Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Battle of Quebec

If the Battle of Quebec is going to make or break the outcome of the next federal election, it would be interesting to know where the swing vote could swing, and how that affects final outcomes. If 1 in 10 Tory voters in Quebec voted instead for the Liberals, Roberval--Lac-Saint-Jean is lost by the Tories. If one in every 4 Tory voters defected to the Liberals, the Tories still win 7 seats (minus Lawrence Canon and Sylvie Boucher). Conservatism has made a strong “beach-head” in the Quebec City region. Maxime Bernier should be the Quebec lieutenant.

In Quebec, the NDP now owns a riding. What do they need to make any impact? Hypothetically if they were successful in converting 10% of the Bloc votes and 10% of the Liberal votes, their only new seat would be Gatineau. If the NDP took 1 in 4 Bloc voters, and 1 in 10 Liberal voters, they still only win one extra seat. If the NDP siphoned 1 in 3 Bloc votes and the Liberals hold, the NDP still only wins Outremont, Gatineau, and Drummond. If that highly unlikely shift were to occur in the Quebec left wing, the Liberals would gain 8 new seats without gaining a single vote. The Liberals have more to gain by NDP converting Bloc than the NDP does. The mathematics of first past the post can sometimes be counter intuitive. Reset everything to zero and then test the seat change if Ignatieff were able to bleed off a modest 15% of the Bloc vote. Nine seats swing Liberal.

If you consider that the Bloc broke off from the Mulroney government, how would the metrics change if the Bloc defectors went back to the PC tent? Let’s say there was a seismic shift from the Bloc back to the Tories of 1 in 3 Bloc voters. The new Quebec count would be 38 Tory, 20 Liberal, 15 Bloc, 1 NDP and 1 independent. That would be an improbable shift, that would require an earthquake like Charest going back to Ottawa to be PC leader. If the awe inspiring Ignatieff were able to convert a quarter of the Bloc, then the Liberals would steal 15 seats, and the Tories would also gain Chicoutimi and Abitibi without gaining any votes. No matter which way you slice it, the Tories biggest prospect of gains is converting Bloc voters who voted for Mulroney in his day. I don’t know how you do that, I don’t know if you can do that, but that is just about the only road to 180+ Tory seats in parliament. Give Maxime Bernier a Quebec post, and send him off with the mandate of peeling off 25% of Bloc voters. See what happens.

The Magic Numbers

While some political parties are figuring out whether it would be feasible to force a fall election, I figured that it would be interesting to determine some “magic numbers” using the data from the most recent election. Where are the parties going to get their votes to win seats? Perhaps you have noticed that the Green Party may run May on Vancouver Island conceding that she is unlikely to defeat MacKay in Central Nova and it is important for the Greens to establish a “beach-head” in parliament. If she gets in, does that legitimize the party and attract even more new voters? From a policy standpoint the Greens are closer to the NDP than any other party in terms of ideology. With platforms like “minimum guaranteed incomes”, it was a noticeable shift towards socialist ideals. But if May thinks bleeding the NDP is the Green route to multiple seats, even if they siphoned off 1/3 NDP voters nationally, they still have no likely seats (other than perhaps May herself depending on where she runs). If they managed to attract 40% of NDP votes, now they are looking at 3 or 4 seats. In the event of that improbable demographic shift, they would be Greens sitting in a Tory Majority parliament.

Stephane Dion, like May, tried to move to the left in an attempt to outflank Layton, but in doing so a portion of his support in the center peeled off to the right. I get the science behind the strategy, that if 100% of the NDP vote were absorbed into the Liberal party, the LPC would win about 166 seats to the 97 Tory. I’m sure Liberal strategists have lost many a night’s sleep pondering schemes where the NDP would cease to exist as a formal political party. They could still have fan groups on Facebook, but they would not run candidates. That’s the dream of Liberal foot soldiers and operatives. The tragic flaw in the strategy when observed in practice is that shifting policy to the left to court that niche demographic turns out to be very unpopular in the center, and that’s where I believe the majority of people are. If a full half of NDP voters split Liberal, it would still be a Tory minority parliament with the LPC 14 seats back.

