Seasonal Memory 

The dog days of August are upon us. And in Memphis, that means that after an hour in the sun your car feels like the inside of an Easy-Bake Oven; your nice leather seats burn the back of your thighs; the steering wheel scalds your hands. Ouch!

Wouldn't it be a great time to take a vacation in cooler climes? And wouldn't it be nice if you could take off the entire month and go to the beach or to your ranch? Sure it would. And that's just what the Iraqi Parliament, the U.S. Congress, and the president of the United States are about to do: take a month off to relax.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, our soldiers continue to carry out the president's desperate "surge," battling 120-degree heat and bullets and bombs. They continue to fight and bleed and die, while those who sent them there are fishing and golfing and boating. They continue to battle for Iraqi "democracy," while the democratically elected Iraqi government takes a break from doing what it's been doing for years: nothing. They continue to battle tooth and claw for some undefinable "victory," while the president plays cowboy and "clears brush" on his ranch.

There should be no vacation in wartime, at least no vacation that lasts a month. As we are regularly informed by the administration, we are in a "global war on terror."

In August 2001, the president went on his annual 30-day vacation. While at his ranch, he was given a document that read "Osama bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S." While Bush continued his vacation, bin Laden continued working to create the attacks of 9/11. How soon we forget the lessons of history.

Better Next Time

As the guest speaker of the Memphis Rotary Club on Tuesday, Arkansas governor Mike Beebe focused his speech on the need for bordering governmental jurisdictions to shed their competitiveness and practice the virtues of cooperation.

The governor's remarks were so softly, even blandly said that a visitor might never have guessed they had any particular relevance to a local situation. That they did, however, would become clear during the Q&A session that followed Beebe's speech.

A Rotarian asked about Toyota's recent decision to not to locate its new production plant in nearby Marion, Arkansas, or in Chattanooga, but in Tupelo, Mississippi — just distant enough from Beebe's bailiwick and the Memphis work force not to benefit either very much.

The questioner wanted to know how much support advocates of a Marion location had received from Memphis and Shelby County officials. Beebe allowed as how there hadn't been much but declined to blame anybody — neither Shelby County mayor A C Wharton, who was on the dais with him, nor the absent Memphis mayor Willie Herenton, both of whom more or less sat on their hands in deference, as the Arkansas governor gently acknowledged, to "Nashville," where Governor Phil Bredesen was turning the screws on Chattanooga's behalf.

The result? A standoff which allowed Tupelo to come in with what Beebe termed an "11th-hour" offer.

There may be a next time, and maybe there'll be more local governmental support for our neighbor state then — especially since Governor Beebe made it clear that he is ratcheting up Arkansas' contributions to the maintenance of The Med.

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