Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Muslims in Britain- A Fifth Column?

"Death to Fousesquawk!"

As someone who has lived in three foreign countries (Germany, Thailand and Italy), I am a firm believer that if you want to be treated like a welcome guest, you should act like a guest. Furthermore, as someone who is married to a legal immigrant (from Mexico) and teaches English to foreign students, I welcome foreigners to our nation as long as they come legally, respect our laws and our customs-and act like guests. I still believe that the overwhelming majority in America do. Unfortunately, many don't. This is not true only in America, but other countries as well. I would specifically like to deal with Muslims living in Britain.

First, I am fully aware that many of Britain's Muslims are native born, originating from parents who came from the former British colonies, such as Pakistan. Nonetheless, the Brits today are dealing with a population of Muslims who are largely disaffected from British society and values. In addition, the whole issue of international Islamic terrorism has come home to roost big time in Britain, most notably with the infamous July 7 subway and bus bombings. Aside from the underground movement of Islamic radicals who are working to destroy the society they live in, it is particularly outrageous that so many Muslims and their clerics in the mosques openly call for violence against those who they think are "enemies of Islam". Consider the following:

Following the Danish cartoon flap of a year ago, Muslims in Britain took to the streets carrying banners calling for the beheading of those who "disrespect Islam." They also openly call for the imposition of Islamic Shariah law in British society. Talk about Chutzpah!

Following the action of Queen Elizabeth in the past few days bestowing knighthood on British writer, Salmon Rushdie (author of "The Satanic Verses"), Muslims again go berzerk, once more calling for the Fatwa execution of Rushdie, originally issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran several years ago. Now we await the final reaction of the British. Will they again bow to political correctness and take away the honor, or will they stand firm and basically tell the Muslim world to keep their noses out of British affairs? In spite of their military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq at the side of the Americans, the Brits have been very careful not to offend Muslim sensibilities at home, often going to silly extremes.

The situation in Britain is not unlike the situation in several other European countries, where Muslim immigrants live largely outside the host culture and do not accept the local traditions-in many cases, openly defying local law with such imported customs as "honor killings", for example, something that can never be tolerated in a free democratic society based on the rule of law.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the World, in Australia, Prime Minister, John Howard has publically told Muslim immigrants that if they cannot assimilate into Australian society and respect Australian values of openness, tolerance and respect for local laws, that they should leave and return to their countries of origen.

As for Mr Howard's lesson for Britain, Europe and America, I have no desire at this point to call for a witchhunt against local Muslims. We all want to believe that the majority of our Muslim population are loyal to the countries to which they have immigrated. In America, we would be wise to remember the mistake our government made after Pearl Harbor, when Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were placed in internment camps for the duration of the war. We know now that there were no cases of disloyalty against the United States among these people. The point I would make, however, is this: In our free societies, there is no room for the forced imposition of any religion and a theocratic form of government nor hatred toward Jews or other religions.

I can understand why Muslims in the West dislike many of the aspects of our culture that they find immoral or distasteful. So do we. When they feel that their religion has been disrespected, they should remember that in America, Christianity is denigrated daily. Western Europe, with few exceptions, has become mostly secularized. We Christians are not happy about these developments, and we complain; however, we don't resort to violence to defend Christianity (or Judaism). To be blunt, Muslims in the West have to make a choice. Our countries are under attack by Islamic terrorists who want to take away our way of life. We expect all of our citizens to stand with us. All of them.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Crime and Punishment on the Left Coast

My old home town of Los Angeles has been in the news a lot lately, as usual, for all the wrong reasons. Folks in other parts of the country have been laughing at LA and SoCal for decades, often calling it "the land of fruits and nuts". The nation really took notice when OJ Simpson was acquitted of a double murder by a jury of..., well...., his peers. That was followed by the trials of Michael Jackson and Robert Blake, all leading the rest of the country to wonder about justice in the Golden State. Now the buzz is all about Paris Hilton and the leadership of the city of Los Angeles, from its mayor to city attorney, chief of police and county sheriff.

A few weeks ago, LA had another one of those "million man" marches in support of amnesty for illegal aliens. In the process, 15 LAPD officers were injured by projectiles thrown by marchers. In the process of clearing the area where the problems occurred, some officers pushed resisters out the way with their batons including some (gasp) reporters. Naturally, a big scandal ensued, and several supervisory officers were punished, literally thrown under the bus by LA's hack police chief, William Bratton, a transplanted former chief of the NYPD, who has the typical "If I can make it in New York, I can make it anywhere" attitude. It should be remembered that LA is a "sanctuary city" under the regime of Antonio Villaraigosa (of whom more will be said later). This means that the city and its police will not cooperate with Federal Immigration authorities in identifying and deporting illegal aliens who come in contact with the police. So even when illegals are arrested for committing crimes, they are allowed to go through the justice system and be put back on the street without being turned over to ICE. A couple of years back, Chief Bratton made a statement to the effect that if people in LA didn't like the policy, they could pack up and leave California. (A lot of people are doing just that, with the eventual result that the city may some day change it's name to "Los Illegales".

