Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We Won't Be Needin' Dem Coffers

DOD - Ottawa
Strickly Confidential an Top Secret
My Oyes and Yer Oyes Only

CinC To MinDef1:

Minister Sir,

Due to all the flak that's starting to burst around the matter of our prearranged funeral expense stipend, I think we should be taking another look at the situation.

While the original intention - to dissuade personnel from getting themselves killed by offering economy funeral benefits- was an effective one, the instances arising now with grieving families wanting more, is presenting an image problem. If the original plan to have all casualties buried at Shilo, Manitoba would have been adapted, I don't think this would be happening. The idea of having a Warriors' Field in Ottawa was a purely political decision made without looking into cost ramerfications. Those Arlington-style cemetaries might be right up the PM's alley, but they're expensive to own and operate and shouldn't be coming out of the DND budget. The Forces 's in the business of killin', not dyin'.

I'm thinking it would look better if we could farm the operation out to a funeral home chain - the PM probably has some close support from that area - and that they could provide us with some 'economies of scale' for military funerals - particularly if we could get the Legion boys on board as joint customers.

I don't think much of your idea of stockpiling coffins. I realize some close relatives are in the business and that they're willing to trick them out in uniform colours or camouflage patterns, but
I think DND budgets are better spent on stuff for the living. If you can find somebody else to spring for them, like Culture and Recreation, of course we'd take them.

As far as those who are complaining that they've been forced to pay funeral costs, I intend to take some more firm and direct action and announce that this oversight will be addressed immediately, if not sooner, like the combat allowance thing a while back. I'll be able to make some good points about heroes dead in defence of our way of life, and the sacrifices being made to turn things around for the Pushtuns - the PM likes that, and if I can work any 'green' stuff into it, I will. A little huffin' an' puffin' will make the troops feel better, too.

So leave 'er to me, Minister, and carry on with the procuring you do so well,( no joke intended, sir).
We'll put this one to sleep the same way we put the Ki-bosh on the Kaiser, as we say in the military.

The CinC

PS: I think you should talk to the PM again about the Shilo thing.

It's close to his home base and will definitely make some work. Not only that, if we can use the burial grounds for training, we can sell it to the troops as being the 'foundation of tomorrow's army" - that would be a big hit. Besides it would leave the Ottawa spots for some senior warriors and not be fillin' it up with rank & file - maybe even a spot for a 'war minister or PM' eh? Just think of the pomp and circumstances, the pipes and drums, Willie McCrimmon and that Amazin Grace!

I don't think those guys in the PMO really thought her through. The missus tells me this was one of the best ideas I've had, and she has good taste, eh?

Friday, May 25, 2007

T.O. Numbah One wif a Bullet

Shooting is in the headlines again to-day in Toronto, generally those stories are buried somewhere in section A, or B.

You may recall Toronto's 'summer of the gun' two years ago. That engendered a 'massive' police response to gang violence and the tossing of millions to steer at-risk youth away from a life of crime in the period since.

If you read past page one of Toronto's main rags, you might have gotten the impression that shootings remain an integral part of the TO experience.

Yes, there were gang round-ups and weapons confiscations, but the wheel of 'justis' has ground on and the 'perps' arrested have been granted bail and the freedom to put their lives back together. In short the shooting has never stopped, it just wasn't 'hyped'. Until yesterday, anyway.

Jordan Manners a 15 year-old budding artist, grade 'A' student and generally great kid managed to find himself alone in his high school long enough for somebody to 'go gangsta' on him. In a school population of about a thousand, locked-down for security reasons afterward, nobody saw a thing, or at least a thing that could help the cops. Jordan was another 'victim' of his environment.

Driftwood Avenue area has been a sink of every malady known to mankind since it was built in the early seventies. A nexus of the welfare mentality coupled with the macho posturings of the Caribbean male. Petty crime, often assisted by firearms, has been endemic there all along. How did it come to pass in Toronto the good? Immigration - or more particularly the lax kind of immigration. TO is full of economic migrants, not all of whom are willing to work toward a better life. There are the kind that want the better life, but are willing to do without the work aspect. Welfare was the original drawing card, but stealing provides the better things in life, these migrants were like AliBaba and his forty. Toronto seems to be a haven of some kind for them.

