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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

And with that...

... a happy and prosperous new year to all! We'll see you in 2004.
Get'cher links, links, right here...

Welcome a Canadian living in Scotland, Who ate all the straw?, to the reciprocal blog roll. For now, it seems, I still have that list, as opposed to my promised more-sensibly organized links.
Year in review

My archive links are to the left. Fill your boots!

If you prefer something more organized and satirical, Counterspin has a New Year's special that includes my best gal, Janeane Garofalo. Just two sentences about Paul Martin, and I'm hers for life.

Who am I kidding? I already am.

If you can endure the Sean Cullen portions, I'm sure it will be excellent. It will be broadcast several times over the next few days on Newsworld.
Maybe not so happy

This outgrew the comments section following this post. I was attempting to respond to Dennis at Moderate Republican, an interesting and very readable blog in its own right.

I'll save you the trip to the pop-up window, and begin here with Dennis' comment:

Ummm...I've read your blog for a while and like it, but I have to put my foot down. Canada had these measures and it didn't stop it from having a mad cow case. I would agree that we should institute better measures, but it's not like we didn't do anything. We did ban the use of feed with brain material back in '97, just as Canada did.

As I said, I agree to more safeguards and this might be a good opportunity to that. The USDA has issued a ban on using "downer" cows for one. But please don't resort to cheap anti-American jabs. I welcome constructive critiscism, but not this.

Still a great blog though and I mean that.
Okay, so I quoted it for the criticism, and nerely missed the praise. I'm such a negative Nelly. Just ask my co-workers, family members, friends, or intimate partners. Naturally, I started writing:

I haven't responded so much to my comments section in I don't know how long - a New Year's resolution may be in order.

I was very heartened to hear the downer animal slaughter restriction introduced today. It may have happened before I wrote the entry, but I'm just not as minute-to-minute as I'd like. You know - job.

I think what both countries should take away from this experience, but neither seems to want to take away, are the dangers of high-production industrial farming to the food supply. I was perhaps too harsh, but the NYT article scared me. I considered the possibility, upon reflection, that one could write similar articles about the Canadian beef industry, but that our reporters were seized by an irrational nationalism - which may explain the degree of consumer heroics Canadian farmers saw over the summer and fall.

I need to read and then write more about this. Industrial farming has done so much damage to our small rural communities, to the water supply, to the environment in general, and to the safety of our food supply that I owe it to myself to give it more time and thought. Both our governments are too ready to trust the industrial farm lobbyists.

I stand by the barn door comment, however. The technology exists to track every calf on the continent born from today forward. That needs to be mandatory on both sides of the border if we want to fully reintegrate the industry. I also stand by my desire to see the American beef and dairy industry clean up their act with regards to practices like scraping the spines clean, or the feeding of blood to calves, and to the extent that the concerns raised in the NYT article hold true for the Canadian industry, I am even more desirous. But that brings me to the missing link in my post, and my too-emotional reaction to the NYT article. Notwithstanding the tracking issue, the Canadian cattle industry may be committing the same dangerous practices as the American industry, and perhaps more. I can't imagine any farmer on either side of the border with a few hundred head being so irresponsible.

I spent the summer listening to my friends and neighbours ready to kill their mothers if it would get the border opened to their herds faster. I don't want to see another case of BSE on either side of the border, or even worse, a case of CJD from a hot dog that was scraped a little too close to the spine. The former would slow the industry's recovery to a crawl, and the latter would very nearly finish off those friends and neighbours.

This afternoon, while I wrote the initial post, I had a "Get Your War On" moment in my head. All I really wanted to write was "We need to take this shit seriously. I don't want my Burger King drive-thru to cause my brain to fucking melt."

Goddamn it, there go the child protection filters.

Anyway, repressing that, it turned instead into a more nationalistic screed than absolutely necessary. You're right, and I apologise. But if I find out that all I'm getting from the Canadian industry is tasty free-range ass meat, I might have to take the apology back. My point is, I'm really not sure, and I probably should be.

Thanks for the otherwise kind comments - the number of moderate-right types that seem to enjoy my stuff encourages me. And now that I know about your blog, I'll certainly be reading it right back.
Update: The new American ban on use of central nervous system materials is virtually the same as the Canadian ban. Still not complete enough (no feeding to humans or ruminants, but no ban on other use), but the same.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Lord a-goshen!

Kinsella reports via the CP wire that Bernard Lord won't run for the Mobius-Strip Party of Canada (tm James Bow). You people are so hooped - I can't possibly tell you how hooped you are. Hooped? You have no idea.
Happy to be Canadian, food-safety-wise

When Canada saw its BSE case in the spring, people who followed the news learned a whole lot about the database tracking of individual ruminant animals, so that any outbreak of BSE (or, presumably, foot-and-mouth or something else) could be quickly isolated, the appropriate animals culled, and our food safety protected. It's not a perfect system, but it's an important tool in the effort.

After waging their own battles with mad cow disease, Europe, Canada and Japan instituted government-regulated mandatory systems to trace animals from their birth to the grocery. They also require extensive testing of cattle herds, not the small risk assessment used in the United States that tests 20,000 to 30,000 cows or about 0.03 percent of the herds.

The United States does not require or have such records. But Agriculture Department officials said they would now speed up a project to create a national database for tracing animals. The system would be voluntary; farmers and ranchers could decide whether to register their animals in the data bank.

"At some point this could become mandatory," Ms. Harrison said. [story here]
What point would that be? Would that be at the point where you're dealing with BSE? Because, first, uh, that's freaking NOW, you idiots!, and second, to use a pre-industrial farming metaphor, that's closing the barn door long after the mad cow has left. We started tracking cattle in Canada six years ago, and it wasn't early enough to trace the roots of our BSE-positive animal conclusively.

Go read the link - it has scarier parts, too:

Last year, the Agriculture Department tested processed products from plants that use advanced meat recovery systems, which are meant to strip the last bits of meat from close to an animal's bone and spinal column, and found that 35 percent of the meat tested positive for central nervous system tissue.

Canadian cattle producers insist that this American case of BSE is our big chance to reintegrate back into a single North American industry. But I'm starting to wonder if it wouldn't be better for the Canadian cattle industry in the long term if we closed our border to American beef, and focused instead on the overseas markets, where they understand something about food safety.
Were they watching the same show I was?

August pointed me to a Newsweek article on The Daily Show. In both the article and the sidebar, they describe a bit done by Steve Carell on the McCain campaign bus:

'Daily Show' correspondent Steve Carell goes on John McCain's campaign bus and confounds the candidate with silly questions. McCain later plays the tape constantly for visitors.
I can't find the precise question he asked anywhere on the web, but here's the context. In the midst of a "lightning round" of questions ("Favourite book? Favourite movie?") Carell asked a question about McCain's focus on campaign finance reform, in the context of McCain's own collection of donations for various Senatorial races from some questionable big-industry lobbies. McCain looked caught in a particularily bright pair of headlights, until Carell started laughing, saying "Just kidding... I don't even know what that (the question) means!"

It was an amazing moment to me: possibly the most incisive question the candidate faced during the entire campaign, and it came from a "fake" news show. Jon Stewart is right - The Daily Show shouldn't be taken seriously. But so long as we live in a culture that turns election campaigns into horse races, court proceedings into Dick Wolf productions, tragedy into drama, and generally treats the news broadcast as an entertainment vehicle, any program with a critique of that culture will be considered seriously.

I only hope Rick Mercer can do half so well come January with Monday Report.

Monday, December 29, 2003

I guess I lied

I remained on holiday from this page, despite the catastrophic event that I promised would bring me back to it. Forgive me, but nothing seems more pointless than my little vanity punditry hobby in the face of such an immense humanitarian disaster.

