A Criminal Waste of Space
I was directed to a blog written by a California Judge some time ago and I’ve been quite taken with his writing. (He’s hilarious, frankly.) Justice William W. Bedsworth writes the blog called A Criminal Waste of Space and tends to write funny stuff about topics that cross his desk. His most recent is no exception. I call attention to it here because it’s 1) of a political topic and 2) is so staggeringly unbelievable that you’ve just got to read it.
He writes about a recent measure passed in Bolinas, CA that reads, in its entirety:
Vote for Bolinas to be a socially acknowledged nature-loving town because to like to drink the water out of the lakes to like to eat the blueberries to like the bears is not hatred to hotels and motor boats. Dakar. Temporary and way to save life, skunks and foxes (airplanes to go over the ocean) and to make it beautiful.
Did it pass? You betcha – by better than 2/3 of the voting populace. Seriously, go read it for yourself. Justice Bedsworth just says it best.
Cornucopia of News Items
I’ve been out of town for some time and have only managed to get back into the swing of things this morning. Allow me to assure all of you that driving in a blinding blizzard with occasional bouts of sleet through half of Pennsylvannia is not to be considered a good time. A trip that normally takes us 6-7 hours took 11 hours and 30 minutes. Driving in bad snow is fatiguing enough, but adding a 2-hour backup due to an accident is just overdoing it. We’re glad to be home.
Trouble @ the BBC
I see that there are some shake-ups going on over at the BBC these days, after the release of a report by Lord Hutton calling the BBC’s reporting that the British government had “sexed up” its Iraq files with misleading intel in order to support its decision to go to war in Iraq “unfounded”. The BBC’s chairman, Gavyn Davies, resigned his position immediately following the release. Today, the BBC itself is reporting the second resignation resulting from that report, that of Greg Dyke, the BBC’s director general. Tony Blair is calling for an apology from those who have accused him and I think he should get one. The BBC allowed itself to get editorial in its reporting – a failing we Americans know all too much about from our own news media – and if the BBC wants to repair its reputation, it should own up to the problem.
Update: Looks like the BBC’s done just that. Blair has accepted and hopes both the BBC and the government can now move ahead.
It really is about oil!
Another shocker is the revelation from Iraq that papers from the Oil Ministry show that Saddam Hussein used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the US-led Coalition war in Iraq. From the UPI article:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 28 (UPI) — Documents from Saddam Hussein’s oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The oil ministry papers, described by the independent Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, are apparently authentic and will become the basis of an official investigation by the new Iraqi Governing Council, the Independent reported Wednesday.
“I think the list is true,” Naseer Chaderji, a governing council member, said. “I will demand an investigation. These people must be prosecuted.”
Certainly sheds a different light on French President Chirac’s “moral opposition”, doesn’t it? Looks like it really was all about oil, just not from the side it was supposed to be.
Which founding father are you?
According to this, I’m:
More today as more comes up…
Out on the frozen road
Sorry I’ve not written. I’m stuck in the ice in northern Ohio. I should be back at a reliable connection by tomorrow note, so we’ll see you there!
Items from the State of the Union
(Apologies in advance that this took so long. Other matters intervened…)
OK, basic impressions: Definitely not the best nor the worst speech I’ve ever heard. I heard things I liked and things I disagreed with in there. Let’s look at both of those in turn.
I liked the statement that America will never seek a permission slip to defend our security. I feel the same way. If we’re all going to be honest here, I think it’s safe to say that we all feel the same way. Who among us would have stood up and said we needed consensus from the League of Nations (example, only) to respond to the bombing of Pearl Harbor? No one, that’s who. Is there anyone who seriously has issue with our military operations in Afghanistan? Not really. Sure, there were those who thought we were doing the wrong thing initially, but the fact is that Osama bin Laden was in Afghan territory, Al Qaeda was training there, and they were using Afghanistan as a base of operations. The Taleban were covering for them and offering them support. Those issues are not in dispute and America was completely correct in moving against them. Afghanistan is a better place for it today and I echo the President’s remark that I am happy to be their friend. When all that was going on, I was working with a man from Afghanistan. He was there when the Soviet tanks rolled in and managed to get his family out to come to America. He was quite happy with America’s actions and told me that he might consider returning home now that the Taleban were gone.
Ah, but what about Iraq. See, I honestly don’t think anyone has a real problem with America using military force against those who threaten us. The issue is in 2 things: 1) Being sure that they are a threat and 2) how much threat do they need to be to warrant that kind of action. This is where we are all differing. Those that do not support the war are quick to say they support our troops, and they really do. They do not believe that Iraq constituted a threat worth fighting over. Those that support the war (and I’m speaking about Iraq, specifically) thought (and think) that Iraq did constitute such a threat. The oft-mentioned WMD is the key sticking point. The President said they had them and he wasn’t alone. President Clinton said the same thing. So did numerous other experts in the years preceding both the war and President Bush’s administration. Well, we haven’t found them. The President said in the speech last night that reports show these programs were still in the making, if only on paper, and there have been “significant” equipment siezures that show the programs were ongoing.
