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Potpourri

Ernest Cassara


The United Arab Emirates & U.S. Ports
President Bush was on the tube the other day and My Better Half was shocked to hear me say "I agree with him."  Well, I do, in this case.  The panicked reaction of Congress at the prospect of a port company with headquarters in Dubai is utterly ridiculous.  The American longshoremen, stevedores, and other workers, will continue to work the docks. The Coast Guard will continue on the job, as will customs officials.  It is the management company that will be from the UAE.

We certainly are not going to win the hearts and minds of the Middle Eastern world if we insist on treating them all as suspects.

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Olympic Nationalism
Now that our editor is including more features on popular culture on this website, I feel obligated to do my part.  Why is it that games that are designed to bring athletes from around the world together are presented on U.S. TV programs as the Americans against the world? Unless there is an American involved in a particular game, you are unlikely to hear anything about it - even on serious programs such as the News Hour with Jim Lehrer.


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They Thought They Were Free!
Warren Seamans of MIT has sent along this apt quotation:

I came across the following in a 1955 book by Milton Mayer entitled They Thought They Were Free,  which is a quote from a German colleague regarding the rise of Nazism during the 1930s:

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter."


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The TV Ad Conspiracy
The folks who run the various television channels are plotting to keep us from channel switching during advertisements.  It is not my imagination.  Check me out on this.  Next time ads pop up on the screen, use the remote to switch to a series of different channels.  I think you'll find that they are all carrying ads.  Coincidence?  I doubt it!


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Air Force Evangelicals
Why is it that in the last few years we hear recurring reports of faculty at the Air Force Academy forcing their religious views on their students?  Is there something about flying into the wild blue yonder that makes for religious consciousness more pronounced than that among grunts on the ground? In any case, seems to me that any faculty member who announces to his students that they are doomed to hell if they do not follow his religious path should be booted out of the academy.

In the case of students, an evangelical attempting to force his views on an unsympathetic fellow student can be told where to get off - without threat to his grades or future career.


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The Senior Drug Benefit Explained
At last, we have been given a clear and concise explanation of the new senior drug benefit in Medicare by the president himself.  Sent to me by a friend.

Bush Explains the Medicare Drug Bill

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: "I don't really understand. How is it the new plan going to fix the problem?"

Verbatim response by PRESIDENT BUSH:

"Because the - all which is on the table begins to address  the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are  calculated, for example, is on the table.  Whether or not  benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases.  There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost  drivers, affecting those - changing those with personal  accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more  likely to be - or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you?  It's kind of muddled.  Look, there's a series of things that cause the -  like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the  increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices.

"Some have suggested that we calculate -  the benefits will  rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases.  There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were  put into effect.  In other words, how fast benefits grow, how  fast the promised benefits grow, if those - if that growth  is affected, it will help on the red."

Well, thank goodness that has been clarified!


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Abu Ghraib Redux
You may have noticed that the administration has complained that the U.N. human rights report on the Guantánamo prison camp is defective because the members of the group did not travel to the prison.  The response of the U. N. was that they were informed by the American government that they would not be allowed to interview the prisoners.  Well, maybe they should have gone anyway.  I suppose they could have looked at the cages in which our fellow human beings are kept, and they could have enjoyed the sunshine!

Speaking of prisons, if you have the stomach for it, you may see the new photos released by the Australian media of the torture by Americans of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq at:

http://www.uruknet.info/?s1=55&p=20656&s2=15

A larger selection can be seen at:

http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=2444


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Dick Cheney
How can we possibly be the only ones in the U.S.A. not to joke about Dick Cheney's wayward shot?  Cannot!  So, we pass on the following from our reader, and occasional contribution, Rumjal:

"Hello, Texas Rangers, this is Dick Cheney... I just shot a lawyer!"

Texas Rangers: "Sorry, Mr Cheney, but this is the weekend. All state offices are closed. You won't be able to collect the bounty until Monday."

And another one: After 40 years of dodging the draft, Dick finally got to shoot someone!


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A Constitution for Iraq
We thank Larry Hamby our former humor editor for the following:

They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't  we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart  guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it anymore.


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Ten Commandments
We, also, thank Larry for the following:

The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a  Courthouse is that you cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou  Shalt Not Commit Adultery," and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building  full of lawyers, judges and politicians! It creates a hostile work  environment.



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