Cash in Your Chips

The Premier is apparently concerned about money laundering at B.C. casinos.

This page says that Gordon Campbell is probably as concerned about money laundering at casinos as he was about drunk driving, leveraging the sale of crown corporations with dirty money, evidence tampering, ripping up legally binding contracts, conflicts of interest, and rigging the next election. Why should one worry about breaking the law when one can act as if he's above the law?

Could it be because Psychopaths don't care about the law, let alone anything or anyone else? Money laundering at casinos is one thing, the BC Lieberals and their corporate masters gambling with the future of British Columbia is another.


How Stupid Are You?

While standing in the line at the drugstore checkout yesterday afternoon, this page scanned the magazine rack and noticed a publication with this title: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to NASCAR" No, I am not making this up - "The Complete Idiot's Guide" is a line of how-to books similar to the 'Dummies' series (at least 'Dummies' is little more pejorative than referring to one's audience as Complete Idiots). Why do Complete Idiots need a guide to a "sport" which is only popular with Complete Idiots? What complicated strategy could there possibly be in NASCAR? Get in the car and drive really fast? Be sure to keep turning left?

The fact that stupid publications about stupid and destructive diversions litter our magazine racks and collective consciousness only proves how far we are from any notion of becoming an advanced civilization. The public accepts the stupidity of NASCAR, American Idol, 'Reality' TV, Wal-Mart, Perpetual War and Neoliberal Tax Cut Politics because for the past few decades that this page has been alive, the public has been conditioned to believe that we are Complete Idiots.

This page is haunted by a conversation I had with a friend over the roulette wheel in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. She felt that her dialogue with me was 'an education', but she didn't really feel the need to be involved with politics because, by her own admission, she felt comfortable and compared to other parts of the world, didn't believe life in Canada is all that bad. This friend of mine is anything but a Complete Idiot: she has a PhD, and is simultaneously working on an MBA while conducting some pretty advanced research which, by comparison, would relegate this page to ranks of the Complete Idiots.

Imagine that my friend focused just a tiny bit of her attention more on the systematic corruption and injustice perpetrated by the arrogant criminals who think we live in "The Best Place on Earth". Imagine that she found a tiny piece of her mind, which is otherwise devoted to extremely demanding and worthwhile pursuits, to give to these so-called "leaders". Imagine yourself doing the same thing. Our lives may not be so bad, but there is nothing wrong with wanting better lives marked by compassion, sustainability, and democracy, especially when what we want for ourselves, we want for all. There are enough of us to create real change, unless of course, we are Complete Idiots.


Hope I Die Before I Get Old

Courtesy of our friends at Valley Haven Rest Home in Chilliwack, The Fraser Health Authority, and our B.C. Lieberal Government, here's another shining example of your tax dollars at work...or more to the point, your tax dollars diddling around on the sofa with the PlayStation blazing a few Js with their tax-cut addicted friends while their grandparents are forcibly shacked up with complete Alzheimer's-stricken strangers.

Thanks to BILL 42, THE BRITISH COLUMBIA RIGGED ELECTIONS ACT, expect more of the same in perpetuity. If you voted for Gordon Campbell and B.C. Liberals in 2005, or plan to do the same again, do this page a favour and take a nice hot bath with your hairdryer while its plugged in because YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A SELFISH UNETHICAL PSYCHOPATHIC SACK OF SHIT!! When the 2009 Election inevitably turns ugly/violent, you will have no one to blame but Gordon Campbell, Wally Oppal and yourselves, but you assholes want it that way, don't you?


Vote Early. Vote Often.

Mark Latham at VoterMedia.org has informed this page that I have been entered in the Vancouver Voters' Guide Blogging Contest. Mr. Latham says that the purpose of the contest is to stimulate 2008 Vancouver election coverage among bloggers by offering financial incentives. Believe it or not, but this page was granted a late entry, apparently as the result of popular demand, and currently sits 12th among 12 blogs listed.

