This story troubles me, in large part because I argued earlier that the hijackers should have been repatriated to Cuba. I still stand by this decision. I think it was correct (see below), but I am troubled by it. Sometimes correct decisions are troubling.
However, I would like to know where the anti-death penalty folks stand on this one. I certainly bet that there were no protests outside the execution site in Cuba.
This from the "so what" files. However, you just knew this was coming. Also, doesn't this put the antiglobalization folks into a bit of a quandry? They hate the WTO (trust me, they do) and they hate the US. What will they do? What will they do?
OBRA, THE LINE ITEM VETO AND THE INCENTIVES OF PIGS
I want to follow up on yesterday's post related to my call to end omnibus legislation -- the Omnibus Bill Reform Act. This was prompted by loyal reader Pooke's questin as to whether the president has a line item veto. The short answer is that the US president no longer has the line item veto. It was in existence only a short time before the Supremes (not Diana Ross) declared it unconstitutional.
While the line item veto has been thought to be a good method for blocking pork, my gut feeling is that it could possibly bring the president into the porkbarreling process. (Not the fish barrel, the pork barrel, mind you!) The president could threaten a line item veto of a portion of a bill that is favored by one or two legislators in exchange for the inclusion of something the president wants.
The more effective way to end omnibus bills that I believe would be constitutional (as it only applies to the rulemaking procedures of only one branch of government in isolation), is to require that all bills address one, and only one, policy issue at a time. Granted there will be some debate on how broad a policy bill is with people like Arlen Specter arguing that legislative postage expenses are a critical component of national security. But that could be addressed by creating a third party monitoring committee on all bills, perhaps the CBO.
The important part here is that by considering separate issues separately, legislators will have to publicly commit to a position on that issue without hiding behind some other smoke screens. This should have the effect of weeding out some of the egregious spending we've seen from our Congress. It will also slow down the legislative process, but that is not a bad thing. The legislative process should be slow and deliberative!! Don't we have enough laws and regulations already?!
While listening to Rush at the gym this morning, it is reported that the Congressional bill to pay for the war was filled with more pig meat than a pork chop stuffed with sausage. Now I don't know if there is any movement in the country, but let it be known that you heard it here first. I am calling for a groundswell of support to pass legislation that would end omnibus bills in Congress. If anything is so important that our Congress must vote on it, then let it be put forth as a single issue. Might this slow down the legislative process? Yes...and good! Might this be a violation of free speech (as I can imagine a contorted argument put forth)? No. You can still legislate to your heart's content, but you just have to be more visible about it!
Anyone knowing of a movement of this sort, let me know.
P.S. O.B.R.A. is Spanish for "work." That is about as clever as I could get with my acronym for the time being.
This has to be the quote of the week (in bold, with additional commentary to provide context):
Hundreds of Muslim fighters, many of them non-Iraqis, were putting up a stronger fight for Baghdad than Iraq's Republican Guard or the regular army, a top United States military officer said yesterday.
"They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them," Brigadier-General John Kelly said.
"But often they run into our machine guns and we shoot them down like the morons they are."
General Kelly, assistant commander of the about 20,000-strong 1st Marine Division, said US intelligence indicated that there might be anywhere between 500 and 5000 of the fighters, whom he described as terrorists.
"They appear willing to die. We are trying our best to help them out in that endeavour," he said.
Greyhawk from The Mudville Gazette makes an interesting observation to my "It's All Bad News, But..." post below. As a soldier stationed in Korea, he noted that there were constant accidents that accompanied training missions, not to mentioned the routine "tripping over tent wire" mishaps. In other words, casualties happen in peacetime. Now it is more than likely that there are more fatal and harmful mishaps during wartime since stress level is high and there can be a great deal of confusion. Plus, with all the number of men on the move, accidents must be expected.
What I would be interested in, though, is a comparison of the accidental casualty rate during peacetime as compared to the Iraq War. I would guess the military keeps data on "friendly fire" mishaps during training exercises, but I don't know. The measure would have to be adjusted for the large number of troops engaged in actual activities now, so some creative thought would have to go into it. And granted that the confusion of war and high tension levels will likely lead to more mishaps (not to mention weather problems) in the Iraq War, but I am betting that we would all be surprised by the comparability of the figures. The reason we may be seeing more casualty reports now as compared to peacetime is that they are obviously all concentrated in a single area where the media happens to be hanging out.
This is still sad/bad news -- half of all US casualties in Iraq were accidental. Nonetheless, this really puts things in perspective when you talk to the "quagmire" and "the-coalition-isn't-winning" crowd.
WAIT! I THINK IRAQ'S MINISTER OF INFO IS TELLING THE TRUTH.
Much has been made today of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraq's information minister, broadcasting from the top of the Palestine Hotel and claiming that the US has not invaded Baghdad and are actually on the run...all the while with US tanks rolling around in the background. However, James Taranto posted a snippet from the press conferece and my analysis shows that Mr. Saeed al-Shahaf is actually telling the truth. Let me get into postmodernist clothes and deconstruct it for you. (Italics represent Saeed's quotes.)
There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!
True. They are all upstanding, religious member of our Armed Services.
. . . As President Saddam Hussein said: God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis. . . .
While I disagree that there will be a US stomach roast, this statement does imply that some Iraqis -- probably Chemical Ali -- inhabit hell.
