Monday, December 31, 2001
Today's Wall Street Journal has a link to some wit and wisdom collected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
My favorite one now resides in the box to the left. It's worth a read.
Well, the subject of recess appointments has come up again. With the Congress out of town, Bush can use recess appointments to help staff his administration. This isn't the first time that Congress has been slow in approving a president's nominees. When Clinton was in office, there were delays and fights over nominees. Clinton had to put up several women for the post of attorney general, before settling on Janet Reno, Clinton submitted, then withdrew the names of several candidates for the post.
The problem with Clinton's nominees? They'd employed illegal aliens and failed to pay social security taxes for them. When Linda Chavez was first nominated to be Labor Secretary by George W. Bush, she was scrutinized (and derided) for doing much the same thing. (There is evidence, however, that the situations were not the same. It appears as though Chavez allowed the woman to stay in her home and occasionally gave her money out of charity, as opposed to the demonstrated employer/employee relationship of Clinton's nominees.)
However, part of the reason Congress was slow to approve Clinton's nominees had to do with Clinton. The former president was slow, much slower than George W. Bush, in nominating people to fill the posts.
Anyway, Sen. Tom Daschle continues his stonewalling ways. On NBC's "Meet the Press," Daschle suggested that Bush withdraw the nominees Daschle and his friends, namely Sen. Chris Dodd, don't like.
Daschle said there is strong opposition, particularly for (Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere nominee Otto) Reich. He said Bush should instead withdraw the nomination.
A recess appointment ``isn't the way it ought to be addressed,'' he said. ``The constitutional responsibility of the president and Congress is to work together on these nominees.''
This just in: Elections have consequences. Bush's nominees should mirror Bush and his policies. Al Gore didn't win, so, unless Bush's nominees are unqualified to hold the post for which they've been nominated, they need to be approved.
Dodd, the senator in charge of the committee that would screen Reich, refuses to schedule a hearing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Dodd certainly has some large cajones:
Senator Chris Dodd is still smarting from having tangled with Mr. Reich over the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the 1980s. So now he refuses to give Mr. Reich even a hearing. And then, in a December 20 letter cosigned by GOP Senator Michael Enzi, he warns President Bush not to give Mr. Reich a recess appointment, on the astounding grounds that Mr. Reich "has not gone through the requisite committee process"!
You'd think with Argentina falling apart, that it might be a good idea to have the assistant secretary of state position filled. Schedule a vote, if Reich can't get confirmed, then Bush can try again. But do the job. Go through the process.
And Reich isn't the only one being held hostage by politics.
But nothing illustrates the Daschle Senate better than the treatment of Eugene Scalia, President Bush's pick to be the Labor Department's top lawyer. Back when a Republican-controlled Senate found itself at odds with then-President Clinton over the appointment of Bill Lann Lee as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Mr. Lee was given a hearing. And it was Democrats who fought sending his name to the floor for a vote--because they knew he would lose. President Clinton then responded not with a regular recess appointment that would expire at the end of that Congress. Instead he named Mr. Lee Acting Assistant Attorney General, in clear violation of the Vacancies Act and something that even Mr. Clinton noted was not "entirely constitutional."
In sharp contrast, Mr. Scalia would win a floor vote. He is being held up by Senator Ted Kennedy for what everyone knows is payback for the role his father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, played in the Bush v. Gore recount case. Mr. Scalia was reported favorably out of the Senate Labor Committee in early October. But Mr. Daschle has prevented it from moving to the floor for a vote, telling ABC News he didn't think "the votes are there."
There may not be 60 votes to end a filibuster against Mr. Scalia, but a clear majority of 54 Senators, including independent Jim Jeffords, are set to back him. Thus, Mr. Daschle seems to be creating a new extra-constitutional rule that "controversial" nominees like Mr. Scalia will need 60 Senators before Presidents get their choice of appointees. In supporting a filibuster, Mr. Daschle is refusing to let the Senate work its will, an abdication of its advise and consent role. No one can remember the last time a nominee who had the majority vote him out of committee did not then get a floor vote.
Well, you can toss the Bill Lann Lee nomination onto the list of laws which Clinton violated during his term in office. Unfortunately, no one inside the beltway had the guts to call Clinton on his brazen violation of the law.
And now Democrats are crying?
I was, however, relieved to see on CNN's "Late Edition" that both a Democratic consultant and Al Gore's former campaign manager, Donna Brazille, came out against Daschle's stonewalling tactics. Both said that Bush's nominees should get a vote on the Senate floor. Brazille added that "they should get a vote, and be voted down." That statement showed how uncomprehending Brazille is of the situation on the Hill. The reason Daschle isn't moving on either of the nominations is that they wouldn't be voted down.
"I take issue with this obstructionist charge. The fact is we've had a very successful fall if you look at all the things we've accomplished.''
Accomplish a couple more things Tom, schedule a vote for Eugene Scalia. It should only take a few minutes, he's already had his committee hearing. And make Dodd schedule a hearing for Reich. If there isn't enough support for his nomination then fine. But do your job.
Saturday, December 29, 2001
Well, I watched San Diego State's mens basketball team play No. 1-ranked Duke this afternoon. The Aztecs played very well, losing 92-79 -- that's 13 points for the mathematically challenged. Quite a good performance for an unranked team going into Cameron Indoor Stadium.
My question is, who's the idiot headline writer over at espn.com?
"After slow start, Dunleavy, Duke rout San Diego State"
Sorry, 13 points is no rout.
Who says it's impossible for me to agree with a liberal Democrat?
From Friday's letters to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Editor -- While Jonathan Tan (Letters, Dec. 25) and I agree in objecting to bomb attacks on abortion mills, I regret that Tan is not aware of two important items. It is not just Christian fundamentalists but many other concerned Americans who strongly object to abortion and find it a heinous act, and most of the violence that occurs in and around such establishments is committed by skilled abortionists whose chief talent lies in the efficient use of violence against helpless human beings.
Of course, it is in the self-interest of those who profit from such lucrative establishments to perpetuate the myth that only extreme conservatives disapprove of abortion. Many liberal Democrats, including myself, detest abortion just as we do any other form of murder.
Here, here Paul.
The debate is so reminiscent of my college speech class where I argued that abortion was morally wrong. The attacks on me were expected, and ad hominem. My favorite was a young man who argued that I should have no say about the issue of abortion because I'm a man. Of course, there are millions of women across this country that agree with me, but this was supposedly a topic on which men are not allowed to have an opinion.
Helen Thomas, the grand dame of the White House press corps, takes time out this week to plead for the traitor John Walker Lindh's life.
Perhaps in mulling over Walker's life, he (President Bush) will try to remember when he was a 20-year-old. True, he did not defiantly challenge the system as so many young protesters did in the Vietnam War era. Politics was not his bag at Yale when others were marching in support of civil rights and against the war.
Well, I guess I'm fortunate that 20 years old for me was only nine years ago. I remember what it was like. Walker's age is no excuse for what he did. Thomas also puts in an unfair dig at President Bush. Thomas, not so subtlely, implies that Bush was against the civil rights movement and for the war in Vietnam. Unfortunately, from everything I've read, much of the anti-war protests during the 1960s turned into anti-soldier process. Men who returned from Vietnam were spit on and called baby killers. I'm sure that if Bush had joined them (as former President Clinton did), that he might have been able to recall a time when he hated his country like Walker does. I'm glad we've got a president now who didn't buy into the hate-America rhetoric that was so common then.
During an interview with CNN, Walker did not help himself with American public opinion when he replied "definitely" when asked if he were fighting for the right cause.
