Monday, September 29, 2008

What are they doing to this woman?

So what's Sarah Palin been up to lately? From the 25th to the 29th, she was preparing for the vice presidential debate in Philadelphia. Now comes word that she is being moved into Arizona, to be "sequestered from her family" for a "debate camp" to run from the 29th to the 2nd.

Do these idiots really think a week of prepping for a debate will do more good than four days? Don't they realize how much they've already blown it for Sarah? Here's the issue.

Item One: The list of questions for this vice presidential debate is pretty much predictable: bailout, surge, Afghanistan, Russia/Georgia, health care, unemployment, experience. The overwhelming majority of those questions can be anticipated, and have stock conservative answers. It doesn't take a week to figure these out. If she's been listening to John McCain over the last two weeks, she knows them. Every follower of American politics knows them.

Item Two: Sarah Palin is a reasonably intelligent woman. She dispatched an incumbent governor in the 2006 Alaska primary, then beat a former governor in the general. I believe that like Bush, her smarts have been de-emphasized for the mouth-breather vote, but that doesn't keep her from being more than meets the eye. Now Bill Clinton or Al Gore intelligent, but smarter than she is being presumed. C-Span has aired a 2006 gubernatorial debate, and Sarah Palin sounds quite in control here:

Palin answers the question, puts it in historical context, and builds a logical case rooted in law. It's an opinion with which I vociferously disagree, but it's certainly lucid. Palin is smart enough to deliver simple answers to obvious questions. So what's the problem?

Item Three: Palin gives every sign of having too much preparation. Take one answer she gave Katie Couric when asked about the bailout:

That’s why I say, I like ever American I’m speaking with were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bailout.

But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy– Helping the — Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americas. A

And trade we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive scary thing. But 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation.

This bailout is a part of that.

Now watch this:

Every American I’m speaking with were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bailout. Because our economy is in trouble, and we need to get working again.

We need to get working on shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track, which we do by reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americas. Americans who need health care reform.

We need an economy that works for Americans, that is about job creation too. Trade is an opportunity, not as a scary thing. One in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that more as opportunity, as another chance at job creation.

This bailout is a chance to start that change.

I added the stuff in italics, but the rest of it is in the original. Palin had a cogent, clear, conservative answer, but she mangled the delivery. She was in such a rush to put in the composite parts that she threw in too much, and made a dog's breakfast of what should have been there.

This only happens through over-preparation. Through the discomfort of using somebody else's words, and nerves so amped up that one is unable to use them well. And that's not something that one week of preparation is going to alleviate. It's going to make the confusion and the nerves worse.

Listen, Palin's own answers to these questions won't be as good as Biden's, but they will be much, much better than Palin's attempts to give Steve Schmidt's answers. Instead of saying what she knows and believes is the right thing to say politically, she will be trying to choose from, remember, deliver, and "customize" somebody else's answers. It won't be'll be as bad as we've seen so far.

I don't feel bad for her, and her ideas and inexperience render Sarah Palin far too dangerous to come near the White House as anything other than a visitor. So I am glad that McCain's campaign seems to be doing its utmost to unwittingly submarine Governor Palin and keep her from doing what she is able to do.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Watching the Russians too closely

The American:

"If that's what we have to do [operate our military in Pakistan] to stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should," Palin said in the exchange, which was captured on video and reported by CBS News.


McCain said Palin's exchange was not an official policy statement.

"I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin," McCain said.

The Russian:

[Boris Yeltsin] spluttered out words to the effect that if President Bill Clinton were to cause some sort of accident in Yugoslavia, Russia would "send a missile".

Mr Yeltsin's press spokesman, Dmitry Yakushkin, moved so fast that journalists were left in no doubt that this could not be regarded as a statement of policy.

Boy, that "narrow maritime border" is looking narrower by the day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What a friendly debate!

Some people might think that watching Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace yell at Future President Obama was uncomfortable. Some people could even call McCain sneering and crotchedy. But Stéphane Dion , possible but unlikely Canadian Prime Minister, begs to differ:

Dion mentioned the U.S. presidential candidates' debate Friday, pointing out that Barack Obama and John McCain were able to disagree without making accusations.

Hahaha. From saying Obama doesn't support the troops to saying he wants America to lose in Iraq, McCain launched plenty of accusations in the air. Ah well -- but I should probably mention who this Dion guy is.

Stéphane Dion is the leader of the opposition Liberal Party in Canada. Actually, he leads one of four opposition parties -- whose leaders will all be on stage for the Canadian debates this week. If you rue the narrow range of opinions on display in our country, you may want to check this out. On Wednesday night, CPAC (the northern equivalent of C-Span) will be live-streaming the Canadian party leaders' debate, with a cast of many:

  • Incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He's from Alberta (Canada's answer to Texas), and is rather socially conservative. However, he's fiscally liberal compared to the American stream. Harper may play it safe with a wide lead in his polls. Harper isn't entirely in line with American opinion, but benefits from the idiots facing him. A rather pro-American leader within Canadian context.
  • Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who backs spending beyond any Democrat's dream. No real personality and burdened with an astounding legacy of Liberal corruption. Dion is a former university academic and it shows.
  • New Democrat Jack Layton. Layton is to the left of Dion, and varies between attacking the Conservatvies, whose platform is anathema to his party, and the Liberals, whose voters could actually be talked into supporting him.
  • Green leader Elizabeth May, who is pretty much a socialist. Her party has little real support, but has threatened and sued its way onto stage for this night.
  • Quebec Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe. It is almost unimaginable that English-speakers would vote for the leader of this party in real numbers. He and his party advocate the bisection of Canada by a sovereign Quebec. It's similar to sending a cattle rancher to a PETA meeting.

The interplay of these five leaders -- who attacks whom, who backs whom, etc., is reminiscent of the primary debates. More importantly, it determines who will lead America's greatest trading partner. And for fun's sake, if Dion thinks that our debate was more civilized than what we'll be seeing from Canada, imagine how much fun it will be!

