Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Solidarity Forever!

While the Union movement in Canada continues to fight the good fight against the big corporations like Wal Mart Air Canada and other struggles. There's success a brewing in some rather unexpected quarters.

It wasn't too long ago that we heard news that the United Church of Canada's ministers were looking to explore the possibility of Union affiliation. United Church clergy are preparing to fight the Power (and that's a fight that can take you a distance), with a task force of union reps and church ministers ready to start a recruiting drive.

With organizers from the Canadian Auto Workers manning the phones and working the e mails, the organizing drive is just now getting underway. In order to help recalcitrant clergy with their decision, the CAW has drafted a top ten list for stressed out ministers to consider while they contemplate signing that Union card.

With the CAW concentrating on the consecrated, there's another union drive revving up that they've missed the call on.

Over in Quebec Bonhomme Carnivale is apparently one very unhappy snowman and has sought out the folks at the FTQ (Quebec's largest trade union) has filed a certification request to unionize those that wear the suit of Bonhomme. The mascot of the Winter Carnival in Quebec City spends the last half of January and most of February involved in local activities revolving around promotion of the huge Winter festival.

Faced with the prospect of four to six weeks of having to be happy, joyful and a good will ambassador, the practitioners in the activities of Bonhomme are feeling a little bit unappreciated and would apparently welcome the chance to have proper representation.

Bonhomme will be on the job January 28th, unless things don't go well with the Carnival organizers. The vision of a giant snowman on a picket line to launch the Carnival is not one anyone wants to visualize. If it comes to pass though Bonhomme needs one piece of advice; stay away from those warming oil can fires prevalent at all labour disputes, otherwise his demands will just melt away.

With all this talk of unionization one S. Claus must be getting a little nervous. He's had a rather stable and generally happy workforce of elves over the years, but in a year when church ministers and snowmen are seeking out a shop steward, one wonders how long overworked workforce of the factories of the North Pole can stay off the union radar.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The week of essentials Nov 15-22

Condi she's a gal in charge
Carolyn's one who has been purged
Alfie's making news again
Big Paulie has a leaking den
The Argos they done won the Cup
And Georgie Bush is comin' up
Seven days that have gone by
It's for your attention we now vie!

15-Nov-04 "They're slowing us down!"
15-Nov-04 A quiet funeral and a simple election
15-Nov-04 Law and Order: Geriatric division
15-Nov-04 "Chocolate is like a drug": Which probably explains Valentines Day
15-Nov-04 He is what he is!
16-Nov-04 Carville is such an egghead
16-Nov-04 More trouble for Lord Black
16-Nov-04 Pfizer ad flops with FDA
16-Nov-04 They thought the ending stinked
16-Nov-04 Never bet against the dam
17-Nov-04 The Cookie jar overfloweth
17-Nov-04 Condi in Control
17-Nov-04 When George comes to town
17-Nov-04 Sex in Football? Say it isn't so!
17-Nov-04 May the farce be with him
18-Nov-04 Turning ploughshares into swords
18-Nov-04 A fixer upper on the Ottawa River
18-Nov-04 Trouble on Kofi's horizon?
18-Nov-04 We interrupt your movie to read you your rights
18-Nov-04 The coming pandemic?
19-Nov-04 And your qualifications are exactly what, Chuck?
19-Nov-04 For He's a jolly Goodfella?
19-Nov-04 Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam
19-Nov-04 Oh, and by the way, no homework tonight!
19-Nov-04 Cushion thyself TV viewer, Fox News is on the way
20-Nov-04 The Hands on President
20-Nov-04 But did they mention her by name?
20-Nov-04 Hey I'm not gone yet
20-Nov-04 Is Iran on tap?
20-Nov-04 It's a sell out!
21-Nov-04 Just one thing before he goes
21-Nov-04 Kleinfeld!
21-Nov-04 One year on, the verdict is in!
21-Nov-04 More sleep means skinnier people
21-Nov-04 Argooooooooooooooooooooos

In praise of Pinball

There is a special bond between the Argonaut coach and his players, one that seems to go deeper than the normal give and take of player and coach. You only had to watch the opening moments of Sunday’s Grey Cup to understand just how much the Argonaut players would do for their guiding force in Double Blue.

There in the tunnel as the players were being introduced was Mike "Pinball" Clemons, a word for each starter as he headed out the tunnel, a slap on the pads, a laugh, a hug and always that smile. It’s the smile that makes you realize that playing football for Clemons may not just be a job or a sport, perhaps it’s a mission.

His enthusiasm is legendary, his eloquence obvious. There are many that say the Argos should tape his pre game speeches and sell them, such are they the definition of motivation. And if the results are any indication they should double the press run.

While there may be many across Canada who probably have no great love lost for anything Toronto, there can’t be many, if any who don’t have the highest regard for Clemons. He seems to be the embodiment of the can do ethic. He approached his season this year in an always moving forward mode, never looking back.

Having taken his football team from the Bankruptcy court a year ago, the stadium on Bank Street on Sunday, the reason for this team’s success can safely be attributed to the head coach. He delegates the responsibility and the praise to his coaches and both Rich Stubler on defence and Kent Austin on offence have done an amazing job with a young Argo team this year. But the glue of the franchise is the humble man from Florida, who has become much larger than a team, a league or even the game of football.

The success of his team on Sunday will only go to cement his relationship with his adopted home (and soon his new country). Toronto has frequently had heroes over the years only to watch them disappear with nary a glance from the faithful. For Clemons that will never happen, he has become as much of that city as any original settler family from the days of Upper Canada and a town called York.

He’s a tireless volunteer, a publicity shy visitor to countless children’s causes and the go to guy when somebody needs a name for a fund raising drive or a spokesperson for a cause. And besides all those good works, he’s obviously a pretty good football coach. A roster of players wearing double blue are holding onto a Cup and will soon get some rings, testimony that treating your workers with respect and honesty still counts for something in an era of greed and me first personalities.

You saw it in the tunnel before the game, on the sidelines as the game progressed and on the field at the end as they gave out a trophy. Respect both given and received, one of the keys to a hard earned victory by a team featuring a classy coach.

This item first appeared in my Twelve Men on the Field blog, for more items about Canadian Football check it out.


For the fifteenth time a Toronto Argonaut has hoisted Lord Grey's Cup in celebration. And Sunday night there was no more deserving person than Damon Allen to hold the fabled Chalice high into the Ottawa night sky.

The ageless wonder, at 41 turned in another one of his dominant Grey Cup performances to lead his band of double blue brothers on to a convincing 27-19 victory over a stunned BC Lion squad.

Turning the game around in the latter stages of the second Quarter, Allen controlled the play and led his team down the field at Frank Clair stadium, time and time again. After an initial phase of testing the Lion defence, Allen began to take the play into the Lion secondary and found the success that would lead him to his fourth Grey Cup win in five tries. With the Offensive line controlling the usually swarming Lion defence all night, Allen had not only time to throw the ball but could pick out the holes created and run the ball himself.

