Archive for the ‘US Politics’ Category

California votes against legal pot:Too bad

November 7, 2010

If you can imagine such a scenario, California voters defeated Proposition 19, which would have made marijuana use legal in the State.

Of course there was a concerted campaign against the measure with the federal government and local police being front and center against legalization.

Certainly that was to be expected, as the police have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo on this issue.

A cynical view?

Possibly, but police forces get their money by convincing politicians (and the public) that crime is running rampant and the more they can make their case in that regard the better their budgets are likely to be.

So if marijuana was suddenly, with a stroke of a politician’s pen, made legal a great deal of ‘crime’ as now defined would be off the table.

It would also reduce the number of people being convicted and spending time, at taxpayers’ expense , in our jails.

As a matter of full disclosure, I have never used marijuana nor have I ever had the inclination to do so. I quit smoking regular cigarettes over 50 years ago and have never felt the need to suck smoke into my lungs since that time.

But that doesn’t change the fact that our laws regarding the weed need to be changed and California had a chance to do so and muffed it – although the dissenting vote came at just under 54%, which is not a ringing rejection of the idea.

What it come down to is that successive governments have made the same mistakes with marijuana that the US government made with prohibition.

They have spent decades putting people in jail and destroying lives for an activity that harmed no-one – possibly with the exception of themselves and that is debatable.

In the process they have also facilitated the growth of a criminal element that feeds richly off the illegal drug trade. A trade so lucrative that in places like Mexico they effectively maintain their own armies and hold the government to ransom.

And for what?

To try and prevent the use of a drug that is widely used by a large percentage of the population, while allowing and profiting from the use of alcohol which by all accounts causes much more disruption to the social fabric.

None of it makes much sense to me. It seems to be another case of stupid, outdated laws making criminals out of citizens for doing something that society as a whole increasingly finds to be – if not completely accepted – at least not a criminal act.

California had the opportunity on November 2nd to embark on a bold experiment, but unfortunately came up short.

All that being said, there were marijuana users in California that were opposed to Proposition 19 as well. They believed that the wording of the proposition was such that if passed it would be used to make their lives much more complicated.

In part:

For instance, Prop 19 supporters are excited about the ’5 foot by 5 foot’ cultivation area they think they would be allowed i.e., one space per residence, no matter how many occupants. But most don’t realize that police will continue to arrest people who can’t show written documentation from a landlord or property-owner giving them permission, which is impossible to get for most. But unlike now, localities will also be able to impose huge monetary fines on such individuals, in addition to the criminal charges.

Cities would also decide how close to minors growing will be allowed.  Undoubtedly many will rule that in the same apartment-complex is too close. Prop 19 creates new felony charges for anyone crossing those limits. So it can be asked: how does Prop 19 make us marijuana-users more ‘free’?

In addition, unlike now, localities will be allowed to enact steep fines for any person caught without a permit for 5 foot  x 5 foot cultivation area – that can be 1 plant. For property-owners the fines can be added on to your property-taxes, so you have to pay. For renters caught without a growing permit, a fine and jail time.

Prop 19 gives localities the power to collect as much money as they want through these fines & fees (wonder how much that’ll be?). Rancho Cordova’s ordinance will charge homeowners $600 per square foot of garden, or $15,000 per year for your 5 foot x 5 foot cultivation plot. And charge homeowners caught exceeding that area $1000 a day for the ‘nuisance’. The same charges and fines also appliers to renters.

All of this is aimed at the same purpose as Prop 19 itself: to discourage people from growing pot themselves and funnel all consumption through high-priced dispensaries (the more they charge, the more tax the locality gets), and at the same time give police clearer criteria of their powers that they can use to bust people.

Going on the above, it’s clear that under Prop 19, pot smokers would be better off buying a doctor’s recommendation.

In short, the objections of pot-smokers to Prop 19: They now live in a climate where anyone in California can get a doctor’s recommendation for less than $100, and with it possess and cultivate amounts 10 times that of Prop 19. Anybody else already has the right to possess 1 ounce.

