Thursday, September 30, 2004
The venerable grey lady of American journalism, the New York Times, finally managed to free herself from the knots in Judith Miller's pantyhose last weekend.
As a result, the Times' editorial writers got their fists loose just long enough to take a poke at the Commander's Codpiece.
And they damn near scored a direct hit:
"President Bush and his surrogates are taking their re-election campaign into dangerous territory. Mr. Bush is running as the man best equipped to keep America safe from terrorists - that was to be expected. We did not, however, anticipate that those on the Bush team would dare to argue that a vote for John Kerry would be a vote for Al Qaeda...."
".....This is despicable politics. It's not just polarizing - it also undermines the efforts of the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency to combat terrorists in America......The people running the government clearly regard keeping Mr. Bush in office as more important than maintaining a united front on the most important threat to the nation...."
"....It is fair game for the president to claim that toppling Saddam Hussein was a blow to terrorism.....It is absolutely not all right for anyone on his team to suggest that Mr. Kerry is the favored candidate of the terrorists."
Which begs the question - why?
Why would Mr. Bush's entire campaign hinge on his pushing the "I am the Only Protector from Perpetual Terrorism" angle?
Clearly, based on his statements in tonight's debate, this is not Dubya's top of mind issue. In fact, despite being given numerous opportunities Bush would not go there because he had no interest in enunciating the name of, well, 'He who will not be Named'.
Instead, it's all about polls. And John Zogby, the Dean of US polling, who does not do Gallup-assisted Republican-biased sampling, hits it on the head.
"While the overall numbers remain unchanged, there are some revealing cross-tabulations. Kerry continues to lead on four of five top .....but the President has widened his advantage over those who cite the war on terrorism to a 56 point lead -- 75% to 19%."
In other words terrorism is the only political capital the Mr. Bush and his brain Karl Rove have left.
Now, ever since the Neandercons wrote the "Project for a New American Century" they've wanted a leader to be in this position because they consider perpetual war to be their ticket to ride.
And until tonight's debate between Mr. Bush and his rival Mr. Kerry I thought they might be right.
But then along came Shrub who, in his own mangled syntax, told us that... he himself is confused about the distinction between Saddam Hussein and 'He Who Must Not Be Named'..... that, the atrocities at Abu Graib prison notwithstanding, he would still like to put his twin daughters on leashes..... that his strategy for dealing with North Korea relies on help from that paragon of democratic choice, China.....that he is in favor of Vladimir Putin's recent anti-democratic policy changes....that he knows who AQ Khan is.....that he knows that it was the other AQ that attacked America... that he knows what noookuleer means....and that "I.... know..... the way...... the world works.......I just do."
So now that the American people have seen how incoherent Mr. Bush's thoughts on both realpolitick and terrorism truly are, will that 75/19 spread become an albatross around his neck?
Update: Sat Oct 02/04:
Interesting bit of post-debate flash polling from NY Newsday by way of the American Bodhisattva had this very interesting nugget:
"Better plan for fighting terrorism: Kerry 81.0%, Bush 19.0%"
Sunday, September 26, 2004
OK, this sounds like it could maybe, just maybe, be a good idea if it helps stave off the assault on the public purse that is sure to come.
"Going along with the new trend of charitable fundraising through the sale of calendars featuring nude photographs of no longer young women, a band of courageous Victoria females have shed their clothes in support of a worthy cause of their own, the 2010 Olympics."
But it's even better satire.
Friday, September 24, 2004
While all the fuss about UBC's pending purchase of the University Golf Club has recently been focussed on the Musqueam Band's claim on the property, we think there's another matter worth considering......
Just what the heck does Martha Piper and the UBC Properties Lust want to do with all that prime real estate?
Somehow we doubt that it is a seven figure investment in the fledgling varsity golf club.
And last we checked there isn't a degree program on campus that involves the dropping of little white balls into plastic cups.
Which leaves us with UBC's main claim to fame these days.