Michael Ignatieff is clearly aiming at the center and as such is weakening his left flank. If the NDP could manage to court 20% of Liberal voters, that is the threshold where the NDP would attain an equal number of seats to the Liberals. For an NDP minority government, you’d need catastrophic and virtually impossible losses in the LPC, and an NDP majority is virtually mathematically impossible. Assuming the NDP can hold reasonably steady in the next election, the Tories only need 7% of the Liberal vote to ascend to majority status. The Liberals would need 15% of the Tory vote for a tie at 108 seats. The roads to victory for the Liberal Party come with a very low probability of success rate. The number of different ways that the Conservatives can win a majority is significantly higher and with a much more likely probability of occurring than the Liberals winning a minority. The Tories have a first and goal on the Liberal 10 yard line and the Liberal D is desperate to force a turnover.

Predicting seat counts is actually really easy if you have a spreadsheet that contains the voting results riding by riding, region by region. When I predict changes in seat counts, I can quickly identify which ridings they will be. I would almost advise Ms May to move to Toronto Danforth and take on Jack Layton. If the Greens are to hold seats in parliament by eating into the left wing of the NDP, Layton’s seat is one of the most probable outcomes, aside from the headache of going head to head with Simple Jack. It would be an entertaining fight, unlike the futility of fighting a MacKay in Central Nova.

**Note that when I say 7% of the Liberal vote, I am not speaking in terms of percentage points in popular vote, instead it is a percentage of people who voted for the party. Out of every 100 Liberals, only 7 need to be converted to the Tories to form a majority.

Election Metrics

I have been running the numbers through my Canadian Election spreadsheet, and made a few assumptions. If 5% of the Liberal vote shifted Tory in Quebec or visa versa, projected seat counts don’t change. In BC, if 5% of the Tory vote is lost to the Liberals because of the furor of over the HST, one seat may change. If Tories poach 5% of NDP voters in Manitoba due to the new Doer-Harper alliance, max 2 seats change. Quebec, Manitoba, and BC are not the “swing states”. For example and contrast, if one out every ten people who voted Liberal in Ontario in the last election instead vote Tory, bingo bango bongo, you have your majority. Conversely, if one in ten Ontario Tory votes switch to Liberal, you can expect a relatively similar seat count in parliament, and a strong Tory minority. Infact, if one out of every five Ontario Tory voters cross to the Liberals, the projection points to a Tory minority with 21 more seats.

What I’m saying is, if you expect the center swing votes to elect a majority, the Tories need only 1 in 10 Ontario Liberals to vote for big blue. The Liberals need at least 1 in 4 Ontario Tory votes to form a minority. That shifts Liberal if Iggy can hammer the Bloc in Quebec. The pragmatic swing voters need to determine if they enjoy constant threats to topple the government and force an election. Because if it is a 24/7 cycle on the promotion of agendas, the data suggest that the Liberals need to significantly eat into the Ontario Tory vote to win even a minority. If voters want a stable majority, they have to vote Harper. Even if the National polling is tied, the probability of any kind of Liberal government is at no better than 25% if Vegas were taking bets on it. People must swing to the right if we are to have any probability of a majority government. I just write what I see in the data. Even a seismic shift to the left still points to a Tory minority. Voters will decide, but Michael Ignatieff will chose when they make that choice.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


While I am ranting about musical simile, this is my Michael Ignatieff theme song. Because he obsesses over his Russian ancestors who worked for the Czar alongside Rasputin, this song works on so many levels. You may recall how an insightful e-mailer to the Charles Adler show suggested this music as the Iggy theme song in June at the cessation of Parliament, and Mr Adler dedicated an entire segment of his show to that suggestion. In the interest of anonymity, I'm not saying that was me, but I also know that Adler himself will not accuse the Iceman of poaching the credit.

Ignatieff, who worships Czarist Russia, deserves Rasputin by Boney M as his theme song...

"the times they are a changin"

I heard this song a few weeks ago for the first time in a long time, and it suddenly reached me on an emotional level. Bob Dylan wrote this as a Liberal rallying cry in the Vietnam era, but when I listened to it this time, the lyrics hit me as a new conservative rallying cry. It is my new favourite song. Every verse sounds like lyrical harmony.

"Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'."

