Tuesday, August 31, 2004

STAR-PACKED CONVENTION: FROM FAMOUS DIRECTORS TO AHHHNOLD


JOHN McCAIN TAKES ON MOORE

It's too bad that the networks didn't show live John McCain's speech where he trashed a certain "filmmaker" who just so happened to be in the hall at the time. When McCain did that the audience just went nuts and heaped abuse on Michael Moore. Just went nuts as you would expect them to. Talk about getting a rise out of a crowd.

It's still my contention that every time the voters see Moore on TV, the better it is for Bush. So right on, John McCain, for calling attention to Moore. You've done more for the Republican ticket and for party unity than any other Republican this year.

GORGEOUS BABES AT THE CONVENTION

The convention may not rival the Democrats in terms of numbers of celebrities, but in terms of sex appeal the GOP has that other party all beat! Why?

Because they have BO DEREK. The steamy 70s movie actress was spotted arriving at the convention the other day. I'm actually surprised she's a Republican, I didn't think she'd fit in with all those straight-laced, God-fearing delegates. I wonder what guys like Ralph Reed think of her movies. Hee hee hee.

Also in the house is former Law and Order star and hot-looking babe ANGIE HARMON. As you know, her husband Jason Sehorn proposed to her on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the same show ( of course ) where Arnold Schwarzenegger declared his candidacy for governor. I'm surprised she's a Republican too.

The other star in attendance on opening day was Ron Silver. No, he's not a babe. He's not hot-looking, either. I'm surprised he's there, too.

AHHHHNOLD

What an awesome speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He made even me want to be an American! Talking about the land of opportunity and stuff- what a great speech. And he revved the crowd right up. He talked about how he listened to a broadcast with Nixon and Humphrey and how Humphrey talked about socialism and the type of stuff that he escaped from, and then he listened to Nixon talk about less government and a stronger military, and he said: what party is he? Oh, he's a Republican. Well, then, I'm a Republican too! And the crowd went nuts. His performance overshadowed the performance of the Bush twins and the First Lady by a country mile.

A speech like that from Arnold goes a long way to help immigrants to the USA feel welcome in the country. And frankly, I hope that's the case, because the weather in Canada has been so crummy this year that a move to the USA seems like an excellent idea. Certainly there are opportunities there that I'd like to pursue but US immigration regulations have been a nightmare when trying to secure job offers. The last thing we need is more regulations and restrictions.

NETWORK FLOOR CORRESPONDENTS, ANALYSTS GET TERMINATED

The prime-time program with AHHNOLD, by the way, started the moment the clock stuck 10PM. Boy, these Republicans played the networks like a drum. Ahhnold was rushed onto the stage so fast that Peter Jennings and the rest of them couldn't say a word; Arnold was already speaking. And it stayed that way for the entire hour- the Bush twins followed immediately, followed by the President, and then Laura Bush. When she was finished that left maybe a minute for the networks to wrap up and clear out in time for the local news! These network people couldn't get a word in edgewise for the full hour- so the reporters and guest analysts couldn't prattle on and editorialize about how the Republicans are really a bunch of radical conservatives, and they had no time trying to find the 2 or 3 moderates in the hall who were unhappy with the platform. It was practically a Republican infomercial on 3 television networks.

Serves these main networks right, though. If you only give these guys 3 hours of time, they'll find a way to manipulate you to death and shove your high-priced floor correspondents right off the air. It'll be interesting to see if it stays this way for the rest of the convention. Based on tonight, it probably will.

DAY 2 OF THE CONVENTION


MEDIA COVERAGE

I am now watching Charlie Rose's show- broadcast from the convention. The GOP convention may not be shown gavel-to-gavel on the networks anymore but they still attract lots of media attention, from unconventional media sources these days- from cable nets, morning network shows, cable and TV talk shows, late night talk show hosts who send correspondents like Biff Henderson to cover the proceedings, and of course, from the bloggers.

But here's what I just learned. That fraud Wonkette isn't there! Seems that after the Democratic convention she decided one was enough, so she's absent from Madison Square Garden. You know, I'm a big proponent of covering BOTH these things. Give 'em both equal time. If you show up at one, make sure you show up at the next one. Man, this is bad. I should de-list Wonkette for not showing up to MSG.

Me, I'm devoting equal time to both conventions: I've shown up at neither one of them.

Speaking of the boob tube, the networks were totally AWOL on the opening night of the convention, from what I gather: ABC, who are gavel to gavel with their ABC News Now digital/Internet operation, ran Monday Night Football on regular TV. NBC, of course, is letting MSNBC run with the convention coverage. The traditional nets are waiting until tonight to start their coverage. Ex-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's speech was apparently carried by only one local affiliate in NYC, although I'm sure the cable nets and NY1 gave it full coverage. But then I don't know, I couldn't tune in and tell you. I was on a bus full of teenagers returning from a political debate, so I can't tell you a thing. I'm just catching up watching videotaped yak shows.

I believe the major networks resume their political coverage tonight. At least I hope so. It's pretty sad when Al-Jazeera shows up (sign and all) at the Republican convention while traditional TV is handed over to the reality shows.

LATEST THEORY ON WHY KERRY HAD NO BOUNCE

I read on the National Journal's Hotline that a new theory is being floated about why John Kerry didn't get much of a bounce from the Democratic National Convention. The theory being floated is that the media didn't show up, and that because there were only 3 hours of network coverage per week the people didn't get to see Kerry and didn't get hit with the full force of the Democratic spinmeistering machine.

Well, no kidding. I call these press people media monkeys for a reason: even a monkey can figure out that Kerry wouldn't get a bounce out of 3 hours of network coverage. It's impossible. These Swift Boat Veterans are able to buy more airtime than that, and negate all the bounce from Kerry's coronation.

Frankly if Bush gets a bounce I'd be surprised, too. I'm sure Michael Moore is getting ready to book time on every talk show imaginable next week, along with all the anti-war groups and people like that.

I saw Charlie Cook from the Cook Political Report on Charlie Rose and he was talking about how most of the country's decided already, how there's very little movement, and that may be another factor that is overlooked by too many people.

MODERATES

Another example of why you only need a brain of a chimpanzee to work in the media business: people are noting how the Republicans are showcasing their bigshot moderates: people like Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger in prime time.

Again, duh! The Democratic party did the same thing. Why should you expect the Republicans to act any differently? Of course everyone keeps referring to that 1992 Republican convention which is widely credited with losing the election for the Bush/Quayle ticket. They put up on the main stage all these family-values people and other dinosaurs, and then Pat Buchanan was allowed up on stage to declare a culture war. Yikes! Grab the remote control, Martha, I'm changing the channel. That convention marginalized the Republican Party and sent the HBO viewers and the divorced, laid-off Yuppies throughout America straight to Bill Clinton. Even Ross Perot was better than this.

So it's pretty obvious that the Republicans have learned their lesson and will never have Pat Buchanan speaking at their conventions again. And for good reason: he quit the party. So good riddance!

If you want to be a successful political pundit, start eating bananas and learn to swing from trees. That's all the training you need.

Monday, August 30, 2004

CONVENTION LINKS, AND A BRIEF WORD ABOUT THE PC DEBATE IN LONDON

I have just returned from the final PC Leadership Debate at the University of Western Ontario campus, and boy, did the fur ever fly down there. I should get you a London Free Press link to their report of the debate. And while I'd like to give you a sort of live blog as to what happened down in London, the truth is that nobody cares anyway, and second of all nothing important happened. Frank Klees went on an absolute tear, which he sort of needed to do anyway, but Tory and Flaherty sort of let him go off on a tear, so as a result Klees sort of exposed himself as the third-place, dead-on-his-feet candidate. So you might say that Klees won but lost at the same time. That's my assessment. Klees was so animated, he even spilled the water off the side of his podium(!) at one point. That was really entertaining. We definitely got our money's worth.

But I don't really feel like talking about the PC debate, even though I was there, or about sitting on a Greyhound bus with a bunch of obnoxious kids who were at the debate. I'll save my strength for later. But I must compliment the John Tory campaign for providing first-class food at their hospitality suite. They really know how to feed people- burgers, fries, lots of goodies.

UPDATE- Here's the link to the London Freeps' debate story.
----------------------------------------------------------

I'm better off just giving you the links to GOP convention coverage right now and proceeding to bed, because today was a writeoff. And I'll get around to telling you the whole story of what happened in London later.

The National Journal has once again opened its political news website to visitors for free. Registration required.
Once again Hardblogger is in business and they have links to other bloggers covering this convention. Be sure to check out Oxblog and Wonkette.

For traditional news coverage and some streaming feeds here are links to C-Span, CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, Fox News and NPR. For local news check out cable news station New York 1 and local talk station WABC 770.

That's it for now- there are more links on the sidebar. Enjoy the convention.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

THEY'RE STILL GOING ON AND ON ABOUT KERRY, VIETNAM

I tuned into Larry King tonight on the radio, and guess what, Bob Dole was on there on a rampage about John Kerry trashing veterans. Yes, folks, they are STILL going on and on about Kerry and Vietnam and how Kerry was this, that and the next thing. They're going on and on, and I don't think it's ever going to stop with respect to every darned thing Kerry did in Vietnam.

The main complaint the veterans have with respect to Kerry, as I see it, has nothing to do with his record in Vietnam or what he did or did not do there. I think it all comes down to Kerry trashing the veterans for all the raping and murdering he accused them all of doing in Vietnam! It's all got to do with him testifying on Capital Hill way back when, and they hold a grudge against him for that. Well, why don't they just admit it, then, and be honest and say Kerry shouldn't be President because he's a hypocrite towards veterans!? But instead all the Republicans are going nuts trashing everything Kerry ever did in Vietnam. They're trashing his entire military service. That's what my objection's been. It's way too over the score.