He "didn't help himself" is an understatement. While many people are saying that proving treason may be difficult with Walker, I've got a feeling that if we dragged him into a courtroom he'd admit to it. There are only two ways someone can be convicted for treason, testimony by two witnesses to the same overt act or an admission in open court. I've got a feeling that if we give Walker some rope, he'll hang himself.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Friday, December 28, 2001
Osama bin Laden, in his latest hit video, says that the end of the United States is "imminent." *NEWSFLASH* Osama bin Laden is in Egypt. Specifically: Denial.
Apparently as part of its Christmas Day schedule, VH1 replayed the "Concert for America" that occurred earlier this year. But if you saw this replay, you would have heard something different. This time, when Hillary speaks, there's no boos. That's right, VH1 put in "general crowd noise" and wiped out the chorus of boos that greeted the former first lady. Don't forget that Hillary got booed. In a few years, they may bring out that doctored tape to try to prove that it never happened.
Thursday, December 27, 2001
Also in today's Washington Post (a wealth of information), is a piece by Kevin J. Hasson, president of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, tackles the issue of truth.
In the continuing debate over Islam and pluralism, a growing number of observers are staking out a disturbing position. Face the facts, they say: The war against terrorism is only one part of a larger struggle, in which the forces of freedom are arrayed against all those who believe in an absolute truth.
Osama bin Laden couldn't agree more. And both he and they are wrong.
Former president Clinton teed up the point in a recent speech at Georgetown University. "This battle," he said, "fundamentally is about what you think of the nature of truth." So just what does Bill Clinton think of the nature of truth? That it can't be known with any certainty. "Nobody's got the truth," he says. Everybody is just "trying to get closer" to it. That's the big difference between us and them: "Because we don't believe you can have the whole truth, we think everybody counts and life is a journey. . . They believe because they have the truth you either share their truths or you don't. If you're not a Muslim, you're an infidel. If you are and you don't agree with them, you're a heretic and you're a legitimate target." Only uncertainty, in other words, can save us from the killing fields.
Andrew Sullivan warns, "in a world of absolute truth . . . there is no room for dissent." And the only way to reconcile Islam and pluralism, amens Thomas Friedman, is for Islam to affirm "that God speaks multiple languages and is not exhausted by just one faith." The only good religion is a relativist one.
Now, Clinton and company would no doubt be horrified to discover that they agree with the Taliban on anything so fundamental as the nature of truth and freedom, but they do. Both assume truth and freedom are irreconcilable opposites. The difference is that the Taliban happily sacrifices freedom for truth, while Clinton and the others obligingly sacrifice truth for freedom. Both agree, however, that you are either a truth-owning jihadi or a freedom-loving relativist. Choose your corner, and come out swinging.
Let me first say that I'm disappointed, but not surprised, by former president Bill Clinton's position on the truth. I can understand that he may be searching for the truth, heck, he's searching for the definition of the word "is." But as a Christian, I think Clinton knows what the truth is, and it's something he should be sure of. Yes, I believe that we'll see Bill in heaven. But I also think he, will get a little more of a tongue lashing when he gets there then most of the rest of us.
There is absolute truth in the world. I can believe that and not be forced intellectually into killing people who don't agree with me, despite what Clinton, Friedman and Sullivan claim. Islam doesn't need to say "that God speaks multiple languages and is not exhausted by just one faith." A majority of Christians would not agree with that statement. The difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christianity tells its adherents to go out into the world and share the good news of Jesus Christ. Islam tells its adherents to convert people to Islam, but if they won't convert, kill them.
Hasson has a solution to the radical Muslim fundamentalism that commands its adherents to kill "infidels."
Serious Muslim friends tell me that the Koran provides a basis for them to affirm the human dignity of every person, just as Genesis (all are made in the image and likeness of God) does for Jews and Christians.
If they are right, the solution to reconciling Islam with pluralism lies not in lecturing Muslims about the supposed virtues of relativism but in helping find within the Koran the absolute truth of human dignity.
It would be nice, but I don't think that this solution will work. There is too much in the Koran which calls for death. I believe that Jesus Christ IS God. According to the Koran, that makes me an infidel. All infidels, according to the Koran, are to be killed.
As much as I may wish it, I doubt there can ever be a reconciliation between Muslim fundamentalism and people of a different faith, whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. What Christians must do is reach out to Muslims and show them Christ's love. There is no other solution.
George Will sings the praises of my great-great-great (maybe one or two more greats...I'll leave it to my father the genealogist to figure out) uncle, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.
One of Sherman's less well known quotes opens Will's column: "I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand I have told you of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them."
To summarize Will's point:
Donald Rumsfeld says his preference is for al Qaeda fighters to surrender rather than fight to the death: "It ends it faster. It's less expensive." Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, says: "This is not a war of extermination." Such statements are perhaps obligatory and even sincere.
However, is surrender really less expensive in the long run? It is a reasonable surmise that a reformed terrorist is a very rare terrorist, and that the rate of recidivism will be high among terrorists who are forced to surrender but continue to believe they are doing God's will when they commit mass murder of infidels. So, as far as is consistent with the rules of war and the husbanding of the lives of U.S. military personnel, U.S. strategy should maximize fatalities among the enemy, rather than expedite the quickest possible cessation of hostilities.
We've already seen the truth in this as Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has "disappeared" amid the mass "surrendering" that occurred when Kandahar fell. We don't have nearly enough al Qaeda prisoners. The Marines on the ground in Afghanistan have to be on alert because of fears that there are many of these fanatical Arab fighters who've surrendered, only to regroup in the hills.
A dead terrorist is preferable to an imprisoned one. A dead one isn't likely to escape, kill guards or any of the other mischief that prisoners can so often get into.
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
I've lost a measure of respect for Fox News for its handling of Geraldo Rivera. First off, let me say that when Geraldo comes on, I either change the channel, fast forward (if I'm watching a tape) or turn the TV off. He used to be a journalist, but he sold out and became and egomaniacal entertainer a long time ago.
From today's Washington Post:
Rivera's reporting surrounding a Dec. 5 incident in Kandahar where three Americans were accidentally killed by a U.S. bomb has been called into question.
The next day, Rivera reported that he had "walked over the spot where the friendly fire took so many of our men and the mujahadeen yesterday. It was just, the whole place, just fried, really, and bits of uniforms and tattered clothing everywhere. I said the Lord's Prayer and really choked up."
But The (Baltimore) Sun later reported that Rivera had filed his report from Tora Bora, hundreds of miles from Kandahar incident.
Rivera later said that he had witnessed the aftermath of a separate incident where two Afghans were killed in Tora Bora and that he had confused the two cases in his mind.
The problem, as far as anyone outside of Fox News is concerned, is that this "separate incident where two Afghans were killed in Tora Bora" occurred three days after he filed his report.
It would have been tough to confuse the two, seeing that the second incident hadn't occurred yet.
Fox News Channel said Wednesday that war correspondent Geraldo Rivera had made an "honest mistake" in his reporting of a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan.
The network said it had accepted Rivera's explanation and planned no further action.
This response is unacceptable. This won't be the last time something like this happens. Why? Well, because Geraldo didn't do anything wrong, in his mind.
Rivera told The Washington Post in Monday's edition that allegations that he had lied were "hideously absurd."
"The time has come to stop the Geraldo-bashing," he said.
See, Geraldo's the victim. It's not his fault. It's the media's.
I'd suggest that when you hear reporting from Geraldo, consider the source.
More proof that despite the tragic events of Sept. 11, too many Americans have too much spare time on their hands.
New Mexico church plans Harry Potter book burning
ALAMOGORDO, New Mexico (Reuters) - A New Mexico church plans to burn Harry Potter books because they are "an abomination to God," the church pastor said on Wednesday.