I always disliked Bob Dylan music, and once upon a time I was complaining about his music to my pragmatic-conservative father. He became agitated, and insisted that I appreciate the contribution that Dylan added to the evolution of music. Now, I get it. As we age, we start to understand things that we previously resisted. Is it a coincidence that people become more likely to vote conservative the older they get? The data proves it. Do people get dumber as they age? I'd say that life is an evolution towards a greater understanding of the world. I am a Libertarian who votes Conservative. The majority of Libertarians vote Conservative. Why that is, is an interesting question.

Thank you Bob,

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hoping for a Monster season...

As someone who passionately despises the Toronto Maple Leafs who is looking at the team that Burkie is icing this season, I am really hoping for a monster season from the newest Leaf Jonas Gustavsson! Personally I love how Leaf fans are glowing about the signing of the Swedish goaltending "Monster" Gustavsson. When they predict how good he's going to be on that one year contract, I respond with an "I hope you are right." I want him to have a Monster season, because it is tough to finish in dead last with a Monster goalie. Especially since there is no guarantee that he resigns with Toronto on his future UFA contract. It may be more likely that he sign with Leafs than any other team, but I'd peg that at 75% at best. If he stands on his head while the players in front of him blow, that 25% gone baby gone probability will creep at least a little bit higher.

Playoffs are a no go. May as well fail gloriously, instead of finishing in 8th last. Most drafts have a small cluster of ultra-elite prospects in the top 5, as there is a significant decline in expected value in picks 6-15. I did a statistical study of the NHL Draft, which in hindsight I should try to publish. I cracked the value of a draft pick by round and country/league of origin. For example, 80% of players drafted who play NCAA will stay for the full 4 year term. When Burke acquired Calgary's 2nd pick next year, he was acquiring a 35% chance at a player who plays at least 8 games in the NHL by 2013. Though that probability varies depending on where the player is drafted from. He could draft a Russian, and roll the dice on possibly acquiring an elite player with a lower probability that he ever gets on a plane to cross the ocean.

Yes Komisarek and Beauchemin make the Toronto D better, but they are seriously lacking in one category that you need to win, PLAYERS WHO SCORE GOALS! I think when Burke was on that plane to Stockholm and he was texted that the Sedins resigned in Vancouver, within an hour of that I'm sure he decided "fuck it, I'm tearing it down". The twins would have made Toronto a playoff team, even if just that 6th seed. In that case you have to go for it. There is no doubt that he was flying to Stockholm on the eve of free agency with the objective of acquiring the twins. He was denied. At least he left Sweden with Gustavsson, which gives him deniability and something to feed to starving fans.

Burke's Scorched Earth

Hockey is coming. One of the most popular pass-times in Vancouver is crapping on Toronto, regarded as the "center of the Universe". As much as I delight in the futility of the Leafs, I must confess that because the team has sucked so badly since the lockout, mocking the Leafs feels like kicking a dead horse. Last season the Leafs were brutal, but not brutal enough to get a top 5 draft pick. It was hilarious! For the first time in my life, I was cheering for the Leafs to win, because each victory diminished the probability of the Leafs acquiring future superstar John Tavares.

Enter the savior, Brian Burke, who took over the team part way through the season. He did everything he could to tank the season without appearing to do so deliberately, fielding a roster of glorified AHL players. Bumps and bruises knocked out veterans for the season, to have their roster spots filled by the likes of Jamie Heward, Phil Oreskovic, Jeff Hamilton, etc. Then a victory against the Ottawa Senators on the last game of the season vaulted them from 5th last to 7th last, and on the outside looking in on the top 5 in the draft lottery.

After this disappointing end to a dissapointing season, Burke decided to raise his own profile (as he is naturally inclined to do) by making grandiose statements in press conferences. Whether he was trying to wet the palate of Leaf fans or whether he seriously believed that he could get John Tavares without trading any of his young assets, we'll never know. Since Schenn was really the only blue chip prospect in his hand, he would have to be part of the deal to acquire one of the most anticipated young players in history. To believe otherwise would be foolish. Then later in the summer, he makes a big point about how the Leafs would spend to the salary cap every year because they are "big blue". And yet, I would be shocked if they come close to the cap this season.

