Thursday, September 30, 2004

WHAT THE H IS GOING ON WITH SPORTS IN THIS COUNTRY?!

GOOD GRIEF!!!! To quote NFL Hall of Fame field goal kicker Charlie Brown.

I know it's bad when you have the NHL lockout going on with no end in sight, with players heading to Europe and people openly talking about cancelling the entire season.

I know it's bad when I'm tuning in to the very last Montreal Expos game at the Big O- it was like a funeral. People threw golf balls onto the field- I'm not surprised. I tuned into the post game show on TEAM 990 and Elliott Price sounded like he was on the verge of crying. Heck, everyone else was.

But boy, things are worse than I thought. This year is shaping up to be even worse than 1994- and we all know that 1994 was absolutely the worst year ever for sports in this country. Ask any fan.

Today the University of Toronto killed plans for that spectacular new outdoor stadium that would have saved the Argos and revitalized Canada's national soccer team. You can now expect the Argos to think about going belly-up.

Also today, a report came out that the WHA had pulled the plug on itself, assuring fans of no NHL, and no WHA, either. We're getting late word they're still trying to save themselves but it looks grim for them. It looks like it's over before they even begin.

And to top off a miserable week, the NLL is demanding a new collective bargaining agreement with the players and they're threatening to scrap the lacrosse season if they don't get it.

Imagine if both the NHL and NLL cancelled both their seasons in one year. That would be a first. Not even that happened in 1994.

The H is this?! The whole sports scene is imploding in this country all at once!!! On top of all this, Patrick Carpentier has defected to the IRL, the Molson Indy in Vancouver is on the verge of being scrapped, and Vince Carter... well, you know all about him. And let's not even talk about the Olympic Games!

WHAT A MESS!

What could possibly be next? Mike Weir breaking his leg? The curling season being cancelled? The Grey Cup being snowed out? Maybe the junior hockey players will start getting ideas and decide to go on strike.

WHAT'S THE GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS!?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

APPRENTICE BLOG IS BACK

Welcome to the live blog again after taking the week off. Last week you didn't miss much. Stacie J.'s estrangement from the rest of the team caught up with her and the Donald fired her.

I read some article where some woman was complaining that this firing was a case of wrongful dismissal- alluding to the accusations of Stacie being crazy and so on. Well, that'll make for a good court case on Judge Judy or whichever reality show Stacie appears on next. I personally feel this was a situation of an employee not fitting in at all with her uptight teammates. That's it. She wasn't a nutcase. Loopy and eccentric, yes. But I think she couldn't get along with her uptight sorority-girl co-workers.

Now, who's next? Well, the list of people set to be fired is getting longer and longer. It's clear that Donald hates Ivana and can't wait to fire her- she's buckling under the pressure and associating herself with many a screwup. It's clear Elizabeth did herself no favors leading her team to defeat last week, and Maria messed up the negotiations bigtime. To top it all off, Jennifer (the brunette Jennifer) has a big mouth and could be fired for that. If the women lose again, the project manager had better put up one of these people for the slaughter- if the project manager doesn't, SHE could be fired. Is it too early for a shakeup of teams? I think so. We'll see.

On the men's side Pamela is an anchor, Raj is eccentric, Andy is too young, and Wes is too lazy. Kevin, on the other hand, has taken risks that have paid off and has immunity this week. And Kelly led his team to a victory, so I don't think any project manager will be stupid enough to take him into the boardroom, unless he does something really stupid ( a la Bradford ). They're the only two standouts right now in my opinion. Everyone else is trying not to get noticed. They're not dumb: getting noticed looks like a sure-fire way to get yourself fired. But you have to do your job because if you don't you could be accused of doing nothing. So to get ahead in this game you need to be a complete automoton. Ain't corporate America great.

You know what, this could be the week Trump scares the H out of both teams and fires a project manager. A project manager is due for a big fall and a team is going to get screwed if that happens. If Andy, Raj or Wes lead their team to defeat they are in a HEAP of trouble. Mark my words, people.

9:48

Had some blogging problems tonight but I'm BACK.

Here's what went down- both teams had to get the best ratings for their restaurant. Raj led the men, Jennifer C. led the women. Well, these two old ladies trashed the decor in Jennifer's restaurant and the women lost. The men got a lesson about leadership from Giuliani, and Jennifer C. is going to go home. She made a big blunder taking Stacy in with her (Bill Rancic is in the boardroom this week and reamed them out over alliances) and Jennifer was reamed out. "Can't you stay quiet for one second?"

Elizabeth also had a meltdown after her bad last project and she looks like a likely target for the axe. But I think it's Jennifer. She didn't pick Sandy who was responsible for decor. She's cooked. It's over. She's getting raked for not bringing in Sandy.

"You chose not to be a leader!"
JENNIFER- YOU'RE FIRED! "This is really easy!" says Trump.

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. First project manager to be fired.

THE DEATH OF THE MONTREAL EXPOS

Press conference is coming up today in Washington and you can hear about it here at this web site: WTOP Radio, Washington.

Tomorrow would be the 33rd anniversary of the move of the Washington Senators to Texas. Irony of ironies, the current occupant of the White House, George W. Bush, used to own that transplanted Rangers team. Hard to believe it's been that long since a major league team moved. In fact, when the Senators played their final game in 1971 the fans ran onto the field and they had to forfeit the game to the Yankees. It could happen again tonight- the fans are mad. They were also mad in Cleveland for the last NFL game the old Cleveland Browns had before they left for Baltimore- they practically tried to tear down Cleveland Stadium. It could get ugly.

For the Montreal reaction you can't beat the Team 990, the Voice of the Expos. People will be crying all day and bashing Bud Selig, Jeffrey Loria and everyone else forever for sandbagging the team. People are blaming Loria for nixing the new stadium. I think the Expos problems predated Loria's arrival, quite frankly, and Loria inherited a mess. But no matter. The fans of the Expos have no shortage of things to complain about.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

LOCKOUT HITS WEEK 2; EXPOS OVERSHADOW THE NHL

LIFE GOES ON FOR SPORTS FANS

The full impact of the NHL lockout has yet to hit most of the sports fans out there. You would think from watching the CBC that this "no hockey" situation is a full-blown national crisis, but it's not. Not yet. Wait a few more weeks and it will be a full-blown crisis, but the fans have other things on their minds right now.

The main reason fans aren't breaking out the crying towels yet has a lot to do with the fact that it's not even hockey season yet! Traditionally, that starts the day after the baseball regular season has ended, and as we know baseball is still going. Plus, people still have the World Cup in the back of their minds and have seen the sideshow that is the OSHL. There are also lots of other sports to follow- we have the CFL, the NFL is going, NASCAR's going, the Ryder Cup just took place- there's lots of stuff out there. Tune into the FAN 590 in Toronto and it's like a normal sports day. It still feels like the offseason. Fans aren't feeling the full impact of the lockout yet. Wait until next week, though, when the baseball season ends, and people are going to begin to go crazy. I predict we'll be in a full-blown crisis mode after the Grey Cup ends- the only pro team anyone will be able to follow will be the stinking NBA Raptors.

This week we have the return of junior hockey with the return of the CHL. The AHL is coming back soon, too- people in Toronto are getting insanely excited over the fortunes of the St. John's Baby Leafs(!). So yes, there's hockey, and it's half-decent, so you don't have to pack up and move to Moscow. But it's definitely not the same.

CBC TO SHOW "MOVIE NIGHT IN CANADA"

The CBC is under fire now because they are planning to show movies on Saturday night during the big lockout. They claim they can probably get more viewers by putting these on instead of showing classic games and the like. The way I look at it is: the CBC can do whatever it wants. If movies will make them more money, let them run movies. It doesn't matter. I'm not going to be watching anyway. I'm going to be watching college football or boxing matches on the other channel. If I really get desperate for hockey I'll just take out one of my old tapes of an old Hockey Night in Canada telecast and watch that on Saturday night. I don't need the CBC to show classic games.

This "Movie Night in Canada" business is going to absolutely drive the diehard fans nuts. They are definitely not looking forward to spending their Saturday nights watching movies on CBC. Heck, they didn't like it when there were no Saturday night hockey games on during the PLAYOFFS! They're going to be INCONSOLABLE come November and December.

It's fair to say that sports fans in Canada are completely miserable because, as bad as it is right now, they know the worst is yet to come. And it's not just the lockout that is to blame for this feeling. Something even bigger is happening this week that is going to shove hockey right out of the headlines.

LES EXPOS

Yes, folks, this is finally the week that we have been dreading, one we all hoped would never arrive- the week we finally bid adieu to the Montreal Expos. Their final game in Montreal is tomorrow night.
And here is a link to their web site. Yes, each year we keep wondering if the Expos are really going. But they would always manage to find an owner like Jeffrey Loria to keep the team going, and then when Major League Baseball tried to contract the team a bunch of people in Minnesota took baseball to court to fight it. And Peter Angelos has been fighting attempts to move clubs to Washington D.C. for years. So every time, something would happen to keep this dead-on-its-feet Expos franchise going. Now the team has finally run out of backers and run out of court dates.

The big press conference is set for Thursday, apparently. It's definitely the end this time. They're expected to move to Washington D.C. to play in RFK Stadium next season. The only questions remaining have to do with who gets to own the team and where will they build the stadium- D.C., or Virginia. Doesn't matter. That team will be somewhere within commuting distance of the White House. And people are apparently in a mood to settle all the remaining lawsuits and put an end to the Expos problem once and for all.

Really, that's what a lot of people are caring about today. I tuned into Mike Hogan's show on the FAN and there were people calling in, and they were in tears. Really, they were in tears on the phone over the Expos- and this is Toronto.

