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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Debate watch

Ted Morton mentions of "Ottawa" in opening comments: two.

Oh, Good Lord. Ads? "Thanks for tuning in to this important debate. But first, here's some products you might enjoy."

Morton: "Rebalance federalism". Translation: devolution of power. No wonder he was all for Quebec as a nation. One more "Ottawa" mention.

Stelmach's been taking hand-gesture lessons. Possibly from Raj Pannu, c. his first election as leader.

Dinning has twice said "stand-up, proud Canadian." So far, I think he's playing the right game.

More ads? This is quickly starting to look like Politically Incorrect with Bill Mahar. Except this is funnier.

Calgary Herald reporter Tom Olson needs a haircut.

Jim, I don't think your time with the CHRA is a selling point.

Morton: "The [health care] system has to be broken." I think what he means is the monopoly, but that wasn't the best line ever. Dinning has very eloquently summed up the zero sum game that private health care is. Another five minutes on the topic would have been nice, but we have some crap to sell. Thanks, Sears. A gift card sounds nice. When did the Brick stop yelling at me? Oh, a Subway gift card! I think that time could have been better used.

Ten Morton, and Bill 208. "Toleration will flow in both directions" Toleration isn't exactly tolerance, but good try. Will Ted tolerate my church performing gay marriages in Alberta? Stelmach played dumb dodgeball with the question - where does he stand on social issues? I have no idea.

I could do without Jim Dinning's shit-eating grin at the end of many of his comments. I suspect it's that smart-ass smugness that's led us to this close race in the first place.

"Alberta is on the verge of greatness"? Whoops to Dinning.

Ted Morton makes an appeal for second-preference votes. I suspect he's not going to be getting many of those - lots of firsts, and lots of none. Then again, Stelmach hasn't been impressive this evening, and that might have been the first serious look that a lot of voters have had of him.

Well, that was brief, but moderately enlightening. Not in terms of policy, which got too-quick a brush, but in terms of flavour. Not being a Tory myself, I haven't had a lot of exposure to these guys. Now, I have stronger impressions:

Dinning: Paul Martin. Wants to be Premier because he feels like it's his turn, would shift the party to the centre, and will spend a lot of time fighting with his own divided caucus. I'd like him okay, but I'm not voting Tory.
Stelmach: Don Getty. No charisma, no ideas, and coming on the heels of someone like Ralph Klein, no future.
Morton: Stockwell Day. Even in Alberta, with our theoretically generous media, he will get eaten alive, and I'll enjoy every minute of it.

I'm starting to think my old rival Lyle Oberg might not have been a bad choice after all. The Tories look absolutely screwed to me with any one of these guys.
Debate night

With the federal Liberal convention going on, the Alberta race for the Premier's chair may not be getting the attention it deserves - you owe it to yourself to watch the debate to begin in less than an hour on Global. And here's a little game to play, of which I'll explain more later. Every time Ted Morton says "Ottawa", replace it in your head with the word "Canada". A clear picture of what Ted Morton is all about should emerge.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Let's Make a Deal

There were a lot of old-timey Reformers, the sort that in the past stood against Meech and Charlottetown because they didn't want any special status for Quebec, who stood this week to recognize Quebecois as a "nation". Is this debate the pro quo to pay off that quid?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ted Morton, bad for Alberta in the short term, great for Alberta in the long term

Why do I think Ted Morton would be so great for Alberta in the long term? Because, as I kept trying to argue to other New Democrats at the convention a couple of weeks ago, he represents the end of the long Tory rule in this province. And it turns out that moderate and smart long-time provincial cabinet minister Gary Mar agrees:
Cabinet minister Gary Mar has said he will not run for re-election if Morton wins, as he believes the party's 35-year reign over Alberta would end.

"If we went to a general election with premier Ted Morton we would fail to form a government in the next general election."
There's something that the NDP forgets, that the rest of the country forgets, but it's something that Albertans need to remember. We've only replaced our provincial government three times, and one pattern has been consistent throughout: our governments spend decades and multiple leaders in a slow drift to the right, and we throw the bums out with a radical shift to the left. When we elected the UFA in 1912, it was a precursor to the CCF. By the time we replaced them in 1936, they had drifted rightward, and William Aberhart and the Socreds were offering what amounted to a guaranteed income to help get us out of the depression. The Socreds remained until 1971, by which time items such as eugenics legislation still on the books had become an embarrassment to the people of this province. The Tories under Lougheed seemed young, energetic, and far more moderate.

