Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Just Your Government At Work or Exmepting

In 2003, someone from the White House wrote a 83-page “memo” on authorized or unauthorized torture (depending on your view of things). Apparently, the president deemed that some folks were exempt from real laws and such. Sitting back and pondering this small news bit this morning….you have to wonder who sits around and writes memos of 83 pages. Somewhere in my past, I was taught that a memo was three pages max. Once you got past three pages….it got deemed as a summary or paper. Pondering a bit more….you have to wonder who sits around in the White House and write 83 pages on how to authorize torture and what their real job is in life or how they got qualified to be such an authority. I’m doubting these are chainsaw salesmen, septic tank repairmen, or members of the Atlanta Falcons.

It amazes me that exemptions are handed out to federal laws….when you used to have to obey laws. We have two other games playing out that fit into this same pattern. First there is the Yosemite Park situation where construction crews were stopped this past week because of legal action taken to stop a road enhancement project. The opposing folks said that a fragile ecosystem exists and that no one can fix or change what is in place today. The park management staff is saying that there is no future for the park, at the current rate of visitation, unless things are fixed.

What folks are expecting with this new legal action at Yosemite…is that the government will come up and limit access to the park on a limited entry scale. You will have to make reservations….likely limited to a visit or two per year….in order to be fair to everyone and allow a very spread entry policy. The folks fighting the construction project won’t be able to visit monthly like they’ve been doing for twenty-odd years. So expect another fight to extend over this matter and a presidential decree to settle this matter.

As for the other episode….there is the 600-odd mile fence along Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico….along the Mexico border. Bush said this week that he’d just authorize a order to bypass 30-odd laws dealing with ownership, environmental policy and construction permits….to get this going. The opposing side….was hoping to deter the matter and prevent any part of the fence from going up for at least ten years. The experts are sitting there in a daze….having not anticipated such an order and thinking that a cease-order by supreme court….which is a remote possibility…..might not be able to counter the president’s order.

So it’s a casual exempt this and exempt that affair underway….and we are left to wonder who wrote 83-pages of memos for something they know little about. I was sitting there and pondering if I should ask President Bush to exempt me from paying income taxes....but I'm guessing that a bit too far on the exemption list to consider.

Two Short Stories

I work with rather unusual folks and on occassion....they recite a story from their past at the water cooler.

So this week....I had two winners....and decided to blog those stories.

Most of you know that I work with a fella from Bama....who is a certified business management fella and a database dude. He also is a geospatial fella as well. Quiet educated. In his wonderful youth in Bama....way in the south part....he hauled hay for a fella around age 17. It was a hot day and he was sipping a good bit of water. At some point....he needed to relieve himself....so he wandered over to the end of the field near a fence....and started to release....not realizing that there was an electric hot wire there.

There was a bit of stinging feeling and he suddenly realized that the power was running back up to his sensitive points. Yep....zipping him along with 110-voltage. He stepped back, and in a minute or two....realized that things were getting enhanced a bit. A man's pride and joy.....on the growing scale. Not really a problem and he figured it was a mild shock.

Well.....about twenty minutes later.....this situation was not "shrinking" in nature. After 45 minutes....it was not shrinking in nature. So at around an hour....he started to get worried....and eventually told someone about the situation. After another bit of time....they decided they'd best take him to the hospital there in the local community. He walked in and the folks examined him....probably praising him a bit as a fellow Bama individual would do but then realizing the complications here.

They finally settled on a shot to relieve the stress....which if they hadn't....they said he would have some eventual nerve damage of sorts. The shot relieved his "pain" and in a matter of minutes....he was normal. I sat and pondered this situation....wondering how many fellas had experienced this and never did nothing but run home to the girlfriend or wife for several hours....just my simple thoughts at work.

The other story worth repeating....was a co-worker who grew up in New York City....and went to Air Force basic training back in the early 1980s. He had been kept around the basic training area after the six weeks of training....and they were using him as a stand-in "leader". He was a college educated guy....a year or two of college and brighter than most folks. The squadron there had a special group that had arrived about two or three weeks prior.....which had become an issue.

Normally in the Air Force....they bring in 45-odd folks from around the US and make a group up...who all stay together for the six weeks of basic training. For some odd reason....some recruiter in West Virginia had been talked into a very unusual case....to accept 40-odd guys....all from the same town and area. My guess....all to join the local national guard. Normally....this would not be a situation you'd see....but they decided it'd be unique.

