March 27, 2004

meet the new Reform Alliance Conservatives

With the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives into the new Conservative Party of Canada, the right clearly hopes to be able to hold on to the support of both of the old parties. But with the election of former Alliance leader Stephen Harper as the head of the new party, many former Tories are surely wondering whether they will really feel comfortable with what many are characterizing as a hostile takeover of their old party. A few federal and provincial Tories have already joined the Liberals.

Atlantic Canada will be the place to watch for any potential fallout. Consider the following:

1. The Conservatives control the provincial legislatures of all four Atlantic provinces; the only other province they govern is Alberta.

2. Stephen Harper won the leadership race on the first ballot, but did not win a single province east of Ontario; Belinda Stronach carried Quebec (61%), New Brunswick (50%), PEI (68%), Nova Scotia (53%), and Newfoundland and Labrador (53%). (She also carried Nunavut with 56%.) Harper only managed to break 40% in NB. Atlantic Canadians rightly see the Reform/Alliance crowd in general, and Harper in particular, as hostile to their regional interests and contemptuous of their marginalization (Harper infamously castigated the region for its alleged "culture of defeat").

How will the electorate react? We'll get our first answer in the spring (or fall?) federal election. After that, the provincial races take center stage. Fortunately for the Tories, all four Atlantic provinces held elections last year, so the next ones are as far off as 2008. Unfortunately for the Tories, their majority in two of those four is on the brink. Bernard Lord in New Brunswick has a majority of one seat, and John Hamm in Nova Scotia leads a minority government. So we are potentially a byelection or no-confidence vote away from another early test of ReformaTory fortunes in the Far East.

UPDATE: Here's an interview with Harper in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, where he explains/spins his previous comments and promotes free market solutions to the region's ills (a policy that works so well here in the US).

blogging Canadian politics

I've added a few Canadian politics blogs (of the leftish persuasion) to the links section.

March 26, 2004

בלאָגן אױף ײִדיש

Someone recently posted to the Mendele mailing list with links for some blogs written in Yiddish. It takes me a painstakingly long time to read Yiddish, so I haven't gotten very far with them, but they look interesting.

Bar Pakhti
Noam Starik
Katle Kanye
Sholem Berger

!בלאָגט מיר נישט קײן טשײַניק

March 25, 2004

who was that masked, lime-green man?

There isn't always room for Jell-O. From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:
Jell-O-Head's case going to trial

YARMOUTH - Robert Chetwynd is going to trial.

He's the Shelburne County man also known as Jell-O-Head who rode his horse through a Tim Hortons drive-thru last summer and now faces 27 charges under the Criminal Code and provincial statutes.
Apparently he started riding his horse to Tim's after losing his driver's license for DUI, but the management banned him because he allegedly sometimes "parked" in the handicap space or used the bumpers of other people's cars as hitching posts. So this time he tried the drive-through, but the Mounties got their man. He is charged with resisting arrest, threatening the life of an officer, and animal cruelty ("ramming" his horse Dillon into a cruiser), among other things.

Mr Chetwynd has his own website, where he gets to tell his side of the story:
Currently, The Coffee Cowboy is not allowed on the property of the Barrington Passage Tim Horton’s and has to have his medium double - double smuggled to him every morning!
Nice to see the spirit of Rodney King lives on in the Maritimes. Be sure to read his mission statement; it's at once funny and touching.

PR for Scottish councils

Yes, many Scottish councils are in desperate need of good PR, but this probably isn't what they had in mind; as of 2007, local government elections in Scotland will be held using a single transerable vote (STV) system. The Lib-Dems made this reform a condition of their coalition with Labour.

Not surprisingly, almost all the local councils were opposed to the move. But the only MSPs to vote against the STV bill were the Tories (who never pass up a chance to impede progress) and two Labourites (six others abstained). Opponents still hope to kill the measure, and local Labour big-fish-in-a-microscopic-pond types are threatening deselction for the Labour MSPs who voted for it. MSPs already have a B-List reputation of sorts (undeservedly imo), so it'd be interesting to see who these would-be kingmakers would get to replace them.

But the most interesting aspect of this move is that it puts Holyrood itself in a rather hypocritical position, since only 56 of its 129 MSPs are elected by PR. That equation was carefully calibrated by New Labour to ensure that the SNP would never form a majority, since Labour easily dominates the 1st-past-the-post seats. So now the Scottish Executive and its zookeepers in London will have to explain why pure PR is good for the councils but bad for Edinburgh.

na Gàidheal ùra

Tha mi’n dòchas nach cuir seo dragh air na daoine aig CLI, ach feumaidh mi radh nach e Gàidheal Ùr a th’annam, ’nam bheachdsa. ’Se Sasannach Ùr a th’annam.

beware kossacks bearing blogs

I've updated my links to include the Obscure Kossack Bloggers Project, a rag-tag assortment of blogs run by regulars at the not-so-obscure Daily Kos. There is Power in a Union and all that. Thanks to Maurinsky, Folkbum and all the rest who put the list together.