Now here's my question: why hasn't Peter Mansbridge done a prime-time special on saving the Expos? That ball club may have broken the hearts of their fans over the years with their fire sales, but they still had FANS. This team could have been saved, the politicians could have built the Expos a bleeping new stadium. It's bewildering to see people care about these greedy NHLers and hold big town hall meetings over these bums, yet they stand and watch as the Expos, "Canada's Team", go ahead and pack their bags for Washington, D.C. It's mindboggling.
I hope Youppi the mascot likes it down in Washington- or maybe he'll quit and join the Florida Marlins like all these other Expos (ie. Jeffrey Loria, Dave Van Horne etc.)

UPDATE: The Associated Press is now reporting that Major League Baseball has informed Washington D.C. that it has the Expos. The announcement of the move, which had been expected for Thursday, is now set for tomorrow afternoon. The diehard Expos fans are going to react BADLY to this news. Expect chaos at tomorrow's final game at the Big O- people running onto the field and ripping down signs and stuff.

Monday, September 27, 2004

LATE NIGHT SHOCKER: LENO LEAVING IN 2009

Holy Cow! Go to TVBarn , Lost Remote , and Defamer to find out more about the shock announcement by Jay Leno that he's quitting the Tonight Show on NBC after his contract expires in 2009, and he will be handing the job over to his chosen successor, Conan O'Brien.

Conan had been courted by other networks including CBS, which was looking for a host for The Late Late Show and groom a replacement for David Letterman. With this announcement CBS is, well, screwed and in need of a Plan B.

Personally I think CBS might actually be in a better position than anyone realizes, because the coast is clear for them to go after Jon Stewart, name him the successor to Letterman, and crush NBC and Conan in 2009. Problem is that Stewart is under contract to the Daily Show right now, but he's bound to be interested in Letterman's job down the road, and the pressure on Letterman to clarify his future plans will be intense.

This is actually a period of turmoil in late night with one changeover after another, starting with the end of Bill Maher, the launch of Last Call with Carson Daly to replace Later on NBC, the launch of Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC, then the shocking sudden departure of Craig Kilborn just last month. ( Canadian fans might even throw in the ill-fated departure of Mike Bullard from CTV to Global, which allowed CTV to replace Bullard with The Daily Show and run Bullard right off the air.) O'Brien is now set to replace Leno in 2009 and now it's left to Letterman and to CBS to make their next move. Right now the first priority is just to get a host for their sad and pathetic Late Late Show Without Craig Kilborn. How else to describe that train wreck? That's priority number one for those geniuses at CBS.

Back to Leno. He made the announcement on the special 50th anniversary edition of the Tonight Show, where he showed highlights of some of the past Tonight Shows with some of the past hosts, and he mentioned some of the reasons why he's leaving now and making the announcement that O'Brien is the successor. He said the Tonight Show was Number One under his watch and wanted to go out on top. But he also noted the whole mess that went on when he got the Tonight Show job in 1992 to replace Johnny Carson, the whole feud with Letterman and so on, and how a lot of friendships were permanently damaged. So that's another reason why he's saying: "Conan, it's yours in 2009".

I'll have more on the Leno legacy later.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

CATCHING UP ON ALL THE NEWS

Well I was so absorbed by the final week of the leadership race- and by the Apprentice 2- that I sort of shut out the rest of the world in the process. So here I am catching up.

RATHERGATE

You know, all the bloggers out there in the blogging community are getting all the credit for exposing the doubtful authenticity of that document Dan Rather was waving around as his source for his 60 Minutes Wednesday hatchet-job story on George W. Bush's National Guard service.

Frankly, CBS News should be ashamed.

And it's really sad when the bloggers, all of whom are very open about having an axe to grind, can be more trustworthy than your evening newscasts. So much for all the crap you learned in journalism school about how you had to be objective in order to be believed.

And so much for the objectivity of these network news divisions. That Dan Rather story on Bush was a hose job, predicated on dicey information. If they were so big on the truth, then they should not have run this story at all. They should have shelved it. I'm very familiar with how these news divisions work because I was at a TV news network for a brief period of time and I can tell you: someone, somewhere in authority at CBS had the power to say no to this story. If this story had any holes in it, someone had the power to kill the story. And at CBS News, one man who had the ultimate power to say no to this story was the Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather.

CBS is launching its own investigation and it looks like they feel they were duped. I have no doubt: CBS News was had. There are reports out there that the Kerry campaign was behind this document, but the Kerry camp is denying it bigtime. I'm not convinced the Kerry campaign is behind this. I do think these documents came from people who had an agenda and wanted Bush to be smeared and defeated. CBS News was DUPED by some axe-grinding political people who wanted to use the media to advance their own ends.

What gets me is that CBS News should have been wise to this. They've covered politics for years. The people who report the news at CBS aren't stupid. They know all about how it works in Washington, D.C. They should know that there are no depths to which these political people won't sink. They should know that the political scene is filled with people who think nothing of playing the media for fools. The scene is filled with hacks and interest-group type apologists who would think nothing about manipulating the press and coming up with phony documents just to make a candidate look bad on TV. CBS should have known all about this. But they didn't bother to filter out any of this stuff before going to air.

If CBS News really were such an objective group of people, they wouldn't have run with this story. They should not have been quick to go after President Bush. Where's the sense of responsibility on the part of CBS News? Inaccurate, deceptive reporting could TIP THE ELECTION! A sense of responsibility wasn't there. I don't know whether this mess is due to cutbacks or what. But boy were these people ever quick to do a hatchet job on Bush. And boy do they ever have egg on their faces today. Even ABC News and NBC News are running stories about Rathergate.

Boy, is NBC's Tom Brokaw ever getting out of the evening news at the right time. The credibility of all evening newscasts is down the tubes as of today. At least Brokaw will leave with his dignity intact... unlike Dan Rather.

Someone over there is soooooo fired, folks.

EMMY AWARDS

I was so zonked out from politics that I missed the Emmys. Rats! Anyway I'm glad the Sopranos won, even though I've never really watched that show. Everyone tells me I should watch it.

Arrested Development won the comedy series Emmy. And I'm glad Sex and the City got some Emmys for its star actresses. I must admit, I liked that show. Yes, I know that show's for girls, but I found those four babes highly interesting (girlfriend material) and you could always count on seeing Kim Cattrall naked. That's why it was a good show.

In the reality category they gave an Emmy to The Amazing Race, in my opinion the best reality show out there- way better than Survivor. And they gave The Daily Show with Jon Stewart another Emmy for best comedy/variety show... much to the chagrin of Dave Letterman and crew, hee hee.

NHL STILL LOCKED OUT- DAY 7

Players are now heading to Europe to begin their seasons in the European Leagues. I have a couple of web sites which will give you the latest updates on Lockout Hockey: The Hockey Rodent and Hokej.cz have news about the Czech season, with all these NHLers like Jaromir Jagr playing over there. If you're a North American hockey fan life is terrible, but if you live in the Czech Republic you're having a blast because you're seeing top-flight players. (That Czech site is in Czech, by the way, so that's why the words look like gobbledigook.)

Meanwhile the Original Stars Hockey League continues to lurch. They drew something like a few hundred people for their effort in Brampton on Monday and it's obvious this league is a joke. The games have posted scores in the neighbourhood of 14-11 and 16-13, there's absolutely no hitting, and it's clear the players aren't even putting in an effort. Word of mouth is rapidly starting to catch up with this sideshow.

There's rumors flying that the OSHL might even go out of business, but the OSHL insists they're still alive and kicking and ready for their regular season beginning October 7th. Meanwhile the WHA has some sort of announcement planned for next week- presumably to let people know their league is a go and when to expect games. Frankly, if I were a hockey fan right now, I'd consider moving to Prague. At least that league will have decent players!

The media is boohooing over the hockey lockout and it's getting attention like you wouldn't believe, as if it's a national crisis or something. Gary Bettman was on the CBC defending himself last night and it's Bob Goodenow's turn tonight. Meanwhile eTalk Daily interviewed Shania Twain and she was miserable over the hockey lockout. Hey, Shania, YOU don't have to worry: YOU can go to games in Switzerland!

Meanwhile, 640 Toronto still has their "no hockey" show with live reports of, well, nothing.

As for the rest of the sports world, well, life goes on. Sportswriters in Canada are now zeroing in on Vince Carter's crybaby trade demands, and American fans are focussed on the NFL and the baseball pennant races. I tuned into WFAN last night and they don't care at all about hockey right now. Tune in, and it's like a regular night in the sports world. Maybe the NHL should take note.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THIS WEEK'S APPRENTICE 2

Sorry, but there will be no live blog of THE APPRENTICE 2 this week as I will be away on important family business. I guess this week you're actually going to have to watch the show!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

GOOD STUFF ON THE CONVENTION

CP24's website has a lot of video from the Ontario PC Leadership Convention.

Also, Jonathan Colford's website has a bit of a convention blog with what happened at the Crowne Plaza gathering. Check out the postings for September 18th and 19th.

Don't bother looking for something from the National Post's Andrew Coyne, even though he was there, too... looks like his blog site has kicked the bucket.

I'll add more links here to any good stuff on the convention that I happen to find. For my own blogging, see below.

NOTES FROM A WILD CONVENTION


WELL, EXCUUUUUSE ME

I know you political junkheads at home are hopping mad because you haven't had a blog from the Ontario PC Leadership Convention- specifically, from me. I plead not guilty. I wasn't responsible for what happened at the convention on Saturday. The screwups kept me at the convention and away from my computer all darned day and all night. So if you want to blame anyone, blame the party executive.

There was another reason I wasn't at the computer--- WE WON! So like heck am I going to blog when I could be out celebrating with the John Tory campaign team. I have my priorities straight.

