Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Need vs. desire

During recent debate on transportation issues, Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, got everybody’s attention when explaining the difference between need and desire.

“It reminds me of the guy who went to the department store, and this beautiful, young, voluptuous saleslady came up to him and she said: ‘Sir, what is your desire?’

“And he said, ‘Well, my desire is to pick you up after work, go out to dinner and drink some champagne and make mad, passionate love to you, but I need a pair of socks.’

“We have to distinguish between desire and need, and I think it is a difficult thing to do,” Mr. Inhofe concluded.

Free Korans

While controversy reached the boiling point surrounding Newsweek’s now-retracted report that U.S. interrogators purportedly desecrated a copy of the Koran, the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington was hosting an audience of 300 for its “Islamophobia and Anti-Americanism: Causes and Remedies” conference.

Chief reason for the conference — attended by U.S. government officials, scholars and religious leaders alike — was to discuss the “twin phenomena” of growing anti-Muslim “bigotry” in the West and increasing anti-American sentiments in the Islamic world, which grew worse after Newsweek’s accusations.

Yesterday, meanwhile, a campaign was started by the council to offer free Korans to Americans “as an attempt to turn a negative incident into something more positive,” says CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

“It is our belief that greater access to Islam’s holy book will help foster a better appreciation and understanding of Islam by ordinary Americans,” he says.

Hollywood on Hill

If a certain congresswoman gets her way, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer be able to pay a $100,000-plus taxpayer-funded salary to a one-time actress hired as the department’s Hollywood liaison.

The House yesterday passed an amendment to the Homeland Security funding bill that would transfer the salary being paid to former actress Bobbie Faye Ferguson to those who arguably need it more: first-responders to terrorist acts.

Miss Ferguson reportedly was hired at the GS-15 salary level last October. According to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado Republican and amendment sponsor, she is one of 43 public-affairs employees at DHS. The overall bill later passed the House on a 424-1 vote.

Instead of paying for the full-time liaison to the entertainment industry, the amendment would redirect the funds to first-responder state and local grants. As the congresswoman noted, $100,000 could purchase 716 escape hoods, 165 bulletproof vests or 40 hazardous-materials protective suits.

The DHS advertised for a Hollywood liaison in March 2004, with a top salary of $136,000, plus benefits.

Losing respect

Six congressmen, all former judges, are warning Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter that the sovereignty of the United States is being seriously undermined when U.S. courts permit “foreign sentiments to creep into rulings and opinions.”

“As you know, there have been several controversial decisions from the Supreme Court where justices have cited foreign courts and sentiments in their opinions,” the members wrote in recent days to Mr. Specter. “These irresponsible allowances erode our distinct political identity and the philosophical traditions upon which United States law is founded.”

The congressmen, all Republicans, are Reps. Ted Poe, Louie Gohmert, John Carter and Ralph M. Hall, all of Texas; Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama; and John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. of Tennessee.

“As former judges,” they write, “we all took oaths to uphold the Constitution. If a judge cannot cite the Constitution, United States law or United States judicial precedent in order to justify a ruling or opinion, it is highly inappropriate to selectively cite foreign constitutions, foreign laws or foreign judicial precedents.

“By doing so, judges effectively disenfranchise the United States and begin to lose respect in the eyes of its people.”

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

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