And, hundreds of thousand spent on full page ads in the Globe and Mail to the contrary, that is not research excellence, and it sure as heck isn't the undergraduate learning experience.
Instead it's condo-development, measurable, objective evidence of which can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
(More on this subject to come......lots more.)
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
In this, the time of the Great Dismantling, it's good to know that someone out there is sticking up for the little guy.
In this case, the person taking it to the Greedheads on their home turf is a woman named Andrea Reimer who is the first Green Party member ever elected to the Vancouver School Board.
Lucky for us Ms. Reimer also blogs, and she doesn't pull punches. Here are a couple of excerpts from her latest post:
".....It (a fund-raising speech by John Ralston Saul) rang a particularly strong chord with me: as a young mother I grit my teeth at the audacious argument put forward by those middle-aged folks that benefited from the best funded social system on earth that now that they have got theirs, they want to get out of paying taxes for other people to have the same. The crowd loved it although I dare say the moderator, Patricia Graham from the Vancouver Sun, looked a little strained......."
".....Generally I try hard not to look gift horses in the mouth....but at the same time I think you have to call a spade, a spade. The latest funding announcements from the province look alot more like a public relations exercise than a legitimate attempt to restore needed dollars to education. But the issue has obviously struck a chord. Using opportunities to speak out about real dollars lost and real services being cut could help...."
See what I mean.
She's a Scrapper alright.
And I, for one, am glad she's on our side.
Monday, September 20, 2004
(with apologies to the memory of Charley Varrick)
A number of readers wacked me up the side of the head after my harsh comments about the 'CIBC Run for the Cure' in a previous piece about the Ramones and Terry Fox (how's that for a dynamic duo).
I apologize if I offended anybody that is working to help folks with cancer or other debilitating diseases.
I wasn't picking a fight with you all.
Instead, I was trashing the corporations that shamelessly exploit the people trying to help as well as the unfortunate ones that are actually battling said diseases.
Because if the banks, the cosmetic companies, the car companies, or the media conglomerates gave even half as much as they get back I might be willing to give them a break.
But they almost never do.
Case in point: all those pink ribbon products that are filling the department stores to bursting in the run-up to the fall breast cancer awareness campaigns. There is just so much stuff to choose from and so little time to decide what we want to 'spend' our donations on. Luckily, Domini Clark was good enough to rate said products in the Style section of last weekend's Globe and Mail:
"....Our pick is these tights from luxury hosier company Wolford. A pink seam funs down the back of the black stockings, and optional pink ribbons can be placed at the ankles, or worn elsewhere. Each pair costs $75. Ten percent of the proceeds to to support breast-cancer research."
Ten freaking percent?!!
Let's get this straight. Wolford gets free publicity, builds good will, moves a boatload full of extra product with a mark-up that is likely in the 50% range and all they give back is a lousy $7.50 a pair.
Clearly, that is not a fair trade.
Perhaps the Canadian public needs the same protection as third world coffee growers.
Fair trade contributions only please; no corporate shilling allowed; simple as that.
Don't think it could work? Think again, because the Terry Fox Foundation is still going strong, after twenty four years, in no small part because it has never been forced to carry a corporate Gorilla on its back.
By way of contrast, how long does anybody really think The Bank will stay with breast cancer before it moves on to the next low cost, high return, and even higher profile, charity sweatshop?
Sunday, September 19, 2004
As the old saying goes - a free press is only guaranteed to those that own one.
So, taken a step further, if you own a whole chain of media outlets what's to stop you from monkeying with other people's copy?
Nothing, apparently, if you are the Magnificent Asper(son)s.
Because it seems that the hired hands who decide which words get to go on the Asper's daily fish wrap have been instructed to take liberties with wire service stories when it fits their agenda.
Luckily for us the Asper's mortal enemy, that paragon of biased, bleeding heart, twisted commie journalism, the CBC, was paying attention and reported that the National Post had significantly altered a bylined Reuters/Agence France-Presse story.
