'Karate Kid' Co-Star Pat Morita Has Died
POSTED: 11:32 am EST November 25, 2005
UPDATED: 11:38 am EST November 25, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- Actor Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, has died. He was 73.
Morita died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes, said his wife of 12 years, Evelyn. She said in a statement that her husband, who first rose to fame with a role on "Happy Days," had "dedicated his entire life to acting and comedy."
In 1984, he appeared in the role that would define his career and spawn countless affectionate imitations. As Kesuke Miyagi, the mentor to Ralph Macchio's "Daniel-san," he taught karate while trying to catch flies with chopsticks and offering such advice as "wax on, wax off" to guide Daniel through chores to improve his skills.
Morita said in a 1986 interview with The Associated Press he was billed as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita in the film because producer Jerry Weintraub wanted him to sound more ethnic. He said he used the billing because it was "the only name my parents gave me."
He lost the 1984 best supporting actor award to Haing S. Ngor, who appeared in "The Killing Fields."
For years, Morita played small and sometimes demeaning roles in such films as "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and TV series such as "The Odd Couple" and "Green Acres." His first breakthrough came with "Happy Days," and he followed with his own brief series, "Mr. T and Tina."
"The Karate Kid," led to three sequels, the last of which, 1994's "The Next Karate Kid," paired him with a young Hilary Swank.
Morita was prolific outside of the "Karate Kid" series as well, appearing in "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Spy Hard," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "The Center of the World." He also provided the voice for a character in the Disney movie "Mulan" in 1998.
Born in northern California on June 28, 1932, the son of migrant fruit pickers, Morita spent most of his early years in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis. He later recovered only to be sent to a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II.
"One day I was an invalid," he recalled in a 1989 AP interview. "The next day I was public enemy No. 1 being escorted to an internment camp by an FBI agent wearing a piece."
After the war, Morita's family tried to repair their finances by operating a Sacramento restaurant. It was there that Morita first tried his comedy on patrons.
Because prospects for a Japanese-American standup comic seemed poor, Morita found steady work in computers at Aerojet General. But at age 30 he entered show business full time.
"Only in America could you get away with the kind of comedy I did," he commented. "If I tried it in Japan before the war, it would have been considered blasphemy, and I would have ended in leg irons. "
Morita was to be buried at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery.
He is survived by his wife and three daughters from a previous marriage.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.
Friday, November 25, 2005
'Karate Kid' Co-Star Pat Morita Has Died
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 11/25/2005 06:37:00 PM
This is something I have been wanting to place on this cornucopia of information for a while, but I have finally got around to it today. (Hey, better late than never!) Regardless, with another process of going through the motions to approvew the appointment of another Supreme Court Justice nominee, the contents to soon follow is, in fact, relevent.
Joyce and I have had some of the Kool-Aid drinking, Air(head) America listening, liberal Democrat extremists, trying to tell us, in their rose-tinted glasses world, how it is okay for the Dems to use the filibuster for basically whatever reason they feel like, better known as obstructionism to those who really can see through the fog. There are only SEVEN instances in which a filibuster is permissible, as stated by the Constitution.
The source of this information comes from the book, Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America, by Dr. Mark Levin, a legitimate expert on Constitutional Law in this great country of ours. The text, to be revealed below, is from pages 190-91 of this recommended reading:
"Indeed, the Constitution provides only a few specific instances in which a super-majority vote is required:
- "The Concurrence of two thirds" of either the House or the Senate is required to expel a member of Congress under Article I, Section 5.
- "No Person shall be convicted" by the Senate in an impeachment trial "without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present," according to Article I, Section 3.
- Legislation can be enacted over Presedential veto if "two thirds" of each House approves, pursuant to Article I, Section 7.
- The President is authorized to ratify treaties only if "two thirds of the Senators present concur," under Article II, Section 2.
- Congress may propose amendments to the Constitution "whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary," according to Article V.
- Under the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress is authorized, "by a vote of two-thirds of each House," to restore the right of federal service to rebels who, having previously sworn allegience to the United States as a federal or state officer, subsequently supported the Confederacy during the Civil War.
- Under the Twenty-fifth Amendment, Congress may determine "by two-thirds vote of both Houses" that "the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." ...
... The president can counter Democrats' efforts by appointing judges when the Senate is not in session. By doing so, he would be exercising his power under Article II of the Constitution to make recess appointments. Article II provides, in part, "The president shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session."
With the last point mentioned, this was how President Bush was able to appoint John Bolton as our representative to the United Nations.
These are the ONLY instances in which, accoring to the constitution, a filibuster is legitimate. Notice none of them mentioned anything about judicial appointments. To those who believe that the Democrats' can do no wrong, chew on this for a while.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 11/25/2005 12:18:00 PM
Democrats Get More Money From "Rich"
December 18, 2002
Another myth about "the rich" has been shattered – namely the conventional wisdom that they are all Republicans – thanks to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. A December 18, 2002 Washington Times editorial reports that donors giving "small and medium amounts" in 2002 overwhelmingly supported the GOP, while "rich or deep-pocketed givers" hugely backed the Democrats!
Those giving $200 to $999: GOP $68 million; Democrats $44 million. Those giving $1,000 to $9,999: GOP $317 million; Democrats $307 million. The "fabulously wealthy" donors of $10,000+ gave $111 million to the GOP – a whopping $29 million less than the $140 million they lavished on the Democrats! Among those who gave $100,000+, the Democrats raised $72 million – more than double the $34 million the GOP took.
