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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Dennis Saunders, currently writing Neomugwump and formerly of The Moderate Republican, woke his blog up, so I'm pleased to drop him back in the list just in time to point out this very thoughtful post around the Rick Warren controversy.

Short version for those of you who don't follow the USAmerican politics, Obama has asked Prop 8 opponent Rick Warren to deliver a prayer at the Inauguration, making many of Obama's gay supporters feel abandoned or thrown overboard, while Obama panders to the right wing somehow. I think it's more complicated and smarter than that. Dennis agrees. Go read.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Running out of ammo

Perhaps it's just as well that the Prime Minister convinced the Governor-General to let Canada sit out the entire financial crisis, because meanwhile, the United States is quickly running out of ammo to throw at it. Reducing the prime rate to one quarter of one percent is a desperate attempt to encourage spending, because your rate of return through saving on US treasury bills is now a little lower than the rate of return through adding the change you find in your couch to what you already have hidden under the mattress.

No wonder Iggy seems cool to the prospect of a coalition - who the hell wants to govern during the next couple of years?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More irony

The man who said (in a bald lie) that "The opposition does not have the democratic right to impose a coalition..." during his television address a week ago, has decided that even without proving he has the confidence of the House, he should exercise his democratic right to name senators - a dozen and a half of 'em!

As Frank magazine used to put it, Stephen Harper is a Great Canadian(tm).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I suppose as the economy gets worse, ANY job is a good job

Bob Rae sure did look happy as the final obstacle moving out of the way for Iggy's coronation. And no wonder. Does Bob want to be the guy who, in the face of popular opinion deciding that Canada's parliamentary system is somehow "undemocratic", has to pull down the Tory government? Bob took a stand - he said Harper's government was too far gone, had accused his caucus of being traitorous, separatist sympathizers, and no budget was going to fix it. Bob had the conviction to carry through with the coalition plan.

Ignatieff, though - there's a guy who has few enough convictions to lead a Liberal Party. Call him separatist, call him traitor, call him undemocratic - the important thing is to keep all the options open for as long as humanly possible. I'm sure the Tories will waste no time testing this lack of conviction - expect more exciting poison pills in the budget.

Meet your new Liberal caucus - chew toy to the government once again. Because that worked super-well for Dion.
Everybody's got a price

I brag this is an ad-free blog, but once a year, I break the rule to get myself in a poker tournament. Who knew the price was so cheap?

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.

Registration code: 851558

Monday, December 08, 2008


In all of the coverage of the end of Dion's days as leader of the Liberal party (and let's be clear, it's not the coalition generally coming apart, it's the Liberals who are so impatient and dumb they demand the resignation of someone who has already resigned), Stephen Harper seems to have successfully dodged the bullet this time out. But I don't think he has. Instead, I think the Christmas break will just reinforce to opposition members that the Prime Minister has been acting in an increasingly abusive and autocratic manner, and they aren't going to forget easily that they've been painted with the brush of words like "traitor". Should the Liberals get their crap together quickly, even with someone as lukewarm on the coalition as Iggy has been, they should still manage to topple the government, if only to prove to Harper that hiding behind the vice-regal skirts only gets him so far.

The Tories have one save up their sleeve, and I don't think I've heard a syllable about it since Thursday - Harper now has seven weeks to resign and let the Tories find a replacement. Either way, I believe this Prime Minister will be gone before the snow is.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How bad is the economy?

During Meet the Press this morning, among ads selling luxury cars and Charles Schwab trying to make us all feel better, was a Wal-Mart commercial.

We're all going to die.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And the winner is...

Kevin Brennan, once of Tilting at Windmills, more recently of POGGe, came just eleven points away from correctly predicting the gaffe totals, with a prediction of 15/12/2/5. Congratulations, Kevin - identify a local candidate before the next election rolls around, some time after the Liberals get their act together, and they'll see $20 in your name.

See you all right back here whenever Stephen Harper decides again to defeat his own government, in clear contravention of his own fixed date rules. Either that, or four years from now, again in the middle of a Presidential race, again over a Thanksgiving weekend. Remind me to post why fixed dates are stupid.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gaffe cleanup: the addendum

The election day cleanup I did ignored completely the Andrew McKeever uncontextualized "war deserters" facebook post mentioned back here. No-chance candidate, possibly just a name on the ballot to put up against Bev Ota (if he has time to keep up with his facebook and get into flame wars during the writ, he's not a serious candidate): prom=one, comments that I don't even know if they were written during the writ means sig=1 for lack of better information. One more point for the NDP.

I'll try to calculate the winner by the end of the day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Linda Duncan is showing a ONE VOTE lead over Rahim Jaffer in Edmonton Strathcona at this moment on the CBC website. It's particularly entertaining to see the word "elected" still sitting beside Jaffer's name.

Edited to add: now it's 150-odd for Duncan, but the "elected" is still there for Jaffer.
The next several months

I'm concerned that Harper has won a functional majority for the next year or so, on the back of a Liberal party that's going to be in disarray again while they figure out who they want as leader. Watch them step out of the house every time the bells ring again, abstain from votes again.

What would happen in a perfect world is that a chunk of the Liberal party would recognize that Dion managed to undo 18 months of negative campaigning in about a week, and if the party got together behind him, he could have a do-over by next summer with a much better result. But there are way too many Liberals too attached to the very old Trudeau-Turner split now represented by Iggy and Rae to ever let that happen. So congratulations to the Conservatives for their functional majority for the next long while.
Close races

The number of seats that could flip over the next couple of hours, or under judicial recount, seem higher than normal to me. I;m going hunting for a list, and might edit this post when I find one. Offhand: Edmonton Sherwood Park, Vancouver South, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Oak Ridges-Markham, and Outremont to name several.
Local results

Turns out Edmonton-Sherwood Park is the riding to watch tonight in Alberta. Sadly, it seems to be the officially-named but brown Tory neck-and-neck with the independent but white Tory. Thanks again, Alberta, for disappointing me.