Pastor Jack Brock said he would have a "holy bonfire" on Sunday at the Christ Community Church in Alamogordo in southern New Mexico to torch books about the fictional teen-age wizard who is wildly popular with young people.
"These books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks, and sorcerers, and those things are an abomination to God and to me," Brock, 74, told Reuters.
I've read all four Harry Potter books. They're fun -- nothing more. Also, I've yet to hear any reports of children wanting to become witches or warlocks because of the books. Silly is a good word for this hysteria. Stupid is a better word.
If we're going to start tossing out Harry Potter, well....The Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, both by Christian authors, should probably follow.
If the Wall Street Journal's analysis is accurate, then it looks like the American traitor John Walker Lindh is in some deep water.
Nor is it any protection to have committed the treason abroad, a point established in the case of Tomoya Kawakita, a young Japanese-American who on the eve of war went to Japan to visit and was prevented by the outbreak of war from returning. During the war, the court noted, he reached his majority in Japan, changed his registration from American to Japanese, showed sympathy with Japan and hostility to the United States, served as a civilian employee of a private corporation producing war materials for Japan, and brutally abused American prisoners of war who were forced to work there. He was brought up on the treason charge when he returned to America on an American passport. In sustaining his conviction, the Supreme Court established that an American citizen owes allegiance to America wherever he may reside.
I'm anxious to see the trial of the traitor begin. I would hope that it can be done quickly and without the media circus that accompanied the OJ trial. If he is put before a military tribunal, which is unlikely, the trial would not be televised. More likely is a trial before a federal judge in Virginia (federal prosecutors could've brought the trial in the district where Walker last lived, but then we'd have to slap them for suggesting San Francisco). Television cameras are banned in federal courts, but CourtTV is filing a lawsuit asserting that the ban is unconstitutional.
My money is on the trial not being televised.
Someone apparenly hacked Blogger. The service that runs numerous sites....including mine. Posting may be sporadic for the next few days as they try to resecure the site.
Monday, December 24, 2001
Normally it takes a heck of a lot to offend me. All of that "art" that they show in certain New York museums and the like may be stupid. It certainly is disgusting. But I don't think I've ever been really offended.
Nope to offend me it takes someone like Stephanie Salter, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. In Sunday's paper, Ms. Salter claims to speak for Jesus Christ. In a piece (of what I'll let you decide) entitled "W.W.J.D." Salter tries her hand at theology as she writes as Jesus speaking to President Bush.
I don't know any Christian who would have the chutzpah to even pretend to speak to anyone else this way.
Since Sept. 11, dear brother, I have noticed that you have turned away from me. I do not hear you ask yourself or anyone else the question you once asked all the time: "What would Jesus do?"
This absolutely infuriates me. Who is stephanie salter (she doesn't deserve to have her name capitalized) to judge the state of Bush's relationship with God?
Dear brother, you are right to want to stop evil. The tricky part for humans has always been, what is the best way to stop it? My four-letter answer is written, over and over, in the Bible, but it has been ignored by potentates, peons and sometimes popes for 2,000 years.
Why? Because it contradicts the human instinct for vengeance.
Our Father said, "Vengeance is mine," George, not, "Vengeance belongs to those who have been wronged." Vengeance is never the answer to "What would Jesus do?" Especially vengeance that masquerades as "justice."
What is salter suggesting? It appears that she is saying that if we just show the terrorists love that they will stop and we will all get along.
It is amazing that pacifism drives people like salter to stupidity.
"For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity." -- Isaiah 61:8
I'd love to slap some sense into salter, and I would encourage all of you to write a short note to the San Francisco Chronicle and tell them what you think of her.
For a more thorough dissection of salter's piece, read what James Lileks wrote.
I'll give you a short preview before you leave.
Salter's message is quite clear: when the guy in the seat next to you starts lighting his sneakers, whistle a happy Psalm. Tell him you love him. Seek peace, and as you hurtle down into the cold, cold ocean, wrap yourself in your heavy Ghandi cloak for warmth. The cycle of violence has been stopped!
Granted, two hundred people are dead. But at least they didn't die angry. Fighting makes baby Jesus cry.
Sunday, December 23, 2001
More detail on this later, but it appears as though my least-favorite war correspondent Geraldo Rivera lied one of his reports earlier this month. What is more troubling is that Fox News has not explained or apologized or even acknowledged that this occurred. Instead, a network spokesman accused the paper that reported the incident for having some sort of vendetta against Fox News.
I've never liked Geraldo, and I thought it was a mistake for Fox News to hire him. If they've gotten burned by Geraldo they should admit it, fire him and move on. The last thing they should be doing is defending him. It's very damaging for all the credibility for fair and accurate reporting they've been able to build up.
I just returned from seeing "The Fellowship of the Ring." It is very well done. I understand that trying to condense the book into a three-hour movie forces you to lose some things, but I would've liked to see Tom Bombadil.
Finally getting around to hearing Lanny Davis defend former President Bill Clinton on the "O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News. Spin. Spin. Spin. Bill Clinton balanced the budget...blah blah. Of course, the subject of the interview was what Bill Clinton had done about terrorism and al Qaeda during his administration.
This last week the Washington Post put out a two-part series about how the former president dealt with terrorism in general, and Usama bin Laden in particular. What is revealed in the series is that Clinton did do much more than was previously known, but, like every other decision made throughout his adminstration, polls drove the president. Clinton would not lead.
Like many things Clinton did, he tried to triangulate and find a middle ground to operate from. According to the Post:
(Former chairman of the joint chiefs Gen. Henry) Shelton, a senior colleague said, "wanted nothing to do" with a tiny incursion known in the Special Forces community as "going Hollywood." And the political leadership, the colleague said, wanted nothing to do with something larger.
"Absolutely nothing prevented us from running the kind of operation we're running now, if there had been a commitment to do that," Shelton said.
Of course, whatever Clinton did during his term of office will not appear to be enough in hindsight. But Clinton and his friends would do better just to shut up for the next decade or so. Let memories fade before you try to create a new truth.
Thursday, December 20, 2001
Well, it looks like it is true. San Francisco is the most tolerant area in the U.S., unless you happen to be a Republican.
Friday's lead editorial in the Washington Post entitled "The Congressional Scorecard" is a pretty good summary of the past year.
Unfortunately, it also takes a decidedly Democratic cast, especially in the first two paragraphs, attacking Republicans and mostly reserved praise for Democrats.
CONGRESS LEFT town for the year yesterday having accomplished a great deal less than the billowing rhetoric of the occasion was meant to suggest. Its main achievement was to squander the budget surplus by passing the president's ill-advised tax cut.
I wonder if the Washington Post editorial writers did any research or have even been reading their own paper.
The anticipated budget surplus was more than $200 billion at the beginning of the year. As the economy began to tank, so did government income in the form of taxes, which made up that budget surplus. Caving into Democrat demands, the vast majority of the President's tax cut was backloaded. Those cuts will come in future years.
This year's tax cut, those $300 or $600 checks that taxpayers received, cost a total of $40 billion. Let's not forget that at one point the Democrats were clamoring for the tax cut to be more front-loaded and the number for this year that they tossed around was $65 billion, or more.
Of course, let's not even argue about whether or not the government should be running a surplus during a recession. No one has been able to come up with a economics textbook that argues that the government should tax heavily during an economic downturn.
So, the first two sentences of the editorial are dishonest and inaccurate, but they sound like a likely Democratic refrain when the mid-term elections come around next year.
I've got a feeling that Washington Post editorial writers will be quick to deem these arguments persuasive, powerful and valid. After all, they came up with them first.
Well Congress will do no more damage for the remainder of the year. They recessed today after having failed to pass a economic stimulus bill.
