One of the crime scenes

Monday, March 10, 2008

How to Earn

Infamy is a group activity that usually requires a group effort. Without a compliant media that fails in its responsibility to inform the public, a group of thugs like the so-called Campbell Government would be unable to pursue its own hidden agenda, contrary to its own campaign platform, behind a screen of happy face slogans. If so-called journalists were half as interested in seeking out/and sharing the facts as they are in purveying the "official" government spin, the "people" very likely would have an entirely different perspective on both what is happening AND how their vote can affect this reality. The practice of simply ignoring certain issues and stories is just as important as the application of the appropriate spin to the stories that manage to get through the filters of the corporate media ownership.

Of course we don't suffer "censorship" like that experienced in the old USSR of Pravda, or in the Myanmar of today. In Canada we enjoy "Freedom of the Press." Of course that particular freedom is of much more value to he who is fortunate enough to own one (or say three dailies in the Lower Mainland - Capitol Region + TeeVee and weeklies.) On Friday, March 7, Vaughn Palmer once again proved why Robin Matthews has dubbed him - "Gordon Campbell's personal representative at the Vancouver Sun". His embarrassing piece titled NDP runs out of steam against health minister's counterpunching , is a textbook tour of how to trivialize, misdirect and turn the issues of the day into a "horse race" narrative that apparently even the dimmest bulbs in the editorial ooze can comprehend.

Shortly before question period in the legislature one afternoon this week, the Hospital Employees' Union put out a press release on the running controversy over nursing homes.

"Retirement Concepts," it began, citing the controversial private operator of a number of publicly funded homes, "set to slash care for seniors at Coquitlam nursing home."

The release immediately caught the attention of Health Minister George Abbott and the staff in his office.

Vaughn then, in loving detail, shares with us how well served we are by our Health Minister "BobbleHead" Abbott while not missing an opportunity to slag the NDP for being held ransom by the "special interest" public sector unions that have less and less of an effect on public health care each time the government has an opportunity to implement this part of its ideology. I imagine everyone else in the province is as glad as I am that the Corporate donors that fuel the Soup Nazi's war chest have no expectation of any favorable policy decisions in return for their generous support (unlike those "greedy" special interest union thugs).

He (Abbott) sees it as critical to the job of managing the issues in health care, putting out the fires that can otherwise flare up into news stories about a system in crisis.

Translated into English, the above means that managing the "spin" is actually much more important than actually, well, you know, managing the health care system.

"Just this afternoon we learned that another Retirement Concepts home, this one in Coquitlam, is set to cut care," Opposition leader Carole James declared as she pitched the second question of the afternoon.

"I congratulate the leader of the Opposition on being sharp enough to pick up the HEU press release," returned Abbott, who rarely misses an opportunity to counterpunch his critics.

Wow, George, I'm so impressed, what a zinger, you can make fun of the Leader of the Opposition for actually reading a press release. What's so funny? Or do you need to have people to do that for you, read press releases that is? Were you by any chance educated in BC? Or maybe Ms. James erred by reading ANY press release NOT CREATED by the 185+ OIC Informaton Masseuses in Gordon Campbell's employ? I call B.S. on you VP.

It may seem perverse that with a ministry as big and as complicated as health, the minister spends a significant portion of his day getting ready for what might come flying at him inside the legislature or outside in media scrums.

Bulletin: Vaughn Palmer wrote something that makes sense, because yes it IS perverse. But then, with a straight face (I assume), he goes on to say:

But Abbott sees the time spent as indispensable. The health care system touches the lives of more voters every day than most other government programs put together, and not always happily.

"I'd like to spend more time on policy and less on issues management," he told columnist Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail in an interview last year.

"But I have to deal with the world as it is, and when a television station or newspaper has a desperate interest in a story that is emerging in the media cycle, we have to be there to tell our side of the story."

I suppose George should feel relieved that our friend Gary Mason (Gyro Winner-2007) hasn't felt the need to share Sunday Morning in Bed with the Abbotts, yet, unless I've missed something.

Notice this part "our side of the story." I know the "official" line is that the Campbell Bunch are doing wonders at "improving" health care. I'm sure that Mr. BobbleHead has to stay awake late into the night to come up with ways to paint what I see everyday on the ground as "improvement." Closing wards, closing whole hospitals, contracting out services at higher costs for lower quality results, chasing professionals and other staff to other jurisdictions for bearable working conditions and/or wages and treating the elderly who built the province like inconvenient wastes of space (no matter that the space they are wasting might be hundreds of miles from their loved ones) are difficult to spin into GOOD things. To constantly claim to be replacing hospital beds and staff with improved home care while virtually eliminating home care for all except those who can afford private care isn't easy to do without some thought about how to "parse" one's statements.

