29 December 2008

2008 Year in Review Fun Stuff!

Now that the turkey is gone, the tree is down, the presents are unwrapped, and the sun is shining (!) it's time to look back on the year that was, or at least as I saw it. I always get a kick out of these things, and I'm finding it a little bit funny that this is the second time this year that I'm doing my year-in-review postings. Did I fall asleep for the last week of '07 or something?
It was a year of mixed emotions, this 2008. Lots of really great moments, a couple more accomplishments, a few frustrations, a big letdown or two, and a lot of fun along the way.
I'd say that my biggest personal achievement this year had to be the publication of my first book, American Leadership and the Future of the Bush Doctrine, which you can purchase through Amazon by clicking the link on the right there. I was surprised and totally taken out of the blue when a publishing house in Germany got in touch with me expressing interest in my M.A. thesis and making a book out of it. The process was very quick and smooth, and there really is a surreal feeling when you open up a package in the mail and see a beautiful new book that has your name on the cover and all the stuff inside is your words (and those of others with due citation) and ideas. A real high, and I hope that those who have made the expense (and believe me, folks, if I could have set the price it would have been much cheaper to entice more buyers!) have found it worth their while. Regardless of whether it has sales of 10 or 10,000 that's my baby and I'm very proud and fortunate to have it.
That high is matched in equal sense of feeling by the low of the year: losing out on my application with a job with the federal government and the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. After spending 6 months going through the process, to have it all come to an end with a 4-sentence letter in April really hurt. It was a real confidence-shaker and maybe to some extent I'm still feeling the after-effects of it. Anybody who knows me knows that a career in the public service, particularly one in that field, has been an ambition of mine for many years, and to have gotten as close as I did and have it just disintegrate just left me feeling quite down on myself for some time afterwards. What can you do? It's one of those things where the song rings true: what don't kill ya makes ya more strong.
Politics wise, 2008 was a complete gong show for this country. I've had a sense of detachment from any of the political parties for a while and this year had the effect of simultaneously (at least in December) of further disenchanting me while also pulling me back in a direction that I thought I would not address again for some time. The antics of the coalition, Harper's partisan governance, Dion's ineptitude, and so on all really made me wonder just what this country's leaders were doing and thinking (in that order)--and yet, at the twilight of 2008, I find myself strongly contemplating jumping back into the ring on a much deeper level than I have been since the end of 2005. The Liberals now have the leader that they should have had in 2006, and while I'm sure it wasn't awarded to him in the manner he would have preferred, I do believe that Michael Ignatieff may be just what this country needs in order to break away from the strange and unpleasant ongoings of the past few years.
South of the border, much of 2008 was all about the election, so much so that it pretty much overshadowed everything, including and especially the current President. George W. Bush was almost a non-factor for the entire year, consigned to irrelevancy by the media and its pundits long before the end of his second term in office. There was so much hope (the catch word of the year) offered by Bush and his grand strategy to have America assist in the remaking of the Middle East, and it all just seems for naught at this point. It's disheartening and sad, for him but more importantly for all the voices in the world that are still being silenced, the dreams being suppressed, and the goals locked up and the key thrown away. As I type this, conflict rages anew between Israel and the terrorists of Hamas, India and Pakistan are mobilizing at their shared border due to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and the torch of freedom seems flickering and fleeting in places where it was hoped its light would spread and blaze a new path. It all presents a daunting challenge to an incoming President who has done much to inspire and renew confidence in the promise of America. I sincerely wish Barack Obama well because the weight of expectation on him is tremendous. Hopefully he can bear it.
Much closer to home, another wonderful year with Anna Lou and our little family. A couple hiccups along the way, but wow, what a bunch of great memories we've created again this year. Our amazing love and hope and trust and confidence in each other carries me through my days. Thank you for everything you do and everything that you are. I love you so much. All of them.
What else did I love this year? The Habs, big time. My passion for my favourite hockey team has carried over into a new/old hobby: card collecting! It's definitely a lot different now than when I was younger collecting cards; the products have come a long way...but I still collect the same team! I've amassed a ridiculous collection of Habs memorabilia in the past year, lots of autographs, jersey cards, rookies, you name it, most of it centred around my two favourite players: Carey Price and Josh Gorges. Not surprisingly, both BC boys. It was great that we got to see them twice this calendar year, including the last game of the season against the Leafs in Montreal! Just awesome, and hopefully in 2009 we can do it again, preferably in June!
Other than that, there was a bit of a sense of disengagement from a lot of my other long-standing "loves" in life. I didn't renew my membership in the Metallica Fan Club last January, ending a wonderful 5 year run. With the band taking forever and a day to release Death Magnetic (for a while, I thought "The Day That Never Comes" would be the release date and that they'd be beaten out by Axl and Chinese Democracy) and pretty much touring exclusively in Europe for the past few years, plus my frequent headbutting with other Clubbers, it just didn't seem worth the $60 this year (and do you know how many sweet Carey Price cards I can get for that much?) to renew. That said, the album is awesome (see below to see if they make #1!) and you know that if by some miracle Halifax ends up on their tour itinerary in '09 I will be there front row rocking like it's 2004 all over again!
I also had a drop-off in Star Wars stuff. Still grabbed a handful of new toys but even with the new animated series there's a bit of a sense of fatigue or burnout or I don't know what all. Still, it's Star Wars, and the Force runs strong with this one so you know it will be with me, always.
Wow I've talked a lot eh? Enough of that, time for the joyful Top 5 Lists!

Top 5 Movies of 2008
1. Wall*E
2. The Dark Knight
3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
5. Cloverfield

Top 5 Albums of 2008
1. Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV
2. Metallica - Death Magnetic
3. Nine Inch Nails - The Slip
4. HIM - Digital Versatile Doom
5. Wall*E Soundtrack

I did not buy a lot of music this year; I've still yet to hear in full the AC/DC and GnR albums--does that make me a bad person?

Top 5 Songs of 2008 (according to my 'Pod's most played list)
1. Metallica - All Nightmare Long
2. Nine Inch Nails - 33 Ghosts IV
3. HIM - The Funeral of Hearts (Live) - blew me away and gave a new appreciation to the song!
4. Metallica - Broken, Beat & Scarred
5. Nine Inch Nails - Discipline

Top 5 Habs-Related Things of 2008
1. Going to Montreal wish Tasha to see them beat the Leafs at the Bell Centre
2. Meeting Josh Gorges outside the Metro Centre in September
2a. Getting a Kelowna Rockets jersey signed by Josh Gorges
3. Getting this in a trade, the highlight of my Carey Price collection:

4. Game 7 against the Boston Bruins
5. Christmas morning when Tasha got her very first Habs jersey!

Top Moment of 2008
As usual, the love-meter on Christmas morning

Honourable Mention: pretty much the entire 12 days spent back in BC this year.

19 December 2008

How Do We Go From....

How do we go from the Prime Minister of Canada vowing to never run a deficit--during the election campaign that saw him returned to office largely as a result of his prowess on economic matters--to the Prime Minister of Canada announcing that the budget deficit next year will be approximately 30 billion dollars!!?!? This is quite likely the worst "promise made, promise broken" news emanating from Ottawa in a very long time. My disgust with the Prime Minister for saying one thing and promptly doing another is incredibly high.

I realize that during tough times (cue the Liberal choir: Tory times are tough times) it is sometimes important and even necessary to introduce a stimulus package that requires increased government spending to kick-start the economy. I have no problem with the government taking measures to protect and create jobs to keep Canada's economy strong. What bothers me is that it should not have come to the point that introducing a strong stimulus package leads to running a deficit in the double-digit billions of dollars. The tax cuts introduced by the Conservatives do not rankle me; lowering taxes was a part of the agenda and it was well-received by Canadians across the board. Cutting taxes in times of great prosperity is a hallmark of fiscal conservative ideology. What is not fiscally prudent is increasing government spending to record all-time highs at the same time that taxes are being cut. The government wanted to do more with less, and as a result, the country is going back into the red.

That is incredible. For over a decade this country had been leading the way in the G8 as the best example of an economic powerhouse maintaining its position without excessive spending and racking up additional debt. We were going through great prosperity and paying down debt. The work of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, though painful at times in terms of government cuts, in the long term benefitted Canada to a tremendous extent. The plans and procedures they implemented, however, have been cut away. The $3B contingency fund was removed. That buffer could have made a difference. The cupboard is bare, and it is a supreme irony that it was a Conservative government that promised restraint and sound fiscal and economic policies that cleaned it out.

I'm getting really close to the tipping point, folks.

16 December 2008

Know Thine Enemy?

I found this to be an interesting and curious tidbit from the Prime Minister about Michael Ignatieff:

Harper told CTV Atlantic he met with Ignatieff last week, but said he still knew little about the former Harvard scholar and author.

"I've read very little of what he's written. I certainly know he's a noted academic," he said
.

For his sake, I hope that he's got some people on the staff doing some research. As someone who has read very much of what he's written, I can say that Harper's going to have to bone up on some of the major issues of our times if he wants to go toe-to-toe with Ignatieff. I'm incredibly tired of the gutter politics that has dominated the past few years of Canadian politics, and the prospect of a Harper-Ignatieff intellectual showdown will only meet the lofty expectations if one guy gets ready for that looming battle. And even then, I'm not sure his ideas will surpass those of one of the greatest liberal academics of our time.

11 December 2008

Politics Trumps Principle...Again

But coming from him, on this matter? I never thought I would see the day.

