Are Liberals Destroying the Democratic Party?
Frustrated and unhappy at losing yet another election, and angry about losing power in general, Liberals are now trying to convince America that President Bush should not hold an inauguration celebration while the country is at war and South Asia is recovering from a tsunami. The funny thing about Liberals is, they always manage to sink just a little bit lower than anyone expects. They're back to pretending to care about the troops, as some Liberals are suggesting that Bush appropriate the $40 million that private donors have given to fund the various inaugural activities and spend it on military equipment. This marks one of the few times in history that Liberals have advocated an increase in military spending, which makes it an indication of how much they really hate President Bush. Others believe Bush should take the money and spend it on tsunami relief efforts, which are already being heavily funded by the same private donors who contributed to the inaugural events. (Most Hollywood Liberals, for instance, instead of giving their own money to tsunami relief as Sandra Bullock has done, are simply putting on a show to convince you to give more of your money.) I don't remember them -- or anyone -- arguing that Bill Clinton should cancel his 1996 inauguration because of the violent conflict in the Balkans or the terrible genocide in Rwanda, in which 800,000 were murdered while the UN and the US did nothing. The Liberal arguments against holding an inauguration have nothing to do with war and disaster, however. It's just a symptom of a larger illness. President Bush is not under attack because he's having an inauguration during a war. He's being attacked solely because Liberals hate the man personally, along with everything he stands for. For crying out loud, even the anarchists are organising against him -- now THAT'S a serious animosity!
Democrats have a choice to make. How much longer will they continue to allow these frustrated, angry children to speak on their behalf? Where are the Democrats who love this country, celebrate its achievements, honor its traditions, support its troops and realise that the best defense is a strong offense? Where are the Democrats to whom "morality" is not a dirty word? Where are those who believe that our laws must be made by elected officials and comply with the Constitution, not subject to change at will by activist judges relying on foreign laws or public opinion? Don't think that it hasn't already happened -- in Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Kennedy cited a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the decision to overturn a Texas sodomy case. In Atkins v. Virginia, which struck down laws regarding death sentences for the mentally retarded, Justice Stevens claimed his decision was based on "a national consensus" which he felt had developed. That's the sort of thing that has been causing the Democrats to lose power, and rightly so.
Democrats as led by Liberals are dissolving into a party of the shrill minority, an obstructionist party with shrinking power to obstruct. Real Democrats like Senators Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller are shoved aside by the radicals, to the point where Zell Miller spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention instead of addressing the Democrats, as he did in 1992. If the true Democrats don't take back their party now, the 2006 election may see the Republicans with a bulletproof majority in the Senate. It only takes 60 votes in the Senate to defeat any filibuster, and the Republicans currently have 55 seats. 17 Democratic Senators are up for re-election in 2006 (as well as 15 Republicans and 1 Independent). Five of those Democratic Senate seats are from states that voted for Bush in the 2004 election -- Florida (Bill Nelson), Nebraska (Ben Nelson), New Mexico (Jeff Bingaman), North Dakota (Kent Conrad) and West Virginia (Bobby "Sheets" Byrd). It doesn't require a great stretch of the imagination to see how easily the Democrats could be marginalised for decades to come. The ability to block any Senate bill from coming to a vote is their last real power, and unless the Liberals running the party into the ground are stopped, it's likely they will lose even that. Of course, given the way they've abused the privilege, using the filibuster to block judicial nominations from coming to a vote instead of blocking bills, perhaps that wouldn't be a bad thing.
When most Americans think about Democrats, they think of gay "marriage," high taxes, peace at any cost, antipathy to religion, government control and nanny-state politics including welfare expansion and socialised medicine. The Democrats are seen as anti-gun, anti-industry, anti-military, anti-free trade, anti-capitalism, and anti-American sovereignty. Democrats are viewed as the party undermining public support for the war on terror, a war that most Americans understand we must fight and win. There's a reason for this, and it's not some vast right-wing conspiracy. Those are the policies of the Liberals who speak for the Democrats in every public forum. If you're a Democrat, and those policies don't sound like your views, then you'd better take your party back from the Liberals before it's too late. That doesn't mean allowing your leaders to pander to the center, pretending to be more conservative than they really are, as John Kerry did (though too late for the 2004 election) and Hillary Clinton will spend the next four years doing. You need to stand behind leaders who really DO represent your views.
