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Friday, November 30, 2007

Death Over a Teddy Bear?!!?


This week's events in Sudan really have to make the rest of the world shake their heads in wonder. A 54-year-old British teacher, Gillian Gibbons, who had recently arrived in Sudan, has been arrested by Sudanese authorities. Her crime? It seems that as part of her lessons on bears to her class of 7-year olds, she had the pupils bring in teddy bears to class. As part of the lesson, the children were asked to choose names for the teddy bears. The children chose the name, Mohammed for one bear, and all hell broke loose. It seems that naming a teddy bear Mohammed is an insult against Islam. Accordingly, Ms Gibbons has been arrested and charged for blasphemy- or whatever they call it.

During the ensuing diplomatic crisis between Sudan and Britain, it was reported that the unfortunate lady was facing a maximum punishment of 6 months in prison, plus 40 lashes! Apparently, diplomatic efforts have paid off (to some extent). Ms Gibbons has been sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.

Not content to leave well enough alone in the face of world-wide shock, the Sudanese have in the past 24 hours carried out a massive demonstration in the heart of beautiful downtown Khartoum-demanding the execution of the British lady as just punishment for insulting Islam. Of course, it should be pointed out that such a demonstration in Sudan (which is under dictatorial rule) would not be possible without the consent-if not the direction of the government. So now the world is treated to the usual scene of outraged Muslim mobs in the streets shouting "Death to All!" (or something like that).

First of all, what kind of country is this Sudan, where a 54-year-old woman would even have to spend 15 days in jail for such an "offense"? Well, for starters, this is the same Sudan where a quarter of a million people have been slaughtered in the Darfur region by killers supported by the government-an atrocity that continues as we speak. This is one of the most odious regimes in the world today.

Then we must ask: what kind of mentality leads people to demand death for naming a teddy bear Mohammed? How about a barbaric 7th Century mentality?

I am not a Brit, but if I were, I would be demanding that my government break off relations and all aid to such a nation. This is not the first outrage that the UK has swallowed at the hands of a 4th rate banana republic. Remember Idi Amin's Uganda? Remember the murder of a British policewoman by riflefire from the Libyan Embassy in London? Remember the British sailors held hostage by Iran? Whatever happened to the Britain of Margaret Thatcher? I remember when Argentina seized the Falkland Islands from the Brits, and Thatcher sent in the troops to take them back by force. Sadly, the Brits are bending over backwards to placate radical Islam-even in their own country.

And what about the so-called moderate Muslims? Why aren't other Muslim governments speaking out against their Sudanese brethren for bringing further embarassment to Islam? Are British Muslims demonstrating against the Sudanese treatment of a British subject in the name of Islam? Well, probably not since they prefer to wave banners reading, "Behead those who insult Islam!"

Frankly, I am up to here with the sight of Muslim mobs all over the world jumping up and down, shaking their fists, burning other nations' flags and demanding death to people they don't like. It is high time that Muslims join the 21st Century and start acting like civilized people instead of 7th Century barbarians. As for the so-called moderate Muslims, it is past time to stand up to the crazies and re-establish Islam as a religion worthy of respect.

As for Ms Gibbons, I pray for her safe return back to civilization. Sudan does not deserve the help of people like her. Her experience should be a lesson to other westerners who feel compelled to go and serve people who don't appreciate it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The CNN Republican Debate-Talk About Ringers!


"Hello, I'm an undecided voter, and I would like to ask all the Republican candidates the following....."


Well, CNN, the "most trusted name in news", has done it again. In the aftermath of last night's Republican debate, hosted by CNN, it has now come to light that many of the "undecided" voter-questioners, as CNN called them, were actually Democratic operatives, or as we say in sports, "ringers". From my impression of the debate, many of these questioners came into the debate with their hidden agendas-to try to make the candidates look bad, or flood them with questions that were not hot-button issues for Republican voters.

The most egregious example was retired Brigadier General, Keith Kerr, who upon his retirement, came out of the closet as a gay. His question to all the candidates was why they would object to a gay serving in the military-not exactly a prime issue among Republican voters. In addition to the YouTube-posed question, CNN went to the expense of flying the gentleman to the debate and inviting him to make what was, in effect, a speech. Now it turns out that he is a former campaign worker for the Clinton campaign! CNN now says, they never knew that Kerr was associated with the Clinton campaign. The Clinton campaign also denied any knowledge. Yeah, right. A simple Google search could have prevented that gaffe.

In addition, there was an "undecided" young lady who asked a question. As it turns out, she is an Edwards supporter. Then there was the gentleman who implied that he was a Log Cabin (Gay) Republican, who asked about whether the candidates would accept the support of the aforementioned group. (I thought Huckabee gave the best answer to this one.) This guy is an Obama supporter.

Look, I have no objection to all the candidates being subjected to hard questions if they want to be president. However, CNN misrepresented the profiles of the questioners (whom they selected). What if Fox News held a debate for the Democrats (which the Dems refused to participate in) and had Rush Limbaugh's brother asking hard questions? Oh, the outrage!

As for the performances of the candidates: In my opinion, Romney looked a little uncomfortable in his heated exchanges with McCain (over torture) and Giuliani (over illegal alien workers). McCain made his argument against torture in a most effective manner, putting Romney on the defensive, even though I agree more with Romney's position. While McCain was forceful at times, he apparently put off some other observers who think he is too contemptuous of opposing views. I would tend to agree.

While I admire Giuliani in many ways, I do think he is making that mistake New Yorkers often make. (If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.) He talks incessantly about his days in New York. I think it is starting to wear.

Huckabee, I think, once again did well, and continued to rise to the top tier of candidates. I am troubled, however, by his eagerness to give in-state tuition to the children of illegal aliens, while not committing to give the same break to children of vets who come to Arkansas to go to college.

The best answers of the night in my view, came first, from Tancredo, in response to a question about funding to go to Mars. He basically dismissed it as a luxury we cannot afford. Then, there was Hunter, responding to a question from a young Muslim woman who wanted to know what the candidates would do to improve the image of the US in the Muslim world. After listening to a couple of other tortured responses, Hunter reminded the questioner that whenever another region in the world (including Islamic regions)was in crisis or faced with disaster(i.e. tsunami in SE Asia), the US was first to respond. Hunter then declared that he would never apologize for America. Bravo! (Side note: Maybe the young lady should ask what the Muslim world can do to improve its own image around the world in light of the on-going terror.)

Ron Paul, while playing the role of the Republican version of Dennis Kucinich, did in fact, perhaps unwittingly, make a significant statement on the question of abortion. He stated (I am paraphrasing) that in 30 years as an OB-GYN, he had never seen a case of abortion as a result of a medical emergency. Interesting indeed-and worthy of follow-up.

As for Thompson, he did fine, but I still question how much he wants to be president. He just seems to be content to stand there and not go all out to win a debate.

Not being a professional political pundit, I don't know who really won this debate. I suspect that Huckabee will continue to rise based on his overall performance. Loser? Why CNN of course. Tom Delay commented tonight on Hannity and Colmes that this performance just proves that the mainstream media is working in concert with the Democratic Party. I find it hard to disagree.

If Hillary Wins-What Do We Do With Bill?


"Monica,will you accept this rose?"


Considering that there is a distinct possibility that Hillary Clinton will be our next president, the question arises, what will happen to Bill? Since the Clinton's (though they don't want us to know it) are for all intents and purposes separated, it is not clear how much actual time Bill would spend in the White House.

Since leaving office, Bill has been residing in the New York City area, while Hillary works in Washington. Of course, Bill also spends a lot of time traveling around the world trying to repair his legacy. Though few news sources are anxious to investigate or report on it, there are whispers that, since leaving office, he has been...ah well, let us say active (socially). Personally, that's fine with me. He is no longer president, and he can have his private life as far as I am concerned. But what happens if he suddenly becomes the first gentleman (if that's the appropriate word). Does he move back into the White House? Does he become a roving ambassador (no pun intended)?