It seems obvious to me, though, that Kerry kind of asked for this rough treatment from veterans groups. By going up there at the Democratic convention in Boston and by wrapping himself in the glory of the United States Armed Forces, it was an open invitation to all these veterans to challenge him and slice him to pieces. Well, that's politics, that's life. What did Kerry expect? He handed veterans an issue, and gave Republicans their opening to act like our Liberals.

I actually still agree with these people who say "we should move on to the real issues." But now, whenever you hear this line your BS radar is up and you're detecting an agenda. By and large, it's these Democrat flacks who are now SPINNING that we should "move on to other issues." And it's so obvious that it's spin. They're spinning, all because these Democrats don't want to answer questions any more about Kerry being a hypocrite and a traitor to veterans. They want everyone to forget about it as an issue. Pure manipulation of the public, in my book.

Well, I'll say this: Kerry shouldn't be trashed for his service in Vietnam, he shouldn't have to apologize for his Purple Heart. He served courageously and should be proud of going there to serve his country, and who cares how he was wounded. But by claiming that by going to Vietnam he's now a big friend of the military, Kerry has really exposed himself, and he deserves a lot of what he gets in return on that score. The Republicans have every right to go after him on whether he's being a hypocrite towards veterans. It's fair game. Too bad, Kerry! Welcome to national politics! You're in the big leagues, now!


WHAT WAS THE GREATEST GOP CONVENTION?

I had hoped to link you up with a great article in Washington Monthly about the Republican convention of 1940, and in the article they alluded to that gathering as "The Greatest Convention".

Well, it was certainly the most dramatic convention the Republicans ever had. And just about the last one with any excitement. Keep in mind that by American standards the Republicans have a reputation for putting on the most boring conventions imaginable- for all kinds of reasons. It's the Democrats who usually hold the conventions that descend into utter chaos. In 1924 they held a convention in, of all places, Madison Square Garden in the middle of summer, and it went into deadlock as the camps for William Gibbs McAdoo and New York's native son Al Smith refused to budge for nearly 103 ballots. It was the convention equivalent of Florida 2000. It took several days and a lot of negotiations before those two decided to withdraw and the nomination went by default to a compromise choice, John W. Davis. Davis went on to be throttled in the general election by Calvin Coolidge and was never heard from again.

The Republican convention in Philadelphia in 1940 didn't quite go that long- it only went six ballots. The real drama happened in the galleries which were packed with Wendell Willkie supporters. They chanted "We Want Willkie!" throughout the convention and the Republicans, who were staring at convention deadlock with New York's Thomas Dewey and Ohio's Robert Taft, capitulated completely and went with Willkie. Willkie represented a shift to a more internationalist, less isolationist point of view- as that Washington Monthly article noted. Willkie, a businessman with no political experience whatever, was seen as more electable against that great internationalist Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had reduced the Republicans to mincemeat in two straight elections.

I think they make a great case for calling the 1940 Philadelphia gathering the greatest Republican convention but there were quite a few others of note. There was the 1920 Chicago convention, notable because Warren G. Harding was nominated by the famous "smoke-filled rooms." With the convention in deadlock backrooms bosses called a recess after the 4th ballot and supposedly got together and selected Harding. The truth is actually more complicated than that, but that's what that convention was famous for, and eventually the delegates did get around to nominating Harding on the 10th ballot. And of course, there was the historic, raucous gathering of 1860, the one in Chicago's Wigwam where Abraham Lincoln was nominated. Ironically Lincoln was trailing for the first two ballots before he moved out in front and clinched it on the third. You could make an excellent case for 1860 as the greatest ever.

The longest convention was in 1880, and the GOP took 36 ballots to choose James Garfield in Chicago.

The worst GOP convention ever, my humble opinion, was 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt walked out of in protest and formed the Bull Moose Party- that move sunk the candidacy of nominee President William Howard Taft and put in Woodrow Wilson. And the most boring (to date) was probably the Nixon 1972 convention, a gathering historic for setting new standards in stage-management and scripting. Every convention we have seen since 1972 has taken its cues from Nixon's Miami Beach convention. It set the standard for putting reporters to sleep.

Just a few notes to chew over as the GOP convention at Madison Square Garden gets started.

STORY ABOUT YOUNG LAWYER FACING OFF IN THE SUPREME COURT

I was rummaging around for more convention stuff when I stumbled upon this article in Washington Monthly about a young lawyer named Tommy Goldstein who is now practising before the US Supreme Court and redefining Supreme Court practise. Since I do have a lot of interest in what the Supreme Court does in the US I thought I'd share the article with you. Arguing cases before any court is scary business but when you're 29 years old and doing this in front of the US Supreme Court it's pretty awesome stuff.

THE PROTESTERS ARE OUT IN FULL FORCE

Well the GOP convention hasn't even started yet but already the protesters are out in full force. Has Michael Moore arrived in town yet?

Well it is America: land of the free and home of the brave. Free as in free speech, and brave because the Republicans have to be brave enough to put up with the protesters outside of Madison Square Garden. Well, they better be brave because free speech is what made America the great country it is today.

The only problem is that CNN and all these other so-called objective journalists may give the anti-war people a platform for their views on TV all week. Wonderful. I sure hope there aren't any riots at this convention because that's the last thing the GOP needs: another 1968.

UPDATE-
I was watching the news and I can confirm: yes, Michael Moore was out there protesting. Count on him to be where the action is. Always.

Friday, August 27, 2004

LIVE GOP CONVENTION COVERAGE COMING SOON TO THE CAIRNS BLOG

THE CAIRNS BLOG is your home for political coverage! If there's an important election going on somewhere in the free world, THE CAIRNS BLOG will be here covering it! We will resume our continuing coverage of the American election this Monday, as we cover the Republican National Convention.

It's the next best thing to being there, which as you may have guessed, I won't be. Instead, I'll be in London, Ontario on Monday for the third and final live Ontario PC Leadership candidates' debate between Jim Flaherty, Frank Klees and John Tory. So I will be nowhere near a computer for most of the opening day of the big convention in New York City.

And even worse, I have another Conservative Party event to attend on Thursday night. Gosh, darnet. Well I have to go to these things- it's free food, for one thing. And for another I need to go to keep up the networking so that I can finally get in as a political aide or spin doctor to someone.

But don't worry. I'll figure out something. I'll be back in town late Monday night so I'll be able to watch the first night's proceedings, in rerun---- on PBS. And as usual I'll be spending much of my time putting up links to interesting political web sites so that you can access all the convention action. So look out for live convention coverage- some of the time- next week on the CAIRNS BLOG.


NHL LOCKOUT LOOMS

I am writing this while watching the USA in their game with Argentina in the Olympics. I have to be honest, I have a hard time getting excited about the Olympic Games. I suspect I'm not alone. A lot of sports fans are big on hockey and football and baseball, and only tune into the Olympics for the basketball.

But this is Canada, and a lot of people aren't even football or baseball fans. That's why you see a lot of hockey lockout talk on the news and a lot of gabbing about the World Cup of Hockey. That's all that a lot of Canadian sports fans care about. If you're an American and you tune into the sportscasts on TV in this country, you must think Canadians are a bunch of weirdos. Instead of baseball highlights and football stuff, it's The World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament highlights and the latest news on the lockout.

Everyone knows by now that the latest talks have gone nowhere yet again, and that the lockout is almost certain to happen on September 15. And therefore we had all better enjoy the World Cup because it's the last decent hockey we will be seeing for an awful long time.

I'm determined not to worry about it, at least in the short term. Heck, if they lock out on September 15, big fat deal. It's not officially hockey season anyway, it's just the pre-season. Hockey season doesn't officially start until the day after the baseball season ends. And besides, the NFL season is coming shortly and everyone will be up for that anyway. So I'm going to enjoy the baseball and football seasons and I'm not going to worry about the National Hockey League until it starts snowing outside.

But everyone else in town is having a heart attack over the NHL labour talks, and today people seem even more nervous than usual. I tuned into that new 640Toronto today and the hosts said they were tipped off by a source high up in the NHL that the owners are considering putting together a league with replacement players in January. Just like what happened with the National Football League back in 1987.

We remember what happened. The NFL brought in the scabs, the fans showed up (in fewer numbers, but they did show up), the union was broken and the real games resumed within weeks. The NHL would probably figure on the same thing happening. The league would have "replacement" hockey, and they'd gamble the fans would show up. And you know what? They probably WOULD show up throughout the bleeping league! Look at these NHL cities with successful AHL teams doing big business - places like Chicago and Philadelphia. The fans obviously don't care about whether the hockey is minor-league or not. All they care about are the fights. I think it wouldn't fly too well in places like Toronto, though. A lot of people will be asking for their money back.

If they go through with this crazy scheme the NHL figures it would be able to break the union and impose cost certainty. But boy, the whole sport will be disrupted, with these AHL and ECHL and UHL players called up as replacements. Then what do they do? Go on strike? What a mess. If these hawks in the ownership are serious about this, the National Hockey League is in deeper trouble than any of us realize. We could really be in for a total debacle.

I am now staring mouth agape at the TV watching Argentina kick the USA Dream Team out of the Olympics in basketball. Unbelievable.

COALITION OF THE IDIOTS

Why do people in Mississauga-Erindale keep on re-electing that idiot Carolyn Parrish? That's what one Toronto Sun writer would like to know.

