Wednesday, June 30, 2004

An arm of iron

Somehow, I've never noticed commercials for this until tonight. I understand nothing of the Yu-Gi-Oh card game, other than that it seems to be a commercial property specifically developed to be simultaneously launched as an animated series and collectible card game. This, thus, seems to be an arm-mounted game board. An arm-mounted game board. I'm torn. That's both the saddest thing ever (what kind of kid can't be bothered to sit down to play a card game?) and the most fantastic; arm-mounted boards certainly would have been handy for playing Magic back in the day, though I'm sure wearing godawful contraptions such as this would have invited even more abuse from the non-geek community. Kids today don't know how good they have it, where this kind of thing is a viable accessory to own for playing cards. (Sweet Lamprey of Santa Fe. I actually used the phrase "kids today." I feel old.)

All your followers are blind

Ottawa Sun columnist Earl McRae interviews average Ottawans on the election: "I've always voted Liberal," was Heather Whelan's answer. "Besides, all that garbage, if it even happened, took place under Chretien, not Paul Martin." "With me, it was Harper," said her husband. "The guy scared me. He gave you the feeling he was up to something he didn't want you to know about." Like what? "I'm not sure, but Martin said he was and that was good enough for me." You know, I don't think I've ever believed anything said by the Conservatives, Canadian Alliance, PCs, or Reform Party just because the leader said so. I would certainly like to think I consider the facts and come up with an opinion on my own, which may differ from the official party line. Which is to say, whose support is coming from unthinking ideologues here, exactly? Scarier yet: "They're warmongers," said Don. "They're out to take over the world. They remind me of the Germans in World War II." No points for guessing who he suspects of attempting to enact the Fourth Reich. Even more illustrative is the precise nature of popular anti-Americanism. "The bloody Americans. I hate the Americans." "You can't trust them." "They're ignorant. They don't know anything about any other country." "They're not our best friends, they're our worst enemies." "I don't think they're all bad, I've got American friends." If these statements were made concerning any other group - Arabs, say, or the Swiss, or dentists - how fast would hate speech charges be leveled against the speaker? When I read something like this, it makes me genuinely despair for Canada, and Ottawa in particular. I may dislike what it's become. I may have no end of complaints about this country and this city. It may make the nervous tic in my neck twitch on a more or less constant basis. But it's mine, damn it. In some perverse way I am proud of my home, and it pains me to see such willful delusion in what are, for the moment, still my fellow-countrymen. No, I suppose the Tories are never going to win an Ontario populated by those who genuinely think the United States a more immediate threat to their lives than terrorism. They're also never going to win as long as there are those that will extend infinite gentle patience for Liberal corruption, but will reject a Conservative leader for vaguely-defined feelings of unease. I can't even understand how one can get to this point; it simply Does Not Compute for me. I just don't get it. I don't mean to belabor the point, but I simply don't understand at all. What kind of rhetorical gymnastics are required of one's internal monologue to draw these conclusions? Is there any evidence in the world that would convince this sort of person that Canada's history is not one of peacekeeping, Americans are not bad people, but convicted criminals are? I've told myself I'm not going to turn into a bitter, one-tracked-mind crank, but are you people blind or stupid? ... ...There. Now that's out. Calm calm calm caaaaalm. I'm still a little bitter, y'see. But despite that, I'm going to try to give the minority government a chance. I really am. Maybe Paul Martin can prove that he's not the leader of choice of irony-bereft ignoramuses like these interviewees, but a competent and honest leader despite their votes of confidence. I hope so, anyway, because if not my neck's going to get sore pretty quickly. (Via The Shotgun.)

They're so twisted up, they'll twist you up, I fear

Okay, I think it's fair to say Ralph Nader is now officially the Pat Buchanan of the Left. That he knows this kind of thing will play well with the disenchanted Democrats whose votes he hopes to poach from Kerry is also somewhat worrying. (Via LGF.)

My mind is clearer now

I'm not having a good day. Or week, for that matter. There was the disappointing election, of course. Plus continued sorta-unemployment, compounded by separate electorally-related unemployment. Plus a painful blister that's developed over the past few days on my heel, which has made it impossible to walk anywhere in shoes; that rules out killing time at the Archives or library, wandering around photographing architecture, or working out. Plus several inconveniently-timed other personal problems. Plus, today's my birthday. I wonder if it's allowed to have a mid-life crisis in your early twenties, and get it out of the way early...

We danced and sang, and the music played in the boomtown

If I wasn't terrified of the wildlife one tends to find in abandoned buildings, this is the sort of thing I'd love to do. Ohio has a long and varied history. Within the 88 counties of the state you'll find some of the densest woods in the country, plenty of industrial wreckage (hey, just look at Cleveland), lots of abandoned houses, and about a million cool, deserted, rarely visited places. Even ghost towns--the boom-and-bust mining industry in Ohio has given it a past on a par with the Rocky Mountain states. Here I give some of these places a showing-off. Choose below for a section of the page; explore abanonded places (featuring buildings and other landmarks), ghost towns, creepy cemeteries, or Ohio's haunted history. There's something supremely fascinating about the compressed density of history to be found in a continent with so much empty space, and just how much can be forgotten about the details in ten or twenty or fifty years.

Prisoners of Love

This is interesting, and supremely irritating in a way. In the same manner that Republicans can get away with more wasteful spending and Democrats can get away with a more proactively interventionist foreign policy precisely because it goes against their respective reputations, Liberals can be tough on crime without any real political backlash. If this "super jail" had been announced during the Mike Harris era, the article would not only have mentioned the party in power, but also implied that Tories were just plain mean for wanting to abuse precious little misunderstood teenagers. Here, objections to the facility are reported in a neutral tone, and the bulk of the article focuses on facts about the jail itself. What Liberal Media? Oh, right...

Saturnalia

Mike and Ike, they think alike. Now that our federal election is over and done with (at least for six months or so), I can return my attention to the important contest - and shudder at just how incredibly ugly it's going to get. (Via Brian Tiemann.)

Where once it never rained till after sundown

What would we do without academics? Caroline Andrew, the dean of social science at the University of Ottawa, said the Conservative agenda would have resulted in decentralizing and privatizing parts of the federal government, hurting the economy. (Text quoted from the print edition.) I'm ever so glad we have intellectuals like Ms. Andrew to tell us that government should not only have the role of mother and father, but as prime employer as well. It makes me glad I'm not a sociology major. Some people, I suppose, just can't bear the thought of those horrible proles being allowed to take responsibility for themselves, and creating a private economy not wholly dependant upon the whims of wonks with calculators in Tunney's Pasture or Gatineau.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The light is dimming, and the dream is too

Greg Weston of the Ottawa Sun: Nonetheless, if voters always get the government they deserve, it is hard to imagine what we did to rate another Liberal government. "We" fell for their line. The cynic in me is tempted to think that's such a damnable political sin as to warrant the havoc a Liberal-NDP government will wreak on the country. You made your bed, you cowards; now you have to lie in it. I predict I will have occasion to take great glee in not having contributed to this mess.

Post-Mortem

The final numbers are out. They're interesting. Not good interesting, but "May you live in interesting times" interesting. Thoughts: 1. Between this and the last provincial election, I've lost all faith in Ontarians to vote in their own self-interest. I figured the Liberal scare tactics would work in the Maritimes and Quebec, but I expected better of Ontario. 2. The breakdown works out to Liberals + NDP = Conservatives + Bloc + Chuck Cadman, at 154 seats each. This is going to be an exceptionally fragile government, even for a minority situation. Any single backbencher will have the power to bring down the government on a non-confidence vote (assuming the opposition votes in unison against). If Jack Layton isn't sufficiently appeased, he could cause a collapse all by himself, without even ordering his caucus to follow suit. 3. If a Liberal-NDP coalition, formal or informal, collapses after a short length of time - and I expect it will - Her Excellency may allow the Tories to try and form a coalition government instead of calling another election immediately. It'd be exactly as numerically legitimate, if nothing else. So, all in all, I'm disgusted and disappointed. But it seems likely that further revelations of Liberal corruption, combined with the icky demands of the NDP, will allow for Tory gains in the next election. Hopefully by then it'll also be clear that Stephen Harper isn't The Devil Himself. It still kills me, though. The Liberals and Conservatives aren't that substantially different. Canada had the opportunity to throw out a corrupt and arrogant pack of liars, and chose instead to be frightened by obvious propaganda. It's sick. I think I need to accelerate my plans to get out of here...

Holy Crap and Christ Almighty, I Love a Little Town

Oy. It looks like the rural polls for the riding in question came in later; 'my' MP (not to be confused with my MP, who is now Ed Broadbent, argh argh argh) lost by a fair margin. Oh well - I suppose it was too easy and well-paying a job to last for very long, anyway.

Monday, June 28, 2004

That's how we get the government we deserve

Erggg. Ontarians are more easily frightened by blatant propaganda and scare tactics than I thought. This is going to be an ugly, ugly and hopefully short government. And then we'll likely do it all again within a year or two. Happy days.