Then there is the current mayor of Los Illegales, Antonio Villaraigosa, aka Tony Villar. That's right, we have a mayor who changed his name from Villar to Villaraigosa when he married his now estranged wife, combining her maiden name with his. What was that all about? Did Tony have a few outstanding warrants from his youthful days on the mean streets of LA? Villar is openly friendly to the Illegals' cause, once trying to imitate ML King's "I have a dream" speeech with one of his own in which he proclaimed, "We cleaned your toilets!" This at one of LA's "Million illegals" marches.

A couple of years back, Time or Newsweek (I can't remember which of those fishwraps) spotlighted Tony as one of the leading new politicians in America. It is commonly assumed that Mr Villar sees himself as the next governor of California and then, who knows? Maybe the next Barack Obama, young, photogenic and full of vision for the future, ready to run for the presidency and "bring us all together".

Unfortunately for Villar,er...Villaraigosa, his personal life has just thrown up some roadblocks. Well, maybe just speedbumps; after all, he is a Democrat. A couple of weeks ago, he and his wife split up amid rumors of the mayor's reported womanizing. In confirming the breakup, His Honor asked the public and press to respect the family's privacy during this difficult time, something the mainstream press is all too ready to do. Unfortunately for Villaraigosa, local radio talk jocks, John and Ken of KFI didn't get the memo as they have continued to pound the mayor unmercifully for this and other transgressions at City Hall.

Then there is the chain reaction pile up that has resulted from the latest antics of LA's most cherished icon, the multi-talented superstar, Paris Hilton. Among all her other life accomplishments, Hilton has gotten in trouble with the law in LA for drunk driving and driving on a suspended license. Hauled before a judge, she was given a dose of reality with a 45 day jail sentence, which caused her to flip out in court like Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine. That's when the fun started. Before she even reported to jail, "someone" reduced the sentence from 45 to 23 days- FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR!!! (I remember the good old days, when prisoners got time off for good behavior by being good behind bars .) But I digress.

Finally, Hilton reported to the LA County lockup in the wee hours of the morning after attending some typical Hollywood masked ball where she was the butt of some tasteless jokes uttered by some other empty dress, and the public turned its attention to other less important matters, like the war in Iraq.

But wait! Two days later, we learned that Hilton had been released from jail (again in the wee hours of the morning) by LA County's "Sheriff to the Stars", Lee Baca, a climber known to give special status to celebrities. Now, with Hilton on "home arrest" (which had been specifically denied by the judge), Baca had a lot of explaining to do to the press and public. Between his own press conference and the breathless public utterings of his spokeshole, Steve Whitmore (son of actor James Whitmore), the hole kept getting dug deeper. Reason for the release? It seems Ms Hilton was very unhappy in jail and apparently withdrawing from whatever medication she had been on in the free world. (What that medication was, could not be divulged due to medical privacy, probably something for her blood pressure, cholesterol or whatever.) It even emerged in these "briefings" that Hilton was being given credit for two full days served for the early morning arrival and departure from the jail.

The public was outraged (or amused-I'm not sure which.) Rocky Delgadillo, the LA City Attorney, expressed his displeasure at the irregular treatment being afforded Ms Hilton by the "Sheriff to the Stars", Lee Baca.

Then the original judge jumped back into the picture. Outraged that his sentence had been countermanded, he ordered Paris back into court for a hearing on the matter. Even then, she failed to arrive on time, claiming that "someone" had told her she could do it all over the phone (just like the rest of us). Next thing we know, we have a veritable swat team storming the Hilton mansion in Hollywood with an army of TV helicopters circling overheard to record history in the making. Back to court-back to jail and more tears and screaming.

But wait! There's still more to this saga. While Paris stews in jail and her family tries to negotiate million dollar interview rights with the "major" TV networks to tell her story to the World, the next major scandal erupts in LA. Remember Rocky Delgadillo, the LA City Attorney who criticized the special treatment given by the Sheriff's Department to a celebrity who had been driving with a suspended license? As they say- payback is a mother.............! This past week, someone (there's that mysterious "someone" again) dropped a dime to the press that Mrs.Rocky had been herself a proud graduate of the Paris Hilton Driving School, not only driving a car with a suspended license, but crashing a car on a suspended license-not just any car, but an official city car-which she had no business driving. It has also been reported that Delgadillo initially sent the repair bill to the city. In addition, it has also been revealed that the Delgadillos have been using city employees to babysit for the little Rockys, also a misappropriation of the taxpayers' money.