With a 17-10 lead at the half, Allen picked up where he left off in the third quarter taking his Double Blue down field once again, running in another touchdown and propelling the Argos to a 24-10 lead before Duncan O'Mahony could reply with a field goal in the third quarter.

Noel Prefontaine would add the final three points for the Argos, while Dave Dickenson would engineer one more touchdown drive for the Leos, only walk away with nothing for extra points after consecutive time count violations. The miscommunication on the extra point an indication as to how the small things would cost the Lions on this Grey Cup Sunday. The Lions made too many errors on the field, too many mental errors and surrendered far too much of the field in a kicking game that never seemed to get untracked. With the defence mired in a game long malaise and a offence that could only perform in spurts the day was long and the flight home will seem longer for the Lions.

Controversy will flow through the Vancouver airwaves this week as the talk shows rehash the decision to not use Casey Printers in the season finale. To be fair to Dave Dickenson his numbers were not too bad, he was close to turning the tide but a pass too far, an untimely fumble or the inability to shut the Argos down contributed to the shortfall from a Lion point of view.

This night belonged to Allen, who has wandered from CFL outpost to outpost for these twenty years, a solid workmanlike performer who never has achieved all star status, yet seems to the guy you want in control when the Cup is there to be taken. Named the Grey Cup MVP on Sunday night, there could not be any argument with the selection he had that much influence on the outcome of this game.

For Argo coach Mike Clemons the season ending success is a much deserved reward for yeoman like work on behalf of the Double Blue. The always emotional Clemons must have felt huge pride in the play of his players, the respect offered up to his coaching and the sense of team that they called upon in this pivotal game.

In a league that has seen almost everything go right this year, there probably is no better result than Sundays final. The folks in BC will have some disappointment with the so near and now so far ending. But a new year beckons, they host the 2005 Grey Cup in Vancouver and despite the end result in 2004 this is a team that will be heard again come next May.

But for tonight, tomorrow and the off season this year belongs to the Argos! From bankruptcy to champions in 365 days, that smile on Pinball's face couldn't possibly get any wider but one suspects he'll give it his best chance for the next little while.

This item first appeared in my Twelve Men on the Field blog, for more items about Canadian football check it out

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out Carolyn!

Finally Prime Minister Paul Martin has dealt with the loose cannon of the back bench known as Carolyn Parrish. The rather unusual MP for
Mississauga has been behaving rather strangely over the last year or so, with many eyebrow raising performances.

From her apparent distaste for her own (former) Liberal party members, to her never ending and frankly tiresome, Bush hating act of the last little, this is a woman who seems to crave attention. And attention she now has in spades, her latest bout of nutbarism will be the upcoming appearance on Friday Night's 22 minutes, where she stomps upon a George Bush doll. The incident which was "leaked" to the media yesterday has become a hot property for news agencies across the continent.

Yet it wasn't her seemingly pathological dislike of the President of the USA that has finally resulted in her ouster. Instead it was apparently her meandering blubbering to the media about the current state of her political life. She expressed no interest in her now former party and their tenuous status and stated openly that she wouldn't care if the current PM lost the election and his job, as she said she wouldn't shed a tear. Even poor old dithering Paul couldn't let that one go and thus she is no more!

Suddenly a light went on in the PMO that uh, she's not particularly helpful to the cause, probably won't be much use in a confidence vote anyways, so its best to wash ones hands of her. Sending her to that purgatory reserved for the loopy Independent back bencher. (Chuck Cadman the only other Indy memmber is not a charter member of that Group, as he's more like a Conservative without portfolio!).

At any rate, it's about time that Martin took charge of his rogue MP who seemed to be on a single handed mission to destroy any semblance of sanity on the Government side of the House. Every time she opened her mouth she confirmed for Canadians that it isn't necessarily the best and the brightest that run for office. Her outbursts of late give one cause to wonder if perhaps she might have some issues she needs to discuss with a professional somewhere. More worrisome is the knowledge that she once was a secondary school teacher! One wonsers just how many young minds she helped to shape over the years, (a sudden shudder for the youth of yesterday!) wouldn't a civics class with Carolyn have been a hoot!

There's a place in Parliament for civil and sensible debate over serious issues such as the war in Iraq, missile Defence and such. But to allow Carolyn Parrish to set the tone for those debates showed a certain lack of leadership in the PMO. Finally they have taken charge of the issue and done what needed to be done.

Ms. Parrish can now return to the irrelevant status from which she came. Too bad for the folks of Mississauga but their needs and requirements are going to be on the back burner for the next little while. When you send a fool to do your work, don't be surprised when you aren't taken very seriously. 22 minutes will show Carolyn in all her Glory on Friday night, alas for Ms. Parrish her 22 minutes of fame are about to be used up! Her mercuric temperament and exhibitionistic buffoonery will not be missed.

What's it all about Alfie?

What an eventful day for Prime Minister Paul Martin, he no sooner had removed the stone in his shoe in the form of Carolyn Parrish. Than the news machine was getting ratcheted up over a report in the New York Daily News.

The Big Apple paper best known for its grizzly photo’s of dead mobsters and comprehensive reporting on the comings and goings of the Goodfellow set have set the Canadian political scene on its ear. In today’s Daily News an FBI informant (known in some circles as a stoolie) has suggested that Alfonso Gagliano is a made man in the Bonanano crime family.

According to the informant Gagliano was introduced to him as a member of the Northern branch of the "family" while attending a function in Montreal. The function apparently limited to only “made” members of the organization, featured the former cabinet minister and ambassador as a participant.

While the article is tittilating in detail, it seems rather short on fact and long on supposition! As for a smoking gun, there doesn’t seem to be anything that would concretely tie the Alf man with the Bonanano’s. One wonders just how much stock to put in the story. Surely even the RCMP (please things can’t be this bad with the horsemen eh?) would have gotten wind of such a situation and alerted the proper members of then PM Jean Chretien’s crew!

It seems beyond belief that if one was a “made member” of the Mob, he would also be able to sit for long as a Member of Parliament. Even the Liberals who have at times shown a rather loose concept of ethics, would draw the line with allowing organized crime a front door entry to the national treasury, well one would hope anyways.

However, if proven true the current sponsorship scandal would pale in comparison to the investigation that would be launched into activities by the entire Chretien cabinet of the day. Suddenly padding expense accounts and siphoning ad dollars to nickel and dime ad agencies won’t seem like such a crime. Not when the Big Leagues of malfeasance may have had a foothold on the Hill!

The Conservatives who apparently can read quite well, have taken the latest developments to Question Period and are demanding some answers. This minority government was off to a rather quiet start, but in the space of 24 hours there’s lots of intrigue, backroom dealing and shocking revelations. Worthy of a major motion picture, only question is will it be Goodfella’s or Gladiator! Absolute Power or Animal Farm!

