Monday, May 31, 2004

CANADA VOTES DAY 9: SHORTER EDITION

cover And on day nine, the Prime Minister got a haircut in Saskatoon. He reaches out for the Chrétien wing of the Liberal party. Phew, Harper won’t have to worry about John Crosbie overshadowing him this time as the former heavyweight decided to pass on running again. Peter Jaworski, over at the Shotgun tallies tonight’s campaign ads during the hockey game (Good I didn’t have to watch it). Conservatives: 4, Liberals: 2, NDP: 1. (Nice work Peter!) That’s all I got tonight. I’m spent. More in the coming days.

MONDAY BASEBALL NOTES

cover *Nice to see “The Crime Dog” Fred McGriff back in the bigs, and cracking his 492nd Home Run of his career – 8 more to go and McGriff will have 500 and no doubt a place at Cooperstown. David Pinto wonders what exactly the difference would really be between 492 and 500. (Tampa Bay 7 – Minnesota 3)

*Griffey Jr. hit his 494th. Bonds hit his 14th of the year (#672) Maddux pitched a gem for his 293rd win while the Braves Nick Green hit his first homer in the big league.

*The Sox were absolutely destroyed today vs. Baltimore. Let’s move on, there’s always tomorrow, right? And another Pinto shout out as he compares the Mueller-Youkilis to the Lansford-Boggs situation of 1982. Interesting stuff.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

THE ODD MAN

cover The New York Times Magazine has a very cool article on actor Christopher Walken. I’ve always liked Walken – mostly because he just seems so damned crazy on screen – but who knew that he has been married for 35 years to the casting director of The Sopranos, is an incredible cook (he does all the cooking) who could/should probably have the greatest cooking show of all time, that he likes cats – going so far as to write the introduction to the 2001 edition of the Keep It Simple “Guide to Cat Care”, and of course how it came to be that he talks, well, like Christopher Walken – he used to omit punctuation on the scripts so that he could emphasis whatever he wanted.

Here is a small taste: “His bizarro word rhythm and gleeful disregard for punctuation makes even his most banal utterances sound dramatic. At the grocery store, he stared at a plump tomato and then put it back. '”I DON'T. Buy the tomatoes with. The stems. On them. They don't. Degrade. They go. Down the sink. And into the WATER. Then. They get lodged in the throats of little. OTTERS.””

SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL

cover Who would have thought that at this point in the season that the Los Angeles Dodgers would be trailing in the San Diego Padres by 1.5 games for tops in the N.L. West? What is more surprising is that the Dodgers are there even as Sean Green slumps. I guess having Paul Lo Duca and Arian Beltre is helping out. But I would be concerned with Lo Duca. [Ed: You’re concerned with a guy who’s batting .357?] No, just with his 60 hits and complete lack of power (8 2B’s, 1 3B, 1 HR). And the Dodgers might be risking Beltre by playing him while injured. (L.A. up 3-0 on the DBacks in the bottom of 8)

cover *Red Sox Nation. Interesting tidbit (well interesting to baseball junkies anyway) about Sox pitcher Curt Schilling who apparently stays in touch with all his former catchers. That’s pretty cool – and this too: “He left a message for Miller after the catcher had a rare three-hit game earlier this season, asking Miller to assure him it wasn't a misprint.” (Gary Miller at ESPN.com) Of course Schilling was on the mound today – the Sox beat the M’s 9-7 in the 12th so a no decision for Curt, as Keith Foulke blew his first save in almost a year. Kevin Youkilis responded to hitting in the number 2-hole by going 3-5 and scoring 3 runs. The Sox are doing it with everything in the arsenal – it’s called depth. Oh, and Nomar played for the Pawtucket Sox tonight too – he went 0-3 no errors on the field. The game was delayed 27 minutes due to a tornado in Louisville.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: WEEK ONE WRAPUP

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My goodness, has it really already been a week since the election was called? Apparently it has. Bourque is reporting today that the campaign is tightening up at the end of the first week. According to SES Research “Lib support collapses, down 7 % ... Both Conservatives and NDP up 3 % each ... 1/5 Canadians undecided.” And “the Liberals are at 34% and the Conservatives at 31%. With a MoE of 4.1, last night the parties are in a statistical tie. Although Liberal support has dropped, there has been no significant change in Martin's personal numbers. Looks like voter angst may be directed at the Liberal brand.”

All I can say is that we have two competing parties that can barely manage to gain the support of 1/3 of voters. Can we all just admit that this is completely pathetic? The Liberals should really be worse off in the polls, but they’re not. Pictures like the scene of protestors at a recent Harper campaign stop in B.C. this weekend are probably why the Conservatives aren’t just walking away with this election. As much as the Liberals are in trouble, people aren’t willing to go all in with the Conservatives just yet. So the numbers seem to remain that the Liberals will be in a minority, and worse, somehow will have to work with the NDP – which is bad news for everyone.

And if we have seen anything so far after week one, it is that Harper and the Conservatives are being just that – “conservative”. While he certainly won’t be making any major gaffes or doing anything to truly embarrass the new party, he certainly isn’t doing very much to inspire a nation. As Paul Wells has noted, sooner or later Harper will have to roll up his sleeves and try to actually win this. So far the sense I get is that the Conservatives are playing to simply capitalize on Liberal defeat. Maybe that will work. Maybe it won’t. It is very similar to the strategy of John Kerry in the U.S. election. The campaign is about Bush and Kerry doesn’t seem to do any better as Bush happens to do worse. (Bush also seems to have a higher bottom threshold too – about 42% As opposed to the Liberals who have not yet demonstrated any bottom yet.)

So is the Conservative glass half empty or half full? Andrew Coyne examines the glass this way: “Stephen Harper spent most of the week touring through Quebec and eastern Canada, assuring people he was not anti-Maritimes, anti-French, or anti-medicare. With the Grits all but out of ammo, and Harper planning a solid week of policy announcements, we could find the Tories are ahead this time next week.” This could be the scariest proposition of all. The Liberals may be out of “ammo” but as Harper starts to unfold actual Conservative policy, that will be when the Liberals are most deadly. Let me put it this way. I’m not willing to drink the Kool-Aid just yet and proclaim Paul Martin dead – I’d rather it just happened than having to clean egg of my face if he manages to become the comeback kid. [Ed – Now look who’s being “conservative”?]

Week one’s unanswered questions. What will happen at the debates? Will Jack Layton really revive the NDP? How many seats will the Bloc win in Quebec? 54? More? Less? How many seats with the Conservatives win in Ontario? 30? 35? Less? Where is Belinda?

Saturday, May 29, 2004

MEMORIAL DAY

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Jeff Jarvis has a very good post in honor of Memorial Day.

RED SOX NATION: SATURDAY AFTERNOON BASEBALL

cover Hey Boston, call missing persons its an adventure in defense so far in the 2nd for the Sox. (FYI: That’s Sox fan/super model Gisele Bundchen pictured at right) Only one error, technically, but an adventure to be sure – it only caused them three runs and it is early. (Seattle vs. Boston)

coverHas Mariner’s hitting coach Paul Molitor, who knows a little something about hits, turned the M’s silent bats around? David Pinto of BaseballMusings.com has a few words on the pitching matchup especially the M’s starter – translation: this just in Freddy Garcia is good (More on Garcia from MLB.com). One other Mariner’s note. There is jubilation that Quinton McCracken has been designated for assignment. I particularly liked this headline and analysis from Mariner’s Wheelhouse, “The High Cost of Smoking McCracken.”

Raul Ibanez just hit his 9th of the season. The crowd is giving a pretty hard time to whoever caught it – doesn’t seem to be working. It’s clear Wakefield’s knuckler isn’t dropping down, and he’s using the curve to get outs – Hansen worked 9 pitches before doubling. He scored on the M’s 8th hit. (Score now 5-0 in the middle of 3)

Update: Manny Ramirez launches/crushes one off the top of the Green Monster. That’s #14. He’s leading the league in Homers. (That’s 6 HR’s in his last 10th. ) Looks like rally time runners on the corners. Youkilis brutal check swing, but one runner scores as Garcia bobbles it.

