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We Have A Vision

But it'll cost you

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The members of the Charlotte Mecklenburg school board, humble public servants all, spent $12,000 on a retreat at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, a pricey golfing and spa resort. Though steep, the expenditure was for a great cause: the board was trying to put together a "vision statement." And wait -- not only a vision statement, but also a "mission statement"! Whew, that's some hard work; no wonder they didn't quite nail them down during the two-day retreat. I'm sure the board realizes it's imperative -- in fact, top priority -- for them to finish the statements ASAP. CMS employees are no doubt lost and on edge, waiting for the kind of job-enhancing inspiration we all know a good vision statement (not to mention a bonus mission statement) can bring.

Other hard decisions discussed at the School Board retreat included:

1. Beef or fish?

2. Margaritas or Martinis?

3. On the rocks or straight up?

4. HBO or ESPN?

5. Toilet paper roll -- over or under?

"Moral values" were named in the first post-election analyses as the big deciding factor in President Bush's victory. Two weeks later, however, analysts now say voters' main concerns were the war in Iraq, security and the economy. Well, duh. Despite the new info, the "moral values" angle is still being steadily flogged by religious fundamentalists who want Dubya to ram their Paleolithic agenda through Congress.

Bob Jones III, president of Bob Jones University and star of a current BJU production of Cyrano de Bergerac (true story -- you can't say the guy doesn't keep busy) told Bush that God had kept him in office so the nation could be ruled by laws that are "defined by biblical norm" -- so much for that pesky Constitution. And just in case the President was wondering why some people don't like him -- that is, besides his alliances with backward dopes like Jones -- the preacher explained it: "They despise you because they despise your Christ." I guess that's the same Christ worshipped by Catholics who, by the way, are filleted, fried and served up on the BJU website.

Now that the sunlight of Bush's victory has brought these snakes out from under their rocks, at least it's easier to see them coming. One of the biggest snakes, John Ashcroft, the most repressive, not to mention the most downright weird US Attorney General in nearly a century, announced his resignation last week. He simultaneously delivered the Quote of the Month: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." Wow, what great news! Mission Really Accomplished! Now we can dismantle our police forces, pull out of Iraq, and sleep with our doors unlocked -- all thanks to John "No breasts on statues, please" Ashcroft.

Don't throw away that lock yet, though. Ashcroft had second thoughts late in the week, denouncing federal judges who insist that, "war president" or not, Pres. Bush can't lock up whoever he wants indefinitely without charges. These judges, said Mr. Patriot Act, are jeopardizing national security. Man, just when we thought he had this stuff licked. . . .

Ashcroft's judge-bashing would be funnier if not for the appalling fact that the Attorney General of the US doesn't seem to be aware of something as basic as the Judicial branch's role of ruling on the constitutionality of laws and policies. It's no big surprise -- even Republican former Senate colleagues have described Ashcroft as dumb as a brick -- but it's no less sobering to contemplate.

President Bush quickly nominated White House counsel Alberto Gonzales for the Attorney General job. In a mark of how extreme Ashcroft's tenure has been, Gonzales is being described as more moderate than big John. Gonzales, you may remember, is the guy who wrote the January 2002 memo that called the Geneva Conventions "obsolete" and "quaint," thus giving legal cover for the kinds of abuses we saw in photos from Abu Ghraib and that firsthand reports say are routine at Guantanamo.

Here's how crazy it's getting: Last week, the Secret Service visited Boulder High School in Colorado after hearing that some students were going to sing Bob Dylan's 40+-years-old "Masters of War" at a school talent show. Someone told the SS that the students had changed the lyrics to threaten to kill the President. The kids pointed out that they were singing Dylan's original lyrics, which end with a wish that the "masters of war" would die. Not detecting any threat to Dubya, the SS went home.

If the "moral values" nerds get on your nerves with all the crowing about their superiority to the blue states, here are a few facts that came to our attention last week that you can use to give that yahoo in your life something to think about:

1. The all-red South, home of more delusions of moral superiority than any other part of the US, has a higher divorce rate than any other region. Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates in the nation are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. On the other hand, nine Northeastern, true-blue states were among those with the lowest divorces rates. So much for the red states' fabulous family values.

2. Twelve of the 20 states with the highest murder rate are in the South. States topping the list are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina. Even red-staters still consider it immoral to kill people, right?

Satire of the Week: In The Onion, "US To Send 30,000 Mall Security Guards To Iraq," at http://www.theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4045&n=1.

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