Update to the story: Late in the day Mr. Gagliano announced that there was no truth to the story what so ever. As they say in the legal progession, lawyers prepare your lawsuits!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A nation shamed!

There are many good qualities about the fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the much vaunted Rider Nation. However, in one pointless act of immaturity, stupidity and wanton disregard for one’s privacy the Rider Nation today isn’t quite as boastful a lot. After Sunday’s shocking loss to the BC Lions in Vancouver, some intelligence challenged idiots decided to toss eggs at kicker Paul McCallum’s house, make threatening phone calls to his family and in a supreme example of moronic behaviour dump manure on his lawn (only to pick the wrong lawn in their haste to show their class). Needless to say the behaviour of the idiots has gained far more mileage than all of the good deeds of Rider fans over the years. And that is a shame, for the Rider Nation normally stands for what is great about Canadian Football.

Stories of the love between Rider fan and their team are legendary, in days of yore it was said that farmers paid for their tickets with bushels of wheat legend or fact it tells the tale of affection between team and resident. The province responds year after year with fundraising events across the prairie bingos, 50/50’s, dinners and dances all send money to the Riders to retire debts, improve the team and share in the joy of Canadian football.

Rider fans can be found in every province, usually the most colourful, the loudest and generally the most fun. Somehow after Sunday night’s little bout of stupidity one senses the green shirts, pom poms and wigs have gone deep into the closet.

The Riders have responded with understandable disgust at the treatment of McCallum’s family by a small and obviously moronic bunch. McCallum’s off-season employer Sask Energy is putting together a card for the McCallum’s to show that not all Saskatchewanians have their brains locked in stupid mode. Rider management has vowed to not let the matter rest until the offenders have been punished.

The Rider Nation can take a bit of solace that more than likely the group that caused the trouble on Sunday most likely aren’t much in the way of football fans anyways. But for now they will have to take their collective lumps. No doubt most understand that it really is only a game, their team had a rather remarkable season, taking them close to the Great Canadian prize. They came up short get ready for next year!

Regina police have arrested the moron that threatened McCallum’s family, who apparently a man of no class or courage, threatened to burn the house down with McCallum’s family inside. For him if and when found guilty, time in jail will not doubt do wonders for his disposition. Providing him with ample time to reflect on how just how moronic he really was on Sunday. Threatening to kill someone is a very serious charge; sending fear into anyone’s home is something that must be addressed with the full punishment of the law applied.

For the egg throwers and manure dumpers vandalism regulations should be followed to their maximum as well. Community service and a full heart felt apology to the McCallum’s should also be provided without delay (cleaning up the property would be a nice start!).

For the Rider Nation what is needed is a thorough examination of the extent of fanaticism in their group. The Nation has brought a lot of joy to the CFL over the years, fighting against the odds to succeed, living and dying with their team through thick and thin. They obviously would have neither truck nor trade with the likes of the idiots of Sunday night, but they do have to guard against that kind of mind set among their own.

It’s unfortunate that the behaviour of a miniscule number has tarnished the reputation of a majority of great football fans. Perhaps the Rider Nation will take time to reassure the McCallum’s that while disappointed in the loss they hold neither malice nor responsibility to the man or his family. The beauty of Saskatchewan has always been its ability to pull together in times of struggle. For the Rider Nation it’s time to start pulling!

The above article first appeared in my Twelve Men On the Field blog, for more items about Canadian Football check it out!

The week of essentials Nov 9-14

Ashcroft is leaving, Colin too!
Seems like nobody wants to be in for Bush 2!
Celine sang loud for friendly skies,
Canada paused in honour of those who died!
The Canadian Buck goes up and up!
For Arafat his time was up.
Seven more days they flew right by,
We recap them with this try!

9-Nov-04 On the outside, the days of Colin Powell
9-Nov-04 Follow the money from Ramallah
9-Nov-04 Turn back before you hit the border
9-Nov-04 Singing the praises of Celine
9-Nov-04 Breaker, Breaker: Blogging noting but glorified CB radio
10-Nov-04 The Lightning rod steps aside
10-Nov-04 A uniter not a divider
10-Nov-04 Chocolate supplies could tumble!
10-Nov-04 Is a fox about to enter the Microsoft hen house
10-Nov-04 Barnstorming the Blue States
11-Nov-04 Lest we forget
11-Nov-04 Arafat is Dead!
11-Nov-04 No wonder Mr. Bush won!
11-Nov-04 Showing the colours to the Queen
11-Nov-04 Elevators all over the world are sad today!
12-Nov-04 In praise of the Northern Peso
12-Nov-04 Sorry, sorry, sorry, we now return to regular programming
12-Nov-04 So much more than politically incorrect
12-Nov-04 24 hours they'll never get back
12-Nov-04 Moore deals with loss, by making another movie
13-Nov-04 First the Flag, now the Loonie!
13-Nov-04 Ashcroft 101
13-Nov-04 Gonzales 101
13-Nov-04 If not a poodle, then what?
13-Nov-04 And yet Dan still keeps HIS job!
14-Nov-04 See Dick sneeze, See Dick cough
14-Nov-04 World Wide War Web
14-Nov-04 Confused, Innacurate, Advice
14-Nov-04 Canada to fill Sudanese void
14-Nov-04 Look out Petey, like JD, here comes George

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A little light reading!

Having spent the morning at our local court house observing Remembrance Day ceremonies, I felt it might be helpful to offer up some background information for those that may not quite understand the importance of November 11th. For the benefit of Andre Bellavance and his fellow travelers in the Bloc Quebecois, a thumbnail guide to sacrifice, commitment and love of country.

Pierre Berton -- VIMY
Pierre Berton -- MARCHING AS TO WAR
Strome Galloway -- BRAVELY INTO BATTLE
Commander Tony German -- THE SEA IS AT OUR GATES
Major General Lewis MacKenzie -- PEACEKEEPER
Desmond Morton and J. L. Granatstein - - MARCHING TO ARMAGEDDON
Desmond Morton and J. L. Granatstein - - A NATION FORGED IN FIRE
Mark Zuehlke - - JUNO BEACH
Mark Zuehlke - - ORTONA

Just a small list, but enough to give Mr. Bellavance and others a better understanding of the reverence that many Canadians hold their veterans in, and the spirit of which we honour every November 11th. Should you know of a book that is a must read simply leave us a note in the comments, we look forward to your additions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


The 11th minute, of the 11th hour, of the 11th month. A simple refrain to remember, but one steeped in the history of a nation and its people. We pause every November 11th to commemorate those that made the ultimate freedom on our behalf in the past and to give thought to those that serve for us today.

For many the idea of remembering long ago wars seems to be the thing of their parents and increasing their grand parents generation. But yet perhaps it’s the younger generation who most need the touchstone to their past. When one does not take time to remember, we neglect our responsibilities as citizens of a free nation. One built upon a foundation of sacrifice, desire and pride of place.