Where all this will lead is anyone's guess. Remember, these are Democrats here. They never say they are sorry, and they never resign. Life just goes on in Los Illegales.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Israel and the Palestinians- The killing in Gaza

Gaza-Nation-building in Action

I have written recently on the periodic anti-Israel festivals conducted by the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) where I teach part-time. These events focus on how the Israelis are mistreating the Palestinian people and call for the overthrow and destruction of Israel. They are also characterized by oratorical attacks against Jews and America by radical Islamic spokespersons who preach a message of hate (specifically, Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Abdel Alim Musa).

Recent events in Gaza have raised interesting questions. Now that we have the spectacle of Palestinians allied with Hamas and Palestinians allied with Fatah killing each other, what does this say about the ability of Palestinians to run a nation? Next question: Why should the American taxpayer continue top pour money down a rat hole by sending millions to the Palestinian authority? I guess that our government has decided that Fatah represent "the good guys", while Hamas, which continues to call for the destruction of Israel, are the "bad guys". Some observers say there is little difference between the two.

Never to be irrelevant, our former president, Jimmy Carter has now called the refusal of the Bush adminstration to treat Hamas equally as Fatah as "criminal". Carter (the eternal peacemaker) referred to Hamas' victory over Fatah in the streets of Gaza (where they reportedly executed their victims in the street) as showing that they were "superior in terms of organization." I'll say!

But isn't it ironic that as I write this piece, hundreds of Palestinians are attempting to cross into Israel from Gaza in a desperate attempt to escape the killing? Maybe this suggests that Palestinians are victims, not of Israel, but of their own leaders going back to the corrupt terrorist (and that is what he was), Yassir Arafat. Maybe the Palestinians should ask themselves what the terrorists, like Arafat, Hamas and Hizbollah have done to improve their lives. What have the neighboring Arab countries done to improve their lives?

As long as Palestinians put their eggs into the basket of terrorists, their lives will continue to be miserable, and they will be used as pawns by those who profess to be their champions.

The American government under several administrations has tried to achieve some sort of even-handed approach to this problem and find a solution that would be good both for Israel and the Palestinians. But to me, it seems hard to accept that there very many Palestinian elements that are friendly to us and really want a peaceful solution. By the way, weren't Palestinians dancing in the streets on 9-11?

Final thought, which is directed to messrs. Malik Ali and Alim Musa: What do you think of all those Palestinians begging for entry into Israel? Hmm.......?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

John McCain for President?

I feel a touch a sadness about John McCain-and a touch of anger. Sadness because I have so much respect for his military experience. Here is a man who served as a combat pilot in the Viet Nam War and spent several years as a POW undergoing torture during his captivity. I also respect his stand on the Iraq War and the War on Terror in general. In the 2000 primaries, I voted for him believing he was far superior to George W. Bush. I even took the (unique for me) step of going to see one of his appearances in California- he didn't show. Unfortunately, where John McCain has lost me is his partnership with Ted Kennedy in trying to gain amnesty for illegal aliens.

I don't know exactly what is motivating McCain on this issue. Being from Arizona, he must know of the chaos that reigns along that state's border with Mexico, where most illegal aliens make their crossing. I still believe he is motivated by principle and his personal beliefs. It may well be that McCain (like Bush) feels genuine sympathy for the plight of the illegals (so do I). However, the good of the United States comes first. It is Mexico's duty to conduct reforms, not ours.

Another thing that strikes me about McCain is the nagging feeling that his time has passed, both politically and chronologically. When I look at him on TV, I see a tired old man-and he is reaching that age, you know. He just doesn't seem to have the energy that will be required of any president from now on. This is a job that can age any man (OK, or woman). Does he really have it in him to go through an exhausting campaign that has more than a year to go-then run the country in this crazy day and age? I just don't think so.

But more than anything, McCain has alienated what was once his base (just as many Republicans are doing). There is genuine anger and frustration out there being directed by conservatives toward Republican incumbants. McCain is one of the leading targets of their wrath, and I have to admit that he has earned it. When it comes to illegal immigration and border security, he, along with so many of his cohorts in Congress, are really screwing us.

If McCain, by some miracle gets the nomination, he will get my vote in the general election. However, I personally feel that his campaign for nomination is dead-and he just doesn't know it yet.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Barack Obama for president? Slow down!

