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of people freed from totalitarian dictatorships
by precision use of American military force
under George W. Bush:
million in just two years
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...The problem seems to
me to be the definition of "free speech".
Liberals define it as anything they want to say
or do that opposes America. I say "speech" ends
where "action" begins. Once you pick up a gun
for the enemy, throw a rock at a cop during a
"peace" march, send money to a terrorist
organisation, or travel to Baghdad to block an
American JDAM with your ass, you have crossed the line from free speech to costly action.
Saying the War on Terror is all about al-Qaeda is like saying we should have fought the Japanese Naval Air Force after Pearl Harbor. Not the Japanese Navy, not the Japanese Army, not the Empire of Japan -- just the Naval Air Force....
Complaining about the "waste" when human embryos are destroyed instead of being used in medical experiments is a lot like going to a funeral and complaining about the waste of perfectly good meat....
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Demanding Dictatorship in Katrina's Wake?
Probably the most astonishing result of Hurricane Katrina so far has been the overall reaction of the Left. I don't mean the whining criticisms or the politicising of tragedy for political purposes, however -- those Liberal reactions are par for the course in any situation. Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch was at his most honest when he said that "it's fair game for the Democrats to attack the president at this time. They want to win the House next year." What amazes me is that the same people who have spent four years accusing President Bush of shredding the Constitution and mounting a military coup in America seem to be angry with him... because he didn't shred the Constitution and mount a military coup.
The most persistent Liberal and Democrat attacks concerning the aftermath of Katrina have been that "the government" (by which they mean the federal government) was too slow to take charge of the situation. According to the critics, Bush should have immediately sent the US military into New Orleans to keep order, taken personal command of the National Guard and directed relief efforts on the scene from the moment the levee gave way. FEMA should have assumed direct control over all police, fire crews, EMTs and other first responders.
In other words, Liberals seem to feel that the rights and responsibilities of state and local governments can and should be taken away by the federal government in emergency situations. But that's exactly what the Constitution was designed to prevent.
More than anything else, the Founders feared an all-powerful central government dictating to the states and citizens. The United States is supposed to be a federal republic, not a centralised totalitarian government. The President has no authority to command state militia (or the modern substitute, National Guard units) without permission of the state governor to whom they report. He cannot order the evacuation of a city. He cannot simply assume command over the local and state governments. He certainly cannot send the US military to take control of a city or state except in case of insurrection. And the last thing the looters in New Orleans were doing was setting up their own secessionist government.
"Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
- US Code, Title 18, Section 1385
The Posse Comitatas Act of 1878 forbids the President from using the US military to enforce the law without an Act of Congress. Posse comitatus, or "all possible force," refers to the power of a sheriff to call upon every able-bodied man in his county to help apprehend a criminal. (The things you learn from watching old Westerns...) The President can not similarly use "all possible force" to enforce the law, because doing so would be equivalent to declaring martial law in the United States.
Exceptions to the law, aside from suppressing insurrections, include assisting drug enforcement agencies or during emergencies involving nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), there is no exception for a local or state government failing to respond properly to a crisis. State and local officials failed to evacuate the citizens, declined to quell the looting and other crimes being committed, and even refused permission for the Red Cross to bring food and water to the people packed into the Superdome and Convention Center. The Red Cross explains on their web site that "The state Homeland Security Department had requested... that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city." Without the governor's permission to act, the federal government was effectively hamstrung.
Louisiana Governor Kathy Blanco could have requested federal help, but would not sign the authorisation to allow it, even after the situation had descended into total chaos. "Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans," the Washington Post reported. "The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law." Governor Blanco decided to maintain final authority over the situation in New Orleans. With that authority comes responsibility for the results -- good or bad.
Every person who complains because the federal government did not take control of the New Orleans situation -- despite the governor's refusal to give permission -- is advocating a far more powerful federal government than we should ever want. The burden of response to local disasters rests on local elected officials while they choose to retain their authority. The federal government cannot intervene unless specifically requested to do so. To suggest otherwise is to invite a military dictatorship.
Posted at Wednesday, September 07, 2005 by CavalierX
Saturday, September 03, 2005
The Harsh Lessons of Hurricane Katrina
What happened in New Orleans? How did things go so terribly wrong, and how can such a total breakdown of civil order be prevented in the future? It's easy to point the finger of blame, but that won't do anything to help the next city that falls victim to disaster -- natural or man-made. We need to look at what went wrong, so similar mistakes can be avoided.
On 27 August 2005, two days before Hurricane Katrina hit near New Orleans, President Bush declared the state of Louisiana a major disaster area. This allowed FEMA, which coordinates state and local disaster relief efforts, to make funds and supplies available to Louisiana Governor Kathy Blanco. Medical supplies, food and water and National Guard units were deployed within a short distance of New Orleans -- short under normal conditions. The Red Cross set up headquarters in Baton Rouge, perhaps 80 miles away.
It's impossible to know precisely where a hurricane will strike land, or where the devastation will fall. If you put your emergency supplies and people too close to the hardest-hit area, then they, too, might be damaged or killed. If you place them too far away, they'll be unable to reach the affected area in time, if at all. Placement of resources does not appear to have been the problem... use of them, however, was a different story.
