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03/03/2003 Archived Entry: ""I'm Not Listening!""

On the Political Front:

Check out Mark Fiore's latest animation on "unpatriotic anti-war nuts!" I *love* the opening segment with G.W.

The ripples caused by us "anti-war nuts" go on and on. My blog of 02/19 advocated a Buycott of French and German goods as a tip of the hat to those nations for applying brakes on the rush to war. The blog item was reposted on LibertyForum, where those folks had real fun. Meanwhile, Connie du Toit has publicly labeled me "Hanoi McElroy" for that same opinion...shouldn't that be "Axis Wendy," "Paris McElroy," or "Berlin Mac?" I sorta want the intended slur to indicate the right Continent -- but that's just me and my sense of order. Brad suffers from no similar reservation...he has given to calling me Hanoi McElroy at inappropriate moments.

Back to serious matters...I am very sorry to see a federal judge has ruled that US Airways Group can terminate its pilots pension plan and replace it with a cheaper one as a bankruptcy prevention measure. For a while now, I have been hammering on the prospect of companies raiding pension funds as a way to stay afloat amidst the insane spending, inefficency, and government regulation occasioned by the war on terrorism and the impending invasion of Iraq. The pension funds are a contractual obligation and part of the salaries for which employees have labored: in short, the employees have lived up to their end of the bargain. Am I saying that pension plans and other benefits should not be chanaged even it means the company goes under? No. But the change in any contract should come as the result of negotiation between the parties involved, not unilaterally. Precedents are being set through which raiding pension funds could become SOP for cash-strapped companies. Who does this process kick in the ribs? The little person who has worked all his or her life in anticipation of a decent lifestyle in their old age.

The Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA) has not yet been introduced in Congress. "It provides that any citizen, even native-born, who supports even the lawful activities of an organization the executive branch deems 'terrorist' is presumptively stripped of his or her citizenship.... A US citizen stripped of his citizenship and ordered deported would presumably have nowhere to go. But another provision authorizes the Attorney General to deport persons 'to any country or region regardless of whether the country or region has a government.' And failing deportation to Somalia (or a similar place), the Justice Department has issued a regulation empowering it to detain indefinitely suspected terrorists who are ordered deported but cannot be removed because they are stateless or their country of origin refuses to take them back."

On the Personal Level (which is how I keep in touch with friends & family):

Last night was the coldest we have experienced since moving to the farm and one of the few times that the airtight stove was not up to the challenge, requiring the electric as active back-up. I long for Spring, which is atypical of me because winter is my favorite season. But Brad has had to be on the road much more than usual and I've worried, which demonstrates the fact that my pleasure in winter comes largely from not *having* to deal with it, from working at home. Brad just came back from attending the funeral of a family member, Sergio, which required a day's drive both ways. (I was unable to attend.) I think we live in Paradise...clean air, running streams, thick forests, rolling farmland, small towns dotted everywhere. But the price of living here for most people is either subsistence living (largely farming) or a torturous commute every day to where there is work. I try to stand still every once in awhile and remember how lucky I am.

Not that I overly believe in luck. As one of my favorite authors (and a mentor from the grave) Baltasar Gracian says, "Before you go ahead, and particularly before you commit yourself, appraise your chances with Fortune. Fortune's aspect is more important than your own motivation; if he is a fool who waits till he is forty to look after his health, how much more of a fool is he who waits till then to cultivate his judgment. It is an important art to know how to influence Fortune -- now waiting to see what she will bring, and now enjoying her gift. He who finds her favorable should proceed with dispatch, for she is sympathetic with the bold, and, like a women, particularly with the young. Let him who is unhappy withdraw, lest she make him doubly unhappy wth her gift. Let him who can dominate Fortune step forward quickly."

Best to all,

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