The Four Corners

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Gary Hart and his four HOARSEmen of the apocalypse: I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of listening ex-Sen. Gary Hart (D-Co.) whine about the impending doom from Terrorism. That's Sec. Ridge's job-- to scare us into ignoring the economy and vote Bush, because he has made us less safe since 9/11

Now I know he is pretending that he is not going to run for president, but then why has he made another stops to New Hampshire yesterday? In fact, until recently you could type in and it would take to his "news" site were he made speeches of self-importance and I-told-you-so.

Basing your whole campaign on a pre-9/11 security warning report is like basing your whole campaign on legislation for a Department of Peace, it's just a joke.

I guess Hart wants to beat out Gen. Clark for that all important tenth, yes that's right tenth, chair in a room filled with Democrats announcing that they think they can beat George W. Bush in 2004. If so, he is trying to join the this-is-the-most embarrassing-thing-I-have-done-yet club of Kucinich, Mosley Braun, and Sharpton.

The captain of the USS Monkey Business must have also forgot that Gore was partially sunk by Clinton's sleazy extra-curricular activities and never won office after admitting to a sex scandal.

Also, just because two students at Oxford bump into you jogging and ask you to run for president, it doesn't mean you have to oblige them. Let's look at the results (a good indicator of grassroots/liberal support):

Dean: 16,034
Kerry: 888
Hart: 825
Edwards: 568
Bush: 247
Kucinich: 132
Gephardt: 106
Clark: 105
Lieberman: 49
Nader: 20
Sharpton: 19
Moseley-Braun: 13
Graham: 11

Editors note: Hart and Clark are bolded because they are the only ones on the list that hasn't declared yet (Bush is just a formality). Clark's meetup is denoted as 2004 while Hart's does not.

What does this mean? Well for starters, there are 112 delusional people out there (hopefully there is some serious overlap). It also shows that there is a lot online Buzz for Dean and Hart, since they are the most student-centric of the campaigns. It also shows that outsider candidates are faring well (except for never-had-a-chancers M-B Sharpton and Nader). Also, the fact that some one who has never run for a single elective office is one person shy of ex-minority leader Dick Gephardt is pretty impressive (Clark, if you didn't get the hint).

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

As much as I enjoy reading Maureen Dowd's column, I can't say that I often agree with her. But in today's article, she has a point.

While the talk show hosts and I were comparing Baghdad to Los Angeles during the Rodney King Riots and Lakers championship runs, Circuit City is not the only thing missing its prized possessions.

Iraqi museums, especially those containing artifacts from a 7,000-year-old civilization (whose culture can boast the first law code, early writing, plant domestication, and most importantly, the first beer recipe) were shamelessly looted. Despite warnings and pleas from archeologists, Bush's military leaders stood by idly.

Rumsfeld said it wasn't a problem when Iraqis were stealing hospital beds and supplies, or books from the national library, or these artifacts, saying, "We've seen looting in this country ... We've seen riots at soccer games at various countries around the world [did I mention that Saddam's son Uday castrated sports teams that failed to win?] ... To the extent it happens in a war zone, it's difficult to stop."

True, but it's a lot easier if you have enough troops to begin with. If Rumsfeld and Co are really truly interested in rebuilding Iraq into a successful democratic state, then they should realize that tourists come to see Hammaribi's code and Ziggurats, not oil wells.

At least Bush has enough sense to ask the UN to drop sanctions on Iraq. Now that Saddam is no longer in control, there is no need to punish Iraqis any more.

So he reasons, he might as well continue on to Syria, which Slate's Fred Kaplan says will be even easier than routing Iraq (2 weeks?).

Meanwhile, Colin Powell is pretending he still has power within the administration, saying that the US doesn't plan on invading Syria any time soon. That's for the fall of 2004, stupid.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

If I were running for President... With a few '04 Democrats attempting to move right a bit on the gun issue, The Hotline asked someone close to the NRA to provide us the 4-5 questions the group would like to see the '04 Dems answer in order before evaluating them. Lets see how each of our Four Corners would answer if they were currying for the NRA's favor (or not).

  • Does the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantee the right of individual Americans to own and use firearms for any lawful purpose?

  • Do you support federal legislation barring civil liability against firearms manufacturers for the criminal misuse of their lawful products?