Prop 19 introduces a plethora of fines and fees for governments to cash in on and making many basic acts which are legal now, illegal, such as smoking in the same home as a minor, or handing a joint to someone who hasn’t turned 21 yet.  Legally defining what amount ‘personal use’ is.  Not even to mention the loss of an entire, thriving cottage-industry — to large corporations. And the negative tax and economic consequences of that.

Looking at the whole picture, it becomes clear what Prop 19′s true purpose is: to empty the wallet of the marijuana user for the benefit of dispensaries, big business and governments. All while the voters embrace it with a big stoned smile.

As they say, ‘the devil is in the details’, and they may very well be right in believing that Proposition 19 left openings for serious abuse.It wouldn’t be the first (nor the last) time that groups got sandbagged by the lawmakers. But legalization something that will eventually come and when it does the people who will be affected need to be very involved in the process.

“Denormalizing” Firearm Ownership

July 8, 2010

Glen Reynolds, a Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee and the person behind the Instapundit blog, has an interesting article over at Pajamas Media on the 2nd Amendment in the U.S. constitution and the Supreme Court’s Heller decision on Washington DC’s gun ban and the more recent McDonald decision which relates to the city of Chicago’s gun ban.

Read at your leisure, but I was interested in his comments near the end of the article. (Thanks to Michael Bane for the pointer).

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decisions have made a major difference. In particular, they have offset the gun-control community’s longstanding effort to “denormalize” firearms ownership — to portray it as something threatening, deviant, and vaguely perverse, and hence demanding strict regulation, if not outright prohibition. That effort went on for decades, and received much media support. Two decades ago, it seemed to be working.

But with the Supreme Court saying that it’s clear the Framers regarded individual gun ownership as “necessary to our system of ordered liberty,” that effort must be seen as a failure now. Gun ownership by law-abiding citizens is the new normal, and the Second Amendment is now normal constitutional law. It will stay so, as long as enough Americans care to keep it that way. (Emphasis is mine).

What he speaks of here is what has been happening in Canada with Jean Chretien and Alan Rock, Paul Martin and now the current Federal Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff and his anti-gun prolocutor MP Mark Holland, although we have called it ‘demonizing’ guns and gun ownership. Denormalizing or demonizing: Same thing. Same effect.

One needs only to look at our Federal Firearm’s Act.

Above and beyond the fact that handguns, by the fact that they are hand-held firearms, have been defined as “restricted”, we have others that have been classified as “prohibited” due to barrel length or caliber and a whole list of other firearms that have the same listing because they “look dangerous”.

The reason why a handgun with a 106 mm barrel is classified as restricted and one with a 105 mm barrel length becomes prohibited is something that must only be clear to an Ottawa bureaucrat’s tortured mind.

Then there was the situation with .25 and .32 calibre handguns which, in the mind of those who wrote the legislation, for some reason personified evil incarnate and any handguns chambered to those calibres were automatically delegated to the ranks of the prohibited. Until someone pointed out to those bright people that those were the very same calibres that the world’s competitive shooters used in international competition such as the Olympics. So now there are some (specific) handguns chambered to those calibres that not quite as evil as first thought and have been plucked from the ranks of the prohibited and deposited in the slightly more respectable classification of restricted.

On the face of it, this is all pretty silly, but it was unquestionably the intent of the legislation when written to make firearms ownership increasingly more difficult and to plant the idea in the mind of the public that guns are dangerous and not socially acceptable in Canada.

This philosophy has been the mantra of the Federal Liberal party since Jean Chretien’s time and has been part of the political bark of municipal politicians, notably Mayor David Miller of Toronto, as well as the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, plus others with their own agendas.

Unfortunately in Canada, we don’t have a 2nd Amendment in our Constitution such as the U.S. has, so we can’t hope for the courts to work in our favour.

But as Professor Reynolds says earlier in his article, the solution is eventually political and that even though they have had some success in the U.S. courts, they should not rely on the legal system to fight their battles.

