Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Polling

The month of February is over, and the month of March is once again upon us. I ran a number of poll questions for the Blogging Tories this past month, and they are included below. I have separated my Olympic polling into another post. Some votes were disqualified because a douche in Lethbridge was circumventing the rules and voting multiple times. Just because you have figured out how to circumvent the cookie, that does not mean that Google can't tell me how many times you are voting.  All Computers leave a footprint.

For a history of polling, click the link.


Polar bear (58%)
Grizzly bear (42%)


Functional, could be better (78%)
National treasure (11%)
Horribly broken (11%)


Ignatieff (57%)
Layton (16%)
They will all vote non-confidence (14%)
Duceppe (11%)


No (97%)
Yes (3%)


Absolutely (93%)
No opinion (6%)
Hands off (1%)


Cut spending (95%)
Raise taxes (5%)


Watching The CBC So You Don't Have To! (34%)
Where Have All Our Loonies Gone? (28%)
Our Billion Dollar Baby (22%)
Dude, Where's Our Billion Dollars? (14%)


Jason Kenney (56%)
James Moore (14%)
John Baird (10%)
Rona Ambrose (9%)


No (92%)
Yes (8%)


No (81%)
Yes (19%)


No (65%)
Yes (35%)


$3 billion Green-Collar Jobs Plan (27%))
Authority for government to make regulations in order to meet the targets and set penalties (13%)
Reduce carbon emissions by 80% (12%)
Prorogue oil sands (10%
Poverty Elimination Act executed by HRDC (9%)
Appoint a Job Protection Commissioner (9%)
Regulate fuel prices (5%)
End use and circulation of Canadian penny (4%)
Maintain balanced budgets each and every year (2%)


Grey Cup (48%)
neither (36%)
Super Bowl (15%)


It is bad policy (98%)
It is noble (2%)


No (98%)
Yes (2%)


None of the below (52%)
Money to pay for day care (46%)
Government day care (0%)


Fox (68%)
CTV (9%)
CBC (7%)
BBC (5%)
CNN (4%)
Global (3%)


National Post (60%)
Newspapers are dead (31%)
Globe and Mail (4%)
Toronto Star (3%)


The CBC (61%)
Environmental Marxism (31%)
Mike Ignatieff (6%)


The Internets (90%)
Newspaper (8%)
Television (2%)


Hockey Night in Canada (47%)
Red Green Show (16%)
Just for Laughs (12%)
The Mercer Report (11%)
The National (6%)


The partisanship is escalating (88%)
Same as it's always been (11%)
Fair and balanced (1%)


No difference between them (55%)
Hillary Clinton (41%)
Barack Obama (2%)


Yes (76%)
No (24%)

Proud to be Canadian!

Today is one of those days where our entire can rejoice on the splendor of being Canadian and living in the greatest country on Earth. I was driving home through the streets of Vancouver after we had won the game, and thousands of people were pouring into the streets dressed in their Canada gear waving their flags. People from across the country were calling in to the local sportstalk radio expressing their pride at this achievement in national unity.

I know the CBC was prepared to jump all over negative Olympic spin, or at least Evan Soloman was repeatedly on his program last week. "Dreams Dashed" read the headline at the bottom of the screen for most of his Olympic prognosticating. You may have jumped the gun on declaring the Games a failure Evan; because if you had the privilege of walking through the streets of Vancouver, of any Canadian city today, you can appreciate that sweet dreams are made of this! Never has our anthem played more on the podium than Vancouver 2010, and it will leave a permanent mark in our national pride , and Ryan Kesler you can't take that away from us!

About the game itself, I was really nervous the entire second half. Canada fell back into a "prevent" defense and just stopped trying to win races to pucks or forecheck. Once they gave up the offensive, it was all USA. Luongo was fantastic, and bore no responsibility for the second goal. Both D skated out to block the shot, did not block the shot, leaving two American forwards behind them alone with Roberto. The team came out flying in the overtime, and when Sid scored it was an outstanding experience!

Is anyone ashamed to be Canadian today? How about you Heather Mallick? It will be nice to have the entire country in such a happy mood when Parliament reconvenes.

Enjoy it Canada, Parliament is back in 3 days

As I prepare to depart for my friend's house to watch the big game, I'm wondering if there is any point to posting a blog post here this morning. Most of Canada is going to be watching the hockey game, not browsing political blogs. With the slew of medals Canadian athletes have accumulated in the last few days, we don't need a win in hockey to salvage a disappointing Games. No, we have already set the record most medals be Canada and most gold by a host country. We are tied for most gold ever at a Winter Olympics, and it is the icing on that cake which today is at stake. It would taste very sweet to say the least!

According to the ancient Greeks who invented the Olympics, the winner of the Games is the team that finishes in first place more than any other. They don’t play the star spangled banner when Americans win bronze. For 70% of the USA’s medals, they were listening to someone else’s anthem on the podium. More than half of our medals came complete with a playing of Oh Canada, and no song was played more while the athletes of the world were standing on OUR podium!

The only person in Canada unlikely to be watching the game is Kady O'Malley, who seems to harbour contempt for athletic competition. The only news she will report about the Olympic Games is bad news. When Canada was busy winning 3 gold medals yesterday, Kady had to do a rare emergency weekend post about a tantrum at an airport. Evidently being frustrated with Air Canada's poor service is evidence that you have contempt for the institution of Parliament. It warrants a running series of blog posts titled "ContemptWatch2010". I don't know who to tell to grow up first, Helena or Kady...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jean Charest, a successor to nobody

How exactly did the rumour begin that Jean Charest was a possible successor for Stephen Harper? I am curious; the last time Jean succeeded a Tory Prime Minister, how did that work out electorally? This sounds like a rumour that Chantal Hebert would start to try and goad right wingers into taking jabs at Charest, which she can then extrapolate as a vicious personal attack against every French Canadian.

I read today in the Globe and Mail that "Quebec among most highly indebted industrial economies in the world: red ink accounts for 94 per cent of GDP, provincial report says." How many years has Mr. Charest been in charge? Turns out that maybe Charestonomics doesn't balance the books. I have long been a Peter MacKay supporter, but I acknowledge that he is likely no longer electable as party leader. In hindsight, the courtship of Belinda Stronach did not help his political future. Despite left wing speculation, there is no urgent desire on the right to replace the Prime Minister.

Who needs Jean Charest when Joe Clark is still kicking around? Then you have Maxime Bernier write a letter that it is okay to be skeptical of climate change, and suddenly the left is speculating that he's making a run at leadership!? Could it be that he made the speech that Charest has gone rabid on this issue and has been publicly attacking the government? Shouldn't a Tory Minister from Quebec be the one to respond? Because if Jim Prentice suggests that Quebecers may not want to pay massive surcharges when buying a vehicle, Chantal Hebert will accuse him of Quebec bashing. It is insane. I don't think Chantal can accuse Maxime of Quebec bashing for having an opinion that a lot of people agree with.

Come to think of it, I am noticing a sharp increase in left wing wing speculation that there is some sort of pending coup within the Conservative Party.  It seems as though they are trying to create speculation that there is a civil war brewing in Tory ranks, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Setting Olympic Records

Displaying a magnificent finishing kick, it turns out that these Olympics will be a roaring success after all. We are setting records. First, we have guaranteed ourselves a Canadian record of 26 medals. We have tied the world record for Winter Olympic gold with 13 (with 2002 Norway and 1976 Soviets). Should we win the hockey game on Sunday, we will be all alone in the record books with 14 first place finishes. Our anthem has been played to more podiums than any other. Lest we forget, the ancient Greeks only awarded prizes for first place (at least according to my ten minutes of research in Wikipedia). Was it Aristotle or Plato who said "if you ain't first, you're last"?

Let me take you back to a poll that I conducted in the first few days of the Olympics.


less than 20 (43%)
20-25 (30%)
25-30 (22%)  *answer 26
30+ (3%)

Thus 73% of my visitors at the start of the Olympics under estimated our eventual medal count. I would say that our athletes defied expectations. I declared on day 6 that we would not win total medal count and we should instead focus on winning the most gold. I took some flak, and yet here we are on the eve of the Closing Ceremonies with not only the most gold medals but also tied for the record for most gold ever by any country at a Winter Olympics with a gold medal hockey final yet to be played.

It is a great day to be Canadian! I remember earlier in the week, Evan Soloman was running the frequent headline "Dreams Dashed" when talking about the Olympics. How do we define dreams? Standing on the podium while everyone listens to your national anthem and your home fans are their singing along? You may have jumped the gun on that bad news story E-Solo.  Will Evan run the headline "Most Dreams Achieved Ever" on Monday? I doubt it.

Coming Soon: Canadian Parliament

My how time flies when you're having fun! I have been so consumed by the Olympics that the last two weeks has flown by like a flash. Suddenly I look at my calendar to see that Parliament is resuming next week, and I am actually excited. Maybe it is that I live in Vancouver and I would like to see things return to normal, or because Parliamentary discourse leads to an increased number of visitors to politically themed blogs. Blogging on a Team Canada Hockey game day is futile at best. When everybody wants to watch the Olympics (and certainly we witnessed monster ratings for the Vancouver Games) then poor little bloggers like me lose a large proportion of our audience.