I’m sure we’ll have more arguments about what constitutes “significant.” More on that issue at another time. Let’s get back to the speech.
The President dealt with various criticisms about the Iraq actions but the point I thought scored best was about the suggestion that we need to internationalize our efforts. He proceeded to list over a dozen countries that have joined in the effort and that was a point I felt needed to be made. The media would have you believe it’s the US against the world over there and that’s just not true. The Brits, Japanese, Polish, Danes, Spanish and Italians all have troops in the theater and so do several others. It’s a criticism that just doesn’t resolve with the facts and I was happy to see it get called out.
I liked the concept suggested that kids that take more challenging courses in High School should qualify for bigger Pell grants. It’s a nice incentive for taking the harder courses. Now let’s discuss what qualifies as such a course and try to keep the law from including a grant to some small town in Wyoming to build a Ronald Reagan memorial. I also want to make clear that this law should discuss classes that qualify only without respect to any race, creed, geographic location, native language or anything else. If we all decide that Pre-Calculus qualifies then that’s what qualifies, period.
I am cautiously approving of the inmate education suggestion he made, but there’s too few details to really go into a discussion on it. I think there are several convicts that get released that honestly want to do things right and not go back to jail. I think that any help we can provide them can only help us as a whole and, therefore, is a good idea in general terms. Let’s see some specifics before we go any further.
Now, let’s talk about the things I didn’t like. First, and most grating to me, it doesn’t matter how often you say the economy’s improving, it’s a question of whether or not the improvement is really an improvement. Can you really say the economy is improving when 1) people are still getting laid off in droves, 2) the top worry most people have is whether their job is next on the chopping block, and 3) families are having to carry debt-loads that are breaking records in order to make things work? Every time he said it, I did a little wince inside. You have to keep listening and try to hold off the urge to start forming counter-arguments in times like those, but I was truly tested. After the speech, I finally hit on what the problem was: he, like most of the people inside the beltway, equate the DOW index with the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial is over 10K again, so the economy must be improving, right? Sorry, no. Thanks for playing. When more people are seeing economic improvement than aren’t, you can say the economy has improved.
And about that immigration plan, boss. The President says he’s not for amnesty. I say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, or rotten in this case. I’m glad to hear him say it explicitly but now I want him to put the money where his mouth is. I am all for seeing a proposal on the issue but I would absolutely oppose any plan that allows people here illegally to stay. They can head back home and apply at the temporary worker stations if that’s what they want, but they go home first.
The Patriot Act, as currently passed, is simply too broad and too easy to abuse. It needs to be allowed to die and, if the need is still there, new legislation can be crafted. But I heartily disagree with the notion that the Act must be renewed.
It’s all well and good that we finally gave prescription drug coverage to seniors via Medicare. The method it’s given is an abysmal mess and hardly something to be proud of. It needs work, Mr. President, and you should try to fix it.
I was curious that the newly announced space initiatives didn’t merit a word in the speech. I would have thought that, having made such a wide display of approval just days earlier, he’d have at least mentioned it.
Lastly, I found Senator Kennedy’s behavior during the speech to be juvenille, rude, and inexcusable. He and many others would have howled in anger had the President made similar eye rolls, head shakes, and generally disgusted and dismissive gestures during any speech he made. They would have been calling for his head and I think rightly so. You’re supposed to be a leader, Senator Kennedy, and a professional. If you can’t comport yourself in a similarly professional manner during someone else’s recognized turn on the floor, then don’t attend. You didn’t further any of your causes by acting this way.
Now, I’d love to keep going over all this stuff, but something has been brought to my attention that needs my research even more, and it’s a pretty chilling thing if true. More to come.
State of the Union Address
Yes, I watched it. I found several interesting bits and some stuff I disagree with in it. I’m gathering up the necessary data to write about it and will drop it on here tomorrow morning. G’nite, America!
Sux to be them…
No comment I can make about this story will do it justice. Moral to that story, take your keys to the car with you when you leave it, even if you have no pockets!
Hamas tells their true goals
To be honest, when I read the story I tried very hard not to think too much of it. But the words of the leader of Hamas Mahmoud Zahar won’t go away. Speaking in praise of the woman who blew herself up this past week in another Palestinian suicide bomber attack, he said:
“She is not going to be the last (attacker) because the march of resistance will continue until the Islamic flag is raised, not only over the minarets of Jerusalem, but over the whole universe,” Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said.
