- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 2004

I hereby resolve

It’s that time of year to submit a New Year’s resolution on behalf of the president of the United States.

In fact, because 2005 is the official start of George W. Bush’s second and final term in office, why not have his resolution be for the last four years of his presidency? For example, you might be among those Americans who’d like Mr. Bush to resolve to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. Or among those who believe the only way to bring peace and stability to the bloody nation is sending more U.S. troops to join those already deployed there.

Perhaps you’d like the president to step up the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Whether it deals with Democrats, Social Security, or homosexual “marriage,” send your resolutions to John McCaslin in care of the e-mail address below. Please include your name and city and state of residence.

We’ll publish as many resolutions as space allows on Dec. 31.

Is anybody wrong?

Addressing social engagement and transnational research at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars yesterday, Cornell University President Jeffrey S. Lehman spoke of what poet John Keats called “negative capability” — the ability to hold two opposing perspectives in one’s mind without rushing to declare one right and the other wrong.

“Consider, for example, a recent survey of Americans by Cornell’s survey research institute,” Mr. Lehman said. “It found that whereas in the Islamic world 5 percent of respondents considered America ‘friendly’ and 67 percent ‘ruthless,’ in our own country 66 percent of respondents would describe America as friendly and only 29 percent as ruthless.

“The goal is not to declare one set of respondents right and the other wrong; leaders in this century must learn to recognize the importance of the difference in perspective itself,” Mr. Lehman said. “They must learn how to explore where that difference came from, and how it might be reduced over time.”

Ticktock

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn’t seem to have a problem detecting your pocketknife accidentally tucked in your carry-on bag, but they couldn’t find the simulated explosive, detonator, wiring and clock that are presumed to have been loaded onto a departing plane at Newark Liberty International Airport.

As a result, Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrats, are calling for an investigation by the TSA into the incident, which occurred during the course of a screening test. Newark is one the nation’s largest airports and one of three airports used by terrorists on September 11.

In a letter to retired Navy Rear Adm. David M. Stone, assistant secretary of homeland security for the TSA, the senators said the disappearing fake bomb and clock appear to be part of an ongoing pattern.

The senators said they found the incident to be “alarming and believe it merits the immediate attention” of TSA officials, especially if this entails addressing shortfalls in resources that may be contributing to security problems, such as inadequate staffing, equipment and training.

Turkey or beef?

Sen. George Allen of Virginia and Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, a pair of Republicans, have made a wager over tonight’s Division I-AA Championship game between James Madison University and the University of Montana, to be played in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Mr. Allen anted up a Virginia turkey, while Mr. Burns offered cuts of Montana beef.

“Having been a college quarterback myself, I can really appreciate JMU’s feat of winning three straight road playoff games on their way to the championship game,” says Mr. Allen, son of legendary Washington Redskins football coach George Allen.

Mr. Burns says he plans on eating turkey over the holidays: “It reminds me of a joke that’s running around Montana right now. ‘Knock-knock. Who’s there? JMU. JMU who? Exactly.’ ”

JMU becomes the first Division I-AA school from Virginia ever to appear in the championship game.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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