Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Triumphant return of The Phantom!

Behold, I have returned! Let there be great rejoicing.

The Invincible Phantom

Friday, December 09, 2005

CBC on the gun ban

Even the offical mouthpiece of the Liberals, the CBC, can't love this thing.

The Phantom

More on the Liberal gun ban promise.

Toronto Sun
Toronto Sun again,
Glob and Snail
Toronto (Red) Star
Hamilton Spectator (Pravda)
Pravda again
Small Dead Animals roundup of the relevant Canadian blogs. plus some other papers.

My reading of all this is that everyone paying attention, including the determinedly pro-Martin media like the Globe and the Star, are pretty much disgusted by this announcement.  Some of them don't come right out and say it, but the consensus is this is the cheapest form of scare-the-Toronto-voters-into-voting-Liberal-AGAIN politics.  Of course all the chiefs of police seem to like the idea, and Toronto Mayor "Pinky" Miller is just as happy as all hell.  That's what they get paid for.

But when you examine what Martin actually promised, you get this:  A) the provinces will be allowed to ban handguns if they want.
B) If the provinces ban handguns THEY will be on the hook for the compensation to gun owners, if any, not the Feds.
C)  He's talking about adding 75 RCMP officers.  According to Candace at SDA there's about 1000 empty RCMP slots right now.  After Martin's magnificent effort there will only be 925 empty slots.

This is how this all shakes out.  No gun owner in his right mind is voting Liberal in January anyway.  They are all going Conservative.  The Liberals are screwed in Quebec and screwed in the West as well. 100% Bloc Quebecois and Conservative out West.   If they are going to hold on to power Toronto is where they will do it.

The obvious thing is make a promise that won't cost them anything to do (other than money, but they don't worry about that), that makes it look like they are Doing Something For Toronto, and that plays well in all the right Toronto media places.  A gun ban does all that.  All the urban dorks who have never even seen a gun except at the movies, they go for this stuff like flies to shit.

The problem for Martin this time out is that he's already milked this particular cow to death.  Two billion bucks for a gun registry and Toronto crime goes UP, that cow is starting to stink pretty bad.  So bad that long time Liberal supporters are calling him on it, because he's doing this instead of doing something useful to solve the crime problem.  I'd hazard to guess even the urban dorks are starting to wonder a little bit.

I guess we'll see in January.  Confusion to the Enemy!

The Phantom

Thursday, December 08, 2005

With 100% perfect predictability, the Liberals propose a handgun ban.

From the Canadian Press by way of and LUFA, plus the radio this morning, the Liberal's solution to this year's shootings in Toronto is to ban handguns.

Prime Minister Paul Martin will venture into a violence-plagued area of Toronto on Thursday to announce a sweeping ban on handguns, The Canadian Press has learned.

Martin was scheduled to visit Toronto's troubled Jane-Finch area to make a ``safer communities announcement.'' Liberal sources have confirmed the announcement includes an ``outright'' ban on handguns.

However, there will be exceptions for competitive target shooters, gun collectors and peace officers, a Liberal insider said on condition of anonymity. The source would not explain any more details of the policy proposal.

From the National Poost:

There will be some exemptions, including maintaining the right for police to carry handguns. The Prime Minister is also expected to announce a significant increase in resources for police to deal with the ban.

The Liberals say the thinking behind this crime strategy is that if no one is allowed to have a handgun in Canada, policing authorities will be in a better position to act on anyone who has a handgun or attempts to transport or sell a handgun.

The announcement will include the banning of all registered handguns in Canada. However, sources say special arrangements will be made for gun collectors.

As of 10:15 AM today Paulie hasn't said anything about it, but we shall see.

At any rate, this is 100% predictable, and I've been predicting it since the bloody registry was hatched.  The only rational purpose for the gun registry (other than graft!) is to supply a list of guns for confiscation.  My other prediction is somewhat more serious, the only rational reason for confiscation is to prevent the citizenry from shooting back during some government outrage.

I guess there's more riding on a Harper victory than we thought.  Go Conservatives!

The Phantom

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Canada wide open for new viruses. Oh joy.

Well, here's some not-good news.  Big brains in the defense department agree with The Phantom: Canada has no defense against new or old but untreatable infections, like bird flu or SARS.