A little fall of rain

On the plus side, my part-time employer is leading by 300 votes out of 3400-odd so far in the riding. That's something. At least it looks like I'll be keeping my phony-baloney job.

Nervous Twitching Ahoy

Crud. This is not looking good. Although there's still a lot of Western ridings not yet posted. At least a Liberal minority would be bound to collapse within months...I can always console myself with that...

Bit by bit the pieces fit

Local results start in five minutes. The suspense is killing me... As long as David McGuinty doesn't take Ottawa South, I'll be happy. A curse on the entire family.

Is a thief and a traitor all you are made of in the end?

"Now, Brison's signs have 'Re-elect a good MP' on them...not all the Liberal signs across the country say that." CBC Freudian slips: priceless. Also, on Scott Brison: Screw You, Traitor. I have no patience for turncoats, especially opportunists like Brison, who crossed the floor only after losing the PC leadership. I liked him. I really did. I supported him for the leadership; he was soundly fiscally conservative, and realistic on foreign policy and defense; also, gay and not an obnoxious drama queen, unlike certain people I could name (*cough* Svend Robinson *cough*). But then he went and drank the "Scary SoCons" Kool-Aid to take a Liberal cabinet seat...and I can't respect that. Not in the slightest. Yes, the Conservatives have ugly homophobes like Cheryl Gallant - but she's marginalized. It's not like her brand of social conservatism was genuinely ascendant in the party. Turning traitor was a cowardly slap in the face to everyone who supported Brison as a conservative, big- or small-C. Update: The Monger has similar thoughts on Brison's brother traitor Keith Martin.

Guilty as charged

Rick Mercer, on a rare and welcome occasion, says something both sensible and amusing: "Election Night in Canada. It's like the Stanley Cup playoffs, but for nerds."

Counting Down

CBC Newsworld is breathlessly describing the strange new phenomenon known as "blogging" and how it's influenced the campaign. Welcome to 2001, MotherCorp! They also just ran an absolutely insane animated musical number describing how the now-defunct media blackout on poll results between different time zones worked. I can't find any mention of it on their various sites, which is a shame, because it was so incredibly bizarre I doubt anyone will ever believe such a thing existed. Hopefully they'll re-run it, so I can tape it. Update: On the other hand, when I called, CBC Audience Relations promised me they'd track down any information they could about the short, and send it to me. Huzzah...?

If we seem offhand then please remember, this is nothing very special

The Macedonian ambassador seems to be moving out of my building, if all the carefully labeled boxes sitting down at the service entrance are any indication. That's interesting, somehow, yet not at all.

E-Day

The nightmare begins. I've already voted, nearly two weeks ago, so I don't even have that to do to assuage my paranoia - just wait for the indescribably-distant closing of the polls tonight, and obsessively watch news coverage as long as I can stay awake. Such are the trials of the news junkie. I can't believe it's possible for anyone to project seat numbers in a way that's more than a guess, so I'm not going to try; all I'll say is that I believe it's going to be a Tory minority, and probably one leading only ten to fifteen seats over the Liberals.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Agitprop

Erg. This is exactly why I worry about devaluing the concept of real evil with irony. It's also the corollary of "People who disagree with you aren't necessarily Nazis." If "we're" the brownshirts, then what words are left to describe the guys actually willing to bash heads in the streets for their cause? (Via Baldilocks via Brian Tiemann.)

They had themselves a party at the point of a gun

This is just wrong. Al Gore may have yet again jumped the shark into further political irrelevance and absurdity with his over-the-top hyperbole comparing right-wing bloggers to Nazis, but I think this is one of those things that can't really be turned around to rebound on the accuser. He's already discredited himself by any reasonable standard; smarmily appropriating his term of "digital brownshirts" as some sort of badge of pride...it's neither clever nor amusing. Which is to say, I believe the author's defense gets it wrong: Welcome Metafilter handwringers! Upset with Nazi imagery used for purposes of satire? Take two episodes of Hogan's Heroes and call your shrink in the morning. And please remember that when Al Gore said what he said he meant it. This is a joke.....you may not think it funny....but it is a joke. There's a difference between 'laughing at' and 'laughing with.' Holding Nazis up for purposes of ridicule is proper and healthy; all the better to continually point out the many evils and failings of a movement that claimed itself to be overlords of all creation. Hogan's Heroes, The Producers' play-within-a-play Springtime for Hitler, P.G. Wodehouse's "Black Shorts" - all are laughing at fascists of various stripes, portraying them as contemptible fools when not as contemptible brutes. Black humour, satire in that fashion, can be amusing precisely because it never forgets the 'otherness' of such a movement. They're not like us, it says. On the other hand, proudly taking up "digital brownshirts" as a redirected jibe, in the manner of reclaiming epithets such as "nigger" or "faggot" - I just don't think it can work. It's laughing with the hypothetical Nazis; See, we're not so bad, if Al Gore can confuse us with you. Even compared to its most closely related meme, the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy," it's nothing alike. Most can agree that that phrase was hyperbole, but silly in context, and reflecting worse upon the Clinton administration than its declared enemies. The difference is that there is and was no such conspiracy. There certainly were brownshirts, and blackshirts, and sympathizers galore, for an uncomfortable part of the last century. There's something indecent about self-identifying with the worst monsters history has ever seen, even in jest. Lileks had it right, I think. A pox on all those who would abuse the very notion of Nazism for political ends. Last week, I went out to dinner with friends, and while talking about the election, one kept joking about the supposed evil of the Conservatives with the phrase "Heil Harper." It made me furious. It is not funny and not right to call your opponents Nazis, unless they actually are. It is similarly neither amusing nor appropriate to mockingly call oneself a Nazi, under any circumstances. Could we not agree on that, at least?

Too Much Exposition

The first trailer for The Phantom of the Opera is looking fantastic. There ought to be more movie musicals. If nothing else, the success of Moulin Rouge and Chicago has proved that they'll sell tickets; it's just a matter of enticing the not-naturally-inclined-to-musical-theatre with the right combination of star power. Then hit 'em with the lyrics and orchestration, oh my, yes. I don't have the money or wherewithal to see every show I'd like to - or many at all, for that matter; the last one was The Producers, in Toronto - and every skilfully produced film version of a stage production is a gem to treasure. Now, since Phantom is nearly in the can, how about someone get cracking on those supposed remakes of Sunset Boulevard or Jesus Christ Superstar? Anyone? (Via Ain't It Cool, which has to my chagrin been undergoing an unfortunately slobbery teenage crush on Fahrenheit 9/11 lately. Stick to movies, guys, and leave the geopolitics to grownups, huh?)

All I Ask of You

Bourque's headline is calling this article a flip-flop on Stephen Harper's part. I don't see how. Harper has previously stated that sending Canadian troops to Iraq would have been the right thing to do. I don't see that being taken back here, just an acknowledgment that a) doing the right thing is now likely to be immensely unpopular with voters weaned on anti-American isolationism, and b) Canada doesn't actually have any spare forces left, after committing handfuls of troops to existing UN and NATO missions. I mean, literally, handfuls; when the Department of National Defense has to brag about the five peacekeepers in Sierra Leone or the two in Haiti, it becomes painfully obvious what kind of small scale Canada's military has been reduced to. We couldn't have helped in any meaningful way even if Chretien hadn't been such an America-hating jackass. But is it too much to suggest that there's a right and a wrong side of things, and siding with the genocidal dictator was to Canada's eternal shame? (Via Instapundit, 101-280, and Bourque.)

Saturday, June 26, 2004

There's space for a paper airplane race

On former Ontario premier Ernie "Odo" Eves' plans for the future: After sitting as premier and finance minister, Eves said he was "looking forward to sitting in the fourth row, making paper airplanes" after he steps down as Tory leader. Well, it can't possibly hurt the dignity of Queen's Park under Dalton McGuinty, anyway.

Come what may

No comment. It works as-is.

Really, Really Big Brother is Watching You

Little Known Facts

Most ridings will be too close to call shortly after the polls close? Yeah, that sounds likely this time around. But what is this article in aid of? We knew that already. Does the mighty Globe & Mail feel responsible for making certain the good little voters of Canada go to bed on time Monday night, and don't foolishly stay up late to find out how the closest federal election in years turns out? There'll be coverage, spin, and most importantly, something to watch, until everything's done and decided. Don't kill the news junkies' buzz yet.

How annoying, that they have to fight elections for their cause

First of all, I can't believe the headline misspells "Nader," and secondly, of course he's endorsing the NDP. I'm going to consider this a good omen. If Ralph Nader can be the spoiler that delivers an election to the conservative candidate, so can Jack Layton.

