Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy holidays, everyone!

I'm clearly already on mine. Sorry. Regular blogging will resume soon. Captain Flynn at Against All Flags has posted some holiday music links for... well, pleasure isn't entirely the right word.

In the meantime, don't forget to nominate --- well, not so much me, for my rather unassuming 2004 performance --- don't forget to nominate some of Canada's best blogs, several of whom I've listed to the immediate right, for Canada's blog awards.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's What's For Dinner

White House press briefing, Monday, November 29, 2004:

Q The beef dispute, do you see it getting resolved tomorrow?

MR. McCLELLAN: Right, and I expect that's something that they will talk about. There's a rule-making process that we have in place. They touched on it in their most recent meeting. I expect they'll talk about it a little more in Canada. But we have a rule-making process that we're following. Obviously, our first and most important priority is to make sure that our food supply is safe for the American people.

Q The Canadians are going to serve the President Canadian beef for dinner. Is he eating it? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't seen -- no, I understand. I have not seen the menu for the social dinner. But the President looks forward to going there and looks forward to participating in the dinner with Prime Minister Martin. Again, I haven't seen the menu, so I couldn't confirm that that's accurate or not.
Scott, the question wasn't "Will he be served Canadian beef?" It was "will he be eating it?" Let me spell it out for you, Scott: tonight, we're going to discover that Canadian beef is good enough for the President. Why isn't it good enough for other Americans?

I'll keep you posted on any follow-up in the briefing today.

Friday, November 26, 2004

It's Buy Nothing Day!

Let me pre-empt last year's question - "What's the point?" If you find it difficult to get through a day without spending any money, take a few minutes today to think about that, to think about what it means to the world that there's a lot of us in the developed world that share that difficulty.

And then, if you still want to deal with the Black Friday crowds at the local Target, hey, have at'er.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Post Mortem

Let's start with my personal results, and get them out of the way. I came fifth, as I predicted. I beat the Socred, but lost to the incumbent, the Liberal parachute, the Alliance no-show/no-sign, and the Parti Albertois. On the other hand, I doubled my vote and was in striking distance of all but Oberg, so there's something to be celebrated even in this.

To the rest of the election. The Klein who spoke last night was not the exuberant Premier of 2001 declaring Alberta "Ralph's World". He won three-quarters of the seats in the legislature, and he looked humbled. And rightfully so - he understands what he heard over the writ period. He understands what it means that the Alberta Alliance snagged over 9% of the vote, mostly out of a rural base the Tories have taken for granted. In Alberta, a grumbly electorate doesn't immediately throw the bums out. But Albertans clearly told the Premier that we expect some change, some new direction. If we don't see it from the Tories, we'll find it elsewhere.

This is going to have a huge impact on the upcoming leadership. The candidates who might pull the Tories out of trouble are the ones who articulate something new - who are as much of a change within the PC party as Klein was a break from the Lougheed era. A smart guy like Jim Dinning might figure that out and reinvent himself. My suggestion, and prediction, is that he'll invoke the PC party of 1971, of the Lougheed era. That PC party was a shift left from the Socreds who came before, running against the most excessive and offensive ideas left over from the thirties. Lougheed's first act in office was to repeal the eugenics legislation that permitted forced sterilizations. I'm not sure there's anything as huge or symbolic as that, but the contest will be the same. If the next PC leader lines up the party behind the modern, urban, fiscally conservative-to-moderate but socially moderate-to-progressive Alberta of today, the Tories can pull their vote once more, steal back from the Liberals, and dominate the centre once again. Like the Lougheed era, there will be a few opposition memmbers on the right ("Hey, what happened to our eugenics legislation?") and a few on the left.

Or, the Tories can move themselves to the right, try to get back the votes and seat they've lost to the Alberta Alliance... and Kevin Taft will be extremely well-situated to take most of Calgary, some of the medium-sized city seats, and a few in the bedroom community rurals. It's enough to turn the Liberals into the government - an awfully similar government to the Tory one I described above. No wonder Taft was happy last night.

We NDP last night were happier than we should be. Before Klein, the NDP were in the position that the Liberals are now - a decent-sized caucus sitting across from a government that needed to reinvent or fall. I'm not sure when exactly we let the Liberals steal that opportunity away. But Albertans of all political stripes who appreciate responsible government should be happy about the four ND members, because we've proven over the last session our effectiveness at holding the government to account with even a tiny caucus.

I think the rest of the country would be surprised to hear that an election that brought the Tories their tenth majority in a row was about change. But that was the message last night - the Tories can change, or Albertans will change them. Klein's political instincts are as good as ever - he heard it. Did the rest of the party?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Election Day

I had volunteered to help out at the NDP office today, mostly taking calls that begin with "Where do I vote?" But it seems the staff there are taking quicker-than-usual calls, because the website to find the answer is slow-to-crashy due to volume.

I didn't get a voter information card in the mail. My folks didn't get one. No one in my sister's household got one. I have the sneaking suspicion that the process changed, and no one at all got one. I also get the feeling that hundreds of thousands of Albertans are only realizing this today.

If you're in this boat, let me make a few suggestions:

First, call elections Alberta at 1-877-422-8683. They'll be able to answer the question - they likely have localized versions of the webpage database at each desktop. I sure hope they do, anyway.

If you're getting nothing but a busy signal, try calling your local frontrunner's office... I bet you still haven't thrown out his or her propaganda, so there might be a phone number there. It doesn't matter what party you're intending to support - they don't have the time or inclination to confirm if you're someone they want to help. They are also very likely the only candidate with enough staff (unless you're lucky enough to be in one of the hotly-contested Edmonton races) to answer the question. Maybe they'll even offer you a ride.

Finally, if you haven't changed residences since last time, take a stab in the dark and try the place you voted last time. Or (if you live in an urban area) walk to the nearest school or community hall and try your luck. If there's a poll, but it's not yours, they'll likely have a pretty good idea where you need to go.

I won't campaign for myself today (because (a) I don't think I have any Strathmore-Brooks readers I'm not related to and (b) elections officers frown upon it), other than to say that coming higher than fifth would be very nice. Coming high enough to have my count listed on the television would be a thrill, and would help me win some rural issue fights at the next NDP convention.

The Speaker sent me a very nice letter, telling me where and when I need to be for my new MLA orientation. I've left my schedule clear for that day, on the off-chance that the perfect storm of dissatisfaction, malaise, and slippery roads makes me the winner tonight. See you there, Ken!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Alberta's Senate Election - Bringing People Together!

This New Democrat thinks the Senator-in-limbo election, being held on Monday as part of the provincial election, is a stupid idea. I share this belief with most of my party.

The Calgary Grit, a Liberal, thinks the senate election is stupid, and so far as I know, his party's fielded no candidates either.

Now, a former Tory Senator, Ron Ghitter, has joined our ranks.

How do you tell the government you didn't want this vote, and you don't want to waste more of your money on this process in the future? Spoiling your ballot will get you tallied in a column along with people who are defeated by the complex technological challenges presented by a pencil.

Instead, refuse your ballot. Your poll clerk may be a little dumbfounded by the process, but the DRO ought to know, so insist. They cross you off the list, they hand you a ballot, and you return it to them, indicating you'd like to refuse it. Your refusal is tallied, and communicates your choice as loudly as the process allows.

To learn more about the process, call Elections Alberta directly at 1-877-422-8683. I don't actually think there is any more, but they can certainly confirm for you that this option exists, helping you to avoid the discomforts associated with eating your ballot.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Comedy at Club Democracy

I attended an all-candidates forum yesterday. It didn't actually attract all the candidates - that may be because it was scheduled for the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. Nonetheless, I was there, Tory candidate and Minister of Education Lyle Oberg was there, the Liberal, Carrol Jaques was there, and Seperation candidate Jay Kolody was there.

I'd like to point out that from my perspective, at least, I won. I was relaxed and confident, I got the laughs, I had two dozen or more "UFCW Local 401" hats in the room acting supportive and grilling Oberg.

Oberg was fine... didn't really mix it up, said the right things, said things I found myself nodding at. I don't think he's a bad guy, I don't think he's a bad MLA, I just think he sees a lot of issues through ideological-coloured glasses. I think he's had a harder time representing the riding since his primary residence shifted north (Sherwood Park, so I hear), but he's clearly still making the effort. There are Tories who are a lot more passive about holding their seats.

Jaques is a parachute candidate, so I might actually have an outside shot at beating her. But again, full credit - she showed up, she flew the flag, and you could tell she thought this was going to be much more hostile territory than it was. I'm thinking city dweller, but I didn't ask.

