Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Baseball Notes: Seeing Red, Sox.

Brutal. Yesterday Canada voted for both socialism and corruption yesterday, and today hopes for a reprieve are foiled again as the Red Sox get beat up by the Yankees 11-3. 6 1/2 games back now.

Boston Dirt Dogs called it "Bronx Blowout", "New York Nightmare", and "The Big Awful." Meanwhile SI is doing it's part to curse the Sox and Manny Ramirez by putting him on the cover.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Fate of Stephen Harper

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Now, I know that everyone is going to say (again) that the new Conservative Party is too new to really be surprised that they didn’t win-too new to hold them accountable for losing another election. But can I be the first to say that (again) they failed to realistically achieve any of their major objectives and in fact by doing worse in some cases like British Columbia, they let us down even more than usual.

But I’m hungry, and I think we should quickly feast on the political carcass of Stephen Harper to appease this outrage. I saw enough of him in 36 days to know that he isn’t the guy. So, can we start the Stephen Harper Leadership Coup Watch – Week 1? (Ed – Isn’t it a little too soon for this long knife talk? Who cares, it’ll be fun for a couple of weeks won’t it?)

And here’s why:

Ontario. Sure they broke into Ontario yet they still only won 24 seats. Okay, that’s +22. A breakthrough would have been 40 or 50. But that is still simply not good enough. Their vote is actually down (if you combined the former two parties) since 2000. If you can’t breakout with these conditions: united party, huge scandals and even a provincial Liberal backlash and they still only won 24. Ouch.

British Columbia Losing seats in places like West Vancouver (Okay, it seems that Reynolds might just pull this out now, but still didn’t he win by 11,000 votes last time?) and North Vancouver? And actually bearing witness to the biggest Liberal breakthrough in B.C. since, well, “Trudeaumania” is disheartening to say the least. Some might say, miserable failure.

Maritimes. In 2000 8 seats. In 2004, 7. You do the math. Maybe that whole, you’re a bunch of deadbeat freeloaders tact was unwise.

Steyn Says it Best

"If these numbers hold, we're looking at a Liberal minority government governing well to the left of M Chretien's three ministries. So it's corruption plus socialism. That's great news, isn't it?" - Mark Steyn, Steyn Online.

Enough Said

Even landslide Anne kept her seat. Anne McLellan seems to have the lead by over 500 votes. Let me get this straight, we couldn’t even unseat Landslide Anne.

Some Quick Election Number Crunching

*If you total the Liberal, NDP, and Green popular vote together it adds to 56.4%. You want to wonder why the Conservatives aren’t even the minority, this is your reason. Compare that to the Conservative’s 29.6% and you would have to wonder if they can ever form government without some Machiavellian intervention by the Bloc. (Crunch the numbers your self with the Elections Canada data)

*The Green Party only got 6.2% of the vote here in B.C. – only 85.711 votes.

*In Quebec the Conservatives got 8.7% of the vote. That doesn’t seem like much, but it may have given some seats to the Liberals. Delicious irony.

Canada Votes: Hey Western Canada…You’ve been “Punk’d” by Ontario

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cover Ha ha. That’s pretty funny Ontario. You crazy kids. Boy the Conservatives west of Ontario have got to be feeling like they got the short end of an elaborate Ashton Kutcher prank tonight. (See also any reference to Lucy pulling football away from Charlie Brown.) It looks like Liberal Minority – as was predicted here earlier – but less of a minority than even we predicted. Who could have expected that the voters of Ontario would surrender to the Liberal party yet again. (We usually would add in some sort of cheese eating surrendering French joke here – but, hey, they aren’t even totally French for god’s sake.)

More fun to come later…

Update: And as luck would have it, the voters in my own back yard "Punk'd" MP Ted White too and voted a Liberal into parliament for the first time in, I think, 24 years. B.C. just had to swing left didn't we. I was looking forward to B.C. being the battleground. It's just too bad that this hippie commune, masking as a province, given the opportunity to make a difference gave more power to the Liberals and NDP from the west. We just couldn't leave well enough alone.

Update II: Oh, yes. And the riding next door, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, also went Liberal. North and West Vancouver. I guess 30 years was long enough without Liberals. Apparently we just totally heart corupt government over here on the North Shore. Let us eat cake. PS: How long until Dispatches HQ moves to another less hostile riding?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Dispatches Predictions: Check Mate

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Not sure that these predictions will help, and certainly they may not be very accurate, but you gotta have predictions. I think that by the time all the votes are counted, it is going to be a mess. It’s going to be way too close, and we’ll all regret that – especially if we doing this all over again in say, another 3-9 months. I would suggest that campaigns keep all those signs and not throw them away, they might come in handy. Anyway, I’ll be checking in during the day tomorrow, and commenting on results.

Party Seats
Liberals 119
Conservatives 116
Bloc 48
NDP 23
Ind. 2

Flip Flopping Harper?

I took a few days from blogging, but with voting in the Canadian election to get under way in 24 hours or so, but now it’s go time. Now, the first headline I read this morning over at Bourque is “Harper Flip Flops on Iraq.” In an interview last night Harper said he didn’t think sending troops to Iraq “would be 'popular,' which is one of the reasons why I would not do that, The second reason is we don't have the troops to commit. The Iraq situation is winding down, so I don't see escalating our involvement."

Now, I agree with the second reason, but that has been the case for some time – and as such should have simply muted the issue over a year ago. We couldn’t send troops then, we couldn’t now. Obviously Mr. Harper thought it was politically useful at the time, and no longer does days before an election.

Now Harper is worried about what would be “popular”. If all we wanted was a government that made decisions just on whether or not they were popular, we could certainly get that with the Liberals. Is the leadership we can expect from a potential Harper government? This may grab some waffling support as we head to the polls, but it might just as likely turn off a core group of Conservative support.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Super Size Back in Business

What would we do without people like John Stossel? He talks to people who eat McDonald's for 30 days - just like the Super Size Me filmmaker dude - and yet they actually lost weight and may have gotten healthier. What a country. I could never stay mad you McDonalds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Canada Votes 2004: Day 31

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Leadoff: Stephen Harper took to the mound to throw out the first pitch of the Toronto Blue Jays – Tampa Devil Rays. The Devil Rays won (their 12th straight game too!). Question: is this of any significance?