Update II: Mariners win 5-4. Youkilis fails to get on base. The Mariners bullpen doesn't collapse.

CANADIAN ELECTION UPDATE: SAT. ODDS AND ENDS

*Paul Wells reports that Martin has dusted off once “star” Liberal MP’s John McCallum and Stéphane Dion in a “scramble to hold power”. McCallum is becoming the defacto economic spokesperson for the Liberals as the real Liberal economic-dude Ralph Goodale is too “busy saving his hide and almost the entire remainder of the Liberal cabinet is heartily bereft of credibility when it comes to complex matters like, say, arithmetic.” Ouch.

cover *The politics of the Stanley Cup. Everyone wants a piece of the Calgary Flames. Paul Martin is sporting the jersey. The NDP mentions it in campaign emails making the point that they, like the Flames, are the loveable underdog. (See more analysis by Stephen Taylor.) Stephen Harper is for the Flames. But the Montreal Gazette E-File blog reports that, and its no surprise really, for the Bloc’s Gilles Duceppe it is anyone but Calgary. Duceppe is cheering for Tampa Bay all the way – and has plenty of Lighting players in his hockey pool.

*And are the buzzards are circling the Liberal party. According to Gillian Cosgrove of the National Post (item in the Star’s near blog “The Pulse”) this means, “John Manley, Frank McKenna and Brian Tobin are warming up to replace our latest accidental PM. Problems: Manley supports Dubya's wonky Star Wars II scheme; ex-premiers don't travel well (after Robert Stanfield's example, Bill Davis, Ralph Klein and Mike Harris, among others, have ducked the opportunity of becoming "the best prime minister we never had"); and Tobin shills for foreign-owned drug companies. Definitely not political CV material.” But the reality is you probably don’t want to be the first leader after a party meltdown.

Friday, May 28, 2004

PAUL MARTIN: LEANING TOWER OF PAUL-ISA

cover Stop the presses! New Liberal ads are up! Hold on to your seats kids. There are two exciting new Liberal ads on the air:

Ad One: “Health Care” (we call this one pensive/anxious Paul as the PM walks lonely on a dock and sits on his/someone’s front porch with a “when’s dinner ready” look on his face – not mention his “blue steel” [Was that a ”Zoolander” reference? Why yes, yes it was, who are you Mugatu: “Who cares about Derek Zoolander anyway? The man has only one look for Christ's sake! Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They're the same face! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!”] leaning on lamppost on dock pose down – Get Paris on the phone we have a supermodel in the house.) “Canada’s Health Care system…based on Canada’s values… healthcare not tax cuts…”

Ad Two: “Waiting Times” (we call this one Leaning Tower of Paul-isa as the PM opens the spot doing his model pose leaning against a post.) “Election about waiting times…reduce waiting times….invest…fix healthcare for generation…number one priority…not second to tax cuts…that’s the Canada we choose…Blah, blah, blah.”

DISPATCHES BACKYARD CAMPAIGN REPORT

Another hot steaming dish of campaign 2004 happenings or non happenings in Dispatches own back yard.

cover *Another couple of bits of dirt from our deep undercover correspondent “The Political Scientist”. First, on the lighter side. The battle for Vancouver-Kingsway is heating up but the Scientist passed on this juicy nugget regarding Conservative candidate Jesse Johl’s brother – actually just that Jesse’s brother is named Billy (Billy Joel?). On a serious note it looks like this is going to be a race between Johl and the NDP’s Ian Waddel.

*Second, the “Scientist” reports that the Burnaby – New Westminster riding is a “tight three way race” and is home to a very nasty sign battle. Large signs by the Conservatives and NDP were being destroyed as early as Tuesday. The Liberals can probably count this riding out but Conservative Mike Redmond can’t stop campaigning just yet. The real news might be in the Green candidate (Revel Kunz - Point of order: Kunz ‘operates Vancouver's only Bed & Breakfast serving only organic food.” ) who could be Ralph Nader to the NDP’s (Peter Julian) Al Gore circa 2000. And at day 5 of the campaign you would think the Liberal candidate Mary Pyneburg could update her blog to more than “coming soon”.

*In North Vancouver the battle has been joined as the NDP found themselves a candidate. “The View from Seymour” blog reports a: “sizable crowd, at least a hundred people, turn out to acclaim John Nelson as our candidate for the newly redrawn riding of North Vancouver. Not many younger people, but it was good to see the campaigners of the 1950s and 60s were still ready to turn out for the battles of a new century.”

Note: Send your political tips, baseless campaign rumors, actual live reporting to Dispatches. You send it, We’ll post it.

FRIDAY NIGHT BASEBALL: A NIGHT OF GREAT PITCHING

cover *Okay, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with the Red Sox. Pedro on the mound, David “Tizzle” Ortiz hitting a grand salami, Manny Ramirez hiting his 13th. Kevin Youkilis going 1-3 (That’s 10 games played, 10 games on base. Money. Ball.) Update: in the 8th Youkilis hit a very nice 2-run insurance double down the first base line – that’s 3 RBI’s tonight plus he’s hitting .312 on the season. The Sox are up on the Mariners 6-4 in the bottom of the 7th. And The Joy of Sox shows us the way to the Sox Good news but is the glass is half empty patrol – things are going great and Nixon and Nomar still aren’t back – [Ed: You mean things can actually get better?]

*Oh. One more Sox tidbit that my Sox Guru told me today. How cool is the 1-2-3 of the starting rotation? Pedro. Wakefield. Schilling. That is sick.

*Pitching Heaven: Dontrelle Willis has already won a nice pitching duel over Tom Glavine (2-1), Clemens pitched 7-strong allowing 1-run, but so did the other guy – it’s in the 10th. Oakland’s Barry Zito pitched a gem, a 3-hit shutout over 8 and still lost 1-0 to the Cleveland Indians. Randy Johnson is now on the mound now too – a 1 hitter through 4 plus.

*Ken Griffey Jr. hit number 493 tonight and now sits tied with Lou Gehrig. Can he make it to 500 with another trip to the DL?

DISPATCHES BACKYARD CAMPAIGN REPORT

*A quick update on what must now be seen as a burma shave war zone in the area around Burrard and Cornwall. Another man-in-on-the-street reports that in fact yesterday's action wasn't a failure at all for the Mitchell team but a triumph over a failed Hedy Fry burma shave - now this is heating up! Apparently Hedy and her one foot soldier retreated into a local coffee shop until the conservatives, confident in victory, returned to their original place of action a few block away.

*About 35 young politicos went to a youth campaign kickoff event last night with Conservative candidates Stephen Rogers of Vancouver Quadra and Van South's Victor Soo Chen. One of our correspondents, we'll call him "The Political Scientist" suggests that it is Victor, a long time dentist by trade, who will "extract the Liberal's NDP orange tooth when he beats Ujjal" even though Mr. Dosanjh is clearly winning the sign war in the riding - and running a close second is the NDP candidate Bev Meslo. (Point of Order: Bev's campaign website is rivaling Ted White's in terms of bad, local, and ugly websites. Way to go Bev!)

The Scientist also reports this bit of election dish: At the young persons rally Rogers suggested that Liberals David Emerson, Dosanjh, and Fry all live in the Quadra riding and have fellow candidate Stephen Owen signs on their lawns. More interesting is that Owen lives in the riding (because that's the price he has to pay for sucking on the Liberal Party teet) but he, shock, only rents an apartment. The real question is: can the heir to the "Rogers" Sugar fortune win? As Homer Simpson might say, "In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women."