At the draft, there was a rumour of trading Kaberle and a draft pick for Kessel, who at the tender young age 21 scored 36 goals, which was shot down because Burke insisted that Kaberle was enough to acquire Kessel. Kaberle being a 31 year old defenseman with 100,000 miles on the odometer whom the Leafs have ridden harder than "Seattle Slew" over the past decade logging over 30 minutes of ice almost every night. Kessel on the other hand, is a potential 50 goal scorer. If peak performance is at 27 and Kessel scored 36 at age 21, what is his ceiling? The idea proposed by Leaf reporter Howard Berger that Boston should do the deal because Toronto would be doing them a favour by taking the salary off of their hands was said through blue coloured glasses. Yes, you have an immensely talented 21 year old, give him to us and let us pay him, and in exchange we will give you a D-man 10 years older whom we’ve already ridden for 22,000 minutes in the last decade and whose body is about to begin breaking down. That is asinine.

Then they trade Pogge and Strahlman, two guys who were supposed to be building blocks of the future. For Strahlman, they got Wayne Primeau and a 35% chance at a roster player in 2013. Primeau has virtually no on ice value, hence why Burke wanted him. A big last name, gets fans excited, with a ceiling of 10 goals this season, but at this point is nothing more than a below average aging veteran. Clearly Burke is running a short term scorched earth strategy. Fuel a dumpster fire for his first full season as GM, increase the probability of acquiring Taylor Hall, and then start a new building process with Kadri and Hall as the cornerstone. It makes sense, and from a pragmatic perspective Leaf fans should be cheering losses this season, because you ain’t making the playoffs, even if you happen to be 10 points out with a month to play. I agree with Burke, tear it down and build it back up. But he has set the price too high for Kaberle, whom he has to move. Kaberle does not fit into his window. He has to move him. The Leafs have 10 D who could play in the NHL this season.

I advise Leaf fans not to believe what Burke says, but you can trust him in the long term. If he tries to sell you on the Leafs chances this season or how much you need Kaberle, that is bullshit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hockey is Coming

I can smell it in the air. I can feel the days getting shorter, the weather slightly cooler, the leaves are starting to fall from the trees, and in a few short weeks NHL hockey players will be reporting for duty! I spent this past weekend nestled up to my computer creating my NHL Forecast 2009 spreadsheet. It is a vain attempt to predict the future based on past performance data and player age.

The first step is a review of how players evolved in 2008 from 2007 and establishing a rate of improvement or decline based on age. I am sad to inform those over the age of 27 that it is likely that you have passed your peak in physical performance capability. 28 and 29 are relatively stagnant, and 30+ are generally in decline. There are exceptions to every rule, but on average this is what the data tells us. Once you have your parameter values for rates of change, it is time to gaze into your crystal ball and start predicting outcomes.

The rate of change data has a relatively normal distribution, and as such we know that approximately 2/3rds of the players will be within one standard deviation of the expected performance and 95% will be within two standard deviations. Then go through rosters team by team and assign a unitless Z-Score to each player based on whether a player should improve or decline due to ice time, line mates, and power play time. Do a little reverse algebra where you multiply it by the standard deviation, add it to the mean, and out pops a prediction! I suppose you have to be more than just a mathematician to arbitrarily assign a parameter value based on imperfect information; fortunately I am able to do so based on my life-long addiction to hockey statistics and information, and my childhood education from my father who played professional hockey. Oh, and my Degree in Mathematics also helps...

To anyone competing in a hockey pool this season, you too can do this at home! All you need is 20 hours to compile a database, set up a series of equations based on the instructions provided above, meticulously research every scrap of information in the public domain, and voila, your own homemade forecast! It is so easy even a child could do it (I know because I began forecasting as a child). If you actually have a life and don't have the time, the Fantasy Hockey magazines have hit the newsstands. I have purchased two, the Hockey News and The Score. I personally recommend the Score Forecaster. It is evident upon detailed analysis that they employ mathematicians who play a role in establishing their predictions. All they need to do is ask their hockey "insiders" to give them a number between 1 and -1 for how good a season will be for any given player, where zero means exactly the same. They wouldn't even need to account for age, because the mathematician can do that in the regression analysis.

The Hockey News magazine on the other hand seems to swing for the fences more often. The Score, like me, seldom makes a prediction outside of one standard deviation, but the Hockey News does it several times. 30 point swings will occur, but they are relatively rare and predicting them is very difficult. If Zach Bogosian scores 50 points, THN will be able to boast about its forecasting acumen, but in reality there is only a 15% chance or less that a player of his age and his career arch see that big of a jump in production. It happens and they might be right, I just would not count on it. When one swings for the fences, their strikeout rate also climbs. Plus the score evaluates more players and writes a more detailed analysis of each player.