Go support the people of Bam. Relief agency links can be found here (link via Bow)

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Ho ho ho II

That's it for me for a few days, barring some catastrophic or hilarious event. I'll be surrounding myself with loved ones, warm fires, and some form of nog-related drink that involves tasty rum. I'll also be attempting to uphold my reputation as a twice-a-year Christian, but I'll deal more with that come New Year's resolution time.

A very merry Christmas to you!
Ho, ho, ho

The Guardian reports that the Bush family, unlike me, got their Christmas cards out in time... and they had a somewhat longer list than I did.

The more interesting part of the story concerns the Cheneys:

His card quotes one of the nation's founders, Benjamin Franklin, declaring: "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
The story that follows regarding the Vice President's proclivities toward the massacre of birds is interesting and telling, but the word "empire" is the more worrying to me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Oh, no

BSE seems to have appeared in the American cattle supply. This is the worst possible news for Canadian cattle farmers, as well - on the heels of finally getting the US border opened to our beef again, I think we can expect them to close once more, defensively. Not to mention that international markets are likely to not differentiate between Canadian and US beef when it comes to electing to reopen their borders to North American beef.

I think we can also expect a reduction in beef consumption on behalf of American consumers. That will hurt us as well.

This was nearly inevitable, but it's really crappy news.

Update: Perhaps it's the Christmas spirit distracting everone, but I quickly poked around my regularly-read American blogs, and I can't find a single mention of BSE. Do they have any idea how far the ripples of this single case will spread? BSE has cost the Canadian economy nearly $2 billion dollars so far. Multiply that several times over, and you're dealing with a serious downturn in the American economy. Focus all that pain on half a dozen states and you have a political consequence to think about, too - if the American government handles this badly, doesn't cull enough farms, and a second case comes up, Bush will be fighting like crazy for electoral votes in what were safe (70%ish) Republican states yesterday. Okay, that's actually a good consequence, but lets hope the White House handles this well anyway, because too many livelihoods are on the line over the next three to six months.

American bloggers, I know you're busy with the wrapping and the nog and whatnot, but this is going to turn into a huge deal in the new year - you might want to bone up a bit.

Second update, Christmas Eve morning: Thanks to POGGe for the link, but my comments provider is not down with the HTML. Let me make it easier on my readers. POGGe writes: "Try Just a Bump in the Beltway. Melanie's on the job." And POGGe has more BSE links besides... off you go.
'tis the season to be letigious....

.... fa la la la la, la la la la.

No, that doesn't scan at all. But it does make sense, if you don't want the world to notice what a control freak you really are. And Paul Martin obviously understands this.

James Bow reports that the PMO is issuing a cease and desist order against paulmartintime.ca, for infringement of style and a URL that's too similar to the PM's own. And the order comes along with vauge threats, so that's great, too.

Dare to compare: - one of the sites is here, and the other is here. If you've checked off the "new windows" box in my right column, you should be seeing both at once. Are you having any trouble figuring out which is which?

Yes, the styles are awfully similar. They're supposed to be. It's a stylistic parody. I suspect the main trouble is coming from the combination of stylistic parody and serious, unfriendly content. But it doesn't take very much reading to figure out you aren't at Paul Matin's propaganda page.

This aping of styles isn't new on the Canadian web. BlogsCanada looks a whole lot like the Government of Canada. But since the content is innocuous, the Government of Canada doesn't seem to have any problems with the style being pinched - it's an homage.

I'm sure that if Paul Martin Time was producing content more to the PMO's liking, there would be no threats. It seems to me that right there is the legal test to say that the stylistic aping is within fair use. But I really hope the PMO comes to its senses, and no court is ever asked to decide.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Here at Revmod, Lord is the new Brison

I'm not saying that Bernard Lord is gay. He might be, but probably not - I'm not really suited to judge, and the question isn't really germaine to the conversation anyway.

No, what I'm saying here is that Bernard Lord is the new guy to watch. Will he or won't he? I think we can now safely say he will. But I love CBC's headline:

Lord refuses to quell leadership rumours.
So, what you're saying here is "maybe". Hee!
Orange alert at Christmas - does that make it a Mandarin Orange alert?

Wow, catching Saddam really helped us all become safer, didn't it? Talk Left points out that the US has more than ten times as many troops in Iraq, where Osama bin Laden isn't, than in the border territories between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he probably is.

Tom Ridge tells us al Quada is thinking of using airplanes as weapons again. Honestly, what are the chances of that, really? When planes were hijacked on September 11, 2001, I suspect most of the passengers, while scared, were first thinking, "Just sit tight, be calm --- now I get to spend a few days on an airstrip in Cuba." What are the chances that an airplane passenger, faced with hijackers, are going to sit idly by and let it happen? No, I suspect most people would risk their lives, expecting that their lives are already lost if they do nothing.

And al Quada knows this. Say what you want about this organization - bloodthirsty, nasty pieces of work, what have you - they can't be described as "stupid". They won't try this again. Something else, sure. Something dangerous and deadly, possibly. But running planes into buildings is done, unless they manage to sneak aboard a cargo plane - passengers make a repeat impossible.
The link I've been waiting for

You know, it's neat to me that serious writers, like Bow and Kinsella, like my stuff here enough to give it a nod. Sure, I call myself a writer, but I'm still waiting for someone to pay me to do it. Respect from "real" writers is the next best thing, however.

Now a University English instructor has linked to me, and I'm experiencing a calm, zen-like trance of coolness. It makes me wish I'd actually gone to UNB-Fred to finish my degree, like I'd planned. Give Scribblingwoman a look if your tastes lean to the literary - she can write (natch), she finds the most interesting links, and she's a Buffy fan. I get the feeling, looking around, that the blog is primarily meant to be read by her students, but you know, funny thing about the internet...

(Speaking of Buffy, sorry for the lack of posts lately. Season Five has kept me pretty occupied, bawling like a baby. I'm such a sucker. I finished it yesterday, so I should be set now until Angel Season three hits the stores. A part of me regrets that I wasn't watching with the rest of the world as Buffy was broadcast, but a bigger part is glad I'm getting to see the series, episode by episode, without missing a single one. That same bigger part is glad that I was able to reduce the "Glory" character to twenty hours of my life, instead of a year.)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Another progression




Congratulations, Beckie!
Weblog roundup, pt. III

For some reason, this post has been getting a lot of blog traction... links elsewhere, as well as a busy comments section. First of all, thanks for the links. Second, I have no idea why the comment link shows only one - there were six at the time of this posting. Third, I probably should have included Fletcher in the list of cross-posty types as well. I knew I'd skip someone obvious if I attempted the list.

The focus of the responses has been on my definition of this group as "centre-left". I wrote this to The Middleman's comment section, after his vigourous argument that he's not left-wing:

In my own defense, I wasn't all that interested in the ideological label when I wrote the post - and unlike Kinsella, I wrote "centre-left". The reaction to this has convinced me that the "centre" portion of that claim is the operative word. I have no problem with labelling my own politics, but I've never heard anyone use "blue ND" (the opposite of "red Tory"), which is where I put myself.

Mostly what I was attempting to point out was there seems to be a group of bloggers - a group you and I both fit well in, I think - that link frequently to one another. We quote one other, we respond to one anothers' posts, and when one of the set discovers something interesting it tends to work its way around.

I think it's neat - I think we're collectively different enough that we're offering more than "me-too" punditry, and yet cumulatively we're adding more to the Canadian political discussion than we ever could alone.
(edited from the original comment for readability)
Now to get Kiefer

I didn't care much for Jack Layton when he ran, and cared even less for him when he decided to wait for a general election to run for a seat in the House. But he continues to prove himself a smooth operator. Today, he's managed to convince Ed Broadbent to run once more for a seat in the House of Commons.

I, for one, am happy to see Ed return - less for the extra seat (though I think he's safe to win it) and more for the voice in the caucas room. There's been a lot of turnover in the party since Ed's day, and a little extra continuity to more successful times will do the party good.