I'm not sure that this wasn't necessarily a good thing. I think the economy is beginning to rebound without the bill.
The whole stimulus bill fight wasn't about giving the economy a kick in the pants. It was about politcs.
Republicans wanted the bill so that they could say they were doing something about the economy.
Democrats wanted to stop the bill so that if the economy doesn't improve, they can blame the Republicans for the bad economy in the 2002 elections.
Both sides also are making some mistakes on this whole issue.
The Republicans were stupid to put in a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT does need some tweaking, because it is starting to affect some middle-class people who weren't the original targets of the legislation. But repealing the tax looks like a windfall for the rich and corporations, because it is.
The Democrats were being stupid because the main argument they were making on this stimulus bill was that there needed to be more help to unemployed workers and less to corporations. This is certainly a typical compassionate Democratic argument, but the best thing you can do for unemployed workers is to create jobs for them. Sure, extend unemployment benefits, but don't call it stimulus. It doesn't stimulate anything.
Of course, I'm not really sure you want to ignore corporations when you're trying to stimulate the economy. Anything you can do to get corporations to grow and invest will create jobs. Giving people tax breaks helps on the demand side of the equation, but giving companies more money to spend on R&D also creates jobs.
So the stimulus package died. The economy will roll on.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) takes on Bush's decision to pull out of the 30-year-old Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with the USSR in Wednesday's Washington Post.
I'm beginning to wonder if the commonly-accepted parallel that Republicans are conservative and Democrats are liberal. In this case at least, Democrats are holding onto an old, outdated worldview. The ABM treaty was with the USSR. There is no USSR anymore. The Cold War is over. Russia is now our friend. Why do we need to have an arms control treaty with a friend? We don't have any arms control treatys with Great Britain, France or Australia.
The fact that Democrats have been screaming about this louder than the Russians have makes you wonder.
Anyway, Biden makes some valid criticisms of the whole idea of an anti-ballistic missile defense, but they are all very shallow and not well thought out. (This would give creedence to the fact that Biden authored the piece himself instead of plagiarizing it.)
One of the lessons we should have learned from the devastating attack of Sept. 11 is that terrorists determined to do this nation harm can employ a wide variety of means, and that weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological or even nuclear -- need not arrive on the tip of an intercontinental ballistic missile with a return address. That's why the Joint Chiefs of Staff argue that an ICBM launch ranks last on the "Threat Spectrum," while terrorist attacks constitute the greatest potential threat to our national security.
Biden makes a couple of errors here, the first is the same one that the letter-writer below did. Just because it wouldn't have stopped Sept. 11, doesn't mean that it's not necessary.
Also, it may be true that right now a ballistic missile attack from a rogue state ranks last on the threat spectrum. (I'm skeptical about his word choice of argue. I think that his position is coloring this description.) So it's one of the least-likely methods of attack on the U.S. If you'd asked those same military men where commercial airliners flown into buildings would have been on the threat spectrum, I think it would have been even below an ICBM attack.
Biden, at least, doesn't argue that this might spur an arms race with Russia. Instead, he raises the specter that this might cause China to build up it's nuclear capability.
China currently possesses no more than two dozen ICBMs. Our own intelligence services estimate that moving forward with national missile defense could trigger a tenfold increase in China's expansion of its nuclear capability. And that doesn't take into account likely Chinese behavior if an arms race ensues, something many experts argue is inevitable when both India and Pakistan respond as expected by ratcheting up their nuclear programs.
Unfortunately for Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, China was building up its nuclear forces long before there was any talk of withdrawing from the ABM treaty, and long before Bush even took office.
Of course, forcing China to spend billions on a military build-up may not be a bad idea. The last time we forced a communist nation to spend billions and billions of dollars on attempting to match the United States' military build-up, the regime fell and freedom blossomed.
Biden's last point is, that by pulling out of the ABM treaty we've ticked off some of our allies. Well, this may or may not be true. If our allies were really worried about this I expect there'd be more screaming about it in the newspapers. I haven't seen any screaming (apart from some Democrats) and I read a lot of newspapers.
Last note before I go to bed is The Nation's David Corn proved on last night's "O'Reilly Factor" on the Fox News Channel what an idiot he can be. Corn actually advocates cash payments to Afghan civilians or their families who have been accidentally hurt or killed by our bombing campaign.
Someone call a doctor, because Corn is obviously suffering from a severe case of Cranial Rectal Impaction.
Corn says that since we have made it clear that our war is not against the Afghan people, but against the Taliban and al Qaeda, that if we accidentally hit civilians then we owe them money.
The fact that our technology enables us to go to extraordinary lengths to prevent the deaths of civilians does not legally or morally obligate us to make payments when something goes wrong.
Pet Peeve: I'm really annoyed by the latest Lexus commercial in which two parents present a spoiled little brat with a "new CD player" which happens to be contained in a brand new Lexus. Call me biased -- but no 16 year old should be getting a Lexus.
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Also in Wednesday's Washington Post is a letter from San Diegan Marjorie Cohn on President Bush's decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty. (Sen. Joe Biden also has an op-ed piece on the same subject that I'll talk about later.) Unfortunately, Ms. Cohn falls into the trap that so many have fallen into when arguing against an anti-ballistic missile system.
The TV stations dutifully alternated shots of Mr. Bush announcing the death of ABM with photos of the World Trade Center collapsing, even though a "Star Wars" system could never have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks.
First, no one (except Ms. Cohn) has ever tried to argue that an ABM system would have prevented Sept. 11.
Second, we shouldn't judge all of our defense systems on the basis of whether they would have prevented the tragedy that occurred on Sept. 11. Tanks? Nope. Too slow. M-16s? Nope. Too puny. Submarines? Nope. Under water. TOW anti-tank missiles? Nope. Not enough punch.
Specific weapon systems have specific jobs. To take a position on any weapons system on the basis of whether it would have affected what happened Sept. 11 is naive. No, not naive. Dangerous.
Michael Kelly has an excellent column in Wednesday's Washington Post. Some things are objectively right and some things are objectively wrong. Yes, there are gray areas in life, but there is no gray area around Sept. 11. Give Kelly's column a look-see.
Monday, December 17, 2001
Well, got home and got a chance to check out today's White House press briefing on C-SPAN. Turns out my skepticism in Sen. Tom Daschle's "we need more paperwork" excuse was on target. According to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, Eugene Scalia was nominated April 30. His Senate hearing was Oct. 2. The last request for paperwork from the Senate was Oct. 5. That paperwork was delivered and they've heard nothing since.
If the Senate's waiting for more paperwork, maybe they ought to ask for it.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (R-S.D), on yesterday's "This Week" on ABC, addressed the nomination of Eugene Scalia to be solicitor for the Labor Department. Scalia is the son of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, whom many blame for awarding the presidency to George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore.
Scalia's nomination was reported out of committee weeks ago, but a vote on his nomination has still not been scheduled. The president has been pushing for the Senate to act on Scalia's nomination.
Last week Daschle told reporters that he had not scheduled a vote because "I don't think the votes are there." We can debate later whether Daschle trying to think is wise, or perhaps dangerous, but isn't the reason you usually have a vote to see if the votes are there? If he gets defeated, fine. If he gets approved, fine. If he gets filibustered, well, that may be fine too. But Daschle's refusal to schedule a vote is irresponsible.
On Sunday, however, when Daschle was queried by ABC anchor Sam Donaldson on the Scalia nomination, we heard a different excuse: "We don't have all of the paperwork." Donaldson didn't press the senator, because the issue really isn't exciting television. But this excuse is silly. What kind of paperwork do you need? A note from his mommy? The Senate knows everything about Scalia they need to to cast an informed vote. Tossing "Eugene Scalia nomination" into the Google search engine turns up press release after press release of labor organizations' opposition to the nomination. The Senate committee's transcript of Scalia's testimony is certainly available to the senators. You've got both sides, vote.