But why would they do such a thing?
Well, according to Scott Anderson, quisling-in-chief (ie. editor) of the Ottawa Citizen, this type of crap is occurring because of an 'internal style guide' that all of the Aspers CanWestGlobal newspapers and TV stations began to follow in the spring of 2004.
You heard that right. According to the fish wrap mongers it's all a manner of style, baby, style.
Sounds innocuous enough on the face of it. But then a real reporter who does not whore for the Aspers, a guy named James Adams, gave the quisling Anderson enough rope and little Scotty was good enough to take the noose:
....."(the guide is used to) define the language we use as a news organization", Anderson said. In addition he said that CanWest believes it is possible and necessary to use words such as "terrorist" and "terrorism" in a commonsense way that ensures balance, technical accuracy and political neutrality.
(Sept 18/04 Globe and Mail, pg A9; subscription)
Now, even that sounds quasi-sensible until you find out what these people actually do. In the case of the National Post story, CanWest named a Palestinian group as "terrorist" after the original author of the piece, Reuters stringer Jefferey Heller, went out of his way to identify the group being "involved in the revolt against not Israeli occupation." and not being terrorists.
I think that any fair-minded person would agree that this is not balanced, not accurate and not politically neutral.
Me, I would go one step further and call this covert, manipulative propaganda masquerading as objective news originating from well-respected news gathering organizations (those would be Reuters and the Agence France-Presse, not CanWest Global).
But you don't have to take my word for it.
Here's what David Schlesinger, Reuters global managing editor had to say about the matter:
"...if someone is going to make a substantive change, then they should shouldn't say it's by one of our reporters". Further, Schlesinger told CanWest Global that in the future they must remove the author's byline and 'strip' the Reuters tag from the top of the story.
(Sept 18/04 Globe and Mail, pg A9; subscription)
In other words, Reuters doesn't want to have anything to do with the Aspers. And more importantly, they don't want their reputation to be tainted by the crap they are trying to pull.
Which begs the question, if they'll screw with the stuff from a heavyweight like Reuters what are the Aspers' quislings doing to pieces submitted in house by their own people?
Think about that the next time you pick up the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Province, the Victoria Times Colonist or turn on the Global TV News.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
So the deed is done.
In a classic PR ploy, BC Ferries made a Friday afternoon, triple newscycle-protected announcement that Georgeous Boy George Hahn and his Board of Quislings have decided to give German shipbuilder Flensburger our jobs as well as our hard-earned hundreds of millions.
Of course the future spin value of the deal very much hinges on whether or not the Federal Government decides to waive that 25% import duty.
So the big question now is.....is the Hog already in the Tunnel?
And if so, who brought home the bacon?
"Canadian Steamships Lines International Inc. (CSLI), a subsidiary of CSL,also operates a fleet of international self-unloading bulk carriers. Most of its ships are in a shipping pool with those of the German shipowner Egon Oldendorff (EO)."
Now does that stink of corporate cronyism or what?
Don't forget that CSL is owned by the current Prime Minister and don't forget that it is the Prime Minister that will make, or has very likely already made, the decision on whether or not to waive the federal import duty.
And if that decision has already been made who better to have acted as the intermediary between Gordon Campbell and Paul Martin than our very own former protector of the people Ujjal Dosanjh.
After all, it's not like Mr. Dosanjh and Mr. Campbell didn't have time to make a little quid pro quo deal on the side during last week's health care talks, right?
Given that the federal import duty was designed to protect Canadian interests and Canadian workers from getting screwed by our own money it's now the time for Jack Layton to go to work to earn his pay and, maybe even better, the country's trust.
Stupid, brainless, eye candy-assisted television shows to the contrary, coming of age in the 1970's was not all it's recently been cracked up to be.
For one thing the first half of the 'me-decade' suffered from the weight of all things Nixon.