"No." "No." "Forget it." "No!" "No." "Uh-uh." "Nope." "No."


Guess what comes next in that series? I think we can expect Bernard Lord to become the flag-bearer for the non-Reform portion of the Conservative party in the leadership soon. And if the Conservatives are serious about taking a run for government, Lord might be the best chance they have to avoid Reform III-ism.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Robert Stanfield, 1914-2003

Bob Stanfield, "the greatest Prime Minister Canada never had", died yesterday in Ottawa. One of my earliest political memories was a school bus seatmate with a Stanfield sticker on his lunchbox ("Where can I get one? I must have one! He's the luckiest kid in the world!" - I was a weird kid), and the locals dining out for weeks on his line: "If I were to walk on water, the press would say I'm only doing it because I can't swim."

Stanfield was predeceased by his party.

All geeked out

I went to see The Return of the King last night, so my posting today is likely to be slim and sub-optimal. I might be a little tired.

What did I think of the film? Well, I think we're all too used to trilogies starting strong and getting weaker. I'm sure it's a function of producing the three films at once, but Return of the King avoids this trap, maintaining the same high standard as the first two. Essentially, if you liked them, you'll like this one. But Jackson is a little too in love with his sprawling vistas and lingering battle scenes to completely suit my tastes - he could have done without twenty or thirty minutes here, without losing any of the essential character of the film --- the same reaction I had to The Two Towers. Maybe I should quit seeing these movies at midnight.

The Globe and Mail review was perhaps the most critical I've read, but also possibly the most interesting, with its considerations of the homoerotic relationships and such. This bit spoke to most of all:

Director Peter Jackson's realization of this monumental Celtic fantasy of an evil, all-powerful ring, and the solidarity of supernatural and human heroes to defeat marauding hordes of monstrous subhumans, ends with a bang (and then ends again with less of a bang, and then ends with a few more smaller bangs for about another 40 minutes until the movie fades out).
This experience is felt doubly so at three am.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Weblog roundup pt. II

I'm reluctant to draw this list. The blogosphere does not deserve to endure formal organizing. Nonetheless, onward.

As I was starting to rebuild my links, as promised, a pattern emerged of a heavily cross-linking cabal of Canadian centre-left political bloggers. Spicer, Ikram, Kinsella, POGGe, Middleman, Bow, myself (I'd like to think), and at least one that I've somehow managed to miss until now: The Armchair Garbageman.

He (I'm going to say "he" unless corrected - GarbageMAN, you see) writes well, and has that snarky tone I work so hard to emulate. I hope I don't lose all my readers to him. Then again, there's the whole Alberta thing.... he's another T.O.'ian. Regardless, once the link list is rebuilt, you'll be seeing him there.

I'm sure there are several others I have likewise missed. Forgive me... I'm keeping up as best I can.
Weblog roundup pt. I

In the wake of the Maher Arar case, a number of Canadian blogs have been pointing out other cases of Canadians with accusations of terrorist-related activity hanging over their heads, imprisoned around the world. POGGe has an excellent roundup of those cases and posts.

... if we dump our principles the moment they become inconvenient then they were never really principles at all - they were just slogans.
Couldn't have put it better.

(He missed my own "little-known prisoner" tale, but it was posted some time ago. Abdullah Almalki still sits in a Syarian cell, much like the one Maher Arar spent the better part of a year in.)

Monday, December 15, 2003

New Edition required. The blog listings, not the boy band.

I've added another Torontonian, Anderw Spicer, to the reciprocal blog listings on the left. Is it just me, or are there a whole lot of places on that list to read about the latest on Dalton McGuinty? Where are the Alberta left-wingers / centrists? Stop laughing.

It occurs to me that more and more, there's overlap between the two sets of listings I have on this page - I think I need to come up with more useful dividing lines than "those who list me" and "those who don't." Perhaps political/non-, or Canadian/non-... any ideas are appreciated.
Legal Issues

Donald Rumsfeld has announced that Saddam Hussien will have full POW protections, unless it's discovered that he was actively involved in - er - waging war against the coalition troops.

I can understand the White House's desire to protect the soldiers it sends abroad, but honestly, since 9/11, the Americans have tried to treat attacking their military as terrorism. Guess what - it's not. That's war.

As with so many nebulous questions of law, Talk Left has a great deal on the legal minutiae of this situation as it develops.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Dust off the "Mission Accomplished" banner

Saddam Hussien has been captured. This is obviously good news, if not as good as the White House and American news outlets are going to be making out. And the celebration among Iraqis, unlike the whole statue/liberation made-for-television moment in the spring, appears real, and so it should be.

I hope, but don't expect, that this moment will take the legs out from under the insurgency. I hope, but don't expect, that this moment will mark a serious beginning to shifting power from the United States to Iraq.

I need to remind everyone of this "Get Your War On" classic from March. Sure, Hussien's a bastard. He was a bastard when the west was supporting him fighting Iran, too. I hope that under interrogation, Saddam tells us what Donald Rumsfeld knew, and when he knew it.

I also need to remind everyone of a basic principle of the democratic rule of law - justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. This was done very poorly or not at all in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic - we need to learn from that experience. There may be nothing that can be done about the conspiracy theories that will spring up among the more paranoid types in the Islamic world (the same people who are convinced that the Mossad was behind 9/11, for instance), but a fair and open process led by people who have no revenge motivation will help considerably in reducing their resonance.

(Hey, Prime Minister, some free advice - it's not "Iraqians")

Friday, December 12, 2003

The decline of the British Empire is complete

They'll give a Knighthood to anybody.
Nice place!

Fearthainn has the same URL, but an attractive new site. Go. Enjoy.
In with the new

Congratulations to Prime Minister Paul Martin. Twenty-first's a charm!

I'm not going to try to read the new cabinet appointments too deeply. There's one good sign I'm willing to go out on a limb about - Bill Graham still in Foreign Affairs suggests an intent to maintain some continuity in our face to the world... a face that's looking pretty good these days. On the other hand, Graham might also be the source of some reluctance to look deeper into the Arar case, so I suppose it cuts both ways.

Update: Just noticed - no Brison. Huh!
Out with the old...

Warren Kinsella has republished a Canadian Press article about Prime Minister Chretien's last full day. I've said it before, but I'll say it one last time - I'm going to miss Chretien. Specifically, the Chretien we've had for the past year... his political deathbed conversion has been very good to Canada.

Warren, can I help you out with some entry-specific permalink code?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

"Now we're haggling over the price"

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein criticized the American move [to deny Canadian companies the right to bid on reconstruction projects] but also condemned Ottawa's decision not to support the U.S.-led war.

"I can say it right now: I told you so," said Klein, who wrote letters to U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci to express Alberta's support for the Americans during the war. [Full story here]
You know, if the Premier had expressed concern on principle that Canada was doing the wrong thing by not joining or supporting the Iraq war, I'd respect that. But all I've ever heard him say is that we had to get involved, because it would cost us money to piss off the Americans. And he was right.

My readers seem perceptive... do I actually need to put a name to this? The name wouldn't be entirely fair - whores only open their legs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Oh, my

Good thing I have mergers and new cabinets and what-not to discuss - I couldn't compete with American news as covered by Militia Commander General JC Christian. I particularly like the title of his links to left-leaning blogs: "Probably French". Hee!

People think I look ridiculous because I wear camouflage all of the time. They giggle and make comments about how it doesn't quite cover up my belly. They don't understand about the fine line I walk as a militia commander. I have to wear the camouflage to show the people that we are here to defend them when the NWO's armored divisions begin rolling out of Vancouver, BC. [post here]
Best left to others

So Canadian companies don't get to bid on serious Iraq reconstruction contracts right now. Boo-frickin'-hoo. First of all, if the whole country is really going to be handed back to the locals in the next several months, there will still be lots of rebuilding contracts available at that point. If control is truly in the hands of Iraqis, I can't imagine the bidding process then will favour countries that broke everything with their bombs in the first place.