(Another leaders' debate will be held on Thursday in French, but I imagine most of us will be watching the vice presidential debate.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dear Massachusetts Republican Party Leadership,

Dear Leaders of the Massachusetts Republican Party,

I am not your friend. I don't belong in your club, and I disagree with 80% of what you have to say. I am generally happy that you have the political impact here of an angry man shouting at city traffic while wearing a dead squirrel for a hat. However, we share the same state, and I am proud to be a Bay Stater, and am generally proud of everything to do with my state, aside from the Boston Bruins, Jon Keller, and you. While I don't care about hockey and think Jon Keller is beyond repair, I do want to tenderly talk to you about what a hilarious pack of losers you all are.

So as a neighbor, please accept my best of intentions when I write to tell you that you're a bunch of morons whose intellectual kin are just coming off flushing Wall Street down the toilet while awaiting the newest Weekend at Bernie's. You received my attention for the first time this month when I read an article that in part said:
The Massachusetts Republican Party announced Friday that it will kick off its Metrowest operation to help John McCain and Sarah Palin win this year's presidential election..."The grassroots support for the McCain-Palin ticket in Massachusetts is overwhelming," said Barney Keller, the party's spokesman. "We've had to open extra offices just to keep up with the flood of people who want real reform in Washington."

The Massachusetts GOP is opening offices in Plymouth and Springfield.

Aside from the Moon, I am hard-pressed to think of a place where a McCain office is less useful than Massachusetts. Now, Mitt Romney never got to the place where he could relish explaining this to you, but most states are winner-take-all in the presidential race, and Massachusetts is one of those. So for whatever effort, money, and talent was used to open the office -- and heaven knows you don't have an overabundance of that last one -- I"m writing to tell you that there simply must be some better use of that money, somewhere.

You also seem unaware that here in Massachusetts we are running an election, which would explain the fact that you've fielded a slate of candidates insufficient in numbers to fill out a crowd scene in a student film. Happily, a small number of masochists have decided to contest a local race as a Republican and you may want to think about giving them a hand.

Because providing a place for the rich and bored to talk about how much they love a man who will get utterly creamed in the Bay State on November 4th is a poor use of limited funds. Since it has been so long since you've genuinely tried to win anything in Massachusetts, I'm providing a list of places that money would be better spent:

  • Finding a half-decent write-in candidate for the Second Suffolk district, where a mildly competent operation would be waiting to feast on the opportunity provided by Dianne Wilkerson's desire to go down fighting and take as much of the Democratic Party with her in the process;
  • Finding a half-decent write-in candidate for the Middlesex County Register or Probate, where the Democratic candidate withdrew after being caught on camera stealing small change, and 85% of the Democrats of the county are vying to replace him;
  • The preservation of the 7 or so Republican state legislators still in office, including the top target for the Democratic Party;
  • Outreach to the thousands of Massachusetts voters inside your party still pissed about the Republican Primary;
  • Outreach to the thousands of Massachusetts voters outside your party still pissed about the Democratic primary;
  • A research trip to London or Tokyo (or Hartford) to learn how not to suck at opposing the governing party;
  • Teaching your staffers how to count to 10,000;
  • Planning more than two events between today and Election today;
  • Finding something to put on the "MassRootsBlogs" section of your website;
  • Finding the only guy who actually breathed life into your carcass for a short span of time, and hiring him as a consultant or pallbearer;
  • Updating your eyesore of a logo, or at least scrubbing the "entering MassGOP" logo on your website, which sounds like something Larry Craig moans in airport bathrooms;
  • Finding a ballot question to get excited about. There's no anti-gay question this year, and question one is so obviously a bad idea that even you hate it...but question two is about weed. You all hate marijuana, right? Why not spend some money on reefer madness commercials to scare some stay-at-home moms? Ohhh...
  • Building a website for your only tolerable public face, Senator Ben Tisei, that actually shows up on Google; or
  • Teaching town committees how to organize -- there isn't even one in Middleborough, one of the few towns that entertains the notion of voting Republican.

Massachusetts Republican Party, it's just that you're becoming too easily satisfied with incompetence. And while it's fun to dominate the politics of Massachusetts to a degree heretofore thought impossible without the use of a paramilitary it's just not fun for us Democrats anymore. We're getting bored pretending to fight over procedural rubbish and really hope you tire of your self-conducted colonic examination, and remember what you're supposed to be doing.

Love -n- votes,

NB: As Gittle points out, the guy's name is Richard Tisei. Whoops. That's my bad -- and a sign of how anonymous Massachusetts Republicans truly are.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It'll be Colorado

Wherein I lay out my forecast for the denouement of this marathon process to replace President Bush. Many of us have put more work into influencing the presidential election than Bush has apparently put into being president.

I think Stuart Rothenberg is right...mainly because we agree. So I'm willing to put down my prediction right now. I think the fulcrum state of 2008 will be Colorado.

I can't imagine Obama losing the Kerry states. Even the ones on the edge -- Wisconsin and New Hampshire -- have shown small but consistent leads for Obama. Ditto Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Among Bush states, Obama's got so Iowa well wrapped up that it's not really a swing state anymore, and is narrowly ahead in Minnesota.
That makes it 259-252 Obama.

Leaving Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, and maaaaybe Nevada up for grabs. As in undecided territory.

As time goes on, I find myself more firmly believing that the final disposition of a swing state is strongly wrapped up in the instincts of its last-minute voters. And the more I contact these people, the more I read about them, the more convinced I am that undecided voters are basically morons. McCain and Obama have been running for president for 18 months, and they have very different visions of the future. Yet somehow these people haven't yet made a choice. This isn't a decision between Coke and Pepsi, it's a decision between Poland Springs and Wild Turkey.

If at this point a voter finds them of equal value, that's probably because they don't know much, or care much. The ones who don't care that much, don't vote -- so we're left with the ones who don't know that much. Christopher Hayes writes one of the best profiles of the undecided voter I've ever's a snippet:

Perhaps the greatest myth about undecided voters is that they are undecided because of the "issues."...The majority of undecided voters I spoke to couldn't name a single issue that was important to them...the very concept of the issue seemed to be almost completely alien to most of the undecided voters I spoke to...As far as I could tell, the problem wasn't the word "issue"; it was a fundamental lack of understanding of what constituted the broad category of the "political."

