Solving the 2nd Amendment problem in the US – “Guns”

Everyone knows “guns don’t kill people – people kill people.” This axiomatic perspective on “gun violence” from the pithy wordsmiths of the National Rifle Association (NRA), in the United States, has been the clarion call for all those supporting “gun rights.” Whenever a significant shooting incident occurs, or for that matter almost any shooting – this asinine statement is issued by some supporter of the unbridled ownership of firearms – as though the knowledge that the “tool” doesn’t craft the result was lost on the population. In the face of these “significant shooting incidents” it seems a hollow rationale though as any tool has an appropriate and practical use. And, let’s face it, the US has had a lot of “significant incidents” and shootings over the past few years. The United States is the authority on mass shootings. This makes one wonder what “are” guns for, and why is it so many “incidents” occur?

In the ’70s there were 13 mass shootings, by the ‘80s: 32. The numbers have continued to climb, although the 2000’s were a light decade – only 28. However, the casualty rates have climbed over the years; the numbers of dead and wounded are ever increasing – almost exponentially. So, what’s the problem. Well according to the NRA, it isn’t guns.

If this is true, what is it? What can the problem be?

There is much debate about that. The problem is, regardless of the debate, the ability to curtail gun sales to people likely to use them – against their purpose – to sometimes kill people is difficult to achieve. Politicians have tried and failed over the years and seem unable to advance the cause of gun control.

It seems people who want to kill other people have access – due to the 2nd Amendment of the United States to “guns” – the tool of choice, in the US at least, when it comes to killing lots of people in one “visitation.” According to the NRA – no one, who is responsible, wants to kill anyone – unless (and there are a few caveats here) – they are trying to harm this “responsible” person, this responsible person’s family, or are trespassing on a responsible person’s property, or are making the responsible person “feel threatened”. Now – here it gets murky. There are a number of “Gun” laws and they vary from State to State. Florida has “stand your ground” and many States have “open carry” laws and so on. But, at the root of this is the 2nd amendment, which reads, and I quote:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The point the NRA focuses on is the third clause of this rather oddly arranged sentence. “The right of the of people to keep and bear arms,” which is why – according to the NRA, that any type of gun controls are an anathema to the constitution. But, can this be so? The 2nd Amendment says nothing about controls – only that the right to “keep” and “bear” arms shall not be “infringed”. So, any laws which do not prevent the right to keep or bear arms should therefore be constitutionally acceptable. In fact, about 90% of US citizens and 70% of NRA members agree with that notion insofar as background checks are concerned. This suggests therefore a ‘basic level of competence to bear arms; yet, the constitution does not set a condition on competence – so, the NRA rightly opposes competence being a condition of gun ownership. Where these checks do exist, they are not implemented universally and are likely not going to be – due in large part to NRA lobbying rightly attempting to keep competence – a condition not found in the second amendment, out of the laws of the land – at least insofar as gun ownership or the prevention of it is concerned.

I have a solution to this sticky problem. This solution will resolve both the NRA’s problem with gun control and the desires of all those people out there who think (clearly mistakenly), this mass shooting thing is a “gun problem”.

In keeping with the 2nd amendment, I suggest that the US Federal Government issues “arms” to each and every citizen of the United States – regardless of age. Furthermore, the Federal government must collect and destroy all but the “issued weapon” – as there is no requirement for a particular type of “arms” in the amendment. As well, all States laws restricting open carry are to be summarily dismissed by the Supreme Court. Now, everyone, regardless of their position on gun control will be armed or have access to these arms. As well, I suggest the Federal Government of the US anoint each citizen as a member of their “State’s Militia” to address the oft forgot, but no less important first clause of the 2nd Amendment. Finally, the Federal government should promptly, and immediately upon collection of all non-approved weapons deliver the authorized and approved civilian “arms” so the citizenry of the United States may remain constitutionally adherent and civilly responsible carrying their “.54 calibre Hawken muzzle loading percussion cap/black-powder rifle.”

jim-bridger-hawken-rifle-parts-list_1With everyone so armed there will be no debate about gun control. The Hawken gun is the solution, it has an effective range of about 400 yards; and, the calibre of the Hawken (able to blow a foot-wide hole in a bear), will no doubt satisfy the power and penetrating capabilities of even the most ardent enthusiast. Lastly, the peace-loving anti-gun lobby will be able to curtail their whinging ways as the Hawken comes with a designed-in “low rate of fire” – so anyone attempting a “mass shooting” will need either a locked room filled with people or very slow victims to have any impact. This likely limits the locale of any future “mass shootings” to insane asylums and old age homes. This is absolutely constitutionally compliant. Everyone is armed, the 2nd amendment says nothing whatever about the type or provider of the “arms” everyone has the right to bear – and lastly, it harkens back to the era of discovery which “made America great,” which should satisfy the Trumpesque Republicans who are so keen to protect themselves with “guns.” Everyone will still be able to kill anyone who needs shooting – so long as they are willing to take the time to do it. I strongly recommend the US Federal government adopt my plan – black powder is safe. Black powder is practical. And, after all, guns don’t kill people – and if it turns out in the future they do, with my plan, guns will kill far fewer and less often.