People seem to have the greatest interest in my opinion when our politicians are yelling and screaming at each other on the floor of the House of Commons. This brief reprieve many people have enjoyed will soon be at an end, as politics as usual pops up again. Does anyone have any bold predictions for next week? I am expecting a tactical partnership between Layton and Ignatieff, I'm just not sure how they will play it and whether or not the Bloc will be included. I suspect that Iggy and Jack would like to force the government to solicit support for Duceppe.

What unexpected moves do you think we might see from the government?

Canadian Athletes Have the Midas Touch!

We are for the time being on top of the leaderboard for most playings of the national anthem. Our anthem has been played more than any other, with two days of competition remaining. We are in gold medal matches for hockey, curling, and long track team pursuit on Saturday. We also have two teams in the top six for the final two heats of 4 man bobsled. "People you know they can't believe" Canada we have two 4 man bobsled teams.

Whether or not we can stay on top of the gold medal leaderboard, only time will tell. I will say that my dissapointment at losing the women's curling gold was more than offset by all things Hamelin. Well done! Kevin Martin and Men's Hockey could clinch first place in gold medal finishes. Doesn't the IOC judge the winner of the Olympics to be most gold?

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Game of the Century

Canada versus the United States for Olympic Hockey Gold in Vancouver, it will be so. Their round robin game was the highest rated sporting event in Canadian history. You have to assume that the Gold medal game will draw a larger audience. If Americans tune in, this could very well be the most watched hockey game in history. Some might say that is excellent theatre. The USA won the first game, and celebrated excessively after an empty goal in round robin play doing the group gang tackle. This time the pressue is on Team USA, given that they should now be favoured to win based on earlier results.

I am not going to make a prediction for this game, but I would like to call to attention the likely historical match. The biggest sporting event ever hosted on Canadian soil?

Canada Vs Slovakia

I was listening to the Team 1040 Sportstalk here in Vancouver this afternoon, and I listened to the "estimable" Dave Pratt compare Jaroslav Halak to Dominique Hasek circa 1998. While the Slovakian netminder has played well in this tournament, it is ludicrous to compare him to Hasek. The Dominator was the NHL MVP in 1997 and 1998. He was already the best goalie in the world when he eliminated us at Nagano. Halak is just an above average goaltender who has played well in a couple of games in this tournament. Personally, I watch the Slovaks almost lose to Norway. I'm not concerned. I say Canada 5 Slovakia 2.

I will be watching this game at home instead of at a friend's house, so I will make a number of comments below as the game progresses and you are welcome to do the same. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm hooked on women's curling right now. The Prime Minister is attending along with the King and Queen of Sweden. CTV didn't mention if Ignatieff is there.

A Tale of Two Budget Deficits

Today it was announced that our federal deficit grew in December, but that it is now growing at a slower rate. The tale is reported differently in our two main national newspapers. The headline at the National Post is "Growth of Canada's deficit slows", the headline in the Globe and Mail is "Budget deficit rises to $39.4-billion" (which still projects to be smaller than forecasted). One article discusses why deficit growth has slowed, the other discuses why the deficit is what it is.

Currently the stimulus is putting the largest strain on the spending side of government finance, which we all knew was going to happen when we embarked on injecting government money into the economy during an economic downturn. This should not surprise anyone. Over a year ago all the Keynesians came roaring out of the closet to demand a stimulus, and in a minority government we had to respond to the opposition demanding it. Ignatieff demanded it after his ouster of Dion, that he would not support the budget without a stimulus. So we did a stimulus. The government having narrowly survived an attempted coup immediately following a general election was in no position to take an ideological stand. I think the stimulus has worked well, but we shouldn't be outraged when it creates a deficit. The spending is temporary.

Also, in terms of tax receipts, I haven't seen anyone mention the difference in capital gains from 2009 over capital losses from 2008. The TSX fell by 37% or -5096.04 points in 2008. The majority of people with an investment income doing their taxes last year would have reported capital losses, which lowers the amount you have to pay in income tax. In 2009 the TSX increased in value by 32% or 3000 points. So people doing their taxes right now with an investment portfolio will have to pay taxes on their capital gains. Hopefully Kevin Page has costed this into his forecast, either that or we are in for a pleasant surprise in a future economic update...

Gender Based Athletics Funding

With our Canadian women proudly winning a disproportionate number of our Olympic medals, I am beginning to see printed opinion that funding should be shifted to female athletics to maximize our medal output. If women get-err done, then should they get more funding? There are even suggestions that female athletes are better at handling pressure than their male counterparts. I don't want to be rude, but I have witnessed far more emotional volatility on the side of the female athletes (and that's not counting Joannie Rochette, her's was completely justifiable emotional volatility after a job well done)

The more that I think about it, if you really want to increase enrollment in male non-hockey sports is to divert them from hockey and disperse them to sports that don't compensate as well. There may be 20,000 - 40,000 people who get paid (in money or scholarship) to play hockey in the world. This is a guess, but I would estimate that at least 15,000 Canadian born and raised males are earning an income or a scholarship from hockey world wide. If you totaled up the sum of all their income or scholarships, you are likely looking at over a billion dollars of net benefit to Canadian male athletes.

A disproportionate number of them are playing hockey, even at a low playing level because it still pays more than a 15th world ranking in alpine or cross country skiing. In fact if you took the sum of all Canadian hockey incomes and matched it against all European ski incomes, I bet you our hockey boys are out earning all the skiers at least 100 to 1 if not over 1000 to 1. And yet there are what, 60 ski medals for each hockey medal?

On the female hockey front, there are much more limited opportunities to earn income after college/university graduation. We can produce top quality women at the youth level, but there really is very little opportunity to earn income from hockey as an adult for women. They tried creating a women's pro league. It didn't really work out.

Should we be diverting young athletic males away from hockey and into skiing? They are far more likely to earn a financial or scholastic benefit from focusing on hockey than virtually any other Winter Olympic sport. Unless we can encourage our young hockey players to seriously take up a second or third sport, I'm not sure how you resolve this proportional inhibition to maximizing medal output at Winter Olympics.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Should We Free Willy?

Yesterday we were reminded that killer whales may not be well suited to life in captivity. I watched Free Willy in theater at an impressionable age, and I am not without compassion for the species. And yet I support maintaining a captive breeding population as an insurance policy against catastrophic losses to the wild populations. I have always enjoyed nature, growing up watching the Nature of Things. I idolized David Suzuki, until he went nutty on the climate change. I was also a big fan of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter and the Crocodile Dundee who inspired him.

Several animal species are under threat of extinction because poachers can sell them as a luxury item on the open black market. Tigers aren't dwindling because nature has selected them for extinction, they are threatened because their fur is valuable and the Chinese believe eating Tiger genitals has mystical powers. I support the existence of zoos as a hedge against extinction. And yet, I don't see tiny swimming pools as a remotely adequate habitat for something as large as a killer whale.

At the end of the day, I vote for continuing permitting captive orcas, but maybe they shouldn't be performing in shows and they should have larger enclosures.

Olympic Battle of the Sexes

With Canadian women being responsible for 77% of our medals, I decided to look at the gender distributions of the four teams ahead of us in the overall standings. German ladies have won 62% of Deutschland's medals, but American women account for only 37% of Yankee podium finishes. The Norwegian ladies have contributed a paltry 28% to their country's keep. So what do Canadian women and Norwegian men have in common?

Is it all left to chance? Or if I examined gender distributions from past Olympics, would I see a similar pattern from these countries? Is it a simple calculation of youth enrollment rates in each sport multiplied by the probability of a young athlete rising to an Olympics level in each program for each gender? If 75% of Norwegians ski and only 10% of Canadians ski, then there would be more total skiers to choose from in Norway despite our population disparity. If more people in Norway ski, their ski programs would be more advanced and their entire country is made of mountains. How much of an effect does funding have on enrollment and probability of evolving into an Olympian?

In Canada, it is a fact that a disproportionate majority of our athletic male youth focus on hockey. Men's hockey counts for 1 podium at the Olympics. We have hundreds of high level male athletes wasting away on buses in the minor pro hockey leagues. We can't very well encourage more youth to hang up their hockey skates for speed skates. What is the total salary earned by our Olympic hockey team in 2009 compared to the sum of all the other sports? I would bet that Sidney Crosby made more money last year than all the other non-hockey Canadian male athletes combined. How many Canadian men withering in the ECHL could have been elite cross country skiers? Yet they can probably earn more money in the ECHL than they could as the world's 15th ranked cross country skier.

If there are 75 skiing medals but only 2 hockey medals, Norway would have a distinct advantage in total medal count despite the Canadian Olympic hockey players earning $100 million more dollars last year than the entire Norwegian Olympic team combined.  The best explanation for the disparity in female to male Canadian Olympic medals is likely a simple equation of higher enrollment rates at the sports more likely to produce a greater number of Olympic medals.

What do you think?

