Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Way to stick it to the Man"

Babble on.

Taylor's on a roll these days. This time he's on about the TTC wildcat charlie-foxtrot yesterday:

In my case a transit strike simply means working from home; at the Firm, something like 75% of the workforce uses laptops and mobile computing devices. Of the seven people in my team, two were on vacation, two took the GO Train (and subsequently did arrive at the office), and the remaining three worked from home. We could still communicate via phone, e-mail and corporate instant messaging service. I understand even the front-line grunts on national help desk are issued with laptops and the ability to route calls to their homes. So from the Firm's perspective, yesterday was like any other day. Tasks delayed: none. Projects delayed: none. Deadlines missed: none. Industry humming along as usual, in other words.

Congratulations, Bob Kinnear and Local 113. Keep on fighting 21st century commerce with 19th-century tactics; while you were out on picket lines, I was in air-conditioned comfort at home. I managed to stay on top of my workload and will be rebated a day's Metropass costs, to boot. Your 800 maintenance workers will get docked a day's pay and be a day behind on their duties. You know who you hurt with this wildcat strike? Students and seniors, for starters. The poor, who can't afford 30-buck cab fares downtown. And others whose living depends on mass agglomeration of commuters downtown -- people working in coffee shops, hot dog stands, food court outlets -- not to mention all those businesses retailing inside subway stations. You know, ordinary working-class joes. Way to stick it to the Man.


Babble off.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Well, shit.

Babble on.

Jesus H. Frickin' Murphy on a slice of toast, my entire vocabulary outside of four-letter expletives has flown out the window, I'm soooooooo pissed. Way pissed. Totally pissed.

How dare that rat bastard deprive me of some of the best writing on the net, replete with local colour and some of the funniest lines, like, evar.

I might just have to break out the can opener. Yes, I think that's exactly the ticket.

Hide, Bob. Not that it will do you any good, but it will make the process more interesting. For me.

Babble off.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Time to eat my words

Babble on.

Back in April of last year, I commented upon the JTF2 explosives expert who went AWOL and disappeared into the far east a couple of years ago: Montgomery Paisley.

It will be interesting to find out what motivated him to abandon his life here. Here's my guess: nothing. I'll bet he did this because he could. He had the training and the ability to disappear, so when something in his life threw him the sort of curveball the rest of us simply deal with and move on, he used it as an excuse to live out a Jason Bourne fantasy.

Let me reiterate that this is just a guess. I don't know this fellow from Adam - he might well have had a serious life-crisis event that none of us knew about, or a clinical psychological problem that went undiagnosed. If that's the case, you'll see me eat these words.

As it turns out, I was wrong. Time to eat those words, as I promised I would.

Captain (Navy) Holly MacDougall, the Canadian Forces Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP), has withdrawn the charge of desertion, an offence under section 88 of the National Defence Act, against former Sergeant Montgomery Paisley. Sgt. Paisley was the member of Joint Task Force 2 (JTF 2) who left his unit in July of 2003 and was absent until he turned himself in at the Canadian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, in April of 2005.

The DMP decision to withdraw the charge was based on a consideration of the public interest, which balanced the nature of the offence and the public interest in prosecuting the charge against recently-provided evidence that the accused suffered at the time of the offence (and continues to suffer) from a major depressive disorder. Had the matter proceeded to court martial, the central issue would have been the mental health of the accused and his level of criminal responsibility.

Depression is a serious issue, and although I'm biased, I think it's a more serious issue for military personnel than for most other segments of society. Let's hope Mr. Paisley gets the help he needs.

Babble off.

Cross-posted to The Torch

5 tips

Babble on.

Chris Taylor has five tips for what he calls "The Recalcitrant Left" in Canada. They're worth reading, and if you happen to lean to the political left, well worth following.

But don't trust me on this - go read them yourself. Here's why:

Seriously, guys. I am not going to agree with 99% of the stuff you put forward anyway, but if you can get past this stuff, I guarantee your electoral prospects will improve dramatically. And as entertaining as it is for us conservatives right now, an ineffectual left is a bad thing for the nation.

What he said.

Babble off.

Support the troops

Babble on.

I've received two e-mails in the past day from folks looking to make a difference in the lives of our deployed soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

One is from Wendy Sullivan at Canadian Angels, helping serving members:

I don't think it's too much to ask that we send over a letter, or a birthday card, or a packet of snacks to the ones who keep us safe. Show a soldier how much you appreciate them, and how proud you are of the work they do - become an Angel!

One is from Gerry Nichols at the NCC, helping those left behind when a loved one makes the ultimate sacrifice:

Canadian soldiers are putting their lives on the line everyday in Afghanistan to help protect our freedoms.

They deserve our respect; they deserve our appreciation and they deserve our help.

That’s why the National Citizens Coalition has set up a special “Support Our Troops Trust Fund” to provide support and assistance for the families of Canada’s fallen soldiers.