Their infidels are committing suicide in their hundreds under the walls of Baghdad.
Yes. However, let it be known that we did give the members of the secular Baath party and the affiliated Republican Guard a chance to surrender first. We would rather take them alive. C'mon guys, use those white flags that came in the boxes with French weapons and tank parts.
The battle was fierce and God granted his soldiers victory.
USA! USA! ("Battle Hymn of the Republic" plays in the background. "Mine eyes have seen the Glory...")
He granted heroic Iraqis victory.
Yes, all those folks who surrendered early and chose not to use WMDs, plus all the exiled Iraqis and Kurds are doing the heroic thing. Way to go guys! Special shout out to the brave doctor who brought a rescue to Jessica Lynch!!
The battle is continuing on the main fronts. Be reassured, Baghdad is safe, fortified and great.
Yep. Baghdad now appears relatively safe from Baathist and Republican Guard goon squads. Granted, there will still be some resistance, but Iraqis can now feel safe chanting "free at last!"
This morning I heard an interview with Jimmy Carter's former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, now a key member of the far left-wing (neo-Marxist) group International A.N.S.W.E.R. Clark sounded either drunk or senile (perhaps both?) and it was hard for me to listen to more than bits and pieces before tuning in something a bit more pleasing to my ears. Usually I like listening to fools get humiliated, but Clark was just obscene. He refused to criticize Saddam Hussein, he said there was absolutely no proof of any atrocities that had been committed in Iraq (other than battle deaths during the Iran-Iraq war), and he even praised Saddam for providing free health care and education to his people. (I hear this "rallying cry" for dictators all the time with regard to Cuba.) He criticized the US for imposing sanctions, even though this was a UN move. When pressed on that point he said that the US gets whatever they want in the UN, completely forgetting about what happened over the past 3-6 months! Unbelievable!!
Drudge reports Hillary's book is past due. Maybe my publisher will cut me a little slack on my sluggish progress. Better yet, how 'bout an $8 million advance. I can guarantee that I will sell at least 8 books (though my last one is well past 2,000 -- past the break even point!).
Okay, there's a war going on. However, this is historically important. Today, while shopping for socks at the mall, John Lemon Jr., 3, spied a rack of underwear. He proceeded to pull down his pants in the middle of the aisle and yell, "Hey, I got Buzz Lightyear underwear too!"
The war must really be going well. Earlier this morning, MSNBC.com was reporting 80 US casualties to date. Just a few moments ago, they posted this headline: "US war death toll rises to 79." I don't mean to be flippant about any battlefield casualty (see my posts below), but rather this is just a jab at the harried pace of 24/7 media and how error prone it can be. (Indeed, my wife asked me this morning if there was anything new in the paper and I wondered out loud why I even both with the paper anymore, particularly with relation to war news. I have found that the two sections I have the most time for are the sports and local news.)
On a related note, we have suffered 79 casualties so far, the Brits about 27. In the past 24 hours it has been reported that we have eliminated up to 3000 Iraqi fighters just in Baghdad alone!
Comment, Mr. Daschle? (Wow, he's been unusually quite lately, eh?)
NBC reporter David Bloom died of a blood clot yesterday in Iraq. That is sad, particularly that he is around my age and left behind three children, one the same age as my son.
However, whenever a reporter has either died or been detained in this war, I can't help notice the extensive attention and biographical detail that provided in the media. Granted, the media do not have the extensive information about some of the 20-year old soldiers that have died during the conflict, but there still seems to be a greater degree of "shock and awe" (to apply a recent term for another use) when a media "celebrity" is affected. Yeah, yeah, it is the nature of the mass media. I understand that. But I would really like to see the media focus on the lives of our fallen soldiers a bit more, for one important reason:
The soldiers in this war have volunteered for a job that they know would put them in the line of fire with the primary purpose that they are defending our right to watch some blow-dried reporter give his commentary. I consider that to be a more invaluable service than anything the media may provide.
I think the focus on Bloom and Kelly, in many ways, reflects the narcissism of the media and the "chattering classes." Again, although Bloom's death is sad and will prompt me to keep exercising on a regular basis, keep it in mind that Bloom died of natural causes, not taking a bullet to defend our freedom. Let's hear more about those kids who did take a bullet. I bet their lives are just as interesting as Bloom's and perhaps may tell us more about the American Spirit (see posting below).
I haven't purchased the Blogspot upgrade (and upon OTB's advice won't), so I cannot post pictures here. However, being a fan of photography (my favorite art form), I like to look at MSNBC's weekly "Week in Pictures" and vote on my favorite. It is interesting to see what pictures win, and there does seem to be a loose pattern. Despite all the photos of poverty and horror in the Middle East/Afghanistan over the past two years, the pictures that usually come out on top display the best of human behavior -- joy, triumph over adversity, success. Contrast this of the annual critic's picks, which are typically of misery.
This week, the top vote-getter to date (and with a substantial lead) is a photo of a soldier sitting on the ground craddling an Iraqi child (circa 3 years old). Now if that doesn't tell you something about why we are there, I don't know what does.
(The most annoying thing about MSNBC's "Week In Pictures" is that the first picture linking you to a window to view all the photos is never shown in its full size. In other words, there seems to be a systematic bias against the first picture posted each week.)