Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

Lorrie Goldstein. Two in a row for members of the Sun chain. How interesting.

He seems to be unclear on the concept of "journalism".

"We shouldn't have to cross-examine our leaders to get them to tell the simple truth and acknowledge the obvious"

Silly me. I thought that was the job of the Fourth Estate.

"Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, 'Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.'"

Along with most of the media he seems to think that in the 21st century his job has devolved into reporting on elections like he is describing a horse race. If I want someone to do that, I will listen to Joe Carbury. He is better at it.Recommend this Post

Monday, October 27, 2008

I can think of another reason for the high cost

Isolating yourself from the electorate and media isn't cheap.Recommend this Post

Republicans to ape Conservatives?

If you are ever asked for a definition of Self reference cite this. The Toom Tabard who patterned his campaign after the Republican model is to be the model for the Republicans. Good first step with the party renewal.

Humourous and unintentionally ironic quotes include:

"They became a broader, more popular coalition"

“He tried to position himself in a way that he was close to the public — he wasn’t an elite conservative,”

"To claim that we’ve been too far to the right is nuts.”Recommend this Post

A quote that should disqualify him from further consideration

"This is not something I have been craving," Manley, a former Ottawa MP, said

If the Liberal Party insiders insist on doing a March Of Folly, they should at least support someone who actually wants the job.Recommend this Post

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Liberal 308 logo addition and the reasons why

I have added the Liberal 308 logo to the sidebar.

This isn't an unqualified endorsement of the Party. But for all of its surface rust and mechanical issues, the Liberal Party is still the best vehicle to drive Canada into the twenty first century. The grassroots can be a major part of the necessary overhaul.

The events of the last 2 years have shown that the old ways cannot work.Recommend this Post

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

Greg Weston

This one is too easy. Less than two weeks after the election this shill is telling us, from his position in the national media, that only a fool would believe Harper? That he is a Toom Tabard?

Print media is dying and part of the reason is that boneheaded columns like this increase the distrust in journalism. In Britain they are listed at the same level as politicians. This waste of ink and electrons is a great example of why. Canadians can be rightly proud of their cynicism towards journalism after reading this sort of tripe.

Perhaps the "Not A Leader" swill and the rest of the Conservative excreta were meant to convince the media to play along with the Mr. Ordinary ruse as much as they were designed to suppress the vote.Recommend this Post

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I need to stop beginning my sentences with

"I must be getting old because I remember when...."Recommend this Post

Blue Sweat Vest Of The Day Award

Jean-Pierre Blackburn

Way to take some steps to increase the people's confidence in your "government".

Updated: embarrassing display of poor typing corrected.Recommend this Post

Saturday morning ode to fighting on

I missed out on the Friday night fun since I was at the Ian Tyson concert at the East Longview Community Centre last night(and Neil Young on Sunday night. What a week for classic Canadian acts). Now I don't mean to intrude on the party and I may be a day late and a youtube short but the lyrics from Impolitical's offering reminded me of one of my favourite Robert Service poems: "The Law Of The Yukon".

To me one portion speaks to all of us who stand against denialists in general and Harper et al. in particular.

And I wait for the men who will win me -- and I will not be won in a day;
And I will not be won by weaklings, subtle, suave and mild,
But by men with the hearts of vikings, and the simple faith of a child;
Desperate, strong and resistless, unthrottled by fear or defeat,
Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut with my meat.

Or to use a different metaphor, Canada is often down after the first period but we always expect a thrilling and historic comeback for a win.Recommend this Post

Friday, October 24, 2008

Unite the centre!

There have been many stories expanding on themes that the Liberals need to unite the left or move to the right to start down the road to renewal and a return to power.

This has to stop. The Liberals became the Natural Governing Party by giving Canadians the government that is appropriate for the times. Not by following a dogmatic pathway. This may have left them open to charges of campaigning on the left (or right) and governing on the right (or left) but, as the dominant entity on the political scene they have built the best country in the world. This naturally implies being a CENTRE-left party as that reflects the nature of Canadians. The Progressive Conservative interregnums were given to a CENTRE-right party.

Any thoughts the NDP might entertain that Canadians can be convinced to move to the far left ground they occupy are as laughable as Harper's comments that Canadians are becoming more conservative. The recent NDP growth in seat count has been due to Jack Layton slicing away at the Liberal flanks like a cook making a donair. Unfortunately for Mr. Laytonk, his ideological pita isn't big enough to accomodate the entire spit of the Canadian political centre without jettisoning what remains of the NDP's principles. The Canadian people in their wisdom won't trust the Conservatives with anything sharp so they must rely on vote supprersion to try and sneak in the back door. (how can you tell I am typing this over the lunch hour).

The point being is that it is time for anyone in an official capacity with the Liberal Party make clear that Liberals will do whatever is best for Canada. They will not follow some ideological dictate of the media. The first step to re-instill the pride people had in voting Liberal is to be proud to be Liberal.Recommend this Post

Enhance the vote

Enough whining about the Conservative tactics. What can the opposition do to change the pattern? It is in the common interest of all of the opposition parties to remove the vote suppression arrows for the Conservative quiver.

  1. Bring the government down at a time of their choosing. Don't let Harper have the election at a time designed to keep people away from the polls. He doesn't react well to being put off balance. There will be plenty of opportunities. Harper and the rest of his coterie have long been stroking the fantasy of enacting "transformative change" like Gollum polished the Ring in the Misty Mountains. The temptation to slip it on and grasp for power beyond their right and competence will be impossible to resist.
  2. Turn up the heat on Harper so he has to take off the vest. With Dion we saw a much better campaigner when he dropped the teleprompter. With Toom Tabard, it is when he goes off script that thing go south.
  3. Work as a coalition to bring about private members bills to:
  • Limit pre-writ political advertising
  • Extend the minimum length of the campaign. The longer the campaign, the less the Conservatives can get by with saying nothing. The longer they have to keep the lid on the loony bin
  • Rescind voter identification regulations
  • Restrict the publishing of polls during the campaign
Recommend this Post

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suppressing the vote 3

Steve V at Far and Wide provides some very concrete evidence of the Conservative strategy to suppress the vote. Well done.Recommend this Post

Liberal 308

This seems like a great idea. I will join and add the logo once I figure out how to get that recommend this post thinga-ma-doobiey to work.