The ridings that were theoretically competitive - Edmonton-Strathcona and Edmonton East for the NDP, and Edmonton Centre for the Liberals, were, in practice, part of the provincial blowout.
Late start

So, why won't the CBC say "minority"? Anyone who can count can see that the elected and leading for the other parties add up to 161. Things could flip, but not that far.
Go vote

Out of respect for the law of the land, liveblogging the results won't start until 7:30 Mountain. To resist temptation even to seek the early east coast returns out for myself, I'll be taking the earlier-mentioned big change in my personal life out for a birthday meal, so if I'm late, well, guess the check didn't come quickly enough. See you as the numbers roll in.
Election day catchup

This year's gaffe-o-meter has been complicated by a few factors: a lot of discussion early on of the pre-writ (sometimes by several years) activities and statements of candidates, a real issue jumping up mid-writ to overrun reporting of our 308 elections (while dominating the 51 Electoral college elections in the States), and the media's disinterest in the Canadian battle in favour of Sarah Palin and her three-ring gaffe machine. I'll add a personal fourth reason: a heavy work schedule married to significant changes in my personal life have left me distracted, too.

I'll soldier on, working backwards.

Dion is confused by a question posed by a local newsman, and the tape is met by hoots of derision. I'm frustrated by this one, because Dion could have easily, and happily as part of the broadcast, said what I think he was getting at: we'd all seen the pop of the bubble coming from some distance back. Was he being asked about preventative steps he might have taken leading up to now, or was he being asked about steps the Canadian government should take going forward? Alternatively, he could have snapped into his 30-days-big-meetings talking points, which he should have been able to perform in his sleep. Dion's the leader, so this is automatically a prom=3, and I think it stopped the momentum I discussed just one post ago right in its tracks, so despite it being more mumbly-joeism rather than any indication of Dion's unfitness to lead (IMHO, YMMV), I think a sig=2 is correct, for a six point gain for the Grits.

This has been a bad campaign strategically for the Tories, I think. They spent a lot of time and treasure painting Dion as hapless over the last several months, only to have to change him to "scary" after the markets cratered and Harper looked uncaring. The debates contributed to the uncaring image, but I think telling Canadians through Peter Mansbridge that the collapsing market presented great buying opportunities became the stick that Layton and Dion beat Harper with for the rest of the campaign. Again, party leader means prom=3, and the issue stopped any majority hope the Tories had, but I don't think it was as game-changing as the Dion error. There is perhaps not enough subtlety in my scoring system. Sig=1, total three more for the CPC.

Another mumbly-joeism, much older but much debated since, between Jerad Gallinger and I at least. Liberal Andrew Telegdi, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, at an election forum, declared that the first task of this election is to elect Stephen Harper Prime Minister. He claimed later that he meant to say "eject", which was probably the stupidest excuse possible, but better than what he was really thinking, which I suspect was "let's hurry up and elect Harper again, which we all believe is going to happen, and then move on with the business of the nation. In the meantime, who do you want as your local representative?" which is why he referenced May. Sitting MP = prom=2. However, I can't imagine anyone believing that this slip was in any way indicative of Telegdi's voting preferences: sig=1. Total, two more for the Liberals.

Just to clean up the last suggestion hanging about, Dion playing street hockey was fine (no one expected him to look like Lemieux). And, seriously, nothing out of the Bloc? That just seems so unlikely. Oh well - perhaps money or ethnics will come up tonight and Duceppe will run up a score.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

An aside

I've got some catching up to do (not a lot, mind) on the scores. But I've just arrived home after some extended road tripping, and is it just me, or are the wheels coming off the Tory campaign a little? I'm not talking gaffes, I'm just talking about the campaign itself. To wit:

- Harper seems caught off-guard by the American financial crisis, and doesn't seem to really want to acknowledge it. Claiming that we're isolated from it looks dumber every day, as the Loonie shrinks against the US dollar and Canadian banks claim they can only offer half the rate cut on loans that they themselves will receive from the Bank of Canada. Dion's "no plan" criticism from the debate seems increasingly spot-on. I'll save Harper's "great time to invest" bits for the gaffe count.

- The late platform release doesn't seem to have worked very well. The lack of substantive policy directions within it likewise isn't setting the world on fire.

- Speaking of fire, Dion seems to have finally found something of fire in his belly. The no-luck schmuck image the Tories so painstakingly designed for him held up really well, until possibly the last week or so.

- Layton may find himself hoist upon his own strategic voting petard, after arguing last weekend that Liberals might want to move their votes the NDP's way so as to make sure that Dion's cratering doesn't leave Harper with a majority. Does a Liberal recovery turn the argument on its head?

I'm not sure what the polls are telling us, but I'd be astounded by a Tory majority now. I think the Conservatives ought to be very thankful indeed this weekend, that most of the country is done paying attention as of tomorrow, and will be focused on turkey and what-not until Tuesday.

Full disclosure - I'd love to give Dion a vote of support this election, but despite what voteforenvironment.ca tells me, the real race in Edmonton East is between the Tory incumbent (Peter Goldring) and one of my favourite New Democrats from way back, former provincial leader Ray Martin - the Liberal candidate is going to be left well behind. I have no problem casting a strategic vote when it's also for the best local candidate.

Monday, September 29, 2008

How bad are things going for Stephane Dion?

I'm not much for tracking the polls. But there's some interesting side stories there. Intrade sells contracts on future events - you pay so many cents for the prediction of an outcome, and the site pays you a dollar if it happens. A Tory victory contract will cost you right now 95-98 cents, depending on your timing. By comparison, Barack Obama contracts are selling for 62 cents.

