Friday, July 30, 2004
We'll see what George W. Bush comes up with at his convention. Bush needs to reach beyond his base quite considerably and go after the middle ground, and particularly address the concerns of middle Americans worried about their jobs, because frankly things haven't been all that great for a lot of people. The Democrats also threw a lot of bombs at the Republicans during the convention that will need to be addressed and rebutted forcefully, particularly with respect to the weapons of mass destruction and America's standing with allies around the world.
People are also weighing in on the media coverage on a couple of fronts. One, it is generally accepted that the broadcast networks did a terrible job. New York Daily News basically admitted as such in their piece assessing the convention coverage. CBS, ABC and NBC only provided three hours of coverage of the convention in grand total each, and FOX, UPN and the WB provided a big fat zero. (I thought the main FOX network, at least, would cover the acceptance speech but they didn't even do that. They just ran reality shows and the usual garbage that passes as entertainment on the network. The only programming that's any good on FOX these days are the sports and the stuff on Sunday nights: the rest of their lineup is terrible.)
Only PBS and the cable networks bothered to show up and televise the conventions, and even Fox News covered the speeches as little as possible (according to what I gleaned reading the web). Apparently Fox News concentrated on their regular schedule of yak shows at the convention, and spent most of their time getting into arguments with guests while the convention speeches went on down below.
The complaint people are making, and it's a valid complaint, is that the broadcast networks are picking and choosing which speeches they deemed important, and that by ignoring the rest of the speeches they minimized the importance of other speakers at the convention and ignored potential real news. So the country didn't see important addresses from people like Al Sharpton, for example, or Wesley Clark's impassioned, patriotic speech on the last night of the convention. Those were noteworthy speeches that should have made some big news, yet the big networks chose to tune out and the public was left to watch reruns of sitcoms and reality shows. I mean, some of those speeches may have been minority opinion, but minority opinion could end up becoming majority opinion before too long.
The other thing is that the bloggers who covered this convention did a SECOND-RATE job. I blasted their performance a few days ago and it seems I'm not alone. I went to the Mader blog the other day and they were blasting away at Patrick Belton over at OxBlog. He was accredited to cover the DNC, but he hardly blogged at all for three full days and then finally showed up on Day 4 of the convention. Heck, I put in more blogs than that and I wasn't even at the bleeping convention! As I said before, compare my lazy, C-minus effort to the ones of the bloggers who actually roamed around the Fleet Center and who were supposed to put in an A+ effort, and you'll get my point. They generally did a LOUSY job. (Even Wonkette didn't post to her own website because she was over at MTV apparently, but we did get to see mugshots of her on her own website).
I have only scanned through just a few of these other blogs myself but the good news is that these blogs will still be up for all time with their convention chronicles, so I look forward to a weekend of reading all these blogs and all their convention coverage. But so far, I must say, it's been nothing to write home about. This was supposed to have been the Year of the Blogger but boy, they had nothing to say about this convention.
Come to think of it, though, they had nothing much to cover. I think there's a lesson here for the political parties. If they really want people to cover their conventions and do bang-up jobs, you need to return these conventions to their former glory and have some actual decisions made at the convention. For instance, why not wait until the convention is on to choose a running mate? That's what Reagan did... and Jimmy Carter! I remember watching the 1980 Detroit Republican convention on TV and I remember watching the networks covering the speculation over Reagan's VP pick and whether old Jerry Ford would accept a role on a Dream Ticket, and it made for interesting TV. It gave the networks a lot to talk about. If that happened again you'd see some excitement and bloggers might actually have something worthwhile to write about. Heck, the Canadian political parties were never hurt by having actual excitement at THEIR conventions. The media loved it and the conventions ended up being very exciting. That's the only way you'll get the networks back covering these things.
But as it stands now, it's the Wide World of Speeches, and not very interesting speeches at that. "Help is on the way!" "Help is on the way!"
At this rate, I could see the major American networks reducing their coverage to the acceptance speech next time, and boy, if you're a political junkhead there's no fun in that.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
I dunno if this is exactly the greatest political speech I've ever heard- we'll see what the reviews are. But boy is he ever going after everyone tonight.
Now he's going on a crusade about American jobs going overseas- man, the last thing we need is a President of the United States who's ready to seal the border. Good grief.
Kerry has got to be glad this convention is almost over. I'm convinced that every time Michael Moore gets his big mug on TV that it's another vote for Bush. No wonder O'Reilly wanted Moore on his show. ( Just the other day Moore talked about Canada again, saying "I'm never worried about facing any Canadian!", in reference to the potential charges about interfering in the Canadian election campaign.)
I still think there will be a Kerry bounce, in spite of the lack of TV coverage for this glorified infomercial. The only thing missing has been Tony Robbins. Really. This convention has been lacklustre by any standard--- with one notable exception:
DID HE BLOW THE ROOF OFF THE JOINT OR DID HE BLOW OFF THE ROOF FROM THE JOINT! What a speech by Al Sharpton. And you can tell that all the lefties in the audience- all these social activist types who sat on their hands for three days listening to one centrist middle American after another- were eating his rant all up.
So much for my complaints about a boring convention. So much about my complaints that this is like watching paint dry. I am a dishonest chronicler of current events who ought to resign in disgrace.
