Friday, August 29, 2008

Hillary Heads North

Now that Barack Obama has chosen Joe Biden as his running mate, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 U. S. electoral run has officially come to an end. But just because she’s been shut out of the American campaign doesn’t mean that she’s finished for the year.

With Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion trading schoolyard dares, it seems more and more likely that Canada is heading for a fall election. And that means one more opportunity for Hillary to become a national leader.

The Clinton team has already made some initial inquiries regarding a Canadian campaign. Rumors abound that Hillary herself has contacted all the Canadian leaders with a view to leading one of the major parties in the next election.

Prime Minister Harper has rebuffed Mrs. Clinton’s entreaties but the other leaders apparently remain open to her candidacy. NDP leader Jack Layton, in particular, seems eager to welcome Hillary into his party.

"Hell, she’s more than welcome to take over from me," said Layton. "Let’s face it; we’re going to get trounced again and, frankly, it’s no more fun for me the third time than it was the first two times."

"I’ve always considered myself a liberal," said Mrs. Clinton. "So the prospect of running for a party actually called the Liberals is interesting. But since I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, representing something called, what did you say it was, the New Democratic Party, is very, very exciting."

Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, was initially reluctant to follow his wife north for a Canadian run. But informal promises that a win by his wife might result in him being appointed Governor-General apparently turned him around.

"I like the sound of that title Governor-General," said Bill. "I used to be a governor, you know, but I’ve never been a general. This way I could be both at once. Plus they tell me that there’s not a heck of a lot to do in the job, mostly opening shopping centers and kissing babes or babies. I wasn’t quite clear on that last one."

Having quickly warmed to the idea of running in the upcoming Canadian election, Hillary assured the voters that her platform remains unchanged from her U. S. campaign. She has indicated that she will continue to push for universal healthcare, an end to participation in the Iraq War and a complete renegotiation of NAFTA.

When informed that Canadians already have socialized medicine, did not send troops to Iraq and had no desire to reopen NAFTA, Clinton seemed surprised but indicated a willingness to pursue other issues.

"I’d like to see such things as tighter gun control, same-sex marriage and cheaper tuition for colleges and universities," said the U. S. senator.

"Done, done and done," said Jack Layton. "But I’m sure there are other matters of interest to you."

"Not really," said Mrs. Clinton. "That about blows my whole platform portfolio. But, hey, if you’re looking for someone to stand up to that kid Obama or that old geezer McCain, I’m your gal."

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe reminded Mrs. Clinton that if things didn’t work out in the upcoming Canadian federal election, there was always a spot open for her as the President of an independent Quebec. Although Mrs. Clinton’s French was reportedly not very strong, she was heard to say: "C’est une possibilité. Après tout, je ne jamais dites non."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Take A Dollar, Leave A Dollar

In the wake of the latest economic downturn, the U. S. Treasury Department has taken the radical step of eliminating the one-dollar bill.

"It was just becoming too much of a nuisance," said Treasury spokesperson Buck Simoleon. "What with its declining value and the daily rise in the price of gasoline, it just didn’t make sense to keep making them."

Recent inflationary threats have made it economically impractical to produce the greenback. According to Mr. Simoleon, it now costs the Treasury Department close to ninety cents to print one.

"We just don’t think it’s worth it anymore," said Mr. Simoleon. "Especially since many people don’t even treat the dollar bill like real money."

More and more merchants have been avoiding the problem of unwanted singles by simply rounding consumer purchases up to the nearest ten dollars.

"It was such a pain to always be running to the bank to get more ones," said store owner Rhea Tale. "And half the time, the bank didn’t have any."

Apparently consumers are simply throwing their ones in empty coffee cans, old ashtrays and sock drawers. The Treasury Department has been urging citizens to keep the bills in circulation but few seem to be taking heed.

"We experimented briefly with a ‘take a dollar, leave a dollar’ tray that merchants could place at the cash register," said Mr. Simoleon. "But it seems people just can’t be bothered. A lot of folks these days won’t even bend over to pick up a dollar off the floor."

