Monday, April 10, 2017

"Good News, Everyone!"



Where do we begin the week? It's Monday morning, so Facepalms of note await us from the week prior? What boneheaded bill has been proposed? What's preposterous policies have been enacted? Grab your coffee. Irish it up with some whiskey Because, as the wise man said, "it's going to be a buuuuumpy ride."

First up, "Well, we're bombing Syria." Or more precisely, we did bomb Syria. We lobbed some cruise missiles onto the airbase which the Assad Regime had used to drop sarin gas on a bunch of it's own people. Big noise went boom and it turned out didn't do a hell of lot more than that because it was back up, running and dropping bombs on it's own people pretty much right away. Reaction was decidedly mixed to the strikes and legal experts seem to be of the opinion that the old "well, this falls under that resolution Congress passed at breakneck speed in the aftermath of September the 11th" line doesn't apply here.

Personally, the whole situation seems mildly heartburn inducing. I'd say that I haven't been a fan of our Syrian policy since the start of their Civil War, but that implies that we've had a Syria policy worth of the name. I don't think we have. I think after the mess that erupted in Libya, another sticky Middle Eastern wicket in Syria was not high on the Obama Administration's list of priorities and with some fairly strategic thinking and reasoning behind it. Intervention in Syria would have been an entirely messier affair. I think the time to make a serious and substantive move was in 2012, when President Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons would be a 'red line.'

Unfortunately, if you're going to declare lines that means you have to be prepared to follow through if the target of your red line walks across your line and says, "Oh yeah, buddy. What's it to ya?" Our inaction then makes options for continued intervention now extremely limited. Then, we could have destroyed Syria's air power and bolstered effective opposition groups and that might be paying dividends for us now. With all the Russian involvement in the conflict now, that prospect becomes tricky to impossible to effectively achieve.

All that said, I'm glad we did something. I'm glad we sent a message that "no, asshole, you can't just drop sarin on people" however, unless more of a strategy emerges over the next few weeks, I'm going to file this under "The Most Expensive Lipstick In The World" and call it good. With Chinese President Xi in town for a meeting down at the Mar-A-Lago and with allegations about him being Putin's broski-in-chief, the timing of the strikes can hardly be coincidental.

I'm withholding Facepalms on this one. If we're going to do this, we need a real strategy and clear goals and I want to see those first. (And you know, it's a horrible, bloody conflict tearing an entire country apart and sparking a massive humanitarian crisis that we're not doing enough to solve, IMHO. It's a goddamn tragedy. Not a Facepalm.)

Second up, some *ACTUAL GOOD NEWS* Congressman Loebsack, if you, for some strange reason find yourself reading this, then guess what? You've one yourself one vote for 2018 for introducing this delightful legislation: H.R. 1786: Congressional Halt In Pay Increases and Cut Congressional Pay Act.  It probably will last as long as an icicle in hell, but I this gets a rousing two thumbs up from me. More like this, please.

No Facepalms. Two thumbs up. If I had more thumbs, they'd be up too.

Finally, in "inexplicable questions I didn't know needed asking" Does Iowa need courthouses in all 99 counties?   You know, I'll be honest, gang: I was ready to roll my eyes at this, but the more I think about it, the more I have to wonder if there might be something to this. Especially for rural counties- but here's the thing- you'd actually have to sit down and think this through a bit. The story from the Register references a woman who had to drive all the way to Marion County's Courthouse for like a two minute hearing, which doesn't make a lick of sense. But, let's look at Iowa and Powesheik Counties, for instance.

Iowa's County seat is Marengo. Poweshiek's is Montezuma. Placing one courthouse for both counties in either of those cities would cause a lot of people a headache or three. People in Iowa County would probably hate shlepping all the way to Montezuma and people in Poweshiek would probably be less than enamored at driving all the way to Marengo for the same reasons. But, looking at the map there's towns like Victor, Camforth and Guernsey which are sort of clustered along the county line and more or less half way between the two.

It's an interesting notion- but if you're going to do it, you can't be attached to the idea of county seats or hell, even of counties- it's a valid question to ask: does Iowa need 99 counties anymore? Unfortunately, what's interesting in theory usually makes it way into reality in the most nonsense and idiotic way possible. I'm going to award this one Facepalm with a possibility of more if people actually start doing this in foolish, inconvenient ways.

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