That's gonna have to be some kinda debate on Thursday. And somehow it's going to have to beat watching Joe Biden give Sarah Palin a stern talking-to. I wouldn't take a contract on that at any price.

Friday, September 26, 2008

And this is why I didn't let the Greens play

Every party has managed to earn a look in the last 24 hours, after days of quiet error-free campaigning. I appreciate their thoughtfulness in all timing their gaffing to serve my road schedule.

They have not, however, all earned points. Let's have a look.

Conservative: Lee Richardson suggested in Calgary's weekly giveaway organ that recent immigrants may be responsible for gang activity.
"Particularly in big cities, we've got people that have grown up in a different culture," he said. "And they don't have the same background in terms of the stable communities we had 20, 30 years ago in our cities ... and don't have the same respect for authority or people's person or property."

He later added: "Talk to the police. Look at who's committing these crimes. They're not the kid that grew up next door."
The other parties are screaming, of course, but I think the Calgary Herald's editorial defense of Richardson is pretty accurate - Richardson is no racist. Nonetheless, the fact that the Herald had to spend a page arguing it is what makes this statement a gaffe. Richardson, as a sitting MP and candidate for re-election, is a prom = 2, but I expect the issue will evaporate by tomorrow, so sig = 1. If I turn out to be wrong about the life of this story, I reserve the right to reevaluate.

Liberal: Winnipeg Liberal candidate "crazy" Lesley Hughes has some really crazy ideas about September 11. It's unclear to me if her apology is acknowledging the craziness of the ideas generally, or just the part about Jews being warned away from the towers (because it seems anti-semetic). But it's ancient, so no score for the crazy lady.

NDP: Can someone find me the source material being discussed here? The story might as well be "Candidate says unpleasant things we won't repeat." I find it hard to score that.

I find it less hard to score Michael Byers' desire to close the doors on the tarsands. It's probably not a bad line to take in a UBC j-school class, but it was a dumb overstepping of policy, in that it feeds the belief that putting the economy in NDP hands would be very dangerous indeed. Byers is called "high-profile" in some of the stories around this, and I suppose from the outside he seems to be, but running against both Hedy Fry and Adriane Carr, he's going to get killed come election day. Still, even with a prom = 1, I think this might have some legs in reinforcing an argument about NDP secret agendas, so I'm giving a sig = 2. I'd be tempted to give three, but I haven't noticed the story taking the bounce I would have imagined.

(Note to Bear604 - check out, and then repair your link to the Thunderbird.)

BQ: Finally, Gilles Duceppe claims that the Tory "tough on youth crime" plan will serv[e] up "young flesh" to hardened criminals."

First of all, CBC, thank you so much for not also putting quotes around "hardened."

Duceppe's not apologising, so I think this falls into the category I described back in the rules section:
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".
In fact, we seem to be having the very "firm bodies / hot youth" discussion I suggested here, but I'm suggesting that Duceppe is actually initiating a policy discussion about prison rape. It might be dumb, but it's not a "gaffe" in the same sense. No score for this one yet. I could be convinced otherwise.

Total score - Con 6+2=8, NDP 0+2=2, Liberals hold at 1, the BQ still not on the board.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The mortgage bailout, explained

Are you American? Do you own something that you think is worth more than anyone else is willing to pay for it? Perhaps the Treasury Department would like to buy that stuff, too! Here's a website that allows you to itemize what you'd like to be rid of, and what you'd like the American taxpayer to give you for it.

Is there a particular reason that the Treasury wants to buy the bad debts, rather than just, say, buy the banks themselves?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A partial list of people who have not been pure enough in behaviour to run for the NDP this time around:

Dana Larsen

Kirk Tousaw

NDP Ontario MPP Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

Mike Harris, Glen Clark, and Ralph Klein

John Edwards, Howard Dean, and John Kerry

Barack Obama

Pierre Trudeau

And, let's be honest here, damn near anyone I've met under forty years old (and some over). When did pot use become a barrier to NDP nomination? Once Jack is cornered enough to have to answer that question, the answer should be interesting.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New reciprocal link

I note this because a) it's been a while and b) he has a neat little meter of his own, tracking the parties and leaders according to their Wikipedia page views. Go visit Jerad Gallinger and tell him Don says "hey".
Sig and Prom, illustrated

Darlene Lannigan is pretty much nobody, so her comments, though pretty racist and suggesting something disturbing about how she views constituents, have only made a small media splash. Prom 1, sig 2 (and should have been three, but for the media feeding on Gerry Ritz).

Gerry Ritz is the Minister of Agriculture, and apparently didn't show appropriate levels of empathy toward people that no one in the meeting knew. Because his prominence is high (a three, for sure), no one seems to care that the significance was zero.

I spent last night thinking that if hosting the gaffe-o-meter has in any small way contributed to the media being oversensitive to these things, I don't want to do it any more. Then I decided I wanted to come to be viewed as the national expert on gaffes, and get on Canada AM panels saying "who cares?" to bits like this, so I've got to keep the g-o-m operating. But let me make my public announcement now - I'll never again stand for election anywhere for anything, because apparently I have a tin ear for what's appropriate. I wonder how many others have come to the same conclusion this week?

The meter above will be updated when I get to my desktop computer, probably late today or early tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Finally, a quiet week wakes up

First up, Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz made some dark jokes about the listeria outbreak during a conference call.

Good for him. Read this blog regularly, and you'll discover I'm pretty sympathetic to whistling in the dark as a coping mechanism. Yes, the outbreak was tragic, but that's all the more reason Ritz needs to break the stress with his comedy stylings. Anyway, at least he was on the file, whereas Minister of Health Tony Clement was practicing his set at the DNC in Denver during the outbreak.