It was fun comparing the two national newspapers headlines this morning. The Globe and Mail lead today with the catchy (and by catchy we mean big and bold), “Liberals take six-point lead”. But the National Post remains steadfast headlining “Harper Widens Seat Lead.” How delicious, but which source is right. Andrew Coyne runs the numbers and concludes that both are true. Things could all come down to one or two seats make or breaking a coalition.

And Coyne introduces a new coalition to think about: Liberal-NDP-Bloc never mind the torpedoes “Stop the Conservative” option. Meanwhile Colby Cosh speaks that which should not be spoken, the elusive Liberal-Conservative coalition. (I had to go have a shower after that last one it is so filthy. As Homer Simpson would say, “My god you’re greasy.”)

Meanwhile the Liberals sent out a warning postcard that arrived in my mailbox today. It wasn’t a personalized one from Paul on the campaign trail wishing we were here. It is a bold white-on-red message following up on the TV ads suggesting “Think twice, vote one” Shorter version. Front side: Stephen Harper bad. Backside: Waitlists. You can count on me love Paul.

cover Useless idiots. I love the Stopharper.org website. It’s a site courtesy our fine artist friends. “Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace), Sum 41, Avril Lavigne, Treble Charger, Sarah Harmer, Sarah Polley and other prominent Canadian artists in opposing Stephen Harper.” Damian Penny has all the sordid details about these bunch of crackpots.

Pleasure of living on the left coast Part II

cover I guess I will have to do a whole series of posts about Vancouver and the things that make me shake my head about it. The things that make it part of the Left Coast. This time it is the most completely ill advised restaurant concept. I was checking out the pamphlet for the Vancouver International Jazz Festival today and came across an ad for “Chivana” which is an Asian-Cuban fusion restaurant.

I will leave it to you decide whether or not that concept in of itself is enough for a shake of the head. But it was the ad featuring both Fidel Castro and Chairman Mao in front of the “hammer and sickle” which really provoked me. Hey lets use cool communist dictators in our ads. Looks like actor Christian Slater seems to enjoy the fun and repressive atmosphere – he’s featured in the gallery. Not good. Worst. Marketing idea. Ever. [Ed - What's wrong with Christian Slater? No, the idea of the radical pinko bistro!]

Monday, June 21, 2004

Canada Votes 2004: "Fahrenheit 6/28"

cover The new SES poll today shows a tie. Again. The Liberals are at 33% and the Conservatives are at 33%. Oh my! And Andrew Coyne notes that the, “three left-wing parties (NDP-Bloc-Green) together, you get another third of the vote -- 35%, actually -- half again as much as they got between them last time. So it's a three-way split between the right, the centre, and the left.” What’s worse is that, “The Harper Conservatives have moved left, the Martin Liberals have moved left, and the Layton NDP has moved left. And the big winner in this election: the Left.”

This is what worries me about this election. Do you think we might look back with reverence on the 1993-2004 Liberal era as a time of conservative influenced public policy? Ewww. I think that just sent shivers down my spine right then. I believe that the period following this relative healthy balance could be really left wing – from all parties – we might not recognize the country in five years. Maybe this is too easy. Alan Rockweel of Occam’s Carbuncle and The Shotgun goes the other way.

And there is some evidence to that. If the Liberals are sending out press releases entitled, “Filmaker Michael Moore worried about a Conservative government in Canada.” So if the left wings all-knowing poster boy thinks Harper and co. will deliver “dire consequences” just how left wing could this country, or the Conservative Party for that matter, be going? Vote for the Liberals – they like Michael Moore. Good luck with that.

Hitchens on Moore

Is there anything better than Christopher Hitchens writing about Michael Moore? Here’s a suggestion. Get a good glass of scotch going, light up a smoke (a cigar or a cigarette) and enjoy;

“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.”

Pleasure of living on the left coast

cover Ah, the pleasures of living on the left coast. Picked up the latest copy of Vancouver Magazine to read the cover story “My Vancouver” about some “insider tips for getting the most of the city.” Now, there is nothing wrong with that – and I did buy it after all, right? So they pick 10 locals to offer up their tips on the city – 10 people I wouldn’t care less about – and I care even less now.

Not only do they give some mostly generic and lame “tips” it is also speckled it with just enough elitist left wing snobbery to fill up the growing belly of a sweaty Michael Moore. Having to hear Elaine Corden, a rock music critic for “The Westender,” answering the question of when was the last time she fell in love with the city. “Fall 2003, driving back from the U.S.A., realizing I live in a liberal, progressive city that has mountains, beaches and a fair respect for human rights.” What does that mean? If she was driving into Vancouver she probably came from Seattle. Excuse me, Elaine, but what are you talking about? It’s not like you came in from the Sudan or something like that. You came from Seattle for goodness sakes.

Worse was Wade Papin – some local jewelry artist – who in response to “who in the city would you most want to punch in the face” responded, “Since Bush doesn’t live in Vancouver…” Again, what does that mean Wade? Why did he have to work his hatred for George W. Bush into an article about cool things in the city of Vancouver? Oh the irony of all the trees that had to print this magazine full of useless crap. One side note: At least the bartender from Lumiere made one good comment, that Nat Bailey Stadium is the best structure in the city. Absolutely correct. You can always, and should, trust your bartender.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

How to lose an election in 7 days?

cover The title of this post might be a little harsh. The Conservatives may well win this election. But with a week to go I’m getting the sense that it just might be slipping through Stephen Harper’s fingers. I’ve seen the newest Conservative TV ad about 5 times today. With just about a week to go the ad, called “Commitment,” is about nothing. It could very well be the Seinfeld of political ads; it is so completely empty of thought.