Thursday, May 27, 2004

DISPATCHES BACKYARD CAMPAIGN REPORT

cover *According to Susan Riley, while Martin was visiting a veteran’s home today with “five glum looking Liberal candidates” (including former Alliance MP now Liberal Keith Martin) the candidates were frankly explaining that they are getting a “sulpherous” reaction at campaign stops.

cover *And news today that West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast MP John Reynolds is back in the news tonight. He might have been spending like a drunken sailor of his own – can you call that “pulling a Liberal”? . Travel expenses in 2002 and 2003 totaling more than $380,000. (Amusingly the CBC report compares him to Keith Martin who spent $100,000 who apparently hasn’t been in parliament for 5 months. Whoops) The Vancouver Scrum suggests the Liberals could check out how much Reynolds spent when he was living in Stornoway as the interim leader. Imagine if the Conservative slogan of “Demand Better” blows it for them again.

*Candidates get grilled at Oak Bay High School all candidates meeting. (Times Colonist)

*Local candidate blog – Vancouver Quadra NDP candidate David Askew’s site is all about the blog. Discovering this politics business is unfair as rival candidate Stephen Owen uses campaign as opportunity to send out some constituency – and government paid – propaganda.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: DAY 5

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Photo: Prime Minister Martin spends some valuable campaign time at the University of British Columbia using a microscope to look for his mojo. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

*Martin was campaigning in British Columbia today and was even met with some sign wielding protestors in Victoria. The Globe’s Unwired embed Campbell Clark dishes on the Liberal plane’s food situation. 7 meals a day: “As the plane flew to Victoria, margaritas and daiquiris were served. Paul Martin, clad in a jean jacket, chatted with reporters. And when the plane landed in Victoria - now after midnight by Eastern time, volunteers told reporters they had a "light supper"-- the 7th meal of the day -- awaiting at the hotel, including dim sum.” Bringing new meaning to the word fats cats in Ottawa.

*Susan Riley of the Ottawa Citizen fills in the juicy details of the Martin Media strategy of fattening up the media: 10.30 a.m. — lavish buffet, eggs, hot penne, melon, wrap sandwiches, patisserie, cheeses, red and white wine in hotel media room. 7 p.m. - lurid pink and lime green margueritas and daqueris served in birdbath-sized plastic glasses with umbrellas back on plane. 9ish-still on plane, hot cookies, cheeses, crackers, ice cream, wine etc.

*Brock Stephenson does a great service by checking out the Bloc Quebecois website – somebody had to, right. He finds that the Bloc’s youth page is branded, ”Interdit aux plus de 30 ans” or "No one over 30 allowed." Too bad the page has pictures of pretty old men on it. Whoops. And what’s with this part of the Bloc’s site. I’m too lazy to bother translating, but there is a lot of yelling.

*Kevin Newman’s “Day from hell”. I don’t know why, but Newman’s blog is, well, it just has to be read. “Global Vancouver phone extensions all changed today…no way to communicate with mother ship…that is our lifeblood…blackberries save day…lighting blew out…microphone died…camera toppling…air conditioning broken….starting to feel like Survivor: The Bus Tour…” Newman the tribe has spoken, please stop having your assistant blog for you. On the upside: Buy RIM stock - $116.34 on the NASDAQ.

cover *Meanwhile another Campaign blog joins the fray and blogs moustaches! The E-File from the Montreal Gazette is pretty good so far. Discussions include the decline of the political moustache (brilliant!) - Whether or not Jack Layton’s moustache is the first since Robert Borden (actually they admit that it was actually Louis St. Laurent – but they still say Laurent’s was a “tasteful, modest one, barely visible on his official portrait.” We agree. We’ve seen all three. Borden: now that is a moustache!) Kevin Newman, take some notes that is blogging son. (Via: Tom Popyk at Trial Spotter a blog you should check out for many reasons, not least of which is because of a very gracious shout out to Dispatches earlier this week.)

*Speaking of Layton, does his accusation that Martin is to blame for the death of homeless people have consequences for a potential Liberal minority government? Stay tuned. Could this be the gaffe we’ve been looking for? Or is this a jedi mind trick - this is not the gaffe you're looking for...move along.

THURSDAY NIGHT BASEBALL NOTES

cover Before we get back to some Canadian politics, how about some baseball?

*3 games tonight, 3 huge scores. 1. Detroit over Kansas City 17-7 2. New York Yankees are up 17-3 over Baltimore in the 9th. (Just as talks of Derek Jeter and the Medoza line boil over he goes 3-4 with 2 RBI’s. Average up to .211) 3. And Oakland spanks the Red Sox 15-2. Call 911, we got a few players LOB. The Boston Dirt Dogs call it the “Boston M-A’s-acre”

*Class of 2004. The Sox Kevin Youkilis is, so far, exactly as touted - an on base machine (OBP .471 and on base in all 9 games so far.) A couple of others to watch: Minnesota’s Lew Ford (CF) is batting .342. Or the Padres SS Khalil Greene. Sure he was mired in a 6-32 slump but hit a two-run game tying dinger tonight.

cover *News of San Francisco Giants demise have been greatly exaggerated. 8 games out of first just 10 days ago, the Giants are back. Bonds has hit a homer in each of the past 2 games helping the Giants to a 5-0 run (21-24). (And yes that is the retro 1958 Giants Logo)

*Plus pitchers who can hit, what up?. Baseball Crank takes a look.

DISPATCHES BACKYARD CAMPAIGN REPORT

*Our Dispatches "Kits" correspondent reports that Conservatives tried to do a Burma Shave at Burrard St. and Cornwall Ave. (The same place the Liberals were at on Tuesday) with sadly hilarious results. Our correspondent reports that there were three (count 'em 3) not so enthusiastic party members, with all their signs stuck in ground - the three people seemed to be guarding the signs, rather than pumping up rush hour commuters, with energy and excitement. The mood of the street was justifiably and quietly indifferent.

This might have been Vancouver Center candidate Gary Mitchell or Vancouver Quadra's Stephen Rogers (Correction: originally I had spelled Rogers incorrectly.), or some other candidate altogether, our correspondent thinks they were Mitchell's. Forgettable morning Burma shave. Nearly forgettable candidate name. Ouch. Someone at Conservative HQ should demand better of this morning's lame roadside marketing stunt. As a side note we really do want to hear more about how Mitchell "masterminded 'The Great Canadian Karaoke Challenge'" and when he'll be hosting a campaign karaoke-off.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

LAYTON’S NOT-SO-LITTLE ORANGE BOOK: EXPEDITED VERSION

cover $79 bullion platform of “goodies” or is that $61 billion? More taxes on fat cats earning $250,000/year. $9.5 billion in new taxes. Inheritence tax scheme (Welcome back old friend, It has been to long!) Slash $2 billion in corporate tax cuts. $29 billion for health in next 5 years. Tuition fees to be cut 10%. Reduce payments to national debt.

Meow or Mao. Bottom line: tax and spend gravy days are here again! Advantage: Layton.

*See Darren Yourk, Globe and Mail
* CBC.ca coverage.
* NDP War Room Spin

DISPATCHES BACKYARD CAMPAIGN REPORT

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Campaign 2004 happenings or non happenings in Dispatches own back yard.

*The Dispatches “Furry Creek” coorespondent reports that the Sea to Sky Highway from Horshoe Bay to Furry Creek is dominated by the John Reynolds campaign. Although, dominate is a strong word – perhaps unopposed is more apt. (Riding: West Van – Sunshine Coast)

*Got the very first piece of campiagn ‘junk mail’ today from MP Ted White. Not bad work – day four and all. Highligts: Map to find Campaign Office has helpful “x-marks-the-spots” for Starbucks and McDonalds – excellent work! Ted White still using, surely it has to be, the same picture he has since he became MP in 1993 – not that there is anything wrong with that. Charming slogan: “Representing North Vancouver In Ottawa – NOT Ottawa in North Vancouver.”