I am still trying to figure out what makes Barack Obama such a serious candidate for president. Granted, he has charisma. So does Angelina Jolie. He is good looking. So is Tom Cruise. Of course, Obama combines both features and is also a very good public speaker. He appeals across racial lines (which any candidate must do). But let us not forget that Obama, who was an insignificant Illinois state legislator prior to becoming a US Senator, is still serving his first term in that position. He burst on the national scene at the Democratic Convention in 2004 with an impressive speech (in terms of presentation- I don't remember what he said). So now he is running for president. While it would tickle me pink to see him steal the nomination away from Hillary "Mirror, mirror on the wall........" Clinton, I just don't see what is there on his resume to recommend him for the top job.Aside from his lack of presidential credentials, is there anyone out there outside of Chicago that knows that he has been implicated in a questionable financial relationship with indicted organized crime figure, Tony Rezko? This has been long reported by the Chicago Sun Times, but seems to be ignored by other mainstream news outlets. It seems that Obama received a sweetheart deal on the purchase of a Chicago home next door to property owned by Rezko. I don't know enough details to even imply that Obama did anything illegal, but it would be nice to see the national news media devote some attention to the question. Maybe if his poll numbers rise, the Clinton camp will start harping on it. That's their style, you know.A large part of Obama's appeal is that he is seen as non-threatening to white voters, as opposed to say, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, something that may explain the coolness that Sharpton has shown to Obama's candidacy-just in case Al decides to jump into the race again. Many are predicting that when the inevitable happens and Hillary wins the nomination, she will pick Obama as her running mate creating a ticket that some say would be unbeatable.No question that we are fast approaching the day when we will have a woman or minority in the White House, and as long as it is the right person, I think America is ready for that day. I just think that there has to be more than just charisma involved before we rush to elect someone like Obama that we really know so little about.

Friday, June 15, 2007

John Edwards for president? NO!

John Edwards home in North Carolina (Tree huggers, take note!)

With the campaign getting underway, I've been thinking about doing blogs of the major candidates of both parties. Since, I need to do some more homework on several of the candidates, I thought I would start off one by one.

In the interest of full disclosure, I belong to no party. I am an independent (small case "i"). Being of the conservative persuasion, I have always voted Republican, and I will almost certainly do so in 2008 since the Democrats have gone so far to the left that I consider them dangerous for America. So don't be surprised when I slam the Democratic candidates. Anyway, speaking of slamming, I will start off with John Edwards.

Edwards, as he is fond of telling everyone, grew up as the son of a simple millworker. He was fortunate enough to be able to go to college and get his law degree, in spite of his humble beginnings (a testament to the greatness of America, one of the few places in the world where poor people can rise to the top through traditional and legal means).

Edwards went on to become one of North Carolina's most successful trial lawyers, specializing in personal injury cases, suing doctors and hospitals for malfeasance and collecting huge settlements. Thus, he became fabulously wealthy. Some have criticized his trial tactics of using questionable science to convince juries of his cases.

From law, Edwards went on to politics, becoming a US Senator in 1998 before suddenly emerging as John Kerry's VP running mate in 2004. This after an unsucessful primary campaign for the presidential nomination. During the campaign, Edwards' theme was "two Americas" (one being the America of fat cat George Bush and his cronies, the other America consisting of "po folks" like him, I guess). The irony of one of the richest men in North Carolina complaining about Republican "fat cats" was not lost on most Americans.

Losing the election and out of his Senate job, Edwards returned to North Carolina to lick his wounds and prepare for the next go-around. Now he is back, repositioned to the far left of the Democratic presidential candidates and again showing his hypocritical nature. To be sure, he is hardly considered the favorite, running behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In addition, he has suffered some embarassing bumps in the road.

First there was the issue of 2 far-left bloggers he had hired to work his websites. Turns out, both of these ladies had a paper trail of harsh and profane comments about Christians. When a public furor followed, Edwards made more moves than OJ Simpson in his pre-murderer days, first disowning the statements, then dancing back and forth between firing the gals or giving them another chance. Seems the crowd protested against any firings. Anyway, after weeks passed, the ladies resigned, then went out writing a flurry of articles slamming the right-wing conspiracy and the Bushies for the loss of their jobs. Edwards, meanwhile, showed the public that he had questionable leadership and decision-making skills.

Then his wife Elizabeth announced that she had unfortunately suffered a relapse of cancer. Edwards' decision to continue the campaign rather than drop out met with stern disapproval from certain quarters, who saw blind ambition, while others defended the decision as courageous.

Then came the $400 haircut (billed to the Edwards campaign no less). Once again, conservative pundits had a field day pointing out the hypocrisy of the man they had already been referring to as "the Breck Girl". Of course, "Po Folks" Johnny hastened to make it right by "correcting the billing error".

Finally, just a few days ago, he told interviewers that, if elected, he would deal with Islamic terrorism by doing the following:

Reorganize the military ( ala Carter and Clinton?)
Meet with his leading generals !?!? (That would be revolutionary.)
Create a "Marshall Corps" of 10,000 volunteers, who would go to the Middle East and work to eliminate poverty and provide clean drinking water.

