WHO'S TO PLAME?
Re: George Neumayr's Three Weeks of the Con Man:
Plamegate is beyond the pale of human comprehension. Isn't the CIA supposed to be above the petty political bickering that takes place in Washington, D.C.? The CIA's name is popping up way too much as of late in connection with Capitol Hill shenanigans. The public at large assumes that when a fellow American becomes a "spook" that all political affiliation is left at the front door of the CIA's headquarters at Langley, Virginia, and this political affiliation is replaced by the absolute protection of the country no matter what.
How can the CIA operate in an environment of anonymity when it has operatives running around, sending husbands on political missions in an attempt to discredit a sitting president insofar as the information is then provided by the mainstream media. Not to be outdone, Senator John Kerry blabs a CIA agent's name during a congressional hearing. The CIA is supposed to covertly or overtly influence the governments of our enemies and acquire intelligence about them, not influence the very government the CIA has pledged to protect.
Maybe the CIA should change its name from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Central Buffoon Agency to reflect the current climate.
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina
My compliments to Mr. Neumayr in his attempt to maintain a sense of decorum while opining on the antics a world class political hack and a media that has jettisoned all semblance of rationality. Let's begin with the observation that there would not have been a week-long media bloodlust if Rove himself had not released Cooper from his pledge of confidentiality. Not once have I heard any recognition of this fact by the MSM, except for Fred Barnes on Fox. Where are all the kudos from the MSM as to what a stand-up guy Rove is by keeping one of their own out of the slammer? (Or am I being a bit too Pollyanna-ish?) Why is a NYT reporter still in jail? What source has not released her from her pledge? I don't buy her nonsense that the release obtained by the feds is somewhat tainted and therefore invalid. Why no MSM demand that Miller give up her source, as they demanded from Novak?
The editors of the WSJ chastised their out-of-control colleagues in their failure to acknowledge that Rove was attempting to keep Cooper from making a bigger fool of himself by sidling up to the proven prevaricator Joe Wilson. Rove has found out that no good deed goes unpunished. Why he just didn't let Cooper twist in the wind is beyond me. Does any rational person doubt that the media is doing just that to Rove? As to his alleged illegality, Rove's email provides his exculpation. Do a simple side-by-side comparison of the requisite elements of the federal statute to Rove's words and the hysteria is over. Couple that with the revelation that it was the MEDIA that outed Plame, and what you end up with is a sense that the inmates are indeed running the asylum. Yet knowing all this, the MSM are intellectually and morally unable to control themselves. In an Orwellian demonstration of journalistic gymnastics, the story subtlety morphs day to day as the media make it up on the fly. Tim Russert is incapable of accurately repeating the President's words after just playing them for his audience and blithely plods along without missing a beat.
What we have been a witness to since Florida 2000, is more than herd mentality, "gotcha" journalism and just plain bias. It is more than reliving the heyday of Watergate. This is a media, as recently revealed by one of their own, that has morphed into its own political party. It is more interested in an agenda than traditional journalism. Once this is acknowledged, their machinations become clear.
-- A. DiPentima
I like this piece, and it's all on target which means we conservatives need to move on and select our next beachhead to secure. Let the MSM and their Move-on.org wannabes the Democratic Party stand all a flutter over this issue. Let them burn their news cycles and energies, the issue will not be settled till the special prosecutor files an indictment if any. In the mean time we could be moving the Social Security issue forward or prepping for the next Supreme Court selection.
And for the great majority of Americans that are not "into" the political, they must be wondering, "huh?" In the scale of things at the moment they are probably right.
-- John McGinnis
The entire odious mess of L'Affaire Pflame spotlights the corruption of our intelligence agencies. Some believe all they need is just a little "reform," a slight tinkering with their org charts, and all will be fine. One doesn't need a deep memory to recall some of the CIA's recent failures: The collapse of the Soviet Union (only months prior the CIA predicted the Soviet Union's economy would grow to compete even with America's by 1995); the failure to detect WMDs in Saddam's arsenal prior to Desert Storm; the failure to discover the atomic weapons programs of both India and Pakistan; the failure to discover the growth and depth of bin Laden's terror networks on a global scale; and of course the CIA failed to monitor the movement and of Saddam's WMDs before the 2003 invasion. Prior to 9/11 many people have speculated whether we had any agents in Iraq at all. And of course, there was 9/11 itself.