The residents of New Orleans were informed as much as anyone can be of the dangers posed by Hurricane Katrina. The NOAA issued a bulletin for New Orleans on 28 August 2005, the day before Katrina hit. The bulletin warned that Katrina's strength would rival that of Hurricane Camille. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks... maybe longer," it went on to say. "Power outages will last for weeks... as most power poles will be down and transformers destroyed. Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards." Although the NOAA attributed the anticipated problems to the hurricane itself, the warning was certainly vivid enough.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency, and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city after a personal appeal from President Bush. Some of those who remained behind were too poor to escape via normal public or private transportation. The poorest residents had no way out of town. Photos have shown fleets of school buses still parked in their flooded lots. Why those buses were not pressed into service, no one knows. The City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan clearly states, "The City of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas," and "Transportation will be provided to those persons requiring public transportation from the area." Part II, Section B, paragraph 5 of the Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan (supplement 1A) states, "School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating." Public buses only took people to the Superdome, which was clearly not outside the threatened area. The school buses were never used at all. Emergency plans are created for a reason, and need to be followed in order to ensure the safety of the citizens.
Over 200 school buses that did not evacuate 10,000 to 12,000 per trip
After the hurricane had passed, everything seemed normal in New Orleans, though power and communications had been largely cut off. In hindsight, and under similar circumstances in the future, that would be the time to move the National Guard into the area, to gather information if nothing else. With no communications, no one could know the city's situation for sure. The Guard would be the governor's eyes and ears on the ground. But they were not told to move into the city. Then the levee gave way, and moving into New Orleans en masse became nearly impossible.
The levees that protected the city from the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain were partially redesigned and rebuilt to withstand a Force 3 hurricane. The ten-year project to build them up to that level was launched in 1965, but is still incomplete after 40 years. The portion of the levee that collapsed, however, was one that had been completed. The city and state governments took a continuing gamble since the 1960's that no stronger storm would happen to strike New Orleans. Eventually, they were bound to lose... it was only a matter of time. Some critics would like to blame the disaster on the recent reduction of federal funds to the Army Corps of Engineers, but funds have been declining for nearly a decade. According to the Chicago Tribune, "Congress in 1999 authorized the corps to conduct a $12 million study to determine how much it would cost to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane, but the study isn't scheduled to get under way until 2006."
Lawlessness and looting followed the inrush of water almost immediately, as people began taking what they could get their hands on before the water could claim it all. The city police force and fire department had no way of coping with the hurricane damage, the loss of power and communications, impassable roads and the looters thronging the streets, while simultaneously trying to rescue people from the rising flood without getting trapped themselves. Still, the governor declined to order the Louisiana National Guard into the city to maintain order and help rescue survivors, though the Coast Guard quickly began rescue operations. No call was made to mobilise the National Guard units from other states -- it's as though the existence of the Guard was completely forgotten.
The Red Cross and other relief agencies could not get supplies into New Orleans until the roads were cleared. Desperation worsened looting, and the crowds packed into the Superdome and the Convention Center descended into chaos, as the food and water began to run low and the facilities became unusable. Other people have been sitting on the roads and parking lots around those areas for days, waiting for the authorities to tell them where to go and what to do. The result is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in American history, a black eye for the entire country, and a lesson plan for our terrorist enemies, who would love nothing better than to cause such chaos and destruction themselves.
The New Orleans disaster should serve as an alarm for every city in America -- not to mention every city, everywhere. Lessons have to be drawn from this that will prevent a repeat during the next crisis, whether it comes from a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Local and state governments should pay careful attention to what the New Orleans crisis is telling us about how to deal with future problems.
1. Work out emergency plans, and carry them out as closely as possible. If an evacuation is called for under the circumstances, move as many people as possible to as safe a place as possible -- not just across town. Don't plan on keeping them there just for a few hours, but plan for days, just in case. Stage emergency food and medical supplies at places designated as rescue points. If plans are followed, then loss of communication among the authorities won't matter as much -- each government official will have some idea what the others are doing.
2. Maintain law and order. The main obstacle to the food and water distribution and rescue operations has been the rioting looters in the streets, shooting at the rescuers. Those who merely take food and water are making it impossible for others to use it, and impossible for local authorities to commandeer those supplies for the sick and helpless. Inside the refugee centers, there aren't nearly enough police or security guards or hastily-sworn-in deputies to prevent rape, murder, theft and other violence among the angry, hungry crowds.
3. Maintain communications. The people packed into the stadium and convention center are turning hostile mostly because they feel they've been abandoned. Buses and trucks pass them by, feeding and evacuating others according to a plan that isn't being shared. Frustration easily turns to anger, and anger to rage. No one on the outside even knew how many people were jammed into the Superdome and the Convention Center until news trucks made their way to those buildings to report.
4. Use all available resources. The Louisiana National Guard could have done so much in the early hours of this crisis, but they were not utilised. Even a few thousand Guardsmen patrolling the streets would have gone a great deal towards maintaining at least the appearance of law and order -- and appearances can mean a great deal in a city-wide crisis. Press every city-owned bus, dump truck and bicycle into service to transport people to safety if needed.
5. Do not wait for the federal government. There's a reason we pay state and municipal taxes, and it isn't so that our elected officials can sit on their hands and wait for Uncle Sam to bail us out of a crisis. For every inch of red tape in a city bureaucracy, there's a foot of it at the state level and a mile at the federal. Emergencies demand swift action and clear communication to avoid the sort of chaos Katrina has left in her wake.
We will face disasters again, possibly as severe as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The days of ignorant complacency vanished on 9/11 -- an artificial disaster can happen anytime, anyplace. A lesson for the individual here is not to depend on any government, but on yourself. Make sure you always have at least a few days' worth of food and any medicine you need. Keep some bottled water on hand in case of emergency. Above all, keep your head.
Posted at Saturday, September 03, 2005 by CavalierX
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Who Will Help Katrina's Victims?