It would be a shame to see America become a one-party political system, but that would still be better than allowing Liberals to take charge. As the last decade's worth of election results show, a majority of Americans agree with that.
UPDATE: A somewhat sad and predictable response from Daily Kos: "CavalierX we don't need you advice. Liberals are the Democratic party." You're right, of course. Keep doing exactly what you have been. It's been working just fine. You just need to get your message out. Incidentally, doesn't "Liberals are the Democratic party" sound too close to MoveOn.org's statement, "Now it's our Party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back" for comfort?
Posted at Sunday, January 16, 2005 by CavalierX
Saturday, January 15, 2005
If The Media Gave California The 'Iraq Treatment'
Noting the disparity between the "mainstream" media's one-sided reports on Iraqi violence and the reports from Iraqis, soldiers and journalists actually on the ground there, I wondered how it would be if the media reported on California the same way they report on Iraq. I'm pretty sure your nightly news report would sound something like this:
ANNOUNCER VOICEOVER: Welcome to NNC, the National News Channel
ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Ron Green, and welcome to the nightly news on NNC, the news channel with no bias whatsoever. In this segment, we'll be discussing the horrible, violent mess that is California. Due to the excessive violence in its streets, California has become an impossible place to live. How much of that can we hold President Bush responsible for? Let's find out.
[video montage of violence, mostly in South Central LA, scenes from "COPS," news video of car chases]
ANCHOR: As we can clearly see, California is ravaged with violence and crime. Gangs of criminals rule the mean streets, and the police are helpless to prevent murder, rape, drug crimes, carjacking and robbery from occurring on a daily basis. In Los Angeles, in 2004 alone, there were 515 reported homicides, 1,073 rapes, 13,990 robberies, 15,295 aggravated assaults, and 11,031 incidents of child or spousal abuse -- and that's just in one city! Out of 41,904 reported violent crimes in LA in 2004, only 14,786 arrests were made. Out of 120,348 property crimes -- including 22,637 burglaries and 28,260 cases of grand theft auto -- only 16,345 people were arrested. Clearly, the violence in California is completely out of control. We'll return after this commercial break.
ANCHOR: We're back, with a fair and equal debate on the issue of just how bad the violence in California really is. With me are rational commentator Terence O'Connell, and right-wing fanatic Hannah Coltish. Hannah, what is your position on the devastating violence destroying California?
COLTISH: First of all, let me say that you're blowing things out of proportion. Just because there's some violence in some parts of California doesn't mean that all of California is unlivable. In over 90% of the country, schools and hospitals are functioning normally, families are living normal lives, children are playing in the streets. The media's obsession with the violence and your failure to report the other news from California paints it as a hell-hole of death and destruction, which, clearly, it is not. And another thing: you certainly can't hold the President responsible for the state of California, even if it was as terrible there as you pretend...
O'CONNELL: You're a liar! You're just trying to cover up for the utter failure of this President to quell California's murders, rapes and assaults. California is a total disaster! Look at the incidents of domestic violence there -- over 11,000 just in Los Angeles! And that's only one of dozens of cities! There's only one way to describe it -- California is a quagmire! Americans have no business running California! This failure goes all the way to the top!
ANCHOR: So let me get this straight, Hannah: you claim that there are no problems in California whatsoever? That it's a peaceful place full of happy people, laughing children playing with puppies, and no violent crimes occurring anywhere? Looking at the statistics, I'm shocked you could make that fraudulent claim.
O'CONNELL: She's a liar! She's a paid mouthpiece for the Administration! Anyone who says that things are perfect in California is a dupe, a tool, or a fool!
COLTISH: That is not what I said at all! Of course there are problems and crimes of violence in California, but that's not the point!
ANCHOR: Unfortunately, that's all the time we have; we'll have to wrap the segment up here. So there you have it, folks: both sides agree that that California is wracked with problems and violent crimes too numerous to mention. It's a quagmire of rape, murder, robbery, assault and car theft, and the President is doing nothing to stop it. This is Ron Green, for NNC.