Kind regards,

Trump – the infection continues

Since the reign of G.W. Bush the undoing of conservatism in the US has moved forward at pace, culminating in the policies of the last Senate and House Leaders from the Republican Party who opted for muddy immobility over compromise. The blocking of the President’s policies looked and felt as much racially driven, as oppositional defiance to anything not paying homage to the gilded view of the constitution held by the Tea Party and like-minded or manipulated Republicans whose grasp of rhetoric exceeded their grasp of history. At last the end of the road for US conservatism in any recognizable form will come with the candidacy of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States.

The admittance of Trump to the political arena was made possible by the parade of strange and radical conservatives who emerged at the end of “G.W’s” first term and became a noisy force thereafter. The “Tea Party” disclaimed “big government”. In truth, the government got bigger under G.W. Bush than it had ever gotten before. The creation of the Department of “Homeland Security” alone is enough to send shivers up the spine of the libertarian wing of the GOP. The Patriot Act provided no balm to fears of “Big Government”. The infiltration of the Republican Party by the Tea Party and their willingness to undermine government operations, in order to hold their political breath until they received their due, set the stage for a long line of fever-dream sharing political players who have set the stage for the current state. The first of the voices of ignorance that rose to public view of course is Sarah Palin, the Northern Harpy. Her unrelenting idiocy has helped drive the GOP into the ditch. Her accusation against any sensibility as the behaviour of “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only), helped put a wedge into the divide between radicals and centre-right conservatives. Senate leaders stoked the flame of tea party defiance by committing to a policy to “block at any cost” the policies of the President. Mitch McConnell, Senator from Kentucky, is the chief flag-bearer of a molasses fuelled Republican Senate glued to a policy of blockage and constipation. Attempting to render the President a “Lame Duck” has made one of the GOP.

The overlong effort to find candidates for office, which the US engages in every four years, has, in 2016, provided a right wing farm club of lack lustre nominees whose collective qualities are less than anyone alone, and their collective qualities are less than most who are not running. The final three: Kaisch, Cruz, and Trump were unimpressive. Kaisch – dull and quietly aggressive. Cruz, an ideologue and radical who would turn the US into a group of camps, many armed, and many in opposition. Then, and finally, Trump. Donald Trump is the presumptive candidate for the Presidency from the GOP, the other two finally bowing to the steamroller that is Trump’s hyperbole fuelled race to power. The horror of this fact is perhaps doubly important as it is felt by both the Right and the Left. Donald Trump is the culmination of years of conservative deterioration in the US. The slow and inexorable slide from the centre, into an obsessive-compulsive angry and elitist band of brothers, has reduced the GOP to a foul amalgam of isolationism and hate. At the steering wheel of that ditch-bound journey is Donald Trump.

It’s a shame really. The notion of a business man rising to the highest office in the land, refocusing government absent of political gain and baggage sounds delightful – even to some who are less disgruntled with the political process than many citizens in the US are. Yet, rather than a Captain of Industry or a Mandarin from the world of business, the Right has found a hawker, a salesman, and a self-promoter. Is there any more quintessential description of the hated “politician” than that?  Trump is poison no matter the outcome of the election. If winning, he’ll undermine the state. If losing, Trump will proclaim and pursue the story of his undermining by the “Dons of the Republican Party”. He’ll moan and whine over the unfairness of it all. His followers will likely whine as well. The result will be years of in-fighting and likely division amongst the Right in the US. While this might sound wonderful to Democrats it is in fact a great risk. Even the most popular party should not govern free from a viable opposition. A broken Republican Party invites the risk of an unrestrained Left.

Donald Trump is the malignant cancer of the right wing in the US. The surgery of the electorate is required to extract him; and, it will take the best doctors on the right to save the GOP patient from the throes of recovery.

Freedom of information has been the death of truth.

 

The endless stream of information that is flowing around the world increases each day. Its sources: official, unofficial, opinionated, speculated, carbonated with hyperbole, salted with half-truths, outright lies, fabrications, and fantasy are replacing truth. So virulent is the flow of information, so indiscriminate is the information that is slathered across the news and internet, separating what is real from what is not has become impossible. Indeed, the truth is no longer the objective of information; rather, information is sought to affirm feeling and belief. Information is pounded out into the world as white noise filtered by personal conviction and sifted by preconception.

