Saturday, February 24, 2007

Scott's Oriole

I invite those of you who appreciate beauty in nature to check out this visitor to a backyard near Mechanicsburg, PA this past week. It was captured on film by photographer Bob Moul.

The bird is a Scott's oriole, a species indigenous to the American southwest which usually winters in Mexico and Central America. Indeed, the Mechanicsburg bird, which I had the pleasure of viewing on Thursday, is the first one ever recorded in the northeastern U.S.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever" (John Keats).


Victory is Defeat, Success is Failure

Saner elements in the Democratic party seem to have prevailed over the Pelosi/Murtha wing, and the idea of slow-bleeding the troops in Iraq appears to have itself bled itself to death:

House Democrats have pulled back from efforts to link additional funding for the war to strict troop-readiness standards after the proposal came under withering fire from Republicans and from their party's own moderates. That strategy was championed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"If you strictly limit a commander's ability to rotate troops in and out of Iraq, that kind of inflexibility could put some missions and some troops at risk," said Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who personally lodged his concerns with Murtha.

The anti-war Democrats, however, are nothing if not determined to achieve failure in Iraq, and thus a couple of leading Democratic lights in the Senate, Joseph Biden and Carl Levin, are crafting legislation that would:

essentially overturn the 2002 resolution granting Mr. Bush the authority to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and limit the military to combating Al Qaeda in Iraq, keeping Iraq from becoming a haven for terrorists and training Iraqi forces. The proposal's goal, officials said, would be to allow combat forces not engaged in those duties to be removed from Iraq next year.

This is rich. Under the senators' proposal the American military will be limited to combat only against al Qaeda in Iraq. I wonder if the legislation will require the al Qaeda cadres to identify themselves to American troops so that our forces will know whether or not they can proceed to shoot them. I wonder, too, if august worthies like Joe "Obama's the cleanest black ever to run for president" Biden have considered that, in the unlikely event their legislation passes, al Qaeda will just change its name. What are our troops supposed to do then? I guess I'm too much of a worry wort. Surely Messers. Levin and Biden have it all figured out.

For the Democrats victory is defeat and success is failure. George Orwell must be smiling.


Fear Itself

Al Gore once famously accused President Bush of deceiving the American people by screaming these words: "He betrayed this country. He played on our fears."

Well, we are now well on our way to having a national panic attack over global warming due largely to the efforts of Mr. Gore and his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Even small children are reportedly being frightened into sleeplessness by fears of global warming and world-wide catastrophe.

One wonders whether Mr. Gore would agree that An Inconvenient Truth plays on our fears. Probably not. Only Republicans do that.


Behind the Contretemps

You've probably heard about the dust-up between the Clinton camp and the Obama people over remarks made by Hollywood producer David Geffen at a fund-raiser for Obama. What hasn't been speculated upon much in the media is why Geffen has turned away from the Clintons, with whom he was once very close, and thrown his Hollywood heft behind Obama.

Here's why:

One of Geffen's causes was the release of Leonard Peltier, a Native-American convicted of murdering two FBI agents back in the 80's. Geffen believes Peltier is innocent and had urged President Clinton to pardon him, but Clinton declined. Geffen, though disappointed, accepted this decision. Then came the last days of the Clinton presidency and a flurry of pardons were issued, among them were these:

Marc Rich was indicted on tax evasion, commodities fraud and other charges in 1983 and fled to Switzerland. After Clinton pardoned him, a House committee probing Clinton's pardons sought testimony from Rich's ex-wife Denise, who had been a major contributor to Democratic causes - including Hillary's Senate campaign and the Clinton Presidential Library. Denise Rich invoked the Fifth Amendment.

Almon Glenn Braswell was pardoned of his mail fraud and perjury convictions after paying about $200,000 to Hillary's brother, Hugh Rodham, to represent his case for clemency. He later returned the payments, but he too invoked the Fifth Amendment during a Congressional hearing.

In 2000, Clinton had pardoned Vonna Jo Gregory, owner of the carnival company United Shows International, and her husband Edgar for a 1982 bank fraud conviction. After the pardon, the company gave Hillary's brother Anthony Rodham $107,000 in "loans" that he has never repaid.

On his last day in office, Clinton pardoned his old friend Susan McDougal, who had already completed her sentence for her role in the Whitewater scandal.

Clinton also pardoned his brother Roger on drug charges, and former Housing secretary Henry Cisneros, who was convicted of lying to the FBI about payments to a mistress.

Clinton slashed the prison sentences of four men convicted of stealing millions in federal grants. The men were from a community of Hasidic Jews in New Square, N.Y., which voted 1,400 to 12 in favor of Hillary Clinton in her first Senate race.

Clinton also commuted the sentences - over the objections of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office - of 11 members of a Puerto Rican nationalist group that set off more than 100 bombs in the U.S. The large Puerto Rican community in New York City supports Democrats.

Geffen was apparently angered by the fact that a man he believed to be innocent of any crime was left unpardoned but this parade of corrupt and criminal cronies and others were released by the president. Especially galling was the pardon of Marc Rich whose beautiful wife apparently bought his release through political contributions of one sort or another. Geffen saw this as something of a betrayal by the Clintons and has consequently joined the swelling ranks of Democrats who've come to despise the Clintons for the cavalier way in which they use and discard people according to how useful they are to them.

It's beginning to look as though Hillary will have to fight hard for her party's nomination and, if she gets it, enthusiasm for her candidacy will be subdued among those Democrats who know her.