On Abbas, Paige, Kerry, McCain-Feingold, Yogi, etc

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Jul 03, 2003 12:00 AM

What to do with terrorist Abu Abbas - who murdered wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer aboard the hijacked Achille Lauro 18 years ago - apprehended in Baghdad? Easy. No, do not turn him over to Italy, which released him and then gave him an in-absentia lifetime sentence for masterminding the Achille Lauro deed. Instead, why not do an eye-for-an-eye - and strap bro' Abbas into a wheelchair, subject him to the single-bullet solution, and roll him into the deep?

The fringe left went ballistic over the reported comments of Secretary of Education Rod Paige on the importance of teaching Christian values. What Paige actually said in response to a question about whether Christian, public, or private schools are best: "All things being equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school where there's a strong appreciation of values, the kind of values that I think are associated with the Christian communities." How offensive is that?

Former President Bush has been enlisted to do battle on behalf of his son's nominees for the federal bench, so mean-spirited have hostile Democratic senators become. George Bush Sr. is hosting fund-raisers for ads opposing several Democratic senators seeking re-election next year. Good.

A Democratic writer describes his party's position on the war to topple Saddam as "a kind of exasperated ambivalence" - a position, he says, perhaps best articulated by Sen. John Kerry. Reflecting his attitude regarding the American effort in Vietnam, in which he participated, Kerry did not have a particularly fortuitous war in Iraq - a little bit pro, but mostly con. And Kerry took a good deal of appropriate heat for his sneering remark, "We need a regime change in the United States." Who knows which aspirant will prosper most in Democratic presidential primaries mostly comprising lefties? About that electorate, Kerry's own campaign manager has tellingly warned: "Unless the Democratic nominee can make a compelling and convincing case ... that he can keep Americans safe in a dangerous world, we're looking at McGovernite results." In his 1972 race against Richard Nixon, George McGovern carried but a single state (Massachusetts) and the District of Columbia.

President Bush's roadmap for peace between Israel and the Palestinians calls for among other things cessation of Palestinian terror attacks against Israel, Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist and creation of a Palestinian state. Will it work? The answer probably is NO because it lies principally with the Palestinians, who - in former Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban's memorable line - rarely "miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

The magnificent job American forces did in Iraq recalled this quote from James Michener's Bridges at Toko-Ri  about Navy pilots in the Korean War - which could apply to all American troops (especially pilots): "Where do we get such men? They leave this ship and they do their job. Then they must find this speck lost somewhere in the sea. When they find it, they have to land on its pitching deck. Where do we get such men?"

Beyond Iraq there are one, two, many Saddams. One, in the person of Robert Mugabe, presides in Zimbabwe - the former Rhodesia. Mugabe has impoverished the place, seized 4,500 white-owned farms, imposed famine in what used to be a breadbasket, and terrorized the populace through maiming, torture and random killings. Comrade Mugabe's time to go has come.

And the number may be up for the ballyhooed McCain-Feingold bill, a weird statutory contraption purporting to resolve concerns about overspending on political campaigns but in truth doing little more than limiting the rights of many people to freedom of speech. So it's time to restate the ultimate, simple and brief campaign reform proposal: "(a) No limits on campaign contributions but (b) mandated listing within 24 hours on Internet Web sites of every contribution to every candidate - the Web sites accessible to the press and watchdog groups and anyone with a computer - so that (c) an informed electorate could decide whether X candidates were receiving too much money from Y contributors before election day."

Like Catholicism, Protestantism has its own problems. Mainline denominations continue to be roiled by, among other matters, homosexuality. The Episcopalians chose as bishop of the diocese of Washington, D.C., a man who (a) believes Scripture should be massaged to reflect certain contemporary social views and (b) supports the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals. (c) The diocese of New Hampshire has just selected the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. The expanding clerical cohort embracing such dubious notions in the mainline denominations may do much to explain the flight of many from the pews to the hills - and golf courses.

Or to Yogi. The legendary catcher for the New York Yankees is still offering up his lessons to live by. Some examples: (a) "You can observe a lot by watching," (b) "Ninety percent of the game is half mental," (c) "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him," (d) "He's learning me all his experience," (e) "It ain't over 'til it's over," and (f) - the title of his book, published by Hyperion - "When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!"