Thursday, November 30, 2006

Inside the Strategies

The Globe and Mail today provides a in-depth analysis of the strategies of the big four. It's definitely worth a read.

Ignatieff Camp Needs 35% on First Ballot - Easter

Wayne Easter, a supporter of Michael Ignatieff, has thrown out a number: 35%

That's apparently the support Michael Ignatieff feels he needs on the first ballot in order to be seen as having momentum.

It will be very interesting to see what he will do if he doesn't get 35%.

UPDATE: Oh, wait. Actually, that's just Wayne Easter's personal opinion apparently. My bad.

Stephane Dion

Other Candidates:
Michael Ignatieff
Bob Rae
Gerard Kennedy

(Cross-posted at Centrerion)

It is obviously impossible for me to claim that I am unbiased in writing about any candidate, but this is especially true for what I write about Stephane Dion. Obviously, he is the candidate who I believe should lead the party into the next election. I believe he would be Stephen Harper's most formidable foe, in both official languages. Therefore, since this is basically going to be an exalting of Dion's better qualities, I will spare you from long-windedness.

Dion was not one of the candidates who could count on front-runner status. Unlike the other top-tier candidates, Dion had to work hard to get where he is today. Fourth place - a strong fourth - is impressive given that when he began his bid for leadership he wasn't given much of a chance by most observers.

The reason that Dion has experienced this momentum is because people realize that he is the true intellectual voice of liberalism in Canada, not Michael Ignatieff. People realize that Stephane Dion is the only candidate among the front-runners who has served in a federal cabinet, and who has paid his dues to the party.

Dion is the candidate most likely to win Quebec for the Liberals. The Liberal party can't win the next election without a strong come-back in Quebec, and Stephane Dion, I feel, is the only candidate well-positioned to defeat Stephen Harper in Quebec. The only other candidate who I feel could compete in Quebec is Michael Ignatieff, but I fear he is too gaffe-prone to win a general election.

That being said, what sort of chance does he have?

Well, history is certainly on Dion's side. Every single Liberal prime minister save for Alexander Mackenzie (the first one) has served in the cabinet of a previous Liberal prime minister. Kennedy is the only other front-runner who can claim experience in a Liberal cabinet, though provincial politicians do not historically do well federally.

But, this convention isn't about the past. In many ways, it is going to be a historic convention in its own right, which means all bets are off.

So, can Dion win? He certainly can, but it will be tough. Dion is in perhaps the hardest position of any candidate - he has to squeeze up past Gerard Kennedy, and replace Bob Rae as the not-Iggy candidate. Dion has many potential paths to the leadership; an endorsement from Ken Dryden, an endorsement from Gerard Kennedy, and an electrifying convention speech would all help, and are likely essential. Dion is in fourth; he has to wow the delegates with a powerful, passionate speech.

I don't know if he can do it. But here's hoping he does.

Daniel Craig is awesome

Just as an aside, I love the new Bond. This makes me love him more.

Oddly, a masculine guy wanting to film erotic scenes with another man... just makes him seem more manly to me. Bond definitely strikes me as a, "Yeah, I had sex with a man. I can still kill you in a heartbeat and then have sex with your wife/daughter/(son)" kind of guy.

Gerard Kennedy

Other Candidates:
Michael Ignatieff
Bob Rae

(Cross-posted at Centrerion)

What can I say about Gerard Kennedy?

Scratch that. What can I say about Gerard Kennedy that won't result in his cult-like supporters attack my intellectual integrity? The answer is, not much that's all that interesting.

I don't want to knock Gerard. He's an impressive guy and I have not a word to say against him. But I do have to say right now, before I give my assessment of him, that I don't think a noticeable contingent among his supporters helped his case. Not all, not even the majority of Kennedy supporters are like that, of course, and there are many I respect among his supporters. But he has generated some strong feelings among certain members, and I have seen many unfortunate attacks by Kennedy supporters directed at their fellow Liberals that were hardly constructive. I do hope that if Kennedy loses, which is quite likely, especially now that he has taken a principled stand against the nation issue, these supporters will not go about creating divisions within the party.

It's hard to argue against Kennedy's credentials. Ten years as an elected MPP and three as a cabinet minister is certainly more political experience than Stephen Harper had when the Conservatives elected him their leader, and far more than Michael Ignatieff. Sure, he didn't graduate from university, but instead of that he started a successful food bank and ran another one. How do you run an attack ad against that?