Owning the Podium

Through 13 days of competition with 25 podiums remaining, Canada is now tied for most first place finishes. Ironically enough, this is also tied for the most gold medals Canada has ever won in a Winter Olympics. One more gold and we will set a new record for most playings of our national anthem at an Olympics (1984 Soviet boycott notwithstanding). Does this qualify as choking under pressure? What happened to the days when pressure and fan support provided energy to athletes? What's up with the theory that athletes are going to screw up specifically because there is a lot of fan support?

When the USA jumped out of the gate with several 2nd and 3rd place finishes, I was among the first to suggest that perhaps "owning the podium" should be the most total playings of the national anthem. A few days ago I even joked that our focus for these games should be "if you ain't first, you're last", and a number of Canadian athletes have been propelled by the media reported pressure to finish in first place. Pressure leads to anxiety, which leads to adrenaline. It is a simple equation.

There will be more added to this story in the next few days.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Canadian Women Get-err Done!

Canada is now up to 15 medals won in the Vancouver Games, and 11 of them have been produced by female athletes, with one shared by a male and a female. Our women are out medaling our men 11.5 to 3.5 in an Olympics that is said to have more pressure than any other ever endured by Canadian athletes. Does this then suggest that female athletes respond better to pressure than male athletes? Are our ladies just in better condition than their male counterparts? I can't exactly explain the disparity.

We have already tied our record for most gold medals in a Winter Olympics, with 25 podiums yet to be decided. Of the 25 remaining podiums, 7 are in speed skating, 2 are in hockey, 2 are in curling, 5 are Nordic, 3 are alpine, 4 snowboards or freestyle, 1 figure skating, and the four man bobsled.

Liberal Budgetary Initiatives?

Some of you may have noticed that the Ministry of Finance has been releasing individual initiatives that are to be contained in the upcoming budget. This allows the opposition to consider and respond to each component of the budget, and if it is unacceptable to them the government can make a compromise. This is a healthy way to do business in a minority government. Since elections are a threat in any minority budget vote, it makes perfect sense to procure input from the opposition before tabling the entire legislation. It reduces the risk of a snap election.

What is very interesting is that some of the canaries in the left wing coal mine are furious that information on the budget is being released in small portions before the vote. Kady O'Malley is leading the charge in the angered response to having individual facets negotiated prior to the vote, and she is convinced that this action violates some alleged sacred covenant. Now today she is pimping a phony Twitter account that is intended to satire the Finance Ministry release information about the budget. We don't know who initiated the account, but Kady O'Malley was writing about it within an hour of the site being created (before there was any indication that it was a satire).

Clearly the objective of the site is to take a legitimate budgetary negotiation strategy and make a mockery of it. Will its life extend beyond the small fringe of people who take their cues from Kady? You know somebody is going to start a Facebook Group and then distribute chain mail to sucker all their friends to sign up, and their friends to sign up, etc. Then the CBC will report on a "groundswell" of public anger about pre releasing budget information, and cite the Twitter and Facebook accounts as evidence of a massive shift in public opinion.

I have been too consumed by the Olympics that I have not been watching much CBC Newsworld. I don't know what if anything the Liberal party is saying about the policies that have been released. Have they laid out their terms and conditions for supporting a budget? If their objective is to vote against the budget, then it would be against their interests to release their positions prior to the reading in Parliament. They can't very well make the case for voting against the budget if they have already agreed to its contents. If they don't have to state their opinion in advance, then when the entire budget is unveiled in the legislature they can come out into the hallway and do a dramatic "Mister Harper your time is up" press conference.

So instead of setting out proper terms and conditions for supporting a budget, the left is going to do a satire of the negotiating process. Very professional.

Karzai upset at Cannon?

I saw today where the CBC website was running the headline "Cannon to Karzai: We're not impressed", because apparently Karzai is upset that Canada intends to put pressure on Afghanistan to increase international monitors of their elections. Karzai has passed a new law to limit oversight. Is this supposed to reflect poorly on our Foreign Ministry? We want to put pressure on them to increase electoral oversight as a response to allegations of electoral fraud of Afghan officials, and this somehow paints a negative picture of our government? Isn't this doing the right thing?

I don't always think what's best for Karzai is best for the people of Afghanistan. I was rooting for him to lose the last election. If there is spreading belief that the elections are rigged, people will lose confidence in their fledgling democracy. Putting pressure on their government to increase transparency and oversight is exactly what should be done. To do nothing would be a form of depraved indifference that could erode the long term sustainability of the electoral process in a volatile country.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grizzly Bear Vs Polar Bear

I just saw a report in the Globe and Mail that there have been an increasing number of grizzly bear sightings in polar bear territory near Churchill Manitoba, leading to speculation that these territorial beasts could engage in combat in the wild.  The question is, who do you think would win?  Polar bears average about 300 pounds larger than a grizzly, but the smaller beast has sharper longer claws.  I should ask the question, has there ever been a documented conflict caught on video between these two species?  Personally I think that I have to go with the grizzly.  The polar bear may go 60-40 in Vegas, but I suspect that the grizzly may have a tactical advantage in how it would match up in a typical bear on bear skirmish.  What do you think?

You will also hear political spin on this Globe story that grizzlies are migrating because the world is warming, and these are the "canaries in the coal mines" that David Suzuki likes to hype.  The other theory is that territories are expanding because populations are booming.  Either that or the reports of sightings are themselves bogus.  I do get hits from northern Manitoba.  Are the grizzly bears migrating?

Ignatieff the Terrible

Last night I watched a documentary on the History Channel about the first man ever to name himself "Czar", none other than Ivan the Terrible. Trust me, that sick nut earned his moniker. His widespread use of brutal torture methods was used with his aggressive military to forcibly expand his kingdom. It was a chilling account of the dark under-belly of the Czarist line. The whole time that I was watching it, I couldn't stop thinking about Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff.

Iggy has written books and several papers on his Czarist ancestry, obsessing about his family's great contribution to a terrible reign. It seems odd to brag about a failure, though I suppose Bob Rae does it all the time. I had distant relatives in Germany during both world wars. You don't see me running around the world bragging about how my great uncle shined shoes for Otto Von Bismarck. Actually my great grandparents left Germany while Bismarck was "unifying the Empire", so that might have been a bad example.

But back to Ignatieff and Ivan the Terrible. Watching them outline in detail Ivan's brutal acts of torture to "unify" his empire, I was reminded of a video I watched on a recent visit to the site of my colleague Canadian Sense. Watch and learn. I would be curious to know if any Ignatieff's were employed by Ivan the Terrible?

"Tell me why you like Obama"

The immortal words of Chick Willis from his musical ballad "why you like Obama" where he proclaimed "he'll bring down the oil prices so we all can afford to ride...everybody that has a car out there knows that Barak Obama is a driver's friend!" Oh really? Refusing to drill offshore and taxing carbon is going to reduce oil prices? So when Obama was elected, world crude oil prices were hovering under $50 per barrel. They currently stand at just under $90 per barrel. So the nearly doubling of crude oil prices is a driver's friend? Thank you Chick Willis for your economic forecasting ability.

As a driver, I don't consider Obama to be my friend. Let's inhibit oil production from Canada's oil patch, Canada being the largest supplier of crude to the United States, and that should make it cheaper for Californians to drive to Vegas? Got it. You're wrong, but I get your point. My opposition to the President is not based on colour or religion; but rather my intense academic study of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Although it was before I launched my blog, I proclaimed in the summer of 2008 that I was concerned that Obama was channeling Marx, and nothing that I have seen in the year plus of his reign of power has changed my mind. He is an ideologue, and as the wise philosopher Jim Lahey once said "a shit leopard can't change his spots."

"Bring down the oil prices"? What do you call it when you instead double them? The good news for Canada is that if Obama keeps driving up oil prices, as a net producer, goodbye deficits!

Moir and Virtue, I'm sorry, so sorry...

I watched the entire final round of ice dancing despite my pronunciation that the sport is just a dumping ground for figure skaters who can't land jumps. It was a fantastic performance of considerable difficulty, and I would like to say I'm sorry. I'm still not a fan of ice dancing, but I concede that I should not have written what I did. I watched their winning routine, and yes there was a high degree of difficulty despite the lack of jumping. The jumps are what I like the most about figure skating and I maintain that figure skating is more difficult, but the two of you did a magnificent job and deserved to own that podium tonight.

The Soloman Show today was repeatedly running the caption "Dashed Dreams" when talking about the Olympics, but you know what Evan, I can name a number of Canadian athletes who have lived their dreams. Sure a former drunk may have fallen on his face right before the finals finish line, our alpine skiers have sucked, and our speed skaters keep falling out of contention on the last lap, but there has been a reason to celebrate. We are now only two gold medals behind the USA with the 4 curling and hockey medals yet to be decided. Perhaps you define owning the podium as the most top 3 finishes, or perhaps you define it as most gold bullion?

Monday, February 22, 2010

I won't be cheering for Germany...

I would like to let everyone know that despite my 1/4 German lineage, I will not be cheering for Germany against my motherland of Canada in the ice arena on Tuesday. I will not brag about how my great grandparents had the good sense to get the hell out of Deutschland about 20 years before World War I for the dream of building a new life in the new world. I don't take any solace in Germany's 21 medals at our Olympics, and I don't feel any nostalgia that I share a common ancestry with many of the athletes dominating in Vancouver. The best compliment I can pay to the Deutschland today is that I watched an interview with Katarina Witt, and I still adore her. I also adore Angela Merkel, but not in the same way.