There was also the constant dull ache caused by the realization that you had missed experiencing the age of enlightenment simply you'd been born a few years too late.
Then there was the music, which was bloated, turgid and very, very bad.
And that was before disco.
Luckily for me I sat behind a kid in Mr. Huggett's grade 12 math class that made the effort and took the time to turn me on to the Ramones.
More importantly, at two minutes or less of do-it-yourself ripcorded gusto, an early Ramones tune was the antithesis of bloat.
And for a small circle of my friends and me that was all it took.
Then Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny and Tommy went to England and threw the cherry bomb into the musical mix that would become the second British Invasion.
So when the Sex Pistols, and especially the Clash, came to town a couple of years later we had already been innoculated against the safety pins, the razor blades and all the other fashion trappings of the Punk ethos.
Instead, it was the DIY attitude of the music itself that we decided to emulate.
And we did.
And boy did we suck.
But the fact that we couldn't play didn't matter one whit because I have never had as much fun, before or since, crashing around in a doomed-for-the-dust-bin garage/almost punk band.
The first to go was bass player Dee Dee who died of a drug overdose some time ago.
Then singer Joey succumbed to lymphoma. I remember exactly where I was when I heard about it. We were in the line-up at Tswassen waiting to get on the Schwartz Bay ferry when the news came over the car radio. In an instant, I thought it might be appropo of all things Joey to change our newborn baby's name to Sheena in honor of one of the band's greatest anthems.
Eva is five years old now, and while she is no Sheena she just might be a punk rocker some day.
And my other kid, Emily, who is older knows precisely who Johnny Ramone is. She also knows that he passed away last week after a long battle with prostate cancer.
At about the same time that my friends and I packed it in and gave up our musical aspirations for good another kid our age was just starting out on a very different, much more ambitious, project that he too would never finish.
And like all true DIYers Terry Fox didn't give a hoot in hell that nobody took him seriously in the beginning. In fact, I distinctly remember a smirking TV anchorman passing it off as the whimsy of youth when they flashed up pictures on the local station showing him dipping his artificial leg in the Atlantic.
But the time he got Ontario Fox had inspired the entire country with his steadfast resolution to complete the task he had started on his own, alone.
It's something that is almost impossible to contemplate now in an age where nothing can be successful unless it is fake (ie. see 'That 70's Show' referred to above) or it has a huge corporate backing to force the corporate media to stand-up and take notice (see 'The CIBC Run for the Cure').
Amazingly, Terry Fox had no corporate money behind him during his own run way back in 1980. And even more amazingly the run that millions of folks will be participating in this week still has no major sponsors to suck the life out of it.
That's what I call staying a DIY project for the ages.
To find out more go here and give generously.
Update: Sept 19/04 11:37pm
Had to add this from 'Not-So-Jersey' James Walcott:
"First Joey, then Dee Dee, and now Johnny Ramone, who wielded his guitar like a scythe, dead at the age of 55 from prostate cancer. Johnny, like Dee Dee, generated a lot of sore feelings in punk circles, but I prefer to remember them the way they were as black leather foundlings at CBGB's, blasting through a 20 minute set of songs that sounded like gluehead cartoons marching to victory. If there's an afterlife, Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny are probably doing their best to get on God's nerves, and succeeding."
Friday, September 17, 2004
(with apologies to Steve Earle)
The corpse is not even in the ground yet and already the political resurrection of Christy Clark has begun.
And just to prove Rafe Mair's point once again, the trumpeting of this 'Miracle from PoMo' is coming from the CCM (that's the Central Canadian Media, not the hockey equipment manufacturer).
Here's a good example of the hagiography in the making from Mark Hume in the Globe and Pale:
"Christy Clark, a rising political star who was seen as a standard bearer for working women, pondered her career this week and decided to end it in favour of her family."
A standard bearer for working women?
Give me a break.
This is the same sharp-eyed young politico that helped force working women back into the home by blowing up subsidies for daycare while at the same time making sure she got hers at the legislature.
