False Memory Syndrome
Forty two years ago today, my mother and father visited their closest friends, Ron and Betty, who lived a few miles from us in West London. I was in the backseat of the small black car. It smelled of leather and my parents' cigarettes. I was sullen becuase I was already 14 years old and I had far better things to do than visit my parents' old fogie friends to play cards.
I remember this all so clearly because, just as we pulled up outside Ron and Betty's row house, the car radio broke off its normal programming and a solemn voice replaced the happy chatter. The voice announced that President John F. Kennedy of the United States had been shot and probably killed. I can still feel the goose-flesh that crawled over my skin. I remember the loud gasp as my father realized what had been said. John Kennedy was one of my father's heroes, and he was mine too. He was our hope for the future, and now he was dead. Nothing else about that evening do I remember. I'm sure my folks and their friends discussed the assassination, but that has passed from recall.
Within two years of that day, though, JFK had -- in my eyes at least -- fallen from the pedestal upon which his charisma, his beautiful family, and his martyrdom had placed him. He was quickly revealed as just another centre-right US politician who was happy to send the boys to war, who was happy to squander the nation's wealth on weapons and imperialism, who had no answer to segregation but brother Bobby's federal agents. Even later, of course, we learned (perhaps we always knew) he wasn't quite such a great family man, either, that Camelot was an expensive sham.
Kennedy and his people lived in the tuxedoed world of High Society that was soon to be swept away by the real world of Soul on Ice and Revolver. We might have hated that big Texas bully who followed Kennedy, but it was Kennedy not Johnson who pushed the US into South Vietnam, and it was Johnson not Kennedy who brought forward the Civil Rights Acts. Looking back, we can now see that both Kennedy and Johnson were equal participants in the cabaret that is America the Superpower. Unfortunately for the truth, Kennedy will always have the smile, the beautiful wife, the cute John-John and Caroline, while Johnson will always be pulling the ears off those damn beagles.
Last week, after a series of very secret agreements between the parties, the members of the British Columbia legislature voted themselves -- unanimously -- a significant pay raise. There was no debate, just an up or down vote supported by Liberals and NDP alike.
I happen to support the pay raise. So long as we have to have politicians, we should pay them well and make them work hard. It is ridiculous in my judgement for anyone to complain about the Premier of a rich and vibrant economy such as we have in BC making $140-odd thousand a year. No one in the private sector has anywhere like those kind of responsibilities; and no CEO in business would take that kind of pay for the accountability required.
Of course there was loud outrage from all the usual suspects. Nothing unusual there. But now the NDP has buckled to the crowd noise, saying they that want to renege on their deal with the Liberals to move this through. They will pitch it, no doubt, as "listening to the voices of the people". Bullshit! If they had really wanted to know what the people thought, they wouldn't have connived their secret deal in the first place.
If Carol James and the NDP think this will somehow make them look more businesslike, or statesmanlike, they are dead wrong. It makes them look like amateurs, political flipfloppers more concerned with the daily wind than longterm policy. I'll never vote for Campbell and his Liberals, but I sure have no intention of voting for the leftwing turncoats either!
A Tale of Two Cities
Sam Sullivan -- the "crazy" guy from my earlier post about Vancouver's municipal elections -- beat the arrogant, self-serving Jim Green, and becomes Canada's first quadraplegic big-city mayor. He has to work with a council that consists of 5 right-tending and 5 left-tending members (those terms in Vancouver politics are hazy at best).
Jim Green lost to Sam Sullivan by just about the same number of votes given to another candidate, James Green, an independent who in the usual scheme of things should have been expected to receive just a few hundreds of votes, not the 4,000 he got.
Just as interesting, this map of the results by polling division shows that, politically, we have two distinct cities in Vancouver.
The older inner city neighbourhoods -- Hastings, Strathcona, Grandview, the West End --, the oldest suburbs -- Cedar Cottage, Sunrise, Kitsilano, Marpole --, and perhaps more surprisingly, the South Shore of False Creek, clung tenaciously to the left-leaning COPE and its deal-with-the-devil of Jim Green. The rest of the city -- historically the old municipalities of Point Grey and South Vancouver, endless stretches of single family housing -- reverted to Sullivan and his rejuvenated NPA.
The map interestingly shows the demographic result of new and upscale developments in the West End. Both Coal Harbour and Yaletown carve red enclaves from the traditional green.
Will this election cause any changes over the next three years? I doubt it. The incoming group supports the two biggest ticket items so there is no chance that either the Olympics or the RAV line will be scrapped. The safe injection site seems safe enough. There won't be a red light district before the Olympics. The biggest changes may be seen at the regional level, where several suburban mayors were replaced, most notably Doug McCallum in Surrey.
I finally got my act together enough to publish the updated Plamegate and Niger Forgery Chronology. It is over on the left sidebar, at the top. There are about 50 or 60 new entries and updates. The new material since the previous version is marked in red.
