Saturday, May 24, 2008

What a Cast of Characters

The Federal Conservative government look like an eclectic gang of 'refer'ees from some casting agency, it's not surprising that they 'act' like them, too.

Starting at the top, there's the PM. A cross between the Sheik of Araby and one of those nazi villains from 'The Lost Ark', with that signature John F. Kennedy hairdo, Steven Harper has gone out of his way to stop appearing goofy. No more hats on backwards or 'chowing down' pictures, he's lost weight and is actually looking more 'presidential' than his funny friend down south. His latest role as 'the sojer's friend' would warm the cockleshells of any wannabe's heart. Let's just hope he's not doing JFK-style horizontal mambas to lose the pudge, them 'still waters running deep' as they say down east.

The latest 'booby' to stick is head up is the Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime, 'hey dat's my girlfren' you're staring at' Bernier. This poor sap is well out of his depth and standing 5' 16" that's somet'ing. He looks like Constable Tom, but he talks and acts like Ti' Pierre. Showing up to be sworn-in on the arm of a statuesque gal who looked like she had intentions, couldn't be laid entirely at his door. That it turns out she'd had a ride on a large number of 'ells Angels (Quebec Chapitre), and been married to a crook. Says something about the competence of his handlers.

He's getting some attention for a gaffe or two relating to Afghanistan, and not getting a governor fired, and a very expensive junket to Thailand. He's also taking heat for the boss's decision to let the Americans palm-off the end of line C-17's this week. But not knowing much about them either, should stand him in good stead. He didn't sign off for them.

Another character is John Baird. Political life must be agreeing with John, he's developing a certain Travolta look - jowlly, but with more hair. Along with his dimensions and seeming inability to answer a direct question directly, Baird was
noted for an ill-fitting set of dentition. Now whether this is an act of God, or a product of the vacuum formers' art, John still has them. You'd think he'd have had a makeover by now. But then, silk purse eh? He still does a good non-job at question period.

A recent import from Harris' Ontario administration is Guy, the master of the black arts, Giorno. He bears a passing resemblance to Guy Caballero but is said to be much quieter and less funny, if just as much in control, a hatchet man. Or, in the words of a Tory backbencher, - one of Mike Harris' 'pimply-faced nancy boys'. We won't see much of Guy, but hopefully we won't feel him either, he would have made a good eugenicist.

Another 'eminence gris' of the Harper administration in the Minister without Portfolio and general know-it-all defender of government policy on anything Jason Kenney. Either a frustrated lawyer, or a flunk-out from some seminary, Jason is a sweaty little driver who demonstrates the symptoms of 'small man disorder'. Years ago one of the news rags ran an article of this 'up and coming conservative - sharing his bachelor digs with another guy and ironing his own shirts. Impressive. I would hope he still does that, but I doubt it. Ironing your own shirt keeps you grounded and Jay is beginning to seem 'napoleonic' or megalomaniacal.

Another member of the bantam brigade is the Minister of Finance, Joe Flaherty, or is it Bill Rafferty, Dick Slattery? Anyway, he's another short fellow. The 'Preem' must like to look down on the bright members of his entourage, as the bigger ones tend to the stupid side of the scale, sort of like that Spanish King who kept smart dwarves around the palace. But I diverge! The Minister of Finance finds himself rolling in the dough, as opposed to a stint in Ontario where all the dough was borrowed for him to roll in. Largely because of the tax on gas that he forgot to roll back like he said he would, Flaherty would actually have to work at running a deficit. But if he keeps on giving corporate tax breaks to tide the bigshots though the on-coming recession, or wasting money on 'friendly' contracts, he just might get one. One thing is for sure; he doesn't have enough in the bank to 'spend Canada out of a Depression'.

And last but not least is the former Secretary of State and now Minister of Defense - Peter MacKay. Pete seemed to enjoy being out east with the troops and this post is probably a reward for doing a good job in his old one. He has a reputation as a charmer and his warm 'personal' relationship with Condoleeza Rice was blatted abroad. Of course, being a bachelor, he's no doubt had a few of those. One notable one is with former MP, and golden girl, Belinda Stronach. Their break-up led her to the arms of opposition Liberals, and a washed-up hockey player, and ended in a welter of nasty personal references. Since then Peter, and his real dog, have been keeping a low profile, especially since one of his Afghan visits drew a salute of rocket fire from the Taliban. McKay is lately rumored to have hooked-up with Sophie, the daughter of the mighty Demarais corporation ... no spring chicken but a nifty pedigree.

Friday, May 16, 2008

'Sparky ' Junior

The taser is getting a good close look in a judicial investigation that resulted from the death of a Polish visitor to Canada in Vancouver airport last fall. And the standard cast of characters is on-board to tell us all why it's such a good thing.

Just before the panel opened a high level RCMP commander permitted himself to be tasered to demonstrate that a) he could take it and b) it was perfectly harmless.

In a sop to societal sensibilities a number of police forces have introduced the concept of self-tasering in order to reassure an increasingly concerned society. But as one wag pointed out, there are some subtle differentiations. For one thing they aren't repeatedly tasered. For another, work safety requirements might include a helmet and body padding, even supportive assistants to ensure than no injuries occur. Most male policemen tend to be large individuals in fairly good health.

Needless to say the boy millionaire who thought up the actual Tommy Swift's Electric Rifle has appeared to defend his wunder-invention. His position is, 'I don't have to prove a taser is safe', I wouldn't have sold a couple of million of them if they weren't. You have to prove it's not safe'. To the boy wonder I would suggest taping the firing mechanism and inserting it rectally. The only thing more stupid, would be for police to start self-shooting.

The remarkable thing is how well these gizmos have taken-off, police wise. Every town in north America must have taser-armed peace officers by now. And for a generation raised with imaginary 'phasers set on stun', they've really sucked us in. These little gems may have increased levels of compliance, but they are the source of some significant injury and can be a cause of unintended death. Now a plethora of security people have been authorized to use them. You might just get tasered one day at the local cineplex. If they're all that shit hot, why can't they be used to discipline the kids?

Bottom line, they're not safe. They shouldn't be used by security guards and if used at all by police they should be set for a maximum of two jolts. If the police can't handle somebody when they've been tasered, the situation was probably too serious for tasering in the first place. Mind you getting tasered might just infuriate some folk, but then so might being coshed, sprayed or put in a wrestling hold. Policing has always been a risky job, that's why societies pay policemen so well and have extra protection for them in law.

A case currently in the news about the death of a non-english speaking man after a tasering by airport police on BC, begs the question. The Polish guy's mother showed up to say for him what RCMP taser agents prevented him from saying for himself. The police reacted rashly and in ignorance of the situation. The situation was the ridiculous, sadly turned into the sublime my a series of errors and bad timing. He didn't need to die and the police didn't mean for him to die, but if they'd been reasonable, and not equipped with a taser, perhaps he might still be alive. I agree with his Mother, this doesn't need to happen to someone else's son.