I started the day phoning up voters from the John Tory campaign office in midtown Toronto. I then made my way to the convention hall at the Crowne Plaza Don Valley to watch the speeches.

ERNIE EVES' TRIBUTE

The party paid tribute to their fallen leader, Ernie Eves, in a presentation jokingly described by some party members as Ernie's "good riddance" party. I know that sounds mean spirited, but this party has been in power for 50 of the last 61 years and many people are still bitter about what happened in October 2003. I personally feel Ernie's been treated shabbily in the past year. Since the election defeat he seemed to go into hiding, as if the party wanted nothing to do with him. He really deserves better than that.

Having said that, the party did give Ernie a very good tribute in his honor at the convention for his years of public service. About time. But it was nothing like the tribute for Mike Harris two years ago. Mike went out hailed as a conquering hero. With Ernie, you just got the feeling that people were trying to cheer him up. You really felt sorry for the guy. And you felt even sorrier for Ontario that such a great public servant has to depart the scene so soon.

BILL DAVIS

Another guy who's been sort of villified during this leadership contest has been Bill Davis, the former Premier. The "Davis" tradition in the party has been heckled, trashed, ripped to shreds---- by PC party members no less. He really didn't deserve that treatment, either.

But Brampton Billy was in fine form at the convention. Supposedly he was trying to pay tribute to Eves, but he gave a great oratory, rarely looking at his prepared remarks, making one joke after another, and as he remarked, trying to "fill time" until the announcement of the first ballot. (As it turned out, Davis probably should have spoken longer- several hours longer, at least.)

His best lines came when he took aim at the media, all of whom were assembled at the back of the room. He took the mickey out of Steve Paikin's comment on TVO that Bill Davis was in a WHEELCHAIR at the convention. Davis was quite flabbergasted about that comment, because, well, he wasn't in a wheelchair at all. Another target was CTV's Mike Duffy who was ribbed for never going to church on Sundays all these years. When that crack was made there was a shot of Duffy on the big screen, standing in the media section. That got some big howls.

HARPER WARNS THE PARTY: STICK TOGETHER

Federal Conservative leader Stephen Harper's speech was a solid reminder of why provincial Conservatives have to stick together and not fall into the kind of state that befell the federal scene for a decade.

Harper talked about the split in the Conservative movement, with the federal PCs and the Reform/Canadian Alliance allowing the Liberals to win in a walk in every election for a decade.

With the perceived polarization of the party between the Red Tories and the CSR loyalists, Harper's speech served as a dire warning to the losing side that they had better not quit the party in disgust at the end of the day if they truly wanted to see the Liberals thrown out.

VOTING RETURNS

The returns started coming in shortly after Stephen Harper's speech ended. When the first results started to appear, the air literally went out of the convention hall. Supporters were gasping at the screen and unhappy with the initial results. With 43 of 103 ridings reporting, John Tory had a lead over Jim Flaherty- but it was nowhere near enough to claim a first ballot win. As returns were updated, and as the John Tory bedrock ridings Toronto Centre, St. Paul's and Don Valley West reported in, it became clear to those of us in the hall that it was probably going to be a long night.

Most of the conventioneers thought they were going to be out of there by 7PM at the latest. In fact John Tory's campaign were scheduled to go to the Labatt House on Queen's Quay around that time for whatever party they had planned (it's always called a "victory party", even when you get completely smoked). But there were delays in reporting the results and, maddeningly, no one seemed to have a clue what was going on with the delays. I even met up with Paul Sutherland (Klees campaign manager) and he didn't have any information about the delays. The party was all hush-hush. All he knew was that my guy was doing well.

We would hear rumors that results were going to be announced in 20 minutes. Then 20 minutes would go by and there'd be another rumor. The wildest rumor I heard was that some female Frank Klees supporter told someone that there was some sort of tie between Klees and Tory and that Klees was going to win.

Meanwhile frustrated conventioneers headed outside to smoke cigarettes, or straight to the gift shop for dinner: potato chips, ice cream and soda pop.

THE SIX O'CLOCK NEWS

The convention hall was small and overcrowded for the convention attendees and very crowded for the media, who only had enough room to do their live hits and didn't have any fancy skyboxes set up like they did at the last convention in 2002. About all you could say for the setup was that the convention hall did look good on TV.

The six PM news cycle came and went. Global News had their ace reporter Nick Dixon in the convention hall and they hooked up Tim Hudak and Elizabeth Witmer to talk to Graham Richardson on Focus Ontario at 6:30 PM. (Richardson dropped by the convention hall later in the evening). Citytv had Adam Vaughan doing live hits from the hall. The reporters were clearly frustrated at the lack of news and the slow pace of the results. The delay in announcing the first ballot totals was becoming the story of the convention. Some TV people remembered what happened in 1996 when the Liberals were stuck in Maple Leaf Gardens until five in the morning to select Dalton McGuinty- on the fifth ballot.

Around 7PM another major development took place. We were tuning into CP24 in the bar upstairs when they all of a sudden reported that Mel Lastman, former Toronto mayor, was in serious condition after suffering a heart attack. Doctors pronounced him out of danger, but word spread quickly among the many municipal politicians and their aides at the convention. When one group of people asked Adam Vaughan about the latest rumor about when the results would be announced, he told them "Mel Lastman's suffered a heart attack." And they all gasped as Vaughan rushed out to do a standup.

THE CONVENTION GOES ON AND ON AND ON

As the clock struck 8PM conventioneers grew increasingly frustrated with what was happening and were anxious to have a decision. Several had gone without dinner and many were frustrated at the lack of hot dog stands or pizza joints in the vicinity of the hall. We heard on the floor that the Flaherty suite still had a bunch of sandwiches, but that Steve Gilchrist was guarding them like a hawk.

Around this hour the various candidates started returning to the convention hall and placards were handed out once again for the supporters to wave, and there was the growing sense that some sort of decision was coming. The party president finally went up to the stage to announce "the first ballot results will be announced at 9:10 PM!" Thank God, most of these people were saying.

FIRST COUNT RESULTS

The first ballot confirmed what a lot of people on the floor already knew by now: John Tory got 45% of the vote on the first ballot, Jim Flaherty got around 33% and Frank Klees around 22%. Then the cheers turned to groans when Blair McCreadie announced that returning officers were now being ordered to reallocate Klees' votes and do a second count. Many were hoping that the second count had already been done and we could all go home now. Now it appeared we were stuck in this stinking hot hotel all night. I wasted my time reminiscing with some people about the 2002 convention in downtown Toronto when I was supporting Tony Clement- about how we bussed in all these people off the street and so on, and how we were all in line to vote when we heard that Clement had kicked the bucket and withdrawn from the race. (Clement did attend the 2004 convention- I saw him on the opening night going into a restaurant.)

The shortcomings of this convention site really became evident around this time. The Tory and Flaherty camps were grumbling because they were having trouble finding food to eat. The hotel bars were inexplicably closing up and the restaurant closed early at 9:45! Some people were reduced to ordering pizza for themselves. Meanwhile, many of the Klees supporters were getting up and going straight home; their man had been eliminated and they had seen enough. I saw a couple from my home riding of Don Valley East who were disgustedly heading out to the parking lot.

Plans for the post-convention victory parties were also going up in smoke. Klees' people were supposed to go to Joe Maggiano's-- where those of us from Don Valley East went for Dave Johnson's and Paul Sutherland's defeat parties. I don't know whether that even took place. (For those of you interested, Joe Maggiano's is a great restaurant with terrific Italian food. Make sure you make a point of going down there sometime. Just don't go there expecting to celebrate a victory.)

John Tory's people had only booked the Labatt House to 10PM so their plans totally went up in smoke. The joke about Jim Flaherty's campaign was that they weren't going to have a party because everyone had to go to church the next day. The reality was they weren't going to have a party, period. Some Flaherty people were hoping they were going to get the entire Klees second-choice vote but everyone knew that was total spin.

After the first ballot the Tory camp felt almost certain about victory- we had heard that many of our scrutineers were reporting that Klees' second choice votes had gone to Tory, and that several ballots didn't even list a second preference. I knew several Klees people had listed Tory as number two, so we all figured Tory would go over the top without any difficulty.

But waiting for the final results took forever. At 11PM the newscasts were leading with the story of the chaos at the convention and the delay in announcing the results. "We may have a result by the end of this newscast but I'm not holding my breath," one of the reporters said. The party was taking a beating in the electronic media for whatever the screwup was that delayed the results. We had heard rumors about a computer problem, about returning officers going home and being called in to come back, all sorts of stuff.

VIC-TORY

Shortly after 11PM the announcement came that a result was coming shortly, and with that came a cry of relief from the convention hall. Thank G it's over, they were saying.

All of us in the Tory camp were feeling pretty confident about things for several hours and felt we had things pretty much in control based on the first ballot numbers. But the moment I knew Tory finally had it in the bag was when Tory organizer Wayne Snow came into the hall, with a big smile on his face, hugging everyone in sight, congratulating everyone and telling them "we won!" Word spread quickly and supporters were rushing to take pictures and shake the candidate's hand, and it continued long after the formal victory was announced at the podium.

The Jim Flaherty supporters were just sad. They all knew they had lost. Earlier they had chanted slogans like "CSR!" and "Win With Conviction!" Now, when his final vote total was announced the section stood and cheered "We Love Jim! We Love Jim!"

Tory finally got around to having a proper victory party with his campaign team, at a watering hole downtown, and I stayed there with friends past 2 in the morning. People were lighting up cigars and celebrating long into the night. Many of these people hadn't been part of a winning campaign for a long, long time. Many went from losing in the provincial election in 2003 to losing Tory's mayor's race, to losing with Tony or Belinda in the federal leadership race, and then topping it all off they lost in the federal election with their local candidate. Now, they'd all finally done something right and won a leadership race. No wonder people were enjoying this.

