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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Castro Makes Forbes List

Here I thought Fidel Castro was a good communist. He sure talks like he is "of the people." As it turns out, according to the Wall Street Journal, El Lider is one of the wealthiest men on earth.
Fidel's Fortune

He didn't make it into the billionaire category, but Fidel Castro nonetheless earned an honorable mention on Forbes magazine's annual list of the World's Richest People out this month. And why not? With a net worth of $550 million, this is one bit of media recognition that El Jefe actually deserves.

According to Forbes, the Cuban leader ommitted to "socialism or death" has made a killing from a "web of state-owned businesses" -- all of which have no competition in the worker's paradise. Castro's most profitable operations include a convention center, a retail conglomerate and a company called Medicuba that sells pharmaceuticals made on the island, reports the magazine. Not mentioned are Cuba's biggest exports -- seafood, tobacco, sugar and nickel -- which, as El Maximo Lider of the communist regime, Fidel naturally benefits from too. (
In a country where he controls the monpolies. And where poverty is a way of life for the entire populace.
Meanwhile, the rest of Cuba is so poor that food is rationed; as of 2003 each person was limited to a pound of chicken a month, according to the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami. But at least Cubans aren't being exploited by wealthy capitalists.
When is this old fart going to die and allow the people of Cuba to thrive once again?

Even They Can't Believe This Silliness

The New York Times goes after President Bush and the Republicans today for proposing - again - drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

More Energy Follies

What this country needs is an energy strategy worthy of the enormous energy-related problems it faces: global warming, soaring energy costs and dependency on Middle East oil among them. Opening up the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drill for oil and gas is not such a strategy. Yet that is the road the Bush administration is headed down once again.

At the administration's request, Senate Republicans have put a drilling provision into a budget resolution that could be voted on this week. Since budget resolutions can't be filibustered, Republicans need only a simple majority, 51 votes, to open up a wilderness that has been off limits to commercial exploitation since the Carter administration. (link)

I will control the urge to call the author of this editorial deceitful for having written that last sentence. It was none other than Jimmy Carter who set aside a tiny portion of ANWR for oil exploration. It was his loony buddies in Congress who have prohibited it ever since.

But the more glaring point to be made is this: What do the geniuses at the Times propose to alleviate the ever-growing problem with energy production?

The answer is - drumroll - to close the SUV loophole and make fuel-efficient cars.

Any number of modest efficiencies could achieve the same result without threatening the refuge. Simply closing the so-called S.U.V. loophole - making light trucks as efficient over all as ordinary cars - would save a million barrels a day. Increasing fuel-economy standards for cars by about 50 percent, to 40 miles per gallon, a perfectly reasonable expectation, would save 2.5 million barrels a day. And bipartisan commissions have offered even bigger ideas: tax credits to help automakers produce a whole new generation of fuel-efficient cars, for instance, or an aggressive biofuels program that would seek to replace one-quarter of the gasoline we use for cars with substitutes from agricultural products.
I miss the days when they touted the use of windmills and solar panels. And Willy Wonka's magical chocolate.

But this still is so myopic, it's pathetic. We are rapidly becoming second to China in daily oil consumption. What good are tax credits when the price of oil is influenced more and more by needs of foreign countries? The price of a barrel of oil this morning was $54.50. Almost a record high. Experts tell us that, if the price ever comes down, it's not going to come down much. As third-world countries grow and prosper, there will be an ever-worsening gap between production and demand. Oil, therefore, will become even more expensive.

"Close the SUV loophole." For the love of God.

Democracy? Republic? Oligarchy.

More of the same from the judiciary:
California Judge Voids Ban on Gay Marriage
By DEAN E. MURPHY, New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, March 14 - In a victory for city officials here, a state judge ruled on Monday that California's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, overturning a statewide proposition passed in 2000 that defined marriage as between a man and woman.

In a tentative ruling, the judge, Richard A. Kramer of San Francisco County Superior Court, said "the denial of marriage to same-sex couples appears impermissibly arbitrary," thus violating the equal protection clause of the state's Constitution. The ruling will not be made final until the judge meets with the various parties to the litigation on March 30. (link)
Once upon a time, long long ago, there were three branches of government; the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. The Constitution was designed such that each of these branches shared power equally and each had its power balanced by that of the other two. You may have read about this concept. It was called, "Checks and Balances."

Well, that was then. This is now.

Today we have a court system - in this case a California court - that is making up law as judges deem appropriate. From Anthony Kennedy's whimsical ruling in the teenager death penalty ruling in which he invoked such Constitutional concepts as "community consensus" and "international attitudes," to a handful of judges around the country who have determined of late that laws relating to marriage have - for 216 years - been unconstitutional. In this case, a referendum went directly to the people of California and a majority decided that marriage exists between a man and a woman. One judge has overruled all of them. Joseph Stalin would be proud.

Here is what you should take from this: Anarchy prevails. Law is whatever we decide it is. On any given day. And my law supercedes your law.

I'm learning from the esteemed judges.