Up until now, this pattern took three Premiers per party. Ralph Klein avoided repeating the pattern by radically changing the Tory party he inherited, and despite a general sense that he's a right-winger, the fact is that he nipped several socially right-swinging efforts from his own caucus in the bud. In his first few years, he resisted pressure to use the notwithstanding clause to undermine the Vriend decision ("reading in" protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual preference into Individual Rights Protection Act), and he stepped hard on an effort to de-list abortion as a provincially health-insured procedure. While cutting budgets severely in those early years, his wasn't an effort to, as the American Republicans like to talk about, shrink government until it's so small that it can be conveniently drowned in the bathtub. Instead, he was simply trying to get the books in order. I think there were many better, less painful, and possibly even braver paths to that goal, but I can't fault the intent, or dismissively label it "right-wing". An NDP government in Saskatchewan was making the very same hard choices at the very same time, for instance.

I digress quite a distance. My point is if the phone-in show denizens that constitute his base continue to rally and get Ted Morton elected Premier, then Albertans, despite having a reputation for radical redneckery, will reject the Tories, perhaps dumping them in the same trashbin that the Liberals, UFA, and Socreds already occupy, to not ever return.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sing along with the Tories

Competing with Ted Morton and Jim Dinning is apparently a difficult business, but Victor Doerkson is managing the trick maintaining the illusion.

It seems Dinning and Morton both have had songs written for their campaigns. Doerkson has fired back with a song written for, as Arrested Development fans everywhere know, George Oscar "GOB" Bluth.

I can't find Dinning's song, but Morton's song is here. Catchy, if you like the twangy music. And The Final Countdown, used as atmospheric music to some very bad magic, can be found here.

Here's a tip, Vic: if you're already running way behind, it's a bad idea to imply that your canpaign might actually be a joke.

Update, Sunday evening: The Calgary Grit found Dinning's song. Now having heard both, I'm giving Morton the edge in tunage. Oh, yeah - and in batshit craziness.
Words you won't hear in Edmonton this week:

But at least it's a dry heat.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Another great tradition

Another thing longtime readers know about me is I don't get too excited about hockey. Curling's my winter spectator sport. But for the summer, Canadian football all the way.

So, as much as it hurt me to watch my Stampeders go down in flames in the Western semi-final, I was glad to see a team as skilled and dominant as the BC Lions convert their success into a Grey Cup, even if they did manage to break the damn thing. Go stop by the Bear 604 Show, and offer the Bear your congratulations... I'm sure he's estatic.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

As longtime readers know, I don't normally attempt to find the words today - rather, I feel that today calls for respectful silence. But one thing needs to be said this time around:

Showing respect for our veterans and war dead is unrelated to the debate on our current war involvement. While I happen to think we're fighting the right fight right now, I also know there are thousands of Canadians who disagree with the best will. That debate, I'll save for another day.

When I was a kid, there were three wars whose dead were listed on the cenotaphs and memorial books. The Boer War was Canada's early effort to support British expansionism in Africa. Do I respect Canada's involvement in that war? No. Do I respect those Canadians who took up arms in what they no doubt felt was defense of an empire to which they owed allegiance? Unreservedly.

I encourage Canadians to pay your respects today. Debate Afghanistan tomorrow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Democracy Watch

The American government has certainly been talking up democracy over the weekend.

First, they've been promoting the sentencing in the Saddam Hussein trial as a victory for democracy:
"Saddam Hussein's trial is a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law," Bush told reporters before leaving Texas for campaign stops here and in Topeka, Kan. "It's a major achievement for Iraq's young democracy and its constitutional government."
Because, in fact, in Texas, nothing says "democracy" like a series of executions. Hope they got the right guy!

Meantime, in an actual democratic process, Nicarauguans are on the verge of electing (or have already?) Daniel Ortega to the Presidency. Naturally, something dirty must be going on:
The U.S. Embassy said it was too soon to "make an overall judgment on the fairness and transparency of the process."

"We are receiving reports of some anomalies in the electoral process," including polling stations that opened late and closed early, the embassy said.
Meantime, election observers from anywhere else in the world believe the process has been fair.

So, to sum up, the calculus of the Bush White House is:
Results we like = democracy
Results we don't like = not a democracy
It will be interesting to see if that calculus holds up on Tuesday. It'll also be interesting to see if variance from polls to election day are any different in Diebold states than in non-Diebold states. A government that believes favourable results are the same thing as a democracy is a government toward which suspicion can only be healthy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Two-point conversion

For the taxation change to income trusts, Jim Flaherty earned two solid points in my book.

First, that he did it at all was a solid point. That's a billion dollars in tax revenue that the government was losing to generally wealthier Canadians (certainly, wealthy enough to have the advice of lawyers and accountants) who least need tax breaks. Don't let an opposition parade of impoverished seniors who lost value on their income trusts today fool you. There's much more this federal government could do for seniors with a billion dollars a year than this tax loophole was doing for those seniors.

Second, and nearly as importantly, the change came silently and while the markets were closed, thereby earning some mad props from this page. After the random leaky/guessy nonsense in the leadup to the last rumoured change to income trusts, it's refreshing to see a Minister of Finance who knows how to make changes to tax laws like this with the speed and guile of a thief in the night. That's some serious Ministerin' of Finances, right there.