Saturday, December 15, 2001
A story in today's San Diego Union-Tribune contains the latest "Stupid Quote of the Day."
The story is about sewage problems at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. According to environmentalists the base's five treatment plants have tallied more than 14,000 discharge and monitoring violations over the past two years.
Now, this isn't good. It needs to stop and the problems need to be fixed, but attorney Marco Gonzalez of San Diego Baykeeper environmental group goes a little overboard.
"We feel there is nothing more patriotic than clean water."
Yes! If we don't keep s*** out of the ocean, than the terrorists will have won!
For those of you who might have missed it, one of the great prizes for modern art was awarded earlier this week to "minimalist artist" Martin Creed. Creed's award-winning piece: "The Lights Going On and Off" is an empty, white room where the lights go on and off every five seconds. Creed was awarded $30,000 by London's Tate Gallery.
Some of Creed's earlier art work was scrunching up pieces of paper.
The judges said they "admired his audacity in presenting a single work in the exhibition and noted its strength, rigour, wit and sensitivity to the site. Coming out of the tradition of minimal and conceptual art, his work is engaging, wide-ranging and fresh."
The story of "The Emperor's New Clothes" comes to mind. There apparently is a market for this stuff.
National Review's John Derbyshire has a suggestion on what to do about the whole lot at the Tate Gallery.
What do I think about all this? Well, first I think that the directors of the Tate Gallery, which receives funding from general taxation, should be locked up in prison and made to do hard labor scraping the rust off bolts for 20 years or so with nothing to eat but cold oatmeal porridge. Then I think Mr. Creed should be stripped naked, sprayed all over with bright blue paint, and made to run round and round Piccadilly Circus until he drops from exhaustion, after which he should be killed by some not-very-humane method. Then the Tate Gallery should be reduced to rubble by aerial bombardment, the rubble carted away to be used as landfill, and the ground sown with salt. Then the fools who pay good money to look at this "art" should be packed into boxcars and tipped off the white cliffs of Dover, and their mangled corpses left to be feasted on by dogs, crows and crabs.
A few days after the winning the award...a real art critic spoke out:
LONDON (AP) - A woman threw two eggs at a work of art that won Britain's Turner Prize, but it wasn't damaged, the Tate Britain gallery said. Martin Creed's prize winner - a large, empty room with lights that turn on and off every five seconds - was closed briefly Wednesday so gallery staff could clean up the mess.
It recently won the annual prize, which is regularly derided for focusing on avant-garde art rather than more conventional forms.
The work of other Turner winners and finalists have been vandalized in recent years. Tracey Emin's installation of her unmade bed, a 1999 Turner finalist, was disturbed when two visual artists staged a pillow fight on it.
One of the 1999 finalists was an unmade bed? I never thought of tolding my mom that all those years growing up. "Matthew Thomas Hoy! Make your bed!" "Sorry, mom, I can't -- it's art."
You know liberals are ticked off when Time's Margaret Carlson gets bloodthirsty. On CNN's "Capitol Gang" on Saturday, the liberal magazine columnist advocated capturing, not killing Osama bin Laden, so "we can put bamboo shoots underneath his fingernails every day for the rest of his life."
Friday, December 14, 2001
More on the America traitor, John Walker Lindh. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby (the only conservative on the staff of the paper) takes to task Walker's parents for what their son became.
Newsweek calls it ''truly perplexing'' that John Lindh, who ''grew up in possibly the most liberal, tolerant place in America ... was drawn to the most illiberal, intolerant sect in Islam.'' There is nothing perplexing about it. He craved standards and discipline. Mom and Dad didn't offer any. The Taliban did.
The biography of Walker's life that has been created since he was discovered among the murders of CIA agent Johnny "Mike" Spahn reads like that of a spoiled, never-disciplined child.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
It's too bad that Walker's devout Catholic father didn't practice that. His son might have turned out differently.
Thursday, December 13, 2001
The New York Times reviews former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg's book "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News" in today's paper.
The review isn't really anything surprising, coming from the Times. I'll likely read Goldberg's book myself, even if I have to wait for the paperback edition, but some of the criticisms made by the reviewer just highlight media bias.
(Goldberg's argument) is also diminished by willfully unreasonable analogies: "Why should the children of Jesse Jackson or Colin Powell or Diana Ross get some kind of racial preference when they apply to college or go out for a job, but no `affirmative action' is given to the child of a white Anglo- Saxon Protestant coal miner from West Virginia?" An example that loaded is as unfair as the weighted news stories he denounces.
The example is unfair? Affirmative action is all about unfairness and it forces people to make silly choices. Every sensible person who reads that says: "Of course, choose the coal miner's kid." But with affirmative action, the colllege looks only at the color of the person's skin. That is wrong.
Admissions to the University of California system in the 1990s were weighted against whites and asians. The common question then was who should receive a preference in admiission to UC Berkeley, the son of Colin Powell or the daughter of an asian dishwasher?
I'm all for universities looking at hardships students have had to endure, their socioeconomic background and factors other than grades in deciding who is admitted to their institutions. But the time for admitting people based on the color of their skin is over. Racism is in the decline in America. Yes, the klan still exists, so do Nazis, but they are at the extreme fringe. Racism is gone from our public institutions. Racism is gone from the military.
In companies where racism is proven to exist, then amends must be made. But those fixes must be narrowly tailored to right the wrong, and not create other wrongs in the process.
Got home in time to catch "Nightline" on ABC. They had a piece on the rise and fall of energy giant Enron. Enron's stock once went for nearly $90 a share and is now trading at $0.26 a share. Many employees who had invested heavily in Enron stock through their 401(k) plans have seen their retirement savings wiped out. Not to mention the fact that more than 4,000 of them are out of jobs.
Lawsuits have started to pile up, and investigators are looking into the company's business practices. I'll make a prediction now on how this will turn out: Many of the company officers who received big bonuses right before the massive layoffs and the bankruptcy filings will be spending time in beautiful Lompoc, Calif., making office furniture for the Bureau of Prisons.
I hope that the legal system can get some of those ill-gotten gains to employees and investors. Enron's officers and board of directors are nothing more than common criminals.
OK, some late night postings before I hit the sack. Working the swing shift and then coming home to clean the house is exhausting.
Wednesday, December 12, 2001
One last thing before I head off to bed. I've discovered that one of the things you're supposed to do in the wonderful world of online journalism is the: "You heard it here first!" pats on the back.
So, I get to do my first one. If you read Monday's "Best of the Web Today," then you saw a famililar story in the first item. Specifically, U.S. News & World Report's non-story on a immigration hearing for muslim man.
You heard it here first!
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
It looks like Bush was right to give the American Bar Association the boot from its privilged place in evaluating judicial nominees.
If you ever want to be a judge on the federal bench, you better have attended Harvard or Yale or Stanford. A state school apparently isn't good enough.
Byron York reports in National Review Online:
In addition, (ABA evaluation committee member David) Weiner was unimpressed with (assistant U.S. Attorney David) Bunning's decision to attend the University of Kentucky for both undergraduate and law-school training. Weiner cited what he called Bunning's "lack of academic achievement" and said his "middle-of-the-class law school record does not speak well for him." Finally, Weiner said Bunning showed "no intellectual spark or legal enthusiasm that carried the day with our committee."
If it wasn't obvious before that the ABA is just an interest group like any other, it should be now.
