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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Canada's government falls! Will the streets murmur with quiet disagreement?"

- Stephen Colbert billboards the federal election to his North American audience.

Jon Stewart covered the story as well:
The vote followed revelations that Martin's ruling Liberal Party had engaged in a money-laundering scheme that channeled millions of federal dollars into party coffers. Shocking: that somewhere, a Liberal Party is ruling.
Click on "Hosed" to see the entire bit, which has a few moments worth watching.

Less than two hours remain to enter our Gaffe contest. Get your guesses in!
Tick tock

Just over thirteen hours remain before the gaffe contest entry mailbox becomes the gaffe-reporting mailbox. Get those entries in - click the link above. If you've come in late, here are the rules. Midnight Mountain Time - if you're in Okotoks and watching the CTV broadcast of The Daily Show, you're too late.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Harper's first press conference

Two questions have Harper on the hot seat early - asked if he loves Canada, he never said yes. Asked about same-sex marriage, he suggested he'd have a vote in House on reopening the debate over traditional marriage.

Gaffes? I don't want to start scoring them until all the ballots are in, but feel encouraged to use the comment pop-up to discuss.
Many more of me, a whole lot less of you

Canadians want a majority government, a new poll says. That sort of attitude has spelled doom for the NDP in post-minority elections in the past, as the faithful rush to organize the vote around one of the big two.

This time around, I'm not nearly so sure. Bottom line, we all know the BQ is taking somewhere in the range of sixty seats out of play. To create a majority, a party would have to win 155 out of the remaining 248 seats, which is... let's see, carry the six... not going to happen.

So, yes, we Canadians love our term-certain dictatorships. We're friends of authority. We'd all love a majority government. Just, you know, not those other guys. My guys. And knowing that a majority is going to be nearly impossible to achieve, NDP supporters will reflect on the spring budget, and decide to stay exactly where they are. Might even bring a few "strategic" voters back.

(Do I mock strategic voters with my dismissive quotation marks? Nonsense. There is a correct way to vote strategically. Every time I say this, I get to have fun conversations with fellow New Democrats. And no wonder the NDP gets frustrated by it - few Canadians are strategic voters. But many are "strategic" voters. "Strategic" voters cost any number of NDP seats in Saskatchewan and the Lower Mainland. My guide to proper, thoughtful strategic voting will come.)
Here we go

We will know in the next little while exactly what day the Gaffe-O-Meter prediction contest ends, but I can say with relative certainty that the opportunity to submit entries will be closing tomorrow at midnight, MST. Don't forget to enter!

(Also, there seems to be some sort of contest for seats in the House of Commons. More on that soon.)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Levant watch

I used to be a regular rebutter of Ezra Levant's crazier scribblings, but I've left the man off the hook for a while now. Today, while checking my links for cleanup purposes (can't disappoint my shiny new audience, now, can I?), I came across someone who has picked up where I left off.

You're doing fine work, Mr. Dursi. Please keep it up.
Just before we get all mud-slingy, take a moment

By way of the Dominion Daily Weblog, this article from the Observer reminds us that, in Trudeau's words, "We peer so suspiciously at one another that we cannot see that Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege."

There's a reason we rarely see our country reflected in the headlines of foreign newspapers and magazines. I hope "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative" continues to be the most boring headline ever. I don't think either of the potential ruling parties are likely to be able to undo that.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gaffe scoring example, pre-election edition

Harper's organized crime comment has taken the entire debate down a notch, in my opinion. Error in judgment? I'm certain it was. Like the child-porn accusations last time around, it's going to far, and the Liberals know it. They've been happy to add to the prominence of the accusation, believing as I do that in this case, the Liberals are rubber, and the Tories are glue. The louder the accusation is broadcast, the dumber it's going to look.

It's sad, really, because the Liberals require some woodshed time. There are legitimate reasons to want to see the party on the opposition benches, but overselling the case is going to undermine the entire project.

An actual gaffe? No. As dumb as it is, it's an intentional decision, one that was probably thought out by actual strategists.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The rules, the recap

Ah, the glory days of RevMod, when I was must-read blogging. At the height of the last election campaign, I was seeing 200 hits a day... small potatoes for some of my own regular reads, I know, but quite a spike for me. And yet, strangely enough, there were only about twenty entries for the last gaffe contest. Perhaps it was in anticipation for the disappointment the winner would feel in never receiving the prize offered.

By special request, here again were the final scores for the four parties:

A short recap - most of the Conservative points came from various candidates and sitting members sharing their socially conservative views - views that reminded many people east of the Canadian Shield that (at the time, I think less so now) you could easily draw a stright line of development from Reform through Canadian Alliance to the newly "merged" Conservative Party. Had the Tories been running on those views, there would have been no gaffe points awarded, but Harper's team was running away from the social conservatism as fast as he could go. Every time another candidate opened his mouth, they pulled Harper back in. It played right into the Liberal strategy: Conservatives are scary. (Calgary Grit noticed the first stirrings of this strategy redux for this election.)

In the meantime, the Liberals gained most of their points by proving that they too had some pretty socially conservative candidates. That was costly because of their own strategy: "We aren't the Reform Party."

The NDP's points, as I recall, mostly came from Layton himself. Good old Clarity Act. Mother of God, I hope Layton keeps his yap shut on Clarity this time around.

I can't remember where the BQ earned their couple of points. So much of it was in French, after all.

