Friday Digest

Digest

Dec. 14, 2001

Quote of the week…

“No weapon in any arsenal in the world is as formidable as the will and the moral courage of free men and women.” –President Ronald Reagan, quoted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon’s December 11th Ceremony of Remembrance for fallen comrades of 9-11.

On cross-examination…

“Will the rest of the world finally come to realize that only one side in the ‘peace process,’ so called, takes its frustrations out on women and children? Will the civilized world finally see that the terrorists regard Jews as no more human than the Nazis did? These terrorists grew up, like German children raised in the Third Reich, learning from their textbooks that Jews are ‘vermin’ and ‘cockroaches’.” –Suzanne Fields

Open Query…

“John Walker seems to have been only a star-crossed follower of the natives, a kind of aspirant in their midst hoping to overcome some inferiority bred into him by Western life. Still, what a journey for an American boy from Marin County, where all the cliché obsessions of shallow California – wine, therapy and real estate – flourish without irony. How does one get from Marin to the Taliban?” –Shelby Steele

The BIG lie…

“The tectonic plates beneath us are inexorably moving us to larger federal involvement. Surveys show that the American people are willing to cede more authority and dollars to Washington to do such things as tighten borders, make the skies safer and shore up our public health systems. …The ‘new’ New Deal is upon us. The president can either lead the charge or be run over by it.” –Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York)

News from the Swamp…

In the Executive Branch, President George W. Bush this week began proceedings to formally withdrawal of the U.S. from the ABM Treaty with the former Soviet Union, which is still supported by Russia. Speaking at The Citadel Tuesday, Mr. Bush said, “For the good of peace, we’re moving forward with an active program to determine what works and what does not work. In order to do so, we must move beyond the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a treaty that was written in a different era, for a different enemy.”

On the economic front, Mr. Bush offered to play “Let’s Make A Deal” with Senate Democrats on his proposals for economic stimulus, compromising on smaller tax cuts and more unemployment aid than his economic team prefers. The House approved a similar package 49 days ago. But Demo Tom Daschle and his coterie are holding out in hopes of instead playing “It’s The Economy, Stupid, The Sequel.”

Senate Majority Whip Harry Reid blathered: “This week, a panel of economists confirmed – as many Americans already sensed – that we have been in a recession since March. With our nation at war against terrorists overseas and a slumping economy at home, too many working families face the upcoming holiday season with uncertainty and apprehension. That’s why Democrats have been working hard to create a plan to help our economy recover quickly. Unfortunately hardline Republicans are playing politics with this economic recovery proposal.”

Memo to Daschle, Reid & Co.: Over 700,000 Americans have lost their jobs since September 11. Let the Senate vote on the president’s plan – or get ready to be saddled with blame for any further economic decline.

In other executive matters, President Bush invoked “executive privilege” to withhold subpoenaed documents from constitutionally mandated congressional oversight. Republican Congressman Dan Burton, Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, requested documents from the Justice Department, but Mr. Bush advised AG Ashcroft to secrete them from Congress. Burton responded, “What’s happening here is that you have a power grab by the executive branch…a power grab that’s going to impede justice in this country and that really concerns me.” Many of the requested documents relate to the case of Joseph Salvati, of Boston, who was unjustly jailed 30 years for a murder the FBI knew he did not commit but wanted to pin on a “fall guy” to protect one of their informants. (Salvati was freed last January.)

Memo to Mr. Bush & Co.: Want to really shelve all qualms about military tribunals? Don’t attempt to block oversight of abuses of prosecution! For all the recent happy talk about renewed “energy in the executive,” that ain’t the same thing as an imperial presidency – which is undesirable regardless of Party affiliation!

In the House of Commons, Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) declared he will retire at the end of his current term in November 2002, saying, “The end of this 107th Congress is the time for me to stand down as Majority Leader, and as a member of Congress, to take my leave of this place, and the people I love so much, and to return home to my beloved 26th District of Texas; and, more importantly, to my beloved wife and family. …Too often our service to our nation is a disservice to our families. I very much look forward to making up lost time with them.” During his nine terms in office, Armey has been a sturdy, reliable advocate for family and freedom, and his abiding Christian faith has been evident to his friends and colleagues. Fellow economist and “retiring” Texan Sen. Phil Gramm said, “Dick Armey’s had a brilliant career. He’s as close to being an indispensable man in the House as there could be. … He’s been a tireless advocate for less government and more freedom.”

Armey helped craft the 1994 Contract With American, one factor propelling Republicans into their recent congressional majority, and to show why The Federalist will miss him very much, consider this vintage Armey quote: “Ain’t no right way to do the wrong thing.”

House Demo Leader Richard Gephardt spoke of the “mutual respect” he shares with his “worthy adversary,” especially since the 9-11 attacks: “I admire Dick’s commitment to freedom and liberty and believe he has led his party well. Dick Armey has made a significant contribution to our country in the past two decades. I applaud his extraordinary service and wish him the best.”