Should Canada defeat the Krauts and advance to the next round against Russia, I will be left wondering where Mike Ignatieff’s loyalties lie. Iggy has an obsessive compulsion with his Czarist ancestry that he "lost" to the Bolsheviks. As he once wrote himself "Between my two pasts, the Canadian and the Russian, I felt I had to choose. I chose the vanished past, the past lost behind the revolution. I could count on my mother’s inheritance: it was always there. It was my father’s past that mattered to me, because it was the one I had to recover, to make my own."  It is a curious obsession considering the massive failure of their governance, and the millions of deaths that Stalinism brought to the northern hemisphere.

So if Canada advances to the next round against Russia, will Iggy count on his mother's inheritance; or will it be his father's past that matters, that he has to make his own? True, he is half Russian and I am only a quarter German, but I am willing to turn a cold shoulder to my proud heritage. Well, am I proud to be 1/4 Kraut? I will at times take credit for their propensity to build top quality manufactured goods, but generally I like to blame all my mistakes in life on my Krautish ancestry. My ancestors chose to leave in pursuit of a better life; they weren't forced to leave because their own incompetence ushered in the Iron Curtain.

I am 3/4 Scottish with some Irish scattered throughout the family tree. There is surprisingly little British in my blood, despite several of my forefathers actively participating in the overthrow of a Catholic King from the British throne once upon a time. Orangemen I believe they’re called. Adam Smith was Scottish, and Karl Marx was German. I am an interesting breed.

"How we almost gave the Tories the boot"

There is a new book being released in Canada by the former NDP campaign manager Brian Topp, outlining how he and Jack Layton nearly overthrew the government. I just finished watching an interview with the author who described how he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after the coup failed; and I am not without empathy. I recall with vivid detail the post traumatic stress that I suffered after the Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated the Detroit Red Wings from the 93 playoffs. I know how it feels to have your dreams crushed.  Though that experience was not nearly as painful as the major depressive episode I experienced when Belinda crossed the floor.  With the help of therapy, I was able to overcome that trauma.

When asked for his opinion on Mr. Ignatieff, the response was that he was consumed with replacing Stephane Dion and was not interesting in overthrowing the government in a legislative coup. He was more interested in overthrowing government "the old fashioned way", while Bob Rae remains a mystery. One statement that the author curiously made was that the Coalition was not intended to get the NDP into power, but rather to "get things done." That's right, get things done by getting into power, or is it getting into power to get things done?

Liberals Declare War on the RCMP

It would appear that the Liberal Party of Canada is continuing its paranoid sharp left turn by escalating their war against our men in uniform. What started as a campaign to accuse our soldiers of war crimes is now being extended to the men and women of the RCMP. Liberal Senators are now demanding a complete overhaul of our "horribly broken" national police force. According to a report released by the once LPC dominated senate national security committee "we believe that because RCMP transformation is so urgently important to Canadians, it would be wrong to delay an examination of what must be done to stimulate the reform process until after Parliament resumes sitting on 3 March, 2010"

Here I was under the impression that our police force is trustworthy and effective and that the only people who believe in its corruption are the very people most likely to break the law. I think Iggy has been listening to too much Ice T. You have to wonder about the wisdom of attacking our cherished institutions and respected men and women in uniform as a political strategy. Do they expect to extract partisan gains at the expense of our police and military? I'm struggling to see the logic in this tactic. Perhaps their fear is that Conservatives are generally accepted to be more trustworthy on law and order and military issues, and that the best way to sour that public opinion is to attempt to erode our nation's trust in the institutions themselves?

Let's be fair, this is not about right and wrong, it is about trying to get back in power.

Ice Dancing: Figure Skaters Who Can't Jump

I applaud the Canadian ice dancing pair for taking over 1st place heading into the final round, but I have to say that I can't stand ice dancing. While I am not a natural figure skating fan, I appreciate the difficulty of throwing your partner spinning into the air and landing the trick. That you can't jump in ice dancing ruins it for me. It is comparable to creating a sport that is basketball, except with the rule that you can't jump. You'd get a bunch of white guys passing the ball around without the excitement of slamming and jamming.

Despite my hockey roots, playing it my entire life and my father playing it professionally, I can watch figure skating. Many of those tricks are breathtaking in their difficulty and I respect the skill required to land them. Ice dancing is just two people screwing with clothes and skates on, without the extreme difficulty of figure skating. I watch a quadruple sow cow in awe. I watch ice dancing and think, these are just the figure skaters who can't land jumps. Why not have ski racing for skiers that can't go fast? Let's have contact and non-contact hockey. Why can't we add bobsled without the running start? Why not take any sport that we love, gut what makes it challenging, and create a new less difficult sport?

To me, that's ice dancing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Canada defeated by the USA

This Olympic hockey is exciting, but nerve wracking. Losing to the United States in the hockey arena stings to be sure, but the tournament is not over. Unlike the war of 1812, we couldn't come out on top. I thought we played a good game, with some isolated mistakes. Ryan Miller played a fantastic game and didn't give an inch. Martin Brodeur was not himself and the coaching staff should be considering making a change for the next game. You had Brodeur trying to be Happy Gilmore on the 2nd goal, Pronger and Boyle doing the "lost boys" on the 3rd goal, then Marty getting beat between the legs again on the 4th goal. Drew Doughty might be the best defenseman on the team, and I am not impressed with Chris Pronger.

To Ryan Kesler and the excessive gang tackle celebration on an empty net goal in the round robin can come back to haunt you, in front of the thousands of Vancouver fans who pay your salary nonetheless! The good news is that Canada gets to play an extra game now, and they need more chemistry. I have been very impressed with the Heatley-Marleau-Thornton line, the only line that really appears to have chemistry.

If you were coach of Team Canada, who would you start for the first elimination game against Germany? Brodeur or Luongo?

Funding Olympic Sports

There have been some magnificent stories during these Winter Games, and it has been exciting watching the scattered successes and Canadian pride on parade every day in Vancouver. I am delighted that we have had the opportunity to host these games, and now I am trying to make up my mind on future federal funding of Olympic sports. I supported the "Own the Podium" campaign because I am a fan of the Winter Olympics and I wanted to increase our probability of winning medals through increased funding. But having watched what our increased spending has yielded on the field of battle, I'm not satisfied, and I am not willing to spend more.

I am trending to the opinion that I think any federal spending on athletics should be at the youth level, aged high school or younger. Building and maintaining facilities for them to compete, ensuring that young people have the opportunity to participate in recreational competition. I think that benefits us as a society. But I'm sorry, the story "26 year old Johnny just wants to ski jump all day every day to pursue his dream of an Olympic medal, but he can't ski jump all day and make enough money to support his lifestyle" it's not pulling at my heart strings anymore. I support spending on youth programs and athletic infrastructure to promote healthy living, but am turning my back on the idea of federally subsidized salaries for adult athletes.

As a consumer and a sports fan I will purchase products endorsed by amateur athletes. I will pay money to attend events or to use various recreational facilities and put money back into the system. But I have become more skeptical of government funding for the adult programs. I will have to investigate further exactly how much money is being spent, and where cuts could be made. To start, I would like to pull any and all funding for our alpine ski program, even if that draws the ire of Nancy Greene. Sorry guys, it's not working out for me. If we are going to knock down Kevin Page's "structural deficit" then we will have to make some difficult choices. Some choices are a lot easier than others.

There once was a time when I believed that we should model the Australian system and spend the money. But now I only want to provide young people with the opportunity to compete, and once you grow up you are not entitled to a career. I'm sure that athletics represents a tiny fraction of our total expenditures and that we won't be saving an enormous sum of money by cutting funding, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single DNF.

And why is it that I am now required to feel empathy when an athlete wipes out? Is it now politically incorrect to say "dude, that sucked"? That ski cross guy today was a spectacular failure. Now we have fallen behind Switzerland and Korea in the medal standings.

Ron Paul Bests Romney and Palin in CPAC Presidential Straw Poll

It would appear that the Libertarian wing of the Conservative Party was out in force at the CPAC conference this week. The final result of the poll for best Presidential candidate was Ron Paul with 31%, Mitt Romney at 22%, and the "populous" Sarah Palin came in a distant 3rd with 7% of the vote. Granted the opportunistic Palin was noticeably absent from the Conservative Political Action Conference, an auspicious absence for someone who is considering a run at the 2012 Presidential ticket. At this point I am almost willing to cede my candidate of choice Rudy Giuliani as Attorney General or a VP running mate. I want Rudy to hunt down and prosecute Bin Laden.

While I like some of what Ron Paul says, I would not endorse him on a Presidential ticket. I would prefer the Mormon Romney over Palin in a heart beat, but I am leaning towards shifting my allegiance to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty for 2012. Obama is setting the table for a Conservative resurgence in 2010 and 2012. Sarah Palin might serve a purpose, but if that is on a Presidential ticket, it is doomed to fail.