It’s not that it is technically bad – notions of being loyal to family, friends, and country are, well, great. Being accountable is good too. But isn’t that some sort of base quality we would expect from our leaders? Say what you will about Paul Martin or even his predecessor Jean Chrétien – but I would think that you could claim they’ve been pretty loyal to their family; certainly it would be hard to deny their loyalty to pork barrel friends, and even the country. And this isn’t the type of ad that is going to inspire many. What about the plan? Tax cuts, smaller and better government, a stronger defense? Hello? Anyone?

Of course the flashlight is now shining on the Conservatives position on Air Canada, and a few wacky press releases accusing Paul Martin of that were way over the line of good taste. This has caused Paul Wells to contemplate the idea of “How to lose an election.” It’s going to be a fun sprint the finish line at this rate.

Cast Away in an Airport Terminal

cover "Pretty much every review of the new film “The Terminal” focuses on what else Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have done. That's a lot to live up to. But this is the story is of a man unable to leave an airport terminal due to a crisis in his generic East European nation. Then comedy and other emotions ensue when Hanks’s character gets to play matchmaker, gets a job, annoys the Homeland Security bureaucrat, and even gets to spend some time with the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Many of the reviews spent more time talking about some their previous works such as “Cast Away” and “Catch Me If You Can” than they do about the new movie. It is a movie The New York Press’ Matt Zoller Seitz described simply as "Capra doing Kafka."" [Read the rest of this post/review at Blogcritics.org]

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Long Dull Bill Clinton Summer?

coverThe New York Times reviews Bill Clintons book, ”My Life”. Here’s the choice part; “The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.” Ouch.

Baseball Notes Saturday: Not Quite A Subway Series

cover Getting ready to enjoy Fox’s Saturday game – Yankees at Dodgers. And it should be a good one, considering the history between these two franchises. The Yankee starting line up today features only two batters hitting .300 or better. Gary Sheffield is at .300 and Miguel Cairo (2B) is hitting .303. As a team they are batting .264. And yet, they are still 3 ½ games up on Boston in the AL East. In the first the struggling Hideo Nomo gives up a hit to Jeter – who is later thrown out stealing. Then with 2 outs, he walks Alex Rodriguez and shows Jason Giambi 14 pitchers only to lose him and give him a free pass too. Sheffield makes Nomo pay with a nice single. Now it’s Nomo vs. Matsui for the first time ever…”Oh Nomo”…Matsui hits three-run homer…33 pitches and 4 runs, but Nomo makes it out of the first.

cover Now, pitching for the Yankees is rookie left hander Brad Halsey (Here’s his past minor league numbers). “In his last seven starts, Halsey was been nothing short of dominant, going 5-1 with an 0.86 ERA while allowing only 36 hits and 10 walks in 47 1/3 innings. He credits his recent success to bringing back the split-fingered fastball into his repertoire of pitches.” [Newsday] He might be on display for a team like Seattle in some sort of deal for Freddy Garcia, so we’ll keep our eye on him. The Dodgers got one back, but Halsey looked pretty calm even with runners on second and third – then again it was Sean Green at the plate. And the kid can hit too – he just got his first hit.

Update; One funny thing about today’s Fox coverage was the interview during the game from the dugout with Robin Ventura. Hilarious. And there is a Mariner scout, Dan Evans, at Dodger stadium today which seems to give credence to the showcase of Halsey today.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Canada Votes 2004: Freaky Friday Update

First, lets run the poll numbers. Heading into the weekend, SES has the Liberals ahead by 5 points now with 34%. The Conservatives trail with 29%, NDP 22%, Bloc 10% and Greens 5%. And Compas sees the Liberals at 35%, Conservatives 34%, NDP 17%, and Bloc 11%…Everyone’s wondering if the Martin/Liberal scare tactics worked or if this is the calm before the storm…But the big story of the day, if you discount the tale of Killer Whale Luna, or that even as we contemplate voting in less than two weeks our hardworking politicians in Ottawa are secretly negeotiating a 20% pay increase for themselves, is of course who will be making the deal with the devil come June 29th? (Advantage: Duceppe)…Is Ralph Klein the new Dalton McGuinty in the election [Peter Robb]…A Conservative candidate joked that the NDP has more women running as candidates because they are better looking (Hello, Mr. Harper, where is Belinda Stronach?)…

And I don’t know what to make of this webpage by Pure Tracks which has the candidates favorite songs on display. More discouraging than Harper claiming ACDC’s “Thunderstuck” is his favorite, is that at No. 4 he lists the Original Cast of Cats (a favorite of his children…Sure it is...sure it is...) [Breaking News…Is Stephen Harper a secret cat lover?]. Then again, how fitting is Martin’s No. 4 choice of Simon and Garfunkel’s - "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

P.S.: Danger! Danger! When you start finding Gilles Duceppe as the most interesting candidate in the race [Ed: You mean like you have this week? Shhhh…don’t tell. It’s just a flirtation.] remind yourself with these few choice quotes from Rick Salutin (via Trudeaupia). 1) “Vote for Gilles: Based on the debates, I would.” And 2.) “Another reason I warm to Gilles Duceppe: He began political life as a radical Maoist.” I would hope that Jack Layton makes some hay out of this – like, “I’m the only Maoist in this race, radical or otherwise.” [Ed: Perhaps Duceppe is on his way to becoming a Neoconservative. Dare to dream…dare to dream] But remember, don't vote as Rick Salutin would or for a radical Maoist.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Canada Votes 2004: Numbers and the view from Donald Rumsfeld

*The poll numbers are all over the place. Pollara shows Conservatives in the lead with 36%. Liberals 31%, NDP 16%, Bloc 12%. On the other hand SES sees a total dead heat: Conservatives and Liberals at 32%, NDP at 21%, Bloc 12%, Green 4%. If US Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld was covering this election you might hear: “Either the Conservatives will win, or they’ll lose to the Liberals. Or the Liberals win and the Conservatives lose. We know that the Bloc, NDP, and Greens will lose, unless they do much better than that. There are things we know and things we don’t know. And things we don’t know that we don’t know.”