Maybe Edwards will go on to win the Democratic nomination- with the Dems, nothing would surprise me. But in a general election, I think he will have a hard time convincing Americans that he is anything more than an ambitious, hypocritical lightweight, who doesn't have what it takes to face America's enemies.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gay Marriage-Opposed

At my age (61), I can remember growing up in a time when gay people in America were pretty much forced to live in the closet. To be known as a homosexual meant that one would be subject to jokes, ridicule, harassment and even violence. Today, gays are much more accepted in our society, and, in many cases, feel free to live openly. I think that is a good thing. Whether it's due to genes, psycological or living environmental issues, I accept that homosexuals really have no control over their sexual orientation. Yet, so few years after we have evolved in our societal attitudes toward gays, we are now faced with the issue of gay marriage (and adoption as well.) I am not so quick to accept that kind of drastic change.

First of all, I think that we need more time to study and debate this question. Once gay marriage is legalized, it will be almost impossible to "put the genie back into the bottle", so to speak.

Secondly, we need to remember why humankind instituted the idea of marriage to begin with. It was, first and foremost, to protect the children that result from a relationship between a man and a woman. Without the institution of marriage, then children would be no more than the offspring of animals, fish and birds-expected to go on their own as soon as they can walk and procure food, with no legal protections against parental abandonment.

In addition, if society deems (from a legal standpoint) that same-sex marriages are legal, then what is to stop the other alternative lifestyle advocates from filing for their rights (ie: polygamists, etc.)?

Gay marriage advocates claim that traditional heterosexual marriages would not be threatened by same sex marriages. Yet, in certain northern European countries (like Sweden) that have opened the doors to same-sex marriages, the institution of marriage is declining in general. Indeed, in the western world, illegitimate birth rates are climbing rapidly-including in the US.

In terms of the effects on children who are involved in same-sex marriages, either through adoption or one parent becoming involved in a same-sex relationship, I strongly feel that more time is needed to acquire the empirical evidence necessary to evaluate the long-term effects on these children. Is it unreasonable to predict that in 25 years, we will be able to show that these children are now dealing with serious emotional or psychological issues?

I readily agree that Gays should not be subject to harassment or discrimination. Nor would I deny them the right to have relationships, live together, or have sex together. There is no reason why they should not be able to enter into contractual relationships regarding joint property, wills, power of attorney etc. They are human beings and citizens like the rest of us, and they should have equal protection. However, I still feel that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman, one that has worked all over the world for thousands of years, and before we turn that institution on its head, we need several more years of study, reflection and debate.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Fairness Doctrine-Nothing fair about it

Currently, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is leading a move by Democrats in Congress to bring back the so-called "Fairness Doctrine", that would, if enacted, require radio broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing points of view from those put out by the broadcasters. This doctrine dates back to the 1940s when the FCC (Federal Communications Commision) attempted to regulate the discussion on radio of controversial issues. In 1987, Congress voted to put the doctrine into law, only to be vetoed by President Reagan, who felt that government should not be in the business of regulating speech. Now, with the Democrats in control of Congress, there is an attempt to reinstitute the doctrine. Its name notwithstanding, the "Fairness Doctrine" has nothing to do with fairness.

Aside from arguments as to the evolution of broadcasting since the 1940s and the question of whether government agencies should enforce speech on the airwaves (They shouldn't), it seems to me to be very transparent what is happening here. In short, liberals are attempting to emasculate the one true form of media (with the possible exception of Fox News) that is clearly dominated by conservatives. Notice that there is no parallel effort to ensure "fairness" in the printed media (dominated by the left) nor the major TV news networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) again dominated by the left. How about the propaganda put out by Hollywood- any need for balance there? Not according to Kucinich et al. No, what needs to be controlled are the folks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other sucessful conservatives who have a large listenership and are having a large impact on public opinion. For example, left-wing blogger, Steve Rendall of, specifically states in his blog of February 12, 2005 (The Fairness Doctrine-How We Lost it, and Why We Need it Back) that talk radio is dominated by conservatives and states, "It's an imbalance that begs for a remedy."

What is conveniently ignored here by liberals is that talk radio is also open to liberals. The problem is that their shows have failed. Need I mention Mario Cuomo, Phil Donahue and Air America? They have all had their shot and failed because no one was listening. Ratings were low, and you know what follows low ratings. (Cuomo and Donahue are gone, and Air America has gone bankrupt.)

We conservatives believe in the free exchange of ideas in the marketplace. We have no desire to suppress liberal radio shows. Criticize and refute them sure, but never suppress their voices. If the liberals can find someone to effectively compete with Limbaugh, put them on. The problem is that they can't. So now, through the Fairness Doctrine, they are trying to destroy the one major outlet for conservative thought. Just imagine- "Limbaugh and Colmes"!