I hope you find it useful.
Every year for a decade or more, Vancouver has sat at the top, or close to the top, of the annual lists of Most Liveable Cities, Best Cities In The World, Most Favoured Business Destination -- you know the kind of thing. And it would be churlish of me to disagree; I adore it here and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
That being said, we have to wonder why we get lumbered with such a bad lot as municipal leaders.
This coming Saturday we have our Civic Elections and, for mayor, we have a choice between a self-serving and arrogant "left winger" who helped destroy the only true left-wing party the city has seen since the war, and a right-leaning politico who has been described as "crazy" and who has sat on Council for 12 years doing nothing.
In the last election, the voters chose Larry Campbell, a guy with an impressive and well-known resume as a drug cop and then city coroner. It helped that Larry was the inspiration for the lead character in "Da Vinci's Inquest", a very popular Canadian TV drama. Campbell was the candidate for COPE, the leftwing party. During his term, he helped destroy that party but, frankly, did nothing else of consequence that I can recall (he will claim credit for the safe injection site, but that was all the work of Philip Owen the previous mayor).
Thank God we have tremendous public servants in the municpal offices. It is they and not our politicians who have allowed Vancouver to grow to major status without losing the things that make it so livable. It is because of them that downtown is a mix of residential and commerical (with the residential in the ascendancy). It is because of them that we have a road system that works despite the fact that Vancouver is the only major metropolitan area in North Amnerica without a highway running through it. It is because of them that we have a dozen or more vibrant and varied neighbourhoods. We don't need any of the politicians.
This is a good time to be an anarchist.
Woodward's Been A Bushie For Years
Bob Woodward -- what a hero he and Carl Bernstein were to me and the millions of others who watched as they systematically helped unravel the Nixon presidency. This week's revelations that Woodward was told about Valerie Wilson a month before Walter Pincus, Bob Novak and Joe Wilson himself made the story public, that Woodward asked Pincus to leave him out of his reporting, that he failed to tell his editorial bosses at the Post for two years while the story swirled and grew, are a sad end to his reputation.
Perhaps it wouldn't have been been so bad if he hadn't spent the summer on the TV talk show circuit saying that Plamegate was insignificant and was being blown up by the media. Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't spent the last decade sucking up to the Bush family, acting as their mouthpiece on Iraq on Larry King and elsewhere. Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't grown so rich and smug looking.
Time to go, Bob.
There has been a dearth of posts here this week. Mainly this is because I am spending a lot of time on the Plamegate Chronology research. A new version of the Chronology will be released in a day or two.
Visions of Cendrars’ “profonde aujourd’hui” in A Photograph of Soldiers At The Front, 1915
You were young men in the Guards
treading water in wretched trenches
swinging kitbags and rifles and broad silly grins
that two billion volumes single-spaced wouldn’t be enough
to list all of life’s treasures
you haven’t experienced yet
and still you would die
or so you thought
as you lay where
no-one could tell where
mud ended and blood began
three and four generations removed,
we lay wreathes for your wraiths
on a hollow day in November
while the parades and the poppies
an annual landscape of memory
profound today, gone tomorrow
and for three or four days the flowers fade
and the greenery browns at your memorials
and then the work crews come
young men and women with guarded futures
treading water at minimum wage
swinging brooms and shovels and black plastic bags
and when the work trucks leave
your memory has turned once again
to cold undecorated stone
and nothing can ever change
that you died before you started living.
Plamegate and the Niger Forgeries
I have published the first update to the Chronology. It can now be found at its permanent position at the top of the left hand sidebar.
I added about 80 items scattered throughout. In the future, updates will identify the changes made since the previous version. Unfortunately, I forgot to track the changes this time.
Republicans Don't Like Soldiers
You probably already know that the Bush Administration has failed to supply the boys on the ground with the body armoiur they need for the type of warefare they have been sent to fight.
You may also have heard that the Bush Administration has refused to come up with some of the signing and re-signing bonuses that were promised.
Now, the Republican chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), has decided that veterans will no longer be allowed to speak to their issues to a joint session of the House and Senates Veterans Committees. These joint sessions have been an annual fixture in Washington since the 1950s and, not surprisngly, the veterans are furious -- especially for this to happen so close to Veterans Day.
"The right to fully participate in the democratic process is a cornerstone of our nation," said Disabled American Veterans Commander Jackson. "Eliminating these joint hearings is an insult to the men and women who have fought, sacrificed and died to protect our Constitutional rights, including the right to petition the government."
The Republicans are really falling apart if they can screw up such a simple matter as keeping the vets happy with a one-day session. Of course, for all their patriotic rhetoric about courage and loyalty, Republicans think that soldiers are just the hired help. Feed them slop, keep them in the dark, and treat them like slaves. Disgusting.