I've warmed to Kennedy a great deal. I have been hoping for a Dion-Kennedy alliance going into the convention because if Dion can't take it, Kennedy would be a very close second choice for me. I agree with him on virtually every issue, and he has a charisma about him that is indeed Trudeau-esque. In fact, were it not for one fatal flaw, he would probably be my first choice.

The fatal flaw is - I don't think he can win in Quebec. And here is why:

Kennedy is an English speaker from Ontario. Of the four front-runners, he is the weakest in French. He has only 2% of the Quebec delegates to this convention on his side, and he is unlikely to pick up more than that because of his stance on the nation question. That stance, in itself, is the final stake in the coffin.

I support Kennedy on the nation question. But the optics of him, an Ontarian with hardly any support from Quebec Liberals and hardly fluently bilingual, arguing against it could easily guarantee the Liberal party's failure in Quebec. I was hoping that Dion would oppose that motion, because frankly as the truism goes, "Only Nixon could go to China." Only Trudeau and Chretien could fight those referendums. Only Dion could introduce the Clarity Act. Kennedy would simply have no credibility to the people of Quebec arguing against a Quebec nation.

It's a tough call. If Kennedy can't win an election against Stephen Harper, though, then what is the point of electing him leader? His supporters argue that this doesn't matter. Kennedy has inspired some strong feelings in people precisely because he represents something so fresh, so hopeful, so young. Who cares if he can win?

Actually, his supporters would be done a bit of a misdeed if I didn't point out that most of them believe that he can beat Stephen Harper in an election. Fair enough; I disagree, but that's fine.

But it's a bit of a moot point, because I don't think Kennedy will take this one. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that this convention will come down to either Ignatieff v. Dion, or Ignatieff v. Rae, likely the former, because the Quebec delegates are likely to regard Kennedy as anathema. His best chance to win is to score the endorsement of Stephane Dion. If Dion can bring his Quebec delegates with him to Kennedy, Kennedy will gain both a powerful Quebec ally and a sizable contingent of Quebec delegates.

But it is thought that Dion's Quebec delegates will bleed heavily to Ignatieff if he is knocked off the ballot. That could make it hard for Kennedy to win this convention. If Dion doesn't endorse him, he will almost certainly go down, so whether or not that happens will be one of the turning points of the convention.

I wish Kennedy all the best. If he wins this convention, I will be proud to say I'm a Liberal.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Martha scores her first/only MP!

Judy Sgro has endorsed Martha Hall Findlay.

I'm so glad Martha got at least one MP. She deserves it after the performance she's given.

Bob Rae

Other Candidates:
Michael Ignatieff

(Cross-posted to Centrerion)

As the political veteran of this race, Bob Rae's appeal has been obvious - he is the most experienced of any candidate in the realm of public policy and governance, and at the same time, he is free from the burden of ugly sponsorship mess, at least as free as Michael Ignatieff and Gerard Kennedy. Rae is one of the four candidates with a serious chance of winning the leadership, and given that just a year ago many people dismissed him out of hand as too controversial in Ontario, he has come a long way.

Bob Rae is positioned well, about as well as could be expected. In stark contrast to Ignatieff's gaffe-ridden campaign, Rae's campaign has been absolutely flawless. This is to be expected from a 30-plus-year veteran of the political world; anything less would have been unacceptable. Rae is arguably the only other candidate besides Ignatieff who has a strong base in every region of the country; Stephane Dion has a recognizable base in every region, but not as large as Rae's. Rae is at the top of the not-Ignatieff contenders, and he and his team have been trying to get the idea out that he is the only one who can stop an Ignatieff victory.

They may be right, though many people still question the wisdom of a Rae-led Liberal Party, but many - including myself - underestimated him. Of course, people are starting to wisen up. Arrogant Tories love to dismiss Rae out of hand, citing his term as premier of Ontario as proof that he will be easy to eviscerate in an election, but a lot of Tory insiders and even the rank and file are starting to fear a Bob Rae Liberal party. Remember, the people who hate Rae's Ontario record the most tend to be conservatives and Tory partisans, not exactly the best indicators of the mood of predominantly middle-of-the-road Ontario. And a flawlessly executed campaign is nothing to sneer at.