In my books that's a classic example of 'I'm alright Jackette, so screw you'.
And as for her concern for Children and Families, don't forget that it was Ms. Clark that acted as the 'Fixer in Name Only' after CareNet, Doug Walls and Gordon Hogg completely destroyed that Ministry by cutting off funding for almost all small non-profits that actually help children and families.
A fine and worthy resurrectee indeed.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
The latest Mustel Poll is out and the top end suggests that the flim-flammery is having some effect. As a result, the Liberals have inched ahead province-wide (three points up on the margin of error among decideds).
However there are a few interesting internals, including:
"The increase in support for the BC Liberals comes largely from Lower Mainland voters; 52% would support BC Liberals (up from 40% in August) in contrast to 30% supporting the NDP (down from 43% in August)."
"Outside the Lower Mainland, the NDP still leads in most regions. In total, the NDP have the support of 45% of decided voters, and BC Liberals the support of 32%, with no significant changes in support over the past three months."Two points to be made here.
First, the sample size (only 501 province-wide) means that it is not possible to determine a riding by riding breakdown. However, given the significantly lower average population in rural vs urban ridings it is actually quite possible that NDP is ahead in terms of probable seats elected.
Second, this is a complete inversion of the usual pattern where the rural 'heartland' vote normally goes hard to the right. This leads us to conclude that things must truly be really, really, really bad outside the Lower Mainland's low interest rate-driven construction hothouse.
Take home - the headlines that will be running in the Sheep's Herd Media for the next six or eight news cycles trumpeting the coming Liberal Landslide will be as bogus as Martyn Brown's newly minted compassion for the little guy.
Sean Holman over at Public Eye has put up a heap of posts lately which strongly suggest that the coalition running the SS Gordon Campbell is starting to come apart.
As I see it there are two poles pulling at the hollow center of the coalition.
One pole consists of the red meat free enterprisers. Those would be the folks that John Reynolds was going after with his comments from the US Republican National Convention awhile back. The other pole consists of neo-Libs with strong ties to the Federal Fibbers.
Now that the Basi/Virk affair has completely exposed the soft underbelly of the FibLib faction the Red Meaters seem to have the upper hand.
No need to look any further than today's resignation of Deputy Premier and top of the line FibLibber Christy Clark.
Clark announced that the reason she resigned was to spend more time with her 3 yr old son.
But don't forget that her brother and her husband were both named in the Basi/Virk search warrant.
Question now is.....is this a limited hangout, or are more crew members about to be shoved overboard?
David Schreck takes the highroad, sort of....
"Maybe she (Clark) did make a fundamental lifestyle decision to spend more time with her family, or maybe she's a real liberal, sickened by the hard right policies of the Campbell government, and like many British Columbians, shuddering at the prospect of what's on the agenda for a second term. Of course, there are other possibilities but they will remain the subject of speculation by the cynics."
So, go ahead and call me a cynic but if Clark really is doing the right thing now how come, as Schreck also points out, she didn't do the right thing back then:
"Both in opposition, following her 1996 election, and in government, Clark has had a high profile, earned in part by her sharp wit and tongue. She is part of a government that forces single welfare moms to find work when their children reach age three."
And don't forget, it was also the fair-minded Ms Clark that did her damndest to kill the BC College of Teachers. That's some legacy for a 'true ' Liberal (Oxford Dictionary definition: a. generous; tolerant).
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Well, it's more than just a search warrant now:
"A former B.C. government ministerial aide fired after his legislature office was raided last year is among eight people charged Wednesday with drug offences......
....A federal prosecutor said the charges against David Basi arose from the seizure of marijuana from a Shawnigan Lake, B.C., home....
....A news release from the RCMP and Victoria police said Wednesday that eight people had been charged in an investigation into cocaine-trafficking and marijuana production that began more than two years ago."
All of which serves to remind us that there are a still a whole lot of issues that have not yet been resolved in the David Basi/Bob Virk affair.