There is a much better analysis of the Wolfowitz Directive over at POGGe.
The Brison watch concludes

Scott's walked the floor. I'll be honest, I did not see this coming. If this happened in a week, I'd say it was a strong sign of trouble in the Conservative ranks. Happening this quickly, it feels like something he's been planning since he first saw the writing on the wall regarding merger.

Perhaps I'll go further. Was Brison planning this while trotting out his Spencer rebuttals? Was he trying to increase his Q rating in advance of dumping his old party?

I'd like to repeat a bit of what I quoted yesterday: "[Brison] voted for merger because he thinks the country needs a united alternative to the governing Liberals..."

If I was a Tory - especially an anti-merger Tory - I'd be pretty pissed right now.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Maybe I overspoke, maybe I didn't

This story on canada.com (so, essentially, the story which may have been in the Post, but I didn't want to sully my hands with that particular brand of ink just to find out) claims Scott Brison won't be running for the leadership. It tells us this through the following paragraphs:

It appears Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison, who finished third at the Tory leadership race in May, will not run this time around.


Mr. Brison, who is openly gay, is uneasy about the Alliance stand against same-sex marriage and its reputation as socially conservative.

The Nova Scotia MP, who finished fourth in the last Tory leadership race, voted for merger because he thinks the country needs a united alternative to the governing Liberals, but said: ''My doubts have grown in recent days that this [new] party will reflect the kind of Progressive Conservative values that I've felt proud to support.''
There you have it. Come out in the National Post, and drop a place in the standings.

My point here is that this sort of reliability suggests you might want to take the story with a grain of salt.

The Globe adds this tidbit:

Tory MP Scott Brison has [along with Manitoba Tory MP Rick Borotsik] also said he will not remain in the party if it is led by Mr. Harper.


Mr. Borotsik also added: "if Stephen Harper is taking this party forward, then that shows to me that it's nothing more than a continual metamorphosis from the Reform [Party] to the Alliance to the Conservative."
(I've reversed these two paragraphs - only full disclosure here at RevMod)

I think that's a standard I can go by - if Harper wins, expect to see the strikeouts I alluded to on Saturday.

(For the record, Brison came fourth of the four candidates left on the second ballot. Try to find specific results - man, what a grueling and fruitless search!)

Monday, December 08, 2003

No time today

I'm getting killed at work, so my thoughts on Jim Prentice's candidacy for Conservative leader, and Scott Brison's refusal to run, will have to wait until much later today. I'm sure you're all on the edges of your seats.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Little midnight updating

I was re-reading some of what I wrote this week, and came to a single conclusion - the Century Gothic was attractive, but unreadable. Why didn't someone tell me?

I'm moving on to Arial until someone has a better solution, and suggests it to me.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Merger update

Even now, the Tories are debating and voting on merger. I watched a little of the debate, and the biggest cheer came for John Crosbie, who made the most cogent and convincing argument in favour of merger (though the chair half-heartedly attempted to cut him off mid-way):

Post-merger, the Conservative party can have a number of traits that boil down to "moderate," and have a chance at winning an election. Or they can be regionalistic and socially conservative, and have no chance of winning. From Crosbie's perspective, the PCs might do themselves some harm, but there is no risk to the country whatsoever.

Damn - that John Crosbie is pretty sharp. He's got a great future in politics.

Update: No surprise - the Tory merger vote passed. No surprise, I say, because of how many delegates are rumoured to have voted in both this and yesterday's Alliance vote. I think there would be a lot less criticism of this from the Orchard part of the party if they'd frozen the membership roll the day the merger negotiations closed, yet this likely still would have passed. Either way, now it's done, and there's little Orchard or anyone else can do about it at this point.

Depending on the next few months, expect to read "The Reform Canadian Alliance Conservative Party" here in the future. To you Conservatives, you members of that new entity, a word of advice: Don't become that party! Listen to Crosbie! Moderate = electable!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

The "Texas is screwed" part is an aside

Via Kevin Drum, I've come across this post by Jeanne d'Arc at Body and Soul. The reason I blog this is because she mentions the five-paragraph essay, exactly the model I learned to write with in Junior High school. Surprisingly, I couldn't write for shit in Jr. High.

The model is getting smacked around in the linked post, and rightfully so. It's an okay model for learning, but it should probably be replaced for more complex writing by the time a student hits - I dunno - twelve years old. Twelve ought to be old enough to get one's mind around more complex writing.
Cats sleeping with dogs

Here's a sentence you probably never thought to read here at RevMod: Ezra Levant is right. In his December 1 column, he suggests that the prosecutor involved in the Michael Jackson case may be nursing a long grudge against the bizarre singer.

This opinion is shared (and, needless to say, much better referenced) by Talk Left. Do you suppose Ezra is reading the left-wing blogs?

I'm not one to judge the guilt or innocence of people based on what I hear on television. I don't know what Michael Jackson did or did not do, and frankly, I don't care very much, either. But I think people should be concerned when it appears that a prosecution has this degree of political influence connected to it.

So, again, Ezra is right. I'm shocked too. It just goes to prove that even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion.

Bud Long takes note of what seems to be a dip in general political blogging activity. I think both the observation and his reasoning for it (Iraq quagmire) make a lot of sense, but I still have plenty of material. It's likely difficult for my readers from the U.S. and elsewhere to get excited about Rob Anders and Larry Spencer, but I suspect I'll be continuing the recent domestic focus.
Timing is everything

Anyone who doubted that the social conservative wing of the Alliance is attempting to mark territory pre-merger need only listen to Rob Anders, Member of Parliament for Calgary-West, this week. Anders has elected to make a public stink about Bill c-250, which has already been passed by the House.

Let's review what c-250 is supposed to do. I can understand and sympathize with people who are suspicious of hate speech laws. The right to freedom of speech is central to a functioning democracy, and restricting that freedom is not something to be undertaken lightly. But given that we have such legislation, I think we should make sure it covers people who have actually faced genocidal actions taken against them. I think it should cover people who face intimidation and threats because of who they are.

When I wrote about it back in January, the fear-mongers were flogging a claim that c-250 would have police on doors, confiscating Bibles and locking up preachers. I argued then that the fear was absurd. Supporters of c250 felt the need to reassure, so the bill was amended to explicitly insure that no religious text would be restricted by this legislation. And yet Anders flogs his fear-mongering unabated.

So to the political question: why are we hearing about this now, will the bill in the hands of the Senate, who are unlikely to make changes? I think this might just be an effort from the soc-con wing of the Alliance to both deflect from the controversy around Larry Spencer, and yet reinforce the message Spencer sent last week: the new Conservative party will be open for business to bigots and homophobes. I think that merger forces need to consider Scott Brison's warning of turning two circumstantially unelectable parties into one permanently unelectable party. Harper and company need to step on this, hard, if they want a political future in Canada.
The reciprocals keep coming

I've added All Things Canadian to the list on the left. The unnamed author has just started up, and has already posted plenty - hockey and politics, it seems. Jon should like that. Edited to add: three days, and already a broken link: his link to information about Larry Spencer on the CA site is already dead. That didn't take long, but look for that link to function again if Larry gets invited back. Further edited to add: now the link routes to Spencer's press statement. Busy webmaster over there.

I've also abbreviated the name of "Peace, Order, and Good Government, eh?". Amatuer political hacks like myself like to be overheard talking about the federal government's "POGG powers," so I feel both justified and smart. The longer name took up two lines unhighlighted, and undermined my sense of aesthetic balance. I'm all about the aesthetics, folks.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Can't really post today

New management at work - we're stepping lightly for now around "surfing" and whatnot. I'll be verbally slapping Rob Anders later... stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The asshats have spoken

Larry Spencer's EA says communications to the constituency office are running 80-20 in support of the MP.