Like I say: the people are always right.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

REPORT: DOROTHY LUCEY FIRED

I get the impression that Good Day Live is a sinking ship. First they get rid of Jillian Barberie and now I read on a fan web site that they shoved Dorothy Lucey out the door too. What's going on over there? Are the ratings that bad? Is the producer a maniac? Maybe Dorothy's a diva. I dunno what the real story is. Who cares. Anyway, she's finished.

Tomorrow is Dorothy's last day on Good Day Live as she is being replaced by tabloid artist Arthel Neville and The View's former resident dumb blonde, Debbie Matenopolous(!). Enjoy it while you can, Arthel and Debbie, because I suspect you'll get the Donald Trump treatment very soon, too.

Dorothy will still host the morning show Good Day LA with Steve Edwards and Jillian Barberie.

YESTERDAY A SLOW NEWS DAY IN TORONTO

So I thought I'd give you a link to the big story yesterday.

It's not every day that downtown gets shut down by some lunatic who pistol-whips his wife and threatens to kill her, takes a hostage at gunpoint and is later gunned down in broad daylight by a police sharpshooter. Right out of a movie script.

It was the top story on CFTO, City, Global, CBC, everyone in town.

I'll never call Toronto a boring news town again.


IN OTHER NEWS, Carolyn Parrish has done it again and referred to Americans who support missile defence as "the coalition of the idiots". She isn't apologizing for it either!

I wonder what her constituents who re-elected her think. The people are always right, supposedly. But Carolyn Parrish is making the constituents who elected her look like idiots- repeatedly- thanks to her big mouth.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

MEDIA NOTES

Just thought I'd add a few notes from the media world:

No word yet what will happen with Toronto1 now that Quebecor has bought the place. Toronto1, of course, was the new startup TV station owned by Craig Broadcasting that became one of the most notorious flops in the history of Canadian TV. The station aired lots of inane, quasi-hip entertainment-style programming that no one watched, wrecked the careers of Wei Chen, Ben Chin, and everyone else who worked there, and lost so much money that Craig had to sell its entire business empire (including the A-Channel stations in Alberta and Manitoba) off to CHUM. CHUM then went and dumped Toronto1 to the highest bidder, which, to everyone's surprise, was Quebecor.

I'm not going to get into a rant here about what I think Toronto1 should have done differently because that would take all day and night: they did EVERYTHING wrong in my book. They were nothing more than a second-rate ripoff of Citytv. The question now is what will QUEBECOR, who owns the Toronto Sun, do with the place? My theory is they'll turn the place into an English-language copy of their French network TVA and that the programming will be much more conventional from now on; hopefully, more news. And I mean a REAL NEWSCAST, not that Studio 2 ripoff Toronto Tonight. Personally, I think they ought to figure out what WGN and WTBS did to be successful and follow that route. Be a true "independent" and stop trying to be ultra-hip. Rumor has it that the Sun personalities who used to show up at CablePulse24 are now going to go to Toronto1 and that may be the answer right there to the question of what becomes of the place.

Second comes news of a format change over at Corus-owned MOJO RADIO 640. They have ditched their "Talk Radio for Guys" format and are now trying to be a conventional newstalk radio station aimed at a male audience with real hard news and the like. When they were Talk Radio for Guys they tried to be MAXIM Magazine on the radio, complete with MOJO models and calendars and the like, aimed at guys who liked to drink beer. Then they discovered that it's pretty difficult to put bikini-clad women on the radio, and even more difficult to drink beer and listen to the radio in the car on the way home. A good way to lose your driver's license.

Just joking. The truth is that the format at MOJO Radio was absolutely ridiculous. The only decent thing about the station was that it aired lots of sports. But then the sports ended and it was back to the usual shows about spies and UFOs. For sports fans who wanted to tune into Toronto Maple Leaf hockey games (especially female sports fans), it was downright insulting. Think of it. In Boston or New York or St. Louis or Montreal, or any other city in North America, you'd tune into decent news/talk radio stations or all sports radio stations to get NHL games or your favorite sporting events. In Boston, to get the Bruins you tune into WBZ, a talk station which talks about serious issues. In Montreal you tune into AM 800, another decent news/talk station, to get the Habs. Even in Buffalo the Sabres games were on an all-sports FM station. But in Toronto, the Maple Leafs' flagship was this ridiculous Talk Radio for Guys/MOJO RADIO station, with its stupid MOJO models and hosts talking about Viagra. It was embarrassing.

Hockey fans are serious people, serious about their sport and their team. For that matter, so are the broadcasters covering the team. To be on MOJO, well, what else could you say about it? It was a bad joke. No wonder they can't win a Cup- they're on MOJO, so they can't be serious. That tells you all you need to know.

At least now the station is acting like a conventional radio station. Good. It won't be embarrassing to tune into a Leaf game on 640 anymore. At least, that's assuming the Leafs are playing. I think they might be making this format change because they realized over there that they're going to need some decent programming to fill the time when the Leafs are locked out all winter. The ratings are going to take a bath.

Next, the WB49 from Buffalo has a new newscast, WB49 News at 10. It launched just last week. It features a small staff in Buffalo and takes the rest of its items from News Central. News Central is beamed by satellite from a studio in Baltimore where Morris Jones reads the news and feeds the national stories. (Fox 31 Rochester, which is seen on cable in many parts of Canada, is also a News Central station.)

I noticed there was some Canadian content: Ali Velshi was on there doing a national story. I also noticed that the weekend anchor, Sarah Bishop, is a Canadian from Niagara Falls. How did all these Canucks get into the States? I'd like to know. The WB is also the network that has the game show Studio 7, featuring serious newsman-turned-game show host Pat Kiernan from New York 1, CNN, and Canada.

It's funny. You can't get the WB49 on regular cable in Toronto, but it just beams into Toronto via rabbit ears. Same with UPN 23. Your CRTC at work, people.

Finally, I was adding a few new fan links for CNN and found out that Daljit Dhaliwal has left the network. Wow, that's a shock. She was so big doing the ITN World News for Public Television and then got the rug pulled from under her, and then went to CNN and now her career is totally off the rails. That's what scares me about the TV business- you can be big one day and gone the next. Same with MSNBC roadkill Ashleigh Banfield.

Yikes. Scary business.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

KILBORN IS LEAVING THIS FRIDAY

Just read this on TVBarn. Craig Kilborn's departure is much sooner than I anticipated... actually, it's this week. Friday will be Craigger's last show.

The show will then be hosted by a series of guest hosts in a manner akin to what happened to the Late Show with Joan Rivers after Joan got the boot; also similar to what happened to Later on NBC after the departure of Greg Kinnear. In short, The Late Late Show on CBS is about to go straight into the toilet. The show's basically ruined.

So the big debate for me at 12:35 is settled: it's Conan all the way from now on. Who knows, maybe he'll be the eventual replacement for Kilborn down the road on CBS.

And boy, what an abrupt departure for Craig Kilborn. I still think there is something more going on behind the scenes that the publicity people aren't telling us about. I still think Kilborn has a different reason for walking than the "I want to try something new" BS... because he's walking straight out the door this very week! Something about this smells funny.

Monday, August 23, 2004

THE SWIFT BOAT AD- THEY'RE STILL AT IT

I thought I would weigh in on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their smear campaign against John Kerry's Vietnam record.

The background: John Kerry is a Vietnam war vet who got a Purple Heart for his courageous service during the war. He appears before Congress trashing all the skullduggery that went on in Vietnam. He accepted the Democratic nomination at a convention where numerous veterans praise him on stage for all the lives he courageously saved. And Kerry opens his acceptance speech by saluting and saying "I'm reporting for duty!"

Now these Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have launched a massive ad campaign. Their campaign basically skewers Kerry and his war record. They are claiming Kerry basically didn't deserve his Purple Heart, doesn't represent their views and would be a horrible Commander-in-Chief. They've gone so far as to tell reporters that Kerry was discharged because of "superficial wounds" and the like- or so they said on TV just now.

Now I find it incredible that the Vietnam War would still be an issue in the presidential race. I find it incredible that these candidates are being raked over the coals for what they did or didn't do in their past lives or whatever. It seems as if all that the media care about is whether you smoked pot, whether you cheated on your wife and where you were during the Vietnam War. Well, thanks to these Swift Boat Veterans we can safely say now that it doesn't matter what anyone did or didn't do in Vietnam- you can serve your country and get a Purple Heart, and some interest group will still find a way to criticize you and make you look undeserving of the highest office in the land.

I thought this story would be over by now. But check out the newscasts and the blogs out there. They're STILL talking about Vietnam and about Kerry's record, and about these Swift Boat Veterans and their TV ads. Why? Because these ads are apparently WORKING. A lot of veterans and ordinary people have seen these ads and are now convinced that Kerry was a traitor to the country and should be kept far away from the corridors of power. And it's affecting the poll numbers and removing all the bounce from Kerry's war-hero portrayals at his convention in Boston. That convention was supposed to give him a huge bounce in the polls. But thanks to the hatchet job by the Swift Boat Veterans, there's been very little bounce at all.

And unfortunately, the lunatic element of the political chattering class has been having a field day. They go on all the talk shows and argument shows, and they yak about the Swift Boat Vets and how their allegations are the Gospel and they prove Kerry is unfit to be President. Last week Michelle Malkin appeared on Chris Matthews' show Hardball and got her head handed to her. She was trying to stick up for the Swift Boat Vets but Matthews went on a rampage. He argued with her and accused her of saying that Kerry deliberately shot himself in order to win the Purple Heart, when Malkin wasn't using that language at all. This was clearly a case of Matthews sticking words in Malkin's mouth, and Matthews shooting down Malkin for what Matthews accused her of saying.

