Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Quarter Finals

I'm trying to muster up the energy to post this. Well, I guess we all saw that coming, that after decrying the conventional wisdom about Spain, I'd get a conventional beating as Spain goes down to France 3-1. I'm sure Spain will find it gauling that after beating Ukraine 4-0 and winning their group, Ukraine gets the easy game against Switzerland and goes to the quarters while Spain has to play France, but if you can't beat this aged French team, I guess you don't deserve to go far.

Meanwhile, the Germans made it look easy against Sweden, Brazil made it look (fairly) easy against Ghana (although I'd say the 3-0 score flattered them a little bit) Argentina and England made it look hard against Mexico and Ecuador respectively, and the aforementioned Swiss got eliminated Italian style, going out of the tournament despite not getting scored upon. They might want to work on penalty-taking sometime in the next 4 years back in Switzerland.

Holland and Portugal played an ugly game with lots of poor sportsmanship from both sides, I think I might actually cheer for England when they play Portugal, or maybe I just won't watch that game.

Finally, Italy pulled one out against Australia in classic Italian fashion, although to be fair, once down to 10 men, many teams would have to sit back on defense and hope for a fortunate penalty.

My predictions were 5 for 8 which is again pretty uninspired, perhaps my worst prediction was that Holland-Portgual would be a good game.

Quarter final predictions:

Argentina over Germany
Portugal over England
Brazil over France (revenge from 1998!)
Italy over Ukraine

Friday, June 23, 2006


While I'm posting about sports, let me give the thumbs up to the Canucks deal to acquire Luongo. Total deal is Luongo, Krajicek and a 6th round pick for Bertuzzi, Allen and Auld. Now I'm not one of those people who is really down on Bertuzzi, but I just think that getting a high quality goaltender is so important, so I'm pleased by this news.

Krajicek, who managed to remain a plus one, playing 67 games with the Panthers at age 23 last year, could be a useful player as well.

World Cup First Round Recap

Well the first round is over, so I should revisit my predictions for the first round.

Group A

Predicted: Germany, Costa Rica
Actual: Germany, Ecuador

Obviously I overrated Costa Rica, they're not the same team they were four years ago, which I guess is good news for Canada's next qualification effort (although it doesn't say much about our failure this time around).

The real question is whether I underrated Ecuador or not. So far the jury is out on whether they were very impressive in beating Poland and Costa Rica and then took it easy against Germany, or whether they did well against weak opponents and then their weakness was revealed when they played Germany. I guess England supporters are hoping for the latter scenario.

I guess I fell for the conventional wisdom that Ecuador only succeeds at home when they play at altitude. Although it seemed like a reasonable conjecture based on their record. And I've played soccer at altitude - it's not easy!

Group B

Predicted: England, Sweden
Actual: England, Sweden

This group played out pretty much as expected with the difference between England and Sweden being Sweden's inability to score against Trinidad and Tobago.

Group C

Predicted: Holland, Cote D'Ivoire
Actual: Holland, Argentina

Well, I don't feel too bad about this one. Cote D'Ivoire probably would have qualified in almost any other group (except maybe E) but Argentina has looked very strong so far. Any team which can keep Messi on the bench for the most part, is a team which is pretty dangerous.

Group D

Predicted: Mexico, Portugal
Actual: Mexico, Portugal

This was probably the weakest group in the tourney, as demonstrated by the fact that Angola still had a chance to qualify until their last half of football. I was a bit disappointed with the Iranians.

Group E

Predicted: Czech Republic, Italy
Actual: Ghana, Italy

I commented that anything could happen in this group, and that turned out to be a fairly accurate assessment. After I criticized Italy, they came back and played an excellent game against the Czech Republic. We'll see what happens next time they actually have to play a full game against 11 men - although we probably won't see that during the game against Australia. I think the Americans maybe suffered a little from their poor international reputation a little. While they didn't play well enough to deserve to advance they certainly weren't done any favours by the referees.

Credit to Ghana for taking 6 points in a tough group.

