The Anti-Social Socialist

After much badgering and media hype, this page has been making a few visits to Facebook, the social networking site turned cult. After reviewing a few pages (including those of neighbours and family members), I was left with feelings that the notoriety surrounding Facebook is unjustified, plus feelings of inadequacy in that my roster of friends doesn't number into the hundreds or thousands.

I don't get Facebook. I also don't get American Idol, Paris Hilton, NASCAR, Lost, Starbucks, IPod, Ultimate Fighting, Survivor, and many other expressions of today's popular culture. However, Facebook isn't as much an expression of pop-culture as it is an emerging self culture, propelled by a younger generation far more starved for attention than the Generation X that pioneered the Internet. To this page, counting up your friends and latching on to a shifting variety of cliques is like a life sentence in a virtual high school where you don't learn anything except how many friends you have and what cliques you belong to.

Certainly, there are exceptions to every rule, and someone might post something informative or meaningful to their Facebook page, but guess what? The site's rules state that anything posted on Facebook becomes property of Facebook. They own your stuff, they know you are, and they know where you live - it's a marketing agency's dream! With the reach that Facebook is gathering, it probably helps the FBI, CIA, CSIS, and Interpol sleep pretty soundly at night, too.

Not being all that moved by Facebook, this page isn't going anywhere. I'll stick my first generation MP3 player, my cellphone that doesn't have a camera, analog basic cable and good ol'fashioned e-mail. All of us a choice to be popular or to be right, and I think that my relatively faceless presence allows me to be right more often than not. I can wait until Facebook writes a more compelling chapter.


Everyone's a winner...except you

Here's the bad news: BC Ombudsman Kim Carter's investigation has found several instances of potential corruption and fraud among lottery retailers. It appears that several prizes under $10,000 were pocketed by retailers rather than the rightful winners, and with next to no scrutiny from the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Carter's findings come on the heels of an internal BCLC investigation last year which found no wrongdoing, and should be a wake-up call to anyone who thinks Crown Corporations should be allowed to police themselves: David Hahn and BC Ferries, I'm talking to you.

Here's the good news: Even if some retailers are pocketing the winnings, the chances of winning the lottery in BC have probably haven't dropped that much anyway.


The fish fights back

After failing to do their masters' bidding in confronting last weeks Anti-Poverty Committee occupation of Ken Dobell's office, Gordon Campbell's media minions snapped back to attention and continued work on defaming the APC. Columnists accused the APC of drawing attention away from the issue of homelessness and on to themselves like so many spoiled children. A CTV reporter asked people living on the street such delightfully loaded and simplistic questions as "Do you think you're homeless because of the Olympics". The best piece was an astounding defiance of quantum physics: Jim Green was brought four years into the future from 2003 to defend the previous City Council's agreement with VANOC on social housing.

Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell Green before he went before a microphone that any commitments made by VANOC or the City for Social Housing ended up under the wheels of Sam Sullivan's wheelchair a long time ago. Either Green was disoriented from the effects of time travel, or perhaps he wasn't the best choice for Mayor in the last election after all. It also doesn't appear that Jim Green 2007 was able to meet up with Jim Green 2003 and warn him about his namesake appearing on the same Mayoral ballot, because the commentary you're reading at this moment would no longer exist.

This page recommends its readers to check out The Tyee's week-long feature on the Housing Crisis in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and throughout the Lower Mainland. While VANOC, City Hall, and the BC Liberals are sneaking around the airwaves and op-ed pages to discredit the legitimate concerns of the APC and the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, Authour Monte Paulsen is shoving their hidey-holes full of factual information. If that information gets shared around, there won't be any place for the Olympic oligarchy to hide.


Thanks for sharing

One of the comments from Wednesday:

"I have to remain anonymous, as a self employed small business owner there is too much at stake if these vindictive thugs that rule us wanted to "rip me a new one" and you would be surprised at the growing disgust felt by common decent folks concerning the actions of campbell cops&co."

