No Smoking

Smoking is bad for people. Everyone knows and accepts this. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposes to extend New York’s smoking ban to all offices, bars and restaurants. Read about it in the Houston Chronicle.

So why are so many young people taking up this nasty habit? One example: Smokers make the air foul at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, clogging up entrances to building as they poison themselves and letting the stench inside as students go in and out.

A variety of motivations no doubt enter the minds of gullible teenagers, not the least of which is the feeble attempted crackdown on underage smokers; however, one fact remains central: smoking is a vile habit that no person with any logical sense would fall victim to.

Police Suspensions

Remember the big stink regarding the mass arrest of people loitering around Westheimer parking lots in Houston last week? Well, the police captain in charge has been suspended and 12 others relieved of their duties.

Houston’s police chief is running for cover too, stammering he knew nothing about the officer’s plans.

The fact of the matter is that it was a stupid career move to arrest all of those people. Anyone should be able to see that. But nobody got roughed up, apparently, and a large number of those arrested very likely needed to be rousted before trouble broke out. Let’s move on.

No Vote on War?

White House lawyers have concluded that President Bush doesn’t need congressional approval to launch an attack against Iraq. Read the story.

My high school government class was taught differently. Certainly a congressional, and thus a people’s, mandate is appropriate. The White House’s stance implies either a bluff at Iraq or the possession of intelligence beyond what has been revealed to the public. Hopefully it is not the former.

Police Officer Fired

In Austin, Texas, the AP reports a police officer has been fired for taping the mouth of a belligerent teenage suspect shut. The suspect was asked repeatedly to “please be quiet”; after he continued his behavior, the officer taped his mouth shut.

Sounds like something the boy’s parents should have done long ago. In true modern form, the parents elected to file a complaint against the officer instead. One doubts this was after a thorough examination of the facts of their son’s actions

Islamic Support Dooms Candidates

A kiss of death even more potent than taking money from Enron executives is having Islamic supporters. Read the article.

I suppose it is no surprise given the superficial nature of politics. The Muslims I know personally are fine people; however, the perceived taint of Islamic influence will likely serve to keep their influence out of American politics for the near term.

Forestry Debate

The Western United States are home to some unique natural resources. Some uniquely impressive stands of old growth timber still exist in a pristine state. Logging in these areas has been a sore spot between industry, government, and environmentalists for years. Read a story regarding the subject.

Nearly everyone would agree that we should preserve valuable natural resources. However, what good would it do to keep a forest untrammeled condition, only to have it burn to the ground as so many acres have recently? None, obviously.

Considering the expense of fighting these fires, most of which are perpetuated by overly brushy scrub growth, it’s past time to manage the forests with expertise, not rhetoric.

What was the Houston Police department thinking when it arrested 300 people, some of whom were simply trying to get a chili dog at James Coney Island? Read Roma Khanna’s article in the Houston Chronicle.

I have no personal knowledge of this area on Saturday night. There may be severe problems in this area that require police action. If so, the Chronicle would likely have documented them. Drag racing, the purported reason for the raids, to me, hardly warrants this kind of reaction.

Ashcroft’s Constitution

The Houston Chronicle published a great editorial Sunday regarding the overzealous John Ashcroft’s plans to run roughshod over the constitution to pursue “enemy combatants”.

The Chronicle doesn’t provide editorial content on-line, unfortunately.

Even to a lay person, Ashcroft’s proposals are extreme and clearly infringe on the constitutional rights of American citizens. Nonetheless, it has fallen to him, apparently, to serve as the legal equivalent of a guard dog against terrorists. As such, it is Mr. Ashcroft who must propose ways of dealing with those apprehended.

Conversely, it is the responsibility of Congress and the Judicial Branch to review and revise these notions of justice. Let us all hope they perform this function well.

Brazil and the IMF

Brazil is going to get a big infusion of American support via the IMF during the next year. Read the IMF news release.

An NPR report on the subject left little doubt the Brazilians feel economic policy strings attached to the loans are unfair, apparently feeling they are entitled to borrow another $30 billion dollars to manage as they wish. And this on top of the $270 billion in debt the country could default on should things go further wrong.

Unfortunately the NPR transcripts are not available on-line, but the attitude of entitlement was clear in the report. As was done in Indonesia, the economic club must continue to supplement the carrot of IMF money lest the money be wasted away in Brazil.