Stuff happens


From the Publisher/Arnold G. York

On the local scene

Just about the time you get to feeling comfortable, that all is well with the world, at least your own little miniscule world, something happens. In our case, it was a big retaining wall below our house, which, after 75 years of faithful service to the citizens of Malibu, finally, after several weeks of torrential rain, gave up the ghost and retired into a large pile of rubble. Suddenly our life is filled with city officials, insurance people, engineers, geologists, surveyors, lawyers, real estate historians and so on, and it isn’t pretty.

Bottom line is that stuff really does happen, but I must admit I thought this was a bit of overkill. It seems to me we had paid our dues with the 1993 fire and the aftermath and it should have been someone else’s turn, but apparently in the master plan of things it was not to be. Kudos to the city staff who worked long, grueling hours to stay on top of this storm and kept our city operating.


Our governor has introduced his budget and effectively has thrown down the gauntlet. If he really means to bring the budget under control, then he’s taking on the Legislature and every interest group in the state, both Democratic and Republican, that are all going to come back swinging.

The governor generally can get what he wants, but part of the price is that he’s going to have to spend a great deal of his popularity to achieve his ends. You would expect him to make the Democrats angry. The tougher part for him is that he’s also going to make some of the Republicans angry because he’s going to have to gore some of their sacred cows, like police and prison guards and business lobbies.

No one really knows whether the governor has the guts for a long, drawn-out, nasty, vituperative, old-fashioned political brawl. The current take on Big Arnold is definitely mixed. Most of the Sacramento pros are real hardball players who can be very harsh judges. Everyone is waiting to see how this battle plays out before making his or her judgment on the governor.

Nationally and Internationally

Two enormously big stories broke this week. Seymour Hersh, the investigative reporter of Mai Lai fame, who also broke the Iraqi prison story, just did a story in The New Yorker magazine that said the United States has been carrying out reconnaissance missions in Iran and several other Middle Eastern countries to identify nuclear, chemical and missile sites for possible air strikes as soon as this summer.

The Pentagon exploded and charged Hersh’s story was riddled with errors, misstatements and reports of meetings they say never took place. The Pentagon sputtered and grumbled, and waived the flag of yellow journalism, except they never said Hersh was wrong.

I’ve got my own theory. I think the story was leaked to Hersh by the Pentagon, as a message to Iran and several other countries that we aren’t kidding around. I think it’s also an announcement that our tactics are shifting. In effect, what we’re saying is that we’re getting out of Iraq. That’s what that big story is about-training all of those Iraqi troops to take over the load. Even the conservatives know now that it’s too messy to invade a country because the people will close ranks against the invader, and besides, it costs a fortune.

However, what we’re saying now is we don’t have to invade your country. What we’re saying to those countries, particularly Iran, is if any of you mount any kind of a security challenge to us, we have the capacity to put a cruise missile up your nose. The United Nations may be unhappy, but you’ll definitely be dead so don’t go there or let others in your country go there.