cover*Paul Martin added a little provincial flavor to his stump speech attacking Ralph KleinAndrew Coyne reports on a dire warning sign for the Liberals – using the same “Think Twice” slogan as the 1993 Conservatives did as they went down to total defeat…. And the Conservatives are playing coy with the Bloc….Gilles Duceppe’s response to that, relax, and have another Heineken while contemplating running for leadership of PQ – which could be like being King of Quebec (Ed: What, no Quebec brew?)…. Speaking of Duceppe and the Bloc, Bloc Mania is sweeping Canada! Bloc now at 3% in B.C, according to SES (Thanks to The Blue Revolution for finding that gem)….Jack Layton delusional yet optimistic as NDP hopes for 60 seats…

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Bush Groundswell On the way?

Even as Andrew Sullivan comes under fire from others on whether he should come out supporting Kerry, he says this: “Sadr folds up his tent; industrial production surges at a faster pace than anything in six years. Bush has coopted Kerry's position on Iraq; and is busy swapping recipes with Jacques Chirac. (Yes, I got the nautical metaphor wrong first time.)”

Meanwhile Bill Safire is channeling Richard Nixon today: “Let me say this about that: Bush went into a slump because of war casualties, and as we come out of the war, Bush comes out of his slump. Now he has to stop responding to Kerry's demands — all that U.N. kissy-face — and start talking about exciting plans for the economic boom in his second term.”


General Order 24

cover Lets take a break from the Canadian election today. You have to appreciate James Lileks. He watches an old episode of Star Trek called “A Taste of Armageddon” (That’s Episode 23 if you want to know – I did know it, big whoop.) and gets something bigger out of it. In the episode Kirk yells at Scotty about “General Order 24” – which is essentially a wait two hours then destroy the planet contingency plan.

“It’s just surprising to know that Starfleet had the nuke & pave option, but it tells you something about the 60s. Star Trek was very much a liberal show in its day, but it’s early-60s liberalism. JFK-New-Frontier liberalism. We come in peace, and we’d like to invite you to join us; if not, so be it, but if you honestly think I’m going to beam my crew down to walk into disintegration chambers to fulfill your treaty obligations, you’re going to start losing cities. Capisce?”

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Canada Votes 2004: English Language Debate Recap: Martin Still Standing…

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The question people might be asking the morning of June 29th is, why didn’t Stephen Harper get himself a little dirty and knock out Paul Martin when he had the chance at the English debate June 15th? Just before the debate started Andrew Coyne was getting nervous previewing his column out tomorrow suggesting that the Liberal campaign might just be working. But a post debate snap Ipsos-Ried poll says, “not so fast”! 37 percent picked Harper as the winner (Martin: 24, Layton: 18, Duceppe: 7 – [Ed – 7! Seven for Duceppe? That is a crime!]) What debate were those 2000 people watching. And even Coyne admits that “All three networks' "regular folks" panels pronounced heavily for Harper -- even the CBC's” So perhaps on June 28th we’ll all be talking about the Harper Groundswell. Although Damian Penny thought Harper, “appeared calm and, dare I say it, Prime Ministerial. If anyhing, he was too calm - at some points he reminded me of "Perry Como: Still Alive" on SCTV.”

cover More questions, fewer answers: The other question Dispatches is asking is that if Paul Martin could have so easily “swept all this under the carpet," then why didn’t he? [Ed: Here’s a question: What happened to the political statements of political statements, “it’s the economy, stupid?” Big, huge, English language debate, and was there anything about the economy? Good point, but it’s hard to talk about the economy when Star Wars is on the radar.] PS: As Paul Wells dryly noted, “These guys had two hours to discuss their plans for governing half a continent. A trillion-dollar economy. A national government for 30 million people. You'd think they'd have a lot on their minds”

And seriously Layton kept talking about all the American congressmen he talked to about Star Wars – that agree with him no less. Like who, Mr. Layton? Insert Dennis Kucinich reference at your own peril. Are they secretly endorsing Layton like John Kerry’s mystery foreign leaders? Can we please get Bombardier to work on some sort of shock collar to put on Gilles Duceppe so that it would just shock the separatist out of him and get him into power? He is devastatingly calm, cool, and collected in an almost eerie Silvio from The Soprano’s type of way. He is zen, wise, and doesn’t care all at the same time. You can’t look away.

More angles, less substance : Dispatches’ Central Lonsdale Correspondent checks in to say, “What's the deal with the faux-brick sponge painted wall prop? It looks straight out of Mr.Zim’s grade 8 drama class. I also like the appropriate placing of the word 'debate' behind Martin...like if you didn't know what you were watching you could confirm with the cheesy signage.”

PS: Who picked out the ties for Harper, Martin, and Layton? We’re just saying. PS2: Have you ever watched a debate on a big screen? At work I watched it on a projection huge TV deal. Let me just say, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen CTV’s Craig Oliver in giant vision. It’s glorious. PS3: On the post-debate TV coverage. Now in the US you would have instant big name win-loss analysis. The CBC counters with 5 average people - leading off with a school teacher. Look I can do my own half-assed analysis thank you very much. Bring on somebody who knows something I don't.

cover Debate Two Report Card Time:

*Martin: B. Still standing. Bonus points for new drinking game - which could have been created over how many times the PM said “weaponization of space.”
*Harper: B-. Sometimes you have to pull a Kirk Gibson 1988 clutch home run to seal the deal. Why was he fouling off so many pitches instead?
*Layton: C. We said this on day one of the campaign…who is seriously heading into the voting booth and thinking “Star Wars”?
*Duceppe: B+. Is there no way to get this man into 24 Sussex Drive?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Canada Votes 2004: French Language Debate Recap

