Thursday, July 28, 2005


The Shinola Test

In Steve Martin's movie The Jerk, his character, having been reared to the cusp of manhood, is about to leave home when his dad confronts him with a final test -- the Shinola Test. Going out to the barn the foster father points to a pile of fecal matter. Then, he pulls out a container of Shinola from his pocket. To be an adult, young Mr. Martin must be able to tell between the two. While many of our country's current leaders would have trouble with this test, a Federal judge in Washington state most certainly would not:

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour sentenced Ahmed Ressam to a 22-year prison term yesterday for attempting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the millennium's eve, and used the occasion to unleash a broadside against secret tribunals and other war on terrorism tactics that abandon "the ideals that set our nation apart." "The tragedy of Sept. 11 shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism," said Coughenour in a voice edged with emotion. "Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. ... If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won." [...] Coughenour said he hoped the sentencing conveyed a dual message. First, he said that the United States has the resolve to deal with terrorism, and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement. Second, Coughenour said that Ressam's sentencing should demonstrate to the world that the U.S. legal system can try terrorists. Coughenour devoted most of his remarks to this point, noting that Ressam received a vigorous defense, and that his guilt was determined "in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel." Coughenour's comments amounted to a rebuke of President Bush's terrorism policies. After 9/11, the Bush administration initially proposed secret military trials for some foreign terrorists. And, it has sent hundreds of terrorism suspects captured in Afghanistan to indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay.
Let's see: Use the rule of law to successfully capture and punish terrorists (Shinola), or go halfheartedly lob bombs at one of the countries that harbored the terrorists, only to lose the mastermind and give up on finding him, in favor of invading a country which had nothing to do with the terrorists, thus pissing off most of the world (fecal matter). Hmmmm.


That's the kind of leader this country needs!

As with my post below on how a few Senators and congressmen decided on their own that they would spend $1.5 Billion dollars, our current leadership doesn't show much respect for law and regular process. (There's also the question of what deal Dingell and Bingaman cut to sign off on the money.)

Coughenour rocks!
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