Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pinocchio Takes Charge

The OPP, recently divested of its head honcha - Maeb, queen of the faeries, has selected a tough, law and order guy to replace her. Julian - I am the police officer - Fantino was called out of retirement as head of Ontario's security advisory panel to don the blue-black of the Omperial Provincial Police and man a desk at the showcase headquarters in ????? (just where will be determined).

Julian would have been a natural replacement for Jamborini as head of the Royal Canuck Mounty Police - if Harper had had the testosterone to dismount him. That didn't happen, so second best is better than no best at all. As it is, it seems that Julian didn't even have to apply. The OPP'ies, or Liberals, knew, that, like Moses, his time had come. There are probably a bunch of 'hard workers', on the way up, who are really disappointed. A promotion from outside the force - probably the second ever. If Julian wasn't the epitome of policing, one might think there was some political finagling afoot.

As it is, he'll have his pants full - that Iroquois protest an all. True to form he decided that a meeting of minds was in order - to get a first-hand take on the "issues". Needless to say he'll be springing for lunch, eh?

What sort of chief wears a little itsy, bitsy OPP shoulder crest anyway?

"The humility, oh God the humility!" isn't that what the radio commentator, who covered the Hindenberg disaster, was saying?

The enthronement was entirely sedate. The course ahead relatively clear, for now.
In actuality Julian is to orchestrate some sever shaking up at OPP headquarters. A severe reassessment if you will - to prepare the force for the new millenium.

That's too bad, because the Mounties seem to need it more.

Jihadis on YOUR Street

Now that George W(RONG) Bush is starting to get the wobbles on Iraq, the ranting righties are screeching about the "world jihad". That's right, them jihadis have ex-caped from the middle east and are invading the world.

The number of Iraqis who've fled that country's turmoil are now being pegged as trained 'alqaeda operatives' being farmed out to any western countries (Sweden is noted) who'll take them to foment the jihad (War on Sweden is noted) Uncle Sam started in Iraq. Canada is number one on the yankees' 'sucker list'. Because of Iraqis? No, because of Somalis!

Remember how Uncle Sam botched the Horn of Africa and got the warlords raising mayhem? Quite a number of Somalis who fled to Canada are returning to Somalia now that they finally have neen able to dump the warlords. The only problem is that 'they' happen to be the Islamic Court party and so far they seem to be on the way towards 'liberating' Somalia for Islam, not democracy. That, and the fact that Somali-Canadians are coming and going home, is putting the wind up the 'patriots' down south. They believe that these trained 'jihadists' will be massing on the borders to take a poke at Toonsville USA.

Funny how they weren't complaining about those Serbo- and Croato- Canadians going home for sniper practice in Sarajevo a few years back. Or the annual efflux of the children of Abraham making Aliyah to do their miltary service in the IAF. They never griped about the SriLankan Tamils or the Ulster boyos. But those horrible Somalis who shot down a peace-keepin' helo and dragged the dead crew through Mogadishu they're barbarians coming to pull down the empire. Normally you could write this off as the lack of some anti-psychotic medication, but its a 'position' shared by some folk highly placed in the American government, media, and military. But then, when you're 'right' you don't need evidence, or reality.

This means augmented border security! You better look a lot like Jimmy Olsen or Sandra Dee to get into, over or near the great US of A without an inspection of your fundamental cavities for IEDs or automatic weapons. I wonder what our dusky brothers will do especially with names like Kaleel and Akeem. Members of minority groups - Indians and Chicanos should be subject to closer inspection, easpecially if they served in the Army or Marines and particularly if they had combat experience in the Gulf. Maybe the barbarians are already inside the walls!!!!

Look out the sky is falling. And there's a Maine lobster loose! Look to yer priming and keep yer powder dry! Helter Skelter, just like Charlie said.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Did not! Did too!

The High School cafeteria mentality of Canada's House of Commons is at an all-time low of late. The speaker sits like some sort of confused galumph of a substitute-teacher as the sophomores of all parties engage in the fine 'art' of the heckle.

According to one sage of the chamber - heckling - better known as shouting down the opposition - dates back to midieval times. I'm sure it does, but then so do the black death, witchery and open street sewers - so idiocy, even with some sort of historic cachet, is still the stuff of idiots.