Once again, disaster has struck in our own backyard, but I don't expect to see aid flooding in, so to speak, from other nations. New Orleans appeared to have escaped the worst effects of Hurricane Katrina until two of the levees broke, flooding an estimated 80% of the city. Since New Orleans is built in a huge bowl-shaped depression, the levees were necessary to keep out the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain.
Animal and human bodies swirl in the floodwaters, while tree trunks and downed power lines obstruct rescue operations... but nothing seems to deter looters, nor the rioters who took hostages inside a prison. The tens of thousands of people who took refuge in the Superdome are being forced to evacuate by the rising waters, lack of air circulation, and overwhelmed facilities. There is hardly any drinkable water anywhere in the city, no electricity for millions in the area, and it may be months before power is fully restored.
Meanwhile, 30-foot waves slammed into Biloxi MS, destroying its power grid and sewage systems. Floods engulfed parts of Alabama, destroying homes, shipyards and businesses. The number of people who were left homeless and nearly helpless by Hurricane Katrina can only be imagined at this point.
People around the world, even in countries whose governments consider themselves our enemies, know that when disaster strikes they can depend on the generosity of Americans to help them survive and recover. The rest of the world is so used to our automatic offers of money, food, doctors, engineers, medicine, clothing and other forms of assistance in times of trouble that our government has even been called "stingy" when their response was not quite fast enough or the checks not quite large enough to suit our beneficiaries. But it's not really the job of our government to send our tax dollars overseas that way. It's not really the government's responsibility to help domestic disaster victims, either. It's ours. And Americans always respond brilliantly to calls for help from around the world. Yet charity, it is said, begins at home.
When Americans are in trouble, they can only truly depend on the help of fellow Americans, the same people who are so quick to help people of other nationalities in distress. The effects of Hurricane Katrina are unprecendented, and it will take an unprecedented amount of help to recover from them. Please call the American Red Cross at 1-800-HELP NOW, the Salvation Army at 1-800-725-2769 or Mercy Corps at 1-888-256-1900 to give what you can.
31 Aug 2005 UPDATE: Here is FEMA's list of organisations to which you can donate money or volunteer service.3 Sept 2005 UPDATE: Offers of assistance now come from around the world. Qatar tops the list of over 50 so far, offering $100 million. Even Sri Lanka, still recovering from the December tsunami, offered aid. Israel, Japan, Australia and others are stepping up. Well, perhaps the Liberals were wrong about the "entire world" hating us after all.
7 Sept 2005 UPDATE: Kuwait comes through with $500 million in aid for the people who saved them from Saddam.
3 Sept 2005 UPDATE: France and Germany have begun to offer relief for New Orleans. France offered to send 35 relief workers from the Caribbean (with 60 more from mainland France). Both countries offered hundreds of tents and beds, along with generators, water treatment plants, planes, ships and medical supplies.
Posted at Tuesday, August 30, 2005 by CavalierX
Friday, August 26, 2005
Dear Iraq: We're Sorry For the Media
The time has come to offer our heartfelt apologies to the people of Iraq. Oh, don't get me wrong. Only the far-Left fringe would even consider apologising for removing a brutal tyrant like Saddam Hussein from power. One would have to be mad to apologise for freeing 25 million people from over three decades of injustice, preventing Saddam from filling more mass graves and ending forever his predilection for genocide. Who regrets giving Iraqis the opportunity to hold free and fair elections for the first time ever -- making the oldest civilisation the youngest democracy? How could any American want to apologise for exposing and halting the massive corruption in the United Nation's Oil-for-Food program, which funneled billions of dollars into Saddam's pockets while doing nothing for his people? Or for the way France, Russia and China sold Saddam their influence with the UN Security Council in exchange for oil exploration rights, to be exercised as soon as the sanctions -- which only hurt the Iraqi people, while keeping Saddam in power -- were removed? No, there's only one thing that America needs to apologise to Iraq for: inflicting our Liberal agenda-driven media on them.
During the actual Iraq war itself, the "mainstream" media was quite fair in its coverage. It could hardly be otherwise, with reporters taking the field alongside the soldiers themselves. The talking heads on the home front started using the "Q-word" and making Vietnam comparisons before even a week had passed, but their dour outlook was negated by reports from their own embedded colleagues. Of course, they projected the same negativity during the Afghanistan campaign, too. All battles are quagmires, and all wars Vietnam, when a Republican is in the White House.
After the short war to topple Saddam was over, the embedded reporters returned home, or retreated to the relative safety of Green Zone hotels, from which they now rarely emerge. "The journalists among us agreed that our work increasingly relied on phone calls to Iraqis on the scene, rather than real reportage of what we could see and touch," lamented journalist Dan Murphy in April 2004. Two years after the liberation of Iraq, most of the "news" they report from Iraq consists of reciting death counts or bewailing the costs of Iraqi freedom. They get most of their information and slant from old contacts, formerly Saddam's "minders," or by taking phone calls from... who knows who?
In order to tell us how badly everything is going in Iraq, the mainstream media must consistently ignore good news unless there's a down side upon which they can dwell. For instance, Americans have to check with the BBC to find information on the reflooding of the Iraqi marshlands. Saddam drained them to punish the inhabitants by destroying their land and culture, in what UN Environment Program Executive Director Klaus Toepfer called "a major ecological and human disaster." Don't waste your time trying to find an environmentalist giving Bush credit for their restoration. Civic and economic restoration are also largely ignored, except by independent reporters like Michael Yon, one of the few remaining embeds. The American media was quick to discuss Fallujah while Americans were taking casualties there, but have been as silent as the proverbial grave since the main fighting stopped and the city has undergone what can only be termed a renaissance.