Gerry has informed me that while some administrative costs will come out of the fund, and the cost of the "Support Our Troops" magnets, 90% of the money will go directly to the families of soldiers killed in action.

For those who feel more comfortable dealing directly with military agencies, the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency tells you how to mail care packages or letters directly to CF members, but for some reason they're not able to accept donations right now (I am consciously biting back a snark, here). Of course, you can always drop the troops a line, which doesn't cost you anything but your time.

I have to tell you, this gives me warm fuzzies - seeing individual Canadians picking this cause up. It's not like the military and the government don't take care of our serving members and their families, because for the most part they do. There are exceptions, but they try their best in most cases.

The thing is, CF members and their loved ones know that DND has to do that. It's nice when someone who doesn't have to do anything does, out of the goodness of their heart.

If you support our troops, here's a full spread of options to show that support.

Babble off.

Cross-posted to The Torch

My impressive length - yeah, baby!

Babble on.

For the first time in my life, someone has complimented me on my unique physiology and impressive length.

Unfortunately, it was my endodontist, and he was talking about the unique shape of one of my molars, and the startling length of the two nerve canals running through it (22.5mm and 24.5mm respectively).

Ah well. So much for my new stage name.

On a positive note, though, the root canal was no more painful than having a normal filling done. The staff were entirely professional and courteous. I had two appointments, and didn't sit in the waiting room longer than five minutes - cumulatively. These guys were good.

(Now if only they could get a website built)

Babble off.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nice blues. Where's the cape?

Babble on.

Those of you who did not attend the Royal Military College of Canada may find this obscure, but I don't play inside baseball that often, so you'll have to forgive me just this once.

But to all the Ex-Buds out there: it looks like the USAF might be adopting our Fours as their new dress uniform.

Oops. No braid on the sleeves. Correct that to: "a First-Year's Fours."

And as I said over at MilBlogs, I'm not sure the USAF wants its full-dress uniform to be a carbon-copy of a First-Year Canadian Officer Cadet's semi-dress uniform. But hey, if they do, at least it will give me something else to razz them about.

I'll even send a few of them chinstraps for their wedges. Nothing says dominant world airpower like a chinstrap.

Babble off.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Libyan lesson

Babble on.

It's refreshing to see the LA Times admit a U.S. diplomatic victory in the Middle East:

Perhaps the most important lesson to be taken from Libya's arc from an instigator to a foe of international terrorism is that sanctions can work if they're carefully crafted. The travel restrictions and other sanctions against Libya were multilateral, widely respected and well targeted. They provide a helpful example as the world considers imposing sanctions on countries such as Iran, which is developing its own nuclear program despite worldwide objections.

Another lesson is one that should resonate in the Arab world: The U.S. doesn't hold a grudge. Even for those countries deepest in the international doghouse, diplomacy works better than saber-rattling. Come to think of it, that's a lesson that should resonate in the White House too.

Unfortunately, the editorial board at the paper seems to believe that sanctions are what finally flipped Gaddafi. I don't buy that for a minute.

Libya announced it was giving up its WMD program on 19DEC2003, six days after images of a cowed and dishevelled Saddam Hussein were flashed across the planet's television screens. Negotiations had begun nine months earlier, right around the time the American-led coalition was about to invade Iraq.

Call it coincidence if you will, but you won't get me to believe it. It's my opinion that fear of being the next Arab leader to have his in-processing medical broadcast around the world pushed Gaddafi over the edge.

The credible threat of military force, not just sanctions, worked diplomatic wonders - this time.

Unfortunately, you can't extrapolate future strategy from this. Although there's an argument to be made that they worked against South Africa, sanctions haven't worked against Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Cuba. But threatening force hasn't worked against against any of those countries either. And even a combination of the two - economic stick and military stick - hasn't produced even coerced compliance anywhere in recent years except - what, Syria? How confident do you feel in their change of heart? Invasion has kind of worked in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, but those are hardly perfect solutions, and may turn out to have been mistakes (I don't believe they were, but only history will tell). Feel free to correct me if you can find a pattern I'm missing here - something that works all the time.

Sanctions can work. Threats can work. Direct military action can work. Diplomacy can work. None of those foreign policy tools works all the time, and none fails every time either. There are no easy answers here, and just because the LA Times prefers one method over another doesn't mean they can ignore that fact.

Babble off.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The big, important question - *yawn*

Babble on.

I'm not going to nitpick.

OK, I'm going to nitpick a bit: why is CBC's "Reality Check" an opinion piece strewn with factual errors and assertions of opinion dressed up prettily like facts?

That's it, I promise.

I'm actually here to applaud the article, since it asks the one big question upon which our entire defence policy revolves: what the hell do we want our military to do?

Eventually the questions lead back to the fundamentals? Why does Canada have a military? Who are Canada's enemies: terrorists such as Osama bin Laden? Expansionist Chinese who want Canada's energy? Rogue states like North Korea? Or rogue Americans who want Canada's water?
The fault lies not with the military that Canada does know where its military fits in a changing world. That task is not for Hillier or any other general.

