Saturday, August 31, 2013

High Drama American Style

It's the last of summer long-weekend in America - maybe even in other parts of the world people are enjoying the end of summer too. But that time for residents of the Northern Hemisphere has traditionally been a good time to lay a beating on the neighbor. The harvests are ripening and are available for the taking. Failing the taking, they can be ruined, leaving the neighbor to starve. In the bad old days, September could be a good time for ultimatums or invasions, or both.

Time hasn't changed us all that much and so we 'mall trotters' are watching a story unfold that could, if obtained, empty the stale ordinance of the ammo lockers of freedom.

This past fortnight saw a development in the Syrian CivilWar/Revolution that had been some time in coming. Assad the barbarian had finally acquiesced to a long overdue investigation of an incident last spring, in which, it was claimed, chemical weapons had been used on a 'rebel' enclave. UN investigators had appeared in Damascus to take up a long cold trail of evidence. Imagine the dismay (delight?) of most people when the nightly news was filled with the same kind of  foam-flecked images seen last spring. Apparently, we were told , to celebrate the arrival of UN investigators, the Syrian Government had gassed its own people, again.

There were delays (to hide the evidence?) before the investigation team could get to the affected areas. But despite being sniped on their first foray, the team was able to get into rebel-held areas to gather information. They concluded their work and left Syria yesterday. They had 24 hours to do that.

That was how close Pres. Obama was to his deadline - the one he warned the Syrian government about when he drew his Netanyahu-inspired 'red line' back in the Spring. The C in C was all ready to let slip the pups of war to punish those who used chemical weapons without a permit. He had a coalition of the willing and, forgoing the OK of the UN or any other say-so, he was/is prepared to 'go it alone' if needs be. Gassing people, as opposed to blowing them to bits with a chain gun, rocket projectile or guided bomb is not morally, politically or even physically acceptable, especially if the people gassed are 'innocent'. So he was getting all wired-up on the sure knowledge that Bashir did it, knew he'd done it, didn't say he was sorry and needed to be chastised.

The past two weeks have seen that message about guilt and responsibility repeated over and over until Obama stated it as gospel - chapter and verse.  While it seems he has the verbal support on most world leaders who count, very few, except for the gallant French, who led the last charge into Libya, are 'on board' for the expense of blasting Damascus. In fact, aside from the world leaders, Obama doesn't seem to have much support at all. Most people think it's Iraq and WMDs all over again.  And most people don't like the idea.

So in order to cheer up the weekend barbecues, Obama is defining what he means about 'going downtown' on Assad. He just wants to do a little bit of bombardment, nothing serious really, just as little boom-boom to let Assad know things could get worse if he doesn't get smart. A really surgical strike that most Syrians won't notice, or particularly care about, except the bad Syrians. Of course his Syrian 'allies' and the helpful Israelis will be helping him select targets - maybe at the 'end o'summer war-room popcorn and movie night'. He wants it to be just like the bombing Ron Reagan did on  whacko Khaddafi.  Gloriously cheap and effective and not committing America to any 'boots-on-the-ground' kind of thing. They did mess-up his favorite tent, and kill one of his kids - by accident of course. And it didn't bother Khaddafi at all - just ask the Lockerbie survivors.

But only the good stuff this time, OK?

My second favorite p'leece force has got itself in the news again. This time for gunning-down some teen-aged run-amok. And then tasering the corpse to make sure the threat had been eliminated. Mind you, he had been warned.

On a good day this would be another tooth-sucker. However this particular incident - videoed by onlookers - made the front page. It might have been because most of the shift manpower congregated on the streetcar taken over by the 'violent youth'. Or it might have been the nine shots in two separate volleys that downed the perp. Or it may have been the fact that he was all alone, armed with a small knife and inside the streetcar yards from the nearest cop. Or it might have been the subsequent events. But the story has some legs.

Video of the incident

Naturally his righteousness the Chief of P'leece, the estimable Bill Blair, was in front of the microphones almost right away, as were the head of the police 'union' Mark 'Puggli' Pugwash and former and currently-serving coppers, like the accused, tried and reinstated son of a former Chief of P'leece Bill McCormick. The initial 'doing his dooty' meme was displaced with 'suspended with pay pending investigation' meme and segued into a charge of second degree murder for the poor cop who did the shooting.

Billy had it all well in hand however, looking at the possible charges under the P'leece Act and all and  getting the internal examination underway. He selected a retired judge to take the lead. But that man had to step down when the dead man's family objected to the Judge's ties to the Police Department's legal firm. Another retired Judge has since taken up the investigation. Chief Bill is waiting to see what happens.

Meanwhile the Provincial ombudsman announced that he was getting into the act with an investigation of his own. A couple of days after that he was in the media claiming to have been threatened by a policeman from a region abutting Toronto. Turns out the policeman he named didn't do it. But some other policeman from the Durham force had. Apparently he'd set up a social media account in his fellow cop's name and gone ahead and threatened the ombudsman. Needless to say the chief of that department couldn't release the name because he had an investigation going on about that. But he has that all well in hand, too.

And just the other day the Special Investigations Unit, which laid the murder charge, was in the papers claiming that there was a culture of non-cooperation at Metro Police encouraged, they believed, by the disinterest of his Nibs the Chief. Seems that Police don't like incriminating themselves or each other any more than the average crook. Even if they are well-paid and  get to sport fire arms in public. I'm wondering if the SIU was considering why 19 other officers stood by to witness the shooting without apparently, doing anything. That schoolyard fight witnessing is a hard thing to shake.

The public also got a thumbnail sketch of the legal lion who sticks up for the poor coppers before the bench of justis. Peter Brauti is the kind of lawyer most people could only wish they'd get. But he has access, through the police, to information  other lawyers only wish they could get. He's very good at his job, very few Toronto police have been convicted of anything. 'Going for the gold' , as opposed to negligence, or manslaughter, or a number of lesser charges on this one, just means it's more likely the cop won't be convicted.

 In one of the more stupid developments, some Tory pol came up with the notion that if every front line cop had a taser, they wouldn't need to shoot anybody. Although the logic of that escapes me, given the current story, somebody is willing to throw about $2 billion in new spending into a negative trade deficit to keep the elves at the Tommy Swift Electric Cannon Corporation of America in Dunkin' and Donuts. Needless to say the Chief thought the idea was brilliant.

The finest little P'leece Service money can buy maintains, and continues.