Gas stations have been particularly annoyed with the one-dollar bill. With the average gasoline purchase rapidly approaching three-figures, it is increasingly becoming a major annoyance to have to break anything smaller than a ten.

"People who come in to get gas are in a hurry," said station owner Phil R. Upp. "They don’t want to be slowed down by some store clerk trying to make exact change from a hundred. They just want to get their gas and get going."

Other nations have already tackled the one-dollar bill problem by converting their lower-denominated paper currency to coins. Canada, for example, has a one and a two-dollar coin and Great Britain has one and two-pound equivalents. However, the Treasury spokesperson did not view this as a long-term solution.

"Let’s face it," said Mr. Simoleon. "It’s even more expensive to mint a coin than to print a bill and I don’t see our dollar heading anywhere but south for the foreseeable future."
Surprisingly, most Americans seem unconcerned about the elimination of the dollar bill including President Bush.

"It’s really no big deal," said the President. "Like most Americans, we here at The White House haven’t used dollar bills for a long time now; we just put everything on credit."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clinton Uber Alles

In an attempt to mollify supporters of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama’s camp has agreed to allow her name to be formally entered into nomination at this week’s Democratic National convention. Mrs. Clinton has reportedly assured Obama’s people that there will be no attempts to undermine his candidacy.

A few other "minor" concessions were sought and agreed to. Hillary Clinton will address the convention in prime time on the second night. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will speak the following night and daughter Chelsea will likely speak after that.

Clinton supporters say that any further requests by their candidate will be trivial and inconsequential. For example, they would like to have each morning and afternoon session open with a tribute to some of America’s greatest overlooked towns including Clinton, Massachusetts; Clinton, Missouri; Clinton, Mississippi and Clinton, New York.

"We spend a lot of time celebrating our country’s major cities," said Mrs. Clinton. "But we often overlook the heartland of our great country. This would be a great way to acknowledge middle America and all the great middle Americans who have made our party what it is."

Apparently Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle has also asked that at least part of the first night of the convention be dedicated to a celebration of the life and career of DeWitt Clinton who served as the Governor of New York from 1817 to 1822.

"I think we have neglected this great American statesman for far too long," said Hillary Clinton. "After all, he was the sixth governor of my home state and the man largely responsible for the building of the Erie Canal."

The Clinton camp has also put in a request to decide on the entertainment for the final night of the convention. Rumors abound that her people have already inked a deal with musician George Clinton to be the headliner for the evening.

"I think it would be fitting to celebrate the first African-American nominee with a great black entertainer," said Mrs. Clinton. "And what better way to celebrate than to get our funk on with the man who created P-Funk and the band Funkadelic?"

Some Obama supporters have expressed concern that the various requests by Clinton will leave little time to feature Mr. Obama.

"Nonsense," said Mrs. Clinton. "As far as I know, we’ve pencilled him in for almost an entire hour early Friday morning for his acceptance speech."

"Assuming he’ll need that time," chuckled the former First Lady. "Just kidding, of course."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Duelling Confessions

In their recent joint interviews by Pastor Rick Warren at Orange County’s Saddleback Church, Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama both revealed past indiscretions. When asked about their greatest moral failure, McCain cited his failed first marriage and Obama discussed his youthful experimentation with drugs and alcohol.

Although the candidates’ revelations seemed to satisfy the audience of evangelicals at Saddleback Church, it turns out that they did little to impress their political peers. Bill Clinton for one found their admissions to be, as he termed them, "laughable."

"A divorce, a few drinks and a little blow?" said the former President. "You call those moral failings? I call that a warm-up to a good time on a Saturday night."

Former Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards also made light of his Senate colleagues’ mea culpas.

"Look, I’m not condoning divorce or getting buzzed," said Edwards. "But that’s nothing. Hell, I cheated on my wife while she was getting treated for cancer. Mind you, she was in remission at the time."

