Dangerous daily drives

Doug Marlette, an editorial cartoonist best known for his syndicated comic strip “Kudzu,” was killed in a car wreck in Mississippi recently. On the previous Friday he had delivered the eulogy at his father’s funeral in North Carolina, and on Tuesday, July 10, he was on his way to Oxford to help a group of high-school students mount a production of “Kudzu: A Southern Musical.”

Al-Qaeda gaining in wealth and power

Al-Qaeda in Iraq already has its hands full, but US intelligence officials say the militant group’s mentors in Pakistan now want to use its formidable resources for attacks on the United States.

The war in Iraq has transformed the Al-Qaeda affiliate into a battle-hardened organization with piles of money, sophisticated recruiting networks and some of the world’s most experienced and innovative bomb makers, officials and analysts say.

U.S. will stick with harsh interrorgations

The United States will persist with techniques of interrogating terror suspects that have saved “countless lives,” but will stop short of torture, the top US spymaster said Sunday.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell refused to spell out whether methods such as the alleged practice of “waterboarding” were permitted under a new executive order of President George W. Bush.

“The United States does not engage in torture. This executive order spells it out,” McConnell said on NBC television.

Journal could do worse than Murdoch

There really is nothing very new about the gnashing of teeth and the dire predictions in the world of “respectable” journalism over the prospect of Rupert Murdoch assuming control of the Wall Street Journal. Actually, Murdoch’s purchase of several other “main line” publications over the years, including the Times of London, have raised similar alarms from elitists who populate the editorial side of the declining U.S. newspaper industry.

Pentagon claims Hillary helps the enemy

The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.

In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.

A copy of Edelman’s response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Judge throws out Plame’s lawsuit

A U.S. judge on Thursday threw out former CIA analyst Valerie Plame’s lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials for disclosing her identity to the public.

Plame has said her career was destroyed when administration officials blew her cover in 2003 to retaliate against her husband, Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson.

The couple had sought money damages from the officials for violating their constitutional free speech, due process and privacy rights.

U.S. District Court Judge John Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds.

DC takes handgun ban case to Supremes

The city of Washington is asking the US Supreme Court to uphold a three-decade ban on handguns in the nation’s capital in a case that could have ramifications on gun control laws in other states.

The US high court has not ruled since 1939 on any cases involving the right to bear arms, a hot-button issue which is protected by the second amendment to the constitution.

The capital bans all handguns unless they were registered before 1976.

So many enemies, so little time

It would be nice — or at least more convenient — if America could fight just one enemy at a time. But that’s seldom how it works.

World War II was called a world war for a reason: President Franklin Roosevelt might have preferred to take on only Imperial Japan, the nation that had attacked us. Instead, he had to lead the country into battle also against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. He had to fight not only in the Pacific but in North Africa and Europe as well.

Is talk of terrorism off limits?

Listen to some pundits and you’d think no one should ever mention the possibility of terrorist attacks in this country and that a few terrorist strikes here and there would be no big thing, anyway. Hey, we have auto accidents, don’t we?

A skewed look at America

“Are We Rome?” asks a new book, authored by an editor at Vanity Fair magazine. The subtitle is “The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America.”

It seems, given the dour mood of the country, that this would be a good time to market such a book. And, indeed, as I check its sales clip on Amazon, it seems to be moving at a brisk pace that must please both author and publisher.

So, is America creaking and crumbling like a latter-day Rome?