When small business people live in fear of what's supposed to be a business-oriented government, we know there's been a serious malfunction. The Liberals aren't governing for all British Columbians, they're not even governing for all the British Columbians who voted for them, they're governing for themselves and the people who bankroll the BC Liberal Party. The NPA are doing the same thing at City Hall. These people don't govern, they copulate with a cadre of corporate criminals, manipulate the mass media, and post platoons of police to pulverize the proletariat. Alliteration is nine tenths of the law.

The concern raised by my enterprising, anonymous, fearful correspondent begs the question: what is to be done? It appears there are a growing number of people in Vancouver and British Columbia who reject the current regime and its blatant disregard of the social contract, but don't do anything about it because:

1. The current system of electoral politics is established to reinforce power structures rather than change them. Democracy and winning elections are simply not the same things, particularly in a province where the distribution of retribution is treated as a solution but leaves nothing in its wake but corruption and pollution. As long as majority governments are the rule rather than the exception, the Liberals can continue to play the New Democrats off against the Greens rather than enact meaningful social AND environmental policy.

2. Those wishing to challenge the powers that be feel that they have too much to lose. Those currently challenging the powers that be have nothing to lose. The B.C. Federation of Labour has a lot of members who are probably making payments on a new van. The Anti-Poverty Committee probably fits in the back of a new van. There was a time in our history when if people were pissed off enough, everybody would hit the streets and agitate for change. Of course, that was when the labour movement was more of a moral exercise than the legal exercise it is today. Why do union members now have to go to a labour history course to learn "An injury to one is an injury to all"?

3. We just don't talk about this kind of stuff to each other. When you're riding the bus and it's overcrowded and stuck in traffic, do you ever turn to the person sitting next to you and say "Wow, if this is bad, imagine what it'll be like if the Gateway Project goes through?" We talk about ourselves, we talk about people we know (and judging by the poularity of Entertainment Tonight, Extra, E-Talk Daily & MTV a lot of people we don't know), but do we ever talk about what's really important? With apologies to Judy Rebick and David Beers, nobody reads Rabble or The Tyee except for political nerds who write political blogs and have no life. Frankly, I'm relieved that this page has as few hits as I do, it probably means people are doing something important.

That means the person responsbile for spreading the word about what's really going on is Time magazine's person of the year: YOU. The four words that can turn this whole thing around are "WHAT DO YOU THINK?" When you're spending time with your friends or family, you're not obligated to discuss American Idol, the game last night, Brangelina, or whatever weapon of mass distraction is being unleashed that moment. You are allowed to talk about social housing, fish farms, public transit, raising the minimum wage, tuition hikes, offshore oil, factory farms, a woman's right to choose, the stupidity of killing Afghans, and anything else that burns within you. Your opinion is going to matter more to the people who know you and care about more than it is to an editorial board or a government MLA. When we realize we are more important than our televisions, we can build critical mass, where can build numbers, where we can build the collective consciousness and consensus to confront the carelessness of capitalism. Nine tenths of the law.

If you're someone in the know, damn it , let it show. No one speaks Truth to Power without the Word of Mouth.


Know Your Role

In the wake of Tuesday's ANTI POVERTY Committee action at B.C. Liberal offices in downtown Vancouver, Premier Gordon Campbell is furious with the media for not doing the job of the Vancouver Police Department. There is nothing wrong with your browser: after over a decade of getting whatever his BC Liberals wanted out of our newspapers, radio stations, and TV networks, Furious Gord is throwing a tantrum because something attached to a microphone and a camera didn't go his way.

I'm sorry Mr. Premier, but not every assignment for a local TV crew is going to play out like that joint BCTV/RCMP raid on Glen Clark's house a few years back, an exercise in police harassment and yellow journalism that you should be more than familiar with. Sometimes reporters in the field forget little details like how much money Canwest/Global donates to the BC Liberals, or that your Finance Minister Carole Taylor is a former CBC President who's kept a lot of connections. Sometimes journalists would rather report the news than make the news, and most journalists I know like to leave telling someone to stop smashing things to the police.

