Road Trip! – Day 1
Maggie and I are rambling. I don’t mean the usual rambling I do every day here on the big blog; I mean actually rambling down the highway on a road trip. Right now, we’re in Hamilton, Ontario which is almost as exciting as being in Bucharest on a Tuesday night but definitely more than in Ottawa on any night.
The youngest was off to Scotland yesterday to begin studying for her masters at the University of Edinburgh. We decided that if we were going to drive her from Ottawa to Pearson Airport in Toronto, we might as well spend the rest of the week travelling and, of course, shopping.
Don’t ask how ‘we’ came to that conclusion; just play along like I did. It’s probably safer.
We dutifully packed the car with necessities including the youngest daughter and the dog and hit the trail yesterday morning.
Maggie and I are pretty accomplished travelers but we have different approaches to preparing for a trip. She starts organizing things the day before; gets the suitcase out and packs things as she decides what she needs to take. I get up the morning we’re heading out, grab a bunch of clothes and toss them on top of whatever she’s packed.
After Maggie repacks the suitcase, we load it up into the car and we’re off.
Maggie and the youngest like to talk so they chatted most of the way. I prefer to spend my time in quiet contemplation of the cost to replace all the things I forgot to ask Maggie to pack for me.
When we finally arrived at our hotel, I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I like to travel and I love to drive but it doesn’t love me so much anymore. My arthritis reacts and my joints start to constrict which means that after a few hours of driving, I’m in a fair degree of physical discomfort.
We checked in at the front desk where I helped the desk clerk spell Quasimodo and then lugged our bags up to our room. The first thing I did when we finally got settled was turn on television news and fire up the computer. The thing I most like about travelling is that I’m out of touch for awhile; it’s relaxing. The thing I dislike about travelling is that I’m – well – out of touch for awhile. I’m always afraid I’m going to miss something important.
It took about ten minutes to log in to the Internet, no doubt because of the hotel’s crack security system which involved entering the password — BellboyXXX. Clever isn’t it? The hotel has no bellboys.
The next thing I did was repack the computer, turn off the television and fold the newspapers because we were, as it turns out, changing rooms. It made me wonder if the hotel was operated by some branch of the provincial government.
Once we were properly relocated and properly resettled, on went the television news, the computer was powered up again and the newspapers unfolded and shared with Maggie. It was time to find out what the world had been doing while I was tuned out.
Not much of any real significance as it turns out. I believe it’s what the folks on the inside of the media business refer to as a “slow news day”
Thank God for Senator Pamela Wallin. If it wasn’t for her, some of the television news anchors would have been reduced to performing card tricks and juggling just to fill the time.
But fortunately, the demi-Honourable Senator managed to keep things interesting – if not for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party – certainly for the rest of us. There’s nothing we enjoy more over here on the dark side of reality than watching someone implode due to greed and stupidity.
It sort of restores your faith in karma.
Senator Wallin is the fifth Senator, if you count the once-Honourable former Liberal Senator Raymond Lavigne who is currently serving time in prison for breach of trust.
There are only two parties in the Senate; the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. The score right now in the Race To Disgrace is Liberals -2, Conservatives- 3. Man it’s close. So many honourable senators are being booted from their respective parties that “Independent” is rapidly becoming a serious voting-block in the Red Chamber.
You have to believe that there are more than a few honourable sphincters that are squeezed tighter than a frog’s ass under water out of apprehension that the investigation into Senate expenses may be extended to include all Senators.
All of this has led to increased demands that the Senate be abolished and why not? After all, there is nothing that guarantees accountability more than removing yet another layer of oversight on the Commons. It has worked quite well in the provinces where provincial senates were abolished years ago. Just try to imagine where Ontario would be today if there had been an upper house to interfere with the will of Dalton McGuinty and his elected caucus.
Those calling for its abolition are hanging their argument on the fact that Senators are appointed rather than elected but then some of the most powerful people in politics these days aren’t elected either. People like Don Guy, former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Chief of Staff who helped orchestrate the closed gas plants fiasco in Ontario and, the ever so clumsy Nigel Wright former head of the PMO who basically helped blow the entire Senator Duffy issue into the Senate crisis it has become.
These guys aren’t elected but they have a great deal of influence over what happens in government and unlike Senators, there isn’t much in the way of oversight to rein them in.