--------------------------------------------------------

Best thing about the win for me is that I no longer have to watch the friggin' NEWS! I was doing media monitoring for Tory all campaign and was watching nothing but fires, murders and car accidents every night for two months straight. Thank God that's over. Now I can go back to watching the Simpsons or whatever I usually watch at that hour (just kidding).

JOHN TORY IS NEW ONTARIO PC LEADER

Here's the link to the Toronto Sun story on the convention. I'll have more on what happened at the convention soon.

Nice to have been part of a winning campaign- finally.

Friday, September 17, 2004

THE SPEECHES- LIVE, VIA SATELLITE


BEAM ME UP, JIM

This Ontario PC Leadership convention is highly unusual for a number of reasons. One, it's being held in a hotel instead of a convention hall. Two, there's no delegates and therefore no voting at the convention hall. Three, because of the preferential ballot there aren't any deals going on and no chance that a deal will affect the outcome. (Good. We'll be spared ghastly headlines of deals being done behind closed doors- like what happened in 2002, when I arrived in the convention hall to learn that the Toronto Star had broken a story that my candidate was negotiating to throw in the towel.)

As a result, the speeches inside the hall are, in and of themselves, relatively meaningless in swaying the opinions of the people actually inside the hall- all of whom are committed to their particular candidates already. It really doesn't matter if you give a speech before 1000 diehards in a hotel in Toronto when what you need to do is reach the 60,000 people on the voters list, 59,000 of which are not in the hall at all. What matters is to beam your convention speech message on TVO and CPAC as a glorified infomercial to all the masses watching on TV out there.

In keeping with this Frank Klees gave a conventional, fighting speech that touched on all his usual themes- he mentioned Canada in the same breath as North Korea and Cuba again with respect to the health care system. John Tory, who gave the final speech of the night, opened with a slickly-produced video that all of Ontario must have seen, with John Tory shown handing out the Grey Cup and with Pinball Clemons giving John his endorsement- that was the highlight of THAT presentation. John followed with an energetic speech where he thoroughly trashed Dalton McGuinty- an impressive performance.

But it was Jim Flaherty's speech that was the most unusual. In a daring move, Flaherty gave his speech--- live from Whitby. That's right, all of us chumps who spent our hard-earned cash on a ticket to the convention hall sat and watched a TV screen showing Jim "Live from Whitby", giving his speech in front of his supporters in his home riding. It was a conventional speech as far as speeches go. But by beaming it from Whitby, Jim (a) thumbed his nose at the entire party establishment, all of whom were sitting in that convention hall in Toronto. And (b) he totally thumbed his nose at Toronto- making a pitch to all those folks who hated that liberal/socialistic burg that he wasn't from that city, unlike a certain other candidate who shall remain nameless.

I sat there and thought: good grief, this is a masterstroke by Flaherty, thumbing his nose at Toronto and the whole establishment. This would definitely play well in Cornwall, Peterborough and Ottawa. And speaking from Whitby sure didn't matter to the people watching on TV. They couldn't care where Jim was speaking- they weren't in Toronto, they were at home! And if they hated Toronto, they probably thought it was a brilliant move, too.

Unfortunately for Jim, it was too brilliant. By going "Live from Whitby", he (c) also thumbed his nose at all the assembled media, who were stuck back in Toronto and generally unimpressed by this fancy approach. Flaherty had to drive back to Toronto for the media scrum to face the herds. The media were comparing Flaherty's approach to that disasterous Magna budget speech that was held outside the legislature. People thought Flaherty should have given his speech in the convention hall. Adam Vaughan compared it to "the Wizard of Oz."

Sure the media were unimpressed, thought it was strange to give a speech outside the convention hall. Then again, you have to realize that Jim used his alloted time to give basically a free time political advertisement on TVO and CPAC, and that most of the action will, in fact, take place outside the convention hall tomorrow anyway. All the voting is taking place in the polling places all over Ontario. This was Flaherty's way of being different and it did fit the format of this race. It underscores the fact that this really isn't a traditional leadership convention at all- it's a primary election.

ON THE CONVENTION HALL- DEFINITELY NOT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

As expected the hall was WAY, WAY, WAY too small to hold a political convention. At least the party made it look and feel like a real convention with wide-screens and a podium and the like, but boy, it felt like the bush leagues of politics in there to a degree. That hall would have been a good place for a political debate, but really, the hall was too crowded during the speeches. At the Metro Toronto Convention Centre you could at least move around. The hospitality suites, too, were all ridiculously overcrowded, at least for the first while. Eventually the crowds diminished and you could move around.

As far as the actual hospitality suites were concerned I give all the candidates very high marks: the food was VERY good. And free.

BELINDA SIGHTINGS

Um, yes, she was there.

Other big names in attendance included Mike Harris, in the hall for the speeches and praised several times by every one of the leadership candidates; Stephen Harper, who gives the keynote speech tomorrow; and Jason Kenney, federal Conservative MP from Alberta, who was spotted in the Flaherty suite milling about.

I also had a chance to meet several people from Don Valley East riding who I worked with on political campaigns in the past year. Most of them are with John Tory but several are actively backing Klees, including many of the people around former city councillor Paul Sutherland who is Klees' campaign manager.

That's all for tonight, I have a full day tomorrow.

ONTARIO PC LEADERSHIP SPEECHES TONIGHT

THE CAIRNS BLOG will have comprehensive "insider" coverage of the Ontario PC Leadership Convention. Yours truly will be attending the convention today and tomorrow and will update you on the latest events as often as possible and as soon as possible. Live blogging, regrettably, is out of the question. It's pretty difficult to get to a computer when sitting in an crowded audience waving a dumb placard.

I expect to be at a computer later tonight with my impressions of the first day of the convention, but it will probably be brief. I'll have a very full day tomorrow.

This may not QUITE be up to the standard you expected from the continuing coverage of the American political conventions, but you can be certain of this: the coverage will be much more than what I devoted to those useless health care talks. So yes, you can expect to see something. I expect to post something longer with my full impressions after the convention is over because you political junkies in the audience expect to see something.

CONVENTION LINKS

Here are some online sources for live coverage: CPAC, the Parliamentary channel, will have live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the convention today and the voting tomorrow. CP24 has a live stream as well but I do not think they are planning gavel-to-gavel coverage. 680 News and CFRB have live updates.

The coverage should be good but already we're getting reporters- pretty much all of them, in fact- referring to "delegates" choosing the leader, and of course there are no delegates. All party members have a vote and this is not a case of delegates voting; it's a case of everyone voting. So why they're referring to "delegates", I don't know. It's sad when you have to get actual, correct information about a political convention from an opinionated blog as opposed to the mainstream media. These people are not doing their jobs.

Here are official links to the Ontario PC Party, and to the candidates: John Tory, Jim Flaherty and Frank Klees.

JOHN TORY HOLDS KICKOFF EVENT

The John Tory campaign continues to roll and they had a big Toronto event on Thursday for their Toronto supporters to kick off the convention, down at the Granite Brewery. It was a packed house filled with Tory supporters and included several political notables, including new MP Peter Van Loan, city councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, former federal candidates Heather Jewell and Lida Preyma, and former Finance Minister Janet Ecker, who served as a Master of Ceremonies of sorts to help introduce Tory. She urged a big "get out the vote" effort.

Also there was Ben Kerr, that guy who sings karaoke on the street at Yonge and Bloor who's also run for mayor several dozen times, lending his support to Tory. He had also supported Belinda during the federal leadership and said she was "Better than Viagra". Funny.

CONVENTION AT THE CROWNE PLAZA DON VALLEY

I am trying hard to hold my fire on the convention location, the Crowne Plaza Don Valley, until I actually see what it's like. I am expecting the absolute worst.

I'm used to going to the conventions at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre which is an excellent venue for a political convention. Personally I think they should have chosen a bigger venue. This event is already over-subscribed and seating is not guaranteed to everyone. At least the prices are reasonable: 40 bucks a pop. But I have the feeling this is going to feel like a glorified nomination fight.

This is an unusual leadership election because voters vote in preferential fashion, giving their first choice and their second choice, much like what happened in the federal Conservative race this year. If the race goes to the second ballot, the low man will drop off and his votes will be redistributed to the other two candidates. So unlike the 2002 convention where everyone had to stand in line to vote again, the voting will all be over once the polls close at 3PM. Importantly, unlike the 2002 convention there will be no voting happening in the convention hall at all. People were able to transfer their votes to the convention hall and many ridings actually had their main voting location situated at the convention.

The fight is being billed as being between the Mike Harris Tories and the Bill Davis Tories by the media, but I'm not sure whether that's what is going down. John Tory has been labelled as a "Red Tory" by the press, and Jim Flaherty likes to think of himself as the big Harris Tory running against the Red Tories, but I really don't know if most Tories appreciate being divided into two camps. The wild card in this race is Frank Klees. He's run a quietly effective campaign and has defined himself well as a crusader on health care. Many see his supporters as the potential kingmakers.

It will be interesting to see who has the hottest hospitality suites tonight. In 2002 you could tell Tony Clement's campaign was in trouble because they were charging a fortune for drinks. Meanwhile Chris Stockwell was actually giving stuff away- I got a free soft drink from his suite. In 2004 at the federal Tory convention, you knew Harper had it in the bag because his suite was the only one in the convention hall- the others had theirs in bars across the street. Who knows, maybe the candidates this time do NOT have much of a hospitality suite. I'd be surprised, though, if Tory didn't have something big going.