You can read all about it on Hardblogger and on Michelle Malkin's own website. Malkin now is complaining about how she was unable to say her piece. Well, what do you expect? Chris Matthews, along with Bill O'Reilly, doesn't tolerate spin of any kind, and appearing on his show is an invitation to get humiliated, because Matthews has a reputation for being loud and having a really big mouth. Now there's word that the Republicans are going to boycott Matthews' show at the CONVENTION, because the feeling is that Matthews is now a complete Kerry partisan.

But back to my main point: the point is that these Swift Boat Vets have the entire national media focused on what these two dudes running for the White House did in Vietnam. I say, who cares about that, why shouldn't we be worrying about what they will do NOW? And what their policies are? I'm more worried about how Kerry will fight the war on terror and deal with these middle-eastern rogue-type people, to be honest with you. But instead the media is focusing on the "character" issue again for the umpteenth election in a row, and the Swift Boat vets have provided these talk show hosts with several weeks' worth of programming, thanks to their negative ads.

What makes this even more maddening is that everyone out there on both sides of the political divide knows that these ads are a low blow. Even George W. Bush is distancing himself from these character assassinations. Yet no one is prepared to do a darned thing to elevate the level of debate. Instead we get the likes of Michelle Malkin arguing with Chris Matthews over whether Kerry deliberately shot himself, while Democrats are belittling Bush for serving in the National Guard. The Democrats are blaming the anti-Kerry ads on Bush and his people, but Bush has no direct involvement: these negative ads are all the work of a "soft-money" group, also known as a "527" group- so named because that's the tax code they fall under. Bush had a big press conference today claiming that he's against these 527 groups and wants these ads off the air. He says Kerry performed "admirably" in Vietnam and should be proud of his war record. Supposedly the campaign reform package he signed into law was intended to get rid of these soft-money-type people and special interest groups, but here they are, still on the loose.

The Democrats, though, aren't satisfied. They are blaming Bush and his team for the ads and are trying to get some mileage out of tarring Bush as responsible for a smear campaign. So everyone's going after everyone again, and talking about these ads while ignoring the real issues that Americans ought to be really worried about.

Frankly, I'm fed up with people debating the war records of Bush and Kerry. Here's what I say.

Bush served honorably in the National Guard. It's time to lay off of Bush for that. And Kerry served honorably in Vietnam and got a Purple Heart for it. So we should lay off of Kerry, too. Enough already with the debate over the merits of what these people did during Vietnam. And enough with these journalists who are still obsessed with Vietnam. It's time for these journalists and media monkeys and politicians and campaign people to focus on other issues.

ENOUGH ALREADY.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

SMACKDOWN IN SUDBURY

The Ontario PCs held their second of three leadership debates in Sudbury last night at Laurentian University in front of a large and enthusiastic group of PC supporters. The good turnout was heartening to see for Northern PC supporters. Then again, just about everyone there was bussed in from out of town anyway. So Frank Klees and his rants about Toronto were kind of blunted by that big Toronto audience. Still, you could tell this was the North as the debate topics focused on important issues to Northern voters: particularly the bear hunt.

As for the debate itself, well, I must say it was not as lively or vitriolic compared to the one in Ottawa which I didn't happen to attend. The strategy of John Tory is to try and make a point of agreeing with everyone and looking like the good guy in the race. Everyone knows that Jim Flaherty wants to make an issue out of Tory being too moderate, a Liberal-in-disguise, all that nonsense. Best thing to do in that type of situation is to agree with your opponents on more than a few occasions and not come out swinging all the time. If you're going to swing at anyone, swing at McGuinty and those promise-breaking Liberals. It's not a good strategy for exciting debating, not exactly the WWE-style ruckus that we are used to seeing, but it's a really good strategy for making you look statesmanlike and like a real PC, just like the rest of them.

Last night Tory's strategy looked very effective. Jim Flaherty, to me, looked frustrated and flustered with his two opponents on a couple of occasions last night, in part because Tory's strategy was blunting all of Flaherty's attacks. More important was a shift of strategy by Frank Klees. In Ottawa, Klees and Flaherty were attacking Tory big-time, trying to marginalize him and make him look like a Toronto-centric quasi-Liberal. Tory made sure the media knew he was being targeted: gee I wonder why they care so much about Tory. He must be winning.

But last night, Klees shifted focus and was targeting Flaherty in the debate most of the evening. Klees was blasting away at Flaherty for supporting choice in education but not supporting choice in health care. I am convinced this shift was by design. I am sure that part of the reason Klees blasted away at Flaherty had to do with that news story from Canwest a week or so ago claiming that Klees was ahead of Flaherty. Klees was obviously trying to capitalize on that and make Flaherty look like he is on the run, and of course take the focus off of John Tory's frontrunner status by trying to ignore him. Good strategy if you're in Klees' position.

Accordingly, Flaherty looked like a desperate man all night, trying in vain to get something going against the calm and affable John Tory, while at the same time getting bombed from the other end of the stage by Klees. He did get to sputter a few words about winning with conviction and stood his ground on the CSR and all that, so his contingent got to cheer him a few times.

Klees and Tory also had a bit of an exchange as Klees remarked at one point that Tory would make a great "education minister" in his government(!). Tory, on the other hand, made Klees pay for that insult later on. When they battled on the health care issue, Tory noted there was an honest difference of opinion between him and Klees on that issue, so much so that if he were elected Premier, Klees would probably not be Minister of Health!

That was a pretty funny exchange, but to be honest with you, Tory's good-guy strategy and Flaherty's lack of traction during the debate made the event, ahem, not the greatest show in the world. I've seen better leadership debates. Basically we know where all the candidates stand. Tory is your candidate if you are serious about beating McGuinty and reviving the party with the people who really count, ordinary voters. Flaherty's pitch is to Win With Conviction and return the old Common Sense Revolution. And Klees is the anti-establishment outsider who would get rid of the unelected spinmeisters and backrooms advisers, and tell it like it is on issues like health care. That's their pitch and frankly, these debates are less about winning and losing than about establishing your position and letting people know what you are and what you stand for. John Tory doesn't need to register a knock-out punch in order to win the leadership. He needs votes, and if you get into too many scraps, Flaherty can just say "you look like a Liberal", and that can turn these PC voters off. Conversely, if Flaherty comes out swinging at everyone, he looks like a divisive individual. Klees doesn't have to worry about any of this because his debating style is much more plodding, more methodological in a let-me-explain-it-to-you type of fashion.

So it's pretty silly to talk about knockout punches at these events or even to expect them. These debates are really nothing more than yet another test of strength and part of the larger picture. Everyone in the room was basically a hard-core supporter, no real undecided people in the crowd. All the campaigns are organized at these things and Flaherty and Klees had a sizable contingent of people there. Klees' people had lots of signs and lots of people, and they were hawking their Klees DVD there. Jim Flaherty had his big "Win With Conviction" signs and lots of people holding placards. For some reason Tory supporters didn't have any placards- I guess they figured they didn't need any because they had a big turnout of people wearing ToryforOntario T-shirts. They also had a huge hospitality suite inside the hall on the upper level. (Klees, I noticed, had to hold his post-debate event across the street.)

The next big debate is in a couple of weeks in London, Ontario, which promises to be make-or-break, particularly for Flaherty, who everyone I talk to thinks is fighting for his life right now.


Monday, August 16, 2004

PROGRAMMING NOTES

THE CAIRNS BLOG will continue its comprehensive coverage of the Ontario PC Leadership contest. We will be travelling up to Sudbury on Tuesday for the All-Candidates Debate taking place there, and we will have a full update as soon as we return on Wednesday.

Also: yours truly is continuing to look for websites of interesting broadcasting people and have added the personal website of sports reporter Ann Liguori. Ann primarily does golf reporting and she has a talk show that you can hear on WFAN 660 from New York. (Actually, when you think about it, she's stuck with the worst beats at the station- covering tennis tournaments and other garbage.) I think it's Sunday evenings that she is on with her talk show- they move her show around a lot.

UPDATE ON CHAVEZ

Well. It looks as if Chavez KEPT HIS JOB after all. Well, the credibility of the UK Independent is shot. They had him losing big when I went to bed. And for that matter MY credibility is shot. I might as well never do hard news stories again.

The government is releasing vote returns that indicate 58% of the vote for Chavez. And quite predictably, the opposition is claiming fraud.

You know, the people are supposed to always be right in a democracy, but in these non-first world countries I dunno. You're supposed to say "the people are always right" because if you don't respect election results, civilization breaks down. The country falls apart into chaos and war, and you're left to remove governments by force instead of by the ballot box. That's never good.

Far as I can tell, either (a) the vote was stolen by Chavez, or (b) the people were stupid. When either one of those things happens in a democracy it's always bad news- you're just asking for instability, chaos and war. So what point is there to saying the people are always right? Looks like Venezuela's going back to the usual chaos and general strikes, and our oil will continue to cost us a fortune.

Personally, if I were Venezuelan I'd look for another country to live in- get the heck away from Chavez and crew. I expect a lot of Venezuelans are looking for the first flight to Miami today. I'm not Venezuelan, but this referendum result is another reason for me to consider myself fortunate to be a Canadian (!) (?).

Sunday, August 15, 2004

VENEZUELA'S RECALL REFERENDUM

Venezuelans have voted- not just in Venezuela but all over the world- in the historic referendum to boot Hugo Chavez, their lunatic, incompetent Castro-loving President. Right now all the exit polls have it as a decisive victory for the opposition.