"Yeah, Rush, but all those millionaires are Republicans." No, that's not a fact, my friends. The fact is that in the 2002 election cycle, those who gave a million dollars or more poured $36 million into the Democrat coffers, and a paltry $3 million into the pockets of the GOP. Again: millionaire donations went Democrat by a 12:1 margin! The two parties took in about the same amount overall – GOP: $384 million; Democrats: $350 million. Just look at the Hollywood left, and you see where the big money goes.
In addition, the GOP attracted 40% more individual donors! (George W. Bush set an all-time fund-raising record by collecting the most money from one-thousand-dollar donors in the history of presidential politics.) Far more people giving small amounts exist as contributors to the Republican Party - while Democrats skunked the GOP among the super-rich. That's no surprise, since nine of the twelve richest members of the United States Senate are Democrats.
We're going to put this up on our website homepage permanently, right alongside the story that the top 50% of wage earners, those who make more than $26,000 a year, pay over 96% of all income taxes. (The IRS data) This myth that the Republicans are the party of the rich is breathing its last gasps, so we're giving you these figures to help put it out of its misery for good. This is not a political commercial you have to disprove. These are actual results of campaign contributions in just the 2002 cycle, which is why this class-envy garbage isn't getting the traction it used to.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 11/25/2005 12:11:00 PM
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
One day a father gets out of work and on his way home he remembers
it's his daughter's birthday. He pulls over to a toy store and asks
"How much is the Barbie on the display window?"
The salesperson answers, " Which one? We have:
Work out Barbie for $19.95
Shopping Barbie for $19.95
Beach Barbie for $19.95
Disco Barbie for $19.95
Divorced Barbie for $265.95
The amazed father asks: "What?
Why is the Divorced Barbie $265.95 and the others only $19.95?"
The salesperson annoyingly answers : "Sir..., "Divorced Barbie comes
Ken's Computer and...
One of Ken's Friends.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 11/23/2005 05:17:00 PM
Singer-Songwriter Chris Whitley Dies
Wed Nov 23, 1:09 AM ET
HOUSTON - Chris Whitley, a chameleon singer-songwriter who oscillated between roots rock 'n' roll, blues and alt-rock, has died. He was 45.
Whitley died Sunday of lung cancer in Houston, according to his record label, Messenger Records.
"I hope you all will mourn my brother's death, but more important, celebrate his life as Chris was all about life and living," read a message on the singer's Web site from his brother, Daniel. "I started the celebration by cranking up `Dirt Floor' in his honor."
"Dirt Floor" was Whitley's 1998 album. He recorded 11 albums since his 1991 debut, "Living with the Law," including this year's "Soft Dangerous Shores."
Although born in Houston, Whitley spent time in Germany, New York, Louisiana and other locations. His musical styles also wandered, touching upon everything from rock and blues to electronica and jazz.
Whitley told the Houston Chronicle earlier this year that his eclectic genre mix reflected the myriad, searching themes of his music.
"I'm always looking for something kind of melancholy," Whitley said. "I guess I was trying to mix these things without really knowing it. I write in a way that's more subconscious, just trying to articulate some mystery that's not obvious."
On the Net:
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 11/23/2005 05:08:00 PM
Teri Hatcher Sues Tabloid Over Sex Story
19 minutes ago
LONDON - Teri Hatcher is suing a British tabloid newspaper for libel over its claims she had "sex romps" with men in a Volkswagen van, her lawyer said Wednesday.
London law firm Schillings said Hatcher, who stars on ABC's "Desperate Housewives," had instructed it to begin libel proceedings against the Daily Sport over articles that she says "falsely alleged that she engages in sex romps on a regular basis with a series of men in a VW van parked outside her L.A. home for this purpose."
The claims "were repeated extensively elsewhere in many countries," the firm said. Hatcher "bitterly refutes these offensive allegations," it said.
The case is expected to go before the High Court in London next year.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 11/23/2005 04:52:00 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
November 22, 2005, 1:18 p.m.
On the Other Hand ...
The headlines today — "Iraqi Factions/Seek Timetable/For U.S. Pullout" — encourage another look at the Iraq situation, focused not on the desolation of the enterprise, but on the planks of despair. Is it really true that the Sunni and the Shiites are making common cause? Indeed, the report in the New York Times tells of 100 Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish leaders who have signed a statement in which "a withdrawal of foreign troops" is demanded "on a specified timetable, dependent on an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces."
A learned observer writes about that which he classifies as "increasingly surreal." "I find, about discussions of Iraq, two universes of discourse, parallel but not contiguous. When I talk to one set of friends and acquaintances or read what they write, I get one version of what is going on. When I talk with another set, or read what they write, I get an entirely different and incompatible assessment. If you talk to military affairs specialists like Victor Davis Hanson, or political analysts like David Pryce-Jones, you get the sense that immense progress has been and is being made both in getting rid of the terrorists and in establishing a workable society in Iraq."
It is certainly true that we do not read much about, or ponder at all, the importance of terrorist plots discovered and disrupted. We are not told how many senior al-Qaeda agents are in custody.
