On North Korea, Mars, the Baghdad Barrier, Politicized Churches, Etc.

Ross Mackenzie

10/12/2006 11:56:47 AM - Ross Mackenzie

A random walk among a leafy litter of issues near and far….

So, another crisis on nukes — with North Korea. Is it time for China, Japan, and South Korea to belly up to the table? Should there have been talks — multilateral, or bilateral between Washington and Pyongyang?

Should Japan rearm? Should we renew the push for missile defense?

Whatever the Bush administration does, or has done, the Democrats will hit the blast button. Hillary Clinton immediately set to blaming President Bush’s “failed policies” for failing to stop NK’s nuclear program. ’Sfunny. She doesn’t mention husband Bill’s 1994 “Agreed Framework,” regarding which he declared: “This agreement will help achieve a vital and long-standing American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula.”

And negotiations? Regarding negotiations with Iran about nukes, the European Union’s Javier Solana is sounding like a liberal who has been mugged. Having negotiated for four months with Iran about its nuclear program and coming away feeling like a used fool, Solana now says it’s time for UN sanctions, at least. Without somebody doing something soon, Iran may follow North Korea down the nuclear path.

And in D.C., the Senate vote on the compromise measure regarding aggressive interrogation techniques drew nays from 32 Democrats, among them: would-be presidents Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden, and John Kerry. This means, according to The Wall Street Journal, “they were opposing aggressive interrogation of even the worst al-Qaida captives.” What are these people thinking?

That’s a good question for others in Congress, mostly Republicans — e.g., Tom DeLay, Mark Foley, and now Dennis Hastert. And let’s not forget, throughout Washington but primarily in Congress, Jack Abramoff. Is it any wonder that Congress’ approval rating, with the approach of the November elections, is the lowest in 11 years?

It’s comforting to have at last computer programmer Peter Shann Ford’s clarifying analysis of astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first words from the moon in 1969. Armstrong says he intended to say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” But: Transmitted seemingly without the a, it makes no sense. With the latest technology, Ford has analyzed the NASA tape containing Armstrong’s words, and says the a actually is there but did not clearly come through. And Armstrong? He finds Ford’s analysis “persuasive.”

Speaking of things extraterrestrial, how about those pictures of the Victoria Crater from the Opportunity rover tooling around Mars — 230 million miles from Earth? NASA thought Opportunity would survive in Mars’ frigid climate for 90 days max; it’s now in its 21st month, dutifully dispatching pictures of voluptuous Victoria. Amazing stuff — and oh, to go! Either Mars or the moon will do.

If the Israelis can build a security fence, and if we can build a fence hundreds of miles long to thwart illegal immigration, then why not a 60-mile ditch around Baghdad? The purpose would be to limit access to the city to 28 security checkpoints, thereby to stymie terrorists — notably those driving cars loaded with explosives. Barriers have calmed things considerably in Fallujah and Samarra. Iraqi security forces, working with the U.S. military, already have begun to dig.

This from Roger Ailes — responsible more than anyone for the extraordinary rise of Fox News: “We have forced a dialogue into the news business that didn’t exist before we got here.”

In the run-up to the elections, the complaint goes up about voter guides from supposedly lunatic right-wing churches — telling parishioners and anyone else within earshot what lever to pull or what box to check. What about voter directives from establishment churches and the religious left? Let’s see: (1) Primarily Democratic candidates routinely campaign from the pulpits of minority churches. (2) The IRS is investigating a liberal Episcopal church in Pasadena for sermons risking its tax exemption. (3) A number of mainline Virginia churches are actively supporting or opposing the marriage amendment on the November ballot. (4) Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is distributing 1 million copies of a 12-page booklet spinning its leftist views on war, abortion, poverty, tax fairness, and homosexuality. And (5) the ever-vigilant National Council of Churches is agitating for “eco-justice” and against — of course — oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.