In an interview President Obama commented on the frustration of truth. “The deficit has been reduced by two-thirds, but most people think we spend more.” Why, because that’s what is said on the web. Sites like Snopes.com and Factcheck.org seek to provide truth and clarity, but even their content is used not as a resource for verification, but as a hammer with which to beat the opinion of another.

Society suffers from the mental gout of information overload, of opinion on tap. We drink it in, sucking it down as though it were Mother’s milk for the soul. There’s a flavour for any mentally fat, lazy, drive through opinion seeking person whose willingness to believe makes Fox Mulder look like a sceptic.  Data thieves are exalted because any data held by government must be evil, must be for nefarious purposes, must exist solely to subjugate the masses. Slick talking heads and billionaires spout nonsense and are lauded for their ability to “tell the truth”; their credentials established because they aren’t members of the political framework. That “old guard”, those members of the “establishment” can’t possibly have anything truthful to say. Truth can only come from the outsider, from the source that says things that match what is thought, however spurious, by the masses who eat information like take-out hamburgers on two-for-one day.

Drunkards at an “open bar wedding reception” of information, the mob steps up and orders another round of their favourite opinion and sups deeply from the trough of ignorance. My opinions right or wrong! Here’s to the rebel! Here’s to the outsider! Let us take them at their word, for they aren’t from the swamp of tradition we have grown the hate; we have found a smorgasbord of data upon which to fill our heads. We choose what we like and find smugly crafted sarcasms to denigrate the rest. Out of context GIFs have replaced the pithy retort. Endless pages of partisan insult and derision pass for commentary. Speak not into the echo chamber of one view with a contrarian opinion lest you are hammered down, “doxed”, and belittled into submission by the mob-like hate of the society of the hallowed “feeling”.

The truth has been usurped by the free flow of information. It has been buried beneath the fact of opinion – proof that what is believed is more powerful than what is true. Freedom of information has been the death of truth, for no truth can survive when all ears are bent only to hearing what they want and all wants are easily fulfilled by a craven mass of uneducated liars.

The flight from the centre

Social media and web commentary, combined with the use of the assumed identity of the “log-in” name, has contributed to a direct and largely insensitive distancing of the left and right from the collaborative and compromising centre of politics in Canada. While “Facebook” largely has remained a place where it is likely one “knows” who they are talking to, that is not necessarily the case. Certainly though, news sites and on-line commentaries provide all the anonymity that the net-denizen could hope for and trolling and flame wars abound because of this condition.

Yet, the openness of some users on Facebook for example, to express their opinions which may differ from those of others can create some interesting trolling and attack-dog retaliations. Using one’s name as an ID on Facebook may provide another user with an opposing view the ability to troll the named user with details from their “LinkedIn” profile, and mount attacks referring to the named user’s position and place of employment – “I hope “xx” company fires this person who holds these “repugnant” views.” The notion of free speech, likely espoused by the troll, carries with it a consequence of censure and potential unemployment (hoped for) if a commenter’s views are known by their work place. This intimidation is amongst the vilest of the characteristics created by the social media explosion which has taken the Western world by storm over the last twenty years.

Another characteristic of the social media revolution is the “echo chamber”. Unsurprisingly, people are social creatures. Our sociability is what makes social networks so natural and powerful – as well as popular. Yet, we are also tribal. The tribal nature of humans means we are more likely to be social with the likeminded than we are with those of differing views or experiences. The opinions shared in these echo chambers are impressively similar and with compounding posts espousing the same view, become a shout of support for a particular mind-set. Yet, should a differing view intrude upon the sanctity of the echo chamber, the offending object is pounced upon by the pack and the author castigated for his or her ignorance of the facts of whatever subject and view is supported within the chamber. These echo chambers are associated with media outlets as well. The Toronto Star (Liberal, Left), the National Post (Conservative, Right), the Globe and Mail (Left, Socialist), the Toronto Sun, (Right). The gradations of distance from the centre depend on the readership. The myth that the media reports or drives the public is debunked often by the searches prompted by the users themselves. For example, users in the West were complaining about media focus on Paris over Beirut when both cities were bombed at about the same time. Yet, an analysis of searches showed most Western users searched for “Paris bombings” over “Beirut bombings”. The tribe had in fact spoken and the media reacted by serving detail to its base.

