Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reading for Fun

Reading through US News this week I was struck by how many simple statements of fact hit me square in the absurdity bone. (If you don't know where your absurdity bone is located, perhaps you are one of the unfortunates who had theirs removed at an early age. This often happens at Young Republican meetings, mosques, church confirmations, or government bureaus where compassion and humor aren't tolerated.)

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin expressed displeasure at a court ruling that FCC rules on "fleeting expletives" were "arbitrary and capricious." Martin stated "I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that 'shit' and 'fuck' are fine to say on broadcast television...." His expletive laden statement set new standards for arbitrary and capricious irony.

A judge in Georgia released Genarlow Wilson, jailed for 10 years at age 17 for getting head from a 15 year old girlfriend. Georgia has since amended its law - now it's only a misdemeanor for consenting teens to have oral sex. Georgians also approved new funding to investigate where new baby Georgians come from - apparently it's a mystery.

A Democratic strategist putting the chances of immigration reform passage at 50 percent, while a "key GOP aide" strongly disagreed, putting the chances at between 60 to 40 percent. Both stated that other was 50% stupid, 50% dumb, and the other 10% was full of shit. (The legislation didn't pass, btw, with the GOP blocking passage due to the fact that it didn't punish those lawbreaking immigrant workers enough. They did, however, pass laws providing additional litigation protection for drug companies, arms manufacturers, and white collar criminals. I think "white" is the key word here...)

A "respected national economist" with research that suggests that a presidential candidate who calls for greater tax cuts could win the GOP nomination. This was news.

In order to end the massive destruction and bloodshed in Darfur, President Bush ordered economic sanctions against 30 Sudanese companies who provide some of the few remaining jobs in the country. No funds were made available for UN relief efforts for the women and children who survived a 125-mile trek to neighboring Central African Republic after their town was destroyed by Janjaweed militia.

Bush agreed that world leaders should do something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - said he would support the US putting a policy in place after he leaves office (2009). He also stated that after his term is up someone should do something about the huge budget deficits, terrorism, health care, and his library.

Bush stated again that it's "too early" to get out of Iraq and that this too would be left to his successor. According to Bush, if the US leaves Iraq, there will be bloodshed and chaos. As opposed to today, where sectarian violence has reached it's highest point ever. (Well, at least since before Sadaam Hussein took over). Iraqis who find their country less livable than before are unfortunately not allowed to emmigrate to the US. (Well, except for the lucky 6 we took in last year).

The US took over Afghanistan six years ago. In Kabul, Afghanistan, there is no public sewage system. 9 out of 10 residents live on unpaved streets, and the most popular commercial is for the "LifeStraw," a water filtering device. ToloTV produces an Afghan version of The Daily Show, which shows real footage of shoddy construction projects overseen by ministers with lavish homes in Dubai, a would-be suicide bomber who described the instructions the Taliban gave him for where he could go to collect his payment after he completed his bombing mission, and parliamentarians breaking out in fights unable to pass any useful laws (except to further restrict free media like ToloTV).

The Army, which is having trouble meeting its recruiting goals, has over the past few years lowered the requirements regarding percentage of high school graduates or those with criminal histories that it will allow into the military. Now, it has decided that because the only troops that are performing at the level necessary are those in the special forces units, it will solve its problems by dramatically increasing the number of soldiers serving in those units. It will produce more elite troops by lowering the training time from 75 weeks to 49, removing the ability of instructors to "redline" (eliminate) a trainee for failing a task, lowering the language training from 1 year to 9-15 weeks, and changing the ration of junior to senior personnel in a company.

And Mortimer Zuckerman gives his bi-weekly diatribe that the Palestinians are all bad, Israel is all good, and the US should (or shouldn't - depends on the week) continue to meddle in the affairs of the Middle East. Because it's not about the oil - I'm sure we would continue to send our soldiers and diplomats to that hate ridden land if it were just a desert full of violent madmen. You know - like Darfur, Sudan.

And then finally, listening to NPR tonight about a country that requires its citizens to have their citizenship papers and documentation from the state before they can get permission to travel out of the country. Unfortunately for the citizens, the government finds it is unable to provide them all with papers, so many are not allowed to leave the country at all. Those that try to work the system are told to come back later, try again another day, or get no answers at all. The country? No, not China. Not Russia.

The USA.

Laugh or cry, your choice. As for me, everytime I cry I lose a contact lens.

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