The best thing for government to do is just butt out of trying to regulate political debate.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Immigration Bill- Why it's Failing

The failure of the Senate this past week to pass cloture on the immigration bill has put the bill itself in doubt. If this bill, as its supporters maintain, is so necessary, why can't the Senate pass it? Is it because of its flaws and shortcomings? Partially. However, I feel in the final analysis, the biggest factor is that the American public is against it. We the people have concluded that it is indeed amnesty. We don't believe the claims of our elected leaders that the border will be closed and that this bill will only lead to dramatic increases of poor people coming here to flee poverty in Mexico and Central America. More importantly, Americans by the millions have made their voices heard to Congress in the form of telephone calls, letters, faxes and emails.

In the past months, our liberal news media has shown us the large demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of pro-amnesty supporters in large American cities, waving Mexican flags and in many cases carrying banners with insulting messages for American citizens. What the media has downplayed has been the above response from citizens (and legal immigrants) to our politicians. Some politicians, like Lindsay Graham (R-SC), have called us "bigots" for simply demanding that Congress do it duty and enforce the law. Homeland Security Director, Michael Cherthoff implied that we wanted to see illegal immigrants get the death penalty. Sadly, several Republicans, from whom we would normally expect support for the rule of law, have jumped ship and joined hands with the open borders crowd led by Edward Kennedy, who doesn't even want to refuse legalization to convicted criminals and absconders who have already been ordered deported! If the Republicans thought they got a wake up call in the last election, they apparently hit the snooze button and went back to sleep.

Some claim that any bill is better than no bill. Really? Tell me why? What is in it for us if millions of illegal aliens "come out of the shadows"? Some talk of earned path to citizenship. Why are we assuming that any of these folks are interested in becoming American citizens? A little presumptuous of us I would say. And why is this not amnesty? Because they would have to pay a fine and jump through a few hoops? The bottom line is that they get to stay in the country and be rewarded for jumping in line. What do we say to all the legal immigrants who have followed the rules and waited? Sorry suckers.

Finally, many people like John McCain (who still deludes himself into thinking he is going to get the Republican nomination) tells us that if we don't like this bill, come up with a better idea. OK, Senator McCain, I will take the challenge. Here is my bill.

1 Build the wall. Secure the border with a massive increase in the Border Patrol, augmented if necessary with the National Guard of the border states. This is also a national security issue. Eventually we will have to secure our Canadian border as well to keep out the assorted Jihadists that Canada lets into their land.

2 Tamper-proof ID cards to be issued to legal guest workers. Those employers who hire huge numbers of illegal workers as a matter of policy should be prosecuted. Tell the corporations that the days of cheap labor are coming to an end. Let the consumers know that this will mean a rise in costs. We will accept that.

3 Obviously, the number of illegals is now too large to round up all of them and deport them. (This due to decades of government neglect). We will have to turn a blind eye to many who are simply working and committing no crime. However, the criminals among them have to be removed. This leads me to the refusal of certain cities to report illegals to ICE. So-called sanctuary cities should be told that if they continue to refuse to cooperate with Federal authorities on this issue, they can do without federal funding. I am not saying that local police should divert their attention from normal policing to look for illegals. However, anytime they come in contact with an offender who is illegal, ICE should be notified. An immigration hold can then be placed, and when the justice system is done with the individual, he is deported.

4 We should also tell that corrupt government in Mexico that if they are so concerned about their citizens, they can start providing decent education and economic opportunities to their citizens instead of keeping Mexico's wealth for themselves. If they are not willing to clean up their own house, then they can prepare for the revolution that will come when their disaffected poor cannot simply emigrate.

5 The guiding principle here should be that we stop the bleeding first. That means first secure the border then we can figure out what to do with those who are already here.

This week, the American people scored an important victory by letting their voices be heard. We have to continue the fight, however. This means that we must continue to put the pressure on our elected officials. As soon as they feel that we have gone to sleep, then they will screw us again. Keep writing and keep calling!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Scooter Libby-a Pardon?

I have to admit I am somewhat torn by the Scooter Libby trial, his conviction for perjury and lying to investigators and his sentence of 30 months in prison. On the one hand, as a retired law enforcement agent who testified hundreds of times in trials and grand jury hearings-and never lied- I feel strongly about perjury. In short, it is absolutely wrong, and it is a dagger pointed at the heart of our judicial system. If our courts cannot depend on people testifying truthfully under oath, then how does our system of justice survive? I also feel that those in power need to be held accountable when they abuse our trust. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, I supported his removal from office because he was the president and clearly committed perjury. (Of course, I was biased from the outset- I thought he was a corrupt president all around.) With the Scooter Libby case, I am troubled. On the one hand, if Libby intentially lied to investigators and the Grand Jury, then shame on him. On the other hand, this case seems to have at least the potential for an abuse of judicial power. The truth is I don't much like presidential pardons. Those issued by Clinton in his last days in office smack to me of corruption and selling of pardons. I believe that presidential pardons should be limited to those cases where the president believes there has been a miscarriage of justice. I believe that the Libby case is a miscarriage, and that President Bush should issue a pardon.

