Monday, September 29, 2008

Guilty pleasures for political junkies...

I've actually been enjoying this federal election campaign. The most striking difference from the last campaign would be the widespread use of rolling polls.

My favourite rolling poll has to be the daily CPAC-Nanos polls, mostly because of how accurately they called the 2006 election result. I usually log onto Nanos' site every day around 2 pm to check out the latest national party numbers. It's become like a drug for many Canadian election

I also check out Greg Morrow's sensational 2008 site for daily fluctuations in seat projections based on a complex formula I don't understand, yet seems to be likely accurate, at least based on most polls.

There's also the always impressive Election Prediction Project, predicting seat totals since the late 1990s (when its bandwidth isn't exceeded.)

There are other fun gadgets around the net to play with. The Globe & Mail's Poll of Polls is cool.

The best site page of this political season: the Washington Post's Pick Your President page. Check it out asap if you haven't. And let's not forget ''.

Yes I'm a nerd, I must admit. Election nights for me are like the Superbowl for football fans. I'm sure I'm not alone in that opinion...

And of course Warren's Clear Canadian Campaign Coverage always brings a smile to my face and great insight. A daily read for sure.

I check out other blogs or sites once and a while, but none as much as these gems. Please feel free to comment with the sites you can't stay away from this election...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Political columnists need to do their homework...

I should get a job as a political columnist. At least I'd get my historical facts right. It never ceases to amaze me how many writers who get paid (no doubt big bucks) to write about politics fail to check even the most easily accessible facts before publishing.

The latest example is today's column by Gary Mason about the allegedly dire state of Liberal affairs in B.C.

I'll ignore his analysis for now, solely based as it is on one poll that seems freakishly wrong (based on all the other polls from B.C. I've seen in this campaign.) And just focus on his mistakes:

"The Liberals won eight seats in B.C. in the last election. They could lose them all this time around."

Okay they won 9 seats there in 2006, not eight. Perhaps he just believes David Emerson really won as a Tory? I know I'm nitpicky, but come on. It's not hard to confirm the number of seats parties won in the last election in each province.

Then Mason offers this: "The Greens are offering up Adriane Carr [in Vancouver Centre], the popular one-time head of the party in B.C." Okay, Carr ran in two elections as leader of the BC Greens, in 2001 and in 2005.

I don't mean to pick on Mason. This article is one of many I've read in recent times filled with historical errors. How can we trust your analysis, Mr. Mason, if we can't even trust your facts?

I just wish more political columnists would do due diligence and fact-check before they publish! Political junkies are watching.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wall Street crisis drags down John McCain

One major benefit of the recent economic calamity on Wall Street is the impact it's having on the U.S. election race. Polls now show Barack Obama reclaiming his lead in opinion polls over John McCain.

For those who didn't read it in the Globe & Mail today, John Ibbitson's column is required reading, emphasizing how McCain helped create this crisis.

McCain's strange statement today urging a delay in Friday's scheduled debate with Obama is yet another example of McCain's bizarre instincts under pressure. At a time of great economic uncertainty, shouldn't Americans be able to hear MORE from their presidential candidates on how they'd manage it? Not according to McCain, evidently.

Obama's response, as always, was flawless: "It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person will be the next president...It is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once. It's more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people."

If only Stephane Dion were as eloquent...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Singer Clay Aiken finally comes out of the closet

I guess I could say, "It's about time!" But I don't think coming out publicly as a homosexual when you're a celebrity is ever an easy decision. I'm glad he's finally acknowledged it. Better late than never.

Other celebs who have come out recently have seen no damage, and frequently in fact advancements in their careers (ie. Neil Patrick Harris, Megan Fox, and Cheyenne Jackson, to name but three).

To be honest, this'll probably get Aiken more fans. All the power to him...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brad Pitt admits to hot affair with male stripper...

Okay, the headline is fictitious, merely designed to evoke the kind of reaction that I'm sure Transformers hottie Megan Fox (pictured) will elicit with the new revelation that she had a lesbian affair at age 18. I don't buy it, but I'm sure Fox's many straight male (and gay female) fans won't mind and will buy more copies of the upcoming GQ Magazine as a result.

All the power to her. International stardom is a hard thing to build. Hot, young actors or actresses need to give their fans something to chew on if they're going to keep buying tickets and guaranteeing that star a higher salary. No, I'm not too cynical, am I?

Fox's lesbian affair couldn't be more perfect. Fox was 18 when it happened (of course), and it was with a Russian stripper named Nikita (In the words of the great Liberal ads from 2006, "We are not making this up.")