Can anyone doubt that if the Clinton's return to power that more scandals are on the horizon? Let's face it. The spotlight will be back on Bill if he continues philandering. And in that case, it should be. If the spouse of the president is having affairs, then it is once again, fair game. From what we know about Bill, it's inevitable. Hillary has to know that she will have a problem on her hands. So what does she do? There are no easy solutions short of having him forcibly removed to a monastery, which Eurpoean monarchs used to do in some countries.

I guess she could ship him off to some country as ambassador (No, Bill. You can't go to Thailand.) How about London or Paris? (ooh-la-la!). She could keep him under watch at the White House, kind of like Norman Bates' mom in the upstairs bedroom. Of course, all White House interns would have to be male.

Or how 'bout this? We can film the next "Bachelor" series in the White House, with none other than Bill as the Bachelor. Al Gore could be the master of ceremonies-he sures looks the part. I can see it all now:

Monica- "I really think Bill and I have made a connection. I definitely see him as my soulmate, and I can see myself spending the rest of my life with him."

Paula- "I'm really hoping that Bill will give me the final rose." The way he looked at me last night makes me think he and I are made for each other. I think he'd be making a big mistake if he chooses one of those other &*%#*s."

What do you think-good idea? No? Well, never mind.

Anyway, Hillary, you are, after all, a problem solver. I'm sure you will figure something out. And while you are seated in your big chair in the Oval Office, you can gaze to your left and contemplate that green door on the side and think of all the history.

Daniel Pipes Talk at UC Irvine


Daniel Pipes



Since I teach part-time at UC Irvine and have spoken out many times on the activities of the Muslim Student Union there, I was planning to attend Dr Pipes talk to observe and report on the reaction from the MSU. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to family emergency.

Today, however, I was interviewed by the David Project regarding the problems at UCI, an interview that was arranged by Reut Cohen, a recent UCI grad and former leader of Anteaters for Israel at the UCI campus. I was able to get a short briefing from her regarding last night's events. What I will say here is second-hand, and surely will be reported on Reut's blog as well (I have a link on this site). According to Reut, there were no serious disturbances. MSU members did show up in the hall, many with their mouths taped up and bearing posters. When Mr Pipes began his talk, they walked out.

What is interesting is that as the event opened, there was a pledge of allegiance. Most of the Muslims in the audience remained seated and refused to participate. Now, to be fair, I should state that someone who is not a US citizen should not be expected to recite the pledge of allegiance, though it would be a sign of respect to at least stand, as one would do when any country's national anthem is being played. However, from my own observations at last week's speech by Yvonne Ridley at UCI, most of the Muslim attendees at that event spoke native English. It is my belief that most of these young people are indeed American citizens. If that is the case, their refusal to recite the pledge of allegiance speaks volumes.

Consider on the other hand that Ms Cohen has recently enlisted in the US Army, and will begin serving her country in January. Quite a contrast, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Folks- We Has Been Dumbed Down


"Dude, anybody seen my kat?"



For years, many of us have been complaining about what we refer to as "The dumbing down of America", which refers to the sad state of education in our country and the resultant lack of knowledge on the part of so many of our citizens. Even among college-educated people, we find those who have been fed 4 years of popular social issues with a healthy dose of how bad America is. Today, I read a piece by a liberal writer who used the expression to refer to religion which taught creation at the expense of science, a form of co-opting in my view-but I digress.

As an example of my version of dumbing down,I would point out the recent phenomenon of the 9-11 Truthers-folks who think 9-11 was carried out by the Bush Administration in order to provide an excuse to go to war, get oil and make their rich friends richer. Not surprisingly, many of the top Truthers are university professors.

A few days ago, I wrote a post on the 9-11 Truthers which has provoked a response from three believers. I have posted all of their comments because, first, I don't want to censure disagreeing positions, and second, because I think their comments only reinforce my own arguments. Anyway, let the reader decide that point.

There are also some other reasons for this tendancy to believe in conspiracies-our individualism and our (healthy) distrust of government. Yet, the idea that so many people in America believe in UFOs, black helicopters, activities by the CIA that are beyond their wildest capabilities is a little troubling. For example, one of my co-respondents, a gentleman named Preston, opines that one of the reasons for 9-11 was the government's desire to destroy Pentagon records that pertain to the mysterious loss or waste of trillions of dollars (by crashing an airplane into the Pentagon). I suggest you read Preston's comments, which go into more details than I care to here.

Actually, this posting has generated more responses on my blog than any other posting (a grand total of 7 so far). I guess I'm coming up in the blogosphere. But enough is enough. There is a point where you realize you cannot seriously debate with folks who are......, well, never mind. You get my drift.

Another gentleman, named Kenneth, says that I am living in a fantasy world. Well, I guess when you really think about it, I am. I could have sworn I saw planes flying into buildings on 9-11. Just a fantasy according to Kenneth.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Draft- Should We Bring it Back?


When I enlisted in the US Army in 1966, the nation still had a draft. Basically, all able-bodied men were subject to a 2-year military obligation. There was a student deferment for those enrolled in college, but when their education was done, they were subject to the draft. Since my service was during the Viet Nam era, it seemed to me even then that such deferments were unjustified when others were fighting and dying in Viet Nam. (I was stationed in Germany.)When I look at our former president, Bill Clinton, who avoided service through trickery, lies and deceit, I can feel only disgust.

Now that we are engaged in wars on two fronts, with the prospect of more engagements in this War on Terror (which I believe must be fought), the question must be asked- should be reinstitute the draft?

First, we should recognize that presently, our military leaders don't want a draft. They feel that the all-volunteer military has given us the best, most motivated military in our history. I won't argue that point. My admiration for our young men and women who are willing to serve our country, virtually knowing they will see combat, is unlimited. They are the best our society has to offer.

Yet, it must be considered that given the world situation today, our military is being stretched thin. I am coming to the conclusion that we need more people in the military. In my mind, the situation vis-a-vis Islamic terrorism worldwide can only grow and get worse. Indeed, it is entirely possible that we are now seeing the beginning stages of World War 3. If it comes to that, how can we tolerate involvement by only a small segment of our population when our very survival is at stake?

Some would argue that, with so much division in our country, requiring unwilling men to serve would only fill the military with malcontents and hamper the efforts of those who volunteered. Perhaps. Yet, I recall during Viet Nam, we had many quality draftees who served honorably. We also had a true cross-section of the male population. Maybe it was because in that era, young men knew they had to serve sooner or later. Since the draft was abolished, an entire generation has grown up not even having to consider military service. I think that is unfortunate.

It is also unfortunate that since the 1960s, we have seen the emergence of two generations of youth, many of whom don't feel they owe anything to their country. The first generation I speak of is my own generation, even through that generation fought in Viet Nam (while others stayed home, protested and burned American flags.) Now, we have the present generation, who take their liberties for granted, have no clue as to what it took to guarantee those liberties, and want to blame their country for all the ills of the world-even the sickness that pervades the Middle East. The notable exception to this generation consists of our military.

As long as a volunteer military can handle what needs to be done, I say we should keep it all-volunteer. But we are reaching the point where we will not be able to afford that luxury. Iran is looming on the horizon, and sooner or later, we will have to deal with that rogue nation. Out erstwhile European allies seem unwilling to stand with us, choosing instead to protect their socialist lifestyle and not confront the world the way it is-even as they experience radical Islam in their own nations. I am coming to the conclusion that we must dramatically increase the size of our military. We must also re-instill a sense of patriotism and duty in our young people. Whether they know it or not, they do owe this country something. What they owe is to help keep it free.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

9-11 Truthers- They Must be Kidding!