On the other hand, if gun-rights activists sit back and expect the courts to do their work for them now, they will be sadly disappointed. If pressed with further cases (which Gura says he plans to bring), the courts will do some good. But the primary protection for gun rights up to now, and for all constitutional rights, really, is political. Judicial review was intended by the Framers to be a backup system, not the main source of protection. That was intended to come from the people — and realistically, because if people don’t stand up for their own rights, courts are unlikely to take up the slack for long.

This is true in spades in Canada. If hunters, farmers, ranchers, sport shooters, collectors and all others who own and use firearms don’t begin to finally stand up en masse and state their case we will see a steady erosion of our ability (I can’t call them ‘rights’, as we lost that battle with Bill C-68) to use, let alone own those guns.

Repeal bad, dumb and redundant laws

June 15, 2010

I have proposed something similar to this for years.

Kansas GOP gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback is proposing an “Office of the Repealer,” tasked with seeking out bad or repetitive laws, wasteful programs, and archaic state agencies for elimination. As a general rule, the media venerates politicians who propose new government programs as bold and visionary, while anyone daring to suggest perhaps there might be cause to eliminate an agency or two is depicted as some fringe draconian nut. Or just quaint and silly.

My suggestion is slightly different: For every new law that is passed an existing law must be written off the books. Although I think Brownback’s proposal is more pro-active.

Mind you, I still have fond thoughts of our recent proroguing of parliament, which kept the politicians out of parliament for at least a short time and at least delayed the addition of more legislation to the books.

The incompetence of lawmakers

May 31, 2010

I  was fascinated to read that while U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had roundly criticized the Arizona Immigration legislation and was supposedly reviewing it to determine a possible challenge by the U.S. federal government, he admitted that he hadn’t even read the bill.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has been critical of Arizona’s new immigration law, said Thursday he hasn’t yet read the law and is going by what he’s read in newspapers or seen on television.

Mr. Holder is conducting a review of the law, at President Obama’s request, to see if the federal government should challenge it in court. He said he expects he will read the law by the time his staff briefs him on their conclusions.

“I’ve just expressed concerns on the basis of what I’ve heard about the law. But I’m not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is,” Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

However, in spite of his lack of familiarity with the wording of the legislation, Holder had lots of opinions.

This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that the Arizona law “has the possibility of leading to racial profiling.” He had earlier called the law’s passage “unfortunate,” and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.

(If we can go sideways for a minute, the following video pokes a little fun at the “haven’t read it” crowd).

(Too funny not to insert).

All of which led me to think that Mr. Holder’s (and others) lack of diligence was a reflection of a deeper problem that we have with our elected officials when it comes to talking about and voting for/against legislation that is tabled.

This has become increasingly apparent when we look at the ambitious legislation that has been passed in the U.S. in recent months.

The obvious one was the legislation to reform health care in the U.S. or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. which weighed in at over 1,000 pages of bureaucratic legalese. To the extent that a Democratic Senator said that he would not read the  the actual legislation.

Sen. Thomas Carper (D.-Del.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told CNSNews.com that he does not “expect” to read the actual legislative language of the committee’s health care bill because it is “confusing” and that anyone who claims they are going to read it and understand it is fooling people.

“I don’t expect to actually read the legislative language because reading the legislative language is among the more confusing things I’ve ever read in my life,” Carper told CNSNews.com.

In fact, the the Senate Finance Committee apparently never even dealt with the language in the legislation, but instead relied on the “plain English summary” of the bill. Which strikes me as being a bit problematic as who is to say how accurate the “plain English” interpretation is. Anyone who has ground their way through the bureaucratic wording inherent in most legislation soon recognizes that regardless of the understood intent of the legislation, the question is how some bureaucrat or even a court may interpret the wording at some later date. Too often the original intent is lost in the mists of time.

The recent passing of the U.S. government’s financial reform legislation is no doubt more of the same. Since many of the so-called financial experts were obviously baffled by some of the more esoteric financial transactions that contributed to the financial disaster, I can’t see where very many (if any) elected politicians voting on this legislation would have had any deep understanding of the bill’s ramifications.

The public at large just assumes that those writing the various bills have a certain amount of competence in what they do. Not always the case.