Harper to fill 18 Senate seats with Tory loyalists

The rationale is that is he's wary the coalition will take over in January and do it themselves with their own loyalists, thus ensuring the perpetuity of the Liberal-dominated Senate. Why let others get the shot at patronage appointments when you can do it yourself, right? This one just makes me sad. I railed at Martin for putting his campaign manager Francis Fox in there, and I'm very disappointed to see that Harper's going to reward his old stalwarts with similar career golden parachutes.

10 December 2008

Two Years Later, They Get It Right...Sort Of

Today is a very good day for the Liberal Party of Canada. They have finally chosen the leader that they should have chosen after January 23, 2006. I was one step removed many years ago when I said that Ignatieff would be the next leader of the Party. For some reason known only to Liberals, they opted to go with Stephane Dion first. Many thought they'd hit rock bottom after the 2006 election. They thought they'd lost all the could, but then they lost a whole lot more. Today is Day One of the official rebuilding project.

The first order of business must be to ensure that the party faithful are assuaged and assured that the process by which Ignatieff became leader is legitimate. There is a lot of talk, from myself included, that the manner and form in which Ignatieff has taken the reins of the Party is not ideal, is not democratic, and is not transparent. I hope and believe that while happy to be the leader, Ignatieff truly did not want it to happen under these circumstances. And had it not been for the fever pitch that gripped Ottawa for the past three weeks, he probably would not have become leader until the scheduled convention in May. But Dion's final act of utter ineptitude has resulted in his immediate ouster and replacement. Some will liken this takeover in the same ugly fashion as the so-called "coup-alition" effort. That is something he'll have to contend with.

Another is the lingering and stale argument that Ignatieff's simply an egghead who has been out of the country for 25 years and is thus out of touch with what Canadians want. This is ludicrous. Anybody who has read anything written by Ignatieff is very aware that he's keenly in touch with what the Canadian public thinks about the major issues of our time, from human rights to good governance. He is a very smart man, and the string of anti-intellectualism coming out of the Conservative camp is indicative of their fear of Ignatieff's intelligence.

It is going to be a long haul for the Liberals to get back to government. As Kinsella often says, government defeat themselves. The Tories may be on their way to doing that, but they're not there yet; moreover, the Liberals have yet to sufficiently recover from their own terrible defeats in the past few years and demonstrate that they are indeed capable of handling the reins of power once again. But now that the Liberals have taken the first step by electing the right leader, that process may begin in earnest.

08 December 2008

Irony? Or Just Sheer Hypocrisy

My pal Chucker alerted me to this blog post of Bob Rae's. I'm not sure if it's more amusing, sad, hypocritical, pathetic, or ironic. Perhaps it's a vile combination of "all of the above." But it really does go to show just how readily Liberals in this country are able to contradict themselves.

"The idea of taking away the vote from tens of thousands of grassroots activists in every part of Canada, and reducing the franchise to just 76 men and women seems so out-of-step with the modern world."

This is repugnant to Bob Rae. However, taking away the vote from millions of people in every part of Canada, be they activists, party faithful, independents, libertarians, communists, or any other categorization of people, and reducing the way in which we decide how political power in this country is distributed to 3 men is just hunky-dorey with the modern world.

"Significant portions of the country that didn't elect a Liberal MP would be unable to participate. What about the voice of rural Liberals, of almost all of Western Canada, of Quebeckers outside Montreal? All of these folks would be silenced."

This coming from the coalition's new public champion. It's entirely troublesome to Bob Rae if some Liberals don't get to pick the next leader of the Party, but it's entirely fine that every province outside of Ontario and portions of the Maritimes have their voices from October 14th snuffed out and silenced. What about all of the Conservative supporters who voted for their Party on election day? Do their voices not count in Bob Rae's world?

"What about the Senate? These great Liberals, distinguished Canadians from inside and outside of politics, would have their votes taken away after lifetimes of service."

My heart bleeds so badly for these unelected patronage recipients that they don't get to decide who will lead the Liberal Party. Funny, it's OK that nobody outside the PMO got to decide whether these geezers would get to be in the Senate in the first place. I guess this isn't one of those things that registers on Bob Rae's radar as being "out-of-step with the modern world."

"What about the Party Constitution? The party is preparing a perfectly viable, constitutionally valid plan for holding a one-member-one-vote ballot electronically in mid-January. That's just a few weeks away, and gives us time to prepare for the Conservative budget. It's timely, legal, workable, low-cost, and constitutional."

On this one, he actually has a point. The Liberals have not only made a mockery of the electoral process of Canada, they're so flailing and desperate that they're even flouting their own party's rules and regulations.

I'm appalled at what I've read from Bob Rae. Absolutely appalled. How can anybody take this man seriously when looking at his words in light of his support for the coalition and their botched efforts to seize power from the legitimately elected government of Canada?

03 December 2008

02 December 2008

Quick Question

As a Western Canadian transplanted in Eastern Canada, should I be, um, concerned about the possibility that the West may feel as though it's being kicked out and may take it badly?

The Narratives...

If I were a __________ , this would be the narrative coming from me today:

Conservative: Less than two months ago, the people of Canada spoke. They said no to Stephane Dion, they said no to Jack Layton, and they said no to the separatists. Today, the leaders of these three parties believe that a triple negative combined cancels it out, that three no's do in fact make a yes. You, the people of Canada, voted in the largest numbers in a generation for the steady and proven leadership of Stephen Harper and the Conservative team, giving us a strengthened mandate to govern Canada through these difficult economic times. Today we stand at a precipice because the opposition parties are so infuriated over a $20M cost-cutting measure in our last fiscal update. Why? Because it affects them and their interests. It does not affect Canada's interests nor does it threaten its democracy, which only so recently spoke out in favour of Stephen Harper and against Stephane Dion, Jack Layton, and Gilles Duceppe. We all have to accept restrictions on our spending, yet the opposition parties not only want to keep spending for themselves, they want to do the opposite of restricting spending. They want to drive the Brinks truck up to Parliament Hill, and open it up and let the tax-and-spend ways of Jack Layton plunge this country into economic catastrophe.

Liberal: We understand that we live in unprecedented times, and this has called for unprecedented action on behalf of Canada's major political parties. We had hoped to enter into the 40th Parliament with a renewed spirit of co-operation because we know that it is in Canada's interests for all of us to work together for the good of the country, its finances, and its economy. Yet given their first opportunity, Stephen Harper demonstrated that a leopard cannot change its spots: once a partisan, always a partisan. He is more concerned with handcuffing his political opponents than in reaching out to them with the national interest in mind. After October 14 we said that we were willing to work with the Conservatives with an eye towards improving Canada's economy; our gesture was met with the typical response that we had come to expect but hoped would be a thing of the past. He would rather kick dirt, like a bully always does, than work together. So, today we have looked elsewhere for partners to lead Canada. Our coalition is one with what some would consider to be unconventional allies. As I said before, we need to take unprecedented action. Who would ever have believed that we would see Stephane Dion and Gilles Duceppe working together for the good of Canada? Who would ever have thought that we would find common cause for business interests and their employees in Canada with Jack Layton? But here we are today. We don't want to do politics the Stephen Harper way; we want to do them the Canadian way, where we work together to overcome our problems and succeed, united and proud.

NDP: Today is a new day in Canada, one in which those parties which believe in a strong, progressive Canada have set their differences--and there are some which do remain--aside for the common good. The NDP is proud to have played a central role in brokering this partnership that represents the majority of Canadians and their values. We don't have the time to play mean-spirited partisan politics; this is a time for serious people to work hard for the common good of Canadian families. People are losing their jobs, and the Prime Minister is more focused on kicking his opponents in the shins than helping those working families stay on their feet. Because we're in a minority situation, and because we remained skeptical of Mr. Harper's intentions after the election, we reached out to the Bloc because we knew that there were shared progressive values and that what is good for the people of Quebec is also good for the people of Canada, and we wanted to include the Bloc in our plans going forward. We hear the people and we know of their concerns about the Bloc; this is not a time for talking about the spectre of separatism, because that would financially ruin all of us. We're all in this together, and M. Duceppe understands that as well as I do, as well as M. Dion does. Stephen Harper does not, he wants it to be his way or the highway; what we offer Canadians is a better way.

01 December 2008

Stability? Who Needs It? Canada

Here's a big surprise:

Political uncertainty, economic gloom and falling oil prices dragged the Canadian dollar down Monday, with the loonie at 80.21 cents (U.S.), down 0.63 cent, in morning trading.

The Canadian dollar was down “partly due to weakness in global markets to start the week,” Bank of Montreal economist Douglas Porter said.

“But as one analyst noted, currencies backed by strong, stable leadership are being rewarded in this tumultuous environment, and Canada has the opposite,” Mr. Porter said in a note to clients.


If I were the type to say "I told you so," this would be a key time for me to say "I told you so." However, with the fate of Canada's economy hanging in the balance because of socialists and separatists, this may not be the best of times. Canada's serious political parties--you know who they are--should not be looking to drive the knives into each other, they should be looking form a coalition of their own. If there is one area that Liberals and Conservatives should be able to work together on a common front, it is fiscal responsibility and economic stewardship. I call on Messrs. Harper and Dion to reach out to each other rather than looking to the gadflies for assistance, so that a real plan for all Canadians can be crafted.

Madness Grips Ottawa

The madness continues in our national capital, as not only are there ongoing talks to oust the Tories, we've learned that the two parties that should be kept furthest away from the levers of power in this country have been conniving to gain access to those levers at the earliest available opportunity. The very idea of Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe throwing our money around like there's no tomorrow is very nearly enough to make me want to throw money at Stephen Harper to stop the idea dead in its tracks. There is so much wrong with what's transpired in the last 72 hours, and they all share an equal part in the blame. As I said in my previous post, if I'm an investor who was looking at plunking some money into Canada, I'm seriously re-considering that idea today.