I'm surprised because Kerry's team was supposed to vet every single one of these speeches up at the podium. Apparently Sharpton was alloted six minutes for his speech, just like Bob Graham was. But then he went on and on and on. And apparently the people at PBS noted that Sharpton had deviated considerably off the prepared text that they handed out to everyone. He just went on and on, bellowing at the top of his lungs. But what were the convention organizers going to do... boot him off the stage? The crowd was too into it. And Al Sharpton was too into it, especially when he got to talking about Ray Charles' rendition of America the Beautiful. (Keep in mind the lefties in the audience also gave a really big reception to Howard Dean the other night. These delegates would vote for Michael Moore given the chance.)
I checked out some of the comments about Al's speech and Robert Robb's account sums it up. He said in his article in the Arizona Republic:
- Well, this carefully choreographed convention just ran off the rails. Al Sharpton hijacked it. Sharpton departed considerably from his prepared remarks to take on directly President Bush's observation to the Urban League that perhaps Blacks should consider diversifying their political portfolio .It was vintage Sharpton and received raucous approval from convention delegates. But Sharpton bellowing about ethnic grievance politics probably wasn't exactly the appeal the Kerry campaign wanted to make in the first hour of prime time to the swing voters this convention is intended to reassure.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
The media has had to work hard to generate any excitement. So far the only excitement has been Michael Moore, the one-man wrecking crew and comedy relief of the convention. He was stopped on the street by Bill O'Reilly, who dared Moore on the street to come on his show, in full view of the cameras, no less--- and guess what, O'Reilly managed to get his interview with Moore on Fox News Channel. Now that's the kind of hard-hitting television we've got to see up here in Canada. (And for the record, Al-Jazeera is at the convention, too.) Moore, by the way, had a better time with O'Reilly than he did with Bill Hemmer, who apparently really roughed him up and left him really steamed, for once.
Watching the scenes of Katie Couric and Kate Snow and everyone else having fun at the convention made me, as a sometime-media personality in my own right, really really jealous. You know, I just knew that I'd feel this way. This confirms the wisdom of my decision to go back into politics this year and work on political campaigns. It confirms my decision to go and attend all those political events and conventions that I've gone to this year. I knew with the U.S. race going on that I would go nuts about not being able to cover those conventions in the 'States. Since I'm working on a political campaign right now (another one), I don't feel so nuts. I guess that's good.
The other reason I don't feel so nuts is because I am getting to participate in my own small way by doing this silly convention blog. Where else can I express irreverent opinions about ambulance-chasing lawyers? You sure can't do that on TV. If Katie Couric tried a stunt like that, she'd wind up getting fired. Or worse yet, she could be sued... by John Edwards, no less. Not a good thing.
(P.S.- I think I'll try and calm down on the subject of ambulance-chasing lawyers in the future. Calling them "slime" is pretty tough language. I'm starting to act like a Toronto SUN columnist or something.)
I noticed Jim Moret is working as a correspondent for INSIDE EDITION. Wow, since when did he get the INSIDE EDITION gig? Last time I saw him he was on CNN, and that was years ago.
She's going to New England Sports Network (NESN) to anchor the sports and cover the Red Sox. Not bad. If she had stayed in Toronto she'd likely be stuck covering nothing this fall, since all that Torontonians care about is the NHL, and the lockout will soon be upon us.
Hazel also was covering the Toronto Blue Jays in a city where interest in baseball is at an all-time low, thanks to the mass defection of all the fair-weather bandwagon jumpers in Toronto. She won't have that problem in Boston, where baseball rules.
If you want a real-time opposition blog go to the Corner-- National Review's effort. They blast away at all the speakers and provide what amounts to an intelligent and instant online heckling service to the viewing public. Way to go, National Review. (Don't expect the same service at the GOP convention, this heckling service is a one-time only affair aimed at the Democrats.)
LAWYERS IN POLITICS
John Edwards is the big speaker tonight and I expect to see a lot of yakking about how he was a trial lawyer and how trial lawyers dominate the Democratic party and politics in general. I saw a John Stossel piece on TV last week that bodyslammed John Edwards and all those rich trial lawyers making money off insurance companies that turn around and hike your insurance premiums.
I've just been thinking about this the other day. One of the differences between Canada and the United States is that in Canada we actually tolerate lawyers in politics. Just about every PM we've had going back 35 years has been a lawyer or graduated law school. It's a long list: Trudeau, Turner, Mulroney, Campbell, Chretien and now Martin. Only Joe Clark isn't on that list and not due to lack of trying: he simply couldn't hack a law school education. Canada keeps electing lawyers and then these lawyers go on to screw the country right up.
But in the States, it's not all lawyers at the top. They like to mix it up. They had Reagan, the actor. They had Carter, the peanut farmer. They had LBJ, a schoolteacher. They had John F. Kennedy who worked in journalism for a while. They had Ike, who was a general. The current president, George W. Bush is the first MBA to be President, was former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and tried the oil business. His father, George Herbert Walker Bush, was very successful in the oil business as everyone knows.
As for the lawyers who were President, some of them were all right (Lincoln, I guess), but the recent ethical record is pretty terrible when you think about it. You had Nixon who resigned in disgrace, and Clinton was such a big ethical success as President that he wound up getting disbarred.
I'm not saying John Kerry and John Edwards will follow in the ethical footpaths of these people but boy, the biggest scandals in American politics happened under the biggest lawyer Presidents. I wonder if W. and Dick Cheney, two bigshot businessmen, are going to use the general hatred and disgust with lawyers to their advantage. I wouldn't be surprised.
Forgive me for being cynical about lawyers, it's just that I've seen that profession and, particularly, the ambulance-chaser portion of it first-hand. I'm sorry, but I cannot sit idly by on the subject of this slimebucket subsection of the legal profession. My regard for the ambulance chasers is lowest of them all. They are absolute vultures. They are slime. They prey on human suffering for profit.
