9/11 -- Thirty Five Years On
Today is the thirty-fifth anniversary of the coup in Chile; a coup in which a terrorist superpower brutally overthrew a democratically-elected government.
Few Americans will remember this anniversary, they'll be solemnly remembering one of their own -- an anniversary brought about, in part at least, because of the kind of imperialist despotism that September 11, 1973 so clearly reminds us.
Long live the memory of Salvador Allende and the brave Chilean people!
Vancouver's Race Riots
On September 7, 1907, white racists rioted in Vancouver. They attacked and rampaged through Chinatown, and they attacked and were beaten back from Japantown. No one died, but only through luck. The riot was spurred by a march of the Asiatic Exclusion League, a labour union-supported group of racists seeking to exclude all non-white labour from British Columbia.
We can tell ourselves that this was now a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, the riot was only the beginning. Over the next fifteen or so years, these same racists managed to have laws passed that reduced Japanese, Indian and Chinese immigration to a trickle. They also had the Native Canadians moved to reserves. The Chinese Exclusion Act stayed on the books until 1947; and Natives were not given the vote until as late as 1960.
Canada's racist past is nowhere near as deep nor as broad as that in many countries, but it does exist, and we will be obliged to repeat our sins if we choose to forget the sins of our own history.
On 31st August, 1980, the Polish communist government gave in to the demands of the striking workers at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk. The workers were now free to organize and bargain freely.
There is no doubt that Reagan, Gorbachev and Thatcher played major roles in ending that vicious and dangerous period of history known as the Cold War. But we must never forget the vital role played by the epic struggles of Lech Welesa and his fellow workers in Gdansk.
It is a shame their extraordinary bravery was followed by rampant Reaganite globalization fueled by speculative consumer-capitalism, and leaves us today with a hard-hearted corporate-driven pre-emptive American hegemony, but still the original bravery deserves remembrance.
This is the 81st anniversary of the murder by the State of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
What from the splendid dead
We have inherited -
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued -
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does not overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.
Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children's children this beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.
-- Edna St Vincent Millay "Justice Denied in Massachusetts"
Lest we forget.
Chemical Warfare: August 9th 1961
Forty-seven years ago today, US aircraft sprayed dioxin-laced Agent Orange over the central highlands province of Kon Tum, Vietnam. This was the start of the largest and most sustained chemical warfare campaign launched by man against man.
Lest we forget the inhumanity of these war crimes.
August 6th, 1945
Sixty three years ago today, on a day that will live in perpetual infamy, the Americans made the first use of a nuclear weapon, destroying Hiroshima and killing 140,000 innocent civilians.
Nothing can forgive, and nothing can make us forget.
Free Marijuana Day!
On this date in 1937, FDR signed the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively making marijuana illegal. That worked well, didn't it? The legislation and its successors has made criminals of -- literally -- millions of Americans; it has ruined many millions more in affected families, and has created the incarceration crisis that threatens to overwhelm the US today.
In memory, therefore, it would be good to make August 2nd Free Marijuana from the Clutches of The Law Day.
The Invasion of the Dominican Republic
43 years ago today, in order to protect the world from "a second Cuba", US President Lyndon Johnson -- obviously not distracted enough by losing the Vietnam War -- ordered the US Marines to invade that Caribbean superpower, the Dominican Republic. Operation Power Pack was launched on April 28th, 1965 and the occupation by the imperialist forces lasted until September 1966 after a pro-Trujillo, pro-American president was elected. About 3,000 civilians are thought to have died to save the American Empire.
Lest we forget.
The Coup in Hawai'i
Today is the 115th anniversary of the takeover of the Hawai'i Islands by American trading interests, overthrowing the native kingdom. America already had a long history of violent and genocidal imperialist annexation ("Manifest Destiny") on the mainland. The coup in Honolulu was a logical, if long, step into the Pacific.
Another Year ....
I remember an incident way back in 1958. I was at school and had written an essay, subject long forgotten, and dated it accidentally as "1988". I recall my teacher making a big fuss about us all having to "hang on to our hats" as we zoomed into the future. It was a class laugh for a few minutes. Now, 50 years later, and 20 years beyond my futuristic dating, we reach 2008. I guess, if we wore hats these days, we'd still be hanging on to them as the future seems to move toward us as at an ever-increasing clip. Here's a toast to the next 50!
