Monday, October 25, 2010

What's It All About Stevie?

This week among the more salient news of military victory and winning Afghan hearts and minds comes news that NATO has given the nod to President Karzai's senior council making negotiations with the Taliban. Maybe not the bitter-ender Taliban but the middle managers who have been so much in the laser designators of USAF drones. Not only that, we're now being told that both the US army and the CAF have been instrumental in granting safe passes to Taliban who want to go negotiate in Kabul.

I would imagine that the safe pass would also include passage to and from Kabul.

One could imagine how that particular aspect of the battle would play out. PsyOps broadcasts and airdropped leaflets letting those mid-level guys know that the high command was selling them down the river in return for safe harbor and a gas station in Kabool. Some salient statements at local jurgas about a 'free all-expernse paid trip' to Kabul to meet with government officials for some free flashlights and sneakers. The 'bus' leaving in a military convoy running the 'Taliban' representatives up to the capital. The real head honchos transported by chopper.

What one couldn't imagine is those representatives and commanders being allowed to walk around free for long, or not accidentally falling off the bus or out of the chopper. For what warrior worth his 'ethos' wants to talk his way out of the Afghan turkey-shoot? This is the best military fun since Grenada,  only with far more latitude to shoot things and bomb stuff. When this is over there'll be a lot more CIBs on blouses than there were coming out of Iraq, and for relatively little cost.

Besides that, with all the talk of successful operations, the talk of negotiations just re-whets the suckers' appetities for victory, along with the weird notion that all the waste has been 'worth it'.

Sad to think that this is just more unadulterated horsepellets and that next year there'll be another 'slant' on the 'saga' of what some are planning to be  an intergenerational war. It's just as true that the Taliban  can't defeat NATO as it is that NATO can't stop the Taliban. It's also true that, like all gamblers, the taxpayers of the west hate to realize their losses by giving up the dice. Where there's life, or the expenditure of trillions, they say, there's hope.

Making the Hard Harder

One of the major 'problems' facing the Canadian operation in Afghanistan is bringing five years worth of battle resources back from there. Canada has deployed a tank unit and an artillery unit along with the heavier equipment sent out:  the choppers, LAVs and other vehicles. Add to that the other paraphernalia required for waging modern war and the 'stand down' of Canada's warrior contingent, slated for 2012,  and the time-line involved for a Canadian withdrawal, assumes some notable proportions. Until last week, that was.

Last week a zit that had been in formation for a year or so came to head in the form of a nasty boil that popped, stopping Canadians from using Base Mirage - the military staging area in the UAE. "Wha happen?", as Desi Ricardo used to say.

Well to make a short story, the Canadian Ministry of Transport refused to grant an extension of landing rights to Emirate Airlines, who foolishly thought they might extend their direct flight services to Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. Air Canada complained to the government that, although they aren't interested in direct flights to Dubai, the Arabs would be 'stealing' some of their custom - mainly the travellers who like to stage into and out of the middle east through a European stopover and change of carrier, or more specifically traveller who have to 'stage out' of Toronto or Montreal after arriving on Emirate.

The Dubaians took this Conservative negativity with some opprobrium and told the Canadians they could close Base Mirage, which had been running since 2001. To make the point clearer, the day they made the announcement, the Emirates also told the CAF flight carrying the CinC and the MofD to find another way home, forcing their flight to divert to Italy. Canadian flights are no longer welcome in Emirati air space. If we're lucky, they won't cancel the two weekly flights they do have flying into Toronto. The DoD has been in the habit of ferrying the honour flights of grieving families out to Kandahar for a photo opportunity on the first class A380 flights run by Emirate. Canadian business types, and government VIPs are also fond of the first-class amenities on the long haul to Dubai. But the fey blades running ther PMO wouldn't know much about that and wouldn't need to ask. Now somebody has arranged to jack the cost of Canada's military un-deployment, possibly sky high.

Talk now is of a withdrawal through the Ukraine or the friendly skies of Russia. Both those will require some high intensity diplomatic activity. There is no reason, given Mr. Harper's  bragadoccio and bombastic defense of North American air space from Russian Bison, that the Russians will want to give him a break on costs. The Ukrainians might, but he hasn't done much for them lately, either. The Georgians should, but in this case they're in the 'useless tit' department. I'm surprised he's not asking for Israeli help. But the Russians probably have a problem with their Ruslans landing there. And that's another story.

I mentioned those tanks? The ex-Dutch Leopard II's that have marked the annals of our recent military history with all their air-conditioned direct fire on Taliban targets? You can bet your bippy they weren't Taliban tanks, probably not even taxis or motorscooters, either. More in the nature of those notorious Taliban 'compounds' needing a new doorway, or the even more ubiquitous Taliban mountains. As a matter of fact, there has been precious little press on the exploits of the armored, so I'd bet they've been laid-up around Base Kandahar with come nifty paint jobs for the photo ops. But I digress. Those tanks required the use of Ruslans to get them out there. As did some of the same kind of helicopters we deployed to help the Myanmar floods a couple of years back. They wouldn't fit into a CF-17. Given that this process will be more rushed than the deployment, more Ruslans will have to be rented.