Earlier today, I was reading Colby Cosh attempt to convince the world that we should just ignore MPs who make comments like these - "weird, unsourced nonsense about gay recruitment". Sure, it's crazy, and very few under of any political stripe in this country under thirty-five years old thinks the government has any business legislating where my penis goes (with the adult consent of the recipient, natch). Don't paint the Alliance with this brush. I was almost convinced.

When eighty percent of the calls to a constituency office - hundreds of citizens - are nodding agreement with this guy, this is more than batty old Aunt Marge. We need to be loud, vigilant, logical, and thoughtful. (Sure, I like the term "asshat", but I always assume I'm preaching to the choir.) If Stephen Harper is serious, if he is saying that this thinking is not part of the Alliance party, if he's saying that he rejects Spencer's outlandish remarks outright, then he needs to speak up to these hundreds of constituents. He needs to send a message, and if that means tearing up the card of one old anachronism as a warning to the hundreds of others who have expressed support for Mr. Spencer, then he needs to do it.
There are known knowns

I'm getting a few hits this morning regarding Donald Rumsfeld claiming the "Foot In Mouth" award. He won for a statement I published in April, as "found poetry" published by Hart Seely. If that's what you're looking for, here's where to find "The Unknown".

Monday, December 01, 2003


I'm not willing to draw any certain conclusions based on this, but David Kilgour's website certainly offers a more rational explanation for his comments last week:

I do not in any way believe that homosexuality leads to incest and/or polygamy and in no way meant to imply that they are related.

My comments stem from a concern that were a law to be too broadly written, it might be legally impossible to prevent any individuals from marrying. I deeply regret that my comments may have been misinterpreted as disparaging towards gay and lesbian Canadians.
I don't find this argument entirely convincing - it comes from a similar place to the fear that adding homosexuality to the protection from hate speech would ban the Bible (a fear evidently not shared by Mr. Kilgour, which to my mind adds weight to his credibility). But taking Mr. Kilgour at his word here, his argument is at least within the realm of serious public debate, as opposed to Larry Spencer's lunatic ravings. The two do not deserve to be compared.


The other correction isn't really a correction per se, but an add-on. Remember my evaluation of Scott Brison on Friday? I heard him again this weekend, and one thing finally sunk in - he has launched his leadership campaign around Spencer's comments.

Over and over again, he talked about the "family values" critic, corrected each time by someone noting that Larry Spencer was the "family affairs" critic. I know this seems to be shaving the point rather thin, but this was intentional use of language that most Canadians associate, negatively, with social conservatism, and he's using that language as a stick to beat up Harper. He's staking out an interesting piece of ground: "The Reform and Alliance parties have carried around the baggage of social conservatism for fifteen years. Elect me leader, and never again hear the word "homophobic," he seems to be saying.

I'm not sure how successful this campaign might be - after all, there's a certain element of the Alliance party (Larry Spencer's "we", as in "we can live with [Brison]") that doesn't think social conservatism is a bad thing at all - it's a reason they found the Reform Party attractive in the first place. The Conservative merger, even if it passes, may be doomed to fail in the longer term, split on these lines. (Someone quoted John Crosbie to me in Babble, and it deserves to be repeated: "It's the 90% of Reformers that give the other 10% a bad name." Hee!)

Friday, November 28, 2003

They're everywhere

Not gay people. Well, them too. No, I was thinking of Members of Parliament, fearing the long-term effects of the "Gay Agenda":

(David Kilgour, Liberal MP, in conversation with Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal) On Thursday, Kilgour told me that he opposes gay marriage, in part because, he says, once the government made same-sex marriage legal, it would have no logical reason not to allow three people to get married.

"So you're saying your fear is that gay marriage could lead to legalized polygamy?" I asked him, puzzled.

"And, I'm afraid, and I'm not the only one afraid of this, it could lead to mothers marrying sons and all kinds of things," he responded.

And that's a Liberal. Gah!
It's Buy Nothing Day

Participate by not participating, as they say.
Spencer: for hire?

Warren Kinsella (who needs fixed links to individual posts) points out that Larry Spencer may not be the only asshat in Parliament. Check out this press release from the Alliance member for Yorkton-Melville, Garry Breitkreuz.

The punditry around this issue has been enlightening to me. In particular, I heard Progressive Conservative MP Scott Brison on a couple of occasions yesterday (I can hear the production discussions: "Hey, Brison's gay - let's see what he thinks of the merger now"), and he sounded smarter and more animated than at any time I heard him during the leadership. Not about how offended he personally was (though there was an edge of that), but about how guys like Spencer make the Alliance unelectable, and would make a merged party equally unelectable.

Peter MacKay must be thinking pretty hard about the merger now: "There is no place for such comments in the type of modern, inclusive Conservative Party we are about to build." I dunno - sounds to me like Harper is making room. His response that Spencer's statements "do not reflect party policy in any way, shape or form," are, as I heard a few different people comment, a little tepid.

In short, Tories have been sounding like reasonable, intelligent people - people who could govern this country - and Alliance representitives have sounded like cowards, trying to find political cover from these remarks even as they attempt to avoid saying that Spencer is wrong. After all, there's a certain part of the Alliance constituency that thinks like Spencer, and they don't want to lose those voters. That was made completely clear to me this morning as I listened to CBC Calgary's political panel, where the Tory Jock Osler spoke up in no uncertain terms to say that there was no room in any new Conservative Party for thinking like Spencer's, and Reformer Jocelyn Bergoner seemed upset only that Larry spoke out loud. (Link and correct spelling of names as they come available.)

In all the talk around what this will do to the merger plans, one has to at least consider the possibility that Larry Spencer knew his conversation with the Vancouver Sun would go over like a fart in hot tub among the Tories. The resistance to merger among the Tories comes from people who fear that the merger is really a takeover by the Canadian Alliance, but we haven't heard anything about any resistance to merger from old-timey Reformers. Is it possible that people like Larry Spencer are afraid of losing the social conservatism that was hand-in-hand with the economic conservatism in the early Reform Party days? I'm not sure Spencer has proved himself at any time in the past to be cagey enough to have come up with this sort of plan, but you never know.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

RSS feed

By popular request, I'm now available via rss feed - the link is to the far lower left, below the counter.
Paving the way for the merger

Removing Larry Spencer as critic for "family issues" is a baby step in the right direction, but doesn't go nearly far enough. Does the Alliance really want a public face that can speak such unbelievable garbage, mixed in with a hefty dose of paranoia?

OTTAWA -- Canadian Alliance MP Larry Spencer, citing a "well-orchestrated" conspiracy that began in the 1960s that led to recent successes in the gay-rights movement, says he'd support any initiative to put homosexuality back in the Criminal Code of Canada.


But Spencer said any MP, and especially someone from his party, risks being labelled "a redneck or a hate-monger or homophobic" if they even mention such views in Parliament. (Imagine that! - Don)


...the conspiracy included the seduction and recruitment of young boys in playgrounds and locker rooms and the deliberate infiltration of North America's judiciary, schools, religious community, and entertainment industry.
He then presented a book to the Vancouver Sun editorial board, entitled The Protocols of the Elders of Stonewall. Okay, he didn't, but he might as well have. Here's your Nice Big Cup, Larry - don't drink it all at once.

So, back to today's issue: Spencer been removed from the "family issues" critic's portfolio, which is an excellent first step in removing him from the Alliance caucus, I suppose.