Policing Toronto is more expensive and more difficult than ever before. In that regard it is truly a 'world-class' city. The problem is that we have a justice system that is oriented toward the criminal and out of sympathy with the victim. I believe in second chances, but if immigrants, or their children are repeat offenders they ought to have another chance to come to Canada, but they should be sent home first. For example, three years jail time for stealing should play out as 5 years back in St. Lucia, Grenada or wherever one originated. A second chance to settle in Canada, should also be a last chance. If these folk have some skewed vision of citizenship, they need to re-educate themselves, preferably in their homeland. They shouldn't receive a living from the Canadian people to keep on doing their cultural thing.

Nobody is willing to say it, but 90 percent of Toronto's shootings are done by black men. So far most of the targets have been black men. Shooting is a black-community problem, they have to deal with it, or take it back home where guns and bullets are harder to come-by, and there's not so much worth stealing. Our government shouldn't discriminate by spending millions to help black people with a problem that they created and that isn't going away anytime soon.

It's a pity that shootings happen to those so young, but happening at all is the mark that something is woefully inadequate.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Yeah $25 G's Sounds Just About Right

At the risk of offending some of my native fellow Canadians. I remark that the 'govie' is finally trying to bring some closure to the scandal of the Residential School system. Those 'affected' by the 'system' directly, or indirectly, will each recieve a settlement of at least $25 000 WITHOUT HAVING TO PROVE ANYTHING - if they give up any further right to sue the government. "Common experience payments", they're called. By the time the process is finished 5 to 6 billion dollars will be spent on an estimated 76 000 'survivors'.

Already the government is sponsoring 'courses' to prepare reserves for the sudden glut of money that will appear. Sharpies are already moving in to help the spending, one car dealer offering to put beneficiaries in the vehicle of their choice before the cheques come in. Just hearing about this should qualify every Canadian for a 'common experience' award, the same way hearing about grandpa's 'days with the longskirts' hurt somebody's feelings when they heard them.

Is it going to change anything? You bet. It's another of whitey's victimization schemes. Give everybody a few bucks to make a problem go away, the money causes a rash of of problems on reserves giving cause for more redress at some time in the future. If you hadn't give us all that money .....

And what a problem. Some people were abused at residential schools, no doubt. Some people are abused on reserves every day. Some kids have hellish lives in cities and towns all across Canada with parents who feel too bad about themselves to feel much about their kids. But I'd bet my share of the 6 billion that there are a lot more abused kids around to-day, than ever haunted the halls of residential schools.

When those residential schools were started, Canada was a far different place. Travel was nowhere near as easy or timely as it is now. Links to remote places were tenuous at best and virtually non-existent in others. An accident in the back country would get you a grave more often than a hospital bed. Native kids lived with parents, in some places, only moderately differently than their ancestors had when the first 'whites' showed up - times when a bad winter might decimate a whole village, or a european disease would change lives. The residential schools were an instrument of a government policy that could see little benefit in the native way of life. But if the government had encouraged 'the old ways', the accusations to-day might have been genocide instead of abuse. Being removed from family is tough on any kid, but there were kids who would refuse to go 'home' on holidays, for there was nothing to do there that compared with what the schools offered. Some kids were abused by the 'sickos' who find their ways into every organization and retribution should be available to them. But the notion of lining up for a hand out is demeaning.

And yet that is how we deal with our problems. Offer a 'freebie' to everybody, and silence those really hurt with years of litigation for being 'unreasonable'. It's called divide and conquer. Making the payout contingent on all signing-off would have been more effective but poorer optics. As it is, there will now be three classes of native people - the 'smart' who take their money, the 'stupid' who try to sue and the 'really stupid' who refuse to take part in a travesty.

To some people there was nothing good came out of the residential schools program This 'settlement' is just another one.