Hey, we think even “Barney Fag” will miss him! (You may recall, in a fine example of parapraxis, that is how Mr. Armey referred to Rep. Barney Frank.)

House and Senate negotiators settled on a compromise education bill redefining the federal government’s role in education, sending more money to the states and initiating annual testing for “accountability” of schools for student learning. The bill authorizes $26.5 billion in education spending next year, but failed to provide conservative-backed school choice measures. The House passed the “No Child Left Behind” Act, 381-41, and the Senate likely will take up the measure early next week.

In the House of Lords, the Senate attempted to disguise its tardiness in approving Mr. Bush’s appointments, this week confirming three federal judges, but rejecting a vote on Eugene Scalia’s nomination as Labor Department solicitor general. This brought the total of approved judges to 24 out of 64 nominations, but holding up young Scalia couldn’t have anything to do with the Supreme judicial restraint of his father, Antonin Scalia, could it?

Sociocrat Leader Tom Daschle says he may not adjourn the Senate during the Christmas break in order to prevent Mr. Bush from installing some nominees through recess appointments – the workaround method perfected by Daschle’s mentor, Bill Clinton.

And late last week, the Senatorial anti-gun bigots rose again, flaying Attorney General John Ashcrott for – we are not making this up! – enforcing the law they wrote, as written. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Stalingrad), unable to make headway criticizing Ashcroft over possible military tribunals for overseas terrorists, took his political attack in another direction, referring to “another manual entitled ‘How Can I Train Myself for Jihad’,” which Kennedy claimed was found in a terrorist safe house in Kabul. “It states, ‘In other countries, some states, the U.S., it’s perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms. If you live in such a country obtain an assault weapon legally.’ We’ve been trying to deal with this problem for many months, that a potential terrorist would walk into a gun show, walk out with a gun, no questions asked.”

For the record, in order to gain support for Brady Law checks of gun purchasers as never, ever intended as a de facto gun owner registry, these same Senators agreed the documents would be retained only briefly and reserved only for initial eligibility checks.

Judicial Benchmarks…

In the halls of justice on the right, the Supremes chose not to review a lower court ruling allowing Florida high schools in Duval County to have students give graduation “messages,” which opponents charged was school prayer in disguise. The policy permitted graduating senior classes to choose student “chaplains” to deliver inspirational messages at graduation ceremonies. Sounds to us just like the First Amendment’s right to “free exercise” of religious faith!

In the halls of injustice on the left, a federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to reinstate Louisiana’s school prayer law, which grew from a 1976 law allowing a moment of silent meditation to permitting student-led prayer in public classrooms. A 3-0 vote of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld lower court rulings that the 1999 law was unconstitutional.

On the Left…

An update on a story The Federalist noted last week: “We won’t stand down,” Clintonista leftover Mary Frances Berry, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said in refusing to seat Bush appointee Peter Kirsanow, who was sworn in last Thursday. Republican commissioners Jennifer Braceras, Russell Redenbaugh, and Abigail Thernstrom objected, “What we saw today had nothing to do with this commission’s mission of promoting civil rights. It was an unvarnished defiance of the rule of law–the very rule of law that this commission is charged with protecting.”

The Commissars…

As if the attacks on the Salvation Army by homosexuals and their pink, red, lavender, and rainbow fellow travelers weren’t enough…! Now Wal-Mart stores are being impressed into restricting the red kettles, as a result of a National Labor Relations Board ruling ordering retailers nationwide to provide the same access to all groups – including labor unions – if even one organization solicits on their property. Salvation Army bell ringers outside Wal-Marts will be limited to no more than 14 days at each store, no more than three days in a row, and kept outside and 15 feet away from store entrances. (The United Food and Commercial Workers union has been attempting to unionize Wal-Mart workers.) We now know where the Grinch works off-season!

Regarding your IRS overpayment…

It’s becoming a congressional salary overpayment! What’s even more important than defense spending these days? Upping Congress critters’ pay! Late last week, and under cover of darkness, the Senate voted, 65-33, to give members of Congress a $4,900 pay raise, effective in January. (The House passed similar legislation earlier this year.) And they do know this action is both wrong and unpopular – fourteen of the 30 senators up for re-election voted to block the 3.4 percent pay raise, which boosts their annual salaries to $150,000.

From the department of military readiness…

And about those “lessons drawn” from Afghanistan… also in his speech at The Citadel, Mr. Bush remarked, “The conflict in Afghanistan has taught us more about the future of our military than a decade of blue-ribbon panels and think-tank symposiums. This revolution in our military is only beginning, and it promises to change the face of battle. … The need for military transformation was clear before…. What’s different today is our sense of urgency, the need to build this future force while fighting a present war. It’s like overhauling an engine while you’re going at 80 miles an hour….” Indeed – and indeed reason for great forethought as this particular endeavor drives forward!