There’s a fascinating site to explore from Veteran‘s Affairs Canada, where you can learn so much more about the sacrifices made by others on our behalf. Take a tour of the virtual war memorial, enter a name and trace your family’s involvement in the gallant campaigns for freedom, explore the book of condolences, learn the stories, understand their sacrifice. Relive the Italian campaign or the Liberation of Belgium, step onto a beach at Normandy and share in the horror and the eventual victory of D-Day. It's a wonderful compilation of our nations participation in World History and beautiful commemoration of those that sacrificed on our behalf.

There are far too many features to list here and really it is simply a site best explored by clicking from one place to another. But by far the digital reproduction of the Books of Remembrance is one stop all should make. Like the books at Parliament Hill the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice are listed in alphabetical order, from year to year.

There sadly seem to be far too many names in those books, sons and daughters who left our land at an early age never to return, for them and those that have followed over the years we take our pause.

At the 11th minute, of the 11th hour, of the 11th day, take your moment to remember and thank those that gave us the gift of freedom that we far too often take for granted.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Questions Wolf didn’t ask

CNN is busy these days keeping up to speed on Yasser Arafat and the hostilities in Fallujah, so perhaps it’s to be expected that simple things slip by the wayside. But Wolf Blitzer, the seasoned international reporter and now Uber host on CNN really should take the gift horses when they arrive.

Blitzer was interviewing the latest General to offer up some armchair quarterbacking on the workings of the US military in Iraq. Today’s analyst Major General Charles Swannack was a striking man, authoritative, impressive and informative. He briefed us well on the state of readiness of American forces, gave us some idea as to what they may face in combat and even ventured a few suggestions on possible military scenarios for us to ponder.

The Major General comes by his knowledge honestly, for as Wolf explained in his opening remarks, the Major General was but only one day into his retirement from the US Armed Forces. Certainly a major coup (if we dare use such an expression) for CNN and its stable of war analysts.

Yet that one detail, the Major General’s retirement should have given Wolf more than enough questions to fill up the entire hour. For instance how about for starters, a simple explanation why, on the eve of perhaps the “greatest urban battle since Vietnam” the US military is allowing its upper level management to leave the field of battle, while at the same time it’s extending the tours of duty of it’s National Guard and regular army units.

While I’m sure the Major General has put in more than his fair share of tours and no doubt served his nation with great honor one wonders how he truly feels. And while he most assuredly deserves a quiet and well compensated retirement, it seems a tad strange that he be moved out of theatre just as things begin to heat up extremely.

Then again his comments to the Boston Globe earlier this year probably helped to propel the retirement papers. With a bit of dedication perhaps Wolf could have allowed Major General Swannack to expand on his thoughts of Iraq and the state of the US military at the moment.

While Wolf would be on that topic, perhaps he could have expanded the theme for us here in the office of armchair military planning. It’s always struck me as unusual that the reserve units and guard units are being taxed to their limits in tours of Iraq, while other military units tend to their duties in distant lands. One wonders why the US military is not cycling in units from Korea, Germany, Japan and whatever other outposts they may be stationed in, to help share the load and relieve the burden of those that have been there from day one of the Iraqi adventure.

Through the last three months unit after unit in Iraq, seems to have had its tour extended, yet the large American presence in Korea for instance has not been moved. Would it not be fair to rotate those forces into Iraq for six months or so, and send the battle weary forces there now to Korea, or back home to rest? Now I’m the first to admit I’m not to up to speed on how Donald Rumsfeld and his military managers are planning things, but it would seem that an already trained and well rested force from Korea might be a better bet than dragging on the tours of already weary and frustrated Guard units.

Wolf would have done us all a service by asking that question. Better yet, he could have asked the newly returned and retired Major General what will come after Fallujah and when the best case date for all forces returning home may be. That possibly would be the most productive bit of armchair planning that we could use.

There certainly is no doubt now about the resolve of the US to finish off the current mission, one truly hopes that they find a solution to this situation as soon as possible. Allowing not only the Major General to enjoy his retirement, but to allow those serving in Iraq and those that will have to live there afterwards to find a sense of safety, comfort and most importantly Life in the very near future.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Bobby or Bourque?

Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe treads where few would dare go with his latest article for the Boston paper. Dupont risks the wrath of many as he suggests that Raymond Bourque, former Bruin and newest member of the Hockey Hall of Fame may be the better of Boston’s two highest profile defencemen.

Comparing the two beatified Bruins takes a lot of courage, each has his own den of fans, each holds a special place in Bruin lore. Dupont tries to base his case on statistics, suggesting that Orr had the opportunity to pad his numbers at the expense of palookas from Minnesota, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, comparing the line ups offered to the hockey gods of the day as nothing but tomato cans waiting to be crushed. Add with the arrival of the WHA, Dupont suggests the points were there for the taking. Of course many will counter that argument by pointing out that Bourque plied his trade in an NHL expanded many times over, the whiskey watered down year after year, during his patrol of the Bruin blue line.

Mr. Dupont also states that Orr’s Bruins were a much stronger team than the one that Bourque was saddled with, Orr skating with the likes of Espositio, Bucyk, McKenzie, Cashman, Hodge and Cheevers to name a few. Bourque’s days significantly filled with interchangeable talent with the notable exceptions such as Cam Neely and Adam Oates. A valid point no doubt, much of Bourque’s time in Boston was spent on teams that seemed to have no desire to improve their standing, nor challenge for the Stanley Cup.

But in the end the fans of Orr will point out that not only did number four rack up the points, show leadership and lead the Bruins on to great glory. He also changed the game, the rushing defenceman of the eighties through the nineties and to this day all can trace their ascension to the talents of Orr.

There are hundreds if not thousands of defencemen who watched in wonder as Orr wound it up in his own end and took the puck from end to end normally finishing off in a flourish and a flashing red light.

His heart and desire was surpassed by only his pure talent. He defined all that was great about hockey in the late sixties and through the seventies, his career ending far too soon, robbing millions of hockey fans of one of the great talents of the game in the prime of his career.

I admire Ray Bourque consider him to be one of the best defencemen to ever put on skates and chase a puck down the ice. But Orr defined the game, made the game his own and will forever be known as the best to ever ply his trade on a blue line. There were many to follow him that surely starred, but never eclipsed. With respect to Mr. Dupont and his carefully crafted dissection of the two talented B’s, but I’ll cast my vote for Number 4.

I’ll respect Ray Bourque for the true talent that he was, a bona fide all star, deserved Hall of Fame member and one of the most impressive defenceman to ever pull on a pair of skates. But I’ll cherish the nights gone past where I sat in front of a television set and watched in awe a guy named Bobby weave his magic on the ice. Orr revolutionized a position, giving fuel to the explosion that would follow in offensive defencemen. For my book there never was and maybe never will be anyone of his equal.