Of course, critics are quick to point out that the reason Rae has been gaffe-free is because he hasn't actually said anything. It's not an unfair criticism. Rae has essentially been running on his experience in contrast to his main rival and former roommate, who has none. Rae has been choosing his words carefully, trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of Liberals, the latest example being that he "won't oppose" recognizing Quebec as a nation. Carefully chosen words, those are. None of this is too surprising - Rae's campaign is being managed by his brother John Rae, the architect of Jean Chretien's three middle-of-the-road-appeal victories.

There are some significant knocks against Bob Rae. Unlike Ignatieff, Rae was actually scouted to run for the party in 2006 and 2004, and he refused both opportunities. If Rae had run in 2004, he almost certainly would have served in cabinet, thus giving him the Liberal credentials he would have needed to mount a more credible bid. I have no doubt that if Rae had run in 2004, he would be the front-runner today. The fact that he refused two opportunities to run for the party he wants to lead is a bit of a sore point for many Liberals, and understandably so.

What Bob Rae's candidacy comes down to is this: he's an experienced and formidable political veteran who ironically is the least Liberal candidate of the field. Say what you will about Ignatieff, he didn't donate money to NDP candidates in the last election. These are the two factors delegates considering him will have to weigh. How well Rae does will depend on how many delegates are willing to overlook his past, both recent and from the last century.

Ignatieff makes an appeal

Michael Ignatieff has an op-ed in the Star today, making one of his final pitches for leader. It's worth checking out, though personally, I think it's a bit heavy on the platitudes, and a bit soft on the details.

Michael Ignatieff

Hailed just last year as possibly the next Pierre Trudeau, it has been quite the year for Michael Ignatieff. In its span, he has gone from being an acclaimed international academic, to a Member of the Canadian House of Commons, to the front-runner in the race to lead one of the the most electorally successful political parties in history and just a hair's breadth away from a position which would almost guarantee him a spot in history as either Canada's 23rd or 24th prime minister.

The stakes couldn't be higher for Ignatieff. At 58 years of age, he very likely isn't going to get another chance at this. Oh sure, he could run again six, eight, ten years from now. But it just won't be the same. He'd be yesterday's news. Ignatieff's candidacy is built on a wellspring of hope for a new direction in the party that is particular to this moment in history.

It was supposed to be different. Paul Martin was supposed to eke out another minority government in this year's election, and Ignatieff was supposed to receive the requisite experience in government. Conservatives have occassionally opted to choose an outsider for leader (most notably Brian Mulroney), but the Liberal Party has historically not been kind to leadership candidates who haven't spent time in cabinet. Every Liberal prime minister in history (save for Mackenzie, the first one) has served in the cabinet of a previous Liberal prime minister. That the outsider Ignatieff is even the front-runner in this race is phenomenal.

Ignatieff has certainly shown himself to be an impressive personality, and agree or disagree with him on particular issues - and there are many, chief among them Quebec's status within Canada, a carbon tax, Canada's role in the world - he must at least be credited for taking clear positions on controversial issues. Is that not what politicians are, ideally, supposed to do?

He's had some gaffes. Not surprising, as rookie politicians tend to make them when they are put in the spotlight. Brian Mulroney's famous "no whore like an old whore" quip was actually a gaffe of its own, as he was basically flipantly excusing patronage. Some say these gaffes have been too frequent and too damaging, and they prove that Ignatieff is not ready to face Stephen Harper in an election. Some make a good point; if a couple of these stumbles had come during a general election, they would have sunk him. (Most notably, Michael saying that he did not lose any sleep over the deaths of innocent Lebanese civilians.)

There are those who say that Ignatieff is too much an honest academic to compete in the world of politics. His positions are not informed by political calculations, but rather by intellectual whimsy, and they make him vulnerable to attack. Others contend that these are precisely the qualities that make a leader - he does not back down from controversial positions.

The thirty-something members of parliament hoping to occupy positions in an Ignatieff cabinet have probably, more than the MPs who support any other candidate, chosen Ignatieff because they sensed he was the front-runner, and they wanted to be on the winning side. Many of them are also supporting him on principle, of course, but the number of MPs who declared their support for him so early on does raise my eyebrow.