So these 40-odd West Virginia guys arrive and they put one more into the group....a guy named John. In ten days...the instructor had major problems....and the unit was into the swapping game of finding folks to lead this group because of a problem. They had nicknamed the group....which is a bad indication....to the name of "Children of the Korn". My associate had heard about this....and one night...the unit came to him and said they needed him to step in for a while.

So my associate shows up at this dorm. There five guys around at the door....after hours apparently....most folks asleeping. As my associate walked in...the five West Virginia guys make the observation..."you're black". My associate....educated....and not bothered by the comment.....nodded in agreement. "We ain't never met a black guy before". There in this short conversation....my associate begin to realize that they weren't normal.

All of these 40-odd guys.....were related in some fashion. My associated doubted seriously that the recruited grasped this when he sent all 40 to Lackland. The guys pointed out to each bed....that cousin so and so, and this is cousin so and so. Things began to simmer in my associates mind about this mess. This wasn't a normal situation.

The group had a problem with John....the non-entity of the group. John wasn't one of them. They didn't like John. My associated asked question after question....with no clear reasoning. They led him to the bed of John....and there sat and poked John with a pencil....while he was deeply asleep. It was obvious that they really had issues with John.....who was just the unlucky idiot who came probably from some small town in Ohio....to be with a bunch of folks who were likely very close in family relations.

I asked my associate how this mess came to an end...and he didn't know the precise ending....although he thought all 40 graduated and went onto technical school somewhere. "Children of the Korn". Yep....if you bring up this topic down at Lackland....they probably have a whole folder on the group....from over twenty-five years ago.

Liking America More, Maybe

Those kindly folks at the BBC did another survey of how well the world likes Americans. Course....I don't really give a damn....but for curiosity....I'd be interested. Its a strange thing.....folks have turned around and suddenly think real kindly of us....even George Bush....well....maybe not that far.

Based on the numbers.....almost 56 percent of Germans think kindly of us Americans....and only 18 percent think unkindly of us. Thats a world of difference. Even the Brits have come around....with 50 percent thinking kindly and 24 percent thinking unkindly. Those France folks....its a miracle of sorts....with 50 percent thinking good thoughts of America and only 22 thinking bad thoughts.

Then we start digging down....and its another funny thing...with almost 23 percent of North Koreans thinking kindly....which is rather odd....since most folks ain't never met an American....and only 44 percent absolutely negative about America....and the rest are pure neutral.

In fact, Iran was at the rock bottom with only 20 percent liking America and almost 54 percent really negative. But then those BBC guys did something funny here....they asked Americans about America....and it turned out that only 35 percent were liking America and almost 47 percent were negative on America....DAMN Americans. Just when some poll makes us look good....they go and screw things up.

So there are two questions here.

First.....why are only 35 percent of Americans liking America? Well....I'm thinking the BBC dude who asked this....went primarily to California and New York City. If I went to Alabama or Mississippi....it would have been 99 percent loving America and only 1 guy negative. I'm partial on this kinda polling question so maybe you ought not trust my numbers.....but most folks I know....are pro-US.

Second.....why did the Germans suddenly rise up and favor America? Well....after the last election....Angie Merkel, the new Chancellor came up and I'm betting that she invited the chief of Channel One (state-owned) and the chief of Channel Two (state-owned) over.....and she knew she couldn't order them to do nothing. Angie probably smiled and then said if either wanted cost increased and more financing for the state-run channel.....dump the anti-American chatter on the evening news.

Prior to the Merkel election....out of every ten stories told on America....six were slanted harshly against the US, with four being neutral (my honest and humble opinion). After the election....say six months....the stories were three negative.....six neutral.....and one positive. Its not a great change but you really start to notice this after about a year. These shows where Germans pack up and leave Germany....really started to show pro-US slants as the new immigrants to America adjusted and loved their new home. These things started to be noticed by the naive public....and of course....the demise of Rumsfield....probably didn't hurt.

So all you folks....pat yourself on the back tonight....you are fairly loved by alot of folks now....even 37 percent of those Russian folks....who were likely drunk when asked about the poll and were lucky if they could remember any question asked or their answer.