March 16, 2004

the New Hampshire Anti-Incumbent Ratio

George W Bush, running virtually unopposed for re-election this year, only won 80% of the vote in the New Hampshire Republican primary. Some of the other 20% went to an assortment of obscure Republicans, but most were write-in votes for the Democratic candidates. In fact, John Kerry’s 4% earned him second place. This got me to thinking that the level of write-in support for candidates from the opposite party might give some indication of how endangered an incumbent president is, at least in New Hampshire. After fiddling around with the data, I decided to also consider the number of write-in votes for the incumbent in the opposite-party primary. For example, Bush got 257 write-in votes in the Democratic primary this year.

As a result of this not-nearly-exhaustive research, I present the NHAIR, the New Hampshire Anti-Incumbent Ratio. Simply, it gives the number of “anti-incumbent” votes (i.e. write-in votes for opposite-party candidates in the incumbent’s own primary) for each “pro-incumbent” vote (write-in votes for the incumbent in the opposite-party primary). Here are the results going back to 1972, covering all the primaries except for 1988 and 2000, when there was no incumbent running. (Data sources are here and here)

Incumbent/Year Votes for incumbent in opposite primary votes for opposite party candidates in incumbent primary Ratio (anti-incumbent votes per 1 pro-incumbent vote)
Nixon 72 854 1821 2.1
Ford 76 405 1465 3.6
Carter 80 788 3704 4.7
Reagan 84 5058 7681 1.5
Bush 92 1434 8845 6.2
Clinton 96 1972 8690 4.4
Bush 04 257 8083 31.5

So, for every Democratic primary voter who wrote in Bush this year, there were 31.5 Republican primary voters who wrote in one of the Democrats. That puts him slightly out of line with the trend since 1972. Here’s a graphic representation of the comparison (if the graph images below are not displaying, you can see them, in reverse order, here):

Now the question is, does this metric correspond in any meaningful way to the subsequent fortunes of the incumbent in November? Well, with such a small data set and so many unaccounted-for variables, its statistical and real-world significance are obviously suspect. The presence of serious intraparty opposition in some cases (Buchanan, Kennedy), the effect of third-party candidates in November (Perot, Anderson), solidity of each base, and possibly evolving mores about employing cross-party protest votes are but a few of the messy realities to consider. But that’s why you’re reading this in the blogosphere and not in a peer-reviewed journal. So with those caveats out of the way, take a look at this plot of the NHAIR with the incumbent’s percentage of the vote in NH in November:

Carter appears to be an outlier, but not in a way that gives much hope to Shrub’s fortunes. According to this trendline, Bush can expect to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of -150% of the vote in New Hampshire. And statistics don’t lie.

March 15, 2004

Berlin Bands, first installment

While spending some time in Berlin last year, I got in the habit of perusing the music listings in the invaluable biweekly magazine Zitty. Among the dozens of band names listed, some would jump out at me, either because they were pretty clever, really lame, or in that nether-region where cleverness and lameosity are barely distinguishable from each other. So I started collecting the names. Herewith is the first installment of Berlin Bands*, in this case taken from the two most recent online issues. I'll periodically post lists from past and future issues. Links provided wherever possible. Neither this listing nor the linked url's shall be construed as a personal endorsement of the music (but I will say that the photo of the Jazzin' Hot Fellows is worth your time).

Bang on a Can All-Stars
Boogie Circus
Digital Perm
Dizzy's Jazz Gang
Dr. Haircut & The Schachtschnäbel
Hot Swingers
Jazzin' Hot Fellows
Kookie & Ferdie
Kuchenbecker's back in town
Monkey Ranch
Papa Henschels Salty Dogs
Spots & Birds and Telephones
Swingin' Peanuts
Texas Motherfuckers
Trick Lobsters
Umbrella Jazzmen
Wichita Lineman

*By Berlin bands I simply mean bands playing in Berlin; not all of them are Berlin-based.

a' cumail amach an t-saoghail ùr?

Rinn National Geographic liosta air na h-àitean-turasachd as fheàrr 's an t-saoghal airson rudan mar àrainneachd agus gleidheadh nan cultur. Fhuair na fjordan Lochlannaich a' chiad duais, ach bha Eilean Cheap Breatainn dìreach as an deidh. Bha a' Ghàidhealtachd 7 air an liosta.