This event game me the most up-close-and-personal experience I've had with the Seperatist policy. Did you know that since Alberta joined Confederation (I leaned over to Jaques at this point and made a snarky comment, so I might not have my facts correct from here on... but then again, I might) we've sent 230 Billion dollars to Ottawa? If we kept that money in Alberta, we could fund education and health care no problem!

(Please tell me if I have to explain the various logical fallicies in this particular claim. I'm generally trusting my readers, but I'd hate to think I've just convinced another voter to consider seperation.)

Huh. You know, at the start of this campaign, I predicted I'd run fifth. Now, I'm thinking second might not be out of reach.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It could have been more timely, but...

Inspired by President-elect Howard Dean's success, the NDP has....

Wha? Really? Bush again?

Inspired by the success of Democratic nominee Howard Dean, the NDP.....

John Kerry? Who dat?

With electoral failure Howard Dean as their inspiration, the NDP has launched their own eCampaign. Join here, and help the Premier to the retirement he's earned.
Finally, the debate

I've been pretty busy given that I'm running a campaign that may come fifth of the rumoured six candidates. (I may, I suppose, come first or sixth, as well. The world's a funny place.) Yesterday, I travelled to Brooks to do some media, so I felt like I should take a little time to watch the debate (which I had missed in broadcast but recorded) in advance.

Okay, first of all, commercials? WTF? I wish I had the time to figure out the politics behind the debate being hosted by Global, instead of a commercial-free CBC debate, but that will have to wait.

Second, the format. Do people really find these free-for-all periods helpful? It seems to me that it only serves to expose who is the fastest and loudest talker among the leaders, though I appreciated the occasional forceful moderation being provided. I'm not sure the CBC could have done that, actually, but since Global was dedicated to providing me with entertainment as opposed to fairness, so I'd stick around and intermittantly consider purchasing some products, they had incenticve to build a narrative.

And that brings me to the final point - the narrative. The story that emerged wasn't really about policy difference, it was about Ralph Klein losing touch. I've always given the Premier huge credit for his political savvy, but it seems to be failing him now, as the debate demonstrated. Mason, who stylistically hasn't yet grown into the sort of debate-comfortable leader he will be, managed the barbs he did because the Premier has become so very barbworthy.

Calgary Grit (who has an excellent review of the debate through Liberal eyes here) is right... Taft and Mason weren't spending a lot of time clashing with each other. I don't think that's a sign the parties should merge, as Bart suggests. Rather, I think that's a sign of how much the scent of blood in the water is coming off of Klein.

Klein would have to continue to screw up for the next two weeks, at an accelerated rate, to lose this election, but there are seats to be had, in parts of the province that haven't voted anything but Tory since 1975, and before that, Socred since the 30's. Klein is looking like Don Getty c. 1986 right now, and come election night, the Liberals and NDP are both going to have something to celebrate.

Monday, November 08, 2004


A couple of months ago, I sent out a few feelers in an attempt to put together a group provincial election blog. Unfortunately, a combination of technical trouble and disinterest scuttled the project. Instead, I've added a bunch of new links on the right, displacing my must-read blogs list downward. Is it a little weird that an NDP candidate is linking the Alberta Alliance? Not as weird as not including them in the "crazies", I figure.

I've also added Bear to the must-read list. I offered him webspace here at revmod.ca, but again with the technical trouble. Did I mention that I'm available for employment in technical support?

There's a few new reciprocals. Tell 'em Don sent you.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day 2004 (US edition)

In the past several months, I've recieved e-mails from readers and spammers alike, asking me to use this space to promote this or that anti-Bush website. I was always sympathetic, but figured I've already made my feelings toward the current administration abundantly clear. Plus, I couldn't imagine the swing state undecided voter who wasn't already being heavily lobbied by his or her own countrymen. The last thing they would want is some Canadian telling them how to run their business.

I'll offer one piece of advice, though - a piece that long-time readers will recognize. Make your ballots out of paper. Mark them with a pencil. I'm sure your engineers can convert some standardized test grading technology to find the winner quickly, but producing an actual artifact clearly denoting a voter's intention seems intuitively to be a good thing.

Oh, well. In a few hours, it'll all be in the hands of the courts.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Bad timing

I've been out of town for several days, which doesn't seem like the smartest way for me to have launched my campaign. Today I'll be gathering signatures for my nomination. During the last election, I had to assure my nominators: "you don't have to vote for me, you just have to want to see me have a chance to express an alternate vision in the riding." It's not the most encouraging thing to have to say to my own sister.

I'll be writing something about AISH and the Premier's attitude toward the program, but not today. Instead, let me add my condolences to the Premier for the loss of his mother to those from my party and leader.

Despite the AISH comments, which have created a little media interest in the campaign, things are still pretty quiet. That should change after Tuesday, once the voting for the US Presidential election is over and it's all in the hands of the courts.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Bear gets a place of his own...

RevMod opens a branch plant with a distinctly west coast flavour

west coast flavour - B.C. bud odours mixed with mold and three day old sushi...
On your mark

The provincial election will be called today, and it looks like the Tories are running against Ottawa, as I predicted they would.

The [pre-election billboards] - one each in Edmonton and Calgary - show a smiling Klein next to the words: "Proud to be Albertan." [link here]
Klein's Tories have had a lot of electoral success running on the idea of debt elimination. That issue is no longer on the table. Is this what we have left? This isn't going to be the Premier's best showing - good thing for him it's his last.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Survey says....

Health, education, infrastructure. That's how Albertans want their money spent, now that the debt is paid. The province spent half a million dollars generating the answers almost anyone could have predicted months ago. It's a good PR scam - ask people what they want, knowing full well the answers you're going to get are the ones you were prepared to act on anyway. Then call an election, running on doing only what you were told to do. It makes the Tories relatively bulletproof from the emerging Alberta Alliance, who are talking tax cuts and more democracy. Sorry, but more democracy says more social spending. Nice try.

This isn't what I would call "leadership". Let me make a little proposal of my own, instead, for at least a few of these dollars. It's not an idea that would ever emerge from a survey, but it would serve the government well in a few different ways.

According to Ron Suskind's book The Price of Loyalty, Paul O'Neil, Dubya's first Secretary of the Treasury, lobbied toward the end of his tenure for a clean water project in Africa. He waanted to start with a single test country, Uganda, where the entire population could be provided with wells for US$25M. Long story short, the Bushites were too busy planning for their Iraqi adventure to mess around with a project like this, and it never got done.

Alberta could get a lot out of making this investment.

First and foremost, we could be doing something for Africa, something the developed world should be doing anyway, without any further incentive.

When the Premier heads to the United States to complain, again, about the border closed to Alberta beef, he gets to speak with a tone of moral superiority that he was probably going to use anyway, but this way, it's justified. "We're picking up your responsibilities, making the world a better place, and you still won't buy a roast?"

If the federal government starts thinking that Alberta has more money than it has really "earned", well, we're acknowledging that. But instead of contributing beyond our responsibilities to transfers, we're giving back to people who wouldn't see any assistance at all without Alberta's help. Is the federal government willing to plunder from Africa to pay Manitoba?

Finally, it gives Klein a stick against the feds, and you know how he likes those. Forget firewall-based ideas, which stink of greed and selfishness. And forget about the standard provincial-federal (and increasingly, municipal) power struggles, which tend to have each level of government fight for more power and less financial responsibility. Let's intrude on a federal responsibility, and have them just try to say no to such an egalitarian effort.

No survey is going to produce this idea. My party certainly isn't going to run on a policy like this, so I'm not going to be advocating for it at forums. But I might just whisper it in the ear of the Tory candidate at those forums. I hope that some leadership, and some sense of responsibility to people who have not had the advantages Alberta has had, will exist in the new government caucus.

Monday, October 18, 2004

RevMod backdoor-drafted reservist/guest host BEAR says:

Vancouver Wards Off Progress

Congratulations to the "Non-Partisan" Association, their Real Estate Developer sugar daddies, the West Side old money reactionaries, the perpetually opportunistic posturing Greens and anyone else who refers to the raw sewage leaking from the Vancouver Sun's editorial pages as ice cream, for your stunning victory in Saturday's referrendum on a Ward System for the City of Vancouver.

This result pretty much confirms for the rest of the country our city's reputation as Canada's undisputed leader in f**ked up local politics. Here's a sampler of the arguments that the 52% of voters bought from the "No" side, including translations for non-Vancouverites.

1. A ward system will result in NIMBYism.

translation: If we drop the at-large system, we can't shove every homeless shelter and rehab centre into the Downtown Eastside anymore.