Don't know about Facebook though. My daughters say I am too old to use it. In Facebook, Clicks are for kids or something like that.Recommend this Post

An explanation for recent oil prices

The recent spike and fall of oil prices might appear very puzzling. If oil is peaking, how can the price drop like this? If it isn't, how can it ramp up like that?

The answer might lie in this very interesting Oil Drum post from back in May that explains this sort of price behaviour. We have entered very few periods when the world has been on the downslope of the supply curve for such an important commodity. We should expect a very wild ride.Recommend this Post

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

Mr. Ordinary himself. You have been in power for over 2 years. This one is all yours. Even if we weren't going into a recession.Recommend this Post

Suppress the vote (4)

Does this sound familiar to anyone who has followed the pattern in recent U.S. elections? I wonder what the marginal propensity is of students, aboriginals and seniors in swing ridings to vote Conservative.Recommend this Post

It occurred to me on my ride in that

If Gary Larson ever decided to update his collection for the 21st century, a blog named "Small Dead Animals" with a dead Richardson's Ground Squirrel on the header would be a cinch to be added to the cartoon where drawings of a puffer fish, a growling dog, a rattlesnake and a man dressed in snorkel gear and a trenchcoat are placed over the caption: How Nature says "Do not touch".

Sort of moving from the funny farm to the funny pages in one easy step.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

Anonymous Liberal Insiders (again).

You got your pound of flesh now STFU.Recommend this Post

Suppress the vote (2)

Or how Harper and the "StealthCons are like a Big Mac. (N.B.: there is a bonus bit of trivia in the midst of the post as an award for reading the whole thing)

As you may have read I have been expanding on a hunch that the Conservative campaign was designed to suppress the vote as much as possible and ride their base to a majority. They did this in the realization that their policies and principles could not stand up to any kind of scrutiny. In this post I will outline what they did to negate the animus towards Harper that they knew two thirds of Canadians posses.

Back in the seventies, I read something in an advertising journal that was so interesting it stayed with me. Unfortunately I have not been able to find the actual reference so I will have to reconstruct this from memory. It goes like this.

McDonald's noticed that there were a lot of pickles in their parking lots. This was a major concern since the main draw of their product was convenience and the neutral taste. Not neutral in that the food is bland. Rather that it is hard to describe. Think about it. If you eat a Big Mac you can say to yourself: "Yep, that's a Big Mac." But try to describe the taste. It doesn't have a distinctive taste. This made it the lowest common denominator when groups are deciding where to go. The entire goal was to make the flavour so innocuous that you can't strongly object to it. You might be aware of how bad Big Macs are for you. You might have read "Fast Food Nation". You might have seen "Super Size Me". But you are out and about and you need to eat and the kids want a Happy Meal.

So seeing that a significant proportion of their customers were taking the time to open up the box and dig out the pickle meant that the taste of the pickles was both off-putting and creating an inconvenience. This divergence from taste neutrality and convenience might encourage people to go somewhere other than McDonald's. But the pickle, so to speak, that McDonald's was in was that they could not take out the pickle since that would ruin the slogan. (Go ahead. Say it to yourself. You know you want to.)

So the answer wasn't to take the pickle out. The answer was to develop a pickle wasn't recognizable as a pickle. They spent years trying to accomplish this. To the best of my knowledge they never succeeded.

Bonus triva: The chairs are designed to be uncomfortable after ~30 minutes to discourage you from sitting in them.

So what does this have to do with Mr. Ordinary's campaign? The Blue Sweater Vest ads. The Thanksgiving message. I don't think for a moment that they were an attempt to bring people over to vote for him. They were meant to neutralize the acidic taste he leaves in most peoples mouths. They were meant to anaesthatise the marginal Liberal voters and keep them home. Turn them off of Dion enough that they are wavering. Fool them that Harper isn't the screaming blue meanie that everyone knows he is to be. Just long enough to get through the election. Hide the StealthCons. Keep Ritz hidden. Try to get through the campaign with out a platform. Cloister Harper over the last few days after the CTV hatchet job was done. Don't let the people taste the Conservative pickle in the burger.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A corollary to "What I believe" by The Viscount LaCarte

This in a lot of ways says it all for me.

But since this was written by an American there are a couple of points that must be added to make it more accurately reflect what I believe.

I believe that in the Canada I want to see healthcare preserved as a right not a privilege. I believe that it is a more efficient way to provide this service than a private system. Maintaining this service helps make Canadians more productive and aids in the development of a better society since people don't have to worry about how to pay their medical bills. Advocates for private healthcare are interested in looking for profit. Let them look for profits somewhere else. There will be pressures on the public system by an aging population and improving medical technology. We will need to increase the health transfers to the provinces and the healthcare portions of the respective provincial budgets to pay for this.

I believe in public education. Canada has a long tradition of supporting public education as a defining characteristic. This has been an impetus to development of our country. How can we expect children from lower income families to more effectively contribute to society if all of the education advantages are reserved for the wealthy. The recent withdrawals from tradition this must be reversed. I was able to pay my own way for an education from an excellent university. My children deserve no less of an opportunity.

I believe that Canada has only recently left the world stage. The extent to which Canada has contributed in a meaningful way to peace, prosperity and global security has occurred by example not force. If the need arises for a full commitment to battle a physical threat to Canadian security this must be met. The Canadian tradition of diplomacy and peacekeeping is the best way to obviate this circumstance. In particular, support for our armed forces is not expressed by using them as props in an attempt to further a politician's career or a salve to his/her insecurities. With respect to our international obligations, I believe that Canada can only ever lead by example. But a Canada that sets a strong sincere example carries a lot of weight in the world. We may only contribute 3% (Whatever the value is. It doesn't matter) to global GHGs. If we have not taken serious steps to reduce our contribution we cannot expect to convince other to do their part.