The whole thing is worth the read, and it makes anyone who believes in a rationalist approach to politics and campaign agog. I submit that without any grounding in political reality, these last minute "decision makers" go back to instincts, gut level. I believe Bush got close enough to win thanks to undecideds in Florida and Ohio feeling that they knew someone like Bush and were comfortable with him. Whether they agreed on the issues wasn't as important -- better to avoid Kerry or Gore, who were nearly identical in broadcasting waves of privilege and remove from the working people of America.

In 2008, then, I feel compelled to look at "instinct" of undecided voters in the swing states. And the simple breakdown for me is this:
  • If any of those 5 states is unlikely to vote for an African-American for the color of his skin, it's Virginia. I think this reason alone makes the pursuit of Virginia a waste of time for Obama.
  • Ohio's an interesting case -- a hard-scrabble state built to compete in the 20th century. Which doesn't work out too well in the 21st century. Which candidate does that describe?
  • Nevada...I don't get Nevada. But I do understand we've been teased by Nevada repeatedly, and it's a very chaotic state. Their caucuses were a disaster, they have Harry Reid and nobody else as high-profile Democrats, and the mayor of their largest city seems insane. I wouldn't want to rely on the Silver State for anything.
  • My best hopes are New Mexico and Colorado. These are states where the future hasn't past them by, but is now arriving. These are states where the culture is one of excitement and crescendo. More people, different people, are moving into those states, with a good amount of money not far behind. The future looks better than the past, and any time spent in those places makes it easy to read the air of vibrancy. If there's one region of America for whom the future is most promising, it's the American Southwest. And at the end of the day, that's the attitude and the approach of Senator Obama.

While we have to run through the motions, I expect that by mid-October we'll be seeing lots of time spent in Colorado. Ohio will receive visits because it's so big and close, and the third state will be either New Mexico or Virginia -- whichever's closer. However, I still expect the first to go for Obama, the latter to finish for McCain.

I would also point out that moving to a Colorado and New Mexico approach and forgoing Ohio is a great way to focus money and manpower, more bang for the buck. Hopefully, Obama will stay in the game in Ohio and Florida, but but their best people out west. This lose-Ohio-win-Colorado scenario is also given heavy play on the which runs all manner of simulations -- it comes up about half the time.

Now the bad news. The bad news is named Mike Coffman. Coffman may well end up the third of an unholy trifecta that runs Harris...Blackwell...Coffman. Mr. Coffman is presently the Secretary of State for Colorado and is responsible for supervising its election, but is seeking a promotion -- he'd like to be a Congressman. The ad on his campaign website ominously declares him to be a "proven conservative leader". In other words, he's probably a Republican on the make who will be supervising the election in Colorado in a certain direction. Coffman shares the trademark Republican contempt for ethics, using state time on his Congressional campaign. He seems to play fast and loose with contracts for election machinery, though he has mandated the use of paper ballots in 2008. He's pretty dang favored to win the Congressional seat, but he may have much greater impact on the next four years in his "old" job. There's some minor hope that he'll follow the example of Washington's Secretary of State, Sam Reed, who supervised the fair resolution of 2004's razor-thin gubernatorial election despite the wishes of the state's Republican Party. Moral courage is in short supply in the GOP, however, so I remain skeptical.

As goes Colorado...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Worth repeating: "beat the crap out of them"

With Democrats under Rep. Pelosi being kinda, nervously against Paulson's "give me $700 billion now, ask questions later" plan, it seems that the Republicans won't completely get away with this. Actually, the proposal includes a provision that no court of law can force the administration to answer questions about how they spend the money. So it's just the "give me $700 billion now" plan.

Anyway, in this letter apparently from an unnamed Democratic Congressperson, we see that at least somebody on Capitol Hill has a good handle on the situation:

Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. F--k that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother f--kers.


I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling.


I am looking for volunteers who want to hold the sons of bitches so I can beat the crap out of them.
While I wish this person could spell the name of the Treasury Secretary correctly, I'm glad to see that s/he is calling it the right way. Go read the whole thing. Nice to see someone standing up to Bush's brand of Communism.

PS: These days, giggles are scarce. But I find this funny:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

So many changes

It seems that we're in the midst of a period with a high number of changes in the roster of significant heads of government. Even before the financial crisis hit, we will see or have seen changes to the heads of government in the following major countries in the latter half of 2008:

we may see them in:
  • Bolivia (verge of civil war)
  • Canada (election with the incumbent favored)
  • United Kingdom (possible backbench revolt against the prime minister)

That's 2 members of the original G7 up on the block, and 2 more possibly changed. I haven't even included some minor countries on this list such as Mauritania. Throw in some not-insignificant countries as well, and the next opening session of the United Nations may see some very different faces.

Friday, September 19, 2008

AIG in Chinese means "opportunity"

A brief thought on what's happening in the financial world. Atrios has some of the best coverage from a political angle. Basically, millions of Americans were given money, when it was fairly obvious that many of them wouldn't be able to pay it back. However, if they paid it back, the loanholder would gain a great deal of money as the payback process was very expensive. So everyone had a grand time borrowing yet more money on the promise that money would be coming in from people unable to pay it back. Now that it's become obvious enough for Wall Street to notice they aren't paying it back, the whole house of cards has collapsed.

So, fervent believers that in capitalism that they are, the Bush White House basically wants to pay all those companies back with my money, and yours in the form of federal cash. Of course, the United States government doesn't have cash either.

But we know where to get it -- the Chinese. We'll get the $500 billion by sending out more IOUs to the Chinese, particularly the People's Liberation Army, the business/military complex that controls the largest dictatorship in the world.

So, this is where we end up:

Old debtors: Reg'lar Americans. Old debt-holders: American financial businesses
New debtors: American government New debt-holders: Chinese government

It's raising the stakes to an incredible level. Whereas earlier we were dealing with financial businesses such as AIG and WaMu were hoping that they'd be considered "too big to fail", now we're hoping the Chinese government feels that way about the American government.