You gave me a pet name, which is not to say I like it

While working out this morning, I watched part of a CBC Newsworld election special with former party leaders and analysts making their predictions. Alexa McDonough reminded me with her spiel why I'm so eager to avoid giving the NDP any power at all. She recited chapter and verse of the "Stephen Harper is Scary" mantra two or three times, before segueing into the more general "Conservatives are Evil" variation. But she presented a perfect example of something that's been bugging me all election - constant repetition of the words "conservative," "reform" and "alliance." It's not like it's a bad strategy, either. Canadians have been conditioned by years of Liberal scaremongering to reflexively recoil in horror. Even I do it unconsciously occasionally, before remembering half a second later which side I'm on. It almost makes one long for the traditional system in Quebec, where the Liberals and Conservatives, respectively, weren't known by their names, but by their colours - the parti rouge and parti bleu. It removes the stigma either side attaches to the other's name, which is a plus. Of course, no doubt within a few years of such a system in a modern national context, blue would be implied by CBC and the Globe & Mail to be the decorating choice of Satan himself.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Far too many notes for my taste

What kind of world do we live in where the term "pottage" needs to be defined to make allusions thereto make sense?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I don't know how he does it, but he lives like a king

Inasmuch that it's been a slow news day, and anyway, the combination of election paranoia and continued de facto "temporary" layoff is getting me down, I may as well do one 'o these ready-made little-thought-required quiz-type post doodads for once. (Via .clue) 1. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text. The Egg, New Broadway Cast, 1776. "For us I see/Immortality/In Philadelphia City..." 2. A song you’ve listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life. Endless Night, Original Broadway Cast, The Lion King. It's just so upbeat and hopeful. It's a shame that a new musical number for it wasn't subbed in on the Special Edition DVD rather than The Morning Report. 3. Ever bought an entire album just for one song and wound up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song. We Didn't Start the Fire, Billy Joel, Storm Front. I actually first heard the song itself in an altered-lyrics version on the local Star Trek-airing station, as a bizarre promo. The rest of the album was very disappointing, but not nearly so much as this song's rendition in Movin' Out. 4. A great song in a language other than English. Kanonen Song, Kurt Weill, Die Dreigroschenoper. Jaunty, yet bloody and depressing. It works a bit better to not actually know what's being said. 5. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time. Once in a While, 1974 Los Angeles Cast, The Rocky Horror Show. Haven't listened to it in playing the rest of the album in several years. The only good version of it I've ever heard is in the 1995 Australian Cast. In every other cast album, it's just a second act-killing downer. 6. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent. Goldeneye, Tina Turner, Goldeneye. 7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that’s not by Liz Phair. Not by who? I Love a Little Town, Ian McShane, The Witches of Eastwick. McShane does foul-mouthed, smarmily blunt viciousness to perfection, whether as Satan himself or just Al Swearengen. 8. A song that sounds as if it’s by someone British but isn’t. Unfortunately, I can't think of anything that wasn't just accented for the sake of a theatrical role, or was upon further examination actually sung by a Briton. 9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of. The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, Original Broadway Cast, Sweeney Todd. Not so much the particular song as the whole album, but it's pretty good as a representative piece. 10. A song that reminds you of spring but doesn’t mention spring at all. Rhapsody In Blue, George Gershwin, George Gershwin Plays Rhapsody In Blue Using the Original Piano Rolls. 11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels. You Can't Stop the Beat, Original Broadway Cast, Hairspray. 12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album. The Last Saskatchewan Pirate, The Arrogant Worms, Live Bait. 13. A song that reminds you of high school. Trou Macacq, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Perennial Favourites. I was very into the brief Swing revival of the mid-to-late 90s. 14. A song that reminds you of college. Those Magic Changes, Original Broadway Cast, Grease. 15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise dislike. Sk8r Boi, Avril Lavigne, Let Go. 16. A song by a band that features three or more female members. Buttercup (I'm a Super Girl), Shonen Knife, The Powerpuff Girls: Heroes & Villains. That is, sadly, the only thing I can think of. 17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to. Mr. Mistoffelees, Original London Cast, Cats. The original cast albums of Cats and Les Miserables were the first two CDs I owned, received for Christmas sometime around 1990 or '91. 18. A song you’ve been mocked by friends for liking. Just about everything. But the vast panoply of musical theatre in general, and Disney-related stuff in particular. 19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard. Inspector Gadget, Lagwagon, Duh. 20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation. Comfort and Joy, Original Off-Broadway Cast, Bat Boy. A show-stopping number full of energy and the full range of emotions, it sums up the whole show with nicely dark undertones. The beat always puts a spring in my step, if nothing else. Yeah, it's a bit musical-heavy. But that's me all over.

Once I built a tower, to the sun


To help force down the bile brought up by thinking about the NCC too long, I present a detail shot of a defunct department store they haven't managed to get their claws into - Ogilvy's, seen in happier days on the same corner here. It's a beautiful building with a prime location, at Rideau and Nicholas, but is likely never to be used again; if memory serves, renovating to meet current fire codes seems to have been prohibitively expensive for potential developers. It's their loss. It'll likely go in the next phase of expansion of the Rideau Centre, which is a shame. Chicago-style brick-faced superblocks are getting rarer and rarer in this town, and all we get in exchange are generic glass towers.

My Kind of Town

I have a terribly ambivalent relationship with Ottawa. On the one hand, I enjoy the historical and political significance of everything around me - but, on the other, large parts of town are lifeless and dull to the point of depressing. The National Capital Commission, an appointed and unaccountable crown corporation, is responsible for most of this. It's their influence that replaced so many lovely and interesting historical buildings with concrete eyesores. It's their fault, with their long-preferred Stalinist Modern style, that the view out my window onto the two federal office towers across the alley looks maddeningly like that outside the apartment of Sam Lowry. It's completely their fault that all rail lines through the city were brilliantly rerouted to the suburbs...in time for a resurgence of interest in light rail mass transit. Thus, NCC Watch - which has been around for some time now, but whose site I only recently discovered, is utterly essential. The biggest blunders page, which elaborately explains some of the architectural features of this town that make my neck twitch, is a worthwhile read even for those unfamiliar with Ottawa. It's a catalogue of horrors, showing just what happens when a pack of bored bureaucrats is given the chance to play SimCity with a national capital. It's probably a good thing they don't have access to the "Disasters" menu...

In the Pale Moonlight

What exactly is so "offensive" about this? (Second item.) As I understand it, the five daily prayers Muslims perform do in fact mention Allah quite a bit. And, goodness knows, we've never seen any political figures defaced with cartoon devil horns and a beard before. Nope, never. Who would do such a dastardly thing? Who would intimate that sort of pure, unmitigated evil? Who would make light of such wickedness? This is manufactured offense, faux-outrage on the reporter's part, and in any event it would annoy me. But to equate campaign staffers harmlessly (if childishly) blowing off steam by graffitotagging newspaper photos of the opposition, in private, with vandals spray-painting swastikas on a synagogue? That's just disgusting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Useful Idiots

Good Lord. Words fail me. Who on Earth could possibly think that the CBC needs more taxpayer money to blatantly push the Liberal agenda? Well, I guess Liberals, of course. But this is more shameless than usual. I'd rather have free abortions for all and polygamous interspecies marriage than expand MotherCorp.

Random Number Generation

See, that's what I mean. We're back to establishing any changes in the polls as a result of statistical flutter. I've really got to stop watching the numbers, just for my own good. I've started waking up in the middle of the night with a bizarre compulsion to check Bourque for the latest results...

Injustice League

This is not good. How long until the first frivolous attempts at bringing war crimes charges against Bush and cabinet personally, I wonder? I'm guessing no more than a month. Unless this is part of an elaborate sucker-punch to discredit the ICC at large, it wasn't necessary and will no doubt be abused by rabid partisans the world over. (I'm aware that such a thing shouldn't be possible. It doesn't mean unethical jackals of all stripes won't try.)

But one guy was having a ball

I saw this headline - "Martin will attempt to stay in power, even if he finishes second" - this morning, and somehow managed to think nothing of it until reading analysis thereof this afternoon, whereupon I actually did a double-take. Sweet Zombie Jesus, he said that? Yeah, forget all that election nonsense; everyone knows it's the Liberals' God-given right to rule, however they can. In any other country, this kind of statement would be more than a bit worrying. That this is Canada - a country without even a passing familiarity with the coup or caudillo - doesn't make it acceptable, just slightly confusing.

Where those coins all belong

Sadly, this is not the first Canadian quarter design to look as though it were designed in MS Paint. That at least five or ten of the two dozen special edition coins released in the past five years were worse doesn't make this one any less spectacularly ugly, though. (Via BoingBoing.)

"And all this time, I've been smoking harmless tobacco!"

I certainly hope police would be infiltrating activist groups. I'd be worried if they weren't. Those "peace activists" can get awfully violent. Or do we not want to know about presidential candidates of 2040 who might be discussing ways and means of conducting domestic terrorism right now, hmmm?

And I'll just keep right on comin'

This is an excellent analysis of precisely how dysfunctional Canadian political culture is. Dare to question Liberal Party shibboleths, and you get tarred as "un-Canadian" - it's as simple as that. I long for the day we can have a federal campaign where it's not taken for granted by three candidates and the media at large that the fourth is ultimate evil. (Via CBC Watch, which before today I wasn't aware of at all. It's a welcome and needed service, however - the CBC needs their asses to be fact-checked only slightly less than the BBC - and certainly deserves a blogroll link.)