I believe that there are no free rides. I accept that citizens in the country south of us pay less tax than I do. I accept that as a higher wage earner, I pay more tax than people who earn significantly less than I do. I look at this as payment for the healthcare and educational opportunities I have been provided as a citizen of the best country on earth. I accepted the cheap education and healthcare. I need to pay the country back. I believe that each citizen must be encouraged to question how our governments are run and ensure we receive value for the additional tax we pay. I believe that as a citizen of this great country it is my responsibility to maintain my health to the best of my ability to lessen the expectation of care from the healthcare system.

I believe that we do a lot of things right in Canada and we need to fix that which we do wrong. This is a better country than the one my parents emigrated to. I have a responsibility to help make it a better country for my children to inherit. I have a responsibility to stand up to those people who would take this away from them.Recommend this Post

Living up to my commitment to Mr. Dion

Now that my wishful thinking post is out of the way, it is time to come to terms with the facts as they are.

I have stated previously that I will back him regardless of his decision. He has stepped down and initiated a process to look for a new leader. Despite my disappointment with the outcome and a concomitant disenchantment with the Liberal Party, I will do my best to honour my commitment.

This is how I intend to do this:
  1. Contribute to his efforts to pay off his leadership debts and encourage others to do the same.
  2. Weigh any requests for funds from the party based on the ongoing respect he is paid as leader.
  3. Show support for his loyal opposition to the bad bills that are certain to be coming while he remains leader.
  4. Constructively comment on the various candidates campaigns.
  5. Give the new leader a chance to show he/she is a worthy successor. If he is then I will support the winner. If it is just a figurehead for the anonymous Liberal crowd and shuts off the grass roots I will stop there.
He has served with honour, integrity and a love for Canada that deserves no less a repayment.Recommend this Post

Impolitical post on Harper/Cadman raises a question

Once again Impolitical works as an amateur entomologist lifting the rock and identifying the creepy crawlies underneath.

Which raises a question. Since I am Not A Lawyer, are Conservative party donors in any way complicit in this attempted bribing of an MP? Even if they are not it might be a way to put a stick in the spokes of the fundraisng wheel. Most donors are probably not aware of the uses their donations put to. Just the thought might put some chill on the donation machine.

It will also help build unease with Mr. Ordinary and his closet of sweater vests.

We have to fight back in (ethical) way possible.Recommend this Post

Monday, October 20, 2008

Something I realized on my bike ride home

Mr. Dion has approximately 8 months or 32 weeks remaining as Leader. He became Leader in December 2006, around 22 months ago.

So he just extended his Leadership by a third with little fuss. He has cut the anonymous insiders out of the loop. I expect that they will have less traction with Jane Taber, Mike Duffy et al. now. The leaders in waiting will have to focus on their campaigns and have to weigh their reactions to challenges to Harper's government carefully. They can't be seen to be supporting him.

And Harper will present lots of missing scales in his dragon skin to shove a spear into. He has already backed down on his deficit policy. There will be lots of other ones. He thinks he can govern as if he has a majority. This will lead to straining at his leash.

Dion has nothing to lose by saying to himself every morning when he looks in the mirror: "Hit Harper Hard".

Think I'm wrong? Guilty of wishful thinking perhaps?

What were the Liberals in the midst of when Joe Clark's government fell? Who took them on to a win? Who will they look to if Canadians start to realize they were wrong about Dion and right about Harper?

Harold MacMillan said that "A week is a long time in politics". Mr. Dion just bought himself 3.5 cats worth of life. As Lawrence Martin put it: "Mr. Dion has shown himself to be a serial defiler of the odds. He has shredded them no less than four times."

Who is playing chess now, eh?Recommend this Post

Suppress the vote (1a)

I laid out here my belief that a lot of the Conservative campaign was aimed at suppressing Liberal vote rather than building the Conservative vote. In short form; what Karl Rove would do in an American election. If what you stand for is anathema to the majority of the voting public but you have a rock solid base that is motivated to vote for their issue, then the path to success lies through suppressing the vote.

Now the Simon Fraser University Political Science Department has come out with their analysis. (h/t One Woman One Blog).

A choice and juicy quote:

"The 2008 election appears to have been a real success for the Conservative Party with a gain of 19 seats from the 2006 election. However, that success was entirely due to the woes of other parties, rather than any added support for the Conservatives. Indeed the number of Canadians voting for the Conservatives even dipped slightly.

The main factor in Conservative success was the big drop in turnout among Liberal supporters. While the Green Party managed to split the Conservative's opposition by capturing a number of defecting Liberals and NDPers, the Conservatives benefited even more from the hundreds of thousands of disenchanted Liberals who simply stayed home on election day. The Conservatives picked up 11 seats in Ontario with an impressive gain in popular vote from 35 to 48%. However, the Conservatives won hardly any more votes in Ontario compared to 2006. Their gain in vote share came about because 500,000 Ontario voters went AWOL between the two elections, most of them Liberal, leaving the Conservative candidates better supported in comparison. The Conservatives were not able to capitalize on the drop in Bloc support across Quebec, because they received 120,000 fewer votes in that province themselves. The only province where the Conservatives made many gains thanks to a substantial increase in votes was British Columbia."

So if 500,000 voters, most of them Liberal stayed home how would that have changed the vote?

The Elections Canada page for the Ontario results is here. (You may have to select Ontario from the drag down menu in the upper left hand corner). Or look at the one pasted above.

I have recast the Ontario results based on the following assumptions:

  1. SFU is correct that 500,000 Ontario voters stayed home.
  2. For the purposes of estimating the result if the 500,000 voters had come out, I assumed:
  • To determine the Popular Vote excluding the Liberals I assumed the vote for the other parties stayed the same . E.G.: The Conservatives captured 59.2 of the vote count that excludes Liberal votes
  • This Popular Vote can be applied to the fraction of the 500k that wouldn't have gone to the Liberals. E.G.: If the Liberals got 80% of the missing votes, the Conservatives would have received 59.2% of the remaining 20%.
The result is shown here:
So if the Liberals had captured 68% (within reasonable proximity to what SFU probably means by "most") of the estimated non-cast Ontario votes, they would have tied the Conservatives in popular vote. What would this have meant to the seat count?