But the suits in charge of those companies will be okay, so I guess that's the important thing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two more reasons for Dems to root for Obama

1. -- It will break the Massachusetts Democratic Party logjam. A President Obama would have many, many positions to fill with people who have read the Constitution. With our rich supply of Democratic Senators, Congresscritters, state legislators, mayors, etc., here in Massachusetts we can fill many of those positions. Getting John Kerry into some embassy would open up that slot for one of our accomplished Congressmen, which would open up a Congressional slot, etc. Or appointing a mayor or two would let local Democrats gain more experience. We have an aging group at the top of the Democratic Party, and we need an outlet for them so a new generation can advance.

2. -- If Obama loses, the recriminations will be terrifying. With some DNC aristocrat who supported Hillary now endorsing McCain, and Obama on uneven ground in states such as Ohio because he can't hold on to the rural white voters who believed in Hillary, we have all the pieces in place for a real internecine war. The accusations would be thick as a 15th century flock of passenger pigeons should Obama lose, and I can see divisions forming that would take years to heal.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The most important map...ever.

Forget your little electoral and polling maps. Strange Maps has a post on the most important map ever, that answers a vital question with empirical data.

Soda, tonic, coke, or pop?
I have little to add to their analysis. I do wonder how we ended up sharing linguistic preferences with the Mississippi River valley along the Illinois-Missouri border and Eastern Wisconsin. In any case, I would like to commission these people to conduct a studies on the following questions:

Where is the bubble/water-fountain border?
What is the hoagie/derby/sub situation nationwide?
Is frappe dead? How about dungarees?
Is this officially further proof of the backwards, troglodytic nature of the American South?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ed O'Reilly for Senator. Our Senator.

So this guy puts his life on hold. He sells a successful legal business, one in which he was regarded by his colleagues as "passionate", "impressive", "quick-witted", "effective", and "amazing". He puts about half a million dollars of his money into the campaign so he can talk to middle-class voters, not upper-class fundraisers. Not easy for a guy who got all that by working hard, paying off student loans, and earning every bit. He hits one, two, three...four events in a day all over the state despite the hostility of the power-brokers of the party. He lives in Gloucester, and he's visited my town of Middleborough at least thrice. A Republican town, at that.

And a lot of people (even a pro-Kerry commenter on my previous post) want to tell you that it's all in service of a lie. That he won't do what he says he'll do. Hope stops here, and cynicism is back in vogue. Cheering is out, sneering is in.

When a sane person looks at what Ed O'Reilly has done to get to Primary Day this Tuesday, such a claim is laughable. He has worked too hard for too long, at too great a cost, for too little a chance for reward.

A man only works that hard if he believes in the truth of his actions. O'Reilly has burned a lot of bridges, and he is following up his pedigree as a stalwart 2004 supporter of the man who stood for a moral domestic policy, and a smart foreign policy. When that didn't work out, he donated the maximum contribution to John Kerry.

  • When Ed O'Reilly says that he stands with our Democratic Party and the principles of this country in favor of equality in marriage, it is the truth.

  • When Ed O'Reilly says that he favors an approach to education cognizant of the failures of No Child Left Behind and the necessity to return the control of children's education to the people who know them best, it is the truth.

  • When Ed O'Reilly says that he will get us out of Iraq now -- not wait for the latest polls on the subject -- and focus on Afghanistan, it is the truth.

On issues from the economy to the environment, Ed O'Reilly stands with me. In fact, he will be the only Senate candidate on a Massachusetts ballot this year whose platform is also that of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

Our platform doesn't play well in Ohio or Florida. Thank goodness, this isn't the Senate seat for Ohio and Florida. This is the Senate seat for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the state that sends people like Ted Kennedy, Ed Markey, and Barney Frank to Washington, DC. A state that is a leader on marriage equality and education, regardless of what swing states think of us. And it's high time both our Senators reflected that.

I am aware that Senator Kennedy has chosen to endorse his friend and longtime partner John Kerry. I don't blame him for that. Many politicians would do the same -- it's probably not going to wind up a close race, and why make for an uncomfortable atmosphere with your partner in the Senate? Heck, it's not uncommon for same-state Senators from different parties to play nice during an election.

But when I look at Senator Kennedy's fights, I see Ed O'Reilly as a guy who will fight alongside him. And let's face it, when you've spent years fighting fires, legislation isn't scary. Neither are polls.

Yes. It is a risk to replace what we know with what we don't. We don't know how good constituency service will be from Ed O'Reilly. Nothing guarantees 100% how Ed O'Reilly would vote. We don't know how effective he will be in the Senate corridors.

But a man doesn't put himself on the line the way O'Reilly has for nothing. And there is no motivation for O'Reilly to put himself on the line for a lie. And there is no motivation to fight like hell to get in, without fighting like hell every day. There are no pretensions here, no plays for higher office. This is a man who will be a fearsome United States Senator, because he wants to be a United States Senator.

The truth is, if Ed O'Reilly wins on Tuesday, the absolute worst we'll get is more of the same. Non-responsive constituency services, vague positions to the right of the people and Democratic Party of Massachusetts, an ineffective legislator missing at key moments. That is the absolute worst.

But we can expect much, much better than more of the same from Ed O'Reilly. This isn't hope and promises, this is a clear-eyed view of the situation. Odds say that we almost have to get better from O'Reilly, and more often.

We're lucky to have in Ted Kennedy one of about 10 Senators who see themselves as Senators, not Presidents or Vice Presidents in waiting. Let's make it 2 of 10. With enough votes from regular Democrats like you and me that will happen.

I ask you to join me in voting for Ed O'Reilly on Tuesday for Senator. Most importantly to vote Ed O'Reilly for Senator from Massachusetts, for a man who will act, speak, work, fight, and vote like a Senator from Massachusetts, for Massachusetts.

Don't be bullied

If you see John Kerry's people buying a kitchen sink today at Home Depot, feel free to ask him when it's going to be thrown at Ed O'Reilly.

Because Campaign Kerry thrown everything else at him. The Dirty Tricks Cupboard is bare. Stuff that I never expected a sitting Senator to do in a general campaign, Kerry and Kerry's people have done.

Where to start? Where to start in this story of an attorney who never posed a threat, being buried under a mountain of personal attacks from every direction possible? Where to start in this story of sneering at the voters?