Their lawsuits, and the multimillions these trial lawyers get for spilled coffee verdicts and the like, are responsible for driving up the insurance costs for ordinary individuals everywhere. Meanwhile these bigshot lawyers carve up a third of the millions they extract from their lawsuit recipients and sit in big mansions, leaving it to their underpaid associates to rot back in their offices, working 100-hour weeks drawing up all the papers so these ambulance-chasers can sue and get all the glory. I know a lot of lawyers and they look at the line of work John Edwards does for a living, and even they are revolted. Ambulance chasing, trial lawyering, putting your big mug on TV urging potential injury victims to call up your 1-800 number if you get injured: that has got to be the lowest form of professional human existence. And then there's Kerry, ex-prosecutor, and with the prosecutors running wild these days locking up Martha Stewart and everyone else on Wall Street, that ain't exactly such a reputable gig EITHER. Unconvicted murderers are walking the streets while Martha's going to prison for lying about a questionable stock sale case that the prosecutors couldn't prove to begin with. Boy did Martha Stewart ever get hosed.
We'll see how the GOP plays this, I'm sure they'll be rubbing their hands with glee and getting set to string up John Kerry, John Edwards and the entire American legal profession while the Democrats swim in money from trial lawyers.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Not even the networks care. The broadcast networks have no TV coverage planned at all. Apparently this is a big Reality TV night over on the networks, so instead of watching real-life politics, Americans plan to tune out and watch the fake reality of The Amazing Race and Trading Spouses. (Not to mention Last Comic Standing.)
So far we've seen rousing (?!) speeches from Ted Kennedy, and Dick Gephardt, and now Tom Daschle is at the podium. I think Ron Reagan is supposed to speak tonight, too. When's Howard Dean going to show up, isn't he speaking too? Unfortunately not even Dean can liven this joint up. Dean can do a screaming rant like he did in Iowa and nobody will care, because nobody's watching, but apparently the Kerry campaign gurus have vetted every speech from every party luminary up there tonight, to make sure what they say won't embarrass the entire campaign. This whole convention is completely stagemanaged. And it is like watching paint dry.
Yecch. This is boring. No wonder Americans are out renting movies. This is nothing but a big infomercial.
Speaking of the lack of TV coverage: last night I tuned into the very end of Nightline with Ted Koppel, and he mentioned Al-Jazeera is at the convention covering 4 hours a night! That's right. Al-Jazeera will have more convention coverage than all the broadcast networks combined. That's pretty shocking.
Monday, July 26, 2004
The former Cablenewser blog has been bought out by mediabistro and is now TVNewser, and here is the link to the newly-renovated website. That's the same one I have listed as "News About Cable News".
And Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo is also at the convention with some good stuff.
TV network coverage just started- saw Peter Jennings on the floor at the convention.
John Kerry threw the first pitch at the Red Sox game the other night and was kind of booed. It wasn't even all that good a pitch. Anyway, Kerry is not in Boston today, interestingly, as he is in Florida (gee I wonder why) to look at rocket ships with John Glenn and draw comparisons to that other JFK: Kennedy.
His wife Teresa Heinz Kerry got into trouble the other night by using the word "un-American" in a speech. Then afterwards she was confronted by a right-wing goon news reporter, and she lost her cool, telling the reporter to "shove it." Later the spinmeisters called his newspaper a right-wing rag. I don't care, when you're out in public you don't go telling reporters to go shove it. That's a sure fire way to get yourself on the front page of the newspaper.
Big speech tonight has Bill Clinton on the agenda speaking. That's it for now.
I went over to the Hotline and while I didn't find a free Hotline I did find this, yet another BLOG. Geez, is David Letterman or Jay Leno gonna start a blog too?! This is getting to be too big of a joke.
By the way I did eventually find a free Hotline at the National Journal's website. It's free for the duration of the convention but you'll need to sign in.
- Chris Matthews' show Hardball has a political blog now called Hardblogger- courtesy of NBC News. It has a lot of comments from people like Ron Reagan, Joe Trippi and Dee-Dee Myers. Here is the MSNBC link.
- C-SPAN has live coverage and links to feeds. Over on CSPAN-2 they have old speeches from past conventions. Earlier today I tuned into one of the feeds and it had Walter Mondale's infamous "I will raise taxes" speech from 1984. That speech is widely credited with losing Mondale the election, as we all know: Reagan swept 49 of the 50 states.
- Wonkette is covering the convention, but apparently Wonkette herself isn't posting to her website. She's commentating over on MTV.
- OxBlog is actually one of the blogs accredited at the convention and I plan to look for a few more to add as links here.
- CNN, Fox News, ABC and CBS will all be there covering the convention and here are the links to their main sites. Come to think of it, you'll get more coverage from these folks on the web as opposed to watching TV. ABC has some streaming video going but for some reason I can't get their feeds to work, it eats my computer. I don't get it.
That's all I can think of for now. There are a number of other links to American political sites posted along the sidebar. Really there isn't much going on at the convention, just a bunch of reporters right now sitting around telling the other reporters about how much security they had to get through to get to the convention, and how was their flight into town. Pretty dull "who cares" -type stuff. I should actually look and see if the Hotline is allowing free access during the conventions again. The Hotline is a political wire out of Washington D.C. that provides a lot of inside baseball to congressmen and political professionals, but it costs a fortune to subscribe to it, apparently over a thousand dollars(!). During the last conventions they gave everyone free access to their site, so I'll check and see if they're doing it again.
