The Ides of March are Upon Us

A Few Things to Contemplate in This Time of Warning

Beware the Ides

Most of us, even those who were not literature majors nor regular readers of Shakespeare, remember the phrase “Beware the Ides of March.” Well, that time on the calendar is almost here. Let’s look at a couple of things that are indeed worthy of our wariness.

The Havana Syndrome

A report is in from an interagency intelligence task force on the mysteries set of symptoms that have beset American diplomats and others overseas with a baffling and debilitating set of medical problems. We happened to be in Havana when this story first broke of the mysterious disease, so we have followed it with great interest.

The report, not signed on to by all participating agencies says, in brief that they could find no evidence of a foreign power inflicting this. They also said they had no clue what else could be causing this, but since they could find no evidence of foreign power involvement, they decided it did not happen. I am not buying it.

I have trouble accepting a conclusion that since we could determine no cause man-made or natural, the conclusion is that it is not man-made. That is simply not good enough. Better to have said we tried hard, looked long, and could find no discernable cause and therefore cannot offer a viable conclusion.

The fact that this seems to have affected only US Government personnel and their families, around the world, leads me to believe it likely is caused by a hostile government – we just can’t figure it out yet. This must be maddening to those who have suffered, and many who still do suffer, from this affliction.

A Conundrum of a Ukrainian Munitions Request

Ukraine has requested many items very much needed for the war, especially to thwart an expected, desperate, and massive Russian offense as Sprin.g approaches. That offense may not happen (it already appears stalled and in trouble), but it certainly could come and Ukraine has reason to worry.

One item requested is cluster munitions. These are controversial munitions, as a good portion of them may not explode when scattered. Civilians could later be hurt or killed by them. The US is not a part of an international treaty banning them and we have a limited supply on hand. Ukraine has made it clear that they fully understand the risk and still need this munition. It is a troubling weapon, but it is also effective at stripping off infantry forces from armor forces, making the armor highly vulnerable.

We should have detailed discussions about how best to clean up the battlefield when the war is over, but I would be inclined to give them what they need to win the fight.

The Gordian Knot Over the District of Columbia Criminal Code

This may seem like a topic only of interest to DC residents but bear with me for a bit. The DC criminal code was written in 190. It has had little updates since then. Finally, the city government decided to do an update. The City Council passed a revised code unanimously.

The Mayor, noting that some sentences were slightly reduced as recommendations, feared Congressional backlash and vetoed the legislation. The Council promptly overrode the veto.

Enter the US Congress. Congressional Republicans, who  enjoy treating DC like the subservient colony it is under current law, passed a law over-ruling the DC legislation. In the Senate, two Democrats voted for it (out of 51), so it passed and went to the President.

Biden has long been an advocate of DC statehood, or at least independence from Congressional control, but the bill passed both houses and so he will sign it. I expect he measures a veto might be overridden, as everyone in politics likes to be seen as Tough on Crime.

The issue is not crime control but the right of local government to control their own local issues. I got sensitized to this when we lived in Northern Virginia. Essentially, Congress can insert itself in anything and everything it wishes to in DC, without limit or control. And over the years, they have done so ad nauseum.

This is blatant colonialism, usually for the worst possible reasons. No one would stand for that in their home districts. They are perfectly comfortable doing it to DC.  This is wrong. I sure would like to see a Congress and an Administration do the right thing and close this trap door. It is a daily insult to the citizens of DC (who still don’t have voting representation in Congress).

Next time we get together, let’s do the opposite of the Ides. Let’s look at a list of promising events and good people. See you next week.

   Bill Clontz

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2 replies to The Ides of March are Upon Us

  1. Based on the mysterious sicknesses infecting young girls in school in Iran, I would take a closer look there for possible source of the Cuba infections.

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