The Iceman will be shifting his creative focus from politics to sports in the build up to NHL training camps. For those looking for a fun place to play fantasy hockey for free online, the best in the business is Yahoo. Registration has not yet begun for the upcoming season, but perhaps I will start a league for Blogging Tories?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gordon "The Taxman" Campbell

During the British Columbia Provincial Election campaign, I was quite descriptive about my disapproval of Gordon Campbell, even nicknaming him "The Sherriff of Nottingham" for his love and adoration of new and absurd taxes. When I first moved to BC from Ontario, I was told with a wink and a nudge that the BC Liberal Party is not really a "Liberal" party, that it is a "center-right" coalition of Conservatives and Libertarians. During my nearly 5 year tenure in the province, my list of beefs with Gordon Campbell has far, far outweighed any perceived benefits. The carbon tax should have been the nail in the coffin, but because the NDP is such a horror show Campbell won a third term.

Dalton "I will not raise your taxes" McGuinty helped drive me out of Ontario after he promised during his first election that he would not raise taxes to pay for all his ludicrous spending promises; then at his first budget, his first opportunity, what did we get? Yes, massive new taxation. Dalton is relevant to my discussion about Gordon's tax-happy trigger finger, because just a few short months after the election, Gordy is slapping BC tax payers with yet another new tax. A tax that they said during the campaign would not be implemented, but now we are being told that BC needs to do it because Ontario did it. That's right, the Premier of British Columbia is citing Dalton McGuinty as evidence that he must absolutely introduce the tax! Mr Premier, I just left Ontario in part because of new taxes by McGuinty, and now the allegedly right wing Gordon Campbell is telling me that we need new taxes because Dalton is doing it???

This new Harmonized Sales Tax is a merger of PST and GST, which is fine in theory, but in application it actually taxes more goods and services that were previously exempt from the PST. We are being told that this new tax replaces an "invisible cost" that is "embedded in the cost" of goods and services. I'm not sure what precisely the tax is replacing, because no tax is being eliminated. Campbell is taking us for a train ride in the Land of Make-Believe. Apparently, keeping track of two different taxes is allegedly supposed to be a crushing burden to businesses. And by eliminating a column in a spreadsheet, businesses will save millions of dollars that will offset any monetary gains experienced by the government. As Penn and Teller might say, that's bullshit.

I am still jaded from the introduction of a carbon tax, and now there is talk about putting toll booths on more bridges, increasing gambling limits so that the government can squeeze more money out of degenerate gamblers, and so on and so forth. The BC Liberals are so obsessed with avoiding a deficit that they are cancelling surgeries and looking for any way possible to increase revenue. As a fiscal conservative I am opposed to deficits, but in an economic downturn they are essentially unavoidable. I'd much rather see deficits reduced by cutting spending, giving pink slips to bureaucrats, and trimming the pork. Increasing taxation is an extremely unpopular method of reducing the size of a deficit, and polling numbers in BC are starting to bear that out.

While Gordon Campbell has another 4 years before he has to face the electorate again, the same cannot be said of Stephen Harper. Clearly Iggy is going to pull the plug on government sooner rather than later, meaning this whole HST fiasco drowning Campbell could have a negative effect on the 22 Tory seats sorely needed on the left coast. If Quebec is a lost cause, the Tories must hold BC if they have any chance of winning a majority. After crunching the numbers, I would estimate that at least 90% of the people who voted Tory federally voted for Gordon Campbell's Liberals. Given that the Feds have encouraged the provinces to harmonize the taxes, there is the potential for some of that radioactivity to splash onto the Tories. It is all fine and dandy to harmonize the taxes, but when you are using it to tax more stuff, there will be a backlash. I want a Conservative majority in the next federal election, and I’m certain that the advisors to the PMO in BC are warning the PM about the toxicity of the Premier who was once seen as a Harper ally.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I find myself mildly perplexed about this court ruling forcing Google to release the identity of an anonymous blogger who referred to a person as a "skank" (a word not defined in my Little Oxford Dictionary). I don't understand what the big deal is and why this individual would feel compelled to hire a lawyer and file a court action because she was called a skank on an obscure blog that 99.9999% of the people on the Planet Earth would never see.

