Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hardballin' Boosterism

We're going local again. I'm trying not to make it a habit. But ... anybody see this in the morning fishwrap? How did they get one of Sinclair Lewis's fictional characters as their lead editorial writer?
The most attractive feature is that it will not cost property owners. The city will borrow money to begin the project and pay those bonds off using mostly the increased tax revenue the new development generates from special taxing districts. The project will use local tax revenue but will not result in higher income or property taxes for local workers or property owners.

If successful, the city’s initial investment of about $63 million becomes a project worth $125 million. That’s a solid return on the public’s investment.

Residents should also consider the background and experience of the investors who want to partner with the city to create Harrison Square. Hardball Capital partners Jason Freier and Chris Shoen, the owners of the Wizards, have experience that goes beyond managing a minor league baseball team. Development is their specialty. And criticism that the Wizard’s owners are not putting enough money into the stadium is unfounded. They are investing “only” $5 million into the stadium, but they are putting millions more into other areas of the project. And the stadium will be city-owned.
Good heavens -- when the JG's editorial board takes the lure, they truly swallow the hook, don't they? Atlanta developers -- named "Hardball Capital," no less! How perfect can it be? -- with magical self-financing schemes, and hey! it's all good. Laissez le bon temps rouler! Good thing it wasn't Republicans trying to sell "supply-side" self-financing tax cuts ... I'm sure our morning-paper friends would be doing their more-customary Cotton Mather channeling act.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

We Have Learned ... Nothing

Yes, everybody who's not as far gone into war madness as John McCain seems to have reservations of some sort about the BushSurge. Everyone seems to think that a time for at least some of The Troops to depart Iraq is coming, although it might be a year or two away. So, we've all learned something, right?

Well, not so much, maybe. We're all bored with Iraq, because after we trashed the place, it turned out that lots of wogs went on drawing breath and being recalcitrant. Many of them seem to want to settle scores with, well, many others of them ... and a large majority say they'd be happy to see our departing backs. Quite a few of those seem to have developed pretty good skills with "improvised" explosives. "Improvised" means that they weren't produced by large corporations under lucrative government contracts, meaning that they're very, very bad. But I digress. the fact that so many of our supervisors have become bored with Iraq doesn't mean that they're bored with the region. Oh, no ... they're looking over the fence and seeing a fresh playground: Iran.

In this news story, we find out that three current presidential-candidate celebrities, representing both caucuses of the U.S. War Party, are vying for the Likud nomination also:
Presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney, John Edwards and John McCain all detoured through Israel on the way to New Hampshire this week, seemingly competing to see who could be strongest in defense of the Jewish state.

Speaking in person or by video link Monday and yesterday, the politicians spelled out tough measures they said were necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also addressed the conference.

Stressing the strong U.S.-Israeli relationship at the Herzliya security conference outside Tel Aviv, the Americans called for the United States to step up sanctions on Iran and leave the possibility of a military attack "on the table."

In less than a decade, the annual conference has become a mecca for Middle East specialists, partly because Ariel Sharon used it to outline his plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip when he was prime minister.

For American politicians, the gathering provides an opportunity to float policy positions and reach out to Jewish voters in the United States.

"This forum has become the Davos for Middle East wonks," said David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who also was scheduled to speak. The Swiss town of Davos plays host to World Economic Forum meetings.

"During the Cold War, the Middle East was a backwater of American policy. But with the end of the Cold War, the Middle East has become the center of American policy. [The conference is] a legitimate forum for them to express their views on a region that's important."

Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts and potential contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, called for economic sanctions on Iran that are "at least as severe" as those imposed on South Africa during its apartheid era.

He compared the challenge posed by Iran and militant Islam to the great threats of the 20th century -- fascism and totalitarian communism. He also recommended that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be brought before an international court and be tried for threatening genocide.

"It is time for the world to plainly speak these three truths," said Mr. Romney, the only one of the four to attend in person. "One, Iran must be stopped. Two, Iran can be stopped. And three, Iran will be stopped."
In what significant way does this murderous claptrap differ from that which spewed from the Bush junta in 2002?

