Jewish World Review Dec. 20, 2004/ 8 Teves, 5765

Wesley Pruden

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The long goodbye by the soreheads | IF YOU'RE REALLY LEAVING AMERICA, LET ME SELL YOUR HOUSE.      — Bumper sticker in Beverly Hills

LOS ANGELES — This is ground zero for the losers in the disaster of November. For the beautiful people (and some not so beautiful) November 2 will live in an infamy far greater than the infamy of December 7 or September 11.

You can see the pitiful Angelenos coping manfully with the disaster everywhere: endless lines of Lexus 400s looking for valet parkers to take their cars on Rodeo Drive, the stores (many with Help Wanted signs in their windows) crowded with Christmas shoppers, enough faux snowmen to populate Santa's own lawn, and tears enough to ruin acres of mascara.

This is where die-hard winners can come to revel in the misery of the losers, many of whom are still whining and moaning as if John Kerry has one more flip to flop and somewhere in Ohio someone is still counting votes.

Alec Baldwin, who threatened to leave America as far back as the year 2000 if George W. Bush should be elected president, is believed to be still in a plane waiting on the end of a runway at Los Angeles International Airport, its engines idling, waiting for clearance to take off. (It's even said to be on the route of some of the celebrity tours.)

But not to laugh. Leaving America and its collection of hideous red states, and the horribles who live in them, is a thriving business in the coastal blue states, and particularly in California. Or more accurately, talking about leaving has become a thriving business.

Hundreds of disconsolate losers have paid $25 each to sit in on a seminar by a Canadian immigration law firm to learn about life in the peacefully frozen north. The other night nearly a hundred Angelenos packed themselves into a meeting room at a Los Angeles hotel to listen to two Vancouver lawyers tell them how to move to the happy, civilized, polite country where nothing ever happens and the Mounties have captured their last bad man.

"You'll know a Canadian," the prospective immigrants were told, "because he's the guy who apologizes when you bump into him."

Michael Adams, a Canadian sociologist, describes in his new book, "Fire and Ice," how the United States and Canada — connected by the longest unprotected border in the world — are diverging in troublesome ways. "America," he says, "is moving in a more conservative direction to a more Darwinistic model." Canada, proud of its reputation as the Boring Country, has warmly embraced the welfare state, where the buffalo roam and the skies, having dumped a foot of snow overnight, are not cloudy all day.

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"When the United States talks about rights," David Cohen, a Montreal immigration lawyer tells the Los Angeles Times, "Americans think in terms of individual rights. Canadians have a concept more of collective rights. We complain about the system and the level of care fluctuates according to province, but I don't think we should go back to where there is not coverage for everyone."

If the prospective immigrants are looking for the land of the easy rider, Canada is the place. Paul Martin, the prime minister, vowed only this week that Canada will welcome deserters from the American army and not only that, Canada won't allow the United States to station space-shield rockets on Canadian soil. "I'm not going to put any money into it," he told an interviewer for Global National, a Canadian news organ. "I'm going to put money into our priorities, and having missiles on our soil is not one of our priorities."

This makes Canada sound just right for the sorehead losers of November. Geography has been kind to Canada; the Canadians know that no matter how noisy their tantrum, the United States will always defend them from evildoers.

Ralph Appoldt, a Portland, Ore., wheelchair salesman, is fleeing America as soon as he can sell his house and get a job in the frozen north. He doesn't know anything about Canada, but figures it's pretty much like America, without the violence and the belligerence. "I would add 'arrogance,' " he says, "but then I've never been to French Canada."

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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