His short time in an NHL line up gave us an indication just how exciting one person can be to a game. Like Gretzky, Lemieux, The Rocket and Lafleur there was something about him on the ice that made you watch with wonder. The mark of greatness is the company you keep; Orr’s place is forever placed on the same list as the greats. And that’s more than good enough for me!

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

The week of essentials November 2-8

Our neighbours to the polls they went
Casting votes with goodwill sent
Democrats and Republicans gave a push
But in the end its four more years for Bush
The left wing they are crying foul
The right side says thank you all
Some on the losing side say they'll stay to fight
Others to Canada they will take flight
Another seven days went by
Some have laughed and some did cry

2-Nov-04 Election Day: The Moore perspective
2-Nov-04 Election Day: The Limbaugh perspective
2-Nov-04 The Man in Full, Wolfe on the election
2-Nov-04 The first returns are in
2-Nov-04 Lawyers to your battle stations
3-Nov-04 To the recount table
3-Nov-04 Martin hedges his bets
3-Nov-04 Watching the electors
3-Nov-04 In numbers large, they cast their vote
3-Nov-04 Down at the boys club
4-Nov-04 The Victor's text
4-Nov-04 The farewell from the vanquished
4-Nov-04 Parrish pops off again
4-Nov-04 Think we'll move north of Montana
4-Nov-04 Michael Moore's silent protest
5-Nov-04 BONEHEADS in the Bloc
5-Nov-04 The Stone in Martin's shoe
5-Nov-04 Breakdown of a failed campaign
5-Nov-04 The Arafat watch continues
5-Nov-04 Movie pirates beware, the lawsuits are on the way!
6-Nov-04 God's flying picket squad
6-Nov-04 Clicking for Canada
6-Nov-04 Moby's cry: annex us for our own good
6-Nov-04 We suggest eights in the Chinese lottery
6-Nov-04 This could explain the lack of food on the airlines
7-Nov-04 America's message to Europe
7-Nov-04 How the Brits helped re-elect George Bush
7-Nov-04 It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
7-Nov-04 Looking for a place to rest their weary battle scared bodies
7-Nov-04 What if they came knockin'?
8-Nov-04 Bonehead Blocheads back down on flag stand
8-Nov-04 They know when you are sneezing, and when you're in the can
8-Nov-04 Eggheads for Canada
8-Nov-04 Reality TV goes to the depths
8-Nov-04 Perhaps a lunch with Parrish might be an idea, or not!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Winnipeg bids adieu to faithful old barn

They’re holding a wake this weekend in River City, with an eye on a brand new downtown arena the hockey faithful took their final seat in the Winnipeg Arena on Saturday night and said farewell. Filling the venerable old building to the very last of the nosebleed seats arching high to the roof the cheered and cried, memories of many a famous night rushing back to their eyes as if they happened only yesterday.

After 50 years of some form of frozen shinny, the Winnipeg Arena will go dark and take with it countless memories of good times and bad. It was an AHL game on the schedule but for all intents and purposes this was one more chance to salute their Jets, the team that sent Winnipeg to the big leagues, a team that still has a torch burning so many years after their departure. Many of those attending the match were decked out in their finest Winnipeg Jets memorabilia. A testimony to how deep the scar of losing their NHL team still burns into the soul of a Manitoba hockey fan.

This weekend featured a number of the old Jets back one more time to celebrate all that was good about Hockey in Manitoba. They celebrated past Allan Cup winners, remembered the joy of a Memorial cup championship and the path to the big leagues through the Avco Cup years of the WHA.

From the days of Canada’s National team to the Team Canada stops against foreign competition, the Barn has seen its share of great moments. It’s also seen some sad ones as well, the gathering also commiserated at the lost chances of a Stanley Cup, gone seemingly at the time forever with the departure of the Jets for the desert of Arizona. But in true Manitoba spirit, Hope springs eternal, perhaps goes the wish a newly retrenched NHL will once again return to its Hockey Roots and once again call Manitoba home, it’s always next year country in Manitoba!

In one of those delicious ironies of life, the competition for the Manitoba Moose on this final night of the Maroons Road barn was the Utah Grizzlies, farm club of the Phoenix Coyotes nee Winnipeg Jets. Gone but not forgotten, Manitobans saluted their former heroes, their ghosts soon to be left behind to a wrecker’s ball.

Yet somehow one knows that the spirit of the Barn will carry on, many more chapters of Manitoba hockey are to be written. A new palace of hockey opens shortly, it one day will have its stories to tell, its history to recount. If it even has half the memories of Maroons road then it too will have lived a full and productive purpose for Hockey fans in Manitoba.

On Saturday night the home team lost in overtime, but really nobody was watching the score. The actual game itself, was just one of a number on the AHL schedule, the event though was one for fans to remember forever.

The Lights may go off for good, but its history will carry on forever!

The above posting first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about Hockey check things out.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well never mind your Sear's Wish Book, your Santa Claus Parade or the suddenly overwhelming amount of Canadian Tire ads on television. The real sign of Christmas is here and right on schedule.

Shop Early and Hand deliver!!

Friday, November 05, 2004

And yet he still will cash a cheque!

The Bloc MP that has refused to distribute Canadian flags to veterans has seemingly hit upon a very raw nerve in the Canadian psyche. Resulting in a an outburst of disgust, that may give him cause to rue the day he made his little petulant stand, for whatever it is he believes in.

Andre Bellavance, the MP for the Quebec riding near Sherbrooke, has refused to provide veterans on the local Legion with flags to commemorate Remembrance Day. Claiming he doesn’t feel comfortable with distributing flags with the Maple leaf embossed on them, Bellavance recommended that the local Legionnaires look to other sources for their desire du drapeau! Helpfully, their MP provided them with a toll free number from which to find a flag on their own.

The outcry has been loud, clear and hopefully bowel flow inducing for Mr. Bellavance. Outraged at the Bloc MP's disinterest in not only helping out a constituent but a veteran, other Parliamentarians have come to the aid of the vets! Conservative leader Stephen Harper has provided flags for the veterans as has Prime Minister Martin as well as other MP’s famous or not.

Even former Bloc founder and now Liberal lieutenant to Martin, Jean Lapierre has expressed his outrage at the pettiness of Monsieur Bellavance. As Lapierre points out quite correctly, Mr. Bellavance has no problem accepting that cheque every two weeks with the little Canadian Flag in the corner. Touché! Game, set and freakin’ match!

The Bloc MP and any other of his consorts who feel the same, should remember one simple truth. The only reason they have the freedom to espouse their pathetic bromides upon the nation, is due to the sacrifice of countless hundreds of thousands who sacrificed their lives to protect their right to speak. Including thousands of whom were even from Quebec and had no problem fighting and in many cases dying for Canada and it's flag (even the Red Ensign had a Maple Leaf there Andre!).