I remember – years back when I was still involved with corporate tax issues – going to a professional seminar on some esoteric tax issue where the presenters stood at the podium at one point and said flat out that they had no idea what the wording of a specific section meant. And these were the tax specialists. Obviously they weren’t getting much advice from Revenue Canada bureaucrats either. It was at that point that I wondered just what the hell I was doing there.

I think that it can be safely assumed that the MPs of the day who voted in favour of the existing tax legislation had no idea of what they were voting for at the time, and not just in regards to the more complex aspects of the Act. Their understanding of the details within the Act would have been minimal at best. They just voted the way they were told to vote.

The other side of the equation is that if the government waited until every MP had actually read the various pieces of legislation and could actually demonstrate that they understood what the wording meant, very little would ever get passed.

Of course, that could be a positive result in many cases.

Anyway, to beat the dead horse just a bit more, there are 29 bills pending in the Canadian Parliament right now. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the MPs have read what percentage of the bills.

The world is truly an amusing place

May 24, 2010

With everything that goes on in the world it is sometimes difficult to keep a straight face. A couple of items I recently came across amused the hell out of me.

The first was a blog by a gentleman by the name of J. Neil Schulman.

May 21, 2010 — Author/filmmaker, J. Neil Schulman, today announced his intention to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement of his 1979 novel, Alongside Night, which tells the story of the collapse of the American economy due to massive government overspending and the issuing of unbacked money and credit to pay the interest on the national debt.

Schulman intends to name the United States government as his primary defendant. According to Schulman, “The United States government — both the executive and legislative branches, aided by the courts, have stolen the entire premise — and a lot of the plot — of my novel!”

Schulman also intends to name, as co-defendants in his copyright infringement lawsuit, the Federal Reserve Bank, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, General Motors, and the country of Greece.

“Just look at TV news or read a newspaper,” Schulman said. “Plot point after plot point is identical. In my 1979 novel I have General Motors go bankrupt — General Motors then files for bankruptcy. I have Europe issue a common currency in my novel called the ‘eurofranc’ — the European Union then goes and issues the ‘euro.’ In my novel I have a European Chancellor, based in France, accuse the U.S. President of having the monetary policies of a banana republic — then the President of the European Union — also based in France — slams U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as ‘a road to hell’ and says President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout ‘will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market.’ The copycat nature of all these plot points and dialogue” — says Schulman — “could not be more obvious!”

Aside from the obvious satire of the proposed lawsuit, the book, Alongside Night is an award winning novel. But if the novel parallels the current economic crisis as Schulman says, he must have been having a vision when he wrote it back in 1979. Nevertheless, a very funny piece which will probably renew interest in the book. (Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer).

The second item was not a joke, but a little byplay in the ongoing war of words with Arizona over their illegal immigration legislation.

In response to the Arizona legislation, the city of Los Angeles voted to boycott all official travel there and end all future contracts with Arizona businesses.

Well, as it turns out, Los Angeles gets 25% of its power from Arizona.

Upon which, the commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission wrote a letter to the LA mayor.

I was dismayed to learn that the Los Angeles City Council voted to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based companies – a vote you strongly supported – to show opposition to SB 1070 (Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act).

You explained your support for the boycott as follows: “While we recognize that as neighbors, we share resources and ties with the State of Arizona that may be difficult to sever, our goal is not to hurt the local economy of Los Angeles, but to impact the economy of Arizona. Our intent is to use our dollars – or the withholding of our dollars – to send a message.” (emphasis added)

I received your message; please receive mine. As a state-wide elected member of the Arizona Commission overseeing Arizona’s electric and water utilities, I too am keenly aware of the “resources and ties” we share with the City of Los Angeles. In fact, approximately twenty-five percent of the electricity consumed in Los Angeles is generated by power plants in Arizona.

If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation. I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights of Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.

People of goodwill can disagree over the merits of SB 1070. A state-wide economic boycott of Arizona is not a message sent in goodwill.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Gary Pierce

The letter doesn’t actually threaten to cut off the power to Los Angeles,  as some news media have implied, but it does point out the hypocrisy inherent in the Los Angeles call for a boycott.