While the benefits of the computer age, of collaborative software, social media, and networks are manifest, the risks to society are not insignificant. In fact, one might argue, in terms of the electoral process the computer age has observed a steady decline in voter turnout and interest. However, it is certain discussion and attention from the perspective of “clicks” and “comments” paid to politics is high. Does this translate into action inside the voter’s booth? Or, has the on-line venting of frustration and selection of “likes” replaced the ballot?

One aspect of this interaction is that the collaborative centre – as demonstrated by the US Congress and House of Representatives and increasingly by the Parliament in Canada is being vacated for polarized extremes. Politics is becoming a “U-Shaped” valley where opposing sides shout at each other from the peaks of their political opinions, over an empty plain where once consensus was built.

Kind regards,

Trudeau’s withdrawal

 

To believe that military solutions are the way to settle things in the Middle East is to ignore history in that region since the dawn of time. Merely glancing back over the period from 1947 to the present should be sufficient example to provide even the most hawkish with a modicum of doubt when it comes to relying on firepower as the sole solution to anything in this region. That said: solutions that have lasted in the Middle East have uniformly come after military action. The peace between Israel and Egypt, and arguably the wider region, Fatah’s coming to the table with Israel, even the “good Iraq war” which ousted Saddam Hussein from Kuwait are amongst the fairly obvious examples of force applied followed by peace – or at least a significant reduction in fighting. True, violence continues. One only has to look at the West Bank to see how the use of Force as a sole tool in the arsenal of peace is a wasted squib. Israel’s disproportionate responses to Hamas’ futile rocket launches have not dulled the spirit of opposition. Even the threat of violence is a deterrent to broader conflict.

As well most conflicts do not, in fact, end with the total surrender of one side or the other. Even today, the government of Afghanistan is attempting, albeit with limited success, to talk to the Taliban. Is there room to talk to ISIL? Today, no, certainly not; they are implacable and unwilling. There is no common ground upon which to reach them. Moreover, one might doubt whether they are worthy of talking to even if they had it in mind to listen. They are not, as with the Taliban, a clearly defined cultural group within a larger community. They are, for want of a better expression – pirates, a loosely affiliated group of brigands seeking to dominate a region for their own benefit. It may well be the only solution to the problem they pose is to eradicate them or at least their philosophy of hate and cruelty. Sending their disillusioned followers back to their villages and jobs might be the best outcome for this conflict. Certainly doing nothing is not in the cards. Certainly bullets are not the only component that will bring this to resolution.

Justin Trudeau, the newly minted “selfie” Prime Minister of Canada has declared he will keep his promise to remove Canada’s light participation in military action in the form of six CF-18 Fighters and bolster Canada’s training efforts for locals – so they, ostensibly – can fight ISIL themselves. Well, better them than us right. Trudeau has further committed to “keep Canadians safe” one may assume by bringing our “whipped out” CF-18s back from overseas to defend our borders from an ISIL air attack. At the same time, he maintains his election commitment to bring 25,000 refugees from Syria to Canada by the end of this year – or about 45 days from now. While the logistical ridiculousness of this plan is likely an insurmountable impediment, the fact is most Canadians oppose this move. Oh, but he was elected on this promise therefore he can do it, regardless of how the circumstances around security have changed, how one of our allies has been attacked by ISIL – some of whom posed as refugees to gain access to Paris, and how it is impossible to screen these refugees properly by the deadline he has set. The myopic single-mindedness of this Liberal Government is impressive. But, our brand new Defense Minister assures us we are in no danger.

Trudeau has already sought to undo protections through his review to water down Bill C-51 – which frankly merely aggregated existing laws to address the security of the country. He has decided to permit the Niqab to be worn during official proceedings. And, those convicted of terror acts may keep their citizenship – despite their apparent disregard for Canadian society and law.  In short, let’s hug it out. Trudeau’s view is one of friendliness and affability, a tepid Canadian culture that anyone can take or leave as they see fit and still draw the benefits of Citizenship. In Trudeau’s view: we will get along if we are kind, open, and willing to accept others. Well, we already were that Mr. Trudeau. You aren’t teaching us anything new – but you are threatening to sabotage the very nature of Canadian friendliness and affability by carelessly admitting refugees solely because they fill a quota you arbitrarily came up with in your head…or, the heads of the back room that advises you.

The use of the Canadian Armed Forces as “Peace Keepers” is a big Liberal Policy. Why – it is cheap. You don’t have to give Peace Keepers bullets or equipment. Mostly they stand around being “seen” and in the unlikely event something bad happens, their rules of engagement are such that they are mostly told to get out of the way and let the belligerents get to it. The UN is notoriously weak kneed when it comes to conflict – see Rwanda. A lot has changed in that once august body since Korea. The Liberals, never supporters of the military, have been keen to down play their role and underfund them, but worse, leave them unprepared for any role but that of global hall monitor. Even that role is halfhearted. Canada, contrary to popular “liberal” belief was never the first nation of Peace Keeping. Our contributions were usually midlands and cursory. So, this policy of backing out of a shooting war is playing right into the PM’s wheelhouse, inasmuch as he has one.