Nor does the fault lie only with the Harper government, but with the succession of governments that went before it. The reality is that until this government or the next figures out Canada's place in the world, nobody will know where to spend that $5.3 billion.

This question is the elephant in the military bunker, and I suspect that the Darfur vs. Afghanistan debate will provide a focal point for two visions that need not necessarily compete, but surely will.

That is, the debate might spark some introspection if Canadians bother to pay attention to the issue for longer than it takes them to finish their morning coffee. I'm not holding my breath.

Cross-posted to The Torch

Babble off.

Update: And what is up with the crown-behind-the-head photo-fetish at CP? OK, I'm really done nitpicking now.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Afghanistan: an exit strategy

Babble on.

Over at The Torch, I lay out what I believe is the appropriate exit strategy for Canadian troops in Afghanistan. It's not as complicated an issue as you might think.

Babble off.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What's stopping you?

Babble on.

I'm a fan of neither the perennially-aggrieved NDP nor of left-leaning Liberals who haven't the courage to join the party that best represents their views just because they would spend the rest of their political lives out of power. I think the flag-flying flap was overblown. I believe deserters from an all-volunteer military south of the border should show the courage of their convictions by standing up defiantly in front of a court martial and putting some steel into their resistance instead of scampering timidly up here to hide behind Canadian skirts.

And I dislike Thomas Walkom.

Having said all that, even the blind squirrels at The Star stumble across the odd acorn. What's unusual about this story is that Walkom promptly fires said acorn straight into Jack Layton's eye:

If Jack Layton wants Canada to let in Americans trying to avoid the Iraq war, he has a simple remedy: He can persuade the Liberals and Bloc Québécois to join forces with his New Democrats and change the law.
If the majority of parliamentarians want to pass an amendment to the immigration act that would allow U.S. deserters to stay here, they could do so — with or without the Prime Minister's consent.

They might have to jump through some procedural hoops. But they have the votes if they want to use them.
In fact, the deserter issue is just one place where the opposition parties could force the government's hand in this minority Parliament.

Here's another. Opposition MPs claim they want the flag on the Peace Tower lowered to half-mast every time a Canadian soldier is killed in Afghanistan. But if that's so, why don't they order this done? They have the votes.

Walkom's right. If Jack! really believes in this and thinks the Canadian public will back him on it, he has a perfect opportunity in this minority parliament to scrounge the votes required to make the changes he says he wants.

I very much doubt Harper would turn the flag issue into a confidence matter, and I'd flip a coin on whether the deserters issue would force an election. Governments tend to be fairly touchy about immigration as their exclusive domain, so that could be a bit risky for Layton and his fellow-travellers. Of course, if he could turn the Iraq war into a Canadian campaign issue, he might just want to bring the Conservatives down over it - isn't that a Dipper's wet dream?

Here's the bottom line, though: Jack! hasn't got the balls to try it. Behind the inflammatory rhetoric and the porn-star moustache, he's too addicted to sniping consequence-free from the sidelines to throw himself into action. Layton understands with a second-generation politician's instinct that bleating costs him nothing, whereas going over the top of his political trenches yelling "Follow me!" carries significant risk to his reputation and electoral future.

No, Jack! will do precisely nothing except smile at every mirror he passes, and flap his lips at every microphone within earshot. Which, as a Conservative, couldn't make me happier.

Babble off.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Conscience of convenience for Jack!

Babble on.

Why is someone who bails out of the consequences of their own choices to be applauded, Jack, you asinine popinjay?

American deserters dodging military duty in Iraq share Canadian values and should be welcomed in this country, NDP Leader Jack Layton says.

"It makes a lot of sense to welcome these young people, recognize that they've taken a position that's exactly the same position that Canadians took," he said yesterday. "It would be inappropriate to send them back in my view ... We're glad they've chosen our country."

Layton urged the Conservative government to grant sanctuary to young soldiers, noting Canada became a safe haven for Americans seeking to avoid the Vietnam draft more than 30 years ago.

"We should be looking at it," he said. "These young people are courageous individuals. They've made a decision of conscience."

What did you say? "Conscience?" You're a little late to the party there, aren't you?

I mean, ask Bev Desjarlais what following your conscience gets you in the Jack Layton NDP.

Actions have consequences, and so they should. You join the military - no draft these days, mind you, it's voluntary service - and you agree to follow the legal orders of those appointed above you. If you can't do that for reasons of conscience, you suck it up and take your licks. You go to jail for a while and get your dishonourable discharge, and then get on with the rest of your life. You don't run away and hope Canada takes your sorry ass in.

If Jack! was a leader with any real convictions whatsoever, he would start encouraging people to stand up for their anti-war beliefs, not to run away from the consequences of those beliefs. Unfortunately, he's nothing more than a pontificating, self-absorbed glutton for attention.

Babble off.