Whether the situation will further deteriorate from this point on is an unknown, but Pierce must have thoroughly enjoyed writing the letter.

One can find humour almost anywhere you look, especially in politics.

Banning body armour: Another bright government initiative

March 22, 2010

Back in October of 2009 I wrote a post on the intent of British Columbia’s provincial government to pass legislation that would make body armour illegal for anyone other than a selected few – police and the like. Anyone else wearing it would be committing a criminal offense.

The move was supported and promoted (of course) by the police lobby as a great benefit to their crime fighting efforts.

At the time, I thought (and still do) that it was typically stupid legislation. But from the politician’s point of view it would allow them to say that they were being proactive in fighting crime, although in actuality the legislation would do nothing to reduce crime and violence on the streets. It would however manufacture a whole new class of criminal: body armour wearers – whether they were involved in actual criminal activities or not.

It was a given that the B.C . legislation as proposed would go through if the government wanted to proceed as it was unlikely that there would be much active opposition, as it would affect very few people on a personal level.

That seems to have been been the case, as the bill has passed 3rd reading in the provincial legislature, although it doesn’t appear to have been proclaimed yet.

Now a similar bill is being proposed in Alberta and it is interesting to see that at least one commentator has similar views about the need or value of this kind of legislation.

Body armour can in no reasonable way be described as a threat to public safety.

It is not a weapon.

The only form of self-defence more passive is curling up into a ball and begging for mercy.

If the province is determined to restrict convicted gang members from owning body armour, then let them pass a law allowing the Crown to ask a judge to make that ruling as part of post-incarceration conditions, such as existing restrictions on firearms ownership.

Further, it seems monstrously draconian to allow sales of body armour to only cops, EMTs and security guards.

The list of those able to purchase body armour should at the very least include any individual without a criminal record.

Can the province of Alberta in good conscience deny bulletproof vests to citizens at risk of criminal attack in our community, such as pizza delivery guys, cabbies driving at night and convenience store clerks in sketchy neighbourhoods?

That would be particularly ironic, given that the guy who first used the miracle fabric Kevlar to manufacture soft body armour was a pizza delivery guy who’d been shot on the job.

Regardless, I would expect that the legislation will proceed unimpeded in Alberta as it did in British Columbia.

It is interesting that last  year US Customs proposed a ban on any folder knives that could be opened one handed. In this case, the action by Customs was stopped in its tracks by public reaction. That was because Custom’s rule change would have made most of the current folding knives in the country illegal and that would have affected a massive number of people.

Which reinforces the rule that strength in numbers is always an effective strategy when it comes to dealing with politicians and the bureaucracy.

Me and my racist truck

January 23, 2010

Politics anywhere can be nasty, but the US style seems to be exceptionally intolerant these days.

Scott Brown, the newly elected Republican Senator from Massachusetts, was recently called a racist by MSNBC commentator, Keith Olbermann, although I’m not sure why. I think it was just a given because he was a Republican and had the audacity to win Teddy Kennedy’s old seat.

However Howard Fineman, a senior editor with Newsweek, came up with the definitive way to spot a racist.

….. Mr. Fineman, a frequent MSNBC political analyst, said Mr. Brown’s truck could have been part of a racist code to Massachusetts voters.

Mr. Olbermann proposed Mr. Brown’s win was part of racist backlash against the black President Obama on his Tuesday evening program. Gamely, Mr. Fineman offered some supporting evidence.

“In some places, there are codes, there are images,” he told Mr. Olbermann. “You know, there are pickup trucks, you could say there was a racial aspect to it one way or another.”

Does this mean I have to sell my truck?

Haiti disaster and the ugly side of free speech

January 19, 2010

It would be reasonable to think that with the horrific tragedy that the recent earthquake has imposed on Haiti, the destruction of the infrastructure and the incredible death toll, that personal agendas and partisan politics would be put aside – at least temporarily. That apparently is too much to ask.