Mr. Edwards underlined the "bipartisan" nature of the madness. Many on the American left will no doubt continue to delude themselves that Mr. Edwards is antiwar, but there's little excuse for such self-deception:
Mr. Edwards, of North Carolina, the only Democratic presidential candidate to address the conference, similarly called to toughen sanctions on Iran and hold out the threat of military force, but he broke with the others by suggesting that Washington open a dialogue with Iran.

"I support being tough, but I think it's a mistake strategically and ideologically not to engage them on this issue," he said. "America should engage directly on this issue."
But lest you think Young John is being soft on Iran by suggesting talk, here's more:
While Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, this week he provided some tough talk about Iran.

Speaking by satellite to a conference in Israel, Edwards said stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons "is the greatest challenge of our generation."

"All options are on the table to ensure that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon," Edwards told the seventh annual Herzliya Conference on Monday, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Edwards said the U.S. had not done enough to stop Iran. And he pledged continued strong ties with Israel if he is elected.

"It is a bond that can never be broken," Edwards said.
Never, indeed. AIPAC political muscle is like crack to our supervisors: they'll always be addicts.

But there's a silver lining. Newtie's reluctant to seek the presidency:
Mr. Gingrich, speaking by satellite video link, said Israel faced the most serious threat to its existence since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. But many in Israel and the United States do not fully appreciate the nature, size and scope of the Iranian threat, he said.

"I have two grandchildren," said Mr. Gingrich, who has declared that he would run for president next year only as a last resort, "and I think there is a greater danger of them dying in an action than I faced during the Cold War."
So, Newt will run only as a last resort. Hmmmmm. That sounds like me saying that I'll run only as a last resort. I'd say that his chances of infesting the White House are not greatly different from my chances of same. And on that relatively cheerful note, we'll close this post.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Here's Hoping He's Lying

Like many of you, I just heard El Presidente hold forth in the annual State of the Etc., etc. It seems to me that there's a remarkable symmetry.

Recall Bubba Clinton, delivering himself of a similar oration in early 1995. He was looking out at a Congress that had just passed from the control of his party to the GOP. He got up and declared that "the era of big government is over." Remember?

He didn't mean it, of course. He was doing what might technically be called "lying." Or maybe dissembling, or some other more polite term. In any case, the era of big government was not over. Big government, God help us, has prospered exceedingly in the years since.

So, tonight George the Slow looked out at a (very narrowly) Democratic Congress, and he said that the era of big government is here as never before! Health care! Energy! Security of every sort!

My hope is that he means that as little as did his predecessor.

In a related note, from the speech:
A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.
So what's this about? Has Blackwater raised its prices too much? Or are they having the same recruitment problems as the uniformed legions?

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm Not the Only Bad American

Arthur Silber, Bad American, is on fire. Here's an excerpt:
So let's be completely clear, and restate it once more for emphasis. We invaded and occupied a country that hadn't attacked us, and that was no threat to us. Our government has murdered more than half a million innocent Iraqis -- and destroyed an entire nation. Our government has also murdered and maimed tens of thousands of Americans.


But in the moral sense -- in the sense of destroying human life with no justification whatsoever -- we certainly deserve to lose. It would only be just, and it would be minimal justice at that. We have committed a monstrous, unforgivable war crime, indeed a countless number of war crimes. If you care at all about the sanctity of an individual human life, and if you still give a damn, that should matter to you. Nothing in the world is more important.

So, yes, in the sense I have described, I want us to lose. We already have. There is no forgiveness for what we have done. Do I want American soldiers to die? Of course not. I never wanted them to be sent to Iraq in the first place. If we had never begun this catastrophe, those who have died would be alive today -- as would over half a million Iraqis.

One might hope that we've learned something from our indecent and immoral acts, and that we will be more careful in our future actions. In a tragedy beyond measure, it is already entirely clear that we have learned absolutely nothing -- just as we learned nothing from Vietnam. All of the forces that led to more than a century of unending war are still in place. We have learned nothing.

Well. Someone had to say it. So I just did.