From the department of military correctness…

A cautionary note about post-9-11 proposals: Some “far-thinker” in the Bush administration, in cahoots with complicit Senators, inserted language into the upper chamber’s defense authorization bill prohibiting “any person to possess significant military equipment formerly owned by the Department of Defense.” Now, that would be … decommissioned firearms? Restored World War II museum aircraft? Fortunately, common sense – and a few military veterans – prevailed in the House, and the language was stripped this week from the bill.

From the states…

Company officials from Los Angeles-based Golden State Transportation were indicted this week on federal charges of conspiring with illegal alien smugglers to bus their human cargo throughout the Southwest and West, typically moving 50 to 300 illicit entrants to the country on daily bus routes. In related news, the INS began a sweep around San Diego County for Middle Eastern foreign nationals overstaying their student visas – as did at least one of the 9-11 hijackers. But fortunately or unfortunately depending on what you think this means, only 10 were nabbed.

Janet Reno may believe her gubernatorial campaign is going swimmingly, but vociferous protests may drown out her message. Recently, Cuban American and conservative lawmakers walked out on her appearance at the Florida State Capitol. And law enforcement groups protest that she politicized crime-fighting efforts as Dade County state’s attorney and mishandled the Elian Gonzalez situation as U.S. attorney general. She certainly also politicized the Eric Rudolph case, committing enormous resources to the North Carolina search for this “suspected” bomber of an abortion clinic – at the same time Islamic terrorists were settling into the suburbs of her home state of Florida.

The “Dumb and Dumber” Department…

As The Federalist predicted nearly three months back, charitable contributions for the 9-11 victim families would soon be subject to squabbling for politicized objectives. Leftists are always attracted to big pots of other people’s money! Kind of like tornadoes are attracted to trailer parks! Well, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) received a $30,000 grant from the September 11th Fund, designated for the questionable original stated purposes of fighting “hate violence” and “workplace discrimination” post-9-11. As part of those efforts, AALDEF is now suing the Justice Department for detention of immigrants possibly involved in or knowledgeable about those terrorist attacks. Yes, according to AALDEF, even the 9-11 attackers should qualify as “victims” of that event!

Court Jesters…

Out Left Coast way, in Escondido, California, Richard Espinosa filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the city, alleging violation of his civil rights and rights under disability law when the local public library cat, L.C. (“Library Cat”), attacked his companion assistance dog, Kimba, last year. (Kimba assists Espinosa in dealing with his anxiety attacks.) The suit claims the city created a “very dangerous and unsafe situation striking terror” and producing “lasting physical and emotional injury” to Espinosa as well as permanent injury to his dog. (The veterinarian’s bill for treating Kimba was $46.49.)

Culture comment…

Making a list? Better check it twice! A recent evaluation of play station and computer video games concludes that most contain some violence while offering little “diversity,” as most game heroes are white males, and only 16% of characters are female. You know, if you are going to have a lot of violence, diversity is a must!

And speaking of “entertainment” media, NBC announced that it will begin accepting ads for distilled spirits – the first major broadcast network to lift its ban on liquor advertising. And why not? You can’t find fifteen minutes of boob-tube video without coming across some reference mind-altering substance – either in the programming itself or in advertising for the now-endless variety of drugs to solve everything from social anxiety to sleeplessness. NBC insists it will only target audiences over 21…. (Haven’t we heard that one before.)

So, now NBC will be funding its “stars” with additional beer and liquor advertising, though alcohol related car wrecks kill and maim far more people – including children – than those infamous “handguns” that Hollywonks are always lamenting. The Chardonnay crowd wants five day waiting periods before purchasing six-shooters, but not before buying six-packs.

Faith Matters…

The Episcopal Church joined about 60 other signers of an open letter to the U.S. Senate, asking for ratification of the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which calls for all countries to end discrimination against women in politics, law, employment, education, health care, commercial transactions and domestic relations. But this treaty is not family friendly and contains much bad feminist dogma, so it’s not exactly about faithfulness….

On the frontiers of silly science…

Researchers have finally weighed in to answer the age-old question, “When it rains do you stay drier if you run to shelter, or are you just running into more raindrops?” Seattle runner-meteorologists Trevor Wallis and Thomas Peterson, reporting in the journal Weather, found that walking left a person 40 percent wetter. We hope that settles that!

Around the world…

In the wake of continuing terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, Israel cut ties with lead Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat and began military operations to apprehend the terrorists who launched the murderous assaults. Hamas took responsibility for the attacks, but Israeli government officials, borrowing the “Bush Doctrine” defining harborers of terrorists as terrorists, correctly note Arafat bears culpability as well.

And last…

More zero sense masquerading as “zero tolerance,” this time in San Antonio, where a 7-year-old found packing his grandfather’s 1 ½ inch pocketknife in a backpack was sentenced to 11 days at the Edgewood Independent School District alternative school, where he can learn some lessons from serious offenders.

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