Group F

Predicted: Brazil, Croatia
Actual: Brazil, Australia

It looked like Croatia might get through briefly, but a late equalizer from Australia sent them on their way. Brazil can play better than they did, and they probably will. Having said that, the only other teams to get 9 points were Germany, Portugal and Spain.

Group G

Predicted: Korea, Switzerland
Actual: France, Switzerland

Again, I was right in principle, if not in result, as the French were underwhelming, relying on second half goals against Togo to get through in second place with a meager 5 points. The Koreans battled hard, and I didn't see the game against Switzerland, but I guess they'll have to live on the glory from 2002 for another four years.

Group H

Predicted: Spain, Tunisia
Actual: Spain, Ukraine

Hard to know what would have happened in the Tunisia-Ukraine match if Tunisia hadn't had a man sent off somewhat inexplicably just before half time, or if the referee had given the obvious handball against the Ukraine in the box or if he hadn't given a fairly marginal penalty to the Ukraine at the other end. Still, it seemed like the Ukraine was (just slightly) the better side, so its fair enough that they went through.

As an aside, what's with all the defenders sticking their arms up and touching the ball in the box?

Overall I went 10/16, and I'd have to characterize my predictions as fairly poor, I called a few upsets, most of which almost but not quite materialized. For second round predictions I think I will go with all favourites and then maybe we'll see some more upsets...

Knockout Stage Predicted Winners:

Germany (over Sweden)
Argentina (over Mexico)
England (over Ecuador - despite playing in the middle of the day and having to endure the blistering mid 20's temperatures of a German summer)
Holland (over Portugal - should be a good game)
Italy (over Australia - quite the contrast in styles, expect to see Italians rolling all over the pitch, and some of it may even be genuine injuries)
Switzerland (over Ukraine - both teams will feel they got lucky with the matchup here)
Brazil (over Ghana - could be entertaining)
Spain (over France - Spain don't get much of a break for their 9 points in the group stage - at least they should be rested after most of their regulars sat against Saudi Arabia - even if they win this one, it's probably up against Brazil in their next match - if they want to make the semis they'll have to earn it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup Note

In honour of Italy's performance against the United States which provided a vivid reminder of why, of the 207 countries in FIFA, I would cheer for 206 of them (even England!) against the Italians, here is some behind the scenes footage of an Italian national team training video.

Alas, the footage is cutoff before it gets to the part where you cynically elbow your opponent between the eyes and draw blood (and then argue the call when you are sent off).

Via Crooked Timber

The refereeing has been quite good at the World Cup but the U.S.-Italy game (a 1-1 draw) was an exception. The Americans only got their first red because the referee wanted to even up the sides. I've probably seen at least 20 sliding challenges as bad or worse than the one that saw Mastroeni sent off and there's been nobody else given a straight red card for those. Meanwhile the American defender Pope was sent off for two yellows: the second one was justified but the first happened when the Italian forward grabbed his shirt and pulled him down on top of him. The referee fell for that ploy a few times in the match. Even the Italian goal seemed to me like it was setup by a dive which earned the free kick .

Credit to the Americans for hanging on for a draw under the circumstances.

On a more postive note, how about that perofmrance by Ghana against the Czech Republic? Very impressive. Should be a good final two matches in this group when Italy play the Czech Republic and Ghana play the U.S.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

4 of One and a Third of a Dozen of the Other

Last week, pogge tagged me to list 8 random things about myself. I was just going to ignore the tag since it seemed kind of constraining to just talk about myself, but instead I figured I would list 4 random things about myself randomly mixed with 4 things which aren't true about me, to see if anyone can tell the difference. I tried to pick some things which attentive readers of the blog might be able to figure out but which are still obscure enough to be difficult even for people who (think they!) know me.