It all begs the question, are these the people that Tories want to be associated with? Has the party of Joe Clark, Grand Marshall of the 2001 Calgary Pride Parade, become this desperate? If that second step happens --- if Spencer is asked politely to put on his dancin' shoes and go "improve" the heterosexual-to-homosexual ratio on Broadway, and stop polluting Ottawa with his poisonous ideas --- then perhaps the Tories will have less reason to worry.
One question: why is everyone only noticing now?

The International Red Cross is weighing in on the Guantanimo prisoners.

Via Hesoid.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Dangerous toys

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli customs have seized a shipment of 450 singing, dancing Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein dolls under a law banning incitement.

The battery-powered Chinese-made figurines were confiscated at the northern port of Haifa, a Customs Authority spokeswoman said.

An Israeli-Arab businessman from the northern village of Qafr Qara admitted under questioning to importing the 400 copies of the Al Qaeda leader and 50 of the deposed Iraqi ruler, as a "gimmick", a customs statement said.

"The law doesn't exactly say that you cannot own a bin Laden doll, but neither he nor Saddam Hussein are exactly good educational role models," the spokeswoman said. (Story here)
Representing a good "educational role model" is a prerequisite to get a toy into Israel? Too bad - I guess they'll never see one of these.

Update: Haven't yet found the dolls in question, but some of these Russian nesting dolls are pretty disturbing. Note particularly the last one.
Another person who needs a blog:

A senior British judge has become the Master of the Obvious:

LONDON - One of Britain's most senior judges has criticized the U.S. for holding terror suspects at its military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, calling it a "monstrous failure of justice."

In a speech in London, Judge Johan Steyn, the third most senior judge, said the prisoners are being held illegally since their transfer from Afghanistan last year.


Steyn said Washington's purpose for holding the prisoners was to put them beyond the rule of law, the protection of any courts and at the mercy of victors.
Since I said this yesterday, and since I'm not that enormously perceptive, doesn't everyone already know this? Still, it's nice to hear it come from a voice within the justice system.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

My mascot

No response one way or the other about Tina - I'm going to take that as approval. She has a semi-permanent home at the bottom of my page now.
Dick missed the memo:

Dick Cheney, yesterday:

In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists and had a relationship with al Qaeda -- and his regime is no more.
That wasn't "yesterday" as in "deep in the mists of time". That would be the literal yesterday.

Via Hesoid.
Shows you what I know

Turns out there were and are Canadians in Guantanimo after all. I'm going to reserve judgement on the case of the Khadr brothers, since we seem to be in the nebulous territory of "he said, he said" (it's a patriarcial world, I fear), but I'm going to take a crazy left-wing stand, and come out in favour of due process. It's a cruel loophole the Americans are using to avoid giving these prisoners the protections of either the Geneva Convention or the law of the United States by hiding them offshore... do you suppose Dubya picked up this idea from his buddy Kenny Lay?

Update: As POGGe points out, secret prisoners and deportations to Syria are just as bad when Canada does it. I recommend the related Talk Left discussion thread for a description of some of the thornier issues around this case.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Speaking of Blair

The next time you hear someone complaining about the Prime Minister's coldness toward the current occupiers occupants of the White House, and the negative diplomatic and economic consequences thereof, consider the case of Britain:

- Canada's having trouble getting rid of illegal softwood lumber duties and getting beef over the border? Britain's steel industry can relate.

- Unhappy with Maher Arar's deportation? At least he didn't end up in Guantanimo, where he would likely still be.

More about the one-way Blair/Bush relationship here.
Politics as entertainment

Who cares if Tony Blair got involved with the US in Iraq? After all, he was mildly amusing on The Simpsons. All is forgiven!

Admittedly, Blair is one of a long line of politicians who figure that being entertaining is a good way of increasing one's profile and popularity. What politicians forget is that when it comes to being entertaining, they can't compete with professionals. If they continue to expand the role of "entertainingness" as a prerequisite to govern, there will be more Arnolds in our future.

Blair claims this was not the point at all, of course - he simply wanted to encourage tourism. I wonder if he vetted the script? It didn't really scream "Visit sunny Leeds".

Beyond the desire to be entertaining and therefore electable (a big motivation for the people who advise him, I'm sure), I suspect Blair's voice-acting debut might have been not entirely tourism-driven: "Hey, I was on the Simpsons!" Can't blame him for that, I suppose.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Excellent news

Eduard Shevardnadze is gone, gone, gone.

Now that he's gone, I hope Shevardnadze is rightfully remembered as the Soviet Foreign Minister during, and one of the architects of, Glasnost. It would have been sad to see him descend so far into the pit of totalitarianism that history would have forgotten his help in cancelling World War Three. His time in Georgia will be a footnote: a President who simply overstayed his welcome in office. Judging by comments from my friends and family, Canadians can relate to the concept.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

The good old hockey game

Is the best game you can name.

And the best game you can name?

Is the good old hockey game.
"No, thanks"

It's exciting that in the wake of an election that opposition parties and international observers charitably described as "grotesquely fixed" (warning: not a direct quote, just a summary), the people of Georgia have stood up to say, Geez, you know, we tried the whole totalitarian thing, and we didn't enjoy it so much.

This trend has been going on since 1989, and I like it much more than the American theory of bombing people free. Democracy comes remarkably fast to people who stand up in huge numbers and take it, not through organized violence, but through refusal to play along with the fantasy of an unelected government claiming legitimacy. My money says Eduard Shevardnadze will be checking into the "Idi Amin Home for Aged Former Dictators" inside of two weeks.

Vive le Velvet Revolution!
Saturday Funnies

A friend forwarded me a link to today's Tom the Dancing Bug. I don't usually care for TtDB - I'm more of a Red Meat guy - but this week's comic is pretty damn sharp. Go. Read.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Another reason for an inquiry

I don't think it will take very much inquiring to dispel the idiotic dissembling of John Ashcroft.

U.S. Attorney-General John Ashcroft says the Bush administration received -- and believed -- assurances from Syria that it would not torture Maher Arar before deporting the Ottawa man to that Middle Eastern country.
And they're pretending to still believe it!

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said that the Syrian embassy in Washington has told the U.S. that Arar was not tortured, consistent with assurances given before he was deported.
What do you suppose the chances are that Arar wasn't tortured? Could you find a Canadian who believes this, who thinks the harrowing report Arar shared is an elaborate lie?

Let me remind you what his story contains: his full public statement is here. I cannot imagine what I could quote from it that's representitive of the whole thing.

I'm pleased to report that Bill Graham and Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs believe Arar:

...a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham told CBC News Thursday that Arar had provided the government with a compelling account of his treatment, and despite what Ashcroft said, Ottawa had no reason to doubt the Canadian's story.
I guess it tells Canadians how far we've fallen in Bush administration eyes that they're more ready to believe the Government of Syria than they are the Government of Canada. Or perhaps it's simply that Syria is telling a more pleasing tale. Either of these possibilities is disconcerting.
Around the web:

I'm happy to admit it - it might have been quite a while before I noticed Peace, Order, and Good Government, eh? had he not posted a link to me first. So I'm glad he did - decent punditry and frequent posting is all I need. Now to talk about that template....

(edited for gender precision)

Thursday, November 20, 2003

More Maher

I think most Canadians, however suspicious or trusting we might be of our government's role in this travesty of justice, have taken it as a given that the American officials acted improperly when they sent Maher Arar to Syria. Now Americans are beginning to notice that, too. Here and here and here and especially here, among others - intentionally or unintentionally, Mr. Arar is becoming the poster child for questionable imprisonments and deportations, an all-too-common experience since 9/11.

We like to blame Americans for stuff. It makes us feel superior. With Americans blaming themselves, how much easier could it be? But until we have full public disclosure about Canada's role in the deportation, I think we have to resist the urge to feel smug.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Can we have that inquiry, now?

The more we learn about the case of Maher Arar, the more concerned I become. Now, it seems, Canada was a source of information about Arar to the Americans, though the Solicitor-General is convinced we weren't the only source.