This also raises some interesting what ifs:
  • What if the missing voters would have voted at a higher level for the Liberals?
  • The 500k number was estimated based on the turnout for last year. What if some people who would have otherwise voted Liberal were afraid of having their brakes fail on the way to the voting station?
  • What if it didn't matter so much who the leader was since this was the gist of their campaign anyway? I have a hunch that if Ken Dryden won we would have seen lots of "Not a goalie" ads.
  • What if some of the voters intimidated by the vote suppression tactics aimed at Liberal voters voted NDP rather than not vote? Does this not imply that Ontario voters did not buy into Jack Layton's pitch? Did spending to the limit result in an indebted party with no actual benefit?
Perhaps the result is almost entirely attributable to Dion, his backpack, the Green Shift and the CTV clip. But it could very well be that a new leader won't change a thing. They might just look to get as few voters out as possible and ride their base of Koo-koo fanatics to a majority.Recommend this Post

Be careful what you wish for

It may partially come true.

I believe the majority opinion here was for him to stay but that we would respect and support him in whatever decision he made.

Now it is time for us to show that our support is real as he has decided to battle on in what may be the only realistic option for him to take.Recommend this Post

While riding my bike to work today

It occurred to me that the only Iggy I want to hear about on a daily basis this winter plays for the Flames.Recommend this Post

The March of Folly and The Liberals

One of my favourite history books is The March Of Folly by Barbara Tuchman. In this she outlines how governments throughout history have followed courses of action that were clearly against their own self interest. This occurred despite a significant and widespread contemporary understanding that following the paths chosen would lead to failure. The presence of viable alternatives with a much higher probability of success were also demonstrated. She used several events such as the fall of Troy, the American Revolution and the Vietnam War to make her case.

I have always found the general principles in this book are good things to keep in mind when faced with tough issues. Make sure that ossified thinking hasn't set in.

The Liberal Leader is being pressured today to announce his retirement by factions within his own party. Is this a wise course of action for the Party to take?

Let us see:

Evidence that this would be a disastrous course of action: check Tom Flanagan may be the worst American to move to Canada since, forever, but he is not shy about advertizing his intentions through the above editorial and other posts about destroying the Liberals. One of the most distinctive things about him is a very un-Canadian chutzpah in stating what he intends to do and daring us to call him on it.

Viable alternative present: check Mr. Dion has faced the worst the slime machine can throw at him and remains standing. The fact that his leadership ratings, particularly in Quebec rose during the election clear the path the recovery of the Liberal Party.

I find these quotes from the book interesting (all transcription errors are mine.):

"Mental standstill or stagnation - the maintenance intact by rulers and policy makers of the ideas they started with - is fertile ground for folly."

"In its first stage, mental standstill fixes the principles and boundaries governing a political problem. In the second stage, when dissonances and failing function begin to appear, the initial principles rigidify. This is the period when, if wisdom were operative, re-examination and re-thinking and a change of course are possible, but they are as rare as rubies in a backyard.Rigidifying leads to increase in investment and the need to protect egos; policy founded upon multiple errors never retreats. .... In the third stage, pursuit of failure enlarges the damages until it causes the fall of Troy, the defection from the Papacy, the loss of trans-Atlantic empire, the classic humiliation in Vietnam"

And where does Mr. Dion fit in this?

"Aware of the controlling power of ambition, corruption and emotion, it may be that in the search for wiser government we should look for the test of character first. And the test should be moral courage."

The Liberal Party can rightly claim to have taken part in the building of Canada. If it has decided, however, to follow the path to folly and self-destruction, it will play out as it will. I hope this is not the case. But if this does transpire the Liberal Party is not Canada. It has long done the best job of representing the pragmatic middle ground but the Canadian people will be looking for a centre-left government and something new will arise to take on the torch from the Liberals failing hands. It won't be anyone currently on the stage. No one else around today can do what the Liberals have done in the past.Recommend this Post

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anti Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

For those of you not familiar with the Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Awards, they are akin to the Atrios "Wanker of the Day Award" on his blog. In Canada, nothing says wanker quite like Mr. Ordinary in a sweater vest.

There are occasions when someone does or writes something inspiring. The only previous recipient was Margaret Atwood. So this person is in good company.

And the winner is: James Curran for organizing the Stornoway Stomp this afternoon. Regardless of the result and Mr. Dion's decision, he is letingt a good man know in no uncertain terms that he has some genuine support.

P.S.: If anyone can suggest a better name for this award I would love to hear it.Recommend this Post

My first Follower and first ProgBlog post

The primary reason that I started blogging was to save my wife from having to put up with my frustration with Mr. Ordinary, our political process, media bias and other more fun things. So far that has worked. It has been a good venting process. Since I started the blog, I think the only times the election came up were initiated by her. (Did a CTV interviewer write that last sentence?)

I had a feeling that I was shouting out into a void so after a month I decided to request an affiliation with the Progressive Bloggers website. Lo and behold, before this came through I noticed that I had a Follower. I was amazed that someone had found my blog in the rapidly expanding universe of the blogotopia (I believe Skippy coined that phrase). It reaffirmed my belief that the internet can be a platform to advance progressive ideas across this amazing country. I am also honoured that someone found my keyboard plunking worthy of following.

It makes me aware that I must do my best to live up to such faith. As a first step in repaying this honour, I dedicate this first post to QueenBean and have reciprocated by adding Point Being to my blog list.Recommend this Post

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cracks in Fortress Alberta and what not to do to exploit them

Voter turnout was poor. Nationally this is considered to be a contributing factor to the Liberal's result. While this may have been, at least partly, a result of voter suppression efforts by the Conservatives it doesn't explain the Alberta result: 52.9%. And in the two major cities:

Calgary: 54.6

Edmonton: 54.4

I can only explain this in a qualitative way. The reason for the low Alberta turn-out is the reverse of the low national turn-out. Many people I talked to didn't vote because they couldn't vote Conservative due to the Income Trust issue, dislike of Harper, the Wheat Board and you know the rest of the list. They couldn't vote Conservative and have yet to bring themselves to vote for one of the other major party. This would be a huge step for them to make.