NOTE: Original Stars Hockey League's first game is in Barrie, tonight.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

MORE ON THE APPRENTICE SHOCKER

I'm going to go slowly through what happened in that boardroom. So here's what happened: that cocky son-of-a-gun Bradford goes in, feeling good about having immunity, everyone's ragging him for having immunity, he tells the Donald he feels he performed as well as anyone on the challenge, and to prove it he has the bravado to say "I'll give up my immunity!"- as if to say "I want to be judged like the rest of this team! Judge me on my performance." Yes, it was a risk. But it was a calculated risk: to me, Bradford was making a statement, showing a lot of confidence in his abilities and how he contributed and the ideas he brought to the table in the challenge. It was as if he was saying: judge me for what I did to contribute to this team. Don't judge me based on my immunity. Judge me on my record.

It was a risk, alright, and yes it was idiotic. I knew the moment Bradford threw immunity away that he made the wrong move. It was an open invitation to get fired, and I knew Trump couldn't resist. I'll have to see the tape to see what happened again, whether he was goaded or asked by the Donald if he wanted to give up immunity or what the case was. I'll bet Bradford thought he was showing Donald a lot of guts, a lot of confidence- instead, Donald ragged him about what a stupid impulsive decision it was to give up immunity, the kind of risk that could sink a company. Funny, because these firings seem to happen in a pretty impulsive manner.

Ivana, who probably SHOULD have been fired for her lousy leadership, couldn't even decide whether to bring Bradford into the boardroom with her for the chopping block. But she took the bait, said OK, I'll bring one more in, and brought Bradford in. And then to the shock and horror of all of them Bradford gets fired. Ivana's reaction at the end of the boardroom said it all: she looked like she was thinking: "Oh my G, I just got Bradford fired! My team is SCREWED!" Way to go, Ivana. Trump just screwed your team and screwed you. Now everyone's going to blame you for getting Bradford fired. The women's team is down the tubes. The whole team told Trump to fire Stacie, and Ivana ran a train wreck; instead, Trump disregarded all of them and cans Bradford, who almost saved them the game. Now, all the women will probably be fired, starting with Ivana. She is so dead. Trump might even use what happened to Bradford as a reason to fire her next time- to question her decision making. She's FINISHED!

As for the Donald: well, congratulations Trump! This is why your casinos are in bankruptcy court. You just fired a gutsy, talented leader and risk-taker who brought some good ideas to the table and really put himself on the line. But all you can do is criticize and run your firing meetings in a very impulsive manner. SHAME!

It's like what happened to that woman last year on the show who said: "I said one thing in the boardroom and got fired for it!" It's clear now that NO ONE is safe in this game, and that it's all luck. The only way to get ahead is to avoid being fired. You lose, you could get fired for any reason- even if you do a good job. Morale on both teams is going to go into the toilet. Anyway, let that be a lesson. If you get immunity, do not ever give it up or you will be fired for sure!

APPRENTICE 2 LIVE BLOG- WEEK TWO

8:55-
Here's what I'm doing this week with the live blog. I think I'm just going to sit back and relax, and update this blog whenever I feel like it, and give my thoughts as I go. Last time I felt compelled to do play-by-play and that ruined my enjoyment of the show. This week I'll stick to colour commentary because now we know which teams are which and all that.

Anyway the show has not started YET. Predicting who will stay or get the boot is still a mug's game- all we know for sure is that Bradford, who led the women to victory, is safe. But I think that Stacie J. looks DEAD from the promos alone. She's the one already exposed as a complete wingnut and dingbat, more so than Raj, who looks out of place for different reasons. (Raj looks like he'd make a good economic adviser to a President of the United States, but seems out of place in the land of casinos and opulence. It'll catch up with him at some point, I predict. Is it Raj or Raz? I dunno. Anyway Trump is definitely not impressed with him and his bowties.)

Others on thin ice: Pamela, already seen as having a hard edge and criticized for her leadership skills after leading the men to defeat. Andy's in even deeper trouble because of his youth and relative inexperience. Another loss and he could be gone completely, even if he does a good job. I think he'll be fighting for his very survival for weeks- if he lasts any length of time.

9:05-
This is a big night for reality TV here in Canada. Over on CTV is Ben Mulroney and CANADIAN IDOL, and they're going to announce the big voting results: who is the Canadian Idol. WHO CARES, I say, but it'll be interesting to see the ratings tomorrow to see who won the night. The lead-in on Global tonight is SURVIVOR: Vanuatu. But for whatever reason the start of the Apprentice has been delayed to 9:20 PM and we're seeing a promo for those Fab Five guys. Get on with the show, darnet!!!!

9:12-
For our West Coast viewers, Brook was the first chump to be voted off of whatever wilderness they're in now on Survivor. I don't know about you but the novelty from Survivor has worn right off. The all-stars were OK but now we know how this game is played and it's pretty predictable. Back later- much later.

9:26-
Bradford's idiot decision to join the women's team is haunting him now. The women hate his leadership skills and say the team was in chaos, and told Andy all about it. Lucky for Bradford, he can't be fired--- THIS WEEK!!!

9:38-
Kelly and Ivana are the project managers. Kelly notes, quite correctly, that at this stage it's easier for a project manager to bin the blame on someone else and survive. Problem is that if everyone stands out then the Donald could make an example out of the leader.
Message of the day from Donald is "Be Organized!"- a sign that he may blame the prohject manager if a team falls into chaos. Already Ivana's team is falling into chaos. Ivana now looks like she's in trouble. And now the men's team is having a big debate over the flavor of the ice cream! Geez, why not make it vanilla and be done with it? And get to selling the darn thing!

Project is to sell the most ice cream! Wow.

9:57-
Wes is in trouble- being reamed out for not contributing. Stacie J. is still in trouble with her group for talking to a temp agency about hiring people without telling anyone about it- she's increasingly looking like an Omarosa waiting to happen. Then again, that may be just what the Donald wants, a self-starter. Ivana hates Stacie J.'s guts but Ivana could well get the boot.

10:17-
You know, anyone could be fired from this show. The women are in complete chaos, and the men recruited some babe off the street and Andy's getting her phone number! Pamela can't sell to save her life. Bradford on the other hand is recruiting restauranteurs to see the operation. Well, that's it the women have won, again, and Bradford looks like a hero again. Give him the job already, Trump.

10:19-
And the guys are on the hook because they decided that part of their sales pitch was to say that revenues were going to CHARITY! So now KELLY could get the gate now too, because he's the one who has to decide the amount to give to charity! And the charity thing was KEVIN's idea because his brother had CANCER, so KEVIN could get blamed for the loss! So ALL these people are in danger.

10:23-
Men have won, surprisingly, by a good two-hundred or so. Women are fried. Ivana is on the block- bigtime- for the chaos and lack of organization. I think she may be finished after two weeks, but maybe she can blame someone.

10:35-
The conspiracy is on. Ivana is under the gun for the chaos but she had a big meeting to pin the blame on Stacie J for the wrong location that set the team back 3 hours. Stacie J. plans to fight for her job. Bradford, who can't be fired no matter what, looks like he's gonna really enjoy this boardroom catfight!!!

BOARDROOM-

Oh boy, Bradford opened his big mouth and threw away his exemption in the boardroom! Wow. What guts. What an open invitation. What an idiot.

Stacie's getting killed. Well, Stacie, Bradford, Ivana and Jennifer (!) are all being brought into the boardroom one last time to face the knife. I find it hard to believe Jennifer will go, but any of the other three could get the knife.

BRADFORD- WHAT AN IDIOT! AND DONALD REAMED HIM OUT FOR BEING AN IDIOT____ HE'S FIRED!!!!!!!!

WHAT A SHOW!!!!! Wow.

DAY 2 OF THE LOCKOUT

EVERYONE IS STILL IN AN UPROAR over the lockout. These politicians can do a deal on health care, yet these egomaniacs in the hockey world can't even start the season on time. Welcome to Armageddon, folks.

It is the top story in all sports media in Canada and the main topic of conversation on the Fan 590, where listeners seem to clearly be siding with the owners. Many noted Gary Bettman's cool demeanor at his press conference the other day, a sure sign that he knows he has the players over a barrel. He knows the fans are clearly with him and against the players, because, well, these player salaries are killing the Flames and the Oilers etcetra etcetra.

640 Toronto has a "no hockey!" show with Dennis Beyak, have lockout updates all day and have promised to break in with the latest breaking news on the lockout. I'm sure they're fully staffed to cover all the developments. Right now you need a staff of zero- because there ARE no developments!

In other news the Original Stars Hockey League has a game tomorrow in Barrie and the prices are ridiculous. The price range listed on the OSHL web site is 35 to 60 dollars! That's worse than I thought, I heard it was $25. These guys will probably have to bring the price down. Then again, I went to a Leafs game this year and the ticket cost $55 for one of the cheap upper-deck seats. So maybe it's a good deal after all; it's certainly better than the ripoff prices at Air Canada Centre. The gimmick is that these teams are supposed to represent the original six NHL cities--- so you can still see the Leafs, right?! Maybe that's why they think they can get away with these ticket prices.

Someone tell these fans you can watch a junior OHL game for cheaper prices than what the OSHL is offering. Everyone's having a heart attack over this lockout business and forgetting that there are other hockey leagues and even other sports. Maybe someone can remind the fans it's still FOOTBALL and BASEBALL season and you can still go to those games? Ahem, there's also a FILM FESTIVAL on in Toronto and you can go and see a movie? Some people need a life.

(I have also heard that the St. John's Maple Leafs AHL affiliate team, which will be moving to Toronto next year, plans to play some games in Toronto for the Toronto fans during the lockout. That'll be another option for the diehards who can't live without hockey.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

IVAN

Go to Lost Remote right away for the links to live coverage of this latest hurricane which is bearing down on the Gulf Coast and hitting Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. What a mess. Again.