1. I have Lotus Notes set with a recurring reminder to tell me when to pay my bills
2. I pick through blocks of equally priced cheese at the grocery store to find the one that is the biggest
3. My biggest complaint about modern remote control design is that the buttons are too small for a person with normal sized fingers (and thumbs)
4. I tried out for my high school basketball team once but I didn't get picked and I never tried out again
5. My favourite type of pasta noodle is penne because the other ones are just too difficult to eat
6. Right now I am listening to the album 'Details' by Frou-Frou
7. Right now I am listening to the album 'Alice' by Tom Waits
8. My favourite way to find my way around a new city is to take a bus tour, or to just wander aimlessly on the transit system

No, there are no prizes, except perhaps a prestigious CAtO Stalker Award for anyone I've never met in person who gets all 8.

Update: Answers are provided in the comments

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pot Pourri

Just thought I'd write a post so I don't lose the habit altogether. Circumstances (world cup, busy at work, iffy health-nothing serious-feel fine now) haven't really allowed much beyond sticking to the basics (eat, sleep, work, watch world cup) for the last week or two so here is a braindump on various topics.

On the subject of the 'brown menace' that the media seems to be trying to fabricate for some reason, this post by Chris Selley on multi-culturalism is worthwhile reading. Also, Rick Salutin had a long and interesting article making the case that terrorism is primarily political, not religious in motivation.

Speaking of the Globe, their article on the overheated housing market starts as follows: "The average national price of an existing home in Canada surged above $300,000 for the first time ever in May, with actual sales activity smashing through all previous records as buyers rushed to buy a house while they can still afford to do so."

I don't trust the Globe enough to really believe they have any justification for their assertion about what is driving the market higher, but on the off-chance hey are right, it doesn't sound too good. People buying an asset because the price is going up is pretty much the definition of a bubble.

Going back a few days, I thought this NY Times Op-Ed was right on the money, if outsourcing makes sense for lower level employees it makes that much more sense for the CEO. And it's not just that when the average CEO makes 170 times what the average worker makes you get 170 times the savings from outsourcing the CEO position, the article has lots of other arguments too:
"Current chief executive compensation creates what economists term a perverse incentive. An American chief executive, who is paid an average of $11.3 million annually, gets rewarded enough in one year to exceed the lifetime standard of living of 99.99 percent of the world's population. Even if he's booted from his job because of poor performance, he's set for life.

It is far better for shareholders to have chief executives whose compensation packages are based on the long-term performance of the company. Or in plain language, it is better to have a "hungry" executive instead of one who stays fat and happy even when the corporate ship capsizes into the troubled waters of bankruptcy.

In addition to perverse incentives, the current level of chief executive compensation creates opportunity costs. The money saved by hiring a cheaper executive can be invested in even more offshoring initiatives. A virtuous circle of shareholder profitability can be established."

Back on the topic of the world cup, I don't have much insight. Best game so far that I've seen was Argentina - Cote D'Ivoire, both teams looked really impressive. Overall I've been disappointed with the African sides. There was a period where they seemed to be making up ground on the top European teams but they seem to have stalled in the last decade. Asia still seems to be making slow progress although notwithstanding this I'd rank them as the weakest continent (excluding Oceania and Antarctica of course).

Speaking of Oceania, credit to the Aussies for showing their fitness to outlast Japan and battle back from an early Japan goal which should have been called back for goaltender interference.

In my opinion, Philip Lahm was Germany's best player (excluding the 'keeper Kahn) last World Cup and things seem to be the same so far this time around.

Mentioning the Globe one last time, it has a world cup blog, although it hasn't had much insight either. I haven't been following their discussion of who the hottest player is very closely and their outbreak of mass conventional wisdom regarding Spain was pretty lame:

Says John Doyle, "the Spain team is loaded with exceptionally talented players and, come the World Cup, they seem to automatically drop several gears."

Says Neil Campbell, "Part of the reason that Spain has underperformed so dramatically at World Cups is poor starts."

Says Peter Mallett, "Spain seems to go into every World Cup as a heavy favourite and have one of the top lineups (on paper), but it seems to find nothing but difficulty in advancing. Wonder if today's game will truly be the test for them?"

