Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On my Soap Box

As I've highlighted in this space before, the Japanese make the most wonderful and sincere apologies, occasionally acting them out and quite literally taking them to the next level. But they do seemingly have difficulty doing the same in regards to some of the historically sensitive things that might be deserving of the deepest bows and sacrifices accorded to say, a failed trading system, or manufacturing defects that cost consumers their lives. This is particularly acute in regards to Japan's war-time atrocities in Manchuria, treatment of POWs and other brutalities in pursuit of forced labour, and of course, there are the comfort women throughout the Pacific, Southeast, and East Asia. Alongside "scientific whaling", these rate as some of the most monumental errors in public relations emanating from a usually cohesive TeamJapan. The Japanese, of course, have no monopoly the stupidly absurd. Perhaps, like these past seven year of the Bush Amdin, and republican Congress, these cock-ups are merely the last throes of a dying generation of conservatives.

But consider for a moment that the US Congress is in session for not more than 220 days per year. Take away Friday alcoholic lunches & golf, and you're down to no more than 170. In that time, Congress must tackle an inconceivable number of issues ranging the budget, defense, transport, education, the environment, healthcare, energy, foreign relations, intelligence, homeland security, agriculture, veterans affairs, all the while trying to find time to meet lobbyists to raise money in order to get re-elected. Whew!! A cursory glance of the past seven years suggests that it all must be overwhelming for aside from continued increasing expenditures and requisite appropriations, concomitant to large seminal decreases in the marginal income tax and capital gains rates of the wealthiest, decidedly little positive legislation has been forthcoming in respect of energy policy, healthcare reform, the environment, agriculture, foreign relations, public transport or, for that matter, education, international trade policy, or Federal fiscal deficits, which makes yesterday's resolution decrying the lack of a Japanese apology to Comfort Women of The World, such an eye-popping event. Where did they ever find the time? And how could an issue of such supreme current importance (especially with Iraq, Darfur, Zimbabwe, nucular I-atollahs etc. in plain view) have slipped our representatives attention for so long (ummm 60 years!!)? Yes I now, they've been really busy working on the most important public poicy issues like prohibiting gay marriage, banning assault rifles from public schools, making it nearly impossible to obtain a late-term abortion, or for that matter birth control, or morning-after pills. Oh yes, and they've been insuring that African women understand the importance of "abstinence" as a first line of defense against unwanted pregnancy. And they've been preoccupied insuring that fuel mileage standards stay on the shelf, and that Monster-Trucks remain classified as "Cars", and "ketchup" decidely, a vegetable.

It is re-assuring to know that despite the large workload, our Congressmen are not deterred from making important decisions about important policy matters that effect the present and future course of our nation, our children and the World. I am certain that as we speak they are just cooperating intently upon bi-partisan bills to more perfectly craft the legislation that will serve the public interest, rather than those of the interest groups that, to date, have so effectively prevented virtually all meaningful legislation or reform from ever seeing the light of day. Errrr, right?

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programs.


Macro Man said...

The ketchup example is at once both the most and least absurd instance of bureaucratic (surely it's bureaucrats rather than legislators who determine this???) diktat.

By a strange coincidence, I carefully inspected the ingredients list of a bottle of Heinz last Sunday before depositing its contents on my freshly grilled hamburger.

The list was surprisingly short and comprised exclusively of ingredients that I had heard of- tomatoes, vinergar, herbs, salt, etc. So far more than most processed foods, ketchup is an accurate representation of its agriculatural input.

Tomatoes, of course, are techincally fruit....

"Cassandra" said...

...and it at once reflects the sad factof how the levers of the state - hijacked by transnat interests - delivers cynically compromised results, from an otherwise well-intentioned beginning. For the attempt to insure that school lunches are "healthy" (yes I know it sounds yuck already) is admirable, but the pressure from lawmakers receiving dollars from Heinz & Hunts, and farm lobbies who sell tomatoes to them, is far more intense than the disaggregated administrative do-gooders inthe various agencies, the local school-boards, or grass-root mom's concerned that Jr. be fed sensibly. So a portion of "ice-cream" counts a portion of milk, and ketchup on the burger & fries (also a "veg") is a serving of "veg" and "a coke & bag-o'-chips" is the lunch of our errr future mmmm "champions"?!?? HFCS & sugar makes up no less than a 1/3 of the contents of catsup, which it must be said is horrid tasting stuff once the offending sweeteners are removed. "Earth's Best" or "NewHorizon Healthy" Catsup has no redeeming culinary attributes whatsoever (at least acording to "Fine Cooking's" latest survey.

Now about your laundary detergent....

Macro Man said...

Still, even the "greenest" at ketchups must taste better than their antecedent, Roman sarum (a condiment made, if memory serves, of the liquid remains of rotten fish.)

Point taken on conflict of interest re: provision of school lunches, tho perhaps if greater funding were allocated then schools could tread a happy medium 'twixt future Fatfighters customers and Jamie Oliver-style rabbit salads (which, according to one student at Macro Boy's school, are "not very nice.")

Anonymous said...

Since when were "school dinners" meant to be nice.... and French exchange teachers not to be??? But liver and onions, lumpen mash, greens (that explains it), and jam roly poly, beats pizza n'chips n'ketchup, n'coke n'. The days when dinner ladies were feared and respected for their ability to wield the ladle of dietary deprivation and for being someone's mum are gone as are phrases such as "shut up and eat your greens".

"Hijacked by transfat interests"... shurely.

Yep they do not do what it says on the tin, but mostly what the tin and the din says.

MTC said...

Dear Cassandra:

Your "the time could have been better used" argument is somewhat off-base. House Resolution 121 required almost no expenditure of time or effort on the part of the members of Congress--just one brief sub-committee hearing attended by three Representatives, one hourlong meeting of a handful of Representatives and one Senator at the request of the Japanese prime minister, a few minutes of debate in the full committee and then passage under suspension--meaning that it passed the full House unanimously without debate and with only a handful of the members in the chamber.

The ones who really expended time and treasure were the Japanese opponents of the measure.