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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Why I Rock 

I got a royal flush during last night's Texas Hold'em game. I still somehow lost that tournament, but I really do rock.

Queen James? 

So this just might lead to Carole James as Premier and (why not?) Bernard Lord as PM. Recent polls have shown the Liberals hanging on to a precarious lead because of a split BC left: The poll, taken a week after James' win last month, indicates the NDP is up six points to 37-per-cent support among decided voters. That's the highest level of support for the NDP in more than seven years. The Liberals have slipped 4 points to 41 per cent. And 60 per cent of survey respondents disapprove of Premier Gordon Campbell's performance.
Another 14% plan to vote Green, meaning over half of the province is pretty far left before Crackgate. It's no wonder; this administration has been terrible for an already weak BC economy. David Schreck's vital review of Gordo's 2003 (obviously published too soon) explains:
For starters, despite promises to revitalize the B.C.economy, B.C.'s real per capita economic growth is dead last, and the number of unemployed is at record highs. The economic miracle that was supposed to be part of the "New Era" is nowhere in sight. Campbell speaks of over 100,000 jobs being created but the hard fact is that since the 2001 election employment has increased by 78.1 thousand (on a seasonally adjusted basis), or an average of just less than 1.6 percent per year compared to an average of 2.1 percent per year over the previous 10 years.
Also, the BC deficit is at a record high, there were many closings of hospitals and schools, big increases in user fees, and an extended raping of BC's large (and powerful!) unions took place. Gordo had something to piss off everyone last year. People who disapprove of drunk-driving probably aren't going to vote for him. Now, the sizable 'anti-cocaine dealing' interest group may be turned off as well. Michael Smyth recognizes:
Make no mistake: Dave Basi was one of the most important, well-connected and ambitious staffers in the legislature. The raid on his office and seizure of his personal files is a devastating blow to the Campbell government (not to mention the federal Liberal Party, where he was also an important power player in B.C.)
One thing Gordo can hope for is that Green voters are actually impressed by people that deal weed, and therefore vote Liberal. But it seems improbable.
He is lucky to have another powerful BC force on board. I'll talk more about them after I get some much needed sleep.

Updates: OK, no Lord for PM. He's not running. Just when the Neo-Conservative Party looked like it had a chance in hell...
Another problem this scandal creates for the BC libs (it's actually pretty unlikely it will become a problem for the feds) is that it destroys the Liberals clean-cut image. The NDP were sleazy because they hung around with Greek mobsters and people who stole from charities. No matter how bad the Liberal's performance was, they had the NDP beat on character issues. Only in BC would a guy who had fifteen drinks before attempting to drive home, then caught and forced to spend a night in a Hawaiian jail can be said to be relatively good on character issues, but that's what happens when he's the fifth consecutive premier to face criminal charges in office. Besides, driving drunk is just a bad personal decision. Hiring top aides with ties to organized crime and coke dealing demonstrates some true corruption problems. If the Liberals are both as corrupt and incompetent as the NDP were, they just might meet the same fate the NDP did.

Never Get High On Your Own Supply 

Wowie. So, I was just playing poker for 11 hours straight, winning the epic final tournament. My emotions are completely drained. My friends probably hate me. And I come home to this. Members of my government hire coke dealers:
The RCMP raided two ministerial offices in the B.C. Legislature as a result of information gathered during a 20-month investigation into massive drug deals involving an exchange of B.C. marijuana for U.S. cocaine, police say.
You would think the information that the now fired aides are involved in buying cocaine would be noted in a very similar CanWest story (It's the Globe's lead). Hey, you'd think the word 'Cocaine' would be mentioned in the Asper version. You'd be wrong on both counts. That story has some pretty charming details, I must admit. The solicitor-general put a positive spin on the situation: Coleman said he didn't think the raid would damage his consistent message about getting tough on crime.
"I think the opposite," he said. "It clearly tells the people of this province that we will not allow any area of our government or our province to be compromised by organized crime."

Notwithstanding the offices of the goddamn legislature, of course. You can hire drug-dealing mobsters as top aides, then fire them once the police have a warrant investigating them, and still claim you are being tough on crime?
One of the two aides is a brother-in-law of a cop recently suspended for corruption: Victoria police chief Paul Battershill confirmed the drug investigation is connected to the suspension with pay on Dec. 15 of Victoria police Constable Ravinder Dosanjh.
Battershill said there is an "indirect relationship" between the suspended officer and either Virk or Basi. The drug probe is targeting a suspected influential Victoria trafficker related to Dosanjh. The alleged trafficker is also a relative of a Vancouver resident who has worked on provincial and federal Liberal campaigns and was involved in Martin's B.C. campaign.

The deputy premier's husband's office was also searched. The two targeted aides also worked for Paul Martin's BC campaigns. Liberal MPs have some very nice things to say about Bob Virk: Bob is a great asset not just to the B.C. Liberal caucus but to the community of Victoria."
The end of this article is classic:
In June 1993, Liberal Jeremy Dalton thanked Basi and another man for working as interns with the Liberal caucus. "The [NDP] cabinet will be happy to know that all the embarrassing questions that have been thrown at them over the months have been provided by those two gentlemen, and I can assure you, Honourable Speaker, there will be more today," Dalton said.
Oh, there will be questions. Count on it.

Hell's Lexicographers 

I always thought the name of my blog was invented by James Joyce in Finnegan's Wake (via the epigraph of David Lodge's excellent Small World), and its old subtitle reflected that. I was surprised to find out that it was first used (based on google searches) by Ambrose Bierce:

Bierce's journalism was a scandal in its time, just as it would be a scandal in ours. "This is Echoland, home of the ditto maniac," he wrote--100 years before the advent of Rush Limbaugh. In avoiding what his audience wanted to hear echoed, Bierce devoted himself to roasting in print the fools, hypocrites and monied pigs of his age.
There have been rumblings of late that the press ought to be more polite, that it has overstepped its bounds since Watergate. Do daily newspapers really need to get duller? Bierce's specter is a reminder of the other side of journalism--a tradition of public-minded mean-spiritedness that is as dangerous as it is endangered.