Fox is not the only female Hollywood star who is using male fascination with lesbo-eroticism to gain greater notoriety.

No matter how much I try not to, I continue to see stories about Lindsay Lohan's "relationship" with her female buddy Samantha Ronson and Lohan's father's never-ending disapproval. I'm sure he won't be happy reading about Lohan's upcoming same-sex wedding! Get over it and support your daughter, you dolt!

Do I believe any of these cooked up lesbian fantasies? Not really. Nor do I believe most Hollywood romances are real either.

But would I like to read about how Brad Pitt once had a hot affair with Edward Norton while filming Fight Club? Sure I would. How about Pitt and Tom Cruise while filming Interview With A Vampire? Okay, I won't go Sorry, Tom, you are not gay! lol

Until then, I'll have to content myself with the latest book about John Lennon's alleged homosexual lust for Paul McCartney.


Okay, as of Sept 23, Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson have apparently confirmed they're together. Okay, I guess I'm too cynical and will need to work on I'll start by believing Megan Fox's stripper story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are Republicans lipstick-wearing racists or sexist pigs?

To the question posed in my headline, I don't know the answer for sure. But it seems the party of George W. has recently found a new religion: fervent anti-sexism. The Republicans have been all over Barack Obama's recent statement describing John McCain's claim that he would bring "change" to Washington despite supporting most of Bush's policies as "lipstick on a pig."

"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig," Obama then said, employing a common expression that politicians of both parties, including McCain and Vice President Cheney have used before.

"Barack Obama's comments...are offensive and disgraceful. He owes (Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah) Palin an apology," Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Republican women were out in full force last week during their convention, condemning any and all criticism of Palin's less-than-impressive credentials and the ongoing controversy over her past as "sexist."

Palin, as many know, has been governor of Alaska for 18 months. Before that, she served as mayor of a small town for six years. If McCain is elected and unable to serve, Palin will be the most powerful person in the world.

But according to Republicans, questioning her capacity to lead is now "sexist."

This is the same kind of knee-jerk, reactionary argument that Republicans have condemned Democrats and all progressives for using around issues of racism or any other "ism." In the past, they might have had a point. But now this over-reaction to any well-deserved criticism of Palin's candidacy as simply "sexist" is not credible.

If Obama can't play the "race" card, then surely Palin should stop playing the "sexist" card. Republicans can't have it both ways.

If the Republicans continue to belittle Obama's credentials, can the Democrats now condemn them as simply "racist"? When the Republicans say the only way to serve one's community is to sit in the mayor's chair, rather than organizing and being active in the community, should they get away with such "classist" and "elitist" establishment talk? Do they want to play this game?

Obama appeared last night on David Letterman to chat about the false controversy.

"Technically, had I meant it this way, (Palin) would be the lipstick, you see. The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig," Obama said, drawing laughter from the audience.

It has been less than two weeks since Palin's candidacy was announced by John McCain. I expect that McCain's recent surge in popularity has been the result of this game-changing choice, as well as a successful convention overall last week in St. Paul's. But we shouldn't be too eager to jump on the Republican bandwagon just yet.

Overall, it seems that Palin was a smart choice by McCain. After eight years of Bush, can I see Palin in the Oval Office despite her credentials and lack of experience? Sadly, yes I can. Bush reduced the stature of the White House so badly that now virtually anyone who can perform well on T.V. and fire up the repulsive base of the Republican Party is now presidential material. Do 45-49% of Americans who lean toward the Republicans fear what someone of so little experience might do in the most powerful office on Earth? Evidently not, as long as she shoots guns and believes rape victims should be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.

It should be a very interesting and tight race between now and November 4th. I still think Obama will take it, but obviously the Republicans aren't going down without a nasty fight.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Voluntarily non-partisan during Canadian election campaign...

My work duties have changed temporarily and, as a result, I have decided that I should take a more non-partisan tone in the coming weeks as the Canadian federal election unfolds.

Of course, I've previously written often in support of Stephane Dion and the Liberals, so people familiar with this blog already know clearly where I stand. I also know there are many other eloquent and passionate Canadian voices out there in the blogosphere who will do a terrific job putting this campaign in greater context from a progressive perspective.

My thoughts at the outset of this race? It looks like the Tories have a good shot at winning a stronger minority government, but that could easily change based on how the campaign unfolds. With the writ dropped, Canadians will finally get a chance to focus on the real Stephane Dion (not the fictional version promoted in Tory attack ads or by the media) and what he truly has to offer the country in terms of leadership and vision. I suspect many Canadians will be pleasantly surprised.