Even when reporting positive developments they can't ignore, like the Iraq election in January 2005, the writing of a constitution or actions against terrorists and insurgents, they feel it necessary to mention unrelated American and civilian deaths or Abu Ghraib. Few, if any, reporters mention the rebuilding of hospitals, schools, roads and other infrastructure. Even overwhelming victories against the insurgents or the foreign terrorists -- of which there have been quite a few -- are treated as defeats in the press. The media seems determined to follow some sort of "equal time" law for both sides of our fight to protect and stabilise Iraq.
The media is intent on portraying American soldiers as either victims or brutes, ignoring all the good they have done and still do. The only time we hear about heroes like Casey Sheehan, for example, is when his own mother refers to him as though he were a foolish child, praises his killers as "freedom fighters" and uses his death to demand that America abandon Iraq to the mercy of its totalitarian and theocratic neighbors. The old cliche, "if it bleeds, it leads," has been almost completely replaced with, "if it hurts Bush, it leads." And Iraq is unfortunately caught in the crossfire, as the media tries desperately to discredit and undermine support for President Bush and the military.
No matter what Iraqis do, the media will continue to focus on the negative. Nothing they do will ever be good enough to gain media approval, and for that we should apologise. It must be hard enough to rebuild your country after over 30 years of mismanagement without having every move you make scrutinised by an overly-critical media trying to get the American government to abandon you. Our own history is full of false steps and mistakes -- it took us seven years to write our own Constitution, for instance, and two more before we added the Bill of Rights -- but Iraqis will not be given any leeway whatsoever.
The Iraqis writing their constitution have some disagreements. Disaster! Civil War! It's all been a mistake! the media cries. One disagreement is over the role of religion in government. Horrors! Theocracy! What did we go there for? the media wails. Yet the Afghanis wrote a constitution that specifies the country is "an Islamic Republic" with Islam as the official state religion, and mandates that "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam." The mainstream media never said a word against it. In fact, the New York Times praised it as "an excellent foundation for creating a better Afghanistan."
Watching their every effort to advance belittled in the American media may be the hardest test the new Iraq has to face. Terrorists with bombs are one thing, but a persistent campaign to sap the will of two nations is quite another. I'm sorry to see Iraq put through the media wringer that Afghanistan escaped.
Hat tip to Publius Pundit for pointing out the NY Times' reaction to the Afghanistan Constitution.
And another tip of the hat to Skye for the link to Michael Yon's blog.
Posted at Friday, August 26, 2005 by CavalierX
Saturday, August 20, 2005
What If They Protested Cindy?
Due to a sympathetic, agenda-driven media, a slow news month, and support from high-powered Liberal groups, most people know who Cindy Sheehan is. (Pop quiz: without looking it up, can you put a face to any other parent who lost a child in Iraq?) For those who don't, she's the anti-Bush demonstrator who's allowed the loony Left fringe to use her son's death in Iraq as an attack on the President for liberating Iraq, as well as a shield from any examination of their accusations or motives. She's become a human megaphone, allowing every Left-wing lunatic with an axe to grind to blast accusations and demands through her. She has said the US had no business overthrowing the Taliban, demanded that Israel withdraw from "Palestine" (which, according to Palestinians, includes Israel), claimed we're waging a "war for oil," and asserted that "this country is not worth dying for."
I feel really badly for Cindy Sheehan. The poor woman's grief over her son's death has been hijacked by far Left radicals to further their own ends; when they're done using her they'll just toss her aside. She might do a couple of talk shows, put her name and face on a ghost-written book, and then vanish back into the obscurity she enjoyed when she praised President Bush for being "sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis".
In the meantime, she's allowed the "usual suspects" to use her like the family car -- everyone gets to borrow it to run their own errands. Groups like MoveOn.org (owned by George Soros, and claiming ownership of the Democrats), United for Peace and Justice and Code Pink (both wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Heinz Family Foundation by way of Global Exchange and the Tides Corporation) have gotten into the act. If she were in her right mind, would she ally with the kind of people who actively root against America in favor of our enemies? Obviously, the poor woman is unhinged by grief. Her entire family is begging her to stop this travesty. She ought to listen to them.
Cindy's descent into madness has been sad, even tragic. Still, it does not grant her the right to demand that the President give her an opportunity to spew radical Liberal anti-war propaganda at him for the media's benefit. I'm sorry for the loss of her son, as I believe most everyone is. But I'm also sorry for the loss of her dignity and self-command, and her loss of respect for her son. For by allying herself with the same people who call his killers heroes or freedom fighters and compare them to Minutemen, she has repudiated what he believed in. He was killed by people trying to put a nation back in chains. She is letting others use Casey's death to attack what he held dear enough to put himself in danger to achieve -- a free and stable democratic Iraq.
Casey Sheehan should have made front-page news as a hero of the Iraq war -- a 24-year-old man who re-enlisted to go with his unit to Iraq, and volunteered for the dangerous rescue mission during which he was killed. Instead of a hero, he's portrayed as a witless child who earned and deserved no honors. His mother lamented that she should have "taken him to Canada," as though, in some fantasy of hers, he had been drafted and wanted to escape. If she had done so, Casey would have come straight back to do his duty. "Thatís all he wanted to do was serve God and his country his whole life," his sister Carly told the Associated Press when he died. That's not the duped little boy we hear about from the protesters in Crawford.
Mrs. Sheehan has left Crawford and her patchwork group of supporters, requesting the media give her privacy after weeks of seizing every possible opportunity to grab the spotlight. Her mother has suffered a stroke, and will hopefully recover in a Los Angeles hospital. Meanwhile, I wonder what it would look like were the tables turned, with anti-Cindy protesters demanding impossible answers to senseless questions.