Good. He's made a mess of Venezuela- or, as the commentators call it, oil-rich Venezuela. Maybe it's oil-rich, but the people are poor, thanks to Chavez and his disasterous anti-free enterprise policies that have driven companies right out of the country. It was so bad that Miss Venezuela nearly had to stay at home because the pageant officials didn't have enough money to send her to the Miss Universe Pageant a couple years ago. (Venezuela, for those of you who know, is the beauty-pageant capital of the world. Miss Venezuela wins more beauty pageants than any other country.)

Hopefully, the business climate down there will improve with a change in leadership, and people will be able to get decent paying jobs, for a change. And maybe now there will be some stability down there. I have access to a ton of live streaming feeds of Venezuelan TV stations (and it's excellent TV, might I add). It will be nice to know that my favorite Spanish-language sitcoms, cop shows and baseball games won't be pre-empted anymore by the usual live coverage of protests and general strikes that have become a staple of TV from that country. I'm sick of watching news coverage of Fidel Castro speeches from Venezuela.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

CHARLEY

The American cable news channels are going all-Charley all the time with Florida getting belted by the storm, and now the Carolinas are in the line of fire.

For complete coverage of the coverage, check out today's TVNewser, which also has some interesting coverage of that menacing danger to society Mike Wallace. That silly Mike Wallace arrest- now that's funny. Two questions: why the heck don't these cops look for real criminals? And second: will Court TV cover the trial?

UPDATE-
Charley has been downgraded to a tropical storm so the Carolinas can breathe a sigh of relief.

NBC 2 in Fort Myers has a lot of coverage of the Charley wreckage down there including some live video streaming of the news. Brother George and Brother Jeb are declaring it a disaster area. All I've got to say about it is: boy, what a mess.

Friday, August 13, 2004

STICK A FORK IN CRAIG KILBORN

I was watching Good Day Live with Steve and Dorothy and I almost fell out of my chair when they said a longtime successful late-night talk show host was calling it quits. Turns out it's not Letterman who's leaving (thank G) but Craig Kilborn. That was an unpleasant surprise.

It says a lot that I'm writing about Kilborn's departure and that I'm not talking about the boring Olympic Games, or about that New Jersey governor who resigned the other day, or about Andre Ouellet. I don't even care anymore about Dalton Photo-Radar McGuinty. So he's hosing the people again. That's not news. Shows you where my mind is these days; I've been watching way too much of the TV news and need a chance to escape.

Besides, talking about Kilborn's planned departure later this year gives me a chance to write about entertainment and I wouldn't mind doing more entertainment writing. I'm starting to realize I can't keep up with these other crazy bloggers who write prolific about politics all the time, so I think I'm going to have to up the pop-culture quotient, otherwise this blog will descend right into the ocean depths.

It's too bad Kilborn is leaving. It sounds as if he wants to do more behind the scenes stuff as a producer and comedy writer, and get away from being a big-shot personality. There's a lot of downside to being recognized on the street; you might get mugged or even sued. I imagine that may have something to do with the decision, but there could be another reason.

The spin is that Kilborn is going out with terrific ratings and that he is beating the heck out of Jimmy Kimmel. Well, if he's doing so well why aren't these clowns at CBS busting their rear ends to keep him? I smell a rat, folks. Me thinks Kilborn may not have been happy with the way he was treated, that maybe he was offered a new deal by CBS and the offer was an insult. I don't know if that's the story but I wouldn't be surprised if Kilborn felt he deserved more than what Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel got. We'll see what the real story is. Maybe he is tired of it.

Kilborn, of course, started his career in sports as part of what was the "feel good" edition of SportsCenter on ESPN. Then he gave it all up to pursue comedy on The Daily Show, then gave up that gig for the Late Late Show.

I really liked his show. You could count on that letch Kilborn to bring in a lot of supermodels and Playboy playmates to the show- he's been known to frequent the Playboy Mansion from time to time-and he counts Robert Evans as one of his personal friends/heroes.

An interesting footnote is the issue of who will take over from Kilborn. It appears as if Conan O'Brien may be a possibility: CBS may be thinking of luring him away from NBC after his contract comes up over there. So there's a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes stuff happening, too. I dunno if Jon Stewart can get out of his Daily Show gig. I think he signed some big contract already so his hands are tied. Not likely to come back is Tom Snyder, who hosted the Late Late Show before Kilborn and whose ratings weren't very good. I expect the show will stay in Hollywood but really, who knows right now.

Personally I think the fossil who really needs to be put out to pasture in late night is Ted Koppel. His arrogant and boring high-brow show has to be the most pretentious in all of late night television. But he'll never be canceled. Even if they make an attempt to axe him his fans will save him. Every time.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

AUGUST 12, 1994:THE DAY THE EXPOS DIED

It was 10 years ago today that the major league baseball players union began their infamous 1994 players strike, a strike that went on to wipe out the entire 1994 season with no playoffs or World Series.

And it was a strike that wiped out the Montreal Expos, who had a record of 74-40 when the strike began and whose best shot- only shot, in retrospect- at winning a world title went down the tubes.

People talk about how that strike was the straw that broke the camels' back in Montreal. Keep in mind that attendance and interest in the Expos hadn't been all that great to begin with when the 1994 season rolled around. The Expos had been replaced in the hearts and minds of Canadians by the Toronto Blue Jays, and as a result you could hardly see any Expos games on the TV because it was all Blue Jays all the time.

And Montreal was still a Canadiens town, helped along by some winning Habs teams and a couple more recent Stanley Cups to go along with all the rest of the ones they won. Because the Habs were always going deep into the playoffs throughout the 1980s and 90s, interest in the Expos suffered. Attendance at Expos games would always go into the dumpster every spring because the Canadiens would be in action downtown, at the Montreal Forum, playing for the Cup.

1994 represented the last opportunity for the Expos to regain the interest of the fans who had seen this baseball team break their hearts one too many times. But then came the strike, and that was the last straw. The Expos, of course, were forced to sell off Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom and all their star players, and that was the beginning of the end, all because baseball couldn't come to an agreement with the players.

The irony was that the Expos could really have turned it around and recaptured the hearts of the fans in Montreal, and for that matter Canada. The Canadiens, we all know now, were about to go straight down the tubes with several losing seasons. For that matter, all the other hockey teams in Canada were about to go down the tubes. The Quebec Nordiques were moving to Denver, the Jets were moving to Phoenix, and the rest of the teams weren't coming within 1000 miles of a Stanley Cup.

The Blue Jays, too, as we all know, went straight down the tubes. That left it free and clear for the Expos to clean up and regain interest in their team from the famously fair-weather fans that make up this country.

The excuse I keep hearing is that the strike broke the hearts of the fans and that was the final straw for everyone and the reason why this team is on its last legs. But I don't necessarily buy that lame excuse. The Red Sox and the Cubs have spent their entire team histories as losers and martyrs. Fans show up anyway, because baseball's tradition is so strong that they keep showing up at the ballpark to have their hearts broken again and again.

Same thing with the Texas Rangers, the Houston Astros, the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Seattle Mariners, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Anaheim Angels. These teams have, over the years, broken the hearts of the fans in manners similar to what the Expos have encountered. The Giants blew a World Series to the Angels. The Brewers haven't had a winning team in years. The White Sox still haven't recovered from the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The Cleveland Indians ran one of the worst organizations in baseball for 35 years and played in an aging hulk of a stadium, just like the Expos. The Rangers and Astros have a glorious history of losing playoff series: they've never won a playoff series, ever. The only two times the Padres made it to the Series, they got hammered. The Mariners won the most games in the history of baseball in 2001, only to lose in the playoffs to the Yankees; now, that has to rank right up there for heartbreak. And this year the Mariners are losing all the time. Yet the fans keep on supporting them. The fans kept on supporting the Anaheim Angels for so many years even though they kept on blowing pennants and playoff series; they were even one strike away from winning the pennant in 1986. They were up 3 games to 1 before managing to blow that playoff series to the hapless Red Sox (!). It took a silly Rally Monkey in 2002 for them to finally get the playoff monkey off their back.

So don't give me this pathetic excuse that this strike was the final blow for the Expos. True, it was a major blow, certainly a death blow, but the patient could still have survived if people in Montreal had cared enough.

Personally, I think a new stadium would have saved the Expos, for sure. All those teams that I just mentioned managed to save their franchises by building new stadiums. Some of those teams even completely turned it around: the Cleveland Indians are the prime example. They went from being complete losers at cavernous Cleveland Stadium to pennant winners at Jacobs Field. The Anaheim Angels renovated their stadium to include waterfalls and the like, and that helped revive that franchise.

We saw what happened with the Alouettes who moved into an open-air stadium and revived interest in football in the city. What the Expos needed to do was get out of crumbling Olympic Stadium and move into that Labatt Park they were proposing in downtown Montreal. I'm convinced that if they had built a stadium like that, people would have flocked to see the place, just out of curiosity. Ticket sales and broadcast rights would have gone back up, the Expos could have afforded to keep many of their up and coming players, and they would have started winning. And the fans would forget all about 1994 and would have supported the Expos again. Well, maybe not completely forget, or even forgive. But they would have shown up. And the Expos could have taken advantage of the media void created by those crummy NHL teams in Montreal and by the mediocrity that afflicted the Toronto Blue Jays.