I will continue to blog on various issues between now and October 14th, including the ongoing U.S. election campaign, so please don't refrain from checking this site out.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

TIFF: Two feet from The Edge, and still alive to talk about it...

A good friend from work, a gorgeous reddish-brunette named Deana, invited me to a Toronto International Film Festival party last night at the Soho.

The party for the Jimmy Page/Jack White/The Edge documentary It Might Get Loud, by Davis Guggenheim (who did 'An Inconvenient Truth') was pretty pumped.

We got there around 11:30 pm and it was almost too busy. Felt like no air conditioning at first in the main entrance area. It was a mixed crowd of rock lovers, of which I really don't claim to be. I'm more into Pop, Indie, Classical and Jazz. I'm not even much of a fan of Led Zeppelin or Jack White, but who of course doesn't like U2?

At one point, my companion and I, brave with a couple glasses of wine, got past a security guard's velvet rope after he told her her dress was "hot."

We wandered down a hallway to a kitchen area and, almost welcomed along, made a right through a different doorway into the special V.I.P area, otherwise cordoned off from the main party by walls and more efficiently guarded velvet rope.

It was definitely creamier. We immediately saw The Edge, chatting in a crush of well-dressed people. I turned to see Michael J. Fox having a chat with Jack White on a luxury sofa nearby. Davis Guggenheim was there. A few minutes later, Jimmy Page entered. We just stood by the wall, a bit overwhelmed and sipped our new glasses of champagne. At one point, The Edge stopped right in front of us, no more than two feet away. I tried to look nonchalant, but I don't think I convinced him. Of course, we said nothing. What do you say to a legend, "Oh my God, I really loved 'Where The Streets Have No Name'"? They moved along.

We enjoyed it for about five more minutes until we got busted by security and were politely shown the exit back to the main party.

It was fun while it lasted. We went on to great conversations with other party goers for the next two hours. Also enjoying themselves in the main party area with the rest of the peasants were Geoffrey Rush and Eric Balfour.

For more on the It Might Get Loud party, check this out.

Did we like the movie? I'll let you know after we both see

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

That funny Jason Kenney guy...

Ever since Jason Kenney made the ridiculously stupid and insulting statement in 2005 that Canada's old marriage laws didn't discriminate against gays because gays could marry members of the opposite sex, I haven't been able to listen to anything he's had to say with a straight face (er, pun

During the heat of the same sex marriage debate in 2005, Kenney let out this whopper: "Marriage is open to everybody, as long as they're a man and a woman...It doesn't say you can't marry if you're a homosexual. The fact is that homosexuals have been married and do marry.''

Despite Kenney's 'genius' argument, same sex marriage became the law of the land in June 2005.

A few months later, Ang Lee's 'Brokeback Mountain' came out on the big screen to great acclaim. It chronicled a story about two closeted gay cowboys who followed Kenney's advice and married members of the opposite sex because, well, they could. If you've seen the movie, you know it didn't end well. I once thought I should send Kenney a DVD copy of the movie to show him how stupid his statement truly was, but I never got around to sending it.

Since then, whenever this guy has gotten in front of the cameras as the spokesman for the Harper government, I've cringed, as I'm sure many Canadians have. As we know, Harper has a high tolerance for homophobes in his caucus. You can say whatever you want about the gays and, after the media circus dies down, nothing happens to you. It's difficult to imagine a scenario in which Harper would come to the defense of gays, to be honest.

So to keep using this guy as a point man for the government speaks volumes. Sure Kenney is an Ottawa keener and a good Harper team player. He knows how to play the game, otherwise we wouldn't be seeing so much of him. I suspect it's Harper's willingness to let people like Kenney to be so front and centre that has kept Tory fortunes in the mid-30s for so long (among other reasons of course.)

Do we really want a caucus and a party dominated by Jason Kenney-types to have a majority in this country? I expect 65% of Canadians still say no. Quite frankly, I'd like these goons back in opposition as soon as possible. Harper may be giving us that chance come October 14...

Gays don't need doctors, says Lorne Gunter...

Anti-equality blowhard Lorne Gunter is still going on about our country's human rights commissions. Enough already! Don't you ever get tired of bitching about the same issue? Gunter and others like him have been beating this dead horse for months with zero sign of any willingness on the part of our country's politicians to seriously revisit the issue.