2. The proposed ward system does not include proportional representation.

translation: Let's string the Greens along to reject wards, as if there's any way we're screwing with a system that's kept Kitsilano and Point Grey in the driver's seat for 70 years.

3. Equity seeking groups like people with disabilities won't be able to run for City Council under the ward system.

translation: People the NPA can't filter out through corporate vetting of candidates, stacked nomination meetings, and skyrocketing campaign costs would be able to run for City Council under the ward system.

4. A ward system is the first step towards a Vancouver mega-city

translation: until Vancouver's Coaltion Of Progressive Electors and the Burnaby Citizen's Association are crushed under our bootheels, and those of our right-thinking bretheren in Surrey and Richmond, we simply just can't have that.

It's not like the 'Yes' side did themselves any favours either. Every other previous vote on wards passed, largely because of COPE's aggressive campaigning against the NPA's long standing hegemony on council. Funny thing was, COPE swept municipal elections in 2002, and it's hard to stick it to the man when you're the man.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

RevMod guest host/indentured servant BEAR takes care of...

The Obligatory Post about The Presidential Debates

George W. Bush must be proud of the fact he's the first from his family to be President, and given his opponent's momentum, should enjoy it while it lasts. No, Mr. President, I'm not missing anything or hallucinating, it's just that the past two weeks clearly illustrated that John Kerry is your Daddy!

When historians look back at the 2004 election, the pivotal moment that will generate most of the discussion will be that night in St. Louis when the President swaggered out of his chair toward the camera, thrust out his pelvis a little and exhorted "Need some wood"?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Fun session of Parliament

Alberta is in the midst of municipal elections. It includes another nonsensical "senate election". No one with an ounce of savvy seriously thinks Link Byfield will be getting appointed to the Senate. The election is a stick the Premier will be using to smack the feds around with, because going into a provincial election, no one is more popular in Alberta than a Premier with a Fed-beating stick. I digress.

By the end of October, we'll be well into a provincial election campaign. It will feature the NDP and Liberals running mostly against each other, the new "Alberta Alliance Party" running against the the Tories for being too moderate and concilliatory, and the Tories running against the federal government (see above).

Know what we need? A federal election. That'd be fun.

Prime Minister Paul Martin says he'll go to the polls if his government loses tonight's vote on a Bloc Quebecois sub-amendment to this week's throne speech motion.
(Full props to Martin for maintaining that the throne speech is a confidence motion.)

It might not be Martin's decision to go to the polls or not. The Governor General wotuld be entirely within her rights to give the Conservative Party a shot at governing first. However, I wouldn't expect that to last long either way. If the Conservatives are serious about not wanting an election soon, they're going to have to swallow it and vote with the Liberals, or be absent in precise numbers.

Monday, October 04, 2004

We just don't learn

A CBC investigative report (RealAudio version here, starts at about the 2 minute mark) heard over the weekend on The House found that spinal cord material --- including material from Canada's BSE "Patient Zero" --- made it into chicken feed as protien additive. When feed on a farm is mixed, when cattle are exposed to chicken waste, or when common equipment is used to deliver or store feed without cleaning (and who disinfects an auger?), we're risking feeding BSE-positive material to cattle.

Good Lord! Can't we throw away eighty-five cents worth of each animal to avoid risking another multi-billion dollar disaster to the industry? Are the margins in the packing industry really so thin that every cent needs to be squeezed? Really? Even with the BSE bailout that seems to have primarily benefited packers? Maybe the packers are hoping to extend the crisis, because it's been so lucrative for them so far.

Time for the government to step in.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

(Rev/Mod guest host BEAR, for lack of a pithy quip, simply posts...)

No more extra innings

The Montreal Expos play their final home game of the season tonight vs. the Florida Marlins, and probably, the final home game in the franchise's 35 year history, as MLB is poised to announce their imminent relocation to Washington, DC. I find the Canadian sports medias hand-wringing and mock sentiment for the days of Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, et al somewhat bemusing, given that their games have been relegated to the back pages of the sports section and upper register of the cable TV dial for quite a few seasons now.

I'm somewhat sad to see the Expos go - my father, who played briefly in the New York Giants organization, was a big Expos fan, despite his incessant francophobia and my Mom's allegiance to the Toronto Blue Jays. He taught me a lot about the game, and that's one of the few things about him that's stuck with me since he died 14 years ago. The Expos began their slow descent to oblivion shortly after that, when the Bronfmans sold the team a year later.

That's pretty much where any of my sentiment about the Expos ends - MLB has made the right choice in choosing Washington. The handful of remaining diehard Expos fans may disagree, and as a fan of a team that faced relocation (the Seattle Mariners) on a number of occasions I can sympathize. However, what kept baseball in Seattle was a perfect storm of a winning team, a new ballpark, and a superheated local economy in between.

As for the other contenders for the Expos, I had my doubts about all of them. America's suburbs belong to people who renounce the sense of community a baseball team can bring, which is why I'm happy Northern Viriginia is on the outside looking in. San Juan was a logistical nightmare for the 'home' games the Expos played there, making little sense to make the rest of baseball travel there repeatedly: there's a reason why the Pacific Coast League isn't in Edmonton and Honalulu anymore. If baseball still can't agree about what to do about Pete Rose, how could they consider putting the Expos in Las Vegas? As for Portland, who's bright idea was it to collectively hold their breaths 'til they turn blue, shun the AAA Beavers and expect the Expos to drop into their laps?

Meanwhile, back in Montreal, Olympic Stadium is left with a few trade shows and the occasional Alouettes playoff game. I sense an implosion...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Humanity manages to disappoint me. Again. Seriously, Humanity, what the hell is wrong with you?

There is much gnashing of teeth going on right now in St. Catherine's, Ontario, over a t-shirt. The design features a bloodied hammer, and the caption "She was asking for it."

Personally, I'm glad the shirt is available. Think of all the time people will save - if you see a guy wearing the shirt, you won't have to spend a second in conversation with him. It'll be as good as a red neon sign that reads "I'm an asshole".

The only thing that would make these shirts better is if the restraining order came free with purchase.
Good news, bad news

I've already reported the bad: the government would like to keep the Alberta election remarkably free of policy discussion.

But the good news? At least we don't have to anticipate an October Surprise.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Good catch

Thank the Middleman for this election factoid, to be used by me at a future election forum:

A $41.2-billion health accord between Ottawa and the provinces will not blunt the Alberta government's plans to inject more privatization into its health-care system, Premier Ralph Klein said Friday.


However, he said any reform proposals will occur after the provincial election, expected in late November.
It seems Ralph Klein comes from the Kim Campbell school of democracy: an election is no time to discuss public policy.

I can't blame the guy for not wanting to hang around the First Ministers' health care meeting. "Hey, I'm just going to wreck it anyhow... you guys have fun. I'm headed to a trade show!"

Friday, September 17, 2004

(Rev/Mod guest host BEAR lets it fly...)


Woke up yesterday to see the headline that the Liberals lead the NDP 43-37 in the September Mustel Poll. The celebration for Gordon Campbell was short-lived as a few hours later, Christy Clark (Deputy Premier/Children & Families Minister) announced her resignation from cabinet plus her intention not to run on May 17, 2005. Clark claims she's quitting to look after her "thriving" son - the same infant who received a nanny and customized nursery at the legislature at taxpayers expense, at the same time the Liberals shut down Child Care BC. For the record, my MLA (Jenny Kwan, Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, NDP) looks after her year-old daughter in her office in the leg annex, which has no running water, and relies on grandma to babysit.

Earlier this year, Clark was demoted from the Education portfolio, largely due to her malicious antagonizing of the British Columbia Teachers Federation. Clark insisted on revoking teachers' legal right to strike, and thumbed her nose at them (and the BC Supreme Court) by ripping out class size provisions in their collective agreement under Bill 19. Once relatively apolitical (as apolitical as public sector unions get in BC...), the BCTF responded by joining the BC Federation of Labour and are building a war chest to support New Democrats in 2005.

As we all know, resigning to spend time with the family is code for "I'm in serious trouble" given that David Basi (one of her former aides) was booked on drug dealing charges two days ago, and her husband Bruce has been repeatedly implicated in the December 28 Legislature Raids. Rather than stay on as the bitchy little mascot for Gordon Campbell and his happy little band of white collar criminals, Christy decided to bail before something really embarassing happens.

I wonder if Cambpell gave Christy the same send off he gave other female MLAs who bolt from the Liberal caucus. The guy just has an incredible way with women.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Rev/Mod guest host BEAR, still lurking about, says...

