Saturday, October 16, 2010

Carol James: You GO, Girl! (Please)

At a time when it should be gearing up to replace the badly faltering Campbell Liberal Government in British Columbia, the NDP seems to be working rather hard to assist its opponents' resurrection. Or at least, the current shenanigans let the Libs catch their breath as news shifts from Gord-o's bald faced lying and the HST imbroglio, to how hapless NDP Leader Carol James has dumped a caucus member for disloyalty.

The skinny, for those who value their time too much for political soap opera, is that the legislative member for North Cariboo, Bob Simpson publicly criticized the lackluster speech James had given at the Union of BC Municipalities convention last month. In rather gently calling attention to the NDP leader's content-free remarks, Simpson had hardly been a dramatic news-maker. He merely pointed out the obvious: Carol's manifest inability to define and advance key public issues, which, in the 2008 election campaign, gave Campbell four more years of neo-con reign. Here are the comments, no more , no less, that got Simpson booted out:

"The Leader of the Opposition likewise had little concrete to offer the delegates other than a commitment to be more consultative than the current government and a promise to explore the possibility of revenue sharing with local governments. This is a timely concept which has the potential to address the resource needs of local governments, but the lack of specifics was a disappointment to delegates."

One wonders if all those years in the legislature in no way thickened Ms. James skin if this is enough to induce so hysterical an over-reaction. Yes, I know: the back story is that Simpson was a pain in the butt, an habitual gadfly for Carol -- but it is such unsympathetic feedback that a healthy organization needs to make sure alternatives are considered and progress as well as regress are well tracked. By implication, Simpson has hitherto kept this talk internal, only recently going public with his differing perspective, and then, as you can see, in wording so mild that any person of reasonably sound self-worth would shrug it off.

But, understandably in light of her ho-hum performance, James is especially on edge. She is not paranoid for the threat is real: much bigger long knives than Simpson's are now gathering. If she had the party's best interests at heart she would not force it to go through what now seems an inevitable and confrontational leadership bloodbath. She would stand aside, stay with the NDP and see if she can redefine herself and her role, putting her indubitably good heart and head to work in a supporting role that matches her abilities and shortcomings.

Contrary to the arrogant crap that Globe and Mail columnist Rod Mickleburgh promulgates, there are plenty of prospective, highly electable potential successors. Once the James lid comes off the pot, there are 33 other elected NDP caucus members and 9 federal ones to think about. Moreover as I advocated several months back in these pages, an ideal leader with a proven ability to bring Gord-O and his neo-con dogs to heel, is Mary-Ellen Turpel Lafond, BC's Representative for Children and Youth.

Friday, October 08, 2010

CBC Radio Gripe #2548

Okay, I know, I haven't posted that many nor, really, much in a while of venom spewing from my love-hate relationship with CBC Radio. Sure, I made up the number 2548 but guarantee you that the bones I have to pick with this institution would vastly exceed that in the Drumheller dinosaur collection.

Of course, I keep listening because compared to anything else we receive in smelly Prince George, the CBC comes off like a shining island in the sky. But...

First let me remind you of my published past bitchings here, which in reverse chronological were:

"All Points Tasteless (2009)" - the disgusting spectacle of the mediocre bunch at CBC's Victoria-based afternoon show, All Points West, in hustling on down to the seaplane terminal the day after a fatal crash at nearby Saturna, to push microphones in imminent flyers' faces and ask them if they worried about flying.

"Bless You Cathy Haig (2009)"
- a not very gracious thank you to CBC Overnight for, after many years, purging the wee hour airways of the propaganda from Russia and Poland (Cathy was and is the perky voice that uselessly comes up and announces the transition from one night-time program to another and once, after I wrote about my concerns about the programming haughtily replied that I didn't have to listen, to which I answered with equal disdain, that I did have to pay her salary, nonetheless)

"The Greatest Canadian Hogwash(2006)" - an embittered expose of the bad process and worse outcome of CBC's elaborate process of picking the purported Greatest Canadian. It culminated in the selection of that pompous prairie chicken, Tommy Douglas, whom Canadian voters of the era, with uncharacteristic perspicacity had certainly not seen as all that great,

"CBC - All Quiet on the Klander front(2005)" which pointed out how CBC completely ignored the summary dismissal of a Liberal party hack for drawing a comparison between Sylvia Chow, Jack Layton's wife, and the dog breed of the same name.

and last, not least and most a-propos of why I am crapping on CBC Radio again today:

"On Not Winning a CBC Contest (2005)" occasioned by having used my creative juices to respond to gratingly sunny North By Northwest Hostess, Cheryl McKay's contest to write about homecomings" only to find that the lazy buggers simply drew the winner rather than taking the time to read and judge entries.