One suspects that he probably won't want to open up his e mail in the next little while, as I'm sure that Canadians will want to share their thoughts on his ahem, stance!

Politics has no place in the commemoration of sacrifice, much the same as common sense apparently has no place in the offices of the Bloc Quebecois!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A flickering light in the window

While the Democrats begin the process of trying to figure out what the hell went wrong, they find themselves in a bit of disarray. Suddenly quite leaderless and aging rapidly, they will drift for a bit trying to find their feet in the suddenly changing landscape they find themselves in.

Having lost the Presidency, the House and the Senate, the leader of the Senate himself being sent off to the glue factory, they now must worry about a Supreme Court that will be Republican tinged for many years to come. With a four year mandate and control of all facets of American governance, the Supreme Court may very well be the lasting legacy of the Bush years.

Dark days indeed for Democrats, who had such high hopes for this election and a chance to reverse many of the machinations of the Bush regime. The mourning period will not doubt carry on for a fair amount of time, before they begin the fight for the Senate once again in two years.

While they compose themselves and begin to sort out their various tasks. They will need to provide Americans (and indeed the rest of the world) with some tangible proof that they still carry on the fight for justice, for common good and responsibility to all.

The list of possible shining lights is slim at the moment, Hillary Clinton has been mentioned frequently as a legitimate voice for Democratic principles and she surely will have her message delivered. But of all the Democrats on Tuesday night that managed to give cheer to broken hearts Barack Obama seemed to hit the right notes.

Below scalped from the Daily Kos, is an excerpt from his speech to his supporters in Illinois. For Democrats in America and observers beyond it's a flickering light of hope for a party that right now could use as much hope as they can muster. Mr. Obama delivers a fine message one that should be repeated time and time again. For those of heavy heart, he offers a lift of spirit, a chance to dream again, the opportunity to offer a sense of purpose to those seeking a reason to get back to work.

The Democrats would be wise to highlight his talents in the next two years and beyond. He's the hope of a better day to come, for those that must surely feel as though better days are but a distant memory!

From the Daily Kos:

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted--or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans--Democrats, Republicans, Independents--I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.

Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice [...]

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief--I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper--that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America--there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America [...]

In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A nation most divided

That map on all the networks, whether it was the fancy NASDAQ one at CNN, the Skating rink motif of NBC or the various versions from FOX, CBS AND ABC had one recurring trait. There was blue at the far right corner, blue on the far left side and with the exception of lonely ole Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and uh that’s it, Red everywhere else!

The Question for Democrats is how the heck they ever expect to hold the Presidency if they are pushed to the virtual margins of the country.

With the re-election of George Bush in both the Electoral College and in the popular vote, he finally receives the legitimacy of his Presidency that many said was lacking in his first term.

With a key win in Florida which was not a terrible surprise and another in Ohio which was, Bush found enough votes to put him over the top and claim a second term. The Florida vote was less controversial than last year, while Ohio became ground zero in this years struggle. Provisional ballots, absentee ballots and challenged ballots all direct our attention to a system that seems um, a tad flawed. When is a winner not a winner, when is a loser suddenly back in the game? It all makes for wonderful theatre, and the stumbling, fumbling and bumbling of the network talking heads gave proof that live television still can offer its great moments (I was particularly interested to learn that President Reagan would be making an appearance shortly, now there’s a network exclusive for ABC). But the way this election began to unravel as the hours went by, you began to wish that the folks at Comedy Central would have let Jon Stewart stay on a longer with his election special! Electoral Farce deserves satirical input!

With lineups of over ten hours at some locations reported and that unusual procedure known as the “provisional ballot” (we’ll count them if we have to but, if it’s not close why bother?) the actual task of voting seemed to require all the dedication required to preserve democracy. A national voters list seems to be a much needed item in the USA, if for no other reason than at least they would have a head start when it comes time to count the ballots. And is it not possible to have an earlier deadline for absentee and overseas ballots, having them back in the country well before the actual voting day, treat it like a mailing deadline for Christmas presents if you have to! The whole world was watching last nights demonstration of democracy warts and all, the folks in Iraq probably paying more attention than most, since the Bush government has said that they intend to send Iraqi’s to the polls in January (as if they don’t have enough problems at the moment!).

International observers to the festivities were at many voting stations, especially in the controversial state of Florida, as the day went on the observers began to long for the days of vote counting in such long time democratic states as Serbia, Venezuela and Kazakhstan!

In the end, the Democratic contender, after taking the night to sleep on it and hope for some kind of vote count change, offered his concession. Kerry not only lost the Electoral College and the popular vote, but watched as his running mate failed to deliver one single southern state including his own. The news got worse as the night morphed into morning, as the Republicans picked up seats in both the Senate and Congress. The long time leader of the Senate Tom Daschle even ended up losing his seat in the Republican onslaught. In short despite a massive increase in the participants to the process, the result not only improved Bush’s standing from four years ago, but finally added legitimacy to his office.

Earlier in the day the likes of Ted Kennedy, Al Sharpton and such seemed positively giddy at the possibility of chasing The President out of office. Exit polls apparently leading them to believe that they were on the verge of reversing four years of Republican rule and perceived tyranny.

The handlers, pollsters and political machine workers seemed to want to hang on til the last bitter moment. Only James Carville, the raging’ Cajun of the days of Bill Clinton could read the tea leaves properly. As the hours moved on Carville was working his contacts in Ohio, glumly he told his Crossfire panel on CNN that it was done, the Democrats could not make Ohio work and that was that. He basically said then and there that the Bush Presidency was on to a second term, you almost saw a glint of sympathy in the eye of Robert Novak, either that or a look of glee, fine line between the two there.

The Kerry folks should have listened to the wise Cajun; he did the math and realized that the Kerry numbers weren’t going to get him over the top no matter where they tried to shuffle the figures. Game, set and match for the forces of Bush!

For the Democrats the events of last night will signal an internal struggle worthy of the Conservatives in Canada. They need to try and figure out why they are merely a coastal party with a few outposts in the heartland. They need to understand why they couldn’t win support in a state like Ohio. A state where 16% of the jobs have disappeared, sending over 200,000 people to the unemployment lines, if the Democrats couldn’t win a state in economic and social distress what hope do they have in states where economic times are brighter? There is much work to do in the Democratic Party the message never found a home with over half of the American voter.

The win should however not be taken by the Bush administration as an endorsement of their policies. The fact that a bit over 49% of the electorate chose not to support the President should be a cautionary tone for those in the White House. They govern over the most divided nation since the Vietnam War and possibly on a parallel with America of the Civil War era (the split of the North and those West Coasters and the Rest seems to be an ominous reminder of times gone by). Large tracts of the American population don’t feel comfortable with the direction the President has been taking them; he ignores that message at his party’s peril.