But no. The Parti Quebecois decided they wouldn't support a new stadium. And the federal government wouldn't chip in, especially after the vehement reaction they got when they put together a package to try and bail out the NHL teams. The thing is, that was a different situation. As history has proven, the NHL teams didn't need a bailout to survive. They needed to get their house in order. Baseball, of course, should do the same thing but that alone would not save the Expos. The Expos needed to have the community step up and make an effort to save them. And Montreal, the province of Quebec and all of Canada didn't do a darned thing. Mind you, the Expos management did a lot to hurt their own credibility by dealing away players for nothing and by openly blaming the fans for their plight. "It's your fault that we're gutting the team!" they seemed to be saying. "It's your fault you're not getting to see the games on TV!" And of course they were big hawks during the strike. Claude Brochu was saying all the time that they needed to get a new economic system which would allow the franchise to survive. Sort of like what we're hearing these days from the NHL teams; the exact same line of bull. But then they canceled the season, the team proceeded to dump the star players, and they blamed the fans for having to do all this when all they had to do was look straight in the mirror for the mess they found themselves in.

Blaming the fans is no way to win customers, and they made a lot of mistakes, the people running the Expos. But then again, look at the extremely tough crowd they were dealing with.

So now we are in the the final dog days leading up to the final days for the Expos franchise, and when this team finally does make the announcement that it will soon be spending its time rummaging around the D.C. area, it will be a sad day. Because I really think things could have been different in Montreal with the Expos. But I just don't think the fans and the community stepped up to the plate. Not one bit.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

50 BUSLOADS OF PEOPLE TRY IN VAIN TO SAVE CHOI-FM

Well, yesterday there was a huge rally in Ottawa as a bunch of Quebec City radio listeners went to Parliament Hill to try and save CHOI-FM.

And to me the protesters looked like ordinary, non-political type people- with the notable exception of Conservative MP Peter Goldring who showed up. But from the looks of it it was just normal people. Just normal Quebecois. They're just browned off that their favorite edgy radio station is being kicked off the air--- by a bunch of politico correctos and other dull people who have nothing better to do, and by our federal Liberal Muppet Government who insists on having their hands in everything.

You know, when normal radio listeners show up for rallies against the government on Parliament Hill that's a sure sign of a government going way, way too far on an issue. Usually these political rallies attract the usual special interest groups, social activists and other no-lives type people. But this is different.

But will Liza Frulla listen to all these 5000 or so people, or to the radio listeners who made this station so popular? No. The federal government is filled with uptight political correctos themselves, so they won't intervene to stop the CRTC from booting this station off the air.

I still think the CRTC is doing the wrong thing. It's total censorship. It's undemocratic. It's totalitarian. Someone held up a sign at that rally saying "if this is democracy then I want out" or something like that.

Right now, the fellows over at Rightwing.ca are having a contest. They are really against dictatorships and authoritarian governments and I'm with them 1000%. They're calling on people's submissions to talk about how much better it would be to live in a democracy as opposed to a dictatorship.

Well, if Canada's a democracy it should start acting like it. This CRTC decision reeks of Cuba. This reeks of the Soviet Union. And don't get me started on the Fox News Channel again.

You know, when the shutdown date comes along I'd sure like to see these people at CHOI-FM try to defy the CRTC and stay on the air, and force the RCMP to come in and take them off. Just like what happened in Czechoslovakia in 1968. That will show everyone in the country just how "democratic" Canada really is.

Canada, land of freedom. My foot!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

SOMEONE STOP THESE GUYS: MCGUINTY STRIKES AGAIN

A few days ago I called this Liberal provincial government in Ontario a Disney-cartoon government for its Mickey Mouse/Pinocchio approach to public policy. But these days it's looking like a combination of SCTV and the Muppet Show.

It's SCTV in the Bob and Doug McKenzie sense, because, well, this government is a bunch of hosers. They keep coming up with new and creative ways to hose the people of Ontario. And it's the Muppet Show in the sense that the people of Ontario are stuck in the audience, like those two old guys Statler and Waldorf up in the balcony, and forced to endure the wretched show they are witnessing from Dalton McGuinty and his team of puppeteers.

Today they announce that they are going to waste Ontarians' hard-earned taxpayer money putting up cameras to catch people who run red lights, which is great if you want to catch people who run red lights. The problem is that this is Ontario, where nobody stops at red lights. Even if you slow down and just barely go over the stop line, you can get nailed by the cops. Even if it's the dead of winter and stopping would risk a big wipeout, you risk getting nailed by these cameras and you'd have to hire X-Copper to bail you out in court. You, the driver, who has to run a red in order to avoid getting hit from behind at these dangerous intersections, can get nailed by the cops and have to take time off from work to go to court to explain to the judges why you couldn't stop at a red light, just to avoid the fine.

It's like the return of Photo-Radar. It's a complete hose job and a cash cow for the government. And the Liberals are the ones to blame for this new policy, right? Well, no. According to them, it's Mike Harris and all his tax cuts that created the problems the Liberals have now decided to fix. Nice.

Then you have the hearings into Bill 100 going on this week, that is the new hydro restructuring legislation. Energy Minister Dwight Duncan, really on the ball here, is now saying he can't rule out rate increases when the freeze on rates ends. He can't even prevent another big blackout from happening like the one last year. Wonderful; more chaos waiting to happen. They'll probably blame Mike Harris for that decision, too.

Then on the weekend Mary Anne Chambers, minister for colleges and universities, announces she's going to let the universities raise tuition after the tuition freeze comes to an end. That's another campaign promise down the tubes. I don't know how they heck they'll be able to blame Mike Harris for this one.

And on and on and on. You have David Caplan musing about bringing in toll roads. You have George Smitherman musing about using taxpayer money to buy out private MRI clinics. You have Greg Sorbara and his incredible tax-and-spend budget and big deficit.

That's an awful lot of stuff for these people to blame Mike Harris for. Unfortunately, the Liberals have no one to blame but themselves. The decision to hose the people and break their election commitments is entirely theirs and theirs alone.

It's one thing after another for the McGuinty Liberals and frankly, I don't know how they get away with it. Hopefully, they aren't getting away with it. In my view their credibility is down the tubes, but of course my voice doesn't count because I'm an evil Conservative. Hopefully the swing voters are seeing through McGuinty and his pals, because if they aren't, I'll be ready to pack up and leave for Alberta or British Columbia. Even Quebec would be an improvement. That's how hopping mad I am with these McGuinty Liberals.

I plan to resume my French lessons, soon.

P.S. -I heard on the news that this red-light camera thing had a successful trial run in Toronto and that our great Mayor David Miller is behind it. They say it cuts down on the fatalities. So now they're giving the OK to all the municipalities to go ahead with it. Well, I'm all in favor of cutting fatalities, but the way this thing is set up really makes me worry. They claim that safeguards are in place to make sure people won't get hosed. They're also spending money to put up signs that say "this light has cameras". Yeah, sure, trust the government to say "I will not hose you."

I said it before and I'll say it again: GET READY TO BE HOSED.

Monday, August 09, 2004

RECRIMINATIONS ARE ON AFTER THE BLUE JAYS FIRING

To give you a sense of some of the heat that is being hurled at the Blue Jays, check out this column by Bob Elliott who roasts J.P. Ricciardi.

Here's my take on the GM. I think that a lot of the comments and complaints are justified but I think he gets a year's grace because this was the ultimate bad-luck year. I say let's see what happens next year and whether this team makes some strides forward. Then, pull the plug on him.

ONTARIO PC LEADERSHIP RACE: MEMBERSHIP TOTALS IN

This was the final week for the three leadership campaigns to get all their memberships in before the 6PM deadline on August 7th.

Regular mortals HAVE NO IDEA how big a week this was for the campaigns. This is similar to the Americans going out and getting people registered to vote. Signing up as many members as possible is important for a number of reasons. First, it's a glorified test of strength. If you sign up a lot of members you can brag about what a great shot your campaign has of winning, and use that in the "persuasion" phase of the race. Second: darnet, you need the most votes in order to win and only paid-up members get to vote. If you've signed up the most people the chances are you're more likely to get them out to the polls to vote on election day and win the leadership. Lots of people in politics know the story about how Ralph Klein won the leadership of the Alberta PCs way back in 1992: in the week between the first ballot and the runoff with the frontrunning Nancy Betkowski (later known as Nancy MacBeth), he went out and sold a ton of memberships, got them out to vote and won the leadership. So yeah, it's pretty important.

But it's more important that the members you sign up are actually committed to you and are actually going to go out and vote for you. I have a true story from the Tony Clement campaign in 2002 that I was a part of, and since everyone in Ontario politics knows this story by now, I figure it's safe for me to retell it here.

In that race a lot of reporters were discounting Clement's chances because there was a lot of bull being spun by Eves' people and others suggesting the campaign was in fourth or fifth place. So we held a press conference to tell people that, no, we were actually on track to sign up 30,000 members, and were going to shock the world and win the leadership race! Anyway, we had a crazy weekend rounding up memberships from everywhere in the province. We were frantically entering data into the databanks to track these tons of people. When the final membership totals were announced by the party, everyone at our office was celebrating. People were dancing jigs on their desks, literally. They all thought we were in a dead heat with Eves and Flaherty with our 30,000 members we recruited. Then came the leadership vote, and we got, what, a grand total of 4700 votes province-wide for Clement?!

During the 2004 Conservative leadership race, this whole episode came back to haunt Clement who was running for the national leadership at the time. The Belinda campaign singled out the 2002 leadership vote as an example to be wary of "inflated" claims by other campaigns. Belinda sent out, what was it, a leaked memo or something, a press release? Something on their web site talked about how Clement's team claimed they signed up 30,000 members in 2002 but only got 4700 people out to vote. (Of course, Belinda's own recruiting drive bombed, but never mind.) I can tell you, though, having been there, that we really did believe we had 30,000 people signed up for Clement. The problem was it was very soft, even though the highups were spinning that all these recruits were all rock-solid behind us. I suspect our people believed their own line of bull a little too much. My suspicion is that a lot of our recruits were, ahem, people who weren't really interested in politics. They thought their job was over when they bought their membership, and they didn't bother to show up and vote. That's my theory on what happened.