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Dispatches didn’t, repeat DID NOT, watch much of the all-French debate tonight. Seriously, Fox is rolling out smutty new shows like “North Shore” or new reality TV shows in “The Casino” - who is thinking “French Debate” tonight? Did anyone really watch this? Come on, seriously? The best part of French debates is the ridiculous dubbing into English. I think Jack Layton should speak only in French – his interpreter was pitch perfect. What job board do you find these people at? As for Mr. Layton, socialism is socialism. No translators are required. Trudeaupia on Layton: “He came across as an even more vacuous, glib, posturing, annoying empty vessel than he is in English.” Is that even possible? [Ed – Why yes, yes it is.] Susan Riley, one of the Ottawa Citizen’s blogs, summarizes nicely. Harper: “looked stiff and may have erred in attacking the Bloc so sharply.” Martin: “did better than expected” (but looked at his notes too much) Layton: “take a valium before tomorrow’s debate.” Duceppe: “hasn’t developed a discernible personality.”

coverInstead of watching it, how about we compile some completely baseless and third person observations. Over at Andrew Coyne’s site some commentators: Did Paul Martin really say, “Stephen Harper eats babies.” Or was it Jack Layton who proclaimed, “"Stephen Harper mange le babies?" Better still was this comment about Gilles Duceppe’s performance: “I kind of enjoy listening to Duceppe... maybe 'cause he seems like he's permanently pissed off about just about everything...” We agree and actually think Duceppe is even better in English – mostly because he sounds exactly like Norm McDonald. As for Martin, its hard to say that he blew it, but he certainly didn’t make it to the capital city of Debate Cliché-ville in Knockout Punch City. Then again, neither did Harper. The real question is how did he look? According to some he “looked a little tired and puffy. Maybe Martin needs Botox (John Kerry might have a few vials on hand).”

Debate Quotes: Harper’s closing statement included this curiosity: “We feel that we can put in to place a clean government.” Does the government just needed a good shower?

Meanwhile the Prime Minister unloads his summation this way: “The reality is that only one of two of us can become Prime Minister. You have to choose between the Liberal party, which wants to invest in health care, and another party that wants to buy military equipment. Between the military party that is in favour of Kyoto, the Charter, for bilingualism, culture, for the right of women to choose, for regional development, and another party which is against all these things.” We smell a new TV ad coming on...

Debate One Report Card Time:

*Martin: B-. He didn’t implode, melt, or drop dead. But may have looked sweaty.
*Harper: B-. Didn’t knock out Martin. Sometimes you have to go to the mattresses, big time. Failing to knock out Martin might turn out to be biggest gaffe of 2004. Luckily he has 2nd chance tomorrow.
*Layton: C. Three words. Lost in Translation. No wonder Jim Harris and the Greens are at 5% in the polls.
*Duceppe A-. So much anger harnessed for separatist frivolity. If only he could harness it for good. Never turn your back on this guy, ever.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Sunday Night Baseball Notes

cover It’s a lovely night for baseball, and ESPN’s Sunday Night Game is another Dodgers-Red Sox match-up. Just as I was contemplating why the Dodgers insist on keeping Sean Green in the heart of the order he singles in the first. Why would you have a guy batting .245 (.341 OBP) with 8 HR’s and 29 RBI’s in the cleanup spot? I also don’t get putting Milton Bradley (.269) in the three-hole instead of Paul Lo Duca and his .355 average. Of course, all of this is said knowing that the Dodgers are leading the way in the N.L. West – no one was predicting that during Spring Training, and who would have thought they would be a ½ game ahead of the…Padres?

At any rate Green’s win shares this season are abysmal (ranked almost at the bottom of the entire league at 469th) and it is no wonder the Dodgers are interested in Mike Sweeney from Kansas City. Then they could double-move Green – out of the cleanup spot and back to right field. (via The LA Times)

7th Inning Stretch The story of the night, besides another solid effort from Pedro Martinez (7 IP, 7 Hits, 1 ER, 5K) has to Pokey Reese. Not only is Pokey doing things at the dish with a 2-run double in the 4th, his glove work and defense has been excellent. My only complaint is that with this lineup the Sox are playing Reese (2B) and Belhorn (3B) - who extended his hitting streak to 12 - and sitting Kevin Youkilis.

Other Baseball notes:
*Aaron Gleeman does a great service to Moneyball fanatics by taking a look at the cast of characters this season over at The Hardball Times (You should be reading Aaron’s blog too – it’s fantastic.)

cover *And this New York Times article by David Leonhardt wades into the issue of pitching. Could this be the next revolution in baseball? Deep in the Cincinnati Reds organization with the Potomac Cannons the pitchers are limited to 75 pitches (Potomac Cannons site here). The rotation has 8 starters. This could be an even more divisive issue than Moneyball itself.

A soldier’s bravery

Andrew Stuttaford finds this interesting account of a young British soldier’s brave efforts earlier this year in Iraq that might bring him the Victoria Cross – Britain’s highest decoration for gallantry.

“Though still being hit by machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenades, the driver succeeded in crashing through the barrier and led the way for the rest of the convoy to get to safety. He then unloaded the wounded and made sure they were tended by medical orderlies before remounting his burning vehicle and driving it to where it could cause little harm if the fuel and ammunition still aboard blew up. He drew a fire extinguisher to tackle the blaze before he was taken away to have his own wounds treated.”

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Out of touch Canadian Castro lover

cover I might classify this Rabble.ca column by Murray Dobbin as unintentionally funny, but its clear that he is pretty serious (Via Trudeaupia). Mr. Dobbin sees the deployment of US airborne radio and television broadcasting into Cuba as “delibertly provocative” and that this is supposed to bring what President Bush wants anyway – war with Cuba.

I particularly liked this part of Dobbin’s argument: “What has Cuba done to bring on this renewed threat of U.S. military action? Nothing but having the misfortune of being the key issue for a powerful minority of Cuban exiles in Florida. That Bush caters to these thugs and terrorists is just one more piece of evidence that he does not really care that much about terrorism unless it serves his predetermined foreign policy objectives.”