Drunk Drivers Need To be Stopped
A very disturbing report was issued today, showing that we are losing the battle against drunk drivers. We are losing it most especially against repeat drunk drivers:
"Repeat drinking drivers were responsible for 6.6 million drunk-driving trips in Canada last year; that adds up to about 90 per cent of all drunk-driving activity,” a research scientist said. “Clearly this group isn't getting the message."
We MUST do something about this. I have several ideas:
a) injury and death caused by a drunk driver must be treated as assault causing grievous bodily harm and murder respectively; there can be no excuse for some lesser offense such as vehicular manslaughter. After all the publicity, a drunk driver -- especially a repeat offender -- knows in advance that driving while drunk is as dangerous as flashing a gun around in a drunken state. It is a premeditated offense and should be treated as such;
b) assuming no injuries or death, a first offense of drunk driving should carry a jail sentence, a long period of banning from the road after the jail sentence has been served, and a substantial fine;
c) driving while banned or a second drunk driving conviction should carry a ten year minimum sentence and a lifetime ban from driving;
d) driving drunk a third time should carry a mandatory life sentence.
e) we should adopt a 0% alcohol limit while driving. You can drive as much as you want. You can drink as much as you want. You cannot do both together. Period.
I have no sympathy for ANY drunk driver under ANY circumstances, ever. If they rot in jail at least the rest of us will be safe from their criminal negligence.
'Tis The Season
Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been really quite lazy this holiday. It is the first year for a while that we have chosen to stay home, and it is amazing (a) how much needs to be done around here and (b) how lazy one can get when naps are available. I'll be back!
... life with John Lennon around for the last 27 years. It's easy if you try.
Free Enterprise My Ass
The true free enterprise economic system has been moribund in the US for decades. When so much of the economy is tied up in the anti-competitive government-managed military-industrial-financial complex, then "free enterprise" becomes no longer a part of reality, simply a useful rhetorical tool. This has been going on since before World War Two. But we may soon have a real date to hang on to as the "Death of Free Enterprise Day".
Within the next week or so, we expect the Bush Administration to enact regulations that will fix (i.e., mandate) low interest rates for those house buyers who are classed as sub-prime even when their contractual obligations call for those interest rates to rise steeply in the next months. In other words, house buyers in the US are being told that it doesn't matter that they purchased a house they could not afford; someone else will come along and help them pay the bill. No worries. Of course, for those tax-payers (and their grandchildren) who will be told to pay these bills there might be some worries.
The Democrats are pushing much the same interest-rate freeze proposals. Hillary Clinton, for example, came out with hers this morning.
Both the Democrats and Bush will say they are doing this to help the poor Americans who dug this hole for themselves, to help save them from inevitable foreclosure. They will say it is the duty of hardworking American taxpayers to pay up to help this unfortunate group save their homes. Such bullshit this all is. Both plans in reality seek to save the grasping financial markets from meltdown.
Both the Democrats and the administration know that the real losers in any genuine sub-prime meltdown are not the new homeowners (who will simply return to their lives in low-rent apartments) but the finance companies who will never be able to sell the repossessed houses at the prices the companies paid for them. It is the finance companies the American taxpayers will be bailing out -- again!
Thought for The Day
"Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it until it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh."
-- Henry David Thoreau
Red Tulips X
The Dead Hand of Socialism
The cloying dead hand of socialism has fallen across BC in the form of "affirmative action" regulations approved by the New Democratic Party for the next provincial election. There are now racial and gender quotas for candidates, and central rule by an iron fist.
People often assume that, as an anarchist, I must somehow be a socialist at heart, or at least a far-left-winger. Wrong. Socialism is much farther away from the principles of anarchism than is capitalism, for example. And these new rules vividly illustrate the problems with socialist theory and practice.
Socialism of all kinds -- from the softest utopian Owenism to the harshest national socialism -- is founded on two fundamental principles-- elitism and fascism: (a) the masses (and even the constituency parties) are too stupid to make up their own minds and need to be led by what the Trotskyites call the "vanguard" -- a repugnant elitism by any name; and (b) the good of the society outweighs the rights of the individual; this is fascism by any definition.