So what are his chances? Going into the convention, Ignatieff is in a very enviable position: first place. However, one has to question his growth potential on later ballots. There are a lot of anybody-but-Iggy delegates, and they will certainly unite behind one of Bob Rae, Gerard Kennedy or Stephane Dion before the end of the convention. How many of these delegates there are is hard to say, but judging from Ignatieff's reception in the Liblogosphere, there are probably a healthy number of them. Then again, it has been pointed out that all he has to do is pick up about 1/4 of the bleedoff delegates from the candidates who drop off in order to win. He could theoretically win the convention without a single endorsement from any other candidate - endorsements he is not likely to get.

Ignatieff's easiest chance for victory, of course, would be the surprise endorsement of one of the other big four. Such an endorsement would almost certainly put him over the top. Will it happen? Not likely. But then again, David Orchard endorsed Peter MacKay at the last PC convention. It could happen, but I wouldn't count on it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Green Party... 2nd

Holy hell... Elizabeth May comes in second in London. That's incredible. It appears as if she actually had a chance of winning that riding.

This is the biggest result the Greens have ever gotten. 27% is a huge deal. I realize she is the leader, but it will be hard to discount this.

Kennedy to pick up Dryden and/or Volpe?

It seems Ken Dryden and Joe Volpe are among the fifteen Liberal MPs who voted against the "nation" motion. This of course raises questions of how much more likely Dryden and/or Volpe are to support him at the convention.

Both endorsements would carry big advantages, of course. Volpe is by far the candidate most likely to carry his delegates with him, so Kennedy would immediately receive a 4% boost. As for Dryden, his endorsement carries not necessarily his delegates, but at least the endorsement of one of the most respected Liberals in the party.

This doesn't solidify anyting, of course. Just wondering.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bliss Nails It

Michael Bliss says it clearly and concisely: "If Quebec is a nation within Canada, then it would be even more of a nation without Canada."

I can't really add to that; it sums it up quite nicely.

Ignatieff is Sunk

Many have speculated that Stephen Harper's nation motion helps Ignatieff more than anybody. I can't disagree more.

Michael Ignatieff' s scenario for victory at the convention depended entirely on one thing - his appeal to the Quebec delegates of other candidates, particularly Dion, on the nation issue. With Dion and Rae, the other two Quebec contenders, both supporting Harper's motion, however, an Ignatieff victory is now all but impossible. None of the also-rans, except for Brison, will support him, and even Brison isn't guaranteed. Ignatieff somehow has to win 20% more support than he already has in order to win. But even with Brison's support, the numbers just aren't there.

As for scoring an endorsement from Rae, Kennedy or Dion, that is unlikely. Bob Rae is definitely not going to support him, and if Kennedy and Dion are smart, they'll agree to support each other, not Ignatieff, as they both need each other. Dion needs Kennedy to advance, and gain a valuable English-Canada ally, and Kennedy needs Dion to shore up his fatally weak Quebec numbers.

Ignatieff is toast.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Kennedy hasn't decided yet

It appears my earlier belief that Kennedy has signed onto this "nation" business was mistaken. Apparently, he hasn't decided yet.

Of course, the cynic in me wants to see this as just an attempt to remain ambiguous going into the convention, hoping to get support from both sides. Hopefully he will allay my cynical thoughts by taking a firm position for or against this motion before the vote happens.

I have to say, I'm disappointed in Dion over this, very disappointed.

Unity - A Primer

Calgary Grit has a great post covering all the bases of the pro-unity argument quite neatly. On it's own it doesn't have much, but it contains some invaluable links.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Foreboding - Scotland may separate from the UK

Sit up and take note, as this is eerily relevant given the current debate that has been raised.

The Suicidal Politics of Quebec as Une Nation

Michael Ignatieff must be feeling vindicated this week, eh?

The week certainly hasn't lacked in surprises. First, Stephen Harper reverses a position he's held for... well, his entire political career, saying that he now supports recognizing Quebec as a nation. Then, the entire Conservative caucus cheered his position, despite the fact that most of them used to be Alliance-Reformers, a party that was formed in no small part due to opposition to the Meech Lake Accord. (The Conservative caucus are trained seals, though, so that's no real surprise.)