Keeping Kool in Khandahar

General Rick will do anything in his power to see that his 'boys' are comfortable in the Panjwai. As comfortable, at least, as the Canadian taxpayer, or the NHL, can make them. While the sentiment is laudible, in practice what he really wants is a regiment of new tanks. But air conditioning is a main feature he claims to need.

The Dutch, who apparently don't need air conditioning, or heavy armoured support for their troops in Afghanistan, are willing to part with their Leopard 2's at a bargain price. Some of these babies will make an appearance in the land of the Pashtun, and the rest will be stationed in Canada's tank training areas.

Never mind the fact that few other Canadian vehicles are air conditioned. The LAVs and other vehicles used by most soldiers in Afghanistan aren't. But perhaps tank personnel will benefit from that cool comfort that made the summertime movies back home so refreshing. Just imagine the fuel consumption as the boys inside try to beat the heat .... and the systemic shock they might get going for mess, or to the loo.

It's probably the first time AC systems have been put forward as a reason for buying military hardware, unless it was a new 'limo' for the Governor General's Horse Guards.

If systemic shock for the tank regiment isn't important then perhaps a systemic shock to the taxpayer is. How about finding out that the price for the new tanks has doubled?

Factoring in the cost of service and maintenance contracts over the proposed 20-year life span, has raised the ante to 1.3 billion somolianos. I wonder what they said the old Leopards were going to cost and what they actually did, over their 'life'? I'll bet it was more than they thought - didn't we have to sell some of them to keep the rest? So we're renting to buy 100 and borrowing a few from the Germans. If we get them bent, I guess they belong to us.

If the service is to be contracted out, as I believe is most service on CAF equipment, who's going to do it, and where? Will we have to load them onto the new C-17's for transport to Holland or Germany for repairs? Will there be service capacity in Khandahar, or will the bent ones be donated to the Afghans like the Leopard 1's? They can drag them around to use as hilltop 'forts'. If the T-60's the Russians left behind didn't last, I don't see the more complex Leopards doing much better.

Afghanistan is poor ground for the big cats.

On the Ball, but Unaware

The Air India bombing inquiry has finally gotten underway. The purpose is to determine what happened in the incident, because this was never presented in a court. And to examine the actions of the intelligence and police forces in the event and the subsequent investigation as these, too, have never seen the light of day.

So far the inquiry has looked at what was known and when was it known. George Bartleman, Ontario's current Lieutenant Governor and former CSIS operative, has put his reputation on the line in claiming he gave information to the RCMP before the bombing that was either ignored or disbelieved, for it was, apparently, not acted upon. The RCMP officer in question - and here Bartleman's memory is weak, as he doesn't remember who it was - slagged him for interfering.

Later evidence from two lawyers, on an official junket to 'Hollywood,' claim a CSIS honcho with them left early to attend to a 'Sikh matter ' in Vancouver a couple of days before the incident. They named the operative, who is now too ill to testify, but who is on record as claiming he knew nothing and contrived an excuse for leaving early - an excuse that eerily was more accurate than he knew.

If it wasn't for the fact that this inquiry wasn't going to cost millions, it's entertainment value might be worth something. As far as actually bringing any change to the RCMP or CSIS, the two agencies who fumbled the ball, it won't. Those two organizations, the latter the bastard child of the first, will carry their 'traditions' on into the 21st Century. Traditions of short sightedness and ineptitude at upper echelons, of infighting and territoriality among the rankers.

It certainly won't point any fingers at Sikh extremists, who are still alive and well and living in Canada. The Sikhs have become a 'valuable' part of the Canadian mosaic - hell, they're even part of the RCMP and CSIS, not to mention parliament and the political parties.. The experts at CSIS wouldn't know a Sikh extremist if one came at him with regulation Kirpan. They're all 'good' Canadians now.

The 'Inquiry' is a sop to disgruntled relatives of the dead. The only way it could have been done better was to spend as much again in 'atonement' stipends - to those who lost family, the Sikh community who may have been unjustly 'targetted' and the 'poor' Irish swabbies who had to pick up the bits.