At this moment in time, he’s firmly committed to coming up with a plan. Barring a slap on the wrist from Obama, he’ll likely pull the jets and increase the commitment by sending over more “trainers,” who are likely more exposed than the pilots, and whose success really depends on whether these trainees actually apply the knowledge they’ve learnt. If they don’t then Canada’s contribution is nothing- inconsequential and a waste of tax payer dollars. We have nothing to show for the effort or the risk. We will have contributed nothing to the elimination of ISIL as a threat to Middle Eastern and Western security.

All the noise made about our “French” heritage our founding ancestral parent is bunk. Trudeau had better hope that France doesn’t invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty – which if he does, will make Canada’s participation in any way but through the use of weaponry a weak and cowardly response to the call for aid from a friend. All the babble about being ashamed to be a Canadian when Harper was PM is a circumstance away from being crocodile tears and hyperbole if this PM doesn’t stand up and support our allies – or worse, if his hasty plan to fill campaign promises invites terrorists into Canada through this Refugee program. Yes, I know, most refugees aren’t terrorists and while recorded incidents due to refugees are few – they are enough. It took 9 to wreak havoc in Paris.

Social media is aflame with opposing views from sociopathic calls for Muslim heads to the absolute idiocy of comparing media coverage of “Western” terror attacks and violence to those in developing nations – as though we should somehow feel grateful that such things are less likely in the West and should shut up about it. Trudeau’s withdrawal from the Middle East and his willingness to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors in the Liberal Party may introduce a new wrinkle to Canadian culture: terrorism. We have only ever experienced home-grown lunacy before. Trudeau’s policy runs the risk of exposing us to the long and cruel arm of ISIL. What kind of country will we have after that? Do we really think that we are just protecting our people from physical harm with these planes? No. While important, we are protecting our ideology and Canadian psyche.  This purportedly friendly Canadian character which is supposed to be the “envy” of the world is predicated on our not feeling angry, not feeling threatened – we can be charitably and unnecessarily apologetic because we aren’t at risk. What happens if Mr. Trudeau’s careless policies kill the one thing what does in fact make us a worthwhile people?

Kind regards,

Spare me your home spun wisdom… Paris November 2015

As everyone must be aware, well past 150 people have died at the hands of murderers in Paris. These people, innocents, had the misfortune of being easy targets. The perpetrators were Muslim extremists, currently being associated with ISIS(L, IS) the terrorist faction waging a war against pretty much everything they see in Western Iraq and Eastern Syria. They are a Sunni-leaning faction, but happily put to the knife anyone they deem worth of death and are gruesomely imaginative in their means of killing people. They have a strong internet presence and savvy. They are in short, a surprisingly well organized group of ideologues whose notion of mercy is best left to the afterlife. They killed civilians in Paris because the real target of their ire, the French Government and Military, has guns too. Civilians are easy targets.

Certainly this is a tragic event. I and millions of others around the world sympathize with the French people, send our condolences, and extend our regrets to the French people and especially the families of those directly affected by these terror attacks.

The result of this will certainly be more violence. France will no doubt and rightly retaliate. NATO will likely coordinate its efforts more aggressively. Clearly ISIS has stepped up the conflict enough to warrant deeper and more meaningful action. What action, I will not speculate. However, I’ve already observed enough of what we don’t need.

As with any event of this type, there are two groups of internet accessible “participants” who come out of the woodwork to confirm that perhaps we (Westerners) haven’t got the high road. The first group is the Atheists. “See, this is all about religion. Get rid of religion and this all goes away!” This idiot fever dream crops up whenever some ass with a gun shouts anything closely resembling “God,” and kills someone. Fanaticism doesn’t need religious beliefs, but it helps, that’s true. Yet, to dreamily believe that if only we started carrying copies of the Mathematica Principia or the Selfish Gene in our back pockets instead of any of the plethora of holy books available we’d all be fine, is as close to idiocy at is possible to get. If you want morals and ethics, don’t go looking to science for help. One only has to contemplate the long running campaign science helped wage against the notion that cigarettes cause cancer, to understand that anything can be manipulated to evil purposes. As well, the Atheists view this violence is a manifestation of religion. It isn’t. It is a manifestation of ignorance. Uneducated people will believe what they are told and absent contrary viewpoints will adopt those ideas as their own. Combine this with being made refugees by a decade of war courtesy of the West and one can quickly understand why a dirt-poor refugee from Iraq or a long subjugated Syrian could come to the conclusion that this guy with the beard is potentially right and all these “infidels” are out to get him.

