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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

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.