Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

And somehow, I can't get paid to write

An interesting editorial in the Bismarck Tribune advocates a boycott of travel to Canada. Hey, it's their money, and therefore their business. The specific point of conflict is the drainage of a North Dakota lake, which the Manitoba and Canadian governments are concerned will damage waterways that travel into Canada. On that issue, I have no opinion - I'm pretty conservative when it comes to protecting freshwater, but I'm sympathetic to North Dakota's claim that the time to dispute the plan was about twenty million dollars ago. There are, I'm sure, other writers who are more knowledgable and well-suited to make an argument on the topic (including Americans).

One writer who is not on that list is Frederic Smith, editorialist for the Bismarck Tribune. For the record, allow me to clarify a few things from his editorial.

The editorial accuses "the province of Winnipeg" of obstructionism. Heh.

The local lakes flood, the editorial explains, "forcing ... miles of indirection on school buses, mail carriers and emergency responders." I'm not sure "indirection" is actually wrong, here, but it sure is weird usage.
Adding insult to injury, a flunky with the Canadian treasury board abused U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad to the media recently when the senator declined to drop urgent business in North Dakota -- on the future of the air bases -- to meet with him in Washington about the outlet.
For the record, the "flunky" was Reg Alcock, President of the Treasury Board. Perhaps "President" equals "flunky" in the eyes of this writer - must be a Dick Cheney fan. Also, Alcock's comments weren't because the Senator "declined to drop urgent business", but because Alcock thought he had been stood up. It was inpolitic, and as it turns out, the missed meeting was chalked up to a scheduling error (perhaps just diplomatic cover, but whatever). Alcock apologised, Conrad accepted and looked forward to the rescheduled meeting. I found all of that out in about four minutes of google-searching, but that seems to be more research than could be expected from Frederic Smith, having already built up a good mouthful of froth at this point.
Perhaps a Winnipeg letter writer (Tribune, April 12) is correct in blaming it all on the silly socialist governments up that way -- the Liberal Party national government in Ottawa and the even more extreme New Democratic Party provincial government in Winnipeg.

But people elected those governments, and the writer finds Winnipeg Premier Gary Doer playing to an appreciative crowd of "the large number of ideological anti-Americans in Manitoba."
Ah, those silly socialists, like the Prime Minister. Remember when he nationalized Canada Steamship Lines? Crazy commies. As for the "ideological anti-Americanism", I haven't seen a lot of it, but I've seen plenty of people reacting to anti-Canadian rants such as this one, or anti-Canadian policies such as trade restrictions on Canadian beef and lumber, with a pretty strong "screw you, too." Sometimes, the brush we use with that phrase is too wide, and our anger at one level of American government or another ends up indirectly insulting the American people. (Our insults, you might say, suffer from "indirection".) So, in that light, let me say to most of the citizens of North Datoka: I enjoyed the time I spent travelling there. You have a very nice state, and I look forward to returning some time. To Frederic Smith: screw you, too.

(An aside - he's quoting a letter-writer who identifies Manitoba. Do you suppose Smith thinks Manitoba is somewhere near the province of Winnipeg?)

Finally, after entertaining the idea of boycotting Canadian tourism, he ends:
Keeping it south of the border this year would be an excellent way of showing that we are paying attention and keeping score.
Keeping score? My own sense of diplomacy and desire to see cross-border relations improve prevents me from running a tally sheet at this point, but Mr. Smith, if you're serious about keeping score, you let me know and I'll dust off Excel and see what we come up with.

Meantime, enjoy your one-man boycott.

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