Archive for March 25th, 2009

Why you should never get your news from politicians, talk show hosts and late night comedians

March 25, 2009

Over the past number of weeks I have listened to politicians righteously blathering on about the bonuses being paid to AIG staff and I have listened to talk show hosts righteously blathering on about the bonuses being paid to AIG staff and I have listened to late night comedians righteously blathering on about the bonuses being paid to AIG staff.

I have read that regardless that these “bonuses’” were legal contracts they should be arbitrarily cancelled and one commentator even felt that they should all go to jail. Then came the brilliant idea that they could pass a law taxing these specific people in an amount that would recover all of the bonus money for the government. Some officials want these employees to be publicly named so they can be “shamed” in public. Some of the employees have received death threats.

It has become a witch hunt in the truest sense of the word.

None of these blathering people, most with large research staffs, apparently ever checked on what the real situation was with these employees.

Now some of those employees are leaving AIG, tired of the harassment and vitreol being directed at them.

One didn’t go quietly, sending a letter to Edward Libby, the appointed chief executor of AIG, pointing out the injustice that has been perpetrated. It’s exposes an exercise in public hysteria, where we are fed half-truths and untruths, witness politicians deflecting the the spotlight away from themselves, politicians using the hysteria to gain personal media time and media people spreading the story, unchecked, for audience reaction.

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

Read the whole thing. It just reconfirms the fact that you can never really trust what you read in the paper, see on TV or hear from the mouths of those who were elected, presumably to be leaders.

The truth is out there, it’s just not always easily accessible.

Thanks to Small Dead Animals for the pointer.

More Political Cynicism and Disappointment

March 25, 2009

The other day I felt as though I had a sharp knife thrust between my shoulder blades.

The reason? A posting on Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz‘ webpage.

FROM GARRY BREITKREUZ

March 19, 2009

Like many Canadians, I oppose the failed long gun registry as unfairly targeting law-abiding farmers and hunters, while not addressing the criminal use of firearms.

At the time of its introduction in 1995, the Liberal government estimated the net cost to taxpayers would only be $2 million. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation now estimate the cost to be in excess of $2 billion – an unprecedented waste of taxpayer money.

I have recently introduced a Private Member’s Bill (C-301) in the House of Commons to repeal the failed long gun registry. Bill C-301 contains a handful of other measures not directly related to the long gun registry itself. I do not see these measures as central to my long-standing goal of ending the long gun registry. When Parliament resumes, I will seek changes to remove these sections from my bill.

This coming after some early euphoria that this private members bill had a fairly decent chance of getting passed providing the opposition parties allowed a free vote for their members. It now appears that in order for Breitkreuz’ bill to be favourably received he is being forced to strip his bill down to its bare bones which means that the only thing left will be the section that speaks to getting rid of the long-gun registration.

The problem is that the “handful of other measures” that will be removed from Bill-301 includes a number of amendments that would alleviate some of the nastiness of the Federal Firearms Act.

Aside from the firearms registry, there are five other changes written into the original legislation.

  • Merge Transport to Carry and Licence (PAL/POL)
  • Combining the POL and PAL.
  • 10 year licencing (change from the current 5 years).
  • 12/6 grandfathering dates.
  • Auditor General cost/benefit analysis every 5 years.

None of these items in any way affect public safety although the usual suspects immediately screamed to the media that this was the case – and the media unquestioningly reported it as so. In fact they are common sense items, some of which would actually save costs in the program, at the same time addressing some of the inequities built into the Firearms Act.

The catalyst for this turn of events was Mr. Breitkreuz’ acceptance of an invitation to speak at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, which in itself was no problem until it was discovered that – horror of horrors – the CSSA (a sports shooting group that has many handgun shooters in its membership) was going to raffle off a handgun at their event.

This immediately became an opportunity for the anti-gun crowd to spew their rhetoric to the media.

“We have got to be finding ways to get (handguns) off the streets, not handing them out as prizes,” Liberal MP Mark Holland (Ajax-Pickering) said yesterday.

“It really is an insult to a community that has seen so much gun violence and where so many people have been killed … to give that away as a (raffle) prize.”

and

A spokesperson for Toronto Mayor David Miller said giving away a handgun is “outrageous, inappropriate and insensitive, frankly, to all the families of victims of gun crime in Toronto and the GTA”.

Stuart Green, speaking for the vacationing mayor, said the so-called prize could easily find its way to the streets, as many privately owned handguns do.

“Statistics show that between 30 and 40 per cent of handguns that end up in the hand of criminals are obtained through one-time legal ways and are stolen and sold through the black market,” he said.

Green said the federal government should not be a party to an event where a handgun is being raffled off.

The raffle has left others in disbelief, including an official at Montreal’s Dawson College, where a gunman carrying a Beretta semi-automatic carbine opened fire on Sept. 13, 2006, killing one student and wounding 13 others.