NHL IS LOCKED OUT

Gary Bettman announced an NHL lockout today with the unanimous endorsement of the owners.

Eugene Melnyk of the Ottawa Senators actually tipped off the Fan 590's Howard Berger to what went down in the meeting before the official announcement was made: Melnyk called it a "sad day for hockey". Bob Goodenow had his own statement as well blasting the NHL and calling it a sad day for hockey.

So all of Canadian sports are today in an uproar. Six major-league professional sports franchises in this country are effectively shut down, and with it goes much of the live programming on TSN, Sportsnet, Leafs TV, and the NHL Network. (Not affected as much are the Score (my former network), with a diet of baseball and basketball; the Fan 590, which does not carry any NHL games at all; and needless to say, Raptors NBA TV! But the sportscasts across Canada are ruined. There won't be any hockey hilites for McKenny, or Kathryn Humphreys or any of those people).

With the coming death of the Montreal Expos within weeks, Canada will be left with a pro sports diet consisting of the crummy Toronto Blue Jays, the crummy Toronto Raptors, the crummy CFL, and crummy NLL pro lacrosse. Which, by the way, is OK for me because I'm a big fan of these crummy sports leagues. (As for the crummy CART circuit, well, they're all done for the season in Canada, so forget them.)

But Saturday nights will be ruined for the rest of Canada, and for me, too. I'll probably actually have to go out on Saturday nights and spend money at the singles bars, chasing girls. I know there's the Original Stars Hockey League planning to start up with 4-on-4 hockey, but I'm convinced that league is garbage. I heard on TV they're going to charge $25 bucks a game and I'm convinced that's a complete ripoff. I also have my doubts about that shaky enterprise the WHA. I just don't think it'll see the light of day.

I should make a list: lockout alternatives for hockey fans. I'm sure there's quite a few. Saturday nights are usually good nights for college football and big-time boxing so I'm probably going to fill my time between now and January following those sports. I just can't believe these goofballs will be out any longer than that. These people think the whole world revolves around them and are blind to reality. Hey, you guys ain't all THAT, eh?

UPDATE- Another big lockout loser: PRO-LINE. Apparently half their business was NHL betting, and with the NHL gone they're right down the tubes financially, too. I guess they could offer the Original Stars Hockey League but I doubt that would cut it with fans.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

WORLD CUP FINAL SCORE: CANADA 3 FINLAND 2

CANADA REIGNS SUPREME IN HOCKEY.
Vincent Lecavalier is the tourney MVP.
Big hangover tomorrow- lockout coming.

We've got some IDIOTS in Toronto flipping cars over and basically embarrassing themselves after the big win by Canada. What a bunch of dumbbells.

WORLD CUP FINAL HIGHLIGHT OF BIG WEEK FOR TORONTO

This is a fabulous week in Toronto. For political junkies, there's the Ontario PC Leadership Convention this weekend, so we'll have our fill of political star-gazing. (Among others, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will be delivering the keynote speech on Saturday.)

For movie junkies there's the Toronto International Film Festival, with Roy Thomson Hall the hub of most of the activity. I went down there today to see if there was anyone famous there, and someone mentioned that Sigourney Weaver was supposed to show up. Or maybe she was there last night and they were talking about last night. I dunno. The only famous people I saw there today were the entertainment reporters like Citytv's Liz West and Global TV's Cheryl Hickey. They were standing on the red carpet in their expensive showbiz-glam clothes, waiting for something to happen and getting set for their live hits. These entertainment reporters are covering this thing like it's a political convention or something.

The other night was a bad night for the press as Sean Penn showed up for the premiere of his new movie The Assassination of Richard Nixon, and as he entered the movie theatre he refused to talk to the reporters, just sulked his way into the theatre. That was funny.

WORLD CUP FINAL TONIGHT

But the big event is the World Cup of Hockey which will be decided tonight between Finland and Canada. I was down at the Air Canada Centre earlier today just to check it out (actually, the main reason I was downtown was to get a TV demo tape made, but that's another story). It was a carnival atmosphere. All the media were there, and 640Toronto and CBC were all camped out there- I noticed the CBC's Tom Harrington hanging around near all the TV cameras. And there were tons of people there already wearing Team Canada jerseys and the like, and plenty of scalpers. One scalper was selling tickets for $500 for tonight's game! I heard on the radio that tickets were going for as much as $650. That is bleeping ridiculous.

Ridiculously high prices are the norm for international hockey. In fact they're the norm for professional hockey games, period. But really, $650 for one World Cup game is a total waste of money. I don't care if it's the finals. You're better off buying a TV set and watching the game at home!

Canada, of course, very nearly made this a terrible night for the scalpers by almost losing to the Czech Republic on Saturday, but Canada pulled it out in overtime 4-3 and here we are tonight. They are playing probably the best national team Finland has ever produced. That squad is loaded with talent. Right now it is 1-1 in the first period.

Overshadowing the night is the debacle that is the NHL labour dispute; or as they say in the States, labor dispute. The two sides aren't going to even bother holding another negotiation session and Gary Bettman's scheduled a meeting with the owners tomorrow followed by a press conference to announce the big lockout.

Who cares about the NHL. Last Saturday's overtime game proved to me that international hockey at the highest level has the trap-and-fight NHL all beat, both in style of play and in the passion the teams bring to the games. That's why I'm watching and enjoying the World Cup. The NHL could learn a few lessons about putting on a better show by watching how the international game is played.

Monday, September 13, 2004

THE FAMOUS WONKETTE

Here's a link to a story on one of the more successful bloggers out there, Wonkette, with her great, salacious political blog- a must-read this political year.

For those of you wondering, Wonkette is a real person. Her name is Ana Marie Cox and before her blog hit it big she worked for several political magazines in Washington and was forever being fired. Apparently she was so burned out on journalism that she was thinking of quitting the business. ( Sort of like my state of mind at the moment.) Anyway, she's now part of the Gawker blogging empire now, which also includes the L.A.-centric Defamer.

I invite you to read the post BELOW to learn how the rest of the bloggers are doing...

BLOGGING FOR DOUGHNUTS

Here's a good article on the blogging phenomenon in the Globe and Mail.

Here's a bit of advice for you. If you want to make a lot of money, don't go into blogging. Heck, I should know. Not even Andrew Sullivan is able to drive a Mercedes with his blogging revenues. It doesn't even lead to freelance work: nobody in the world cares. These Canadian newspaper editors and political people could care less about blogs. Try impressing them by saying you run a blog. So does everyone, they say.

Having a blog is a joke. And this article explains why it's a joke.

Support my advertisers. PLEASE! Maybe I'll make enough money to go to Tim Horton's. (For you international viewers, Tim Horton's is a very successful doughnut/coffee place in Canada. Lots of money in doughnuts.)

THE MOST OVERHYPED POLITICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR

... is the Health Care Summit with the PM and the Premiers!

Other countries worry about global terrorism, trade issues, and human rights abuses. We worry about --- wait for it ---- health care!!!

Man, just end the wait times already and be done with it! I'm tired of these endless premiers conferences!

I am so burned out from politics and from the Hot Air Machine that is Paul Martin's government that I can only muster the energy to link you up to this story about this waste of time. This is the biggest story in Canadian politics and every TV channel in the country is covering it as if it was the Constitutional Talks! But I just can't muster the energy. I just don't care about Canadian politics any more. That's why this is probably the last post on this blog about this overhyped event.

We know the outcome already. If they all come up with some kind of deal, Martin will claim it's a huge breakthrough and look like a big hero, even though it solves nothing. If they don't get a deal, they'll blame the premiers for it, particularly Ralph Klein, who already is convinced this is a farce.

And as for me I can't WAIT for Saturday and the Ontario PC leadership convention so we can elect John Tory and get it all over with. I'm more interested in the World Cup of Hockey than I am with all these jokers in politics. I'm even more interested in the Original Stars Hockey League(!), who plan to get their season under way this very week, in Barrie. I am fed up and burned out from politics and will be GLAD to get on with my life after this weekend, win or lose.

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In other news, Hurricane Ivan has levelled Grenada, did damage to Jamaica, and now the eye is just off the tip of Cuba and levelling that country as well. What a mess, too. What's the deal with all these hurricanes? Global warming?!

Friday, September 10, 2004

NHL NEGOTIATIONS (?) (!) ARE A JOKE

As you may have heard the NHL had a cow when they heard the latest proposal from the NHLPA union during the (supposed) contract talks. They huffed and puffed, called it a big step backwards and walked out of the meetings. No new meetings are scheduled.

The reaction from TSN's Bob McKenzie sums up the general mood of the sports media in this country who feel that these "negotiations" are a farce, a joke, and a waste of time. I know that Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun, too, is another big pessimist who feels it's dishonest for people to give any hint that there's a season of hockey coming up. As for me, I think the league's out until January for sure. Maybe these two sides will sit down at the table next week and have a coffee or something- that'll be about it. As for whether a deal will be done in January- who knows. But they'd better do a deal by January or this whole sport will go right down the tubes. And frankly I don't know whether to be an optimist or a pessimist about THAT either. They could be gone all year, these nitwits.

Get ready for next Wednesday which will be a huge day for sports news in this country when all the fans have their big cry over the lockout. Stormin' Norman and Roger Lajoie will be up all night on the FAN 590 consoling these upset hockey fans and season ticket holders.

WORLD CUP CONTINUES
Well, the big news is that the World Cup goes again tonight in St. Paul as the USA goes up against the Finns in one matchup. Tomorrow, Canada takes on the Czech Republic. Two excellent matchups. It will be interesting to see how the USA and the Finns react. The Finns won't be in the European time zone anymore, and the Americans will have that American crowd behind them. Meanwhile the Canadians have to worry about Marty Brodeur's bruised hand, and he'll be a game time decision tomorrow.