I'm ready for Guantanamo now. I'd like to say goodbye to some friends and spend time with my cats before I leave. You can pick me up in the morning.
By all means, go read it all.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where There's Smoke ...

I don't usually address purely local topics here, since the internet famously reaches out to pretty much everywhere. But I think smoking bans are kind of like the internet, in that they are also nearly ubiquitous, at least in the United State. And, in my area, we're acquiring a fairly restrictive one.

A disclaimer is probably appropriate here, since the nicotine seems addictive enough that when the addict writes or speaks, it's often reminiscent of that giant talking cigarette that Garry Trudeau used to draw in "Doonesbury." So, in the spirit of full disclosure: I do not smoke; I have never smoked, not the tobacco, not the ganja, not the crack, not the whatever-else-there-may-be that can be smoked, not even experimentally, not even one time, unless you count "secondhand" exposure; I positively hate smoke, and will go far out of my way to avoid it. Having spent my childhood in a small house in which the parents were enthusiastic smokers, I never for a moment had the slightest interest in doing that to myself. End of disclaimer.

From the local news story:
Starting this summer, Fort Wayne residents will likely have far fewer places to light up.

After nearly two hours of debate, the Fort Wayne City Council overwhelmingly supported stricter citywide restrictions on smoking but provided an exemption for tobacco stores.

The council voted 7-1-1 to support an almost complete ban on smoking in public places throughout the city. The council will take a final vote on the issue next Tuesday, but preliminary votes are almost always an exact indicator of final votes. If the ban is approved next week, it would take effect June 1.

Councilman Tim Pape, D-5th, said the decision over smoking restrictions should come down to whether the rights of businesses to choose how they do business outweigh the rights of people to breathe clean air. He gave a presentation listing the numerous health problems, and deaths, caused by smoking and secondhand smoke.

“Tobacco is an extremely dangerous, dangerous product,” he said. “One of the best ways to reduce smoking is ban smoking in public places.”
Quite apart from questions of smoking -- both first- and second-hand -- and health, the ongoing dispute interests me in terms of logical consistency and as it illustrates the changing meanings of the terms public and private. We frequently describe ourselves as being "in public" even though we occupy private property (property not owned by a unit of government); in that sense, any place that presumptively admits all or most people, or even any place from which a person can freely be seen from "public" places, itself becomes a "public place." (Mother to improperly-dressed child: "You can't go out in public that way!") The open questions, it seems to me, are: (1) what are the rules or criteria by which we can distinguish between "public places" and "private property?" and (2) what is the legal effect, if any, of such a distinction?

I take it that everyone this side of absolutist anarchism would probably agree that the applicability of some laws should not depend on the location of the offense. If murder, rape, and robbery are to be proscribed by law, presumably the proscription applies in my kitchen just as it does in the center of Main Street. Similarly, I take it that everyone this side of absolute totalitarianism would agree that the law must recognize and account for some private vs public distinctions: the fact that the Board of Health has something to say about how cleaning supplies may be stored in a school cafeteria shouldn't mean that its minions can breeze into my kitchen for a snap inspection. Is there some generally agreed-to principle to which we can refer and appeal in evaluating proposals between these two extremes? I don't think there is one that is generally agreed to and consistently applied; I do think that our failure to think these matters out systematically has put us where we are today: a situation in which raw power and the loudest voices substitute for that missing principle, and in which folks like 5th District Councilman Tim Pape furrow their brows and set about "weighing" competing sets of alleged "rights." That's a little troubling to me, purely from process considerations. Do we have any reason to think that our city councils are populated by accomplished moral philosophers? Next month, will Mr. Pape begin to balance my "right" to speak freely against his "right" not to have to hear things that he finds uncongenial? Which way will his pointer incline?

They say (just who are "they," anyway?) that the devil is in the details -- but sometimes, I think, a little humor is in those details, too. You see, this isn't the first smoking restriction that the government of Fort Wayne has imposed; a few years back, the philosopher-kings of the Fort decreed that eateries inside the city limits had to either forbid smoking, or provide completely-enclosed, separately-ventilated areas in which the smoking could occur. Those restaurant owners who chose the second way incurred substantial remodeling costs. Under the new regime, those costs are purely wasted. But the P-Ks may have a remedy:
Crawford, the author of the outright ban, said granting exemptions and grandfather clauses would create an enforcement nightmare. Under the ordinance, enforcement of the law will be handled by the health department, city fire department and city police department.