Let's review: Protesters are not criminals, Journalists are not Peace Officers, and Gordon Campbell is not much of a Premier.


With all due respect, Constable Chow, shut the fuck up

Yesterday afternoon members of the Anti-Poverty Committee staged a mock "eviction" of double-dipping BC Liberal/VANOC lackey Ken Dobell at his plush downtown Vancouver office. "These are not protesters, these are not activists, they are criminals and that's how they're going to be treated." said Vancouver Police Department Constable David Chow.

Let's go to the replay: APC members posed as floral delivery staff to gain access to the offices of our corporate overlords. How does that differ from a VPD officer posing as a 24 Hours reporter to gain access to APC leader David Cunningham? The protestors harassed and intimidated the poor suckers stupid enough to be wage slaves for B.C.'s capitalist junta, but the VPD gets away with ongoing harrassment and intimidation of the APC, and the Downtown Eastside residents they're speaking up for.

Actually, this page should stop calling the APC protestors and start calling them heroes. B.C.'s labour movement (and our party of choice, the NDP) has failed badly in living up to the motto "An injury to one is an injury to all" when it comes to a Winter Olympics with almost as many fascist overtones as the 1936 Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. They had a lot of closed door meetings, police misconduct, and people disappearing for that one too.

And for those of you media lapdogs scoring at home: it's the Anti-POVERTY Committee. Quit trying to shove the real issues aside with the term "Anti-Olympics". Most people, including this page, like the Olympics, but everybody really hates poverty, so it's obvious what the game is when you refuse to use "Anti-Poverty" in the headline. You know what really pisses this page off? The Ken Dobells and Gordon Campbells of the world using the 2010 Olympics to inflict even more poverty on the most helpless and disenfranchised in our community.


Laidlaw: Leave the driving alone

The Greyhound strike in Western Canada enters its second week, and this page is in full support of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1374.

To date, most of the bitching from the great unwashed has centered around Greyhound Canada's head office in Calgary, where would-be passengers were angry that the strike started before the Victoria Day long weekend, and claims that there was no notice of a strike. For those of you scoring at home ( or in Calgary), Greyhound, like other "home teams" Canada Safeway, Westjet, and the Oilpatch, have a lifetime free pass from the local media in Calgary. Seldom is heard a discouraging word, which meant travellers couldn't make their way home from the range.

ATU members hit the picket lines because they're trying to stop the "Americanization" of Greyhound Canada under the ownership of the Laidlaw corporation. While this page bristles at using "Americanization" as a negative, there is something seriously wrong with the bulk of passenger bus service in Canada being placed in the hands of a company best known for school buses.

A ride to school and back home is one thing: being forced to stop in Abbotsford on every eastbound trip, having seat reservations inexplicably cancelled, being woken up on overnight trips because of arguments with drivers over trips being routed through Kelowna that were scheduled through Kamloops at the time of boarding, and repeated mechanical breakdowns are a few other things. If that's what ATU 1374 means by "Americanization", then hand this page Old Glory and a book of matches.

This page hopes the union can pressure Laidlaw from running Greyhound on the cheap, and make taking the bus a realistic, environmentally friendly, and relaxing option for travellers once again.


My - atus

This page is at the hospital for the next couple of days, and then taking a little break. New episodes should resume May 22.


If the jackboot fits...

Earlier this week, Russians celebrated the 62nd anniversary of their victory in the Great Patriotic War, known to most readers of this page as World War II. At the festivities, Russian President Vladimir Putin likened the United States under the Bush Administration to Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

This page finds Putin's criticism somewhat of a surprise. Up until that point, I thought that the Russian President was a big fan of secret police forces, ethnic cleansing, choking journalistic freedom, and military adventurism. However, in calling the American kettle black, Russia's pot may be closer to the truth than we care to admit.
His cross to Blair

Tony Blair is stepping down as Great Britain's Prime Minister.