We are reminded of the Iraq constitution and know, of course, of the great election only a few weeks away, on December 15. Is there a corresponding explosion of municipal and business infrastructure? Water and sanitation and communications systems, schools, oil pipelines, local and national business initiatives? Does the eye of reason see in the frenzies of the terrorists desperation of the kind insurgents feel who see defeat ahead, not victory? The kind of people who are prepared to bomb children to express their desperation?
Critics talk of "racing for the exits" in Iraq. But — most emphatically, by a vote of 403–3 — Congress recently rejected with fervor exits of the type associated with despair. The terrorists are acting like the beleaguered Japanese in Okinawa when they saw themselves destined to defeat, alienation, and even deracination. My friend writes of one critic's "tendentious assertions, typically offered in the protasis of his sentences in order to enhance the aura of casual but apodictic assurance. 'But while the war is lost both as a political matter at home and a practical matter in Iraq . . . ' Hello? What confirmation do we have of exit strategies going on by the president or his Secretary of State or his Secretary of Defense?"
The New York Post on Sunday assembled a comparison of what Messrs. Reid, Clinton, Dean, Biden, Kennedy, Kerry, Gore, and Byrd had to say about going into Iraq, the threat of Iraq, the dangers in ignoring the threat of Iraq, the advantages, strategic and moral in asserting ourselves there, the need to enforce the resolutions of the U.N. being ignored by Saddam Hussein. . . The Post set these comments over against the language being used today by the summer soldiers. It is illuminating and casts a long shadow over the future of the United States, the security of the commander in chief, and the longevity of the national will.
My correspondent concludes, "You told me that your friend predicted that within six months of the election, it would be clear to all that the country was on its feet. Is he correct? I do not know. I note that many people assured me that a constitution would never be ratified in Iraq. They were, by and large, the same people who assured me that were the U.S. to invade Iraq, the Arab street would erupt in a world jihad.
"The supposedly impossible thing in fact happened, and the dead certainty failed to take place. Even more curious is how little difference that has made in the — is the word appropriate? — debate. Reality — what actually happened or seemed to happen — somehow hasn't counted for much when it comes to informing opinion on Iraq. Six months from the election takes us to 15 June. It would be interesting to step back and specify some milestones by which we could judge the campaign: what developments, were they accomplished, would lead us to judge the venture a success? What are some alternative eventualities that would compel us to acknowledge failure?
"We could scribble a few such criteria on a sheet of paper now and seal it in an envelope marked, 'Do not open until June 15, 2006.' Then, on a balmy summer eve, we could have an envelope-opening ceremony and see where things stood. I suspect the backers of Mr. Bush would have something to celebrate."
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 11/22/2005 03:10:00 PM
November 21, 2005 -- QUIT. It's that simple. There are plenty of more complex ways to lose a war, but none as reliable as just giving up.
Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq. Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions: The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.
Forget about the consequences. Disregard the immediate encouragement to the terrorists and insurgents to keep killing every American soldier they can. Ignore what would happen in Iraq — and the region — if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round.
Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media. After all, one way to create the kind of disaffection in the ranks that the Dems' leaders yearn to see is to tell our troops on the battlefield that they're risking their lives for nothing, we're throwing the game.
Forget that our combat veterans are re-enlisting at remarkable rates — knowing they'll have to leave their families and go back to war again. Ignore the progress on the ground, the squeezing of the insurgency's last strongholds into the badlands on the Syrian border. Blow off the successive Iraqi elections and the astonishing cooperation we've seen between age-old enemies as they struggle to form a decent government.
Just set a time-table for our troops to come home and show the world that America is an unreliable ally with no stomach for a fight, no matter the stakes involved. Tell the world that deserting the South Vietnamese and fleeing from Somalia weren't anomalies — that's what Americans do.
While we're at it, let's just print up recruiting posters for the terrorists, informing the youth of the Middle East that Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity.
Whatever you do, don't talk about any possible consequences. Focus on the moment — and the next round of U.S. elections. Just make political points. After all, those dead American soldiers and Marines don't matter — they didn't go to Ivy League schools. (Besides, most would've voted Republican had they lived.)
America's security? Hah! As long as the upcoming elections show Democratic gains, let the terrorist threat explode. So what if hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners might die in a regional war? So what if violent fundamentalism gets a shot of steroids? So what if we make Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the most successful Arab of the past 500 years?
For God's sake, don't talk about democracy in the Middle East. After all, democracy wasn't much fun for the Dems in 2000 or 2004. Why support it overseas, when it's been so disappointing at home?
Human rights? Oh, dear. Human rights are for rich white people who live in Malibu. Unless you can use the issue to whack Republicans. Otherwise, brown, black or yellow people can die by the millions. Dean, Reid & Pelosi, LLC, won't say, "Boo!"
You've got to understand, my fellow citizens: None of this matters. And you don't matter, either. All that matters is scoring political points. Let the world burn. Let the massacres run on. Let the terrorists acquire WMD. Just give the Bush administration a big black eye and we'll call that a win.
The irresponsibility of the Democrats on Capitol Hill is breathtaking. (How can an honorable man such as Joe Lieberman stay in that party?) Not one of the critics of our efforts in Iraq — not one — has described his or her vision for Iraq and the Middle East in the wake of a troop withdrawal. Not one has offered any analysis of what the terrorists would gain and what they might do. Not one has shown respect for our war dead by arguing that we must put aside our partisan differences and win.