Didier also said many restaurants spent money to comply with the city’s existing laws, and it was unfair to ask them to make changes now, less than a decade later. Pape opposed the amendment but said he would be receptive to see whether tax credits could be given to businesses that invested in separate smoking rooms.
Ah, tax credits! That means less income for the government. Now, it might mean that the local government will spend less money, by the amount of the tax credits. Hey, don't laugh -- it's possible ... and then, too, it's possible, as Wayne Campbell said in Wayne's World, that monkeys might fly out of my butt. More likely, this tax credit would simply be made up by the tax base as a whole; in other words, the city council made a little boo-boo, for which they will graciously force all of us to pay. Why do I describe this as "humor?" Better to laugh than to cry, I suppose; and one or the other seems to be called for.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Shiites Are Our Allies ... the Shiites Have Always Been Our Allies

Apparently, hanging is something of a lost art.

And I guess we're all Shiites now:
Hassan and Bandar are to be buried Monday night in Owja, Iraq, near the grave of Hussein, local government officials said.

Hours after their execution in Baghdad, the shroud-wrapped bodies of Hassan and Bandar were flown on a U.S. military helicopter to Camp Speicher, a U.S. military base in southern Tikrit, where they were met by a delegation of local Iraqi officials, said the governor of Salaheddin province, Hamed al-Shakti.
[Emphasis added.]

I certainly hope those 21,500 "surge" folks who are headed into Mesopotamia have received, or will receive, appropriate training concerning the niceties of Shi'a vs. Sunni Islam. Confusion on the finer theological points would be most inappropriate. Training films would be a good idea. Instead of "Why We Fight," use "Why Shi'a Is Right."

An Odd Monday

Blogs are supposed to be exercises in self-indulgent self-absorption, right? Allrighty, then ... I'm spending the whole day at home today -- as far as I know right now, at least. My day-job employer is certainly open for business today, but I'm forbidden to drive for almost three more weeks yet, and my other half, who's been driving me here and there, is a little indisposed today. So, I decided to declare today, 15 January, my first vacation day of 2007. I seem to be getting an early start on piddling away my vacation this year. Well, such is life. The decision was made easier by the fact that the institution of higher learning at which I do my evening teaching thing -- "the night job" -- is, in fact, closed today, in solemn observance of that secular saint, Martin L. King. I'm sure that much of America will be devoting itself this day to various sorts of meditation and somber reflection, just as we do on our other great secular holidays, such as Veterans' Day, Memorial Day, Presidents' Day, Fourth-O-July, and -- perhaps the supreme example -- Labor Day.

[I pause here to confess that I'm not sure whether there's supposed to be an Official Apostrophe in "Veterans' Day" or in "Presidents' Day," or not. Presumably, the former Day is supposed to "belong," in some sense, to more than one veteran, and the latter to more than one president. But in modern Amur'ka, it's kind of elitist and anti-democratic to actually know how to use an apostrophe to form a plural possessive. I suspect I've sinned against Equality here. I imagine that the modern Official Names of these Official Holidays are probably "Veterans Day" and "Presidents Day" -- you know, kind of like the drugstore chain "Walgreens." Stupid and slovenly. But, away with all that.]

So, anyway, I'm home today. I have a few things to do. Actually, I have a great many things to do, but most of them require two reasonably functional knees, and those will have to wait for a few more weeks yet. If the inspiration seizes me, this could end up being that rare thing -- a multipost day for me. Usually, of course, it's more like multiple days per post. But, away with all that, too.

Via Buried Treasure, here's an interesting piece from Vanity Fair. I enjoyed it, anyway; nobody snarks quite like the British do.