Anyway, that's me getting a load of my own thoughts off my mind about what really happened. Let that be a lesson to those of you running for leader. Whenever you sign up members to the party, make sure they're interested in politics! At least, be interested in the race! I think all of the campaigns this year have taken that to heart.

Getting back at this race in 2004: the campaigns are now spinning how well they did at selling memberships. The other day the Frank Klees campaign put out a press release on their web site claiming they signed up 10,000 people to their campaign. They announced it in pretty detailed fashion, with who are new members, who signed up through the local ridings etc. All to prove how honest and accountable they were. It seemed like a deft move by the Klees people to make this announcement because, well, it looked like the whole leadership campaign was a snoozefest with no interest from the public, and it looked as if no one really sold any memberships anyway, so signing up 10,000 people looks pretty good.

But then came yesterday at Jim Snow's farm in Hornby, Ontario. I was at that event: it was a BBQ to thank the volunteers for their hard work over the years, and a really good event. And it was another glorified test of strength for the leadership campaigns. All the candidates were there and everyone handed out buttons and T-shirts. John Tory's supporters swamped the rest of them, and of course were feeling good about all the memberships they'd sold because they felt they outsold everyone anyway. But Klees had lots of people wearing Klees T-shirts there, more than even Flaherty had, so they must have been feeling pretty good.

So then party president Blair McCreadie stands up there and announces that despite what happened in the election, 60000 people were now joined up to vote in the leadership race! Think about that for a moment. In spite of all the problems the party has faced, the party still manages to renew/recruit 60000 people- only 10000 of which were signed up by Frank Klees! And there's Caroline Mallan there for the Toronto Star, getting quotes from everyone on how everyone else is doing and writing up a big piece for the paper citing Klees' own crummy numbers.

Now how does that press announcement by Klees look today? His momentum is right down the chute. Let that be a lesson to you: never send out a press release announcing to the world that you're in third place. At least Klees didn't spew out a line of bull, I give him credit for that. We need honest people in politics. But let's face it: they've got a tough chore ahead trying to sway people to vote for a third-place candidate. I know. I've been there...with Clement!

So that was the big exciting political weekend in the province of Ontario, and it's back to boring as usual in the leadership race until the next debate in Sudbury. And this is probably the last time I'll post about the leadership race, at least until I attend a debate or something. I don't usually post too often about the Ontario PC leadership race, because I'm heavily involved and really feel I should shut up about my own campaign and how well it's doing. And I have a lot of friends working for Frank Klees. But I just couldn't resist going on a rant about that Klees press release. That was too good to pass up. Announcing to the world you're in third place, that's funny.

P.S.- Frank Klees has now put out yet another release, this one claiming he's winning. It refers to a Canwest News report that claims Klees has almost as many riding presidents as John Tory does and that this race is closer than expected. Boy, I dunno about that story, that's not the sense I get from talking to people. Maybe what they mean to say is: the race for runner-up is closer than expected. I'll say this: Jim Flaherty's campaign is going nowhere fast. I saw hardly anyone wearing Flaherty stuff at that thing at Jim Snow's farm and I'm surprised because in 2002 Flaherty's people were EVERYWHERE, even though they lost in the end. I just don't get it.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

BLUE JAYS MAKE CARLOS TOSCA WALK THE PLANK

I've had a busy last few days in the political world but that's over now, so now I can go back to updating with news from Toronto. And the big news of the day is that the hapless Toronto Blue Jays got blown out by the Yankees 8 to 2.

And the GM J.P. Ricciardi, who travelled to New York to witness this spectacle, has finally thrown up his arms and said "enough of this." He has fired manager Carlos Tosca.

It's too bad for Tosca, but someone had to take the fall for what happened this season. You can't fire the players. Heck, they've tried that stunt already but their players are refusing to leave, look at Carlos Delgado. He refuses to be traded for prospects who could help the team. That leaves Tosca and Ricciardi, and J.P. wasn't going to fire himself. So Tosca had to go. I feel he was a victim of circumstances here. The injuries caught up with the club and the team ended up losing, so the manager ended up taking the knife for the rest of the team.

When you think of it, this has to rank as one of the breathtakingly bad seasons in Blue Jays memory, in every respect. Think of it. They start the season getting swept by the crummy Detroit Tigers. Tom Cheek is knocked off the air by a brain tumour. Roy Halliday is forced onto the DL with a bad arm. The team is injured all over the place. They try and slip Josh Phelps through waivers and end up having to trade him to Cleveland. The topper, of course, is Carlos Delgado exercising the no-trade clause, hanging the whole rest of the team in the process.

Now, Carlos Tosca has to take the fall for all the problems the team has faced. Too bad. But's that's life, that's baseball. You think about all the problems this season and you have to think, there's nowhere to go but up for this team. This has been the ultimate bad-luck season in my opinion. Unfortunately, we'll have to put up with more talk from Gord Stellick, Roger Lajoie, and all those bandwagon jumper hockey fans on the radio who'll declare, yet again, that baseball's down the tubes in Toronto. Yes, this is definitely not Chicago!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

ANOTHER LEGENDARY BASEBALL ANNOUNCER PASSES AWAY

One of the all-time sturdiest baseball announcers has passed away. Bob Murphy, who called New York Mets games since 1962 until he retired last year, passed away at the age 79. Here's the tribute at the WFAN site.

We've been losing too many legendary baseball announcers in recent years to death or retirement: Harry Caray, Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell and now Bob Murphy. Fortunately Toronto Blue Jay fans have Tom Cheek back on the air for a few innings after too long an absense this year. We need Tom back at full strength.

JOHN TORY'S LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN REALLY ROLLING

I say this, of course, being completely biased. I was at one of their events today and had some good BBQ food down around Eglinton Park. John Tory was joined by a couple of city councillors and a decent enough crowd in the middle of Toronto after work.

And Tory's continuing to roll in endorsements. The other day he was endorsed by former Queen's Park MPP, cabinet minister and Conservative federal election candidate Dave Johnson and Don Valley East city councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong. Well, I guess Jim Flaherty and Frank Klees can pack it in, this one's in the bag for Tory. That settles that!

Actually, I'm just kidding. Or maybe I'm half-kidding. I've worked on Dave Johnson's campaigns so that's basically the reason why I wanted to mention that bit of news.

I think Tory will eventually win this thing but there's still a lot of hard work to do. The deadline for people to join the party is August 7th, and all the campaigns will be busy with a non-stop effort to get their memberships in by 6PM on that date. For people who still want to join the Ontario PC party and vote for John Tory, the Tory campaign has all that information on their web site. I will be busy doing leadership campaign work in that regard for the next few days so I won't be doing too much blogging here. I'll be making one of my rare appearances in the campaign office and plan to be there the rest of the week. So you'll be spared my ruminations about James Bond, or James Bond girls, for the next few days. You must all be going: thank heavens- all 3 of you tuning into this blog.

Incidentally, I was thinking about doing a list of who I thought were the best Bond girls ever, but in retrospect there's really no comparison. Ursula Andress rocks! She rocks forever! All the other Bond girls are pretenders to the throne to Honey Ryder as far as I'm concerned. So why even bother drawing up a list, any list would be a joke. And a waste of time.

In other political news, Bubba is in town tomorrow. Bill Clinton will be signing books at the Indigo on Bay and Bloor in Toronto, and apparently people with no lives plan to camp out all night in front of the book store in hopes of getting the book "My Life" autographed by Bill. Then they'll probably sell the book on eBay second-hand for big money.

BOND GIRLS

While still on the subject of James Bond, I've been thinking about who I'd really like to see as a Bond girl. And really, anyone but Jessica Simpson would do.

But I've been thinking, who would make a really good Bond girl? I've been thinking it over and I think I've finally come up with someone I think would be perfect, someone I'd really want to see.

Monica Bellucci.

She is a Bond girl waiting to happen.

McGUINTY: ONTARIO's GROVELING PREMIER

It's funny and sad to see our long-nosed Premier, Dalton McGuinty, shed his crocodile tears the other day at a luncheon in Markham.

He finally fessed up and said he did not keep his promises. His reason for not keeping them? We were too "ambitious", he said.

So the reason he couldn't keep his "I won't raise taxes" pledge was because he wanted to do lots of big things. Way to go, Premier. The thing is, if he wanted to do ambitious things why didn't he tell the province's voters that they were going to foot the bill? "I won't lower taxes, but I won't raise them either," he claimed in the TV ads.

The more you see this embarrassment McGuinty, the more you appreciate the former premiers like Mike Harris. Mike said what he was going to do, and then he did it. And the thing was: his promises were part of a comprehensive and ambitious program of change. It was the Common Sense Revolution. Pretty big stuff. Mike managed to be ambitious and yet keep his promises at the same time, and he did balance the books for a period of time. Meanwhile McGuinty has been blaming the Liberals' own fiscal mismanagement of the province on Harris policies, while going on their own spending spree with taxpayer dollars. Just last week Health Minister George Smitherman announced they were looking at using the public's own money to buy out these private MRI clinics that are operating within the current system. The Liberal government doesn't have to do this. People were getting the service they needed with their own health cards. Dalton McGuinty and his government could have opted to spend the money on other priorities or better yet, not spend the money at all and fight the deficit. Instead they're completely throwing the taxpayers' money away.

You can't blame Harris for this Liberal waste of money. This is your money, your tax dollars, down the drain thanks to McGuinty's "ambitious" big-spending big-government policies.

Man, if this is what an "ambitious" government does, I'm ready to call for a do-nothing government. At least that would do less damage.