ANNOUNCER VOICEOVER: Stay tuned to NNC, the National News Channel, your only source of unbiased reporting.
Posted at Saturday, January 15, 2005 by CavalierX
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Public Folly, Political Suicide
Is there any more glaring public display of folly possible than the "No Blood For Oil" bumper sticker I recently spotted on the back of an SUV? The closest thing to that level of irony was a "Buy American" bumper sticker I saw years ago on a VW Beetle -- a German car manufactured in Mexico. The humor was intentional in that case, however. (Thanks, Dr. G, wherever you are.) Frankly, unless you live in a hand-built log cabin eating only what you grow and wearing clothes you weave yourself out of the hemp you don't smoke, you're as sticky with oil as though you dove headfirst into a tanker's hold. If you drive a car or ride a bus, you use oil. Heat your house? You use oil. Wear clothes? Buy groceries? Reading this on a computer screen? You're using oil. And if you're driving something that uses more gas than almost any other car you could possibly be driving, and you're accusing the US government of invading other countries to steal their oil for your consumption... well, it's a shame that stupidity isn't painful. If you look around, though, you can find plenty of examples of self-parody in action.
In some circles, public displays of folly are fast becoming a way of life. Take some Democrat reactions to the re-election of President Bush, for instance. When the election results were certified, Democrats both inside and outside of Congress protested. Some, like Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca), merely cried. Others, like Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH), voiced pointless objections to the election results based on... well, nothing in particular. Reverend Jesse Jackson marched with a group of orange-clad demonstrators right outside of Congress. They wore orange in imitation of the thousands of brave souls who protested REAL election fraud in Ukraine, which included beatings, destruction of ballots with acid, disappearing ink, disappearing voters and the Dioxin poisoning of the opposing candidate, Viktor Yushchenko. If I were Ukrainian, I'd be incensed at the presumption of Jackson and his group. There has been no actual evidence of partisan election fraud in Ohio, where the Democrats are concentrating their ineffectual protests merely due to Ohio's large number of electoral votes. (Problems? Yes. Deliberate fraud? No.) It's all about discrediting President Bush at any cost, even damage to the Democratic Party's credibility. Oddly enough, the Democrats are not clamoring to have voter fraud examined in instances where it might have favored their candidate, like the 46,000 Democrats registered in both Florida and New York.
It's obvious to anyone who pays attention that the drive to "have every vote counted" is strictly one-sided. The day before the election was certified, Kerry's web site, johnkerry.com, sent out an email (signed simply, "John Kerry") to all subscribers. The email complained of "reports of irregularities, questionable practices by some election officials and instances of lawful voters being denied the right to vote," but admitted that, "our legal teams on the ground have found no evidence that would change the outcome of the election." Nevertheless, Kerry assured his readers, "I want every vote counted," even though if (by some miracle) every vote yet uncounted was cast for Kerry, he still couldn't come close to a win. It's almost as though Kerry, unhappy at his loss, is determined to waste as many taxpayer dollars as possible in retaliation. Kerry, or whoever wrote the email in his name, also stated that, "our citizens should never be forced to vote on old, unaccountable and non transparent voting machines from companies controlled by partisan activists." It seems strange that the results from the same machines weren't challenged in 1992 or 1996, when they logged more votes for Bill Clinton than any of his opponents. It's only when Republicans get more votes that Democrats complain about faulty machines and the owners of the companies that made them.
Meanwhile, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the poster boy for public folly, still hasn't figured out why the Democrats have lost yet another election. In a speech to the National Press Club, Kennedy complained about losing the 2004 election, and called for the Democrats to move even further Left than they already have. He seems to believe that Democrats can connect with a majority of Americans by digging in on issues like abortion on demand and gay "marriage," and insisted that cradle-to-grave health care and a college degree are the responsibility of the government to provide. Kennedy demanded that his party oppose free trade and social security reform. He also took the opportunity to call Iraq (can you guess?) a "quagmire" and "George Bush's Vietnam," with less than three weeks to go before an historic and unprecedented democratic election in that country. (The Left call themselves "progressive," yet refuse to see real progress in action.) In the same sentence, he decried "non-scientific, pseudo-scientific, and anti-scientific nonsense" and demanded "immediate action to reduce global warming," which is the penultimate in pseudo-scientific nonsense. Kennedy seems immune to the embarrassment he brings upon himself and, while they keep treating him as their spokesman, his party.