Well, so far, today's going pretty agreeably. If this is what "retirement" would be like, I could get used to it. However, I'll probably just work (at something) until I die, because I can't accept anything from Social Security. You shouldn't either; here's why.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dear Leader Speaks

Once again, Our Glorious Wartime Leader has squinted into the teleprompter and delivered himself of (someone's) speech:
Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents - but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we will have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared.
Let's see, now: there are 140,000 American soldiers in Iraq, and the Decider's planning to send another 20,000. That's one part in seven. The Decider has apparently calculated that what seven people can't do, eight people can. Hmmmmm ... that's calculating things rather precisely. I would never have guessed that running these urban counterinsurgency campaigns was such an exact science. Impressive. Especially for a guy whose entire military experience consists of keeping the blue skies over Texas free of supersonic Vietcong top guns.

Now for an exercise in decoding:
Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a Nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed.
Now, I'm not just picking on Bush; I think this is pretty universally true of U.S. presidents, at least in the post-World War I era. When they say "patience" and "resolve," that means one or more of the following: more taxes; another few trillion on the national MasterCard; or increasing worthlessness of the currency (if the increasing debt is monetized). When they say "sacrifice" ("sacker-fice," if it's Dubya), that means you or someone you know is headed for some hellhole half the world away; after all, you didn't think he meant the twin BushBabes -- you know, Jenna and, uh, the other one -- are joining the Army, did you? Get serious. When they talk about "freedom," that means they plan to get even busier intercepting your e-mails, listening in on your phone calls, strip-searching you and stealing your things in airports, opening your first-class mail, defining "free-speech zones," and imprisoning your fellow subjects citizens indefinitely without charges, legal counsel, or trials. It's one of those reciprocal relationships: the more Prexy mouths the word "freedom," the less actual freedom we have.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

State vs. Culture

Steven LaTulippe posts an interesting libertarian take on cultural decay at the Lew Rockwell site today. By "libertarian" here, I mean real libertarian, as opposed to Libertarian Party compromise claptrap. It's fairly lengthy, so I'll just quote his four main headings here:
#1 Abolish the welfare state

#2 Privatize marriage ... and illegitimacy

#3 Abolish the Federal Reserve and privatize currency

#4 Abolish the public school system
You probably won't agree with all of it; you may not agree with any of it. It's a good, thought-provoking piece, though.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Back At It

The spring semester began today, and with it began my second iteration as an "associate faculty" member -- meaning somebody with a day job who teaches a class in the evening.

So, my bad leg's tired and sore (an hour and fifteen minutes on my feet, clumping up and down in front of a chalkboard -- much more than I'm used to). And it was great. I can't remember when I've had nearly so much fun from teaching about heat transfer. The drudgery will return, no doubt. Still: it's soooo good to get a few hours per week in which to talk about that king -- nay, that absolute emperor -- of the sciences, physics.

Meanwhile, I return to the orthopedic surgeon Wednesday afternoon for evaluation. Concerning this, I have both great hopes and great fears. I think there's a good chance that I'll be permitted to cease wearing the immobilizer, and start driving again. The bad stuff: I'll just bet that when that immobilizer comes off and I get told to bend that knee, it's going to be a fiery purple bitch. Many people have also predicted that a physical therapist somewhere is going to make a weepy little girl out of me, too. But those bad things have to happen sooner or later ... let's get 'em over with.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Wrath of Maliki

The BBC tells us today that any criticism of Saddam Hussein's lynching execution is not only unjustified, but could actually endanger the critics' good relations with that showcase of Mesopotamian democracy, Iraq:
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki has said his government could review relations with any country which criticised the execution of ex-leader Saddam Hussein.

Mr Maliki said the hanging was a "domestic affair" for the benefit of Iraq's unity, adding that the former president had received a fair trial.

Mobile phone images showing Saddam Hussein being taunted appeared on the internet days after the execution.

Several Sunni Arab countries have criticised the hanging as sectarian.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said it had turned the former leader into a martyr.

Mr Maliki's remarks came in a speech to mark Iraqi Army Day, in which he promised to take action against all armed groups in Baghdad.
I have to wonder if His Excellency's remarks might have been meant to serve as a shot across The Decider's bow. It sounds as if the Slow One may have been flirting with disrespect:
US President George W Bush has said he wished the execution of ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had been more dignified but insisted that justice was done.