That's supposed to make us feel better? This leaves two huge questions - did Canada give no protest, even tacit approval, to the Americans to send Arar to Syria; and did the United States send Arar to Syria essentially torturing him by proxy while pretending not to sully their own hands? In fact, connect those two questions, and we have to ask how clean our own hands are.

But I'm sure an inquiry would prove this all an elaborate paranoid fantasy. So perhaps we should have one.

Update: Matthew has more detail on the case, and calls for a public inquiry as well.
Ralph's job

Why doesn't the Alberta Legislature sit longer and more often? Why isn't the Premier there for the few weeks that it does? Ralph has his own ideas why.

I couldn't possibly answer Ralph better than K does.
Weep for Tony Blair

I don't know why. Perhaps it's his left-centre politics, his friendlier demeanor, or his much more sincere dedication to internationalism (as compared to Dubya). For whatever reason, when Blair made public statements leading up to the Iraq war, I was (and remain) convinced that he believed, even when I didn't share his faith, in unseen WMD, in mysterious links with al Quada, and in imminent 45-minute threats.

I don't know why Blair signed up for war, but I think we can safely say it wasn't for political gain. Polls before the war showed no real political gain to be had, his party was split, the opposition was in bad shape - in short, however misguided, Tony Blair was working from some sort of principle. Perhaps he regrets it now, perhaps he doesn't.

Thing is, he'd probably like to move on. Stay to clean up the mess the war made, of course, but move on politically back to his strengths. Instead...

Tony Blair's badly listing ship of state needs a visit from the U.S. president about as much as the Titanic needed a chance encounter with an iceberg.
And the gumboot diplomats of the Bush White House have only made it worse.

So weep for Tony Blair. Weep until you remember who he got into bed with and consider that the writing was on the wall from day one, and before. Then you're welcome to chortle a little bit.

Months ago, as the war was about to be engaged, I wrote "Goodbye, Mr. Blair. Next time you're Prime Minister, and decide to stake your political reputation on something, find smarter allies." It remains true today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

New mascot:

Despite the retirement of the Brunching Shuttlecocks to other projects, someone is still maintaining, or randomly rotating, Tina the Troubled Teenager's terse text. I've been somewhat lacking in web toys since I've converted to this site, so I thought we might give Tina a try.

Tina the Troubled Teen

Please, can I keep her? Pllleeease?

(For those seeing her later on, today she was particularly germane: "Spare me your pathetic online journal.")
Manual Trackback

Like my "manual blogroll", I like to do some things for myself. If Doc-Martens sent ya, welcome aboard.
More under-considered candidates

While I wait for December 12, I can busy myself with more conjecture about the Conservative leadership.

Andrew Spicer notes two more names being kicked around: Ken Dryden and Larry Smith. Either man is way too smart to be described merely as a "former [insert sport here] player", but I'll bet big, big money right now that'll be the most-used adjective in the media if a hat or hats go into the ring.
Wake-up call

Wake me up when Paul Martin has become PM, I said. So I'm setting my alarm for December 12. Since Buffy season five comes out December 9, I might go on a television-related hiatus for a few days in-between. Gotta keep those priorities straight.

Ezra's blogging. Sorta.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Race from the leadership

Chalk up another refusal to accept the mantle of Leader of the Opposition. Bernard Lord, the bright and charismatic young Premier of New Brunswick, is not interested. This leaves failed Toronto Mayoralty candidate John Tory, current Alliance leader Stephen Harper, and that woman by the Centre Street LRT platform who keeps mumbling about government waste.

I think he'd be as quick as the others to refuse, but if I were part of the united Conservative Party brain trust, I would be doing everything in my power to draft Jean Charest. Moderate, smart, still reasonably young, experience in federal politics, lots of personal popularity in Ontario and Quebec that dates back to the 1990 referendum. Electing him leader would be a clear sign that the merger is not a takeover by the Alliance Party, and just having him as an early favourite would likely get Clark to rethink his anti-merger stance.

Charest went into Quebec politics because he correctly felt that taking over the Quebec Liberal party would be good for the country. Could he be convinced once more?

Update: Nothing against James' comment below, but the argument that finished this consideration for me came on Babble when I posited the same suggestion there.

"Newbie" responds: Frankly, if Charest gave up the premiership of Quebec to lead the Conservative Party, he'd be too nuts to consider voting for.
Yes, I understand. There's no way Charest wants this job. And yet, I don't see any other way out of the trap the new party is building itself. If the party elects an old-tyme Reformer, people will scream takeover. Just by making the deal, Peter MacKay has proved himself a weasel (even Alliance people who are glad he signed know what his deal was with Orchard), so he's out. The Clark-era Tories are overwhelmingly too old, and the Mulroney-era Tories are the people the early Reform party members were trying to escape. Klein and Harris have both said no.

This is the article James linked to last week on the John Tory suggestion. It's a pretty good idea, but what sort of idiot party would elect a leader based primarily on experience in municipal politics?

Oh, yeah. Mine.
Fight Linkrot!

I stole this title from Kevin Drum at Calpundit, who has some strategies to avoid dying links to sites like the New York Times.

I'm going to engage my own strategy, which circumvents the complicated processes of dealing with RSS feeds and crazy URLs - when possible, I'll link to news sources that have permanent archives. Kevin already listed a few:

The Guardian,

CNN (though others have noticed an occasional tendency to remove or alter individual stories),

the BBC, and

the Washington Post.

To that list, I'll add Canadian media sources:

The CBC, and

the Globe and Mail.

There must be others I've missed. With a decent list of these, I might never have to link to a site that will disappear a week later, so if you see any, feel encouraged to tell me.

Meanwhile, the next list might be sites that make this list, that are also free of pop-up advertising. That should slim it down.
"How come, when we kill them, it's war, but when they kill us, it's terrorism?"

Infrequent blogger Bill Mahar asks the question that's been nagging at me a while now.
That was odd

Seems Blogger published a blank document for me last night. That's a new one on me. If you were trying to have a look at me between then and now, sorry about that.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I said it before, and I'll say it again

Have you ever noticed that only sick people are taking medicine? I think medicine causes illness.

Satisfied, Dave?

Saturday, November 15, 2003

If you haven't heard:

Yes, I understand Paul Martin is the leader of the Liberal party now. Seriously, wake me up when he's Prime Minister.

If you're interested in actual commentary, may I suggest Warren Kinsella once more, since he's actually at the game? I'd add him to my "fine bloggers" list, but then I'd have to drop the smarmy line about Americans --- plus, you know, he's a Chretien Liberal, and I'm a Nystrom New Democrat. We're like night and, well, night and dusk, I suppose. And not a really dark night, either - more of a nearly-full-moonlit night. And pretty late dusk - I'd have your headlights on, if I were you. Fine - I'll think about it.

If Chretien ever leaves, I'll miss him. Specifically, I'll miss his last year, when he finally made some serious social policy progress. I won't miss the Prime Minister who signed off on the Canada Health and Social Transfer and raised the bar on EI qualifications in order to balance the budget, or who reduced capital gains taxes instead of returning levels of service when surpluses started to appear. (Of course, I won't miss that finance minister, either.) I won't miss the Prime Minister who had a deer-in-headlights aura during the entire Quebec referendum. I won't miss the Prime Minister who was so dismissive of APEC protesters and soldiers who served in Somalia that he was satisfied to simply let the related inquiries peter out without conclusion (or so my shaky memory seems to recall). But I'll miss the Prime Minister who reasserted Canada's sovergnty without turning Canada insular, who said "no" to the United States about invading Iraq but just as importantly "yes" on Afghanistan, and who took important steps to extend the reach of personal liberties (in all the hubbub about gay marriage, it's easy to forget how unthinkable this would have been ten years ago, given the state of gay rights at the beginning of the Prime Minister's tenure).

