell you why D'Arcy McGee and Co. are celebrated with the statues that populate Parliament Hill.
Then there's the matter of what did Graves tell the Grits:
I told them to invoke a culture war, cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy...I do believe that there's a higher incidence of people who are less tolerant of homosexuals and more wary of other races within the Conservative Party. I can demonstrate that emirically. That does not mean that Conservatives or Albertans are homophobic or xenophobic, but it does mean that many people, and more people statistically that have those points of view, end up in that party than in other places. That may be a statement that people don't want to hear, but it's empirically accurate and has been for a long time.
I do have a problem with that, namely that it is true. And it's why I haven't been able to vote conservative since the demise of the Progressive Conservative Party. Which itself was an act of high treachery on the part of Peter MacKay and of Harper, though in fairness Harper was a mere abettor, MacKay the Judas.
Finally - I know you're glad to see that word - Muttart was known admiringly among more than a few in Tory circles as "Harper's brain." Again, you'd have to be of a certain age - a whiz kid, perhaps; someone who hadn't matured beyond the age of majority - to have failed to read or overhear someplace that William Kristol, future war-mongerer, was known as "Dan Quayle's brain" when Kristol served as that one-term veep's chief of staff.
But, given how irrelevant Canadians are in the City of Broad Shoulders (I wish I could say "exotic," but that would be Moldova), I'll be forgiving if Muttart now reverts to his shorthand description of himself to prospective U.S. clients. "Well, back in Canada they said I was our prime minister's brain."
It would be nice if Muttart is wearing a good-fitting suit and has patted down his cowlick when he feels to say this. He might just be the only Canuck many of the Yanks he encounters will ever meet.
That's a reality check for me, not you. Judging from your sober reaction to my exuberance over yesterday's Ekos poll, an ER self-administered reality check is in order.
But first, I neglected to assay both big polls today. Fortunately for ER, the latest Nanos Research poll for CTV-Globe and Mail confirms the Toronto Star-La Presse-Angus Reid survey I did discuss earlier this morning. Namely that the NDP leads in Quebec, is running second nationally (every time I type that I can't believe I'm doing so), and the Grits are mired in the low 20s nationally.
The Globe-CTV's latest Nanos Research poll, also released this morning, shows roughly the same results, with the Tories a little stronger than Angus Reid, at 37.8% public approval, though still a bit short of majority. Nanos, too, has the NDP placing a strong second, at 27.8% (again, close to that magic 29% the NDP needs to solidify official-opposition status). Nanos has the Liberals way back at 22.9%, the Bloc at 5.8%, and the Greens at 4.7%.
Now the reality check, which is seat projections.
Everything I've written about everybody's chances of doing whatever means squat depending on how their popular vote, no matter if it's surging or plummeting, translates into seats. And here's where we enter fantasyland.
Here's the average of 10 outfits that do seat projections, at pixel time:
Tories, 148; Liberals, 67; NDP, 56; Bloc 36; Greens, 0, Independents, 1.
An anti-Tory coalition in that scenario is unlikely, since the gap between the Tories and the second-place Grits is just too big to be easily justifiable to either the public or the G-G. Plus, it would require the participation of the Bloc, and even then the tripartite coalition would have just 4 seats over the 155 required for a majority. Harper would scream bloody murder, and the G-G would blanch at the instability of that 4-seat margin.
But here's the thing - that average masks wildly different projections among the 10 prognosticators.
Here's the range for each party about the seat guesstimators:
Tories, 161-131; Liberals, 78-57; NDP, 100-42; BQ, 42-14.
In the historic 1990 Ontario election, the landmark status of that outcome wasn't so much the NDP forming an Ontario government for the first time as the downright bizarre way that scores of riding contests broke the NDP's way. The NDP won at least 30 seats in deeply NDP-hostile territory, notably in southwestern Ontario, due to the weirdest, least predictable vote splits imaginable.