Rosie O'Donnell-Truther Spokesperson

9-11 Truthers in Action


I realize that there have always been and always will be conspiracy theorists among us. The JFK assassination bred a generation of conspiracy theorists, many of whom still think the president was killed by the Mob, Castro, the CIA, Lyndon Johnson or others. Though no one has ever been proven to be involved in the assassination other than Lee Harvey Oswald, many intriguing theories have been based on plausible explanations, if not definite fact. It's safe to say that any monumental (man-made) event will trigger conspiracy theories.

The latest conspiracy theory is that of the so-called 9-11 Truth Movement,who maintain that the Bush Administration had prior knowledge of the attack on the Twin Towers (and thus, did nothing to stop it from happening) or that the Administration actually carried out the attacks in order to provide a pretext for going to war in the Middle East. It is believed by these folks that the towers came down due to a controlled demolition, and that charges must have been previously set. What is really scary is the number of believers who should know better.

I won't waste a lot of time trying to refute the theories of the 9-11 Truthers. Others (like Popular Mechanics) have done a much more competent job of doing that. Suffice to say that we have all witnessed the sight of the planes flying into the Twin Towers. The identities of the hijackers have been established. Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida have taken credit for the attacks.

Now let's consider some of the folks who believe in this conspiracy theory. In the Middle East, of course, they believe that it was the Jews (who warned their co-religionists working in the World Trade Center to stay home on 9-11).In Hollywood, of course, there is Charley Sheen, who in his mid-life, has apparently decided that he should believe in something-anything!. Hollywood has produced a couple of movies, Loose Change (2005) and In Plane Site (2004), both to push the alternative explanations for 9-11. In addition, the entertainment industry in New York is represented by none other than that great mind of reason, Rosie O'Donnell, who used her soapbox on The View to advance her belief that it was the work of the evil George W Bush and his evil sidekick, Dr.Doom himself, Dick Cheney, as well as everybody's villain, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (who happened to be in the Pentagon when the plane struck.)

Of course, the universities, with their great PHD minds, have their true believers; people like Professors James Fetzer, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota at Duluth and Steven Jones, BYU, both of whom were founders of the original organization, Scholars for 9-11 Truth. Jones later broke off from Fetzer and founded the Scholars for 9-11 Truth and Justice. Other organizations to push the conspiracy theory have sprout up like weeds. Hey! Why hate bin Laden when you can blame Bush?

Perhaps most troubling of all, a recent poll indicated that about 35% of Democrats believe that Bush had prior knowledge of the attack. Even among elected representatives, former congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), a discredited flake with anti-semitic views, is signing on to the Truther movement.

As I said, there is little point in trying to refute this nonsense with reason. If people really want to believe that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are so evil as to let this happen or cause it to happen, then no argument will change their minds. I will say one thing, however, that any sane person should understand. If the conspiracy theorists are correct, and our government and leaders were involved in 9-11, then this is the most successful conspiracy in recorded history. It would have involved probably hundreds, if not thousands of participants, witting or unwitting. Yet, not one person who would have had knowledge has stepped forward to spill the beans, either out of conscience, greed or other motivation. In that light, to believe that our government was involved in 9-11 requires a certain dose of lunacy, something that is in no short supply in Hollywood and our universities.

If one wants to believe that our government was negligent or failed to connect the dots, that is entirely reasonable. Blame can be spread around in both the Bush and Clinton administrations. It can certainly be argued that attacks like the Cole, Khobar Towers, the African Embassy attacks and the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 could have been prevented by better security, coordination or intelligence. All of those attacks occurred during the Clinton Administration. However, I have never heard anyone try to argue that Clinton and his gang actually carried out the attacks.

Meanwhile, as we bicker and point the finger of blame to others, our enemies are plotting their next attack.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Palmdale 4- Al Sharpton a No-Show


Al Sharpton Appearing at the Big November 19 Rally in California



I have reported recently on the incident at a high school in Palmdale, California in September, in which three black teenagers were arrested after a scuffle with a security guard, followed by the arrest of one of the girls' mother for assaulting three school officials when she went to school after being informed of the incident. The case has become a cause-celeb among local activists, most prominently, Najee Ali, who brought in Al Sharpton. During Mr Sharpton's recent appearance at a news conference in LA, the reverend announced that he would return to California for a big demonstration to be held at the local courthouse on November 19. Well, the big demonstration apparently proved to be a big dud with no Sharpton present.

During the past few weeks, it has become apparent that the guard's actions in subduing the girl, Pleahje Mervin, were justified, and no charges are forthcoming against the guard. The three teenagers still stand charged, although Ms Major's charge has been dropped. It has also been established that Mervin's claims of a broken arm or broken wrist were false. In short, there is nothing here to justify a massive civil rights protest. Apparently, Al Sharpton has gotten the message. He was a no-show for the "big" November 19 protest at the Antelope Valley Courthouse.

But the show must go on. About 40 die-hard demonstrators showed up at the courthouse, led by Najee Ali, a fiery agitator who entertained the crowd with a rant about "House N......s vs Field N......s, apparently in reference to the black mayor of nearby Lancaster, Henry Hearns, who Ali has previously denounced as an "Uncle Tom" for not rushing to the defense of the youths and Ms Major.

So it appears that the "Palmdale 4" issue is fizzling out. The unfortunate aspect of this case is that it trivializes the issue when a true case of racial violence occurs. Too many false claims ala Tawana Brawley and the Palmdale 4 can only make the public suspicious of all such claims, some of which may truly merit an investigation.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Clinton Library- Built on Bribes?




I recall a time either in the last days of the Clinton Administration or shortly afterward when Bill Clinton was being interviewed. (I don't remember who the interviewer was.) Mr Clinton was asked how he envisioned the Clinton Library (not yet built). His answer was (I am paraphrasing) that he envisioned the library as a "beacon of hope" for the poor and dispossessed of the world. My immediate, sarcastic reaction was to imagine a poor homeless beggar on the streets of Calcutta looking into the sky, seeing the shining beacon of the Clinton Library and thinking that a better day was coming. ("Look, Bob! It's the Clinton Library! We're saved!")Yeah, right. Now that the (165 million dollar) library has been built, and certain information has leaked out, the question begs to be asked: How was this library built and on whose money? Consider the following.

The Marc Rich Pardon

In the last days of the Clinton presidency, one of the beneficiaries of a Clinton pardon was the fugitive financier, Marc Rich, subject of an international arrest warrant, but living in Switzerland. The pardon was arranged by Rich's ex-wife, Denise Rich, a comely lady who dropped some $450,000 dollars for the Clinton Library into Bill's lap (and who knows what else).

The pardon was especially controversial since the Justice Department (which was actively trying to capture Rich) had not signed on to the pardon, as is normal procedure. In fact, the pardon caught them completely by surprise. According to an article by the BBC dated 2-10-01, Mrs Rich made 3 donations from July 1998 to May 2000. Mr Rich was pardoned on Clinton's last day in office. Mrs Rich subsequently took the 5th Amendment before Congress. Also taking the 5th was the finance chair of the Democratic Party, Beth Dozoretz, who was involved in brokering the pardon.

Pardon of Rick Hendrick

An article in the Charlotte Observer dated 2-27-2001 by Peter Wallsten reported on Rick Hendrick, a Charlotte car dealer, who had pleaded guilty in a bribery case and was later pardoned by Clinton and the possible connection to a donation made to the Clinton Library by Hendrick. In his pardon application, Hendrick reportedly included a reference from his longtime friend and Bank of America CEO, Hugh McCall Jr., also a political ally of Clinton. Hendrick's pardon was issued on December 22, less than 3 weeks after the Bank of America Foundation made a $500,000 donation to the Clinton Library. According to the story, Hendrick's lawyer denied any connection between the donation and the pardon.