There's plenty I don't like about the Bush administration. Its domestic policies disgust me, and the Bushies got plenty wrong in Iraq. But at least they'll fight. The Dems are ready to betray our troops, our allies and our country's future security for a few House seats.
Surrender is never a winning strategy.
Yes, we've been told lies about Iraq — by Dems and their media groupies. About conditions on the ground. About our troops. About what's at stake. About the consequences of running away from the great struggle of our time. About the continuing threat from terrorism. And about the consequences for you and your family.
What do the Democrats fear? An American success in Iraq. They need us to fail, and they're going to make us fail, no matter the cost. They need to declare defeat before the 2006 mid-term elections and ensure a real debacle before 2008 — a bloody mess they'll blame on Bush, even though they made it themselves.
We won't even talk about the effect quitting while we're winning in Iraq might have on the go-to-war calculations of other powers that might want to challenge us in the future. Let's just be good Democrats and prove that Osama bin Laden was right all along: Americans have no stomach for a fight.
As for the 2,000-plus dead American troops about whom the lefties are so awfully concerned? As soon as we abandon Iraq, they'll forget about our casualties quicker than an amnesiac forgets how much small-change he had in his pocket.
If we run away from our enemies overseas, our enemies will make their way to us. Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die.
And they won't all be conservatives.
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 11/22/2005 09:19:00 AM
FrontPageMagazine.com | August 13, 2004
The losses are catastrophic. Over fourteen times more Americans dead than we lost on 9/11, and almost fifty times as many as have died in Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s statue fell.
In 2003, 42,643 people died on America's highways.
I cite this number to put some of the outrageous claims made by the Left into perspective. To listen to their rhetoric, you'd believe that our efforts in Iraq are a bloody disaster with few parallels in history. But the fact is that more Americans are going to die on our roads this Labor Day weekend than we've lost in the occupation of Iraq.
This isn't to make light of our military losses (or those of 9/11). As someone who actually served in our military for more than two decades, I value the life of every American serviceman or servicewoman. But those of us who served or are serving now understand that you cannot reach great achievements without costs.
The truth is that, although every American soldier lost is painful, our casualties have been astonishingly low considering the magnitude of what we have done and continue to do. We liberated twenty-six million human beings from a monstrous dictator; we're fighting the forces of terror and oppression on their home ground; and we are giving the broken world of the Middle East a chance to become whole again.
No American service member died in vain.
Which brings me to the ugly heart of this issue: Overwhelmingly, those who have been crying for a year-and-a-half to "bring our troops home," and whose fervor is now renewed by the electoral contest, don’t give a flying latte about our soldiers. Whether we speak of the irresponsible, self-important celebrities suddenly pretending to care about those in uniform, or the "useful idiots" (to use the Marxist-Leninist term) who crowd the streets to condemn a war of liberation because "America must be wrong" and who weep crocodile tears for brave young Americans they privately despise, the truth is that there are no more repugnant creatures on the American political scene than those who pretend to represent the best interests of our troops while secretly celebrating every one of our casualties.
When someone who has never served in uniform, who will never serve in uniform, whose children will never serve in uniform, whose relatives don't serve in uniform, and who doesn't even know—or want to know—anyone who actually serves in uniform tells you that they're speaking on behalf of our troops, you know you've met an Olympic-level hypocrite, a vampire sucking the blood of America’s best.
No soldier I know believes that Howard Dean's intolerant disciples, or the brownshirts from MoveOn.lies, or the "activists" cowering on campus speaks for him or her.
Those who do not scruple to exploit our soldiers as a political tool—against the wishes and convictions of the soldiers themselves—and who previously had no time for the sort of "inferior" human being who was "foolish" enough to join our military, deserve a taste of reality, a first-hand introduction to the cruelty of the world beyond our shores.
They won't get it, of course. Because our troops are overseas fighting to protect them. And even the terrorists don't think the liberal-arts faculty lounge is important enough to bomb.
Let one former soldier say it plainly to the repulsive phonies from sea to shining sea, from Cambridge and the Upper West Side to Malibu and Marin:
You don’t speak for those of us who wore or wear our country’s uniform. And you never will. Before you discovered us as a useful tool, we were all bullies or babykillers from an Oliver Stone fantasy to you. And you loved it because it absolved you of all responsibility to serve your country. Now you portray us as helpless victims of American imperialism (although you showed your true colors during the Abu Ghraib affair, when you were delighted to claim that the actions of a handful of renegades exemplified the behavior of our entire military). Well, the truth is that you were right about one thing all along: We’re not your kind, dahhling. We believe some things are worth fighting for—and yes, worth dying for, if necessary. We believe that the United States of America is the greatest force for good in human history. And we’re proud of our service, our comrades and the flag you deface to make a fashion statement. But we’ll defend your right to have your say and live in safety as our fellow citizen. As we have done so many times before, we’ll bleed to keep you free to be a fool.
Oh, one last round of the numbers game: The New York Police Department expects a quarter of a million protesters during the Republican convention. Just how many of them will have served in our military? For that matter, how many of them came out to protest Saddam Hussein’s massacre of the Kurds? Or his slaughter of his fellow Arabs? While in Manhattan, do they plan to protest Europe’s refusal even to recognize the genocide in Darfur Province in Sudan? Why aren’t they protesting the Islamic extremists’ monstrous oppression of women? (The answer, you see, is that women’s emancipation is only for college-educated white women.)