I Ain't Down Yet

I'm inclined to agree with Colby Cosh at the moment - push polls are getting annoyingly meaningless at this point. At least, that's my hope. I still believe a Conservative minority is possible; at least, more probable than anything else. It'll all come down to the individual ridings, which means it's realistically impossible to predict anything for certain with national polls, given the peculiarities of the parliamentary system. But more than that, I'm starting to suffer election burnout. I'm glad I've already voted, or I might start dreading this final week's countdown out of sheer dead-eyed paranoid frustration.

I will drink your cup of poison


Walking on water, arms outstretched...hmmm. It's almost like Paul Martin is trying to imply something... (Shamelessly scanned from today's Citizen-on-dead-trees, since the "Campaign in Photos" feature seems not to be available on their site.)

The thrill of control

"...Just like under my Liberals." I shouldn't complain, I suppose. The more Ontarians see of McGuinty and are reminded that he shares a party with Paul Martin, the more likely anti-Grit spite votes are.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Acting a bizarre charade, while playing the saint

Oh, bully. And I mean that in the very Rooseveltian sense. Christopher Hitchens may be pretty far left, but he's so intellectually honest and rational in comparison to the political left at large that I can really respect his work. Yes, he wrote a hit piece on Reagan two days after the funeral - but he did the same kind of hit piece on Mother Teresa. I can deal with tall-poppy-cropping idiosyncratic behaviour like that as long as we can agree on the important stuff. This is an absolutely brutal takedown of Fahrenheit 9/11 on principles alone - but Hitch also takes the time to dissect every contradicting fabrication he can, and the result is just golden. It's necessary to Read the Whole Thing, as it's said, but I'll indulge myself in quoting one withering sneer of an introductory paragraph: To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery. The Citizen and other papers in the Canwest chain picked up Hitchens' anti-eulogy for President Reagan. Will they do the same for this? (Via Damian Penny.)

Spoiler Warning

Hee hee hee. Nader was in town to address some kind of seminar on public advocacy groups at U of O not too long ago. I really regret not having had the time to go and thank him in person. He couldn't have happened to a more deserving couple of Democrats.

There are some who call our methods vicious

From a NYT report on Gitmo inmates: Parkhudin, a 26-year-old Afghan farmer who was held at Guantánamo from February 2003 to March 2004, said in an interview in Khost that he had been questioned for up to 20 hours at a time under uncomfortable conditions at Guantánamo. He said he had been shackled with a small chain during questioning. ''They made me stand in front of an air-conditioner,'' he said. ''The wind was very cold.'' Forced to be in an air-conditioned room, in Cuba, in the warm Caribbean springtime? The poor baby. If only the average Cuban lived as well. Does the Times realize that most Americans aren't going to be shocked and appalled by such revelations? Do they, really? (Via James Taranto.)

I don't give a damn about my bad reputation

Being a history major, I sometimes get depressed by the thought that nothing ever really changes. Yes, technology improves, but the same scenarios play out again and again and again and no one seems to notice or particularly care. While looking through microfilm archives at the library for something completely unrelated (which may or may not be ever finished enough to present here), I found this. From the October 25, 1958 Ottawa Citizen: Look familiar at all? Democrats unwilling to respond to valid criticisms of their party policy, unwilling to take major threats of the day seriously, paint a Republican president and veep as scaremongers, personally responsible for unemployment and unethical behaviour of underlings. Photoshop in the heads of Eisenhower and Nixon for Bush and Cheney, and it could run in today's Washington Post without anyone batting an eye. Yet it's this fact in particular that gives me the most hope. Nowadays, you'd be hard-pressed to find real demonization of Eisenhower. There was just a TV movie biopic lionizing his planning of the Normandy invasions shown just in time for the D-Day anniversary, for crying out loud. (It was pretty good, too. Who'd have known Tom Selleck had that kind of range?) Democrats even recently conjured up his pet phrase "The Buck Stops Here" to claim Bush's personal culpability for Abu Ghraib. While no Roosevelt or FDR, he's now certainly seen as competent and more than a bit heroic, if indeed somewhat bland. History exonerated him, no matter how nasty his enemies' rhetoric was at the time. Ditto Reagan's achievements in the office, as we've just seen. I have faith the same will happen for the eventual textbook view of the Bush administration, fifty years from now. I have to, otherwise the nattering nabobs would be getting me really down.

You were right by his side, and yet you denied

I can fully understand why Liberal candidates would want to disassociate themselves from Paul Martin in their signage, but it looks like Richard Mahoney didn't get the memo. More interestingly, if memory serves, the Martin poster on the right-hand side didn't even go up until early last week or so.

It's a path that leads you only one place, horrible to retrace

Am I the only one who considers it improper for Ottawa's deputy police chief to be openly backing the Liberals? I mean, endorsements by the federal public service union I can understand; they couldn't be non-partisan if they tried. Of course they'll endorse whoever promises to grow the federal government, and to hell with the taxpayers at large. That's expected, if terrible. At the municipal level is another matter entirely. Mayor Chiarelli and the city councillors are politicians at another level of government, with biases and favourites all their own; I'd be disappointed if they didn't back federal candidates of their choosing to some degree. But city employees? City employees need to be quiet. How can we be sure that those known to lean Conservative - having signs on their lawns, and such - aren't going to be unfairly harassed or targeted in some way at Deputy Chief Hill's order? I'm not saying it's likely (at least not overtly), but isn't this the kind of machine politics we were glad to leave behind in the 19th century? It's shades of the Democrats and Tammany Hall in NYC under Boss Tweed, or Joe Kennedy's Boston. That's worrisome. Municipal employees today need to avoid even the appearance of political impropriety, because they can have such direct impact on voters' day-to-day lives.

Anger

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I fear that it'll start happening in Canada, too, before long; there's too much evidence of an anti-Semitism-enabling political structure for all but the but committedly PC to ignore.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Some are vicious, some are fools, and others blind

Hey, whaddyaknow...someone else is knocking Michael Moore on the Fahrenheit 9/11 title issue on the same grounds I did - that it's just dishonourable, for someone who claims to admire and respect Bradbury; additionally, it's further evidence that Moore is just an obnoxious ass. Althouse also notes that MeFi posters take the same tack as Cory did in my comments - arguing up the Absolute General Legal Right to be Subversively Clever, without regard for the morality of the particular situation. Well, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...

Once I built a railroad, made it run

David Orchard is being seriously interviewed on Global Sunday right now, as an "embittered ex-Tory," who abhors the current iteration of the Conservative Party as betrayers of Canadian values. He's being treated, somehow, as not a laughable loon. Why won't he just go away? This is the man who ran for the PC leadership last year on a nationalist socialist platform wholly indistinguishable from NDP policy. This is the man who, in 1991, was trying to unite the Liberals and NDP against the Mulroney Tories. This is the man who actually felt the need to end his speech at the leadership convention with the phrase "I'm not some wingnut." Unfortunately, he is, in the current political spectrum. He's only a Conservative in the old protectionist industry-nationalizing Yank-baiting mould, and little else. The media need to stop treating his as a credible modern Conservative viewpoint, big or small-C.

Wicked Little Town

What I see in this is Richard Mahoney telling Ottawa Centre to vote NDP. If there's one thing I will grant a kindly word for Ed Broadbent on, it's being an effective representative for his constituency before his party. A Liberal or Conservative victory in this riding would elect a backbencher either way; in Mahoney's case, a backbencher with some pull, but likely still a backbencher nonetheless. There'd be too many others to reward with cabinet posts before him, should Martin still pull off a win. Broadbent at least has the good-on-local-issues reputation going for him. Moreover, in the event of a Liberal minority government forming a coalition with the NDP, his experience would make him one of about three or four NDP MPs that could conceivably be offered cabinet posts. All Mahoney's got is a history of being a back-room boy and party wonk. Of course, I don't care; having already voted for the sure-to-lose candidate, I expect Ed Broadbent will take my riding, and he probably won't be too bad - as long as he doesn't get ahold of any real power. That, I'd fear.

Kulturkampf

Obviously, by far most of what Antonia Zerbisias says is chock full of crazy at any point, but I have a real bone to pick over some of her recent claims about Canadian content. It's also heartening to see the success Showcase's Trailer Park Boys [sic], yet another show which proves that, when we stop trying to imitate Hollywood and go our own way (Degrassi, The Newsroom, Made In Canada), we can carve out something fresh and different and wholly Canadian. I have a sneaking suspicion Zerb has never seen any of these shows, but feels the need to cheerlead for them nonetheless, simply because they're Canadian. And, possibly, because all the right people similarly heap praise upon them. If she'd seen any of the productions in question, she might realize that to varying degrees, none of these shows are so uniquely Canadian that they couldn't effectively be transposed to a similar American setting. Trailer Park Boys would work just as well in rural Florida or Georgia as rural Nova Scotia. Degrassi could take place in any medium-to-large urban centre; Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, what have you. The Newsroom and Made In Canada, admittedly, she might have a bit of a point on; the basic plots wouldn't be out of place set in Washington, New York or LA, but a lot of the jokes do rely heavily on the unhealthily corporately incestuous and Liberal-backed Canadian entertainment industry. Even that's terrible; what does it say about the proclaimed best of Cancon that the shows are only uniquely Canadian in joking about shallowly hating Americans and jockeying for federal largesse in production grants? The truth is, since the late '70s, when independent production began in earnest thanks to taxpayer support, a huge business has grown up where once there was CBC and little else. Some of us think the taxpayers shouldn't be forced to fund any television or film production at all. On the contrary, conditions should be created that interfere with neither the creation of entertaining content nor prosperity - and then the industry should be left alone. Government has no place subsidizing sitcoms.

