Posted on December 11, 2005


Cranial Tumbleweeds

Murtha's mush, tree wars, Kelo, etc.


Daniel Clark


* The Democrats' latest slogan against the war in Iraq is that "staying the course is not a plan." If we had any reporters in this country, one of them would point out to John Murtha or Nancy Pelosi that if there is a course that we're staying on, then that is indeed a plan. What is not a plan is to veer off-course and set ourselves adrift, as they are demanding we do.

* Since they've taken President Bush's low poll numbers to be a "tipping point" in the war, prominent Democrats like John Kerry, Howard Dean and John Murtha have mistakenly concluded that the time was ripe to go on the offensive against their own country. So they've told us that the war is unwinnable, that our military is crushed and demoralized, and that our soldiers have been terrorizing Iraqi children. It's only a matter of time before they add, "the Statue of Liberty is kaput!"

* Well, okay, John Murtha isn't what most people would recognize as a "prominent" Democrat. That is, until his call to surrender, at which time the news media suddenly discovered that he's led one of the most prolific careers of anyone on Capitol Hill.

* When challenged about their spreading enemy propaganda, Democrats always insist that their quotes were taken out of context, but they cannot provide any context in which their remarks could ever be considered benign.

* If, in the context of a war, you publicly compare your own country's soldiers to Nazis and Communists, like Sen. Dick Durbin did, you are a traitor. Not coincidentally, you are also a Democrat. How's that for context?

* Democrats keep insisting that Howard Dean does not speak for them. Yes, he does. They elected him chairman of the Democratic National Committee. One of the jobs of a party chairman is to appear on the Sunday talk shows and argue his party's point of view. Until they fire him, he most definitely speaks for them, and his remarks remain the responsibility of his entire party.

* Murtha and his supporters have discounted soldiers' opinions about the war by saying that they're just being obedient, and don't have the luxury of opinions of their own. Don't be surprised if Murtha's party eventually tries to use this rationale as justification for throwing out military absentee ballots.

* It's frustrating to hear conservatives revert to their defensive "we don't question your patriotism, we question your judgment" line. What must one do to have one's patriotism questioned, that congressional Democrats haven't done already? If you're rooting against your own country in a war, then you're unpatriotic. That shouldn't be hard to say.

* Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard wonders why the Defense Department is stonewalling his efforts to obtain unclassified documents from Iraq, which may contain a wealth of information about Saddam's WMD programs, and his dealings with al-Qaeda. While his aggravation is understandable, so is the administration's reticence to share the papers. If the anti-war Left finds one grain of dubious information among these documents, the media will help them use it to dismiss a ton of solid evidence, and revert to their "Bush lied" mantra. The fact that the information would have been revealed by Hayes, a private citizen, would mean nothing, since he would only be smeared as yet another puppet of the evil genius Karl Rove.

* Having said that, the documents are unclassified, and Hayes has requested them under the Freedom of Information Act, so he should have them. The Bush administration does not have a right to withhold them, just because it questions their public relations value.

* Hayes reports that these files are labeled with such titles as: IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] report on Taliban-Iraq Connections Claims; Money Transfers from Iraq to Afghanistan; Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals; IIS reports from Embassy to Paris -- Plan to Influence French Stance on UN Security Council; Formulas and information about Iraq's Chemical Weapons Agents; Denial and Deception of WMD and killing of POWs; Ricin research and improvement; Document from Uday Hussein regarding Taliban activity; IIS reports on how French Campaigns are Financed; Chemical Gear for Fedayeen Saddam; Chemical Agent Purchase Orders (Dec. 2001); Correspondence between various Iraq organizations giving instructions to hide chemicals and equipment; Cleaning chemical suits and how to hide chemicals; and Secret Meeting with Taliban Group Member and Iraqi Government (Nov. 2000). If the information in these files does not live up to the Pentagon's characterizations of it, this could be turned into a huge new scandal over "hyped intelligence." So why are there no liberal reporters -- or politicians, for that matter -- sharing Hayes' curiosity?

* About Iraq, Sen. Hillary Clinton says, "I disagree with those who say we should stay there forever." Since nobody has said that, this statement does absolutely nothing to illuminate Mrs. Clinton's position. While she was at it, she might as well have announced her opposition to an invasion of Atlantis.

* It took Bill Clinton two days to flip-flop on whether to immediately withdraw from Iraq. If the Clintons were back in charge, how would our allies deal with reversals and noncommittal answers like they've been giving?

* One of the best arguments for repealing the 22nd Amendment is that more presidents would stay in office until they died, so they wouldn't be able to go around the world criticizing their countries' policies, while their successors were trying to do their jobs.

* Is Hillary Clinton thinking about running for president because she really wants the job, or has she just decided that she needs new furniture?

* If the War on Terror has been the failure the network and print media would have us believe it has, then where are we getting all of these high-level al-Qaeda operatives that we're keeping in those secret prisons in Eastern Europe?