What the hell happened to the so-called "spirit of cooperation" they promised, they PROMISED, us would emerge in this new Parliament?

28 November 2008

Stability? Who Needs It?

The bile and the rhetoric are back in Ottawa already, mere weeks after all the talk about creating a new spirit of cooperation because we're all in this together during trying economic times. That is going out the window because the Conservatives want to trim $30M in handouts to the political parties; it's the arts funding cuts all over again, except this time it's due to sheer navel-gazing on the parts of the opposition parties upset that they'll no longer receive the majority of their funding from the government instead of going out and earning it from regular people who are their nominal supporters.

With the economic situation in the country maybe not quite as sound fundamentally as we would have hoped, with the dollar still fluctuating, with voter fatigue running high among everybody except for Montreal Canadiens fans who vote 4 or 5 times a day for the NHL All-Star Game Starting Six, they're threatening to bring down the government and have an election!

After all the hand-wringing that the last one was hailed as "unnecessary" and "Harper broke his word," with all the talk of the need for fiscal restraint, despite the fact that the people have spoken only 7 weeks ago, despite the fact that the Liberals have no leader and no platform and no money, the Liberals want to have an election.

Nothing would say "we don't give a damn about stability" in a time when stability is urgently required more than having an election. Economies rely heavily on political stability in a country. When a country is going through severe political turmoil, investors tend to take out their money and look elsewhere. There's a reason that only the gullible send their money to Zimbabwean princes: they're afraid of putting it into that country's economy because there's always the threat of the government seizing all the assets for itself. Should Canada be plunged into its second election in the last half of 2008 it will send a signal to investors that the country is panicking in the face of this economic crisis, and they will respond by removing their assets and plunking them into the United States or Europe or Asia. We will lose out severely if we succumb to the folly of the moment.

25 November 2008

Where's Mine?

Dear Messrs. Flaherty and Toews,
I don't own a fancy corporate jet to fly in and come begging for money. But I would like to know if you'd be interested in giving me a bailout, too? It'd be a fraction of what you're going to fork over to the auto sector--and if Mr. Campbell has his way, the forestry sector, though I'm a bit more sympathetic to their plight since the decline of B.C.'s forestry industry has adversely affected my family's livelihood--and if you like I'll give you a list of exactly where every penny would go. That's already three things in my favour vis-a-vis the auto people: no big jet to make me look like an ass when I come around with my hands open, small amount, and it's not a blank cheque.
Why on Earth would you want to give me, a regular guy with a book and a graduate degree, a bailout when you can give so much more money to corporations? Well, I'm a real spark plug for the economy. I like to buy stuff. I'd like to buy a car, but a good car, one that is enviro-friendly and good on the mileage. I'd like to buy a house, preferably one in B.C., and go about that sort of thing. Heck, I'd like to invest in the stock market. Like the Prime Minister said, now's a great time to get some deals and I'd really like to do that. With all my wages freed up, I'd be able to do all of these things. So there's my pitch to wipe the slate clean and let me do my part to keep Canada's economy strong and on the upswing. You probably won't go for it, but hey, if I don't ask I definitely won't be able to get a piece of the action.

06 November 2008

Ottawa Makes a Move to Appeal to Obama

Smart.

This move represents the smartest action I've seen the Canadian government undertake on the issue of climate change. With Kyoto in tatters here and ignored in the United States, proposing a plan like this to the incoming Obama Administration--which has pledged to put climate change on the map as an issue in Washington--is the best means that our two countries can utilize to get a real agenda moving forward. There has been so much hot air on climate change in recent years, it looks as though there may finally be some concerted action on the way. Canada alone cannot reduce the impact of global warming. British Columbia's carbon tax cannot reduce the impact of global warming. California alone cannot reduce the impact of global warming. But working together to create a comprehensive strategy that will compel major producers to take serious steps to reduce their emissions--rather than factor in the costs of so-called "carbon credits" as an expense--can Canada and the United States make a difference? To borrow that very popular slogan, "Yes we can."

05 November 2008

Congratulations are in Order

I will start off by stating that Barack Obama was not my first choice for President. In the wake of the failure of Paul Martin, high rhetoric, while it sounds very nice, often runs into institutional barriers in the halls of power that can very quickly scuttle the press for real change in the way a national capital operates. Obama is a magnificent speaker and he ran a tremendous campaign. I still have serious reservations about him, chiefly his stated desire to get out of Iraq at a time when that country's fragile future is not secured. Say what you will about the war, the lives of 25 million people are still largely in America's hands, and to leave prematurely would put them in jeopardy. Iraq has come a long way since the successful surge, but the training wheels are still on and shouldn't be yanked off and have the guiding hand removed at this time. But again, how much of the rhetoric during the campaign can be fulfilled?
Also of concern is the rhetoric on NAFTA. Two billion dollars worth of goods flows across the Canada-US border every day, unimpeded by tariffs and duties that unduly burden the treasuries of our great countries. Obama has said that he would re-open NAFTA. As a free trader who is highly well aware of the importance of the Agreement for Canada's prosperity, that sets off alarm bells. With a strongly Democratic Congress, the potential for increased protectionism in America is higher than at any point since the original Canada-US Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 1989. But again, the institutional barriers may protect Canada from seeing its access to the world's largest market limited by tariffs and duties.
These two key matters aside, I was moved by the speech last night. It's not often I stay up until 1:30 in the morning to listen to a speech anymore. But this was historic. CNN declared the White House for Obama precisely at midnight, and it was an incredible moment, one that I knew would stick with me because of its significance for a long time. So I'm happy to be a little tired this morning for having witnessed the announcement and the speech. I'm a very practical person; I'm willing to listen to Obama and be supportive of him as President of the United States. I am, and always have been, a proud supporter of the United States for the message it brings to the world. People everywhere are filled with hope for this young man to "put America back on track," whatever that means. I'm going to give him a chance to inspire me and win my confidence as well.

28 October 2008

Head Shots

As many know, I'm a huge hockey fan. I love the game, I love my team, I greatly admire my team's players. There are, however, aspects of the game that I don't particularly like, particularly the increase in the frequency of hits to players' heads. I gasped in horror a couple weeks ago when I saw Andrei Kostitsyn get his head smashed into the glass and then, already unconscious and unable to protect himself, bounce off the ice. He didn't move for a good few minutes, and when he did he looked like death warmed over. Then, last weekend, we saw young Brandon Sutter, all of 19 years old, get his head blasted by Doug Weight.
Today, Habs coach Guy Carbonneau has spoken out about hits to the head and the need to eliminate it from the game. I wholeheartedly agree. It's always interesting to see the short-sighted mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers come out whenever this topic comes up. Inevitably they rely on the same tired cliches of feminizing players and all of that tripe. They want their violence and their blood and their guts, the consequences be damned.
The reality is that these are real people, I think that some folks tend to forget that, going out and playing a sport. Yes it's one that is renowned for its physical and mental toughness, but never, ever forget the human element involved. These aren't meaningless automatons being tossed out on the ice that are easily replacable once the current versions are too badly damaged to continue playing. Ask Eric Lindros--a player for whom I have incredibly little respect for his off-ice shenanigans--or his brother Brett the hell they've endured when suffering through their concussions. A lot of these guys have had their careers ended because of blows to the head and the dreaded post-concussion syndrome that lingers on long after the player has seemingly recovered and been able to resume a normal life.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying watching Mike Komisarek lay a wallop on somebody with one of his often-delivered bone-crunching hits. But watch him play. He's six-foot-four and has never once in his career put somebody out with a concussion as a result of a head shot. There's not a sane person alive who would question Komisarek's toughness. But there is a line. When you see a young person; in Sutter's case, barely a man at all at age 19, get knocked absolutely stupid and rendered unconscious, something isn't right about that.
The NHL has to do more to protect its most valued assets. It talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. One of these days we're going to hear that an NHL player has died as a result of a blow to the head. He may not die right on the ice but the trauma may be too much. And the knuckle-draggers will yell loudly that it's just "part of the game."

17 October 2008

He Lasted Longer Than Martin

So the axe falls on Dion this coming Monday. 6 days after his election defeat, he's going to be ousted. At least they're musing about him staying on as an interim leader; the last guy was out the door before January 23, 2006, became January 24, 2006, and he didn't really pop in his head much after that.

Let the games begin...

16 October 2008

In today's post mortem editorial on the Liberals, the Globe and Mail concludes the autopsy with the following statement about the party's need to drastically overhaul itself internally:

In their rebuilding process, Liberals need to revive that nearly extinct animal, the blue Liberal.

In short, they need to renew their appeal to people like me.

I am:
a fiscal conservative who doesn't believe in large-scale domestic social engineering projects;
pro-women's rights, with a heavy emphasis on higher female participation in politics and combating violence against women in all its forms;
pro-same sex marriage;
pro-abortion;
a supporter of a tough on crime approach but with an emphasis on rehabilitation and prevention;
hawkish on foreign, defence, and security issues;
supportive of humanitarian intervention and the promotion of liberal democratic values abroad;
pro-American.