Of course, in the last World Cup in 2002, Spain went 3-0 at the group stage, advancing as easily as anyone. Then they beat Ireland in the round of 16 but were 'defeated' by South Korea in the quarters, with 'defeated' in quotation marks because the result only occurred due to the referees calling off 2 valid goals by the Spaniards. I'd say there are few teams that could advance against the host country when they need to win by 3 to do so.

Campbell, who has probably offerred the most useful commentary of any of the Globe's World Cup bloggers, does note that Spain won their first game last World Cup 3-1, but still.

Of course, the people sending out the update for my World Cup pool don't give Spain any respect either, saying, "The Ukrainians qualified for the tournament with ease, while the favoured Spaniards stumbled, and I'll be curious to see whether either team's form carries over into the tournament."

I'd have been more worried about Spain's form if they weren't undefeated in their last 22 games (including all their qualifiers) coming into the tournament!

Now it's true, I took Spain on my pool team for this world cup, and it's also true that I take them every World Cup, and it's also true that they've never come through for me (yet!) but I think it's worth noting that the 'Spain always collapses in the world cup' meme doesn't really fit too well with the facts of the last World Cup, and once we go back 8+ years we're talking about an entirely different group of players, so unless we are talking about some kind of national hex, or some world cup deficiency in the Spanish national character or national soccer style, I'm not sure how relevant that history is.

One final World Cup comment/question: is 'clinical' the most overused word in football (soccer) commentary? Or is it 'sublime'? Other candidates?

Friday, June 09, 2006

World Cup Trivia

Since Germany is playing today, today's question is, why did West Germany choose Green as the colour for their away jerseys?

Update: Congratulations to 604 Plonker who pretty much nails it in the comments. I've never seen an official declaration that the story is true, but if Wikipedia is to be believed, West Germany wore green because Ireland was the first nation willing to play a friendly match against their side after the end of World War II. However poor results over the years in the Green jerseys have led them to be considered bad luck by the Germans, so now the unified German team has reverted to red for their away jerseys.

Time to see if Trinidad and Tobago can pull off a shocker against Sweden.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I Was Annoyed By What Was Written

Wednesday: The Globe runs a giant picture and headline on their front page, "STORM Parliament Hill; SEIZE the politicians; BEHEAD the prime minister"

Thursday: The Globe,
"An alleged plot to take MPs hostage on Parliament Hill was abandoned at an early stage because the people involved - who hail from southern Ontario - knew little about Ottawa, The Canadian Press has learned."

The best part:

"The public was shocked to hear a group arrested on terrorism-related charges had supposedly planned to storm Parliament, seize politicians and behead the prime minister."

The public was shocked to hear that from who, exactly? Where is the active subject in this sentence - it disappeared thanks to the magic of passive voice. How convenient. And I don't remember the word 'supposed' being part of the giant front page headline either. I know the Globe exists to make money by selling papers and fear-mongering is the best way they've come up with to do that, but would it be too much to ask for at least a small correlation between the portrayal of the threat and the actual, you know, plausibility of the threat?

On a more comical (because it is so sad) note, I noticed the juxtaposition of the following headlines on the Globe website today:
"Soaring Gas Prices Leave Drivers Undeterred"
"Related: Gasoline Sales Slip: Statscan"

I know, it's easy to criticize, and maybe my standards are too high, but is it also too much to ask newspaper editors to realize that when you run two contradictory headlines side by side, one of them is incorrect, or wrong, or factually inaccurate, or a lie or whatever term you prefer?

The first line of the first article: "Canadians may be complaining about record-high prices at the pump, but that isn't stopping them from filling up."

The first line of the second article: "Canadian gasoline sales decreased last year for only the second time since 1994, likely thanks to surging pump prices, Statistics Canada reported Thursday."

The first article bases its conclusions on the results of a public opinion survey while the second one bases its conclusions on the sales of gasoline. Now I've never been to journalism school, and I've never worked in the media, so maybe I'm way off here, but I'm pretty sure that there is no reason to survey people to find out something which you already know via actual data.