*They don’t call it the left coast for nothing I guess. Here are some highlights from the Globe and Mail’s candidate bio of my local Green Party candidate Peggy Stortz. “Green party since 1989…run in three campaigns…(read: 3 time loser – do we hear 4th time lucky?)…approach to politics is spiritual and Earth-centered….lives in West Vancouver (but running in North Vancouver, and campiagn office on Commercial Drive – also not in riding?)…shares rented house…grows herbs, vegetables and flowers…”

Ah, the strange and confusing polics of the lower mainland – we’re conservative…no wait, we’re wacky granola eaters…Peggy you had us at hello. What else do we need to know. (Riding profile)

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: DAY 4

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NDP Leader Jack Layton took his “Not so Little Orange Book” out for a test drive today. Over at he Ottawa Citizen’s Rob Blog, Bill Curry reports that yesterday the Layton bus was blocking the drive through of the Tim Horton’s in Saskatoon. Sacrilege! Well not really but this could be bad – Steven Chase of the Globe’s Unwired Near-Blog reports that Layton, “motored away from the scene in a slick, dark-blue luxury Mercury Grand Marquis. It's a far cry from the politically correct Toyota Prius hybrid car that federal Liberal Environment Minister David Anderson drives. NDP officials later joked they'll make Prius cars standard issues once they take power”. [Ed – That’s hardly a “scandal.” If it was an H2 we’d have a story.]

Paul Wells adds that with the Liberal Red Book, and the NDP platform out, Harper is holding off on releasing the Conservative platform lest that they get burnt by going first. This is worse news: “But in the meantime, his stump speech has fast moved from entertaining to stale. One member of the St. John's audience whom I overheard left grumbling that Harper had a lot more to say about how Martin is running the country than about how he, Harper, would.”

cover And can Harper do anything about that? Doubtful. Here’s the latest Conservative blog post: from Fredericton: “While Paul Martin cracks them up with his policy, Stephen Harper had the room in stitches with a steady stream of one-liners. Of course, it wouldn't be right not to give credit where credit is due, so we'd like to thank the Liberal Party for all the fine comedic material that provide for us every day.” David Artemiw thinks Harper shouldn’t change a thing. Adam Radwanksi is advocating a Harper makeover: “Judging from the evening newscasts, which is how most Canadians get their coverage (if at all), Harper looks flat as hell. Flatter than Martin. Flatter than Layton. Flatter than he looked, at least occasionally, heading into the campaign.”

Ouch! Remember this is with the press going soft on him so far. Oh, and yes, please we endorse Harper Trumping this awful brown suit – and mustard props. We endorse mustard, but not as a prop. That is exploiting the condiment voting bloc next it will be relish and ketchup.

Are the Liberals in trouble in the Prairies? Hard to say but it looks like marketing wise, they are going sans Paul Martin. (Again Steven Chase reports of giant billboards with local candidates not the leaders of the Liberals or NDP)

Global’s Kevin Newman reports/blogs from Banff Alberta: “9 hour bus ride…sluggish…not gung ho…environmental issues….people [all] talk…young people too busy partying…young people aren’t sure…change….were going to…Mad Cow….instead….young people quizzing the local candidates….”

We suppose that this qualifies, technically, as blogging since CBC’s Bus Blog decided not to blog at all yet today but added pictures of their reporters eating their cod tongues. Ground breaking. Stay with the CBC.ca for the cutting edge.

NEW LIBRARY IN SEATTLE

cover Go figure. I finally finished up last week’s New Yorker and what do you know, there is a new library in Seattle. And yes, the Canadian election has already found me behind on my other reading. I’ll have to save my final verdict for a couple weeks down the road when I’ll be in Seattle catching the Mariners-Astros game. But so far it looks more interesting on the inside than on the outside. But $165 millions sounds like a pretty sound endorsement of books to me.

The Associated Press calls it a “cathedral for books.” More from the Seattle Times here, here, and here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

THE BACK YARD CAMPAIGN

cover Campaign 2004 happenings or non happenings in Dispatches own back yard.

*From a Dispatches “Kits” correspondent, Burma shave at Burrard St. and Cornwall Ave. by Liberal party members (no doubt Hedy Fry people) met with mostly indifference at morning rush hour (scant honks, no lewd jesters, plenty of dancing – for bonus points this is within shouting distance of the vaunted Fraser Institute HQ How delicious.).

*The Vancouver Scrum reports on something people were talking about around the water cooler today - the “Sign Wars” in Vancouver South. Advantage Liberal “star” candidateUjjal Dosanjh and his big smiling face.

*Global National’s Kevin Newman’s “On the Road” blog tonight in Kelona, BC. Day 2 report:… rain…rain…Kelowna Mountain Park parched brown…2003 wine from the region has been left untouched…Green Party….tickets to Flames Game in Calgary on Saturday…string pulling…

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: DAY 3

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*Day three Recap (Globe and Mail)

*File this under the too much information Dept. Globe and Mail embedded campaign reporters in nearly blog form. (in Globe Reporters Unwired) It’s hit or miss stuff, but hear are the highlights: Gilles Duceppe campaigning at major flower producer (Flower Power?)…”Mulroney-ization” of Harper campaign – Mulroney’s 1984 airline pilot plus bonus speech writers….Team Martin “fun plane” entertains reporters with top ten lists such as Top Ten Rejected Names for Liberal Campaign Plane” – example - "Still-pretty-much-screwed-in-the-WestJet,"…NDP promising two more holidays a year (What is this Student Council?)…NDP Leader Jack Layton brought his guitar with him…

*CBC “Bus Blog”…Gadner campaign stop cuisine – battered and deep fried cod tongues…bumpy roads… (and we thought the Conservative blog was lame…)

*Conservative.ca blog gets into the action. 2 items: 1. Something about 600 supporters cramming into a ballroom (no jokes please…) and 2. An odd thing reprinted in full: “Restaurant Review
- Hungry hacks and famished flacks should look no further than Zen Restaurant at the Omni in Montreal. Great asian cuisine (especially if the boss is paying).- Also, for lovers of bluegrass musicn there's a jam session on Monday nights at Grumpy's on Bishop below St. Catherines.” (Thanks buddies)

*The Liberal War Room in action. Paul Wells reports that within minutes of Martin’s speech in Belleville, Ontario coming to an Blackberries went wild with Liberal emails. “These emails consisted exclusively of public comments and news releases from the Canadian Alliance (remember them?) in 2002, upon the release of the Romanow Report.”

*Jurassic Candidate Alert. 73 year old John Crosbie, legendary Newfoundland politico, might become candidate again after 11-year absence. (CTV.ca) Mulroney-ization nearly complete.

*Nominations for Worst Campaign phrase thus far: Who: Paul Martin, Liberals. What? “Five in Five” Via: Kevin Jaeger at The Shotgun “Da, a Five Year Plan. One would think Martin would want to avoid associating failed socialist systems with Five Year Plans, but apparently not.”

Monday, May 24, 2004

THE CAMPAIGN ADS

cover *Conservative Party. The newest of three ads, “Carousel”, nearly cribs the famous MasterCard “Priceless” commercials, throws in some canned circus/clown music as piles of cash gets throw out the door – Sponsorship Scandal ¼ billion, HRDC Boondoggle 1 billion, Gun Registry approaching 2 billion – and throw in a “Can you really afford another four years of Liberal waster?”(Tag line: “Demand better, Vote for the new Conservatives.”)

In the second ad featuring Stephen Harper – proclaiming “My Name is Stephen Harper” – is a simple (read boring) ad with Harper in his office (a office?) with the camera slowly creeping (stalking) to a close up. Fittingly average, but hardly a home run. (See all three ads here.)

Short Review: Adam Daifallah likes what he sees from the Carousel ad at The Western Standard’s Shotgun and it really does play up the outrage angle. It certainly isn’t embarrassing and it looks very professional. And the other two ads, while they feature the “My Name is Stephen Harper” line, are very nice, but boring.

cover *Liberal Party. The Liberal ad features plenty of Paul Martin pseudo straight talk on display. Lots of unnecessary Martin-vision extreme close-ups. (Tag line: “Choose your Canada”)

Short Review: All I could think of when Paul Martin is talking is “you can pick your friends (Canada), and you can pick your nose (American Style Taxes), but you can’t pick your friends nose. (You can’t have Canada with American taxes)” It is basically a warm and fuzzy scare mongering ad – quite brilliant really. And we’re really not sure about the “making us, us” line. But you have to give props to Martin for at least fronting the attack right off the bat himself.