Great men don't grow on trees

Today's photographic observation: Inexplicable Ottawa monuments to Latin American revolutionaries Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín. I'm not saying they don't deserve monuments - just that the presence of such monuments here, in particular, is a bit odd.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

We need a man that is simple perfection, there's nothing that's harder to find

Why isn't Joe Lieberman the Democratic candidate? I mean, really, why? This speech is insightful, resolute and defiant - and I can't imagine Kerry delivering anything like it. Once upon a time, Democrats were muscular interventionists in foreign policy. Is Lieberman now the only high-profile member of the party to remember that? If Joe Lieberman were this year's Democratic presidential candidate, I would have a genuinely hard choice to make come election day. Of course, that's objectively meaningless considering I'm not American (...yet...), but I think it's a good indicator of how impressive this kind of tough talk is. (Via Instapundit.)

Oh wow, they say the future is now


Space-age supermarketry, seen at the corner of Somerset and Booth.

O'er the ramparts we watched

Inspired by the concept of reclaiming the Red Ensign as a symbol of Canada before it was transformed into the Liberal-ruled socialist mess it is today, I've decided to join in, and added it to my sidebar. Above all, it's a flag I could stand behind and be proud of. The Canada of the Red Ensign hadn't yet withdrawn from the great traditions and achievements of western civilization to wallow in whiny and toothless self-righteousness. Canada before Mike Pearson was a place I think I could have been content with. But, even in a better Canada than today's, I know where my sympathies would have ultimately lain...which is the reason for the other simultaneous addition, and the order of the two.

A spiteful, hateful, asinine creature

As if I didn't have enough reason to vote Conservative already, now I get to do it to annoy Michael Moore. Spiffy.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Depravity

I suppose it's a bad sign that things like this no longer surprise or shock me. It just appalls and angers me. How can such depravity be excused, and treated with kid gloves? He was American, so the bastards killed him. They beheaded him. Is that not a blunt enough message? What is it going to take for the media to understand that this is true evil, not a charming cultural phenomenon? Are they ever going to understand that this is not retaliation for anything any American has done, but retaliation for America and Americans existing at all? These are brutal, 12th-century thugs attempting to establish an Islamic empire, one or two or 3,000 murders at a time. Do we understand that yet?

Who's the soul who's had control, since this whole thing began?

You know, if I was a handler for a politician out on the campaign trail, I think the first thing I'd tell the candidate would be not to conveniently stand near any large cartoon devils for the benefit of smartass press photographers. I'm not saying Gilles Duceppe isn't The Devil Himself (TM), mind you. But consider the coverage a similar photo of Stephen Harper would get...

Slick your hair and wear your buckled shoes

Because I'm off work today (slowdown for the lowest-seniority employees due to shipping problems from Canada Post - grrr), I felt like waxing Lileksian along Sparks Street, and captured this wonderful Art Deco triptych. The first of these architectural gewgaws belongs to 109 Bank (not on Sparks, but arguably the sleekest example of the style in the city), now a UPS retail outlet but formerly the Ottawa Hydro-Electric Commission - you can still see the ghost lettering - and built in 1935. The second is obviously from the Hardy Arcade, at 130 Sparks, and built in 1936; it's now empty, and though designated a heritage building, seems to be today in the process of being demolished. The third is from the Bank of Montreal's Ottawa flagship location, built in 1932, and featuring a frieze of such precise Palladian proportions that the basilica in Zeus' hands could be the old U of O logo. I wish Ottawa had more Art Deco buildings; they just feel so sharp and clean, even seventy-odd years on. They had style that depressing Stalinist office towers can never hope to match.

Where I come from, they don't like Americans much


Tiny, hard-to-read text below the mugshot of Stockwell Day: Stockwell Day supports a twinning of Can-Amer environmental policy. joining the Coalition of the Willing, standing behind US policy on the International Criminal Court, and helping our American cousins with Bush's missile defense program. You're saying it like it's a bad thing...?

When the money keeps rolling out you don't keep books

"You had an option, sir." Now there's the schadenfreude I was hoping to get from the debates.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Accessory

Via Drudge, in a link no doubt soon to go bad in order to feature the next breaking ALL CAPS HEADLINE: Michael Moore: ...I...think teenagers should...see this film...In a few years, they may be asked to go and fight in this war. This war doesn't look like it's gonna be over any time soon. If...we are saying that in a year or two, a 15 or 16-year-old can go fight in this war, and possibly die, but...we can't show it to them on the movie screen...I just want to encourage teenagers across America to do whatever they can to sneak in, to see this movie. I'll help-- if I'm near a theater and you see me, I'll be your guardian. I'll get you in... So, yeah. I enjoy being entirely correct. Theoretically, when the movie opens in Ontario, Moore could be fined up to $25,000 for encouraging violations of the Theatres Act, as previously mentioned. But he won't be.

You hypocrites, you hate us more than him

Okay, guys, once more with feeling: Terrorist groups are not signatories to the Geneva Conventions. Why is it that there's this concept of the Geneva Conventions as sacred writ? They're agreements between nations - i.e., treaties. Nations that don't sign don't get to claim the benefits and protections granted. Forces that use extranationality as an extra means to evade capture - i.e., terrorists - really don't get any benefits. It may or may not be wrong to perform actions that would be violations of the Geneva Conventions were the terrorist suspects in question members of a uniformed fighting force, but that's neither here nor there; they're not, which means the entire article is based on a false premise. This is purposeful and fairly obvious obtuseness from a partisan media. Of course, this CTV (that is, BellGlobeMedia; that is, The Globe & Mail) article has BBC-trademark sneer quotes around "war on terror," so I suppose I can't expect too much moral clarity.

You got your tricks, good for you; But there's no gambit I don't see through

"Lisa Rein has posted some Daily Show clips from June including the stunning segment on Ashcroft's weaselling on torture before Congress. Watching Ashcroft spin and dodge and weave around Contempt of Congress is astonishing -- why isn't this man in jail RIGHT NOW?" Okay, two can play at the self-righteous hyperbole game. Why doesn't this man realize the stunning stupidity of getting political news and commentary from a COMEDY TALK SHOW?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

No fun, no sin, no sleep, no wonder I'm tired

Massive overkill in liveblogging the debates kept me up far too late last night, considering I have to get up at 5:00 on weekdays. Hopefully less tired tomorrow, and perhaps able to form cogent arguments with proper grammatical structure. Hopefully.

This is the life

Is it me, or does this headline - "Smoking reaches record low as obesity climbs" - seem to imply causality between the two factors? The actual article content claims nothing of the sort.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Liveblogging the Debate: Closing Statements

Harper: Liberals can't be trusted. They want to play both ends against the middle, Liberal supporters vs. everyone else. Demand better than what you've been given. We're not scary. Layton: Elect enough NDP MPs to be the lynchpin of a coalition government...with the implication that there still could be an NDP majority government. Is he getting a secret message from his teeth? Duceppe: Liberals have dirty money. Tell Canada the truth, Mr. Martin! Martin: Values. We're Canadian. Everyone else isn't. Health care is the one and only issue all true Canadians should care about. Why is he bringing up Kyoto? It's dead if Russia doesn't ratify it, and that's looking increasingly unlikely. My conclusion: Harper is looking stronger than ever - more certain, self-assured, calm and confident than Paul Martin. Martin is looking stressed, and it showed in his arguments, repeatedly resorting to childish badgering - and not very lucid badgering at that. I'm still predicting a Tory majority. And now, to bed.

Liveblogging the Debate: Free-for-All: Minority Government and Health Care

Layton is still pushing the idea of an NDP government. What colour is the sky in his world, I wonder? He's far, far too cheerful, again. Did he take some uppers halfway through? Martin is being forced to run on his record, which isn't particularly impressive; he's pledging to work with "anybody" to achieve his goals. Harper is being realistic. I love you, Stephen Harper. He's picking apart Duceppe's position on health care. Duceppe, on the other hand, is snarky; it's not like he doesn't have a right to be. As he points out, he's the only one that knows for sure he'll be in the opposition. He doesn't care what the others think. Dissatisfaction - understandably, considering the impossible standards of Quebec on federal funding and involvement.