LOS ANGELES (CA) - President Bush and his supporters have set up a camp outside the hospital where Cindy Sheehan's mother is recovering from a stroke, despite Sheehan's request for privacy. "We are not leaving until Cindy comes out to tell us the real reason for her mother's stroke," demanded the President. "I just want to ask why."
Bush supporters and other anti-hospital groups have littered the hospital grounds with crosses bearing the names of stroke, diabetes and cancer victims, without asking the families of those victims for permission to do so. "We're here to save people from debilitating strokes and other diseases, by protesting this and all hospitals," said an unnamed protester. "Doesn't anyone see the obvious link between hospitals and illness? You always find sick people in hospitals!"
The National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control have sent spokespeople to explain that the protesters are reversing cause and effect, to no avail. Despite claims that hospitals don't cause diseases, but help victims recover from them, the protesters remain unconvinced. President Bush has his own explanation for strokes, in particular. "We know that Mama Sheehan's stroke was caused by the close proximity of the Moon to Earth," stated the President. "People will continue to fall victim to these deadly attacks until the Moon is forced to move out of Earth's orbit." The President and his supporters demand that this be done immediately, though how they expect the feat to be accomplished they cannot say.
Other hospital protesters blame various illnesses on the decline of astrology as a reliable guide to stock market investing, the rise in celebrity trials resulting in acquittals, elf arrows and Michael Moore. Some people, marrying their own cause to that of President Bush, compared Moore to the Moon. All are agreed, however, that the link between sickness and hospitals is undeniable, citing the fact that more disease victims can be found in hospitals than in any other place.
"They call it 'recovering' and 'healing,' but we know that hospitals are the place to find all sorts of diseases and ailments," a slick, professionally-produced anti-hospital leaflet reveals. "That's where people go to 'study' such things." A color-coded map of LA showing the highest concentrations of illnesses in the city validates the anti-hospital claim, showing large colored dots at the location of every hospital.
President Bush and the protesters are vowing to maintain their vigil at the hospital as long as Cindy Sheehan remains inside, or until she agrees to a personal meeting with the President. "I can't wait to tell her to her face how wrong she is for letting this hospital give her mother a stroke." He added apprehensively, "I only hope she won't schedule the meeting during a full moon."
This map proves the link between hospitals and illnesses. Concentrations of diseases and medical problems are shown in yellow, while locations of hospitals are shown in red. Coincidence? *
* Yes, this is satire.
Posted at Saturday, August 20, 2005 by CavalierX
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Able Danger: Just Another 9/11 Commission Omission
The biggest unreported story of the year -- at least, unreported by the "mainstream" media -- may be the story of Able Danger. A top secret Pentagon task force identified three of the 9/11 hijackers as terrorists in advance, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, but was told it couldn't touch them by government bureaucrats. This should be above-the-fold news in every paper in America, right? The problem is, this happened during the Clinton administration, so don't expect too much from the Liberal press, even though "Able Danger" is a cool-sounding name for a counter-terrorism operation.
Remember the 9/11 Commission, with their supposedly full and complete final report on exactly what allowed 9/11 to happen, and their recommendations for preventing another such attack? Nowhere in their list of suggestions was, "pay attention when the Pentagon identifies al-Qaeda terrorists plotting something." One might think the Commission had never heard of Able Danger. It turns out that some members were briefed on Able Danger on two separate occasions, but declined to look into it further, because what they were told didn't work with the 9/11 timeline they'd already decided upon. Former commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said, "The information that he provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing." Is that how an investigation is supposed to proceed -- decide the outcome, then ignore any facts that contradict it? I'd be shocked at this failure of the 9/11 Commission to include all the relevant facts in its "comprehensive" report... if only this weren't the only time they ignored something that would reflect badly on the Clinton administration.
The 9/11 Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was put together to answer two questions: how did this happen, and how can we prevent it from happening again? Most Conservatives saw the true purpose of the Commission as similarly twofold. Not only was it seeking to blame President Bush for 9/11, which took place only eight months after his inauguration, but it was also pursuing ways to exonerate the Clinton administration for ignoring the growing threat of al-Qaeda for eight years prior to 9/11. People on all sides of the political spectrum were surprised when they issued a final report which, if boiled down to a single sentence, would say, "everyone and no one was to blame."
Most Americans seemed to accept that judgment, despite all the omissions in the report that were pointed out (though, of course, not in the "mainstream" media). For one thing, the report did not mention that Bill Clinton was offered Osama bin Laden by the Sudanese government but refused to take him, as confirmed by his own words. On 15 February 2002, the former President was asked about terrorism while speaking in Woodbury, NY. He said, "At the time, 1996, [bin Laden] had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America. So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn't and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan."
By 1996, bin Laden and al-Qaeda were at least suspected of involvement in the first World Trade Center bombing, the attack on American Rangers in Mogadishu, Somalia and a car bombing at US military headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, intelligence analysts warned Clinton that letting bin Laden move to Afghanistan could prove dangerous to US interests. If the Commission was interested in mistakes that led to 9/11 and should not be repeated, wouldn't "letting Osama bin Laden run around free" fit the description? Yet the report only mentioned that the US was aware of the discussion between Sudanese and Saudi Arabian officials.
The Commission also ignored the story of Brian Sullivan, the former FAA special agent who tried to draw John Kerry's attention to lax security at Logan Airport, the very airport from which both planes used in the 9/11 New York City attacks took off. Sullivan and another retired FAA agent, with the help of a local news crew, filmed themselves walking through security carrying all manner of weapons and suspicious equipment. He sent the videotape to John Kerry's office in May 2001, and two months later received a reply that it had been forwarded to the Department of Transportation. In a letter, Sullivan asked Kerry to consider the ramifications of "a coordinated attack which took down several domestic flights on the same day." Brian Sullivan's almost prescient attempt to prevent a disaster like 9/11 received no attention from the 9/11 Commission.