In other words, it's a mixed bag. Just like every Prime Minister before him. Just like Paul Martin will be. A hard-fought leadership campaign might have given us a peek into Martin's bag, but as it turns out, we'll just have to wait. So, as I say - wake me up when he's Prime Minister.

Edited because Rwanda and Somalia are completely different places. Thus is confirmed the alluded-to shaky memory.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Gotta start getting our stories straight

The CIA reported yesterday that the Iraqi resistance may number as many as fifty thousand people. In the tradition of this administration, anything the CIA says has to be immediately contradicted. This time, the contrarian comes in the form of Geneneral John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command in Florida, who says there are no more than five thousand.

I have no idea, so I'm in no position to judge which estimate might be closer. But I do know a couple of things: missile strikes increase, not decrease, this number, and telling the troops it's only five thousand guys out there killing you at a rate of two a day is not all that great for morale. Neither, I suppose, is telling then fifty thousand people want to kill them. Kinda "damned if you do..." there, isn't it?
More metablogging - sorry

I try to avoid the blog world's memes, the blogging about blogging, and the arguments that no one outside of blog writers are interested in. But I regularly fall into a related common trap of bloggers - I like to stroke my ego with considerations about how darn popular I'm getting!

A true moderate has been added to the reciprocal links on the left - Matthew Fletcher is Living in a Society. (As are we all, I suppose.) His opinions seem well-considered, he blogs frequently, and his links list run the political gamut. Give him a look.

Those of you already on the list, last chance to update your links - I'll be doing some weeding this weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Traffic control

It's been a big traffic day here at RevMod, thanks in no small part to a link posted by August, who evidently can no longer be classified as a "blogger who has never heard of me". I'd initially tried to draw his attention to this post, which was a half-response to one of his. Those of you who followed him here may want to have a look. But by all means, wander about, leave a comment, and visit back sometime. Don't be intimidated by talk of "Premiers" and Prime Ministers" and "MPP"s (and even the occasional "HRH") - I'm sure that people who deal with Electoral Colleges and Primaries and whatnot can catch on to the simplicities of Canadian politics in no time.

Not as much of a boost numerically, but no less appreciated for it, comes from The Middleman. He's going to be big - Kinsella's already leaving comments! Geez, Warren, don't you have a Newsworld panel or something this weekend at the convention? Where do you find the time?
Convention weekend

The Liberal Party is gathering in Toronto, and the excitement is palpable. Okay, it's not - the convention is as much of a nail-biter as you're likely to see at an American presidential nomination convention. But the entertainment is better.

Except, damn, Bono's not intending to be entertaining at all - I guess we're left with the subtle lyrical stylings of Paul Anka.

Don't worry, Prime Minister: we love you in the same old way. Or something.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Words of the day: occupation, morass, leaks.

Unlike the Ezra Levant search, I don't get nearly enough Google hits on those words (fifty-fifth!). So I suppose I need to talk about these three horsemen again.

Other blogs have certainly described in great detail what a morass the occupation of Iraq has become. Find any news source on the web, and you can find descriptions of stuff exploding. I've heard people on CNN, on the blogs, and in my life complaining that there's not enough of the good news reported, but let's be clear here - if trucks were blowing up and killing twenty people at a time in Calgary, day in and day out, no one would be complaining about the lack of "good news" reporting. This has been said before, elsewhere - I won't belabour the point. Suffice it to say: morass.

So let's move on to the leaks. As the occupation stretches on, with no end in sight (just ask the National Guardsmen training up to be rotating into the country), the US is becoming less popular with the Iraqi locals. Imagine that! Nonetheless, it took a CIA-leaked study for this to become news.

Does anyone imagine that this leak is not another shot in the ongoing flame war between the White House and George Tenet? I think we can expect about one of these a month until Karl Rove takes his Valerie Plame-related frog-march.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Monday, November 10, 2003

Shout-out - you know who you are

Someone keeps finding me via the google search "Ezra Levant idiot", for which I now rank #3. Each time I notice it, it prompts me to seek out Ezra's latest published foray into the deep recesses of his fuzzy logic. This week, he draws some odd conclusions and makes some startling implications. (Click on the link before the 17th - the Sun wisely "disappears" Ezra's columns to be replaced with the new.)

Weep for Saskatchewan. Last week our neighbouring province was sentenced to four more years of socialist rule.

Of course, nobody inflicted an NDP government on Saskatchewanians. They did it to themselves -- or at least 45% of them did. That was enough of the vote to win 30 seats out of a 58-seat legislature. The conservative-leaning Saskatchewan Party picked up the other 28 seats with 39% of the vote. A self-indulgent Liberal campaign siphoned off 14%, but won not a seat. The vote-splitting allowed the NDP to slouch over the finish line.
Interesting conclusion here - vote-splitting hurt the Saskatchewan Party, presumably because the 15% who voted Liberal would have voted against the NDP. But since the Liberal MLAs walked to the NDP in the last legislature to determine a government, Ezra's conclusion sounds to me like wishful thinking, though logician Stephen Downes would more likely classify this as a "sloppy induction". But never mind that.

Saskatchewan loses 500 citizens a month more than it gains -- the only province other than Newfoundland from which Canadians are fleeing.


The one contrary trend to this exodus of young people is the growth of Saskatchewan's aboriginal population, which actually masks the true extent of the emigration of young people from the province. It's white flight, too.


Conservatives, especially conservatives of a Christian variety, should always welcome more children. But aboriginal children in Saskatchewan are born into a particularly punitive social environment, where they are tagged and tracked by race by the government, because everything from their taxes to their welfare cheques depends on it. They are not allowed to succeed or fail on their colour-blind merits, as are the rest of us.
And just that quickly, we have left the realm of "Rich people don't like the NDP", and moved into "The big problem with Natives is they get everything handed to them. If they had to work to make a living, they'd be much better off." This is a classic Reform Party chestnut, which has been toned down considerably, but still lingers, in the Canadian Alliance. Ezra is still happy to bring it out loudly, however.

(A quick aside: note what's missing in the CA policy book I've linked here. There is not a single mention of negotiated treaty rights.)

Poverty is caused by social assistance. Also, have you ever noticed that only sick people are taking medicine? I think medicine causes illness. Let me refer again to the logical Mr. Downes, who might classify these inferences as "Wrong Direction".

I could play this game all day. But let's look at what seem to be Ezra's conclusions. Saskatchewan has too many old people, poor people, and Indians. Saskatchewan does not have enough rich white folk. Especially Christian conservatives, who love children more than other people do.

Thank you Ezra, for another thoughtful contribution to the national dialogue. Have a nice big cup from me.
Advice to get a party going

The Ontario NDP are one seat short of party status in the Queen's Park, so they are out their legislative research budget and recognition as a unified group. So let us tip our hat, and speak words of encouragement to Bill Murdoch, currently a Tory from the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, who is considering sitting as a New Democrat in name only, to help the party overcome the bureaucratic hurdle and allow the nearly 15% of Ontarians who voted NDP a more effective legislative voice than they would otherwise have. I admire that his dedication to democracy is stronger than his dedication to his party. The solution is simpler, of course - Dalton McGuinty simply has to make a change to the legislative rules, just as Peter Lougheed did in Alberta when two NDP served as Her Majesty's loyal opposition, and two members elected for separate parties to the right joined forces to make a third party.

Contrast this civilized behavior with the less generous thoughts of an ex-Delta Force member toward political opponents:

These bastards like Clark and Kerry and that incipient ass, Dean, and Gephardt and Kucinich and that absolute mental midget Sharpton, race baiter, should all be lined up and shot.
And somehow, they haven't been able to export democracy to Iraq yet. Huh.

Anyway, let's encourage and thank Mr. Murdoch - he can be reached here.