Well, thanks to the New York Post's John Podhoretz for clearing something up. Last week, when I saw and heard the quotes from Attorney General John Ashcroft's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Comittee, I thought that he'd gone too far. The video clips and the printed quotes showed that the attorney general basically told the committee that anyone who doesn't agree with how the war on terrorism is being run is anti-American and pro-terrorist.
It fits into the stereotype that the media has had of John Ashcroft ever since he was nominated to the position of attorney general. Ashcroft was that religious nut (John, couldn't you've found something other than Crisco? Why not just keep it quiet?) who wouldn't enforce the law if it was in conflict with his beliefs.
So far, there have been no reports of Ashcroft selectively enforcing the law. In fact, when it comes to use of FBI records on gun purchases, it appears that Democrats were complaining that he wasn't breaking the law. You can check out the story at CBS news, but pay careful attention to this passage:
Mindy Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said the FBI request to use gun records was considered and rejected after Justice officials studied case law.
"It was decided that it would have been improper use of the records," Tucker said.
To put it more succinctly: It's against the law to do that.
Getting back to Ashcroft's statement.
We need honest, reasoned debate; not fearmongering. To those who pit Americans against immigrants, and citizens against non-citizens; to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists - for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil.
There's the whole paragraph. Does it really seem so out there? Honesty. Reasoned debate. Don't divide people.
What Ashcroft was trying to tell the Senators (and thick-headed pundits), was not to play politics.
The charges of shreding the Constitution (by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.) are dishonest at best.
The truth is that Democrats just wanted an opportunity to bash Ashcroft. Who's in charge of the rules for these military tribunals that they're so concerned about? Ashcroft? Nope, that would be the president and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Democrats aren't stupid. They know Ashcroft has nothing to do with it. They just think he makes a better target. The beltway press will allow you to bash Ashcroft all you want. But I don't think the senators would do nearly as well with Rumsfeld.
I like columnist Cal Thomas. And I especially like what he's got to say today. A must read.
Monday, December 10, 2001
The defenders of American John Walker Lindh, the 20-year-old who forsook his country to fight for the anti-woman, pro-terrorism Taliban, are arguing that he is just a misled, confused young man. He is obviously suffering from mental illness, they say.
I don't buy it. To refer to this 20-year-old man as a "kid" and attempt to minimize what he has done is infuriating. The same liberals which say that this 20-year-old man is not responsible for his actions and mentally incapable of making a decision are the same ones who would defend a 13-year-old girl's right to an abortion without informing her parents.
For a little bit of contrast, I'd like to share a citation from WWII:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 February 1945. While creeping through a treacherous, twisting ravine which ran in close proximity to a fluid and uncertain frontline on D-plus-1 day, Pfc. Lucas and 3 other men were suddenly ambushed by a hostile patrol which savagely attacked with rifle fire and grenades. Quick to act when the lives of the small group were endangered by 2 grenades which landed directly in front of them, Pfc. Lucas unhesitatingly hurled himself over his comrades upon 1 grenade and pulled the other under him, absorbing the whole blasting forces of the explosions in his own body in order to shield his companions from the concussion and murderous flying fragments. By his inspiring action and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice, he not only protected his comrades from certain injury or possible death but also enabled them to rout the Japanese patrol and continue the advance. His exceptionally courageous initiative and loyalty reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Lucas and the U.S. Naval Service.
Pfc. Jacklyn Lucas had turned 17 just six days before diving on those two grenades. For his heroism he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He had joined the U.S. Marines in 1942, falsifying his age and fast-talking a Marine recruiter.
In 1946, Lucas re-enrolled in school, Reynolds High School, as a freshman.
To deny John Walker Lindh's culpability for his actions insults young men like Lucas who fought and nearly died for his country.
Take a look at a listing of Medal of Honor winners. Name after name with an asterisk next to it, denoting that the award was given posthumously. Citation after citation stating: "He gallantly gave his life for his country."
John Walker Lindh doesn't deserve our pity. He deserves our scorn. At the least he should spend the rest of his days in prison. Ideally, he should forfeit his life. He is a traitor.
Well, I must say that I'm proud of my latest accomplishment. I managed to listen to Sen. Hillary Clinton's interview on "Meet the Press." I must admit that I felt a little ill, but I didn't end up driving the porcelain bus.
I also found myself agreeing with at least one thing she said. Host Tim Russert asked Sen. Clinton if a war on terrorism shouldn't have been declared after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
Sen. Clinton started with her oft-repeated defense of her husband's administration: the cruise missiles that we fired into Afghanistan after the African embassy bombings just missed Osama bin Laden by a few hours. This, despite military officers saying that, at the time, the chances of hitting bin Laden were 1 in million.
What comment did I agree with? Well, I think Sen. Clinton was right when she said, after the 1993 bombing, that the U.S. public would not have tolerated the heightened security measures at airports and the searching of luggage, etc.
However, I would argue that hijacking planes to turn them into guided missiles will never be done again. The terrorists succeeded the first time because pilots and the public had been trained that the plane would land, there would be negotiations and they would either be freed or Delta Force would come in. The possibility that hijackers did not see the passengers as hostages never entered our imagination. Author Tom Clancy, in an interview after the Sept. 11 attacks, said that he would never have written that plot into one of his novels because it just wouldn't have been believable.
The public knows now that if hijackers attempt to take over a plane using knives, guns or anything else, attack them. Killing them and retaking control fo the plane is the only way that you have any chance of survival.
Check bags for bombs, guns, weapons. Try to prevent terrorism by diligent searching of passengers, but don't take it to the most ridiculous extreme. Confiscating razors and toenail clippers is silly.
North Coast Church's 20Something group had its Christmas party on Sunday night.
Happiness is dancing with a beautiful woman....or 12.
Sunday, December 09, 2001
Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham has gotten a lot of flak over his remarks about Islam, and he addresses them in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece here.
The persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries. The Koran provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world. Conversions from Islam to any other faith are often punishable by death.
He's got it right.
I've got some friends who are missionaries to a muslim country in the middle east. When they go to talk in churches about their work, they go by assumed names. Why? Well, on the off chance that someone from a muslim country is in the church and may report them to the government -- barring them from entering the country. Think it's ludicrous? Well, they have to do it because it's happened before.
There are many in America who like to call Christians intolerant. They've got it exactly backwards.
In America you can find Buddhist temples, Jewish synagogues, mosques, Shinto shrines. In Saudi Arabia a muslim who converts to Christianity is beheaded.
Liberals calling for tolerance should start dialing overseas, there's already tolerance at home.
Saturday, December 08, 2001
Bad journalism of the day: A U.S. News & World Report online "Exclusive" bears the headline: "Muslim behind bars, despite judge's order." Sounds serious, huh? Sounds like the Ashcroft Justice Department is not following the law, right?
We really can't blame the headline writer though, he probably only read the lede.
A Turkish Muslim from White Plains, N.Y., held in a New Jersey jail for more than two weeks, remains behind bars, despite a judge's order that he be released.
This is serious. Federal officials defying a judge's order. A definite clash between the Judicial and Executive branches of government. An assault on civil liberties, right?
You've got to read down to the sixth paragraph to find out that:
This week, in a hearing closed to the public, an immigration judge ordered Kula immediately released. But when immigration lawyers said they intended to appeal the decision, the judge's order was automatically stayed, and Kula was sent back to jail.
A stayed judge's order means that it does not take affect until an appeals court judge has his say. This happens all the time. It's not that uncommon. What is uncommon is for a publication like U.S. News & World Report to publish stories so designed to inflame passions.