If perhaps the Health Minister actually spent more time "managing" and/or administrating the ACTUAL delivery of health care to the people of BC, rather than waging a campaign to degrade it to the point where the ideologically attractive (to the BC LIEberals) privatization of health care becomes acceptable to the public through attrition, he wouldn't have to spend so much time "putting out the fires that can otherwise flare up into news stories about a system in crisis." When a government is striving to implement an agenda that is hidden from the public, the public to which it is generally unacceptable, managing the spin becomes more important than managing the government. Besides like all right wing nut worshipers at the feet of the god of free boot capitalism and corporate piracy, government doesn't work anyway. And if you don't believe them, they are more than willing to prove it.

Meanwhile, if you need to listen to somebody named Vaughn, listen to the fellow below or his brother Jimmy. Now they have something to say.

Stevie Ray

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's Bill T. Week!

I guess it isn't official anywhere, though I guess I could declare it so, here in the blogosphere. You must have heard we can say anything we want about anybody. This isn't any criticism of Bill Tieleman, whose efforts and writing on the BC Rail Scandal is much appreciated and respected in this corner of cyberspace. Bill probably has the best exposure in the conventional media of anyone who actually takes this issue seriously and I only wish more people were familiar with his reporting, much of which is based on attending hearings in Studio 54 with Robin Matthews and a bunch of lawyers. I'm not saying Robin and Bill go to court on dates, it's just that often once you were to remove the lawyers for everybody in sight (the government, ex-ministers, the people(?), the railroad, the defense (eek!) and the judge, to name a few)), often there would be nobody left but Robin, Bill and the bailiff.

I have taken Bill to issue on occasion, but his willingness and ability to understand my concerns and address them with reason instead of rote cant, has only increased my respect for him. I must admit his rationality and reason have on occasion even changed my opinion on certain points.

The reason I suggest that this must be Bill Tieleman week is that of late various representatives of the more mainstream media have been noticing Bill and his BC Rail coverage also. I have to admit that lots of these have been in media that I frankly don't monitor like the Globe and Mail and the North Shore News. Thanks to Bill himself and BC Mary though, I usually have a chance to check them out.

In general the two particular notices I intend to discuss seem like good reviews of Bill and do give him credit (where credit is definitely due). However in both Tom Hawthorn's recent piece from the Globe and Mail and the more recent Bill Bell from the North Shore News, a few inescapable words of praise tossed Bill's way are embedded in a "vile" stew of slagging of blogs, discussion board contributors and generally anyone not employed by the Asper's or the mandarins of Toronto, who may think they have the right to express their views.

Tom's piece, For this blogger, this case has just about everything..., opens with the clickety clack of Bill's keyboard heard over the phone. (To Gary Mason, I feel much more comfortable listening to Bill type than waking up in bed with Mr. and Mrs. Basi). Mr. Hawthorn gives Bill good marks on his efforts, AND I must give Tom credit for being the ONLY journalist that I'm aware of actually mentioning the burglary on Bill's office. Generally journalists are noteworthy in how they will rise to the defense of one of their own, even if the "one" of their own is a slimy kneepad equipped stenographer like Judith "Scooter's PR Gal" Miller. The silence from the rest of the Asper Nation of Journo-Bots is deafening on this incident.

Tom's piece was discussed to a degree on the No, Not Nathaniel.... a couple posts ago. Tom himself even contributed a comment. He claimed that:

In the column I offer a brief critique of two prominent bloggers in this case. These are no more than an expression of my opinion after reading their postings. Yet, the response is that I’m “despicable” and a “jerk” employing “marginally slanderous” remarks.

Well, I had to re-read my posting to make sure I hadn't woken up in some alternate universe as I never called Tom any names. Actually if G. West refers to something as "marginally slanderous," I would give it a second look. He is generally a pretty calm, dispassionate, and logical commentator. Actually what disturbed me about Tom's piece was the gratuitous drive by smears of a group of people that includes myself, though I'm not fortunate enough to be mentioned by name (OK, even my CONSISTENT blogger ID, think Mark Twain). It hardly needs to be said that the fact that he considers Vaughn Palmer (otherwise known as Gordon Campbell's personal PR department) the height of sober commentary, undermines everything else he may say.