* Memo to talk radio hosts across America: the word "media" is plural. Dammit!

* From now on, Al Gore's name should always be spelled with a lower-case "a" and a hyphen ("al-Gore"). Come to think of it, that would be a good name for his cable TV network.

* When confronted at his trial with his own butchery, Saddam Hussein responded by complaining that he hadn't been allowed to change his clothes often enough. He's obviously noticed how seriously the Western media have taken his terrorist friends' frivolous charges of abuse at Guantanamo Bay. Next, he'll probably complain that the guards served him red wine with his fish.

* Many of the people who see no justification for having invaded Iraq are the same people who supported our involvement in the Balkans, on the superstitious basis that the First World War started there, so we needed to take control of the situation before the Kaiser went back on the warpath.

* During last year's presidential campaign, John Kerry told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he had a plan to finish the war in Iraq, but that it was a secret. His fellow Democrats pretend to be open to suggestions, since they claim that Bush has "no plan," but they haven't yet asked their own candidate to disclose any details.

* The Democrats have started accusing Republicans of calling Pennsylvania congressman and Vietnam veteran John Murtha a coward, which they haven't done (although one might have reasonably understood Rep. Jean Schmidt to have implied it, for which she apologized). Strange, but the heroism of former president George H.W. Bush in the Second World War never did much to deter Democrats from calling him a wimp. Nor did it stop the Clinton campaign from sending some boob to follow him around in a chicken costume, just because he wouldn't agree to as many debates as Clinton had wanted.

* Jimmy Carter wants to turn the Korean DMZ into a "peace park," in order to protect the many species of animal and plant life that have flourished in that area since the cessation of hostilities. Brilliant! Kim Jong Il's concern for the environment will surely repel him from ever invading the South. We can dig up those land mines any time now.

* Anybody who complains that President Bush spends too much time on vacation is either dishonest, or too stupid to vote. The President of the United States never has a day off. It's just that when Congress is out of session, his job does not demand that he remain in the White House. Considering the hostility of the Washington press corps, it behooves a Republican president to spend as much time outside the beltway as possible. Bush's critics would have us believe that when foreign heads of state like Tony Blair and Vicente Fox visit him in Crawford, Texas, they're only coming over for a dip in the pool and a game of Zimm-Zamm.

* The truth be known, Bill Clinton was more on vacation in the Oval Office than Bush has ever been in Crawford.

* Republican efforts to increase domestic energy production and rein in federal spending have been foiled by so-called "moderates" within their own party. It's time that "big tent" proponents started asking themselves some tough questions, like just how badly does the GOP miss the likes of Lowell Weicker, William Weld and Jim Jeffords? And how much would it really hurt now if Lincoln Chafee and Olympia Snowe, among others, were to switch parties?

* What in the world has President Bush gained from supporting Sen. Arlen Specter against primary challenger Pat Toomey? Trading Sammy Sosa turned out to be a better move than that.

* Conservatives repeatedly get bitten when they reach out to "moderate" Republicans, but they seldom learn. The Democratic Party has targeted Sen. Rick Santorum in next year's elections, and if Specter doesn't return Santorum's support from a year ago, then Santorum has only himself and President Bush to blame. Toomey would have won with their endorsements, and he'd now be able to energize Republican turnout for Santorum in a way that Specter never could.

* Kentucky head football coach Rich Brooks bears a resemblance to Sen. Specter, and in his case, that may be a good thing. The university has already announced that Brooks will be back to coach next season, despite a record of 9-25 over the last three years. It seems that guys who look like that just never go away.

* San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips looks like the outermost layer of a Newt Gingrich nesting doll.

* The sports media are usually so overtly liberal that Keith Olbermann ought to be commended, for managing not to expose himself as the total Bolshevik he is the whole time he was at ESPN.

* CBS News is reportedly trying to hire away NBC Today co-host Katie Couric to replace Dan Rather on the Evening News. Evidently, some CBS executive has concluded that Rathers' ratings had been sliding because he didn't recite his DNC talking points snottily enough.

* Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has written to the Architect of the Capitol, demanding that the Capitol "Holiday Tree" -- as it has been called in recent years -- revert to its traditional title of Christmas tree. It would have been nice if the Republicans had taken the initiative to correct this outrage before they noticed the winds of public opinion blowing in their favor. Press accounts indicate that the name was changed to "Holiday Tree" sometime in the late 90s, when the GOP already controlled both houses of Congress. Yet they'd declined to do anything about it, until Fox News anchor John Gibson's book, The War on Christmas, arrived to serve as a trial balloon.

* Here in Moscow on the Monongahela (a.k.a., Pittsburgh), the traditional downtown Christmas tree was renamed the "Unity Tree" several years ago. They haven't gotten around to replacing the star with a hammer and sickle yet.