Kennedy called his speech, "A Democratic Blueprint for America's Future." As long as left-wing lunatics like him continue to speak for that party, dragging them even further out of touch with mainstream Americans, the Democrats have no future.
Posted at Wednesday, January 12, 2005 by CavalierX
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Comic-Book How-To for Criminals
Mexico's Foreign Ministry plans to print 1.5 million copies of their Guide for the Mexican Migrant, 32 pages of illustrated instructions designed to help illegal immigrants cross the US border in safety. The comic book contains advice like, "Thick clothing increases your weight when wet, and this makes it difficult to swim or float," and "Don't throw stones or objects at the officer or patrol vehicles because this is considered a provocation." The simple illustrations show Mexicans sneaking across a river, climbing through a fence, avoiding Border Patrol officers, and following telephone lines to find towns where they can live. It doesn't, however, show them applying for visas or work permits. Although the book comes with "a yellow disclaimer saying it does not promote undocumented immigration," it gives helpful tips like, "Avoid attracting attention, at least while you are arranging your stay or documents to live in the United States."
While some may criticise this comic-book how-to for illegal immigrants, and others may poke fun at it, Mexico's effort to create smarter, better-educated lawbreakers should be applauded. In fact, the US should follow Mexico's lead in educating criminals to be better at what they do. We're the United States of America, for crying out loud -- we ought to have the best criminals in the world! If our lawbreakers are too lazy to figure out the best ways to commit crimes on their own, then perhaps it's the job of the government to educate them so that they can do their job... earn a livi... err, get along in a society that practically forces them to break its laws!
There are too many examples of stupid or uneducated criminals getting caught through simple mistakes -- mistakes that could have been avoided with a proper, government-sponsored criminal training program. Drug dealers have been known to bring drugs to their court appearances, Peeping Toms have left fingerprints on windows, and inexperienced crooks have shown their IDs to clerks while holding up liquor stores (to prove their ages), or filled out applications with their real names during a robbery. Even simple how-to books like those the Mexican government so thoughtfully provides to prospective lawbreakers would be a giant step in the right direction. The US government should provide help for under-educated criminals who want to break the law, but are not sure how to do so without getting caught.
For instance, a how-to book for the budding car thief could contain helpful advice like, "Most people don't even notice car alarms anymore, but police might. Make sure none are in sight before entering your chosen vehicle." This handy admonition might prevent a stupid mistake. Instructions for novice prostitutes could include, "Always ask whether your prospective customer is a police officer before detailing your services and prices." A bank robber's instruction booklet could give handy tips like, "Do not attempt to use the drive-through when committing your robbery -- go inside. It's worth the effort." Scott Peterson, for instance, could have used a murder how-to comic book. It might have told him, "Do not use a fishing trip at the site and on the day you dump the body as your alibi. It might be a good explanation in case anyone spotted you, but if the body is ever recovered, you will NEVER talk your way out of it." So many criminals forget little details like these, which can lead to embarrassing arrests, court appearances and even convictions.
It makes the entire country look bad when our criminals are so ill-informed and ill-educated. If Mexico can teach their criminals better lawbreaking methods, then so can we!
Hat tip to QandO Blog for their own "interpretation" of the comic!
Posted at Saturday, January 08, 2005 by CavalierX
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Torture and Insensitivity
During his failed Presidential campaign, John Kerry made several glaring mistakes, most of which were downplayed by the "mainstream" media. The most famous was his priceless gift to the Bush campaign: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion... before I voted against it." Another such error was his claim that he could fight a "more sensitive War on Terror." Kerry's detractors and opponents poked quite a bit of fun at this statement. His defenders assured us that Kerry only meant that we should be more careful with the fragile egos of our allies -- by which they meant apologising to the countries whose leaders and other people of influence opposed the war in Iraq for personal gain. Kerry's statement in itself may not have been a mistake, however -- or else the mistake was in saying it out loud.
