King Salman, My Pal . . .

My old buddy . . .
My old buddy . . .

(Inspired by a story by Ben Hubbard)

Hey, Salman, buddy, don’t forget your old pal from the days

We used to go on picnics in the khareef’s misty haze.

Just you and me and retinue of a thousand men or so

(and of course the harem that was with you on the go).

 

I see you got the old man’s seat; congratulations, pal!

You’re passing out the beaucoup bucks to boost the state’s morale.

I do not wish to seem like I presume too much from you,

But times are tough; I’m in the rough; some cash would see me through.

 

About a million dollars sure would be enough for me;

I guess I can rely upon your generosity.

Send the check down to the county jail and I won’t squawk.

I’ll pay my bail and get my shirt and pants right out of hock!

Gas Prices Hit All-Time Low in Utah!

Chevron_Gas_Station,_US_19_41,_Griffin

On Saturday, January 3, 2015, gas was retailing in the Provo area for $1.89 per gallon.  It appears the price is going to continue to plummet.

A recent poll shows how the American people feel about this.

The public is gradually becoming aware of America’s energy boom. Currently, 54% say domestic energy production has been increasing in recent years, up from 48% in September 2013. Meanwhile, the recent slide in gas prices is registering widely: An overwhelming 89% say that that pump prices have fallen in the past month.

Despite the growth of domestic energy production, public attitudes about energy policies have changed only modestly in recent years. In broad terms, developing alternative energy is viewed as a more important priority than expanding the exploration and production of oil, coal and natural gas. By two-to-one (60% to 30%), more prioritize the development of alternative energy sources than expanded extraction of energy from traditional sources.

 

  • The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,507 adults, finds that the public remains wary of the increased use of nuclear power. By a 53%-41% margin, more oppose than favor the government promoting the increased use of nuclear power. Opposition to nuclear power has been at about 50% or above since March 2011, following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

 

Furthermore, the drop in gas prices around the country has registered widely: Fully 89% say that gas prices have gone down either a lot (50%) or a little (39%) over the past month; just 8% say they have gone up at a little or a lot.

Large majorities of college graduates (91%) and those with no college experience (86%) say gas prices have fallen, but college graduates are more likely to say they have declined a lot (56% vs. 43%).

 

H/T  to http://www.people-press.org/2014/12/18/as-u-s-energy-production-grows-public-policy-views-show-little-change/

Ode to the Angler.

fishing

Fishing, to Americans, is taken as a right.

We fish our rivers, lakes and streams with all our hungry might.

And when we’re balked of water rich in piscatory wealth,

We feel it prejudices all our happiness and health.

 

The fisherman is noble in pursuit of finny prey.

He (or she) spends millions ev’ry single angling day.

And all to put a hook inside the mouth of something scaly,

Besides which job, romance and gold become distractions palely.

 

“O, do not fence me in” is what the fisherman implores,

As he casts his line upon the everlasting shores.

For if you take away the pools of bass and shark and trout,

What will the poor fisherman have left to lie about?

 

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kingoscar

This piscatorial post is brought to you by King Oscar.  They are to sardines what Tiffany’s is to jewelry!

The Old Goat & the Young Lamb.

blackwidow

First you lose your parents, then your spouse decides to drop.

Friends you’ve known a long, long time begin to close up shop.

Whether in Japan or Keokuk or Timbuktu,

The elderly grow lonely while Father Time is counting coup.

 

A little bit of kindness or romantic tete-a-tete

Is welcome as spring tonic when the time is running late.

Since no one else seems in’trested in your diminished life,

It seems a decent pleasure to take on a younger wife.

 

King David in the Bible was allowed such liberties.

Surely I can do as much, or more, if I so please.

I have provided for my new and frisky little bride.

(I only wish her omelets didn’t reek of cyanide.)

 

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bankk

This cynical little ditty is brought to you by the Bank of American Fork.  They know how to earn your trust, as well as earn interest!

The Japanese Return to Guadalcanal.

guadalcanal

We walk upon a sepulcher, wherever we may go.

The bones of soldiers make a crop we always have to sow.

In the South Pacific now, young Japanese recruits,

Who never held a rifle, look for swords and moldy boots.

 

Their country hammered swords and spears into transistor parts;

Today Japan has outlawed war (but not the martial arts).

But curiosity and fam’ly history have stirred

Students to go find the shards of warriors interred.

 

If those bones could speak what might they say to Japan’s youth?

Would they still consider that they died for home and truth?

Soldiers always march to war with fine words in their ears,

And return, if they have luck, with nothing but dried tears.

 

(Editor’s Note:  Martin Fackler, who wrote the article this poem is based on for the New York Times, was kind enough to respond to the poem with these words:

Thanks for this nice poem! As you suggest, each participant in the group did have their own takeaway from the experience, some different from others. For me, the most poignant moment was when I stood with the 95-year-old veteran of the battle looking at a pile of old brown bones and realizing that these two men, one living and the other long dead, had once been comrades in arms, and the same age. One returned to live a long life, living to see his great grandchildren, while the other had all of that taken from him.)

