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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's What's For Dinner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 26, 2004

It's Buy Nothing Day!

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

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Post Mortem

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 22, 2004

Election Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 19, 2004

Alberta's Senate Election - Bringing People Together!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Comedy at Club Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It could have been more timely, but...

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

Wha? Really? Bush again?

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

John Kerry? Who dat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 08, 2004


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

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

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

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day 2004 (US edition)

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

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

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

Monday, November 01, 2004

Bad timing

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

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

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