As events have continued to unfold, and the Left has continued to attack, it has become clear that sensitivity is a major issue to them. The Left savaged Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for not personally signing condolence letters to the families of fallen soldiers. They felt he was being "insensitive." Personally, speaking as the taxpayer/employer, I don't want some touchy-feely Kumbayah-singing milquetoast who wears his heart on his sleeve conducting my defense. I want a no-nonsense firebreathing SOB with a hard layer of bark on him at the helm of what used to be more properly called the War Department. If Rumsfeld wasn't weeping publicly over every soldier's death, it was because he was spending his time trying to figure out how best to prevent any more American casualties than necessary while winning the war. That's as "sensitive" as he needs to be to do his job. The Left, however, is more concerned with whether people in other countries like us than whether we win. It shows the Left's skewed priorities -- image over substance.
The Left continues to characterise President Bush's response to the Indonesian tsunami as "insensitive" because it took him three days to make a public statement. Never mind the fact that almost all the people affected by the disaster were hardly sitting in front of a television awaiting Bush's words -- the Left is mainly concerned with what Europeans think. No one on the Left seems to mind that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was still on vacation while Bush was making his remarks. No one on the Left seems to know that by January first, the US Navy was already on the scene rendering aid. The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) carrier strike group was on its way to Indonesia by the time President Bush went before the cameras. The Lincoln is not the only US ship to render aid, either. While Kofi was on the ski slopes, the Seventh Fleet was already deploying ships to the region.
In addition to Lincoln CSG ships already in the area, including USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USNS Ranier (T-AOE 7), the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) will provide aid to the region along with elements from its expeditionary strike group, including USS Duluth (LPD 6), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Rushmore (LSD 47), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Thach (FFG 43), and USCGC Munro (WHEC 724).
In addition, six U.S. maritime pre-positioning ships -- large cargo ships loaded with stocks of food, fresh water and other relief supplies -- from Guam and Korea will enter the region and begin contributing their resources to the humanitarian effort. The ships are laden with enough equipment and supplies to support 15,000 Marines for one month. They are equipped with water purification machines and evaporators capable of producing more than 100,000 gallons of potable water per day and pumping it to shore from up to two miles away, road-making supplies, electrical power generators and a host of other emergency supplies and equipment.
The Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit No. 6 from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is set to join the humanitarian effort in Southern Asia Jan. 2 by sending 43 medical professionals into the area to administer a range of medical assistance, including disease assessment and treatment, water-quality and food-quality testing, mosquito and insect assessment, and chemical analysis.
Meanwhile, the fight to conduct a sensitive War on Terror continues with the Left's attacks on proposed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales' fatal flaw, apparently, is telling the truth about the law. In 2002, he correctly noted that the War on Terror "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions," such as requiring that prisoners get advances on their salaries. In a series of memos, legal experts confirmed that torture (as defined by the law) "covers only extreme acts," and that "neither the federal War Crimes Act nor the Geneva Conventions would apply to the detention conditions of al-Qaida prisoners." In fact, the Geneva Conventions specifically excludes terrorists from their protection. According to the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, article 4, part 2, prisoners of war must be former members of the regular armed forces, non-combatants, or:
Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:
(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
Terrorists don't meet even one of the four standards a protected prisoner must. Legally, as Gonzales pointed out, there is no Geneva Convention protection for terrorists. For telling the truth, he is demonised as condoning torture. (The Left even blames him for the prisoner mistreatment at Abu Ghraib -- which was a matter of individuals committing unlawful acts for which they were charged, not state-sanctioned torture.) If keeping a terrorist -- a person dedicated to the mass murder of innocents -- awake for a few days, feeding him bread and water, scaring him with a barking dog or making him stand for a few hours might prevent another 9/11, then it's a fair trade. None of the approved interrogation methods could realistically be considered "torture," as no damage is done to the terrorist in question.
Of course, the Left defines torture as, "anything that makes the subject vaguely uncomfortable," where the subject is one of America's enemies. I wonder if "having to listen to Liberals continually attack America" meets that standard? Maybe I'm just being too sensitive.