Will they cry out against Robert Mugabe's destruction of Zimbabwe and his policy of starving black Africans? Why don’t they protest Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons intended for use against Israel? (We all know the answer to that question. Don’t we?) For that matter, will a single one of them protest the inner-city violence that continues to slaughter generations of young black and brown Americans? (At least half as many young African-Americans will be murdered in the Washington, D.C. area alone this year as American lives will be lost in Iraq in the same period).
And why do those on the left refuse to have an honest debate about such issues? We know the answer to that one, too.
The American Left is out of ideas, out of morals and out of simple decency. All they can do is to shout, lie and pretend to care about those American citizens—our troops, inner-city minorities and the average working man and woman—for whom they don’t give a tiny shred of a damn.
The protesters are going to do a lot of shouting in New York. If you hear one honest voice among them, call me.
Ralph Peters is a retired military officer and the author, most recently, of "Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace."
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 11/22/2005 08:53:00 AM
Monday, November 21, 2005
For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
November 21, 2005
Vice President's Remarks on the War on Terror
American Enterprise Institute
11:01 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning, and thank you all very much. And thank you, Chris. It's great to be back at AEI. Both Lynne and I have a long history with the American Enterprise Institute, and we value the association, and even more, we value the friendships that have come from our time here. And I want to thank all of you for coming this morning and for your welcome.
My remarks today concern national security, in particular the war on terror and the Iraq front in that war. Several days ago, I commented briefly on some recent statements that have been made by some members of Congress about Iraq. Within hours of my speech, a report went out on the wires under the headline, "Cheney says war critics 'dishonest,' 'reprehensible.'"
One thing I've learned in the last five years is that when you're Vice President, you're lucky if your speeches get any attention at all. But I do have a quarrel with that headline, and it's important to make this point at the outset. I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof. Disagreement, argument, and debate are the essence of democracy, and none of us should want it any other way. For my part, I've spent a career in public service, run for office eight times -- six statewide offices and twice nationally. I served in the House of Representatives for better than a decade, most of that time as a member of the leadership of the minority party. To me, energetic debate on issues facing our country is more than just a sign of a healthy political system -- it's also something I enjoy. It's one of the reasons I've stayed in this business. And I believe the feeling is probably the same for most of us in public life.
For those of us who don't mind debating, there's plenty to keep us busy these days, and it's not likely to change any time soon. On the question of national security, feelings run especially strong, and there are deeply held differences of opinion on how best to protect the United States and our friends against the dangers of our time. Recently my friend and former colleague Jack Murtha called for a complete withdrawal of American forces now serving in Iraq, with a drawdown to begin at once. I disagree with Jack and believe his proposal would not serve the best interests of this nation. But he's a good man, a Marine, a patriot -- and he's taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion.
Nor is there any problem with debating whether the United States and our allies should have liberated Iraq in the first place. Here, as well, the differing views are very passionately and forcefully stated. But nobody is saying we should not be having this discussion, or that you cannot reexamine a decision made by the President and the Congress some years ago. To the contrary, I believe it is critical that we continue to remind ourselves why this nation took action, and why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and why we have a duty to persevere.
What is not legitimate -- and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible -- is the suggestion by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence.
Some of the most irresponsible comments have come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence materials. They are known to have a high opinion of their own analytical capabilities. (Laughter.) And they were free to reach their own judgments based upon the evidence. They concluded, as the President and I had concluded, and as the previous administration had concluded, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. Available intelligence indicated that the dictator of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and this judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of many other nations, according to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission. All of us understood, as well, that for more than a decade, the U.N. Security Council had demanded that Saddam Hussein make a full accounting of his weapons programs. The burden of proof was entirely on the dictator of Iraq -- not on the U.N. or the United States or anyone else. And he repeatedly refused to comply throughout the course of the decade.
Permit me to burden you with a bit more history: In August of 1998, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution urging President Clinton take "appropriate action" to compel Saddam to come into compliance with his obligations to the Security Council. Not a single senator voted no. Two months later, in October of '98 -- again, without a single dissenting vote in the United States Senate -- the Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act. It explicitly adopted as American policy supporting efforts to remove Saddam Hussein's regime from power and promoting an Iraqi democracy in its place. And just two months after signing the Iraq Liberation law, President Clinton ordered that Iraq be bombed in an effort to destroy facilities that he believed were connected to Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs.
By the time Congress voted to authorize force in late 2002, there was broad-based, bipartisan agreement that the time had come to enforce the legitimate demands of the international community. And our thinking was informed by what had happened to our country on the morning of September 11th, 2001. As the prime target of terrorists who have shown an ability to hit America and who wish to do so in spectacular fashion, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep terrible weapons out of the hands of these enemies. And we must hold to account regimes that could supply those weapons to terrorists in defiance of the civilized world. As the President has said, "Terrorists and terror states do not reveal ... threats with fair notice, in formal declarations -- and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide."
In a post-9/11 world, the President and Congress of the United States declined to trust the word of a dictator who had a history of weapons of mass destruction programs, who actually used weapons of mass destruction against innocent civilians in his own country, who tried to assassinate a former President of the United States, who was routinely shooting at allied pilots trying to enforce no fly zones, who had excluded weapons inspectors, who had defied the demands of the international community, whose regime had been designated an official state sponsor of terror, and who had committed mass murder. Those are the facts.