Global Crossing

This venture group was founded by Gary Winnick and three other associates in 1997. In spite of its rapid rise worldwide, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcy in January, 2002, one of the biggest bankruptcies in American history (see Wikipedia). In the aftermath, Winnick's profligate spending habits came under scrutiny. It has been reported that Winnick was instrumental in helping former DNC chairman and Clinton crony, Terry McAuliffe of turning a $100,000 investment into a $18,000,000 profit. McAuliffe sold his shares of Globing Crossing shortly before the company went bankrupt. Along the way, Winnick reportedly contributed $1,000,000 to the Clinton Library.

Bill Lerach

Lerach was involved with an unscrupulous securities firm called Milberg Weiss, which has been indicted as a "racketeering enterprise", and which engaged in perjury, bribery, fraud and obstruction of justice while representing phony clients who claimed to have been cheated as investors (see syndicated column by George Will dated 11-19 07). Lerach has recently pleaded guilty and is facing jail time, according to Will's column. (He was, until his plea, a fundraiser for John Edwards.) More importantly to this article, Lerach was another one of those famous Lincoln Bedroom guests during the Clinton Administration and contributed $100,000 to the Clinton Library fund. According to Will's article, shortly after Lerach's visit to a White House dinner, Clinton vetoed a bill that would have restricted class action lawsuits.

The Middle East Donations

According to an article in the New York Sun by Josh Gerstein on 11-22-04, the library also received donations in the millions from members of the Saudi royal family, as well as the governments of Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar. Though Clinton is now out of office, some speculate that these entities are contributing due to the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency beginning in 2009. (Foreign governments are prohibited from giving to a campaign in the US, but there is no such prohibition on giving to a presidential library.)

In spite of all the questions (or perhaps because of the questions), the Clinton Library has, to this point, not opened its records as to the contributors who helped build the library. (Presidential libraries are built by private donations, not public funds, and there is no legal requirement to identify donors.) According to the above-mentioned BBC article, Congress, in its investigation of the pardons, wanted to obtain a donor list for the library, which Clinton attorney lawyer, David Kendall resisted. A compromise was eventually reached, by which a partial donor list was provided.

In an article in the Chicago Tribune by Mike Dorning dated 11-12-07, almost 3 years after its opening, only a few records have been opened for the public's inspection at the Clinton Library. This, of course, also includes any records pertaining to Mrs Clinton's involvement in the Administration that she continually quotes as qualifying experience in her quest for the presidency. According to the article, only 23 requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act have been granted (out of a total of 397 requests). These requests would also help clear up questions of monies paid to Hillary's brothers, Hugh and Tony Rodham by recipients of Clinton pardons.

To be perfectly honest, I don't much care for the idea of presidential libraries to begin with. The idea is good, to be a source of valuable historical research, but it seems that many of these places exist for the primary reason of immortalizing and glorifying the particular president in question. That they would also be a method of accepting money for political favors and pardons is really troubling. I don't doubt that many of the contributions came from people of good intentions. The Clinton Library, however, reminds me of so many of those luxury hotels built in Mexico on drug money.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bella- Why the Bad Reviews?


Last night, my wife and I went to see the movie "Bella". Set in New York City, the plot revolves around a young, single woman who finds herself pregnant and suddenly fired from her job. She is befriended by a male co-worker, with whom she confides her predicament and intention to get an abortion. As the movie progresses, the young man takes her to meet his close-knit, God-fearing family. Along the way, he brings up the idea of adoption as an alternative to abortion. That is the subtle message of the movie. As for violence, nudity, evil characters, there is none-with just enough language to earn a PG-13 rating.

Altogether, I enjoyed the movie, although the ending was a little anti-climactic, sort of like a paragraph without a concluding sentence. Nevertheless, it left us with a warm feeling. Not so the New York Times and other mainstream press reviewers. As the movie started, I recalled that this movie had gathered mostly negative reviews, so I decided to research some of them. I concentrated solely on the newspapers and neglected blogs, organizations and other reviewers. Here is a sampling of what I found:

New York Times
An Urban Fairy Tale
by Stephen Holden
10-26-2007

"It's not hard to see why "Bella", a saccharine trifle directed by Alejandro Monteverde, won the People's Choice Award at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. This is a movie that wears its bleeding heart on its sleeve and loves its characters to distraction.Nothing-not even signifigant plot glitches and inconsistencies- is allowed to get in the way of its bear-hugging embrace of sweetness and light......

....If "Bella" (the title doesn't make sense until the last scene) is a mediocre cup of mush, the response to it suggests how desperate some people are for an urban fairy tale with a happy ending, no matter how ludicrous."

El Paso Times
11-9-07

".....at once half-baked and overdone, with an earnest pro-life message at its core."

Orlando Sentinel
Roger Moore
10-26-07

"Bella is a strained dollop of Latin 'magical realism' injected into a realistic American indie movie."

Boston Globe

"Jose's real fixation is on Nina's unborn baby for whom Nina herself appears to have little regard..."

"....The film's agenda, however, is hardly the problem. 'Bella' extols the joys and benefits of family life and parenthood without so much as knocking on the door of controversy."

The Buffalo News
Connie Ogle (McClatchey Newspapers)
11-16-07

''Bella' won the People's Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, but it's hard to say what the audience was thinking...."

"Surely the festival screened more entertaining films than the amateurish 'Bella', a slight fable about a soccer star turned chef who tries to persuade a pregnant co-worker he barely knows not to have an abortion. The film is more of an exercise in pandering and propaganda-give your baby up for adoption, you selfish pig!-than the heartfelt drama it aims to be...."

...."'Bella', insubstancial and trite, is as forgettable as a movie can be."

This is how mainstream newspaper movie critics dismiss this film for having the temerity to subtly suggest adoption and life as an alternative to abortion. It is the same old arrogant and dismissive attitude that the left shows to any expression that is contrary to their own agenda. Ms Ogle's emotional reference to "selfish pig" was a line never uttered in the film-not even close. One suspects that had this film reversed its message to favor abortion, with plenty of violence, nudity and foul language, the same critics would be gushing in their praise, with Oscars to follow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Democratic Debate in Las Vegas-Obama's Turn in the Barrel


CIRCUS CIRCUS


What is it about the issue of driver's licenses for illegal aliens that gives Democrats so much pause? To me, it is a no-brainer-a lousy idea. To them, it's all so complex and confusing. For the last two weeks, Barack Obama has torn into Hillary Clinton for her inability to give a straight answer to that question in the Philadelphia debate. Then, he turns around and outdoes her.

After Hillary's debacle in Philadelphia, she spent the next two weeks changing her position on the issue, digging herself deeper in the process. First, she supported Governor Spitzer. Next, she said it should be left to the states. Finally, as Spitzer announced this week that he was dropping the plan, she has now come out against drivers licenses for illegal aliens. (You don't think she and her campaign put any pressure on Spitzer to drop the plan do you?)

So after going to school on Hillary's gaffe for two weeks, Obama comes out and outdoes her on the very same issue. First, he opened up with an attack on Clinton that went like this:

"What the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions, and that is not what we have seen from Senator Clinton on a host of issues."

But when Wolf Blitzer directed the same question to Obama, he proceeded to twist himself into knots, stating that when he was in Illinois, he supported training for illegal aliens, licenses,...., public safety issue, etc...., and Bush has failed to......., and this and that and the other thing. If you think Clinton did badly in Philly two weeks ago, that was nothing compared to Obama. Finally, Blitzer pointed out that it was a yes or no question- Did he support it or not, to which Obama finally answered, "Yes." Handed the same question, Clinton said, "No". Of course, Blitzer passed on a great chance for a follow up question to Hillary on her evolving positions.

Hillary also was prepared with a few pre-packaged one-liners that fell in with the anticipated topics. She said that she was not being attacked because she was a woman, but because she was ahead. Or how about this one; "I'm not playing the gender card here in Las Vegas. I'm trying to play the winning card." Cute. Then there was this hardball from a female member of the audience:

"Which do you prefer, diamonds or pearls?".