There was once a time that the Liberal tent was big enough to be inclusive of all of these things at once. In recent years, however, items 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7 have made it all-but-impossible for me to identify myself as a Liberal in this country, to say nothing of their not-so-great-actually record on 2. They've shifted dramatically to the Left, to the extent that they were competing for the same votes as Jack Layton moreso than the ones for Stephen Harper. When you battle against the 4th party in the House of Commons, you're quite likely to end up falling well short of the 1st party. Until such time that the Liberals expand their tent and come back to the centre, they'll be in second place in perpetuity.

14 October 2008

Election 2008: Fin

Well, it's just about midnight and I'm going to bed. I'll be immensely surprised if I see the Tory numbers top 150 and the Liberals top 80. Not quite a majority for Harper and definitely nowhere near good enough for Dion. Will the latter even be the leader of the Liberal Party when I get out of bed? I guess I'll know in about 7 hours.
G'nite.

13 October 2008

Election 2008: The End of the Line

With tomorrow being election day and today being turkey day, I'm not expecting to see a lot going down in the next 24 hours that will radically alter where we're at right now. So it's time for some end-of-the-line thoughts and the fearless predictions.

First, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives will be victorious on election night with a stronger minority than they had during the 39th Parliament. This will result in more of the same fractitious politics of the last two and a half years.

Second, Stephane Dion will see his party fare better than expected despite his horrid campaign and poor leadership. I'm not sure if the knives will come out and the Party will start down the path to yet another leadership convention, but they'll need at least 80 seats I think in order for him to keep his job for any length of time.

Third, the sham that has been the Green Party's campaign will result in precisely 0 Green MPs when the 40th Parliament is inaugurated. Elizabeth May will be defeated handily by Peter Mackay, at which time she'll make the argument that under a proportional representation system they'd have achieved true electoral justice. Never mind the fact that they would have lost handily in all 300+ electoral districts. She herself could have been elected had she opted to run to win instead of to run against a very popular incumbent Cabinet minister so that she could get on TV a bunch.

Fourth, the Bloc will see its seat total go down as its slide towards irrelevance continues.

Fifth, Jack Layton and the NDP will see their seat total go up thanks to the aforementioned weakness of the Liberals and, let's be fair to Jack! here, because he ran a pretty good campaign.

I said before this campaign that the result would, in all likelihood, largely be an affirmation of the status quo ante. After a brief flirtation with majority territory, the Conservatives saw that slip away because their leader doesn't speak the language of Canadians, that highly idealistic, give me a hug and it'll be OK, empty rhetoric that not coincidentally has made Barack Obama so popular in this country. When asked about the economy, he spoke like the economist that he is and didn't give Canadians the pat on the head talk that Dion did; for some inexplicable reason, people started to turn to the Liberals in the belief that Dion had a better plan for the economy. It's a good thing that Steve Murphy is such a heavyweight journalist asking the very difficult question (can ya feel the sarcasm?) about Dion's plan or else the madness may have continued until Tuesday. Sociology is a lovely discipline, political science lite in its approach. But we need an economist to get us through these troubled waters, not someone who wants to hold 50 meetings in 30 days to get an idea of what to do. Ultimately, as I've said many times before, if you're happy with the way the last two years have gone as far as Canadian governance goes, your obvious rational choice is Stephen Harper. Government has been less visible, efficient, and made the right decisions more often than not. I vote for more of the same.

10 October 2008

Election 2008: Day 34

"I think that most Canadians will see this as a matter of character that I want to help, I want to do the right thing," Mr. Dion said this morning.

Well that's great that you want to help, but it's glaringly obvious you don't have the first idea how to help. I want a pony, but I don't know how to go about getting one or what I'd do after getting one, so am I really qualified to own a pony?
Now who the one who is out of touch when it comes to the economy? Who is the one that had to be asked three times what he would do about the economic crisis if he were the Prime Minister of Canada right now? And when the answer--mercifully, after much pain and anguish--came it resembled something as jumbled and well thought out as Paul Martin's idea to scrap the notwithstanding clause? Seriously, the napkin that bears the writing from Dion's "plan" should be in a Hall of Fame somewhere right next to the infamous Ray Finkel "the laces were in" field goal kick.

09 October 2008

Election 2008: Day 33

[Candidate X] is "totally out of touch with reality," [Candidate Y] said. "He doesn't understand the impact of this economic turmoil of Canadians' daily lives."

Quick: who is Candidate X and Candidate Y? In this instance, X is Stephen Harper, Y is Stephane Dion. Sense the utter ridiculousness of that statement? A sociology professor with little to no credentials on economics believes that he is better-suited to understand the economy than a trained economist. Say what you will about Harper's lack of connection with the empathy factor in this economic situation, but really, this is where optical politics can rear its ugly head. If people start buying the notion that Dion giving the country a hug is better for the economy than Harper's economic stewardship, we're in a lot of trouble.

06 October 2008

Election 2008: Day 30

Today I have witnessed the most pathetic attempt yet made by the Liberals to link Stephen Harper to George W. Bush. Not content with resorting to counterfactual history or mentioning the US President within 8 words of saying Stephen Harper on a daily basis, they have now created a website based on a "Bush/Harper" ticket. We'll conveniently ignore the fact that Bush is not running for political office in Canada and that he's actually going to be out of political office in American in a little more than 3 months. Like I said yesterday, should have held off on calling this election until spring so that hopefully this childish behaviour wouldn't happen, but yet here we are. It's completely below anybody with the ability to conduct rational discourse...which probably explains why the Liberals are resorting to such a desperate sham of a tactic.

05 October 2008

Election 2008: Day 29

We're heading into the home stretch now with only 9 days remaining until Canadians cast their ballots. We've still yet to see the official Conservative platform, though we're told it will be out this week. No doubt, however, somebody will make a terrible gaffe that day and that's all the media will discuss for that 24-hour period, maybe longer if it was caught on tape.
The local campaign has been nothing remarkable at all. Since this thing started up four weeks ago, I've received precisely one phone call--from the Liberals--and no door visits from party candidates looking to earn my vote. There was a call the other day that I passed on Tasha that turned out to be a kid asking if she was supporting the NDP as well, so that makes two. There is nothing particularly special about any of the candidates here, and a lot of folks don't seem all that "into it" as far as the federal campaign goes. It being Nova Scotia I hear a lot of grumbling about Harper but not much else in terms of concrete discussions about actual policy matters. C'est la vie, eh?
It's also still sad to see that there is such hysteria emanating from the Left about the Prime Minister. There's still the reptilian kitten eater sentiment, the "hidden agenda," and so much other reductio ad absurdum going on around him that I have a hard time taking a lot of people seriously when they discuss him. They still bring up the canard that if he were PM in 2003 we would have been in Iraq; um, hello, the last PM also supported the idea at the time, and it was five years ago--if you really can't come up with something more convincing than a 5-year old counterfactual point, maybe he's not that bad after all? I really wish that he had held off on calling the election until sometime in the spring of 2009 because then maybe, just maybe, we'd be able to go a day or two without the inane and deeply passe Bush references. Seriously, what are this country's nutjobs and fearmongers going to do after GWB is out of office? I'm sure they'll find something to run with.
And on that note, it's time to get ready to watch some hockey! 5 days left until the Habs season opener! All for one, and 100 for 25!!!

03 October 2008

Debate Thoughts

There wasn't much last night that truly stood out as a memorable moment. No knockout blows, some good jabs along the way, but there certainly wasn't anything out of the Opposition parties that would have swayed my vote and I doubt that many undecideds are now ready to park themselves with any particular party.
As I usually do, I like Warren K's analysis: Harper had to play goalie for the whole time, and he did rather well in the role. When there's four people essentially ganging up on you for two hours, it's tough to get in a word edgewise and go on the offensive. He was able to land a nice body blow against Jack Layton, reminding everybody that Layton's been to a private clinic in his day.
There was a lot of guttersniping involved too, as everybody tried to take a turn linking Harper to Bush and the Iraq War. Putting out counterfactual statements, however, isn't remotely prime ministerial, and should be left to people debating over a beer. For his part, Harper did well on the foreign policy stuff (exceedingly limited though it was) and handled the Afghanistan questions well. The NDP leader, as he usually does, was out to lunch on the issue, and Elizabeth May was equally bad. But that's to be expected from the party of nutbars.
All in all, I don't really give the night to anybody, which probably means that Harper wins by default.

01 October 2008

Harper and the Plagiarism Story

Here's the thing that gets me about this whole issue: why now? If it was so readily obvious that Harper was parroting Howard & Bush, why didn't this get discovered within hours of the speech being made? Why didn't it come out during the 2004 campaign, when a potential leader of Canada marching Canada into Iraq was a much hotter topic, especially given the news reports that if Martin were PM at the time, he would have done the same thing? It's such a non-entity of an issue at this time, at least the Iraq portion of it--we're five-plus years removed from the invasion and overthrow of the vile Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Talking about who would have done what at the time is counterintuitive.
All that said, as an academic I take this type of intellectual dishonesty very seriously. Having sloughed through countless papers and putting through my own original thoughts to an extent that there's a book full of them, the idea of ripping off someone else's ideas is repugnant to me. It would not have taken much to give the credit where credit is due in the course of the speechwriting process. Add in "As Australian Prime Minister John Howard said just this week," to that part of the speech, and you're covered. As it is, the speechwriter has made it appear that the current Prime Minister of Canada is a cheater, a Bush puppet, and too lazy to check his own work. That's very, very bad. Will it resonate? Hard to say.