How those same splits play out May 2-3 defies prediction utterly, as the ranges above show. They show the NDP, for instance, either picking up 64 net new seats or just 6. They have the Grits picking up one seat, or losing 20. The BQ drops a mere 5 seats or 33, practically wiping the Bloc from existence.
As an isolated example: every other report I've seen of the Tories' 10 Quebec City region seats has the Tories easily holding most of them, or losing most of them.
So it's a mug's game writ large, if you'll pardon the pun. And I'll try to be more restrained about where the chips will fall.
Or, as Paul Wells said Monday the tail of his convincing Tories-headed-for-comfortable-minority-or-narrow-majority blog post, "UPDATE, Monday evening: Ekos has numbers so different from Nanos‘ that you can argue all night over who’s right!"
And the next day's Kinsella: "The polls are all over the map, and have been for weeks. The seat projections are based on contradictory polls, and are therefore a joke. I accordingly give up. At this point, the only poll that matters - as the old saying goes - is the one May 2.
Fair enough. Extreme caution is indicated.
Except that the parties are at this critical juncture applying their limited resources to those seats they consider winnable, which gets us back to the black art of seat projections. And which has all of us - those not focused on "The Wedding of the Century," and that would be Kate and Bill, not Jack and Iggy -cogitating on an historic realignment on the left; an opposition-led minority government; a renewed Tory minority still constrained from reshaping the country to Harper's lifelong design; or a Harper majority whose outcome, Harper once said, would result in a Canada we won't recognize when he's done with it.
NDP POISED TO FORM OFFICIAL OPPOSITION, DISPLACING GRITS.
BY WIDE MARGIN, LAYTON TOPS ALL LEADERS IN POPULAR-APPROVAL RATING.
YOUTH VOTE, FAVOURING NDP, MAY DETERMINE BALANCE OF POWER.
The astonishing NDP surge reported here yesterday is for real, not a one-poll wonder, but instead has been confirmed by an Angus Reid poll reported today.
The poll confirms that the NDP could win enough seats May 2 to form an NDP-led government without Bloc support. That negates Harper's scare message of the past several weeks about a non-Tory governing coalition that includes the separatist BQ.
The Angus Reid survey has the Tories clinging to a lead nationally, with 35% popular support. But he NDP is not far behind, with a record 30% public approval. That's above the 29% that experts say the NDP needs to replace the Liberals as the official opposition.
The national public-approval numbers have the Liberals third, at 22%, followed by the Bloc, at 7%, and the Green Party, at 5%.
And that would mark firsts for both the NDP and the LIberals: The first time the federal NDP is poised to form the Official Opposition in Parliament. And the first time the Grits failed to place second when they didn't place first. Even in the Grits' worst drubbings since Confederation, they always have placed second when they failed to win an election.
While some polls in the campaign have put the Tories as high as the low 40s in public approval, the latest poll, by Angus Reid, puts the Tories back at 35%, far from majority-government territory. Indeed, most polls in the campaign have shown no growth for the Tories, finding Harper's party in the 33-37% range.
The NDP, by contrast, has been the only party to show significant growth in the campaign. In today's Angus Reid poll, the NDP has gained a remarkable 11% during a campaign that had them at 19% when the election was first called.
How the leaders rank on public-approval (national):
1. Layton, 49%; Harper, 36%; May, 25%; Ignatieff, 13%; Duceppe, 13%.
And on who'd be the best PM:
1. Harper, 31%; Layton, 27%; Ignatieff, 11; Duceppe, 3%; May, 2%.
The above figures suggest this is a race between Harper and Layton. Period.
From this morning's Star report on the latest poll:
'What's interesting about this shift is not only is the NDP gaining in popularity but that their vote seems to be solidifying'", says Jaideep Mukerji, vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion. He said that Layton seems to be benefitting from "discontent" among voters with the political class, especially in Quebec where the NDP is now out-polling the Bloc.