For example, just what is the crux of the drug/gang/organized crime investigation that brought the Glimmer Twins to the attention of the authorities in the first place?
Did it have anything to do with Victoria constable Ravinder Dosanjh who, according to Police Chief Paul Battershill, was suspended because of a connection to the afore-mentioned drug scandal?
Was the glue that bound them all together a fellow named Mandeep Sandhu, cousin and business partner of Dosanjh, who was originally implicated in a money laundering scheme that may have been an offshoot off a BC Bud for US Cocaine exchange brokered by the Hells Angels?
Now, if any of this is even remotely true it looks pretty bad for all of the principals involved.
But what looks to be much worse, especially for the public trust, is the apparent skullduggery initiated by the political wing of Mr. Basi's operation.
Case in point, brother-in-law Mr. Virk and confidant Mr. Sandu were both members of the infamous 'Basi Boys', a group of sharp-eyed political operatives that were apparently very successful in influencing the outcome of local Liberal riding nominations.
It's actually an old story and an ever older approach....flood the riding with new 'bulk' memberships and have them vote in a block to swing things in your candidate's favor. There is a significant body of evidence that strongly suggests that this approach was used by the BBs to oust Herb Dhaliwal and to help elect Paul Martin-backed candidates in South Vancouver Island ridings in the run-up to the last federal election. There are even vague rumors still circulating that a similar tactic was used to help ensure Gordon Campbell's ascendancy to the the leadership of the Provincial Liberals way back in 1993.
Such practices are morally and legally ambiguous at best, but if they are based on ideology in the absence of kick-backs they could be viewed as an extreme example of pure retail politics in its rawest form.
But what if they are not?
In that case you just might have trouble with a capital 'C' that rhymes with 'V', neither of which stand for Capital or Victoria.
Specifically, Basi was a top ministerial (ie. politically appointed) aid to finance minister Gary Collins and Virk held a similar post with then transportation minister Judith Reid.
Which begs the question, was there a quid pro quo? In other words, did Basi and Virk get those high-paying, high-profile, high-influence bureaucratic posts as a payback for previous political services rendered?
According to still Finance Minister and now head SS Gordo Spinmeister Gary Collins, Mr Basi did not get his job based on a close scrutiny of his references, his academic record or his 'C'urriculum 'V'itae:
Media Are you satisified with the background checks that were made prior to hiring Mr. Basi?
Minister Collins I didn't...we didn't hire David Basi because of his resume. We hired him because he had worked in the civil service here in British Columbia for over 10 years. We had known him as intern in the legislative internship program which he participated in 1992, I think it was. So we knew David's work and his time in government and that's why he was hired. It wasn't based on a CV or anything like that.All of which is fine, as far as it goes, except for the fact when somebody acquires money and power by peddling influence it's very likely that they will keep on peddlin' ad infinitum.
Which, according to the RCMP, is precisely happened in the case of Messer's Basi and Virk:
"Two ministerial aides in British Columbia whose offices in the legislature were raided by police in December were trading in stolen government documents while angling for key Liberal jobs in Ottawa, the RCMP alleges......
.....The documents concerned the sale of BC Rail and Roberts Bank, a bulk coal-loading facility connected to the railway. At the time, the government was negotiating the sale of both properties. BC Rail was sold to CN Rail for $1-billion, but the Roberts Bank sale was put on hold.....
.....police allege that Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk at the time were trying to win chief of staff positions with the new Liberal government taking shape in Ottawa. Helping them in that regard, police say, was Erik Bornman, who, in addition to being operations manager for Mr. Martin's leadership campaign in B.C. and director of communications for the federal Liberals in B.C., was director of a lobbying firm working for a U.S. company bidding on BC Rail."
And here's the kicker...