26 September 2008

Election 2008: Day 20

It is now the back half of the election campaign, and we are beginning to see the finish line. Depending on where you stand, it's either a great view or a catastrophic view, the proverbial freight train coming towards you when you thought you saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It is apparent that not only is there a strong possibility the Conservatives be re-elected, they may well do so with a majority. Nanos has them at 40% right now, with a 15-point lead over the Liberals. Dion is having to circle the wagons as he's increasingly coming under fire from within his own party ranks, bearing down to protect what the Liberals already hold while the knives start to come out. He will likely, depending on the severity of the defeat, be replaced, the third leadership change since December 2003. There will be no clemency as the Liberals realize they made a tremendous mistake going with the compromise candidate that had less than 1-in-5 support heading into their last leadership convention. Dion is a good man but he has simply been over his head in this position. He was a solid Cabinet minister for Chretien, deftly handling one of the most hot topics of the time. But since he made his own "green shift" and embraced environmental politics as his mantra, he has slipped greatly because Canadians are simply not willing to put their money where their mouths are on this issue.
Is there a chance of a Phoenix-like resurrection? Of course. With a little more than 2 weeks left in this campaign and the Tories still making gaffes as much a part of their routine as a prime-time ad spot, the opportunity to reverse fortunes is still an open window. But it is going to take something major for the Liberals to turn the tide, and that's going to be difficult since they've already released their full election campaign platform (remember when the Red Book was a seminal event?) and the Tories have not. Their cards are all on the table, and when you're all-in with low cards, you need a miracle from the dealer to save you.

24 September 2008

Election 2008: Day 18

We have a campaign theme for this election. It is the gaffe, specifically, who is making them, how many, and how insensitive/severe/significant are they? The gaffe is a reflection of basic competence and the ability to stay on message. In this day, the message is everything, sayeth the media. The medium is the message. The medium in this election making the most waves is the Internet. From Elizabeth May agreeing with the assessment that Canadians are stupid to a Dipper nutbar smoking 30 marijuana cigarettes at the same time to the daily existence of Stephane Dion to "death by a thousand cold cuts," the predominant thing that has arisen time and again is the gaffe, played endlessly on the Internet. The economy? No. Afghanistan? No. Canada-US relations? No. Good governance? No. This election, so the narrative goes, will be determined by the party that has less foot-in-mouth disease. And that's pretty sad.

23 September 2008

Election 2008: Day 17

Still reeling from the beating the Habs took last night against the Bruins. It's one thing to see your team lose badly on TV, it's something else when it's happening right in front of you. Oh well, it was only a pre-season game; we still beat the tar outta them in April when it mattered! Plus, I got auto's from Josh Gorges, Guy Carbonneau, and Bob Gainey. So that's cool.

Two and a half weeks into the campaign now, and I'm surprised at how little has been said about Canada's place in the world. Afghanistan has been mentioned maybe twice, with one of those times being the Prime Minister's statement that we're out of Afghanistan after 2011. Did that move mean that there's nothing to discuss about Canada's most significant international participation since the Balkans? What about what is to be done in the interim? There's also been very little talk, compared to the 2004 and 2006 campaigns, about Canada-US relations. I'm very surprised that given our two neighbouring countries are having elections within weeks of each other (I do find it hilarious that our campaign started a year and a half later and will be finished sooner) there hasn't been more talk about what Canada-US relations will look like after January 20, 2009. There's been no talk about spiting our neighbour or getting too cozy to the colossus, perhaps because Harper has managed the relationship very well during his time in office, striking the right balance between alliance, friendship, and independence. Something to think about.

Not much else in this campaign worth discussing. The muckracking is at its usual lowness, and it's overshadowing everything else. I haven't yet really gone over the Liberal campaign platform, may do so later today time permitting.

22 September 2008

The Lengths Some Will Travel...

Over the weekend someone hacked into the Prime Minister of Canada's mailing list and sent a fraudulent, if pathetically amusing, message to all "Average Canadian[s]" who subscribe to the news updates from the PMO. While this is a very serious matter, compromising as it does the information security of the PMO's computers as well as of those people who are on the mailing list, I found it very informative just how easily it seems to be to integrate Canada into the United States and "destroy" Canada's "cherish[ed]" health care system. This is how Stephen Harper, the roaring ALBERTAN, plans to do it:

"by infusing my propaganda with hard core ad hominen attacks."

Who knew that simple words alone could dissolve a sovereign nation and its health care system? All this time I thought it would take a massive constitutional debate, a national referendum, or some form of legislation. But no, apparently all Stephen Harper has to do to make an independent Canada and its health care system vanish is making a TV spot and call Stephane Dion names. We should all be very afraid of this power. He MUST BE STOPPED! Moreover, what if others wield this awesome might to transform a country by mere words, not actions; letters to the editor, not legislation; commercials, not constitutional amendments. Surely we must all be on the lookout for any who possess this power...and smite them.

17 September 2008

Dion and Post-Secondary Education

*deep breath* I just finished defending Stephane Dion and the Liberal Party in the comments section of the news of the PSE announcement at CTV.ca. I have long been a supporter of spending in this area; I've benefited from student loan and bursary programs (wouldn't mind making that debt load disappear, though), so today's announcement by Dion is one that strikes a chord with me and will hopefully provide an impetus for the other parties to announce their plans for post-secondary education. The incredible costs of tuition in this country are making it very difficult for the younger generation (and their parents/families) to find the resources to afford a university or college education. The interest rate on the loans, while significantly lower than any of the major credit cards, are substantial enough that I still see a lot of the money I pay on a monthly basis being applied to that interest instead of the principal balance. Others, who have much higher loans than I, are feeling a crush when it comes time to pay these loans back, especially when they're still looking for work in their chosen field. The Liberals have long been aware of this and been leaders in making PSE more affordable, and today's announcement is the first of its kind in this campaign.
I can't sit here and say that this turns the tide and I hope that Dion gets elected so that he can implement this plan. It's a good plank, one that I supported fully when I was a member of the Liberal Party and one I will always support, but there's still too many other problems with him and his party right now for me to endorse them.

Election 2008: Day 11

We open with our head-scratcher quote of the day, from Stephane Dion:
"I'm working for a majority. I'm working for a Liberal government that Canadians will support," Dion said, as he stood in the aisle with microphones and cameras in his face. "I'm very realistic. You need to have conviction to make changes that will be good for the country and good for your fellow citizens."

How he can be claiming to be "very realistic" and set the bar for a Liberal majority government is absolutely beyond me. Given that, much like his plane yesterday, Dion is having trouble getting off the ground and staying there, a majority isn't a bar, it's a dot to him.

In other news, the good folks at Elections Canada wasted our time for about 15 minutes yesterday, collecting all our info without actually checking their voters' list. Had they done so, they would have seen that they already have all our info. I was mildly amused by the whole thing, Tasha seemed less so. I almost believed Elizabeth May's assessment about Canadians' intelligence for a moment or two (see Stephen Taylor's blog for the reference).

16 September 2008

Harper & His Credits

Today the Conservatives announced that, if re-elected, they will give a $5000 tax credit to all first-time homebuyers to help alleviate some of the costs involved. This will work out to a $750 tax rebate. Naturally, Conservative opponents are denouncing the move as either vote-buying or a worthless drop in the bucket (fortunately not both, since that would be contradictory) compared to the excessive costs of buying a home these days. As someone who looks at the real estate market today and sees a whole lot of numbers after the dollar sign, I like this move by the government. Of course $750 isn't a great amount relatively speaking, but here's why the move is brilliant from a conservative perspective.
1. It reinforces the buttress that it is not the government's job to buy you things or provide you with lavish rewards; they will, however, give you a modest chip-in to help you out so as to remain as uninvolved in your daily life as possible. It's the same concept as what was behind the child tax credit. Opponents famously derided that, yet not a single person I'd wager sent the cheque back once it came to their mailbox. Whereas the Liberals were touting a universal child care system, which would come at great cost in terms of setting up the infrastructure and then maintaining it, the Conservatives simply said, "Here's some money from my wallet to help you out a bit and give you the choice to look after your kids in the manner and form of your choice."
2. Conservatives believe that Canadians are taxed too heavily; giving some of that money back lowers that burden, thus giving them more money to spend and thus bolster the economy. If you spend your child care money buying beer and popcorn, fine, the liquor tax and the GST comes back to us in that form and you're boosting your local stores. If you choose to buy a new couch for your new home with your $750, that's a dandy little kick for a small business or a large chain store depending on where you buy from. In any event, you're contributing to the national productivity, giving Canadian workers employment and spending.
3. The retail politics of the move goes over well and reminds Canadians that the government hears their concerns about rising prices and does a little bit to ease the burden.

Let the critics go wild, and for whatever their reasons. These little credits that help people out at tax time are much appreciated by everybody that they give a little boost to. It's a staple of governments in this country to give little goodies out, and Harper has deftly utilized this system.

Election 2008: Day 10

Nothing interesting to report on the local scene. I've yet to see any campaign materials around town--a few here and there for the municipal elections--there's nobody pounding the pavement yet, and nothing in the mail. You'd almost be unable to tell that there is, in fact, an election happening around here.

There's a lead story on the G&M website this morning that, if I were still a Liberal, would have me really questioning exactly what my party is doing. As it is, I question exactly what that party is doing. No major theme, Dion micromanaging communications strategy while at the same time not expressing one, and MPs musing openly whether they did make a big mistake (as many of us thought they did at the time) in choosing Dion as their leader. They're still expressing optimism but it's not in their own party or its leader, simply that somehow Harper will "go down" to defeat. It's still plenty early in this campaign but the Liberals need something major very soon that can gain traction with the public, or else it's going to be too little, too late if they want to take back power.