This week it's all about a contentious reference to a 'dog' and someone's past girlfriend - typical high school material. During a report to the Commons on the environment by the ministress whose 'big hair' is somehow supposed to add gravity to an otherwise lacklustre government performance, some wit on the Liberal benches enquired aloud how Peter McKay's dog was doing. See the incisive and appropriate wit at work? McKay is reputed to have indicated the empty seat of his former bint, the side-swapping Belinda Stronach, and replied with cunning quickness "You've got her."

Well it took more than a few minutes for the Opposition to realize that now they had something significant to question the government about - rather than that old 'global warming' and Kyoto issue they worked hard for a decade to avoid. So, they sank their gnashers into the looney-tunes activity.

If the Speaker isn't able to fine these doofi we elect, he should be! Say, a day's pay for doing it, and a day's pay for every day they fail to apologize for doing it. Heckling that is. Now some explanations for questions asked are truly ridiculous non-answers - the Libs were masters (and probably invented the cogent non-response) Mr. Speaker. They should be fined for that as well. A month of being hit in the old non-taxable benefits would brighten our dimwits - or make them listen more.

The whole timbre of the parliament needs revamped and that lies at the feet of the Speaker. Apparently he's either asleep or as much a simpleton as the rest. In either case he should begone!

Now there are more tales of romance emanating from the hallowed hill of parliament. This time someone and one of the pages (a former page?). Now I like a love story about as much as the Governess General, but I don't elect my member for his amourial prowess. If the lovey-dovin' is getting in the way, go somewhere else for the lovey-dovin'. Immediate termination and a by-election. Even for boyfriend-girlfriend crap. There's enough down-time during the year, it doesn't need done while there's work on the table.

In the meantime, there are more important things to waste time over besides accusations and denials. Get on with it.

Canadahar , Afghanistan

The latest in the recently 'pacified' Panjwai area of Afghanistan has the Canadian forces switching from an outright combat to a 'development' mode. The development part invloves, I believe, building a better road into the Panjwai.

Once a highway is in place then the blessings of further development will follow.

If the 'Iraq model' of road construction is being urtilized, it is aimed more at minimizing the effectiveness of IED than increasing any sort of prosperity. After all the great majority of large vehicles driving up and down the roads in Afghanistan are the kind used by Coalition forces. Tarmac and wide, graded shoulders may have some future benefit but in the immediate situation the highway to the Afghans is like the wagon trail to the Indians, it's for access not commerce.

And what's been going on in this 'new' role. Well , first there's dope. The armed forces announced that they've been testing personnel for the use of street drugs with 20%, or so, showing positive results. Why would they want to do that you might ask? Well, for one reason, Afghanistan is coming out of 'harvest season' and major crops include marijuana, hashish and opium - three real temptations to those with an affinity. The recent news from Kandahar announced large confiscations of dope, pot (in Tonnes) and opium, in recent police stops. The photo of a Dragoons AFV parked in a field of pot that virtually hid it, was striking for two reasons. One, the 11 foot high pot crop and the second as another incident of the stupids that make for dead sojers. If that pot forest could hide an AFV, it could certainly hide Taliban anti-tank crews, and the bright client who thought the picture would be worth it, is lucky he's not coming home missing some body parts.

The other big thing is the 'pacification' bit. That announcement at the 'end' of Medusa was promptly answered with a spate of attacks and Canadian casualties. If, as the Afghans say, the Talban have been chased out of Panjwai, who are the Coalition forces shooting at? In the same period civilian casualties have risen markedly. This due to the 'fix and bomb' tactics used since the end of the offensive. However, those 'fixed and bombed' have a embarassing propensity to turn out to be other than the Taliban. Even the 'American' president of Afghanistan realizes that the sure way to 'eff it all up' is to kill civilians. I would have hoped that the NATO leadership would have been able to curb the high explosive and fire-suppression tendencies of our American allies, it doesan't look like it.

Not that only the Yanks have PR problems. To-day the Germans reacted to some snapshots of their 'boys' acting the bravo with an Afghan skull and their schwanzen. Boys will be boys, and that's what happens when you dress 'em up in uniforms and send them somewhere to be 'heart-breakers and widow-makers'.