This case began with allegations that someone in government improperly leaked to a reporter (Robert Novak) that Valerie Plame (the wife of Joseph Wilson) was a CIA employee. Wilson, of course, had been commisioned by the CIA to travel to the African nation of Niger to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase uranium from that country. Wilson came back reporting that the stories were false and proceeded to become a vocal critic of the Bush adminstration. The employment of Wilson's wife at the CIA arose under speculation that she had helped her husband get the assignment.

Thus arose an investigation as to who had divulged the identity of "a covert undercover agent" from the CIA (Plame). It was pointed out that divulging the name of a covert CIA employee was a crime. The issue became a political circus with Bush opponents charging that the name of Wilson's wife was released in an attempt to discredit Wilson or at the least to clarify that the White House had not been involved in Wilson's appointment. The case was eventually turned over to an independent counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, who took over the investigation.

Interestingly, when Fitzgerald came into the picture, there were two items that had already been made clear: First, that Valerie Plame did not qualify as a "covert agent". For the past several years, she had been working at CIA HQs at Langley, Virginia and had not been operating in the field. Second, that the person who had actually given the name of Plame to Novak was not Libby, but Richard Armitage of the State Department. Case closed, right? Hardly. Fitzgerald continued to investigate the non-crime and had Libby repeatedly questioned and brought into the Grand Jury. Eventually, contradictions arose in Libby's statements and -Voila! an indictment for perjury. This is what is called in judicial circles as a process prosecution. Even if no underlying crime was committed, if a witness/suspect is found to have lied to investigators or to the Grand Jury, prosecution may follow. And in this case, it did.

Libby's defense was that his memory was faulty, and that he may have inadvertently given conflicting statements. A jury listened to the evidence and convicted him. Now he is sentenced to 30 months in prison.

So is this an abuse of prosecutorial discretion (prosecutors don't have to file charges on every single offense that comes before them -for many reasons.)? Given the highly charged political nature of this case, I suspect it is. Joseph Wilson, a political figure determined to discredit the Bush administration has become a favorite of the left-wing talk circuit. And what of Valerie Plame, who had her "cover blown" by the Bush White House (actually Armitage)? Well, she was so concerned about the compromise of her identity that she and her husband did a photo spread for Vanity Fair.

I concede that I could be wrong on this. Maybe Libby deliberately lied for whatever motive. But I am very troubled by the ongoing criminalization of politics in Washington. It seems that this is becoming an accepted tactic-to try and hang criminal charges on one's political opponents. I guess the bottom line is that I have doubts about this case. Therefore, I feel that if Bush believes that there has been a miscarriage of justice, then he should bite the political bullet and pardon Mr Libby.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Chicago Cubs-Curse of the billy goat?

During the 1945 World Series, a Chicago tavern owner tried to enter Wrigley Field accompanied by his goat. When he was refused entry, he promptly placed a curse on the Cubs to the effect that they would never again play in a World Series. Since that time, the Cubs have indeed failed to win a National League pennant leading some to wonder if the curse is real.

I first became a Cub fan in August of 1963 while I was visiting relatives in the Chicago area, and they took me to see a game at Wrigley Field. I was 18 at that time. Ever since that first experience in Wrigley Field, I have been hooked on the Cubs.

If you have never been to Wrigley Field, it is a must-do experience. Even in the 1960s, when it was the only park without lights, it seemed like I was back in the 1930s. In those days, the Cubs were perennially bad, played only in daylight, and a great seat could always be had, because the crowds were only 5-10,000 a game on weekdays. Over the years, most all the other pre-World War 1 ballparks have been torn down and replaced by modern faciltities, first, the oval concrete "donut" all-purpose types, which were monstrosities, then by the "retro" ballparks, trying to recapture the old syle, but still usually holding triple decks and luxury boxes. Only Wrigley and Boston's Fenway Park are truly old-time ballparks. Yankee Stadium, of course, was built in the early 1920s, but has been remodeled and is more like Dodger Stadium. Wrigley, over the years, has become an icon, which can sell out now no matter how bad the Cubs are. It is the "happening place" to be with its surrounding Wrigleyville of shops, pubs and eateries.