  • Do you favor extending or expanding the "Clinton gun ban" (included in the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1994) which sunsets on September 13, 2004?

  • Do you support the repeal of the gun ban in the District of Columbia thus restoring the right to self-defense of DC residents?

  • Do you favor the retention of records for any length of time on law-abiding gun purchasers who clear the National Instant Check System?

I will start off: 1). While the 2nd amendment really only guarantees the right to form a militia if there are no standing armies to defend the U.S. (which there are), it has been widely interpreted as the right to bear arms and use them in self-defense etc. Since this is legal precedent, I agree. But as for "any lawful purpose," I would say, I think I should be illegal for anyone with a history of abuse, even if they haven't been arrested, should not get a gun. There should be gun-free zones, like houses of worship, government buildings (including schools), and anywhere private institutions deem necessary.

2). While I don't think gun manufacturers should be sued for crimes committed by criminals, they should be held accountable for making dangerous products if they malfunction or if they are knowingly sold to criminals. The current House legislation doesn't provide for these caveats.

3). The OCCA '94 should be extended, and if newer weapons are available that would in the spirit of the law but are not banned (like say a new type of fully/semi-assault rifle) they also should be included. By the way, George W. Bush agrees with me on this one.

4). If the people of DC really want to have a gun, they have many options: go to Virginia, elect pro-gun city Councilmembers/Mayors, ask the Congress to supersede the city's ruling, or pass a ballot initiative to that effect. Since there is no clamoring for such gun sales, I imagine those who really want them for poor AND good uses already can get their hands on them. And I really don't think Chief Ramsey's Police are that incompetent.

5). No. If that gun is sold or stolen however, it should be registered as such and the new "owner" should also have a background check, ideally. Riddle me this, Riddle me that: Why are there more regulations around teddy bears than firearms?

You got next.

Monday, April 14, 2003

A funny thing happened on the way to Tikrit: In the middle of the "coalition's" routing march to the Ba'thist center of support, good and bad things happened. First, the good news.

Yesterday, all seven of the known U.S. POWs were found in Samarra, about 110 miles north of Baghdad, according to the Times "by marines who had moved into the town as part of the assault that began today on the city of Tikrit."

It sounds like they are in decent enough physical condition that they could come home fairly soon, thank goodness. The prisoners included five Army soldiers missing since their convoy was ambushed near the central Iraqi city of Nasiriya on March 23. The ambush came as a result of a wrong turn on Iraqi roads. Now I will have a good excuse to not ask for directions. (The two others, for those of you who can count, were the pilots of an Apache helicopter shot down during an assault on Republican Guard units near Karbala on March 24.)

Unfortunately, in the wake of a budding humanitarian crisis in Iraq, it seems Bush's supporters can't seem to put away their Bible before lending a hand.

According to the Miami Harald, Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston has kept thousands of filthy soldiers (and maybe Iraqis too soon) from bathing for weeks unless they let the chaplain baptize them. ''They do appear physically and spiritually cleansed,'' Llano said.

Another Southern Baptist evangelist, the Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of Billy, is planning on sending representatives of the charity he runs to Iraq as soon as possible. His primary purpose is humanitarian aid-- providing food and shelter.

But for a guy who called Islam a "very evil and wicked religion," he can't help but try to save some souls. He is quoted in Slate as admitting that, "I believe as we work, God will always give us opportunities to tell others about his Son. … We are there to reach out to love them and to save them, and as a Christian, I do this in the name of Jesus Christ."

Great. The absolute last thing this successful war effort needs is a disastrous reconstruction effort in which missionary work is disguised as humanitarian aid. I would hope that a good Christian could help those in need without trying to redeem their souls at the same time. Or at least some one from the Bush administration should tell them not to.

After all Franklin, gave the invocation at Bush's inauguration, and evangelical Christians represent the core base of Bush's re-election support. I think this group has, as Bush would put it, "seen his heart" and known that his reasons for keeping Franklin and his followers from setting foot in Iraq were for the best.

For those who ask, What Would Jesus Do? I finally have an answer (thanks to Slate and Matthew 10:5): "These twelve [disciples] Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans." Why? Well, because their message would not be welcomed. As Slate's Steven Waldman explained: "There would be a time for that, he [Jesus] seemed to be saying-- but not now."