The Puck Stops Here

As a result of the owners locking out the players, there will more than likely be no NHL hockey this year. I know this is upsetting for a lot of people, but like our regular host here at Rev/Mod, I really can't be bothered with the NHL. There are occasions, usually to try and fit in, I have let myself get caught up in the Vancouver Canucks frustratingly abrupt playoff runs. However, the game's voodoo economics, schizophrenic officiating, and players' prison mentiality have left me scrathing my head one more than one occasion. The NHL product, at least on the west coast, is long on hype and short on substance.

That's right, voodoo economics - NHL owners want a salary cap like the NFL or the NBA, but football and basketball can get away with a cap because there's a lot TV revenue to go around. I can't believe that the psychological and cultural well-being of a nation is caught up with an enterprise so myopic, manipulative, and mismanged.

Oh wait, that's the Liberal Party of Canada....

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

(RevMod guest host/second stringer BEAR pops by with...)

Is this Da Kine of thing we want?

Having lived in Vancouver for almost four years now, I've started to get a little tired of Marijuana. Not the actual weed, but ongoing police/media obession with it while more damaging drugs find their way into the most helpless in the Downtown Eastside, just over the railroad tracks from where I live.

I'm also tired of the Marijuana advocacy "industry", which is best illustrated by the grandstanding opportunist antics of Marc Emery and the Marijuana Party of Brtitish Columbia. Their "4:20" demonstrations at the Art Gallery are more like stoner trade shows than political rallies, and if Emery was serious about his political aspirations, why did his party endorse the NDP in the recent federal election?

There hasn't been as visible an example of pot opportunism as the recent goings-on at Da Kine Cafe, which may end up in the long run costing sick people who might benefit from herb's medicinal properties. Da Kine is also a few blocks from my place, but I haven't been bothered to go see what all the fuss is. Unfortunately, 4:20 conflicts with Happy Hour in my calendar.
Good news

Just heard, second-hand, from my Cayman people. They are alive and safe, though hot, and it sounds like at least one house among them withstood the storm well enough that they don't have to worry about where to stay.

I'm not much for praying for help. But I'm more than happy to pray thanks. How Canadian of me.
Klein misses out

While the other Premiers hash out details of a new health care deal with the Prime Minister, Ralph Klein spent the day at a trade show. That would be enough to be concerned about the Premier's priorities, but Klein's error was compounded when Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert spent a few moments of his mic time today pimping one of his constituents, Theresa Sokyrka, for Canadian Idol.

There are some Albertans who believe that Klein is responsible for helping Stephen Harper lose the federal election. Will our Premier have to accept responsibility for another Albertan's loss on the federal stage?

That works for me on a couple of different levels, actually.
More on Ivan and Grand Cayman

I have no words for these images, but fortunately, Microsoft Word comes with a thesaurus:




The international media has been remarkably quiet about the damage done to Cayman as opposed to some of Hurricane Ivan's other targets, but I suspect that's a result of a lack of moving images. (Another contributing factor may be no reported deaths, for which I'm grateful - I haven't yet heard from the people who matter to me.) Once some television cameras can get to the island, or the local news production gets electricity, and back on their feet, I suspect we'll start to hear a lot more on our televisions.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Cayman Ivan news

The international media hasn't had much news about the devastation on Grand Cayman yesterday. Regular readers know that there are people who live on that island who are important to me.

So, long story short, this story scares the shit out of me.

I haven't been able to reach the people I know since yesterday morning. Once I do, once I hear more, I'll let you know.

Update, 0935: Here's another report, more detailed and scarier.

Update, 1140: This site is taking and posting sporadic reports. Apparently, a few cel phone calls and text messages have gotten to loved ones off-island, and some of that information is being shared there.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The Viet Nam war record

John Kerry attended it, but opposed it politically once he came home.

George W. Bush avoided it, but never politically opposed it.

Bush is letting his party try to undermine Kerry's record by minimizing his actions and his injuries. Some "unaffiliated" right-leaning organizations are attempting to discredit Kerry's war record altogether, or even crazier, blame Kerry for the discrediting of the Viet Nam war. It's a little desperate.

But in the end, the American left needs to understand that the comparitive war records aren't a real issue - it's a distraction. It's a little "Starship Troopers" to think that serving your country in wartime makes you the more appropriate candidate to lead. When it was Clinton vs. Dole in '96, it was pretty clear who the war hero of the two was, and I don't recall any attempt among Democrats to show Bob Dole anything but respect and appreciation for his military service. But come election day, voters made their choice based on more pressing concerns.

This time around, the left has the war veteran candidate, so they're bulletproof against "left=coward" accusations. Leave it at that and move on to the issues, because the election is two months away. This sideshow of discussing what your candidate did thirty years ago (or, for that matter, what their candidate snorted did thirty years ago) will not help the voters punish the current Administration for Iraq, the stalled economy, and the horrible fiscal management of the last four years.

Update, Thursday morning: I have to read my own links once in a while. Get Your War On beat me to this point, more effectively, about two weeks earlier. The link is here, and I'm certain you don't need to be told that GYWO is known for some strong language.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Free advice

IOC President Jacques Rogge thinks Canada should spend more money on winning Olympic medals. Thanks for telling us our business, buddy. Who's this guy think he is, Paul Cellucci?

I've expressed that I'm okay with Canada only winning a few. Judging by call-in shows and streeter interviews, I think that attitude is spreading. I'm glad Canada makes sure our world-class athletes have coaches, have places to train, and can get to the games to perform. But if there's spare money in the pot after that, I would much rather see it spent on a lot of amatuer athletes (building hockey and curling rinks and soccer fields in small communities for instance) instead of spending hundreds of thousands on one athlete to try to get her from fifth-best in the world to second.

I listened to an advocate of Rogga's plan talk about the money that could be spent giving our velodrome bike racers better opportunities, through scouting opponents and tracks (which are, apparently, all different. Who knew?). Forgive me, but didn't a Canadian win that? Didn't she win against athletes who probably had those advantages?

I suspect that our government feels much the same that I do. I think Rogga will be given a polite welcome, as befits an IOC President who isn't also a war criminal, but if the Prime Minister politely told him to mind his own business, I'd be behind that.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Holy shit!

Actually, Bear, what has captured my attention today isn't so much Canadian Idol or the Olympics - it's a sober consideration of our species, and if we might collectively be up for a Darwin Award.

In my past few years with TELUS, before my current employment as card sharp, my primary responsibility was setting and resetting passwords. The role expanded and changed, but to the very last day, I was still setting an obscene nuimber of passwords every day for TELUS employees. Over the four years, I used a single generic password for network accesses. I guarentee you that there are still thousands of TELUS employees using that password, because they couldn't be bothered to secure it through changing it.

I heard a lot of password-security horror stories over those years. Here's a favourite: I was stepping a user through setting a passcode that had to be numeric. I blanked the passcode, and with some difficulty walked the client to the appropriate point where he would be able to set one for himself. The screen prompted him. He asked me, at the other end of the telephone, if it would be okay if he set the number to be the same as his bank card PIN: 462213.

That was my favourite password horror story... until today.

According to the Harper's Index in the September issue of Harper's:

Secret access code to the computer controls of the U.S. nuclear-tipped missile arsenal between 1968 and 1976: 00000000
Mother of God! How have we managed to survive the nuclear era so far? Perhaps it was my time at TELUS, or my time now spent playing poker, but in my experience, human beings are by-and-large not very smart.
(RevMod guest host and surplus bandwith filler BEAR pops by with...)

The Games So Far...

While Don is absorbed by the further commodification of the music industry that is Canadian Idol, I've been watching the further commodification of sports that are the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad. Since I work relatively early and live on the west coast, I'm seeing half of it live, and half of it on tape, mostly on CBC, some on NBC, et un petit peu avec Radio-Canada. Athens appears to have become the Y2K bug of international events, as with three days to go until the flame extinguishes, the organizational breakdowns and terrorist threats have yet to materialize. Mind you, Colin Powell plans to pop by for the Closing Ceremonies.

Like Don, I'm not choked with the medal count, but as a baseball fan (yes, everyone who writes at this blog goes in for sports most people consider boring in their non-violence), it would have been nice to see Canada come back with something from the diamond: doesn't Stubby Clapp deserve to be a household name? As we go to press here, Canada has seven medals, and "we" have potential in canoe/kayak, diving, sailing, and maybe something else that splashes. It's by no means the disappointment some of us have been led to believe: both 1976 in Montreal and the 1988 winter games in Calgary saw "us" come away with five medals at each games, none of them gold.