To delve further into the surreal, the Liberal caucus applauds the prime minister's statement almost in unison. Wha!? Every single Liberal leadership candidate, to my knowledge (I'm not 100% sure about Volpe or Hall Findlay) supports this move. Double wha!? Even Stephane Dion, a staunch federalist, and Ken Dryden back the motion, as do Bob Rae and Gerard Kennedy (though they can't vote on it.)

So what the hell is going on here? Well...

Stephen Harper is trying to recreate the Mulroney coalition, hoping to win Quebec and the West, and thus make winning in Ontario (where he still has problems) unnecessary for a majority. He obviously senses more room for growth in Quebec than in Ontario, and he's probably right about that, hence the nation play. Does he actually believe what he's saying? That's a tough question to answer; as Andrew Coyne said on The National last night, Stephen Harper has shown his principles to be "extraordinarily flexible" (the adverb may have been different, I don't have a transcript on hand) and he's absolutely right about that. Personally, I don't think Harper believes Quebec should be recognized as a nation, but he doesn't care enough about that issue to throw away votes in Quebec over it, hence his unexpected maneuvre.

Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois, surprisingly, are refusing to take "yes" for an answer, as Bob Rae put it. They are going to fight the motion declaring them a nation. Why? Because the Bloc are stubborn and obstinate. They are going to introduce their own resolution, which essentially calls Quebec a nation, without any reference to Canada.

Perhaps the only non-surprise is that Jack Layton, political opportunist that he is, plans to vote for both motions. To repeat, Jack Layton is going to vote for a Bloc Quebecois motion which calls Quebec a nation, independent of any reference to Canada. Nice, Jack. Hey, remember that loan of votes you asked for (and got) from the Liberals last time around? I think it's time to pay up.

The unintended but unavoidable consequence of this move is that it takes a load off the shoulders of the Liberals. Harper has essentially tossed the party a lifeline, saving it from the divisions the nation resolution could cause at the convention, which is why the Liberals have grabbed onto it so readily. The Liberal Party has always been divided over this issue; Trudeau was against it, Turner was for it, Chretien against it, and Martin for it. John Turner avoided dividing the party over the issue in the 1988 election by coming out in favour of Meech Lake, and against Free Trade, a compromise that most Liberals were able to live with. Turner feared losing votes over the issue, and so supported Meech.

Of course, what none of the parties realized last time was that Canadians don't want this! Despite both major parties supporting Meech and Charlottetown, it was defeated at the polls. And polls about the subject now are showing that a clear majority of Canadians do not support the motion. This has all happened before, and the end result was:
  • The complete and utter decimation of the Conservatives in Quebec
  • The current dominance of the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec
  • The knee-capping of the Liberals in Quebec
  • The country being taken to the brink in the 1995 referendum
How many times are we going to have to make this mistake before we learn? If Quebec is a nation, then so is every distinct culture in Canada; every aboriginal tribe, Maritimers, Newfoundlanders, praerie farmers, Torontonians and other city-dwellers, Albertans, Acadians, etc. Canada is a nation, and that's good enough.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Will Scott Brison go to Iggy or Dion?

Apparently, Scott Brison hasn't made a public decision about who he'll support, but he seems most warm to Ignatieff and Dion. Which of these two will he pick? Smart money is on Dion.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that, while he and Ignatieff may agree on foreign affairs, they are on opposite sides of the political spectrum on economic issues. Dion is for all intents and purposes the business candidate of the 4 frontrunners, and I somehow get the feeling that Brison cares far more about domestic issues than foreign.

Second, it's not secret that Brison wants to be leader some day. He's young; he's going to run again. His best chance for next time around is to have a francophone leader this time, so it will be an anglophone's "turn" next time out. (For those who subscribe to that silly doctrine of alternance, anyway.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My god, it's like the more over the top Stephen Colbert gets, the more Bill O'Reilly tries to match him. He's like a parody of himself at this point!

Also, he has the nerve to say that this was an example of the "culture war," the obvious implication being that those on the left were and are in favour of OJ Simpson's sick game.

This man needs to be kneecapped.

Same-sex marriage in Israel

Gay rights are spreading farther and faster than I would have ever hoped in my wildest dreams even just five years ago. For the first time, gay weddings will be recognized in Israel... albiet, only if they are married outside of Israel. But hey, it's a start. If Israel turned this precedent into a recognition of gay marriages inside Israel, and Taiwan got around to legalizing gay marriages (which they've been considering for some time), then gay rights would have a significant foothold in almost every region of the world. I'm very hopeful for the future.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Is it just me...