Another person whose work should have been at least mentioned by the 9/11 Commission was FBI agent John O'Neill. O'Neill was responsible for the capture of Ramzi Yousef, the al-Qaeda operative responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, who may also have been an Iraqi agent. O'Neill led the investigation into the 1998 al-Qaeda attacks in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi, and the 2000 USS Cole bombing. His conviction that al-Qaeda was not independent, but sponsored by rogue nations -- Iraq among them -- earned him the disapproval of his superiors. He finally quit the Bureau to become Chief of Security for the World Trade Center... and died on 9/11, when he re-entered Tower 2 to rescue survivors of the plane strike. Shouldn't his files and documents, containing the sum of his expertise on al-Qaeda and the evidence he had of Iraq's sponsorship, have been invaluable to the 9/11 Commission? O'Neill's investigative work did not merit so much as a footnote in the report.
Perhaps the first indication that the 9/11 Commission was not all it pretended to be was the presence of Jamie Gorelick on the wrong side of the witness table. Gorelick, during her time as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration, was responsible for creating the "wall of separation" that prevented law enforcement agencies from sharing information about investigations. The Commission determined that the lack of inter-agency cooperation, mostly removed now by the PATRIOT Act, was in part responsible for the failure to prevent 9/11. Coordination and cooperation are essential in preventing terror attacks. It was the "Gorelick wall" that prevented the Pentagon from directly contacting the FBI with Able Danger's information about Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers.
Why did so few people seem to notice that the creator of that wall sat on, instead of being questioned by, the 9/11 Commission? Attorney General John Ashcroft noted that there might be a conflict of interest, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) even called for her to step down. Aside from that, her presence seemed to be largely accepted. That's somewhat akin to letting the guy who sold John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo a sniper rifle (though they were on the banned list) sit on the jury for their murder trials.
Some people may be surprised by Rep. Curt Weldon's (R-PA) revelation that the 9/11 Commission declined to include information that could be useful in preventing future terrorist attacks. After all, isn't it just as important to discover what went right as what went wrong? I'm not surprised at the omission of information from Able Danger, John O'Neill and Brian Sullivan from the 9/11 report, however. It fits in with the pattern of partisan politics the Left has displayed all along.
From the first anti-war protest in NYC just days after 9/11 to the attempt to turn Ground Zero into a showcase for America-bashing, Liberals and their political allies in the Democratic party have worked to discredit President Bush, victimise America and exonerate former President Clinton, while scheming to regain the power they've lost at the voting booth. It's no longer possible to be shocked... all we can do is watch and wonder how much lower they can go, like watching a game of Liberal Limbo.
Posted at Tuesday, August 16, 2005 by CavalierX
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The Theory of Evolution... of Theories
The Intelligent Design debate continues, fueled by President Bush's recent comment that "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." The problem is that Intelligent Design theory (or ID for short) is not a scientific theory at all. ID is an attempt to "prove" that God (or, in some versions, space aliens) created human beings, using the fact that we don't yet know everything about the universe. It's a philosophical belief, not a scientific one.
It's depressing that some people feel there is a competition between science and religion. Science is merely a tool like any other; a method of using our intelligence to investigate the world around us. It's not science's fault that Liberals have tried to use it to "prove" that God is non-existent or irrelevant. Of course, it isn't possible to prove such a thing; all a religious person has to ask is, "So who wrote all the laws of Nature that scientists are trying to learn? Who determined the value of Pi, the speed of light or Planck's Constant?"
ID is an attempt to disprove the idea that humans evolved through natural selection, by pointing out the fact that there are questions the current theory of evolution doesn't answer. The general argument is that some things are so complex that they must have been deliberately designed; they cannot have evolved naturally over any length of time. There is no actual proof of external interference, however. ID proponents claim that since evolution by natural selection cannot explain everything, the theory must be invalid or incomplete. While that's certainly possible, it doesn't mean that those things can't possibly be explained by further scientific investigation.
Unfortunately, that's precisely how scientific advancement works -- by finding ways to explain what current theories cannot. Science does not mean pointing out that something is not yet fully understood, and deducing that it must therefore have been authored by an outside agency.
Consider the history of another branch of science. Sir Isaac Newton is most well known for the discovery of the laws of gravity. In 1687, he published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, three books that forever changed the course of science. The first two dealt with the laws of motion and forces, the third with gravity. Falling objects accelerate at a rate of 32 feet per second, every second they fall -- a rock dropped off a tall building will fall 32 feet, then 64, then 96, and so on until stopped by the ground, or an inconvenient passer-by. Newtonian physics seemed to explain everything very well for centuries.
As scientists dug deeper into the limits of the physical universe, cracks began to show at the edges of Newton's laws -- situations were found that the accepted theories couldn't explain. No one could predict the relationship and interactions between matter and energy on the very large and very small scale using only Newtonian physics. Along came Albert Einstein, with a whole new explanation of physical science. Did that mean Newton was wrong? Did gravity suddenly stop working when quantum theory was discovered? Of course not. Under local conditions, Newtonian physics are just as applicable as ever. Force still equals mass times acceleration. He simply didn't cover everything -- a fault of the available technology of his time as much as anything else.
