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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

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.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Updates from yesterday's posts

The Saskatchewan election wasn't as close as expected in raw votes (over a 5% difference), but the seats managed to be distributed in nearly a dead heat again. Congratulations to Premier Calvert, who continues to be Premier Calvert. The big losers were the Liberals, who I suspect were victimized by anti-SK Party strategic voting (which also explains the opening-up of the vote gap).

One of the owners of Panda Garden has come out very publicly to serve up an explanation for the freezer dogs. He suggested that no one would have been trying to pass off the dogs as some other meat, but that they may have been offered as a delicacy to those whose appetites lean toward the canine. (I can hear you groaning from here.) Gusty of him, I think.

As predicted, I attended Matrix: Revolutions last night, and it turned out to be a passable actioner in three parts. The first part was to encourage us to forget all the bull we were fed in Reloaded, the second was a too-long version of Starship Troopers (troops get prepared for big battle while discussing the angst of their interpersonal relationships, followed by said battle), and the third - well, the third part of Revolutions was nonsense, but it was still more cohesive nonsense than anything in #2. I would prefer to believe that at the end of The Matrix, Neo makes his phone call to The Powers That Be, flies off, end of series. Or perhaps afterward, Neo and friends start going on rescues, handing out red pills like Tic Tacs as they drag people out of the Matrix, while the Sentinels hunt for, perhaps even capture, Neo in the meat world. Disappointing compared to the remarkable first film, I'm happy to acknowledge, but at least consistent with the first. You could come out feeling adventure-movie happy. Better than the KeyMaster / TrainKeeper / DogCatcher / DungRunner garbage they came up with, that made the sequels feel like you were playing Mystic Adventure on your new Intellivision some time around 1983, albeit with better graphics.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Election day in Saskatchewan

It's going to be close, so go vote. Even if you don't live there.
Duran Duran has left the building

My final score: 71.15. It seem I'm not as expert in the '80 as Bud, who referred me there. And for the record, being born slightly before Woodstock doesn't make me a Yuppie, young lady! I would have been a 99.5 without that penalty.

(I encourage you all to comment your scores.)
Pandering to my Canadian readers

Maher Arar has spoken out about his deportation to Syria by American authorities, and his lengthy imprisonment in a Syrian jail. He has also brought attention to the imprisonment of another Canadian, Abdullah Almalki. Mr. Almalki's case has not been nearly as high-profile as Arar's, probably because it wasn't the Americans who shipped him there - he was taken into custody while travelling in Damascus.

What is our government doing to protect Canadians from torturous justice systems abroad?

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham told a parliamentary committee dealing with Canadians imprisoned in the Middle East that the use of fiery rhetoric, the withdrawal of ambassadors and the threat of economic sanctions rarely works to achieve any results.
I'm sure a full and impartial investigation into what happened to Maher Arar will prove this to be true.

So perhaps we should have one.
Pandering to my American readers

I haven't been a huge follower of the Democratic primaries, because I don't get to vote in one, I don't get to vote in the American general election, and because generally, as long as the President of the United States is a multilateralist, one's pretty much as good as another from here.

But I am an admirer of fine political skills, and if Howard Dean is half as smart as this blogger argues Dean is proving himself to be, his team might be the smartest political operatives in the game.

Hesoid takes the counterpoint, and thinks Dean talks too much.
Don's Movie Preview

I'm off to see the last installment of the Matrix trilogy with friends this evening, and I'm hoping it will answer the questions left over from the second film:

1) Huh?

2) Wha?

3) WTF?

It tells you how much respect I had for the first film, that I'm willing to give the Wachowskis another fifteen bucks, even after Reloaded. But the reviews aren't encouraging. I'll keep you posted.
Don's Restaraunt Review

If you find yourself in Edmonton, may I recommend the Panda Garden? I give it four dogs out of four.