That and the fact that all of this is because America is simply jealous of all of Cuba’s “incredible achievements in human development.” Of course that’s it. Cuba's achievements are something we could all live without. Marxists are so cute.

Recycled: Brian Mulroney’s Back

cover Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was back in the news and ends the week on the cover on the National Post this morning within the coverage of Ronald Reagan’s funeral yesterday.

The reaction to Mulroney and his eulogy was mixed:

Andrew Sullivan: “Mulroney was a bit of a bore, but every funeral should have one.”

John Derbyshire, National Review’s The Corner: “Mulroney also very good. I didn't know he was such a fine speaker. Any chance we can get him back in power in the Friendly Giant to the North?”

Adam Daifallah: “Mulroney's eulogy was absolutely magnificent. (So was Thatcher's.) How I yearn for leaders like these again.”

Is there a yearning to bring back Mulroney? Um, no. But you really have feel for someone like Stephen Harper who is trying to come up big on the national stage, and probably will never have the kind of accolades of Mulroney’s week – then again he certainly could capture the boring guy constituency with no effort. I guess we’ll find out at the debates if Harper will rise to the occasion or not.

Baseball Heaven

cover Baseball Heaven. The L.A. Dodgers vs. The Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park for the very first time – in last night’s game in the series the Sox won 2-1. The last time the Dodgers were in Boston was the 1916 World Series where Babe Ruth pitched 14 masterful innings during game 2, and the Red Sox went on to win the series 4-1. You can explore more about that game over at The Joy of Sox.

5th Inning Update: Tim Wakefield’s knuckler just wasn’t that effective today. And a 2-home run and 4-run 4th inning were bad enough but getting the bases loaded in the 5th was really bad. His replacement – the other Martinez – isn’t really much better. Maybe it is because Dodger great Sandy Koufax was in the house today. Cesar Izturis, the Dodgers’ SS, is now 4-4 today (plus a couple of RBI’s and a pair of SB’s too) and is really having a nice little season raising his average to .321.

Not so heaven. The game was dreadful. Dave McCarty (1B) came on to close the book on the afternoon and he pitched a perfect ninth. The Dodgers, and what would be the point of this, bring in Eric Gagne for the bottom of the ninth. Why waste your closer for a situation like this? Final 14-5.

Dispatches Backyard Campaign Report: Day 21

cover *Thank the maker. In addition to the slate of candidates in my own riding – a Conservative, a Liberal, an NDPer, and a Green – there is a Marxist-Leninist running (Mike Hill). Have a look at the candidates they are running across British Columbia. It’s like something out of the Star Wars bar on Tatooine.

*Leave it to B.C. to go the other way as the Conservatives march toward government. A new Globe and Mail/CTV (Ipsos-Reid) poll reports that the Conservatives might get fewer than their current 25 seasts, giving up some in the urban areas to both Liberals and the NDP. The Conservatives are projected to get 23-25 seats with the Liberals expected to get 6-8 (a possible gain of 2) and the NDP projected to get 4-6 seats (a potential gain of 2). “The Ipsos-Reid survey shows the Liberals ahead in the northwest sector of the Lower Mainland, an area that includes Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore. In that cosmopolitan region, the Liberals have 38 per cent of the vote, with the NDP second at 32 per cent and the Conservatives trailing with 21 per cent.”

cover *Running the numbers, locally. The Province reports that Ex-NDP Premier now Liberal ‘star’ candidate Ujjal Dosanjh is leading the polls in Vancouver South with 41% in the latest polls – Bev Meslo, NDP (28%); Soo Chan, CP (27%). And it is excellent to see that former Conservative MP Chuck Cadman who inexplicably was turfed as his party’s candidate earlier this year in Surrey North, is now beating all comers as an independent with 40% - The NDP’s Jim Karpoff trails with 28%. The Liberal Dan Sheel (18%) and Conservative Jasbir Cheema (12%) are way behind. (Question: Will Cadman get welcomed back into the party if he wins?)

*Odds N’ Ends: Saw the first Green Party sign today. Looked hand painted (Yellow on Green) and like it was done by a 5-year old. Way to go Peggy Stortz…The Mayor of Vancouver Larry Campbell is urging voters to vote anybody-but-Conservatives calling them “barbarians at the gates.”…

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Dispatches Backyard Campaign Report

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*The Wonkette already mentioned that this G8 photo was very Reservoir Dogs. “…And Starring Tony Blair as Mr. Pink. Reservoir Running Dog Capitalists.” This got us to thinking. Does this mean Paul Martin was Mr. Brown?

*Ventured into the world of alternative news today on the way home when I picked up The Georgia Straight. Bill Tieleman’s column made quite a point of suggesting that the Green Party is “All About the Benjamins.” Tieleman reports that the election strategy of the Greens is to obtain 2% of the vote which would guarantee them $1.75 per voter from Ottawa – all the more to set themselves up with cash and jobs post election. Well at least they aren’t a bunch of selfless socialists. Advantage: Capitalism.

*Sign Wars: The North Shore News reports on the “orchestrated sabotage” of some of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast MP John Reynolds’ signs. The ground breaking campaign coverage of the North Shore continues. At leas the paper is up to three election themed articles this week.

*Odds and Ends. …Running the numbers. Today’s wacky tracking poll numbers from SES & CPAC. Conservatives: 37% (+9) Liberals: 32% (-9) NDP: 17% (-1) Bloc: 10% (-1) Green: 5% (+2)….Blacked out no more: Elections Canada made the decision today to end any delay in broadcasting or transmitting election results during the election…. And what’s with this kung-fu fighting, windsurfing superhero, version of Stephen Harper - Harperman?...Andrew Coyne on the new Liberal ads: “Okay, I get the point, sort of: Vote Liberal, or Stephen Harper will send weeping pregnant women to Iraq to breathe noxious fumes. But what's the message in the gun firing at the viewer?”…The Star’s Pulse Blog explores a future Conservative cabinet. This is a joke right? Or is it? Stock Day for foreign affairs? That would totally be like taking the cabinet and saying you’ve been “Punk’d” dude.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Dispatches Backyard Campaign Report – Tuesday Edition

*North Vancouver: Blessed is the Second piece of campaign literature arrived today in the form of another Conservative MP nearly glossy brochure. Advice was taken from a previous post: a new photograph of Ted White was included. The design is still pretty uninspiring. On the plus side its hard to argue with his catchy tag line: “The best person for the job is already on the job!” And bonus points for using the term “Ottawashed” – since White argues he spends at least 50% of his time in the riding and that’s why he won’t become Ottawashed. It also includes much of the Conservative platform talking points and a picture of Stephen Harper.

