Sunday, May 26, 2013

So....Where do the Fast Pedestrians Walk?

Where do the fast pedestrians walk? I've always wondered this when I see this sign across the street from my office. It's not one of the sidewalks that Abigail and I walk on, but I'm not sure at what speed we would be considered "slow" or "fast." I've always had the same thoughts when I see a sign on a residential street that says, "Slow Children Playing."

It's been another busy week, both politically and otherwise. And the questions just keep coming at me. But first, I have to say how happy I was when I saw two articles this week. One was about a large retail outlet that targets a particularly young demographic. They met with some bad publicity this week when a company executive made comments about not wanting something about fat chicks. Why this would surprise anyone is beyond me. I went into one of these stores in Champaign, IL once, in the midst of the Christmas rush, to buy a gift card for a nephew, and the staff there made me feel as if I didn't belong there. It was very humiliating, and I would never go into one of those stores again, even if I were a tall, skinny blonde twenty-years old again. So when I read that their sales had dropped a great deal after all the bad press, I couldn't help but smirk to myself. Hey, Dude, fat chicks may not be able to shop in your store, but we do have friends with jobs. We have people who love us, who have money. And we don't have to be oppressed by shallow jerks like you anymore.

The other article that made me inexpressibly happy had to do with how germy our dogs are, and how good that is for us. It seems that our best friends bring in microbes, introduce them to our immune systems, put them to work and makes them stronger. So, when my Abigail kisses me on the mouth, or I pet her, I am building my ability to fight disease. There are lots of medical professionals who have been voices in the wilderness for some years about our unhealthy fear of germs, and how it is compromising our ability to fight disease, and has also led to (theoretically) increased allergies in our children. This study on dogs has shown them to be right-it is exposure to microbes, not freaking out and using hand sanitizer every five minutes, and running to the doctor for antibiotics with every sniffle, that helps us fight disease. Would anybody like a kiss from Abigail? It will make you healthier!!! And she is usually willing.

Sometimes I start one of these things, and get bored with the stuff I've noted to write about. Or something happens to change one of the questions-I find an answer, or the question changes. This happened yesterday, due to a Facebook comment from an old friend. He is ex-military, and I am from a very military family. I've made the list before; my dad, two of my three sisters, two of my brothers-in-law, I think all five of my mother's brothers, etc, etc. I had something snarky to say about wishing people a "good holiday" last week, not because of what this holiday celebrates, but because so many people freak out about the word "holiday" at..."ahem," other times of year, when they want their meaning, and only their meaning applied to the word. But my friend reminded all of his friends what Memorial Day is really about; remembering those who have died in the service of this country. And so I thought better of my original comment, and would like to take this moment to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for us. I am grateful to them, and wish more than I can express that their sacrifices would not be in vain.

From there, the military has been very much in the news the last week or so, and how the current and previous president wage war. In particular, the use of drones to commit "surgical" strikes against enemies of the United States. The people of this country tend to be for the use of drones overseas because we don't like it when our soldiers die in battle. But drones have also been used to kill some American citizens without their constitutional right to due process and trial by a jury of their peers. This is a big problem to many people, myself included. However, there is a large matter of definitions here. What President Bush began was, as labeled by himself, a "War on Terror." I'm sure I've talked about this before, but the whole idea of a "War on Terror" is a silly one, in my view. As so many before me have said, terrorists are not soldiers, and terrorism is a tactic, not an army that we can face off and fight. This is why only drones can be used to fight them...we are not talking about "The Redcoats," with whom we can line up on a field and do
battle. This is why terrorism can never be defeated-the goal of a terrorist is to create terror. This being said, there will always be a crowded event planned wherein a bomb can be placed. It doesn't have to kill a great number of people in order to create an environment of fear in the community. There will always be a bus on which some guy can board with a bomb beneath his jacket and blow up himself along with the bus and all its passengers. If we have intelligence that says this will happen with an individual or a small group, it is possible that the only way to stop them is with a targeted strike, such as a drone. There will be "collateral damage;" a term I have always hated, because it makes it seem as if the people who were not terrorists and were killed anyway, did not matter. The babies, the innocent bystanders, the wedding celebrants are human beings who do matter. So we need to decide this Memorial Day weekend what kind of country we want to have, and what kind of wars we wish to wage. The world has changed, and our war machine must change with it, thoughtfully. Conventional warfare cannot fight terrorism. But surgical strikes, just like regular bombs, do kill babies and the elderly, and other innocents. I personally believe in the US Constitution, and the use of drones on Americans is onerous to me.

Another onerous thing to me is the Department of Justice's use of the phone records of reporters to get information on people who leak information to the press. I spoke about this last week, but this week the scandal got bigger. I was amused at hearing that a certain Fox News reporter was particularly picked on because getting his phone records would at least get true information, when Fox has just made stuff up about President Obama from day one. But I can't bring myself to see this as humorous in any way. What this is saying to me is that at least Attorney General Holder, and probably President Obama at some point, are so afraid of leaks that they are willing to violate the constitutional right of the American People to an unfettered free press. We need to remember that a free press is not for the benefit of the press, but for the benefit of the people. We need to know what the government is up to. In general it is people doing bad things who want what they are doing to be kept secret, and we want the bad things the government does to be exposed somehow. I truly hope this means that the press will change its more looking into what the government is up do, and less into what the Kardashians are up to. I'm not angry about this because the Obama administration has done it...this has been done for at least decades, if not longer. Using the press, using the IRS to punish people who do things the government dislikes. Both parties do it, and we need to remember a particular case, the Viet Nam war, in which it was democrats who were in charge of the war, and used the press, the DOJ and the IRS to get back at people. This is politics as usual, and the only way it will EVER change is for the PEOPLE to stop the two party system, and put these people out of work.

This brings me to the idea, being spouted everywhere, that Hilary Clinton will run for president in 2016. This seemed like a nice idea to me a few months ago. We need a woman to be elected, and I believe she did a good job as Secretary of far as the people can know. I have two big "but...s" here. First of all, I've emailed several news organizations immediately after the 2012 election and begged them to place a moratorium on discussing the 2016 presidential election until, AT LEAST after the 2014 midterms. Sigh. Alas. This was (unsurprisingly) not to be. The twenty four hour news cycle must have something to talk about, and so they have to speculate about stuff to fill all those hours of useless talking head time. But my light feeling of warmth at the notion of Hilary running, and polling so well right now,  was wiped out I saw an article entitled, "Clinton vs. Bush 2016?" Not that I really care who runs, since, as I just stated above, we will have business as usual in Washington until We the People decide to fire both parties and start over with parties who have not been bought by giant corporations and long ago stopped caring about "The People's Business." But those two names on the ticket again? That is just business as usual overkill. We need to move on. Barbara Bush was absolutely right when at  President Bush's "library" opening last month she said, "We don't need another Bush in the White House. We've had enough." I agree with her, but will the people say she was right? I certainly hope so. 

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