As for the quotation marks around "we" and "us", I think that's coming from the recurring nausea from the counseling sessions/inquisitions masquerading as post-event interviews with Canadian athletes who come up a little short. Sure, they did their best, just being there is an achievement, wash, rinse, repeat, but if the media took that seriously (and I'm looking at you, CBC), don't these athletes deserve their space and a few minutes to collect themselves, instead of coming crying and apologizing like they ran over your Mom? At the risk of skirting the "our athletes need more funding" mantra, I'm pretty sure that none of whatever funding they get goes to dealing with Scott Oake shoving a mic (and whatever you said about your chances before the starter's pistol) in your face, right after you've been swimming your guts out to 28th place.

Anyway, it will be all over but the shouting come Sunday. When you started to lose interest in the women's beach volleyball tournament, you knew the end was coming.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Canada medal count


I keep hearing I'm supposed to be upset about this, but this is the summer games. Is there curling? No? Then who cares?

We have six kids on our Idol show who played instruments to go along with an amazing rendition of Canadian Railroad Trilogy. American Idol could never have pulled that off. Plus, they probably don't even know the words to the Lightfoot classic. Take that, American Olympic team!

So, to recap:

One! Which is okay by me.

edited to add: Two! Add trampoline to Canada's synchronized diving medal. Thank goodness the Olympic rules allow countries to make shit up, when they can't win any real events.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Campaign Comedy Review

Thanks, Bear, for looking in on the cats and bringing in the mail. I'm back.

All the new incoming links will be appearing to your left in the next couple of days, so if you think you're missing from my list, just hit my page from yours and I'll notice it in SiteMeter.

Credit where credit is due - unlike Paul Martin, who played election-date guessing games with the country all through the spring, Ralph Klien telegraphs his election timing intentions months in advance. Alberta will be having a provincial election in November, barring some unusual circumstances, and it looks increasingly likely I'll be the NDP's provincial candidate for Strathmore-Brooks once again. If you're a constituent, or headed east on highway #1 from Calgary, watch for the outdated signs. I'm way too cheap to buy fresh.

Acknowledging that Lucifer will take up ice-skating to celebrate my election-night victory, I think I'll use my speaking time at forums to hone my comedy skills. The good news: perhaps people will come to election forums if they think they're going to be entertained. The bad news: you poor sods get to be the sounding board for my writing.

"I've spoken with some of you over the last few months, and people in this riding are frustrated. We're mad at the Liberals for giving money to their Quebec advertising friends. We're mad at the Tories for giving away tax money that ended in the pockets of their American meat packer friends. So my party settled on a new slogan: 'Alberta's NDP. We have no friends.'"

(after popping open Don's last beer and running up his long distance bill, safe in the knowledge our moderator hasn't been seen in days, RevMod guest host/loiterer BEAR asks...)

Damn it, where's Malibu Hilary?

America is truly the land of opportunity, where any fashion doll or action figure can run for public office!
(RevMod vagrant/guest host BEAR says...)

Say it ain't so, Edgar!

Went to Safeco Field on Thursday to see my beloved Seattle Mariners drop a 6-3 decision to the Minnesota Twins. It was probably my last opportunity to see Edgar Martinez, whose prowess at the plate defined the Designated Hitter position.

I've followed Edgar's career since when I lived in Calgary in the 1980s, and he was toiling in obscurity with the Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League. Thursday was probably the last time I'll be able to root for him, as one, he's announced his retirement at the end of the season, and two, he sure seemed happy to meet George Bush when he rolled into Seattle the day after I did!

For a guy who did a lot of damage to the team that Dubya ran into the ground as an owner, it's too bad, despite telling reporters "No Politics!", that a class act like Edgar would allow himself to be a pawn in Bush's bid to run America into the ground for another four years.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

(RevMod guest host and hanger-on BEAR spies trouble off the East Coast...)

Bear vs. the Volcano: No Contest

Everyone who lives in Vancouver knows that sometime within the next 400 - 500 years, there's going to be a major earthquake, much like the one that wreaked havoc in Kobe, Japan. Depending on where you live in the Lower Mainland, you'll be either scrounging for batteries or digging yourself out from the rubble. If you live in Richmond, you might be taking a little swim.

Meanwhile, if you're on the East Coast, you might be looking at a much bigger swim, thanks to the wrath of La Palma. A jumbo tidal wave laying waste to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, as seen in "Deep Impact" or the "Day After Tomorrow".

Of course, this might not happen in our lifetime, but I'll take the earthquake which might not happen in our lifetime over the tsunami which might cut short 100 million lifetimes.
Serious political blogging? Bah!

If you aren't watching Canadian Idol, why not? Unlike American Idol, which features dueling syrupy ballads, we have actual entertaining singers. We have a skinny Ukranian Saskatchewan girl celebrating her accordion-rich upbringing. We have a crazy kid from British Columbia doing Paul Anka one week and David Bowie the next, in full costume (sweater-vest to sparkly blue unitard in seven days). And the local favourite is heartbreakingly shy until he starts banging out his latest hard-driving classic rock selection. Even the group song-and-dance number on results-nights don't suck.

But don't believe me. Believe an American:

The host is probably about the same quality as Ryan. He's not quite as good an improviser and is sometimes a bit awkward in trying to get the show moving along, but he is very personable. Apparently, he's the son of a previous Canadian prime minister or something. Canada, I have to respect you for that. You put the intellect-challenged son of your previous leader in charge of talent show competition. We put ours in charge of our military. I think you guys made the smarter move.
Do your patriotic duty. Watch Canadian Idol, or Ben Mulroney might enter politics.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Sensing a lull in the action, RevMod guest host BEAR advises readers (at least U.S. readers) to...

Vote for George W. Bush

Hey, doesn't every American want a President who can keep his promises and means what he says?

(Edited by Don, who just hates the all-caps thing. Sorry, Bear.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

(Meanwhile, occasional RevMod guest host BEAR checks in with...)

Postcard from Portland

Hey Don,

We arrived at Union Station last Monday just in time to miss Dick Cheney skipping town after being shouted down by a few trainloads of demonstrators, who were miraculously whittled down to about 7 later that night on Fox News. Went shopping at Nob Hill and was repeatedly accosted by Democrats. I kept thinking to myself "wow, what dedicated, idealistic young people determined to punt Bush's a*s from the White House": at least until I picked up the local Arts & Anti-Establishment Willamette Week and discovered these kids are pulling $1500 - $2500 a month to pull the vote.

Spent most of our time here at Washington Park, poking through the Rose Garden, the Oregon Zoo, and the Japanese Garden. Picked up the new edition of Al Franken's book at Powell's World of Books (the biggest independent bookstore in the work, staffed by proud members of ILWU Local 5). Didn't do anything Lewis and Clark related, with the possible exception of driving by the the Sacajewea statue.

Did I mention the beer? Portland is easily North America's microbrew capitol. I didn't see a 'Bud' or 'Miller' sign until PGE Park, where the PCL Beavers play to 20,000+ empty seats, as Portlanders stay at home and wait to be deemed worthy by Major League Baseball. It's always sad when people don't know they're being used. Portland's nice enough that I'll probably threaten to move there sometime too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


(Summer semi-hiatus continues while I clean up code and links. Posting will be infrequent for a little while longer. And yes, by popular request, I will be posting the full results of the Gaffe contest. Eventually.)

So Google's about to be a public company, eh?

This Wired article from eighteen months ago describes both the underlying philosophy that makes us love Google so darn much, and why the short-term profit demands of public ownership may threaten that guiding philosophy. I'll go further than the article - watch Google following the IPO if you want to see a microcosm of the biggest problem with entrusting the world - the environment, the heatth system, our education system, name it - to capitalism, as the Fraser Institute types would have us do. In the short term, share purchasers will be buying because they trust the current leadership to know what they're doing. But it won't be long before huge shareholders like pension plans and mutual funds, who are under enormous pressure to show the highest possible results quarter to quarter, will begin to pressure Google to do the same, regardless of the long-term ruining of the Google environment.

The good news is that unlike the real environment, we can leave Google's planet and head to another any time we like. And there will always be another company producing a net environment we like.

But in the meantime, click through on a Google ad once in a while. You'll note I don't host them, and I certainly don't stand to profit by telling you this. But so long as Google continues to be rewarded for being the sort of environment we want to see on the internet, it will continue to be that environment.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Random radio notes

--- Radio note number one: I was criticised at length by our dear friend Brock! On the attack! for not rushing to the defense of radio station CHOI in Montreal. CHOI will not be getting their broadcast licence renewed, because the morning man wants to euthanize psychiatric patients and thinks African students at Laval are the children of dictators, or something along those lines. I didn't look into it too deeply.

Long story short, Brock! On the attack! thinks I should be standing up for freedom of expression, because doesn't the left stand up for freedom of expression?