Even George W. Bush found it hard to take the disclosures by his potential successors seriously.
"You’re talking about one guy who dumped his first wife and another guy who did a little flake before he hit university," said President Bush. "Come on; that’s nothing. I drank and did coke well into my thirties, screwed the pooch in the military and gave away the entire U. S. Treasury to my friends."

Clearly embarrassed by their mediocre confessions, McCain and Obama have begun a "moral failings" war to see who can outdo the other in the field of ethical shortcomings.

"Yes, my first marriage ended in divorce," said McCain. "But, until now, I never revealed the cause. Let’s just say it involved a hooker, handcuffs and a case of Jack Daniels."

Not to be outdone, Obama fired back with his own avowals.

"It’s time for me to come clean," said Obama. "Not only have I repeatedly cheated on my wife Michelle; I have done so with a series of Malaysian transvestites."

"Yeah, but I did it with a sheep," countered McCain.

"Just one?" said Obama.

"So far," said McCain.

Although it is expected that the battle of revelations will continue right up to November 4th, it seems unlikely that either candidate will be invited back to Saddleback Church any time soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Presidential Decathlon

For two weeks, millions of Americans have been glued to their TV sets watching the world’s best athletes compete for gold. But all that will end soon. What’s a sports-addicted nation to do? Luckily, there’s one more unofficial Olympic competition to watch: the Presidential decathlon which consists of the following ten gruelling events:

Watch as the two candidates engage in a non-debate debate. Questions are asked and even occasionally answered but no one has to actually take a stance on the issues. It’s difficult to know who really wins a pseudo-debate but so long as a candidate isn’t hit with a "knockout" blow, he definitely won’t lose.

It used to be that candidates had to seek and obtain the approval of one or more special interest groups. Now, however, the endorsement event is more about getting and sometimes even disavowing endorsements from religious leaders.

Sliming by proxy
Competitors will be judged on their ability to trash their opponent without really seeming to be involved. The gold standard for this event is the outstanding performance of George W. Bush’s surrogates four years ago with their hands-down-winner "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth."

Flip flopping
This is the political equivalent of the gymnastics competition. Every candidate will do one or more flips. The question is will any of these flips result in a big time flop. The trick for competitors is to make their flips look like minor shifts or to deny that they flipped at all.

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll
This tripartite event has tripped up more than one candidate. The trick is to come clean but not too clean. Sexual indiscretions? Sure, but they took place long ago. Drug use? Yes, but nothing too potent and nothing after age 25. As for rock ‘n roll, do not attempt this unless you’re under 50 and can actually sing, dance or play a pop instrument.

This event can end in tragedy when the resulting photo has not been completely thought out. Candidates would do well to avoid such disasters as "Kerry on windsurfer" and "Dukakis in tank."

Coaches work with their charges for months to avoid any major verbal gaffes. Claiming Iraq shares a border with Pakistan may not be fatal but declaring communist-ruled Poland free certainly was.

Competitors do whatever it takes to outperform their rival in acquiring political donations even if it means turning down matching federal funds. After all, the more money a candidate has, the better he can perform in the "sliming by proxy" competition.

An ongoing event wherein the media tries to nail the candidates with a "gotcha" moment. This can involve a recorded statement about bitter folks clinging to their guns and religion or a temper-fuelled nasty swipe at one’s own wife.

Theoretically the deciding factor in any Presidential decathlon, ironically votes are the least important element. After all, most states are already decided before the voting even begins. And those few that aren’t get decided by everyone but the voters.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain Forgets Running Mate Pick

Looking to capture the momentum from Barack Obama, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain today planned to announce his vice presidential running mate. Unfortunately, Senator McCain forgot who he had chosen.

"I had the name right here," said McCain pointing to his shirt pocket. "But then I took the shirt off, put it in the laundry hamper and now I can’t find it."

Blaming the snafu on his wife Cindy, the aging Arizona senator berated his wife for her overly-zealous cleaning habits.

"If she’d just leave things well enough alone," said McCain. "I could have found that shirt and found the slip of paper with my vice presidential pick on it. But now that it’s gone through the wash, you can barely read what’s on it."