The legal action would make sense if the blogger wrote a statement saying that "Person X tortures puppies". That would qualify as slander because it would be a public statement that is false and malicious. To call someone a "skank" is matter of opinion using a word with a varying and subjective definition. I am of the opinion that Joe Biden is an idiot. Am I not entitled to share my opinion with others? He is a public figure, and as a public figure people are going to offer opinions about his lack of intelligence.

The court ruling itself was to force Google to release the identity of the Blogger, and I assume that the next step would be to sue the writer. I know a lot of mainstream writers are very critical about the anonymity of bloggers, that it is cheap to take shots at people when your own identity is kept secret. Not all Bloggers use an alias, but many such as myself prefer to be anonymous. It is not an act of cowardice, but rather a desire to separate my professional life from my opinion. I often have very pointed opinions which can be very divisive with friends and co-workers if they happen to disagree. Political narrative can quickly incite anger in opponents, and if my supervisor at work is a devoted Liberal and Googles my name to uncover my blog, that could have a negative effect on my day to day life. Even if the risk of becoming a target for left wing zealots is low and if my supervisor at work were also a Conservative, some people prefer to minimize risk to zero.

I believe that what the blogger wrote in this case was immature, but not illegal. If the blogger is liable for slander for calling someone a skank, I can name a long list of left wing pundits who said far worse things about Sarah Palin and her family. Opinion should not qualify as slander, otherwise Bill Maher, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Arianna Huffington, et all are fucked. If a blogger writes that Bill Maher murdered a puppy, then in that case there should be a negative repercussion. But a skank? What is a skank? My dictionary does not define it.

As for my moniker of choice, I concede that it lacks originality. The Iceman was a comic book character, nicknames in movies, Chuck “the Iceman” Liddell, etc. The name “The Iceman” has been passed around more than Kathy Griffin at a high school prom. I use it because once during a heat wave I was at work selling a bag of ice to a customer and a local newspaper photographer stopped by and took our picture. The next day my picture was in the paper under the title of “The Iceman cometh”, which was really cool (pun intended). Everyone at work started calling me The Iceman, and even changed my name tag to fit my new “celebrity status.” Should I ever become a paid pundit, then perhaps I will conjure up a new and more creative handle. Until then, I will maintain my anonymous status so as not to jeopardize my day job.

And Joe Biden is a moron. That’s my opinion, and I am entitled to it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear"

One can't help but notice that despite irrational market swings, panicked investors speculating wildly on futures, good news being offset by bad news week by week; we are still seeing a plethora of "experts" trying to predict the future. It has been said that economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists, and that an economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why what he predicted yesterday did not happen today. After dropping over 40 grand on my own degree in Mathematical Economics, I often find myself wishing that I could take a mulligan.

Recently I have been having frequent chats with a co-worker who is nearing retirement and he is trying to write a computer program to trade foreign currencies with the intention of becoming a millionaire. I don't want to discourage him because he seems completely convinced that he will be successful, as he is a skilled computer programmer. But honestly, the idea of making a large return in a relatively short period of time buying and selling currencies is highly unlikely. There are days when I will talk to him and he'll be flabbergasted by the failure of his program to turn a profit. That's when I say that he is assuming this segment of the market behaves in a predictable pattern. He does not research cause and effect, and how the thousands of variables which affect price trends behave in relationship to currency values. He only looks at the scoreboard, and uses someone else's system to determine the best time to buy and the best time to sell.

My warning to anyone listening to "forecasts" is beware of the long term predictions. Investment advice based on short term probability is far more trustworthy than long term projections. There are a slew of potential outcomes, each with its own probability of occurring, and those probabilities are constantly shifting when new information is absorbed into reality. When these wanna-be Nostradamuses make a forecast, it becomes obsolete very quickly, to the point where I question the wisdom of trying to gaze into such an uncertain future. I have a fondness for the sage-like words of the wise prophets known as the Beastie Boys "because your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear. Oh my God it's a mirage, I'm telling ya'll it's sabotage!"

I would be really happy if indeed the worst of this so-called “Great Recession” is over. In the United States, if conditions get worse it increases the probability of Republicans winning in 2010. In Canada, if conditions improve it increases the probability that Conservatives win the next election. It does present a conflict of interest.