Well, I tend to be more libertarian than most of my left-leaning friends, and certainly don't want to silence this fellow. But, to paraphrase what I said in Brock!'s comments, giving the guy a right to speak doesn't mean we have to renew his licence to put 20,000 watts of broadcast amplification behind ideas that more appropriately belong scrawled in three different colours of ink on lined pages and hand-delivered to the city desk of the local paper. Or, the modern equavalent - those sorts of ideas belong in a blog.

--- Radio note number two: CBC has become famous for comedy that really isn't funny. Too many years of the Royal Canadian Air Farce (now there's something to euthanize) and the Mercer-less 22 minutes on television has injured the repuation. As for radio, it's been a disappointing decade for the Saturday morning comedy slot. I won't bore you with a litany, but the slot managed to make even the witty and reflective Thomas King seem preachy and tiresome.

One show in my memory has succeeded brilliantly in that same time slot: The Great Eastern - Newfoundland's Cultural Magazine. So imagine how thrilled I was to discover that the host, Paul Moth, has returned to the airwaves to bring us Sunny Days and Nights as a summer replacement. It deserves a careful listening - feel encouraged to give it one. And hey, CBC? This deserves to live beyond the scheduled end date of August 31.

--- Radio note number three: Here's a new-to-me blog watching the media: radio weisblog. Marc Weisblott has set up links to all variety of fantastic resourses, and his overviews of media issues can save you all sorts of tiresome reading and watching and listening. I'll be keeping an eye. Review the media coverage of the CHOI decision along with Marc: it's worth your time, if such issues interest you.

--- Bonus multimedia note: via radio weisblog, I see that pogge takes the crap out of the various right-wing columnists claiming the CRTC prefers al jazeera over Fox News. If they'd said it about me, they'd be right, but that's not what the CRTC has said at all. And look at that - one of the right-wing columnists is Calgary's very own Ezra Levant, to whom pogge offers up a nice big cup. Not to worry, pogge - Ezra has a standing bottomless cup waiting for him right here at RevMod.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Around the web


I followed Kinsella's link to David Frum's Blog. Why do I do it to myself? 

Took my kids to the multiplex on the weekend. The multiplex being in DC, close to half the theaters were showing Michael Moore's pseudo-documentary. But that's OK! Because the other half were showing the great pro-Bush movie of the summer: Spiderman 2.

Pro-Bush? Well consider this. Spiderman 2 is the story of a hero who is regularly belittled and ridiculed by almost everyone who knows him. Fashionable society despises him; the press lampoons and attacks him. Spiderman nearly dies saving a bank from Doctor Octopus - and the next day the New York Bugle, which functions in the movie as the Michael Moore of Gotham City, accuses him and Doc Oc of robbing banks together. The good news is that the movie ends with a barrage of hints that Spidey will soon return for another term .....

Sure - lovely comparison. Except that unlike Dubya, it seems to me Peter Parker understands that with great power comes great responsibility.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Raj Against the Machine


The Alberta NDP is going to miss Dr. Pannu as leader, I think.  Elected as the only other member of what should have been Pam Barrett's big ND wave, he was entrusted with the leadership practically by default when Pam got some sort of religion going toward the light on the dentist's chair.


Raj is an intellectual heavyweight.  Had he hung around as leader for this election, it might not have been as noticable alongside Kevin Taft, another very serious leader with the capacity to keep track of, and connect, several issues at once.  But last election, the leader of the third party looked like the only leader with the gravitas to be running, if you consider such things important.  (Albertans, it seems, tend more toward the "common touch" candidates.  Which is why we prefer a Stephen Harper to a Jean Chretien.  No, wait.  No, I think Albertans just vote for the Tory.)


So, Alberta needs a new NDP leader.  I need a job.  Hmmmm.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


The headline refers to the province of Alberta, not to me. I still have student loans from a decade ago. I built the debt up while the Klein revolution withdrew a fifth of the government grants to post-secondary education, but allowed the institution to make it up from me, and then lent me the money to give the institution. Neat little shell game, eh?

I rant about my own circumstances because it's a good example of the various ways the Alberta government reached this exciting debt-free status. It withdrew money from the health system, but increased the premiums. Decreased funding forced increased fees to basic services like K-12 education, and passing on service provision to private industry made things more expensive for users, but the government described this all as "no tax increases".

But fine. We've reached this point now. The government is asking what they should do with all the brand new money they used to spend on debt payment. May I make a couple of suggestions?

Lose the health premium. It's a poll tax. Nothing could be more regressive. They could have done this for half the money they gave up four years ago when they made the wholesale changes to the provincial income tax system, but getting rid of the premium wouldn't have put a quarter of the tax reduction benefit in the hands of people who earn a taxable income over $250K a year, so they went for the "give the rich the money" option, instead.

Quit the P3 talk. The province has the money to build its own schools now - why invite private industry in to charge you rent until the thing falls down? Isn't that essentially accepting debt for future generations? Isn't that precisely what you've been trying to stop? Let government be government - quit trying to cut corners.

Find a project. There was all sorts of talk about the great provincially-funded daycare programme in Quebec. Alberta can spend Quebec under the table - make the program the envy of the world. Or perhaps seniors' residences. Perhaps a bullet train between Edmonton and Calgary, to help reduce our carbon emmissions by getting cars off of Highway 2.

Reinvest in the sorts of small-money projects that got cut at the beginning of the "revolution". Help small and rural communities construct or improve community centres. Let some government money help to keep Alberta's arts community vital... never let Calgary's Philharmonic come as close to death as it did last year, ever again, because it would be pathetic if Calgary couldn't sustain an orchestra.

Don't forget the poorest Albertans. A province as wealthy and debt-free as Alberta shouldn't require a single food bank. Make that the top goal for the first debt-free government term: close the door on every food bank in Alberta for lack of use.

This isn't a pipe-dream wish list. This could all be done, if the government set these priorities.

But what will happen? Royalty cuts for oil and gas exploration. More money for health, to compensate for what the fed takes away if the province goes too far afield of the CHA. Some tax cuts, probably by percentage on income tax accross the board, leaving the greatest benefit at the top end. More money for education, because they got way behind on education - thus the offer of spending nearly two billion dollars on unfunded pension liability if only the teachers would sign a long-term contract.

We'll have an election in the fall. Albertans will have the opportunity to decide between these sorts of options for themselves.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Another reason the war in Irag is unjustified: US Troops no longer defending Democracy

(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

This is arguably the most frightening piece of news I have come across in a long time: the United States is on the verge of suspending the November elections.

Although some media outlets consider these to be preliminary discussions, several commentators at Fox News (the first network to declare Bush elected in Florida back in 2000) have been speculating for weeks about the possibility of suspending the Constitution in the event of an "October Surprise", and Fox has been running push polls in the 60% range to support such a move.

Suspending an election in the wake of a terrorist attack might be unthinkable, but so was having the Supreme Court select the candidate with the second highest number of votes four years ago.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I look all naked!

RevMod is an overwhelmingly text-based blog once more. If you'd like to see the Gaffe-o-Meter, it will live forever at the top of the May and June archives. I suspect that I won't have to change any faces on it when it's unveiled once more during the next election.

By the way, to a couple of readers who've asked, I think Harper's decision to have an Alberta tour on the last day of campaigning, and yak up "The west wants in" and other such Reform chestnuts, was an error (if he wanted to win, which is not entirely clear to me. He might have been sandbagging. That's a question for another day). But it wasn't a "gaffe" per se - it was a pre-meditated strategy. So I didn't score it.

Thanks to all who sent their tips and argued over my scoring. Thanks to those - bloggers and reporters for traditional media both - who promoted me to the world. It was fun being widely read for several weeks.

Mostly, thanks to the new readers who are still here, who came for the Gaffe-o-Meter, and are staying for the hobbyist punditry. Let's see what's been going on in the rest of the world while we've been patiently anticipating Canada's political elite tripping on their own shoelaces, shall we?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Election Hangover

Yes, it's true - I've taken several days off, and may take several more. Let's face it, many of us blogged the hell out of the election. I'm not feeling too bad about taking a little rest. It's not helping that posting here is the only reason I open Internet Explorer any more... sure like that Opera.

But I know many of you are on the edge of your seats about the final gaffe-o-meter contest results. I scored by ignoring the plus-and-minus, simply giving points for every point predicted away from the actual gaffe score earned by each party.

I have to admit, I'm feeling a little sheepish about this: remember way back when, I published what an entry should look like? My own dear brother, font of hilarity that he is, simply cut-and-pasted my sample numbers and mailed that in as his entry. That sample, "Conservative: 15, Liberal: 7, NDP: 11, Bloc: 4" turned out to be two off on every party, for a grand total of eight... we have a winner.