The other group is the bigots and racists. These clowns mascarading in the patriotic colours of their nation, babbling jingoistic slogans and calling on their nations to show the “Muslims” what for, are without a doubt the only justification Atheists have for their view that religion is bad. After all, many of these idiots cloak themselves in the trappings of Godliness when spewing their hate. This stupidity is even more egregious than the Atheists. At least Atheists come to their point of view through some form of reason, however flawed. Bigots and Racists by-pass thought altogether and think it appropriate to recommend people: “drop a packet of Bacon in the Halal section of the supermarket.” “That will show them! The other example is the happy use of the photo of some formation of Soldiers and a snappy caption addressing itself to the retaliation they feel is appropriate.

Both these groups are wrong, but for different reasons. While I roll my eyes at the Atheists, who forget that since the French Revolution the largest single cause of non-illness related death amongst civilians has been secular Wars and secular political views (French Revolution, Wars of German unification, Indian Mutiny, Boxer Rebellion, Boer War, The Great War, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and purportedly the wars in Iraq both one and two). Never mind the communist political experiments, political ineptitude and indifference to famines and illness. The list goes on. As for the Bigots and racists – well, I strongly recommend you block them on your Facebook, unsubscribe to their websites or email streams, and blow them off your twitter. They are going to continue to spread this hate in their little echo chambers, but there’s not much that can be done about that. You need not be troubled by their inane babble.

Lately, Muslim extremism is a source of violence. It targets the innocent because that’s what terror is about. No, it is unlikely there is a peaceful way out of this. More will die certainly. The objective is to minimize the total number of dead – preferably keeping it to a sum total of ISIS members, but that’s just my opinion.

The future must be governed by level headedness and caution. Charity is important, but cannot be unrestrained. Security is important, but not a replacement for freedoms it is meant to protect. Violence is necessary, but proportionality must be a guideline in war. There are hard days ahead, best for everyone that the Atheists and the bigots keep out of it and let the adults talk.

Kind regards,

Canada: We’re going to legalize pot – So what?

The “so what” question is a wonderful question. If you can’t defend against it, it pretty much means your plan is junk. While seemingly inane, the “so what” question cuts to the core of an issue. We’re going to legalize pot – so what? What does it mean? Why do it? What’s the benefit?

Is there a benefit?

No. There isn’t.  There is no more benefit to society in having access to pot than there is having access to cigarettes or alcohol. And, therein lays the argument for having it. It’s not that weed is a miracle cure for hunger or that it brings some benefit to society laid low by a temperance movement gone wild, it’s merely another sedative that has been treated as though it were somehow more of a gateway drug than booze or smokes. It isn’t, it’s about the same as either of those freely available drugs.

Pot is good for you – that’s a myth. And while PTSD and bi-polar sufferers will call upon the medical profession’s affirmation of the plant’s medicinal properties, it has in fact has as many down sides as it does positives. The long and often laughable list of side effects pronounced at the end of television commercials for medicines will come with pot commercials once legalization comes into effect. I suspect there will be ugly pictures on the baggies from the ministry of health. “Danger – pot leads to an affection for macramé” … and so on.

What’s the fuss? Well, there really isn’t any. Stupid people will be stupid with or without legalized pot, booze, or smokes. True – there aren’t – to my knowledge – any “Pot-fuelled” acts of violence likely to take place once legalization occurs. But, driving under the influence is just that. And no, Pot doesn’t make you a better driver – just looser when the airbag goes off. Canada is looking to legalize pot. This will be seen by some as a great victory for freedom of the people. It isn’t. A great victory would be wage parity between men and women – also far more unlikely than access to a blunt in your local corner store. But hey, at least pot will be legal, right.

So what?

Kind regards,

4 years of the Canadian Version of “Liberalism” ahead

To suggest I was a fan of Steven Harper would be stretching a point to near breaking. While I don’t really care for him, he’s hardly the centre point of my political interest. The policies of his party however were. His approach to Canadian pride, our military, and our money met with my approval. Having worked for three and half decades and finally feeling as though the end might be in sight – though a little distant yet, I’m now confronted with the arrival of a tax and spend liberal who will dole out favours, run deficits, and undermine my future.