SEN., PLEASE DON’T MIX YOUR POLITICS WITH THE SOX

cover Yesterday, Sen. Kerry took in the Red Sox vs. Blue Jays at Fenway. [Ed: See he’s not so bad, he’s a Sox fan. But is he really wearing white pants?] I missed this exchange between Kerry and the New England Sports Network (Via NBC's "First Read"):

Q: We'll be busy going towards November. The World Series is just before it. If the Sox are there, will you be able...?

JK: ... I think that that would be just perfect. The Sox are there and we're soaring on the wave of the Sox mania that sweeps the nation, we could avoid Florida in 2000.

Okay, please don’t mix your politics with the Red Sox. Just don’t do it.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: DAY 2

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Finally, and we though we might not get to the first official campaign reference to Pierre Eliot Trudeau until, maybe, day 10. Now if we only knew which Trudeau it was that Martin was going to be – 1968 or 1972. Excellent, things are moving along nicely.

Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent who’s website shows him as very “Che” apparently smells a minority government. Ewww.

Adam Daifallah noticed that somewhere in the past 24 hours the Conservatives re-launched their website from clunky version to spiffy new campaign mode. It looks to me like the first campaign site with a “blog” – too bad it says check back later. Ouch. As Yoda would say, “do or do not, there is no try.”

As a side note on the Conservatives it appears it only took 24 hours to tire of the Conservative slogan, “demand better.” (Paul Wells reports) Worse news for both sides. First, Stephen Taylor reports that not only is the Liberal incumbent in Leeds-Grenville an Elvis impersonator, but Stephen Harper did some impersonating of the King himself.

Taylor: “Harper then went on to impersonate the impersonator (to Heartbreak Hotel) "since my voters left me..." I gasped as he raised one eyebrow and started singing that line as I thought I was witnessing the beginning and the end of the Conservative campaign all rolled into one. But the impression elicited loud cheers from the crowd (and some nervous applause from his support team), so I guess he pulled it off.”

Bonus column – read Lloyd Robertson’s “column” at CTV.ca entitled “Elections are for everybody.” Ahh…the wonderful analysis…

Sunday, May 23, 2004

WRIGLEY & WATCHING 9 WITH PELOSI

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I often write about the Red Sox and Fenway and I often neglect how lovely, even on television, Wrigley Field looks. It always sounds like a ballpark. Tonight’s Cardinals-Cubs match-up is looking good for the Cubs who need to keep pace with the Reds.

And in another note on baseball tonight, David Broder’s piece today makes a sentimental call to bringing baseball to D.C. “When Hastert and Pelosi, Daschle and Frist can leave the Capitol and go a few blocks to join the president at a ballgame, Washington will become fit for human life once again.” A great thought, but could anyone actually imagine having to watch a lovely day of baseball – three full hours – sitting with Nancy Pelosi?

FUN WITH THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW SECTION

Here’s a question. What would make an editor think of getting John Dean to review Joseph Wilson’s book considering they both seem to hate the administration, and conveniently they both have books in the Times top 20? [Ed: Maybe they couldn’t find anyone who wanted to really read Wilson’s book. Or maybe he did it for free.]

Michael Kinsley reviews David Brooks new book “On Paradise Drive : How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense”. And I think he calls Brooks both a Liberal and a Frenchman. Marx is also mentioned at some point. Okay, now I’m intrigued.

One of the best things in the Times book section is the always present Bauman Rare Books ad. This week featuring the 1675 first English edition of Machiavelli’s collection of work for the low price of $7800.

SUNDAY BASEBALL NOTES

cover *The Red Sox win, again. But it was over Toronto, so whatever. My god the Jays pitching, like a stinky cheese on a warm day is smelly. But 10 walks today? (That’s ugly, although to be honest that is almost eclipsed by the Red Sox and their nasty 20 LOB – 11 by the 7-8-9 hitters alone.)

*The Cincinnati Reds are hot. Pulled into lead today over Houston and Chicago beating the Astros 7-0 and sweeping them in the series. Sean Casey raised his average with three hits to league best .380. (More at Baseball Musings)

*Tom Glavine impressive one hitter – no-no still illusive, but drops ERA to 2.13 and improves to 6-2. What’s up with the Mets and 43 long years without a no hitter? Interesting. Randy Johnson doesn’t stay perfect, but still holds on to beat Florida 4-3

NOT EASY BEING GREEN?

cover Now that the fawning media has eaten the cheese and taken the blue pill Matrix style that Jack Layton and the NDP party have been putting out - Look at us we’re at 18%! How do they deal with the upstart Green party who are at 5% nationally? With a promise to run a full slate of candidates the Green party leader Jim Harris will be in the debates.

Splitting of the left wing vote? Or maybe a place for former Progressive Conservatives to park their vote without choking down Paul Martin or the NDP. Quite frankly the Green Party message doesn’t even sound as crazy as the NDP one at this point – no mention of Iraq or missile defense in their first election press release/statement. Sure mentions of gas tax hikes to “tax pollution” are crazy enough to prevent much beyond 10%, but why would you ever vote for NDP? Just on the website design alone, you gotta take the Greens – it is a very nice, user friendly, and simple website and compared the NDP website which looks like a drunk clown did it.

POLITICAL MEDIA DEPARTMENTS GET READY TO FIGHT

Just like we did with the Conservative Leadership race, from time to time we’ll read political press releases so you don’t have to. Yesterday was the ridiculous NDP release claiming they had “the big mo.” (I’d link to it again, but it looks like the site has already been crushed under the weight of the momentum – or perhaps they are loading more excellent press releases. Actually it is loading, it took about 15 minutes! Excellent! Here’s a free web design hint buddies: try linking more than just “>” for the articles. )

Today we have this ground-breaking media advisory announcing the Liberal Party’s advertising campaign promising, “Prime Minister Paul Martin speaking to Canadians about the issues that are important to voters.” Phew.

WELCOME TO THE PARTY

cover Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Quebecois: “…build sustainable environment…stop federal government…duty…sharing of wealth…young families…elderly…social housing…end to use of EI fund…pressure…anti gang law…bikers…logical….tax havens…Barbados…territory…vast….rich…two tier Quebec…attractive quality of life…Quebec is handicapped…we defend Quebec values…illegitimate armed responses such as Iraq…missile defense…will increase risks of terrorism…stop trend of globalization…rules…build fairer and safer world…helps Quebec…protect Quebec difference…patronage…cronyism…”

cover Jack Layton, NDP: “…thank you friends…thank you Ed…difference we’re going to make…work together…politics should matter…green and prosperous…politics about what we can do together…progressive people…team…going to make difference…practical solutions…making jobs, while cleaning air…life affordable…green and prosperous (third time)…people concerned…George Bush…today’s NDP…energy…positive choice…build movement…new force…kept Canada out of war in Iraq…forced Canada to sign Kyoto…we did that…hope…who’s to blame…NDP on move…you can feel it…healthier environment…better social programs…and no missiles in space…reckless tax cutters…kids choking on smog…they don’t care…engage Paul Martin…hope back into politics…blame Liberals…where you don’t pull out a credit card to pay for your healthcare…it’s time…we are on the move…thank you very much…”

Update:
*Layton's full speech here.
*Duceppe's full speech here.

U.S. STYLE CAMPAIGN VS. U.S. STYLE POLITICS: ROUND ONE

cover Stephen Harper’s response: “Appreciate you coming out…time for accountability…promise broken…up to voters…mismanagement…waste…corruption…default….nothing but U.S. style attack ads…Canada deserves better…modern…moderate…mainstream…(WOW 3 M’s)…new message of hope…repeat in French…you can be a Canadian without being a Liberal..”

