Thom:
In the U.S., "Obamacare" is an insult; but in Canada, no prime minister or provincial premier would ever name our government-operated health care programs after him/herself, for fear of being called arrogant and unconscionably self-congratulatory. "The Prime Minister's Care" or "PremierCare" would be a compliment, and not an insult indicating "Big Brother-like" subservience as does "Obamacare." The difference is the opinion of socialism in our 2 countries. "Socialist" is an insult in th U.S. Too many Americans think of Canada as being too socialistic, but fail to realize that if their population was as small as is ours (approximately 1/10 that of the U.S.), they too would have to be as socialistic as Canada is. Canada's private sector of its economy is too small to leave to it all that Americans can leave to theirs. Free enterprise capitalism is very productive, cost-efficient, and creative, but only if well regulated.

Now, this month of June 2012, marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812. "The Big Picture" has been silent on this subject and all that it means to both the U.S. and Canada. The most even-handed, emotionally-detached scholars on the War of 1812 are American, e.g., Alan Taylor, U.Cal., even though it can be argued that Canada won. In truth, for different reasons, both can claim victory. The only clear losers were the native peoples (aboriginal; first nations people) of the Great Lakes Region.
Although war is the hardest, most costly, and inhumane way of creating feelings of nationhood, common culture, and cohesion, it did magnify such feelings in both Canada and the U.S. For example, before the war, the word "Canadian" in Canada referred to French Canadians ("Canadiens") in Lower Canada (Quebec). People outside of Quebec thought of themselves as British, except for Americans who came up to Lower Canada (Ontario) in the 1790's because land was much cheaper here than in the States. (An earlier wave of Americans came to the Canadas (Upper and Lower) and into what are now Canada's maritime provinces, as (British) United Empire Loyalists, in opposition to the American War of Independence.) Not until July 1, 1867, did Canada cease to be a collection of British colonies and become an independent country.

Quiz Question: which came first, the sacking and burning of the town of York (now, Toronto in York County, Ontario) by invading Americans, or the sacking and burning of Washington, including the White House, by invading British soldiers and colonists? Which was "tit for tat"?

So, how about giving us The Big Picture's "take" (view) on the War of 1812 sometime before the 200th anniversary of its ending; (it ended in 1815)? Make the theme, "from war to best friends, trading partners, and allies."

--- Ken Chasse ("Chase"), Toronto, Canada.

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When Eric Holder eventually steps down as Attorney General, he will leave behind a complicated legacy, some of it tragic, like his decision not to prosecute Wall Street after the financial crisis, and his all-out war on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.