“As someone who has seen first-hand the wounds – physical and mental – of people who have been victims of gun violence, (a gun giveaway) has no place in my Canada,” Donna Varrica, Dawson’s director of communications, told the Star.

NDP Leader Jack Layton (Toronto-Danforth) said he could not believe that any group would be so “callous” as to give away a handgun in the GTA, which has been plagued with gun problems.

Last year, there were more than 60 gun-related deaths in the GTA.”It’s the kind of thing you expect to hear south of the border … the fact you could pick one up in a raffle prize sends exactly the wrong message,” Layton said.

Just a question, but when did it become immoral or wrong or something evil for a law abiding Canadian citizen who is legally licenced – by the Canadian government no less – to buy, win or otherwise legally acquire a handgun for his or her own personal use? As I say, it’s just a question for which I doubt the dipsticks quoted above have a rational answer.

But, as they say, I digress.

Then it was reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to attend the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) AGM where they were (more screams of outrage from the perennially outraged) raffling off 2 rifles.

However, apparently that was OK according to a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office as they were raffling off rifles and not a handgun.

For its part, the Prime Minister’s Office said it did not endorse the raffle. But Kory Teneycke, the prime minister’s chief spokesman, said Friday there is “clearly a distinction” between raffling off a handgun and a hunting rifle.

“There’s a serious problem with gun violence connected to drugs and gangs in some major Canadian cities, but that is really not a problem of people using hunting rifles or shotguns designed for duck hunting,” said Teneycke. “There’s no issue pertaining to the silent auction, from our perspective.”

That’s right, I forgot. Rifles and shotguns are good (or in the eyes of our usual suspects, merely misguided) and handguns are evil. Apparently even the PMO subscribes to that notion. And possibly the reason that we don’t hunt with handguns in Canada is because THE FRACKING FIREARMS ACT DOESN’T ALLOW FOR IT!

If Mr. Teneycke knew anything about the subject he would know that hunting with handguns is allowed in most of the US States. He would also know that at one time handgun hunting was allowed in the Province of Ontario and is another thing that we let slip away.

Which is to say that we would hunt with handguns if we were given the opportunity and that for all of the calls for handgun bans because they have no practical use, trappers, prospectors and guide-outfitters in British Columbia can carry handguns for survival and protection as can others – except for individuals who pack into the  wilderness and who would have good practical reasons to carry a handgun except for the fact that the Federal Firearms Act denies them that opportunity.

I think I’ll go pound my head against a wall.

No, wait – just one more rant.

This from the Association of Chiefs of Police:

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which supports the long-gun registry, said Breitkreuz’s bill, up for second reading vote on April 22, “would seriously compromise” public safety.

The police association warns it relaxes the control on machine guns by allowing the transport of fully automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons to civilian shooting ranges and relaxes the current restrictions on handguns, semi-automatic assault and tactical weapons.

“We are proud of Canada’s international reputation as a country with effective gun control legislation, and strenuously oppose any weakening of Canada’s current firearms control regime,” president Steven Chabot said in a March 9 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“All guns are potentially dangerous, all guns owners need to be licensed, all guns need to be registered and gun owners need to be accountable for their firearms.”

Chabot described Breitkreuz’s bill as a “retrogressive proposal that cannot, in any way, benefit the safety and security of Canadians.”

With an eye on full disclosure I have to admit that I have never had much respect for the Association of Police Chiefs, having always considered them to be a bunch of political hacks, at least at the upper level of the organization. Unfortunately, statements such those made above by their president, Steven Chabot, only serve to solidify that opinion.

I suspect that the good Chief has not read a word of the bill and if he has, I would love to know where in the bill he finds the language that is going to allow machine guns (full-auto) on civilian shooting ranges.

Surely the Chief would know that the use of full-auto firearms is restricted to Department of National Defence (military) shooting ranges and not at all on any civilian shooting ranges. As well it’s not as though civilian ownership of full-auto firearms – or machine guns, being the word picture the Chief likes to draw – is on the upswing as there have been no new licences issued to individuals for the acquisition of full-autos since 1977, so there is no large pool of civilian full-auto owners  chomping at the bit to demolish some targets at their local gun range. Just a very small number of aging collectors who, if they eventually wish to dispose of those guns, will either have to donate them to a museum, have them destroyed or try and sell them into the diminishing pool of other aging collectors.

And as to his scare words about “semi-auto assault rifles”, if the Chief or anyone else can explain to me the functional difference between a semi-auto hunting rifle such as a Remington Mod. 742 or a Browning BAR and what he calls an “assault rifle”, other than looks, I would love to be so informed.

There was also this authoritative statement reported in the Toronto Star.

“As it’s written right now I certainly couldn’t support it,” said Liberal MP Mark Holland, the party’s public safety and national security critic, who also contends the bill would gut the registry.

But then a couple of days ago on a radio show he candidly admitted that he hadn’t read the bill.

Maybe he and the Chief could sit down and read it together.

Maybe now I’ll go bang my head on the wall.


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