Mr Bush said he expected a "full investigation" of the way the execution had been carried out.
From the sound of things, maybe Jorge had better button his lip, if he wants to stay in the good graces of The Great Maliki, who is said to be contemplating yet another attempt to reconquer "his" capital city of Baghdad.

One other thing: I noticed in my reading of that first news story that today seems to be Iraqi Army Day. I trust that means I needn't check my mailbox. Surely, the millions of U.S. federal employees could use another day off work to cheer them up, after the tragic loss of Gerald Ford, taken from us so suddenly in his mid-nineties. Or, on second thought, maybe it would be better yet if Iraqi Army Day were to be "observed" on Monday. You know, three-day weekend and all that.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

That'll Show 'Em!

Mike Sylvester asks a question in a comment, a few posts down:
Here is a question for you Bartleby:

What will you do when Bush decides to send MORE troops to Iraq and the Democrats agree and more troops are sent...

I think this is going to happen.

I think there is going to be a BIG FIGHT in the Democratic Party in the next couple of months!
What will I do? What will I do? Same thing I've been doing, I guess: get a little more cynical and write ten or fifteen more angry, bitter blog posts. That'll show 'em! In fact, I suppose that'll just have to show 'em; my alternatives are cruelly limited. What else can I do? Well, I could declare the Revo, but, shoot, I've been doing that, every other month or so, for years now. Not only does the Revo not happen, but no one listens at all. Amazing, huh?

So, you think Congress and Bush will do a "surge" in Iraq? Well, so do I. We're in agreement there.

You think there'll be a big fight in the Democratic Party in the near term? There we must disagree. There might be a little "sound and fury, signifying nothing." There might be some halfhearted simulation of a fight. But there won't be a fight. A fight (a "big" fight, at least) requires substantial numbers of people who have serious, heartfelt, committed disagreements about important principles. This, in turn, requires the existence of said principles. In my estimation, real principles are just as scarce in the Democratic Party as in the Republican.

Good For Cindy

I am sure that the incoming Democratic political leadership intends to deal with the antiwar folk in much the same way the Republicans have traditionally done with pro-lifers: pander for votes in September/October of even-numbered years, and otherwise studiously ignore the riffraff. Ms. Sheehan seems to be treating the weasels as what they are:
While discussing the Democratic ethics legislation, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Caucus chairman, was interrupted by anti-war protestors lead by Cindy Sheehan, a well-known activist whose son was killed in Iraq.

After the protestors' shouts drowned out Emmanuel's several attempts to quiet the crowd and resume speaking, he and other Democratic leaders cut off the press conference.

Sheehan said that she was joined by 70 protestors to hold the Democrats accountable, saying they are pressing incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the new Democratic leadership to stop authorizing additional funds for the Iraq war.

"We want accountability," she said. "We just buried a president who did not hold another president accountable for war crimes and that's why we're in Iraq right now. Our leaders who get us into these messes are the ones who need to be held accountable."

Sheehan said any additional authorizations would make the Democrats "co-conspirators" with the Republicans.

"There is already enough money in their killing budget to bring the troops home," Sheehan said.
Indeed, there's many times the requisite amount of money in the Pentagon's budget. Unfortunately, we'll continue to be reminded of how microscopic the operational difference between an elephant and a donkey really is.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Official National Mourning

Waves and waves of inconsolable grief have washed over the Federal workforce in the wake of the death of former president Gerald Ford. So sharp and profound is the feeling of desolation among the troops of the bureaucracy that most of the gummint, including the post office, is closed today.

We can only hope that extra traffic police are on duty today to deal with the congestion around the various memorial services that all these coffee-break-takers will be attending. The sense of dislocation that attends the extension of their holiday weekend by an extra day must also be taken into account. No doubt, many thousands of grief counselors will be working overtime today, talking the civil-service folk through the process of finding renewed meaning for their lives in the absence of Gerald Ford.

Ah, the oceans of tears being shed today! The uncountable waves of gut-wrenching grief! Ah, the humanity! You and I should be humbly proud to do our part for our public masters servants by paying them for yet another day of no work.