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Crocodile tears


Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll has issued an "apology" for crashing a Marine's funeral and trying to use it, in Michael Moore fashion, as a club with which to beat the Bush administration.

According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Knoll yesterday wrote to Amy Goodrich, widow of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, saying she was "incredibly upset" after learning through press reports that the Goodrich family was offended by her actions.

"I wanted to assure you once again that my intention was not to add to what must be a tremendously heartbreaking, difficult period," Knoll wrote. "I have attended dozens of funerals to offer my sympathy and condolences to the families of soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice."

Gov. Ed Rendell, during appearances in Pittsburgh yesterday and throughout the weekend, came to Knoll's aid, saying he has confidence in her ability to perform her job.

Knoll said she offered a business card to a Goodrich family member "as a sign of my willingness to help the family through this difficult time in any way I can. To do anything that was deemed insensitive was completely counter to my intent."

Knoll said that Sgt. Goodrich's military service "was beyond the call of duty. If my regard for his family's grief was seen another way, it is thoroughly regrettable. The fact that you have been offended deserves and receives my most profound apology."

The letter was released by Knoll's office in Harrisburg. She was said to be away from the Capitol and not available for comment.

The Post-Gazette, meanwhile, suspects that the family's outrage at Knoll's intrusion on their grief must have some "political motive." To wit:

Rhonda Goodrich said she had no political motive in raising concerns about Democrat Knoll's appearance and statements at the funeral.

Goodrich said she's a registered Republican but added, "If [Republican U.S. Sen.] Rick Santorum or President Bush had showed up, I would be all over them, too."

Goodrich, who lives in Indiana, Pa., was part of a protest in October about an appearance by liberal, anti-Bush filmmaker Michael Moore at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

She said the program should have included a conservative spokesman to offset Moore, who had just released a film harshly critical of Bush.

"I wanted balance in the IUP program," Goodrich said, but strongly denied she had raised complaints about Knoll for political reasons.

Does the P-G really believe that only "politics" would cause a family to be upset by the intrusion of an uninvited guest?

At my mom's funeral last April, I was upset by a number of well-wishers who filed by to pay their respects but who had all but abandoned her in the five years after my father died.

Was my anger at them politically motivated? I don't think you could reasonably call it that.

But I do think it's natural to feel ripped off by people who make a show of paying repect to someone in death whom they didn't honor in life.

Staff Sgt. Goodrich believed in the cause for which he gave his life. Ms. Knoll and "her government" plainly didn't share that belief.

To be outraged by that hypocrisy isn't political. It's human.

In Rhonda Goodrich's own words:

I am repulsed Knoll considers a Marine funeral a "function." I am also amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign. Knoll also finds a need to let grieving family members know our government is against the war during this time. I find Knoll obviously has no compassion for this country or its people or its brave servicemen and their families.

For the media to reduce Ms. Goodrich's anger to "politics" is to perform a kind of moral jiu-jitsu by which military people and their families are still to blame for their support of the war.

It's Vietnam redux—but with the liberal fig leaf that "we support our warriors but not the war they're being asked to fight."

Which is to say that the left still spits on our soldiers (and their loved ones).

But only metaphorically—and from a politically correct distance.

UPDATE: Jack Kelly, the P-G's national security correspondent, has posted some thoughtful observations on the Knoll debacle here and  here.

It's too bad his own newspaper didn't see fit to include them.

Posted by Rodger on July 27, 2005 at 08:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Whose government is it, anyway?


According to this report in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (hardly a tool of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy), Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor used the funeral of a young Marine as a soapbox to attack the Bush administration over the war in Iraq:

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war.

Rhonda Goodrich of Indiana, Pa., said yesterday that a funeral was held Tuesday at a church in Carnegie for her brother-in-law, Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, 32.

She said he "died bravely and courageously in Iraq on July 10, serving his country."

In a phone interview, Goodrich said the funeral service was packed with people "who wanted to tell his family how Joe had impacted their lives."

Then, suddenly, "one uninvited guest made an appearance, Catherine Baker Knoll."

She sat down next to a Goodrich family member and, during the distribution of communion, said, "Who are you?" Then she handed the family member one of her business cards, which Goodrich said she still has.

"Knoll felt this was an appropriate time to campaign and impose her will on us," Goodrich said. "I am amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign."

Goodrich said she is positive that Knoll was not invited to the funeral, which was jammed with Marines in dress uniform and police officers, because the fallen Marine had been a policeman in McKeesport and Indiana County.

"Our family deserves an apology," Rhonda Goodrich said. "Here you have a soldier who was killed—dying for his country—in a church full of grieving family members and she shows up uninvited. It made a mockery of Joey's death."

What really upset the family, Goodrich said, is that Knoll said, 'I want you to know our government is against this war,' " Goodrich said.

She said she is going to seek an answer from Gov. Ed Rendell's administration if it opposes the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Our government" is against the war? Whose government is Ms. Knoll talking about? Certainly not the government of the people of the United States—who, according to this poll, still believe the Iraq war is part of the price we must pay to keep America safe from terror.

I propose that we all start demanding answers from the Rendell administration—and an apology from Lieutenant Governor Knoll.