Or does Alexander Hamilton bear a striking resemblance to a certain prime minister?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

George Bush is a lunatic

At this point, I think it's pretty much impossible to deny that George Bush's mental faculties are severely impaired. Maybe it was the years of drug and alcohol abuse. Maybe it's his unabiding faith in a God who sets everything right no matter how bad he fucks things up. In any event, this man needs to have his head examined.

I point as evidence to the ever-deteriorating situation in Iraq, and his stubborn refusal do accept any recommendations that do not include "Keep doing exactly what we've been doing for the past three years." That course of action is simply insane, because it is obviously not working.

It's not as if there aren't other viable options on the table.

First, there's always the "pull the troops out" option. Many would favour this, but Bush is obviously never going to let it happen on his watch, so let's look at the other options, represented by the plans of two United States Senators.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) is opposed to pulling the troops out, like Bush. However, McCain advocates putting more troops into Iraq. This could work; it may be too late for more troops now, but then again, more troops may be able to salvage something resembling a stable democracy in Iraq. Either way, it's a change of course, and it would make sense.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware) proposes doing what the Ottomans did (successfully, I might add): divide Iraq into three zones of administration, making it a loose federation instead of a unitary state. This makes sense; Iraq was never meant to be governed as a single country, and the only reason it is governed as a single country is because of British colonial arrogance in assuming that they could create a country (Mesopotamia) out of three separate administrative provinces (those being the Mosul, Baghdad and Basra provinces).

All three of these plans are completely reasonable options. "Stay the course" is not. George Bush should be impeached for this rank incompetence and stubbornness. His refusal to do something sensible is resulting in the deaths of Americans and Iraqis alike. America needs to get rid of this guy.

Oh, it's not the end of the world

South Africa's legalization of gay marriage apparently signifies the end of the world.

On a somewhat related note, gay-to-straight "conversion" doesn't work. Just as Pastor Ted.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Iraq, via "The Boondocks" (Note: Pulp Fiction fans take heed)

A fantastic show, with a wonderful allegory. The guy with the touque is named after George W. That is, a dumbass whose rich daddy always bails him out of all of his failures, and likes to pretend he's something he's not (gangsta/cowboy). The gentleman voiced by Samuel L. Jackson is named Gin Rummy. Guess who he's based on. Money quote: "I can't give you a weapon I'm not holding! You're thinking of the Korean shop, north of here!"

And just because I can: known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. (Enjoy, Pulp Fiction fans.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld is a War Criminal

Donald Rumsfeld may soon be an international criminal. Can you think of anything more fitting?

Rummy better be careful about travelling abroad in the coming years. He could find himself in The Hague.

Ralph Klein + Belinda Stronach = Uh Oh

My good friend says what I'm thinking.


I'm going to do something I don't do often - side with Stephen Harper, and also with those pseudo-prohibitionist lunatics in MADD. I completely support PM Harper's plan to clamp down on driving while impaired on drugs, for a few reasons.

First of all, people should not be driving while high; it's dangerous to themselves, but more importantly, to those around them. Any responsible drinker knows not to drive drunk, and a responsible drug user should not drive high. It's just common sense.

Second, as I have made it clear in the past, I wholeheartedly support the full legalization of marijuana. This law would eliminate one of the most common arguments against its legalization: that people would drive while high and endanger others. Now, it is clear that such an argument falls flat, as under this legislation such behaviour would be clearly illegal, and hopefully result in stiff penalties (given who we're dealing with here, I don't think that's in question).

Also, I support this legislation because it takes away from the stigmatization of marijuana, and logically concludes at its legalization. How? Well, let's examine this statement by Stephen Harper:

"Just as a drunk driver does, a drug-impaired driver presents a danger to himself and others."

The key phrase there is, "Just as a drunk driver does." That is to say, a drunk driver and a high driver are in the exact same boat - they're both in a state of mind that does not permit them to drive at the capacity necessary for a reasonable level of safety. That's why drunk driving is illegal, and that's why high driving should be illegal as well.