Yet, despite these failures the CIA has found the time and energy to insert itself vigorously into the 2004 election cycle. If what we are reading is true about Madame Pflame and her husband, the entire Niger episode was just an exercise in political manipulation. They both detested a sitting president, so they used the resources of her office to bring him down. If I am not mistaken, Madame Pflame was employed by the federal government at the time of her own "covert political mission" to Niger. If this isn't a felony, I don't know what is. Yes, there should be a Grand Jury, but its target shouldn't be Rove.
To those who live outside of the Beltway it appears that the CIA's only competence lies in the squandering of taxpayer money and political chicanery. I seriously doubt that even DCI Goss can clean up the mess.
BEATING IT INTO BRAZIL
Re: Doug Bandow's The Bad Boys From Brazil:
"The U.S. also should indicate that Brazil's behavior risks disqualifying it from joining any free trade system including America. The de facto theft of U.S. patents is inconsistent with open access to the American market."
Fine, but first there is the challenge of convincing the average Brazilian that free trade involving the U.S. is a good thing. The prevailing perception, propagated by the PT (Workers' Party, which Lula belongs to) is that free trade with the U.S. is simply a predatory opportunity for the U.S., with no benefit for Brazilians. PT's own propaganda states that if NAFTA were extended to include Brazil, the Brazilian market would be "Flooded with cheap U.S. products, driving Brazilian companies out of business and putting millions of Brazilians out of work!" Such cheap U.S. products include...um, I don't know, they don't list a single example, and after three years of living there, I couldn't think of any myself. Talk about "boob bait for bubbas!" I did notice, and Walter Williams has pointed this out, that computer products cost at least double, in U.S. dollars, what they cost in the U.S. There is a 100% tax levied on computer equipment and other machinery imported to Brazil; but since this equipment is rarely in competition with any Brazilian-made products (cars would be an exception), the tax serves no purpose but to fatten government coffers; and as Williams points out, it amounts to government officials conspiring to make Brazilian citizens poorer.
For another example of "boob bait for bubbas," consider the rumor cooked up and passed around the Internet and which even made it into a major newspaper before being retracted, that the U.S. has taken over the Amazon rain forest from those "irresponsable" (sic) Brazilians who couldn't be trusted with its custody. This deliberately fabricated, widely distributed urban legend makes use of a page that is supposedly taken from a textbook widely used in American middle schools.
The above link is from an urban-legends site, sort of a Brazilian Snopes.com. It's obvious that this "textbook page" was not written by a native English speaker, let alone by a "textbook author" whose name does not appear on Amazon.com or other bookseller sites. But you wouldn't believe the trouble I had in convincing many Brazilians, even after printing out and showing them the debunking in Portuguese, that this is nonsense. How are we supposed to develop good relations with a population so predisposed to believe this kind of laughable codswallop about our country?
Brazil has a population of nearly 180 million, giving it a political clout that other Latin American countries do not have, and whose current leader idolizes Fidel Castro. The overall perception of the United States and its foreign and economic policies is one of suspicion driven by the day-to-day disinformation churned out by the Brazilian media: their press hates Bush as much as ours does, only there is no opposing voice, except for the yeomanly work done by Olavo de Carvalho and friends. Americans who are rightly concerned about the state of political affairs in Brazil and its effect upon the U.S. could do worse than to visit and support Midia Sem Mascara's English site -- it would be a start, at least.
-- Ted Angell
THE INEVITABILITY OF GRIEF
Re: Daniel Allott's Post-Abortion Depression:
Why the need for money and studies? It's a no-brainer. I was in Romania the summer after the wall came down with a Christian ministry. One of my acquaintances, Christina, was in a ministry that developed on its own from a deep need -- helping the women who were grieving over their abortions. Sooner or later, be it hours, days or years, women WILL grieve.
