Another year older and.....

Welcome back!
I write this from a beautiful town with a name that resonates around the world....Naples.....Florida, that is. Three friends of mine twisted my arm and invited me to our second annual golf week. Technically, that's a misnomer, as we had our first trip just this past April. So, in actuality this is the second semi-annual tour. While my golf game is a continuing challenge, it has proven to be just as much fun as the first one. This time, we are celebrating my birthday - which we did just this evening with a great dinner and, as usual, stories, lies and laughs that make friendships such a rich fabric to one's life.

All of us are parents and we got to talking about how one's life is a combination of such elements that combine hard work, luck and opportunities taken and missed. So I will share a few thoughts on the subject at the end of this posting, so if you want to click off before that, you can do so without missing some of the - shall we say - 'substantive' post.

An Election Looms in Canada
With the results of the recent by-elections in Canada in which the Conservatives won two out of the three (one they held and one they took from the Liberals), in combination with rising poll numbers for Stephen Harper's Tories, point to a Spring 2011 election. Why? Because politics and momentum are almost everything in politics. The public perception of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff are very weak, and can only improve over time - especially as he lays out a more solid policy framework - which helps to define him after allowing himself to be defined by the Conservatives in the early years.

There are a few stumbling blocks on the road to such an election in a minority government scenario. One of the major ones being the legislation that the government put in place to have fixed elections (something I have always felt was an artificial construct in a Parliamentary system that will often end up being more honoured in the breach - especially when a national Parliament is increasingly a minority situation. However, the easiest way to deal with it is to put in place a budget which would challenge the Opposition's ability to accept it. Given that the Liberals clearly don't relish an election anytime soon, such a Budget would have to be cleverly crafted to avoid looking too cute by half, or to violate the principle of the fixed election law.

One thing for all election hawks in the Conservative Party to keep in mind, however, is the volatility of the electorate. Given a strong message, and a campaign to match, it could be an even draw with the Liberals, opening up a number of post-election scenarios - as happened after the recent British election when the Conservatives joined up with the Liberal-Democrats to form government.

A Year Away From the Iowa Caucuses
The post-midterm elections positioning is underway as the Republicans and Democrats spar over everything from government debt to saving social security etc. etc. It's painfully clear that there is no 'common ground' and, while the public say they want bipartisanship, that message is absolutely not reaching the politicians in Washington.

So what does this mean for the coming 'pre-positioning' year in American politics? On the Republican side, Sarah Palin will obviously have to make up her mind - to give up the easy money, fame and television shows for the daily slog of running for President under a huge magnifying glass focused on her flaws and family. It may become almost inevitable. The momentum is clearly building and she has to realize that the bubble she is in won't last forever. So the betting is that she may well go for it. Her latest comments - "we gotta stand with our North Korean allies" notwithstanding.

Mitt Romney is working hard to build his brand and base in order to sustain a strong race. The first thing people think of when his name comes up, unfortunately, is his Mormon religion. One would hope that such a slight against a candidate belongs to yesterday (shades of JFK). The fact that he has already run a national campaign and been a successful governor in a liberal state should go some way to having offset that stigma. His real challenge now is to try to attract wind from Tea Party sails without being swamped overboard by them. The thing about Romney is that no matter what he tries to do, he just can't seem to connect with voters in an emotional way with his core values emerging. So, his appeal is limited by definition but he will make a strong campaign for the Republican nomination.

President Obama has a huge challenge in this year - facing a Republican controlled Congress - and a still weak economic recovery. He has to be hoping for two things - a Sarah Palin Republican nominee and, for safe measure, a third party candidate, such as Michael Bloomberg, to divide the vote. [Ross Perot's candidacy in 1992 ensured a Bill Clinton victory over George Bush]. Notice when the President was asked by Barbara Walters what he thought of Sarah Palin he said that he didn't spend any time thinking about her.  A safe answer and may even be true.....for now. But one can tell he clearly relishes the prospect.

Some Birthday Musings [The part that you can feel free to skip]
It's only a day on the calendar, but as one goes along in life, a birthday is a time to reflect on where one has gone - hopefully with some insights for our kids and anyone else who really cares. So here goes:
1. Work harder than anyone else.
2. Recognize opportunities when they come along. If they don't, create your own.
3. Although you can't always tell where certain paths lead, have faith that somewhere down the road those paths will intersect and give you a unique journey. [I have always been a great believer in serendipity - something I inherit from my father.]
4. Be thankful for every day you have. Each day really is a gift; so try not to waste even one.
5. Keep in a learning mode. It keeps your brain young and your life interesting.
6. Figure out what you love to do and try to construct a career that enables you to get paid for what you love.
7. Be good to people on the way up. You will absolutely meet them on the way down - or when they're on the way up.
8. Every time you're tempted to say something negative about somebody, bite your tongue. You won't regret it.
9. Remember that we're all more than the sum of our parts - physically, mentally and emotionally. We are infused with a spirit - we just need to search for it and nurture it. That spirit will help you overcome almost anything that life throws in your way.
10. Stay humble. It may come in very handy someday.
11. Find a kindred spirit in life to enjoy the journey. [I have been so blessed in that regard.]
12. Finally, if you're going to have musings, always have an even dozen. It has such symmetry.

Until next time......

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