Perhaps you are familiar with American Conservative talk show host Michael Savage? This is what Savage said recently about Sarah Palin, it is a good clip.

"I didn't say she's bad, I didn't say her heart is not in the right place, I just know more about the American electorate than you do, and I know more about it than the stupid Republican Party does; and I am telling you that if they make that idiotic mistake of pushing her as their lead candidate, it's over. Obama will get a second term no matter how bad his presidency has been. That's my opinion. It's one man's opinion. It doesn't mean I don't agree with her politically, it doesn't mean I think she's a bad person. She's not electable as President."

Canada Defeats Great Britain!

I would like to take a moment to applaud Mr. Kevin Martin for his marvelous victory over Great Britain this evening. Yes, those same Brits who are hosting the next Olympics and have won a grand total of one medal thus far in Vancouver have been defeated by Canada in the curling arena. Well done Kevin. I would buy a consumer product that you publicly endorsed.

Speaking of sports on ice, am I the only one noticing the high incidence of our speed skaters running out of gas in the final lap? Exactly what kind of training regiment have these athletes been on? They all look good until right at the end when their legs just run out of steam. We have had some success with a gold and a silver, but compared to Torino, this performance pretty much sucks. At this rate, Cindy Klassen will have won more medals at Torino than our entire speed skating team in Vancouver.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Prime Minister arm twisted into Prorogation?

I have been reading reports today that a number of Tory Government insiders (including MPs) have been complaining about the PMO's Chief of Staff, saying that the Prime Minister had to be talked into pausing parliament. While Stephen Harper has never struck me as a politician with a rubber arm, I do trust John Ivison's "anonymous" sources. The complaint being that the man running operations for the PMO is too focused on individual battles that he can't see the entire war.

I am not privy to the internal machinations of the PMO, but I would agree that there were some tactical errors in the Richard Colvin Affair. They should have focused on Colvin statements like "I never saw a prisoner in a cell" instead of attacking him personally. On prorogation, I don't see it as a catastrophic error. I would say that the orchestrated Facebook campaign did have a minor impact; I do not consider it to be a permanent demographic shift. I'm certain that the job of Prime Minister's Chief of Staff is a difficult position that requires and abrasive personality. One needs sharp elbows to survive in that jungle.

I really had no idea who Guy Giorno was until today.  He did this same job in the 2nd term of the Mike Harris administration in Ontario, which cannot be considered a success by any metric.

"If you ain't first, you're last!"

Through one week of the Olympic Games, the United States has 21 medals (9 bronze) to Canada's 8 medals (1 bronze). On the other hand, they have 6 gold medals to our 4. With hockey and curling yet to be decided, we have a significantly higher probability of winning most first place finishes than total medals. The wise philosopher and speed racer Ricky Bobby once said "if you ain't first, you're last!" Even not so Great Britain has now won a single medal!

85% of those polled indicate that they believe the country with the most total medals is the winner of Olympics. I know that many of you are happy with a top 5 finish, and that with our athletics budget being a fraction of that in the United States we should not expect greater performance. I agree and I am proud of our athletes whether they finish first or last, but I am much happier when they finish first. I will confess though that the excessive mitten waving is beginning to wear on my nerves...

It would nice to finish these games with more gold bullion than our southern neighbour, given the obscene price that the commodity has been commanding on the open market in recent years. I once won a gold medal in weightlifting at the Ontario Winter Games, but the medal was not made of real gold. What a rip off. I never asked why Ontario put weightlifting in their Winter Games.

Controlled Insanity

I have spent parts of the last two days watching ski jumping and skeletons, and I really have to ask which of these winter Olympic sport requires the greatest degree of controlled insanity? As I am watching ski jumpers travel 150 meters through the air, what kind of person chooses this for a career? You are never going to make a significant income at this sport. Though I suppose the alternative would be travelling down an ice track face first on a tiny sled at speeds in excess of 150 km/h. I am very proud of Jon Montgomery's performance last night. I watched with excitement as he collected another gold medal for Canada, but I have to say "dude what you do is absolutely crazy!"

Then there is the oft forgotten insanity of being a hockey goaltender. I know advances in equipment has evolved a long way from Johnny Bower blocking shots with his bare face; but it still requires some form of mental defect to want to be a goaltender. Here is a position where people fire a rock hard piece of rubber at you 100 miles an hour and you stand there hoping it hits you.

Then there is the freestyle aerial jumping where people propel themselves five stories into the air and do multiple twists, turns, and flips. I could have added Super G to the list, because when the wipe out it is quite spectacular to behold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Layton giving up on Seniors?

I reported on Thursday that Jack Layton had publicly announced his desire to raise business taxes and reduce employment in order to distribute money to seniors. That was Jack's order of the day. To all those seniors who were excited for a Tory budget deal with the NDP to increase payouts, you will be disappointed to know that the NDP clarified its position today. Only aboriginal and homeless seniors will now qualify for what the NDP is demanding. If you own a home and you want the money, you had best turn over your house to the bank and pop a tent in a public park to get the money.

Jack had a night to think about it. Normally I'd expect him to just promise money to everyone, shifting the burden to commerce. Suffocating commerce decreases employment, and you just can't run around making overly ambitious promises to everyone at the expense of business. That model is not sustainable. When you shift tax burdens to businesses, businesses leave the country. Dalton's Ontario is learning this lesson the hard way.

Soloman Bounced?

All five of us coast to coast to coast who tuned in to watch the Soloman Show today on CBC Newsworld were treated to an amusing reprieve when Evan got bounced for the CTV Olympic feed (complete with CTV commercials and news breaks). At first I did not know what was going on; had he been purposefully bounced, or accidently bounced? As my excitement grew, I logged in to Twitter to get the scoop from Kady O'Malley, which led to the following thread:

kady hey, anyone out there not in ottawa watching newsworld?
about 1 hours ago from TweetDeck

pragmatictory @kady What, are you referring to Soloman getting bounced for the CTV feed? Lang and O'Leary got to play today. Where's E-Solo?
28 minutes ago from web in reply to kady

kady @pragmatictory there seems to be a glitch somewhere up the line -- we're running ctv's feed on cbcnn.
26 minutes ago from TweetDeck in reply to pragmatictory

pragmatictory @kady So Soloman is actually doing a show, but the CBC is airing CTV programming instead? A pleasantly convenient glitch...
22 minutes ago from web in reply to kady

pragmatictory @kady Now I'm watching a blank screen. It is still an improvement on the Soloman Show. This has been an amusing episode...
18 minutes ago from web in reply to kady

kady @pragmatictory now we're airing a "technical difficulties are temporary" notice.
17 minutes ago from TweetDeck in reply to pragmatictory

pragmatictory @kady yes I have been watching this for ten minutes. It has given me a title idea for Evan's biography, "Dead Air: the Evan Soloman Story"
9 minutes ago from web in reply to kady

kady YAY! we're back on air!
8 minutes ago from TweetDeck

kady just in time for bloggerheads, with me and former colleague @aaronwherry at 6:40(ish)!
7 minutes ago from TweetDeck

This was the most that I have ever enjoyed the first hour of the Soloman Show. Eventually the CBC techies put him back on their just in time for "impartial journalist" Terry Milewski to publicly state his belief that the Prime Minister's intent in going to Haiti to announce new spending commitments was him "deliberately using the Armed Forces as props." Isn't there supposed to be an ethical divide between beat reporters and opinion editorialists? The guy breaking the story isn't supposed to be the same guy who draws partisan punch lines, but I suppose on the "Power Panel" Mishloofski really gets to stretch his wings.

Evan continued to do his show even though nobody was watching, which is I suppose par for his average day. But for that exciting 52 minutes that E-Solo was bounced from CBC Newsworld, I had the time of my life! This joy was soon to be crushed by "YAY! we're back on air!" but from this whole episode I did stumble upon the title for the Evan Soloman chapter of my book about CBC...


The Security Council

While I have had a number of complaints about the United Nations in my adult life, I have never argued that it should be disbanded. I do think that there should be a mechanism and infrastructure for international government, but that how it exists in its current form is flawed. Having said that, I think it would be fantastic for Canada to have a seat on the Security Council to inject a little sanity into an insane chamber. More Canadian content in the United Nations can only be a good thing, and by "Canadian content" obviously I'm not talking about Mike Ignatieff. America and Britain are already represented on the Security Council.

To take it a step further, I think Preston Manning should be the President of the United Nations. That would be a far more effective choice than Ban Ki Moon. If we are sitting on the Security Council, would we then have the power to nominate Presto to preside over the general assembly? I doubt it, but a man can dream...

Coalition Targetting Seniors?

I always find it interesting that people are more likely to vote Conservative the older they grow. That the more life you have lived experiencing this planet, the more you understand the right way to vote. All population demographic studies bear this out, I'm sure with various anomalies scattered throughout. Also the older someone is, the more likely they are to show up to vote. It is comforting that the people with the most life experience are the ones who vote in greatest number, and that they are most likely to vote Tory.