You know those murder mysteries where Agatha Christie puts together different types of people, one of them is the murderer, but they all have a good alibi? That's what being in this kind of contest is like for this page, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if I go down in the first couple of chapters. There are people who deserve to be read and discussed, like David Eby, there are major professional players like Bill Tielmann, Sean Holman, and there are bloggers who do a lot better job of putting themselves out there, like Samantha Orwell and her Vancouver Manifesto. This page has never considered himself as part of a blogging 'community', but there's a nice feeling just being mentioned in the same breath as this group.

Of course, there are also self-deluded sack-of-shit B.C. Lieberal Apologists like Walter Schultz who obviously need to take a little break. If you do check out the contest, I would appreciate your support, but bear in mind that doing this for free and under a pseudonym gives this page certain freedoms not readily enjoyed elsewhere, like the freedom to call Walter Schultz a sack-of-shit B.C. Lieberal Apologist. It's more important to me that Latham's money stays out of the hands of a right-wing propagandist shill than it is that it goes into my hands.


...and the guy in the Red Shirt always dies.

Last night this page was flipping channels between Star Trek and CNN's coverage of John Edwards' endorsement of Barack Obama. During Anderson Cooper's turn at feeding Time Warner's stable of pundits, Obama was criticized for a dearth of new ideas, while John McCain was lauded for such 'new' ideas like the President submitting to a question-and-answer session with Congress, "just like the Prime Minister does with the Parliament in Britain".

First of all, any idea that begins with the words "just like..." is not a new idea. On this one McCain is cribbing from Jon Stewart, who was obviously cribbing from the BBC during an edition of The Daily Show a few months ago. Captain Kirk and Captain Picard can claim that the U.S.S. Enterprise travels "where no man/no one has gone before", but why is it that in every episode there's always somebody to meet them wherever they go? It's 2008: are there really going to be any new ideas? Does America need new ideas, or new leadership to make the ideas that already exist (affordable health care, reduced dependence on foreign oil, reality-based foreign policy) actually work?

There's a reason why there's no longer a Star Trek TV series in production anymore: this page may still be a fan, but most of the audience has seen all the phasers and transporters and warp drives and all the other neat stuff, and it no longer captures their imagination, just like how Question Period stopped capturing the imagination of Canada's electorate decades ago. For American voters, won't be the candidate who throws out dubiously new ideas with a limited shelf life, it's the candidate who people believe is most capable on delivering the solid good ideas.


One Nation Under Canada, with Liberty and Justice for Some

This page is passing out gold starts to the three Minnesota eighth-graders who were suspended for sitting out a recitation of The Pledge of Allegiance. Growing up in Canada, this page had to endure the inanity of reciting an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the II at the beginning of my school days. If the Minnesota kids are anything like me at that age, they understand on some level that these ceremonies are exercises in institutional conformity. How come schools don't have the students recite the Bill of Rights or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

If eigth graders are expected to grow up and defend the United States of America and its 'freedoms' on the killing fields of Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela (I'm projecting here), then perhaps these children should be treated like they live in a free society and be spared the forced patriotism. As for the grown-ups among us, we can hope for the day that we can attend a professional sporting event without having to prove our loyalty to the state by rising in support of some American Idol wannabe screeching the national anthem before the game begins.


The Coffee We Can Count Out

A Tim Horton's coffee shop employee in London, Ontario has been given her job back only after a substantial public and media outcry. What was the outrageous misconduct which her employer felt was just cause to hand Nicole Lilliman, a single parent with four children, her walking papers? Helping to soothe a distressed child by giving that child a Timbit. For those of you scoring at home outside Canada, a Timbit is a pastry sold at Tim Hortons. It's about the size of a donut hole and has a retail value of about 20 cents.

This is not about one particular bastard of a store manager, or how this is an isolated incident and other Tim Horton's locations don't have a problem going out of their way for customers. This is what happens when mom-and-pop businesses (or in Tim Horton's case, NHL player before journeyman defencemen became millionaires-business) become large, publicly-traded corporations whose shares are held by institutional investors that have a fiduciary duty to return as much profit as possible. If that means forgoing organic and fair trade coffee, so be it. If that means busting a union, so be it. If that means firing a single parent because she was nice to a child, so be it.