Hillary, of course, knocked it out of the park- stating that since so many people were claiming she had problems making choices, that she would take them both. (Was anyone seen handing the young lady a slip of paper before she rose to ask her question?)

From that point, the debate quickly calmed down to a drone. Another difficult question for the candidates was whether Human Rights or National Security was the higher priority. Bill Richardson chose human rights. Obama stated that the two concepts "were not contradictory". Meanwhile most of the other candidates stood around patiently waiting to be asked a question so they could answer said question by talking about how Bush had messed up on the particular issue.

Predictably, after the debate, the CNN talking heads were beside themselves talkng about Hillary's great performance ("Hillary's back!!!") Great performance? Because Obama screwed up? Because she gave a new answer on the drivers license issue that was completely different from what she said in Philadelphia? True, she didn't step in it this time, but that doesn't mean it was a great performance.

As for Obama, the consensus was that Obama is not good in debates, but does much better in his own speaking appearances, blah, blah, blah. Nonsense. Obama is an empty suit who has no qualifications for being president, just like Clinton, just like Edwards (who flew to LA after the debate so he could march on the TV writers' picket lines today. Maybe Edwards never thought about other lowly workers in the TV industry whose own work is being lost due to this strike-the "Other America" if you will).

To this obviously biased observer, there was nothing surprising in this debate. Maybe next time, someone will ask Dennis Kucinich about his views on drivers licenses for illegal aliens. The guy may be a far-left kook, but at least he is honest about what he is and straightforward on his views. If asked that question, he might just pledge that if nominated, he would have an illegal alien for his running mate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Viet Nam War Memorial Defaced


I just became aware today of the defacement of the Viet Nam War memorial in Washington courtesy of my blogger colleague, Lew Waters. It appears that the incident happened sometime around September 7. The perpetrators are as yet unknown. It appears that someone sprayed an oily substance onto parts of the wall which have caused damage to the marble surface and affected the legibility of many of the names. Aside from the outrage this is causing many of us, I am asking- Why didn't the mainstream news media cover this story?

Let's talk first about the outrage we feel toward the perpetrators. That some segment of our society is so twisted with hate for our country and its military to commit this kind of act sickens me to my stomach. Yet, it doesn't surprise me. We indeed have a segment of our population, almost exclusively on the far-left, that hates America. They want us to lose in Iraq, and they want this country to collapse into the mire, so that people like them can reshape it into their own preferred model. Lew, in his blog, was seething with rage-to the point of using profanities to describe his contempt for the perpetrators. I don't blame him one bit. I myself knew and grew up with two men whose names are on that wall. While I served in Germany during the Viet Nam War, they went to Viet Nam and died, not yet 21, one receiving a Silver Star in the process.

As Lew so eloquently points out, our Viet Nam veterans were despised by the far-left, largely on our university campuses during that conflict. Many were shunned, even spat upon when they returned home, never receiving the respect and gratitude they deserved. They watched while one of their own, John Kerry, savaged them and called them murderers, parlaying his fame with Viet Nam Veterans Against the War into a US Senate seat. Is it any wonder that many of them are still walking around with psychological scars, in some cases, drug-addicted and homeless? They were betrayed by counter-culture bums of their own age who did everything they could to evade military service-most notably, Bill Clinton.

Today, we have the children of that mixed generation (my generation) pulling the same antics, disrespecting our soldiers, past and present. We have a political party that runs Congress, many of whose leaders have called our soldiers Nazis, operators of Soviet gulags who terrorize Iraqi women and children in the middle of night, bomb villages and commit cold-blooded murder and torture. Want some names? How about John Kerry, Dick Durban, John Murtha and Barack Obama?

Our Viet Nam vets were also betrayed by the liberal elite in our country. It is commonly said by many on the left that Viet Nam was a military defeat for America. It wasn't. Our soldiers were never defeated in a single battle by the enemy. It was a political defeat because the country and its leadership at home lost the will to continue.

Speaking of the liberal elite, have you noticed how many liberal blogs marked Veterans Day? Very few. The only thing I found on Daily Kos was an article whose theme was Veterans as homeless people-no tribute to the noble job they did while in service. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of conservative blogs posted tributes to our veterans and current military to mark Veterans Day. Shouldn't that tell you something about which side is right?

My next issue is why are we now just hearing about this defacement that apparently occurred on or about September 7. Doing a Google search on "Viet Nam Wall Defaced", it seems that the only sector reporting on this incident is the conservative blogosphere. What about the Mainstream Media? Missing in action, folks, as usual. Why? Because to report this story just might awaken some patriotic outrage on the part of the public-the last thing the MSM wants to do. This only reinforces the obvious fact that the MSM selectively reports stories that further their leftist agenda while ignoring or downplaying those that run counter to that agenda.

Make no mistake about it, we are engaged in battle for the direction this country will go. If the elements that would deface the Viet Nam War Memorial-probably the most moving memorial in our land- prevail in this battle, then America will go right down the drain and suddenly, like the Soviet Union, collapse like house of cards.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day


I wish I was more proficient with my blog, so that I could post a picture of a soldier or an American flag to honor Veterans Day. Unfortunately, I am still learning and breaking in with the blog. Anyway, I would not be doing this blog in the first place if it were not for our veterans, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

I am proud to be a veteran myself, but those who served in combat are far up the military totem pole from me. Today, in an all volunteer military, our young men and women who choose to wear the uniform are the best our society has to offer.

Thank you to all our service members, past and present who have defended and are defending our freedom.

Have a happy Veteran's Day, but don't forget the solemn part of it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Cleaning up Pelosi's Mess


I wrote recently about what I consider to be an ill-advised move by Nancy Pelosi and others to pass a resolution condemning Turkey for the 1915 Armenian Genocide (a term that Turkey disputes.) The almost immediate result was a diplomatic crisis between the US and Turkey, as well as the threat of Turkey to invade the Kurdish part of Iraq in pursuit of fighters of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Marxist organization that has carried out violent attacks across the Turkish-Iraqi border. Since the Kurdish part of Iraq is aligned with the US, and represents the most successful region of post-Saddam Iraq, the US has every reason to head off a Turkish invasion that would seriously destabilize that region.

In response, the Bush Adminstration has been laboring very hard recently to patch up relations with Turkey, a critical ally. Now the Administration has worked out an agreement with Turkish President Erdogan by which the US has labeled the PKK "an enemy of Turkey, a free Iraq and the US." In addition, Bush has promised to furnish the Turks with actionable intelligence on the PKK. Meanwhile, the Kurdish regional government has arranged for the release of 8 Turkish soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the PKK. It also appears that the Kurds will turn a blind eye to "hot pursuit" incursions across the border by Turkish troops.

How well these agreements hold up remains to be seen. However, at this point, a regional crisis has been averted, at least temporarily. Credit should go to the Bush Adminstration for this piece of diplomatic work. At the same time, Congress, namely Pelosi and others who were pushing the Armenian resolution, should be embarrassed for causing a diplomatic incident with an important ally and exacerbating problems in Iraq vis-a-vis Turkey.

As I said before, I mean no disrespect to the Armenian cause of publicizing what happened in 1915. However, at the moment, there are more important considerations pertaining to our relationship with Turkey and the situation in that region. Pelosi et al acted in an irresponsible manner and created a crisis that Bush had to clean up.

Bill's Wagging His Finger Again


"Stop pickin' on my wife, Fousesquawk!"

In the wake of Hillary Clinton's disastrous performance in the last Democratic debate, her "gallant" husband, Bill, has joined in the ludicrous attempt at spin to limit the damage to Hillary's credibility. In spite of the campaign's insistence that Hillary is not playing the female victim of the "Boys' Club" of presidential contenders, we still see the anger at Tim Russert for having the temerity to ask a pointed question with a pointed follow-up. Believe it or not, the Clinton camp thinks that Hillary has been victimized by the news media in their questioning. (Mainstream News Media no less). For once, someone had the courage to ask her a hard question and insist on an answer. Now, Bill has jumped into the fray.

