Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New federal ID, nuclear power and True Lies

SACRAMENTO - This is one of those mornings when being in the news business is a handicap.

Instead of simply getting up, having a cup of tea and watching geese landing on the river, I have scan the newswires for relevant education and health news, depressing enough, except that the rest of the news and commentary sneaks in, too, forcing me to reach for the aspirin bottle before the first cup of tea even hits bottom.

Mark Morford has a great column about the new federal ID - a combo driver's license, credit card and internal U.S. passport that was just approved by Congress. The president will sign it. He's giddy, to do so. But whatever shreds of privacy we might have left, well, read the column and then decide if it's time to go back to bed and pull up the covers.

You can read the column here:
  • Federal ID column

  • The second bit of distressing news is that the nuclear power nuts are at it again, and getting quite a bit of traction with Congress. Congress is finally waking up to the problem of global warming (members are just getting around to seeing the film, "The Day After Tomorrow") and is looking at nuclear power as a viable option.

    Jaysus H. Kee-rist.

    Utility company ratepayers across the country are still paying for the cleanup of the nuclear power plants we built in the 60s and 70s - and the plants are offline because they were unreliable and dangerous. Congress - in its infinite wisdom in those days - indemnified the nuclear power industry so that, for example, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Harrisburg melted down, released radiation and killed a few hundred thousand people, well, the owners of the power plant were off the hook. That's the Price-Anderson Act... Might be interesting to see if it's still on the books.

    But the perhaps the most depressing news in some weird way was our Last Action Hero governor, who cut a deal with the schools last year to give up a couple of billion dollars in education funds, with his solemn promise to repay the money this year when times were better. Times (tax-collecting wise) are better, but for months his office has said over and over that the Guvenator couldn't pay it back because the budget was still too weak.

    Then today he announced that he had never made the promise.

    Liar, liar, pants on fire!

    Back in the days of Richard Nixon, there was a political philosophy called The Big Lie. Basically it was that if you said something often enough and loud enough, it didn't matter if it was true, people eventually would believe it. (Comedian Richard Pryor had a similar routine about being caught in bed by your wife with another woman. 'Just deny it,' he says. 'Even while you're putting your clothes on. Deny it. Deny it. Deny it. Deny it. Eventually she will wonder if it ever happened.')

    But the governor did promise, the nuclear power plants were (and are) disasters waiting to happen and George Orwell's 1984 should be required reading in high schools again.

    Students can discuss the book in civics class under 'Current Events.'

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