First we have the incredibly – what’s the word? Stupid!. The incredibly stupid man of the cloth Pat Robertson talking about how the earthquake in Haiti is part of the evil that has been bestowed upon them because they made a pact with the devil to rid the country of the French away back in 1804.

If they made a pact, it was poorly written, as the French came back and extorted 150 million francs out of the country in order to recognize the country’s independence and be repaid for the loss of profits from the slave trade.

A pact with the devil? Didn’t Haiti’s slave population take the matter in their own hands and revolt? What in hell did the devil do? (in or out of hell).

What particularly bothers me about Robertson’s comments is that he obviously has a following that will listen and nod and say, ‘amen to that brother’.

Then Rush Limbaugh weighs in.

It’s all so petty and mean.

I have always enjoyed listening to Limbaugh when I am traveling in the U.S. I have found his commentary interesting and a lot of it amusing, although you had to keep in mind where where he stood on the political landscape. (Although it seems nowadays on radio or TV that you have to check out everyone’s personal biases and agendas before you settle in to listen).

But Limbaugh’s rants over Haiti and the U.S. aid to the country are just small and mean. I recognize that he personally has deep doubts and fears about Obama and his policies, but the U.S. would be sending help to Haiti whether it was Bush or any other president who has sat in the Oval Office. That’s what you do when your neighbour suffers a catastrophe.

I suppose, the same as for Pat Robertson, there are those who eat this crap up, but I suspect hope there are many Limbaugh supporters who are wincing when they hear this drivel.

Surely Limbaugh can find some real issues on which to vent rather than punching holes in his credibility by ranting on about some deep and dark motive he believes is driving his country’s aid program to the poor and damaged country of Haiti.

Airport regulations, gun bans and dog bans

January 14, 2010

I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell‘s new book, What the Dog Saw, and a chapter titled Troublemakers (What Pit Bulls Can Teach Us About Crime) resonated with some of my thoughts in previous postings.

Gladwell writes about troublemakers and how the powers-that-be deal with perceived threats to the public.

Specifically he relates an incident in Ottawa, where three uncontrolled pit bulls attacked a young child and in the following media uproar, the provincial legislature chose as their solution to prevent further attacks, a ban on the ownership of the pit bull breed.

But Gladwell  points out that the danger of dog attacks isn’t confined to one breed and that at different times other breeds have been considered and demonized as ‘dangerous’ dogs. Notably German shepherds and Dobermans, but also Rottweilers and others.

He also notes that a dog’s behaviour is directly related to how it is raised and how it is treated.

Where once German shepherds and Dobermans were valued as guard dogs and socialized as such, now it is pit bulls that fill that position. They have increasingly been associated with the ownership by outlaw bikers, marijuana grow operators and various other misfits and anti-social individuals.

But what really interested me was Gladwell’s analysis of the Ottawa attack, the dog owner’s previous history and the eventual political solution.

Jayden Clairoux was attacked by Jada, a pit-bull terrier, and her two pit-bull–bullmastiff puppies, Agua and Akasha. The dogs were owned by a twenty-one-year-old man named Shridev Café, who worked in construction and did odd jobs. Five weeks before the Clairoux attack, Café’s three dogs got loose and attacked a sixteen-year-old boy and his four-year-old half brother while they were ice skating. The boys beat back the animals with a snow shovel and escaped into a neighbor’s house. Café was fined, and he moved the dogs to his seventeen-year-old girlfriend’s house. This was not the first time that he ran into trouble last year; a few months later, he was charged with domestic assault, and, in another incident, involving a street brawl, with aggravated assault. “Shridev has personal issues,” Cheryl Smith, a canine-behavior specialist who consulted on the case, says. “He’s certainly not a very mature person.” Agua and Akasha were now about seven months old. The court order in the wake of the first attack required that they be muzzled when they were outside the home and kept in an enclosed yard. But Café did not muzzle them, because, he said later, he couldn’t afford muzzles, and apparently no one from the city ever came by to force him to comply. A few times, he talked about taking his dogs to obedience classes, but never did. The subject of neutering them also came up—particularly Agua, the male—but neutering cost a hundred dollars, which he evidently thought was too much money, and when the city temporarily confiscated his animals after the first attack it did not neuter them, either, because Ottawa does not have a policy of preëmptively neutering dogs that bite people.