An e rud math a bhith air "a list of tourism destinations to have best warded off the effects of modern-day life," mar a sgrìobh an New Zealand Herald? Agus a bheil e fìor gu bheil Ceap Breatainn a' cumail an culturan beò?
She said the 300-kilometre Cabot Trail, alive with traditional Acadian, Gaelic and Scottish cultures, gives Cape Breton that special something when it comes to tourism.
Gàidhlig agus Albannach? Co-dhiubh, seo rud a tha an còmhnaidh a' cur èis air leasachadh na Gàidhlig; bho shùilean luchd-stiùiridh na turasachd, tha cultur nan Gàidheal "beò" fhad 's a bhios duine le sloinneadh a tha toiseachadh le "Mac" a' cluich air an fhidheall, ann an stoidhle sam bith. Neo fhad 's a tha bùth ann far bheil iad a' reic breacan is cds.

Nise, chan eil mi ag radh nach eil deagh-naidheachd idir ann. Bha mi fìor thoilichte nuair a chuala mi gun d'fhuair Frangag Nic Eachainn, tè-dheasaiche A' Bhràighe, post ùr mar Oifigear Culturach airson riaghaltas Albainn Nuaidh, ag obair air leasachadh cànanach is culturach. 'S iomadh rud math a thachair ann an saoghal na Gàidhlig bho chionn 10 neo 15 bliadhna. Ach a dh'aindeoin sin, chan urrainn dhuinn radh nach eil a' Ghàidhlig a' dol sios. Agus sin an rud nach urrainn iad a' faicinn. Chì an luchd-turais cèilidhean is dannsaichean is iomadh rud breagha, ach chan fhaic iad a' chànan a' tuiteam eadar an linn a' dol seachad agus an linn a' tighinn.

March 09, 2004

Cheney endorses Dean, McCain

. . . disendorses Bush.
These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another thing the next. We need a commander-in- chief of a clear vision and steady determination.

March 07, 2004

support MassEquality

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Legislature reconvenes its constitutional convention in an attempt to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage. Two amendments are expected to be voted on: one provides civil unions with all the same (state-granted) benefits of marriage, the other provides civil unions but lets the legislature define exactly what that entails.

While it's gratifying that civil unions have gone mainstream, gay families in Massachusetts stand to lose a great deal if either amendment passes:
While Vermont-style civil unions provide very real benefits to same-sex couples, they offer couples no access to federal benefits such as social security survivor benefits, joint income tax filing, and the ability to make tax-free gifts and property transfers to spouses. In addition, civil unions do not provide same-sex couples with any assurance that their relationship will be recognized in other states, leading to potentially devastating emergency room situations. In short, marriages are recognized universally and provide 1,400 state and federal benefits and protections, while civil unions provide only 350 state benefits and may not be recognized outside the state that issued them.
MassEquality is coalition of organizations, ranging from GLAD and the Log Cabin Republicans to the ADL and ACLU. They are working to defeat any proposed constitutional amendment limiting the right to marry. Right now they are raising money to fund an ad campaign. Check them out and give them your support.

UPDATE: Donate through this link and the Human Rights Campaign will match your contribution.

teagamh as t-earrach

Tha i air a bhith gu math blàth is grianach a' seo ann am Massachusetts an Iar, bho chionn seachdain neo dhà. Ach tha e tràth 'sa Mhàirt fhathast, agus tha dà rud air nach eil sinn idir dòchasach ann an Sasann Nuaidh, a dh'aindeoin cho math 's a bhiodh iad a' dol: an t-earrach agus na Red Sox. Chan eil an sneachd fada bhuainn...

March 06, 2004

typos, spell-check gone awry, or biting satire?

We report, you decide.

One of the few joys of being a TA is coming across unintentionally comic or satirical sentences in student papers. Typos can always be counted on for the occasional raised eyebrow, but I think the advent of spell-check (and its less-than-attentive use) has given us a new world of accidental humor. Anyway, here are a few examples I’ve come across:
The conservative/nominal theory argues that racism does not exist and that we are a color-bland society in which race is an empty category.

Fleets of European explorers led by men such as Vasco da Gama left Europe in search of lands they believed to be uninhibited.

Once again, a white driven domination (pox-Americana) is declared.

It is a plea to transcend the language of race—radiology as Gilroy dubs it—altogether.

I have been whiteness to many cases of "code switching" in the past. [re: Keith Basso’s Portraits of the Whiteman]

Code-switching simply means to shift from using one language to another. This does not happen as frequently in situations were the people involved are anilingual.

March 04, 2004

Kerry/Edwards or Kerry/Bergeron?

John Edwards was right; there are two Americas. I realized this after watching America's Funniest Home Videos. In one America, people attempt vehicular stunts in their front yards . . .

March 02, 2004

Cheney endorses Kerry, Edwards

"If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years, the kind of tax increases that both Kerry and Edwards have talked about, we would not have had the kind of job growth that we've had," Cheney said.

Jobs are a sensitive political issue for Bush. The economy has lost 2.2 million payroll jobs since he took office, the worst job-creation record of any president since Herbert Hoover...