With the summer winding down, a fresh season of politics is looming right around the corner. At this time last year the pending American Election served as a "morphine drip" for news addicts while parliament and Congress were not in session. In August of 2009, the news cycle has been relatively quiet, at least in Canada. South of the border however, it would appear that the temperature has been turned up on the Obama Administration.

These "town hall meetings" stirring up anti-Obama sentiment have been keeping Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher in business during an otherwise slow news cycle. While some opinion makers are delighting in branding these "protestors" as lunatics who spend too much time watching Glenn Beck re-runs, the truth is that they are voicing their opinion in a peaceful and legal way. Meanwhile, the real lunatics who were rioting in Minnesota during the Republican convention, well they are okay. Janine Garafoolo would defend the crazies throwing trash cans through windows because their anger is justified through her eyes, and people who are worried about Government taking over health care, they are bigoted remnants of the KKK. It is all about perspective.

Truth be told, there are lunatics on both sides of the aisle. I'm just not convinced that the people raising their voices at town hall meetings are being irrational in any way. On the other hand, those people who have convinced themselves that Obama was not born in the USA are a great deal more "unhinged" than people who are opposed to "Obama Care". Personally, since I do not live in America, I don't much care about these particular domestic policies. I have no complaints about my Canadian Health Care. Last year I required a CT scan, and it was done within a week. I saw a specialist a week after my CT scan, and was cured in a month. If I need to see a doctor, I can do so right away with a minimal wait. The longest that I have had to wait to see a doctor in the last 5 years was 20 minutes. Granted, my opinion on the effectiveness of the Canadian system would likely change if I were to be afflicted with cancer, but as it is the system has served me well.

That which I find uncomfortable about the Health Care debate in the USA is the manner in which the Administration and its supporters are attacking their detractors. To suggest that anyone who disagrees with Liberal doctrine is stupid does not sound to me like a "new era of bipartisanship". I remember during the campaign how Obama spoke often about absorbing opinion from both sides when drafting legislation. I'm not seeing any negotiation with Republicans to reach a compromise. It is evident that what Obama meant by bipartisanship is that Republicans should unequivocally support his policies whether they agree with them or not. To disagree is a sure sign of stupidity.

I can recall watching Obama's victory speech at the Democratic convention, listening to all his policy promises, thinking that somebody should be tallying a price tag at the bottom of the screen. Cap and trade, price tag. National health care, price tag. Greater welfare payouts, price tag. And so on and so forth. Then to say that he would cut taxes for 95% of Americans despite making obscene spending promises was laughable. Even Dalton McGuinty didn't buy that Obama would be able to afford his campaign spending promises! It was never going to work. I have defended George Bush in the past on certain policy matters, but he was a major disappointment to fiscal conservatives who would like to see government spending minimized. Bush essentially bankrupted the treasury just in time for Obama to win an election with the most ambitious spending agenda the Oval Office has ever seen. Jim Cramer was raked over the coals by his fellow Liberals for suggesting that Obama was trying to do too much too soon. Granted, I trust Jim Cramer more than I trust Jon Stewart.

As concerned as I was at the pending Obama victory and what socialist policies would follow him, I felt strangely at peace with him winning last November. Despite my opposition to his agenda, my opinion at the time was just let him do what he said he would do, it would not work, and his failure would swing the pendulum back to the right. If he wants to be Jimmy Carter 2.0, let him. Let the Bill Maher’s of the world defend the impending failures, because Conservatives would benefit. Just because I do not believe that the Kyoto Protocol is not worth the paper it is printed on, does not mean that I am stupid. To the contrary, I have a University Degree, and I’m sure Joe Biden would love to know that my IQ was officially tested north of 130. Seriously? How could I possibly score in the upper echelon of intelligence if I oppose Obama’s policies? Shouldn’t my opposition signal that I am stupid and not worthy of a public opinion? History has proven that communism does not work, but I suppose presenting real evidence that Obama is running full speed down a slippery slope would only prove my stupidity. Like when an intelligent Liberal analyst presents his educated opinion that Obama is doing too much too soon, within a week he is savaged on the Daily Show. I suppose if I were an opinion maker that people actually listened to, I could look forward to being ridiculed by Jon Stewart in the near future.