15 September 2008

Election 2008: Day 9

After the Rosamond Luke fiasco, the Tories have appointed another candidate, Ted Larsen. He's described as a 56-year old former reporter who now runs a rental property business. I have no idea who he is, though it's unlikely to matter as this is staunch NDP territory. The Liberals, for their part, have nominated Catherine Meade as their candidate. Ms. Meade, per the brief bio on Liberal.ca, is currently Chair of the S.O.G.I. (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Section of the Canadian Bar Association – Nova Scotia. I have no idea who she is, though it's unlikely to matter as this is staunch NDP territory. So that's the local update.

Nationally, it looks like this week is going to revolve around Stephen Harper vs. Jack Layton, as both leaders have decided that they're done patronizing Stephane Dion and will now simply ignore him. I saw some devastating polls yesterday on the "leadership" theme that have Dion in a distant third place and only marginally ahead of Elizabeth May. Because leadership has been such a key buzzword in this campaign, this is a major blow to the optimism of the Liberals as they press forward. Layton is capitalizing on the hesitance of many Canadian women when it comes to Harper (remember the whole "The Women Are Angry!" campaign?) by pledging to raise funding for Status of Women Canada and reminding voters that the Conservatives cut $5M from the administrative budget a few years ago (but was silent on the fact that the Conservatives later RAISED the SWC budget by $10M) and stating that Harper would be "devastating" for women's equality in Canada. Now, I'll be the first to admit that this government has done little to actively promote women's equality since being elected and been dipping its toe into areas that may cause controversy on abortion rights, but I do not equate cutting a government program's funding with undermining equality under the law. It's not as if they're talking about disenfranchisement or regulating women back into the home. There are many women's issues where Harper can be clubbed but Layton's rhetoric is (as usual) over the top.

11 September 2008

Election 2008: Day 5

So are the media flip-floppers now? They were right to exclude May from the debates initially given that the party of nutjobs she leads doesn't have an elected MP nor do they have official party status. If the leader of the Christian Heritage Party shows up at CTV's doorstep with a lawyer tomorrow, does he get in too? Harper was adroit in dropping his opposition to her participation, as it completely washes away May's absurd claim that he's afraid to debate her. It does, however, give the Greens a rare opportunity to show the country what they're really all about, something that ought to make most sensible Canadians understand why nobody has ever voted in sufficient numbers to elect one of these whackos to Parliament. On the other hand, it does mean that the Prime Minister of Canada will now have to face a two-pronged attack from both Dion and May; I'm sure there will be a lot of "Ms. May is absolutely correct" and "What my esteemed colleague from the Liberal Party says is right on" whenever one of them takes a shot at the government's record.

Not really up to talking about many of the other developments today. This day, as it has for the past 7 years now, has me in a pensive mood and generally feeling down. Hard to believe it's been that long already when all the images from that Tuesday morning in 2001 are still so vivid and fresh in my mind. They say that time heals all wounds, I still need more of it.

10 September 2008

Endgame in Afghanistan: 2011

Stephen Harper announced today that 2011 will be the end of Canada's participation in Afghanistan should the Conservatives be re-elected. Naturally, Liberal supporters on the Internet are saying that he's flip-flopping and committing that most egregious of sins, announcing a date that suddenly war will end. This is obviously a change in position, as Harper has long been of the view that conditions on the ground will determine when Canada can successfully withdraw its troops. My grave concern is that the benchmarks which were established earlier this week may not be met by 2011; should this indeed occur, does the Government of Canada simply wring its hands and leave the work for someone else (a dangerous concept given the depth of commitment shown by some of our NATO allies)? Of course, giving a deadline for these goals to be met gives our troops and development workers in Afghanistan a stronger sense of urgency to meet them. If a person knows that their term paper is due on October 25th, they'll plan accordingly (or write it entirely on October 24th) so that the objective of completing the paper by the 25th is achieved. Fortunately, projects such as building schools and increasing the sense of security Afghans feel is work that can't be done overnight, so the planning must begin in earnest in the near term.
This is a bold move by the Conservative leader. Whether it generates support from the academic and military communities that are invested very heavily in Afghanistan remains to be determined.

Election 2008: Day 4

In the newly-minted absence of a Conservative or Liberal candidate here in Halifax, we now look at what's happening on Day 4 of the 2008 campaign.

I read an article in the Metro today that basically summed up what I've felt about "the environment" as an issue for many years now. It's become the new "Medicare", a rhetorical tool used by the Liberals to whack the Conservatives. Now, I'll grant it that even with such spiffy props as a Sharpie and a 5x7 index card, the Reform/Alliance never could overcome that beating. But eventually that weapon loses its potency. Enter "the environment." Liberals, ever since it became readily evident that they were going to be relegated to opposition status, have employed "the environment" as the centrepiece of their policy platform against the Conservatives. Stephane Dion has said that every day Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada we edge closer to the abyss of environmental degradation beyond all redemption. People get riled up over the subject, newly conditioned to the idea that we're living in a "planet in peril" and it's all our fault and the only way to redeem ourselves is to give our money to the Russians and call it "buying carbon credits." It matters not to some that giving money to the Russians does not lower our GHG emissions one megatonne at all, it must be done in order to clear our conscience so we don't feel bad about driving our SUVs to work, to the grocery store, down the block to meet our friends. We want change! And the Liberals, despite never moving to implement the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol after signing it and adding a Canada-only addendum of even greater reductions in order to shame the Americans for not signing the Protocol at all, speak the language of change. It's working pretty well for Barack Obama (who, like many aspirants in national political capitals, is going to run headlong into a very hard and thick brick wall of institutional stasis), so they may as well give it a shot. Poll after poll in this country has demonstrated that Canadians want to help fix "the environment," but very few of them want to pay for it. When reality comes into contact with the rhetoric, suddenly the status quo seems preferable.

What does all of this mean? It means that "the environment" will be an issue in this election, but it won't decide the election. There may be many people who will vote against Harper because they feel his record and plan for the environment is insufficient, but there won't be enough of them. There may also turn out to be an equal number of voters who are non-plussed by the Green Shift and its promise to raise your taxes significantly in some areas while cutting them in others and thus vote against Dion. No, "the environment" will not be the key theme in this election, despite its rhetorical value for the centre-left parties to use against the Conservatives.

09 September 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

Just as quickly as we got a Conservative candidate here in Halifax, Rosamond Luke has been dropped from the roster of candidates because she has a criminal record. So we're back to having a Dipper and still waiting for the two other major parties to get a candidate in the field.

Moving Towards a Theme

CTV News has just broken the news that the Prime Minister intends to announce a broadly-based consumer tax cut measure today. No doubt this will be used as a contrast to the Liberals' Green Shift carbox tax to be portrayed as a significant tax increase. The Tories have been using that theme for some time now, but this is the first measure they've announced regarding what they intend to do. If the strategy is to make this election about the economy and where Canadians' money will go, the Conservatives are naturally putting themselves in a strong position. Nobody wants to pay more taxes on the things they buy, be it gas for their vehicles or the food they eat, both of which will be negatively affected by the Liberal Green Shift. Everybody likes the idea of giving the government less and keeping more for themselves.

Quote of the Day

"They can vote for the Green party in all 306 ridings across Canada. They want to know where we stand." -- Elizabeth May

Someone should tell her that there are actually 308 ridings across Canada. Someone should also remind her that as a quid pro quo for not running a Liberal candidate in Central Nova the Greens agreed not to run in the Stephan Dion's riding of Saint-Laurent–Cartierville.

Election 2008: Day 3

We have our first major party candidate nominated in Halifax! The NDP has selected Megan Leslie to succeed Alexa McDonough. Halifax is sort of like Kelowna in that whomever is nominated for the NDP (in Kelowna's case it's the Tories) is pretty much a lock to go to Ottawa. Too many students out here that follow Winston Churchill's dictum, "If you're not a socialist when you're 20 you have no heart; if you're not a conservative when you're 40 you have no brain." So there's a lot of heart here in Halifax. I think it would have been great if the second-place candidate took the nod, though. Her name: Alexis MacDonald. I wonder how many people wouldn't notice that it's not Alexa anymore.
The Conservatives have also put forward a nominee, named Rosamond Luke. No details were given in the Chronicle-Herald story (big surprise) and the Conservative website itself is not yet updated, only noting "Candidate coming soon" as of this morning. A Google search reveals, however, that she is "the Founder and Executive Director of AWEDA – All Women’s Empowerment and Development Association. AWEDA is an NGO dedicated to the social and economic empowerment of immigrant and refugee women in Nova Scotia. Born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone to entrepreneur parents, Rosamond arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 30, 1982, for what was initially intended to be a twelve-month stay. She eventually settled here and raised a family of three children."
The Liberals have yet to announce a candidate.

Nationally, still not a defining issue. I think that the longer this goes on, the more it bodes well for the Conservatives. Many Canadians have expressed their confidence in Stephen Harper's leadership, so unless the Liberals are able to define what this election is about, there will be little need to veer from the status quo.

08 September 2008

Election 2008: Day 2

Still not a candidate to be seen in Halifax. I did, however, have a city councillor come by my door yesterday; they must feel bad that they're now the second-place election of October 2008.

Hats off to the Greens for throwing money down a black hole as penance for their carbon emissions during the election. It's a special kind of self-loathing to want to tax yourself, and luckily they'll forever be unable to inflict the same wallet-thrashing on the people of Canada.