At present, there are almost 2800 Tim Horton's locations in Canada, almost twice as many stores than McDonald's has in this country. Not only does Tim's have the Golden Arches beat when it comes to franchises, it appears that Tim's also beats the Golden Arches when it comes to disgusting and reprehensible labour practices.

Memo to Tim Horton's and your shareholders: you know where you can 'Roll up your Rim'...


Clinton's Last Chance: The BS WMD?

After Tuesday night's commanding victory for Barack Obama in North Carolina and the close finish in Indiana, Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination is on life support. However, that isn't stopping the former First Lady from continuing to beat her breast like she's giving CPR to herself. Clinton has neither the remaining delegates in play or projected shift in the popular vote to lay claim to the nomination, so what magic formula can she possibly employ to swipe it from Obama and his legions of energized new voters? The same formula her husband used during his administration: bullshit. And what's the biggest load of bullshit out there being dished out by the Clinton campaign? Clinton won all the states that matter (i.e. bigger states and 'swing' states), meaning that only she can beat John McCain in November. This page finds this blend of fertilizer to be particularly porous, when one takes into account that:

-Unlike their Republican opponents, Democrats use proportional representation to pick their nominee. 14 of Clinton's 16 primary victories were by less than 20 points, meaning that Obama was still picking up 30 to 40 % of the delegates in places like California. By contrast, 21 of the 29 primaries won by Obama were by margins of 20% or more. Better to be a big fish in several smaller ponds around the country than a fish trying to find a sympathetic judge to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates.

-Some of the big states (like Clinton' s 'home' state of New York) are solidly Democratic 'Blue' states and would go to pretty much any Democratic nominee in the general election. If Hillary Clinton is claiming momentum from winning those states, she may need some of those little blue pills her husband's been hiding from her.

-In any primary, the results will be skewed by whether its an open or closed primary. In an open primary, there's a chance for all kinds of hijinx, such as Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos. In a closed primary, Democrats are voting for Democrats, which is more than likely an exercise in marginal voter preference: they like vanilla, they like chocolate, they like one a little better than the other and if they're lucky they'll get some kind of frosty swirl on the same ticket. This page does not seriously believe that Clinton's supporters will all break for John McCain if Obama wins the nomination. As for those who might, the talking heads love to punctuate Clinton's hold on 'Reagan Democrats' in the Rust Belt states (Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania), but in the general election, who will these people go to? Hillary Clinton, or the happy-go-lucky 71 year old who wants to Give War a Chance? Which one reminds you more of Ronald Reagan? The answer is, come November, these aren't Clinton's people anyway.

There is nowhere to go for the Clinton campaign. Hillary either bows out or starts flailing wildly at whatever procedural buttons are handy (the Florida & Michigan delegates, superdelegates, recounts, etc.) - even if that means one of those buttons is the Big Red One that explodes all the positive energy generated by the campaign so far and leaves behind bitter fallout for the Democratic Party. Having seen enough departures from reality and common sense at the beginning (the Florida recount), and during (9/11, Iraq) the Bush Administration, it wouldn't surprise this page if the Democrats mark its end with some insanity of their own.


Repressed Again for the First Time

An RCMP Security Consultant says that 'changing tactics' by activist groups pose a security threat to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. This page says what we have here is a failure to communicate. Tom Quiggan's warning doesn't come as a surprise, given that it's wrapped in the usual fear-mongering over-reaction marked by the right-wing ascendancy. Remember how the B.C. Lieberals turned panhandling into 'Aggressive Panhandling'? According to Quiggan and the Mounties, Protesters are now 'Violent Protesters'. 'Security' doesn't mean the prevention of harm to the life and limb of the general public, it means that the undisturbed hegemony of the 'Olympic Family' and their corporate and government lackeys must be preserved at all costs, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms be damned.

People concerned about the Environment, the rights of First Nations, or the embarrassing lack of Social Housing in Vancouver have the right to be heard, and should not be on the same RCMP agenda as Al-Qaeda or Islamic Jihad. Based on this page's protest experience at other international gatherings, the real threat of violence surrounding activist groups comes from the agents provocateurs used by the police to infiltrate and stir things up, allowing the Jackboots to justify their head-cracking existence.