Well, they got me again!

You may recall my recent post in which I proudly presented my poem about Anna Mae Aquash by way of nominating her as a Canadian worthy of her own opera. This was entered in the Canadian Opera Challenge with the incentive of winning an all expense inclusive trip to the world premier of what sounded like a most intriguing opera, Lillian Alling.. This came over the air with prodding from Saturday Afternoon at the Opera host, Bill Richardson, to "get creative" with entries. Stupidly, I presumed from this, and from the 250-word limit they put on submission length, that someone was actually going to be read and judge the entries by merit and originality.

Several days after the deadline I went looking for information on whether there was a winner and happened across these chilling words (which, I admit, had always been there in the fine print of the contest information):

"On Friday Oct. 1, 2010, a random draw will be conducted by the host during the taping of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera aired on Saturday Oct. 2, 2010. This draw will be made from among all eligible email and regular postal entries received. The first contestant to correctly answer the mandatory question shall be declared the winner, subject to responding all the conditions described in these rules."

Writing your heart out wasn't enough, mind you: because no merit basis is involved the contest-managers would be asking you what 2 + 2 is or perhaps, the square root of crow pie.

To repeat, no question, the rules were there on the website and so I let myself be suckered by the Bill and the gang into yet another manifestation of utter laziness, CBC Radio expecting, nay encouraging, us to put unpaid time and effort into something but then using dumb luck as a substitute for the effort it would take to critically read and evaluate our heart-felt entries. I might as well have proposed an opera about my dog. Or even more a-propos, one simply titled, "Sluggards" about Bill Richardson, Sheryl McKay, and the handlers behind them who come up with these contests and then are too indolent to bother with the input.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Be Vigilant, Mr. & Mrs. Tourist!

Today, the most urgent lead story is that Canada has aped our southern neighbours (or is that neighbors?) in issuing warnings to those of us who are off to Europe. The admonition is that somewhere in Europe, something bad may happen to you and so you should be vigilant! That's it. No specific kinds of targets, not even a wild guess of most likely cities or countries. And, perhaps vaguest of all, no usable advice on just what the average camera-slinging perambulators are supposed to do to be "vigilant."

One tidbit is that western anti-terrorist intelligence thinks that, just maybe, whatever deed is done may resemble the horrific Bombay* (AKA Mumbai) massacre two years ago. In that multi-pronged and exceptionally well planned assault, numerous sites were rapidly and simultaneously attacked by terrorists lugging grenades and automatic weapons, while concurrent car bombs went off rapid-fire. They came with clear orders to maximize fatalities and property destruction in as short a time span as possible. To those who survived, the suddenness of the events was unfathomable. Here's one anonymous account:

"I was just sitting and reading the paper. ... I started seeing the sound was increasing and bodies started falling and all of the bloodshed. ... People were crying; people were limping. We were frightened; we started to run. I was trying to see if I could see anyone carrying a gun or anything, but I couldn't." (From Source)

So, again, what precisely is it that Canada, the US, and Japan are all suggesting that the hapless tourist do if she or he has the bad luck to be in the path of such determined, tactically proficient, well-trained fanatics? Or is the whole unsettling thing merely that intelligence agencies are covering their collective butts, causing all sorts of useless anxiety so that if and when the worst happens they can definitively say, "We told you so!"

* The belief that the name "Mumbai" is the unequivocal preference of all India and that "Bombay" is only for imperialist throwbacks is a vast oversimplification of how this latest bit of political correct toponymy arose. Many locals still prefer Bombay because at least the oppressor who gave the place that name is history, while radical Hindus are, alas, not. Besides, that most famous, gutsy and literate of all living Bombayians (my usage), Salman Rushdie still calls it by that horrid colonial epithet. And if it's good enough for Sal, it's good enough for me!