On the day of the second attack, according to some accounts, a visitor came by the house of Café’s girlfriend, and the dogs got wound up. They were put outside, where the snowbanks were high enough so that the back-yard fence could be readily jumped. Jayden Clairoux stopped and stared at the dogs, saying, “Puppies, puppies.” His mother called out to his father. His father came running, which is the kind of thing that will rile up an aggressive dog. The dogs jumped the fence, and Agua took Jayden’s head in his mouth and started to shake. It was a textbook dog-biting case: unneutered, ill-trained, charged-up dogs, with a history of aggression and an irresponsible owner, somehow get loose, and set upon a small child. The dogs had already passed through the animal bureaucracy of Ottawa, and the city could easily have prevented the second attack with the right kind of generalization—a generalization based not on breed but on the known and meaningful connection between dangerous dogs and negligent owners. But that would have required someone to track down Shridev Café, and check to see whether he had bought muzzles, and someone to send the dogs to be neutered after the first attack, and an animal-control law that insured that those whose dogs attack small children forfeit their right to have a dog. It would have required, that is, a more exacting set of generalizations to be more exactingly applied. It’s always easier just to ban the breed.

Which is exactly what the Ontario provincial government did: banned the breed.

So while I rant on about the stupidity of the ongoing airport security upgrades, which do nothing to improve security, but everything to inconvenience the traveling public, and Canada’s vindictive firearms legislation that does nothing to address crime and/or violence, but seems to be all about restricting and penalizing the law-abiding, it appears that the problem is the inability of those who run our lives to address the real issues with real solutions.

Christie Clark, who is an ex-provincial politician in British Columbia and who currently has a radio talk show out of Vancouver, made an on-air remark recently, saying that politicians don’t need to actually do something, but they need to look as though they are doing something.

That has been a long-time belief of mine, but it was surprising to hear an ex-politician make the statement.

Of course, anyone who has dealt with the upper levels of the bureaucracy in any level of government eventually comes to terms with the realization that their function is to arrange meetings and then more meetings, but never actually come to a final conclusion, unless it fits their own agenda or comes down the chain of command from their particular political minister. Who also  makes few decisions unless they are approved or initiated from a higher power – nominally the Prime Minister’s office federally, or the Premier’s office provincially.

All of which would make it a fair statement to say that most individuals or groups that are looking for serious input on issues are spinning their wheels if they are spending most of their time trying to convince bureaucrats or even a minister – most of whom are more concerned with photo-ops, rather than issues – of the value of their position.

In any event, Gladwell’s analysis (read the whole article) explains much of the reason for many of the stupid laws we have on the books.

Remember: It’s not what you do, it’s what you look like you’re doing.

Damn, we’re in good hands.

The Joke in Copenhagen

December 23, 2009

I have now gone from being merely skeptical of the global warming frenzy to being angry by the revelations that we have been defrauded by people who have manipulated data and stonewalled any critical analysis of their findings and who have had the unmitigated gall to call themselves scientists. I am angry because  politicians and bureaucrats seem determined to forge ahead with policies that will do mortal damage our economies in spite of the information now becoming available that data was doctored in order to prove a predetermined hypothesis.

To add to all of this, after the e-mails out of East Anglia and just when the “scientists” and the global warming theorists were getting into their damage control mode attempting to explain that what the e-mails said meant something entirely different than what it sounded like, they were hit by a report from Russia that the temperature database from that country had been manipulated by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to show greater warming in Russia that was actually the case.

From there we went to the circus in Copenhagen where demagogues such as Venezuala’s president Hugo Chavez received standing ovations for his attacks on capitalism and his arch-enemy the U.S.

Assembled world leaders cheered on Chavez Wednesday during his first, scheduled speech, a ringing attack on all things capitalist that earned him standing ovations from leaders of the Third World.