It would be interesting to see what the Ruslan rentals have cost us since we got our 4 heavy lifters. I'm sure the latter will be of some use for something, unless they're tasked to ferrying Mounties into Haiti.

It's a good thing that Canadians have full confidence in their Conservative govermint, for running a war on terror and for tough negotiations over airports and landing rights. They can make us look a lot more stupid than we actually are, but we know the Liberals could be, and the socialists would be, worse. Maybe they'll change their stupid minds this time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Inmates are the Asylum and the Meds have been Stoled

Canadians being fair, open and honest, have always stood up for the little guy unless it's Friday night at the bar and we're standing on the little guy. But generally we like to make others happy and so, in the past couple of weeks, we tried, or at least some of courts tried, to do that.

First it was a ruling that a dependency on street drugs was an illness, the same as a dependency on alcohol. No longer should spending one's time stoned be viewed as any kind of choice. No! Finding yourself stoned is something bad that happens to people. And finding yourself so stoned, so long, that you have to live on the street and beg money to get stoned is not only degrading, it's a symptom of disease. Working on the principal that nobody in their right mind would deliberately do things like that, the judge might have a point. Except that crazy people don't need  drugs to get a different perspective and often seek treatment to ameliorate the one they have. Drug problems don't originate in disordered mind, drug problems cause disordered minds. So, in order to help, the courts are ruling that individuals with drug and alcohol addiction should be covered by the 'disablity' provisions of  the Canadian Pension Plan. This boon will come as a relief to those trapped and under cardboard and cheap wine in the streets and, as a challenge, to that segment of society that would prefer to make do with 'less' so they can do nothing but smoke, eat and watch TV all day. Get yourself FUBARed and never have to work a day in your life, what a bright prospect for the young!

This is in a province that started off giving 'free' dope to 600 addicts and parlayed that into tens of thousands of methadone dependents in the medical system.

Another nail in the coffin of social sanity is a second judicial ruling that struck down Canada's laws regarding prostitution. Until the ruling itself is overruled in a higher court, or until new legislation is drafted, it's going to be a 'happy time' for those who make money off the Sex Trade. That may not necessarily be true for those who make a living off the sex trade, the ones who actually have to put-out for strangers. But for now the bordello can make a come-back, and what happens in massage parlours won't necessarily merit police raids any more. The world's oldest 'victimless' crime can get hi-balling! No longer will hookers be restricted from travel - all those gals from Moldova and Bulgaria, the Philippines and Hong Kong looking for a new start in Canada won't have to lie about being 'dancers' or 'domestics'. We're going to make 'nudes of all nations' a reality at last! As they say in French quarters, 'laissez les bon temps roulez!'

All that's necessary now is for that disability clause of the CPP to be applied to the sex trade. That would enable no one to have to screw for a living.  But I'd bet it would be as successful as giving alcoholics some free drinks or allowing druggies to risk blowing their rent money on dope.

Moaning and Weeping in this Valley of Tears

Well mostly moaning, for you won't see a real conservative weeping. When you're right, there's nothing to cry about. But that hasn't stopped Stevie Wonder and the gang who run the Great White North Inc from feeling blue that 'nobody likes Canada' at the UN. After 6 years of acting like assholes and backing the 'greatest force for good on earth', no matter what stupidity it decided to do, Canada's UN reps are all depressed that their 'trade trinkets' of maple syrup and Avril Lavigne posters didn't garner them a podium spot at the Security Council.

So to-day it's called, 'We gotta blame somebody and it sure as hell ain't us." The somebody in question, why that would be the United StaKes of America, of course. Not that they blackballed anybody - like back when somebody nominated that evildoer Chavez. It more like they failed to 'go to bat' for the good guys - like the time when they bankrolled Guatemala to get that seat away from the evildoer Chavez. Yes, the dirty Dems in Washington wouldn't countenance a voice of sanity at the Security Council and allowed the Portugese (weren't they in the slave trade at one time?) to win. And those Portugals weren't even passing out the Madiera! They were just acting like it didn't matter and hadn't lined up written committments from most of the General Assembly, and verbal comments from the others who aren't communists or anti-semites, or nothing. And THEY WON????

Quelle embareassment as 'they' say in Shawinigan.

I'm inclined to think that there was witchcraft involved. Like how could so many committments change their minds? It could only have been a spell cast by that US ambassatrix Ann Rice. When you write books about vampires, maybe you shouldn't be sitting in the UN. It's remarkable that she bears such a strong resemblence to Condoleeza Rice, must be that shape-shifting.

Larry Canyon, ambassadeur deluxe and foreign minister, tells a funny tale about rice. Once when a lad at UCC, he had the occasion to be involved in some hijinks before vespers with a rather wealthy individual - whom we'll nickname "Spanky" and the only person of the coloured persuasion at UCC, other than one of the janitors, whom we'll recall, as he was called, "Buckwheat". Now it just so happened that the pre -vesper pillowfight was underway in quarters when things got a little out of hand. At the end of some rough and tumble when Spanky was applying some hearty noogies to the back of Buckwheat's cranium, he happened to remark " EEEEW, Buckie you've got rice in your hair!"