In Quebec, the NDP leads with 38%, followed by the Bloc Quebecois (29%), Liberals (16%) and Tories (14%). In the vote-rich battleground Ontario, however, the NDP, at 27%, still trails both the Tories (37%) and Liberals (30%).
Indeed, the NDP appears to be surging, big-time (Quebec) or somewhat in every region except Ontario.
It's the Tories' strength in Ontario alone that win it a majority or minority government, just as Jean Chretien was able to win three consecutive majorities with scant Liberal support outside Ontario.
The NDP's Ontario problem has everything to do with the legacy of Bob Rae's 1990-95 government, which is recalled with fondness by approximately 17 Ontarians, most of whom were fortunate to be out of the province during those years. (Okay, I exaggerate, but only a bit.)
Never mind that Ontario, though no fault of Rae, endured the deepest and longest recession in Ontario history since the Great Depression during those years. That Ontarians are writing off one of their federal options because of a dismal record of a provincial NDP cousin booted from office a long 16 years ago. That the NDP has long governed successfully in B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchwan (home of Tommy Douglas, "the greatest Canadian), and recently broke through in Atlantic Canada, with a relatively new NDP government in Halifax.
Layton has at least three advantages in the dying days of the campaign.
1. The Ekos poll yesterday find the NDP by a wide margin is the second-choice of Canadians planning a vote for other parties. Which gives it far more room to grow - a remarkable fact given how far the NDP has already come - than the other parties.
2. The #1 priority of Canadians now is health care, a switch from the economy, Harper's high card, earlier in the campaign. Even Ontarians have more trust in the NDP on healthcare than the Liberals of Chretien-Martin wait-time crises, and especially the Harper Tories, rightly or wrongly perceived widely as not having a fundamental commitment to Medicare.
3. By long tradition, Ontarians vote for the party they believe can hold the country together. In the past, that's almost invariably been the Grits. Today the Grits are the third-ranked party in Quebec popular support, trailing both the NDP and the BQ. And the Tories in Quebec are "just watching," at a mere 14%
It would seem, then, that Layton's task in the waning days of the campaign is to become more forcefully the candidate of health care and national unity.
It's either that or watch Dipper hopes of big overall seat gains dashed May 2 in Ontario.
The NDP has plenty of liabilities. There's Ontario. There's the NDP's over-reliance on a youth vote (the 18-34 demographic) that notoriously fails to show up on Election Day. There's the Tories' unsurpassed ground game, or GOTV (get out the vote). This once was a great NDP strength, and remains better than other parties. But with the steady decline of union membership, plus the CAW's advocacy of "strategic voting," the NDP has ceded its unequalled GOTV prowess to the Tories.
With Quebec separatism at low ebb, Layton's ability to appeal to patriotic federalist Ontarians on this issue is diminished. It's for Layton to point out that Quebec's governing Liberals, deeply unpopular, will soon be replaced again by the Parti Quebecois, whose leader, Pauliene Marois, is hyper-intent on holding yet a third referendum on sovereignty. The Quebec-born-and-raised Layton, whose social-democratic instincts most perfectly align with those of Canada's most social-democratic province, is the PM you would most want during that upcoming trauma. But outside Quebec, the separatist threat appears no threat at all for now.
Finally, the NDP characteristically fades in the stretch, after a mid-term bump in support - a factor the pollsters and commisariat ceaselessly mention. Yet in this campaign, the NDP surge has not come at mid-campaign, but late in the campaign. For sports fans like me, the team with the lousy regular-season record that nonetheless is heading into the playoffs with winning momentum is the one to bet on. And the NDP does even have a lousy regular-season record. As far back as a poll last summer, Layton was revealed as by far the most personally popular of the party leaders.