This page was never a big fan of Blair's "Third Way" approach to governing, and much of his legacy will be sullied by his misplaced trust in the Bush Administration, shipping young Britons to the killing fields of Afghanistan and Iraq, which precipitated the London bomb attacks of July 7, 2005. However, Blair can point to a handful of successes such as increasing funding to the National Health Service and instituting the U.K.'s first-ever minimum wage.

The Prime Minister appears to have come up with his own English translation of the familiar Chinese curse, which now reads "May you leave in interesting times." Peace and Devolution in Northern Ireland, the rising challenge of the Scottish National Party, and a Europe where the ideological fault lines are shifting, the latest tremor being the election of Nicolas Sarkozy in France.

As for this page, Blair's defining moment was selling out the Liverpool Dockworkers, proving conclusively that his "New Labour" government had nothing to do with real Labour. Here's hoping his successor sees it differently.


VANOC skates around the truth

After months of closed door meetings, Vancouver's Olympic organizers (VANOC) released an alleged business plan yesterday (which for those of you scoring home, has not been independently audited). VANOC claims that their $1.63 billion budget, with a contingency of $100 million, is balanced. Before anyone lines up to give them a medal, this page would like to remind readers that shooting fish in a barrel is not an Olympic event (yet).

Breaking down VANOC's report (which again, has not been independently audited), it becomes clear that under this arrangement, Glen Clark could have balanced this budget (editors note: court ordered bone tossed to BC Lieberal revisionist pukes). The 2010 Olympics are in a North American time zone, which means a television windfall bigger than last winter in Stanley Park. Most of the major venues (BC Place, GM Place, Pacific Coliseum) are already built, saving on skyrocketing construction costs. This page isn't going to credit VANOC for being frugal when they don't actually have to pay for much of anything.

Nor am I going to let slide that most Olympic-related spending isn't even in their "business plan"(which once more, has not been independently audited AND is exempt from the British Columbia Freedom of Information Act). The costs of imposing martial law...er...Olympic Security are delegated to the RCMP. The upgrades to the Sea to Sky Highway and the Canada Line have been painted with a glorious shade of BC Lieberal bullsh*t that neither project counts as Olympic spending, despite the fact that both projects absolutely must be completed by 2010. The City of Richmond broke their municipal piggy bank to steal the proposed speedskating oval from Simon Fraser University. That leaves SFU without the classroom space they were going to use the building for after the Games, and Richmond taxpayers are stuck with a sinkhole full of slushy kindling after anything over 1.5 on the Richter scale.

Vancouver is also left without the social housing that Olympic organizers promised in 2003, which in hindsight, was only to sucker many of the 65% of Vancouver voters who endorsed the 2010 bid, including admittedly, this page. I would have liked to see an Olympics that worked for the community instead of taking advantage of the community. I would have liked to have seen a real surplus we could have used on things more important than funding sports programs for the self-indulgent spoiled brats of the upper-middle class (the current target of VANOC's proposed surplus). VANOC's report says that their current Olympic path won't make Vancouver any worse, but there's certainly nothing in it that will make Vancouver better.


CBC - Can we Boycott this Crap?

For slandering three members of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union, this page is calling on his readers to boycott the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

For those of you scoring at home, the Transport Canada inquiry into last year's sinking of the Queen of the North at Hartley Bay has not concluded. The three crew members were fired on the basis of allegations made by BC Ferries during the employer's own inquiry. On the advice of their lawyers, the three crew members did not testify at this inquiry. A Kangaroo Court is one thing, but when the Kangaroos are out to bust your union, it's another.

