International House of Dan: Wrap Up Of Recent Events

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Wrap Up Of Recent Events

Thursday night I wrote (all modesty aside) a fantastic piece about Iraq's attempted ratification of the Rome Statute, but my computer shut down and I lost it. Grrr. Anyway, what's past is past, right? I've been slacking on this thing for too long, and now, unfortunately, I have to write a series of little blurbs on a lot of topics. Here goes:

This is ridiculous: As I left Kansas City (Missouri) yesterday, the Kansas Board of Education was wrapping up debate on whether Kansas schools should teach science. Aside from the much publicized "intelligent design" fiasco they debated changing the definition of "science" to "a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." Sounds innocent enough, but it replaces a definition which included that "These explanations are based on observations, experiments, and logical arguments that adhere to strict empirical standards and a healthy skeptical perspective." Also ridiculous are the Kansas City Royals this year, who at 9-27 look to lose 100 games before they win 10.

This is illustrative: The Supreme Court, the Capitol, and the White House were evacuated when a Cessna 150 flew into restricted air space over D.C. The only person not evacuated was the President, because he was not told that the threat level was at "red". I wonder if he was not told to make sure we wouldn't see footage of him falling off his mountain bike and staring blankly ahead for a little while a la the morning of 9/11. Seriously, though, I think the panicked over-reaction to a Cessna is indicative of the larger mood of fear this administration lives in, and would have the rest of us adopt. I do find it telling that the terror level got raised and there was talk of shooting down the plane over D.C. without the President even knowing about it... I guess I always assumed he'd have to be in on that sort of thing...

This is good: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent Bolton out to the full body along party lines and without endorsing him. He is still expected to be approved, but the recent firestorm he's endured gives cause for optimism. If nothing else, the controversy surrounding his nomination will serve as another straw on the back of the camel that is the continued force-feeding of the Bush agenda down the throats of the nation by a very slim majority in the Senate. It's easy to call for "an up and down" vote and claim that it represents the will of the people when you know that you'll win by a whopping 55-45. As these straws continue to pile up, though, Senators who seek re-election will have to re-assess their allegiance to the President's agenda, as his priorities continue to drop in the polls.

This is fitting: The BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure) Commission is proposing cuts in the defense budget ($50 billion), and the closure of 33 major bases. Their final report will not be acted upon until the Fall, but it will be nice to see Mr. Bush defend making "defense cuts in a time of war" without exposing Republicans to criticism of the sort they piled on President Clinton when he made cuts to pull us out of "Cold War mode." The truth of the matter is that these closures and realignments are necessary as conflicts and technologies evolve. We no longer need forts in South Dakota to stave off the indians, or lots of arctic bases in Alaska to fend off the Soviets. Base closings are politically unpopular, communities live and die from military bases (literally if enough pollutants are left behind), and it is tempting to use this necessary adjustment against Bush the way Republicans used it against Clinton, but I won't. I don't need to, others will do it in my place, and it will hasten the demise of Republican Congressmen from districts with bases facing the axe, but who ran on the promise that they could keep the bases open because as Republicans they had "the ear of the President."

OK, this is not nearly as much as I'd intended to cover, but the blurbs are getting longer than I'd hoped. Check back soon, as I will praise the Dominican Republic for becoming the 99th State party to the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (hmm... I guess I just did) and explain why the first execution in New England in over 40 years should not have been carried out.


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