* When people refer to Christmas as "Xmas," do they think they're celebrating the birthday of Racer X?

* In a faux-presidential debate staged on NBC's West Wing, the Republican candidate referred to his party as the Party of Lincoln, only to have the Democrat claim Lincoln for his own side, by calling him a liberal Republican. Liberals have been known to use that argument in real life, too, but they're wrong. Abe Lincoln was not liberal, by the modern understanding of the word. He was a devoutly religious, conservative war president, who probably would have vetoed the Patriot Act on the grounds that it was far too timid. If he came bursting onto the political scene today, the Democrats would despise him, just as they did back then.

* The only reason I know what was said on West Wing is by reading a transcript. I see no reason to euthanize brain cells by watching network prime time TV, when there's usually a game on, or a good movie, or a documentary of animals eating each other. Maybe everybody watched garbage like Alice and Real People back when there were only five channels, but in the age of cable, satellite dishes and DVDs, watching most network programming is an act of pure masochism.

* The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation complains that only about two percent of characters on network TV shows are gay. How do they know?

* What in the world would our founding fathers have thought if they'd witnessed the "Big Oil" hearings that recently took place on Capitol Hill? If Alexander Hamilton had been alive to see the people's representatives demand that businessmen justify their profits, he'd have probably wanted somebody to shoot him.

* If I thought the government had any business combating what they call "price gouging," I'd demand congressional hearings on charging $6.75 a beer at hockey games.

* Most of the NHL's rule changes have been for the better, but the shootout has got to rank alongside the designated hitter and tearaway jerseys as one of the worst ideas ever adopted by a major league sport. Deciding a game on penalty shots is what they do when they have to break a tie in soccer, but have little hope of either team scoring while they're still actually playing the game. There's no need to resort to that in professional hockey. In fact, the league tacitly admits the illegitimacy of the shootout by declining to use it in the playoffs, and by awarding the losing team a point in games decided by shootout in the regular season. In some of its ads, the NHL brags that it has eliminated ties, but at least the fans understand what a tie is. Instead, the league has created new categories of ambiguous results, to which nobody quite knows how to react. You haven't really lost if you're still getting a point in the standings, and you haven't completely won if you've allowed a point to be gained by a conference rival, against whom you are competing in a playoff race.

* If the NHL acknowledges that the shootout isn't legitimate enough to decide playoff games, then it shouldn't be used to decide who gets into the playoffs in the first place.

* Some sportswriters have justified the shootout by pointing out that the crowds have greeted it with enthusiasm. Well, here's a better idea. If a game is still tied at the end of overtime, each head coach should select five of his players to participate in a five-minute brawl at center ice. The officials can score the fight, and announce the winners when it's over. That will be guaranteed to elicit a stronger crowd response than a series of penalty shots. If the games are to be decided by whatever registers highest on the applause meters, whether or not the activity constitutes the act of playing hockey, then there are all sorts of options more deserving of consideration than a shootout.

* As long as the NHL was making wholesale rules changes, it should have required the players to wear full face shields, like they do in college. The players wouldn't have liked it, but they would have had little choice but to accept it, and it would have prevented a lot of unnecessary injuries. Leaving players' eyes and teeth exposed just so they can be tough guys is a practice that should have gone out with taping on the foils.

* In a way, it's a good thing that O.J. Simpson was not convicted. Now we don't have to put up with years of celebrity appeals for his clemency.

* If Ed Asner, Danny Glover and Mike Farrell ever declared me to be innocent, I would immediately turn myself in to the police, under the assumption that I'd gone on a subconscious killing spree, like in the movie Angel Heart.

* Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has joked that the U.S. Supreme Court approved his seizures of private businesses. He may be more right than he knows. Not only does the Kelo v. New London decision support his claim, but Justice Stephen Breyer believes it's appropriate, when ruling on American law, to cite precedent from Zimbabwe. That country's Supreme Court approved Robert Mugabe's "land reform" project in 2001.

* A land developer may now enlist the government's help in displacing people from their homes, but he may not proceed with his development if it might disturb the habitat of an endangered flea. This should give us an idea of what liberals really mean when they talk about protecting "the little guy." They've seen to it that vermin have more property rights than people do.

* It's too bad that the area where we want to drill in ANWR is uninhabitable, or else the state of Alaska could use Kelo as justification to open the area to exploration, and the federal government would be disinclined to stop it.

* Over the past year, there have been numerous stories about the discovery of new species of animals, which presumably had been skulking about for years without being seen. How, then, do we ever know that a species has become extinct? Some environmentalists claim that as many as 200 species are wiped out every day. I'd like to see an inventory of those, with an explanation of how they know that each of them no longer exists.

* Believe it or not, the latest scourge of environmentalism is soil erosion. If the earth's natural geological processes are a threat to the environment, and environmentalists are able to communicate with nature, then they should just give the planet a call and tell it to knock it off already.



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