Liveblogging the Debate: One-on-Ones 4

Privately-delivered health care - the third rail. Layton vs. Martin: Layton is against improving the system at all if it involves private owernship. Of course he is. The self-destructiveness of the NDP never fails to amaze me. We must ensure that no one gets care not delivered by us! We will not allow heresies to be committed! Martin claims transparency and openness - huh. Same promise he made before, no? Layton's drawn blood - he's at least saying something intelligible, if not intelligent. Martin is just obfuscating wildly on home care and the number of doctors. Harper vs. Duceppe: Duceppe thinks the threat of privatized health care is due to "fiscal imbalance" between Ottawa and Quebec (?) - he just wants lump sum payments, yes? Harper is pointing out that random 'impartial' federal reports demanding money, money, money don't mean a lot. Duceppe vs. Layton: Layton says "We're not proposing to cut taxes. We're not proposing to reduce debt." Which is to say, an NDP government would raise taxes to whatever level necessary to increase health care funding by 25% (!) - I think that's what he's saying. Or maybe flatly funding 25% of all provincial health care costs? Not sure. Duceppe is on GST shifting around, again. Harper vs. Martin: "Waiting lists have doubled over the course of your government. Do you accept responsibility?" Snrrrf. Snicker. "The health care system better in some areas - and...not...better in other areas." Martin is drowning. Layton vs. Harper: Layton is lumping everything private together - conflating public-private-partnerships with evil evil exclusively private healthcare. That's hyperbole if anything. He's also just sabotaged his point about a study proving his point about private health care increasing the cost of delivery - one of the authors is running for the NDP in Hamilton. Yeah, that's a neutral and unbiased report, I'm sure. Harper only needs to be calm and reasonable, and he is. Martin vs. Duceppe: Duceppe approvingly talks about a doctor demanding "money with no conditions." As always, that's a bit rich coming from a separatist. Martin again says nothing of substance, interestingly.

Liveblogging the Debate: Free-for-All: Funding Health Care

Health care has reached an unsustainable level of cost - throwing more money at it doesn't work; what to do? Layton, winning the Not At All Surprising Award, starts to promise throwing more money at it. "[Health care] is our single most cherished institution." Sadly, Martin's right, which is utterly terrible. The stupid commitment to 'free' health care is perhaps the one common denominator between the entirety of the establishment orthodox. Duceppe is rightly calling Martin on his ten-year record - not promising. Harper is unfortunately being a bit obtuse. But at least he's upbeat on it.

Liveblogging the Debate: Free-for-All: Notwithstanding Clause

Oy. This is going to be brutal. Harper is being eminently reasonable - pointing out, using child porn, that it may sometimes be necessary to use to promote authority of parliament over the courts. This is leadership, and acknowledging the involvement of the democratic process. Martin is still beating the dead horse of implying that Harper wants to outlaw abortion and homosexuality. Ass. He's also waffling on exactly what he said re: church marriages - and being attacked from both sides because of it. All three sides, actually. Martin is looking bored, sad and uncomfortable; he's stuck in the middle, with no way out. "We are a nation of minorities." Only because Liberal orthodoxy wants everyone to be part of some minority group that desperately needs Liberal support, duh? This is the result of the cult of multiculturalism - no cohesion. Layton to Martin: "Your friend Mr. Harper." Ouch. All the work of demolishing him is being done by Duceppe and Layton. Harper gets to be all angelic and above-the-fray; lovely. "What are you afraid of?" Jeebus. Even Layton is attacking him for hiding behind the Charter. As usual, Harper is the most reasonable, pointing out that it's necessary to balance rights vs. rights, rather than absolute undeniable rights for every minority.

Liveblogging the Debate: One-on-Ones 3

Provincial programs, supposedly. Lots on the unnerving federal child care proposal, I'm guessing. Harper vs. Layton: Harper offering more child tax credits - not a turn-on for me, admittedly. Why don't I get tax credits for not having kids to drain social services, education, health care, etc funds? Shades of "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Teens, and Gays." Which is to say, I actually sort of agree with Jack Layton on this. I feel dirty. Martin vs. Duceppe: Derisive snicker. Martin is again trying to pretend he'll actually do the nationalized child care thing, again, after promising it the last two elections as well. Meh; I don't much care for it anyway. It's just creepy; Stalinist creepy, Youth League creepy, Hitlerjugend creepy. Not surprisingly, Duceppe agrees entirely, though he's bitching a bit about how Quebec's provincial version of the same needs more federal money, of course. Harper vs. Martin: Hah. Harper just tied Martin's last three points together to condemn them collectively as Liberal incompetence, overreach, and bribery. Ding! Martin's trying to conjure up "aging parents," presumably being thrown out of retirement homes to freeze to death on the streets under a Tory government? Idunno. Martin has a bizarre problem with rephrasing his opponents' words to say the exact opposite of what they actually said. Is there a term for that? Layton vs. Duceppe: Overtly for Big Government, and again sniping at Martin for not acknowleding the oh-so-obvious potential of the NDP to form a majority government. The dastard! Duceppe is onto something about jurisdictions and free money, or something; I don't quite get it. Harper vs. Duceppe: Harper says "Let's solve problems together with smaller government." Duceppe is suspicious of all anglos. Impasse. Harper is upbeat and conciliatory. Nice; he's looking more and more prime ministerial all the time. Martin vs. Layton: Hee. Points for using "manifesto" to describe the platform of Layton's former interest group, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Layton is inexplicably trying to promote his municipal experience over Martin's federal experience. Weird.

Liveblogging the Debate: Free-for-All: Municipal Infrastructure

Harper is for giving cities more self-reliance with federal money; good enough, I guess. But he's also pointing out that the PM has an equal responsibility towards rural-dwellers and suburbanites. Layton admittedly has some bona fides on city finance policy, from his interest group. Martin is attacking Harper on "inconsistency" - which is to say, condemning not promising unlimited money as long as the federal government says how it's spent. Duceppe seems to be more or less agreeing with Harper, in different terms. Guh?

Liveblogging the Debate: Free-for-All: Canada in Iraq

Not suprisingly, Duceppe is all for Canadian involvement as long as it's under UN jurisdiction. Assnat. Oh oh oh. Brilliant. Harper just answered Layton's accusation of "Admit you knew there were no WMDs" by referring to Martin's recent statement suggesting they were taken by terrorists. Also pushing that getting rid of Saddam was a good thing - probably something that a sizable number of Canadians are for, I'm hoping. Martin, you idiot. Russian RPGs are not WMDs. On the plus side, he's for having Canadian troops train Iraqi police forces; it's as good a place as any to get involved, I guess. I can't fault him for that, though I still will on the UN fetish. Layton, as usual, thinks the UN is the highest possible moral authority, ergo he's against missile defense in any way. It'd be a shame to be able to stop North Korea or Iran from nuking California, n' stuff. Martin is waffling - not good. Trying to both support cooperation on missile defense and claim the Liberals are against the "weaponization of space." Harper again scores - treaties should be voted on by the House, not pushed by the PM's office alone. Duceppe agrees. Bingo bango! He's great as an anti-Liberal spoiler, I suppose; freed of the need to prove himself to potential voters in the English debate, he can just snipe from the sidelines. Spiffy.

Liveblogging the Debate: One-on-Ones 2

This seems to be tangentially on defense spending. But the last one was theoretically on the sponsorship scandal, only, so that doesn't mean much. Harper vs. Duceppe: Harper: "I'm interested in a sovereign country - " Duceppe: "Me too!" Bada bing! He's also pointing out that Canadian opposition to Iraq was more or less meaningless, considering that Canada couldn't have offered anything more than moral support anyway. He's got something with protection of Canadian sovereignty - it should be played up. Layton vs. Martin: Martin's paying the price now for being too please-everyone centrist - Layton's attacking him on missile defense. I still don't understand why the NDP (and the Liberals, to some extent; he's still trying to claim he supports missile defense without "the weaponization of space") want to see China to be the first country to militarily control space - because that's the only alternative to American control I see. I worry about China just a bit more; why don't these two? Duceppe vs. Layton: Duceppe seems to be calling for an integrated North American security barrier, involving Mexico and Canada. Hmm. Layton is idiotically proud of having Maher Arar's wife as a candidate for Ottawa South. Jackass. He's also against increased security at the borders, because it'll hurt trade. Of course! Because terrorism doesn't hurt trade, not at all. Harper vs. Martin: Martin wants a defense policy of "institution building." Because, God knows, we have democratic customs and practices to be so proud of. Harper is calling up the ghost of the Sea King scandal - another one of Chretien's broken promises. Hah. Oh, double hah. He got caught at the end on trying to explain why Canadian officers in Iraq on exchange programs weren't really there, or something. Duceppe vs. Martin: Strengthening NORAD isn't about missile defense. Huh? Good point from Duceppe - the current foreign and defense policies are so schizo that Canada is completely impotent on both counts. Harper vs. Layton: Supporting what exchange officers are in Iraq - good. Push that. Also pointing out that the NDP is generically anti-American on all counts, so Layton's opinion doesn't really count. Layton's worried about becoming the 51st state. Bring it on, I say! I'll welcome the invasion force any day. But on the non-disgusted-with-Canada position, Harper remains far more cogent - it's important to cooperate on trade, instead of taking shots.