Actually, that's not true. There is one reason, to check to see if the people you are surveying are telling the truth or not. In this case, apparently not. So instead of running with the headline, "Soaring Gas Prices Leave Drivers Undeterred" the real headline should have been, "People lie to pollster, poll results meaningless at best, misleading at worst," but then that is hardly news, so you couldn't expect them to print that.

Let me know when we get to vote on banning media organizations from commissioning or reporting on surveys or polls of any kind, so I can cast my vote in favour of the motion.

I remember reading some book, can't remember which one, and it related the story of how Noam Chomsky went to the dentist and the dentist warned him he was doing damage because he was grinding his teeth too much, most likely while reading the NY Times each morning. I'm starting to worry the Globe and Mail might be causing me the same problem.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

World Cup Predictions

Every 4 years we get a stretch of sporting events which starts with the Winter Olympics and ends with the World Cup, encompassing the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Memorial Cup, the NBA playoffs, the beginning (the best part, many years) of the baseball season, the Masters, the French Open and Wimbledon, etc. etc. It's fitting that this stretch is capped off by the world's biggest sporting event, the World Cup.

With the first round getting underway on Friday, it is time to submit my World Cup Pool Entry, so it's also a good time to make a fool of myself by predicting who will make the second round of the tournament.

Top 2 teams from each group advance, FIFA rankings as at May 16 in brackets - rank not given for teams not in top 50

Group A:

Germany (19)
Costa Rica (25)
Poland (28)
Ecuador (39)

Germany, Costa Rica

It's pretty unusual for a host country not to make the second round, and that would go double when the host is Germany.

Costa Rica can make a reasonable claim to having drawn a tough group at the last world cup. In the group stage they lost 5-2 to eventual champions Brazil, drew with eventual third place finisher Turkey and soundly defeated China, but were eliminated on goal differential (due to their entertaining, but ill-advised decision to try and outscore Brazil in a wide-open game). Turkey lost in the semis to Brazil so that group actually went undefeated in the tournament.

Group B:

England (10)
Sweden (16)
Paraguay (33)
Trinidad and Tobago (NR)

England, Sweden

England and Sweden should make it through here. T&T is definitely the weakest representative of CONCACAF (North and Central America), while Paraguay are a solid side but not likely to do much playing in a European time zone against England and Sweden.

Group C:

Holland (3)
Argentina (8)
Cote d'Ivoire (32)
Serbia and (for now) Montenegro (46)

Holland, Cote d'Ivoire

It would be boring not to take any upsets and Cote D'Ivoire is a good bet after winning a tough African group (which included Cameroon and Egypt) and playing in a home time zone vs. the Argentinians.

While they always find a way to lose at some point, the Dutch are too technically solid (and too bitter about missing the last world cup) to go out at the group stage.

Group D:

Mexico (6)
Portugal (8)
Iran (22)
Angola (NR)

Mexico, Portugal

Nobody in this group is going to roll over and Iran may be the best team in Asia, but Mexico and Portugal should have too much talent for them.

Group E:

Czech Republic (2)
Italy (14)
United States (4)
Ghana (50)

Czech Republic, Italy

Wow, tough group. Really, anything could happen here. While it would be nice to see Italy go out at the group stage, I'll stick with the Europeans here.

Group F:

Brazil (1)
Japan (17)
Croatia (24)
Australia (44)

Brazil, Croatia

It would be a shocker if Brazil doesn't qualify. Japan vs. Croatia will be a tough battle, and the Australians are a bit of an unknown quantity so this is a tough group to pick the second qualifier. With Croatia practically playing at home, I'll go with them.

Group G:

France (8)
Korea (30)
Switzerland (35)
Togo (NR)

Korea, Switzerland

Maybe I'm still remembering the last world cup too vividly, but I don't have much faith in the French squad. Henry is brilliant but will he get any support?

The Swiss make a good dark horse pick, in my uninformed opinion.

Group H:

Spain (5)
Tunisia (21)
Saudi Arabia (34)
Ukraine (41)

Spain, Tunisia

The Ukraine qualified impressively, but I think Tunisia will edge them out for the second spot. While Spain has a history of underachieving, it's fair to say they were robbed by the referees last world cup, and they will be hungry this time around. Saudi Arabia often qualifies, but if I had to pick one team I wanted drawn into a group with my home country (assuming my home country ever made a world cup) it would be them.