Here's a link to email the Governor; here's one for Ms. Knoll. (Please be polite.)

Let's see what they have to say for themselves.

UPDATE: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell plans to deliver an apology to the family of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich:

Written apologies will be sent to a fallen Marine's relatives angered by Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll's uninvited appearance at the soldier's funeral and her criticism of the war in Iraq, Gov. Ed Rendell said Sunday.Rendell said he will send a personal letter to the family of the late Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, of Westwood, and will ask Knoll to do the same. Goodrich, 32, a police officer and infantry unit leader, died July 10 in a mortar attack in Hit, Iraq.

Rendell said he hadn't spoken with Knoll about the incident, but was disturbed by the family's charge that she made a political statement against the war.

"It's not the business of state government to support the war, but our state supports the men and women who are fighting this war," Rendell said during an appearance in Mt. Washington.

In my view, Rendell's "apology" still falls short of the mark. It's not the business of state government to support the war, only the men and women who are fighting it? But aren't those same men and women supporting the war at the peril of their own lives? How can you support one without the other, Governor?

Meanwhile, there's still no apology of any sort from the Lieutenant Governor or her office.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Rodger on July 25, 2005 at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


A living document


With Chief Justice Renquist back in the hospital, my friend John Robertson (at FreeRepublic.com) has drafted a prospective announcement for President Bush:

Before I announce the distinguished nominees I am recommending for the United States Supreme Court, I want to say something. When Justice O’Conner resigned, it was like a switch was thrown: Endless voices cut loose, with loud commentary and warnings of what would happen if I sent up the “wrong person” for our highest court. Voices from the press—voices from all across the political spectrum. You’d better do this, you’d better not do that. I was warned about appointing an “extremist”—in the most extreme terms. To coin a phrase: One citizen’s extremist is another citizen’s “centrist.” But all the folks behind all those voices were really saying the same thing: Listen to me, and nobody else.

But I did listen, to everybody. I got calls from political and religious and civic and business leaders, and I listened hard and close. I met with people face to face—including distinguished senators from both parties—and I weighed and measured every word they spoke. It’s good to know what you know, but it’s good to know what other people want you to know. Sometimes they come together; we call that a meeting of the minds. Sometimes they don’t; we call that unfortunate, and I hope we part friends. If we do, then next time out, we just might have that meeting of the minds we tried for last time.

When Justice Rehnquist resigned, it was like a damn broke: A flood of voices washed over all of us. “Control of the court” was the prevailing theme. Who would “control” the Supreme Court? This country would have to live with these choices for a generation or more—so nominees that the “majority” would agree on must be named. A lot’s been said, in fear or in anger, or with threat, but I need to say, I don’t believe anybody can or should—or should ever try to—“control” the Supreme Court. It’s too big for that—too important. It wasn’t created to be “controlled.”

A lot of voices, but it still basically comes down to two sides. Great war chests have been raised on both of those sides, to fight what has been pre-declared as an “epic battle.” It doesn’t have to be epic—it doesn’t even have to be a battle. There don’t have to be two sides, unless you set out to make them. The way I see it, there’s only one side, and I hope and pray that everyone listening to this—or reading these words later—will at least consider the “side” I’m talking about here, which is the side of the Constitution of the United States.

The process for picking, and approving or rejecting, Supreme Court justices, is outlined in our Constitution. It’s fairly straightforward. But our great and hallowed Constitution itself has very much been subject to debate. And all the debates about it are subject to one big debate that’s been going on for a while. Some people say it should be a “living document,” that must be newly interpreted, depending on the times we’re living in, while others say it must never be altered, and must strictly be adhered to.

Here’s my belief. If by “living document” you mean one that is “subject to change” and “open to re-interpretation,” depending on prevailing thought, or current trends, or political winds, I disagree. But if by “living document” you mean that our Constitution is one of the most brilliant—maybe the most brilliant—documents of government ever written; that its genius has inspired countries all over the world to form governments based on ours; that the God-given rights and freedoms it guarantees every one of us not only allow us to have this debate about it but to protect us while we’re having it, then I agree completely. Our great Constitution is every bit as alive in this very moment that we speak about it as it was when the Founders created it at the start of our country. Everything we are as Americans comes from it. Our rights. Our strength. Our prosperity. Most of all our freedoms. None of us should want to risk any of that by bending or twisting parts of it at convenient times. If we do that too many times, we might not recognize it one day. And that is the day when we might not recognize ourselves as Americans. I don’t ever want to see that day, which is why I have chosen nominees who respect the Founder’s intentions when it comes to the Constitution.

I expect that these nominees will have a fair and fast hearing, then an up or down vote. The Constitution says it’s my job to nominate qualified candidates for the court, and I have done my job. The Constitution says it’s the Senate’s job to confirm or not confirm these talented and able candidates, and I urge it to do its job in a reasonable time. These are accomplished Americans that every other American can and should be proud of. I urge you to respect their dignity, the dignity of the Court, and that of the Senate itself. I urge you not to attack them for partisan reasons or to drag out your proceedings because you don’t like what a candidate believes—or what you believe he or she believes—about one or more issues. When it comes to this court, as long as their first belief is that they are duty- and honor-bound to approach their obligations as our Constitution says they should, then they are more than ready to do this crucial job for our country.