The problem isn’t the Senate or our institutions, it’s the corrupting nature of privilege and nothing creates that more readily than the corrupting nature of politics. If we are serious about fixing things, we need to do something about politicians, their parties and their spin doctors.
I would suggest that the institution itself is quite effective and honourable – it’s just the self-serving and the crooked who pervert it that need to be bitch-slapped.
But then, what do I know? My values are so out of whack that I thought it was a bit rude for the President of the United States to fly his dog up to the family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard on its own helicopter – especially after lecturing the American people about being too materialistic.
Some folks in the United States are outraged by the overwhelming hubris and sense of privilege but I almost admire what he did. I think it takes real courage to stand in front of the American people a week earlier to tell them that they’re too greedy and then treat your dog like he’s an honourable Canadian Senator.
What really annoyed me was that our dog Jasper came over and pointed at the news story about the President’s dog and then looked at me as if to say, “See?” I told him to take a pill or I’d tie his leash to the door handle on the Santa Fe and he could jog beside the car all the way to the United States.
He’s currently pouting on Maggie’s side of the bed muttering something about conservatives. Jasper is a progressive.
I read that Google has been forced to admit in court that it routinely opens and scans the emails of its email service. Google’s position is that there is no reasonable right to an expectation of privacy when the email is transmitted through a service like Google.
Isn’t that an interesting concept? It’s sort of like suggesting that because they provide the road, they have a right to take a look at what’ in your car. By all means, let’s keep resisting any form of government regulation on the Internet because we all know we can trust Google.
Jean-Martin Aussant, founder of the Option National, Quebec’s newest separatist political party has resigned. It’s not necessarily surprising that he resigned after failing to accomplish much in the last provincial election but his reasoning is a bit muddled. Apparently he’s been having trouble finding a decent job in Quebec so, he’s tossing off his political passion to help create a French nation in North America and heading off to Britain to accept a high-position job in – get ready for it – English.
Two things occurred to me when I read this. First, it’s reasonably clear that Mr. Aussant hasn’t made the connection between separatist language and tax policies in Quebec and declining employment in the province. The other is that principle and conviction seem to be just as flexible in the separatist movement as they are in the rest of politics.
I read an update on the ongoing attempt to grant amnesty to some four million illegal aliens in the United States. I don’t mind admitting that I’m more than just a little confused by this one. At the same time that the American government is spying on its own citizens out of fear that one or more of them may be terrorists, it is going to grant amnesty to people it has never vetted or put through some kind of security clearance. Considering that all of the 911 terrorists were non-citizens, it makes you wonder about the logic.
But then this is the same government whose Attorney General has ordered prosecutors across the country to stop prosecuting some crimes because he feels that there are too many people being sentenced to prison for being convicted of crimes. I gather he finds it easier to address the issue by simply ignoring the crimes rather than work with Congress to repeal the laws.
I can’t be too critical though. It’s pretty much the same attitude being taken by many police departments in Canada who are refusing to apply the law to various minority groups or to enforce court orders they find inconvenient. Personally, I think if those sworn to uphold the law are going to ignore it, we should just do away with prosecutors and law enforcement and let the chips fall where they may. It might lead to some uncivilized behaviour although I doubt it will reach the level of social media and it will save us billions which can be spent on more privilege for the privileged.
Tomorrow it’s off to the land of freedom, flying dogs and premium outlet malls or as Maggie calls it — Wonderland. I’ve taken all the usual precautions: passport – check; Jasper’s rabies certificate – check; notify the bank to have fire extinguishers ready in case all the heightened activity on our current account sparks a fire – check.
If you don’t hear anything from me by Sunday, please contact the FBI and ask them to start looking for me at the Anne Taylor outlet store and then work their way alphabetically through the rest of the stores.
The only real downside for me is coming back to Canada. I don’t mind paying duty – I hate being treated like a criminal by Canada’s border agents.
Maggie and I are both well-travelled and there is no country we’ve visited together or individually where the agents at the border have treated us more rudely or suspiciously than right here in our own country.
When the revolution comes and it’s time to reintroduce the privileged to old fashioned values like accountability, integrity, duty and public service , maybe we’ll just go ahead and add border agents to the enemies list just under tubby honourable Senators and just above elected honourable politicians.
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