I keep reading about how nobody's going to the games in St. Paul for Team USA. There were some 4000 empty seats for the 6PM games there. Well, I agree with the guy in the Sun who said that there are other sports out there. Heck, it's FOOTBALL and BASEBALL season, and the sun is still shining. If you live in Minnesota, wouldn't YOU want to watch something other than hockey? Minnesota sports fans may be among the best hockey fans in the United States but that doesn't mean they all ought to show up to the arena every time a hockey game is played. Hockey's a sport, darnet, not a religion.

I feel the same way as these sports fans in Minnesota.

Here's how it works for me: during the summer, I'm a baseball fan. During the fall, I'm a football fan. In the spring, I'm a basketball fan, and in THE WINTER, I'm a hockey fan. So don't ask me to go march down to some hockey game in August or September. I'll only watch a sport outside of its season only if the game's important or if I happen to feel like watching it. I just don't think hockey is a sport you should play in the month of July or August, or even June for that matter. So lay off of Minnesota, okay, hockey fans? They have their priorities: it's BASEBALL and FOOTBALL season. Hockey's not THAT important.

But having said that, make sure to tune into the World Cup--- because it's the last decent hockey you'll see for a long long time.

UPDATE- Another reason that just occured to me for those empty seats: Team USA has played lousy hockey. Tonight they were lousy again, losing to FINLAND 2-1, so they're OUT of the World Cup! It's Finland versus Canada/the Czechs for that ugly-looking trophy.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

APPRENTICE 2 LIVE BLOG

8:34 EST-
OK, I'm up and running and waiting for the show to start. I'm right now flipping between 2 TVs- one has the Apprentice on Global- the other has Studio 2, a show I'm supposed to watch for the political campaign I'm involved with. Right now there's nothing on either channel. Global has Joey which looks like a bleeping awful excuse for a comedy, and Studio 2 has a hard-hitting story on old airplanes. So there's nothing of interest on either channel. Booooring.

8:51-
The wannabe-apprentices have arrived in NYC, the best and the brightest of America. Thankfully these new recruits are going to get some decent assignments and won't get stuck with chump jobs selling lemonade like last time. The contestants/chumps:
Jennifer- First person to arrive. Attorney. Talks about intimidation. Challenge.
Raj- The bowtie guy. Wears really red pants. A piece of work already. Andy, the recent Harvard grad, compares Raj to Rodney Dangerfield!
Maria- Marketing executive. Sizes people up.
Bradford- the guy with the shaved head. Also an attorney. Looks like a shark. Surveying who he can get rid of. Looks at one blonde bade and compared her to Cruella.
The other chumps are Sandy, Elizabeth, Stacy, Stacie, Ivana, Pamela, John, Bradford, Wes, Kevin, Chris, Kelly, Rob.
Carolyn and George are back again.
New wrinkle. The winning project manner gets exempt from the boardroom the following week.
I already think Raj is a leading candidate for the knife. Man, he looks ridiculous.
Hoo hoo hoo. It's Men versus Women. AGAIN!

9:02-
Raj hates the name of his group: Mosaic! Calls it fruity-tooty. Would've rather called it "Empire". And the women call themselves APEX Corp.- and they agree with Raj that the guys' team chose a ridiculous name that the Donald would laugh at. Raj already looks depressed and shaking his head, which is too bad for him because I think he's absolutely right! The guys have a RIDICULOUS, WEAK NAME! "Empire" would have really appealed to the Donald, in my judgment. APEX isn't all that great a name either, but it's better than MOSAIC.

And in another bold move, each team has to give up one of their own to the other team to be their project manager. So Bradford now leads the women and Pamela now leads the men's team.

9:08-
First task- each team will develop a brand new toy for MATTEL and present it to the top MATTEL people. Whoever creates the most marketable toy WINS.
I think the MEN are FRIED here. Wow. And the MOSAIC team has removed all their ties already.

9:17
Donald's Moral of the Day: Be Quick But Be Careful!

9:25-
A few players are in trouble. Raj, who was ridiculed by the Donald for the stupid cane he had, looks more and more like a flake. Bradford's in trouble already for proposing a ridiculous mechanical-sports toy idea, but he recovered a little by junking his original idea and listening to some good advice, and came up with some car contraption thing that the kids liked. Rob has hardly contributed much at all- coming up with one brain-cramped idea after another. He looks like he's a little brain-fried- not a good day at the office for him.
MOSAIC's toy idea looked like a ridiculous frog doll thing or something? What the heck was that? Anyway the kids didn't look impressed. Pamela- big mistake- says "who cut that kid's HAIR?! Looks like a mini-Dumb and Dumber!" Uh oh.

You're asking me, I think the MEN are in big trouble right now. I think Raj, Pamela and Rob could all get the gate. Now Stacie J. on the women's team is starting to act like a bit of a NUT. "I think we won, don't you think we won?!" Boy is she ever in with a bunch of uptight people. Her teammates think she's completely loopy.

9:34-
The men are FRIED. Their stupid action figure idea TANKED and now one of them is going to be fired. The winning team- plus Bradford the winning project manager- is up there sitting with Trump at dinner. Trump is already asking about "that guy with the cane". Pamela's gonna have to take two people into the boardroom with her and if Raj isn't one of them Pamela deserves to be fired. I am definitely not impressed with Raj. He could be finished on the very first show.

THE BOARDROOM-
This team is getting CRUCIFIED. Pamela got raked over the coals by everyone for offensive comments to the kids. Rob is getting raked for not doing enough. He's in trouble too- everyone's killing him. Andy feels Pamela did a lousy job.

2 or 3 people are being selected this time- Pamela has chosen Rob and Andy to face the music. One of them is getting FIRED!

ROB- YOU'RE FIRED!

"You're FIRED!" STARTING TONIGHT

OK, this blog is about to take a turn right into the deep end, starting tonight. I'm going to attempt to live-blog "The Apprentice 2".

I know, I know. This is supposed to be a serious political blog that concentrates on the issues of the day. But I have a pro-business philosophy, so in keeping with that I'll write about a show featuring intelligent people who want a slice of the American dream, not to mention TV fame and stardom. You want to be rich and famous? Go on a reality show. Hey, it worked for Bill Rancic.

Actually, the real reason I'm doing this is to enrich myself. Now that I have advertising on the web site, I want to make money...just like Donald Trump. So instead of writing about John Kerry's Vietnam service or liveblogging political events, I'll write about his silly reality show and really rake in the dough.

I'm going to attempt a running commentary on tonight's show and you'll find out whether I am surprised by what's happening, and I'll get my chance to trash the Donald's firing decisions. And Trump made some ghastly firing decisions last year.

Who do I think will be fired tonight? Heck, I have no idea. I think it could be just about anyone. It's a mug's game. And I don't know who any of these people are, other than the fact that there's some weird guy who wears a bow tie who I think will fit right in, not.

But other than him, I am simply going to watch and get my impressions on how they will react during the show- then I'll tell you if I think these people got hosed or not in the boardroom. Last year several good candidates were hosed while those idiots Sam and Omarosa got to stick around through sheer luck. By keeping those two anchors around, Trump helped decimate Sam's all-male team through his total incompetence, while Omarosa dragged down morale and was directly responsible for several costly team defeats later in the show. The only reason Omarosa survived as long as she did was because her all-female team benefited bigtime by the havoc Sam was wreaking over on the men's team. Once Sam was finally booted onto the street, Omarosa got her big opportunity to drag down everyone she got to work with. Omarosa did a great job of getting what seemed like every teammate she worked with fired from the show, yet Trump kept her around, too, for no coherent reason, even though she was absolutely evil. Kwame Jackson sealed his doom by picking her to join his team in the final challenge against Bill- Omarosa messed up her job and Kwame ended up being fired.

So we'll see what happens and find out who's the first one fired. My take is this: if you end up on the losing team and if your team leader hates your guts, you're in a heap of trouble. The worst thing you can do is be anonymous- that's a sure fire way to be the first to be fired. You've got to show some initiative and leadership.

Leading the losing team is another fine way to get on the chopping block in the boardroom, but I think the losing team leader is only going to be in trouble if they do a spectacularly bad job leading, or if the Donald figures you made a costly mistake that cost your team a victory. The way for the team leader to avoid the axe is to do a good job picking the two chumps who should go into the boardroom with him/her and make sure the blame is pinned entirely on them.

I know there's intense speculation on who will be the next Omarosa. God, I hope there's not another Omarosa. One was enough! I hope the Donald's first priority will be to weed out the potential divas quickly so that we can see how real, competent people react under pressure and make it in the business world- otherwise, The Apprentice 2 will be a great advertisement why people should AVOID Donald's empire like the plague.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

NHLPA TO MAKE OFFER TOMORROW

Canada SLAUGHTERED Slovakia 5-0 at the Air Canada Centre to keep their World Cup hopes alive, and also keep hockey alive as the number one sports story in Canada.

Meanwhile pessimism reigns supreme among sports commentators with respect to the NHL talks. These commentators are all convinced that the talks between the league and the players are a farce, and they maintain they're so far apart that it's not even worth talking about. I still say the fact they're still talking is a GOOD sign. As long as they talk, there's hope they may all come to their senses at some point. Unfortunately, it's not likely that will happen tomorrow.

The NHLPA is making their proposal to the NHL tomorrow. But it has no salary cap/cost certainty proposal, so it's likely to get shot right down by the owners. Meanwhile the clock ticks down to next Wednesday, the 15th, the day the lockout is supposed to start.