A side-note: You might wonder why yesterday's Ekos poll, forecasting a transformation in Canadian politics of historic proportions, wasn't splashed across newspaper front pages in huge type or lead the national TV newscasts. That's because media outlets favour the polls conducted by polling organizations with which they've formed a pre-election partnership. That would be Angus Reid jointly for my paper and La Presse, and Nanos Research for the Globe and Mail. Which, obviously, says nothing about the veracity and import of anyone's numbers. Screaming headlines and lead-off pronoucements by Peter Mansbridge and Lloyd Robertson do move public opinion, in this case discouraging "strategic voting" if the NDP is perceived to have a chance at replacing Harper (which it does) and appealing to the "bandwagon" instinct among voters who like to mark their ballot for a winner. (The CBC and CTV have their own polling-organization partnerships as well.)
Ekos Research poll
NDP SURGES MORE FIRMLY INTO 2ND PLACE, OFFICIAL OPPOSITION STATUS.
HARPER MAJORITY PROSPECTS ARE FADING. GRITS SLIPPING FROM SIGHT.
EKOS SEAT PROJECTION: TORIES, 131; NDP, 100; GRITS, 62; BLOC, 14.
NDP COULD FORM GOVERNMENT WITHOUT BLOC SUPPORT.
As voting trends are now moving, the NDP is in a position to easily lead a minority government, even without Bloc support. More than half of NDP seats would be won in Quebec, although NDP surge is also evident in Ontario and Atlantic Provinces, while traditional NDP stronghold in the West is holding firm. Liberals, meanwhile, have slipped to last place in their former fortress Quebec, with just 13.1% support. NDP leads in Quebec, with 38.7%, trouncing Bloc, with 25.2% and Tories, at 14.7%.
Nationally, Ekos' latest voter survey shows Tories leading but down to 33.7% among decided and leaning voters; NDP gaining, to 28%; Liberals dropping to 23.7%; Green Party slipping to 7.2%; and Bloc Quebecois down to 6.2%.
If those numbers hold on May 2, that would be the best showing, by far, in NDP history. And it would be the worst performance for the Liberals in their history, seeing the party lose official opposition status for the first time when not forming a government.
NDP inroads in Quebec, mostly at Bloc expense, threaten to reduce the BQ, which has held the majority of Commons seats in Quebec since its inception, to a Commons rump of just 14 seats.
The NDP also leads as the 2nd choice of more voters than any party in the latest Ekos survey. Which means that despite record NDP popularity, the party still has room to grow if it can make stronger gains in battleground Ontario. NDP benefits from heathcare having eclipsed the economy, Stephen Harper's high card, as Canadians' No. 1 concern. And Ontario traditionally votes for the party it feels best able to unite the country. With its lead in Quebec, that party is the NDP for the first time, and no longer the 4th-place Liberals.
The usual caveat: Popular vote notoriously does not translate into seats, given vote splits. That said, NDP are achieving close to the 29% needed to form official opposition, Tories are far short of the 39-41% needed for a majority; and Grits, if traditional popular-vote extrapolation is used, are headed for worst showing in party history.
Simon Murray, chairman, commodities giant Glencore, in the U.K. Sunday Telegraph:
Women are quite as intelligent as men. They have a tendency not to be so involved quite often and they're not so ambitious in business as men because they've got better things to do. Quite often they like bringing up their children and all sorts of other things.
All these things have unintended consequences. Pregnant ladies have nine months off. Do you think that means when I rush out, what I'm absolutely desperate to have is young women who are about to get married in my company, and that I really need them on board because I know they're going to get pregnant and they're going to go off for nine months?
Worth noting that Murray (pictured) offers this pensee as Glencore, world's largest commodities firm, is in the midst of a mammoth, $60-billion IPO, with Murray and his worldview spotlighted as never before. (Had you heard of him previously?)
Before its IPO, Glencore was long a shadowy outfit with vague ties to Marc Rich (the tax cheat notoriously pardoned by Bill Clinton) and with Xtrata, the Zug, Switzerland-based mining company flipper that a few years ago picked up Falconbridge during Harper's yard sale of Canadian industrial icons. Falconbridge earlier absorbed the legendary Noranda and its stable of some of the greatest names in North American mining. So that's the crowd in whose hands the fate of thousands of Canadian workers are in. All to say, you'd think Glencore would want to be on its best behavior in making its debut as a publicly traded enterprise.