As a Christian I have seen many of these kinds of ministries. Sadly, there is a growing need. It is my belief that every girl/woman who now proudly sports her "I had an abortion" t-shirt WILL realize, grieve, WILL regret.
I guess studies and bills are needed to give us something to count and measure on paper, but they are not needed for proof. The act of abortion and its cost are not equivalent to a broken leg or a wrecked car or a divorce. Abortion is a life and death matter and no one can avoid its impact. My guess is that there are as many men who have seeds of guilt, grief, and regret within them over their part that sooner or later have to be dealt with. Once that baby's gone, you can't get it back and most people will know no greater heartbreak in their lives than that.
-- Sue Ellen Hirtle
SERMONIZING THE SOCIALISTS
Re: Mark Tooley's Preacher's of Perpetual Poverty:
The article about the "religious" leaders who are demanding money to "end poverty" brought out what the problem is with organized religion today, and that is the fact it is not Christian or even religious. Most of these "clerics" are nothing more than con men/women who perpetrate the notion that poverty can be cured by massive amounts of money given to people. Of course, their groups would administer the funds, thus ending any poverty they themselves might be enduring. Maybe if they held to the Biblical concept of teaching men to fish and not just giving them a handout, or maybe seeking to stabilize the governments of those various areas, along with teaching them real Biblical Truths, then they will be taking steps in the right direction to end their poverty. Add decent educational opportunities to the mix and that will be a step further in the right direction. Of course, poverty will always be with us as long as there are lazy people, corrupt officials, unstable economic systems, and other factors, but it would be better to address those areas than throw away money, which is what will be basically the case if these "clerics" get their way. It's about time these "religious" leaders started paying more attention to their own faith concepts, for that is where the real poverty is.
-- Pete Chagnon
Mr. Tooley enunciates some very good points in his article that are in dire need of bringing to the fore. I am constantly amazed by Christian church leaders that teach a strict brand of socialism. Mr. Tooley notes that the epistle issued by these leaders is largely free from the Marxist pronouncements that were so prolific in like documents in the past. Fine, the Marxism has been removed in favor of straight line, dedicated socialism.
They are for government-to-government aid. They barely acknowledge the billions of dollars in private aid each year. Of course government-to-government wealth transfer is deemed "holy" by these so called religious leaders who are adamantly determined to completely ignore the indications that the truly poor see exceedingly few pennies of this aid. The dollars are eaten up by the discounts and "grease" that go into the Swiss bank accounts of greedy, corrupt rulers and bureaucrats.
Mr. Tooley notes the comment by Jesus that "the poor are always with us." I would also be note the Biblical admonition to "teach a man to fish" instead of simply handing him a fish, so that he may feed his family in the future. Ah, but if all the world's poor were truly taught to provide (fish) for themselves, then we would have no need for these Socialist churchmen, and they would have to actually get "real" jobs to sustain themselves, instead of scamming us for ever larger handouts so they can live in the style to which they wish to become accustomed.
Lest anyone think otherwise, I will be more than delighted to aid the truly poor with my treasure and my skills. I will, however, demand that the poor take part in an honest effort by themselves to improve their lot ongoing into the future, instead of simply depending on the charity of others for eternity. I will also demand that any of my treasure that is forthcoming not find its way into the pockets of potentates and bureaucrats. I have always maintained these standards in regards to my charitable giving and shall continue ad infinitum.
-- Ken Shreve
The Scriptures account for 4 reasons for poverty: 1) Personal Sin; 2) Injustice; 3) "Natural" Disasters; 4) Chosen Poverty for the sake of the Gospel. The worst thing that governments do is try to "eradicate" poverty based on personal sin. We've seen 40 years of failed welfare policy in our own country based on the premise that governments can help people by giving them money. Governments are best at stepping in after disasters -- Joseph rose to power helping Pharaoh deal with famine, and the world responded very well to the tsunami this last year. The purpose of government is to maintain justice and protect the poor from corruption. Shifting large amounts of money from free governments to corrupt governments will not bring about the justice that poor people need. Market reforms and freedom bring those things.
We would do best for the international poor if we "forgave" debt to those countries that reform, while at the same time sending money to those organizations that actually help the poor at a grassroots level.
-- Jim Whittle
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