Well, today comes word that Jim Flaherty is trying to liven up THIS race, too: and heck, this race could sure use some excitement. Today, he's announcing his plans to bring back the private school tax credit that McGuinty killed off. There is also a story in the Toronto Star about a debt that Flaherty was supposed to have owed to the Ontario PC party with respect to the 2002 leadership race- I say "supposed" because as the article notes, there's considerable dispute about this. Everyone's spinning every which way.
No matter. Finally the fireworks have gone off in the Ontario PC leadership race and now Flaherty's made himself a lightning rod again, the same strategy as 2002. Note where Flaherty finished in 2002, and you can see what I think of this strategy.
(I also had a chuckle reading about how Flaherty went over his time limit during his big 2002 convention speech and had to pay penalties to the party for that. The party was going to cut his mikes off and boot him off the stage. That was funny, and the irony is that Jim's speech was probably the best of the night. Yeah, that 2002 race was pretty interesting.)
Tonight is the first big debate of the leadership race as Flaherty, John Tory and Frank Klees face off in Ottawa. It's the first of three official debates in this leadership race and from what I can tell, it won't be televised. Too bad. I won't be there, though, I'll be here in Toronto doing some other campaign-related stuff.
Friday, July 23, 2004
The reason I feel there will be a shutdown of some length of time is this: players are leaving for Europe, layoff notices are being sent, and now even the NHL rinks are scrambling to find tenants. Today comes word that the troubled Toronto Roadrunners of the AHL are skipping town and moving to Edmonton. The Roadrunners have already been evicted from Ricoh Coliseum. Now the good hockey fans of Edmonton are assured of having a hockey team to cheer for this winter. Toronto fans have to hope these NHL negotiations come to a quick settlement or they'll have to line up and cram into St. Mike's Arena for OHL games, that's the only hockey they're going to see here.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
The NHL and the NHLPA sat down for a pow-wow yesterday and the NHL presented six possible scenarios for cost-certainty to the players union. The players union head Bob Goodenow dismissed all the "salary cap" scenarios so now they're back at the drawing boards for two weeks. Meanwhile, players are already signing deals to go play hockey in Europe. And the NHL is starting to send out layoff notices to people in anticipation of a long, cold winter of labor unrest.
It's pretty much accepted that the labor war, Armageddon if you will, will happen. Right now the owners and players completely distrust each other. The word out there is that the NHL has collected a $300 million dollar warchest to get through this labor war. To which the NHLPA is thinking: why the heck are they collecting a $300 million dollar warchest when that money could be going to player salaries? Somebody's lying.
The fans seem to believe that the NHL and the NHLPA are going to go to war because the NHL needs to save the smaller market teams that are having trouble keeping players and being competitive. The fans think the NHL's going to let the entire sport close down for a year or two, and Canadian fans not only seem to have accepted that it's going to happen, but have a laissez-faire attitude to it all. As if it's not that big a deal. Having no hockey sucks and everyone will miss Hockey Night in Canada and the rest of it, but it's the price you have to pay to save the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. They seem to believe that the sport and the fans will come back stronger than ever. The league will simply sort out its problems so that hockey will be saved for Canada, then things will get back to normal and we'll have Winnipeg back in the NHL again.
Problem is that the NHL isn't as strong as Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball was able to survive their strike/canceled season fiasco for one sole reason: because baseball was Baseball. But that didn't prevent the sport from being terribly damaged for a long time. Because of the disrespect that the sport of baseball gave to its customers, the entire sport lost its whole credibility in the eyes of the fans and has never really fully recovered. Certainly baseball was damaged for all time in THIS country. True, they didn't lose any franchises...yet. But wait until later this year when we hear what finally happens to the dead-on-their-feet Montreal Expos. Just think what canceling the NHL season would do to Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Florida, Carolina, Nashville, the Islanders, even the Devils and the Lightning. It would be carnage. It would be death. And don't tell me that will be good for hockey.
If the NHL goes ahead with throwing away a whole entire season and playoffs, fans in the United States will turn off the sport in droves. Heck, they have plenty of options during the winter: football, lots of basketball. They'll get their fight fix by watching more boxing and more of the WWE. I'm planning to fill my time watching lots of CFL football and Premier League soccer games. Instead of watching the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV people can watch baseball, the NBA playoffs, auto racing action, or even go out to the movies. And the die-hard hockey fans will go to junior games, watch AHL action or watch plenty of old NHL games on ESPN Classic Canada which is bound to get some big monster ratings.
But the rest of the public will be permanently tuned out. Hockey will lose a generation of fans, TV and gate revenues will dry up, the media will lose interest in the sport, and the NHL will fall apart in North American Soccer League-style fashion shortly after the league takes a bath on every TV contract its got.
That is the kind of mayhem to expect if the NHL goes ahead with this goofy cancel-the-entire-season scenario and I highly doubt we'll see that doomsday scenario come to pass. Because both sides in this labor dispute won't let it come to that.
That's why one side will eventually blink. Both sides will come to their senses, and we'll see an NHL season at some point, most likely in January when the only other option will be to go ahead with the doomsday scenario and cancel the season. But I don't know if we'll see the smaller market teams rescued. They're probably going to have their lockout and then settle it, and then nothing will be accomplished, again. And even if the owners get their "cost certainty" that may not stop another labor war from breaking out 2 or 3 years from now.
For now the talking goes on. And they will continue to talk. And talk. Lots of hot air between now and next January.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
News is that Goodale and McLellan stay right where they are while they shift a few others around and dump some deadwood. Media spin is that Western Canada has a lot of power in this Cabinet so western Canadians ought to be happy. Reality is that the western Canadians who have all the power in Cabinet plan to continue doing absolutely nothing for the West (won't bring in elected Senators, won't kill the gun registry, etcetera).
