Instapundit Said It Best ...

John Kerry: The Gift That Keeps on Giving ... to the Republicans.

But seriously: I didn't know Karl Rove was dressing up as Kerry for Halloween.

More later.

It Never Ends ...

First, YouTube, now this.

I have no idea whether Google actually makes money. But in terms of its expansion alone, we may as well hand over the deed to the world-at-large now, because Google's going to end up owning it anyway. Good on them, especially if they are somehow turning a profit, which hasn't exactly been a common trend amongst internet outfits.

More later.


Bad Blogging News

This was not a good way for me to greet a Monday morning.

The Carbuncle was on my list of "Blogs I Often If Not Always Check Out"* . It will be missed, by me and, I strongly suspect, by many others.

While I was on my last hiatus, one of the best damn blogs in the business shut down. Now the Carbuncle is leaving the scene. Not happy news. If you get a chance, check out OC before it's taken down.

(*note to self: I need to come up with better names for my lists ...)

More later.


If At First You Don't Succeed ...

I guess this showed the McGuinty crew that Sandra Pupatello wasn't cutting the mustard on the "slash-and-burn-campaign" file.

As a result, I can only assume Premier McG et al decided that it was time to bring in the big guns.

More later.


Jack Layton, Call Your Office ...

... 'Cos one of those relatively small number of NDP leaders who actually know something about winning elections is up to something interesting.

Anyone know if an election is in the offing in SK sooner than the fall of '07?

More later.

And You Thought By-Elections Were Boring ...

Well, here's someone who could certainly be described as an interesting candidate.

Meanwhile, it looks like Iggy's former Toronto chair has found a new home. You can't read too much into this, but I have to wonder how excited Ontario Libs are at the thought of being led by Bob Rae, since that seems to be at least a strong possibility right around now.

More later.


Southern View

My focus is usually on Canadian politics (federal & provincial), but every now and then I look elsewhere, especially south of the border.

The American mid-term elections have the potential for some dramatic shifts in power between the Democrats and the Republicans, especially when it comes to the House of Representatives. My friend Adam Daifallah, who has (amongst his other accomplishments) worked as a Washington DC-based reporter for the New York Sun, has been blogging about the campaign lately.

Pete DuPont has written an interesting article about what could happen if the Demo's do in fact take control of the House and/or the Senate. The article's sub-heading, "Republicans deserve to lose, but what happens if Democrats win", pretty much gives you an idea of where he's coming from. Check out the article (free registration may be required), but here's a "money quote":

Most Americans have not yet thought much about [the Democrats'] agenda, or the leaders who will set it. But they are tired of the Republican congressional performance. ...

No wonder: Republicans gave line-item veto power to the Democratic president in the 1990s, but refused to give it to the current Republican president. They haven't made the Bush tax cuts permanent. They wouldn't bring individual ownership of Social Security retirement accounts to a vote. They haven't done anything on health care. And they have raised federal spending by $750 billion since 2001 and for fiscal 2006 approved 10,000 earmarks costing $29 billion. Conservative principles seem to have faded away, and ethical principles have weakened--names like DeLay, Ney and Foley make the point. ...

In politics as in other jobs, there is a price to pay for poor performance.

Pierre "Pete" DuPont is an interesting guy, in that his ideas from when he was actively in politics now appear to have been ahead of their time. He was a US Congressman, and served a couple of terms as Governor of Delaware. He ran a long-shot campaign for the Republican nomination in '88, losing to GHWB. Back then, his ideas for the reform of Social Security and the welfare system were seen as way outside the mainstream; now, they have either been adopted in one form or another, and not always by Republicans (eg. Clinton's welfare-reform policies) or at the very least, are seen as debatable proposals in US mainstream political discussion (eg. Social Security).

Anyway, he makes a point that has been tumbling around in my thoughts, and in the thoughts of a number of conservatives in the USA, Canada and elsewhere: We aren't thrilled about the thought of the Demo's taking over all or part of Congress, but the Repub's are really acting like they need a timeout in the worst way.

Food for thought, as we get closer to the mid-terms over the next couple of weeks.

More later.

Fix the Date, Fix the Problem

The Prime Minister has called by-elections for two Montreal and London area ridings. They are to be held on November 27 '06.

As you may have heard, the Liberals are up in arms about this, because November 27 is when the LPC's leadership convention opens.

Of course, as Don Martin points out in his column in today's National Post, the Libs are the last ones who should be complaining about this sort of thing. Not only did they call a general election shortly after Stockwell Day became leader of the CA, and shortly after he and Joe Clark (then-PC leader) were elected to the House of Commons; the Libs had no problem in scheduling a by-election during the Progressive Conservative Party's 2003 leadership race.

So, it's a little rich for Steve MacKinnon, the Libs' Executive Director, to call this "cynical". Steve, you guys wrote the book on this sort of thing.