Looking as hopeful as a settlement at the 'Injun barricades'. But winter's coming!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Harper Unloads the Best

MP Garth Turner was cut from the PC cabinet to-day. The ostensible reason is criticizing the PM and other members on his ‘blog’. It was also noised that he was responsible for publishing ‘classified’ materials. But overall nobody is really talking- except Turner, that is. Mr Harper is employing his ‘see no, hear no, speak no’ public image, again.

So it looks like he’s holding onto his ‘doofi’ and dumping , probably, the only sentient member of the Caucus - let alone the party. Flaherty and that guy from Ontario with the bad dentures were ‘doofi’ when they worked for Mr. Harris ‘common senseless revolution’ and would like to spread that joy to the whole country. In a nutshell most people see a refund of $350 in income taxes and an aggregate increase of $1000 in fees, rates and other forms of taxes. Look what they did with the sales tax - you pay 1% less for crap you buy and your income tax goes up. Who saved there ? The guys who buy or lease a new ‘Escalade’ every year through their ‘business’ ( the same guys who find a way to pay little, or no, income tax anyway). Who got boned ? Mostly those who have no interest in voting Conservative.

Turner has been around for a long time. For a Conservative, he’s refreshingly honest. He seems to be intelligent as well and isn’t particularly gripped by any political philosophy. Like most of the rest of us, there are some things he likes and that seem sensible - like income tax reform (long overdue). And there are some things that he believes to be stupid, or counterproductive like he gay marriage review, and he says so. He’s not the sort of guy to mince words so I’m sure Harper and Caucus got to hear about this stuff well before it showed up as a blog post. But Mr. H seems to be on a ‘mission from God’ and ain’t nobody going to argue with the Prophet.

I don’t agree with Garth on the marriage issue. I think a ‘free vote’ is next best to a plebiscite. Defining what marriage is, is far more important than any party plank. If there is one thing prime Minister Harper should pursue, it’s that. But Turner’s got more good ideas than bad ones, and that’s why it’s particularly bad that the party is dumping him.

The Greens are interested and Kyoto is one of Garth’s interests. Given the choice between another four years with Mr. Inscrutable and the fast-Eddie types he trusts so much, and the 'Whiz Kid of Harvard' as liberal leader, methinks meself to be turning Green - and it ain’t with envy. The Greens almost won, here, last time out!

The Eisler Takes a Plunge

Lloyd Eisler was a fixture of figure-skating circles in Canada some years back. Of late he was featured on ‘Skating with the Stars” - another in a string of otherwise forgettable televised ‘talent’ competitions. He has also, apparently. been coaching skaters. His suspension, for 1 year, by the Skate Canada for, allegedly, corresponding with a 15 year-old in a questionable manner was announced in the Toronto Star to-day.

I don’t know if you watch figure skating - the missus makes me share the ‘joy’ of viewing such extravaganzas from time to time. I have to admit I have been impressed by the level of skill and ‘art’ displayed. But, by and large it appears to me that figure skating, has produced more than its share of ‘odd balls’, particularly of the male gender. In Canada, any skates with toe saws are going to make you stand out on a hockey squad - and hockey, unlike figure skating, tends to be on the surface, at least, a high testosterone activity.

observation leads me to believe that the majority of men involved in figure skating are inclined to the Toller Cranston school of flaming homo-, or bi-sexuality. The opportunity to emote in some very fetching apparel, are golden moments for the 'mattachine' society. Where else but in a gay club, can one be puffed and poofed, made-up and costumed and get a prize for it? ‘Effemininity’ seems to be a mainstay of this particular ‘sport’. But, like ballet, it also attracts some of the other types.

Who can forget the effect that Rudolf Nuryev had on New Your Society in the 60's? Combined with great talent and personal presence was also a major predilection for the feminine gender and Rudy developed a notable reputation as more than a hoister. Ditto other Russian ‘stars’ like Nijinski, or the more ambiguous Baryshnikov. It must be all that lifting of taut and toned ballerinas that puts a lump in the leotard. Not inconsiderably, there have been some notable ‘coxswains’ attracted to figure-skating classes - the aforesaid Eisler, perhaps, being one.