It was simultaneously observed that these weren't rice, they were nits and that Buckwheat had 'cooties'. Well, Spanky, let up and ran for the showers, as did most of the other protagonists. What followed was a protracted session of scrubbing and shampooing that Larry admits has coloured his perspctive to this day. And that is why he wasn't getting too close to 'Vampirella', or giving her any Maple syrup either, after all the Americans bought that industry, too, some while ago.

We won't even mention the Africans, or Asians or those hook-nosed relations of the Chosen People who didn't vote for us. We did get the nod from Israel, and Georgia. We're pretty sure the Haitians voted for us and the Colombians as well. Surely to goodness our NATO allies would have cast their ballot our way. With all the friends we've got, it's going to be hard to figure out just who backstabbed us.

But you have to admire Steve's perspective, as he whistfully tickled 'Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella' out of the ivories he vowed to stay the course, to be the same old asshole we've all come to respect, and pilot the ship of state, onward, to sunlit uplands.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Right Hand Knoweth not What the Left Hand Scratcheth

Hardly has fey blade Guy Giorno left the Prime Minister's Office than the caca whacks into the big turney thing. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Larry Cannon, who had been involved for months with Emirate and Etihad Airlines negotiating extended landing rights at Canadian Airports, took the side of Air Canada that such an extension was 'bad for business' and promptly got Canada kicked out of its middle east supply base in Dubai.

The eviction was so sudden that the Minister of Defence, the CinC and the Veterans Affairs Minister found themselves having to fly on to Rome when a planned stop at Base Mirage was panned by the Emiris. The three had been winging it back home for Thanksgiving when the Emirates terminated their air transit rights.

Now the mlitary has 27 days to get their crap out of town. So that means the Ukrainians are going to make a bundle (again) renting us some Ruslans to transport the material to a new supply base in Cyprus or Turkey. Well, what the hey, we were planning to pull out of 'Mirage' anyway. The contract with the Emirates had been allowed to lapse back in June.

But talk about ungrateful, eh? After DoD has spent all that money flying grieving families, and VIPs, out to the middle east 'staging area' on their way to Kandahar, first class on the 'deluxe'  Emirate Airlines A380's. You'd think all that business would be worth more than mere 'skywards points'. But then Emirate is the only airline, including our flagship Air Canada, flying direct from AbuDhabi to Canada. As such,  it already attracts more than its share of  flying customers - i.e. anybody wishing to avoid an extra stop in Europe. And with what 27 000 Canadians residing in the Emirates - why not? Duty free is as cheap, or cheaper, than in Europe anyway, as is the cost of the ticket.

But where does that leave our soldiers - whose every Joe and Louis, not to mention all the other military unmentionables, have to come through Mirage, or some awkwardly busy US base? Well, not to  fear, says the DoD. All those frozen Timbits are already being routed through Akrotiri or Dhekelia anyway. From there it's just a short whiz across Turkey, and a couple of former Russian -stans before jetting over the Pamirs into sunny Kandahar. Hardly take a gallon more of Avgas. And, besides, those Cypriots have soft spot for Canuck 'peacekeepers', especially the drunk kind, decompressing with some combat pay in their pocket. A fellow can have a high time with those Moldavan tourist gals or sun-worshipping Baltic types, unless, he gets punchy and upsets their Cypriot 'boyfriends'. There's been more than one Canuck run afoul a Cypriot slammer after a little post-roto celebration.

So if it's no problem for the military, why should it be a problem for anybody else, eh? If the soldiers aren't complaining, why should those who have so much pre-paid freedom? Well,  maybe it's because this is just how Steve Harper and his gang of merry idiots operate, by pissing people off. Sure it's ok to do that in Canada, liberals deserve it anyway. But when you start pissing off people in other parts of the world out of pure stupidity, well where does that end? **It might just mess-up your plans to put a Canadian ass in the catbird seat at the Security Council. Multicultural inclusivity aside, Canada has developed a reputation that aligns it with what is considered, by some, to be the only 'force for good' in the world. So that means many of  those other 'little' voters at the UN are going to blackball you on principle.

As if getting blackballed by AbuDhabi isn't blackballing enough.

** Like psychotic or what? It was just announced that Canada is 'giving up' its effort to gain a seat on the Security Council. This would have been the first time in 50 years that Canada has sat on that body. Harper invested two speeches at UN forums and sent Larry Cannon to New York to schmooze up some support. I would imagine that the Abu Dhabi kerfluffle has put paid to the bumming about a Canadian in the president's chair next year. Sort of reminiscent of the doofus who 'owned the mountain', and the doofi who 'owned the podium', at last year's Olympics. Gotta love those Tories, they're all talk, as long as there's a buck in it.