In fact, we're lucky we have a choice at all. Kerry didn't want the inconvenience of O'Reilly on the ballot. He blew an enormous bankroll on swag and fliers, on throwing enough stuff with the Kerry name on it. Why not -- he had plenty of money left over from his presidential run to spend this guy into submission. Whips stalked the floor of the Democratic convention in Lowell, and were not inclined to take no for an answer. His campaign engaged in some brutish tactics to make things go their way. By happenstance, Kerry got all the time he wanted for his convention speech, rules be damned. Kerry failed -- democrats and Democrats wanted a choice. They wanted their questions answered.

So phase two kicked in, with lining up the pressure groups, against their interests and state platform, to endorse him -- everyone from the teachers' unionsto gay rights activist groups got in line. To endorse a man who stands against marriage equality, and stands against a constitutional approach to education policy.

Posters suddenly showed up online attacking anybody who dared question John Kerry. when I explored Kerry's failure to support his fellow Senators, it was dismissed as "voodoo math" -- with no justification. Professional-quality posts with extensive archival quotations showed up by people who never feigned interest in anything else affecting the Democratic Party.

And they were the same offline. A woman in front of me at a recent Obama fundraiser lit into me out of nowhere when she saw my O'Reilly button -- "the Democratic Party would be better off without people like you" I was told. This from somebody who two minutes before was complaining about the horror of actually attending an event, as she prefers just to send money. Heck, if you want organized events that run on time, the Democratic Party is not for you. And anybody with any experience working with, not just funding, the party knows that. It's part of the fun.

Kerry ducked a debate for months, before finally consenting to a 20-minute farce. At one point, Peter Vickery in his role as a Kerry surrogate opined that Kerry's presence was too necessary for the democratic process in swing states to sacrifice even a night in service of the democratic process in his home state. The "Senator from Massachusetts" had much better things to do in Massachusetts.

Phrase Three came with the Chair of the Democratic Party abandoning any pretense at neutrality, and issuing a baseless press release in Kerry's favor after the farcical debate. This was followed quite soon by leaks claiming O'Reilly's brother is under federal investigation.

It's a sad, sad story. A great debater with decades in the Capitol could have won easily via the high road. But John Kerry chose not to take the high road. This isn't an endorsement of Ed O'Reilly. I will be discussing the many reasons why Ed O'Reilly has earned every vote he receives on Tuesday, including mine. But I think that as Democrats and democrats, we need to ask how seriously people like these take the democratic process when they short-circuit it at every turn.

Personally, I don't think this is about O'Reilly. I think this is about any person who thinks that they have the right ask serious questions about entrenched incumbents. This is about any Democrat who believes not just in elections, but re-elections. Who wants accountability for all, not just Republicans.

The message from Kerry and his friends to us is simple enough:
Shut up.

What's your response?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Conor Yunits for State Representative

It's not just the Clintons. In too many places we have people running for office on the strength of family connections. Too much of the Democratic new wave in the West is due to old last names, and it does grate on me. Even my man Mark Begich is the son of an Alaskan politician. The Udall and Salazar families account for 5 Mountain West Democrats in Congress. Altogether unhealthy for democracy. I'm not familiar enough with Colorado and New Mexico state politics to know if these were really the best candidates out there, but this is too much power being concentrated again.

But what if the all-in-the-family candidate is actually the best one out there? When I first heard that Conor Yunits was running for state representative to replace the great Tom Kennedy, I was less than impressed. Yunits' prime qualification seemed to be that his dad Jack was a mayor of Brockton. Particularly given that Conor was facing two seasoned City Council members, Michael Brady and Robert Sullivan, I thought he was fooling himself to even seek nomination. Yunits has been to many Democratic State conventions, and has always been approachable, but I thought he was just in it thanks to the last name -- the worst reason to run for office.

Then I started paying attention to the race. And it didn't take me too long to start changing his mind. Yunits is actually engaged with Brockton. Brady and Sullivan are good the best and worst possible sense of the phrase. They probably know half the voters of the district by name. And that seems to be what they're counting on for victory.

Symptomatic is what these candidates offer on the "issues" page of their websites. Yunits offers a detailed raft of proposals. I disagree with some of it, such as his support for casinos, and agree with most of the rest. The casino thing isn't a deal-breaker for me, especially as Yunits is right on everything from equal marriage to opposing the death penalty to Cape Wind.

But what is appalling is the lack of detail or apparent interest Sullivan or Brady have in addressing the issues. Sullivan says that he is against the proposed Brockton power plant -- 100% against. And that's about it. Sure, he's "for" increasing local aid, enhance public safety, education, reducing property taxes, health care, and civil rights. Shocking, I know. But Sullivan offers zero details of how he hopes to improve the state of those issues in Brockton and the state stands on those topics.

And Sullivan is a cornucopia of information compared to Michael Brady, whose issues tab on his website doesn't work. He brags about his connections in the network, all the union endorsements he's received (reminiscent of Diane Wilkerson), but doesn't say what he plans to do if elected. Nevermind specifics...he doesn't even pander.

And this isn't a matter of two older politicians showing McCain-like ignorance of the Internet. A recent candidates' forum made clear this lack of detail was deliberate (you can watch it here, including a section on Democrats running for Plymouth County office). On questions ranging from a proposed (and large) arcade for Brockton , to Deval's Readiness Report on education, to civilian police details, neither Brady nor Sullivan could be bothered to give a substantive answer to the question. Yunits showed a detailed familiarity with the Readiness Report, is cautiously in favor of the new establishment, and agrees with civilian details. Brady hasn't even read the Readiness Report yet, and neither committed to a yes or no on civilian flagmen.

It's clear what is happening. Sullivan and Brady -- good guys both -- are hoping that local connections and endorsements will propel them through the Democratic primary, and don't want to risk alienating anybody by, you know, showing real political courage. Yunits, with less to lose, and more to gain, is taking voters seriously by taking stands on serious issues.