These new rules by the Grand Poobah Carole James and her clique are profoundly anti-democratic, robbing the local voters of all choice. I have never been tempted to vote for the NDP. This disturbing fascistic elitism guarantees that I never will.
Gangsters and Movie Houses
My wife and I went to see "American Gangster" yesterday evening. I thought it a mediocre movie at best, but that's not what I want to write about.
It was the first weekend of a major first-run movie; movie houses and complexes all over town were playing "Gangster" -- we could have gone almost anywhere to see it. But we chose to go to the Van East movie house in our own neighbourhood. Two great seats cost us $10 (it would have been $11 if we had chosen the balcony), a dollar or so less than EACH ticket would have cost downtown. Sure, the seats are not the plushest, but they are comfortable enough with a lot of legroom and with available cup holders. The house is well cleaned between shows, and we were subjected to ZERO commercials and only two brief trailers before the main feature began. The house was about half full.
Why on earth would one NOT support a local business when you get excellent service for half the price?
The Bush Doctrine Lives -- In Pakistan
The Bush theory of the "unitary executive" ( a modern theory of dictatorship, espoused by three or four US Supreme Court justices) has been taken to its logical extent by Bush's favourite partner in the war to promote "democracy". General Mushareff has declared martial law in Pakistan, and fired the Chief Justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court for disagreeing with him.
Yesterday, Bush Administration spokespersons loudly and publicly told Mushareff not to do it. Quietly and more effectively Bush Administration decision makers whispered to him that nothing would really happen, so go ahead.
Perhaps Bush and Cheney are looking for experience in this business, for their own coup just before January 2009.
The Invasion of Grenada
On October 25, 1983, the United States invaded the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada ("Operation Urgent Fury"). The 1,500-strong Grenadian Army, along with 600 Cuban allies, were considered such a strategic threat to the Imperial Power that Ronnie Reagan sent in the Marines, lying through his teeth to his erstwhile ally Margaret Thatcher all the while.
Lest we forget: opposition to the power will be crushed ruthlessly no matter how petty it makes the power look.
We were in a local diner the other night. It is a place that markets itself to a younger transient market, looking for fast food. My wife and I did seem a little out of place. Perhaps that is why we sat near the back, away from the door. Anyway, the point is that the restaurant was playing the radio as its background music, and the music was classic pop and rock from the 1960s. I knew every tune, and the lyrics to most. The music was ours -- and forty years old or more!
I tried to imagine sitting in a coffee bar in London in the mid 1960s and listening to recordings of tea-dance music from the twenties. It never happened and never could have happened. In those days, we were still obliged to listen to the occasional Frank Sinatra or Perry Como tune; but they were from the 50s, just a decade before. Some of us reached back and appreciated the big bands of the 40s. But even that was twenty years or less before our time. Listening to 40-year old music would have been unthinkable. But today it is standard.
This reverie was triggered by a story in today's Boston Globe: "Some like it hot: how boomers' failing taste buds are shaping the future of American food." The article describes the increasing use of increasingly hot spices. Then asks the question:
"Why is hot so hot? The conventional explanation is that the nation has an increasingly adventurous palate. Immigration and prosperity have made Americans more sophisticated eaters, pushing wasabi peas into the mainstream, along with chili-Thai lime cashews, cayenne chocolate bars, and other high-octane combinations.
But some food scientists and market researchers think there is a more surprising reason for the broad nationwide shift toward bolder flavors: The baby boomers, that huge, youth-chasing, all-important demographic, are getting old."
You bet we are!
"Increased spiciness is just one of many ways the wealthiest, most influential demographic group in US history is changing how we eat. Market research shows boomers have helped drive consumer demand for organic foods, grab-and-go foods, nutritionally enhanced products, and fresh local produce.As boomers continue to age, they will almost certainly keep reshaping the American foodscape, ushering in the same kinds of changes they have brought to sectors of the economy as disparate as music and mutual funds. And as restaurants and food manufacturers come to terms with the surprising new preferences of older palates, their influence will affect what we see in stores and on menus for years to come."
It is an irony -- one that should have been forerseen by anyone with a single working neuron, but an irony nonetheless -- that the generation that made a fetish of youth and of distrusting age have become the dictatorial arbiters of taste; and a taste built entirely of their own nostalgia and failing bodies.
We should all have been shot on our thirtieth birthdays.