I guess we'll see, should be fun either way.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Splintering the Conservative Majority (the irrational way)

A little while back Laura had an interesting post about how politics is not rational and how those who expect it to be are naive.

I don't think anyone is going is going to dispute that basic point, but I thought it was worth noting that the gap between rationality and the political system is greatly aggravated by our electoral system.

For example, it won't come as news to anyone that I disagree with the current Conservative government on many policy questions, from the environment, to child poverty, to tax policy, to inequality, to military strategy, etc. etc. Even on questions of style - the petulant behavior, the whining about media bias, the overreaction to made-up news stories, the politicization of things like having no notice for a vote on the deployment of our soldiers but 4 months notice for a vote on same-sex marriage - I'm not a fan of the Conservatives.

Of course all parties have their own non-policy related issues: the Liberals have their Joe Volpe types still kicking around, and the NDP doesn't always rub me the right way either. But when you get down to it, mainly because of the policy questions, I'd really rather not see a Conservative majority government in this country. And if we do end up with one, I'd like to see it soundly defeated at the first opportunity.

In a world where politics was rational, the most effective way for me to do this might be to work to convince people that the policies they are proposing are sub-optimal or even regressive, while the policies proposed by parties I like better will do more to make the country a better place. And certainly I do make that effort with lots of my posts here but, to be honest, I am doubtful that these kinds of efforts - even if I had a huge audience and was much more eloquent and persusaive - will really change many minds.

To see what might be a more effective, less naive, strategy, let's rewind the clock a little, to see what happened the last time there was a (Progressive) Conservative majority in this country. The date was 1988 and the main election issue was free trade. The Conservatives, led by Brian Mulroney, won 169 of 295 seats with 43% of the popular vote (down 7% from their landslide (50%) victory in 1984). The Liberals got 83 seats with 32% of the vote and the NDP got 43 seats with 20% of the vote.

So what happened to end this majority (Progressive) Conservative government and bring in over a decade of uninterrupted Liberal rule? Let's look at the results of the subsequent 1993 election.

Whereas in 1988 the Liberals and NDP had combined for 52% of the popular vote, in 1993 they combined for 48%. However, there was a dramatic shift in support among the two parties with Liberal support up 9% and the NDP down 13%. Given that their two opponents lost ground, you might think that the Conservatives would have done better in 1993. But in fact, what happened was the Conservative vote splintered into 3 pieces. The (Progressive) Conservative party retained 16% of the vote, while the Reform part in the West got 19% and the Bloc Quebecois got 14%. Together the 3 parties accounted for 49% of the vote, but with their votes divided and with the NDP failing to split the Liberal vote very much, the Liberals formed a majority government.

So, we see what happened. Between 1988 and 1993 the vote for the components of the Mulroney coalition of Western populists, Quebec sovereigntists and small (p)c conservatives actually increased while support for the more federalist/centralist NDP and Liberals fell. But because of the realignment of votes within the two blocs, we were set on the path towards over a decade of (pretty effective) Liberal rule.

OK, back to the present. Stephen Harper (with some backstabbing assistance from Peter Mackay), has managed to reunite two parts of the old alliance, only this time the Western populists are running the show, with the old (progressive) conservatives losing both clout and the progressive label along with it. Furthermore, the last election and subsequent polling has shown the Conservatives making ground on recapturing the sovereigntist vote in Quebec. With the Conservative budget passing with support of the Bloc, one could argue that the reformation (pun intended) of the old Mulroney alliance is nearly complete. The gradual rebuilding of the NDP and the emergence of the Green Party as a significant force have also helped to split the centralist/federalist bloc.

All of which gets me back to my original point, which is that a) politics is not rational and b) that our electoral system makes it even more irrational. Which leads to c): if (recent) history is any guide, the best way to break up this Conservative government is not to try and convert people from one bloc to another (the two blocs seem pretty stable over time), but rather to start a new political party to split up the Conservative bloc internally.