Liveblogging the Debate: Free-for-All: Improving Relations with the US

Gilles Duceppe has a surprisingly pro-US answer - we shouldn't be surly ingrates like the Liberals have been. Layton is bemoaning that American "Congressional leaders" (Dems, I'm guessing - yeah, he's claiming they were for socialized health care and against missile defense) don't hear enough from Canada (?!). Harper: "We've got to be able to disagree, without being disagreeable." Bingo. I understand that most of the country is going to be largely ambivalent about American relations, but it's not necessary to be a jerk about ambivalence. Martin seems upset that Harper wrote an op-ed for the WSJ. Boo frickin' hoo. That's not un-Canadian, no matter how much he may try to imply it to be so.

Liveblogging the Debate: Free-for-All: What Promises to Dump?

Martin is committing to keeping health care - and only publically funded health care - at all costs. It seems irresponsible. Layton has nothing substantial to say. Harper scores a point - "If you know the numbers," but that's been eliminated by Martin BSing his way through any contrapuntal facts. "Mr. Duceppe has not had a chance. Let's get him into this conversation." So, what does he say? The role of the state is to redistribute wealth - as much to Quebec as possible. What a surprise. Harper: "What we are not planning to do is grow the size of the government at a rate twice the size of the economy." Martin has a foolish answer - claiming the growth of the government is in health care and social security. Why? Why does increased funding have to go to more bureaucrats, instead of the people it's supposedly for? Martin: "We're not going to do a Mike Harris." Considering that an election held in Ontario today would elect a Tory government, according to recent polls, perhaps that wasn't a good spectre to invoke.

Liveblogging the Debate: One-on-Ones 1

Duceppe vs. Martin: Hah. Duceppe is calling Martin on the fact that his entire cabinet must have known about the sponsorship scandal. "You have no credibility at all." Martin's explaining. When you're explaining, you're losing. He's trying to point out that at least he didn't try to cover it up, which is a terrible, terrible defense. "Your honour, I did kill him, but at least I didn't hide the body." Layton vs. Harper: Interesting discussion on abolishing the Senate - which used to be a Western Conservative/Reform plank. But now Layton's moved to attack the big bad neanderthal neocon, instead of having constructive debate. I think Layton's lost this point, because Harper again just explicitly said a Tory government would not support anti-abortion or anti-gay legislation. Harper vs. Martin: Erg. Martin's jumping on him with repetitive "You're evil, admit it" statements. This'll get coverage. Duceppe vs. Layton: Neat. When Socialists Bicker! Layton can't make any promises substantially different than the Liberals, as long as he's committed to being a federalist national party. Duceppe wrote him off with dismissive hand gestures Martin vs. Layton: Hee hee. Layton is ripping him apart for suggesting that the Liberals and Conservatives are the only viable choices. Except that then they both started agreeing on "Wow, Harper's evil," but Layton redirected it back to attacking Martin. Fascinating. Also - why is an "Alliance takeover" of the Conservatives supposed to be scary? The Canadian Alliance was the western wing of the Progressive Conservatives after their mid-80s schism. They were always Conservatives. Now they're all Conservatives again, instead of being the PCs and the Alliance. Harper vs. Duceppe: Social services. Bah. Harper is being maneuvered into promising no cuts on French-language services - but he's neatly turned it around into a snide touché on the silliness of a separatist demanding federally-provided services in only French.

Liveblogging the Debate: Sponsorship Scandal

Oooh. Burn. First question to Martin: "Why should Canadians believe you?" Paul Martin has had power in the Liberal Party long before becoming PM; it's not particularly convincing to claim he started to clean house on his first day in the Langevin Block. Layton wants proportional representation...to fix the sponsorship scandal. Because it'll get more women into government, and "that'll help clean up." Is it me, or would Stephen Harper be crucified for making that sort of statement that implies women are inherently domestic? Duceppe asks some pointed questions - but still seems to be protecting the concept of a gravy train for Quebec, obviously. Harper is calling for a clean sweep. Excellent.

Liveblogging the Debate: Opening Statements

Why is Duceppe even present for the English debate? What unilingual anglophones are going to vote Bloc? Martin is trying to use suggestive language that makes his entire platform out to be health care, even the parts that aren't. Harper didn't say anything new or interesting, but that's good; all he has to do is sit back and wait for the Liberals to implode. Just be a viable alternative. Jack Layton is smarmy. Really smarmy. He sounds like he's trying to sell soap, and really cheerfully at that.

Oratory

Tonight's English debate is T-minus-1 minute and counting, and here's hoping it's more impressive than last night's talent show. Paul Martin was pathetic, desperately trying to repeat the "We're pals, me and the NDP, oh yes we are" theory, and repeatedly being shot down by Jack Layton. Gilles Duceppe's haunted stare continued to frighten me. Harper was all right, but didn't score any knockout punch - but, on the other hand, at least all three of the others didn't gang up on him like they might have. This election is going to have a genuinely interesting outcome; each party is pulling in cardinal poles away from each other in such a way that there are no natural allies any more. Now that they've had the warmup, perhaps the real show tonight will let someone draw blood.

No picture shows a-showin', but by God, that grass keeps growin'

It's kind of obvious why Michael Moore is worried about Fahrenheit 9/11 receiving an R rating; idiot teenagers are one of his primary markets. Without them, there's only idiot college students, aging hippies, and smug self-hating intellectuals to buy tickets, and wouldn't that be a shame? If he's only honestly concerned about "getting the message out" to as many impressionable youths as possible, he needn't worry. Under-18s that want to see the movie are going to anyway; I'm fairly certain on this, having worked at a theatre for two years. I worked the position we just called "door" - taking tickets at one of the two entrances to the individual auditoriums. It being one of the newer, large, restaurants-arcade-and-party room-possessing megaplexes, and this fantastic and expensive theatre having been inexplicably built in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Ottawa, there were always a lot of teenage "guests" (not customers, the employee manual firmly stated; guests) hanging around with no intent to buy tickets. Plus, of course, there were the usual twelve-year-olds trying to sneak into R-rated films (I remember Hannibal and Freddy Got Fingered, in particular, seemed to be kid magnets), and jerkass twentysomethings trying to get in with half-price children's tickets. This was possible because of the self-service ticket machines; thus, the entire responsibility for checking to see that no shenanigans nor chicanery ensued was on the employee working the door. In the entire time I worked there, I believe I may have been the only person to stringently attempt to both catch freebie-seekers and enforce the ratings law. Not the rules - in the US, film ratings are voluntarily enforced by individual theatres - but the law. In Ontario, anyway, film ratings are handed out by a provincially-appointed board, and theatres face penalties of up to $25,000 for knowingly failing to enforce the provisions, such as keeping those twelve-year-olds from seeing Tom Green eating, humping, wearing, and performing with various things. I checked ID, and sent those without to go get a refund. For my pains I was nicknamed "The Ticket Nazi." Eventually, exasperated, I printed out a copy of the Theatres Act to store at the door podium, and highlighted the relevant sections; still, management gently humoured and occasionally overruled me, allowing quite a few underage kids without proper identification into the theatres. The point is, even where the law stands behind ratings, it doesn't matter; kids are either going to sneak in (I was as vigilant as I could be, but I couldn't watch all six doors on the floor for theatre-hopping all the time), or else be casually let in by unconcerned employees. Michael Moore has nothing to worry about. This is just another publicity stunt to cast himself as a martyr, and drum up sympathy support for his agitprop.

We come in peace and shoot to kill

No no no. This is all wrong. Of any of the branches of the service, the Navy should be getting Starfleet uniforms, not the Army. It's just thematically more appropriate that way. However, it still seems to have been redesigned from the ground up for ease of use, maintenance, and repair. Plus, the mandarin collar is a neat little stylistic touch. The only thing that seems kind of off is the insignia. It seems to lose a bit of mystique to have rank and specialties designated by a little desktop icon-esque velcro patches, but what do I know?

Aim high, we're having a ball

So, I went to vote in the new Super Special Extra Turbo EXTREME advance balloting today. This is new since the last federal election; it started last week, and is an option until the regular advance voting starts this Friday. The only catch is that the actual ballots haven't been printed yet, so it's strictly write-in. It was, however, only slightly more convenient than my actual assigned polling station, which was my main reason for doing it early. Thanks to misreading the address, I had thought it was four blocks closer. Oh well. The only downside is, that should it be suddenly revealed Mike Murphy is a regular connoisseur of plump, succulent babies, I'm really screwed. Enh; he's a long-shot anyway. If either the Liberals or NDP win my riding, I'm more or less satisfied - if NDP, because it'll be denying the Liberals a seat, and if Liberal, because it'll be shutting out Ed Broadbent, whom I greatly dislike. It's a win-lose situation either way. On the plus side, at least I'm no longer living in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, where I probably couldn't vote for the Conservative candidate in good conscience. Now, I can concentrate on the pretentious pontificating I love so well, and not worry about having to remember to go out and vote. Excellent.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Night after night a voice recites my misdeeds

By my math, 1,500 soldiers (well, 1,500 letters - but the implication is certainly 1,500 soldiers) expressing opposition to the war out of a force of 130,000 (assuming that said letters are from those currently stationed in Iraq, and not elsewhere, or retired) means that 99.98% are either for it, or not against it to the point where they write adoring fan letters to Michael Moore. But of course, the overwhelming majority of soldiers don't count for anything, since their opinions are wrong and evil, and anyway they've been tricked by the Bushitler in his mad crusade for oil, yadda yadda yadda. More seriously and more significantly, Moore claims to have had footage of prisoners being abused long before any other sources broke the story. I see. Soooo...he was either sitting on the footage to make a big smash surprise revelation for Fahrenheit 9/11, or opportunistically holding on to it to further capitalize on the story, and renew the media orgy of self-flagellation yet again during the summer. Either is reprehensibly partisan. The ethical thing to do would have been to release it when the other photos came out. But what does Michael Moore know about ethics?