Here's the story.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Others in both the National Post and the Toronto Star are rushing to the defense of Al-Jazeera, calling the Arab-based network a legitimate outlet for news and saying that Canada shouldn't outlaw free expression. (This is in response to all the charges that Al-Jazeera is anti-Semitic and promotes terrorism.)
I have no problem with Al-Jazeera being allowed to broadcast into Canada. So what, they're another boring all-news station. I have no problem allowing into the country any all-news channel, no matter where they come from or even how biased they are. What I do have a problem with is when a television network is actively promoting terrorist attacks in my corner of the world. If Canadian stations were running propaganda videos from terrorist groups urging their followers to commit mass murder or hatred against someone else, these stations would justifiably be slapped with restrictions or ordered kicked off the air. We must hold Al-Jazeera to the same ethical standards as every other news broadcaster in this country.
Yet Fox News, RAI International and that Quebec City radio station aren't allowed to get licenses at all, and they haven't even come close to doing any of this awful stuff. In fact, tomorrow in Ottawa a bunch of Italian-Canadians are supposed to be protesting the rejection of RAI International which would have brought lots of good Italian variety shows and soccer games to Canada. I'm with these Italians all the way. This is what people are up at arms about. They're upset that these bureaucrats are not only selecting what we're allowed to see on TV in this country, but making bad decisions at that. We're not getting any GOOD channels, but we DO get Al-Jazeera. Who's running this joint?!
The Al-Jazeera decision has basically exposed the CRTC as a bunch of busybody hacks who should be put out of business as quickly as possible. We need the CRTC out of the way so we can watch whatever TV channels we want to see; that's what freedom of speech and free enterprise are all about. When is Bill O'Reilly going to be put on this case?
Friday, July 16, 2004
And they still won't let Fox News Channel into the country. Lorrie Goldstein says it all.
All this makes you want to say,
TO HECK WITH THE CRTC,
Thursday, July 15, 2004
I think it's fair to say now that we'll be back at the polls sometime in 2005, based on what we're now hearing from the Liberals. In fact, what the Liberals are planning on doing just reeks of contempt for the public. They still think they can pull a fast one on Canadians and get away with all kinds of parliamentary machinations and hijinks.
Here's the new genius Liberal master plan. The way the Liberal MPs are spinning it, the Liberals plan to keep their government going for a little while, wait for a spike in the polls, then they are going to try and engineer their own snap defeat on a motion the Bloc Quebecois cannot possibly support. Then they plan to call an election, blame the opposition for a dysfunctional Parliament and an unnecessary vote, voters will be disgusted with the opposition for having to vote again, and send the Liberals back with a big whopping majority. Then it'll be a full five years of arrogance, corruption and broken promises.
Problem for the Liberals is that the opposition is wise to all this by now.
This isn't 1993. The opposition isn't full of newly-elected rank amateurs like it was back then. These opposition MPs have been around for a long enough period of time to know what to expect from the Liberals. The opposition is likely to react by boycotting votes in Parliament or engineering Liberal victories instead of bringing the government down. Then the opposition can wait, choose to bring the government down later on its own terms, and accuse the Liberals of no end of parliamentary skullduggery and manipulation. The opposition will have plenty of ammunition to work with, if they're smart enough. What the opposition really will need to do is get the message out to the public that the Liberals are acting like Liberals- that is, if the Liberals really do proceed to go ahead and act the way these MPs are saying they will act.
As for poll numbers, who cares? David Peterson called a snap election in Ontario with a 30-point lead in the polls and was rewarded for that decision with a cushy, well-paying private sector job. To quote a famous Canadian politician who was well versed in the ways of minority parliaments, "polls are for dogs." Besides, all the opposition needs are more Dan McTeague-type scandals. If those keep happening the Liberal poll numbers will never improve. How long did it take for that scandal to happen, one week after the election? The voters ought to kick themselves for sending some of the hacks that they've elected back to Ottawa.
Bottom line is the opposition cannot allow the Liberals to control the agenda of this next Parliament, otherwise the opposition's just going to get burned, as usual. Frankly, this Liberal talk about engineering their early defeat simply calls attention to the fact that this really is a very shaky hung Parliament that nobody has any control over, and the Liberals want to put a positive spin on it and make the best of what really is a bad situation for them. The tenuous situation is one possible reason why Paul Martin's going to wait until October to call Parliament back.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
I've put up a list of links to some good blogs and good websites that I think you'll like and which are also favorites of mines as well. I've also put up a list of American political links seeing as this is a political year down there and political junkies will want to follow that hotly-contested Bush-vs.-Kerry race. I also have links to some of the hottest American radio talk show hosts, some of them favorites from that Fox News Channel that you still can't get up here. Fortunately, you can tune into them on radio and on the Web. (Be sure to check out the vastly underrated Laura Ingraham- she's a babe!).
It's nice to have finally figured out how to link up to all these other good websites and blogs and I hope you take advantage of this fine public service I am providing, and go visit some of them. Make your own judgements about the issues and form your own opinions. Of course, I'm not responsible for any of the content on any of these other sites out there, so blame them if you see something you don't like. Don't blame me. And don't call up the CRTC to complain, either. The CRTC can't do a darn thing about web sites or blogs.
As for my comment "Huh?" below, we were experiencing technical difficulties earlier in the day so I was expressing my frustration. I could've deleted it, but I've decided to leave it up... just for laughs.