This time, Bill has once again wagged that famous finger of his at the press and warned them not to "Swift-Boat" his wife. I have a couple of thoughts about Mr Clinton's words. First of all, the last time we saw Clinton wag his finger, I believe he was telling the press and America that "he did not have sexual relations with that woman" (Ms Lewinsky). That, it turned out, was one of the greatest and most convincing lies a president ever told the American people. Most of us have thus concluded that whenever Mr Clinton wags his finger (or bites his lower lip), falsehoods are on the way.

In addition, Clinton's protests belie the claim that Hillary is strong enough to run on her own, independent of Bill. The truth is that she has ridden his coattails ever since he entered public life. Does anyone really believe that Hillary would be a presidential candidate or even a US Senator had she not been married to Bill? Of course, we are expected to believe that her experience as First Lady "uniquely qualifies" her to be President. If you look at the records of her Democratic opponents, most have more credentials than Clinton. Dodd and Biden have spent decades in Congress. Richardson has been a governor, Ambassador to the UN and a cabinet member. Even the hapless Dennis Kucinich has more political experience than Mrs Clinton. If she has more experience than those other candidates, I have more homers than Barry Bonds. Yet, Hillary continues to claim that her experience as Bill's wife "uniquely qualifies" her to be president, even while the Clintons have succeeded in keeping any and all documents from the Clinton Administration that pertain to Hillary from public view.

But I degress. As for his reference to "Swiftboating", Mr Clinton was referring to the campaign by Viet Nam Swiftboat veterans in the 2004 election that questioned John Kerry's Viet Nam War experience. Now, I have written before, and will repeat that I, as a Viet Nam Era veteran who served in Germany, would never criticize or question Kerry's military credentials. As for the Swiftboat veterans, in my view, they did have the standing and the right to speak out. That leads me to my point: How dare Bill Clinton make any negative references to those Swiftboat veterans-people who served in Viet Nam while Clinton was hiding from the draft through trickery, lies and deceit? Bill Clinton is a bonafide, certified draft dodger, and anything relating to Viet Nam is an area he would be best advised to stay away from.

But with his cojones, you can bet Bill will keep digging himself deeper. The question is whether the Mainstream News Media will follow Russert's lead and keep asking Hillary the questions they should have been asking for years, which they must know she cannot handle well. I have a few suggestions.

One- Mrs Clinton, do you and/or your husband have any overseas bank accounts in, say, Switzerland for example-or any other country?

Two- In the light of the release of Kathleen Willey's book, do you believe that charges made by her, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaderick and Jennifer Flowers were false?

Three- Could you please tell us what, if any actions, you took to have those women investigated and discredited.

Now, I have no idea how Mrs Clinton would answer those questions- whether she would lie, deny, spin or what. But wouldn't it be worthwhile to get her on record in a public forum?

It must have been a great shock to the Clinton camp when Russert asked her about illegal licenses for illegal aliens. Now I can understand why the Democrats refused to debate in front of Fox News. We should watch Hillary closely in her answers, and we should watch the Mainstream News Media closely in their questions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How do We Get Rid of the N-Word?

Did you catch the Sean Hannity interview last night with bounty-hunter, Duane "Dawg" Chapman? I watched part of it, then turned the channel when I couldn't take anymore. Chapman, without going into details, is the latest white celebrity to get caught using racial epithets on tape, specifically the N-word, which he repeatedly used as he spoke on the phone with his son (who dates a black girl). Unbeknownst to the "Dawg", the little "Dawg" was taping the conversation, which he then sold to a tabloid. How nice. Now, Chapman has donned sackcloth and ashes as he does the repentance tour. Apparently, an audience with Al Sharpton is in the works. In the interview with Hannity, Chapman tried to put his own spin on his use of the Magic Word (as many blacks refer to it.) He says that he had assumed that he was so close to the black community, that he had a license to use the word as some sort of bonding mechanism-"brother to brother" (I am paraphrasing.) He also said that as of 3 days ago, he now knows how much hurt the word causes to blacks. Huh?

First of all, let's be clear. One look at Duane Chapman and you know he is no Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This is a man who has been around the block quite a few times including time in prison for his involvement in a homocide. (He didn't actually commit the killing himself.) If you've ever watched his show on TV, you know that the Chapman family makes the Addams family look like the Nelson family. So now, like Michael Richards, Don Imus, the Greaseman and others, Chapman is scurrying around trying to salvage his "career". He even told Hannity last night that he wants to be buried in a common, unmarked grave at Mt Vernon, where slaves were buried. The interview went on and on ad nauseum, interspersed with Chapman's bursts of crocodile tears: "Uncle Dawg made a mistake, Uncle Dawg made a mistake......Boo-hoo-hoo."

But let's put the "Dawg" aside and focus on the bigger issue. The N-word. Once again, it rears it's ugly head and is subject of national attention. Why is it still around and how can we as a society get rid of it? Undoubtedly, the word is used much less among whites than it was 40 years ago, when it was commonplace. Today, few whites would use it even among other whites for fear of being rejected as a racist. It is generally reserved for use among whites in select circles who know that everyone in that circle feels the same. Even when I was a small child, I remember my aunt telling me that "only poor white trash" used that word. (My aunt and my mother are from North Carolina and grew up in the segregated South.) As I recall, in those days, white teenage punks, not knowing any better, used the word among each other. The Civil Rights Era and a new awareness changed much of that.

Still, we are periodically reminded that the word is still out there. The main point, as I see it, is how do we get rid of the word, as well as all other ethnic slurs in the English language? A big part of the problem is the free and indiscriminate use of the word among some segments of the African-American community-to the horror of many of their older generation. On the streets of the inner cities, among gang members, the word is used, largely spurred on by hip-hop rappers who sprinkle the word into their lyrics. This raises the question of whether it is acceptable for blacks to use a word that if uttered by a white represents a punch in the nose or the ending of a career. Many would argue yes. Many would argue no. I would side with the latter, and here is why.

First, the use of the word by blacks can only serve to trivialize the word. Some whites ask why there is a taboo on the word when many blacks use it themselves? This undermines society's considerable efforts over decades to remove the word from our use. Make no mistake, the word is alive and well in hip-hop and gang vernacular. In spite of societal disapproval of the word, it perseveres. Chapman and others notwithstanding, whites have largely done their part to discontinue the word while many blacks have not.

Since I have studied linguistics and teach English, let me put on my pinhead cap for a moment. In any language, in any country, there is a universal rule. Language changes over time. It is a largely unavoidable and natural process that man cannot fully control. Think how English has changed over centuries, even over decades. Pay attention to the speech and accents of actors in movies from the 1930s and 1940s. English has changed-dramatically when compared to 800 years ago and subtly over the last 50 years. English is just one example. Spanish has evolved. German and French have evolved. Virtually every language has evolved, and many have actually died. This evolution is due to many factors which I won't get into here. What is especially important is that individual words are constantly being born (computer) while others slowly die out. How do words die out? Through disuse.

That leads me to the point: We have to find a way to make the word and others like it obsolete. As I said before, whites have used societal pressure and disapproval to make the word unacceptable in any polite company. The Chapmans of the world will pay a price when they are caught using this kind of language. But what price do the rappers and gang bangers pay? Very little if any. That has to change. It cannot change by law since we live in a free society with freedom of speech. Somehow, the black community at the grass-roots level (family, church, schools and community) have to bring about a change. In other words, the Bill Cosbys have to win the day in black public opinion-especially among youth.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Rotten Fruit in Orange County -Part IV


Yesterday (November 5), indicted Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona appeared for arraignment and pleas in Federal Court (Santa Ana). Also appearing were his two accused co-conspirators, Debbie Carona (his wife) and Debra Hoffman (his alleged mistress). After entering his plea, Carona met with reporters outside the courthouse and announced that he would not resign his office since he was not guilty of corruption and bribery charges against him. After telling the reporters he was going back to work (a la Bill Clinton) and wishing them God Bless, he then headed for his waiting suv. According to KFI (radio) reporter, Eric Leonard, Carona suddenly stopped when he remembered that he had left his wife behind. ("Oh, I forgot my wife.") They then proceeded hand-in-hand to the suv and were whisked away.