I'm mildly surprised to be backing Yunits in this primary, but Brockton needs somebody willing to take a stand for the city, and you're only going to get that from someone willing to take a stand for his beliefs. If a candidate takes his voters for granted before his election, how will he treat them afterward? Brady and Sullivan are loyal hard-working Democrats who get stuff done out of sight, but Brockton needs good representation in the public eye as well as in the back rooms. Conor Yunits respects the voters and is working to earn their trust, and for that I hope that Conor Yunits becomes the Democratic nominee on September 16th for Brockton's next state representative.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I miss Phil Johnston

Did you know that John Kerry has a primary challenger this year? You do? Well, that won't make Kerry very happy. You see, Mr. Kerry tried very hard to keep O'Reilly off the ballot. He tried very hard to browbeat delegates at the state party convention this spring to keep O'Reilly under the 15% threshold necessary to get on the ballot. He spent an ungodly sum of money. Kerry got all the time he wanted for his speech (no time limits for incumbents!) because Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh was, as he excused himself, "distracted" .

See, some sweet folks were happy when Walsh became Chair of the Democratic Party. The previous chair, Phil Johnston, was disliked due to his history of protecting incumbents. Mind you, he did an amazing job turning back Mitt Romney's attempt to buy himself more Republicans in the State Legislature in 2002, and even increased the Democrats' margin in those same bodies in 2004. In 2006, he was instrumental in electing Deval Patrick governor.

Job accomplished, Johnston rode off into the sunset, and his post was taken by Deval Patrick's campaign manager, John Walsh. Whereas much of Patrick's staff immediately packed up for Chicago to use the lessons learned during their Massachusetts trial run to get Barack Obama elected president, Walsh stayed behind to helm the Democratic Party.

And, surprise, surprise, Walsh turns out to be not that different that Johnston. Kerry is apparently having a hard time of it, despite the unthinking support of Democratic-leaning issue groups. My favorite moment thus far is when Walsh waded into the 20-minute "debate" in which Kerry grudgingly stooped to participate only when his refusal grew too embarrassing. Ed O'Reilly said that Kerry had not given much of a proportion of his massive campaign warchest to fellow Democrats. I doubt that Mr. O'Reilly based that accusation on the humble work-up I posted here, but I was rather proud of it, given that it used numbers and all. Keep in mind that much of that money is "left over" when Kerry decided to hoard some of his cash from his 2004 run for president.

Well, Incumbency Enforcer Walsh decided to press his thumb further down on the scales by firing off a press release that calls O'Reilly statement "just plain, flat, untrue. ... I know from talking with my colleagues at state parties across the country that Sen. Kerry's support of Democrats is well known to them."

Needless to say, Walsh doesn't provide any numbers. Zero proof. Hopefully his candidates are offering more substance to their critiques than Walsh does. If Massachusetts Democrats pattern their arguments and reasoning after Walsh, we're screwed. The idea that "talking to my colleagues" is to be taken seriously is beyond ridicule.

I miss you, Phil. At the least, you had style.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Senior African-American Republican?

Just out of curiosity, I was trying to figure out the senior elected Republican who happens to be African-American.

I struck out on governors, Senators, and Congressmen. The best the GOP could scrape up four years ago was Maryland lieutenant-governor Michael Steele, a schmuck who went on to lose the next race we ran. So, is there a speaker or president of the state legislature out there somewhere? Am agricultural commissioner?


(PS: I'm looking for elected officials...Condi Rice was appointed by one man. I'm looking for an African-American widely supported by Republicans.)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

MTA Endorsements Keep Getting Worse

I earlier mentioned how "my" union, the Massachusetts Teachers' Association, chose privilege over principle by endorsing John Kerry over Ed O'Reilly in the upcoming Senate primary. Kerry is almost definitely going to win, albeit on a platform far less supportive of public education than O'Reilly's. So rather than stand up for their putative beliefs, the union leadership went to preserve a guy who supports No Child Left Behind. Why so many organizations and regions are trying so hard to cotton up to a Senator clearly ignorant of his own state, a man constantly mentioned as seeking an appointment from Barack Obama, I don't know. No surprise, but a disappointment.

However, I was surprised to find out that the MTA has further endorsed Dianne Wilkerson and Michael Brady for state representative. Wilkerson is an incumbent with, er, ethical lapses, and is furthermore lagging according to the internal polling of her opponent, Sonia Chang-Diaz. This wouldn't surprise me, given Wilkerson's record of flouting election law that is simply astounding. Wilkerson has been ducking substantive discussion of her record (again, like John Kerry). Not sure why the MTA waded into a race so hotly contested, when both candidates are pro-education...and one doesn't have a criminal record. But when you travel in the same circles, etc...

We also have Michael Brady endorsed in the three-way primary for Democratic nominee for state representative for the seat that takes up much of Brockton. Brady is a nice fellow who goes to the same functions as all Democratic insiders including Wilkerson and Kerry. A decent guy, though he doesn't mention issues on his website, and is sadly ignorant of the education issue (more on that later this week).

The MTA seems to pick their endorsees with the deliberation and sense that John McCain picks running mates.

PS: I'm rather disappointed in my neighbors in Wareham, Carver,and Bourne, for not finding somebody to run against Republican rubber-stamp Susan Williams Gifford this year, given that in 2006 is was a 57-43 race.

Hail Comrade Bush

The workers salute you! Removing means of housing production from bourgeois and bringing to people is great work! Down with stockbuyers, power to government! Long may proletariat sing praises of American National Housing Authority, drown out whining money-holders. Taking land of labor is dog-system, much to be fought! The rich man's banks surpress the people, and must become the People's Banks! Controlling of land away from bourgeois is key to the Revolution and our Glorious Future, and taking of land from rich to all leads to tomorrow -- glory to "sound fundamentals" of McCain's glorious new system of the people! Hail to Bush and partners Cheney McCain for fight against evil capitalist system. Hail to American National Housing Authority, down with capitalist system.

Hail to Bush, McCain, and the People's Revolution! Down with Obama and Capitalism!

Okay, fun time's over...back to McCain

It takes a deal of discipline to push away from the astounding reality that is VP Candidate Sarah Palin. It seems every day offers up one or two more illustrations of her dishonesty and incompetence, the latest being her lie about selling the governor's place on Ebay, and McCain's people hustling her away from anyone who might ask her questions. It's reminiscent of a movie where the heroes discover a cavern full of treasure, wandering wide-eyed through a room of progressively more opulent goods. Though it isn't easy to tear away from this trove of mendacious mediocracy, it's time to re-focus on the true prize.