On the bright side, there's no evidence they were serving actual Pandas.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

A little spin never hurt anyone:

Last week, Jack Layton published this op-ed in the National Post. He makes an appeal to the Progressives within the Progressive Conservative party to head on over to the NDP, once the Reform Party Alliance has overrun their party and traditions.

[T]he NDP, which elected more MPs than the Tories in each of the last three elections, is a more effective vehicle for progressives currently within the PC Party. We also allow these stalwarts a chance to join the majority within one party, rather than remaining a frustrated minority within a party that long since abandoned them.
Well, close, anyway. If my experience is any guide, you'll be part of a far less frustrated minority, but you'll find just as many disagreements in the party, and being among the moderates in the NDP will be the minority opinion. But hey, here's my appeal - join on up, and maybe we can finally convince those NDs out on the left, those who want to organize farm labour or appeal more broadly to puppet-weilding WTO protesters (and their granola-munchin', Birkenstock-wearin' bretherin and sesterin) to give it a rest.
One year on

Today marks a full year since I started writing for this weblog, and the page is very different from what I had originally planned - thank goodness! Very few of you would be interested in my week-to-week chess results, I'm sure.

A year ago I was unemployed, and trying to do something with my time that made me feel like I was doing something useful, or at least interesting, with my days. Now, I fit my writing in between calls at the help desk, and somehow find myself writing more than then, if with less research.

I hope the writing is better than it was a year ago, because I'm not thrilled with some of the posts from back then. I try to avoid being as earnest as I was then (though you'd never know it from the last post).

I'm glad you've all stopped by - it makes this much more fun for me to know someone could give a damn about the "Random thoughts, mostly political, of a left-leaning Albertan."
Have you heard about this Terry Schiavo?

Of course you have - the woman lives in Florida, is described as being in a coma, and has been sentenced to death by a Florida judge. Here come seven words you've likely never heard together before - they're going to sound particularly strange to servants of the American justice system: Governor Bush has commuted that death sentence.

This all ringing a bell? Good.

While I'm sure the debate over Terry Schiavo's life and death means something different in the U.S., where every debate seems to take on meaning that can't be imagined outside the States, the Terry Schiavo discussion is something else entirely in Canada - and it has the left against the left. Disability advocates argue that the devaluation of a life devalues all life, and that we can't possibly evaluate what her quality of life is (and no, this doesn't turn into a "pro-life" argument, in the abortion sense of the phrase). It might not be a life we'd want for ourselves, but we can't possibly make that decision for someone else.

Right-to-die advocates argue, also quite reasonably, that her life is devoid of the basic human dignity we all deserve, and that she should be allowed that dignity in death that her life currently lacks. She may not even be "alive" at all, in any real sense of the word, and keeping the body's motor functions operating long after everything that was Terry Schiavo has left the building is monstrous.

I personally lean toward the former - toward a belief that if I've expressed that in such-and-such set of circumstances (let's say, for example, I turn into my parents, or I lose that rock-'n-roll spirit) I'd prefer to be dead, then the government shouldn't be wasting time prosecuting the person who *ahem* executes those wishes. But if I haven't given permission, if there's some brain activity, and if your denial of medical attention hasn't killed me, killing me with more forceful means (whether starvation or blunt head trauma) may cross a level of hubris that should give even non-religious people pause.

But both sides of the argument in Canada seem to agree about one thing. Under no circumstances is it right to fucking starve her to death. Give her a lethal volume of morphine, shoot her in the head, or send her to the guillotine - any option is less cruel than denying food. If you refused to feed your dog, you'd go to jail. Starving to death is not death with dignity, in any possible interpretaion of the word.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Coincidence, or theft?

Last night's Simpsons featured a Treehouse of Horror segment with a Nobel Prize ceremony. "Here to present the Nobel Prize, Dr. Dudley Herschbach and Jennifer Garner."

Didn't I do this joke on Friday? Didn't I do this joke immediately following a post on The Simpsons? Am I being ripped off by the fastest animators of all time?