Then maybe you should take a look at it from the other side. I don’t think most Americans would be so war-crazy right now if the B-52′s were about to drop bombs on Washington, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle…
I find it rather intriguing that no one is paying attention to the growing conflict in the Ivory Coast. People go on and on about war in Iraq or protecting the United States’ oil interests in the middle east, but nary a peep about Ivory Coast. But I think that will change when Americans learn this…
Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest grower of cocoa!
That’s right. Our chocolate supply is in jeopardy and no one—not even Al Gore—is saying anything about it. Do our politicians care so little about us that they will not bomb the Ivory Coast into little chocolate chips so that the price of chocolate doesn’t go through the roof before Christmas?!
I mean, sure, the United States and France have sent troops to evacuate their citizens but, as near as I can tell, there has been no effort whatsoever to protect our vital chocolate interests in the region. For goodness sake, think of the children!
I fear the terrorists may have already won.
There are many reasons I like to vote. The most obvious being that voting is the greatest freedom one enjoys as an American. But it can also be quite amusing as well.
Take for instance the gauntlet one must traverse in order to even get to the poll. It is like the scene in Airplane! when Captain Kramer— played by Robert Stack—is walking through the airport being accosted by folks who want to give him a flower; solicit for Reverend Moon; help Jerry’s Kids; avoid nuclear power; read about Jehovah’s witnesses or pontificate about Jews for Jesus. It can get crazy. People working for specific candidates see this as their last chance to ingrain their candidate’s name in the mind of the voter, and they will holler that name at you up until you cross that magic line where electioneering is prohibited.
But it’s not over yet. Then you have to get past the children. Yes, the children. The children aren’t pushing a candidate, but they are pushing. They are pushing treats. They want your dollar to help raise money for their various and numerous extracurricular activities, and they will use any trick they can to get you to show them the money.
“Doughnuts! Don’t forget to buy some doughnuts to take to your office tomorrow! Mmmmmmm gooooood!”
“You sure look thirsty, mister! Would you like to buy a cold drink before you vote?!”
If you survive the electioneers and the children then you get to vote. And more importantly, you get to watch other people vote. Or at least try.
On a not-so-sleepy little street in Bethesda, Maryland, nestled between two private country clubs, there is a turf war going on. The adversaries do not wear different color bandanas or flash signs to one another to indicate their allegiances.
You see, this is a war over a sidewalk.
On one side of this little war are those who want a safe place for the children of the neighborhood to walk to and from school. On the other are people who think that a sidewalk is an eyesore to their little “respite from the city.”
The people in the anti-sidewalk camp have formed a civic association, hired a “prominent” real estate lawyer, and found an arborist who claims that a sidewalk would kill all mature trees.
Those who want a sidewalk passed around a petition, collected letters from PTAs and principals and spoke with the county’s arborist who says that the sidewalk won’t do any harm.
People who do not want the sidewalk had things like this to say:
“Sidewalks are very urbanizing. Here we have what remains to be a little respite from the city. Not a whole lot, but at least some.”
“We have a 30-foot sidewalk that children have used for years. It’s a beautiful green sidewalk. Thirty feet. Not four feet. It’s called grass.”
“For these eight to 10 children, 40 years worth of work and caring will be destroyed and the lives of virtually every household on Maryknoll Avenue will be disrupted.”
Fans of a sidewalk made comments like this:
“Most kids who could be walkers avoid walking so they won’t get killed.”
“The whole way there, I was a nervous wreck. My son was stunned. We just didn’t expect so much traffic.”
NIMBYism has many faces. And, in my opinion, most of them are ugly. Most of the time it is the affluent who try to impose things they don’t want in their neighborhood on poorer citizens who don’t have the influence that is unfortunately required. In the case of the sidewalk, it is the neighbors who are more concerned with their rose bushes than the safety of the children who live in their neighborhood.
However, sometimes the bully is the government. A few days ago a federal appeals court rejected the state of South Carolina’s request to stop the federal government from shipping surplus plutonium into the state. Luckily for the citizens of South Carolina — including my future in-laws — Gov. Jim Hodges (D) is fighting the good fight. Calling the shipments “a threat to the health and safety of our state,” the Governor plans to appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court.
Earlier this summer Gov. Hodges had this to say about the issue after ordering the state’s police force to block the shipment of 30 tons of plutonium into the state:
“As governor, when I believe danger exists to our state, I am empowered to declare an emergency and to take measures to maintain peace and safety in South Carolina.”
“I know the folks in Washington will not like this action. And we will follow any court order regarding the shipment of this plutonium. But until ordered otherwise, I will continue to exercise any and every lawful power I possess to keep this plutonium from threatening the safety of our citizens.”
In a letter urging Gov. Hodges to sign a proposed agreement, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham had this to say:
“It is now time to bring this process to a close. Further delay in reaching agreement will undermine important international and domestic priorities of the United States.”
What about the federal government undermining the health and safety of its own citizens?
I was reading an article in yesterday’s Washington Post about one of President Bush’s nominees for the federal appeals court who was expected to face tough questioning regarding her position on abortion. Apparently, Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen‘s nomination is opposed by reproductive rights groups because of her past votes denying teenage girls exemptions under a Texas state law requiring minors to inform their parents before getting an abortion.
Interestingly enough even the man whose job it is to steer Judge Owen’s nomination through the Senate, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, wrote an opinion that denounced Owen as holding a view that would have been “an unconscionable act of judicial activism.”
The case in question involved a 17-year-old Texas high school student who wanted an abortion. However, under the above-mentioned Texas state law, she had to tell her parents first unless a judge found that she was either “mature enough to make the decision herself; that she faced possible abuse by her parents; or that parental notification would not be in her best interest.”
Two lower courts denied her, and so the case went to the Texas Supreme Court. The Texas Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 to grant the exemption based mainly on the opinion that she was in fact mature and well-informed. The majority noted that the girl was a few weeks away from her 18th birthday, and they acted swiftly at the time of the exemption; publishing the opinion 3 months later (before the girl entered her 15th week of pregnancy).
However, Judge Owen accused the court of acting “irresponsibly” and overturned the decision. She wrote:
“This is some evidence that [she] is not mature enough to accept responsibility for her actions or her future. She intends to continue to seek and take support from her parents in virtually all aspects of her life, but not with regard to her decision to have an abortion.”
Excuse me? A judge is going to tell someone she thinks is too immature to have an abortion to have a child?!