On IDS, USPS, Enron, Let's Roll!, Guantanamo, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Jan 31, 2002 12:00 AM
Guantanamo. Aren't you all angsted up about the rights of al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists at Guantanamo? Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is next to God, says they're being treated just fine. So do the Brits. So does the Red Cross. Brigadier General Michael Lenhert, head of security at the base prison, says each prisoner has a cut-short toothbrush, a bucket for use as an emergency toilet, two towels (one for use as a prayer mat), and "an Isomat to lay on. It isn't particularly comfortable. It is also the same thing issued every day to our soldiers and Marines in the field. I myself have spent a good portion of my Marine Corps career on one of these mats." He adds: "We are being guided by the Geneva Convention." And: "These are not nice people. Several have publicly stated here their intent to kill an American before they leave Guantanamo Bay. We will not give them that satisfaction." Oh yes - Lisa Beamer's baby. Lisa is the wife of Todd Beamer, a 9/11 passenger aboard hijacked Flight 93. He ended an airborne cell phone call with the words, "Let's roll!" Thereafter, the plane went down in Pennsylvania instead of reaching its hijackers' likely target - the U.S. Capitol. Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers evidently forced the plane's premature crash-landing. Busybodies about prisoner rights at Guantanamo might help the situation by worrying less about the rights of terrorism's perpetrators and more about the rights of its victims. Enron dropped off the charts and into the laps of forlorn Democrats. It's a huge failure - $63 billion; management evidently screwed over employees and stockholders alike. Along the way, management also gave heavily to George Bush and other leading Republicans. But contrary to fervent Democratic wishes, members of the administration apparently did not aid in the Enron sham. Right now, it's a blame game - with Enron and auditor Arthur Andersen trading charges, much as Ford and Firestone blamed each other a year ago. Also: Three federal agencies are investigating, along with three House committees and seven Senate committees. The Democrats will try to use Enron as a club to slam Bush, because they have so little else. Yet keep your powder dry and hold your fire on behalf of the Democrats until one of the investigations turns up credible evidence of Republican assistance to a seeming bunch of Enron management crooks. It wasn't all one way. Enron management also gave to Democrats. One example: During the Clinton years it gave $100,000 to the Democratic Party to curry favor for administration approval of a proposed $3-billion power plant in India. Former quasi-Communist terrorist Sara Jane Olson, née Kathleen Soliah, has been sentenced to 20 years for conspiring to bomb police cars in 1975. Investigators didn't find her for more than a quarter-century, before tracking her down in a St. Paul suburb. No sooner had she been sentenced after a wild judicial ride, than she was arraigned for participating in a bank robbery that resulted in the slaying of a woman depositing church money. Ms. Olson's travails received mountains of sympathetic, almost weepy, media coverage. Question: Would she have received similar coverage if she had been charged with, say, racial killings or bombing abortion clinics? Maryland (at least) is prudently moving to raise the age at which children are allowed to enter kindergarten: Soon they will have to be 5 years old by Sept. 1 - as opposed to the current cutoff date of Dec. 31. Many 4 year olds (mostly boys) simply aren't ready for kindergarten, particularly when they may be in class with 6 year olds whose parents have held them back a year. So that's good, and even better to the extent that Maryland is starting or reflecting a trend. Good, too, is the renewed emphasis on phonics as the principal way to teach reading - as opposed to the host of experimental methods that have produced too many who don't like to read or who can't read at all. In case you missed it: The Postal Service (1) plans to cut 15,000 jobs this year, (2) intends to raise the cost of a first-class stamp from 34 cents to 37 cents come June 30, and (3) has asked Congress for a $5-billion transfusion. Sept. 11 and the anthrax scare may be part of the reason, as stipulated by the postal people. Another reason may be the same old same old. The Postal Service posted a $1.7-billion loss in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 (just three weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks). President Bush will ask Congress to raise defense spending by $48 billion - from $331 in the current fiscal year to $379 billion next year. That is as it should be, though the Democrats already have declared themselves massively skeptical. Defense has been shorted for too long. The military requires restructuring, better weapons, and tangible measures of vastly greater appreciation. The president should use the moment to offer two other key proposals: (1) junking of the congressionally mandated one-year reserve commissions for ROTC and service-academy graduates, and (2) establishment of a one-year compulsory universal service program - with an eight-week military component - for all young men and women not seriously handicapped. And let's go to a national ID card. Yes, we need to anguish about it - about how it could be used by the wrong sorts of people, and the wrong sort of government, to dilute the liberty of the citizenry. Yet, we have key elements of a national card already: driver's licenses, Social Security numbers. Such a card might greatly aid against terrorism, with airport security, building entry, medical treatment, and in a multiplicity of other ways. To combat the worries, keep a watchful eye and don't let THEM pry your fingers from around the Second Amendment.