You can start to see the unveiling of some key Coalition strategies for the upcoming session of Parliament. One of them would appear to be attempting to scare seniors into believing that their pension is in jeopardy. It started with a statement by Stockwell Day saying that the government intended to reduce spending to reduce the deficit. The CBC then ran with the story that the Minister "failed to address" concerns of public sector unions that their pensions may not be honoured. First, it is unlikely that the government can legally renege on pre-existing contracts; meaning the CBC was pissed off at the Minister for not saying that he would not do something illegal!

But then enters Jack Layton, the hopeful future Minister of Finance extrapolating the CBC non story on the CBC network to expand to all Canadian seniors. Jack suggested that all pensions in the entire country were in jeopardy because Stockwell Day did not state that he would not do something likely illegal. So where do you expect Coalition forces to focus their attention when parliament resumes. The NDP and the CBC fired off the first tracer fire based on a non statement (as with the foreign abortion assertion), to try and incite fear among women and old people that they are under attack.

We now have Team Iggy back pedaling on the funding of foreign abortions issue, and now we need to make the point to seniors that their pensions are not under attack despite what Jack Layton is saying. Trust me, the NDP's legislative agenda is not conducive to job creation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We won't beat the United States

I think after today it is pretty much official, the probability of us overtaking the United States in total medal count is essentially gone. How do we define own the podium, most total medals or most gold medals? We still have a shot at most gold, but I am willing to cede total combined alloys at this point. To do otherwise would require us winning more medals at a faster rate, and the United States getting a lot of bad luck.

But win or lose, I am proud at the competitive spirit of our athletes, and I am proud of how our country has embraced our Canadian Heritage as we've hosted the world. It has been a unique experience to be here in Vancouver to witness the excitement first hand. I think Mr. Ignatieff might have made a mistake by leaving. Sadly for him, the bulk of the world's media are on the left coast, not in Ottawa.

So who by your defintion wins the Olympics, most top 3 finishes, most first place finishes?

The "Demographic Time-bomb"

Be afraid people, be very afraid. We need to increase taxes on businesses immediately or 70 years from now we will be in great peril! I just finished watching an interview with Kevin Page on the Soloman Show, and once again he is advocating raising taxes. This time the impetus for raising taxes is our aging population demographic, and it is correct that at some point in the future we are going to have a large increase in the number of people living on pensions with a shrinking work force (offset by immigration).

I don't disagree that this is something that we have to focus on in the medium term. Neither Evan of Kevin mentioned the Canada Pension Plan adding 128 billion dollars in equity value over the last 3 quarters. Neither discussed ways to trim the budgets of government ministries. No the focus was on raising taxes for businesses. Page said that for each 1% we lower business tax, we lose 1 billion dollars in annual tax revenue, and that the Tories have dropped the business rate from 20% to 15%.

The contradiction comes where he admits that cutting tax rates to businesses attracts more business to our country and that jobs are added to the economy as a direct result of government taking less money from business. He admits that cutting taxes adds jobs at the same time that he is demanding that we raise taxes. Obviously adding to the tax burden on business is going to have a negative effect on employment, but we must do it anyway in the interest of long term stability? How come it always seems to be bureaucrats demanding higher taxes instead of spending cuts, elected or otherwise?

Eventually we are going to have to start putting more money away to the CPP, but as it exists right now we are in much better shape than a lot of western countries with similar population demographics. The United States is in a lot bigger trouble than we are. Again Kevin Page is making long term GDP forecasts which is a virtually unpredictable statistics given how much of our GDP depends on global resource prices which fluctuate independently of our structured system.

Layton and Harper meet: A Bold Prediction

As the Prime Minister and the leader of the NDP are meeting today to discuss terms on the upcoming budget, I would like to make a "bold" prediction. I do not think there will be an agreement on the budget between the two leaders. I watched an interview with Jack Layton just yesterday, I recently read the NDP's complete policy platform (at least those that passed the focus groups for online publication) and I do not see any "zone of agreement" that I would be even moderately comfortable with.

I have a strong suspicion that Jack and Iggy have already reached a deal on a treaty or armistice, and that it is possible the two have already agreed to vote against the upcoming budget. What the xenophobic Gilles Duceppe will do, nobody can know for sure. Soloman asked Layton what he would need to support the government and Jack wanted to raise taxes. We will see what happens, but I am expecting a lot of fireworks when parliament resumes. Even more reason to be thankful that they are not in session right now. God only knows what the British press would be saying right now if we had the opposition on television threatening to collapse the Government...

Day 6 Wrap-up: Canada 6, Russia 3, Britain 0

I would like to remind everyone in the international media gallery that another day of Olympic games has passed us by, and Canada has accumulated another medal. The Brits are still waiting for their first. I can see where Ignatieff was so distraught with the Games that he had to leave, his precious mother Russia is off to a slow start with a paltry 3 medals. Although the probability of the United States owning the podium is growing daily, we still have twice as many medals as the next two Olympic host countries combined. I just wanted to point that out, with curling and hockey yet to come.

Today was a beautiful day in Vancouver, and it is even chilly outside. If we are to have any chance remaining at owning our podium, our athletes on alpine skis and speed skates need to start acquiring more metal. And even if they don't, I applaud their dedication to their cause.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mentally ill man infatuated with Joe Biden

I would like to know who was in charge of Joe Biden's security at the Opening Ceremonies, where an obsessed Biden fan got to within 12 paces of Joe before being stopped and apprehended by two RCMP officers. Any screeners who let the man through with false credentials should be dismissed from security screening for the remainder of the Games. The two RCMP officers should be applauded for correctly recognizing the obsessed fan and keeping him away from Joe Biden. The mentally ill are drawn to Joe Biden and Barak Obama like magnets, and we should have been prepared for this contingency!"

The man will not be charged.  He has already been sent back to the psychiatric hospital with the rest of the obsessed Biden fans.

Stockwell Spooks the CBC

Having visited the CBC website today, I couldn't help but notice that some of the opinionists over at our public broadcaster are spooked about Stockwell Day reducing government spending in the near future. They are stirring up concerns among public sector unions that Stock may attempt to shave pensions for unionized public employees. Lest we forget, in March 2005, the Corporation had about 9,700 full-time employees, and of those 90% is unionized. The CBC receives 2/3 of its funding from parliamentary appropriations. The CBC's two largest production facilities are in Toronto and Montreal. You can start to see a conflict of interest emerging.  The most absurd part of the story is that Stock didn't say he was going to cut public pensions, he just "failed to address" public pensions.  So they are making a story out of something that was not included in the Minister's speech.

Do you think that when they report "public sector workers were left worrying about the fate of their pensions after Treasury Board president Stockwell Day stressed Ottawa's commitment to bring the deficit under control Wednesday" that they would mention their own status as a largely unionized public entity with a potential conflict of interest? Not at all. Instead they are trying to rally support for their stake holder's position. They used to following statement by Stockwell Day to suggest that he will be cutting programs "just as Canadians have made significant sacrifices to maintain their own finances they expect their government to do the same...Debt reduction is a pathway that we need to be moving along."

And of course what do you think was the lead story on the Soloman Show?  Public pensions, with special guest Jack Layton.  Of course Jack is trying to spin this on all pensioners, drawing all sorts of fantastical conclusions based on statements that were never made.  Jack is really trying to sell that everyone who is on or will ever collect a pension will have all their money ripped away by oil companies.  I'm waiting for Jack to drop a Bush reference...wait for it...wait for it...boom!

The idea that we can't cut spending to government institutions that spend way too much money is ludicrous.  I once ran a poll on this issue, and the vote was a tight one:

How would you prefer to reduce the deficit?

Cut spending (95%)
Raise taxes (5%)

Ignatieff Goes Home

It would appear that quickly after Tory bloggers started commenting on Ignatieff gallivanting around Vancouver (after extensive bloviating on the need of MPs to be in Ottawa); he packed his bags and went home. I had to ask him on Twitter "Sorry Mike, when you say you've arrived at home, do you mean Ottawa or Boston? I can never tell." Sure enough as soon as he is back "home" Kady O'Malley is live blogging from the foyer of the Commons "mittens off, back to work!" Convenient. The difference between this and ghosts of PR stunts past, is that nobody is paying attention (except O'Malley) because the rest of the country is watching the Olympics.

The Opening Ceremonies was the most watched television event in the history of our country, but nothing from Kady. She spends most of her free time tweeting about episodes of Lost, and would appear to habour some deep scorn for the Olympics. Granted the theme of reporting negative stories about the Games may be a directive passed down the Corporation's chain of command from the high and mighty CBC Board of Directors. Like Goering before her, Kady may just be following orders.

Though this much is clear, perhaps you should have stayed in Vancouver Mike? That's where the country's attention is focused. I know you were spooked about the hypocrisy of being in Vancouver when you said MPs should be in Ottawa, but the handler who told you to attend the Olympics was on to something. Nobody is watching your little foyer PR stunts (not even CBC Newsworld), with the noted exception of Kady O'Malley who would "live blog" paint drying at the Ignatieff house if she were invited.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

British Olympic Envy

Do you think it is a coincidence that virtually every British media entity operating in Vancouver right now joined together to insult our Olympic Games in virtual harmony? Did they meet at a pub somewhere to discuss their collective crapping on Canada's Games? I'm sure it is no coincidence that the Brits have yet to win a medal (to our 5), they are the next host country, and our former colonial overlords. There are words for that in the English language, envy mixed with pride. Instead of talking about the lack of British success, they are talking about Canada being the worst Olympics ever?