Governor Palin isn't running for president, isn't in the presidential debates, and probably won't really influence too many votes (you didn't actually believe those "Americans" who live to tell women how to behave would sit out this election, did you?). Instead, this election is about McCain and Obama. So while it may be fun to pump out posts about Sarah Palin (4 of today's 7 front-paged on DKos, and half of the current recommended reader diaries on TPM), this in the end is just static.

Better to keep our eye on the ball, as does Senator Biden:

PS: Hot on the heels of McCain's speech about bringing change to Washington and pretending the Republicans don't control the government, Republicans are trying to win control of the Senate by bullying Joe Lieberman into their caucus. That's McCain's brand of change -- reaching out to Washington insiders.

PPS: My number one man, Mark Begich, has a real race on his hands for US Senator for Alaska in the wake of Palin's inclusion into the ticket. Help him out, wouldja?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

McCain's "speech"

I can't help feeling bad for him. Senator McCain has dreamed of this moment for decades...has been planning this speech longer than I've been alive.

His team didn't screen for protesters, and he was interrupted three times, much to his evident discomfort. Obama's team connected with a crowd of 85,000 better than McCain did with a captive convention.

He couldn't read the teleprompter, and stumbled on many lines, including one about teaching illiterate adults to read.

He reminded everyone that Pearl Harbor is a personal memory for him.

He asked Democrats and other Americans to "fight with him". Done.

He delivered applause lines, mumbled over the applause, repeated himself, then grimaced/smiled at the end. Repeatedly.

Give him a mic, and 40 minutes. Don't put him on a glossy, phallus-shaped stage with a shaky speech.

In related news, this just arrived in my inbox:

MTA: For Cocktail Parties

The Massachusetts Teachers' Association is an eeeevul teachers' union. You know, we can't be trusted. So here's the eeeevil teachers' union on federal regulation of education under "No Child Left Behind":

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has produced many unintended and unfavorable consequences for students, parents and educators across the country. Six years of experience with NCLB demonstrate the law's complexity and the vital need to take the time to carefully consider and fully understand how each proposed change will affect our nation's schools and students.

So...the overarching regulatory act on education, of which the MTA is at least deeply suspicious, believing the law is in need of "more significant changes". John Kerry might agree or something, but I can't really tell. You see, John Kerry doesn't really have an issues page, just a brag page of things that he's said about issues...if he hasn't given a good speech on an issue, it's ignored. Education isn't mentioned. However, we know that he voted for the law, and may have flip-flopped since then...but he hasn't really taken a definitive stand. So it's pretty much a "get back to you on that" kind of stance.

So on one hand, we have Ed O'Reilly who knows education and would repeal this odious broach of the principle of federalism that calls itself a law...and then we have John Kerry. One might expect the MTA to stand with other education stakeholders with O'Reilly, or at least excuse itself from this primary. But standing for principles isn't nearly as wicked as the access you get by kissing up to the right people, and it looks like the MTA brass doesn't want the cool cocktail parties to be the sole turf of other progressive issue groups who've sold out their members. So they've gone ahead and endorsed John Kerry, a man who (at least for the moment) stands for the single biggest impediment to its members doing their jobs well. Maybe a good choice for the "MTA", but not one for Massachusetts teachers. Thanks for nothing, guys.

PS: As usual, Mark Begich shows what leadership is, this time on education. Six months from now, Alaska will have a more nuanced, populist, accomplished, progressive, Senator than Massachusetts.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

It's been quite a streak lately...the Beijing Olympics, followed by the Democratic National Convention (and its attendant promotion and protection of unity), in turn followed by the stunning slow-motion train wreck that is Sarah Palin for vice president...right into the Republican National Convention. But the world's been busy, too. Real busy:

  • Pakistan: Almost immediately after driving out Musharraf, the governing coalition fell apart. The new prime minister's limo has been attacked, and American-led troops performed military operations in the country without permission -- something international law experts call "an invasion".
  • Thailand: Angry middle- and upper-class protesters are calling for the resignation of the prime minister and the end of Thai democracy. Apparently the common rabble shouldn't be trusted with the vote, and they're willing to undermine the rule of law to make this point. We can also view this as a blueprint for Republican actions after an Obama inauguration.
  • India: In scenes beyond the absolute worst case scenario of a hurricane in New Orleans, over 1 million people are rendered homeless in flooding as a river suddenly changes course along the Nepal-India border.
  • North Korea: The disassembly of North Korea's nuclear program has paused, as Bush refuses to fulfill America's end of the bargain by going back on his word to remove North Korea from government terrorist lists.
  • Japan: After a period of calm under Junichiro Koizumi, Japanese politics returns to unpredictability after the Prime Minister resigns in a move universally labeled "abrupt".
  • Canada: In the wake of a deadly assault on Canadian troops in Afghanistan, Canada prepares for an election as well.
  • East Asia: Russia seeks to firm up its grip on parts of Georgia, even after its attempted East Asia coalition, centered around China, falls apart.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How to mess up a good thing: Bloggers sink Dems on Palin

It seemed like the richest of targets. An incredibly unprepared, unqualified nobody for vice president under John "Odds Are I'll Live" McCain, chosen to the annoyance of the retinues of Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. A bloggers' dream come true, a one-stop shop for scandal smorgasboard:

  1. Sarah Palin is a woman embroiled in her own ethical scandal
  2. Sarah Palin is advocates for teaching creationism in schools.
  3. Sarah Palin supported the bridge to nowhere earmark.
  4. Sarah Palin , doesn't know or think much about the surge in Iraq
  5. (but she says we started it because of oil)
  6. Sarah Palin started her brief career as a poor small-town mayor.
  7. Sarah Palin doesn't think much of McCain as a presidential candidate.
  8. Sarah Palin underwhelms Alaskan Republicans
  9. Sarah Palin thinks the Pledge of Allegiance was written by the Founding Fathers, and
  10. Sarah Palin , doesn't know what the vice president does.

This, dear friends, is a target-rich environment. So where to start...hmm...where to start.

I know! A ragged, pale conspiracy theory that Palin faked her own pregnancy while governor of Alaska to cover up for her daughter!!!! Cuz it's got sex in it!!!