Quiggan says that "usually fragmented, single-issue groups are converging and organizing in ways never seen before". This is the security consultant that the RCMP has on their taxpayer-funded payroll? Where was this guy during APEC in Vancouver? The WTO in Seattle? The World Petroleum Congress and G8 Summit in Alberta? The Summit of the Americas in Quebec City? The SPP meetings in Montebello? Either Quiggan seriously needs to get out more, or he's a genius when it comes to fabricating a threat out of a handful of peaceful demonstrators: Everything seems scarier when you tell people it's never happened before.


This guy was a judge?

Last week at the Legislature, Solicitor General Wally Oppal introduced Bill 42 to prohibit third-party advertising before and during B.C. election campaigns. Once again, the B.C. Lieberals flaunt their anti-union credentials by trying to bludgeon labour's right to political action. While Oppal cries about the rise of 'American-style' campaigning, it was the Lieberals themselves who put B.C. voters on this path by establishing fixed election dates and spending taxpayers' money on their perpetual 'Best Place on Earth' campaign. This isn't just about trying to shut up the Unions, it's also about ducking the real issue of just how much corporate money flows into Lieberal coffers to buy influence with Gordon Campbell and his gang. Last year $4 million of the $6 million raised by the Lieberals came from corporations, whereas only $220, 000 of the $3.1 raised by New Democrats came from Unions.

Note to Mr. Oppal: Bill 42 is American-style campaigning - it's a voter suppression tactic which matches Karl Rove's best work in turning the United States into a Rethuglican crony police state. Bill 42 turns single-issue voters away from the electoral process for being denied information, turns elections into the sole property of political parties, allows the corporate (read: rabidly pro-BC Lieberal) media far too great an influence in the outcome, and infringes on any organization's right to communicate with its members and act in the best interests of those members.

If Oppal doesn't withdraw Bill 42 for those reasons, here's a couple of other reasons he should consider: One, it's not like the Lieberals have such a great record with the Supreme Court of Canada, and two: if they find the NDP nipping at their collective heels in the dying weeks of the 2009 campaign like they did four years ago, Jimmy Pattison and the Vancouver Board of Trade won't be able to come to their rescue with their 'The Sky is Falling', fear-mongering shenanigans again - because Bill 42 will have foreclosed on the roller coaster.


The chips taste like plastic, and there's no dip...

This page returns from an enjoyable hiatus in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada, a city which more than likely surpasses 1950's Detroit in its Union density. Everywhere I went I was greeted by members of the Teamsters, UNITE Here, Culinary Workers, and a variety of Brothers and Sisters from other Unions with the urgent desire to render assistance to me, usually in the form of a free drink while I looked after the slot machines for them. For anyone still stupid enough to believe that unions kill jobs, tell that to the dealers, pit bosses, cocktail waitresses, maids, lifeguards, bellhops, security guards, cooks, and front desk staff who were nothing but professional and friendly during my stay - could it be that professionalism and friendliness comes from having a secure job at a liveable wage in one of the fastest growing cities in America?

On the other hand, anyone who goes to Las Vegas looking for anything organic, free-range, recyclable, biodegradable, ethically-purchased, politically correct or environmentally friendly will more than likely be told by the locals that 1. You're a hippie, and 2. You should go back to Los Angeles. Some of the regression is all in good fun, like the retro-crooner shenanigans of The Rat Pack is Back, some of it is embarrassing, if not stupefying, like strolling past this poster for Tao Asian Bistro at the Venetian. Ick - I can only guess what my female Asian friend thought as we went by. Walnut Boat and I stayed at the Flamingo, where everything is a neon pink, coconut-scented oxygen is pumped into the casino, and the music is all 80's, all the time. At this hotel, it's like the Reagan Administration never went away, despite the reports of high gas prices, foreclosures, and a General Strike by 10,000 West Coast Port Workers over an unwinnable war in Iraq which flashed from the small handful of TV screens not being used by the Race & Sports book.

I'll keep this short so it doesn't devolve into a trip report. Did I mention the endless supply of free liquor?