Meanwhile they ignore the story about how Canadians and other spectators are loving the Vancouver experience. They ignore how welcoming we have been to our foreign guests, and how Canadians have embraced the Olympic spirit. Instead, they focus on the bad weather. Perhaps Cypress was not the best venue selection, but the venue has yielded 2 golds and 2 silver medals for Canada through 4 days of competition. How bad can it be? I feel bad for the people who had their tickets reneged because of melting, but we exert no power over Mother Nature. In fact, you could say that the people at Cypress have done a magnificent job considering the obstacles that Mother Nature has thrown at them.

So to the British media I say grow up. I know that you are trying to lower expectation for the 2012 London Games and cover for the Brits poor performance out of the gate in Van City. I understand that you feel contempt for your former colony outperforming the best that limey athletics have to offer. Maybe you want to wait until after day 5 to proclaim these Games a failure? And be prepared, because if you want to crap on us, we will be watching your Olympics in two years with eager anticipation...

Alpine Cross

I would like to officially request the creation of a new Olympic sport. Snowboard cross is fast becoming one of my favourite Olympic spectacles watching four racers speed down the same course at the same time. It adds an exciting new element to the speed racing component. I would like to take it further and have alpine skiers (on modified courses) going down the same slope simultaneously. I'm sure you could find lots of skiers who would love to compete in such an event. And I'm not talking about racing down side by side tracks; I'm demanding multiple skiers on the same track.

That would be exciting, wouldn't it?  Or am I just crazy?

What can't O'Malley complain about?

If you would like to view a barometer into how well the government is performing right now, you need only look at the straws being grasped at by Xena Liberal Princess Kady O'Malley. To her credit, she did not complain about the Prime Minister's visit to Haiti. She even managed to report on the story without taking any partisan jabs. And while she made no mention about Liberal MPs in Vancouver, she did ask "so, which ministers are still out in Vancouver on official government business?"

So what else is Kady complaining about today?

1) She seems irked that Jim Flaherty has addressed the rumoured 2nd housing bubble in Canada. I'm not sure if she is aware that several of her more financially inclined colleagues like Amanda Lang have been warning about a dangerous 2nd housing bubble forming. There is the belief among some that housing prices have rebounded too quickly and we must devise a way to slow the growth. Kady thinks we should sit back and wait for the bubble to pop, I suppose.

To Kady: "Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took time away from the always exhausting budget assembly process to reveal new measures designed to "discourage reckless real estate speculation," which ... actually, now that I think about it, sounds more like something that would be announced in the aforementioned budget, and not as a stand-alone policy tweak two weeks earlier, but perhaps the minister was just so anxious to protect unwitting Canadians from the heartbreak of house-flipping-induced financial tragedy that he couldn't wait"

2) Evidently the Brits think this is the worst Olympics ever, and Kady wants you to know that they think that. Obviously the weather has been poor, but other than that the people partying in Vancouver right now are loving every minute of it. I guess it bothers her that people are enjoying this while there is a Conservative government in power. And London, I'll remember this in 2012...

3) She applauds the Ignatieff office staff for writing an open letter to the Prime Minister. Honestly there wasn't much to write about. She did not seem the least bit interested in Iggy's Vancouver tour, instead she wrote "on the opposition front, there doesn't appear to be much on the agenda for the other federal leaders" and that's about all she had on the opposition.

4) She "cringed typing" that Peter Van Loan was set to host a roundtable discussion about the fantastic performance of our banking system relative to the rest of the world. That's okay, I often cringe reading her work.

Prime Minister in Haiti

It was nice to see that while Ignatieff is enjoying his Olympic vacation, the Prime Minister is in Haiti speaking with their President about building a new Haitian government compound which would allow them to provide basic services to their population. It is about priorities. I would like to know exactly when Iggy acquired these Olympic tickets (given the bloviating he's been doing about the importance of our MPs being in Ottawa right now), but somehow I suspect that information would not be available in an Access to Information request.

With all the media focus on the Olympics, hopefully this story about Stephen Harper rebuilding the Haitian government is not lost. I don't expect Kady O'Malley to applaud the PMO for doing the right thing while Iggy is trolling for cheap photo ops. I would just like the Canadian people to know that their government is not on vacation like Iggy, they are actually out there on the ground trying to rebuild a fragile nation after a terrible disaster.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is this the end of the Liberal Shadow Parliament?

Bumping into Mike Ignatieff seems to be a common occurrence at the Vancouver Olympics while he has also been live blogging his escapades to several different venues. Here I was under the impression that it was vitally important for MPs to be back in Ottawa and that he was leading his Liberal Party in a Shadow Parliament to continue the important work of the legislature? What is he doing running around Vancouver? According to his own words, all MPs should be in Ottawa. Why then is he not in Ottawa?

I am trying to confirm that the Shadow Parliament has been cancelled, but that information is not readily available. I went to the Liberal website and all they seem to be talking about is what Iggy is up to in Vancouver. The CBC has stopped talking about the Liberals in lieu of the Olympics, only the Globe and Mail is continuing partisan attacks but I don't see anything there about what the Liberals will be up to this week. How many Liberal MPs are in Vancouver right now? Can we get an official head count?

Ignatieff Photo-Ops

Two days ago on Twitter, Mike Ignatieff was bragging that he met Canadian Olympic men's curler Kevin Martin at a speed skating event. He was nice enough to post a picture of his mingling with Canadian athletes. What's funny is if you look at the picture, it would appear as though Iggy is trying to scurry past the athletes who appear happy to see him. I was under the impression that it was imperative that all our parliamentarians should be back in Ottawa? So what are you doing in Vancouver Mikey? Have you cancelled your Capitol Hill workshops?  I guess your Ottawa PR stunt is not worth your time when our national media is focused on the Olympics.

Soon after he rushed past Team Martin, someone on Team Iggy posts the best picture they had of the greeting and bragged about his meet and greet. Instead of a picture standing beside Kevin Martin, or even shaking hands and smiling at the camera; what you get is a photo of Iggy's backside as he hurries past into the event. Really guys, that's the best picture you had? Did he ever even take his hands out of his pockets? It is well above freezing in Vancouver right now. This is a very amateur operation he's running. "Hey Mike, stop walking, shake his hand, and smile for the camera. He is one of our favourites to win a gold medal."

Nope...instead we get...

Managing Expectations

I have heard a lot of rumblings and grumblings that we have set our expectations too high with "own the podium" and that our athletes are going to crumble under the pressure. It sure didn't stop Alexandre the Great, but nonetheless a lot of Canadians think that we are putting too much pressure on our athletes to win. Czeck hockey player Patrick Elias has even gone so far as to say that he does not think the hometown crowd will help the Canadian hockey team, and might even be a detriment.

I listen to these voices on the radio shows, and I think it is a little odd. Most of the athletes I have seen look overjoyed to compete in front of thousands of adoring fans; as though the cheers are transferred into energy. In the men's moguls it certainly appeared as though the crowd had a greater impact on Team America, as two skiers with high expectations crashed and burned in their final runs and failed to even register a score. I think that our enthusiasm is helping our athletes, not hindering them. It makes me wonder who are the voices on the other end of the phone calling talk radio saying that our ambition will be our ultimate destruction?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mr VANOC, Tear Down That Fence!

Allow me to take a moment to register a complaint about a current VANOC policy of putting a chain link fence around the external Olympic cauldron. I'm sure you had a reason for doing it, but we have thousands of visitors who would like to have their picture taken directly in front of this iconic landmark. You are welcomed to assign additional security to the venue, but we should allow all these people to experience it. So I am going to paraphrase the late great Ronald Reagan and say, VANOC, tear down that fence!

Green Goons

After 16 years of taking thousands of bare knuckle punches to the head, Georges Laraque has seen the light and will become a "celebrity" spokesgoon for the Green Party of Canada. The brilliant Rhode scholar has proclaimed "We're destroying the environment now and we have to make a change. To make a change you need public personalities to talk about it, to educate people. And I'm going to be one of them."

George is not just a Green activist, he is a vegan and an animal rights activist who feels he needs to educate people about the murderous harm of eating dead animals or byproducts like eggs and milk. Thanks George. I love eating dead animals, and I doubt the world is coming to an end because I enjoy eating eggs and drinking milk. Did I mention that I also love cheese? In the world according to Curious Georges "for me, when you talk about everything I do for the animals, it's also about the environment."

For as much as I have enjoyed watching Georges punch people in the face for his long NHL career, I will stop short of entertaining his views on the politics and the planet. We don't need you to enlighten us Georges. Most people are intelligent enough to make up their own minds without the guidance of a goon with an I.Q south of 85. Just because they suckered an idiot like you Georges into their cause that does not mean that all Canadians need to go Green.

May your political career be as fruitful as your music career...