What's really sad is that in the next election the Liberals may run on an "all politicians are the same" platform just like Paul Martin did, and try and tar the opposition as similar liars and scoundrels. That's why it's important for the opposition to hold the provincial Liberals to account. Not all politicians break their promises; not all politicians are the same. Many have integrity and principles, and unfortunately, those types are mostly on the opposition benches at Queen's Park right now. These Liberals have set a new low for credibility at Queen's Park, and it's important that the opposition hold the Liberals to account as entirely responsible for the mess that they have created in Ontario.

Honestly, at the rate McGuinty is going, people in Ontario will be screaming to bring in recall, just like in California. McGuinty's performance ranks right down there with the likes of Gray Davis. And by the way, PC MPP Norm Sterling is on record in the Legislature as saying Ontario should look at bringing in recall reforms. I wouldn't be surprised if recall gets some more support in Ontario after the performance of this inept, Disney-cartoon government.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

ON 007: WHY PIERCE BROSNAN WILL BE A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW

When Pierce Brosnan declared last week "that’s it," he's done playing James Bond in the famous movie series, speculation has been raging supreme about whether or not Brosnan really wants to walk away from the role or is simply angling as a negotiation tactic. "Bond is another lifetime behind me," he was quoted as saying. "We went out on a high and I look back affectionately at that time and doing those four movies. But I’ve said all I’ve got to say on it."

Personally I don't know why Brosnan is walking away, or what to make of it. My reaction last week mirrors that of a lot of Bond fans: he's kidding, right? I mean, we all know he's going to walk away at some point but we figured Brosnan has at least one last Bond movie left in him.

And really, who is there to replace him? From the looks of it there's really no one out there except for a bunch of second-raters, in my opinion. They were talking about Ewan McGregor, Clive Owen, Eric Bana, Hugh Jackman and even Hugh Grant(!). Now I don't know about the others but Hugh Grant would definitely be a joke. I'd probably swear off James Bond if he got the role, after all that's happened with him and after some of the movies he's made. Latest rumor seems to have Eric Bana as the frontrunner for the role but I really don't have any opinion about him.

The bottom line is that the next Bond has a tough act to follow. Mind you, any actor who's had the role after Sean Connery has had a tough act to follow. But Brosnan pulled it off, perfectly capturing both the sophistication and the toughness of the Bond character. This was the role he was born to play, and he successfully revived the James Bond franchise, a franchise that had lost its way when it veered into cartoon-character territory under Roger Moore, and then went right off the rails with the politically-correct Bond of Timothy Dalton ( those were the days when Bond had changed with the times and had became a one-woman man, etcetra. What a farce). Brosnan's Bond went back to being a letch, which was good, and went back to being not such a serious character. In short, Bond went back to being Bond, and the Brosnan Bond captured the essense that was the Sean Connery Bond while mixing it with the Roger Moore quality of winking at the audience and not taking the role too seriously.

So the next Bond will have a hard act to follow, and we'll see whether the whole "that's it" routine is a ploy or not in the coming days or weeks. Who knows, maybe Brosnan has read the script for the next Bond movie, and maybe he's convinced it's going to be a train wreck and he'd better get out while the getting's good. I read somewhere that Jessica Simpson was going to be in the next Bond movie and I'm thinking: good Lord, not her again. Darnet, get someone good, get Angie Everhart or Charisma Carpenter or someone even better that we haven't thought of yet. Get someone hot. We need another Bond girl who can rival Ursula Andress or Halle Berry, otherwise the movie's going to be a joke. A bad movie can ruin the actor who plays Bond: Roger Moore was a solid James Bond dragged down by his scripts. You know, we have had some real lousy James Bond movies over the years- not many but enough of them. The odd bad one has been known to set the whole Bond franchise back years.

And frankly, it's not so much that the man has made the movie as the movies have made the man. Sean Connery's Bond was so good, in part because his movies were really good, right out of the Ian Fleming accounts. Many of Roger Moore's Bond movies, on the other hand, were full of Bond girls in bikinis and too much slapstick. Timothy Dalton's Bond, on the other hand, went 360 degrees the other way, so much so that it proved to be high-maintenance for the audience. The last few Bond movies have managed to find the right formula the last few years and that's why Pierce Brosnan's Bond has been such a success.

But I'll say this: at some point Pierce Brosnan will have to be replaced and we'll see a new James Bond. I'll say this: I want to see Brosnan back, but if he leaves, I don't want another Pierce Brosnan. I want to see the next actor who plays Bond to take the role and make it his own. That's why you remember the Dalton Bond and the Moore Bond and the Connery Bond- they had a distinctive style. It's also a reason why you forget about the George Lazenby Bond. His portrayal was too non-distinctive. He seemed like just another actor playing James Bond.

Whoever replaces Pierce Brosnan must bring his own style and ability to the role and allow the 007 franchise to keep going and stay fresh in the minds of the fans for years to come.

Monday, August 02, 2004

GET FOX NEWS IN CANADA

While on the subject of TV news...
Fox News Channel wants into Canada. Check out their website and see how YOU can help Fox News Channel get on the digital dial in this country. Let's get some good TV news channels on the dial in Canada, the more the merrier.

(And while we're at it, let's get the NFL Network up here too. We need something to get through the coming no-hockey winter of discontent.)

JILL ARRINGTON


Oops. I forgot to mention Jill Arrington in my list of websites of TV people. Jill is a sportscaster who works these days for ESPN doing college football games. She used to be at CBS Sports. I first noticed her on TNN when they carried the Arena Football League. That was back in the days when Toronto used to have a team in the league. Oh well. Anyway, check out this sexy babe on the web and on TV.

I'm still looking around for more interesting TV news websites to put up.

TV NEWS WEBSITES

I'm still playing around with the links and decided, instead of only linking to the same old blogger links that everyone else links up to (Colby Cosh, Andrew Coyne, zzzzzz) , I decided I would add a few TV News links as well. Just to be different.

So I've added some links to some newscasters out there who have personal web pages and the like. You'll find the links on the sidebar.

Hanson Hosein is a Canadian who does a lot of reporting in the Middle East for NBC News. He used to live in Israel full-time but his home is Kelowna now, where he reported on the big fires that ravaged the area last year. How do you like that- you go from covering chaos and war in the Middle East to covering death and destruction in your own backyard Kelowna for NBC.

Giselle Fernandez was a very big network TV newswoman for many years but now does a lot of her own projects out of LA. She was last seen on KTLA Morning News and before that was on Access Hollywood.

You see Wendy Walsh on a lot of American TV news and entertainment-type programs, mostly on cable TV. I didn't know this but she's a Canadian from P.E.I. who went to Ryerson! That's funny because she's spent basically her entire career in the United States. I guess the CBC didn't want her, eh!?
She's also famous in the industry for going through every hairdo and hairstyle imaginable. She used to be a blonde, then she was a brunette, then she was a redhead, it used to be long, it used to be short. I dunno what it is now. Anyway, I like her.

Jennifer Eccleston is known as Miss Shock and Awe for her coverage of the Gulf War, over on the Fox News Channel. Her fans loved her so much that one of them built this website dedicated to her. Jennifer is not some fluff anchorbabe newscaster- she's a big foreign correspondent who lives in Rome, Italy. She's reported from hotspots around the world, covering pleasant places like North Korea and Liberia. No wonder there is concern on her fansite about her safety: people are genuinely worried Jennifer could find herself taken hostage, shot or blown up, given the terrible places she's been sent to.
I was able to catch some of her Fox News reports when the Fox News feed was carried by some news channels in Europe and Asia on the Internet. She now reports for MSNBC.

I just happened to come across the websites of business reporters Carmen Roberts and Jean Lee while surfing the Internet, and I found the one for Dagmar Midcap while watching Driving Television on the weekend. I'm thinking: "Dagmar Midcap", wow, what a name. That's gotta be a stage name. Rhymes with "hubcap".

I also have added the links to some TV industry websites that have a lot of gossip about the business- Medialine and TV Spy both have forum-type places up where all the hacks in TV news can log in and complain about how the business is going to hell. It's pretty hilarious stuff- people living on Kraft dinners trying to make it in these one-horse towns in America, doing TV news for miserable bosses. My friend Farah Nasser of Toronto 1 used to read TVSpy a lot and would laugh reading these funny postings from these miserable, jealous people.

Favorite topics used to be: Ashleigh Banfield, the much-loathed Canadian who recently left MSNBC, and Andrea Thompson, the actress-turned-CNN Headline News anchor who was reviled for being an actress attempting to do news. She was really hated by people. People don't seem to think you're a serious journalist unless you go to Iraq and get shot at. Now that both of them are gone from TV news, these boards have calmed down and they've started to bash Bush and Kerry just for the heck of it. Latest topic of interest is John McEnroe and his talk show effort/flop on CNBC.

You also read about the recent placements of people in the TV News business. These big agents advertise their services on the sites, and then they would post the news about where they've placed their star talent in the "Changing Business Cards" section, to show the world how great they are as agents. ( THE BIGSHOT AGENCY HAS A PLACEMENT TO ANNOUNCE: Joe Blow jumps all the way from Minot, North Dakota to CNN Headline News! Joe is represented by William Bigshot of the Bigshot Talent Agency, Los Angeles, California. )

Truth is that TV News is big business, and the last couple of years have been big for the agents. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News have been raiding each other for talent and the agents have been making a fortune off the Cable News wars.

I actually wouldn't mind being a TV news agent myself. I think it would be a pretty exciting career, but I'd have to move to the States. If you want to do any kind of cool career you have to move to the States: land of the free, home of the brave, and target of the terrorists.