"RCMP Corporal Andrew Cowan states that "Bornman promised or offered a benefit to Basi and Virk in the manner of facilitating federal government positions. These positions would benefit Basi, Virk and their associates both financially and with a greater sphere of influence. I believe that Basi and Virk, along with associates, falsified employment CVs. Bornman was then responsible for the recommendation and background checks for the applicants. These recommendations for Basi, Virk and other family members and associates [were made] despite Bornman's knowledge of flaws and fabrications with respect to the résumés provided."
Because all they really did was seize the opportunities to generate money and power for themselves and their patrons.
And if those patrons happen to be Gordon Campbell's Henchmen one day, a Motorcycle Gang the next, and Paul Martin's Crew the next, who really cares because nobody has been hurt, right?
That certainly appears to be the position of Solicitor General Rich Coleman:
Media Do you still have confidence in the B.C. Rail deal fairness report?
Solicitor General Coleman Yes I do. Yes I do.In other words saying it twice is very nice, especially when the Public Trust is lying battered and bleeding behind a hedge on the grounds of the Legislature.
Update: 5:00pm Sept 16/04
Bill Tieleman is also very worth reading on this subject.
The Western Canada Wilderness Committee in Victoria is looking for a combination campaigner/office manager.
It looks like a pretty interesting job.
If anybody's interested send me a message at the address above and I'll forward the details or if you know somebody who might be interested hit the little envelope below and you can forward this to them.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Not-So-Jersey James Walcott takes a kilo-sized strip of bacon off the back of expat David Frum:
"David Frum, wearing surgical gloves and rubber galoshes, wades into the flooded basement of celebrity gossip to tut-tut, tsk-tsk, and pooh-pooh Kitty Kelley's forthcoming book about the Corleones of Kennebunkport. Lurid as its details may be, Frum doesn't believe this controversial title will make much of a diff(erence)......
...Frum, Canadian, has little understanding of the manicured grasp Kelley has on the sordid imagination of America. He has spent too much time with his coauthor Richard Perle plotting to grease America into neverending war to understand what a destructive dynamo in a bouffant is Ms. Kelley."
Kind of makes you wonder....what would Walcott have written if he knew that, like Perle, Mr. Frum is also a former quisling to Conrad Black.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
The Iron Range at the top of Minnesota is so far north that it is practically Canada.
In fact, when folks up there need a taste of the big city, or a WalMart, it's a toss-up between the drive to Minneapolis and Winnipeg.
Which is not to say that the Iron Range does not have it's own favorite, and famous, American sons.
One of those is Robert Zimmerman who grew up in the mining town of Hibbing. As soon as he was able the young Bob appropriated his favorite poet's first name for his last, hit the road, and never looked back.
The story of Archie Graham turned out differently. Graham moved to the nearby town of Chisholm as a young man and always looked forward.
Before he even got to Chisholm Graham earned himself the moniker Moonlight , a single line entry in the annals of the Baseball Encyclopedia, and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. He then spent the rest of his life as the quintessential country doctor, doing everything he could to help keep a small town together through most of the first half of the twentieth century.
These days there are no terrorists in Chisholm Minnesota but there are plenty of explosions.
And those explosions mean business, and jobs, as usual.
Because every working day huge caches of dynamite are used to throw up thousands of tons of minerals rich in iron ore at the nearby Cleveland Cliffs mine.
Earlier this summer the daily big bangs almost stopped after collective bargaining talks stalled.
Which is not all that unusual because the Iron Range has long been one of the standard bearers for the North American labor movement. Thus, the people of Chisholm have lived through all manner of strikes, including those where workers where killed by company goons, organizing campaigns that go all the way back to the days of the Industrial Workers of the World, and, more recently, the signing of contracts that allowed them to rise up into the middle class.
What was unusual about the most recent dispute, however, was the fact that the employer decided to make like the iron lady herself, Margaret Thatcher.
In other words, Cleveland-Cliffs Mining placed ads in local papers looking for replacement workers and then they started setting up trailer parks in the parking lot to house them behind bales of razor wire. It was something that hadn't happened in Chisholm in decades and many predicted the company was out to bust the Union for good.