The only other candidates in the Ontario PC leadership race are Jim Flaherty and Frank Klees. Nominations closed last week, and the leadership vote is being held the weekend of September 18. The information I have is that they're going to hold their leadership convention "event" or whatever they want to call it at the Crowne Plaza Don Valley in Toronto, and I'm thinking, boy, what a comedown for this party if that's the best they can do. I mean, there's nothing wrong with the place, it's a good hotel, and the PCs hold plenty of events in there, but why the heck can't they hold their leadership convention in a real convention hall or hockey arena like they used to? Even the Liberals chose Dalton the Promise Breaker at Maple Leaf Gardens when they were in opposition. Is this party really in this bad a shape? Guess so, eh?!
Apparently Paul Martin is doing some serious shuffling of the cabinet and is apparently going to give Ralph Goodale the job of Deputy Prime Minister. The reason this is probably going to happen is because Martin is facing a minority government situation and will need his best, most experienced people in there to handle all the deal-making and all that. Hence, Goodale is likely to be stuck with the job of negotiating with the opposition. Ain't minority government wonderful.
And I just have to laugh at the right wing lunatics over there on Free Dominion and these other web sites, all of whom keep trashing Ralph Klein. They trash him because they say he's too liberal, that he won't stand up to the Liberals, that he used to like Trudeau, etc, etc. And you hear all the conspiracy theories abound about how King Ralph is unpopular and about to be dumped because Alberta's about to go separatist, etc. etc.
And yet, ALBERTA HAS SLAIN THE DEBT. And now King Ralph says he will consult the people so he can figure out what he should do next. Way to go. This fall he can call his election and win the biggest majority in the history of the country. Really, who'd want to throw Ralph out now that he's slain the debt? This is an incredible achievement, oil or no oil.
And yet there are STILL people out there who claim Klein ruined health care and cut services to eliminate the debt! All these flat-earth people, who all don't care about debts or deficits and would rather have a fiscally-irresponsible, free-spending government with a bottomless pit of handouts. All of the special interests have now come out of the woodwork in Alberta, all wanting a piece of the trough now that the debt is gone. Some want money for health care, others want money for education, others want money for the homeless, others want the biggest tax cuts imaginable. Every special interest imaginable from every persuasion.
They must all think the Government of Alberta is one big lending institution. These people must think money grows on trees. You know, it's pretty hard to call King Ralph a big Liberal when you have all these people out there demanding more money and more spending, and trashing Alberta's achievement in ridding itself of the debt.
The pressure to spend like mad will be on and it will be interesting to see what happens and whether Ralph will stand up to these free-spending people. He needs to if this great achievement in eliminating the debt is to stand the test of time.
If I were King Ralph, of course, I'd think about cutting some taxes. A few of them.
Well, welcome to Cuba.
A few housewives and other boring people call up the CRTC and get a radio station shut down because they can't handle crazy radio hosts who are pushing the limits. Well, these guys clearly pushed it too far. But I don't know about this one. Their antics sound a little borderline compared to the lunatic stunts some of those DJs down there in the States have pulled- and the hosts in the U.S. have done some pretty gross things.
Here's what I'm wondering about: why did the regulators not levy a colossal fine against these guys like they do in the States? They could have done that, and that would have sent the message they needed to send to these people. But closing an entire station--- what country do these people think they're running? China? The Soviet Union? The station owner's gonna lose his entire investment over this. This just reeks of expropriation. Radio station values are going to go down the tubes in this country.
I get really nervous when you have the CRTC closing down radio stations. I also don't like the fact that Howard Stern's been kicked out of the country, not to mention the Fox News Channel. I mean, come on, this is supposed to be a free country. This decision smells, along with a lot of other things that deal with broadcast regulation in this country.
Monday, July 12, 2004
It always seems as if these conventions are the great gathering place for every new ground-breaking media technology out there. In the 1920s it was the testing ground for radio. In the 1940s and 1950s it was the testing ground for TV. By the 1980s it was the testing ground for cable TV. In 2000, of course, the Internet was covering the conventions with live webcasts from the scene. I remember the PSEUDO network covered the conventions that year and blew their entire budget on it, eventually going right out of business.
Now, of course, the latest innovation is the bloggers. Certainly, 2004 has been the Year of the Blogger in American politics. The bloggers were there on the road covering the Democratic primaries and listening to Howard Dean's lunatic rants. Then they'd write them up and beam them to a captive audience on the Web. Now they're going to the conventions, and I'm sure they'll be live-blogging on election night, just like their Canuck cousins.
I think it's great that they'll be at the conventions and picking up the slack from those network news organizations who plan to give each of these conventions a grand total of three hours worth of coverage, TOTAL, for the WEEK! So I guess we'll HAVE to rely on bloggers for coverage. Here's the irony: bloggers will be ridiculously underpaid for their live, hustling, incisive gavel-to-gavel efforts running around on the convention floor; meanwhile their network TV friends will be paid millions of dollars for 3 hours of nonwork up there in the skyboxes. Life is not fair.
Of course, be sure to join the CAIRNS BLOG for live coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. But don't count on coverage FROM the conventions. No, I'll be at home--- plunked in front of a TV set, as usual.
Apparently attendance was off about 2% from last year. In fact it's down 3 years in a row. Last year they blamed it on a lack of tourists due to SARS. This year, though, they're really scratching their heads. "Why isn't anyone showing up?!"