My brother will take home a copy of "If I were Prime Minister", edited by Mel Hurtig. The volume dates back to 1987, and features essays by people who then were barely heard of, running politically from Alexa McDonough ("... is a social worker and leader of the New Democratic Party in Nova Scotia...") to Elsie Wayne (... of Saint John, N.B., is the first woman mayor of the first incorporated city in Canada...") and fifty-eight others in-between. If you didn't win, I'll leave you to scour better used bookstores for it.

He will also take home whatever Shiela Copps swag I still have around from her failed 1990 leadership bid, when the convention was held right here in Calgary. If my brother threatens to, say, wax his car with the t-shirt, this portion of the prize package will be forwarded to someone who may actually appreciate it for its keepsake value - second-place finisher James Bow. James' prediction, "Conservatives: 15, Liberals: 10, NDP: 4, BQ: 1", was nine points off the mark, only really missing by Layton's one-two homeless/Clarity gaffes.

I'll be contacting each of you in the next few days. Congratulations on nearly correctly assessing the size of the feet inserted in the mouths of Canada's leadership.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Random notes

First, happy Canada Day. It's nice to have a little unifying holiday after a divisive election that satisfied so few. Beer and barbecued meat tends to be unifying all by itself, so combined with the holiday, maybe today's the day to have your neighbour over - the guy with that *other* lawn sign. (Check out the cute Google graphic.)

I'm aware I haven't scored up the end of the Gaffe contest. I'm taking a little holiday as well, but I expect to get to it tomorrow. I haven't checked that e-mail account in the past couple of days, but the party scoring will finish right where it is, unless I've missed something.

One thing I've done in the past couple of days is downloaded Opera, and I'm generally happy with it. But maybe the techies out there can explain to me why the Blogger compose page has so much trouble there.

Have a fun long, long weekend.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I initailly wrote this as an update to the second-last post, but I think it's worth a post of its own.

Libby, I'm sorry. I'm listening to soon-to-be-former Saskatchewan NDP member Dick Proctor suggest what Libby Davies did yesterday, that "strategic" voting by stupid people cost him his seat. In fact, he mentioned that he spent the last couple of days on the doors of Liberal marks, trying to convince them that since it was a two-way race between himself and the Conservative, they should decide between the two... essentially the argument I've made. In the meantime, his own supporters were thinking that a vote for the Liberals would help beat the Conservatives. Because they were. Dumb. Asses.

This will be my final word on strategic voting, certainly until the next election. I wrote my original treatise on it because I was afraid people might be confused by the concept, and do exactly what so many of them did - organize their vote around one of the two leading national parties, no matter what was going on in their riding. To call that a "strategic" vote is to unfairly denegrate the concept... there's nothing strategic about that at all.

The NDP bad-mouths strategic voting, and I guess they must know their voters, because whereas actual strategic voting would help them in lots of places - would have put Dick Proctor over the top, I'll bet - just voting Liberal or Conservative without any idea of the top two in the riding would certainly not. I'll add that I'm more than a little concerned that the party of my heart is supported by so many voters who don't get this simple concept.

Look. If you're confused by what I'm talking about, stop trying to vote strategically. You're just making things worse.

(I stand by my concerns about Layton and the Prairies, but that's a post for another day.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

It's never good form to attack the electorate over election results, but after watching Jack Layton's urban agenda go up in smoke, I can't help myself. Libby Davies isn't spinning or blowing smoke about Paul Martin's fear-mongering, in B.C. it was a fact: the NDP lost Vancouver Centre, Kingsway, New West -Coquitlam, North Delta, and Victoria (although the Greens had a hand in the latter) as a result of the vote-splitting, actually costing the Liberals a stable coalition as the Conservative came up the middle in suburban Lower Mainland ridings.

Ditto in Toronto, where Liberal scare tactics plus the deployment of their immigrant electoral shock troops worked to lock down the NDP surge to Jack Layton's seat in Danforth. If you live outside Toronto or Vancouver, anything you hear about urban voters being more intelligent or sophisticated is, well, pretty much what Jack Layton said about a coalition with the Conservatives. Outside of Vancouver East where Libby Davies bludgeoned grit malcontent Shirley Chan, "Urban Canada" is a swath of self-centered poseur progressive cowards who place identity politics over class consciousness or the good of their community.

The best illustration would be Vancouver Centre, where Kennedy Stewart held a sizeable lead in the polls over Liberal Hedy Fry. Conservative (and openly gay) candidate Gary Mitchell, regarding by the Gay & Lesbian community as a queer Uncle Tom, was by no means a factor. In fact, no one was talking about the Conservative candidate until Martin swept into the riding on the last weekend of the campaign and squealed that the Barbarians were at the gate. The upshot is Fry, probably the biggest fear-monger in the Liberal caucus, now gets a return trip to Ottawa instead of a one-way bus ticket to Prince George with a cross and a pack of matches...

Funny how all the "progressives except on election day" (with a shout out to Vancouver's biggest gutless wonder, Mayor Larry Campbell) think that proportional representation will deal with this kind of mess, but went out of their way to stab its biggest proponents in the back yesterday.

As Kent Brockman put it "I've said it before and I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work."
Stop spinning, please

Libby Davies, Bear's current and new MP, was on the radio this morning. She was asked what happened to the NDP in Saskatchewan. She blah-blahed something about "Martin scare-tactics, strategic voting."

What? Saskatchewan went more Conservative than Alberta. If anything, it might be "punish Martin, strategic voting."

But if there's one day for a political party to take a sharp look in the mirror, the day after the election should be that day. The NDP spent this election talking about urban issues. The NDP didn't talk about BSE and didn't have very much to say about GMOs from the producer side. (Even though the lost NDP seats in Saskatchewan were urban, cities like Regina know which side their bread is buttered on.) Declarations about tearing up the Clarity Act hurt far more in Saskatchewan than in places like Toronto, where stuff like that might actually play.

Saskatchewan should be a coalmine canary for the New Democrats. Jack Layton proved over the course of this campaign that he understands a lot about big cities, and the party did reasonably well in Toronto and Vancouver. He needs to spend a lot of time and energy over the next couple of years figuring out something about all that empty-looking space in-between.
Waking up to a surprise

People who have gone to bed thinking a Liberal - NDP coalition was sustainable will be finding out otherwise when they wake up. In New-Westminister - Coquitlam, the Conservative candidate has pulled ahead of the New Democrat. Total seats for the two parties, 154 out of 308.

I think the life expectancy of the next parliament has just dropped by a year or two. There's going to be some serious horse trading going on over the next week or so.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Get out the long knives

Ian Welsh of Tilting at Windmills anticipates a purge of the so-cons from the Conservative Party. I think he's right, and I think good for them for doing it, presuming they do.

But it begs a question: once that's done, how will the CPC differ from the pre-Reform PC party? Can the new party hold together from the centre?

This is not the seat the NDP should have lost tonight. I'd happily trade this one for any other two, maybe except Broadbent.

Parliament will miss you, Lorne.

Liberals = 135.

NDP = 23.

Total, should they choose to total.... 158.

Number needed for a undefeatable coalition: 155.

Number of those seats still in the air: sixteen.

Don't go to bed quite yet. It ain't over.
I'm loving the individual results

My man, my favourite NDP leadership candidate: Lorne Nystrom, leading.

Tony Valeri, who vanquished Sheila Copps in a seriously nasty nomination fight: getting his ass kicked.

Anne McLellan: hanging on.

Belinda Stonach: going to be close, but if she has to go back and run daddy's business, I wouldn't shed any tears.
Minority? What minority?

This might not hold, but it looks like I'm winning some books from Jim Elve and James Bow... am I the only contestant who said "let it ride" to my Liberal majority prediction? This election is not going to be as close as the polls suggested.

The best news, if this holds up, is that election polls have just been declared irrelavant. Hooray!

Mansbridge just interviewed Brison and McKay, side-by-side. Basic theme, here's two guys from the PC caucus, they went different ways, they've both won. What fun.

They were wearing nearly identical clothing! Same blue shirt (McKays was more "checked", Brison's was more "striped"), same dark jacket. I giggled. I'm shallow.
What have we learned so far?

In the Atlantic, at least, the new Conservative Party couldn't even count on the votes of the old PC party. Because it's not the same party. Have I said that often enough yet? The new Conservative Party is lead by someone who has spoken about a "culture of defeat" in the Atlantic.