Four more years of Republican rule. We wonder if it will be four more years of more of the same, or Four years of new directions and new agendas. More disconcerting for the American’s who did not vote for Bush, will be the awareness that with his success may come even more troublesome legislation destined only to divide the nation further. In 2000 Bush ran under the slogan of being a “uniter not a divider”. With the results of 2004 he will be given one more chance to prove that those words were much more than just a slogan of convenience.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A song on their lips and a ballot in their hand!

With the influx of musicians wandering the USA this year as part of the presidential election campaign, it gave one pause to wonder what are some of the great songs of a political nature.

Bob Dylan of course has to be high on any list of political music, there’s much to mine in his library but with Political World, Dylan explains the politics of our times.

Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop will forever be identified with the Clinton/Gore campaign; it seemed to bring with it a sense of hope and optimism. When they first recorded it off the Rumours album, politics probably was the furthest thing from their minds, but when Bill and Al took on George and Dan, Don’t Stop seemed to be the tune that boosted the troops, made for a great convention song.

Bruce Springsteen has had a number of his songs used in a political vein, Ronald Reagan was trying to use Born in the USA as a political theme until the Boss put out his cease and desist edict. No such worries for John Kerry, not only has Springsteen allowed Kerry use of his music, he’s travelled far and wide to play songs and help get out the vote. His No Surrender seems to have become an unofficial theme for these times.

John Kennedy used High Hopes to define the dreams and aspirations of the Camelot era, a brief golden era of American politics that was brought to a dark and tragic end in November of 1963.

John Mellencamp has given us a number of common man anthems, but Down and out here in Paradise perfectly caught the spirit of those that didn’t benefit from the trickle down era of economics of the Reagan/Bush doctrine.

The turbulent sixties brought forward many songs of protest and declaration of concern, The Beatles Revolution seemed to sum up the ear quite nicely.

Not to be out done, the Rolling Stones found the changes of the sixties to be a mother lode of material, their Street fighting Man with images of rioting in the streets seemed to serve as a soundtrack for all that was the sixties.

Billy Joel’s Allentown gave a vivid portrait of the American dream gone wrong, when used in a political context it certainly hits a chord with the unemployed and the under-represented.

U2 reflected the frustrations of the troubles of Northern Ireland with their Sunday, Bloody Sunday, in a province that has marching seasons and no shortage of political discord, this anthem screamed out for some justice in a land where the concept of voting still exists in a very fragile state.

After every election there’s some constituency that can proclaim its allegiance to The Who, their anthem of desperation Won’t get fooled again, contains one of those all time great lyrical contributions “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

By no means is this a definitive list, but merely just a few tunes off the top of my head that certainly represent the political landscape in the world of music. No doubt you can think up a number of your own personal soundtracks to the democratic process

Monday, November 01, 2004

Their Democratic Duty

I'm not George W. Bush, nor John Kerry, but I endorse this message!

It’s almost Election Day for the USA, as our neighbors wander off to the polls in the morning, they no doubt will keep a wary eye on those around them. What must be going through their minds, as they make their way to the polls? The specter of some disruptive event still hangs over the country, will Osama Bin Laden engage in some nefarious activity to disrupt the process, or will they be left in relative peace to cast their ballots, watch their returns and await the inevitable legal challenges to their collective efforts?

Considering the fact that their nation has existed under some cloud of expectation of terror for three years now, mostly proclaimed by its own government, one could understand if your average American just decided to take a pass on the voting booth. The Vice President himself has constantly reminded American’s that the terrorists will try and try again, the administration seemingly trying to instill the fear of God in the people to be ready to be a target again. With that never ending hammering on the psyche, we have to wonder how it impacts on a person’s very private choice in a voting booth?

But vote they will, despite roadblocks that would deter many a hardy soul they will vote. Despite registration snafus, missing names on voting lists and seemingly anarchistic voting regulations that change from state to state and district to district they will vote. They will mark an X, punch a chad, and pull a lever. Whatever method used, they will cast a vote in a display of their faith in the democratic process, despite its warts, corruption and never ending battles long after the votes are counted and counted again.

So what of the choice itself, the race for the White House is the closest one that America has ever seen. The polling numbers indicating neither George Bush nor John Kerry can go to bed this election eve and feel secure that in 24 hours they will be the President of the United States and leader of a good part of the free world.

This election would seem to fit the billing as the most important American election in recent times. The nation itself seems unsure as to where their loyalties should go, a dead heat as they say, almost a 50/50 split, a nation divided in opinion, divided over what’s important to the nation and divided even on the war that continues endlessly on, even as the voting begins.

It’s a curious situation this election eve, normally a sitting President is given the benefit of the doubt, a comfortable lead to work with. But the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania has not seen that large a margin of comfort. With the underlying fear of more terrorist attacks on the American homeland, President Bush took to heavy polling over security issues. Americans apparently believing he’s more qualified to take the fight to the terrorists wherever they are, despite the evidence that the administration seems to have become sidetracked in that fight with their excursion in Iraq.

With an unpopular war ongoing and casualties reported daily, one would think that John Kerry’s numbers would be higher, yet they too are stuck at less that 50%. Why is it that American’s don’t feel comfortable with the abilities of Kerry to keep them safe from terror and find an exit out of the morass that has become Iraq?

The questions for the Kerry campaign are many, for it has been a campaign that hasn’t really caught the imagination of the American people. There is no wave of excitement at the Kerry possibility, instead more of a wishful hope that somehow he manages to outlast Bush and take the Presidency. Surely that itself must send alarm bells in the Democratic Party machine.

There really should not be any reason for Kerry not to have passed the 50% level and rendered the Bush neo-con forces to the one term history books. Beyond the Iraqi situation, which has been bungled badly of late by the administration there are other points that the Democrats should have been far and away ahead of the Republicans on and somehow never got the message across properly.

The economy of debt currently being created by the Bush forces was begging for a debate, the Bush administration has ratcheted up a horrendous national debt in its pursuit of Homeland Security and various International adventures. That debt is going to have to be paid back somehow and sometime, more than likely on the backs of the middle and lower classes of American society, how come they never got that message across? The American economy is starting to slow down, the jobless rate increasing, and the stock market erratic to say the best. There’s the skyrocketing price of oil providing a bad omen for a cold winter ahead. The economy was a Bush weakness, yet Kerry remained below 50%! Are American’s willing to give the President a pass on his economic agenda, purely because they are afraid of Osama Bin Laden?

Why has Kerry’s constant hammering on the job loss crisis in America fallen upon deaf ears? Why did the Bush Tax plan not get the roasting that it deserved, on one hand the Administration runs up astronomical debt, on the other hand they suggest that the highest end taxpayers need not necessarily carry a share of the burden. Could the Democrats not explain the problems with that math? Did the messenger not deliver it properly or do Americans close their eyes when matters of economy come to their attention. Regardless, with his numbers below 50% Kerry failed to make the economy an issue.

