Rep Steve Vaillancourt
From the Grand Bibliotheque
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Four years ago, I distinctly remember Barack Obama`s acceptance speech from Colorado. I had just arrived in Montreal, so listened on radio as I sat in my car eating delicious tomatoes fresh from my brother`s garden.
Creature of habit that I am, I`m in Montreal again. And I have lots of tomatoes again.
I was, however, in the United States for of Mitt Romney`s acceptance speech last night. In fact, I arrived at the border just as Romey finished what was the shortest acceptance speech in memory
I was passing through Shelburne trying to figure out what Clint Eastwood was talking about--I guess you had to be watching TV to get it. The radio announcer kept pointing out Eastwood was talking to Obama in an empty chair. Eastwood sounded rather incoherent on radio, but the line about Joe Biden being "a grin with a body behind it" was the best of the week.
By the time I got to Burlington, Marco Rubio was on delivering what to me was the best speech of the convention.
I missed a bit of Romney`s speech because, if you can believe it, the ABC Radio network interrupted him right in mid-sentence to cut to its 11 p.m. newscast and the Burlington, Vermont station (WVMT) mysteriously went off the air. WBZ`s signal was coming in as a back-up, and I even managed to find a Vermont public radio station.
You will recall that I was a big supporter of Marco Rubio for Vice President. No surprise then that I found his speech the best of the entire convention, and A plus, right up there with Artur Davis, the African American who nominated Barack Obama four years ago and since has turned Republican.
I would give Romney a solid A, but I wasn`t surprised at how good his speech was. When you have millions of dollars to spend on a campaign, it`s not all that tough to come up with a great speech. The delivery was also good.
Ann Romney would get an A- from me, Chris Christie a C. I missed Paul Ryan`s speech (I was talking with my brother), but from the clips I heard (from the Jerry Doyle show), it was a real winner as well.
The one poll that was quoted last night appeared to give Romney a six point bump from the convention, from trailing by four with Reuters to up by two.
Stay tuned...but not to WVMT or ABC Radio.
From the Grand Bibliotheque
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Even as Democrats in the U.S. open their convention in North Carolina Tuesday, Quebecers will be going to the polls to elect what this weekend appears to be a separatist government. In Canada, an election occurs 35 days after it is called, none of these endless campaigns as we have in the U.S. However, there`s always the chance that if the election doesn`t produce a clear-cut winner, another one could be called almost immediately.
Both the French and English media are hinting that it will take a miracle for Liberals, led by Jean Charest and rife with corruption, to remain in power. In fact, Liberals will most likely finish third, and talk here in that some English Quebecers plan to vote "strategically" for the Coalition Aventir Quebec (CAQ). That means that voters in some ridings (districts) will vote for the CAQ candidate simply to prevent the Party Quebecois (separatist) candidate from winning.
Such is life in places with parliamentary governments and multi-parties.
The latest polls who the PQ at 32 percent, the CAQ at 28, and the Liberals trailing with 26 percent. Predictions from pundits run the gamut from an outright PQ win the some type of minority government being required. No one is predicting a Liberal win.
This is all very strange. Pauline Marois, the PQ leader, boldly proclaims that the election is not about forming a new government but rather about forming a new country. However, polls show support for separation from Canada (it`s called sovreignty here) is close to an all time low; it`s only at 29 percent. Thus, even if Marois and the PQ win, they will most likely have little success tearing Quebec out of Canada.
Marois is promising to raise royalty fees on mining companies from 16 to 30 percent.
Charest`s government has been plagued not only by corruption but by strikes and protest marches from students upset with steep tuition increases.
WJAD, the English radio station I listen to, seems to be pushing for the Liberals. I heard that Marois refused to appear on the station, and word was that CAQ Leader Francois Legault was so bad that he should stop giving interviews in English. The Montreal Gazette, however, reports that Legault did better than expected in round-robin debates.
With the focus on the Quebec election Tuesday, talk of the U.S. election is pushed off the front pages and to the back of the newscasts.