Two friends in Calgary West who did vote talked about how hard it was to chose who to vote for. They couldn't bring themselves to vote for Rob Anders. They also said they couldn't vote Liberal. This is common. The inability of Calgarians to bring themselves to vote Liberal is born out by some numerical digging by Five of Five. The NEP scar tissue is every bit as deep for the Liberals in Alberta as the Riel execution memory was for the PCs in Quebec before Mulroney. These friends ended up voting for a party on the fringe.

But they have taken the first step. They realized that the Conservative Party is not in line with their beliefs. The next nut to crack is to get them to agree that the Liberals are the party to move to. Albertans in search of a home for their vote won't be happy voting Marxist-Leninist for very long. We have to show them that the Liberals are the centrist party not the neo-cons in charge right now.

Alberta has always been stable politically. But when it shifts it shifts big time. There is of course the Linda Duncan win in Edmonton to point to. This result does not point to a preference to the NDP notwithstanding their supporters fervent hopes. It has as much to do with strategic voting actually working and a good ground game. In other events, Calgary Elbow went Liberal in a by-election for Ralph Klein's seat last year. The same neighborhood elected an environmentally focused Alderman in the last election. If these are the leading indicators of the cities drifting away from the Conservative brand there are several ridings in the cities that could be up for grabs if the Liberals play their cards right. This would help establish the return of the Liberals as a national party.

I'm not sure of how to do this. I am absolutely certain BigCityLib Strikes Back typing things like this:

"And as much I wouldn't mind seeing Alberta screwed out of its oily dough"
won't get the job done.

I left a comment on his blog but this is such a divisive and counter productive thing to say that it must be commented on further. Alberta has a constitutional right to it's resources. The wealth may cause strains on the Confederation but they must be dealt with in a non-threatening way within recognizing the rights granted by the Constitution. If anything is going to turn Albertans away from the Liberals and back to the Conservatives it is posts like that.

Let's hope that the Conservatives don't catch that one. I am eager to hear constructive ways to widen the cracks on the Alberta foundation.Recommend this Post

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another reason to stick with Dion

The Conservatives tried the blue sweater vest thing with Harper this last time. By the end of the election, the charade was over. He was back to being his odious natural self. Dion has weathered the attack ad storm and emerged as a leader. Harper can't try and paint himself as a nice guy again. He isn't. Dion will continue to grow as a leader since they can't make counterpoints against him.Recommend this Post

Peak oil slide show

Think the falling markets are something to be worried about? As Matthew Simmonds, one of the chief prophets of Peak Oil shows in this slideshow, that you ain't seen nothin' yet. Harper has reacted to the financial crisis like the proverbial deer in the headlights. What will the Toom Tabard do when this hits the fan?Recommend this Post

Suppress the vote!

Dana at The Galloping Beaver had a post about this as well. As a commenter to that post pointed out it may have a connection to the sign vandalism and brake line cutting.

The voter id issue might very well have ties to trying to get non-motivated citizens to give up in frustration. Their were reports of it being very difficult for students to vote. Guess which way students are likely to vote.

The veiled voter canard makes more sense as a bid to scare minority voters away than an attempt to maintain the integrity of the voting system.

The Conservative attempts to court the ethnic vote were risible to such an extent that may too have been a vote suppression tactic. Even Jason Kenney isn't that thick.

Harper screaming about the Green Shift being an attempt to "Screw Everybody" wasn't going to win him many votes but it energizes his core support and keeps Liberal voters away. Red meat to the base as it were.

As the coup de grace' for the last two elections, there has been a Canadian equivalent of an October Surprise. The goal was not to turn people to the Conservatives but rather get them to stay home.

Despite the right leaning tilt of our media, Canadians have been steadfast in trying to hold on to the progressive Canadian identity. Harper knows this so he isn't trying to convince us with his ideas. Even most Albertans would be repelled by his true goals. Sometimes when you can decipher some of his non-sequiturs, such as "Canadian society is moving to the right", in this light they start to make sense.

We had a good policy this last time. Yeah for us. There was vote splitting true. But to win the Liberals need to energize voters to come out. Pulling Frank McKenna or John Manley out of the Boardroom won't accomplish that.

Next post in this series: How Harper is like a Big Mac.Recommend this Post

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

Anonymous Liberal InsidersRecommend this Post

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The implications of 59.1% times 37.6%

Getting 37.6% of a 59.1% turn-out means that Mr. Ordinary got the votes of 22.2% of eligible voters.

I couldn't find the post where I read this but there is a portion of the general population that believe all sort of crazy things (alien abductions, Area 51, positive opinions about Bush's performance) and seem to fall into the range of about a quarter. They may be nuts enough to support Harper but they tend to be energized about exercising their franchise. It wouldn't surprise me if their turn-out was in the high 70s low 80s for a candidate or party they think represents their views. Harper's vote total for this election might just allow us to quantify his base (probably about ~18-20% of voters).

If we accept the premise that his base is around 20 percent, all of his negative campaigning and ad hominem attacks on Dion impressed very few undecided voters.

This helps explains some of the steps Harper took to try and suppress the turn-out. Hope for the incumbency effect, have the election the day after Thanksgiving, do as much as you can to not motivate opposition to another term (oops on that one in Quebec). His slot machine commercials were designed to suppress the Liberal vote more than to convince soft Liberal support to come over to the dark side. His base will turn out time after time and he doesn't need to fool too many others to win. But for the Arts comment he would have had his majority.

Given the low Alberta turn-out (~50%) and the very few people I have found who will admit to voting for Rob Anders et al., I doubt if the generally stronger stated preference for Conservatives has swung the numbers that much.

As many others have pointed out, the poor GOTV effort by the Liberals cost them several seats if not the election. It also makes clear that to rise above left wing vote splitting and win the Liberals must craft a platform that minimizes Conservative increments to their base and capture the vote of as many Greens, NDP and others as possible. In other words be Liberals.

Not easy but not impossible either.Recommend this Post

Make your predictions here

In 2006, the RCMP made a blatant intervention late in the campaign to disrupt the Liberal chances to win.

This year, ConTV conspired with the Conservatives to torpedo a charging Dion.