Update: Paul Wells noted, "Later at the National Press Theatre, Stephen Harper had an extraordinarily relaxed launch. The visuals were bad — desk, suit, microphones, flag, booooring..."

ONE OTHER PROBLEM

Dispatches 18th & Lonsdale correspondent Dan H. asks, “Won’t this conflict with the big news of the handover of power in Iraq?” Good point. That whole last week of campaign will be overshadowed by the bigger issues of Iraq, and handover of power. [Ed: Maybe that is just another tactic of the Liberals?]

READY. SET. SNORE: CAMPAIGN 2004 KICKOFF

cover The Paul Martin announcement scrum: What a crappy looking podium. Is that fake wood? No Canadian flag in background.

“Hello…bonjour…speaking French….dissolves 37th legislature….election set for Monday June 28th…shout outs to crowd…accomplished much….head on with issues…forge new productive relationships….down payments…great places to live…proud…much more…(something about a) plan…wants mandate…election necessary…new government, new values…urgent issues…healthcare…question of campaign…what kind of a Canada do you want…more French…generous and fair….proud…confidence in ourselves…achieve potential…three pillars….economy…it’s windy…influential world role…outline in detail...other parties…other priorities…Jack Layton…dollar signs and zeros….Gilles Duceppe…rely on team…team that reflects Quebec…party of right…Conservatives not progressive…Stephen Harper clear…reduce taxes…it can be done…but at what cost…I know the arithmetic…cannot have heathcare like Canada with U.S. taxes…about values…real issues…consequences…for you…Canada will be transformed…balances approach…ask for your support…join with us…thank you very much…”

Questions: “…Stephen Harper…is…Mike Harris…direction…seek mandate…”

Update: You can read the whole transcript here. But I think it is pretty well covered in the semi-key word transcript above.

BASEBALL OR ELECTION

cover What do you watch? The Dodgers-Braves game or Canadian election call? I ask you again, what kind of a cracker calls an election on a long weekend? Supplemental question: what is the impact of the Calgary Flames being in the Stanley Cup final for at least the first week of the campaign? Unless…Paul Martin is planning a Flames photo op? [Ed: Maybe that's the whole point. Everyone WILL be watching the Stanley Cup for the first week - and NOT watching the campaign.]

ALL ABOARD THE CAMPAIGN LOSER CRUISERS

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The news organizations are taking to the buses for this campaign in search of the elusive real Canadians out their. What is up with the bus election?

“People like buses,” said CTV News Ottawa bureau chief Craig Oliver. The CTV Election express is going to roll right across Canada (22 cities, 7,300 plus KMs.) – I can hardly contain myself, and it won’t even hit Vancouver until day 33 of the campaign. Thankfully I can take the interactive web tour of the bus. Key point: the bus was actually rented by Justin Timberlake (and we hear Cher too!) before this assignment. That is probably about as close as this election coverage is going to get star power.

CPAC is going to kick up the buses another notch – with three of them! The CBC apparently has a trashy RV – how retro. “So far, the bus story is the biggest of the election. Word is that Global got its bus first, in an operation so secret that few employees knew about it. CTV got whiff of what its most dreaded rival was up to, and ran off to rent its bus. CBC scrambled to find something up at Joe's RV and Trailer Dealership to bear the unbearable burden of being Trusted. Connected. Canadian.”(The Star)

As a final word, these bus tours might look good on paper – but nobody cares. And the networks should know that it would work better in a Jon Stewart type format (I guess they could then drop the actual buses and fake it if they went this way). I would get people like Tom Green or Nardwaur to get out there and do some man on the street interviews and then get a anchor to do the news Daily Show style (And don’t say a word about This Hour has 22 Minutes its not funny.)

CAMPAIGN PREPARATIONS

Putting the “Party” back into the NDP. Please. Are we really supposed to believe that Jack Layton, along with his Bare Naked Ladies buddy Steven Page, can energize people, especially young people? Campaign slogan: “New energy. A positive choice” Oh yeah, bring it on.

It is almost as good as this press release headline: “Jack Layton and today’s NDP heading into election with “the big mo.”

Meanwhile the two major parties are playing a delightful game of “He said, he said.” Some clever web politics is already playing out. The Liberals have this wonderful Stephenharpersaid.ca. The Conservatives counter with a Teammartinesaid.ca website. Oh no you didn’t! (Via Stephen Taylor) The content of both sites is basically reminiscent of a student council campaign and the Conservative site looks just as terrible.

COULD WE BE ANY LESS SERIOUS?

Hey, Canada just appointed a new acting head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) yesterday. This is the head of our intelligence service and the CBC website tells us this: Dale Neufeld “will take over his new duties at the end of May. He'd been deputy director of operations of CSIS since April 2001.”

That is the entire description of who is the new head of intelligence Dale Neufeld. Who is he? No wonder he was appointed on Saturday, I guess with an election being called today, the House of Commons won’t, nor would they ever, look into who runs our intelligence service.

The official press release tells us some more. “A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, Mr. Neufeld joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 1971 and served in various positions throughout the country, including posts in western Canada, Ottawa and London, Ontario.

After joining CSIS in 1984, Mr. Neufeld assumed positions of increasing responsibility in the Service's operational sector. Prior to being appointed to his current position as Deputy Director, Mr. Neufeld served as Assistant Director, Operations.”

Well I guess that clears it up. Arguably one of the most important jobs in government since 9/11 gets appointed on a Saturday before an election call. The House of Commons doesn’t get to, or have to, approve or ask him any questions. This is crazy.

SYRIA: CRAZY LIKE A FOX?

If you didn’t know any better you would think Syria is trying, trying extremely hard, to be the next target on the war on terror and the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. For more on arms being smuggled from Iraq into Syria and Syrian weapons experts on the train that crashed (read: blew up) in North Korea last month check out Lee Smith in Slate.com.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

LESS THAN 12 HOURS UNTIL CANADIAN ELECTION CALL

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Stay tuned for plenty of Canadian political blogging tomorrow as Prime Minister Paul Martin is expected to call a June 28th election. Will this be the “democratic delight” we are being promised? Time will tell. It happens to be a long weekend – Victoria Day Weekend – in Canada, so I’m sure we’ll all be glued to our seats tomorrow instead of barbequing, watching sports, or whatever. Yawn. Some of us wanted to watch baseball, the Sopranos, and the season finale of Alias tomorrow. And we will, election be damned.

Running the numbers before the call:

CanWest-Global News Poll:
Liberals 39%
Conservatives 31%
NDP 17%
Bloc 11% (But the Bloc are leading 50-28 in Quebec with 75 precious seats in play)

Ipsos-Reid Poll:
Liberals 35%
Conservatives: 26%
NDP 18%

BADA BING: NEW JERSEY KEY TO ’04 CAMPAIGN?

cover Tony Soprano call Pauly Walnuts, New Jersey is set to play a key role in November. “These things happen, T. That's why I don't like to talk politics.” Jeff Jarvis has all the early details, “It’s the taxes, stupid.”

As John Podhoretz sees it, “New Jersey has 15 electoral votes. And there are few ways to draw the Electoral College map in Kerry's favor without those 15 electoral votes. In other words, Kerry really cannot afford to lose New Jersey.”

SATURDAY NIGHT BASEBALL

cover If you can imagine it, now there is a Mariners-Tigers game on – what a day! Looking over some of the numbers, the Mariners are really about a season overdue for a drastic rebuilding. Olerud is now in the number seven spot of the order (.238), Edgar is in the five-hole (.245), and worse, the 3-4 combination of Boone (.246) and Ibanez (.247) doesn’t look very good either – no wonder they are 14-27 and 12 ½ back of the Angels. Quick money calculation: $22.6 million in 2004 for the heart of the order (Boone & Ibanez) and team (Olerud & Martinez). As a side note the total M’s payroll in 2004 is $81.5 million. How many of these players will be on the M’s come July?

coverThe Seattle PI’s weblog has a pretty extensive analysis of the M’s season so far. (DH/Bench, Infield, Outfield). Nothing against Catcher Dan Wilson, but if he is one of your most consitent hitters, you need more offense. In fact if you take a look at last nights game Bob Melvin benched Olerud, Ibanez, and Scott Spiezio ($14 million in payroll) for three bench players. Okay, benched is a strong word - it could be that the three just can't hit lefty starter Nate Robinson.