Canada is poorly prepared to contain outbreaks of dangerous diseases and lacks an effective method to track people who may be infected, according to a newly released Defence Department study.

The report, obtained by the Citizen, also recommends isolating Canadian troops who have served in high-risk disease areas at an offshore holding site for 21 days to prevent the entry of deadly viruses into the country.

"Canada as a whole is poor on all containment matters, as evidenced by the recent spread of SARS within Ontario hospitals," concludes the study produced last year by the Defence Science Advisory Board.

It noted what it called significant gaps in dealing with exotic or new diseases. The board believes Canada needs a better system of surveillance for both animals and humans who may come down with unusual illnesses. It also recommends improving the tracking of individuals who may have exotic diseases.

"In some provinces in Canada, hospitals seeing exotic symptoms take travel histories but do not record the address (permanent or temporary) of the patient, so tracking is hopeless," added the study, obtained through the Access to Information law.

The Defence Science Advisory Board, made up of experts drawn from industry and academia, provides independent advice to the Defence Department.

This is one major reason why I always rail against single payer medicine.  Bureaucracies do not learn from experience, because they don't have to.  They glide around experience and get back to business as usual as quickly as possible.

We dodged a bullet with SARS just two years ago.  The ONLY visible change post-SARS in Ontario hospitals is that they have little pots of hand cleaner sitting out beside the elevators and entrances.  Waiting rooms are the same.  Infection control remains a joke.  One hospital in Hamilton which I will not name still doesn't clean their bathrooms every day.  You see the same boogers stuck to the wall, that's how I know.  I drew a circle around one, booger and circle were still there the next day.

Here's my favorite quote that sums up the problem in one sentence:

The board also recommended that troops serving in areas where there have been incidents of highly transmittable viruses, such as Ebola or Lassa fevers, be quarantined before being allowed to return to Canada. Those soldiers should be sent to an "extraterritorial holding site (isolation) for 21 days," the report added. It noted the incubation period for any new or virulent viral disease is unlikely to be longer than three weeks.

"We strongly support such a third-site firewall approach for deployments to some areas of Africa, Asia and South America," the report stated.

The board acknowledged such a policy would prevent "dignitaries looking for photo-ops" from visiting such military missions overseas since the politicians would also be required to be quarantined and could not afford to spend three weeks in isolation.

Yep.  That would pretty much nail the problem.  The problem is, infection control is not sexy.  It doesn't make for good TV.  Isolation rooms with filtered exit air are expensive and don't offer much latitude for the Po-Mo designer set.  White hi-gloss paint and waxed floors are so 1920's.  White nurse's uniforms are sexist, hand washing is hard on the skin, latex gloves cause allergies, blah blah blah and besides we don't have enough nurses.

Therefore modern hospitals are built to look like the Holiday Inn.  Much more welcoming and much easier to staff.

Trouble is, all that carpet and those lovely textured surfaces are like a big ol' petri dish.  Wanna know why C. Difficile infections are killing old ladies by the bus load every year in Canada?  Carpet.  Bad hand washing.  Nobody washes the walls because it discolours the nice vinyl wallpaper.  Containment suits?  Are you nuts?  It'll scare the kiddies!

When they move you into a room where some poor bastard has just died of drug resistant TB and laid there three weeks before he kicked off, all they change are the curtains and the sheets, maybe they vacuumed the carpet.  Steam clean once a year whether it needs it or not, don't ask what may be growing underneath there in the spilled orange juice and pee stains.  Clean the bed?  Why?

The real problem of course is that we have antibiotics that will kill damn near everything that's transmissible.  There hasn't been a killer disease to worry about since they whipped polio in the 1950's.  Nobody working today remembers when catching a bug could kill you in 24 hours or leave you in an iron lung.  There's millions dying of HIV world wide, but because we have HIV control drugs available the government hasn't even seen fit to close down the sex clubs that spread it.

However we do not have anti-virals worth a damn.  If you catch Ebola, you're screwed.  Bird flu, you're screwed.  These things can have vaccines made against them, but that takes a loooong time.

