Friday, August 27, 2010


The motion pictures really! It is amazing how often the movies and real life intersect. I was reminded of, and struck by the similarities between American arch-conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck and the 1957 movie character "Lonesome Rhodes" (Andy Griffith) while watching "A Face In The Crowd" on Thursday. Beck's "Take Back America" crusade comes dangerously close to Griffith's broadcaster role in the Elia Kazan movie exploration of the power of television which, in 1957, was still a very new mass medium. Ah! Lest I digress further, that's not where I want to go.

It is not for me to pass judgement on the political polarization of our southern neighbour. Though clearly Canada's lesson is to be vigilant towards those who may seek to employ similar aggressive methods and measures to reshape our brand new world.

ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY AIR - A thought provoking analysis written by national political columnist Susan Riley of the gaffe about CF-18 pilots..."starring down on Russian long-range bombers" earlier in the week by the Prime-Minister's office; suggests that Mr. Harper is not just changing the country's direction, but some within the Conservative government even appear..."intent on reshaping reality." - It's now twice in recent weeks that routine Russian patrols over their north have been used to justify the sole-source purchase of F-35 fighter jets. In the aftermath of this week's events, the North American air defence command quickly described the matter as a routine exercise..."important to both NORAD and Russia and...not cause for alarm."

No one suggests that Canada's sovereignty is unimportant; particularly in the North. The reality is that experts say there have been no Russian military incursions over Canada in at least a dozen years. In fact at least one journalist, John Ivison of the National Post, says National Defence is increasingly frustrated at "a hostility toward Russia that is manufactured for entirely domestic political purposes." The fact of the matter is, as late as 3 weeks ago, the Russians, the Americans and Canadian military forces were cooperating in a jointly held exercise to track and intercept a "hijacked" aircraft as a part of airborne international terrorism training. Which is both contradictory of, and counter-productive to, our seemingly new "get tough" policy with the Russian air force.

Clearly there are a couple of movie inspired themes here as well: Former (1960's) Ottawa resident Tom Cruise as Maverick in "Top Gun"...but more likely the hilariously comical romp through Cape Cod of "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming!" (1966). A truly iconic funny exploration of the paranoia engendered by "cold-war" hyper-rhetoric, directed by Canadian Norman Jewison. I guess now we know the Canadian inspired logic for the sales pitch on those 65 jet-fighters no one seems quite sure we need.

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