Although our coalition has not found WMD stockpiles in Iraq, I repeat that we never had the burden of proof; Saddam Hussein did. We operated on the best available intelligence, gathered over a period of years from within a totalitarian society ruled by fear and secret police. We also had the experience of the first Gulf War -- when the intelligence community had seriously underestimated the extent and progress Saddam had made toward developing nuclear weapons.
Finally, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam Hussein wanted to preserve the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when sanctions were lifted. And we now know that the sanctions regime had lost its effectiveness and been totally undermined by Saddam Hussein's successful effort to corrupt the Oil for Food program.
The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight, but any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped, or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false. Senator John McCain put it best: "It is a lie to say that the President lied to the American people."
American soldiers and Marines serving in Iraq go out every day into some of the most dangerous and unpredictable conditions. Meanwhile, back in the United States, a few politicians are suggesting these brave Americans were sent into battle for a deliberate falsehood. This is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety. It has no place anywhere in American politics, much less in the United States Senate.
One might also argue that untruthful charges against the Commander-in-Chief have an insidious effect on the war effort itself. I'm unwilling to say that, only because I know the character of the United States Armed Forces -- men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts. They haven't wavered in the slightest, and their conduct should make all Americans proud. They are absolutely relentless in their duties, and they are carrying out their missions with all the skill and the honor we expect of them. I think of the ones who put on heavy gear and work 12-hour shifts in the desert heat. Every day they are striking the enemy -- conducting raids, training up Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers. Americans appreciate our fellow citizens who go out on long deployments and endure the hardship of separation from home and family. We care about those who have returned with injuries, and who face the long, hard road of recovery. And our nation grieves for the men and women whose lives have ended in freedom's cause.
The people who serve in uniform, and their families, can be certain: that their cause is right and just and necessary, and we will stand behind them with pride and without wavering until the day of victory.
The men and women on duty in this war are serving the highest ideals of this nation -- our belief in freedom and justice, equality, and the dignity of the individual. And they are serving the vital security interests of the United States. There is no denying that the work is difficult and there is much yet to do. Yet we can harbor no illusions about the nature of this enemy, or the ambitions it seeks to achieve.
In the war on terror we face a loose network of committed fanatics, found in many countries, operating under different commanders. Yet the branches of this network share the same basic ideology and the same dark vision for the world. The terrorists want to end American and Western influence in the Middle East. Their goal in that region is to gain control of the country, so they have a base from which to launch attacks and to wage war against governments that do not meet their demands. For a time, the terrorists had such a base in Afghanistan, under the backward and violent rule of the Taliban. And the terrorists hope to overturn Iraq's democratic government and return that country to the rule of tyrants. The terrorists believe that by controlling an entire country, they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and to establish a radical Islamic empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way to Indonesia. They have made clear, as well, their ultimate ambitions: to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries, and to cause mass death in the United States.
Some have suggested that by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein, we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001 -- and the terrorists hit us anyway. The reality is that terrorists were at war with our country long before the liberation of Iraq, and long before the attacks of 9/11. And for many years, they were the ones on the offensive. They grew bolder in the belief that if they killed Americans, they could change American policy. In Beirut in 1983, terrorists killed 241 of our service men. Thereafter, the United States withdrew from Beirut. In Mogadishu in 1993, terrorists killed 19 American soldiers. Thereafter, the U.S. withdrew its forces from Somalia. Over time, the terrorists concluded that they could strike America without paying a price, because they did, repeatedly: the bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993, the murders at the Saudi National Guard Training Center in Riyadh in 1995, the Khobar Towers in 1996, the simultaneous bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and, of course, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
Believing they could strike us with impunity and that they could change U.S. policy, they attacked us on 9/11 here in the homeland, killing 3,000 people. Now they are making a stand in Iraq -- testing our resolve, trying to intimidate the United States into abandoning our friends and permitting the overthrow of this new Middle Eastern democracy. Recently we obtained a message from the number-two man in al Qaeda, Mr. Zawahiri, that he sent to his chief deputy in Iraq, the terrorist Zarqawi. The letter makes clear that Iraq is part of a larger plan of imposing Islamic radicalism across the broader Middle East -- making Iraq a terrorist haven and a staging ground for attacks against other nations. Zawahiri also expresses the view that America can be made to run again.
In light of the commitments our country has made, and given the stated intentions of the enemy, those who advocate a sudden withdrawal from Iraq should answer a few simple questions: Would the United States and other free nations be better off, or worse off, with Zarqawi, bin Laden, and Zawahiri in control of Iraq? Would we be safer, or less safe, with Iraq ruled by men intent on the destruction of our country?
It is a dangerous illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone. In fact such a retreat would convince the terrorists that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends, abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with murder and blackmail. A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for the terrorists, an invitation to further violence against free nations, and a terrible blow to the future security of the United States of America.
So much self-defeating pessimism about Iraq comes at a time of real progress in that country. Coalition forces are making decisive strikes against terrorist strongholds, and more and more they are doing so with Iraqi forces at their side. There are more than 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists, along with our forces. On the political side, every benchmark has been met successfully -- starting with the turnover of sovereignty more than a year ago, the national elections last January, the drafting of the constitution and its ratification by voters just last month, and, a few weeks from now, the election of a new government under that new constitution.
