I will echo what Andy McCarthy and others have been saying on this site: The Obama administration’s decision to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 plotters a civilian trial in New York is both alarming and depressing. We sometimes speak of “the 9/10 mentality”: and this is a perfect expression of that mentality. George W. Bush said he wished to banish the days of treating Islamofascist terrorism as a law-enforcement problem; John Kerry campaigned in 2004 signaling a desire to return to those days; he was defeated; but the next Democratic nominee was elected — and here we go.
I quickly thought of something that Judge Michael Mukasey told me in an interview last summer. He was Bush’s last attorney general, as you remember. Years before that, he was a federal judge in New York — and he handled some of the early terror trials. In our interview, I asked him about the role of law enforcement in the War on Terror (as we used to call it). And he mentioned one of those early terror trials, though not one he was presiding over. He said, “I was walking back from lunch with one of my colleagues, the late John Sprizzo. And there were all of these marshals with their long arms, vests, and so on. And Sprizzo says, ‘What the hell are we doing here? This isn’t a law-enforcement problem, this is a military problem.’ . . . I thought this was a stunning insight.”
‐George W. Bush used to mock mercilessly the idea of taking Islamofascists to court. He’d say things like, “They didn’t know what they were getting into, those terrorists. They probably thought we’d take ’em to court!” On one occasion, he said, “See, they thought we’d probably just file a lawsuit or two!”
Well, I guess that’s what Americans do: file lawsuits. Long ago, it passed baseball as the national pastime.
‐On the Corner a few days ago, Jack Pitney had a zesty and zinging post about one of President Obama’s typically self-aggrandizing statements: “As America’s first Pacific president, I promise you that this Pacific nation will strengthen and sustain our leadership in this vitally important part of the world.” Pitney spoke of Nixon (born in California in 1913) and quite a few other presidents.
This reminded me of Bill Clinton’s laughable claim that he was the first president to know anything about agriculture. No wonder Jimmy Carter has such fondness for him. And what would Thomas Jefferson say?
‐It was a bit confusing when the position of national intelligence director was established. Who was in charge? some of us wondered. Was the NID our intelligence chief? Was the DCI (director of Central Intelligence) now small potatoes? I thought of this when seeing this headline: “CIA said to have won turf war against intel chief.” Amusing headline, in a way. And the article began, “The CIA has won a turf battle over which government agency controls U.S. intelligence operations around the world.”
Anyway, interesting to some of us . . .
‐This is too. A reader sent me a column from the Detroit News by Manny Lopez, who is the paper’s auto editor. It seems that two Democrats in the Michigan state legislature have “introduced a bill that would mandate environmental activism into the curriculum”: the curriculum of driving schools. Lopez explains:
“Students learning to drive would be forced to spend some of their time in class learning about ‘the importance of carpooling and using public transportation,’ as well as ‘identifying the attributes of a fuel-efficient vehicle,’ and ‘recycling vehicle parts and fluids,’ among other secondary lessons that have nothing to do with captaining a two-ton machine down the freeway.”
More Lopez (and buckle your seatbelt):
“. . . though the state oversees driver’s education curriculum, elected officials have no place specifying exactly what should be taught, particularly so-called environmental mandates that have nothing to do with driving. Additionally, since these courses aren’t in the schools and parents have to pay for them out of their own pockets, they shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s religion — and trust me, environmental activism is a religion.”
How you like them apples?
“If [legislators] really want to make the roads safer for student drivers and the rest of us, they should allocate their time and our resources to ensuring that the potholes on the road get fixed the first time instead of cracking open every year and forcing us to dodge them like we do student drivers.”
I imagine you’re with me in appreciating the guy’s spirit.
‐Was reading a story about the Republican National Committee and its health-insurance plan, here. What struck me was the name of the RNC spokeswoman: Gail Gitcho. The press’s job is gotcha, I guess. And the Republican spokeswoman is Gitcho. Kind of poetic, or something.
‐I was momentarily confused by the headline over this article: “Bunnies from Mandela’s former prison feed the poor.” I guess I was thinking of Hef’s mansion or something. I got straight when I focused on the text: “An official from the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned says rabbits killed to control an infestation will be fed to the poor.” Ah.
‐Something really sweet happened at Camelback High in Phoenix. And it was a bit of a windfall for the library, too. As this article tells us, “a former student at the school returned two overdue books checked out 51 years ago along with a $1,000 money order to cover the fines.” That money order was “to cover fines of 2 cents per day for each book. That would total about $745.” The conscience-driven alum said the extra money was added in case the rates had changed.
You know, I might have a liberry book or two my own bad self. I’d better get moving, as the fines are mounting . . .
‐I had a missive from Lakeland, Fla. A bumper sticker was seen: “Please don’t tell Obama what comes after a trillion!” Would that be a zillion?
‐I won’t give you a concert review, but I’ll give you a little social news, out of Carnegie Hall: Covered a Berlin Philharmonic concert the other night — and in the audience was Dr. Ruth Westheimer, looking tiny and spry, as usual. Sitting nearby were former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his wife. Spitzer looks younger and handsomer in person; his wife, Silda, is an absolute knockout.
By the way, did you know that Dr. Ruth was in the Haganah? (The Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in Palestine, in the years leading up to the establishment of modern Israel.)
‐A word about spelling — and an alternative spelling. I was at Columbia University the other day and gazed up at the Butler Library. The names on the façade are Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, and Vergil. Yes, Vergil, not Virgil.
Perfectly acceptable. But I was thinking: A typo in a newspaper or magazine is one thing; but how would you like a misspelling carved in stone?
‐Move a little bit upstate: I was in Troy, N.Y., and its welcome sign informs you that Troy is the home of Uncle Sam. It is, too: You could look it up.
‐Many of us have always been a little bit amused by that word “upstate.” New York is a very big state. But some of us use “upstate” to mean even two feet out of the City. Newburgh, Niagara Falls — what’s the difference?
‐I wonder what you think of a bank that builds a concert hall — they did so in Troy. Have a little history from the relevant website: “Founded in 1823, The Troy Savings Bank operated from smaller banking offices until, in 1870, the Board of Trustees of the Bank decided to move its offices to a new location one block away. To demonstrate the Bank’s appreciation for the many years of patronage by the local citizens, the plans for the new building included a music hall on the upper floor.”
What do you think of an America in which a bank could think and do such a thing? Interesting.
‐The train ride from Albany to Manhattan hugs the Hudson River, and what a glorious ride that is. Miles and miles of autumnal splendor, at least last week. If this ride were in Europe, we would ooh and ah, and say it was a must-do.
‐And I’ll give you a little anecdote — a cute-kid comment, or rather, a comment to a cute kid. Before the train ride started, I heard a mother say to her toddler — responding to something — “No, this isn’t a hand-holding situation. It will be like riding in a car.” The child might have anticipated something . . . a little scary.
‐In a recent column, I remarked on the WWF — either the World Wildlife Fund or the World Wrestling Federation. A reader wrote, “Thought you would get a kick out of this T-shirt, which combines the organizations” — showing two panda bears grappling.
‐Finally, a friend sent me a picture of a marquee in Southport, N.C. It says, Free Nobel Peace Prize with an Order of Shrimp Tacos. (See it here.) My friend said, “Is that not the most perfect sign ever?” Yes.
‐Oh, one more thing: Thank you for giving, if you can, to National Review Online. (Here.) We are webathoning. Thanks a ton!