In a world where we have bird flu with 50% mortality romping about in Asia and looking like its going to become the next big killer, plus we have wild eyed Muslim fruit bats just itching to lay a plague on the Great Satan, the smart thing to do would be spend some money and time on infection control in hospitals and beefing up our vaccine production infrastructure.  We could cut down the vaccine development time and the production time with some focused effort I'm sure.

But it doesn't give good photo ops.  Bummer, lets focus on Stephen Harper's hairdo instead. 

Clearly nobody is going to do anything useful until a couple hundred doctors and nurses die of the next SARS, whatever that is.  Maybe ten thousand or so regular people, I guess it depends if they live in Toronto or not.  Less than a dozen nurses died last time, not enough to get anyone's attention it seems. 

16 people died of a Legionella outbreak in Toronto this year and they fucked around for two weeks before they figured out what was going on.  They sent the patients sick with an unknown and possibly contagious FATAL disease to nine different hospitals.  I'd say that alone proves my case.

So, until we get a daily body count ticker on the TV news, with four digits at least, it will be business as usual.  Welcome to socialized medicine and photo-op politics.

The Sick of the Bullshit Phantom

Monday, December 05, 2005

Layton for private health care? BWAHAHA!

This is just too rich!

NDP leader Jack Layton says his party will focus on stopping the flow of public money into private health care, not shutting down private clinics.
Layton says his party will focus on keeping public health-care dollars going to public and non-profit facilities.  He says what people do with their own money "in the privacy of their own relationship financially," is up to them.
Which is SO not the tune he was singing up until now.  He's been all about shutting the clinics.
It would seem then that even Smilin' Jack Layton, bright red commie that he is, recognises there has to be some private care available to take up the slack in the public system.  Hee hee!

The Laughing Phantom

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ex-Texas cop quits job in Britiain, being a cop there is too dangerous!

This is something you don't see every day.  Kind of like a two headed dog.  An American, ex-Special Forces, ex-Texas cop gets a job in some semi-suburban British constabulary, and three years later he's quitting because its too dangerous!  This is an amazing article.
A TEXAN patrol officer who became the first foreigner to join the British police is to resign after three years because he says policing is too dangerous here compared with America.  Ben Johnson, a 6ft 4in former paratrooper nicknamed Slim, has written to his chief constable asking to carry a Glock 17 handgun on his routine beat in Reading.  He said officers are dying unnecessarily because they are less well equipped and trained to protect themselves and the public than their American counterparts.

In America, officers spend weeks learning how to cope with armed incidents. But in Britain, Johnson said, he was never shown how to handle or unload a firearm or told how to respond to an armed robbery. “Officers spend more time learning about how to process paperwork than dealing with violent situations. We are trained more like social workers than police officers."

“The training I received in Britain in dealing with armed incidents was virtually non-existent. It consisted of a 30-minute lecture from a firearms officer who said: ‘If you see the business end of a gun or anyone holding a gun . . . turn, run and get away as quickly as possible’.”

This apparent complacency was reinforced at his swearing-in ceremony when a senior Thames Valley officer told him and colleagues that they would not face the sort of dangerous incidents portrayed on The Bill, the television programme.

“I was surprised that he said we wouldn’t come into harm’s way. This went against everything I had learnt during my career,” said Johnson.

This is the part that really gets me.

It was an incident earlier this year that first caused Johnson to consider handing in his warrant card. He was on plainclothes CID duty when he was called to the Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading to interview a victim of domestic violence.

A woman had jumped out of a first-floor window to escape her violent boyfriend, paralysing her from the waist down. The boyfriend, a member of a drug gang, was already wanted by the police for attempted murder, after shooting someone in the back of the head in London.

Johnson and other plainclothes officers who went to the hospital were alerted that the boyfriend had telephoned to say he was coming to see her. They also received a warning that he might be armed.

According to Johnson, he wanted to arrest the man when he arrived, but was ordered by a senior officer not to do so because of the risk. The suspect escaped and it was two days before he was arrested

“That was the first time I’d ever let someone wanted for attempted murder simply walk away from me,” said Johnson. “It went against everything I knew. I thought it was my duty to arrest these people.