Posted at Thursday, January 06, 2005 by CavalierX
Sunday, January 02, 2005
News From the Future: Some 2005 Headlines
Headlines We Are Sure To See in 2005
DOW hits 12,000
This is about as risky a prediction as, "the sun will rise tomorrow."
Unemployment Drops Below 5%
See above. Also see "Britney Spears Marriage On The Rocks," "French Still Haughty," and "Terrorists Target Innocents."
Over 70% Turnout For Iraqi Election; Allawi Wins With Plurality
The "mainstream" media's portrait of Iraq is about as accurate as sampling South Central LA and claiming it represents all of California. The Iraqis themselves will show us the truth of this.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Killed In Shootout
The only question is whether the American or Iraqi military will get him first.
Iran Conducts Nuclear Bomb Test
Unless regime change takes place in Iran first, that is.
Drilling Approved in ANWR; Oil Prices Plunge
This would lower oil prices; building new oil refineries would dramatically lower the price of gas as well.
Hollywood Plans Wave Of Religious-Themed Films
The closest Hollywood can come to getting "in touch" with those wacky red-staters is to emulate Mel Gibson. Bottom line: money talks, and The Passion's $611 million worldwide gross SHOUTS. Will Eddie Izzard fans get to see Sean Connery as Noah on the big screen?
China Hands Taiwan Ultimatum; Russia Blocks UN Condemnation
The alliance between Russia, China and North Korea will continue to tighten.
Democrats Attack Bush Over _________
Just fill in the blank anew every few days with the media's current pet issue.
Republicans McCain, Lugar and Hagel Attack Bush Over _________
Just copy the "issue du jour" from above.
Headlines We Are Likely To See in 2005
House, Senate OK Bush's Social Security and Tax Code Overhauls
A devastating one-two punch to Liberalism, possibly in return for...
Bush Backs Off 'Amnesty;' Congress Drafts Tougher Illegal Immigrant Legislation
The vast majority of Americans (85% according to one 2003 poll) are against illegal immigration, and Congress knows it. Watch as those up for re-election in 2006 start pushing for a crackdown along the lines of Arizona's Proposition 200.
Osama Bin Laden Captured
The more bin Laden hides, the more support he loses within al-Qaeda while men like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi steal his thunder. He'll have to expose himself in order to retain control of the organisation. With any luck, we'll capture him sneaking out of Iran after receiving treatment at a hospital equipped for dialysis.
UN's Internal Probe of UN Finds UN Blameless
Paul Volcker's internal investigation of the UN will exonerate the UN of any wrongdoing in the Oil-For-Food fraud. In their desperation to escape responsibility for the largest scam in history, the UN will officially place blame for not overseeing the program properly on the US. On the plus side, that will finally answer the question of whether we're supposed to be the world's police force in the affirmative.
Cuba Makes Oil Supply Deal With China
China needs oil desperately; Cuba's got it.
DNC Splits Over Leadership Flap
The far-left openly-Liberal wing of the Democratic party will begin to split from the power-driven Clinton wing, as people like Harold Ickes and Howard Dean vie for control.
Saddam Hussein Sentenced To Death
With turncoat anti-American former Attorney General Ramsey Clark defending Saddam, the trial could take months. Iraqis still won't feel safe until the sentence is carried out, the sooner the better.
Headlines I'd Like To See in 2005 (but I'm not holding my breath)
Bloodless Revolution in Iran Leads To Democracy
Iran is on the verge of a democratic revolution, but it will be far from bloodless. I only hope it happens in time to prevent the current regime from becoming a nuclear power.
Kofi Annan Indicted On Corruption Charges
It's not likely that the man who has headed the UN during corruption like Oil-for-Fraud, sex scandals, ignored genocide and Security Council votes for sale would ever be held accountable, or that the mainstream media would report it fairly if he was, but one can hope.
Judicial Activism Slows to A Halt
Wouldn't it be great if judges remembered that their purpose is to interpret the law according to the Constitution, not to interpret the Constitution according to their own whims?
UN Condemns Tyranny, Halts Support For Dictators, Promotes Freedom And Democracy
Well, that's more in the realm of fantasy than prediction.