Today, as calls for his resignation mounted, Carona's office announced that he will take a (paid) 60 day leave of absence. The same day, Orange County supervisors voted against putting a ballot measure on the February ballot that would have enabled them to fire the sheriff (who is elected). So, as things stand now, Carona will take a 60 day paid vacation, then return to run the OCSD. The trial has been originally scheduled for December, but most observers predict it won't take place until summer 2008.

Meanwhile, stories continue to mount about the sheriff's personal life, in which he is pictured as a serial womanizer. Actually, these stories have been going around about Sheriff Mike for years. Now everyone is getting in on the action, including KFI (LA) talk jocks, John and Ken, all but exhausted from reporting on the circus called Los Angeles under Antonio Villaraigosa et al, and now having on opportunity to laugh at OC for a while. Being a fan of John and Ken, I look forward to the yuks coming our way at Carona's expense.

Sadly, however, the situation in OC is anything but funny. It appears we are in for the long haul. We, the citizens and the deputies who work under Carona, are going to have to deal with this muck until he is finally gone from the scene. We will have to witness the spectacle of "America's Sheriff" standing before the cameras announcing how he has taken down another major criminal while ducking questions about his own criminal case. Carona could spare us a lot of the aggrevation by simply stepping down, but he won't. It's all about Mike.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Torture-Should We Do It?

The confirmation hearings for Attorney General-Designate, Michael Mukasey has now been hung up on whether he approves of the practice of water-boarding-a form of interrogation that gives the prisoner the sensation of drowning. This is all part of a larger question: Are we engaging in torture of terrorist prisoners, and if so, is it right?

As a retired law enforcement agent (DEA), this question has a personal ring. Torture is something I never did; it is something I never would have approved of; it is something I have no knowledge of by my colleagues. It is something that is against the very essence of our American culture.

A generation ago, America was accused of having trained Latin American law enforcement and military to practice torture. I thought the idea was laughable. When did Latin Americans need North Americans to teach them how to torture? In reality, they would have to teach us how to do it. Latin Americans learned the art of torture from the Spaniards centuries ago.

I do believe that we as Americans should not engage in this practice for two reasons: First, we are supposed to be the good guys. Second, we want to do everything possible to ensure that our own prisoners are treated according to civilized standards. While I believe that terrorist suspects should not be accorded protections of the Geneva Convention nor the rights of our criminal court system, I feel they should be treated humanely. I would hate to think that we are practicing torture in places like Guantanemo. Is waterboarding torture? Yes, I think it is.

However..........

In 1985, a DEA agent named Enrique Camarena, who was assigned to Guadalajara, Mexico, was kidnapped by Mexican drug lords (assisted by certain elements of the Mexican police) and tortured to death over the course of several days. Camarena's death and the circumstances of his death have been an emotional issue to DEA agents to this day. DEA was under no illusions as to what Camarena's fate would be unless he could be rescued. So the question is: Would torture have been justified if DEA or Mexican police had a member of that drug ring in custody who knew where Camarena was being held? In my view, yes. Would I have done it in those circumstances? Yes, I believe I would have. (Someone would have had to show me how.)

The same question arises in the War on Terror. We have seen instances where Americans have been kidnapped overseas by Islamic terrorists, tortured and killed-in some cases by beheading. So if we had someone in custody who knew where one of our people was being held, would torture be justified? Would it be justified if the prisoner knew the details of a terrorist bomb about to go off- perhaps a nuclear device? What would I do? What would you do?

As much as I hate to admit it, I do believe that there may be certain extraordinary instances when torture is justified. Do I have a problem if we are sending terrorist prisoners back to their own countries to face the interrogation methods of their own authorities? (No.) Will this increase the danger of our own prisoners being tortured by Islamic terrorists? They are going to do it no matter what we do. I respect the opinions of those who say we should never engage in torture no matter what. However, I have come to the sad conclusion that we are up against an evil enemy. If, and only if, innocent lives will be saved from terrorists, then, as much as I hate to admit it, I would support the use of torture by Americans. If anyone disagrees, I respect your feelings.

Rotten Fruit in Orange County-Part III


In the Orange County Register on 11-4-07, there is an opinion piece by Michael Schroeder, Republican political figure and advisor to indicted sheriff Mike Carona. In this amazing column, Schroeder makes the case that Carona should not resign because of his indictment. Schroeder's main argument is that the two chief witnesses against Carona, former Assistant Sheriffs, George Jaramillo and Don Haidl are now convicted felons, people of low character, who are trying to lesson their own punishment by turning on Carona. Fair enough, but there is one important point that Mr Schroeder left out of his column.

These odious characters (Jaramillo and Haidl) are the very people that Carona chose to associate with. Carona plucked both of these guys out of nowhere to make them his Assistant Chiefs-in the case of Haidl, a man with no law enforcement experience whatsoever.

As a retired DEA agent, I participated in countless trials where we used the testimony of cooperating defendants, unindicted co-conspirators and other assorted criminals to testify against the people we were prosecuting. It is a necessary evil in law enforcement since you are not going to find upstanding citizens who are in the position of testifying about the inner workings of a criminal conspiracy. Whatever consideration those witnesses got in exchange for their testimony, as well as their entire criminal history was revealed to the jury for their consideration in evaluating the testimony.

The fact is that no jury is going to believe the uncorroborated testimony of a known criminal-nor should they. Jurors will be so instructed by the judge before they go into deliberations. What is crucial is that whatever such witnesses say under oath must be corroborated by independent evidence. That is the responsibility of the prosecutor and the investigating police. That will be their responsibility in the Carona trial.

What defense attorneys have to overcome when they savage the witness (as they will) is that these are lowlifes that the defendant chose to associate with. If Jaramillo and Haidl are such untrustworthy people, as claims Mr Schroeder, what was Mike Carona doing with them in the first place? Was it because Carona was taken in by these guys and was unable to see their true nature? C'mon! Carona has 32 years of police experience. With that kind of experience, you can spot a dishonest person a mile away. These are points that Mr Schroeder neglected to point out.

Carona, of course, is presumed innocent until proven guilty of the charges. Legally, he cannot be fired at this point because he is elected. However, if this guy had one shred of class or cared anything about the department he has hurt so much, he would resign. His deputies deserve better. I can only imagine what morale is like now in the OCSD, especially in light of the allegation surrounding the widow of one of his own deceased deputies.

As a retired law enforcement officer, I find this whole thing sickening. The real victims are the OCSD deputies and the public.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hillary's Defense of her Gaffe


It's been a bad week for Hillary Clinton. Seemingly on her way to a Democratic coronation as the nominee for president, she had a horrible debate with her comments about giving driver licenses to illegal aliens in New York. ("I am for it and against it."- or something like that), as well as her weak response to a question as to whether she would agree to the release of documents pertaining to her actions as First Lady. Well she and her defenders have been quick to mount a great defense. First, it was the fault of the media (Tim Russert) for directing hard questions only to her, a woman. Then, it was the fault of her competitors-all men-who have ganged up on a woman. Neither of these arguments holds any water whatsoever.

Let me address the first complaint about Tim Russert. Mr Russert is a liberal Democrat. To his credit, he usually tries to be fair and ask relevant questions, unlike most of his colleagues. As Senator from New York, it was entirely relevant to ask Senator Clinton her opinion of the decision by New York State Attoney General, Elliot Spitzer to give driver licenses to illegal aliens. When she tried to answer the question in her usual evasive manner that would offend no one, she was called on it and Russert, appropriately, asked a follow up question to pin down her position. It should be added that may be the first time any member of the media has ever tried to pin her down with a hard question.

