An interesting quiet, &c.


For many years, I heard that the Patriot Act was the worst thing in the world — a subversion of our rights, an assault on the Constitution, the end of democracy. But now, the act is extended by four years — and signed with a presidential autopen — and, basically, I don’t hear boo.

Isn’t that strange? Could it be that people — the loudest ones — didn’t like George W. Bush, rather than the Patriot Act?

Hang on, how long has Guantanamo been closed? I don’t hear about that much anymore. And where are all the anti-war protests concerning Iraq and Afghanistan? Where?

Well, if a liberal Democratic president was what it took for liberal Democrats to play ball . . .

I remember being at a dinner party on the Upper East Side in about 2005. My hostess said that Bush was taking away our rights. I said, “What do you mean?” She said, matter-of-factly, “Patriot Act” — as though nothing more needed to be said.

Maybe I should check in with her . . .

You know, I think this autopen was more controversial than the Patriot Act itself. Kind of an interesting turn.

In the conservative view, there are things the federal government should spend money on, and things it should not spend money on. In the liberal view, is there anything the government should not spend money on? Border enforcement, maybe?

Anyway, what applies to the federal government applies to governments at lower levels, too. A government has certain responsibilities; and other things are — gravy, or waste. Bill Buckley once muttered that people in Washington liked to spend money on “free false teeth or whatever.” What they should have been spending money on was — say, a big ol’ missile-defense program.

Okay, all this is leading up to something — namely this: “The Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to release tens of thousands of its prisoners to relieve overcrowding, saying that ‘needless suffering and death’ had resulted from putting too many inmates into facilities that cannot hold them in decent conditions.”

Maybe I’m simpleminded — and I know many readers will agree! — but it seems to me that the answer to prison overcrowding is not to release prisoners — unless they should be released anyway — but to build more prisons. I mean, government spends money on a million things that are dubious for government to spend money on. But one thing tax dollars ought to go to is prisons, right? Talk about a legitimate expenditure.

And, if the prisons are too crowded, spend a little less on free false teeth or whatever and build more frickin’ prisons.

That’s the simpleminded view (for which you can come to this space anytime).

When I expressed this view to my colleagues the other day, they said, “But California could not possibly afford the prison guards!”

A little news out of Margate, England: “A Christian doctor . . . has been threatened with an official warning from his professional body for discussing Jesus with a patient . . .” The article continues, “Richard Scott, a doctor for 28 years, is under investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) and faces disciplinary action after he suggested to a 24-year-old man that he might find solace in Christianity.”

What do you think the GMC should do with this heretic doctor? Burn him?

Reminds me of a favorite old song: “Everywhere I go, everywhere I go, my chillen, everywhere I go, somebody talkin’ ’bout Jesus.”

Here’s a news flash: “The U.N. nuclear agency says that a Syrian target bombed four years ago by Israel was very likely a nearly finished, covertly built nuclear reactor.”

You don’t say! Johnny on the Spot is the IAEA, winner of the 2005 Nobel peace prize. (Co-winner with its then-director general, the awful Mohamed ElBaradei, I should say.) You can’t put anything past the IAEA — except the Iranian nuclear program, and, before that, Saddam’s. “It’s correct to say that the IAEA was fooled by the Iraqis,” admitted Hans Blix.

The IAEA boasts of being “the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog”; a few years ago, somebody nicknamed it “the U.N.’s nuclear watch-puppy.” It wags its tail when Ahmadinejad pats it on the head.

You think if Syria had polished off Tel Aviv with a nuke, the IAEA would have weighed in with a report saying that Damascus might, someday, unless we were really vigilant, go nuclear?

Israel did the world a favor when it destroyed Saddam’s facility in 1981. Israel did the world another favor when it destroyed the Syrian facility in 2007. But don’t nobody thank Israel.

Who will rid the world of the mullahs’ program? Anybody? Must it fall on Israel’s slim, bookish shoulders again?


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