A century or so later, Einsteinian physics also begins to show cracks around the edges. There are some situations in which the known laws of quantum mechanics don't seem to apply. Why does time itself seem to act differently under extreme circumstances, like in the presence of black holes? ID as applied to physics would simply conclude that black holes must be alien artifacts. Suppose a new kind of particle is discovered that travels faster than light, like the tachyon. Would that make Einstein wrong? Would his theories become garbage? Of course not. Einsteinian physics would explain and predict the normal interactions of matter and energy as well as ever. His theories simply couldn't cover everything, again due -- at least in part -- to the limitations of his time and available technology.
Even today, Newtonian physics are more than adequate for most everyday situations. Falling objects still accelerate in Earth's gravity at 32 feet per second per second. You don't need string theory to calculate how long it takes a rock to fall, but the fact that such advanced theories exist does not invalidate previous ones. In fact, more advanced theories could not even exist without the groundwork they provide. And at no point should anyone decide that there are Things We Just Cannot Explain, and stop trying to understand them. The same holds true for evolutionary theory as physics.
The laws governing heredity were first published in 1866 by Gregor Mendel, a monk experimenting with pea plants. Plants, like animals, generally have offspring that almost exactly resemble them. He realised that some traits are inherited, but that some variations of those traits are dominant over others. The dominant characteristic would appear in all the results of cross-breeding with plants that had different traits. Even so, the recessive variations don't disappear -- they can return in later generations, if combined with another plant carrying them, though neither plant currently shows the recessive characteristic. Two brown-eyed parents might have a blue-eyed child, if each parent has a blue-eyed ancestor somewhere in their past. Mendel codified the rules by which farmers and breeders of all sorts of plants and animals had operated for thousands of years, without understanding the science behind them.
Mendel's theories didn't cover everything, however. As exploration of the Earth's past progressed, ancient remains had been found that belonged to no living creatures... but which were similar in many ways. Obviously, there was some relationship between modern and ancient creatures, despite the differences. A link must have existed between animals past and present, with creatures slowly changing over vast amounts of time. Enter Darwin, and the theory of evolution by natural selection. Though the concept dates back to the ancient Greeks, Darwin codified the laws governing evolution as Mendel did the laws of heredity... and Newton and Einstein did for physics. Once again, science evolved from understanding the narrow focus and short term to the broad scope and long term, building on the work that had gone before.
Scientific evaluation of the past shows that as environmental conditions change over the course of millions of years, creatures slowly adapt; those who have a slight advantage live longer or better lives, and have more offspring. Due to natural variation, some of their descendants may be even slightly better able to survive, and so on. Did this invalidate Mendel's theories? Were all horse, cow and dog breeders put out of business? Did children no longer resemble their parents? Of course not. In the short term -- hundreds of years, even thousands -- the theory that inherited characteristics breed true is still solid. Your children will still look very much like you, or your parents. When people buy a dog, they don't need to worry what its descendants will look like in a million years.
Now, more than a hundred years on, there are some questions unanswered by current evolutionary theory. So, does that mean Darwin was wrong -- that nothing evolves? Does that mean we should burn that branch of science, and stop investigating our own past using scientific methods? Should we just mark that blank area on the chalkboard, "God did this part" and move on to something else? That doesn't make any sense. That doesn't agree with humanity's history of using our intelligence to discover how things work. Like physics before the advent of Einstein or Stephen W. Hawking, evolutionary science is in need of more investigation when there are unanswered questions, not less. When unanswered questions arise... that's when science takes the greatest leaps forward.
Today, we have access to tools of which Darwin could not even dream. We understand the workings of chromosomes and DNA, and have mapped the very genes that make us human. Turning our backs on knowledge has never really been an option, and deciding that an outside agency must have created us simply because we don't have a more clear mundane explanation YET is not a step forward.
Posted at Wednesday, August 10, 2005 by CavalierX
Friday, August 05, 2005
Search Reasonably, Not Randomly!
Once again, Liberals bend over backwards to give jihadists who want to kill innocent Americans every chance to do so. Only this time, they have a point... though not the point they think they have. Less than a month after the Tube bombings in London that killed 52 people, the ACLU's NY chapter is fighting to end random searches on the NYC subways. The argument they make -- that random searches are unconstitutional -- is ridiculous. The Fourth Amendment states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." There is nothing unreasonable about wanting to check the bags and backpacks of people boarding public transportation, while terrorists are carrying bombs onto that same type of transportation in order to commit mass murder.
On the other hand, I happen to agree with the ACLU that we should end random searches on all public transportation. Don't expect to see me joining a patchouli-drenched protest mob anytime soon, though. I'm against random searches because they do no good, not because anyone's feelings might be hurt. We can do much better than that... if we just ignore the hysterics.
Many Liberals feel faint whenever anyone proposes glancing at young, Islamic-looking men while checking for possible terrorists. The fact that young, Islamic-looking men perpetrated nearly every act of terrorism committed in recent years escapes them (as facts usually do). The fact that nineteen out of nineteen 9/11 hijackers were young, Islamic-looking men also seems to make no difference to them. Almost all of the terrorists who deliberately murdered innocents on London subways and Madrid trains, a Bali nightclub and a Beslan school -- among many other places -- were also young, Islamic-looking men as well.
I'm not saying that all people of that description are terrorists, simply observing the fact that most terrorists are people of that description. We are at war with devotees of a radical sect of Islam called Wahhabism. If most terrorists were white-haired, blue-eyed female Protestants over the age of 80, I'd say we should pay particular attention to people of that description. Purposely checking more young, Islamic-looking men than old, European-looking women, Liberals seem to feel, would be worse than letting those young, Islamic-looking men murder dozens, hundreds or even thousands of innocent people. Yet the next time such an event occurs on American soil, the same Liberals will be the first to condemn the Bush administration for not making us completely safe from terrorist attacks.