We're still looking for a major theme or central issue to this election. Leadership is a word that has often come up in discussions. But there's so much more to good governance than the leader of whatever party is elected. The Liberals have portrayed Stephen Harper as a bully who muzzles his own Cabinet ministers and snuffs all internal dissent, which they say is bad leadership. The Conservatives have much more successfully shown Dion to be an ineffectual leader, replaying over and over the clip in which Dion says, "Do you think it's easy to make priorities?" Obviously, after the dithering of the previous Liberal leader, the Tories feel the current Liberals will offer little better as evidence of leadership. And somewhere in all of this, Jack Layton is saying they're both bad and only his type of leadership and strength is what's good for Canada. Strangely absent from this "leadership" talk is the discussion of actual priorities and policies for Canada as we move forward.

07 September 2008

Election 2008: Day 1

And we're off! As of this morning, none of the major parties has a candidate here in Halifax.

The opening speeches have set the tone. The Conservatives are the tried, tested, and true incumbents and the Liberals are the risky unknowns. The Liberals are the big visionaries of Canada who have guided the country through tough times before and the Conservatives are extreme right wingers. The NDP will put Canadians first and be Canada's Obama Party and the Conservatives are in the pockets of the ultra-wealthy corporations.

So it begins...

04 September 2008

No Sooner Said...

I think Sarah Palin's speech last night should go a long way in rubbing out what I said yesterday. Every election campaign has a defining moment--I think last night's speech may well be that moment for the Republicans. If McCain can hit another home run tonight, I may shift into prediction mode.

03 September 2008

Poor John McCain

I'm not going to make this a "woe is he" posting so much as a set of observations about various factors seemingly conspiring against the Republican presidential candidate. I do believe that his experience and leadership qualities will emerge to the forefront in the final 2 months of this campaign (I'll muse on the hilarity that there actually will be a Canadian election first at some other point) that may help him triumph over Obama, but at this point it's going to take a bit of work to overcome the optical politics that have been at play in recent weeks.
First, the Democratic National Convention was truly a sight to behold. It played really well on TV to have the Clintons go to bat for Obama, it played well to have all the celebrities in attendance, and of course the spectacle of Obama giving an impassioned speech in front of 70,000 screaming supporters at Invesco Field played brilliantly. The Democrats have the appearance of being youthful, vital, energetic, and ready to lead. This comes in spite of their horrid performance in Congress since winning the mid-term elections in 2006, which has left them with a 9% approval rating. That brand of "change" hasn't played well at all, yet Obama's message of hope and change appears to be carrying the day.
So within 24 hours of the Democrats wrapping it up, McCain announced Sarah Palin would be his VP candidate. An astute move, to be sure, as Palin's political credentials will go well with the Republican base, her reformer creds will help reach out to independents, and yeah, the gender card may play a role in winning over some disaffected former Clinton supporters still miffed that their candidate was snubbed by Obama. For 24 hours, the choice dominated the headlines for many of the right reasons. Then came the news that her 17-year old daughter is 5 months pregnant. Despite the Democrats exhorting that they would not go to make political hay out of this, the media is certainly making this preferred non-issue an issue. It's everywhere. Pundits are wondering what else may have been missed in the vetting process. They're loudly hollering about the fact that Bristol is not married and only 17, and revelling in the fact that the VP candidate is an advocate for abstinence education. Whatever goodwill may have been generated by the selection of Sarah Palin as VP candidate has quickly been shoved aside for the gutter politics of sliming her family.
And of course we have Hurricane Gustav compelling the Republicans to dramatically alter their plans for their convention. Instead of receiving wall-to-wall coverage like the Obama coronation, the Republicans have sat idly as CNN et al. devoted a lot of time in the past few days to the hurricane. They've adjusted plans, they've scaled it back, President Bush spoke via satellite instead of live in-person to offer his endorsement of his former rival. The feeling around this convention is reminiscent of the determined soldier getting ready to put his down for another hard push, compared to the sense of celebration and impending grand triumph. Republicans themselves may be completely fine with that--they've been deriding Obama for his celebrity status for months, after all. But optical politics plays a very large role in real politics these days. How much will all of these factors affect McCain's chance at the presidency? Will this matter much during and after the debates? I knew back in 2004 that Bush had it sealed and delivered after the Republican convention; this time, however, it is all very much up in the air.

02 September 2008

Election Fever v.239

It looks like this one may be the real deal.

Harper's had his meetings with all the opposition leaders, and since the most important one was also the shortest and apparently the most acrimonious, it looks like he's got his casus belli to take it to the polls. Today's polling probably makes him feel even more emboldened.

Still waiting for the deus ex machina to appear and magically cause Parliament "to work" until next October...

25 August 2008

Election Fever v.235

The Canadian media has long been obsessed with an election; this is not news to anybody that has turned on the TV at any time since about March 2006 (they gave the Conservatives something of a honeymoon after their January win). There have been daily suggestions that the opposition will topple the government or that the government--in defiance of its own professed desire to govern until the fixed election date in September 2009--will indeed manufacture its own demise to head to the polls in search of a majority against a weak-willed and indecisive Liberal leadership. Consequently, people have largely tuned out, burned out about election talk after numerous false threats and empty promises that we'd be heading to the polls at any time with our five-weeks notice. It's a sad state that people are sick of an election when the election has yet to actually take place; the only thing one can compare Canada's election fever to is the hockey world's never-ending wait for Mats Sundin to make a decision about his playing future. You can be sure that, in both cases, when the trigger is finally pulled and a concrete decision made, people will sigh a collective sigh of relief, say "it's about time that's over with," and finally be able to get on with their lives.

It is with all of this election impasse in mind that we turn to today's latest threat, this one coming from "senior Conservative sources." Supposedly we are now to believe that the Prime Minister is ready to go as early as September 5th, paving the way for a Thanksgiving election. You can insert your turkey jokes here. I'll begin with former Liberal "star candidate" Marc Garneau's proclamation that the Conservatives want an election now so that they can avoid talking about issues like the economy. Now, I realize that because once upon a time a Conservative Prime Minister said that an election is no time to talk about policy issues, therefore all Conservatives believe that an election is no time to talk about policy issues. But, come on, can we get serious for just a moment? Has Mr. Garneau not paid an ounce of attention to what's happening in the United States? The majority of airtime these days is devoted equally to how many houses John McCain owns and the economy! It's like 1992 all over again: it's the economy, stupid! If Mr. Garneau honestly believes that the economy won't come up during an election campaign, well, he's just another talking turkey.

Do I honestly think that there will be a Canadian election in 2008? No. I didn't think there would be one in the spring, summer, or autumn of 2007 when everybody in the media was banging that particular drum, nor was I eager to go for a winter or spring 2008 election. Here's the thing: the Liberals, the media, the Conservatives, the talking heads, just about anybody in the political class these days, has called the election wolf so many times that it's near-impossible to believe that this time they're actually serious about an election. What makes right now so different than June 2007? There's nothing that suggests the Conservatives or Liberals can score a majority, or that the result would be vastly different than the current status. So what would be the point? It all seems like much bluster and little real action. But this is to be expected, because when you're a turkey, nothing you say actually has to make sense.

18 August 2008

Musharraf Gone

I am glad to see Musharraf removed from power. American support of sis continued reign in Pakistan represented a massive disjunct between the stated goals of American foreign policy and its practice. I fully support the concept of democracy promotion, and Musharraf was an obvious obstacle to that objective. He may have brought a sense of stability to India-Pakistan relations (though I would be extremely reticent to characterize the situation in Kashmir as "stable"), but he undermined the rule of law in his own country and did not do enough to prevent the Taliban and al Qaeda from using Pakistan as a base to plan and execute attacks against Canadians, Americans, and others in the multinational coalition working to rebuild Afghanistan.
Now we enter a period of uncertainty--who will succeed him? Will they seek to move the country back towards the rule of law, democratic governance, and civilian leadership? Will they go in the opposite direction, seeking closer ties with Islamist extremists, which has long been held by realists as an argument for keeping Musharraf in power (the old "he may be a bastard, but he's our bastard" argument)? Only time will tell, and all we can do is hope that the next government in Pakistan embodies the voice of its people and their aspirations.

11 August 2008

Amazon.ca

Book is now available on the Canadian version of Amazon (still haven't seen it on Chapters, but hoping!), here: American Leadership and the Future of the Bush Doctrine.

08 August 2008

07 August 2008

Other Smile of the Day

American Leadership and the Future of the Bush Doctrine is now available on Amazon!

Smile of the Day

Pakistan's Parliament is looking into impeaching former military dictator--now just very unpopular and corrupt President--Pervez Musharraf. I've long argued that Musharraf has only retained his popularity in the United States due to realist concerns that he's the least-bad option in the strategically-important country. He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard, so the thinking goes. If not Musharraf, it could be a leader affiliated with the Taliban, or another extremist that would be more inclined towards Osama bin Laden than to Washington in terms of choosing side in the War on Terror & Tyranny.
Luckily, the voices of democracy are being heard in Pakistan. The country went through the trauma of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto (herself not exactly liberty's greatest ally, but a more reliable friend than Musharraf) and is looking to move forward in a progressive manner. Should these forces mobilize and reach critical mass, it may be only a matter of time until Musharraf is replaced.

22 July 2008

Environment > Civil Liberties?

I'm a little scared at the idea that we should be taking our cues on the environment from the Communist, human rights-abusing government of China. What I'm even more scared of is how many people in this country think it's a pretty decent idea. The poll results from this G&M survey, while not scientific of course, suggest that nearly a majority of G&M readers support a half-baked concept that will ultimately do very little for the environment over their civil liberties to enjoy their private property and do with it as they see fit. Behold in awe and horror:



This is one of those things that Canadians say they would do, but let's face it, if push came to shove, they'd be screaming bloody murder at whatever level of government had the unmitigated gall to impose such an absurd law. Last I looked, Canadians' rights to do as they please don't only apply on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That nearly half who have responded to this poll support the idea doesn't speak well for us.