The political leaders of Iraq are steady and courageous, and the citizens, police and soldiers of that country have proudly stepped forward as active participants and guardians in a new democracy -- running for office, speaking out, voting and sacrificing for their country. Iraqi citizens are doing all of this despite threats from terrorists who offer no political agenda for Iraq's future, and wage a campaign of mass slaughter against the Iraqi people themselves -- the vast majority of whom are fellow Arabs and fellow Muslims.
Day after day, Iraqis are proving their determination to live in freedom, to chart their own destiny, and to defend their own country. And they can know that the United States will keep our commitment to them. We will continue the work of reconstruction. Our forces will keep going after the terrorists, and continue training the Iraqi military, so that Iraqis can eventually take the lead in their country's security and our men and women can come home. We will succeed in this mission, and when it is concluded, we will be a safer nation.
Wartime conditions are, in every case, a test of military skill and national resolve. But this is especially true in the war on terror. Four years ago, President Bush told Congress and the country that the path ahead would be difficult, that we were heading into a long struggle, unlike any we have known. All this has come to pass. We have faced, and are facing today, enemies who hate us, hate our country, and hate the liberties for which we stand. They dwell in the shadows, wear no uniform, have no regard for the laws of warfare, and feel unconstrained by any standard of morality. We've never had a fight like this, and the Americans who go into the fight are among the bravest citizens this nation has ever produced. All who have labored in this cause can be proud of their service for the rest of their lives.
The terrorists lack any capacity to inspire the hearts of good men and women. And their only chance for victory is for us to walk away from the fight. They have contempt for our values, they doubt our strength, and they believe that America will lose our nerve and let down our guard. But this nation has made a decision: We will not retreat in the face of brutality, and we will never live at the mercy of tyrants or terrorists.
None of us can know every turn that lies ahead for America in the fight against terror. And because we are Americans, we are going to keep discussing the conduct and the progress of this war and having debates about strategy. Yet the direction of events is plain to see, and this period of struggle and testing should also be seen as a time of promise. The United States of America is a good country, a decent country, and we are making the world a better place by defending the innocent, confronting the violent, and bringing freedom to the oppressed. We understand the continuing dangers to civilization, and we have the resources, the strength, and the moral courage to overcome those dangers and lay the foundations for a better world.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 11:20 A.M. EST
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 11/21/2005 04:30:00 PM
For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
November 16, 2005
Vice President's Remarks at the Frontiers of Freedom Institute 2005 Ronald Reagan Gala
The Mayflower Hotel
7:14 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: 2008. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not on your life. (Laughter.)
Thank you very much and good evening to all of you. And I'm -- when I heard about your gathering, and since I work just down the street from here I thought I'd drop in and say hello.
Let me thank the good people of Frontiers of Freedom, of course, George Landrith, Kerri Houston, Al Lee, for bringing us all together this evening. And I see many good friends in the room, including current and former office holders, as well.
It's a pleasure to see all of you. I'm sorry we couldn’t be joined by Senators Harry Reid, John Kerry, and Jay Rockefeller. They were unable to attend due to a prior lack of commitment. (Laughter.) I'll let you think about that one for a minute. (Applause.)
I hope you'll permit me, ladies and gentlemen, to say a few words that were not part of my remarks that I'd planned originally this evening but which concern a matter of great importance to our entire nation.
Most of you know, I have spent a lot of years in public service, and first came to work in Washington back in the late 1960s. I know what it's like to operate in a highly charged political environment, in which the players on all sides of an issue feel passionately and speak forcefully. In such an environment people sometimes lose their cool, and yet in Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate. But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition. And the suggestion that’s been made by some U.S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city. (Applause.)
Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence, and were free to draw their own conclusions. They arrived at the same judgment about Iraq’s capabilities and intentions that -- made by this Administration and by the previous administration. There was broad-based, bipartisan agreement that Saddam Hussein was a threat, that he had violated U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and that, in a post-9/11 world, we could not afford to take the word of a dictator who had a history of weapons of mass destruction programs, who had excluded weapons inspectors, who had defied the demands of the international community, whose nation had been designated an official state sponsor of terror, and who had committed mass murder. Those are the facts. (Applause.)
What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war. The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out. American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures –- conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers –- and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie.
The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -– but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history. (Applause.)
We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them. And far more important, we’re going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts. We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us. (Applause.)
They and their families can be certain that this cause is right and just, and the performance of our military has been brave and honorable. And this nation will stand behind our fighting forces with pride and without wavering until the day of victory. (Applause.)
Returning to the purpose of this gathering this evening, I want to thank Frontiers of Freedom for asking me to participate. And I want to thank all of you for coming together to support this organization. Frontiers of Freedom is an active, intelligent, and needed presence in the national debate. Washington is a city with many short-term perspectives and narrow interests competing for attention. Frontiers of Freedom offers something different –- a perspective shaped by the broad interests of the nation, and by principles that are relevant in every time. By advocating a strong defense, limited government, and the protection of individual rights -– and doing so in a way that is factual, honest, and well argued -– you are making a tremendous contribution. And I thank you for it.