Who/what will the HarpRovians pull out of their back pockets to bring about a game changer when the next election comes along?Recommend this Post

Toom Tabard rides again

Are you kidding me? Does he have so few ideas that he has to plagiarize Dion a day after the election?

He really doesn't have a clue as to what to do. And we are about to enter the worst economic downturn (caused by conservative economic policies) of our times with this incompetent boob at the tiller?

We are so screwed. I hope the mess can be cleaned up before my teenage kids hit retirement age.Recommend this Post

Dion must stay on

He must, if willing, stay on to fight again.

Tom Flanagan has laid out the Conservative strategy: Force Dion out and make the Liberals have an expensive and divisive leadership campaign. Once a leader is in place, attack him non-stop. Do this to keep the Liberals off balance, disrupt and mis-direct their fund-raising efforts. Do this again and again until the Liberals are bankrupt. This strategy was a key component in calling Tuesday's election. Once the Liberals are gone the Conservatives would only have to deal with the all hat and no cattle NDP lap dogs.

The thing is that the Conservatives have done their worst. They called him "not a leader" for 2 years. By the end of the campaign, when people saw who Dion really was his leadership polling was competitive with Harper's. They can't throw this at him again. That boat has left dock.

There will be other low blows but they will be less effective. Given time Dion would have recovered from the Doofusy sandbagging as well. That is why the conspiracy with the ConTV was set for so late in the campaign.

Other leaders might have performed better than Dion given the cards he had to play with. But I doubt it. He must be given the opportunity to build on his success.

As an anecdote, my wife has told me she thinks that Dion was a mistake due to a lack of charisma. But I noticed that a smile crept up on her while listening to Dion while he was on Cross Country Check-up. I think this is due to his eminent like-ability. This connection to voters is something that takes time to build.Recommend this Post

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

The CBC and the entire media for uncritically reporting that Harper has a six point plan to steady the economy. I did not hear a single comment of how this was lifted straight from Dion.

Harper has a low opinion of the media and Canadians and his cynical moves reflect that. Quite often he is right.Recommend this Post

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is Harper whistling to his dogs?

While I don't subscribe to the Harper is a genius theme I think he does have a reason for everything he does.

So why did he contrive a reason to ridicule Dion's English. Anyone could predict that this could lose him all of his seats in Quebec. Possibly any francophone dominated seats in the ROC as well.

Perhaps he realized that Quebec is lost to him and he needs to try and save his government by getting as many seats out west as he can.

The concept of dog whistle politics by the Republicans is reasonably well understood. They make statements that seem like non-sequitors but are messages to their base. The most famous example was the reference to the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision by Bush in the 2004 debates.

He might be hoping that he can motivate enough votes in the west to squeeze out a few NDP seats.

If I'm right we might see a new Prime Minister on Tuesday. But I am an optimist.Recommend this Post

The essential difference between the NDP and the COnservatives

There isn't one.

I have been noticing during a few drives around Calgary that the NDP has almost as many signs with Jack Layton as the sole name on it as there are candidates name bearing signs. This along with the "A New Kind of Strong" logo and the dismissive platform of 70's retread policies show that the NDP is running the same kind of campaign as Harper.

Ignore real issues. Don't debate the basics of climate change since they know Dion has the best one.

Focus on "Leadership". Because they believe this is the one aspect at which they could best Dion down. Jack Layton's ego convinced him that he would be the key to growing the NDP vote.

The NDP no longer cares about policy and representing working families. It is all about maintaining the organization and reaching for power.Recommend this Post

Friday, October 10, 2008

The ghost of Tommy Douglas stalks the NDP

I have hesitated posting this for several weeks since it seemed a bit confrontational and angry but the glee with which several NDP bloggers have joined in the Conservative entrapment of Dion with a bogus question has made me re-think my aversion to this.

The polls seem to be indicating an historic rise in NDP. This appears to be mainly at the expense of the Liberals. Perhaps the NDP might replace the Liberals as the Official Opposition. Not likely. Less likely (next to impossible) Jack Layton might become Prime Minister.

First off. Congratulations to the die-hard Dippers and Greeners. You have dedicated yourselves to a cause you believe in and can be proud of success. Deservedly so perhaps. A lot of your policies are in line with what Canadians want. I recall an online quiz from 2006 which asked people for their thoughts on various issues without identifying what the different parties platform said on the subject. If I recall the results correctly, the NDP platform best reflected the wishes of a majority of Canadians. An increase in NDP support may very well be the best way to move Canada in a more progressive direction. Move the centre to the left as it were.

But the way in which this came about raises some questions. I have been reading a lot of posts gloating about the demise of the Liberals.

If the NDP/Green success means a Harper government, is this not a Pyrrhic victory? Is having Jack Layton assume the title of Leader of the Official Opposition and moving into Stornoway worth the destruction of the Canada we know and love?

Perhaps you would agree that this increase in popularity is due to the perceived performance of Stephan Dion? The Not A Leader ads seemed to have worked. Where was the NDP during the last two years on this? As Edmund Burke said:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Would Tommy Douglas have let this sort of slur gone unchallenged? Jack Layton was more than willing to let this happen and reap the benefits. Even though it was the leader of a different political party, I have a hard time thinking that Ed Broadbent or Stephen Lewis would have allowed this sort of character assassination go unchecked. How does it feel to be Harper's useful idiots?

It is not a result of reaching out to the kitchen tables. Layton has depended on the same manufactured events that Harper has. It may be fooling an additional 8% of the people but this will not make Jack the Leader of the Opposition.

This is not a call to abandon the party for the Liberals. This election will unfold as it will. Canada may fail. It will happen eventually and maybe October 14th is the day it starts. I do know that there is a cost to success. Perhaps being in the centre makes it harder to maintain your political principles. Maybe this is part of the reason the Liberals were never as liberal in office as they were on the campaign trail.

And trust me. If I thought Layton would form the next government and rid us of Harper, I would vote NDP.

Founding members of the Reform Party expressed similar concerns with their movement. Stephen Harper has eliminated the grassroots nature of the party and made it his own fiefdom. Is this the cost of success?