Ambrose Bierce is an old favorite of mine, as he wrote the great Devil's Dictionary (completely accessible through this wonderful site), history's most caustic reference work. Some apropos samplers:
CALLOUS, adj. Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another.
CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Search the site. Read it. love it.


Monday, December 29, 2003

Gordon Campbell is Selling Crack! 

I sometimes wish BC had its own Drudge, that would pass around shocking unsubstantiated rumors. If we did, we may have found out about this scandal sooner. BC Liberal aides are being investigated by the RCMP for some shadowy crime relating to selling drugs, organized crime, and police corruption. The aides have been suspended from the government. While the details of this story are murky at this point, I should quickly make three points:
a) Arrest the Premier! (Oh wait, they already did.) It would in no way surprise me if Gordon Campbell actually is selling crack.
b) Gordo is in Hawaii at the moment, marking the second year in a row of responding to scandals from Hawaii. If it's so hard for BC Liberals to avoid engaging in criminal activity, the least he could go to vacation somewhere else. It's bad luck for him.
c) The preliminary Liberal spin is that the Ministers knew nothing about criminal activities being conducted by their aides. If your observational powers don't tell you when your own aides are involved in a drug ring, perhaps governing the province is similarly beyond your ability. Resign immediately, please.

The Real Real Slim Shady, or Sexism Sells 

Vancouver gay activists are mad about teenage gaybashers getting a light sentence for killing Aaron Webster:
"We want those charges raised to second-degree murder," he said. "I think we have to directly approach the attorney-general's department, have them sit down and read this ruling, and then tell us why there are two forms of justice, one for gay men and one for the rest of the world."

I agree it's a ridiculously light sentence. But I think the problem is with the manslaughter laws, not latent attorney-general homophobia. If the gaybashers were claiming that they were just trying to beat him up without actually intending to kill him, they can claim is it was only manslaughter (the "when we were beating his head with baseball bats, we had no idea his skull would cave in!" defense). The media is not allowed to print the name of the sentenced teenager, but the TV media decided to videotape him leaving the court. Beofre he covered up his face, I caught a glimpse of the moronic fuck. And I was creeped out by how much he looked like Eminem. He was dressed in the blue jeans, the white t-shirt, and had the bleached blonde hairdo. He looked like someone going to a Halloween party dressed like Eminem, or like the Eminem imitators in numerous Eminem videos. I've always been a kneejerk defender of all artists' right to say whatever they want to. And yet seeing a dumb kid who went out searching for a gay man to beat dressed as a famously homophobic rapper makes me think. Of course, the kid is culpable, not the rapper. You can't blame Paul McCartney for inspiring Manson to kill with Blackbird. I definitely don't agree with Bill O'Reilly or the Maoists a few posts down. But the argument for censorship of art is that some art will have a bad effect on society. Is the joy millions get from Eminem's music (if that's the right emotion; I suspect not) worth the life of Aaron Webster? I guess I think it actually is, on utilitarian grounds. Yet I doubt I could justify that feeling to Webster's family. I have retreated to a stance of vague white liberal confusion, as always.

Speaking of, Evelyn MacDonell (via Ulmann) raises some interesting questions about hip-hop sexism without really answering any of them. She notes how numb we've become to hip-hop sexism. I've noticed this as well; I was surprised that no-one made a fuss over the incredibly offensive Obie Trice video where he slaps a fat woman (maybe if Martha Burk wasn't so busy not playing golf, whe could return to the important battles. Like Obie Trice videos!) McDonnell honestly explores her reaction to sexist hip-hop. However, I'd like to quibble with this paragraph:
Hip-hop is not inherently sexist. In fact, some of its brightest stars -- Outkast, Missy Elliott, Atmosphere, Mos Def -- infuse their music with love of women. Nor are rappers more likely to objectify and demean women than rockers, teen-pop stars, or Frank Sinatra.
Good point about the Chairman et al (two words: Mick Jagger). Yet judging from her examples, hip-hop actually is inherently sexist. I mean, Outkast has a song titled "We Luv Deez Hoes". And which Atmosphere line is she referring to? This one?
The first time I met the devil was at a motel 6
She left hell to spend her weekends on earth just for kicks
Sexy little bitch, shorter then expected

Or this one?
If only they knew how real this life really gets
They would stop acting like a silly bitch
They would respect the cock whether or not they believed in it

Is there really that much of a significant difference between "Fuck You Lucy" and Eminem's "Kim" which McDonnell decries? And this may have escaped McDonnell, but Missy Elliot (incidentally, her new video has a wonderful visual retort to Obie Trice, I think) happens to be a woman. So we're left with (the Mighty) Mos Def as the only good man in hip-hop. Great.

My other problem with her essay is that it uses the copout device of ending with a string of rhetorical questions. I.e:
What does it mean when Kelis, a woman who became famous for her uncontrollable colored afros and burning-bed anthems, poses like a typical Herb Alpert sexpot on her second album?
Y'know, I hear there's a positive correlation between sex and sales.

I agree that hip-hop misogyny is generally problematic. Yet I think one of the reasons I love hip-hop is its offensiveness, and my often woozy response to it. It's interesting and challenging to hear people expressing their feelings towards the opposite sex, even the extremely negative and unPC ones. Besides, if there was no sexism in hip-hop, we'd have to listen to Northern State all day. Noone wants that.

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing 

Forget what you heard; this intrepid surfer has so come to the right place. God bless him.

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