Also of interest was Tom's charge that he had been accused of "information suppression," to wit:

First of all, let’s deal with some poor reading comprehension. A 1,100-word column touting a particular blogger’s excellent work in covering an underreported case is not “information suppression.”

All I can really say is that he must be referring to HIS OWN poor reading comprehension, because what I said was:

the Canned Waste exercise in mis-information or information suppression.

First Canned Waste = Canwest. BC Mary has told me once or twice that some of my humorous handles confuse people. I guess if people aren't smart enough to figure out that Canned Waste means Canwest or the Soup Nazi is Gordon Campbell, they aren't the audience I'm trying to reach. Now unless you are a secret agent of Canned Waste and the Asper Nation of Info-Thugs, this had nothing to do with you.

Most amusing was the effort made to minimize the identity as a "sports writer," even going so far as to accuse me of suggesting a "sportswriting conspiracy." I wasn't familiar (my literary loss, I'm sure) with Mr. Hawthorn and had the misfortune to run into things like the following when I decided to check him out.

"Veteran Canadian freelance reporter specializes in sports, features, business, profiles and non-fiction book reviews."

The above is from Google, so I can only assume it was either submitted by him to Google or was part of the metadata in the <head> of his blog when the google spiders passed by. Of course a few years back when the Canadian Association of Journalists held their National Writer's Symposium in sunny Victoria, one of the featured speakers was Tom.


November 3-4, 2001
Victoria, BC.


Saturday, Nov. 3 9:30 - 11:00 a.m.

Tom Hawthorn,



Tom Hawthorn's sports features appear in the National Post and on CBC Radio. He has a singular talent for writing sports stories that capture the attention of not onlysports fans but also the rest of us.

If it looks like a sports writer, writes about sports etc........I know that Mr. Hawthorn has moved up from the field of dreams to write about deeper subjects than jocks. Judging from his own blog, obituaries seem to be his specialty these days, so I guess Bill can consider himself lucky that he became a subject for other reasons.

The Other Bill Rings

The other recent piece, partly about Bill T., is Bill Bell's Special To North Shore News titled Anonymous postings discredit sites. Since Mr. Bell is going to produce a critique of blogs, he needs to establish his authority in the area right at the beginning with:

I rarely comment on the rantings of some people on blogs or Internet message boards.

In fact, the editor of this newspaper warned me about participating in a local popular political blog saying that he was concerned about what was being written on it anonymously.

Another North Shore friend once commented about a blog he participated on as "that's where the anonymous people with an axe to grind and venom to spew get away with libel and lies." Blogs are the playground for people who love conspiracy theories, hearsay, innuendo and just plain nasty personal insults.

It is probably good corporate writing style to marginalize and degrade the whole online community, just so everybody knows that it is irrelevant, almost not worthy of Mr. Bell's attention. Of course later on it becomes apparent why these otherwise irrelevant gigabytes of lies actually are important and scary.

The terrifying face of anonymous bloggers and posters on message boards has an even darker side where the very worst of society preys. Pedophiles trying to pick up young girls and boys or racist hatred against an American presidential hopeful are just a few of the many horrible aspects of poorly administered message boards.

I may be too afraid to read an anonymous comment ever again - can they wrap up IEDs in anonymous postings or something? The casual linking of bloggers and child molestation was totally gratuitous and verging on the libelous. I guess Mr. Bell figures that lots of really young girls (or boys) hang out at political blogs, just waiting to be preyed upon. Mr. Bell, that reference was totally disgusting, I repeat - DISGUSTING!

By the way, Mr. Bell, in case you hadn't noticed people tell lies about each other in person, not just on the internet. Come to think of it a lot of lies pass for news in newspapers from the North Shore News to the New York Times, as well. Don't even get me started on TeeVee "news."

After making it clear that the blogosphere is basically a cesspool, he then declares that Bill Tieleman is a gem, surrounded by the previously established crew of lying, uneducated child molesters with poor grammar and spelling. Well if I was Bill I would prefer to be a big frog in a small pond, rather than a treasure lost in a cesspool.

If Mr. Bell hadn't compromised his own relevancy enough already, eventually he gets around to the biggest laffer in his whole piece.

Although the major media in this circumstance has been giving the case significant coverage,

I'll tell you what, you clip out all that significant coverage and send it to me parcel post. I'll send you five dollars for postage, you can keep the change.

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