If you have a comment, please don't talk about "43 absentions" or other NDP/Conservative talking points. There is always a price to success. And the piper has to be paid. Even a former campaign strategist has pointed out that the confidence votes used by Harper were a betrayal of Commons traditions.

When he retired from active politics, Tommy Douglas accepted a position in the HofC staff so that he could make sure that the institution he loved would be maintained. He must be spinning in his grave to think that the inheritors of his legacy were complicit in this destruction of House rules.

So a simple question to the NDP.

You have sacrificed your heritage and principles so Jack Layton has a shot at moving into Stornoway.Has it have been worth it?Recommend this Post

Let us see now

So it looks like:
  1. The Atlantic will be mostly Liberal
  2. The Bloc will be strong except in Montreal where the Libs are holding on.
  3. Ontario will swing Liberal especially in Toronto
  4. The Prairies will be Conservative with a few anomalous NDP and Liberals
  5. And BC will be Liberal and Conservative except for the lower Mainland which will be Liberal.
  6. The Greens may pick up a seat or two.
Looks to me like it is back to Bouchard/Manning times with enough seats of former PCs to maybe give Harper the edge.

The big thing is that the Reformers are shrinking back to their base.Recommend this Post

What the Dion tape really speaks to

Let us piece together the events of this tempest in an election pot.

  1. A journalist asks a question that was so convoluted and ambiguous that the journalist looks like a buffoon for phrasing it that way. Or, more likely perhaps, he was fed this from someone else with the intention of making Dion look like he has trouble understanding English.
  2. Dion asks for clarification under the expressed agreement that the common understanding that such do-overs are allowed is in effect.
  3. The journalist and Mike Duffy break all sorts of ethic rules by playing this up
  4. Harper has his one and only open scrum of the campaign at which he just happens to have a TV handy
What this means:
  1. The CTV is actively taking part in the Conservative campaign and
  2. Harper is scared.
Recommend this Post

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

The Globe has jumped the shark. It can no longer be looked at as run by competent editors. The cognitive dissonance in this is deafening

No quotes to point out how stupid their reasoning is since the whole think makes no sense.Recommend this Post

An inflection point in Canadian politics

With the closest election in Canadian history being decided over the weekend before voting day there is a lot of talk about different coalitions that could form the next government. While this could be seen as a sign that Canada mythic political stability is being threatened, an optimist could see this as the end of the fragmentation of the body politic in Canada.

Whether it is the birth of Reform leading to the death of the Progressive Conservatives and the eventual rebirth as the Conservatives, the cleaving of the Bloc from the Conservatives or the splitting of the left between the Liberals/NDP/Bloc/Green parties, things may have to play themselves out before they can coalesce into the main two competing ideological views in Canada. The need for the left to come together might lead some realistic NDP supporters to mov to the Liberals and ensure that it nudge it to the true centre left and the NDP can then revert to its ideologically pure 10% support.

Here's hoping.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stephen Harper has a plan

This is the exception to the Toom Tabard rule. He has a plan but he really really doesn't want you to know what it is.

  • To start to recognize his plan, he have to realize that Mr. Ordinary was indoctrinated in the "Calgary School of Political Science". This embarrassment to Calgarians also worships at the altar of Milton Friedman
  • Then if you take the point of Naomi Klein's thesis in "The Shock Doctrine"; that the acolytes of Milton Friedman believe that a shock to the system is needed to force a people to accept the changes to their political and economic system necessary to allow their anti-democratic fantasies to take place.
  • The first steps to this were taken in the budgets brought down by the Conservative government. The thinking from the outset was force the government into deficit so that Canadians can be nudged into accepting deep cuts to the social safety net and Canadian institutions.
  • As this crisis started to unfold, Harper saw a chance to hit a home run. If he could hold on for a win, he would have the shock needed to real gore the federal ox. This explains his tepid comments on the economy. Hope everyone sleeps through a vote and take his ideological measures later when everyone is in shock.
Of course he is nuts to think this way but that is our Steve.

One week to go to see if this will work.Recommend this Post

The Anti-Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

I can't think of a catchy title for this at 6 a.m. but it is also worth paying attention to people who contribute positively to Canadian life. Who better to be recognized as the first un-Mr. Ordinary than Margaret Atwood?

In a Globe opinion piece she stakes out more reasons to vote ABC. The key quote for me is:
Today's informed guess is this. Dear fellow Canadians: If you give the Harper neo-cons a majority government, you'll lose much that you cherish, you'll gain nothing worth having, and you'll never, never forgive yourselves.
Recommend this Post

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

Goes to Stephen Harper. Like I said nothing epitomized wanker like Mr. Ordinary.

He has been put forward as a man so intelligent that he is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. He is astute. He is a mental giant. He is the guiding force behind the inevitable domination of the Calgary School of political and economic "thought"

Wait a minute. He has been caught plagiarizing again? For a third time?

Perhaps it is the case that he isn't the leading light of the Conservative movement. Maybe he is a puppet controlled by one of his backbenchers? Rob Anders perhaps?

Sorry but what you see is what you get. He is the best that the current Conservative Party can offer up. They have no ideas that are not risible. No policy that is defensible. They are rubbish.

My thanks for the hard work the j-rad, buckets and have done in helping to point out that the entity that is supposed to restructure Canada is an empty coat.Recommend this Post

Sunday, October 5, 2008

About Godwin's Law

I thought I would get this out of the way. In a Blue Sweater Vest Award a couple of days ago, I compared the thugs cutting brake lines in T.O. (and now in Halifax), to Nazis.

This might cause some to bring up Godwin's Law. If you feel compelled to do so, it probably doesn't mean what you think it means.

Godwin's Law states:
"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

This does not mean that refering to the tactics of someone as being akin to the Nazis invalidates the argument. Unless someone falls into a reductio ad hitlerum tirade it is perfectly right to point out that someone's tactics are those of Hitler's.

The only people who benefit from using Godwin's Law as a way to dismiss an argument out of hand are in line with the people using those tactics. It is a classic deflection to say that comparisons of this nature are automatically invalid. A valid comparison to the tactics of the Nazis is every bit as valid as pointing out that cutting brake lines is akin to the campaign tactics of Mugabe.

