Ideological missions

John McCaslin
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Posted: Feb 03, 2004 12:00 AM

New York-based reporter and pundit John Podhoretz said George W. Bush is perhaps the most personally conservative individual to hold the presidency in modern times.

"He is a teetotaler, an ex-smoker, a relentless exerciser, a punctilious man who goes to bed at 9:30 every night after spending 15 minutes reading an entry in his Tyndall House Page-A-Day Bible," Podhoretz wrote. "He doesn't like movies with cursing in them. (He does swear like a sailor in private, as his father did, but will not take the Lord's name in vain). And he prays daily for guidance."

And in his soon-to-be released book, "Bush Country: How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane" (St. Martin's Press), Podhoretz will attempt to shatter the "liberal myth" that Bush is also "a liar."

The author will argue that the possibility Iraq obtained large stores of uranium from Niger, as reported by British intelligence and cited by Bush in the 2003 State of the Union address, was credible at the time.

Former CIA official Joseph Wilson claimed that the information was exaggerated to support going to war against Iraq.

"That the United States might choose to accept the conclusions of British intelligence rather than the conclusions of Joseph Wilson does not mean we went to war under false pretenses," Podhoretz wrote. "The very fact that Wilson could claim such a thing is evidence either of vanity run amok or - what is clearly the case - a political and ideological mission to invalidate the war with Iraq after the fact."

ONLY THE BEST

If man is to reach Mars, then it shouldn't just be any man.

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a member of the House Rules Committee, has taken to the floor the "NASA Workforce Flexibility Act," which authorizes NASA to offer incentives to valued current and prospective employees to ensure that when America heads farther into space, the industry's best and brightest are on board.

Specifically, the act would authorize "recruitment, relocation and retention bonuses" as an incentive to NASA employees, grant "term appointments" to the most valued scientific minds, and afford NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe the ability to provide "pay increases" to those in critical positions and with superior qualifications.

"It is our responsibility to ensure that this essential program will attract the best and brightest scientists, from any background, and I believe this legislation helps to achieve this end," says the congressman.

STICK TO POTATOES

An election "primary" hosted over iVote.com invites voters to participate in a nonsanctioned protest vote to demonstrate the "flawed undemocratic nature" of the nation's current presidential primary process.

"The current primary process virtually empowers Iowa, New Hampshire and the Super Tuesday states to unilaterally ordain who the presidential nominees will be," said iVote architect Larry Ward.

"California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont all vote on March 2, nearly one month after Super Tuesday and long after the presidential nominee will have been selected."

Ward, president of Interactive Political Media, said if enough voters cast protest votes in the 2004 Internet primary, the disenfranchised may have a vote that counts in 2008.

One Internet voter from Idaho wrote: "I am glad someone finally is standing up for the voters here in Idaho. For the last 20 years, my candidate has been erased from the presidential primary before I was able to vote. That is unjust."

Idaho's primary isn't until May 25.

WALKING WEAPON

Regarding congressional testimony by the CIA's former top Iraqi weapons inspector, David Kay, about not uncovering any weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has the most apropos sound bite.

"Saddam Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction," the Democratic presidential candidate said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) reacted to Kay's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and capture Saddam "was essential to prevent further production of WMDs."

"There was evidence during the Clinton administration that Iraq possessed WMDs. If Clinton had acted with the same courage as President Bush did, Saddam's weapons would have been discovered then."

MARINE HARASSMENT

U.S. military training in the war against terrorism has been curtailed and even canceled so as not to "harass" marine mammals.

"Vague" language of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, amended last year in the National Defense Authorization Act, has had a "damaging effect" on military training, according to the president of the Navy League, causing "exercises at night and in shallow waters to be canceled or conducted under unrealistic conditions ... to ensure that marine mammals were not 'harassed.'"

The principal purpose of the law, passed by Congress in 1972, was to stop the inadvertent killing of hundreds of thousands of dolphins in the tuna nets of Pacific fishing fleets.

"We support the goals of the MMPA and the efforts of environmentalists to ensure that the world's marine mammals continue to flourish," Navy League President Sheila McNeill writes to Congress in a letter this column obtained yesterday.

Congress last year amended the MMPA because broad wording "left the law open to almost any interpretation," she notes. "The 'harassment' of marine mammals was defined as any act that had the 'potential to disturb' behavior such as breathing, feeding or migration. Even environmentalists complained that this vague definition placed all involved in an impossible situation."

William T. Holgrath, assistant administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, told a congressional committee last May: "The definition is overly broad and does not provide a clear enough threshold for what activities do or do not constitute harassment."

Meanwhile, the deployment of a vital submarine-detection system - Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor System, Low Frequency Active - was delayed, the league president tells Congress, because special-interest groups claimed its sound emissions posed a risk to marine life. The system is considered a centerpiece of the Navy's quest to guard against quiet diesel-electric boats deployed by North Korea and Iran.

The Navy already funded a $10 million independent research program, conducted in part by Cornell University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which found the system could be employed with "minimal risk" to marine mammals.

Nonetheless, special-interest groups sought intervention of the courts, and last October, a U.S. District Court in Northern California issued a permanent injunction restricting military operations of the sensor system. The Justice Department has filed a notice of appeal.

TAX RELIEF

"I'd suggest a toilet as well." - President Bush's advice to New Hampshire resident Steve Marshall, who had informed the president that he used part of his tax savings this year to install a new shower.