So we know what to do, the next question is how. Geography, history, regional culture and timing all point to the West as being the best spot for this new party to base itself, which is handy since I am already in the West. Geography because the West is where the Conservative base is strongest which means it is also where there is most likely to be a portion of the base unhappy with efforts made to expand the base by moderating Conservative principles. It also means it is the area where a new party could do the most damage in terms of seats lost.

History because history suggests that new Canadian parties only start or gain traction in one of two places: Quebec or the West (mostly the Prairies).

Regional culture because, in my opinion, the West is the part of the country most open to new ideas. As an aside, I find it odd how people often deride 'Liberal' Ontario when Ontario is really one of the most conservative places in the country, in my experience - witness the horror of the Toronto dailies at the thought of electoral reform, for one example (but I digress).

And finally timing, because the Quebec part of the base is still being wooed while the Western part of the base has been ascendant for a while now and is likely to be resentful at the measures which will be necessary to get the sovereigntists on board (aside from hating Ottawa, these two groups have little in common).

Now, I could be wrong, maybe it is the old progressive Conservative wing of the party which is going to get upset with the Westerners environmental and social policies and split off from the party but, unfortunately, I suspect the split is more likely to come from the other side.

So what can this new party be built around? Hard for me to say, I am not a Western populist (yet!). The last one was built about the principle of (you guessed it) reform. Maybe this time, the motive can be that reform isn't enough. That even a movement led by one of their own (Harper) ended up making corrupt deals with former Liberals (Emerson), ended up making corrupt deals to please Quebecers (Fortier), ended up only making token changes to the Senate, ended up having to make compromises over environmental issues to please the Toronto media elites and the Latte-Drinkers in the Annex, ended up having it's legislative agenda blocked by activist judges appointed by Liberals, ended up getting scared off by scoldings from UN do-gooders, ended up doing nothing to shut down the CBC or end gay marriage or stop the popular culture from being corrupted by liberal Hollywood moguls - in short, ended up being co-opted and beaten by the eastern liberal media and the eastern liberal elites.

And if an old-school firewaller like Harper can't really make things right and ends up selling out, then the situation is hopeless. The system can't be reformed because the system is broken. The only way the West can be governed properly is to govern itself. So maybe, if you don't want to see a Conservative majority government (last), the best bet is to start fundraising for someone like Ezra Levant. This article1 from his 'Western Standard' pretty much says it all.

Alternatively, we could reform our electoral system, but then that might be just a little too rational.

1And yes, I know, the poll referenced in that article is bogus, but that's not really the point.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

And They Call it Democracy (2)

Rolling Stone has an article by Robert Kennedy Jr., entitled, 'Was the 2004 Election Stolen'. After reading it, I can only conclude that they got the order of the words wrong in their title. Anyone have any links to anything at all persuasive that can challenge this, or is it pretty much conceded at this point? I know the article just came out recently, but up to now, I've never seen much of a counter-argument made to assertions of vote manipulation and fraud in the last U.S. presidential election.

Update: Antonia mentions this as well. So far the only response has been the same, "I can't refute any of the actual allegations, or explain any of the anomalies, so I will just claim that you are crazy for talking about this" that I've seen before. If it is so ridiculous, surely it should be fairly easy to explain why, no?

Update 2: I've read lots of rebuttals to the Kenneday article (thanks for anyone who provided links). This one is probably the best (or at least the most thorough) of the bunch. But while I have seen enough to convince me that the Kennedy piece was pretty one-sided (in case that wasn't obvious to begin with) and that he isn't the most trustworthy writer, most of what I've seen in response doesn't add to all that much, rebutting a few (mostly minor) points fairly convincingly, hand-waving with varying degrees of plausibilty on others and basically conceding Kennedy's point on a number of others. Clearly, as was brought up in the comments, the U.S. really needs a more transparent and fair electoral system, one run by a non-partisan agency and one where there is a paper trail for all ballots - you wouldn't think that would be that hard.