Opinion » Shredder

Post-holiday jeers

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So Barack Obama is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. When the president made the announcement, I could hear all the George W. Bush supporters smirking. But then Obama said he’d start bringing them home in 18 months, and the pundits with their punditry drowned out the sound of anything else.

It’s not Iran, they pointed out. Heck, Osama Bin Laden actually spent time in Afghanistan, so this is the right war to be fighting, if there even is such a thing. But wait, others said, Obama only said he’d start bringing the troops home in a year and a half. How long it will take to get all 100,000 soldiers home is harder to pin down, as are any bumps in the road along the way.

All I’ll say is I’ll believe it when I see it. The deadline, the withdrawal, the end of the war,

So what else is there to talk about? Well, there’s that Laguna Lake dredging thing the SLO City Council was postulating. From what I milked out of the reporter who had to go to the meeting, the council members talked about the need to do something about the lake. After all, they warned, previous councils have kicked this project down the line since the damn thing was built—remember it’s a fake lake, and yes I’m aware of the Dr. Seuss quality of the rhyme. Naturally, after talking about what to do—whether it be dredge the lake with money they don’t have, leave it alone and deal with complaints about the new San Luis Obispo swamp, or come up with a more creative approach—they agreed to kick the thing down the line again. This time, with this particular council, they told their grunts to come back with new alternatives that don’t cost $500,000 a year. No one could agree what the alternative will be exactly, other than Dave Romero who harkened back to how wonderful the thing was back in the 1950s when it was brand new and he still had two real hips.

To be fair, at least the council members had the smarts to question whether they should be flushing public funds to clean a lake the city built. So kudos to the hesitant council, and disregard all the previous crassness I wrote about you.

Why so soon?

About a week ago, there was the out-of-left-field announcement that PG&E is applying to relicense Diablo Canyon. This is more than eight years before they have to apply and 14 years before the current license expires. Either they’re a bunch of former teacher’s pets who always got projects in early, or they’re trying to get out ahead of something.

If you base your opinion on nothing more than the press conference, this is a wonderful way of providing clean energy, millions in property taxes, countless jobs, and free puppies for everyone. PG&E paraded nuclear-power advocates around like proud honor student parents. Take a closer look though, and pro-nuke people like Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, aren’t all that representative of the environmental community. In fact, Moore was neither a founder of Greenpeace, nor is the group giving nuclear power a fuzzy hug, as he told the press.

In fact, New Times’ own reporter was almost cast out of the press conference, as were a few nuclear watchdogs who were there to call bunk. Maybe it’s because of such critics that PG&E is getting a jump on relicensing. They’ve now volleyed everything to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is funded by the nuclear industry and about as impartial and responsive as an untrained labradoodle.

What is virtue?

Let’s start off with an excerpt of a poem by a regular e-mailer:

“Seen through Christine’s kitchen window.

You better watch out De Vaul.

You are messing with the Beast.”

A bit obscure, aside from referring to Christine Mulholland as a beast that feeds on the blood of homeless drug addicts. I’m extrapolating here.

Let me pose a question: What if the county was housing homeless people in deteriorating buildings? There’s no denying that Dan De Vaul has noble intentions, and less denying that he does what our illustrious bunch of gum-flapping bureau-douches will never do, which is actually give people homes rather than talk about it and pat themselves on the back. I think their latest proposal in the 10-year plan to end homelessness involves some sort of mechanical patting machine.

But let’s all take a deep breath, step back, and ask: Is De Vaul still getting screwed, or is he screwing himself? It’s easy to go after the Board of Supervisors and the like because they have much more wiggle room to work with De Vaul than does the court. Granted, this case should never have gone to court, but it did. And De Vaul had an option. He could have taken one on the chin (the probation option) and cleaned up the damn place. It was no surprise when he stepped off the soapbox and onto the cross, taking jail time instead. But does he really deserve the second-coming status anymore?

Hate the laws if you want, but I think Judge John Trice said it well—and it pains me to agree with that smug draconianist—when he said people are confusing the social issue with the legal one.

It reminds me of a philosophical riddle on virtue. Take, for example, the man who runs into a burning building to save a child, only to pull it from the flames and molest it. Does the virtuous act negate all the others?

The Shredder’s still full of turkey and cynicism. Send an e-mail that will be ignored to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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