Trading barbs

Letters to the Boston editor, March 21, 2008
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  March 19, 2008

As an Obama supporter, I applaud your paper’s generally favorable treatment of our candidate, but was dismayed that your recent editorial (“The Morning After”) suggested Obama was duplicitous in publicly criticizing NAFTA while at the same time reassuring the Canadian government that his public statements were political posturing. I expect more skepticism from my newspapers.

There are at least three reasons why this alleged duplicitous behavior by Obama does not compute. First, what interest does a liberal Democrat have in seeking to reassure the far-right Canadian prime minister? Even if an Obama adviser spoke with the Canadian consul in Chicago, saying, as has been reported, that the Canadian government should not be concerned by what Obama says about NAFTA, it boggles the mind to conceive of that conversation as an authorized statement on behalf of the candidate.

Second, Canadian Prime Minister Harper has every motive to undermine Obama’s campaign since he obviously hopes to have another four years with a George Bush clone. The “leak” of a conversation with an Obama adviser, while officially repudiated by Harper, has so riled up the opposition parties in the Canadian parliament that they are demanding the Mounted Police investigate who was involved.

Third, Canada’s newspaper of record, the Globe and Mail, cited an unnamed source who claimed Harper’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie, said someone from Hillary Clinton’s camp was “telling the embassy to take [her threats against NAFTA] with a grain of salt” and not to worry. That is correct, Clinton not Obama.

The Canadian press believes this imbroglio was decisive in Obama’s loss of Texas and Ohio. While undermining NAFTA may be less favored in Texas, voters in both places must have doubted Obama’s trustworthiness when they heard this preposterous tale.

It is unacceptable behavior in the minds of the Canadian press and the members of their parliament for Canada to muck around in the American national election. I only wish our own press were not so gullible.

Carl M. Sapers

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: True, US media accounts of the NAFTA flap did essentially ignore the self-interest of the conservative Canadian government. That notwithstanding, the Globe and Mail on March 7 corrected its previous erroneous report and clearly stated that Clinton “never gave Canada any secret assurances about the future of NAFTA.”

Makes cents
I am not a fan of the new coins, but I am also not a fan of journalists that do not check the simplest of facts. The Sacagawea Dollar was produced from 2000 up to and including the year 2007. Production has been halted at this time, but Congress has mandated that the coin still be produced. The US Mint sooner or later will need to address the situation of non-production for the 2008 year with Congress.

Since 2002, the Sacagawea coin has been made in quantities of seven million or less from the three mints: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Are there too many languishing unused? Yes. Has the federal government mismanaged everything about the coins? Yes. Has the reporter not bothered to check his facts on the production of this coin during the past eight years? Yes. It is easy to write a story to rile up the public on wasteful government spending, just try to get the facts straight. And remember, at a cost of production of 12 cents per coin, the US Mint makes 88 cents on every Sacagawea or Presidential dollar they sell to the Federal Reserve — and it is the Federal Reserve, not the US Mint, that distributes all currency and coins to the public through its network of banks. This 88 cents of profit goes straight into the US Treasury for use in untold numbers of programs.

Stefan Kamieniecki
Tacoma, Washington

Related: The morning after, Nice package, Hey guv: stop slashing!, More more >
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