Meanwhile Liberal candidate Don Bell has his website up. The About Don Bell section is both really fun and acts as the quintessential metaphor for the Liberals in 2004 – thin, lame, and weak (what else can you expect from 7 bullet points?) Livelier is the testimonials section - highlights including a testimonial by Whitecaps soccer operations director
Bob Lenarduzzi and this dude with a really great shirt among others – actually many of the testimonials are also part of his team.

cover *Our faithful Dispatches Central Lonsdale Correspondent alerts us to this possible gem of a Green Party candidate in New Westminster-Coquitlam, Carli Travers. She could very well be the only legitimate babe candidate in the province. But frankly this "Green Party Hottie" probably isn't hot enough to simply ignore the crackpot labeling of “emissary of peace” as this story in the Tri-City News reports.

*Odds and ends: Our Dispatches Kits Correspondent reports on two candidate Burma shave activities at Burrard and Cornwall in the past few days. First, was the sighting of Hedy Fry’s campaign people over the weekend that he described as “creepy” and giving a lot of over zealous “good mornings.” Then today was a sole NDP candidate (Could it have been David Askew who is advertising Michael Moore’s film? Or Kennedy Stewart? Maybe neither, but he was an NDPer. ) who was in a suit, by himself, and generally looking lonely getting his name out on the street. That is some real momementum (NOT)– nothing says campaign excitement and I can trust you to vote for me in Ottawa like one pathetically lonely person embarrassing himself.

Just Stop it you morons

Breaking News: The Conservative Party has a campaign song? I know, I feel the same way. Listen to it though it is even worse than can be imagined. No really it is terrible. Stop it right now. Fire every single person responsible for this. Please. This is just stupid. Stop it.

Seattle Mariners Notes: Rookie Pitchers and Draft Picks

cover Was in Seattle last night for the Mariners-Astros game with Pappa Murphy and got the chance to see the first career start of Clint Nageotte. He had a great outing – 6 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8K’s. It would seem that Nageotte, a top Mariners prospect who pitched in the Double-A Texas League last season, has nice looking slider that often “morphs” into a curveball. (More on the kid with the “slider with bite” at Baseball Musings)

cover Speaking of prospects, what was with the Mariners first pick in the draft coming at #93? They ended up picking Seattle local SS prospect Matt Tulasosopo who is also a top rated QB prospect for the University of Washington. So the M’s need to put up some cash to put an end to the pigskin, or the whole pick will have been an embarrassing mess. (Check out the entire list of M’s draft picks here - and props to MLB.com for posting the scouting video of all the prospects – boring stuff, but a nice touch for the junkie. Plus, more draft analysis at U.S.S. Mariner.) Where was I? Oh, right how the Mariners came to be picking 93rd as their first pick. ESPN reports the reason is this: “Seattle gave up its first- and second-round picks by signing free agents Eddie Guardado and Raul Ibanez in the off season.”

Now Guardado (1-0 0.99 ERA) is having quite a good season – but giving up a first or second rounder – essentially mortgaging the future on a 33-year-old reliever? And what about Ibanez? He was almost the sole offense of the M’s until he went on the DL (Out 4-5 weeks now) - but even he was batting a meager .268 with 11 HR’s and 28 RBI’s in 51 games. His OBP was .330 and they were often batting him cleanup. (Side note: Nice work on the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins for stocking up on what would have been the M’s Class of 2004)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

“ALL DUE RESPECT”: CANADA VOTES WEEK 2 RECAP

cover It is fitting that the second week ends, mostly how it played out. While poll numbers continued to show Liberal weakness and growing Conservative strength it was really a week of old-school Reform eruptions. As Stephen Harper continues to run a well scripted and disciplined campaign his lieutenants and foot soldiers seem to continue causing him grief. Today it was Cheryl Gallant’s personal views on Canada’s amended hate law.

The Liberals are trying desperately to paint the Conservatives with the same old brush. It doesn’t seem to be working. Actually it looks increasingly dubious since it isn’t clear that the Liberals have much of a different view on things. Actually they might be the same according to two Liberal MP’s. (Colby Cosh explains) Yet some Liberals won’t even put the word “Liberal” on their signs (See Jim Tanner’s Campaign). Paul Wells asks, “So... how's that working out for ya, Jim?”

As Prime Minister Paul Martin traveled to Normandy to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion, the Conservatives finally released their platform. And the big news is that it is far from scary, the Conservatives, and obviously Harper himself are like the Republicans south of the border, Big Government Conservatives. While the centerpiece for the Conservatives remains large tax cuts, the conservatives seem destined to be committed to spending our money like drunken sailors. I suppose this is almost uniquely a kind of Canadian style conservatism at its best. Then again maybe that’s why the released it on Saturday when few people would be looking. (Globe and Mail analysis)

Saturday, June 05, 2004

PRESIDENT RONALD WILSON REAGAN 1911-2004

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"If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate ... open this gate ... tear down this wall." — June 1987 speech at Brandenberg Gate in Berlin. Remarks addressed to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

*Associated Press Story
*Famous Reagan quotes
*The Reagan Presidential Library

Friday, June 04, 2004

WHO’S PLAYING POLITICS WITH THE 60th ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY

The issue that really got me this week was something very small – you may have missed it. And newsflash, I actually agree with Paul Martin on the issue of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper not going to the 60th Anniversary of D-Day this weekend. “"I'm quite disappointed that the other party leaders decided not to come to Normandy with me…it's a tremendous opportunity for us to repay a debt to those who gave up their lives for us. I'm actually surprised," said the Prime Minister.