In deference to the Liberal position -- i.e., "anything that would make America safer is a bad thing" -- random searches were introduced at airports in response to 9/11, instead of directed searches. Racial profiling is avoided that way, but so are results. Airports are now full of elderly women and confused children removing their shoes, thanks to a young, Islamic-looking man who attempted to blow up a plane by secreting explosives in his shoes. Meanwhile countless young, Islamic-looking men breeze through the lines. Surely there's a chance that more of them are likely to be terrorists than people who might have stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Is it rational to pretend that everyone has the same likelihood of being a terrorist as people who may share a cultural background with those who have already attacked us?
Fine, let's not specifically target those who are most likely to be terrorists for personal searches before boarding public transportation. Let's simply cut down on the number of likely misses in those searches using reason and logic. We don't want to waste time and resources conducting searches of those who are least likely to be terrorists, do we? Instead of profiling, let's try reverse profiling -- cutting out the people who fit certain profiles from extraneous searches, leaving the rest to be checked more regularly.
Search the elderly at random? No way. I doubt Grandma will use that cane to beat an airline pilot into submission, nor is that hearing aid in Grandpa's ear likely to be a cleverly-disguised chunk of C-4. Treating them as uniformly dangerous is just statistically unreasonable. Same with children. Little Bobby is unlikely to be an al-Qaeda midget in disguise... but if a screener thinks he might be, then go ahead and search him. Families traveling together are highly illogical subjects for searches, based on past history of known terrorist behavior. Radical terrorists bent on mass murder don't usually invite the family along for the last ride to Paradise. The only time such people should qualify for specific searches is when their behavior seems out of character.
Focusing searches on those statistically more likely to be involved with terrorism is the best overall way to make us safer, but other ways have been tried in the past. It's odd that the people who are most outraged by the suggestion to concentrate screening where it will do the most good are those on the Left. Perhaps if President Bush herded people of Middle-Eastern descent -- men, women and children -- into internment camps for the duration of the war, they would appreciate his efforts more. After all, that was the course of action taken by a Democratic President when confronted by war with enemies of identifiable ethnic origins.
Many Americans consider Franklin Delano Roosevelt a hero today despite his internment of Americans of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry. No less a personage than Time Magazine's Managing Editor Walter Isaacson, however, recently praised him as "someone who embodied the struggle for freedom," a champion of democracy and civil rights. Thousands who had their civil rights taken away by the stroke of a pen might disgree.
Yet when Conservatives merely suggest concentrating airport and subway searches on those most likely to be terrorists, hysterical Liberals compare them not to Roosevelt, but to Hitler. Go figure.
Posted at Friday, August 05, 2005 by CavalierX
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Looking for a Big Book of Opinions?
Posted at Sunday, July 31, 2005 by CavalierX
Friday, July 29, 2005
Liberals Love America, BUT...
Liberals always insist that they love America, despite their constant complaints, but they can never seem to point out exactly what it is they love about it. Whereas most Americans can simply say, "I love my country," and leave it at that, Liberals always have to follow that statement with a "BUT..." But what?
Consider a relationship in which one person demands that the other change his or her taste in music, books, television shows, movies and style of dress. Imagine that person also being coerced to stop wasting time with cherished recreations, cease eating favorite foods, alter old habits and drop old friends. Is that indicative of a healthy relationship? It's a selfish, controlling kind of affection... "I love you not for who you are, but for what I can change you into." That's how Liberals seem to feel about America.
Ask Liberals why they love America. Really listen to their answers. Do they say they love America for her tolerance and diversity? Then why do they not tolerate those who have opinions that differ from their own? Do they profess to love America's economic opportunities? Why do they want to cripple businesses with oppressive regulations and punish those who succeed with higher taxes? Do they tell you they love America for her beautiful forests, plains, rivers and mountains? If so, why do they complain about the manner in which those lands became part of this country, and demand that it all be preserved as if behind glass? Do they claim to love America for the freedoms we enjoy? Why, then, do they despise the military and police that protect our freedom? Why do they protest our military for helping others secure freedom for themselves and their children?
Liberals claim to support our military... but it's an odd kind of "support" that primarily consists of comparing them to Nazis and Soviet thugs, and accusing them of torture and wanton slaughter. What kind of "support" calls for them to abandon their mission before it's completed, and run away from an enemy who chose this fight? How can you say to someone, "I support you, but despise everything you stand for and everything you do, and will take every possible opportunity to make my feelings obvious for all to see?" That's not love and support; that's utter contempt, lacking even the common decency to be honest about it.
There seems to be nothing about America of which Liberals whole-heartedly approve. When they encourage teachers to stop using red pens because red is "pretty frightening," and feel that testing students at their grade level is "inherently unfair," you know they can't think much of our educational system. Liberals take no pride in our history, our political system, our traditions or our ability to exercise our religious freedom. Don't they frequently accuse America of committing horrible atrocities and being a nation of religious extremists? Don't they condemn patriotic displays and complain about "rigged" elections whenever they lose one, without serious evidence or reason? They claim they're just looking at America "warts and all," but the warts are all they see. Imagine saying to a person in earnestness, "Sure I love you, but you're ugly, stupid and smell bad." Wouldn't any reasonable person characterise that as emotional cruelty, at best?
It's time for America to get out of this abusive relationship. We've put up with Liberals bad-mouthing our country for far too long without putting up a defense. The next time you hear a Liberal insisting that he or she loves America and supports the troops, "BUT..." gently interrupt and ask, "why?" If you get an answer at all, it should be enlightening.
Posted at Friday, July 29, 2005 by CavalierX