The Patriot Act was never once discussed in this election; it was given as just the way the American’s will do business now. Where was the Democratic Party on this issue, where was John Kerry? There are far too many worrisome aspects of this legislation that should have had civil rights activists out on the trail, every day of the campaign. Yet it was never mentioned in the debates and if it was it surely was only as a quiet aside. The culture of fear seems to give the Administration draconian rights of investigation, yet no one seems to think that a land that has opposed tyranny over the years might succumb to that same attack on democratic rights that Americans have long taken for granted. Somehow the concept is out there that if you have qualms about the Patriot Act, then perhaps you’re not a patriot! With that theme playing out in the US, the Democrats seemingly chose the easy route of ignoring the issue completely. You eventually have to stand for something other than political expediency, yet that seems to have been the talking point on this campaign; don’t say anything to call the Democrats loyalty into question.

Guantanamo Bay is another issue that never once was mentioned in this campaign, with the American government running a secretive prison with apparently no due process required, the debate on the legalities let alone morality of that never was made. Now the people currently incarcerated there, may very well be the evilest of the evildoers, but how would anyone know? Proceedings are never recorded, we don’t even know if they have anything resembling a trial there. The United States is a nation built upon the rule of Law, yet we have no insight as to how things are handled on the fringes of Cuba. At what point does someone ask what’s going on there. Perhaps that is the reason the Bush Administration chose a territory off of the American mainland for their detention camp, out of sight, out of mind. Yet one wonders why alarm bells don’t go off in America. A country which is quick to hold public hearings into the various personal habits of elected officials, somehow can’t find the time to delve into the happenings at a top secret prison where people have been held without any sense of process for over three years! One wonders why the Democrats never seemed to approach the entire Guantanamo issue in the campaign. Would it not be beneficial to find out what those being held in detention knew and what the American people needed to know about how and why they got there. The Democrats took a pass on that issue as well; perhaps fearful that standing up for due process and the American constitution might somehow be perceived as anti American.

An isolationist foreign policy of the US government got a short shrift as well, Kerry seemed afraid to tackle the US image abroad. While Americans have long been a stand alone kind of nation, they must at times wonder why the vast majority of the nations of the world seem to think they are on the wrong path. There are times when the American beliefs and actions are justified, there are also times when they act impudently and not concerned with the long term effects of their actions. They regularly have taken to tuning out any dissenting voice or discarding advice from formerly dependable allies. Shortly after the tragedy of 9-11, the vast majority of the world’s nations stood with the American’s in empathy to the horrendous attack on a nation that many feel holds the candle of liberty. How in three short years has that tide gone so far out? Why have the Democrats not explained how they would recapture those sympathies and more importantly how they would recapture the spirit of co-operation the US once had with many of the countries of the world. They touched on the issue, but never really delivered a comprehensive answer as to how they would bring America back to the world.

There were many International issues that just never got discussed; perhaps for fear that the American public is just too weary to ponder their responsibilities. North Korea, Iran, the crisis of Africa, health concerns worldwide and domestic just never seemed to make it onto the agenda. Or maybe despite what seemed like an endless campaign, they just ran out of time. Kerry the Internationalist got bogged down with the American agenda, which is to be expected, but never really gave anyone any sense of what he might accomplish on the world stage.

The simple fact for Democrats is that in a situation where they should have had a much wider margin, their candidate has not found a home in the bosom of the American voter. The Bush forces have held their own in a scenario that for all intents and purposes should have led to a crushing defeat.

The closeness of the polling information, the perception of a dead heat, it plays well for a second term for George Bush, by not having to be held accountable on their record, they never had to admit that things had gone wrong. The current high anxiety of a wartime America, gives the incumbent an edge simply by the fact that nothing has been challenged. By treading the muddled middle, afraid to offend or appear to be questioning America itself, the Kerry team fumbled a chance to give the average American a chance to speak out about these troubled times.

Regardless, the American public casts its vote on Tuesday, with billions of proxy voters hanging on to their decision. It’s a testimony to America’s place in the world that people worldwide are following this election as if they had a vote themselves. They of course won’t be taking too much time to weigh their vote on how the world is thinking; they will however, take the measure of the men competing for the office.

The election has been fought mostly on the agenda put forward by the Bush team; the Kerry handlers never seemed able to change that situation from day one. In effect they have made the election a referendum on the governance of George W. Bush. His handlers may have placed him in the spot to achieve what his father could not, a second term, one that will certainly see the United States carry forth with the agenda it has formulated in the previous four years.

We await the voter’s judgment and wonder what kind of world we will have after the votes have been counted, recounted and maybe even sent to the courts. Democracy is a wonderful gift to the world, flawed at times but still yet an expression of free will. May our neighbours vote in good conscience and be guided by their inner voice as to what is right for us all.

The week of essentials October 26-31

Election Day is approaching fast,
Kerry and Bush their die is cast,
Paul cut some cash with his fellow leaders,
Though that young guy from Newfie called him cheater,
The Red Sox were champs under a blood red moon,
While Sheila Copps found her book lampooned,
Seven days they have come and gone,
We recap them all, except for one!

26-Oct-04 Not a great start, forgot to save the 26th before storing, bye bye essentials!
27-Oct-04 It's back to the couch for Arnie
27-Oct-04 After they count the votes, they can count the lawyers!
27-Oct-04 So sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a frigtful trip!
27-Oct-04 Cutting up the cash with Paulie and the Premiers (less one)
27-Oct-04 Sheila researches? Hope she credits!
28-Oct-04 It takes two baby, It takes two
28-Oct-04 Why a spam law in Canada is unlikely
28-Oct-04 Florida again? And before the vote!
28-Oct-04 Back to the kitchen one more time
28-Oct-04 And next week he'll get the Milli Vanilli award for musical promotion
29-Oct-04 Robbing Paul to pay Paul
29-Oct-04 Sorry Bill, but there's a spin zone a happenin'
29-Oct-04 Ebert and Lord Black exchange reviews
29-Oct-04 Hmm, ok where do we get our flu shot?
29-Oct-04 Mr. Kerry, meet Mr. Harper!
30-Oct-04 Vote Early, Vote often!
30-Oct-04 Cats scared of rats!
30-Oct-04 The King of earners even in death
30-Oct-04 We like our beer
30-Oct-04 Banned at Wal*Mart
31-Oct-04 Diva's to kiss and make up
31-Oct-04 A Yankee fan who can't forgive?
31-Oct-04 Not a half bad idea, lets all take a nap
31-Oct-04 Go to your room without any television
31-Oct-04 Doonesbury strikes a nerve, with one little word
1-Nov-04 Law and Order: Criminal Intent, woodland division
1-Nov-04 This Diamond ring doesn't shine for him anymore
1-Nov-04 You have to fight for your right to vote!
1-Nov-04 Oil Markets to see more turmoil in the shell battle
1-Nov-04 Tricks and Treats in the Nation's capital