Makin’ a run for the Borders? Another sign of the coming Mariner Apocalypse? Catcher for this evening: 41-year old Pat Borders. Nothing like some trash talking to get things going - Spiezio is green lit on 3-0; goes yard with a 2 run homer. Oh, and John Olerud holds up the game following that homer for a minute or so – all the M’s seemed to be laughing about something, probably nature was calling or something (will it help his bat? No grounder to first). Perhaps a trip to Tacoma to see the Raniers would be a better bet than a trip to Seattle. Or when will some of them get the call to the show (besides Borders)

Make that a bunt for the Borders: Pat Borders bunts for his first hit of the year. J.J. Putz what up? Interesting last name, great numbers. Pudge huge game tying double in the top of 8th. Then Putz walks Rondell White. Craig Munro hits a 2-out, bases clearing, 3-run double. 5-2 Tigers – 4 runs in top of 8th equals a not very good bullpen work M’s (another double by a guy hitting .192 – Game now 6-2).

And the hits just keep on coming : 2-run single by Rondell White, Tigers up 8-2. 2 more walks. Bases loaded. Do you think the extra base hits (5) and walks (6) are helping the Tigers? Let me ask that question in a slightly different way. Do you think that the lack of walks (1) and extra base hits (1) are the reason for the M’s offensive woes? Actually the problem is both of them!

Game Notes Final: Bottom of 9. Tiger’s Jason Johnson is going for the complete game – a great little gem. What’s this? A Mariner’s rally? Well a couple of hits and a run. Trammel lets Johnson stay in. Another hit, one more run on an error (8-4). Johnson gets the hook. Mariners play of game? Sweet glove move by the ball girl (Another disturbing sign when the ball girl looks better than the team). 8-4 final. This just in, Mariners not so good.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON BASEBALL TOO

cover Thankfully the second game in the Dispatches Double Header today is a Red Sox vs. Blue Jays matchup. Pedro is on the mound and “The Greek God of Walks,” the Sox temporary 3b Kevin Youkilis is in the lineup. Meanwhile the Jays will hope Ted Lilly can get the job done because even the Jays don’t want to see their dreadful bullpen.

”The Equalizer” Manny Ramirez launches another mammoth shot over the Green Monster – with a pretty strong wind blowing in. Lilly was pitching a pretty solid gem (5 2/3, 10 K’s) until he ran into some problems. Now the Jays bullpen is in the game – starting with Kerry Ligtenberg against pinch hitter David “Tizzle” Ortiz. Nothing doing with Tizzle, but the game is tied 2-2 with Manny's one swing of the bat.

Game Notes: On one good note for the Jays (shhh, don’t mention the bullpen!) both Vernon Wells and Reed Johnson extended hitting streaks to 14 games. MLB debut of Anastacio Martinez. Pitched a perfect 7th, got his first K, but in the 8th he let the first batter get on. Still sounds strange to hear praises of Red Sox bullpen – and comforting to feel relief when Foulke starts warming up. Reed Johnson’s caught stealing in 8th not encouraging base running skills. Another hit from Manny.

Final: Red Sox 5-2. Foulke closes another one. Anastacio Martinez gets his first career win.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON BASEBALL

cover Since hearing that Michael Moore’s new film “Fahrenheit 911” won the Palme D’or at Cannes – can you technically call that a surrender? – something was needed to pick me up. And nothing fills me with more schadenfreude than watching Fox’s coverage of the Rangers-Yankees game and learning how well the Texas Rangers are doing – not to mention Derek Jeter’s chilly .191 BA. Now, as soon as I started writing this Ryan Drese went from perfect through 4 2/3 to giving up back to back long bombs – not so perfect.

But compared to the Yankees hurler Jose Contreres who is perfectly described today as wildly effective – hey, he’s dropped his ERA down almost 2 points through 5. It looks like Contreras is back, but for the $9 million this year, you have to wonder?

The errors that kill: Heading into the 9th the Rangers have tied up the game – in the bottom of 8, they turned a couple of Yankee errors (including one by Alex Rodriguez) into two runs. In the top of 9 A-Rod leads off, only to fly out.

UPDATE: Ah, the walk off home run. Thank you Rod Barajas. That's two in a row for the Rangers over the Yankees. The Rangers are now 25-17. The Yankees are 24-18.

Friday, May 21, 2004

GREATEST STORE IN THE WORLD

cover Let me give some mad props to Wal-Mart. Now, I don't shop there for much. But when you need the essentials - shoes, socks, boxers - is there any other place in the world worth going to? Sure I could do with less white trash when I'm shopping, and the greeters are creepy, but the value is crazy. I bought two excellent pairs of shoes - both $34.99 (I swear one of them said $49.99, but it came out 34.99!).

While I'm singing the praises of the greatest story on earth, read this article on how, and why, Wal-Mart sells gallons of pickles for the outrageous low price of $ (Although I only spent about 11 minutes in the store and did not see this pickle utopia).

More:
*NRO's Rich Lowry on Wal-Mart
*NRO's Jay Nordlinger on Wal-Mart

Thursday, May 20, 2004

DISPATCHES SIGHTINGS

On the way to work this morning (on Robson and Georgia) Jacques Chirac was wondering around aimlessly, and looking smugly French. His hair looks grayer in person. Okay, it probably wasn't the French President, but it sure looked like him - and it is comforting to know that there is a Chirac look-a-like walking around Vancouver.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A ROUND UP OF GOOD NEWS IN IRAQ

Check out this feel good post over at Chrenkoff. There is too much to summarize, just go read the whole thing.

RUDY ON FIRE

From what I can tell, Rudy Guiliani's 9/11 Commission testimony is impressive - spellbinding as NRO's Andy McCarthy tells it. "Our enemy is not each other, but the terrorists who attacked us," Guiliani reminded the commission. Can we get Rudy into the cabinet, please.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

PERFECT FOR BIG UNIT

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I happened to catch the last few innings of Randy Johnson’s perfect game tonight (Box Score and more from MLB.com). What a thrill. The best thing about it was just how humble he was afterwards – and realistic about what it all meant. They won the game you know, and that is what counts. Baseball Musings’ David Pinto adds, “The year of the old pitcher continues in fine fashion.” And in one other note the Atlanta Braves have stuck out 31 times in the last two games. Ouch. Is this a metaphor for the Braves finally showing some serious problems?

SOME REASSURANCE TODAY

I took the opportunity to catch a very informative policy briefing today at the Fraser Institute. Dr. Alexander Moens (Professor, Simon Fraser University) gave a world wind talk titled “Strategic Folly or Vision? The War on Terror, Iraq, and the Greater Middle East Initiative.” Now I’m not going to spend anytime regurgitating Moens point of view, but I was left with a certain amount of reassurance that the Bush administration is on the vision side of history – and he was quick to state that U.S. policy is pretty set and electing Sen. John Kerry won’t do much to change that (so the Dean wing of the Democrats might as well go Nader) .

Instead, how about an interesting thing that was provoked by the talk? Moens made a very persuasive case and made specific reference to Paul Nitze one of the “founding fathers” of U.S. nuclear and Cold War diplomacy who was as Dean Acheson said, “present at the creation”. Moens mentioned him specifically because it was Nitze who’s value laden NSC-68 memo which

When I got back to my office I made a point to hook myself up with a quick refresher on Nitze and NSC-68. I stumbled across a speech that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz gave on Nitze’s legacy earlier this year.