Friday, December 07, 2001
Sixty years ago today hundreds of Japanese planes attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. I always remember this day because my grandfather, Thomas Harold Hoy, was a Marine on board the USS California on battleship row that fateful morning. My grandfather survived, but more than 2,000 other Americans did not.
"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve."
-- Admiral Isaroku Yamamoto
Yamamoto was correct in his assessment -- he did not survive the war. Yamamoto died because of a young Army Air Corps pilot from Culver, Ore., named Rex Barber.
While working as a reporter for the Lompoc Record I had the privilege of interviewing Barber at Vandenberg Air Force Base and listening to his story of the attack over Bougainville. I listened raptly as this American hero recounted his flight over the featureless Pacific Ocean in his P-38, navigating with only a stopwatch and a compass. On April 18, 1943, a young Rex Barber shot down the Japanese bomber carrying Adm. Yamamoto.
There was evil in the world then, in the form of the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese. The evil was apparent even before Dec. 7, 1941. It was in apparent to the Polish. It was apparent to the Czechs. It was apparent to the Chinese. It was apparent to the Koreans.
And until Dec. 7, America did little.
The war against terrorism is similar. Before Sept. 11, the threat was apparent.
It was apparent at the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983. It was apparent in the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103. It was apparent in Somalia. It was apparent to the crew of the USS Cole. It was apparent in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa.
Despite the warnings.
Despite the signs.
On September 11, 2001, America wept.
More than 3,000 civilians are dead. On the island of Manhattan. In the Philadelphia countryside. In the Virginia suburbs.
Today, U.S. Marines are on the ground in Afghanistan. Special forces troops search caves in the mountains for Usama bin Laden.
Americans have died for our freedom. Johnny Spahn. Daniel Petithory. Brian Prosser. Jefferson Davis.
Their sacrifice must not be forgotten. The price of freedom is high. These men gave their lives for it, much like those men of a different generation did, 60 years ago today.
Thursday, December 06, 2001
Geraldo Rivera is a very funny guy. Problem is, he's really not trying to be funny. Listening to "Hannity & Colmes" on Fox News, I hear Geraldo recount his close call with an al Qaeda sniper. I'm wondering if Geraldo saw his life flash before his eyes and he's as disappointed with his life as he should be.
But it gets especially funny just a couple of minutes later when they break into their program to go back to Geraldo as he prepares to give us a play-by-play on a B-52 dropping its bombs (it's gravity Geraldo...we get it). The kicker is, the B-52 never dropped its bombs. Geraldo keeps telling us how this whole hillside is going to blow up any second...and it never happens.
Then Geraldo posits that the B-52 didn't drop its bombs because it may be too close to Geraldo's position. I'm not sure if the military holds Geraldo in such high esteem as Geraldo thinks it should.
Flying under the radar, with all of the war news and the grilling of Attorney General John Ashcroft (I'd like my Bush adminstration official blackened, please) is the president winning a crucial vote of fast-track trade authority. The House voted 215-214 to approve the bill. It now goes to the Senate. I haven't heard what the odds of it passing in the Senate are, mainly because no one thought it would pass in the House. On "Special Report with Brit Hume" Wednesday night, the "All-Star" panel was polled on whether Bush would win this one, and they all said "no." So much for the Fox All-Stars. To quote John McLaughlin: "WRONG!"
The CNN story on the bill quotes Minority Whip David Bonior ($-Mich.): "For the American people, fast track will be a bullet train to the unemployment line."
What a load of reindeer droppings ('Tis the season). All fast track authority gives the president is the ability to negotiate trade deals and then have the Congress vote them up or down, without amendment after amendment. If Bush negotiates a stinker of a deal, Bonior and his colleagues can certainly vote it down. It's not as though they're writing Bush a blank check.
How can you tell when a politician is lying? (I'd like to note for my more liberal readers that I used politician and not Democrat) When his lips are moving.
A quick news note: now it's easier to share hoystory with your friends. I've registered a top-level domain name. What that means to the not-so tech savvy is that you can now arrive right here by typing in http://www.hoystory.com. Please spread the word.
Quote of the Day: "I love all of you men, but you women even more. I appreciate every one of you, especially the ladies. You are good-looking, God bless you." -- Sen. Strom Thurmond, on his 99th birthday after being lauded by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
Wednesday, December 05, 2001
A couple of final notes before I go to bed:
Funny ha-has Jonah Goldberg (the son of the much vilified Lucianne Goldberg of Linda Tripp/Monica Lewinsky fame) is a very funny guy. I'm going to work on adding some more humor of my own to my postings when I can get in the proper mood. I'm still trying to figure out what the proper mood might be. Until then I will have to just refer you to someone who is funnier than I am, for the moment.
Goldberg's column from Monday addresses the liberal bias in the mainstream media, specifically those charges leveled by former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg (no relation to Jonah or myself).
The priesthood of editors, media critics, and current and future Columbia Journalism School professors often defend themselves by pointing to left-wing critics who denounce the "conservative, corporate control of the media," or some similar prattle. They say, "See. there are smart lefties who say we're too conservative."
This, needless to say, is an unpersuasive argument for a host of reasons. But let's just stick to the logic for a moment. If I say you are ugly, you do not refute my assertion by pointing to someone uglier. Alec Baldwin isn't any less stoopid simply by virtue of the fact that he can point to someone who eats lead paint-chips like they were Doritos and say, "But Cletus thinks I'm really smart."
Yes, everyone knows that the major media tilts left. Some people (my uncle, for example "Hi Jim!") think that the media doesn't just tilt left, it slants, angles, leans and, well, if it were a boat it would capsize in a second.
Anyway, read Goldberg's (Jonah) column, and, in a couple of months, you may want to buy Goldberg's (Bernard) book.
Need a home (page)? One of my loyal readers wrote to tell me that Hoystory was her new home page. If you're looking for a good home page, bookmark mine and take it home. You'll be glad you did.
Just got done listening to today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on military tribunals. Lots of good stuff there, but all parties involved were really taking shots at a shadowy figure in the dark because the rules for the tribunals they were debating haven't been made yet. Lots of speculation from all parties involved. But the good (and sane) news appears to be that few of the "experts" called in to testify on the subject (the exception being the libertarian Cato Institute's Timothy Lynch) are way out on the nutso fringe. The general consensus was that the president does have the power to have military tribunals; the tribunals are less complicated and easier to execute (no pun intended) than a civilian trial; and they're probably a good idea, all things considered.
Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, a favorite of the liberal Democrats, had little to criticize at the hearing. His only concerns were that he would prefer that Congress vote and give its consent for military tribunals on the odd chance that some wacko judge on the 9th Circuit (yep, he singled out California's own nut-cases) would order a terrorist convicted by the tribunals freed because of a technicality. Tribe said he believes, with the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, that the court would OK the tribunals without the explicit consent of Congress, based on historical precedence and the Constitution. But Tribe would prefer that Congress specifically give its imprimatur on Bush's executive order to ensure that liberal judicial activists don't get the opportunity to pose a clear and present danger to the American people.
Of course, based on the 9th Circuit's track record (over the past couple of decades, if I recall correctly the 9th Circuit has been overturned by the Supreme Court more often than any other circuit) I don't think that a clear OK from Congress would dissuade them from doing something rash.
Tuesday, December 04, 2001
Heard from a pinhead on "Special Report with Brit Hume" today, regarding John Walker, the American who fought for al-Qaeda and the Taliban:
"I think he's a very confused young man and I feel sorry for him and his family." -- Woman on the street
This is the same guy who said, according to his father, that the sailors on the USS Cole deserved to get attacked because an American vessel docking in an Islamic country is evil.
Well...I know evil, and John Walker is evil.