For all the op-ed screaming done by the Vaughn Palmers, Michael Smyths, and Gary Masons of their ink-stained Liberal fifth column, the crew members are still innocent until proven guilty. However, the nation's public broadcaster went too far in their website article: "three crew members who were responsible for navigation and steering the night the Queen of the North sank along B.C.'s north coast last year."

Not "alledgedly responsbile", or "possibly responsible", it's "WERE" responsible. And for the syncophantic right-wing hair splitters out there, the use of the word "responsible" denotes liability on the part of the crew, why doesn't the CBC report use the term "assigned to navigation and steering" or any other less loaded and biased term than saying "who were responsible"?

If British Columbians don't stand up BC Ferries vandalizing of due process, it means that our maritime transportation safety will rest in the hands of a private, unaccountable corporation rather than the lawful federal institutions chartered to keep us safe. If we don't stand up to the hanging judges at the CBC, then anyone of us is automatically condemned after a workplace accident our employers want to cover up. Jackie Millar and the BCFMWU are certainly right to grieve the verdict of BC Ferries' hung jury. They would also be right to leave every ferry in the fleet at the dock until Ferries' CEO David Hahn defers to the Transportation Safety Board and issues an apology.

This page understands that local travellers may not be able to avoid BC Ferries, but we can certainly avoid the media outlets who take the tarnished word of BC Ferries as the gospel truth.


Ayez peur, ayez tres peur...

By a margin of 53.06% to 46.94%, Nicolas Sarkozy and his Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UPM) won the Presidency of France yesterday over Socialist Candidate Segolene Royal.

To sum up the reaction of this page in one word: merdre. For all the inclusive rhetoric in Sarkozy's victory speech, his politics amount to little more than Front National Leger or Le Petit LePen. While TV5's coverage was somewhat more muted, the talking heads across the channel at the BBC could hardly contain their glee that both pillars of the European Union, Germany and France, are in the hands of free-market ideologues committed to smashing the welfare state and won't go out of their way to embarrass the Bush Administration the way their predecessors did.

The theme of the day was Sarkozy's program would create some unhappiness, but French society would play along. By "unhappiness", the pundits mean that workers, students, immigrants and other visible minorities will be disenfranchised and made to pay for the inflated sense of "crisis" which has permeated France over the past couple of years. "French society" means French corporations like Sodexho, who will now get to practice their special brand of exploitation (see: front-line health care workers, British Columbia) at home.

Cut taxes and slash vital programs, attack the Unions, and when all else fails, blame the Muslims: it's the same idiotic Bush & Blair movie again, but this time with subtitles.


Of course they suck, it's Nickelback

When this page moved to Vancouver seven years ago, one of the things I greatly enjoyed was being able to hear new, original rock music again. CFOX and the long-defunct XFM duked it out for an audience that had grown weary of their parents classic rock, and had a few years to wait before they could shuffling their own playlists inside their Ipods and MP3 players.

At that point, the highlight of local music scene was the rivalry between Coquitlam's Matthew Good Band and Alberta expatriates Nickelback. I saw both acts in concert and bought their albums. In this page's opinion, Matthew Good wrote some the most haunting, thought-provoking, Gen-X anthems this side of Douglas Coupland, kind of a more articulate Kurt Cobain. On the other hand, Nickelback's music was an insipid porridge of redneck arena-rock cliches and rock star posturing.

Which brings us to the obvious question of "where are they now?" Well, Nickelback now seem to be aware of how much they suck, since Chad Kroeger just happens to be around bar fights when somebody says so. Meanwhile, Matthew Good, who saw rock as a means to say something important rather than self-promotion, still has something to say.


Raise This

The B.C. Lieberal caucus has endorsed an independent panel's recommendation of a 29% pay raise for MLA's and a 53% pay raise for Premier Gordon Campbell.

