Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The limited role of local government

Today I read this in the Marin Independent Journal:

In a last-minute upset to Marin peace activists, the Board of Supervisors last night sliced the word “immediate” from a call for U.S. troops to come home from Iraq. “Shame, shame,” yelled one man as he stomped out of the county board meeting where about 200 people had come to support Supervisor Charles McGlashan’s resolution calling for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. “The time has come for us to stand up on this issue for moral reasons,” said Julie Stevens Manson of PeaceNovato, one of a half-dozen people who spoke before the board’s vote. “This war is based on lies and greed, and counseled by fear.” McGlashan ultimately joined other supervisors in a 5-0 vote in favor of a revised resolution that excluded the word “immediate.” He had maintained that the phrase “immediate withdrawal” was vital if the measure was to show support for earlier legislation introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. Woolsey “asked me for this support,” McGlashan said. “It’s absolutely part and parcel of my job to do that when asked.” He had justified his efforts based on the high economic cost of the war at a time when human and social service agencies in Marin are strapped for money. “In my view, the poor rationale for this war in the first place, subsequent proof of specious claims for its necessity, poor conduct during occupation and rising costs make our action imperative,” he said in a letter to the other board members.
I know the resolution's sponsor dressed this up in terms of local economic issues, but that's patently just window dressing. I believe it is a gross abuse of the local government forum to enact initiatives such as this one, although I guess that, in Bay Area, one shouldn't be surprised. The Marin Board of Stupidvisors was joined yesterday by the San Francisco Board of Stupidvisors, which enacted this brilliant piece of municipal legislation:
Speakers at San Francisco public meetings can be angry, passionate, even disagreeable in their remarks -- but they can't utter discriminatory comments, the Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday. The 11-member board unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by President Aaron Peskin that stemmed from an April 4 Building Inspection Commission hearing in which some members of an influential builders group said a female city employee was not fit to run a department because she is pregnant.
Somehow the First Amended seems to have eluded those in charge of San Francisco. I also didn't realize that pregnant women were part of a discriminated class. Silly me. To think that for two nine month periods of my life, I was not only a pathetically discriminated against woman, I was also a pathetically discriminated against pregnant woman. UPDATE: Just to make more strongly the point that Marin's "peace" activists are yesterday's news, Jay Nordlinger had this to say today:
Care to begin with some good news out of the Middle East? That’s never a bad way to begin (or end). MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, captured an Egyptian intellectual named Ahmad Naji Kamha. He was writing in Al-Ahram, which is Egypt’s New York Times (except controlled by the government). Here is Kamha:
Yes, we are [the U.S.’s] allies, and this does not constitute a betrayal of any principle. This is an alliance aimed at reshaping the entire region on the basis of freedom and equality, and in order to change and awaken societies that deserve a better life. What is wrong with presenting this message loud and clear? Yes, we are [the U.S.’s] allies, and this alliance grows with every crisis in the region. This alliance is based on principles which permit no-one to interfere with our affairs. It is our policy and our reform alone that leads us to join the policy lines of our strongest ally — politically, economically, and socially — for the sake of a society that is free in every sense of the word.
Let’s have a little more, before leaving Kamha (and if his words strike you as unremarkable, rest assured they are not — not for Egypt):
One must expose the lie behind the inciting claims that the U.S. is the great Satan with eyes for Israeli interests alone, that the changes and reforms currently taking place are merely the result of external pressures, and that the U.S. is [only] looking for some opening that would enable it to exert additional pressures on the Egyptian state and to intervene in its political decisions. Exposing all these [lies] is the opening shot for the phase of an ideological breakthrough that would enable the Egyptian mind to examine everything rationally and to reach rational conclusions instead of being pushed toward a policy of suicide . . .
A couple of points: Three years ago, when I talked to him for a piece, MEMRI’s co-founder, Yigal Carmon, told me that he had begun the institute mainly for the purpose of giving voice and wing to Arab moderates and liberals — not for the purpose of exposing the extremists (who in the Arab world, alas, are mainstream). And here we see an example of sanity in Ahmad Naji Kamha. Second, you will see in that piece — here — that Al-Ahram, ordinarily, is very, very bad news. Its editor-in-chief — appointed by Mubarak — infamously wrote that America had poisoned the food it was dropping over Afghanistan. Also that we were dropping it in minefields. So if the poison didn’t get you, the mines would. They’ve come a long way, baby, if Kamha is any kind of indication at all.