A refresher on the rules:

1) The scoring will begin on the day the writ is dropped for the Federal election - entries will be cut off midnight the next day. Entries will include the predicted total score for each party.

2) Two numbers determine the score - the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Both scales will score on a range from one to three. GaffePoints ("GP") for an individual gaffe will be calculated by multiplying "sig" by "prom". Party scores will accumulate by adding the GPs of each gaffe.

3) Contest entries will be scored by measuring the distance (plus or minus) between the prediction and the score for each party - lowest total difference wins.

4) I am the final and only arbiter of the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Debate, however, is encouraged in the attached comments section - I can be convinced.

5) Scoring will close at 0800 MST on the day following election day. SPECIAL PARIZEAU RULE: Scoring will double for gaffes made on election day, including acceptance and concession speeches.

6) For the purpose of the contest, "gaffe" is defined as an unplanned error in fact or judgment. It might be a mistake for the NDP to release a platform paper advocating gender segregation of schools, to the derision of the Canadian electorate, but it's not a "gaffe". On the other hand, if Jack Layton explains the policy by making an aside about high-school boys being distracted by the firm and supple bodies of women in the full bloom of their hot, hot youth, that would be a "gaffe".

Given my obvious reluctance to interact with the (I'm sure fine) employees of Canada Post, so as to submit to James Bow his already-earned prize, this year's prize will be something I can give without ever getting off my ass: a twenty-dollar donation to the local candidate of the winner's choice, in any provincial or federal election of the future, in the name of "Revmod Gaffe Contest". I'm not giving candidates who skirt the edges of Canada's anti-hate legislation that $20, but I won't be judging or vetting beyond that. Sure, make me give the money to Rob Anders - hilarious!

Enter here

Monday, November 21, 2005

They're back

I'm half-tempted to start awarding gaffe points now for the way the parties have walked into a Christmas election. all hoping to make it look like it's the fault of the other guys.

First was Harper's application of pressure on the NDP: did Harper sincerely want an election right away, or was he trying to score points against everyone in scoring distance? Myself, I think it really did seem intentional. Some of the language Harper used as a goad on Layton sounded like Stephen the policy wonk, and that's when you know it's him talking, and not the spin machine behind "Stephen Harper: Glad-Handing Regular Guy in Cowboy Hat" (not to mention "Preston Manning: Working Stiff" and "Stock Day: X-Treme Athlete"). No gaffe points for that.

Layton tried to cut the deal, push things into February. My respect for Jack Layton continues to grow. Once again, he got to appear to the country as the deal-maker, as the man who can make things happen. Long-time readers of this page know I don't talk up Jack Layton, despite my party affiliation. The man, or the people behind him, have figured out what they're about. The one trouble with the threat was that if the Liberals didn't take it, as they didn't, there's no room left to negotiate - the NDP are in a corner, and have to vote for defeat.

So the one possible gaffe in the whole loop is the Liberals, refusing the February offer. It was entertaining watching them say no, and then attempting to blame a Christmas election on the opposition. Sadly, the Liberals are not the spin genuises they once were.

Still, I'm not awarding pre-election gaffe points, and as it turns out, most Canadians don't care one way or the other if the campaign overlaps with a prime retail season (and religious holiday, coincidentially). I'm just hoping that awarding gaffe points throughout the campaign reminds me how to blog. The rules for the contest will be reposted some time this week. Can someone unseat current champion James Bow?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Does anyone else think it's ironic that Gomery has reported on All Saint's Day?

A whole lot of bloggers are going to be weighing in with a whole lot of opinions today, and I'm certainly going to be looking over those blogs as best I can as the day wears on. But we should all remember one important fact: none of them will have read the report. Few of them will have seen a copy of the report except on television, watching Peter Mansbridge showing us how thick the darn thing is.

Having said that, recognizing that I'm only working from the same overviews and spin points as everyone else, two things seem to emerge:

- Despite the concerted effort to spin otherwise, it is unlikely that the current government as constituted really deserves to be blamed for the errors that led to the specific sins investigated by Judge Gomery. Stephen Harper stressed during his press conference that the Prime Minister is not part of the judicial authority loop, yet he wants to blame the current government for no one being in jail for this yet. That certainly smells like spin, not serious accusation toward the current government. With the report now filed, I'm sure we'll start to see the populations of minimum security prisons growing soon.

- Jean Chretien is being properly tagged for a sin of omission. He wanted to set up a quick-response project to improve the Canadian brand in Quebec. I'm certain that desire to do whatever is required to avoid another referendum drove him to resist oversight or moving the project further away from the PMO. A few million dollars against the country? Easy math. This sin of ommission is understandable. It's venial, not mortal. It doesn't undo or rewrite his entire record as PM. But that doesn't make him blameless.

- The opposition leaders as one blamed "the Liberals", and carefully avoided mention of Martin or current cabinet members. There was a particularly telling moment during Harper's press conference when he was giving grudging credit for something or another, and said "the Liberals," before he rethought and said "Mr. Martin's government." So, in short, "Liberals" = "bad". It will be Liberals going to jail, therefore the entire government needs to be replaced. My own thoughts? I have some serious issues with the current government, but sponsorship isn't among them. The government as it existed when this program began was arrogant - of course it was! How could it not be, with no organized opposition, no possibility of defeat on the horizon? I don't think anyone can accuse today's government of arrogance - if anything, it is far too timid. Punish Martin for that.