But rather than go back-and-forth over this issue, or the issue of whether one or more of Michael Fortier, Bob Rae, Gerard Kennedy or Martha H-F should be running in one of the open seats - all of which are good questions to ask - I'm going to suggest something that will keep Steve's stomach from getting upset the next time there's a vacancy in the House of Commons.

Legislation has been introduced at the federal level to provide for fixed general election dates. If the Libs truly want to avoid the sort of situation that is now giving them the vapours, here's how: Support the current bill, but either propose an amendment to it, or introduce legislation on your own, that will specify when a by-election is to be held. (Right now, the legislation only says the by-election has to be called within a certain time - as the current situation shows, that still leaves a lot of leeway to the PM.)

For instance, you could say that the by-election has to be held within 90 days of the seat becoming vacant, or on the next Tuesday after the 90th day. It would be easy to add a provision saying that if that day was a holiday, the election would be postponed by a week or two. That will take the guess-work out of when a by-election will be held, and put everyone on the same footing.

Granted, proposing solutions isn't as much fun as complaining when the other guy does the exact same thing you used to do (and yes, that applies to both sides of the centre aisle of the H of C). But I'm sure Steve and the other Liberals complaining about the November 27 date can find time to do both.

More later.


It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Them Back

So the LPC-Quebec has decided that the best way to recapture ground lost to both the BQ and the Conservatives over the past couple of years is ... more constitutional shenanigans. In particular, the call is out to recognise Quebec as a "nation" in the Constitution.

Some brief observations:

1. That rumbling you heard over the weeked was Pierre Trudeau doing a full-gainer in his grave.

2. Back in those long-ago days when I was just a young PCYFer, I fully supported both Meech and Charlottetown, and their calls for recognition of Quebec as a distinct society. I doubt that even the youngest of readers will need me to tell them that those campaigns didn't work out so well. But back then, I was gung-ho for it. I wasn't enthused with the idea of giving Quebec more powers per se, but I figured Quebec had a distinctive linguistic, cultural and legal tradition, and it made sense to enshrine recognition of same in the Constitution.

Guess what? That recognition was never enshrined, and yet, Quebec still has a distinctive linguistic, cultural and legal tradition.

The moral of the story: you don't always need special mention in the Constitution to keep what you have.

3. What's interesting is that even some of the non-IggyNation Liberals are not simply closing the door to this Venus flytrap of an idea. For instance, we have Bob Rae: Demonstrating the strategic smarts that led to his triumphant '95 re-election campaign, M. Rae has suggested that he could be persuaded to support the idea of Quebec being a "nation"... as long as it doesn't mean anything in practical terms. After all, says Rae, Canada's chock-a-block with nations. That sort of thing didn't exactly give pause to Lucien Bouchard in the '90s, and it's not going to solve too many problems now.

What I've learned, as my thinking evolved from the days when I went door-to-door during the '92 referendum campaign (and there are some good stories from that experience that I should share sometime) to now, is that when you start screwing around with the Constitution simply to send a "symbolic" message, you open Pandora's Box. Bob Rae, who was burned as much as any premier by the Charlottetown campaign, and who is not exactly lacking in the brains department, should have figured that out, and indeed, he also used the "Pandora's Box" analogy as a way of beating on Ignatieff - without promising to nail that damn box's lid shut.

4. Finally, the reason for the title of this post: At least some Libs seem to think this will outflank Harper in Quebec. The thinking seems to be that since Harper has promised to fix the "fiscal imbalance", the Libs need something even better to top him - so let's get out the Crayolas and go to work on the Constitution.

But here's the thing: Harper's promise was related to a dollars-and-cents, chicken-in-the-provincial-pot kind of issue. Whether you think the fiscal imbalance is real, or hooey, it deals with the ability of governments to fund programmes that (one would hope) deliver actual services to people, and that make a difference to their daily lives.

Yes, I know that in practice, such programmes usually don't quite hit the mark in that regard - to say the least - and even when they do make a difference, I often wish they didn't. But the point is, the whole fiscal (im)balance debate can at least be seen as something that could affect the real-life concerns of Quebeckers, and other Canadians: health care, roads, schools, that kind of thing. Aside from Constitutional lawyers, scholars and politicans, nobody's paycheque is going to move upwards from adding in the "Quebec = nation" clause to the Constitution.

So, whether they follow the Ignatieff whole-hog approach, or even Rae's more symbolic version, the Libs are just begging for trouble in Quebec and elsewhere by going down this road. What is seen as a way of making headway in Quebec risks throwing the Libs - and the rest of us - backwards.

More later.


Only Nearly Dead.

This seems to fit things around here ...

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Mr. Praline: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

But yes, there'll be more later. Wake the neighbours!