Well, the answer's pretty clear to me. The Champ Car World Series is total bush league these days. End of story. Why would any tourists want to come to Toronto to shell out money to watch Paul Tracy race against this group of nonentities? And it's too bad because this is a first-class event in every other way. But the organizers are being dragged down by the Champ Car World Series and all its problems. About the only thing positive to say about it is that you don't have Michael Schumacher winning every week like you do in Formula 1. In fact, the whole sport of auto racing has gone down the tubes in a very short period of time, and I'm sad to say it because I happen to like the sport.
As I say and as anyone else who follows auto racing in this town says, the CART-IRL split has ruined auto racing at the Molson Indy. We need a merger, but even if there's no merger, I'd quit the "Champ Car World Series" in a hurry anyway. Heck, everyone else has left for the IRL, why is Toronto sticking with this lousy series?! As far as I'm concerned, no race series is worth following these days if it doesn't have a race at Indianapolis. So there. I give the fans in Toronto this much credit: they know whether a sport is worth following or whether it's bush league. Give them a good product and they'll be there. But this Molson Indy, thanks to the decline and fall of CART, is rapidly turning into the auto racing equivalent of the Canadian Football League.
And I'm not alone. If you don't believe me, believe Dave Feschuk. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Who cares about the Champ Car World Series!
Friday, July 09, 2004
NBC's apparently not even planning to cover the tribute to Ronald Reagan at the Republican convention, a guaranteed tear-jerker that I'd want shown. But they ARE planning to televise a speech by AHHNOLD. Who says they don't have their priorities straight.
I've always liked the Molson Indy, largely because this event attracts plenty of glamour and lots of girls. But there's one thing this race ISN'T attracting these days. Good drivers and good celebs.
For instance: this year we have no Michael Andretti, no Helio Castroneves, no Gil de Ferran, no Tony Kanaan, no Dario Franchitti and no Ashley Judd. (We wouldn't have had Kenny Brack anyway because he's injured, and Al Unser Jr. just retired.) We have no Bobby Rahal, David Letterman or Buddy Rice. That's because all these drivers and team owners and celebs, the hottest drivers and teams in the sport, are GONE to the IRL.
The fact that Michael Andretti is missing tells you all you need to know about the state of things. He WAS the Molson Indy, he OWNED this event. Now he, too, is living it up in the IRL with his own team. What's really sad is that it wasn't that long ago (two or three years ago) that the big names were all coming to Toronto to party with Sly Stallone and race on the streets. The decline's been quick and brutal, and it has nothing to do with Toronto or even Canada. It's because CART's been getting killed by NASCAR and the IRL, the TV ratings are in the toilet, and their events in the 'States are going belly-up. Now the drivers and the sponsors are leaving, too. And who can blame them?
The only people still in CART are the Canadian drivers, about five other guys people may have heard of, and Paul Newman. Okay, that's one celeb. Everyone else nobody's ever heard of. You have to be a die-hard race fan to have heard of these people. Yet the fans keep showing up to the Molson Indy. I keep hearing Canadians who keep defending this series and tell me how great it is that Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani have a better shot at beating these second-raters. But, really, what fun is there in that?
Sadly the Molson Indy has turned into a hulk of its former self. The CART series---or whatever they call it these days--- now sucks big time. And it's ruined the Indy. Really, if it weren't for the Miss Molson Indy contests there'd be no point in even holding the event. Give me the IRL any day, this "Champ Car World Series" is garbage.
So we don't have a very good field of drivers or teams--- but we do have ridiculous feuds like this one between Tracy and Tagliani.
This is sad. If the Molson Indy is to return to being the great event that it once was, we need a merger between CART and the IRL, and fast, preferably tomorrow. It's probably going to happen anyway, but if we're still going to have any Molson Indys here in the future, people in Toronto had better start being mighty friendly with Tony George. The current state of affairs is a disgrace to a once-proud event, and the people in charge have to do something, fast, to ensure that Toronto fans have a first-class event that sticks around for years to come. We must bring back the glory days, and soon.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Even Peter MacKay says Harper has to stay. Basically there's no one else out there, that settles that. But he's gotta make changes to win the next election. Which leads me to a story in the National Post today that suggests Harper is going to bring in more PCs into the inner circle to advise on how to appeal to the middle ground.
Good move, and exactly the kind of thing that needs to be done to get this party elected.
Now some of these western ex-Reformers are going to whine and bellyache about how it's yet another sellout of western Canada and all their principles etc. But look, the Conservatives lost that last election because of WEDGE ISSUES like abortion, not because eastern Canada had an axe to grind against western Canada! In fact, those wedge issues were costing the party seats everywhere in the country. It may have ended up costing the Tories several close races in Vancouver and Edmonton, so I don't want to hear anyone say that moving to the centre on issues like abortion is going to alienate western Canada. Because of the perception people had that the Conservatives would play fast and loose with the Charter and the Notwithstanding Clause, enough people who voted PC provincially and federally in past elections decided to split the ticket in eastern Canada. Harper has to reach out to these people and get all these people onside (although I think Joe Clark is a complete lost cause, he'll be in combat mode against Harper forever).
Among other things, the old PCs were the ones within the party who not only lost their enthusiasm by being on the losing side of the leadership race (not only with BE-LIN-DA but with Tony as well), but they got the shaft on election day as well. These are the party members in the major urban centres in the country that I'm talking about, people who live in ridings like St. Paul's and Toronto Centre which used to be PC not too long ago. Furthermore, only the old PCs seem to have a semblance of an organization left in Quebec and ultimately the party needs to win seats in Quebec to take power nationally. Harper doesn't need to win all these old PC seats back, but he'll need to get back some of them. To do that in the major cities and in Quebec, he's got to reach out and get advice from the PCs.