Campbell says the proposed raises, which were immediately rejected by the New Democrats, are necessary to "attract good people to public life". This page is very concerned: for just over $100,000 a year, B.C. taxpayers currently have a Premier who slashed vital public services, tore up collective agreements, picked unnecessary fights with First Nations, lied to the Hospital Employees Union, was convicted of drunk driving in Hawaii, stuffed the 2010 Olympics with more pork than overtime at the sausage factory, and may yet be guilty of endorsing the double-dealing and political dirty tricks described so far in the Basi-Virk trial. If this is the Premier's idea of "good people", we should all be scared of what $65,000 a year more is going to buy British Columbia.

It's bad enough for public sector workers to watch the Lieberals oinking at the trough after settling for "generous" settlements last year (which averaged about 2% per year after the zero, zero, and zero of Campbell's first term). It's even worse for working people in the private sector who haven't seen any real wage increases, despite B.C's overheated and overhyped economic performance.

$22,000 by 45 Lieberal MLA's, plus $65,000 for the Premier equals a Million Dollar Shovel that hopefully these self-serving bastards can finally bury themselves with.


...and how was your May Day?

A few years ago, the British Columbia Teachers Federation joined the B.C. Federation of Labour. One would have thought that the teachers union would have learned something about Solidarity, or at the least, Free Collective Bargaining. Unfortunately, the BCTF's treatment of their support staff, members of the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union (CEP Local 464) proves the time-honoured, shopworn maxim of "Those who can't do, teach."

After fighting with the B.C. Lieberals for most of this decade for the right to communicate with students and parents about the decline of public education, this page is disgusted that the teachers would turn around and go to the BC Labour Relations Board to get an injunction against CEP to prevent the support staff from picketing their convention. The teachers certainly wanted the help of other unions when they went on strike in 2005, but appear to have no qualms with attacking other unions, including the one who represents their own staff. Perhaps its time for the teachers to sit down with other staff-baiting unions like the Canadian Auto Workers and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and establish a Federation of Labour Unions Served by Hypocrisy, or FLUSH.

BCTF apologists will tell you that the teachers union actions do not reflect most of their membership. At rabble.ca, this page (a.k.a. ursa minor) is being chastised for not knowing what the teachers are really like. Here's what I do know: when the dust settled, the BCTF seemed to have no problem with teachers who had crossed picket lines and jumped in front of TV cameras to bitch at their fellow teachers for being unprofessional and hating children. Will any teachers jump in front of a camera to call down their leadership for defying union principles and hating their staff?


License to Shill

After returning from a weekend in Seattle, this page has started to notice a few vehicles around my neighbourhood with ICBC's new Olympic commemorative license plates. If local motorists aren't already beaming with pride (or driven to distraction) by all the Canucks car flags these days, the new plates will also let them bask in someone else's reflected glory.

It's too bad the plates have to include the arrogant and insipid slogan, "The Best Place on Earth" (tm) . Sensible people would think that the best place on earth wouldn't have armies of homeless people, backed up emergency rooms, abysmal public transit, toxic fish farms and forests of raw logs being shipped elsewhere, but Gordon Campbell and the BC Lieberals aren't sensible people. This page did notice that some license plate frames will cover "The Best Place on Earth", so check with your local auto supply store.

What's worse is that the all the money raised for the Olympic license plates will go to the Olympics. While the 2010 sinkhole can use all the money it can get, bear in mind that fees for regular license plates go to ICBC's driver training and traffic safety programs. Gordon Campbell can claim that the new plates isn't another public subsidy for the Olympics, but if everybody wants a 2010 Olympics/Best Place on Earth license plate, who picks up the shortfall for ICBC to fund its core mandates?

The regular license plates read "Beautiful British Columbia", which gives the impression that this is a nice place to visit, or for us lucky few, reside. The new plates give the impression that a two-week sporting event has turned us into a bunch of pricks. If you're driving with the new plates in Washington, Alberta, or anywhere else outside the reach of our government's propaganda machine, consider yourself warned.