But then there was an apology, and gaffe-o-meter veterans know that an apology, self-acknowledging the gaffe, trumps whatever I might think of the original statement. Remember Peter McKay's "stick to your knitting" to Alexa McDonough? Goddammit, that one pissed me off a lot - it was just as sexist as "lipstick on a pig", which is to say, not at all. Just because someone objects to something you say, you don't need to fold like a cheap tent in a strong wind every time. I digress some distance from the point.

It was pre-writ, as Calgary Grit points out in the previous comments, so no score regardless.

Second, former Marijuana Party candidate Dana Larsen is now former NDP candidate Dana Larsen because, if I understand correctly, he advocated the use of drugs. And you know, was filmed while stoned. This might be him, right here. There seems to be a lot of discussion about the NDP lack of vetting, but really? This is a surprise to the party? Or did the party just experience some morning-after remorse?

Anyway, does anyone expect 308 candidates to be individually vetted by the central campaign? More likely to me is that the local constituency knew very well what his background and attitude toward drug policy is, and approved wholeheartedly of it, or at least didn't feel that it was beyond the range of acceptable views and experiences, because let's face it (and you can discuss this more with Bear604), the views of people living in the Lower Mainland are different than people living in Toronto.

But again, pre-writ, so no points. The scores remain unchanged, and the slow week continues. Would someone please let Rob Anders out of whatever crate Harper stores him in during elections, and get him a microphone, stat?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Liberals on board

They still have a LOT of scoring to do, going by some of the predictors, but the journey of a thousand miles blah blah blah. And if every gaffe costs them a candidate, well, they aren't going to be contesting a majority if they score as high as some predict.

I'm not penalizing the Grits for Simon Bedard's comments regarding Oka twenty years ago ("You go in there with the army and you clean up the place. Fifty deaths! 100 deaths! 125 deaths! It's over. You bury it and you move on."). Old comments don't score even if they're resurrected during the writ - call it the Azania rule. No, he's getting notched for saying this week that reserve gang activity (an "underground mafia" in the Globe article) validated his old comment, and that further, Stephane Dion has the backbone to intervene.

Backbone, Dion has. Intervene, he did. Unfortunately for Mr. Bedard, that came in the form of the candidate's rapid shitcanning. One prom for a candidate that had no chance to begin with, and only one sig for something I would have liked to see get more coverage. Not even my commenters seem to have noticed this one.
There's never a stone when you need one

Harper's week has been hurt by two birds: first a puffin, now a Sparrow. Ryan Sparrow declares that a father of a soldier lost in Afghanistan is politically motivated. What sort of partisan blinders do you have on to think sending that accusation to the media will produce the story you're hoping for? A quick apology and suspension, and this ended up being less of a story than the cartoon bird, but still, one prom (I had never heard of Sparrow before this, have you?) by two sig is another two for the Liberals. Next up, Simon Bedard.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Snap decisions

So, what I thought was a dumb bumphy story shared a news cycle with the Green Party's successful lobby to get into the debate. Actually, I thought they were both sort of dumb bumphy stories, but I think I've already made clear my thoughts about Elizabeth May.

Anyway, I've been stewing over this one, still wondering if it was a gaffe at all. How many more thousand eyeballs went to see notaleader.ca because of this story? How does the benefit of that measure up against the damage caused by Harper's apology? In fact, was the apology damaging at all, or was it another step in undoing Harper's control-freakish image?

Answering these questions is above my pay scale, so I'll go back to strict interpretation of the scoring. The gaffemaker is uncertain even now - was it just some random web designer who might not see much sunlight and therefore thought a pooping puffin was high-larious? (In fairness, it's still better than the Tory "youth blog" from last time around.) Or was it a decision and a plan made at the highest levels? Without knowing, I'll give one prom for a nobody, by two sig for owning a day and then going away (and possibly not being that damaging after all), equals two points for the Conservatives, awarded two days late.

One note - the scoreboard above won't be changing while I'm on the road - it should tomorrow when I'm finally home.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Entries Closed

Not many entries this time around, but that's okay too - we can still generate a winner. I'm going to experiment this week with Google Docs and Chrome to see what sort of fancy scorekeeping I can do - stay tuned.

Even from the few entries, trends have emerged. Primarily, almost everyone expects the Liberals to score higher than the Conservatives, and have guessed at a low Tory score. Perhaps you're imagining that communications control will remain as tight as it has the last couple of elections. I suppose we'll see.

The widest variety of guesses come on the Liberal side of things - from a low of twelve to a high of forty. Forty? Seriously? How many interviews is Scott Reid scheduled for?

I've had a few suggestions for early gaffes - the Puffin ad and the Liberal plane in particular, but these aren't really the sort of thing I've normally scored. Check the archives during previous elections to get a sense of the things that are going to count: they almost always involve a spoken, occasionally written, error in judgment by an individual. I can't remember a time I've assigned points to "the campaign". And just to anticipate some of Dion's struggles with English, as I established with Martin, "Mumbly Joeisms" generally don't count.

The gaffe3 AT revmod.ca address is now for reporting what you spot. My job and the fact that I have a candidate to volunteer for this time around (if they'd ever return my calls - I think they may need people pretty badly) means that I'm not going to be keeping the same close tabs I used to, or updating within a few minutes or hours of an error. They'll all get tallied, don't you worry.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Now or never

Just to be absolutely clear, the Gaffe-o-Meter is a predictive game... I seem to have left that unclear to all but the veterans. Send your predictions in - there's less than fifteen hours before I get to start tallying the screw-ups of our nation's best and brightest. Send an e-mail to the above-listed address predicting the final scores for each party, and play along at home.

As a guide, a reminder how it went in 2006:

And 2004:

Is the lack of entries thus far indicitive of the massive disinterest this election will generate? Would I have been better off putting up silly pictures of McCain and Obama, and scoring them instead, to the cries of Greens wondering where Nader is on the chart? Only you can decide.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Time for three hundred and eight elections

The writ's been dropped, which leaves you about thirty-seven hours to make your gaffe predictions. Don't forget to also make your predictions in James Bow's election pool, and Calgary Grit's "offbeat" election pool.