It's obvious that the winning formula is greater accountability, good fiscal management, more ethics in government and a move to the centre on social issues. And critically, this party needs to show signs of restraint, that it won't fly off the handle and use the Notwithstanding Clause all the time. The Reform tradition is needed when it comes to greater accountability and fiscal responsibility, but the new party needs the PC tradition on social issues and restraint with respect to the constitution in order to win elections and that is why Harper must bring the sensibilities of the PCs into the inner circle as quickly as possible.
You know, instead of saying "to heck with the courts", maybe we should say "to heck with" a SYSTEM that is far too lenient with dangerous offenders. It's one thing if they've gotten religion and have cleaned up their act, but this person was still a hardened criminal! The people who are letting these criminals loose ought to be considering the public at large who are supposed to be protected from these dangerous offenders. Something's terribly wrong with a system that allows dangerous offenders to walk out of jail for any length of time, folks.
If you don't want Canada to become just like the 'States, then don't allow criminals back onto the streets. It's as simple as that.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Check out this latest outrage: a serial sex offender let loose on the streets.
And now, let's really make your day. To add icing to this disgusting cake, Karla Homolka flees the pen a year from now.
All this makes you want to say...
TO HECK WITH THE COURTS,
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Ebert and Roeper, no strangers to the TV business or even to local TV newscasts, are giving this flick two thumbs up, but apparently these New York anchorpeople aren't as impressed.
P.S. Pat Kiernan, who's a CANADIAN anchoring at the cable station New York One, thought this movie was ridiculous.
What I find interesting is that Paul Sutherland is his campaign manager. I know Paul because I worked on his campaign in Don Valley East in the last provincial election. Interesting.
Way to go, New York Post. Only problem with the story is IT'S WRONG! (See item below).
Monday, July 05, 2004
Moreover, we've got some big national unity issues on the horizon.
There's only so much political rejection the West can take. The folks in Alberta tried Reform, that didn't work, then they tried to Unite the Right, and you see what just happened with that. Now they don't know what the heck to do next and this is an example of the serious head-scratching people over there are doing. Keep an eye on Ted Morton, and for that matter on the Alberta Alliance. Albertans are mad enough for murder right now over the election results, they just don't know who to kill.
Sunday, July 04, 2004
Saturday, July 03, 2004
I have a lot of respect for Flaherty: I cast my second-ballot vote for him at the 2002 convention (after refusing to follow Tony Clement to Ernie Eves). I thought then as I do now that Flaherty is a true, committed conservative with a lot of good ideas. Unfortunately, I live in a riding that may never go PC again unless we put in a moderate leader. Come to think of it, the city of Toronto may never go PC again unless we do something dramatic.
A lot of people in the party share this sentiment. The problem Flaherty faces is that the party is starting to realize that it has been sent a message by the voters. And the message is: shape up or forget it. Flaherty will run as the true conservative as opposed to that evil Red Tory, and it's a message that may play well in the 24 bedrock ridings currently held by the PCs. But it is not likely to play well in the other ridings, where people have slammed the door in Conservatives' faces because of the wars with teachers, perceived cutbacks, and the 407.
The worst thing for Flaherty is that he is a social conservative who is running on the Harris legacy at a point in time when neither philosophy is in vogue in Ontario. He ran as a proud Common Sense Conservative in 2002 when the Conservatives were still proudly governing Ontario. The problem is that this is 24-seat Ontario now, and the grassroots aren't feeling proud; they're humbled. They're mad at the people at the top who left this party in such a financial mess. And the last federal election has them feeling worse than ever. Look at all the ex-Harris MPPs who got smoked at the polls on June 28th! Look what happened to Tony Clement! I think we're getting the message loud and clear that people are mad at the Ontario PCs, still, in spite of Dalton McGuinty and his broken promises.
The mood out there in the party is to find someone who will put the boot to McGuinty as quickly as possible, and people in Toronto are looking for someone who will win this party seats in the cities. That's the mood Flaherty faces and he's got an uphill battle trying to persuade people that he's the man able to do it in the current hostile, cynical environment.
Another thing: if Flaherty repeats what he did in 2002 and calls John Tory a pale pink imitation of Dalton McGuinty, he will get bodyslammed! To compare ANY Ontario PC to McGuinty is too low a blow these days. John Tory won't put up with insults like that, unlike Ernie Eves who basically ignored what Flaherty had to say anyway during the last leadership race.
We'll see how this battle plays out, and whether the Pink Panther shows up again. I hope not.
Wasn't getting rid of the Chretien crowd the whole point of Martin's leadership pitch? Didn't Martin want to change things, without changing things? I don't know how this is going to fly with Martin, but it's a sign that there are still a lot of very unhappy, bitter Liberals out there. They're getting ready sharpening the knives for the latest backstabbings over there in the Liberal Party, folks.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
The Paul Martin government, as it stands now, is shaky as heck. They can't govern as if they had a majority. They don't have enough seats to do a deal with the NDP. The reality is that the Bloc, the Tories, and Chuck Cadman can get together on a confidence motion at any time and bring the government down. And now comes more troubling news for the Grits.
The Montreal riding of Jeanne-Le-Ber is still totally up in the air and a recount is coming that could really tip the balance of power right into the hands of the Bloc Quebecois. The Liberal vote total exceeds the Bloc total by only 35 votes. If the Bloc are able to overturn the result the Liberals will be reduced to 134 seats and the Bloc will have its highest seat total in Parliament ever.
Only party truly able to smile about the election results is Gilles Duceppe's party. Happy Canada Day, eh, Gilles!?