From the Bixby Memorial Library, Vergennes, Vermont
I'm into Gore Vidal these days (since his death) and am astounded to report that this dictionary has no Gore Vidal books, not even Burr or Lincoln. How can this be. It only has three Kurt Vonnegut books (Cat's Cradle, Slautherhouse Five, and Welcome to the Monkey House). On the other hand, it is well stocked with John Irving books.
That's how I check out a library.
Then it's on to the newspaper section, and even more shocking the Burlington Free Press, Vermont's premier paper and a member of the Gannett family, has gone to tabloid size. That's the half-size sheet that many weekly papers and a few dailies like the New York Daily News use. Most, major dailies have stuck with the broadsheet format (like the Union Leader, New York Times, Monitor, etc). I was flabbergasted that a paper like the Free Press would go tabloid (not in style of reporting, but in size).
It means that a picture of Ann Romney addressing the Republican convention occupied an entire half page of a page inside the paper. It means that only three or four stories are possible on a given page.
Traditionalist that I am, I am not amused.
The first paper I ever worked for, the weekly Plymouth Record, went tabloid when I was there back in the 70s. Many weeklies have gone that same route, but a major daily? I suppose it's something one gets used to, and then I'm not a Vermonter any more (unless you buy the line once a Vermonter, always a Vermonter).
The woman who served as librarian when I was in high school (Verna Everts) turned 100 last time I was here. I assume she's gone to that great reading room in the sky by now.
From the Bixby Memorial Library in Vergennes, Vermont, smallest city in the USA and recently feature in the Boston Globe. This is a gem of a library (I fondly remember researching a James Thurber term paper here back in 1968); and computer use is on a first-come, first serve basis.
In visiting my brother for a few days, I got to watch the TV station I grew up with, Channel 3, WCAX-
TV, Burlington. In less than an hour, I noted three of the Obama commercials featuring Bill Clinton. Since The Anointed One is 30 or so points ahead in the Green Mountain state, the commercials obviously aren't intended to sway Vermont. The station also reaches across Lake Champlain into New York state (no, need to advertise there) and into southern Quebec.
Hm, I thought. Then I remembered that I used to get Channel 3 back when I lived in Plymouth, NH. I assume the station still reaches into western and northern New Hampshire, and it's a good indication of just how vital New Hampshire could be that Team Obama is advertising on Channel 3 even though it is reaching only a fraction of the New Hampshire populace.
No, I didn't see any Romney commercials on the station.
Vermont still elects its Attorney General and there was a hotly contested race on the Democratic side earlier this week. Channel 3 reported that turnout was only about 40,000; it was more than 100,000 two years ago. Go figure.
Vermont and New Hampshire are the only two states still with two year terms for Governor. Democat Shumlin was elected here by a slim margin two years ago, but he's up 30 points or more now. As I recall, once you get elected in Vermont, you remain in office until you die. Note Senators Leahy and Bernie The Socialist Sanders. When I was a kid, Senator George Aiken was the man. He didn'd spend anything on his campaigh. He also formulated the ideal solution for the Vietnam War--declare victory and come home. Hey, we should try that in Afghanistan.
The Paul Ryan speech was on last night, but my brother and I talked over it. He doesn't vote, but I got the sense that he would be a Democrat. In fact, as we talked I began to wonder why I ever changed to become a Republican. I agree with him (and Demcrats) on everything from gay marriage to marijuana legalization to Roe v. Wade to excess police powers. Were it not for Democrats big tax and spend policies, I'd be happier in that party.
But then we walked up to the farmers market on the common with its monument to Commodore McDonough, hero of the War of 1812, a silly war if ever there was one. (My high school mascot was commodores).
Eggs and corn were $6 a dozen; I suppose it could be the price one pays for freshness, but I suspect it's equally due to Obama policies ruining the American dollar. My brother and I jokes that we shouldn't worry. Ink and paper are cheap and as long as we can buy them, we can always print more dollars.
End of the pro-Democratic argument.
Whoops--someone wants to use the computer. I'm off to Montreal for the Fetish Festival. The provincial election is hot there now; they vote Tuesday.