But back to the Cubs. In 1963, the Cubs actually had a record of 82-80, and times seemed to be getting better. They had the solid nucleus of Santo, Banks and Williams, the previous year's Rookie Of the Year, Ken Hubbs at second and a speed burner named Lou Brock, who seemed to me to be a real up and coming prospect. I knew the team had not been to a World Series since 1945, the year I was born, and had last won it all in 1908. the year my Dad was born (God rest his soul). I figured that with the team coming up, it would be only a matter of time before I could celebrate seeing my new favorite team in a World Series........

In February of 1964, Ken Hubbs, while piloting his private plane from Utah to his home in Colton, California crashed into a frozen lake, killing himself and his friend. During the 1964 season, Brock, still considered a prospect, was traded to the St Louis Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, a 20 game winner, who promptly came down with arm problems and never contributed anything for the Cubs. Brock, meanwhile, became a great player as soon as he donned a Cardinal uniform and led his team to a World Championship that same year. From there the Cubs reverted to mediocrity. Meanwhile, I left college, joined the Army and went to Germany for three years, where my best friend, Ray, was a Cub fan from Chicago. We rooted for the Cubs from overseas, but in vain.

By 1969, however, the Cubs were ready to make their move. With Santo, Williams and Banks still forming their foundation, slick infielders, Glenn Beckert and Don Kessinger in the middle, and Fergie Jenkins on the mound, the Cubs, under manager Leo Durocher, quickly ran to the top of the National League. They were hailed as the class of the National League as they built an 8-1/2 game lead by September. I was so excited that I flew to Chicago to cheer them on to the World Series with my buddy, Ray. I got there just in time to watch them collapse and blow the whole thing. But there would be next year. The Cubs still had all the players.

In spite of their great players, next year never came. They did manage to contend for a few years, but when the nucleus got old, the Cubs slid back down the pack.

Fifteen years later, the Cubs seemed poised to put it together. In 1984, they won their first divisional championship and went into a 5 game playoff with the San Diego Padres for the World Series. By then, I was living in Milan, Italy, working for the government. I had to use my short-wave radio to listen to the games. After the first two games were won in Chicago, I knew that this was it. The Cubs flew to the west coast to wrap it up. I was in Genoa for business for game number three, but I took my short-wave along and caught the last inning of the game, won by the Padres. During games 4 and 5, my wife and I were visiting friends in Rome, but there I was in bed at 3-4 in the morning listening on my short-wave as the Cubs did it again-they blew the pennant, letting the Padres come from 2 down to win the last three games.

Another Divisional Championship in 89, quickly doused by the Giants and the draught continued. I was beginning to wonder if I would actually live to see the Cubbies in a World Series. I wasn't 18 any more. I was now approaching 60.

Then came 2003. After the Cubs went up 3-1 on Florida, I bought a bottle of champagne and put it on ice. All I can say is that I did a major meltdown in games 6 and 7. Was it Steve Bartman or the goat?

As usual, the great year of promise was followed by a downward spiral until 2006 saw the team back in the cellar. I had now hit the 60 mark was semi-retired and had written three books. I started thinking about writing a book on Ken Hubbs, who has been a Colton icon to this day. I began researching life of this extraordinary young man (whom I had actually seen play in the 1954 qualifying game that sent him and his Colton team to the Little League World Series-they lost in the final game.) and even visited his grave in Colton. I wrote to the Cubs about my proposed project in the hopes they would provide assistance. I also made contact with his older brother, Keith Hubbs, who informed me that a book project was already in the works by a Chicago writer, whereupon I decided not to pursue the project.

As we all know, this year began with so much promise with the signing of Alfonso Soriano, manager Lou Piniella and so on. Of course, the twin hopes of the Cubs, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood continue not to be able to pitch, but we seemed to have filled the void. We all know how the season has gone. With 1/3 of the season gone, it is obvious the team is going nowhere. Just this week, our third great pitching hope, Carlos Zambrano had a meltdown and got into a fight with his catcher. A free agent after this season, he will also soon be history as far as we are concerned.

Meanwhile, as I approach my 62nd year, and my 44th as a Cub fan, I am beginning to doubt I will ever realize my dream of seeing the Cubs in a World Series. I feel especially sorry for the fans in Chicago. I am suffering with them. How many new teams have come into existance in the last 45 years and gone onto the Big Show? The Mets, Astros, Royals, Angels, Diamondbacks, Padres, Marlins etc. Even the cross-town White Sox and the Boston Red Sox have ended their long draughts with world titles. But for Cub fans, the suffering goes on.

During the 2003 playoffs, the TV neworks kept running film shots of billy goats running across the screen, a reminder of the Curse of the Billy Goat. Most people say they don't believe in curses-I never did. But then again, do you have a better explanation?