Campaign aides have been of little assistance since none was clearly informed of the senator’s choice for running mate. Apparently McCain did tell his team that he had chosen "some guy" and that he had definitely decided that it wouldn’t be that "jerk Huckabee." But apart from that, McCain’s supporters have no more clue as to who he had chosen than McCain himself.

Normally a presidential candidate confers with potential running mates before making his selection. However, in this case, none of the leading contenders would confirm or deny having been asked to run by McCain.

"I think he called me last week," said 84-year old Alaska Senator Ted Stephens. "But that was so long ago and I can’t recall what the heck we spoke about. I think John mentioned something about getting together for the early bird special at The Olive Garden near the Capitol Building to discuss something important but I can’t say for sure. In fact, as I recall, I fell asleep that day and missed our dinner meeting altogether."

The McCain campaign team has decided to postpone the vice presidential announcement until next week. It’s hoped that this will give the senator time to either remember who he picked or to find his misplaced reading glasses to help him read the paper that went through the wash.

According to McCain, they should be right next to his pill bottles where he always leaves them. Unless, of course, his wife Cindy moved them again.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Obama And McCain Make Surprising Picks

This one appeared on the Op-Ed page of yesterday's Baltimore Sun:

With Sen. Barack Obama retaining a slight lead in the polls, Sen. John McCain today threw caution to the wind and made one of the most audacious running-mate choices in American political history. Seeking to gain the most media exposure bang for the buck, the Arizona senator and presumptive Republican presidential nominee has asked Ronald Reagan to join his ticket.

"I carefully considered all the possible candidates," said Mr. McCain. "And it was clear to me that Reagan beat them all, hands down. None of these guys today can hold a candle to the Gipper, dead or alive."

When questioned about Ronald Reagan's current breathing abilities, Senator McCain became visibly annoyed and reacted angrily.

"Yeah, duh, he's dead," said Mr. McCain. "So frigging what? He's going to be the vice president. It's not like we're asking him to do anything productive."

Further questioned about the constitutional hurdles his choice in the veepstakes faces, Mr. McCain turned a beet red and exploded at the assembled press corps.

"Read the document," shouted Mr. McCain. "Where in the Constitution does it say that the vice president has to be living? As far as I know, all he has to be is a native-born American who's at least 35 years old. Done and done."

At great personal risk, one reporter dared ask the senator about whether or not Mr. Reagan had agreed to run as vice president. Mr. McCain's aides physically restrained him from pulling a gun on the reporter as he screamed his reply.

"Of course he agreed," yelled Mr. McCain. "Do you think I'd be announcing his addition to the ticket if he didn't agree? Haven't you ever heard of the concept that silence implies consent? Well I think most people have, and when I put the question to Ronnie, he was about as silent as you can get."

The addition of Mr. Reagan to the Republican ticket is expected to buttress Mr. McCain's support among several key demographic groups, including Florida seniors, Reagan Democrats and the legion of dead voters in select Chicago precincts.

To counter Mr. McCain's surprise move, Barack Obama made his own unconventional choice for a vice presidential running mate: himself.

"That's right," said Senator Obama. "After vetting the short list of potential Democrats, it was blindingly obvious that I was by far the most qualified."

When questioned about the impossibility of succeeding himself as president if he dies in office, Mr. Obama assured American voters that in the unlikely event that he did die, he could just about guarantee a resurrection by the third day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Unclear On The Concept

Up until recently, Canada was committed to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. We had promised to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to six percent below our 1990 levels. Instead, we are 25 percent above those levels with little hope of reaching them in the near future.

Part of our national plan was the voluntary One-Tonne Challenge which urged each citizen to change his daily habits in order to effect a one metric tonne reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Now that program has been scrapped.