His unremarkable performance on the ‘stars’ program was enlivened by a relationship that developed with his ‘skate partner’ - Kristi Swanson- which resulted in the Lloyd deserting his family - including a pregnant wife. To be frank, he came across on TV as a bit of an arrogant prick. And now the Lloyd is being pilloried for making electronic advances on a 15 year-old trainee. ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that’ (according to Seinfeld and some Republican politicians).As Ali G would say, if there's hair on it, it's do-able.

What gets me is Lloyd’s reported reaction to a Toronto Star reporter’s questions. I wonder what anyone would do when faced with probing on such a topic. Certainly a hearty protest of innocence might be expected. But, “Thanks for the information”, ”I didn’t know I was suspended”, “I’ll have to make some calls about that.” “ It’s all news to me” - if they didn’t call him first why didn’t he just say that? “ I don’t recall any e-mails.” It begs a snicker.

It seems that Lloyd has run onto some hard times. The Mrs. has reverted to her maiden name, and changed the kids, too. Lloyd and Ms Swanson are expecting a valentine’s bundle next year and now this. It would appear that thinking with one’s little head, while developing an inflated big one can get one into more than a pretty pickle. Hope Lloyd can wise-up.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Afghanistan - la Lutte Continue

Since the last post - the C.O. of forces involved in Operation Medusa declared the operation a resounding success. Taliban casualties were reckoned at 200, out of an estimated force of 2500. That left 2300 taliban who purportedly 'slipped out' of a closing noose of allied forces and 'fled' north into the mountains.

That seemed a little odd at first. South would have been the proper direction in which to flee if you're a foreign fighter - not closer to the government controlled areas. Things became clearer in the ensuing week with the worst casualty rate Canada has experienced so far, in a series of bomb attacks, mining and ambushes. It would appear the Taliban didn't flee, they just went home.

We hope , and would dearly like to think, that we're battling foreign invaders of Afghanistan who are holding the peace-, and democracy-loving people there to ransom. It makes our cause a just and proper one. But the sad news seems to be that most of those Taliban fighters are Afghanis, and the ones who aren't are supported, housed, fed, clothed and protected by them. The Afghanis are, apparently, fighting us. If that is true, then what are we there for?

We're there to support the government of Hamid Karzai. His government was set up after the ruling Taliban were overthrown by the US, supported by 'warlord' forces operating in northern Afghanistan. This was no spur-of-the-moment punishment for 9/11. This operation had been prepared for years by the development of American bases in Khirghizstan and other formerly-Russian republics, and on-going support for anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan itself. Mr. Karzai, who had been employed in the American oil industry, had tenuous links to a previous Afghani regime and was chosen as the new leader. He was spirited into the country with a group of US special forces so as to be on hand to assume leadership in Kabul when the Taliban were forced to flee to Khandahar, and out of the country. His appointment was vetted by those same northern warlords and a group of returned emigres - he was 'elected' as the president with no opposition.

Canada was asked to participate in reconstruction efforts and dedicated both money and military manpower to the project. The US forces in Afghanistan undertook to pacify, in cooperatiion with a new Afghan army and police force, the country south of the Panshir Valley. An interesting aside - the only warlord who maintained any sort of independence either from the Taliban, or the Americans,or Mr. Karzai and around whom any resistance would have formed,Achmed Shah Massoud - a hero of the anti-soviet resistance, was assassinated shortly after Karzai took over - I'll bet there's an secret in this. Some Canadian forces were seconded to American units during the hunt for Bin Laden, and saw part of the fighting.

For the past 4 years, Canada has rotated troops in and out of their base outside Kabul. Canadians mounted security patrols in the suburban littoral and took some casualties from mines and IEDs. There was, however, very little fighting involved.
Things changed, apparently, last year when then PM Jean Chretien agreed to extend Canada's restoration work to Khandahar province, a nut the Americans had little success in cracking. Security concerns soon took precedence over rebuilding and the need for a more 'robust' Canadian combat presence was discerned and applied. Last spring the Taliban announced an 'offensive' and things proceeded from there, to now.

