My irregular musings on city life, politics, baseball, roller derby, and whatever happens to be getting my goat today.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Johnny .316 and other passages

I hate this week. The darkest day of the year yesterday, the always stressful Christmas season, and did I mention Johnny Damon is a Yankee now? Now that's a dark day. WWJDD? Play for the Romans for 54 million pieces of silver, apparently.

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I have very little intellingent to say about the world right now, mostly because I've slept all of 12 hours since Sunday, spent a day and a half being violently ill, haven't worked out all week, and I'm still not done with Christmas crap yet. Bah fucking humbug! I'd put the rest of my gifts in brown paper bags and staple them shut, if I had any brown paper bags.

From what little I've picked up from the outside world:

* They're not going to rebuild New Orleans. Not for the people who used to live there, anyway. I hear they are talking about resettling neighborhoods one by one, starting with the high and dry districts by the river. There is concern that if they rebuilt the housing all at once, there would be "blight" because not everyone will come back and some buildings will stand empty. In other words, they don't want too much available housing because it will drive down property values to where poor people might afford them. So "gentrification" becomes a prerequisite for rebuilding. In addition, federal loans for rebuilding are being handled through the Small Business Administration and only handed out to people who meet stringent creditworthiness requirements. As a result, nearly all loans are going to well to do districts. Again, the poor and working class need not apply.

* President Bush ordered the NSA to spy on people in the United States without a warrant starting in 2002. Apparently they started with a relatively small list of people associated with suspected terrorists and then went out to 12 degrees of separation, which would be, what, a third of the country? [Hi, NSA guys, how ya doin' out there? You must be busy, faced with the thankless task of defending us all from our liberty! You must feel you don't get much credit for all the work you do. You know why that is? Because you suck! Now back off and mind your own business.] This practice is clearly in violation of Federal law. It is also unconstitutional:

' Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. '

I believe this is an impeachable offense.

* The senate had an emergency spine transplant and refused to renew the Patriot Act without adding significant oversight, partly as a response to the President's illegal spying program. Bush caved in and allowed the act to be extendeded for just a month while new safeguards are considered.

* Our unesteemed chief executive also gave in and agreed to sign a ban on torture. The guy is becoming downright progressive in his old age, isn't he?

* Oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve was again defeated at the last minute.

And now for the bad news. They had an election in Iraq. I know what you're going to say, "wait, isn't that good news?" No, it isn't. Because the parties in power have used the last year to get their militia people in to all the key jobs - literal "political footsoldiers," sort of like Chicago-style ward organizations with AK-47s. They have been able to produce an electoral victory for themselves even though many people are quite disenchanted with them. Not only that, but their opponents are already crying foul and accusing them of cheating.

This would be bad under any circumstances. But the parties in power in this case are fundamentalist religious Shiites allied with Iran. And Iran recently had elections of its own, which were enough to give pause to even the most ardent supporters of democracy. There were actually a couple candidates for which a sane person might vote: reformer Mustapha Moin, for one, or former President Akbar Rafsanjani, an old revolutionary who nevertheless would like improved relations with the West. But no, the rabble chose to elect the profoundly ignorant former mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a lay fundie who is slowly rolling back the hard won social freedoms of the last decade. He's a go it alone hardliner internationally and a social rightie at home. Sound familiar? Actually he makes Bush look like a brain trust. He believes the world is going to end in the next couple years and wants to build a special railroad line to carry the Messiah to Tehran from the site of the well out of which he will appear. Apparently this Messiah will need nuclear weapons for some reason. And, oh yeah, we're spending our soldiers' lives and hundreds of billions of dollars to put his buddies in power next door in Iraq, where they're running secret prisons and torturing people and forming death squads and assassinating journalists who criticize them. Hoo-Rah.

Well, I got new for Rapture-seekers here, there and everywhere to brighten up the holiday season:

He ain't comin'. Time to make other plans.

The world's going to keep spinning for a while yet, whether you're on board or not. The Middle East is not going to suddenly transform into a land of peace and democracy just because a bunch of Marines charge in there and start waving the flag around. Homosexuality and abortion are not going to go away just because you ban them - we don't care that you think they're icky, we didn't ask, because we don't respect your opinion. Oil prices are going to keep going up no matter who you invade, because there's just not that much oil left. And the Messiah? He got a better offer from the Yankees.

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