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Tuesday, May 06, 2003  

Here and there

•Nick and Northwest naivete

Nicholas Kristof is just as peeved as William Raspberry was a couple weeks ago over the same thing: missing weapons of mass destruction. He wants them and he wants them now.

Let's fervently hope that tomorrow we find an Iraqi superdome filled with 500 tons of mustard gas and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 29,984 prohibited munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, several dozen Scud missiles, gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, 18 mobile biological warfare factories, long-range unmanned aerial vehicles to dispense anthrax, and proof of close ties with Al Qaeda. Those are the things that President Bush or his aides suggested Iraq might have, and I don't want to believe that top administration officials tried to win support for the war with a campaign of wholesale deceit.

Kristof is just as annoyed at the people who say lying by people in very high places doesn't matter.

When I raised the Mystery of the Missing W.M.D. recently, hawks fired barrages of reproachful e-mail at me. The gist was: "You *&#*! Who cares if we never find weapons of mass destruction, because we've liberated the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant."

But it does matter, enormously, for American credibility. After all, as Ari Fleischer said on April 10 about W.M.D.: "That is what this war was about."

Such naivete. It must be all that rural Oregon air Kristof inhaled as youngster. I never believed the Iraqis had WMD in significant quantities. In fact, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, I suspect the United States is the only country that stoked. There is likely some variation in opinion among the people on my blogroll, but I wager John Cole, my token conservative, is the only who bought the administration's big fish tale, hook, line and sinker.

After providing examples of the Bush adminstration's chicanery, Kristof reaches a conclusion:

The C.I.A. was terribly damaged when William Casey, its director in the Reagan era, manipulated intelligence to exaggerate the Soviet threat in Central America to whip up support for Ronald Reagan's policies. Now something is again rotten in the state of Spookdom.  

That was clear before the war. The question is: What do we do about it? 

•A hero in the making?

The Freepers will love this! A Vermont cop decided to play enforcer of what opinions schoolchildren can express in class projects.

BARRE, Vt. -- A uniformed police officer persuaded a custodian to open a school in the middle of the night so he could photograph class projects he found objectionable as an American and as a military veteran.

The projects that Barre Town Police Officer John Mott photographed included a poster of President Bush with duct tape over his mouth and a large papier-mache combat boot with the American flag stuffed inside stepping on a doll.

Mott entered the building after hours and without permission. When challenged, he said he was on break at the time. Sadly, this the kind of jingoistic behavior too many people mistake for patriotism. Eager to agree with his political views, they will overlook the fact that he at the very least misrepresented himself to gain entry to the classroom and may have broken the law despite his duty to enforce it. Furthermore, the police have no role in deciding what constitutes proper schoolwork.

Mott has at least temporarily refused orders from Barre Town Police Chief Michael Stevens and Town Manager Carl Rogers to supply school officials with copies of the photographs.

"I'm going to speak to an attorney first," he said.

David Allen a blogger at Thoughtcrimes, does not admire the resourcefulness and determination of Officer Mott.

llegal entry under color of authority. This "policeman" should be fired immediately, then run out of town on a rail.

Sorry to tell you this, David, but if Free Republic and talk radio get hold of this story Mott will be made into a 'hero.'

•ANC leader Sisulu has died

One of the real heroes of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement has died.

Walter Sisulu, one of Nelson Mandela's earliest political mentors and his closest collaborators for half a century in the campaign against South Africa's racist political order, died yesterday in Johannesburg. He was 90.

Mr. Sisulu's political career was less celebrated than Mr. Mandela's but not much less remarkable. Alongside Mr. Mandela he rejuvenated and led the African National Congress, twice stood trial on capital charges for his activities, served 26 years in prison and still emerged deeply devoted to reconciliation.

As a mixed-race person, Sisulu could have chosen to identify with the Afrikaners and accept the somewhat better treatment they allocated Coloureds in comparison to blacks. Instead, he chose to become a leader in the struggle for equal rights for all South Africans.

Mr. Mandela often credited Mr. Sisulu with being the voice of reason to his own sometimes impetuous man of action.

"He never lost his head in a crisis," Mr. Mandela wrote of his comrade in his autobiography, published in 1994. "He was often silent when others were shouting."

I am glad Mr. Sisulu was able to spend the last decade of his life outside prison walls. However, I wish he had never had to spend any of it, including the contiguous 26 years, deprived of his freedom by immoral and merciless people.

•St. Isidore to the rescue

Fresh from beatifying the monk who may have invented cappuccino, the Pope is said to be about to name a patron saint of the Internet.

The Vatican is apparently ready to name Saint Isidore of Seville as patron saint of the internet. The Pope alone may name a patron saint, but St Isidore is receiving stiff opposition from Archangel Gabriel and Saint Alfonso Maa de Liguori, an 18th century poet.

Well, my spam problem can use any help available. 'Mail' is supposed to be the best spam fighter for the Mac according to MacWorld, but a heck of a lot of mine is still getting through.

But, why stop with a patron saint of the Internet? Bloggers could use one, too. Suggestions should be sent to Jim Capazzola.

4:03 AM