This isn't going to be typical of what happens in the rest of the country. But it should be taken as a warning to Stephen Harper, win or lose, that he needs to keep marking out the centre if he wants to gain anything in this part of the country.

On to the middle of the country.
Central Nova

Here's a riding to watch, and a riding that strategic voting would have been useful in. You might love the new Conservative Party, you might love the merger, but who wouldn't enjoy watching Peter McKay get spanked tonight? He signs an agreement to not merge, he merges, and then he stands up in the House of Commons and lectures the Liberals on ethics. It would be too darn bad if he wqas rewarded with an exciting new life in private industry.

Update: So much for that. It was fun while it lasted. Guess McKay gets rewarded for his ethically shaky behavior. Given Harper's election theme around ethics, he's thrilled, I'm sure, to see this millstone re-elected.
Early indications

Want to know what Randy White's interview has cost his party? Watch the shift in any riding between the first result, usually drawn from advance polls, and the next... the advance polls came before that particular bombshell. If you consistantly see ridings that show dead heats in the first few returns, and Conservatives dropping later, expect the Liberals to have a much bigger night than projected.

The same holds true in the Quebec ridings, associated to the Rebello gaffe.
Here we go

This will be like the Super Bowl for news junkies! Except, this will be close.

I'll be blogging throughout. Apparently, this blog has already appeared on the CBC election-night broadcast, so I might even have new readers to entertain inform.

(I say "apparently", because - being the news-surfer I'll be tonight - I was watching CTV at that moment. I listened to Craig Oliver promise "laughter and tears" tonight. Because, hey, oversell much?)
Farenheit 9/11 - If you can't stand the heat...

(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

I saw "Farenheit 9/11" yesterday with a few friends at Granville 7 Cinemas. You can tell Moore has moved into the mainstream consciousness when the friends willing to go with you aren't connected with your NDP constituency association or your labour council, and they're handing out toothpaste samples instead of manifestos on the way out.

F9/11 is easily Moore's darkest, most cynical work, and possibly his best. However, it's been picked apart by critics for one, it being a commentary rather than a documentary, and two, a lack of narrative flow. These criticisms amount to what I consider critical revisionism. Somehow, over the course of the past week, the definition of a 'documentary' has gone from a film that tells a compelling dramatic story based on real people events, to filmmaking under Oxford debating rules. As for the lack of narrative flow, was there any narrative flow in the Bush Administration's shift from Al-Qaida in Afghanistan to Saddam in Iraq? If the events don't follow in real life, how are they supposed to follow in a movie based on real life?

F9/11 is not the PowerPoint presentation that was 'The Corporation', a film which spelled out the arguments against corporatization and globalization, but did little to motivate people to act on those issues. This movie picks you up, knocks the popcorn out of your hand and grabs you by the neck to get a reaction. Except for the pair of frat boys who muttered "bullsh*t" and walked out in the middle, the audience I was with came out of the theatre either visibly angry or in tears.

Which brings me to this point - the film is emotionally manipulative, but geez, isn't it time that somebody on the left started to be emotionally manipulative? The right's been doing it since Reagan and, damit, look at the results! Progressives have always claimed to have a corner on the truth, and yes, the truth is relative. However, until we go that extra step to seriously push people's buttons with our version rather than smugly sit in the corner refusing to get our hands dirty, we're not going anywhere soon.
Election Day

I'm going to treat this site like it's an actual media source, and keep away from anything that smells like partisan politics until the polls close. I trust my regular commenters can restrain themselves for a few hours as well.

This election is the second that we've had comnpressed closing times - relative to Alberta, the polls close in Newfoundland at 5:00, the Maritimes at 5:30, the entire mainland from Quebec through to Alberta at 7:30, and B.C and the Yukon at 8:00.

When I was growing up, polls closed, and results broadcasts began, at eight pm, local time, in every time zone. The strongest early memory of western alienation I have is of my parents, my uncles and aunts, and the authors of countless letters to the editor, complaining that "the election was over before it even started here" - the psychological effect of having Lloyd Robertson, election after election, telling us at the very beginning of the local broadcast exactly who would be forming a government.

How ironic is it, then, that in an election that's widely expected to be very nearly a dead heat, Alberta will not be, and BC will barely be, the part of the country that everyone to the east of us has to wait on? It could have been Alberta's moment, our karmic reward for all those elections. But we bitched and complained, until we got exactly what we wanted. Now we can bitch and complain about that, too, because we live in Alberta, and that's kinda our thing when it comes to the federal government.

(I mock the psychological impact, but it was along the same lines of the response to Bush not mentioning Canada among the laundry list of countries listed in his speech to Congress in October 2001. We know in our minds it doesn't matter, but our inner eight-year-old is screaming "that's not fair!" Compressing the absolute closing times has been a very positive change.)

Go vote. I'm outta here until I have some results to talk about, and "Parizeau-rule" gaffes to record.

Update: I wasn't entirely correct in my Quebec-to-Alberta poll closing time. In Saskatchewan, which is split between Mountain and Central time, and which has no Daylight Savings Time, polls close at 7:30 in CST, and 7:00 in MST. So, that closes the Central Time polls at the same absolute time as the rest of the "middle", and closes Mountain Time polls at the same absolute time as BC. I think. Or maybe there's something about the international date line in there, and the polls actually close Wednesday morning. It's all very confusing.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Finally on the board

Gilles Duceppe is the only leader of the four who had previous experience leading his party through a federal election. It should be no surprise that he's managed to lead the cleanest race gaffe-wise... he knows the ropes. He knows about the traps of a campaign, which, as illustrated above, sometimes come in the form of a net.

The Bloc's been running on the theme that electing BQ candidates was the best way to represent Quebec interests in Ottawa. This isn't a referendum on sovereignty, Duceppe repeated, as often as he could.

Last week, the leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois, Bernard Landry, said that maybe it is a referendum, or that at least a strong showing for the BQ would lead to one. If I could have given gaffe points for that, I would have, but like Klein's health care ponderings in Alberta, I can hardly make federal parties pay for their provincial counterparts, however dim-witted.

That's why the Gaffe-O-Meter thanks BQ candidate Francois Rebello. Thanks, Francois. You're a nobody, so PROM=1, but you really could not have found a worse moment to decide the party song sheet was for someone else, and declare this federal election a sovereignty vote precursor. SIG=2, though I was tempted to wait and charge you three if the Bloc falls below fifty-five seats. Total, two gaffe points.

(For those who are wondering why I'm not gaffing up Conservative MP Randy White's comments about sec. 33, it was good news for Randy - the comments were committed to film three days before the writ was dropped. We're only hearing about them now.)

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Strategic voting

Some people are still considering how they should vote, and the question for many goes deeper than "Who do I want as my MP?" As well it should, for the sophisticated voter (and you are one, else why are you here reading this instead of, say, not?)

Every party seems to be simultaniously making arguments in favour and against strategic voting. That is, they're offering arguments in favour of casting a strategic vote for, alongside arguments opposed to casting a strategic vote elsewhere. Let me try to offer a guide, from my position sitting in a riding where calculating a strategic vote is akin to calculating the precise number of car flags you need to fly to help your team win a chanpionship.

1) Know your riding. If you're in a riding like mine, with your next MP being a foregone conclusion, vote for your favourite party without worry. You aren't going to influence the result.

(Vote anyway! I can't stress this enough. The result in toto may be the same, but if you don't register your voice in what is essentially a referendum on the leading candidate, that candidate won't have any sense that s/he should act boldly/be careful in pursuit of his/her agenda. And the party you vote for, the winning or losing party in the riding, will have no idea what sort of resources to invest in that riding the next time around. Presumably, you want your party to spend its money efficiently, don't you?)

If you're in a contested riding, you need to figure out who it's contested between. This isn't a question of who is leading nationally or provincially. #1, #2. A vote for any other candidate cannot be described as a "strategic" vote.

2) Which of the two leading candidates, or parties those two represent, do you prefer?

That's it! Strategic voting made simple! Don't be fooled by the parties. If you are afraid of a so-con "hidden agenda", but your two leading candidates are a NDPer and a Liberal (yes, I know the Liberals have some so-con candidates. Another post, another time), stop worrying about beating the Tory, and make your choice for. On the other hand, if you have the same concern, but the local race is CPC v Party X, you need to decide if you can live with a vote for Party X or the local candidate thereof. The same calculation goes if you fear the NDP holding the balance of power, or you really want to see the Liberals punished and humiliated. And you don't even have to be voting "against" something to strategic vote... you can still narrow your riding to two candidates, and then choose your favourite.

First past the post, one MP per riding, is described as a problem by those who want to see Proportional Representation. But this is what we've got. Understand the system and use it.