But then a funny happened on the way to Scabville.
Folks from miles around, including Hibbing, rallied around the workers. As a result nobody showed up - there were no replacements. At the same time iron prices kept rising in response to the expanding Chinese economy's appetite for steel.
As a result, with the Aug 1st strike deadline looming, the company suddenly saw the light and began bargaining in good faith.
A new contract was signed on July 29th that was hailed as a victory for the union.
But don't shed any tears, crocodile or otherwise, for Cleveland-Cliffs because the very next day they announced record quarterly profits of $33 million.
A few years after his death, a farmer from Iowa named Ray Kinsella came to Chisholm to unearth the 'real' story of Moonlight Graham. Kinsella, who bears a striking resemblance to a young Kevin Costner, discovered that in addition to practicing medicine Doc Graham also practiced philanthropy with an invisible hand. Whenever one of the families under his care was having trouble making ends meet things like eyeglasses, drygoods, winter clothes, or schoolbooks would suddenly appear out of nowhere.
So, is it any wonder then that a lot of the old timers who sit around playing chequers while shooting the breeze in front of Chisholm's Northern Minnesota Mining Museum figure that Cleveland-Cliff's recent decision to do the right thing had just as much to do with the invisible hand of Moonlight Graham as that of Adam Smith?
Friday, September 03, 2004
While he's no Space Cowboy, apparently some people like to call him the Gangster of Love.
Republicans, of course just call call him Traitor.
But that doesn't stop Michael Moore.
In fact, Mr. Moore was in the belly of the beast (the U.S. Republican National Convention) all week long and he's come to an interesting conclusion about many of the rank and file members of the American Elephantiasis party:
"I've often found that if I go down the list of "liberal" issues with people who say they're Republican, they are quite liberal and not in sync with the Republicans who run the country. Most don't want America to be the world's police officer and prefer peace to war. They applaud civil rights, believe all Americans should have health insurance and think assault weapons should be banned. Though they may personally oppose abortion, they usually don't think the government has the right to tell a women what to do with her body.
There's a name for these Republicans: RINOs or Republican In Name Only. They possess a liberal, open mind and don't believe in creating a worse life for anyone else.
So why do they use the same label as those who back a status quo of women earning 75 cents to every dollar a man earns, 45 million people without health coverage and a president who has two more countries left on his axis-of-evil-regime-change list?
I asked my friend on the street. He said what I hear from all RINOs: "I don't want the government taking my hard-earned money and taxing me to death. That's what the Democrats do."Money. That's what it comes down to for the RINOs."
Which got us to thinking.....do we have a Yin to that Yang up here in British Columbia?
That would be the part our electorate that is Liberal in Name Only; red meat 'free-enterprisers' who cringe and put the wad in their wallets under lock and key every time they hear the Oxford Dictionary definition of the term, which is:
According to this week's shill, deputy house leader and private health clinic subscriber, Barry Penner, the LINO's are safely in the fold. In other words, the B.C. Liberals have nothing to fear from a Chris Delaney-led merger of the rightward-listing provincial Unity and Conservative parties.
At least that's what Penner told Mike Smyth on the latter's ridiculously shrill new call in show last night.
But then federal Conservative house leader John Reynolds weighed in on Delaney's fusion:
"I know there's people who think it should be there and believe we should have a Conservative party in every province of Canada at the provincial level. And our caucus wants to have a full discussion about that at the end of the month."
That sound of shrieking metal you hear is the new hole being blasted through the already porous hull of the S.S. Gordon Campbell.
And what's doubly ironic about Mr. Reynolds statement is the fact that he made it while attending the US RNC in New York City. Have to wonder if Stockwell Day's biggest fan ran into the Gangster of Love while he was there?
After all, we hear that MMoore looks great in a wet suit.
(kudos to Sean Holman of Public Eye for tracking Mr. Reynolds down in Gotham)