Does Mrs Clinton want to see licenses given to illegal aliens? Of course she does. She doesn't want to offend the Hispanic lobby-not that all Hispanics favor such a move. Also consider this: If Clinton goes up against Giuliani in the general election, she is going to need all the votes she can get to carry New York. Make no mistake. A US state driver license is the main form of picture ID in our country. With that piece of ID, other doors open up-including voter registration, where many states including California, are prohibited from checking a voter's citizenship or even ID at the polls.

Yesterday, Clinton appeared at her alma mater, Wellesley University, where she made a pointed reference to the "Boy's Club"-meaning her male colleagues in the debates- a brazen move to gain sympathy as a woman being ganged up on by the "Boys". It sparked loud applause. Indeed, aside from the fact that Obama, Edwards and Dodd jumped on her during the debate, Obama has now criticized her for wanting to be treated in a preferential manner. His criticism is appropriate. Here is why.

Mrs Clinton is running for President- Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces. In fact, she is the front-runner by a wide margin. It is she who would take us into war. It is she who we expect to stand up to Iran, North Korea and world-wide Islamic terror. If she cannot stand up to this kind of give and take from her male competitors for the nomination, then how can we expect her to be the strong kind of leader that we need in these troubled times? As Obama said, she cannot say, "Don't pick on me." and expect to be considered a serious candidate for president. As front-runner, she should expect to be attacked by the others.

To me, this is further evidence that Clinton would be annihilated in a debate with any of the Republican front-runners. Behind all the glitter, spin and propaganda about her, she is a dishonest charlatan who cannot be truthful about where she really wants to take this country (into socialism). Her shifty lies and evasions should be obvious to anyone watching her on TV or in person. No wonder many Republicans want her to win the nomination.

Rotten Fruit in Orange County-Part II


This week I wrote about the indictment of Orange County (CA) Sheriff Mike Carona on federal bribery and corruption charges. As of today, Carona has announced that he is making arrangements to "step aside" until the legal issues are resolved. However, this does not involve resignation. It appears he will still draw his salary and benefits. How much of the operations of the Orange County Sheriffs Department he will be involved in is unclear.

Today's Orange County Register revealed additional details from the indictment. If you are reading this, you might want to get a barf-bag ready before going any further. This is really sickening.

According to the indictment, Carona and his deputies, George Jaramillo and Don Haidl, were steering legal work to local attorney, the obnoxious Joe Cavallo. This guy (Cavallo) is one of the more odious attorneys in Southern California, which is really saying something! Cavallo was a defense attorney in the 2004 trial of Haidl's son, Greg and two other young punks for a gang rape, in which they assaulted a passed out girl with various objects on a pool table and videotaped the event. (They were convicted.) Cavallo savaged the victim, portraying her as a slut who willingly took part in the act. He also insulted the victim's parents in court during the trial as they sat as spectators.

In addition, Cavallo has recently pleaded guilty to a bail bond scam and is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Carona case. He is due to be sentenced in December. So it seems that the Sheriff of Orange County and his deputy, Haidl Sr. brought in Cavallo to represent a criminal defendant in a rape case-who happened to be the son of the Deputy Chief-a man with no law enforcement experience, but who was appointed by Carona.

But wait there's more. This is where you really need the barf-bag. In 2001, Orange County Deputy Brad Warner slipped into a coma and died after undergoing knee surgery related to an old injury incurred when fighting with a suspect. Carona then allegedly steered Warner's widow to Cavallo to file a damage suit against the hospital. This was supposedly part of an agreement made three years prior by which the sheriff, Jaramillo and Haidl would use their positions to steer business toward Cavallo, who would then kick back a portion of any settlements. In this case, Cavallo arranged a quickie settlement with the hospital in 2002 for the sum of $340,000-a paltry sum considering the negligence involved. Cavallo supposedly put pressure on Warner's widow, a Filipina immigrant, who was suffering from cancer from which she died in 2005, to accept the settlement. There you have it: Quick money with cuts going to Carona, Haidl and Jaramillo. No doubt the hospital was relieved and eager to settle for such a low sum. This is what Carona did to the wife of one of his own deceased deputies-according to the indictment.

I have to believe that now that this piece of information has come out that the Orange County deputies are ready to storm the gates of their HQs to demand Carona's head.

Of course, I must repeat that Carona is presumed innocent until.......................

Excuse me. I have to go throw up.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rotten Fruit in Orange County


As a former law enforcement officer of almost 30 years, I take no joy in seeing a story about corruption in law enforcement. I have been critical in some of my writings about the leadership in California and LA County in particular. Living in Orange County, I follow the events in my former home town of Los Angeles and thank God I am living in Orange County. However, this week, after years of rumors about wrong-doing by Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, the sheriff was indicted under federal corruption charges, alleging for the most part, that he accepted bribes.

Carona, who has been sheriff for nine years, skyrocketed to national acclaim a few years back as a result of the Samantha Runnion kidnap-murder case, which was solved by his deputies in a matter of days. This while police and prosecutors in Colorado and Utah were tripping all over themselves trying to solve the cases of JonBenet Ramsey and Elizabeth Smart respectively. Carona became personally involved in the Runnion case in providing emotional support to Samantha's mother. He soon became acclaimed as "America's Sheriff", and was embraced by Republican politicians who saw a political future for the Sheriff.

However, there were periodic stories that arose that suggested that Carona had a dark side. In particular, two of his assistant chiefs became embroiled in scandals that threatened to involve Carona as well. George Jaramillo was eventually fired by Carona, later indicted on corruption charges, and is now a witness against Carona. Carona's ugliest association, however, was with Don Haidl, a wealthy Orange County businessman who Carona appointed to Assistant Chief, a position for which he was completely unqualified. It was Haidl's teenage son, Greg, who brought this suspicious relationship to light with a string of run-ins with the law, most of which seemed to result in preferential treatment. When Greg was charged with two of his friends for raping a high school acquaintance (who was drunk) and videotaping the event, the scandal surrounding Carona's relationship with the elder Haidl became an uproar. Haidl and his friends were eventually convicted and are serving time.) Don Haidl, meanwhile left the Sheriff's Department.

Subsequently, Carona was re-elected as Sheriff in 2006, defeating one of his subordinates, Bill Hunt. After the election, Hunt was demoted and reassigned for speaking negatively about Carona during the campaign. Hunt has since retired.

In the indictment, it is alleged that Carona used his office to accept bribes and other gifts including $350,000, a Cartier watch, vacations and tickets to major sports events. In return, Carona allegedly handed out concealed weapons permits and badges. Also indicted were Carona's wife, Debbie and his alleged mistress, Debra Hoffman. As mentioned above, Jaramillo and Haidl, apparently involved in the bribery, are set to testify against Carona.

Thus, on October 31, Carona surrendered himself, was booked, spent a few hours in jail and appeared in court, dressed in civilian clothes, handcuffed and shackled at the waist. Also appearing with him were his wife and Ms. Hoffman. Carona was released on $20,000 bond, allowed to keep his gun but ordered not to contact any witnesses against him. He is refusing to resign while under charges.

What a sad spectacle! Carona, of course, is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He cannot be fired under present law because he is an elected official. What an embarrassing and awkward situation Orange County has to endure as this guy goes about his duties, announcing arrests, giving press conferences etc.

Generally, I have tended to side with law enforcement when they are accused of wrongdoing by left-wing activists or others who don't understand what the job is all about. I draw a firm line, however, when it comes to corruption and bribery. In my own career (3 years Military Police, 2 1/2 years US Customs and 22 years with DEA, I never took a dime that didn't belong to me. I expect the same from any other law enforcement official. As I said, Carona must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but if he is convicted, I hope he gets the max.