“When Don Rumsfeld and I had lunch with members of the 9/11 commission recently, one member asked what could they do to ensure that their report would make a real difference, that it would be read five or 10 years from now, instead of just filed away on a dusty shelf. I realize now that I gave them a pretty tall order. What I told them, basically, was to write something similar to George Kennan’s long telegram or Paul Nitze’s NSC-68. I told them that, rarely to my knowledge, has anyone other than historians with a specific interest in the subject, gone back to read the report of the Pearl Harbor Commission. NSC-68, on the other hand, is still studied in colleges and universities, including colleges for strategists like the war colleges of our military services or our National Defense University.”

Just hearing the reports out of today’s 9/11 Commission hearings which are primarily about the commission members (See Jeff Jarvis’s take – especially the self indulgent puffery of the man who launched 600 ships.). But it was some of the similarities of the NSC 68 language that seems apt for the current war on terror and the greater Middle East Initiative – which is now more like the early days of the Cold War. This is a good sign if you ask me – and proof that we’ll be studying the presidency of George W. Bush and his doctrine for years to come.


Monday, May 17, 2004

AND HERE'S MORE EVIDENCE OF A HAWK BACKLASH

It was NY Times columnist David Brooks who in that same article mentioned in the last post, "wrote that America entered Iraq with a 'childish fantasy' and is now 'a shellshocked hegemon.'" That was last week. This week, today in fact here is Brooks again:

"There's something about our venture into Iraq that is inspiringly, painfully, embarrassingly and quintessentially American.

No other nation would have been hopeful enough to try to evangelize for democracy across the Middle East. No other nation would have been naïve enough to do it this badly. No other nation would be adaptable enough to recover from its own innocence and muddle its way to success, as I suspect we are about to do."

And then this - the "second wind" as Brooks describes it:

"Hope begets disappointment, and we are now in a moment of disappointment when it comes to Iraq. During these shakeout moments, the naysayers get to gloat while the rest of us despair, lacerate ourselves, second-guess those in charge and look at things anew. But this very process of self-criticism is the precondition for the second wind, the grubbier, less illusioned effort that often enough leads to some acceptable outcome."

Reading columnists is like trying to understand the war itself. If you read just one column, by one writer it could not help but be out of context or more likely out of date a month or year down the road. But turn those columns into a book 10 years after the fact and you might have something.

BECAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR…

For about a week there has been a sustained offensive suggesting that many of the hawks who supported this war in Iraq have begun to get cold feet. John Tierney writing in the New York Times on Sunday laid out the case: “After the setbacks in Falluja and Najaf, followed by the prisoner abuse scandal, hawks are glumly trying to reconcile the reality in Iraq with the predictions they made before the war. A few have already given up on the idea of a stable democracy in Iraq, and many are predicting failure unless there's a dramatic change in policy - a new date for elections, a new secretary of defense, a new exit strategy.”

Andrew Sullivan had doubts, Tucker Carlson feels foolish, George Will wants Bush to grab some conservatism minus the “neo”, and Kagan and Kristol said that the war might already be lost, or close to being lost. And according to some the vast pro-war blogging conspiracy had begun packing up shop because they seemed to have lost the will to argue a losing battle or something like that. (At this point It begun to feel like that Simpsons episode “Hello Gutter, Hello fadder” where Homer shows up late, is punished and supposed to eat toxic waste, but instead goes with Lenny and Carl to the bowling ally, blows a 300. You know the one where Marge exclaims, “Not Lenny”!)

Translation: keep your eye on the ball.

But be careful what you wish for - pay attention as the same silent writers and bloggers go out of their way to show you why you are wrong and we are right. One more time; you wrong, we right. The small amount of silence might provoke a tidal wave of a backlash. As one blogger responded to taking a break: “I am silent now, but next week I'll be blogging again. You will still be a Leftist dupe. And a size 22.”

The hardest thing to do is to look beyond the short term feeding frenzy reporting of the media. You can’t catch your breath – no wonder Rumsfeld just gave up reading the newspapers. Is the situation in Iraq tough and brutal? Of course it is, but that –nothing in the past month from Abu Ghraib to Fallujah to Berg – doesn’t mean the goal isn’t worth fighting for and winning. But you’d never know from the media.

To put things into perspective here is something P.J. O’Rourke wrote in the new Atlantic (unfortunately not online yet). He wrote a brilliant and moving piece about traveling back to Iwo Jima and here is the relevant passage:

“By mid-March, Kuribayshi had only 1,500 men. They were all in one square mile around Bloody Gorge. Tens of thousands of Marines were on the island. The American Pacific command declared Iwo Jima ‘secure’ on March 14. Yet the fighting continued for twelve more days. In the ‘mopping up’ on Iwo Jima, 1,071 Marines were killed. This is more Americans than have died in the conquest and occupation of Iraq, with its 168,000 square miles of territory and its army of half a million soldiers – although there’s still time.”

Friday, May 14, 2004

MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL

Now I read Victor Davis Hanson's new piece today and I say to myself this war is winnable. And yet much of the media, the Ted Kennedy's of the world, and many members of the U.S. government cannot see it.

"So in this election-year carping, we worry only about what we are doing, never the enemy, whose problems are legion and growing. Indeed, there are two constants in this war: Every time the United States engages the enemy it wins, and every time Iraqis are given a chance at a secure, peaceful local election they act responsibly and eschew candidates of violence and hate. Unless those facts change, America will win the peace. If we will fight more aggressively in the shadows while the new government basks in the light of success, the miracle of Iraq will come to pass — and it simply would not have without the likes of a Donald Rumsfeld."

More:

And I don't see anything which should conflict with the message of Gen. George C. Marshall: "We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other." (Via Tim Oren's Due Diligence)

You see, victory in the war on terrorism and rolling back and ending Islamic fundementalism will be the only thing that matters in the end.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

COLD CUTS

coverPeggy Noonan's latest article dives into a world where even Tony Soprano worries about the war on terror. It was an interesting hook for Noonan, but perhaps all a bit over the top - especially the idea of government issued 'get out of Dodge' kits.

I had just watched this week's episode "Cold Cuts" and it was interesting to see how much Tony was concerned with the situation of Newarks ports and Al Qaeda.

Of course the episode featured Tony at his best: "In the old days, the ones that came over, that started this thing, they didn't get mad. They just smiled and nodded and made sure you got it later. That's the whole beautiful point. You know what they say: Revenge is like serving cold cuts."

The question: Who is Tony S voting for? Bush or Kerry?

LEARNING FROM TONIGHT's LAKERS GAME

I watched most of the second half of tonight's Lakers-Spurs, game 5. It was crazy. Not only did the Spurs retake the lead in the 4th holding the Lakers pretty much to 10 points. The fact that Robert "I shoot insane game winning threes" Horry was on the floor - and not for the Lakers was a nice twist. But it was Duncan hit that absolutely sick last second fading away, falling down, shot to take the lead. It was over.

Well, except for .4 seconds. And to think that the ball went, finally after an eternity of half-times, to Fisher who dropped a shot to win the game and send the Lakers back to L.A. up 3-2 in the series. It was crazy.

What a game. But what strikes you about basketball, especially in big games like this, is just how quick things can turn around completely. And in that regard I was thinking just how quickly fortunes can change in war (I know, relating the NBA playoffs to the war in Iraq is stretching it). It has been such a bad two-months in the war effort it is hard to conceive it can ever get better. Many supporters of the war are getting nervous - with good reason. But fortunes can change on a dime. In a week. A day. An hour. A minute.

Roger Simon is writing tonight about more tapes that can come out of Iraq. Tapes of what Saddam was doing in his torture chambers. Michael Ledeen tells Simon, that the Pentagon has them and that they are worse than what we've seen (not surprising). When will they hit the media? What effect will they have. What about a Saddam trial? What will be the fallout of the sick beheading of Nick Berg? Which of these things will be the bigger event in 3 months, 6 months, or a year down the road?

*Some reasons to be hopeful (Tech Central Station)