14 July 2008

Really Cool News!

First and foremost, I remember my login password!

The more important news: by the end of the summer, my first book will be published! It's all still being finalized and the listing hasn't been created on Amazon or anything like that yet, but within about 8 weeks' time you will be able to purchase American Leadership and the Future of the Bush Doctrine: U.S. Foreign Policy in the 21st Century from your local retailer. As you can imagine, I'm pretty excited about such a thing. As soon as I see a listing created, I'll post it here. Buy the book, learn something new, contribute to my royalties!

09 June 2008

An Open Letter to David Warren

In case you're wondering, "Who is David Warren?" he is the intellectual gopher behind this piece of tripe. It has been a while since I wrote something about feminism; well, Mr. Warren has certainly given me ample to discuss today.
This "opinion piece" is derived from the same ill-founded, ignorant, and ridiculous caricature that most misogynist men have of feminism and feminists. Relying upon the false premise that all feminists believe that all men are inherently evil, and building from there using all the cliched catchphrases that misogynist men use to villify feminism (it is a "social and political campaign, nay melodrama," the third wave is comprised of "blather," and the target of feminism's scorn is, of course, "the heterosexual white male"), you've spoken much and said little. I am astonished that such vague and useless descriptions of feminism was allowed to get past your editorial board--that is, I would be if it weren't for the basic fact that bashing feminism in a long-running pasttime in this country.
Let us begin with the ridiculous notion that all feminists believe that all men are inherently evil. I'm sure that there are some feminists out there who believe this is true. I'm equally sure that they have experienced enough violence, harrassment, and hatred from men in their lives to justify it. Yet even if we assume that there are some feminists who believe this, how does that so easily become all feminists? There are some conservatives out there who believe that the West should bring back the Crusades and re-Christianize the Middle East; nobody of sane mind would transpose that idea into the belief that all conservatives want to do same, would they? And yet look at how easily you have transformed all feminists into blathering fools who look for ways to villify the patriarchal paradigm. However, consider this, the viewpoint of the second wave of feminism's strongest guiding force, Andrea Dworkin: "Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It's not because there's a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence." ("I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There is No Rape," http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIIE.html) If even the strongest force in 20th century feminism believes that man's nature is not one of inherent evil, and capable of being redeemed, why is it so hard for you to believe anything beyond the caricature which has been constructed? If men were inherently evil, why would feminists even bother? As Dworkin said, it's because of a belief that we are capable of being more than violent brutes that degrade women through the multitude of venues that we currently do.
Which leads me to the most horrifying part of your piece: its conclusion. You blithely accept that there is a need for 500 shelters for women in this country. That's accepted by you, and then it is mocked and you find yourself wondering at the audacity that there aren't any for abused men. This is where your lack of compassion for humanity shines strongest. Instead of being outraged at the reality that there is a need in this country to have 500 places where men cannot hurt women, that there has to be that many shelters where women can go so that they can feel safe, that these shelters are needed in every town, city, and village in this country because in every town, city, and village in this country men are abusing women, you want to know where a man can go when his wife has had enough and fights back. Here's a very basic fact: 92% of domestic violence in this country is committed by men against women. That's 23 out of 25 cases. Ninety-two percent. We're at a point in this country where nearly half of Canadian women will experience some sort of violence from men in their lives. That runs the gamut from murder, sexual assault, sexual harrassment, domestic abuse, uttering threats, and much more. 1 in 2 women, Mr. Warren, and you have the unmitigated gall to ask where men are supposed to go to feel safe. Shame on you.

05 June 2008

Heh

"Wings in 6, but it'll be a helluva fight."

Boy can I call 'em, eh? Now I get a free lunch in Kelowna.

04 June 2008

McCain v. Obama

Now it's official. Both parties can focus their energies on running a presidential campaign rather than an internal competition, and if people thought the primaries were on the nasty side, this is going to be a whole lot nastier.
There are so many interesting facets to this race that we may actually need a dozen different 24-hour news networks to cover them all over the course of the next 5 months. Consider:
1. Who will be the running mate on the respective tickets?
2. What impact will the historical first of an African-American candidate have on people's decisions?
3. The generational divide: a Vietnam war hero in his 70s against a young, vibrant 40-something.
4. The Bush Factor: Obama is seeking to portray himself as the un-Bush, while McCain will seek to continue what he feels are the strong points of the Bush Doctrine.
5. More like a 4a, but Iraq is a major dividing point between these two. Obama wants out within a year, while McCain has laid out his vision of America in Iraq until the end of his first presidential term.
6. Will the message of "hope and change," which has been more rhetorical than policy-driven, trump the down-to-earth realist approach favoured by McCain?

We'll find out the answers to all of these questions, and many, many more, in exactly 5 months. Let the race begin.

28 May 2008

Save the Lapins!

I've been reading with considerable distress the City of Kelowna's plan to cull the rabbit population that has established itself at the base of Dilworth Mountain. When we were visiting last year it was a very neat sight to see all those little bunnies hopping around, enjoying the sun, and generally not causing any trouble. Rabbits are great animals, they're fun pets (I've never owned one personally but I know a couple people who have), easy to maintain, and generally all things nice.
The plan to cull them, as described in a letter on Castanet today, sounds awfully cruel. The idea of injecting them with dry ice or gassing them stupid is pretty disgusting and I can't fathom anybody who has ever owned a pet wanting to see such a terrible thing happen to their little loved one. I'm really happy to see that there is a large movement in Kelowna to save the rabbits, and if our visit to Kelowna was a month earlier you could count on us being there for the peaceful protest on May 31st. I hope that any remaining Kelowna readers will show up to support the bunnies.

24 May 2008

Cup Finals Prediction

Wings in 6, but it'll be a helluva fight.

Oh yeah, Tasha & I are going to see the Habs on Sept. 22nd here, and those very same Wings on the 25th, against the Bruins. Yay!

22 May 2008

Canada and the UNSC

Today's online Globe and Mail features an essay from former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Robert Fowler, on the subject of Canada's intention to seek a seat on the UN Security Council beginning in 2010. It is an impassioned plea for the government to retain its candidacy; apparently, Mr. Fowler argues, it "suggests the government has no confidence in its own foreign policy" should the Harper administration decide that pursuing a seat on the UNSC is not worth the effort. Is it, however, a case of no confidence in its conduct or that of the UN itself? I would argue for the latter. What major task has the UN Security Council been able to perform in the past five years that fits within the Canadian interest? Very little. I would suggest to Mr. Fowler that Canada seek to achieve its international agenda through other forums that are more conducive to its values and interests, as the UN has long ceased to fulfill that function.

11 May 2008

Metallica's Mission: Take Your Money

I've been a Metallica fan for a long time now, just a bit longer than NIN. I've seen them 5 times, in three different provinces and one U.S. state, in the span of just over a year. I was a member of their fan club for 5 years.

Today, I shake my head in disgust.

After working on their newest album since late 2005, prompting no shortage of jokes and comparisons to one Axl Rose, they're announcing their brand new plan to distribute the album and generate some excitement. After listening to Lars say that they've been keeping an eye on what Trent and Radiohead have been doing, I had some hope for something very interesting and forward-looking.

Instead, I see that they're still firmly rooted in the corporate world of the music industry and bound to their corporate masters at Warner.

Work on the album is supposedly done--or will be soon--yet the album will not be out until September, leaving a nice 4-month build-up and promotional campaign spearheaded by the new Mission: Metallica website. To little surprise, they're going to charge you quite a fair amount for the privelige of looking at this website. For a little historical context, in the months leading up to the release of St. Anger, Metallica had a website called Jump In The Studio, featuring videos, photos, and commentary on the band's progress. They even threw in the odd listen to some new material. It was all free. Now...

$25 will get you access to the website and a 320kps download of the album when it comes out, 4 months now.
$35 will get you that plus the CD, 5 months from now (they're notorious for using the cheapest shipping methods possible).
$99 will get you that plus a 5LP vinyl set (international buyers beware!).

Now, I realize that Trent didn't give us a months-long campaign of insights and babbling for Ghosts I-IV or The Slip, but seriously, $25?! And you don't even get the option of a lossless download. I am so utterly disappointed in this concept. I didn't renew my fan club membership this year because, for my $60, I wasn't getting the access to the band and the recording process that I felt should have been provided for that premium. Now they're asking people to pony up even more cash to look at stuff that will be on YouTube within hours.

I'd like to think that this is something Warner is imposing on them. I'd like to think that they feel some guilt over bending over loyal fans who have stuck with them for many lean years.

But I don't.

What I think this is is a cold cash grab to recoup costs because it's taken them nearly 3 years to put together this album.

And that sickens me.

08 May 2008

What a Great Country

I'm glad that I live in a country where there is nothing more important happening than who the Minister of Foreign Affairs dated a few years ago. Apparently it's an issue of "fundamental democracy," according to Ralph Goodale. I have paid scant attention to the day-to-day political goings-on in this country in the past couple months, and seeing what I saw today helps me to realize that I'm clearly not missing very much. This is leadership? This is what is considered relevant? The "security issue" is about as thin a piece of ice I've seen the politicians of this country ever skate on as a major issue. This will surely pass within a day, and none will be better off for this bout of foolishness.