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

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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.