Bringing maturity to the presidency

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Great article, and accompanying video commentary, on a recent interview with Obama.

Whether it’s a puff-piece, I don’t know, but even if there’s a small amount of truth to the stories about Obama’s willingness to actually think about and debate policies the world is going to be much better off.  Contrast that with Bush, who makes a “gut decision” then expects everyone to follow.

An odd change of policy: supporting Bush to clean energy

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I was reading this article, No cavalry coming for McCain, which was otherwise uninteresting although good news. Then I ran into this part that was so odd it caught me:

“One of those oil guys was T. Boone Pickens. But Pickens, who played a major role in funding the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, sat out this race, preferring to spend his money promoting a massive clean energy campaign.”

That just seems so odd. Someone who supports Bush to the extent of spending millions bankrolling a massive smear campaign to help him get elected now spends money promoting clean energy. Bush is the anti-clean-energy guy.

Keep pushing the Green Shift

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In all likelihood, Dion’s Green Shift is dead. The political media will say Harpers win was a rejection of such a policy. I don’t believe this is true and is unfortunate.

First of all, the Green Shift was a big and fairly complicated idea. It’s effects and side-effects take some study or explanation to begin to understand. I don’t believe that just prior to a 6-week election is the best time to unveil such a complex policy. Such a short time frame makes it easy for the Conservatives to spin fear and uncertainty (ie: propaganda), without time to refute it all.

Second, such an important and complex policy needs to be accompanied by a massive public awareness campaign. As one data point, the only thing I know about the Green Shift was that it “shifted some taxes from income to carbon emissions”, it wasn’t supposed to increase anyone’s taxes overall, and tax credits would be issued for special cases where low-income or fixed-income people were being penalized. That’s the level of detail I have consumed, and I read a lot of political news and opinion. I didn’t go searching out more information, but most people won’t, so I’d claim there wasn’t enough good info being pushed out.

Third, and unfortunately, a policy change like this needs a charismatic leader to make people believe in it.

I think the ideal scenario would be for Dion to continue on as the “Green Shift” evangelist and environmental minister/critic, but paired with a great leader.

And, on a similar note, here’s a good article in the NYT today: (Green) Bailout (and Buildup)

How did the strategic voting work out?

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The one case that had me slightly worried with my voting decision was going Green and then the Conservative winning by a small margin over the Liberal.

Funny enough, looks like that happened: Kitchener-Waterloo results. A margin of 73 votes is pretty small!

But, I don’t regret my decision since I voted the way I wanted. What’s better than that? Further, a margin of 72 votes is still a loss. Even further, had I somehow dragged 72 other people to the polls and convinced them to vote Liberal, one more seat wouldn’t have made a difference in the national outcome.

I could definitely be a Liberal voter again in the future. As much as I think Dion is good at policy, he’s not meant to be a national party leader, in my opinion. Maybe next time around the Libs will pick someone inspiring, set out an aggressive green platform, and I’d be happy to vote for them.

The effect of P/E ratios on the markets

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Interesting reading here P/E Ratios, The other elephant in the room

This guy, Markets plummet deeply around the world, does seem a bit odd, but his economics knowledge seems solid. He explains why the US dollar maintains value, even given the sad US economy, very saliently. His argument is that the market has much farther to fall as the P/E ratios revert to their historical mean. I think he’s partially right, but I don’t think they’ll drop that far. Since the mid 90′s the markets have entered a new phase, driven largely by the fast flow of information, automated trading and large institutional investors. The “new rules” of the markets aren’t clear yet but old trends don’t necessarily apply.

Important Life Lessons

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11 Life Lessons in The Big Lebowski

Very good advice, and some are extra appropriate given the financial market conditions.

Quite possibly the funniest clip ever

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We need something fun, since the markets are continuing to tank today.

This is the funniest thing I have seen in a long, long time: Norm MacDonald on Conan.

I’ve always liked Norm and I think he’s at his best in these kind of off-the-cuff moments.