With the war in Afghanistan and the discovery that cross-contamination may be to blame for the deaths of two people from anthrax dominating the news, it's too easy to overlook other, important world events. The Weekly Standard's William Kristol, in a Washington Post op-ed, highlights Taiwan's recent legislative elections that saw the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party take over the 225-member legislature. This occurred, Kristol notes, despite the economic recession that has hit the tiny island nation hard.
I'd like to note that I'm deliberately calling it a nation, and not a renegade province like the corrupt, Marxist-Leninist thugs in Beijing would like them referred to as. Taiwan is a democracy and we should no longer kow-tow to Beijing and treat Taiwan as an international pariah.
China hands in Washington will desperately try to avoid the clear implications of this vote: America's one-China policy is dead. The citizens of Taiwan think of themselves as a free people separate from China, at least as long as China remains unfree. America has no reason any longer to claim otherwise. It has every reason to support the right of the peoples of Taiwan and China to determine their future relationship based on the principle of popular consent.
Kristol has it exactly right. How we can fail to support a democracy that allows freedom of religion in the face of a oligarchy that jails Christians and beats Falun Gong members to death is unconscionable. The United States needs to extend formal diplomatic recognition to this tiny island of democracy in the Pacific, and damn China's complaints.
Just a couple of short notes for today. I haven't been feeling very good and I'm just physically exhausted.
There were a lot of Arab-American and Palestinian supporters on the various television shows today. You could hardly flip a channel without seeing someone saying that it is basically Israel's fault that they are getting bombed. The solution is to stop the oppression of the Palestinian people. This is so stupid that it's laughable. More than 90 percent of the Palestinians are under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. The only time Israel goes in and oppresses the Palestinians nowadays is after terrorists have decided to kill some innocents.
If the Palestinians want to stop the oppression, here's a hint: STOP THE TERRORIST SUICIDE BOMBINGS!
The most frustrating thing I heard continually from the terrorists' apologists was their equivocation of directed Israeli attacks on the leaders of terrorist organizations and the suicide bombings carried out by terrorists. Journalists should not allow this false claim to go unchallenged. Under the Oslo peace accords, these terrorists that the Israeli military has been killing should have been rounded up and put in jail by Yasser Arafat. They shouldn't have been out walking the streets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip where they could plan attacks on Israeli civilians and be killed by the Israeli military.
So, who's fault is it that there are Israeli military attacks on Hamas and Hezbollah leaders? Yasser Arafat's.
Monday, December 03, 2001
Every Sunday morning I record as many of the news shows that I can. Priority is given to "Fox News Sunday" and I record the other shows as best I can. On ABC's "This Week" Sam Donaldson interviewed Portland, Ore., police chief Mark Kroeker on his department's refusal to cooperate with the FBI's request to interview certain individuals. Kroeker referred to various Oregon statutes which forbid police interviewing people who are not suspected of crimes. Kroeker referred to the Portland city attorney's opinion that these interviews were illegal under Oregon law, and so his hands were tied and he could do nothing. "We follow the law in Oregon," Kroeker said. Well, there's some debate about that. Donaldson dropped the ball by not challenging Kroeker with the opinion by Oregon's top law-enforcement officer, Attorney General Hardy Myers, that such interviews are, in fact, legal. Maybe Chief Kroeker should follow the legal opinions of the attorney general in determining what is and what is not allowed.
Terror visited Israel once again this weekend. A series of terror attacks left 26 Israelis dead and more than 100 wounded. In the next few days the death toll is likely to rise as many of the seriously injured succumb to their wounds. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat did his, by now, predictable dance of condemning the attacks and rounding up the usual suspects and throwing them in jail. Of course, if the past proves to be a good predictor of what is to come, then in the coming weeks: the people Arafat just had arrested will be back out on the street; Israel will retaliate by blowing up some more Hamas leaders; more misguided young Arab men will tie explosives to themselves and kill innocent Israelis.
Jews and Arabs have been killing each other for thousands of years. Read the Bible. It's not going to stop anytime soon, especially when you have the kind of indoctrination into a cult of hatred as what occurs in Arab and Muslim schools throughout the Middle East. Maps in geography books in Palestinian schools don't have Israel anywhere in them. Instead are the Arabic words: "Occupied Palestine."
I think the violence will get worse before it gets better. The best chance for peace was at the end of the Clinton administration, when then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat practically everything he wanted -- and Arafat turned his back and started a new intifada.
Arafat and his Palestinian Authority are corrupt, despotic rulers of the Palestinian people. They maintain power only because of U.S. funding and Israeli tolerance. The Palestinian Authority is not universally popular, Hamas and Hezbollah are supported by a great many Palestinians. Arafat is in a tight spot. If he makes peace with Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah will have him killed. If he cracks down on those two terror organizations, he will likely be killed in that battle too. Arafat will continue to walk this tightrope between the Palestinian terrorist organizations and Israel for the rest of his life -- which may not be very long.
The only bit of good news to come out of these attacks, and that's unfortunate considering how many had to die and be injured to achieve this, is that the U.S. government is not urging Israel to restrain its military. It was hypocritical in the extreme these past few months for us to prosecute a war on terrorists, but to tell Israel it must not. Our government should be supporting Israel in its own war on terror.
Saturday, December 01, 2001
Some end-of-the-week hoyblurbs (that's what I'm calling them for now, if you've got a better suggestion please send it my way) from around the Internet, and around the world.
Quote of the Day: It's God's job to judge Osama bin Laden; it's the U.S. Marines job to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
Was former President Bill Clinton responsible for the economic boom of the '90s? For the most part, no. Clinton was smart enough to not try to manage the economy and just go along for the ride. However, despite the spin that Clinton and former administration officials are trying to sell on various television talk shows since Sept. 11, there is ample evidence that Clinton failed miserably in dealing with the threat of terrorism. National Review's Byron York lays out a very detailed and convincing critique of what may become known as the former Democratic president's greatest failure.
So Clinton talked tough. But he did not act tough. Indeed, a review of his years in office shows that each time the president was confronted with a major terrorist attack — the February 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center, the Khobar Towers attack, the August 7, 1998, bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole — Clinton was preoccupied with his own political fortunes to an extent that precluded his giving serious and sustained attention to fighting terrorism.
You can read the entire article here.
Why do we need to listen in on conversations between terrorists and their lawyers? In Friday's Wall Street Journal Daniel Henninger defends various Justice Department moves to protect Americans' life against those who would prefer that Americans have liberty, if they can survive a terrorist attack.
Rule 1.6 of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct says "a lawyer may reveal [my emphasis] such information to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary: to prevent the client from committing a criminal act that the lawyer believes is likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm . . ." That "may reveal" is not mere prose. Other lawyers argued at the time for a mandatory obligation to report, but the ABA made it optional. It is not hard to imagine some lawyers convincing themselves that this "opt out" provision would relieve them of the burden of monitoring the speech or intent of their al Qaeda-related clients in the U.S.
Bork bites back: Also in Friday's edition of National Review Online former solicitor general and supreme court nominee Robert H. Bork defends the use of military tribunals against terrorists, at home and abroad.
Trials in federal courts have features that make them totally inappropriate for the trial of terrorists. Jurors often respond to emotional appeals, and, in any event, would have good reason to fear for their and their families' safety if they convicted. Criminal trials have been adorned by judges with a full panoply of procedural hurdles that guarantee a trial of many months. Appeals and petitions for habeas corpus can take years, and should the death sentence be given, the ACLU has shown how to delay execution for ten years or more through appeals followed by one habeas corpus petition after another.
Bork also makes the argument that President Bush shouldn't have exempted American citizens from being tried in the military tribunals. Though I would not necessarily endorse that move, he does make a historical point. You can read the entire article here.
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