Oh, and possibly find a local candidate you can believe in, and go work for her or him. You know, democratic action and all. It's not just an opportunity for gambling, folks.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

And that's what a gaffe looks like

Georgia's Representative Lynn Westmoreland calls Barack and Michelle Obama "uppity". Actually, perhaps he didn't - the article reads:
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Grantville, Ga., described the Obamas as members of an "elitist-class ... that thinks that they're uppity," according to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
You see, Westmoreland doesn't think they're uppity - it's the Obamas themselves who think it. That Barack sure is a racist! Or perhaps I'm misreading it - let me untangle it further. The Obamas are members of an elitist class that in turn think of the Obamas as uppity. It's those country-club Democrats, those Kennedy types, who are the racists!

Perhaps an extra prom point for Westmoreland, since his presidential candidate says "we're all Georgians now." That means this guy is our representative.

Oh. Never mind. Still, if this were our election, I'd be giving this a sig of two (tipping the scale when he confirmed that "uppity" was the word he'd intended to use), multiplied by a prom of two (again tipping the scale for already coding racist, or as the AP article prefers to put it, "drawn criticism from civil rights advocates on a number of issues", which is a lot of words to avoid saying "bigot"), and the Republicans would be carrying around four spare points. And then you'd all tell me I've screwed it up in the comments. Fun!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Entries are rushing in

Well, trickling, really. If current reports are to be believed, entries will close on Monday at midnight (Mountain time, because here I am). Are you a candidate, or planning to be one? Award twenty shiny loonies to yourself! Buy that lawn sign you've been saving up for. You've earned it, just for knowing what a bunch of screwups our national politicians statespeople are.

Not a candidate yourself? I'm sure that $20 would come in handy to your local error-prone MP, to help pay for damage control, or perhaps you want to help out that wacky neighbour get past the post (first, natch) in order to bring his whackjobbery to a national stage (see Thompson, Myron).

Less than 100 hours to get those entries in. Probably. Unless Harper decides to respect his own fixed date legislation.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Compare and contrast

John McCain will be speaking to a (full?) house tonight at Xcel Center, which is something the Minnesota Wild accomplish about 42 times a year despite being kinda boring. But they win. Hey, there's a model for John McCain to emulate!

Of course, the Republicans didn't take a chance of renting a stadium. The only stadium the Republicans have managed to fill is Superdome.

Yes, this post was all about finding an excuse for that joke. What can I say? I'm out of posting practice.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The world according to Sarah Palin:

"A woman can walk through any door she chooses." Except the one at the abortion clinic.

Palin was just mean-spirited enough that Biden's going to have some elbow room to tear her a new one (though perhaps not several). "Being a small-town mayor is like being a community organizer, but with responsibilities." I think what she meant was "... but with white constituents," but I could be reading her wrong.

Also, a woman with that many children perhaps shouldn't talk so enthusiastically about "laying pipe." Just sayin'.

Edited to add: And "drilling"! Damn, how did I manage to neglect "drilling"?
The Rules

No, it's not about how to catch a man - it's the way our little gaffe game is played:

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".

The prize: the reader who guesses closest to the actual final result will win a $20 donation to the local candidate of their choice next time around, which I can only presume will be about this time next year.

Send your score predictions to gaffe3 AT revmod.ca. I'm going to make an effort to put up a separate page for the predictions, so you can follow along at home. Previous results for 2006 and 2004 may guide you, or not.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Here we go.

That's the graphic - next up is the rules and the awarding of the previous prizes. But work first.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the headlines

Hurricane will keep Bush, Cheney from attending party convention. Yes, it's Gustav that'll keep them in Washington (or possibly Crawford). It's not at all the pleading from McCain to stay the hell away.

Green party announces its first member of Parliament. "With a Green MP sitting in the House of Commons, it will now be impossible to exclude the Green party from the televised leaders' debates in the next election," says Elizabeth May. And she's correct, if by "impossible" she means "overwhelmingly likely." I myself will be happy to include her in the Gaffe-O-Meter, just as soon as she manages to get an MP through election. A general election. Until then, trying to track the errors of candidates that the media won't be paying attention to seems like more work than it's worth.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin named to the Republican ticket. Hard-core social conservative? Political lightweight? Absolutely. And yet, she also seems sincere, friendly, without much in the way of political artiface. If anyone doubts that the presumptive Republican nominee is a different fellow than the Straight Talk Express guy of 2000, the friendly old guy who kept showing up on The Daily Show, think about how this cynical grab at a few of the disappointed Clinton voters (a very few, given the very different political views of the two women) will be ruining the life of a woman who was doing just fine in happy obscurity. Best line of the linked article: "McCain is such a cruel creep that he's making Sarah Palin debate Joe Biden."

(By the way, was Condi Rice even considered? If they were looking to check an affirmative action box or two on the application, she has the right reproductive organs, with the bonus of being black. She also has some serious experience and actual gravitas. But perhaps she's too associated to Bush, and not socially onservative enough to nail down the crazies for the ticket, something they're hoping for from Palin.)

Oh, and there's probably an election coming. I have Gaffe-O-Meter prep work to do. Hello, intertubes traffic! I've missed you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Since Don's been absent from RevMod for over a month now, you're invited to visit us at ursa minor:bear604. Watch as we mess around with YouTube clips, and people's heads. It's just that much fun.