Yes, sadly, I’ve made money and earn a good wage. Apparently now I’m to be punished for it by the Liberals by having new tax brackets created and because I don’t fall into the “middle” class – I’m to be gouged. Well okay. But, I’ll have to rethink my retirement and future. Certainly my efforts to succeed have been rewarded with punishment. Without having ever taken a dime in free money from the Government, had the advantage of a Government program, I’m to contribute more of my money to the establishment of a deficit running government. My property tax is as much as a householder in Toronto – but, I get far less service. Between sales taxes, land taxes, municipal taxes, and provincial taxes – and federal tax of course, well north of 50% of my wages will be eaten up by the Government. What do I get? Wasteful civil servants, a kewpie doll for a PM who doesn’t represent my Canada let alone any other realistic version, and a four year stint in government which will see much of the improvements to those things I do care about get reversed, destroyed, or corrupted.

Kathleen Wynne, whose liberals have driven Ontario into the poor house as a province is the example ignored by Canadians. In four years, the combined effort of Wynne and Trudeau will turn Canada into the Greece of the Western Hemisphere.

Oh, by the way Justin… You are in the One Percent…. But, I bet your tax grab won’t impact you or your cronies. I’ll never see that kind of economic stratosphere…and I’m sure you’ll do your best to ensure that remains true.

The Social Media mishap of Canada’s National Election

The internet is a wonderful thing, in some respects. It creates the opportunity to permit exchange and discourse. Sadly though, it has done little to actually promote it. Very rarely are the common rank and file, (of which I am proudly one), engaged in debate and intelligent discussion on the topics of the day. The elections in Canada provide a fine example of this. Facebook, the place where old people go to exchange pictures of their kids and share videos of people falling over, has been rife with an assortment of negative ads, regurgitated political statements (mostly from the US) and personal attacks on the politicians who are seeking to become the next PM of Canada.

Canadians are, if Facebook is any indication, convinced we are about to lose our 2nd Amendment rights. Of course the fact we have never had these rights, as we live in Canada and not the US, does not prevent my “news” page from being inundated with the latest anti-gun control tirade about how the rights of men are being seriously undermined by the desire for “checks” in the US prior to the purchase of weaponry. Likewise, I should defend Medicare. And, if I lived in the US I would. I don’t. Still, this doesn’t prevent many Canadian “friends” from posting, or should I say re-posting, the latest left or right leaning supports or complaints to one political issue or another.

Worse perhaps than “issues” are the statistics. Even the simplest of searches can be used to undermine the veracity of the slickly posted anti-“whatever” posting using some statistical measure to validate the truth of the position taken. The latest is this one: pictured an AMC Pacer with the caption: “Recalled after 27 deaths. This was followed by a picture of a bottle of Tylenol and the caption: Recalled after 7 deaths. Finally the picture of a hand gun is posted with the caption: “Still going strong after 32000 deaths per year for decades.” Interesting, for which country? Where is this hellscape? It’s not the US – last year they posted about 14,000 deaths by firearms. It’s not Canada; we had about 600. It’s not the UK, they had about 400. So, where is this awful place? I take the meaning of course, and yes – it seems ridiculous to me to permit the easy ownership of firearms without strict responsibilities and yes access does create opportunity despite the idiotic trope – “guns don’t kill people – people kill people.” Really Sherlock – thanks for the update. But, was the exaggeration necessary?

I object to the hyperbole. Mostly, when confronted with these inadequacies of fact checking or excesses in hyperbolic muckraking the author vomits up some condemnation of author of the objection. So, it seems discourse is dead on the internet – certainly in Facebook. Our election will run its course and in the end the government will get in. That is a sure thing. This election though, I’m more afraid that the “personality” will get in. The “I hate so-and-so” or “I love so-and-so” crowds will get their wish. And, afterwards when their hate or love cools they will be stuck with the “personality” they liked or hated best. The policies are second place. They are bludgeons to condemn or uplift the personality. Only a fool believes you can pay for social programs without taxation. Only a fool believes that by scaring people you can win votes. Only a fool believes that if you leave things alone they sort themselves out. It seems to me that there are fools enough. Rick Mercer, the comedian is encouraging the youth to vote – so they can shake the pillars of heaven. Well, if they are going to vote after the fashion of the people I see in my Facebook. I’d rather they stayed home. Read something instead so the next time you have the opportunity to vote, you aren’t dazzled by “personality” and understand the other “p” word – policy.

Kind regards,

“The Mother Canada Monument in Cape Breton” – Using remembrance for political hackery.