(Emphasis mine, by the way.) If there’s been any doubt at all, any attempt by apologists and American sympathizers to think that Hamas has any intention whatsoever of being a peaceful neighbor if only they are allowed their own State, this man’s words should be all you need to refute them. There’s no interpretive wiggle room here, folks. This guy sees any place and any people not flying the “Islamic flag” as a target. He clearly has no issue with continuing these tactics far beyond their alleged goal of a soverign Palestine. They don’t even have that and already they’re serving notice to the rest of us who choose to have different beliefs that we’re next.
If these tactics are allowed to be effective, they will be repeated. Why waste money and time on armies and weapons or even diplomats and debate? Pick your next target, fire up some young folks who clearly don’t get that they’re being sent in only because their leaders can talk sacrifice but can’t give over themselves and fire in the hole!. (And if their cause is so just and the sacrifice so proper, why isn’t Mr. Zahar stapping 10 kilos of C4 to his ass and walking into a crowded restaurant?) They will keep coming and they’ll keep finding idiot kids who believe them enough to blow themselves apart.
The Palestinian government should pay attention and start speaking up about comments like this. When the US becomes convinced that Hamas is the one calling the shots and the Palestinian govenment can’t do squat about it, then my vote is to put them into the same category as the Taleban. A group harboring and aiding terrorists. They should be treated as the Taleban were and shown the same fate.
Like the man says…
Just saw a quote on another blog:
Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
– Winston Churchill
Hey, I just report ‘em…
No pleasing some people
President Bush yesterday paid a call on Martin Luther King’s grave and, with King’s widow at his side, laid a wreath there in remembrance. This didn’t sit well with a crowd of protesters who shouted and jeered at the President and basically made it clear that they were offended that he had come. Of course, those same people would have been offended if he’d made no such visit because he was failing to show proper respect to Mr. King’s memory.
A real lose-lose situation if ever there was one. The President handled it exactly as he should have. He stepped up, laid the wreath, sat in quiet contemplation (or as quiet as the shouting crowd would let it be), shook hands with Mrs. King and left. Sorry, folks, this time the class was all on the President’s side.
You don’t have to do things exactly as someone else would have done to respect that person. You don’t need to follow in their footsteps precisely to value that which that person valued. Every man walks his own road, as it were, and as close as some of those roads parallel each other, they are still separate. What works for the one will not necessarily be the answer for another. Such is life. The protesters claimed that all Bush was trying to do was grab some of the black vote. Please. No one who thought about the issue for longer than 5 seconds would think that this President had a chance in hell of doing that. Given the exteme likelihood that either action – showing up or staying away – would offend the black community one way or the other, his chances of garnering some kind of political support for this was exactly zero. And still he went anyway. I think he did so for the obvious reason: he respects what Mr. King had to say and wanted to salute his actions and leadership. I view the actions of the crowd of protesters as the offensive, non-King variety. But there’s no pleasing some people, and this too is a fact of life.
Moon, Mars, and Marriage
In yet another example of “good news, bad news” President Bush announced plans this week to push our manned spaceflight program back to the Moon and beyond, targeting a return by 2020. His proposal wants $12 billion over the next 5 years to pursue these ends. That’s the good news. The bad news is in the same week, he proposed spending $1.5 billion in federal money to promote “healthy marriages”, meaning that held between 1 man and 1 woman (human species, natch.)
I applaud this nation turning its attention back to space. I have long felt that we allowed ourselves to be distracted from the pursuit of space science and exploration and that we should refocus in that area. The President’s proposal is a good thing in my book because it’s actually a step toward that goal. Is it perfect? Likely not. First steps seldom are, and that’s what we’re doing here. This program is a “start from scratch” kind of thing and it should be. We would not be well served by building another Saturn V rocket and slapping an Apollo module on top as we did 30 years ago. We know much more and can build things with more of an eye toward our future than we could in those days, and the mission statement is so much wider than “get a man on the moon.” Like the Wright brothers a hundred years ago, the Apollo program showed us it could be done. Now let’s do it with today’s technology. Building a permanent presence on the Moon is absolutely the way to go, too. Launching missions to further planets and moons from there will be far less expensive (in just about every sense of the word) than it would be from here. And it’s someplace we can try out new techniques while remaining relatively close to help from either Earth or space stations.
Ah, then the bad news. It is my firm belief that the federal government should not involve itself in any way whatsoever in the institution of marriage, period. There should be no money spent – at all – promoting marriage as good, bad, or indifferent. I don’t need the federal government to subtantiate my marriage, thanks. And my marriage isn’t threatened, thanks for asking, by anyone else wanting to get married to anyone else, either. That includes two men, two women, two men and a woman, 8 women and 1 man, etc., etc., etc. (And for that 1 guy with multiple women, I don’t wanna be you when a certain lunar cycle comes up, bud. Rent an apartment for a week…)
Every administration has good ideas and bad ones. This week showed 1 of each, and I’d be saying that regardless of who was in the White House.