I nominate Janice Rogers Brown to replace Sandra Day O’Conner.

I nominate Ted Olsen to replace William Rehnquist.

I nominate Clarence Thomas to be our next Chief Justice.

Thank you and God Bless America.

I don't know if all of John's picks will necessarily pan out (though I'm definitely a fan of Janice Rogers Brown), but I have a suggestion for Bill McGurn: Sign that Robertson boy up!

Posted by Rodger on July 14, 2005 at 08:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)


Sabotaged summit


When I read the account this morning of the bombing of a London double-decker bus, I remembered the movie Sabotage (1936) and what is perhaps the most horrific scene in any Alfred Hitchcock film. A boy is asked to deliever a package—containing, unbeknown to him, a bomb—and boards a London double-decker. In rather un-Hitchcockian fashion, the bomb explodes, killing scores, including the boy (and a Jack Russell puppy, no less).

Boy__dog_1British public opinion turned against Hitchcock for allowing a child and a dog to be dispatched in such a grisly manner, and he later admitted (in an interview with French film director François Truffaut) that the bus-bomb scene was ill conceived, since it built up the audience's suspense but didn't relieve it.

Joseph Conrad—on whose novel, The Secret Agent, the Hitchcock film was based—apologized after the fact as well, saying that he had "not intended to commit a gratuitous outrage on the feelings of mankind."

In fact, Sabotage was banned in Brazil for fear of the terrorist acts it might inspire.

We know from their use of disaster films like Independence Day in their recruiting videos that al-Qaeda terrorists are big fans of Hollywood.

Is it too much to imagine that a 70-year-old thriller could have been the inspiration for today's bombings?

UPDATE: The London bombings also bear uncanny similarities to the storyline in this episode from season 2 of the British television series "Spooks" (known in the U.S. as "MI-5").

Posted by Rodger on July 7, 2005 at 09:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


The lonesome death of Yasser Salihee


In a post last week, I pointed out that no U. S. troops had been involved in the deaths of journalists in Iraq so far in 2005.

Unfortunately, my words were belied in a matter of hours by the shooting of journalist Yasser Salihee in Baghdad.

Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for Knight Ridder, was shot and killed in western Baghdad on Friday as his car neared U.S. and Iraqi troops who had stopped to search a building for snipers.

Salihee, 30, was driving alone when a bullet pierced his windshield and then his skull. The shot appears to have been fired by a U.S. military sniper, though Iraqi soldiers in the area also may have been shooting at the time.

U.S. Humvees blocked three entry points to the intersection Salihee was approaching. The one he was driving toward was manned by Iraqi and U.S. soldiers on foot. It's unclear how well he could have seen the troops, and whether they were in the road waving motorists away, or taking cover in case of sniper attack.

Most witnesses told another Knight Ridder Iraqi special correspondent that no warning shots were fired. But the front right tire of Salihee's car was pierced by a bullet, presumably meant to stop him from advancing.

Iraqis in Baghdad often complain that U.S. and Iraqi soldiers set up positions in roadways without clearly marking them. Such roadblocks increase the likelihood that motorists won't have time to stop before soldiers, worried about suicide car bombers, open fire, many Iraqis say.

The U.S. Army said it is investigating the incident.

Salihee just wasn't any reporter, however.

Prior to his job with Knight Ridder, he had been working as a doctor at Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital. (He was forced to quit, reportedly, because the pay was so poor, though he continued to serve as a volunteer at medical clinics during his time off.)

He was also a husband and father. He reportedly died while in the performance of his fatherly duties—on the way to fill up the car to drive his family to the swimming pool. His death was a terrible human tragedy—and will no doubt haunt the soldier who fired the fatal shot for the rest of his life.

But, in the words of the immortal Robert Zimmerman, "Now ain't the time for your tears."

Fellow Knight Ridder journalist Hannah Allam writes in Salihee's obiturary, "There's no reason to think that the shooting had anything to do with his reporting work." Predictably, the conspiratorialists of the left are convinced otherwise—and hard at work to connect the dots between a piece Salihee wrote shortly before his death and a highly-controversial story that appeared in Newsweek back in January (co-authored, not-so-incidentally, by John Barry, the same correspondent who co-authored the now-retracted story about Koran-flushing at Gitmo).

Feel free to follow the links in the paragraph above and connect the dots yourself, but here's the gist of the theory: The U.S. military, in order to discourage Iraq's Sunni population from supporting the "insurgency," is organizing El Salvador-style death squads who will make examples of collaborators and frighten the rest into informing on their terrorist insurgent buddies. Salihee was about to break the story wide open, and so, of course, the Pentagon had him "silenced."

The tinfoil hat crowd is going to have a ball with all of this, of course. So will the Islamist media (scroll down to "Baghdad").

And it's probably just a matter of time before Linda Foley adduces it as proof for her charges that U.S. troops deliberately target "journalists … uh, from other countries, particularly Arab countries" for assassination.

That will be the time for your tears.

Posted by Rodger on July 1, 2005 at 06:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)