Monday, February 18, 2008

Curious Vote

The Senate voted last Wednesday to ban waterboarding as a means of interrogation of detainees in the war on terror. The vote was 51 to 45 and went pretty much along party lines, but the strange thing is that one of the chief opponents of waterboarding voted against the ban. Senator John McCain, perhaps feeling the heat from conservatives, voted against the position he has held for decades. Very curious. His sidekick Senator Lindsey Graham did not vote. Nor did Senators Clinton or Obama.

Our thoughts on the subject of torture can be found by using our search function. Just type the word "torture" in the text box or click on "The NAE on Torture" in the Hall of Fame on the left side of this page.


The New Cigarette

Another study has shown a link between cell-phone use and health problems:

An Israeli scientist, Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, has found a link between cell phone usage and the development of tumors. Dr. Sadetzki, a physician, epidemiologist and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, published the results of a study recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology, in which she and her colleagues found that heavy cell phone users were subject to a higher risk of benign and malignant tumors of the salivary gland.

Those who used a cell phone heavily on the side of the head where the tumor developed were found to have an increased risk of about 50% for developing a tumor of the main salivary gland (parotid), compared to those who did not use cell phones.

The rest of the article can be read at the link. Are cell-phones the new cigarette - an addictive pleasure that'll wind up shortening your life? I'm hoping that restaurants will soon have cell-free sections just like they have smoke-free areas. I know I'll sound like a curmudgeon, but it's an annoyance when someone across the room carries on a phone conversation at an amplitude ten decibels higher than were they talking to the person sitting across the table from them. I think I'd almost rather be assaulted by cigarette smoke.


Re: Endocrine Disruptors

A couple of weeks ago we did a post on some research involving the chemical BPA found in plastic bottles. The studies showed that BPA leaches out of the plastic when exposed to high temperatures and that it can interfere with the endocrine system of test animals. The implications for humans are, of course, important since these bottles are used to contain all sorts of liquids that people consume.

A reader who works for a company that makes these plastics has written in response to the post and her very well-informed thoughts are posted on our Feedback page.


The Three Worst

Yesterday we posted a piece on the ten best presidents in American history. Ari Kauffman at The American Thinker opines on who he thinks are the three worst. Hint: Two of them served since 1960.


Chauncey Obama

Bob Gorrell comments on the politics of saying nothing with Barackian panache:


More on Muggy's Demise

The assassination in Damascus of the mass murderer Imad Mughniyeh (even his name is ugly) continues to ramify. DEBKAfile reports on a number of developments including a theory being put forth in the West that the hit was really a charade:

An intriguing conspiracy theory emanating unexpectedly from Western sources was suggested by the veteran CNN correspondent Jim Clancy. In his view, Mughniyeh, the consummate master of deception, may still be alive. Others took the theory further and suggested his death may have been fabricated to provide Iran, Syria and Hizballah with a strong casus belli to attack Israel without further delay, and so repeat the Arabs' Yom Kippur success 35 years ago in catching Israel unawares.

Others say Mughniyeh was indeed killed and that whoever did it did more damage than has been heretofore reported:

Not only was Mughniyeh killed by the bomb planted in his car but also some of his bodyguards and senior Hizballah operatives. Syria's secret services have fallen down completely in guarding Iranian officials and officers resident or visiting their capital.

There's much more at the link.


Presidents' Day Ten Best

On this Presidents' Day we feature a Harris poll of Americans which produced a ranking of the top ten presidents in American history. The list has some surprises. Seven of the ten are understandable, I suppose, but John Kennedy at #4, and Bill Clinton at #6 are hard to justify. What did either man do to rate so high? Kennedy served for less than three years, pretty much punted on civil rights, got us into Vietnam, and betrayed the Cubans at the Bay of Pigs.

It's true that he got the Soviets to remove their missiles from Cuba, but only by removing ours from Turkey. In other words, the Soviets actually won the showdown over the "Cuban Missile Crisis". It's hard to think of any accomplishments JFK may have had to offset these liabilities unless one counts managing to carry on an affair with Marilyn Monroe as an achievement worthy of placing him among America's greatest presidents.

Bill Clinton's rank is equally hard to fathom. His only accomplishment as president was to surf along on the crest of an economic boom that was really the result of Reagan's tax policy. He did sign welfare reform, but this was a GOP initiative, not his. Meanwhile, his laxity toward world terrorism, his refusal to support our soldiers in Mogudishu, and his reluctance to enforce the 1991 cease-fire agreement with Saddam Hussein set the stage for 9/11. Clinton served two terms, but will be remembered primarily for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky and an administration that limped from one crisis of their own making to another, squandering the opportunity history offered him to achieve genuine greatness.

The third surprise is that George Bush is ranked #10. I'm surprised he made the list at all, given the popular perception of the man as an utter failure, but, as I've argued before on Viewpoint (Do a search for the phrase "50 million people" to find some of our previous posts), I think he deserves to be ranked even higher, certainly above Clinton and JFK. His administration has been filled with achievements of historical significance.

He has, for example, secured the liberation of 50 million people from oppression in Afghanistan and Iraq, induced several terrorist states to give up, or at least suspend, their plans to develop nuclear weapons, successfully (so far) prevented another terrorist attack on our soil, presided over an economic recovery in very difficult circumstances (inheriting a recession, 9/11, and several very costly natural disasters), and has appointed two extremely competent jurists to the Supreme Court.

He has also done more to relieve the suffering of the poor in Africa than any president in history and has done more to put minorities and women in positions of power than any president before him. He has accomplished all this despite constant, vicious calumnies from his political opponents without ever returning their fire in kind. He has shown far more grace, virtue and class than have the carping, vitriolic, ankle-biters who, out of sheer hatred, attack every move he has made.

Few presidents have accomplished even a fraction of what George Bush has achieved, especially in the face of such relentless and withering opposition, and surely his predecessor did not. I'm not a historian, but given what he has achieved, I believe he deserves to be ranked in the top three on the Harris list. I also believe that a couple of decades from now fair-minded historians who don't have an ideological axe to grind will put him there.