This week the first person from my little town was announced as a casualty. His death is more than tragic for his folks, his wife and his kids. It's a nail that's going to pin other young Canadians to Afghanistan, killing and being killed to 'stop them from coming over here'. That seems to be the latest explanation for everything - the Jihadis want to rule the world and we, or rather, our soldiers are putting their lives on the line to stop them. I certainly hope that holding that sentiment, and committing Canada's 12 tanks and its F-18's, are the right thing to do. Thinking critically about this, in the light of our dead and wounded, seems almost traitorous. But I don't think we can win this, or should even be trying. We can thump the Taliban, maybe even chase them out of the country. But are we prepared to back up the Afghan government? Already the've reverted to some tricks of the old Afghanistan - the narcotics business and brutal policing. If we leave, the Taliban, like the terminator, will be back.

It was a sad day we listened to GWB and his plans "to bring evil-doers to justice".

Doo-in' It Right at Last

Commandant 'Presto' of The RCMP went on TV last week to "apologize" for his force's sorry performance in the Arar affair. If you'll remember, Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent, was stopped at New York's airport as he was returning to Canada from a visit to the middle east. The security involved required a check with Canadian officials to see if Arar was 'legit'. Apparently, police sources provided information to the FBI that Arar was a 'person of interest' to the RCMP and that both he, and his wife, had ties to AlQaeda. Arar was deported to Syria where he was jailed for a year, tortured and eventually released at the behest of the Canadian government. It turns out that there was not a scintilla of truth in what the FBI were told. Not only that, the RCMP remained 'mum' on the issue for the next four years. It took a judicial inquiry to discover what the redcoats already knew - they'd lied.

But knowing something, and admitting something, are two entirely different things. Zacardelli, the chief of the Mounties apologized to Arar and his family. He said it shouldn't have happened. Did he admit the Mounties goofed? No. It was the Americans who deported him, it was the Syrians who tortured him. The Mounties were only guilty of, "Doing their best." as the Z-master defined it.

Now it seems to me that doing your best doesn't leave much room for improvement. It also seems to me that protecting Canada and Canadians is job one for a national police force. Failing to do that, on a large or small scale, is failing in the prime purpose. That such failure results in the injury of a Canadian citizen is more than failure, it's acting against the best interests of the nation. In a way, it's treachery. The RCMP acted traitorously. How does one improve that - trust me it won't happen again?

In addition to this is another concern. Over the course of the 4 years since the incident, different Justice Ministers have tried to find out what went on, the RCMP didn't tell them. In my estimation we have a police force, active in Canada, who see themselves, somehow, as being superior to the elected officials for whom they work. They are also mutinous.

What happened to the officers involved? They recieved their due promotions and advances in grade and emolument. Commandant Zacardelli himself expressed his congratulations on their outstanding performance. If things continue in their course, one of these fellows will be the next chief superintendant. I think that is wrong.

Over the years the 'Mounties ' have been responsible for a number of foul-ups and muffed investigations. There was the famous 'wire-tap' and barn-burning incident a few years back in Quebec. That caused the introduction of legislation to govern such police actions. Then there was the Airbus scandal - an investigation leading to unsubstantiated charges against former PM Brian Mulroney and which set the taxpayers back a few million dollars. There was the Air India bombing investigation - muffed.

In the more recent past incidents pointing up a certain paucity of training resulting in the deaths of RCMP officers, undisciplined behaviour at protests in BC,and questionable directions in the training of Haitian police forces, have all brought the force into some question.

It was realized, as well, that the RCMP, at one time Canada's main security and counter-espionage body, was out of its depth in the field and a new specialized organ was set up to relieve them - CSIS.

Zacardelli and his minions have been members of the RCMP for all these fiascos. What they learned - incompetence is rewarded - is something they seemed to have applied through their careers and particularly in this incident.

I don't think that Mr. Zacardelli, or his unteroffizieren, should be allowed to oversee whatever changes are to be made to the way the RCMP carries out its duties or the way it shares information about Canadians. When somebody's got a communicable disease you isolate them. To prevent the spread of whatever rot has gotten into the RCMP, some severe pruning is required. From the top of the tree as far down as is necessary to hit healthy wood. Otherwise, at some future point, we'll be dealing with more of the same, or worse.

Sammy Steele would be spinning in his grave, to coin a neo-con phrase, to see how his Force has degenerated into a group of career-oriented middle managers and bull-shit artists.