In happier sports news, tomorrow is the start of the NFL season!

Monday, September 06, 2004

WHAT A GREAT DAY TO BE A SPORTS FAN!

There's sports all over the TV tube today for everyone lounging around on Labour Day- or as they say in the 'States, Labor Day.

Over on CBS, they've got the US Open Tennis going on, and fortunately for them most of the big names are still going.

Over on ABC, Vijay Singh is trying to wrest the #1 ranking in the world from Tiger Woods in
golf. A win today will do it at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

And it's a huge day over on CBC. There's a big CFL doubleheader- the traditional Labour Day Weekend clashes between Edmonton and Calgary in McMahon Stadium and between Toronto and Hamilton down in Steeltown. But before the CBC shows those games, there's the matter of showing that World Cup Hockey matchup between Germany and Finland. And that's turning into a great hockey game.

That's enough to satisfy most people, but there's also baseball on cable TV and on the radio as well for people to enjoy. So all the bases are covered today- and if you're not a sports fan, there's always Jerry Lewis. So Labour Day is a great day.

None of the sports fans in Toronto care, of course. I tuned in the FAN 590 again and they're still wringing their hands over the coming NHL lockout. The two sides are still supposed to be so far apart that it's not even worth talking about. Sportsnet even has a countdown clock on their homepage, counting down the hours to the big work stoppage and getting the masses all excited.

Well, I'm not wringing my hands at all. I'm enjoying the hockey we're seeing right now. I should write up something later this week on why international hockey is better than the NHL. It's just better- there are a number of reasons for it. You notice that more general sports fans are up for international hockey matchups, and the games are far more memorable. The biggest hockey moments ever came in international hockey, NOT the NHL. So that's another reason why I say enjoy the World Cup, because international hockey is, absolutely, as good as it gets.

And I refuse to worry about the NHL lockout because, well, life goes on and there's lots of sports out there to follow. It's football season anyway.

UPDATE- Finland has advanced in the World Cup, beating a game, underrated German team 2 to 1.

HI DAD!

Happy Birthday!

Friday, September 03, 2004

FLORIDA PREPARES TO GET SMASHED AGAIN

Convention's over. Now back to reality.

Hurricane Frances is threatening off the coast of Florida and could smash into the state tomorrow. It's a Category 3 hurricane right now and is expected to wreak havoc. There are links to coverage over at LostRemote; there's also plenty of coverage on WSVN Channel 7 Miami which is streaming its newscasts.

And this just in: Bill Clinton is in the hospital and he needs quadruple bypass surgery.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

HIGH DRAMA DURING BUSH ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Here's the link to MSNBC's story on the speech.

The speech by George W. Bush- a tough speech on a wide range of topics which ended with his fight against terrorism- was interrupted by protesters twice. Bush spoke on a circular-shaped stage in a manner reminiscent of his State of the Union and other speeches before Congress. This time, when he started speaking about the war in Iraq, an anti-war protest started up in the hall and a protester was escorted out; there was another incident as well where another protester was escorted out. When that happened you could feel the tension in the hall from miles away, simply watching the proceedings on television.

The speech went well past 11PM on the East Coast and cut heavily into the time for the local news, but the President pressed on and the networks refused to cut him off, staying with convention coverage for a good 20 minutes past the scheduled start time for the late local. They had to stick with the President.

THIS WAS NEWS.

LATE NIGHT COMEDIANS COVER THE CONVENTION; BYE BYE BROKAW


MOORE AND McCAIN ON LETTERMAN

It is Day 4 already and George W. Bush gets to give the all-important speech of his life (!) (?) tonight.

Last night I managed to watch a bit of David Letterman, in between flipping channels and watching newscasts on other stations. It's really useful to watch the talk shows give their take on the conventions and the politicians because you're getting the viewpoint from an audience that's interested in politics and political figures, but not involved with it directly in any sort of way. You sort of get the "everyman" perspective. You really learn how policies and personalities play out there in middle America with the general public. That's why I find a show like Letterman's more useful than watching Ted Koppel or Aaron Brown or even Bill O'Reilly or any of these other hosts. Those hard news guys deal with people who are deeply interested in politics. The comedians deal with audiences that are basically average Joes interested in all sorts of things.

Well, Letterman went straight to Madison Square Garden where Biff Henderson was supposedly live (this was probably taped in the afternoon for all I know). All week Biff looked like a guy who was about as excited to be at the convention as, well, a crying baby or someone like that. He's looked like a guy who'd rather go to the washroom than be reporting on the convention. Of course, that's part of the schtick.

But on this night he had a big interview with Michael Moore. And the audience reaction in the main studio was TELLING. The Letterman audience SHOWERED Moore with boos. My theory on Moore is holding up, in my opinion: every time he shows his face on TV, it's ANOTHER VOTE FOR BUSH! That man Moore is DEEPLY unpopular, and seen by the public as a ranting and raving you-know-what. But Moore seems to enjoy getting booed by people: he mentioned he was "showered with boos" at the convention during John McCain's speech, and acted like he really likes the attention and doesn't care. So, yeah, he enjoys it, I think.

The main guest on the show was John McCain. Here's the transcript from last night's interviews with Moore and McCain, courtesy of Aaron Barnhart's TVBarn site.

BYE BYE TOM BROKAW

If you are going to watch one major network convention broadcast tonight, you can't go wrong by tuning into NBC. On that channel veteran Tom Brokaw is anchoring his final convention. He is stepping away from the anchor desk later this year to make room for Brian Williams.

I know there are a lot of people still out there who still don't want to believe Brokaw is leaving, who think NBC and Brokaw are bluffing and that the network secretly intends to bring Brokaw back. Deal with it folks: Brokaw's leaving. He's older than Walter Cronkite was when he left. So get ready for a big night for him tonight and be sure to tune into NBC.

Of course, you never know if this is it for Dan Rather, who's old as the hills and whose ratings are so low that there's been talk in the past of getting rid of him. But Dan plans to stay put in his anchor chair forever. So forget about watching Rather and watch Brokaw instead, because at least with Brokaw, you know for darned sure he's leaving and there's more likely to be a tribute to him or something. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Brokaw pop up four years from now as a guest analyst or commentator or something.

Like Uncle Walter, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, John Chancellor, and that iron man of political coverage Robert Trout, Brokaw's presence has been an important part of the fabric of American political conventions, and his departure from the anchor desk will be one truly felt by everyone on the political scene.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

ZELL MILLER RAISES ROOF

Well, Dick Cheney proved me right. He certainly was "Mister Excitement." Or more accurately, Mr. Dry. Like Tuesday night, the opening act for the evening stole the entire show. Now I know why Zell Miller was invited to speak.

DID HE EVER RAISE THE ROOF. That was a really great speech- a fighting speech. And after hearing it I have to think: John Kerry will be in tough from now until election day.

Better yet for the GOP, it came from A DEMOCRAT. So the Democrats look even worse now because a Democrat is saying all this stuff about Kerry. Miller rattled off a whole list of military equipment that John Kerry voted against in the United States Senate. He single-handedly bodyslammed Kerry for his entire voting record and his entire support for a liberal soft policy towards the military and towards terrorists.

Afterwards, a lot of the more liberal commentators were complaining about how tough Zell Miller's speech was on Kerry. As if that was a disadvantage to Bush. True enough, it was a tough speech. But I think it really got people thinking about Kerry again, just as the Swift Boat Veterans ads did. And get ready for more of this for the rest of the way, folks.

Kerry is going to be in for this type of treatment from now until the election. His positions on the military are going to be completely skewered by the Republicans from here on in, and his record on the military is going to come under serious bombardment.

I think tonight was significant. The fundamental weakness of the Kerry campaign- that they are soft on the military and soft on terrorists and rogue regimes- has been exposed in this convention. The Swift Boat Veterans got the ball rolling and now Zell Miller is helping the Bush/Cheney ticket finish the hatchet job on Kerry's public image, with tonight representing only the first of many bodyblows to the John Kerry express tonight on his stance on the military. It's clear to me that they've got a winning issue here: everyone in America wants the terrorists defeated, everyone's behind the military. If Americans suspect Kerry is being two-faced on the central issue of the campaign, the handling of the war on terrorism, well, he's finished.

The only achilles heel for the Bush ticket, however, is still Iraq and those elusive weapons of mass destruction. He has yet to come up with a convincing explanation for that war yet and that's what's saving Kerry's skin. His team IS starting to come up with good reasons to keep up a steely resolve in the war on terrorism, in my judgement, but Bush needs to do more. If Bush can explain why he was right to get rid of Saddam, he'll be able to convince the swing voters and win the campaign. We'll see tomorrow night in his acceptance speech what his explanation is. He needs to justify to the American public why that war was the right thing to do. But if we hear more about how Saddam really did have weapons of mass destruction, well...

But that's tomorrow. With respect to tonight, I have to believe this night may have marked a turning point for the Bush campaign. A dangerous thing has happened to Kerry: he's being exposed as a political fraud artist. He ran at his convention as a big moderate and a big friend of the military, who would effectively manage the war on terrorism. Now he's being exposed by his opponents as a total liberal dove who might surrender the war on terrorism. And tonight during Cheney's speech, the audience started catcalling Kerry using the most dangerous political words in the English language: "flip-flop".

Get ready for Kerry to be hammered in this fashion from here on in. Looks to me like the Bush team will employ a similar game plan to what they did to a certain liberal Governor of Massachussetts in 1988: make him look like the worst liberal imaginable. A sure fire strategy to get elected.

No wonder Kerry's going through yet another of his legendary campaign shakeups. No wonder he's brought in ex-Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart. No wonder he quit the waterskiing and spent today on the campaign trail. Kerry knows he's in trouble right now. He's got problems. Big ones.