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;
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;

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.

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.