The Year of the Tiger

Happy Chinese New Year! Tis the year of the Tiger, ironically enough, as we look ahead to what is sure to be a compelling PGA season. "Show 'em you're a Tiger, show 'em what you can do! The taste of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, brings out the Tiger in you!" It is a strange coincidence that the year of the Tiger is being celebrated by the Chinese the same year that millions, if not billions of eye balls across the planet will be closely watching the most famous Tiger of them all...

Jamaican Bobsled Team

"People you know they can't believe, Jamaica we have a bobsled team!"

- Cool Runnings.

One of my all-time favourite Olympic movies is Cool Runnings with John Candy. Although the team was a media darling at the Calgary Olympics, they have since faded into memory. You will all be pleased to know that the Jamaican bobsled team still exists, they have just failed to qualify for the last two Winter Olympics.

The logic is sound. Jamaica produces many of the world's fastest sprinters, and speed at the start is an enormous advantage in the sport of bobsled. In theory this is the one Winter Olympic sport that Jamaica should thrive at. John Candy was on to something, and yet despite 20+ years of trying they have yet to translate their speed advantage into Olympic success. While perhaps we cannot cheer for the Jamaican bobsled team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, we can still ask the question, what is your favourite Olympic themed movie of all time?

I voted for Cool Runnings, but I am also a big fan of the film Without Limits about Steve Prefontaine. There were two movies made around the same time about the same athlete, but the one starring Billy Crudup and Donald Sutherland was unquestionably the better of the two films.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Smashing Windows

I was unaware that vandalizing public property was an effective means of gaining support for your political beliefs. What have I been missing? Here I was under the mistaken impression that the best way to spread your message among the populace is to publish your opinion into the public sphere and allow people to read it, think about it, and develop their own opinion. That all you need to make are salient points of thought about your beliefs and if you can do it effectively then you will be able to increase the total sum of support from your fellow citizens.

But no, evidently what I should have been doing all along to make people more receptive to my beliefs is dressing up like a ninja and smashing windows downtown. For example I strongly believe that we should elect our Senators and then give them a full veto over the lower house instead of just a filibuster. What a fool I've been trying to spread support for my beliefs by starting an opinion website and encouraging peaceful debate on the issue! I should have been out throwing marbles at the feet of the horses of RCMP officers in an attempt to injure both the officer and animal. And if you didn't catch the sarcasm there, obviously those actions are deplorable and should be strictly punished by law enforcement.

The greatest irony in this morning's vandalism is that it is being undertaken by the anarchy division of the anti-Olympic movement. They would like us to disband our government, military, and civil service and live without the rule of law. Meanwhile they are out there convincing regular citizens that the police are even MORE necessary than before they started going bananas on a window. It is in fact counter productive to increase public belief in the necessity of law enforcement when your object is to disband it.

All the ninja's running around town smashing windows should be detained, put on an airplane, and dropped into Somalia. If you want anarchy, there it is in all its glory. You should perhaps experience a lawless society for a year before you start preaching your desire for it to others. How long do you think any of these misguided youths would spend in Mogadishu before E.T phones home crying to mom and dad "please get me out of here"?

"Ignorance is bliss when it is folly to be wise"

-Jim Lahey, Trailer Park Supervisor

Wayne Gretzky Starts the Fire!

Like many Canadians I was waiting with anticipation to see who would be final torch bearer. After watching a brilliant show for the Opening Ceremonies, finally it was time. To me, it had to be Wayne. I don't know if there has ever been a more celebrated athlete in the history of our country, and he is the all-time greatest player at our country's most celebrated game.

At the moment the torch entered the stadium floor, I saw the man in motion Rick Hansen. I could not get upset at the selection of Rick, a man that I have tremendous respect for. He wheeled into the stadium, but then passed the flame on to Katrina Lemay Down. I was thinking "okay, I like and respect her accomplishments, but over Wayne?" Then she passed the flame to Steve Nash and I thought "no. Great athlete, but he abandoned the Canadian basketball team in the Beijing qualifying." Then he passed the flame to Nancy Green and I thought "she is amazing, and though I'd prefer it be Wayne, I can't complain about Nancy."

But when Nancy passed the flame on to Wayne, I was extremely excited! After a brief delay in the hydraulics, they all lit the interior flame, but it was Wayne who made the final trek to the waterfront to light the main cauldron. It was borderline magical to see Wayne travel through downtown Vancouver in the pouring rain carrying the Olympic flame. I kind of wish that I had stayed downtown for that moment, but the weather was foul and I wanted to watch the Ceremonies on my TV in my living room.

Then after the Ceremonies, Bill Simmons at ESPN Tweets about what a catastrophe the event was because there was a 4 minute delay raising the internal cauldron. I am normally a fan of Simmons, but he arrogantly rated the "catastrophe" as 96 out of 100. Then he posted an old article of his about how he hates the Winter Olympics, it is a joke, etc. So I opened I-Tunes, clicked on the BS Report, and clicked "unsubscribe". He won't be watching, he wants to make a public statement about it, so I will no longer be listening. It is a shame, because that was one of my favourite podcasts. I will also be boycotting his sponsor, Subway sandwiches. Mr. Sub is my new preferred sandwich destination!

Canada Pension Plan

To all those nervous pensioners in Canada concerned about the ability of the CPP to make those deposits in your bank account, you will be pleased to know that CPP holdings increased by $123.8 billion in the fourth quarter from the 2nd quarter of 2009. Will the government get any credit for this massive increase in CPP assets? It was barely mentioned on CBC Newsworld Thursday, as they were too busy reporting on a dead fashion designer to discuss our booming pension plan!

But I suppose that's par for the course. The CBC prefers to downplay all the great news about our economic recovery while hyper-analyzing the Liberal controversy du jour with a fine tooth comb. Do most Canadians even realize how good we are doing relative to the rest of the industrialized world? Judging by what our broadcasters pass off as news, I am going to guess not so much. Maybe bad news sells better than good news? If there is a state of catastrophe, people's survival mechanism kicks in and they pay closer attention. Good news is no cause for alarm.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dangerous Speeds

Anyone who has seen the horrific footage of the fatal luge crash Friday in Whistler has to be concerned about the safety of the athletes competing on that course. This is the steepest and thus fastest course ever built, and the competitors have been reaching dangerous speeds well before the incident today. Whoever engineered the course was stupid to put giant steel columns coming out of the dangerous final turn, and that an athlete was killed smashing into one before the Games even officially opened should raise alarm bells.

They are yet to determine the best course of action, other than to perform some kind of magic trick on the ice and put up a padded wall where the athlete was killed. But if the CSI team determines that the track is not safe for competition, the only options are to cancel the sledding events, or relocate them to the track in Calgary. It is beyond my expertise to suggest a best course of action, but there are serious concerns about the ability of these athletes to handle speeds in excess of 140 kmh. I never go that fast in my car, much less on a tiny sled with no seatbelt, air bag, or protection of any kind.

Perhaps this is the risk you assume when you decide that you want to luge for a career. Same with ski jump. You have to agree that you can be seriously injured when you sign the permission slip. My question to you is, if the course is too fast, should the sledding competitors be relocated to Calgary?


I was unaware that "CANADA IS ILLEGAL", but hey I guess you learn something new every day from commercially produced protest signs. After listening to reports on the radio that once again "thousands of protestors" were blocking traffic in downtown in preparation for the Opening Ceremonies, I decided to go to the Art Gallery to check it out for myself. When I got off the bus, I saw thousands of people, the large majority of them dressed up in Canada gear laughing at maybe 200 clowns. The clowns were jammed up against the front steps of the Art Gallery, surrounded by sports fans and patriots who were cheering for Canada.

There was one chick screaming like a banshee into a megaphone, but despite getting maybe 15 yards away I could not make out a single word she was saying.  Most of the people around me were laughing at the idiocy of the slogans, like "END CORPORATE RULE!" or "BUILD ME A FREE HOUSE!" or "STOP PLAYING GAMES WITH BOTTLED WATER!" or "DON'T MAKE ME GET A JOB!"  At one point I thought I even saw a gathering of the International Union of Ninjas run by dressed all in black with their faces covered.  Some other goofs decided to dress up as trees and dance around on little stages with glazed over faces like they had dropped one too many hits of acid.  There were so few actual protestors that I decided to take a walk down to Victory Square where the Prorogie Day protests eventually ended up.  I had heard reports of more protestors at that location.


I walked up to BC Place, and while the anti-globalization protestors were few and far between, there were some Jesus Saves signs.  Again the overwhelming majority of the people downtown this evening were fans of Canada, fans of the Olympics, who were there to either attend the Opening Ceremonies or just to enjoy the ambiance.  When I got home, CBC was focusing largely on the protests, with reported numbers of protestors ranging from a few hundred to several thousand.  But again, everywhere you looked there were excited faces and Canadian shirts and jerseys.


At the end of the day what I learned is that the media is unable to distinguish between people who are actually protesting and normal pedestrians slowing down to stare at the car wreck. People watching the protestors with condescending laughter were confused for protestors. Streets that were planned to be blocked months in advance for the 40,000 or so planning to be in attendance at the Opening Ceremonies were confused with blockages for protestors. The reports in the media certainly did not match the reality on the ground, but I was hardly upset. Infact I couldn't stop laughing.