And the thing is, it likely imagines it is.
But, there you go, 52% of the population isn't to be taken seriously in the workplace. Are "ladies" not to be entrusted with responsibilities of the highest significance.
So believes the head of a multibillion-dollar multinational, and I kinda doubt he'll pay any kind of price for it. I suppose we should be grateful that Murray is publicly candid about the unease that the still overwhelmingly male decision-makers about hiring and promotion of women feel, but don't dare express. Just so we understand why women are still so rare in the highest reaches of decision-making, especially in the private sector.
A side-note. If this neanderthal comment had passed the lips of an elected official or bureaucrat, particularly in N.A., he'd promptly lose his job, as Larry Summers was very publicly stripped of the presidency of Harvard for merely musing along these lines. (1) That's a distinction between the public and private sectors that goes unnoticed while we indulge in our government-bashing.
I guess it was about 32 years ago that my future wife was taken aback by a low-level recruiter at a magazine publishing firm in Toronto who wanted to know, in considering her for hire as an advertising coordinator, if she planned to be "in the family way" in the next few years. Even then she thought the question deeply insulting, at the very least an invasion of her privacy. But she took the job.
Good to see how far we've come in three decades.
Oh, you were asking. The answer is 16%, the female membership of the U.S. Senate. I believe that's a record. Women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies? I think that's six or seven, I haven't checked for a few months.
It's like Margaret Thatcher never existed, and Angela Merkel doesn't. Or, for that matter, the extraordinarily competent women who run Xerox, Kraft and Anglo American, owner of the De Beers cartel. And it sure makes the threat of government quotas to ensure we finally tap the skills of the other half of population that much tougher to argue against.
Note: Yes, Harvard College (official name) is indeed a private corporation. But like its Ivy League peers, Harvard is heavily reliant on federal, state and municipal grants and subsidies. Which makes it a far more public instititution than it cares to acknowledge - though the truth does come out in "Summers moments."
It's been fun to watch an increasing number of publications, MSM and blogs alike, ever more firmly insist that commenters' remarks be civil. By contrast, Barry Ritholtz's must-read economics blog, The Big Picture, is having none of that. It's not his job to insist on grown-up behaviour:
Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.
Fortunately this hasn't been an issue at EB, since only grown-ups read this blog. Just thought I'd pass on Mr. Ritzholtz's delightful contrarian approach.
We're talking Cuba, of course, where Raul Castro's regime has just lifted the decades' old ban on the sale of cars. Cuba was the largest importer of U.S. cars prior to the 1959 revolution, after which Motown was prevented by a continuing U.S. blockade from selling vehicles there.
Newlyweds pose in a 1958 Edsel on the Havana waterfront, February 2008.
There remain about 150,000 pre-1960 Caddies, Chevies, Plymouths, Buicks, Packards and other U.S.-made cars in Cuba, ownership of which is restricted to VIPs including doctors, artists and athletes who've worked abroad. For all the famed ingenuity of Cuban mechanics in keeping these vehicles roadworthy, Cubans would like to someday drive cars made in this century.
Foreign Policy's photo gallery of Cuba's U.S. clunkers is here.
A 1950s Buick cruising downtown Havana, May 2004.
A 1953 Buick passes a billboard featuring former Chilean president Salvador Allende. The sign reads, "Salvador Allende, present in today's struggle," marking the 30th anniversary of his death, Sept. 10, 2003.
A late-1950s Buick travels the Havana coastline, Nov. 16, 2008.
(Photos: Getty Images)
David Olive is a business and current affairs columnist at the Star, which he joined in 2001 after stints at the Globe and Mail, National Post and Financial Post.
"If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion."
- George Bernard Shaw