Edited by Don to match the fonts and style of RevMod, and to add: glad to have you pitching your much more active blog, Bear - it's always good reading.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Video releases

I was disturbed by the release of Omar Khadr's interrogation video. I'm disturbed by the Prime Minister's hand-washing of Canadian responsibility toward one of our fellow citizens being held illegally by the United States government. But, perhaps strangely, I was most disturbed by what I heard from foreign affairs critic Bob Rae this morning. Yes, he criticized the government inaction. Yes, he said we should make diplomatic efforts to repatriate Mr. Khadr. But listening to him dissemble on the previous Liberal government's inaction on the Khadr file, well, that left me angry. Leaving people in legal limbo, mistreated, possibly tortured, and not lifting a hand to help them... it's wrong now, and it was just as wrong then. Mr. Rae, you lose any credibility when you suggest it was ever the right thing to do.

On a more pleasant note, the first act of Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along blog is online. Watch as Doogie Howser dukes it out with Captain Tightpants, all set to music. But watch quick - unlike the stain on Canada's two primary parties, on Sunday, it disappears.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's an illusion!

Jason Bateman has ignited buzz about an Arrested Development movie. This would be the second time a favourite (ratings-failed) television show of mine produced a movie. I thought the first one turned out pretty well.

By the way, don't even bother with the Post's survey of favourite television-turned-movies - Serenity isn't even an option. But for some reason, Wild Wild West is. Come on!

Hey, remember when this was a political blog? Good times!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Birth of a meme

I feel confident you'll be reading this soon enough in blog comments near you, or coming across it on the intertubes somewhere, so just so you've been warned:

I am aware of all internet traditions.

(Hat tip to Wonkette, where you probably read this before you came across mine.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Congratulations to the Detroit Red Wings on their Stanley Cup victory. In other news, the Pittsburgh Penguins are taking some time to make a decision about stopping their playoff run.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Remember When?

Ah, Janeane. I just haven't been showing you the love and attention I used to on this blog. But when I saw this video linked from Atrios this morning, I just knew I had to pass it along. I take very few opportunities to say "I told you so" regarding the war, but seriously: we told you so. And told you. And you yelled at us. Maybe next time you'll listen.

But I doubt it.

(A side note - YouTube has been giving me "no longer available" messages on all sorts of videos (including this one), then letting me at them when I hit refresh. That may be YouTube, that may be me. But it's the reason I didn't embed the video here. Sorry.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's been a month - better post something:

Just in case you were asking yourself, here's some stuff that white people like.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Disturbing news

The Ottawa Citizen reported today that Department of Defence blueprints were found in the trash. I'm obviously very concerned about this - why isn't the government recycling?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Three of four - not bad, but is it good enough for the Liberals to pull the trigger on the 39th Parliament? I suspect probably not, but then again, there might come a point where they simply can't be seen as Harper's chew toy any longer. I'll be preparing for Gaffeometer 3 this weekend, just in case. In the meantime, I owe some campaign $20 as my prize from Gaffeometer 2 - I suppose I should figure out which one.

Zero of one - Fort McMurray residents are complaining about Guy Boutilier's exclusion from cabinet, saying that despite their importance economically to the province, the Premier clearly takes them for granted. Here's an idea for Fort Mac residents - show up to te polls in numbers greater than 21%. I don't think the lowest turnout in the province gets presents after the election.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sure, now he wants people to vote

Ed Stelmach scolded Albertans for the disappointing turnout on Monday. He should perhaps have a look around his own caucus room next week if he wants to find a reason.

I mentioned in my long Sunday post that from my perspective, I wasn't seeing Manning's Tory candidate nor Glenora's engage in any sort of retail politics. Tories all over the province refused to attend forums. CBC's radio service had a weekly first-time candidates panel, and the selected Tory was told not to attend it after the first one. I think as we watch over the next few months, we'll discover the general quality of the Progressive Conservative caucus is not what it was in the era of Lougheed, or even the era of Klein - to use a sports metaphor, they're lacking bench depth. Some of those weaker candidates seemed to sit back and count on the Tory brand to carry the day, and for many of them, that strategy worked.

But it's not a strategy that engages voters. Saying "forums don't matter" doesn't encourage citizens to engage with the process. Electing not to door-knock loses an opportunity to tell citizens their voices matter. Reinforcing Alberta's reputation as a one-party state communicates to citizens not engaged with the Progressive Conservative party that they don't have the same involvement in the democratic process as those who are.

All of this contributes to a low turnout. We'll hear lots of talk about electoral reform, required voting, and so on for the next while. But the real solution is simply to have the apparently God-anointed natural governing party to actually act like Alberta is a modern democracy, and maybe Albertans will start believing it too. Unfortunately, it may also mean that as voters in a modern democracy, Albertans might decide to change governments occasionally, and from the Tory perspective, that simply won't do. Don't expect the Tories to take these steps any time soon.

And all of that is fine - if we refuse to punish the Tories for not treating us like real voters, that's our fault, not theirs. However, Mr. Premier, scolding us afterward for a problem your strategists are largely responsible for creating is disingenuous at best.

Monday, March 03, 2008

What the hell was that?

Seventy-three seats? Seventy-three seats?!? Way to vote for the change you kept telling the pollsters you wanted, Alberta! Maybe if more than 40% of you got off your asses and actually cast a ballot, you could have had some change. I suspect the next four years will prove out the canard that people get the governments they deserve.

Arrogance? You ain't seen nothin' yet, baby!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Election Day, and out of the closet I come

I've got an admission to make. I've spent the entire election volunteering for a Liberal.

Have my NDP convictions gone off the rails? Not at all. The sign hanging from my balcony is orange and green, as will be the X on my ballot if the poll clerk lets me bring in my own crayons.I think here in Edmonton Glenora, I'd be tempted to cast a strategic vote for Bruce Miller, the Liberal MLA who has been one of the stronger left voices in Taft's caucus, but I think he's a lock with or without me. The Tory candidate? There must be one, but I can't tell you anything about him or her - that's never a good sign.