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-war-monument-thats-polarizing-canada/

Heather Mallick, Toronto Star columnist, is angry. There is a plan afoot in Cape Breton, funded by private interests, to build a monument. This monument will serve the role of being a counterpoint to one that sits in France, at Vimy Ridge, marking the place were Canada defined itself as a nation on the battle fields of World War One. The Vimy monument is well known to every Canadian. It is iconic. The Vimy monument, sits on the former German and Canadian Lines where the Canadian Corps eventually took the ridge and won a nation defining victory. At the centre-front of the monument is the mournful, “Weeping Woman.” She is also known as Canada Bereft or Mother Canada. She stands, distraught, looking over the fields before the monument, symbolically mourning the loss of her fallen sons. There are several other statues as well. The site is ripe with symbolism and stands over the empty tomb of the missing soldier who fell, and has no grave to mark his place. Vimy stands as a monument to those who were missing and never found. In Cape Breton, 98 years after that battle, another monument is proposed.

Having adopted the name “Mother Canada” a 24 metre tall statue is scheduled to be built in Cape Breton, overlooking the Atlantic, her arms stretched eastward toward Vimy, beckoning home the lost souls of Canadian War dead. It is a potent symbol. The statue will stand in a National Park, romantically thought of the last Canadian soil soldiers looked upon as they sailed past on troop ships bound for France during two World Wars. Why then controversy?

Perhaps Heather Mallick knows (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/29/mother-canada-stephen-harper ). She is a columnist for the Toronto Star who is doing her level best to paint the monument as a Harper Conservative election ploy, a symbol of unwarranted nationalism.

As Ms. Mallick says:  “And what’s with Mother Canada? Aesthetics aside, Canadians don’t think of their nation as maternal. In our dark night of the soul, we call out to the north, and the north isn’t fatherly. It’s just there. When we’re ill on foreign soil, we might fondly think of Canada, implacably stationary, but we don’t get emotional about it.”

She continues and concludes her diatribe against Harper with: “We’re not a military nation. But Harper never shuts up about men in uniform. He fetishises the culture while abandoning its costly damaged soldiers. War is his game, his dream. These awkward structures are monuments to this strange, awkward angry man. May they go unbuilt before the autumn election that consigns him to history.”

Heather Mallick is reminiscent of a hateful Trudeau Liberal of a bygone era, (not the current incarnation who’s pale by comparison, but the father), who in their sodden and tiresome, rose-coloured view of history demand Canada expunge all remembrance of soldiery and pay them their due through willful ignorance and disregard. Her puerile piece isn’t in actuality about the monument, but the Conservative Government, Stephen Harper, and is a pointed example of the degraded state of the Canadian news media. Like our American cousins southward, the media faces the nation with impenetrable partisanship. Mallick reminiscent of the 70’s attitude toward the soldier – seen, not heard, best not talked about, is the purveyor of a view steeped in ignorance and wanton indifference. She claims these are the desires of a government who uses its soldiers for policy and abandon’s them. The monument is a symbol to drowning – better to have provided a life preserver she opines.

What of the monument. Well, it is an interesting notion on a scale that may well be too grand. Yet, the idea is both timely an appropriate. The approach could well be improved though. A competition, like the one held for the Vimy Memorial would be a better way to resolve the type of monument than setting out from the start with a particular design. The theme could and likely should remain the same. It’s a good notion. The symbolism vital and the idea: “we have enough monuments” is unconvincing. Ms Mallick and her ilk would have us believe the monument is the issue. It isn’t, not for Mallick. She conflates her hatred of Harper with the monument, with the fallen.

I do think of Canada when abroad. It is not merely a place, a geographic object attached to the top of North America. While it can be a frustratingly troublesome and hard to like entity, Canada remains for many people as much a symbol of nationality and spiritual ties as any well-loved though distant relative. Certainly not paternal the nation is maternal – and has been for many years – healthcare, education, state provided care and welfare – are not these symbols of maternalism manifest in policy – by all parties and governments? The nation, and the geography, has a symbolic meaning and draw, our national character likewise is a contributor to this lure and the Canadian feels it when abroad. To have that lure cudgeled by death seems a hard price to pay. That Ms Mallick fails to understand this stems, I suppose, from a lack of experience. She does not feel it herself; therefore it must not exist.

Mallick breaths out contempt for Harper and what she perceives as his works. Mar any object that might colour the current PM in a favourable light – regardless of its deeper meaning. Adopt a posture of national indifference and make gestures of patriotism and remembrances seem trite and juvenile. Let us, for political gain, back our favoured leadership in a manner that stamps out the opposing and offending object – regardless of its meaning.  Partisan hackery is just that – hackery. Mallick does little to veil her real motivation.  The monument in Cape Breton should be built. True, I’d like to see a competition choose a design, but even if the current version is the final version, better that than Heather Mallick’s malice and indifference.  Better we build a monument to the symbol of loss and the desire of return – albeit unfulfillable. There is more than just the centenary of the battle of Vimy Ridge to honour. It should not be halted or confused by the rhetoric of those whose party affiliations drive opposition at any cost.