I'm sorry to any national and local blogger pushing this, but are you trying to hurt the Democratic Party? I've just given you ten awesome tidbits that show who wrong a choice Palin is in isolation, much less in combination. But we're going with a conspiracy theory based on the testimony of anonymous stewardesses, and Us Weekly style examination of photos for a baby bump. How stupid do you really think the entire state of Alaska is...especially the Democratic Party? It ain't all polar bears up there people...I think somebody somewhere would have said something, particularly for the right sum of money. She apparently paid off the enormous medical community of Juneau, fooled every Democratic leader meeting with her, suckered the half of the Alaskan Republican Party that evidently detests her, bamboozled every Alaskan the met her, successfully hid her daughter for a few months, whose friends never said anything...that must have been a realistic prosthesis!

Meanwhile, all this golden stuff that comes when you pick a running mate out of a hat just became old news, out of date, and unexamined because Obama just had to go deviate from his campaign plan to react defensively to the antics of this crew of Matt Drudge fanboys. Nice work, guys.

Oh, great. Just when I think there's already too much muck is out there, the wannabe Richard Mellon Scaifes of the right get to pound on the fact that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Big deal. Bill Clinton was an atrocious husband but a superlative president, but somehow Sarah Palin won't manage the vice presidency if she isn't an awesome mother? Defeat from the jaws of victory. Oy.

(Cross-posted at BMG)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Let's play What Would You Do?

You are John McCain. Somehow, the world has come to believe that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is your pick for Vice President. She is a loyal conservative who has sated most social conservatives wary of your supposed open-mindedness. There are some reasons (here are 15) that indicate that she may not be a good choice.

The nice lady on CNN just said "the last couple of days have been pretty rough" for Palin. The AP is calling the first day of the convention a "Day of Stunning Palin Disclosures". You're not the story. She is the story, for all the wrong reasons. You apparently did a crap job vetting Palin, and the crap that you didn't uncover keeps comin'.

Do you ditch her?

There's already plenty out there to indicate that you didn't really want her for VP anyway. You have two pissed-off Republican giants waiting in the wings. And they're pissed.

You went out of your way to pick a woman. You passed over a range of Republican women to find one that would make social conservatives happy. Potential winners Jodi Rell, Linda Lingle, Elizabeth Dole, Carly Fiorina. You obviously have a lot of loose ends with Palin, and she just hired a lawyer to cover her corrupt butt (which you've been caught admiring on tv while fidgeting with your wedding ring...smooth!).

Do you ditch her? Do you pull a Harriet Miers and have her withdraw tearfully? In order to replace her with...another super-rich billionaire people can't connect with? Some guy? Do you dig up another Republican woman willing to sacrifice her career, or just go with a man and hope for partial credit?

You can hope to weather the storm. The family values hypocrites will swallow the teen pregnancy to put McCain in the White House. When Obama-McCain-Obama-McCain gets going, maybe people will forget about Sarah Palin in the wake of your convention and the debates. As long as she finds the debate hall, the media wil ldeclare that she topped expectations against Biden. Maybe the troopergate thing won't blow up, and maybe there won't be any more unpleasant surprises. Do you ditch her?

Or you can hope to get the storm behind you. Pull a switcheroo. Hope to get credit for picking a woman, even though it didn't work out. Pick someone predictable and grit through, or try to find another woman. People will crow and laugh, just like they did with Miers. But Samuel Alito has been forgotten, and is a loyal soldier for the wackjob cause. In the long run, one could expect that Romney or Pawlenty will be better in the long run -- they've been vetted appropriately (or could be this time), they'd hold their own against Biden in the debate, they come across as ready in case you don't survive until January 2013. They do have a "rich white Republican man" problem, though...

You're John McCain. Do you ditch her?

Update: The question got a whole lot easier to answer.

Election Fever: Canada's Caught It!

By all appearances, Canada will indulge in election jealousy be also trudging to the polls this fall. This may well result in a new Prime Minister for America's greatest trading partner. Canada, of course, uses the "Westminster system", whereby the leader of the largest party in the legislature becomes the head of government. For an American equivalent, consider that as the Democratic Party holds the majority in Congress, Nancy Pelosi would be the head of government. So all 308 members of Canadian Parliament would end up for re-election.

Election dates are not regular in such a system, so an election can happen if a majority of the legislature -- called the Parliament -- so wills it. On the positive side, this means 40-odd day campaigns, rather than the 2-year odyssey to which America has been subjected.

As somebody who lived in Canada for several years, and specialized in Canadian politics for an academic and post-academic career, I have a strong interest in this race. I'll be examining it as it proceeds, but here's the briefest of rundowns:

Canada is governed by the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They do not even have a majority of seats in Parliament, but more than any other party. "Conservative" is a relative term, of course -- Harper and co. are more liberal on issues such as health care than our Republicans, and many of our Democrats. Trying to shlep along without even a majority of seats is tough going as the government needs the help of one of the three opposition parties to pass a bill. So Harper's looking to clear up the issue a bit.

Opposing him is the Liberal Party under Stéphane Dion, a milquetoast academic turned politician. Dion has been rather ineffective in my opinion, and worse still is governing a party tainted by a breathtakingly wide and deep scandal whereby enormous sums were steered toward privileged friends in the private sector. The Liberals are the "Natural Governing Party" of Canada, and this time in opposition is in some ways a time-out punishment. Whether the time-out is over, we don't know, but it may be.

This dissatisfaction with the two main parties may open things up for the minor parties. The socialist New Democratic Party is forever waiting for a break into the big time, and has never gotten it. They have many strong issues, but struggle with a "not ready for prime time" feeling. The Bloc Québécois is a party only concerned with Quebec, whose main platform plank is the eventual sovereignty of the province. Ironically enough, there was a few years in which this group seeking to split Canada ended up as the "Loyal Opposition".

Oh, and the Green Party exists.

It'll be interesting to see how things roll out. My call right now is a minority Liberal government.

PS: Japan's headed for interesting times, following the rather abrupt resignation of their prime minister. Given that no party controls a majority in Japan, they may also face elections this fall, looking for their third prime minister in a year. In sum, there will be leadership changes in 2, maybe 3 members of the G-8 over the next few months. Interesting times.