My time has been more spent in Edmonton Manning, where I've worked the doors and phones for Sandeep Dhir, an old friend despite our political differences (which frankly are not usually very wide, me being on the right flank of my party and Deep being toward the left of his). He's by far the most qualified candidate (Eight years on the Edmonton Inner-city housing commission and five on the Theatre Network board, aside from his professional life), certainly the most charismatic candidate (though there's actually a close second there - more on that down the post), and notwithstanding the independent incumbent, he's been working the riding for the longest by some distance, knocking on doors since September.

All of this should mean that he'd be a lock in a riding like Manning, which elected then-Liberal Dan Backs last time around despite his significantly-abbreviated campaign (for legitimate personal reasons - not a knock against the man). This time, our local campaign has been extremely well-organized and well-staffed with dedicated volunteers (the first drop covered 2/3 of the riding in a single day three months before the writ was dropped, and doors were being knocked on by the candidate and others even through the bone-breaking cold of the first week of the writ). And yet, because the polls tell me that Edmonton undecideds have been breaking to the Tories, "running like we're three votes behind" hasn't just been a catchphrase. Many days, it doesn't take much imagination to believe ourselves three votes behind, or worse.

First of all, things would have been easier had the NDP candidate been a mumbly parachute nobody, as I'd optimistically predicted when it became clear former city councillor Janice Melnychuk wouldn't contest it. I'm heartened for my party, and concerned for my candidate, by Rick Murti, a well-spoken former small-business owner - exactly the sort of candidate I've argued the NDP needs. I thought we could count on gaining some of the NDP slippage that seemed inevitable from a peak of 22% reached by the personally-popular Laurie Lang. I've made a little bet on the ND number in Manning with an over/under of 15%, and I think my money's safe taking the high side of that - they've campaigned and spent money in every way appearing to believe that Manning's a winnable seat. As I doorknocked today, I watched them do a drop of what I presume are their checkmarks - they'd come to a street, drop at a house, maybe two, often sporting Rick's signs, and drive off again. I can't tell you how much I wish this campaign was running in another riding. He does have one weakness to my mind - his community involvement background includes Safedmonton and the Clairview Crime Council, so he seems to be the law-and-order candidate of the bunch, not generally what the NDP voting base is looking for in their candidate. I think he could stand a little more time doing anti-poverty work, maybe get a more well-rounded view of the world. I did enjoy the attempt to work in a union background in the bio - kudos, NDP writer!

Second, we're contending with a wildcard in the aforementioned independant candidate, Dan Backs. He won the riding as a Liberal last time around, but contested the Tory nomination this time. He's not going to win - in fact, I think he'll come fourth - but I honestly don't know who's votes he's going to siphon off.

Quite frankly, our biggest asset beyond Sandeep is the Tory candidate, Peter Sandhu, who won the nomination over Backs and eventual Beverly-Clairview Tory nominee Tony Vandermeer. In describing Manning as number one on a list of interesting races, The Journal today described it thusly:
Folks still grumble about the autumn nomination meeting this Mill Woods homebuilder won, full of ethnic politicking and overcrowded parking lots and, well, a guy from Mill Woods coming north to whump Backs and former Conservative MLA Tony Vandermeer. Sandhu showed power in numbers for the internal party contest, but real democracy - even in Alberta - is a whole different affair.
Sandhu skipped the all-party debate held last week, and though he's apparently done a little door-knocking, it seems that he's not having the effect he's probably hoping for - more than once, our office has fielded calls along the lines of "I've just met the Tory candidate, and I've made up my mind. Could you swing by with a sign?" I don't know what he's saying on those doorsteps, but I hope he's advocating the same vision he does on his website. My favourite quote: "Strong families promote vibrate communities". (You know, I belonged to a vibrate community once, and my strong family didn't even approve, much less promote it.) And lest you think I'm picking on this fellow for language issues, well, yes, I am, a little - I think the job of legislator requires one to be more than passing familiar with the language in which the body operates. More shocking to me is that not a single member of his campaign team has seen fit, or knows the language well enough, to fix the damned thing. And most shocking of all is that if the page were cleaned up enough to stop distracting the reader from what it actually says, one would find a bumper crop of banalities and no real sense of who this guy is and what he believes. Peter Sandhu is counting on Ed Stelmach wearing some very long coattails come election day, and he may turn out to be right.

Which brings me to my point. I know it's a longshot that this will turn even a single vote, but here I am saying it anyway: I'm a longime NDP supporter and contributor, twice a candidate flying the New Democrat flag. And yet, I've given time, effort, and cash to this campaign because Sandeep Dhir represents exactly the sort of passionate commitment to Alberta's future that was so absent from the Leaders' Debate, that's been so poorly articulated by any of the province-wide campaigns. If you live in Edmonton Manning, please do the rest of the province a favour and get Sandeep into the legislature.

Update, Wednesday morning: I noted on Monday, shortly after I'd linked Sandhu's page, that it was significantly cleaned up, exposing the banalities much more clearly. I'll do what I can to find a cache of the old page somewhere, and if I do, I'll link to it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Election update

I've been knocking on doors for my old friend the Liberal candidate, I've given some money and got my sign for my local New Democrat. If I can just find a Tory to advise next time around as well, I'll be set.

A few things have come clear from the ground:

- There's an appetite for change, even in rural Alberta among longtime Tories. But that appetite hasn't been translating into votes. More likely, it'll translate into staying home. In close Tory ridings, that could mean a change of seat, but in lots of others, it will mean nothing at all, except for record low voter turnouts.

- 14 months into his Premiership, Albertans still don't think they know Ed Stelmach. They still can't warm up to Kevin Taft. And they really don't like listening to Brian Mason ride both of them.

- Speaking of Mason riding both of them, I think that strategy is born entirely out of 1993. It was the last time the Tories looked this vulnerable, and Lawrence Decore's Liberals went around selling the idea of a strategic anti-Tory vote. It worked then, and wiped the NDP off the electoral map. Mason's strategy now is designed to appeal to the base in the four ridings they already hold, and it'll work.