Chavez berated developed nations for creating an “imperial dictatorship” that rules the world and urging his audience to “fight against capitalism,” the “silent and terrible ghost” that was haunting the elegant conference chambers in the Danish capital.

“I promise I won’t talk more than others have talked this afternoon,” he said at the start of a rambling, 25-minute diatribe that outshot other speakers by a full 20 minutes. In the wide-ranging speech, he called capitalism the “road to hell” responsible for poverty, murder, AIDS — and even unfair climate agreements, the Toronto Star reported.

And there were others -

Over in Copenhagen, we have Robert Mugabe, perhaps the most brutal and corrupt despot in Africa, whose life’s work has been to destroy the once-prosperous country of Zimbabwe, lecturing the West on the “hypocrisy” of its position on climate change. (Zimbabwe doesn’t have to worry about greenhouse gas emissions, because, thanks to Mugane, its economy is in a state of collapse.) Update: Here’s Stephen Lewis talking about a new report on Mugabe’s use of rape as a weapon.

We have the government of China, which won’t allow its citizens free access to the Internet, complaining that the climate summit is “not transparent.”

We have Hugo Chavez, who took time off from shutting down Venezuela’s radio stations to fly to Denmark, complaining about western “dictatorship.” (If anyone back in Venezuela disagrees, he’ll toss them in jail).

Of course we also have the patriotic Mayor of Toronto, David Miller, standing up for Canada – sorry, my mistake. You have David Miller slamming Canada by volunteering to accept a Fossil award in Canada’s name.
“Like most Canadians, I’m embarrassed … our government continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to reaching agreement,” Mr. Miller said as he accepted two “Fossil of the Day” awards on behalf of Canada last week.
Two other commentaries that are well worth reading.
As always, a well-written, thoughtful column by Rex Murphy, which says in part:

If the hard science of global warming, or at least as much of that emergent discipline that may be called hard science, is to be the factual and scientific fulcrum on which policies for the world’s energy are to be decided, then it logically follows that such science must be absolutely untainted. That it not be infused with the activist spirit, that advocacy follows the science, not that science seeks to comport with advocacy. It is really impossible to read some of those e-mails and not to take, from both their tone and their substance, that the necessary neutrality and disinterest of true scientific enterprise – the essential virtues of science – have been severely disobliged.

Has the science been tainted, is the question of our time. Has the authority and prestige of scientific practice been invoked at the very moment when its methods – its practice – has been, to any degree, corrupted or degraded? This would be a reasonable question – and let me stress it is still a question – even if the project or subject was one of far less consequence and scope than the planet’s climate and its economic practice.

That question is not being asked with the rigour we should expect. There is something about the great cause of global warming that tends to disarm scrutiny, to tamp down the normal reflexes of tough questioning and investigation that the press brings to every other arena. The great conference at Copenhagen seems to have whistled by the quite momentous challenge that the East Anglia e-mails presents to the centrality of the claims made by the global warming cause. Lots of fossil-of-the-day moments – not many hard press conferences.

Then another by Roger J. Simon on Pajamas Media, who was in Copenhagen for the conference and who observes that the conference was less about CO2 reduction than about moving power into the hands of the UN.

It will say the same of Copenhagen, no doubt. At least the presence of the various despots (Chavez, Mugabe, the re-upped A-jad, etc.) was not as damaging this time. It was more of sideshow, compared to the true objective of COP15 – the cementing of UN bureaucratic power under the guise of CO2 regulation. That was why the Climategate revelations were particularly poorly timed for the United Nations. Yes, they were largely ignored or dismissed at press conferences, but they were an overwhelming presence about which many were aware.

But much of the reality of the conference seemed to me to be an opportunity for third world countries to try and extract money from the west to use for their own purposes. This comment from a US agricultural reperesentative at the conference had the same take on the proceedings.

“To me, it appeared like they wanted our money to fix the problems they have that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with greenhouse gases or climate change,” he says. “It’s just the fact that they wanted to redistribute the wealth.  They wanted our dollars because we were the ‘rich Americans’.”

I think that pretty much sums it up: redistribution of wealth. That’s the plan.


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