Thus, if drunk-driving and high driving are the same, this takes away some of the "mystique" surrounding pot, because it at least implies that alcohol and marijuana are similar, making the argument that one ought to be legal while the other is illegal all the more absurd.

In addition, this law acknowledges something that the chorus of anti-drug mantra-chanters usually refuse to admit - that you cannot stop people from smoking marijuana, that if someone wants it enough it is easy enough to get, and that the best course of action to take is not to try to prevent its use, but to encourage its users to be responsible, for both their decision to get high and for what they do while high - just like alcohol.

After all, having a law on the books making it illegal to be high while driving is a bit redundant if it's already illegal to be high at all. Logically, one of these laws is quite unnecessary. If we're going to have one, it only makes sense to get rid of the other.

Dirty Minds

I would have missed this. Not so much because I'm not observant, but because I'm not terribly familiar with... *ahem.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Democracy triumphs 16 years later

In 1990, the United States engineered the fall of the Sandanista government of Nicaragua. The Sandanistas were democratically elected by the people of Nicaragua. However, because they were not willing to capitulate to US trade policy, the United States backed anti-Sandanista guerillas known as the Contras, of Iran-Contra fame. They also imposed trade embargos against Nicaragua in an attempt to coerce the people of the country to vote President Daneil Ortega out of power. It was a bitter, and close, election. The will of the people was not expressed, it was coerced. Nicaragua is but one of many Latin American countries in which the United States has toppled left-leaning, democratic regimes.

16 years later, Ortega seems poised to return to power. 16 years later, democracy finally wins.

Why "The Daily Show" is funnier than "Saturday Night Live"

According to the San Francisco Gate:

"It has been interesting for the past two years how Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show" are both light years funnier than anyone on "Saturday Night Live" and any skit you could even remember as a comparison. This year, Stephen Colbert and "The Colbert Report" were added to that list of topical shows funnier and more relevant than "SNL." But even if you haven't consciously acknowledged the comedic shift, think about this: Politics is funnier than pop culture these days, and that truth is driving the aforementioned truism about "The Daily Show" versus "SNL." For some time now, "SNL" hasn't had anyone who could really nail politics, be it sketch form or on "Weekend Update."

How much more material do you need beyond the Rev. Ted Haggard, meth, gay massage and megachurches? The jokes write themselves. "SNL" has also been asleep at the laptop on the Iraq war issue, never establishing itself as the go-to place for war jokes. Talk about your quagmire. We should all be ashamed that our national political situation isn't far easier fare for most comics and that what we're left with is asinine pop culture references that were only funny a few minutes after they happened on YouTube."

I have to agree. SNL has been pretty lacklustre for quite some time.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ted Haggard is Gay

The word "pathetic" is thrown around a lot, but most of the time, people don't really mean it. It could be interchanged with, perhaps, "ridiculous," or "feeble," or "laughable." But the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard's case is one where the word truly does apply. He is pathetic, in the sense that I can't help but look on him and feel a mixture of both revulsion and deep pity.

If you don't know who Ted Haggard is, he is probably the second-most influential Christian right leader in the United States (the most influential being James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family.) Haggard is (or was) the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, 30 million strong, an organization vociferiously opposed to gay rights, among other things.

There are so many pathetic things about this tale, it nearly exhausts my already taxed supply of pity. For example, this is a man who is so consumed by the self-loathing of internalized homophobia that he will admit to buying crystal meth (but not using it), but not to gay sex. The latter, for him, is clearly the greater crime.

The crystal meth part of the story actually makes sense. Sully explains better than I could (as he's had more experience with closeted types):

"It's what extremely conflicted and sometimes desperately lonely gay men resort to in order to facilitate their self-destruction, and leave behind any sexual inhibitions derived from crushing guilt."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gay Rights Around the Globe

A useful primer, if you didn't already know. Hmm, Slovakia is more progressive than the United States. Who knew?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Americanization of Canadian Politics

A somewhat discouraging portrait.

Richard Perle turns on Bush

That's right, Richard Perle, the arch-neoconservative, former ferocious Bush-backer and pro-war brain-trust is no longer able to deny the undeniable:

"I think we have an administration today that is dysfunctional," Perle said. "And if it can't get itself together to organize a serious program for finding nuclear material on its way to the United States, then it ought to be replaced by an administration that can."