It’s appropriate that an organization like yours should present an award named for President Ronald Reagan, who set a standard of principled conservative leadership that will stand through the ages. It is even more fitting that the Ronald Reagan Award should go this year to the man who started Frontiers for Freedom, my good friend Senator Malcolm Wallop. (Applause.)
And it is my privilege this evening to make the presentation. Malcolm is someone I’ve known and worked with for a long, long time. He and I, along with Senator Al Simpson, constituted Wyoming’s congressional delegation during the entire Reagan presidency. I remember those years with genuine fondness. Malcolm, Al, and I worked together on home-state and Western issues, and appeared together on many occasions all across the state. We generally saw eye-to-eye on the big questions facing Congress and the country, and we appreciated each other’s company.
Malcolm, of course, has a unique background as a citizen and as a public servant. He comes from Big Horn, Wyoming, was born into a pioneering family that also has a long history of public service. Malcolm’s grandfather, in fact, served in both the Wyoming legislature and the British House of Lords. After finishing college, Malcolm served in the U.S. Army, leaving with the rank of first lieutenant and returned to the ranch in Wyoming. I first knew of him in the '60s, when he was elected to the state legislature. And I was tremendously impressed, as all of us were, when he took on a longtime, very popular incumbent U.S. Senator –- and won the race by more than 10 points.
Malcolm was a great candidate, and an outstanding senator. He ran on the issues, spoke clearly to the voters, and connected well with the spirit of a very independent-minded state. And he always spoke his mind. Once during a debate on the floor of the Senator, Barry Goldwater was in a cranky mood and said the Senate was "beginning to look like a bunch of jackasses." Malcolm stood up and said he couldn’t understand why Barry said beginning –- (laughter) -- because the Senate had been acting that way for a long time. (Laughter.)
Malcolm served in the United States Senate for 18 years, and built a superb record throughout. In the words of President Reagan himself, "Leadership, hard work, experience, loyalty to Wyoming -– that’s what Malcolm Wallop is all about."
At the time Senator Wallop and I were first elected to statewide office in the late '70s, the federal government was showing signs of growing beyond the consent of the governed, and it wasn’t particularly easy to take on the permanent bureaucracy here in Washington. Malcolm never flinched from the task, because he believes deeply that government power must not only be limited in scope, but accountable to those it is supposed to serve. He insisted that regulations address the concerns of average people, and that regulators live in the real world.
To underscore the point, Malcolm ran a creative TV ad in one of his campaigns. I remember it well. It seems someone in Washington had come up with the idea of federally-mandated portable toilet for all ranch workers. People out West took this as a sign that the federal government was swerving way outside its lane. So to underscore how out-of-touch the bureaucrats really were, Malcolm ran a commercial that showed a cowboy on horseback with an outhouse towed behind the saddle. (Laughter.) He got his point across.
Malcolm had a great deal of influence on the Finance Committee and the Energy Committee. He was also one of very few non-lawyers ever to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And whether the question was energy production, tax policy, or the proper role of the federal judiciary, Malcolm Wallop was a reliable voice for common sense, for conservative values, and faithfulness to the Constitution of the United States.
As a leading senator, he was part of so many good things that happened during his time in public life -– from the Reagan economic program that led directly to the creation of millions of jobs, to the confirmation of outstanding jurists like Sandra Day O’Connor, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.
It's in the field of national security, however, that Malcolm made perhaps his greatest contribution to the well-being of our country. National security is one of those areas where you have to think and act with as much foresight as possible. When I was Secretary of Defense, for example, my colleagues and I spent a lot of time planning and thinking about the needs of our military 10 or more years down the road, even as we looked after the day-to-day requirements of national security. And the best insights on Capitol Hill came from the members who were taking that same approach -– anticipating dangers, thinking through alternative strategies, and pressing for the kinds of technology our country was going to need to defend itself years in the future.
There is always a need for that brand of wisdom, and Malcolm Wallop has always been there to provide it. Here again, we must recall the period of the late 1970s, when the nation's defenses were being neglected; when, around the world, both allies and adversaries were beginning to have serious doubts about the resolve and character of the United States. Malcolm Wallop came to the Senate and spoke out for a foreign policy that expressed American values with confidence and clarity, and for a national defense second to none.
During the Reagan years, those principles once again became the force behind American policy. Senator Wallop stayed in the lead, and was in fact one of the very first national leaders to advocate a defense of our country against ballistic missile attack.
If Malcolm Wallop had chosen to stay in public office for the rest of his life, I have little doubt the voters of our home state would have been happy to keep him. Yet he is more in the nature of a citizen legislator -– the kind the founding fathers had in mind –- the one who serves a few terms, gives it his best, and returns to private life. That's what Malcolm Wallop chose to do. But he's also a man of ideas who is constantly thinking about what's good for the country. So there was no chance he'd just go off and hum quietly on the outside. As Malcolm said when he announced his retirement from the Senate, "I don’t think the only place to fight for freedom is in the halls of Congress."
He was, of course, correct. And to this day Malcolm Wallop remains an articulate, discerning, and greatly respected player in the important debates of our time. I am pleased to count him as a colleague and a friend, and I can't think of a more worthy recipient of an award named for a Westerner and hero of freedom, President Ronald Reagan. Malcolm, my congratulations to you. And, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
END 7:28 P.M. EST
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 11/21/2005 10:51:00 AM