What is the point of being constantly vigilant if you refuse to use a valid comparison to the type of abuse you are on the lookout for?
Recommend this Post

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

The bullies who cut brake lines of Liberal supporters in T.O. and their fellow creeps in Guelph during the by-election campaign.

Looks like we have our own brown shirts. Only the thugs who are trying to help Harper have his putsch wear blue sweater vests rather than the uniforms the Nazis used.

Of course there is, as of yet, no direct evidence connecting this to the Conservatives. But just as with their Republican counterparts, there is no reason to think that Harper is above these tactics.Recommend this Post

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Inaugural Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award

Wanker is a term used for someone who is a useless tool. Atrios names a "Wanker of the Day" for the person who makes the worst contribution to the U. S. national discourse. In Canada nothing represents the notion of a wanker quite like Stephen Harper. So I have decided to recognize Canada's wanker of the day with The Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award.

And the inaugural winner is: Andrew Coyne. Steve V at Far And Wide has an excellent post deconstructing Coyne's defence of Harper's plagiarism of a speech by then Australian PM John Howard. Coyne would have been under consideration just for this obvious attempt to carry Harper's water.

But Steve V actually took it easy on Coyne by not pointing out an idiocy in Coyne's last paragraph.

To wit:
Looking at the speech he delivered, I’m just upset at being reminded how far he’s fallen since then. The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation — even if it was somebody else’s words. I’ve no idea how the Harper of 2008 would respond.

(Added emphasis)
Is he for real? I can't believe that anyone who works as a journalist can write that after the premise for the war has been shown to be contrived excuses for the conquest of an oil producing state. Even worse for Coyne, Harper has admitted that the war was wrong.

For this, Coyne has won the debate on who wins hands down.

Besides winning the first BSVOTDA Mr. Coyne also puts another nail into the coffin of the liberal media bias excuse. Of course that coffin is more nails than wood now isn't it?
Recommend this Post

One week in

Well I have been blogging for a whole week and I am starting to get the hang of it. 14 points all told. Not counting a post I decided against publishing. Averaging two posts a day isn't too bad. Not a failed start and nothing approaching obsessive-compulsive disorder levels either. It is good for the soul to not have to keep these opinions bottled up.

Probably the most thankful person is my wife. Since starting this up, I have been able to refrain from pointing out how maddening the world is. Not that she doesn't agree; just that she doesn't need to hear it all the time.Recommend this Post

Arts Elites blogging - see your dog runaway episode

I don't watch much TV but one show I would go out of my way to watch is Corner Gas. When we first watched it on DVD I thought my eldest was going to hurt herself she was laughing so hard.

Our favourite episode is The Tax Man. How many countries other than Canada can put a line like "Aren't Prepositions fun?" into a sitcom and make it work?

Has anyone pointed out to Mr. Ordinary that this show makes use of various culture grants? I expect the economic multiplier came into force with this show big time.

As an aside, the hill where we ski is staffed by people from all over the world. One reason this show has been sold to so many countries is that DVDs of the show have been passed around when the lifties get back home. CanCon goes viral on a worldwide basis.

Stephen Harper wouldn't know an ordinary Canadian if he pushed her out of the way to photocopy a speech sent to him from neo-con central.Recommend this Post

Looks bad on Harper either way

This is one of a series of posts that Dave at The Galloping Beaver has been running based on Harpers professed dislike of The Beatles. When Harper made the comment I thought this was a bizarre manifestation of his religious beliefs. It is hard to believe that we are the same age. It makes him look extremely goofy to say he hates The Beatles. Some people may dislike them but to hold The Beatles up as a dangerous influence on youth? Was this for real? Does his religious sect still harbour a grudge for Lennon's bigger than God comment?

But as his existence as a Toom Tabard has come more and more to light, this expressed antipathy to all things Beatle has to be considered in a new light. Perhaps the Conservatives mighty database has identified a cluster of voters in a swing riding who belong to a Beatle hating cult. Maybe the data analysis has indicated that this is their only issue. The Beatle hatred might reflect a play for these votes.

If the database has identified such a group, a bit of sober second thought might lead a sane person to question the work of the database. Garbage In, Garbage Out and all that. But then we know what he thinks of people exercising "sober second thought"

Take your pick. Either he is a religious loony or an empty coat who is willing to robotically mouth whatever asinine talking points a computer spits out.

Neither one is worthy to be Prime Minister.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A quasi parelllel between Canadian/US Electoral maps

It has been widely noticed that the "Rovian" tactics used to get Bush close enough so that the last two elections could be stolen have resulted in an U.S. electoral map that has the Democrats holding the seats in the states along the coasts (except for the southeast coast) and the Republicans holding the "Flyover" states. The resulting pattern is commonly referred to as Jesusland.

We should guard against scoffing at the Americans. Regardless which party wins our election, most of the forecasts I have read predict we will have our own version of Jesusland. The Liberals would have bases in Atlantic Canada, the St. Lawrence and Montreal, Toronto and the suburbs and the Lower Mainland. The Conservatives will hold the ones between.

The NDP, Bloc' and the Greens do not alter this map. They only serve to hold the balance of power. They can deny the either Liberals or the Conservatives a victory. They will never hold power. the best they can hope for is to wield the balance of power in a minority government.Recommend this Post

Arts elties blogging Part Deux

Bon Cop Bad Cop is one of the funniest movies I have seen in years and it is proudly and unreservedly Canadian. And I know of people all over the world who love it even if they have to ask for explanations of some of the references to things we take for granted.

This part gets to the core of interaction between the solitudes. Even while beating up a suspect they are discussing how to improve their french. And LuLu apologizes because he makes it more difficult for them to stuff him in a trunk.

And this is my favourite part over all. Jeff is a great character.

Stephen Harper wouldn't know an ordinary Canadian is he kicked him in the teeth by unnecessarily fomenting Quebec nationalism by recognizing Quebec as a nation just to try to win a majority.

I had initially thought I would post on my favourite albums (Monday Music) , movies (Friday movies) etc. as a series but after Harper's arts wedgie came out, I decided to post on ones which show how good a job arts funding is doing in representing Canada to the world until the end of the election.Recommend this Post