Barring a Stephen Harper majority government, in which anyone who is not a far right radical or someone they love would be vulnerable to malicious and surprise government attack (just like women, doctors, teachers, nurses, gays, Natives, social workers, the disabled, the poor all were under Mike Harris), I doubt we'll see Canada's Human Rights laws revisited anytime soon.

Of course, there's no doubt that the Harper-crites are hoping for a majority government in this October's expected election. It's easy to see them using this issue to throw a little bone to their base, as they are prone to do. They probably wouldn't re-open the abortion or the same sex marriage debate, but they'd sure be willing to gut or even shut down Canada's Human Rights Commission, if given the chance.

But I digress. Gunter argues that gays, who are born that way, need to compromise and tolerate discrimination, while the religious, who pick and choose their own beliefs, should not have to do so. To him, it's perfectly okay for a private citizen or business providing services to the public to pick and choose which communities they will or will not serve based purely on religious grounds. Gunter ignores the implications of his position: if doctors can discriminate based on religion, they can also discriminate based on any criteria they personally deem reasonable, in defiance of professional standards. If a patient is a woman, they could refuse treatment. If the patient is a Jew, they could refuse treatment. If the patient is dying, they could refuse treatment.

As we know, Canada has a terrible doctor shortage. Once more, it's difficult as it is to find a doctor who is "gay-friendly" outside of large urban centres. To exempt doctors as a profession from our human rights laws, as Gunter argues, would be truly despicable.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Shocking crimes hit Guelph by-election campaign...

Kudos to my blogging colleagues Scott Tribe, David Graham and Matthew Hayday for their recent posts on the shocking crimes being committed against Liberal supporters in the ongoing Guelph by-election set for Sept 8 (unless Stephen Harper pulls the plug on his own government and cancels the Sept by-elections in favour of a general election.) Guelph by-election writer Adam Donaldson also adds to the discussion here.

As Scott detailed: "Homes with Liberal signs were targeted. Liberal supporters signs and houses were spray-painted with graffiti (it appears that at least 10 homes were vandalized), and at least 6 cars were keyed and their cars brake lines were tampered with and cut. This is more then just a prank - someone could have been killed if they hadn’t noticed and went driving off in their car."

Pics of the crimes can be viewed on Scott's site here.

As Scott made clear, there is little doubt the people responsible for this vandalism and the severing of brake lines were inspired by their opposition to the old Liberal Bill C-68 which created the long gun registry in the 1990s. These folks are still not over it, it seems. Is it surprising to me that gun-toting sympathizers - albeit a radical minority - might be inspired to take this kind of violent action against supporters of a party who brought in gun control? It's despicable.

To think that even a small handful of pro-gun types think it's okay to threaten the lives of Liberal supporters by cutting their brake lines is horrifying. I'm glad that all the candidates in the race, including Tory Gloria Kovach, have condemned these attacks.

Crime, Senate reform and other bills that die if Harper calls early election...

As we all expect, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to break his own law this week and call an election one year early. In doing so, he'll be killing a large number of bills still before Parliament, including some rather controversial legislation. Many suspect that Harper is going to focus much of his campaign showcasing the government's crime-fighting actions, as well as his personal commitment to reform the Senate; however, four major crime bills and two Senate reform bills introduced by his government are set to die if Harper calls the early election.

Of course, the Tories will say they wouldn't have been able to pass these bills would they have waited until the Oct 2009 fixed election date. But considering the Tory record in getting many bills through Parliament this term, surely that assertion is false. I think the fact that Harper is willing to let so many pieces of legislation die on the altar of political opportunism speaks volumes about his priorities.

When the Tories argue they've taken action to fight crime and promote Senate reform in the upcoming election, we should remind voters that in calling the early vote, Harper killed the following legislation:

An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted)
The Minister of Public Safety

An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act
The Minister of Justice

An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
The Minister of Justice

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (identity theft and related misconduct)
The Minister of Justice

An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure)
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

This site lists the status of all government bills introduced in the Canadian House of Commons this session, those bills passed and those that will die on the order paper. Other bills set to die that caught my eye are:

An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (visual identification of voters)
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act
The Minister of Finance
(This bill would kill Canadian film & TV production as it would put at risk producers' abilities to guarantee huge portions of their budgets before getting loans from banks. A big mess if passed, thank God it's not yet the law.)

An Act to amend the Copyright Act
The Minister of Industry

Of these, I truly hope that Bill C-10 and Bill C-61 don't come back in their existing forms, should the Tories get the chance to introduce government legislation again. Of course, the best way to ensure that doesn't happen is to elect a Stephane Dion Liberal government.