Speicher, peeking, prayer, taxes, grades, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Apr 08, 2002 12:00 AM
A Navy pilot, Lieutenant Commander Michael Scott Speicher, may be alive in Iraq. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas cites "numerous reports" indicating Cdr. Speicher - shot down over Iraq in 1991 - "could be alive." Sen. Roberts says, "There is no evidence he was killed" when his F-18 went down; The Washington Times has reported new intelligence suggesting the Iraqis hold him. Baghdad doesn't respond to inquiries. Last year, the Pentagon changed his status from killed to missing in action (MIA). Maybe it's time, past time, to declare Cdr. Speicher a POW - and to go get him. In case you missed it, 44 cheerleaders for the Philadelphia Eagles have sued 29 National Football League teams (only the Eagles and the Jacksonville Jaguars have escaped the suit) - and possibly hundreds of still-to-be named players for invasion of privacy, emotional distress, negligence and conspiracy. Why on earth? Because, the suit alleges, from 1983 through 1998, visiting teams at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium peeped at the cheerleaders in their adjacent locker room - through holes and cracks in the doors and walls. The suit alleges the situation was "common knowledge among virtually the entire National Football League." May be time to punt. President Bush understatedly termed himself "plenty hot" about "the inexcusable blunder" of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in mailing to the Venice, Fla., flight school that trained two key 9/11 suicide hijackers, paperwork saying their student visas had been approved. The flight school received the paperwork on the six-month anniversary - to the day - of 9/11. There will be an investigation, of course. Heads SHOULD roll. Quote of the Week: VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting, on a federal judge's recent ruling that VMI's supper prayer is an unconstitutional religious exercise because it is coerced: "The prayer is of the sort heard every day at military ceremonies and in civilian settings (including the midday meal at the U.S. Naval Academy). ... Hearing a brief prayer before supper is no more the establishment of religion than the singing of 'God Bless America,' a prayer set to music. As the Supreme Court observed in approving prayer by salaried chaplains, such prayers are 'no more than a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.' Surely a military institute, preparing adults to defend this country, can tolerate exposure to such prayers too." Quote of the season: George Harrison, in the Beatles song, "Taxman": "If you drive a car, I'll tax the street/If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat/If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat/If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet/Don't ask me what I want it for/If you don't want to pay some more/'cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman." The effort to halve the federal tax on a six-pack of beer - to 16 cents - makes good sense (why any tax at all?). Yet certain nervous types are arguing that such a reduction would make beer more tempting to those too young to drink it legally. Please keep in mind that their argument is based on a proposed 16-CENT reduction. Regarding grade inflation: Even at Harvard, according to a news account, "one of every two grades awarded in recent years has been an A or A-." At Harvard (and elsewhere) just about everybody is either equally brilliant or equally equal - except those who are more equal than others. Sen. Robert Byrd says, regarding funding of the war against terrorism, "If we expect to kill every terrorist in the world, that's going to keep us going beyond doomsday. ... How long can we afford this? ... When will we know we have achieved victory?" Sen. Fritz Hollings, another doubting Democrat, echoes him: Sooner or later "this town is going to sober up." But PO1 Neil Roberts - the Navy's first combat death in Afghanistan, a SEAL - likely would have differed from the cut-and-run crowd, and urged that America seek and find every last terrorist. In a letter to his wife, to be opened in the event of his death, he penned an extraordinary self-epitaph: "Although I sacrificed personal freedom and many other things, I got just as much as I gave. My time in the (SEAL) Teams was special. For all the times I was cold, wet, tired, sore, scared, hungry, and angry, I had a blast. ... I consider myself blessed with the best things a man could ever hope for. My childhood is something I'll always treasure. My family is the reason I'm the person I am today. They supported and cared for me in the best way possible. ... All the times spent in the company of my teammates was when I felt the closest to the men I had the privilege to work with. I loved being a SEAL. If I died doing something for the Teams, then I died doing what made me happy. Very few people have the luxury of that." From the 237-page final report of Independent Counsel Robert Ray, on the Clinton-Lewinsky case: "The Independent Counsel concluded that sufficient evidence existed to prosecute (Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice), and that such evidence would 'probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.'" FINIS. Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, put the flap over whether ABC would replace Ted Koppel's "Nightline" with a show starring David Letterman in just the right perspective. The truth, Lichter says, is that "TV news is entertainment." And speaking of both Clinton and TV, a reader sent in a George Orwell observation from "1984" regarding "media buffoon" Dan Rather's defense of the perjurous president as an honest man. "Double-think means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all this is indispensably necessary." Shannon Spann, wife of CIA operative Mike Spann - killed in a Taliban/al-Qaida prison uprising shortly after questioning John Lindh, who is beginning the judicial process regarding the future of his life - got it exactly right about Lindh, terming him "a traitor for the way he lived."