Now, I don’t really know which side is playing politics. It could be Martin, but it could just as well be Harper and Layton. Frankly I don’t even care. And while it is excellent for Harper to give up his place on the junket to an actual veteran I think he missed the whole point. This was the most important battle of the most important war in the past 100 years and I can’t fathom why Harper, who has made a great deal of talk about the military and defense spending, can’t see that if he wants to lead our armed forces this might be a very powerful and important event to attend – not simply a photo op, but a learning experience.

I agree that there should be more of our veterans going over to Normandy – that we should pay for it all and send as many veterans as want to go, but that doesn’t discount the real value of today’s potential leaders – today’s actual decision makers – attending this event. The reality is that I’m sure Harper could have arranged to take a plane full of veterans and himself. I simply can’t understand it and makes me question whether or not Stephen Harper is all talk on military issues. I want to know what Harper will be doing on Sunday instead of being in Normandy?

All I can say is, Harper better not think he is Punxsutawney Phil because if he pops his head out on Sunday for anything but maybe a church or emergency room visit he might not have to worry about seeing his shadow, he'll be worried about losing my vote.

A LITTLE WWE WRESTLING GOES A LONG WAY

cover *The big gaffe (Foot-in-Mouth) this week has to be Thursday’s Harper rally which turned into a small WWE Royal Rumble grudge match. Somebody got punchy with a gay activist and true to Adam Daifallah’s word it was front and center on the front of the National Post this morning. Couple that photo op nightmare with the possible issue that abortion might take in the election as the Liberals will try to exploit Harper’s stance on the issue.

Andrew Coyne writes, “…which is to say his perfectly clear position that a Harper government would take no stance on the question -- which amounts to leaving things as they are: abortion on demand, in all circumstances and at all times. True, Harper would not prevent a private member's bill on the subject from coming to a vote, nor would he demand that his party vote against it. In the current hysteria, that is an "extremist right-wing position." It is also the position of Paul Martin.”
Of course others are picking this little slip up as a major break for the Liberals. Typically Margaret Wente froths at the mouth at the campaigns first encounter with the A-word (although props for Wente bringing up the lovely Belinda Stronach – remember her? – for Heath Minister no less). This is probably why people like David Olive of the Star’s Pulse blog projecting a narrow Liberal majority.

DISPATCHES BACKYARD CAMPAIGN REPORT - FRIDAY UPDATE

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

*When I was having some gelato at Brazza the other night I got some real juicy “opinion” on what my “Dispatches Campaign Fashion Coresspondents” thought of the election. I didn’t get a chance to suggest to Tony at Brazza that he should role out some theme flavors for the election: Conservative Blueberry, Liberal Raspberry, NDP Orange, and Green Party Green Tea. Tabulate the gelato vote I say! Think about it Tony!

It wasn’t pretty and they gave no quarter: It seems our Prime Minister might try hitting a diet, all they said was that he looked “fat”. Judging by the picture perhaps a few less ribs Prime Minister? (Or this one which shows the Prime Minister going slightly crazy after receiving a boxed pie!) And Stephen Harper, well, it always comes back to his signature “helmet hair”. Clearly neither candidate is setting the hearts afire of the female vote.

*The Sign wars in my own riding (North Vancouver) are lacklustre to say the least. Ted White is clearly winning from what I can see, but that doesn’t seem to be saying much. On the other hand they are depressingly ugly with the same terrible photo of himself. Lucky for me there is someone in my building with 6 lawn signs on his patio. One would be enough buddy.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

DISPATCHES BACKYARD CAMPAIGN REPORT

cover *What is it day 11 of the campaign? And guess what, today my local newspaper, The North Shore News didn’t have one single word, ad, announcement, or mention of the federal election campaign. Sure the cover story was gripping. A protest over a proposed liquor store moving into Edgemont Village. Nothing to report about the election? Nothing even to add about Mayor Don Bell being the Liberal candidate in the election? (I admit that I didn’t read Sunday’s edition but maybe they spread the wealth around)

*Here’s an election issue that I don’t even care about. Who could ever, seriously, vote on the basis of this in today’s Vancouver Sun (Via: Vancouver Scrum). How do the political parties stand on the $450-million the federal government committed to rapid transit in the Vancouver region? $450-million! That’s really only 2 Adscams people. The most delicious part is how the Liberal candidates all have a different opinion – who’s running the Liberal campaign, John Kerry?

*CPAC-SES British Columbia Poll Numbers:

Party April 25 May 30
Liberal 31% 34%
CP 30% 29%
NDP 32% 29%
Green 8% 8%

Wait a second the Liberals are gaining ground in this province? Actually that isn’t that surprising (Think when we reelected the NDP in 1996 provincially when they were probably already secretly building state of the art fast ferries made of gold and diamonds.)

CANADA’S UNFORTUNATE RYAN SEACREST CLONE

cover Apropos of absolutely nothing I watched (read: suffered) “Canadian Idol.” I know what you’re thinking, forgive me, I just couldn’t seem to change the channel in time. But believe me it is even more insufferable that. Enough of that, but can somebody please tell me why Ben Mulroney has a.) a job on Canadian Idol as the spineless Ryan Seacrest character and b.) who thought it was a good idea to make this crackpot a columnist?

If you can imagine his latest column makes me look forward to read things like Maureen Dowd’s column. I would call it a big pile of steaming prattle but that might give steaming piles of prattle a bad name.

Excerpt: “What is so special -- nay, essential -- about two obnoxious signs sandwiching either a lamp post or a wooden spike?” Whoa, Ben, did you really just use “nay” in a column? Don’t give up on the whole Seacrest thing – and seriously, it works for Seacrest in what the New York Time Mag called “Bland Ambition”.