More random comments on the state of the world:
The Bush administration, for whatever reason, is refusing to let 1500+ Cuban doctors into the Gulf Coast to help Katrina victims. Apparently Honduran immigrant communities were hit hard, so there's a need for Spanish-speaking doctors in the area. I can't imagine that the Red Cross wouldn't want 1500 extra doctors helping them out. Somebody please point out the sense in putting diplomatic bitterness in front of humanitarian need, because I don't see it.
Speaking of which, British columnist Julian Baggini describes why many Britons aren't sending aid to the victims of the storm: "We don’t want to plug the gaping hole created by inegalitarian American social policy because we want to expose it for what it is, and shatter the US’s self-image as the most fair and free country in the world." So let me get this straight. You're going to teach the U.S. a lesson about how it treats its poor people by refusing to help its poor people. Yeah, that's a brilliant idea.
Both the above pieces are from the Post's World Opinion Roundup.
Stephen Pearlstein writes on the little-noticed news that poverty is increasing in America, and not just thanks to Katrina. Indeed, the only section of America that has seen any "recovery" in our supposed economic recovery is the upper class. You know, the ones getting the tax cuts. Seems like our policymakers have failed to notice that when it comes to the poor, the Invisible Hand of the market is off somewhere picking an Invisible Nose. And the poor get hit by the Invisible Boogers.
Signs that there are more important things on demagogues' minds: the Massachusetts state legislature rejected a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage by the ever-so-close count of 157-39. Last year, during the height of the political furor over the issue, Massachusetts legislators voted for the ban 105-92. However, in Massachusetts, a constitutional amendment must be approved in two straight legislative sessions and be passed by a public referendum in order to become official. One Republican legislator explained why he switched his vote: "Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry." I hear the Society for the Ridiculously Obvious has decided to award him its highest honor. Read the Post article here.
And finally, in the "here we go again" department, a California court ruled that the mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools is unconstitutional. The suit is being brought by the same guy, but this time he found people who actually have standing to sue with him. This means that the Supreme Court (should the suit get there) can't duck the issue this time. Of course, this case will invariably produce exactly what the world needs: a bunch of paranoid religious conservatives complaining about our collective moral perdition while a bunch of paranoid atheists/agnostics warn us of an impending theocracy. Chance of this issue being handled with anything resembling reasonability: zero.