Loonies and BRICs

As most of you know, I live in SE Michigan, night clubs drive distance (if that’s your thing) from Canada. I didn’t go to my favorite Canadian ultimate tournament this year, so haven’t been in Canada for a while. So I was pretty darn shocked to hear this news:

The Canadian dollar breached 94 U.S. cents forthe first time in 30 years on Friday and analysts are speculating itwill be worth as much as the struggling U.S. greenback by year end.

Knownas the loonie because of the loon pictured on the one-dollar coin, theCanadian dollar closed at 94.22 cents in Friday trading — the highestit has been since July 1977.

It hit an all-time low of 61.79 cents on Jan. 21, 2002.

The latest surge comes after CIBCWorld Markets economists predicted the Canadian dollar will be worth asmuch as the greenback by the end of the year. That last happened inNovember 1976.

The Canadian dollar–the Loonie–has long been a kind of vacation time bonus for Americans. No longer, I guess. I’ll actually have to pay my way the next trip I make through Canada.

And then there’s this news (via Chris at AmericaBlog):

Cheney’s “Policies”

The third installment in the WaPo’s Cheney series is a bit of a hodgepodge. It includes items that appear to have been thrown into this installment as part of a generic domestic policy article. But what the article is really about is how Cheney has pushed trickle down policies that have been proven failures in the past, once again by serving as a gatekeeper for advice that gets to the President, and pressuring the President on the few occasions when he disagrees.

But let me take a step back to contextualize this one. In my Sources post, I asserted that this series is largely an attempt on the part of Chief of Staff Bolten to reel Cheney in. How telling, then, that this article includes a direct link a scan of what appears to be an original memo (note the blue ink) Bolten wrote as Director of OMB, his position immediately prior to his current one. The memo describes the intent of the board–fiscal discpline–yet is placed after a paragraph describing how Cheney used the board as yet another gatekeeping device to direct Bush to make the choices Cheney supports.

The vice president chairs a budget review board, a panel the Bushadministration created to set spending priorities and serve as arbiterwhen Cabinet members appeal decisions by White House budget officials.The White House has portrayed the board as a device to keep Bush fromwasting time on petty disagreements, but previous administrations haveseldom seen Cabinet-level disputes in that light. Cheney’s leadershipof the panel gives him direct and indirect power over the federalbudget — and over those who must live within it.

It’s a curious touch, a subtle way of displaying Bolten’s attempt to maintain fiscal sanity against the background of Cheney making economic decisions that have really screwed the American economy. This stuff, I get the feeling, is personal for former OMB Director Bolten.

Lamont's "Single Issue" Voters

The Q-Poll shows that 44% of Lamont’s supporters support him mainly because of Lieberman’s stance on the Iraq war. And Markos anticipates a bunch of pundits frowning on the large number of "Single Issue" voters.

For a pundit to suggest the Iraq war is a "Single Issue" simply betrays their ignorance of the impact that war has and will continue to have on this country and the rest of the world.

Some are opposed to the war because they’re opposed to 2,500 Americans dead, 18,000 Americans wounded, perhaps 100,000 Iraqis dead, untold wounded. Some oppose the war simply because it uses violence to solve problems that should be solved using other means.

Some are opposed to the war because it has ruined our military. Two-thirds of our active army and three-quarters of our National Guard face readiness problems because it needs to replace equipment used in Iraq. Extended deployments and lowered recruiting standards are having bad effects on the military, their families, and our mission. The Iraq war–sold as a way to make our country safer–has only exposed it defensively.

Some are opposed to the war because it has thoroughly destabilized Iraq, and threatens to destabilize the entire region. By almost every standard, Iraqi quality of life is worse today than it was under Saddam.

Some are opposed to the war because it has created precisely the problem that it was cynically sold as a way to prevent. Iraq is creating terrorists, at a time when the threat of terrorism remains very real.

Some are opposed to the war because it has turned us into an international pariah. Some countries no longer trust us. Others want nothing to do with our aggressive ways.

Jobs and Containers

Ford Squanders Its Integrity

The Pulitzer versus the Pontiac

Car writers don’t get Pulitzer Prizes. I suspect that’sbecause their writing is either wonky and burdened with specs or basically carpornography. Or rather, car writers usedto not get Pulitzers, before Dan Neil got one last year, "for his one-of-a-kind reviews of automobiles, blendingtechnical expertise with offbeat humor and astute cultural observations."I guess they liked Neil’s honest, irreverent writing in passages like this:

If you ever despair that the U.S. auto industry is whirling,slowly but with gathering momentum, down the tubes of history, thesecond-generation Toyota Prius will give you no comfort. This is a car Detroit assures us cannotbe built. No way. No how. A spacious, safe and well-appointed mid-sizefour-door with practical performance while returning more than 60 miles pergallon? For $20,000? Are you, like, high?

Well, there it sits in my driveway, looking like a set piecefrom a Kubrick film but in other respects a straightforward piece ofengineering. And it shames the domestic automakers and the Bush administration.

Well, guess what? Neil’s right about the Prius and the domestic car makers. Butthe car makers don’t like to see suchthings in print, certainly not in one of this country’s largest newspapers.Which became a problem when the LA Times published this slam on the Pontiac G6 the other day:

The G6 is not an awful car. It’s entirely adequate. Butplainly, adequate is not nearly enough.

 

[snip]

Meanwhile, the detailing of the bodywork makes the skin ofthe car look eggshell-thin. I wonder how many buyers look at this car andwonder what is behind the billboard?

Interior styling: The GT comes with comfortableleather-lined bucket seats, nicely bolstered with heaters. I like the soft gripon the hand brake. That exhausts my praise for the interior.

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