- Perhaps out of a desire to have the NDP not do this in the future, there's been remarkably little "strategic voting" talk out of the Liberals this time around. But don't be surprised if that changes in the next few days. I think it'll be a mistake, but the temptation is usually too strong. A refresher on strategic voting: if you're looking for a vote to cast to beat the Tories, look carefully at your own riding, not province-wide. But if you're reading this blog, you're already savvy enough to know that.

- In the end, the Liberals are going to gain several seats in Calgary, Edmonton will not change a lot, a few small-city seats will swing to the Liberals, and they won't make the inroads they should in the rurals. Then again, if the WRAPpies pull enough of the vote their way.... no, that's not going to make a difference. You could split the Tory vote ten ways in a lot of those ridings, and neither the Liberals nor the NDP would have enough to catch up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

Oh, the barrels of ink that have been expended on both the pigment of Barack Obama's skin, and Hillary Clinton's lack of a Y-chromosome. What a waste. Aside from policy differences, which certainly accounts for some of the split, what the candidates represent (inasmuch as they represent something other than themselves) is more subtle than colour or gender.

People are supporting Clinton because she harkens back to a pre-Dubya era. Her campaign is a restoration campaign, just as Dubya's was. She talks a lot about experience, but her seniority in that area only applies if the collective experience of both Clintons is taken into account.

Likewise, people are drawn to Obama because he seems younger, more energised, certainly more articulate; indeed, with a certain New England family's endorsement last week, he looks more and more like a Kennedy all the time. After seven years of "nucular", what American isn't attracted to the candidate who may be America's best orator in a generation?

To paraphrase MLK, these two candidates are being judged not by the colour of their skin, nor the type of their gender. They may even possibly be judged by the content of their character. If only the punditocracy could move to that point.

Aside from my own thoughts, you may be interested to see an analysis of how the voting will shake out today. The Calgary Grit has pointed me toward a state-by-state analysis (as of Jan 31) at the Daily Kos to discover a within-the-margin-of-error statistical tie for the Democrats today. Print it out and follow along at home! It's like a second Super Bowl, and likely to be as close.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Writ Day

Here's what's going to happen today:

3pm - Normie Kwong reads the Speech from the Throne, containing all of the announcements made in the last week. For the first time in history, the Lieutenant-Governor will deliver the speech more animatedly than would have the Premier, whose words he'll be speaking. This speech is the Tory platform announcement - expect to see nice little books available afterward outlining the plan. (Yes, AFL + trade council, I said "plan". It's not a great plan, but it is a plan. Took him forever to get there, but it's a plan.)

4ish - The Premier responds to the Speech from the Throne by thanking the Lieutenant-Governor, and wonders aloud if Norm might be willing to "hang around for a few minutes afterward - I wanna talk to you about something."

4:05ish - The Premier tells the Legislature "This election will be a referendum on whether Albertans enjoy being stupid rich or not. The Liberals want to share it with other Canadians, in some socialist pipe dream that sounds a lot like the NEP. The NDP wants us to stop altogether, and want Albertans to earn their livings on collective farms or by begging for quarters on street corners. The Greens want to smoke a lot of pot and philosophise about how the world would be better if no one over thirty was allowed to govern. And the Wild Rose Alliance Party [henceforth known on this blog as the WRAPpies - Don] wants to shut the doors of the Legislature and let everyone fend for themselves when it comes to treating illness or learning the alphabet.

"Only the Progressive Conservative party believes that Albertans should sit back, continue to be stupid rich, and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. Voting for anyone else means that Albertans are risking not just the slowdown of the economy, but that the oil itself will get up out of the sand and go head somewhere more business-friendly. Don't take that chance. The choice is clear."

4:30ish - The writ is dropped, and the media have to pretend that all the parties are equal for 28 days.

5pm to 3am - Writ parties are held. Children delightedly dance around the Writ poles in the Sunday best, wired up on the traditional sugar-coated Writ Biscuits. The birds of the air and the beasts of the field are stuffed into roasting pans and made tender and delicious for evening feasts. And into the wee hours, celebrants on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton and 17th Avenue in Calgary will drink until the bars close, at which point they go outside to be brutalized by the police in a longstanding Writ Night tradition. Hey, it's all in good fun!

Feb 5 - Mar 1 - Albertans pointedly ignore the election unless faced with a candidate on the door, or possibly pay attention for an hour to watch the Leader's Debate.

March 2 - Albertans try to decide who to vote for. A large proportion of the electorate will decide it's all too complicated and anyway, all politicians are liars and theives and what-not, and decide to stay home.

March 3 - Hey, if we already knew the results, we wouldn't have to have elections.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Dude, you're getting a pink slip!

As a former employee of Dell in Edmonton, I know all about the high turnover rates they experienced here. In my own case, they lost me not due to my finding greener pastures, but because of their inflexibility and general call-centreness. In particular, imagine having 10 days off over the course of the year, which you can use to take a holiday, or buy back the three-day weekends you never, ever get otherwise.

(I could also mention the three weeks of overnight shift I volunteered for, which turned into nine without my approval, but that would be nitpicking, so I won't.)

But of course, I suspect all Dell's talk about retention is a smokescreen, and the real reason is that it was nice having a call centre here when employees could be paid in valueless Canadian currency. The dollar's recent rise has made Canada less attractive as a place to send jobs out of the USA. But I understand Rupees are sill cheap and plentiful.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Regarding jpod

It appears McDonalds is a sponsor, and surprise!, The Taint is no longer caused by McDonalds food, but by microwave popcorn. In fairness, I feel that way about both foods in the workplace, so I'm okay with it.

Read the book. The television show isn't bad, but read the book.