“It seems that in Britain ordinary officers are instructed not to engage with dangerous criminals. But if police officers can’t engage with them, who can?” He is critical of Charles Clarke, the home secretary, who says he can see “no evidence” that arming officers would reduce the number of police fatalities. “With all respect to the home secretary, he has never answered a 999 call,” said Johnson.

Not to much to add to that, is there?  Government willfully ignoring life and death of citizens and police for purely ideological reasons.  Not much else to do but quit.

The Phantom

Speilberg's hopes for new movie.

From Drudge today, a snippet of interview with Steven Spielberg about his new movie.  The title is: SPIELBERG HOPES MOVIE CAN BREAK MID-EAST STALEMATE.

Big head much, Steven?

Truth is, I bet Spielberg is hoping and praying that this 70 million buck movie can make up some ground he lost with War of the Worlds. 

I admit it, I rented the bloody thing the other day and fast-forwarded through most of it.  Nice special effects as usual, but damn it was boring!  Casting Tom Cruise as a caring father?  BWAHAHA!!!!!  Not!  That little girl carried it, as much as one kid can carry a movie which wasn't far.  Tommy boy just ran around being pretty.

Pitiful is what it was.  I can't imagine what these big movie guys are thinking, when they've got 200 million bucks or more riding on a flick, and they are sitting there in the screening room with Spielberg, and falling asleep because its so stunningly boring.  Wouldn't you turn to the guy who's spending millions and millions of your dollars and say "Steven, what the hell?!  This is boring, man!  FIX IT!"

Truly, Hollyweird.  They deserve bankruptcy.

The Phantom Philm Critic.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hegemonic masculinity, forsooth!

Exhibit A of the argument that Liberals must be expunged from all levels of government and education, we have this remarkable article at the Glob and Snail today, by one Mr. Rinaldo Wallcott.  The subject is gang violence as it relates to the "Black family", or what's left of it tin Hogtowns crappier neighbourhoods.  I post snippets here, but read the whole thing, its a friggin' classic.
In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan published his report on the state of the black family in the United States. In that report, Mr. Moynihan's central claim was that the black family was in crisis because fathers had disappeared from the family. The Moynihan thesis has been both proved wrong and repudiated by many studies that followed his report. But, the persistence of the report's conclusions continue to carry much sway among North American conservative forces - both black and white.
No mention of the studies or what they found, but never mind.  Moynihan was WRONG.  Carry on!

Some simple homemade truths: Boys can learn from women how to be men (both ethical and moral). Many of us have done so. Boys need fathers and other males in their lives, but if those males choose to model forms of machismo and patriarchal masculinities, those boys would have not learned much beyond the violence that constitutes hegemonic masculinity. Finally, if fatherhood was the panacea to this problem of violence, neglect and social decay, we could simple[y] ask for volunteers to fill the void and solve the problem.

What was most troubling about the editorial was its call for a black patriarchy without naming it as such. Since the first outbreak of the violence, some black preachers and others have been calling for patriarchy in blackface.

Those BASTARDS!  Carry on!

Let's be clear about a number of things: Black patriarchy already exits, it just can't exercise itself in the ways that Euro-Canadian patriarchy can - and it can't accrue the same benefits, given that black men never receive the full patriarchal dividend.

Secondly, calls for black patriarchy undermine and refuse to acknowledge that single mothers require more than piecemeal social programs to aid in the raising of their children. We need to seriously tackle the issue of well-paying jobs for the now working poor, flexible working hours so that these people can be involved in their children's lives and a range of other social reforms (all tied to serious government funding) that would contribute to stemming the social decay that requires mothers to work two and three jobs to meet the basic requirements of contemporary living standards.

"White Canadians are a bunch of racists scum, and what we need are more taxes and more social programs!  By God, let's get on that right now!!!!  D'oh, sorry I said God!"

This bit of po-mo trash brought to you by YOUR tax dollars boys and girls, through the good offices of the University of Toronto:
Rinaldo Walcott is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair of Social Justice and Cultural Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
I pay this idiot's salary.  Liberals must be removed from positions like this and rehabilitated into usefull, productive citizens once more.  I think Rinaldo here could use a nice course in welding and two years of work at a shipyard or something.  The pay would probably be better too.

The Hegemonically Masculine Phantom