I said to the man, "Do you speak-a my language"

Why on Earth is the French debate scheduled before the English one?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Does Not Compute

Rick Mercer, possibly the most rabid centrist nationalist and snide anti-American ass in the CBC's employ, on the election: Ottawa Citizen: We're heading into the first leaders' debate. Typically, it is the first time many voters take notice of the campaign. What should voters be looking for? Mercer: Harper to look like the prime minister. Martin to look like the leader of the Opposition. Layton to look like the PC doctor from those TV ads. Say what? The man who spent most of the last campaign beating the dead-horse joke of "Stockwell Day should change his name to Doris Day?" Someone who, at every opportunity, has made cheap shots at the various recent incarnations of the Conservative Party? The jerk responsible for the abhorrent Talking to Americans? He's a Harper booster now? Maybe I'm misreading it - maybe this is sardonic spitballing that hasn't translated to print very well - but it certainly sounds that way. If it's true, it's yet more evidence for the sea change that appears imminent. How can the Liberals win when they've lost the support of the most prominent non-journalist CBC personality? (Note that Mercer does, at the end, manage to work in a worshipful story about Paul Martin's father, and Those Stupid Evil Americans. Perhaps he's not so much out of form with his support, as just irritated at being made to look bad by association with a corrupt government. Or maybe just buttering up the potential new bosses - it's not like he doesn't have a lot to lose from a Conservative government's potential cuts to CBC funding.)

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Trudeaupia reminds me why, but for his decisive leadership during the October Crisis, I have never respected Pierre Trudeau. The man was an ethical midget. He may have had style and flair, but his reflexive anti-Americanism - the root of most of the current similar feelings in the Liberal Party - led him to overtly favour evil. I can't forgive that. Moreover, he's practically a secular saint here - which makes the whining of some Canadian pundits over media coverage of the reverence shown for Reagan's legacy all the more hypocritical. Moral equivocation: a Canadian value, then and now. Sad, but true.

Music to Buy Toasters By

Apropos of nothing, and because I'm too tired to make sensible arguments on serious subjects tonight, I present something I find fascinating - the breakdown of play statistics in iTunes. As previously noted, these statistics (and smart playlists using them) are the primary reason I use iTunes, and the ease of compatibility therewith was the primary reason I bought an iPod. Ergo, the below - in which things I'd never think would, seem to have hit a play count of at least 10 - is all Apple's fault.
Name Artist Album Play Count
Teacher's Pet Various Artists Teacher's Pet 18
Bitch, Bitch, Bitch 1995 Original Cast Recording Jekyll & Hyde (Original Concept Cast) 17
Christian Charity (Reprise) Original Cast Recording Bat Boy 17
That's All I Need Nathan Lane The Lion King 1 1/2 16
Rest in Peace James Marsters Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling 14
Happy Go Lucky Me Paul Evans   14
Comfort and Joy Original Cast Recording Bat Boy 13
I Wanna Be A Boy Various Artists Teacher's Pet 13
I, Ivan Krank Various Artists Teacher's Pet 12
Wonderfalls Theme Andy Partridge Wonderfalls 11
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Gene Pitney Billboard Top 100 Hits of 1962 11
Illinois John Linnell State Songs 11
Werewolf Mike Nelson Mystery Science Theater 3000 11
One Night In Bangkok Murray Head Chess (Single) 11
I Love to Singa Owl Jolson   11
Coda Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling 11
Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Shirley Bassey James Bond 11
I'm Moving On Various Artists Teacher's Pet 11
Dracula From Houston Butthole Surfers Music From Scrubs 10
Boo Boo, Baba, Dee Dee Cartoon Network Cartoon Medley 10
Malaguena Salerosa Chingon Kill Bill Volume 2 10
The Gamera Song (Gamera vs. Guiron) Joel Hodgson Mystery Science Theater 3000 10

Electra Complex

As intriguing as John Kerry's high school band's album may be, I can't help but think publicization and re-release thereof is an obvious attempt to imbue him with the same boomer charm as Bill Clinton. It's not going to work; yes, Clinton played an instrument, but more importantly, he was likeable and personable with or without the sax. Of course, we'll know for sure if that's what this is, if he performs a guitar solo at the DNC convention...

Friday, June 11, 2004

Ode to a Superhero

Strangely enough, if you run photos of Stephen Harper through Photoshop's 'cutout' filter, he seems to turn into David Boreanaz. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Hee. (Via The Shotgun.)

You've Got a Lot to See

Oh. Oh oh oh. Yes. The Conservatives are pledging to gut the CRTC. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission is the government watchdog for "Canadian Content" - that nebulous yet exalted quality that gives terrible movies, television and music special exhibition privileges for the mere sake of being produced in Canada. It's one of the last bastions of silly protectionism in an otherwise mostly-free market, and I resent the hell out of it. If Canadian productions are well-made and worthwhile, then I'll watch them. Being forced to as a means of pandering to cultural nationalists (not to mention the gravy train-slurping film industry) just makes me despise all Canadian works in general. I would love to be able to get American cable channels - Fox News and Cartoon Network first, of course. Neither would ever be approved for broadcast here under current CRTC regulations. Cartoon Network doesn't have a schedule 60% composed of awful cheaply-made Canadian dreck. Fox News would somehow be subtly shunned; I don't imagine any of the bureaucrats making the call would openly denounce it, but keep in mind this is a board that of its own accord started looking into forcing service providers to carry Al-Jazeera on basic cable. What galls me most are the statements here from industry spokesmen: "If this policy were implemented we'd be completely submerged in non-Canadian product," [Stephen Waddell, national executive director of ACTRA, the peformers' union] said. Well, yes. Boo-frickin'-hoo. I could not care less about the fate of the Canadian film and TV industry. It's an unhealthily incestuous morass of federal funding and smug spongers precisely like Mr. Waddell. Let the free market decide what's available, and let Canadians watch what they want to watch. Protectionism is only necessary for an inferior product. Surely the existence of such CRTC policies aren't a tacit admission of the inherent awfulness of Canadian content, are they?

Dice are rolling

It's only online behind a silly subscriber wall, unfortunately, but today's Citizen had a short interpretation of polling on the likely winner in my riding: The 68-year-old Mr. Broadbent appears to be breaking all the rules on party loyalty and ideology, and is drawing as much support from Liberals as Conservatives, the survey shows. Remarkably, more than a third of Mr. Broadbent's support comes from Liberal and Conservative voters, who, more than New Democrats, place greater importance on party and party leaders in an election. [...] "I don't think Mr. Broadbent is stoppable. He could go to Hawaii on vacation and it wouldn't affect the results." I can't understand this at all. Yes, he may be a stand-up kind of guy who has strong beliefs, but they're beliefs I consider foolish and naive. I'd never consider crossover voting unless I knew for a fact that the Conservative candidate was actively reprehensible in some way; just being an empty suit and potential backbencher - which he seems to be - doesn't suddenly cause me to have confidence in Ed Broadbent as someone who represents my beliefs. I fail to understand what kind of self-described Conservatives respect Broadbent so much that they'd vote for him, knowing he's likely to win anyway; the way I see it, voting for Mike Murphy and getting Ed Broadbent would be the best of both worlds in such a situation.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Mr. Ryan, Tear Down These Signs

Today, I saw the first and only Communist Party candidate sign I have yet in this campaign. It was broken and trampled, but left laying on the ground in disgrace. It hadn't even been stolen and dumped, as such lawn advertising usually is in the internecine signage wars between campaign teams. It made me think of Ronald Reagan, and brought a smile to my face. I am happy to know that even reasonably normal Canadians (even other socialists, perhaps - the only other signs around, not at all damaged, were NDP) have seen how communism has been thoroughly discredited, and for that I am immensely grateful to President Reagan. I can't match the eloquence of the hundreds of editorialists writing the same thing, but I need to say it anyway: Thank you. These - I don't even know what to call the candidates; 'dupes' seems too kind - actively support an ideology that murdered millions in the past century, and they seem not to mind. I can't understand that. But at least even in growing-more-socialist-every-day Canada, communists have been reduced to the fringe of the fringe, in no small part thanks to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the world is a better place for it. On a final, somewhat unrelated note, I tried to find a link for one of the recent stolen-signs stories, and couldn't. The Ottawa Sun's search engine, however, did come up with this amusing smart banner ad:
Hee.