The One-Tonne Challenge was a great idea. I suspect it failed primarily because many Canadians were simply unclear on the concept. For example, the following do not count towards your personal emissions reduction goal:

* Putting a spoiler on your sit-down mower.
* Taking the van instead of the SUV to the corner store.
* Barbecuing indoors.
* Mixing ten percent ethanol with your morning orange juice.
* Installing an outdoor, solar-powered, battery-operated thermometer.
* Talking on the phone and/or putting on makeup while driving.
* Rolling stops at intersections to save on brakes.
* Using your electric can opener during off-peak hours.
* Drying your clothes outdoors on an electrically-powered rotating clothes line.
* Turning the air conditioner in your garage up one degree.
* Putting a muffler on your leaf blower.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Double Dog Dare

Prime Minister Harper has thrown down the gauntlet and dared Stephane Dion to "fish or cut bait" and force an election. The ball is now in Dion’s court and all of Canada is waiting to see if he can avoid the ultimate playground embarrassment.

But wait; what’s this? Can it be? Yes, Stephane Dion has issued a formal "double dare" to Harper to bring a vote of non-confidence himself. Harper is taken by surprise but continues to stand his ground.

Then with his own surprising counter move, Harper informs Dion that he "double dog dares" him to force an election. The media is aghast at this bold action and waits breathlessly for the Opposition Leader’s response.

Dion initially appears startled, not knowing how to answer this historically unprecedented challenge. Will he seek an election or risk being the laughingstock of the entire Canadian schoolyard?

Dion tries talking his way out of this unexpected impasse. He blames Harper for the situation and taunts the Prime Minister with sophisticated jibes about his personal hygiene and his mother’s preferred type of military footwear.

Harper, who had the upper hand, is caught slightly off guard. He forgets that he had issued a "double dog dare" and foolishly engages in the trading of insults. In the heat of the moment, the best he can come up with are "tax and spend Liberal", "government program lover" and "poopy head."

Sensing that the Prime Minister has fallen for his trap, Dion hits him with the traditional "What you say is what you are!"

Visibly shaken, Harper appears to be on the verge of tears. But his face instantly brightens as he remembers a classic counter insult. Dion is staggered by the powerful "I’m rubber, you’re glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!"

The reporters walk away as the two combatants continue to engage in verbal sparring.

"Bait cutter!"

"Corporation lover!"

"Green shifter!"

"Carbon hog!"

As the sun sets over the political playground, it is clear that Canadians looking for an electoral donnybrook will have to wait for another day.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bush Picks Books For His Library

As the final months of his second term wind down, President Bush is finding that he has more and more free time on his hands. And much of that free time is being spent planning for his presidential library.

"To be honest, I wasn’t that keen on a library at first," said the President. "I’ve never been much of a reader. But apparently Congress won’t authorize funds for a presidential bait and tackle shop."

However, the more President Bush considered the library option, the more he reportedly warmed to the idea. As things now stand, the final building plans are basically complete and all that remains is the selection of books.

"You know, I’ve been pretty busy being president," said Mr. Bush. "And consequently I haven’t had time to read everything that passed by my desk or even finish the odd book that I started."
Number one on the President’s catalogue list is "The Pet Goat."

"Yeah, I started reading that one on 9/11 as I recall," said Mr. Bush. "But I never got a chance to finish it. I’d sure like to know how it ends."

"Another volume I’d like to read is that presidential daily briefing Condi’s always talking about," said Bush. "You know the one entitled ‘Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.’ I hear it’s got a lot of interesting stuff in it."

"Then there’s that book Bill Clinton gave me just before I took office," said Bush. "It’s called ‘Presidenting for Dummies.’ I never did get a chance to read it. Maybe when I retire I can finally have a look at it."

"There’s lots of other books I’d like to read when I get time," said the President. "Ones like that UN report about the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that National Intelligence Estimate report that supposedly says Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program five years ago."

But until President Bush leaves office, Vice President Cheney has advised him against reading outdated volumes such as those and to instead concentrate on the tasks at hand like handing out more tax cuts and untendered contracts to his friends.

"Until January 20th, I’m just not going to have time to read much of anything," said President Bush. "Frankly, I’ll be lucky to finish the book sitting on my night stand called ‘My Lame Duck’."