 

Bipartisan Group of Senators Urges U.S. to Seek Japan Agricultural Agreement in Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks

Congress seeks better trade deal for American Ag products with Japan.
Congress seeks better trade deal for American Ag products with Japan.

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) urged the top U.S. trade negotiator to negotiate a comprehensive and acceptable agreement with Japan that will increase market access for all agricultural products as part of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

In a letter to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman sent on Friday to coincide with key talks over the weekend, the senators expressed concern that Japan has not yet made a comprehensive offer on agricultural talks that would increase access for U.S. agricultural products in Japan.  The senators said the lack of a comprehensive agreement would undermine the Administration’s “goal of significantly increasing market access for U.S. agricultural products in TPP party countries.”

In addition to Grassley and Bennet, the senators signing the letter are Mark Pryor, Joe Donnelly, Kay Hagan, Mark Udall, Pat Roberts, John Cornyn, James Inhofe, Mark Kirk, John Thune, Mike Johanns, John Boozman, Roy Blunt, Rob Portman, Deb Fischer, Richard Burr and Jerry Moran.
The text of the letter is available below:
Dear Ambassador Froman:
We write to express our concerns that Japan has not yet made a comprehensive offer on agricultural products as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. We believe that this situation could undermine the Administration’s goal of significantly increasing market access for U.S. agricultural products in TPP party countries.
In previous trade negotiations, the United States requested and received full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector from both developed countries like Japan as well as developing countries. By requesting special treatment for its agricultural sector in the TPP, Japan may upset the careful balance of concessions that the eleven economies involved in the negotiations have achieved. If Japan continues to insist on protecting certain agricultural products, other countries with sensitivities in the agricultural sector may make similar demands.

As intended, the TPP will facilitate additional trade relationships with Asia-Pacific countries and set an important precedent for future trade agreements. Most immediately, a positive outcome with Japan on sensitive agricultural products will buoy the prospects for reaching an acceptable agreement with the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

The market access package that the Administration negotiates with Japan has the potential to support billions of dollars in future exports and hundreds of thousands of jobs. For this reason, we seek assurances from you that the U.S. will not close the TPP negotiations without an acceptable comprehensive agreement with Japan to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers in agriculture.

The Lingering Shame of Occidental Racism.

jap

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s 1944 decision in Korematsu v. United States was a disaster. In endorsing an executive order that required 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to be removed from their homes and confined in detention camps, the court relied on wartime hysteria streaked with racism, sullying its reputation and damaging the constitutional principles it was meant to uphold.

Justice Antonin Scalia has ranked Korematsu alongside Dred Scott, the 1857 decision that black slaves were property and not citizens, as among the court’s most shameful blunders.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer has written that Korematsu has lost all potency as precedent. “The decision has been so thoroughly discredited,” he wrote in a recent book, “that it is hard to conceive of any future court referring to it favorably or relying on it.”

But Korematsu has never been overruled.

Calls for the Supreme Court to renounce the ruling started almost immediately after it was issued, and have persisted for 70 years. “Public expiation in the case of the internment of Japanese Americans from the West Coast would be good for the court, and for the country,” Eugene V. Rostow wrote in 1945 in The Yale Law Journal.

The jurisprudential problem for the court is that it needs a proper setting in which to overrule a decision. It rules on live controversies, and the mass detention of citizens has not arisen again.

The failure to make a definitive statement may also reflect a lack of judicial creativity. The court can say what it likes about its earlier rulings, and it would cost nothing but ink to say something about Korematsu.

The court will soon have a chance to do that in a case concerning a 2012 federal law that authorized the military detention without trial of people accused of providing support to terrorist organizations. The law left in place “existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens.” That would seem to include the Korematsu decision.

In urging the Supreme Court to hear their case, Hedges v. Obama, No. 13-758, the plaintiffs challenging the law asked the justices to consider whether Korematsu should be overruled.

The new case is hardly an ideal vehicle. The federal appeals court in New York dismissed it, saying that the plaintiffs had not suffered the sort of injury that gave them standing to sue, and it said nothing about Korematsu. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. will presumably oppose a Supreme Court review on the grounds that the appeals court’s ruling on standing was correct.

But Peter H. Irons, a lawyer who discovered evidence of government misconduct in the Korematsu case and later helped its namesake, Fred Korematsu, wipe out his conviction, for remaining in a restricted military area, said the new case represents an opportunity.

He and other lawyers recently wrote to Mr. Verrilli to ask him to join the plaintiffs in asking that Korematsu be overruled. They reminded Mr. Verrilli that his predecessor, Acting Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal, had in 2011 issued a “confession of error” for the actions of government lawyers in the Korematsu case. Those lawyers, over the protests of underlings, had twisted and withheld evidence from the Supreme Court.

Mr. Katyal spoke for the executive branch. Congress has also addressed the matter.

In 1982, a congressional commission concluded that the internment of Japanese-Americans was “a grave injustice” animated by “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” It added that “the decision in Korematsu lies overruled in the court of history.”