Posted at Sunday, January 02, 2005 by CavalierX
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Shifting Alliances: China, Russia and North Korea
Since the end of the Cold War, political entities have been readjusting, seeking a new balance. We have been witnessing a global power realignment with the loss of the Soviet Union's heavy weight. Many newly-independent nations that were once part of or subject to that totalitarian state have gravitated towards the West, or specifically towards the US. Some nations, aligned with America mostly through fear of Soviet domination, have sought new alliances and new power for themselves. While this is all perfectly normal and natural (as normal as geopolitics can be), whenever a Cold War era ally disagrees with America, Liberals seek to blame America for not appeasing them enough. That's not only short-sighted and unreasonable, but injurious to the power and sovereignty of the United States. Do Liberals really think that the USA -- the greatest force for good and guarantor of human rights and liberty in the world -- should surrender its place as first among equals? Those who think so aren't looking at the global picture, and ignoring the future for ideology's sake. We still have enemies, unfortunately... and they show no signs of peacefully laying down their arms. Quite the opposite.
It was hoped that Russia -- the core of what was once the Soviet Union -- would continue the policies of openness and freedom that splintered the USSR. Economic reform is probably the surest path to freedom -- with higher surplus cash comes the desire to spend it as the individual wishes. Democracy and capitalism often go hand in hand. Unfortunately, Russia seems to be sliding back into its totalitarian ways. President Vladimir Putin has restricted personal liberties as well as economic freedoms. Freedom House, a non-governmental organisation, has placed Russia into the "not free" category for the first time since 1991:
Freedom House noted increased Kremlin control over national television and other media, limitations on local government, and parliamentary and presidential elections it said were neither free nor fair. "Russia's step backward into the 'Not Free' category is the culmination of a growing trend under President Vladimir Putin to concentrate political authority, harass and intimidate the media, and politicize the country's law-enforcement system," executive director Jennifer Windsor said in a statement. "These moves mark a dangerous and disturbing drift toward authoritarianism in Russia, made more worrisome by President Putin's recent heavy-handed meddling in political developments in neighboring countries, such as Ukraine."
Putin's government has increased the power of the FSB (Federal Security Service) to include monitoring communications and gathering intelligence. "An initial analysis of this would lead you to believe that the FSB has virtually taken on the form of what used to be the KGB," Russian MP Boris Nadezhdin stated in 2003. All Russian television stations are now under Federal control. Putin's government installed the new board of directors of the All-Russia Center for Public Opinion (Russia's most respected opinion pollster). The Russian parliament recently voted to allow news organisations that provide "biased" campaign coverage to be shut down. Who decides what's biased? The government, of course. Sergei V. Bolshakov explained, "It doesn't restrict freedom of speech. It restricts freedom of dissemination of information, but only during the election campaign." Bolshakov is a member of Russia's Central Electoral Commission.
As former Soviet satellite nations break away from its control through free elections, Russia has been seeking a way to regain that lost power. Russia has increasingly turned to China, a Communist nation having much in common with the former Soviet Union. Since the US and EU banned weapons sales to China in 1989 after the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, Russia has become China's top arms supplier. (The EU ban holds despite intense French pressure to drop it.) The "Good Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation" Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin signed in 2001 was the beginning of a new global alliance in opposition to the West. By 2003, Chinese-Russian cooperation had expanded to include energy, space engineering, arms supplies, and regional security. "Relations with China constitute the most important factor in Russian foreign policy strategy today," said Gennady Chuffrin, deputy director of Moscow's Institute for World Economy and International Relations. "In some ways, our relations with China are even more important than those with the US."
Attempts to subvert the 2004 election in Ukraine (including poisoning popular pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko with dioxin) didn't work; election fraud committed by the pro-Russian party was so blatant that even the UN couldn't finesse it. Instead of struggling to hold the fraying fabric of the Soviet Union together, Putin appears to be strengthening his alliance with China. The two nations finally moved to settle their last remaining border disputes in October 2004. In 2005, Russia and China will hold joint military exercises. As Russia and China snuggle closer, the Chinese government is on the verge of issuing an ultimatum to the breakaway province of Taiwan. This will also likely occur in 2005, when China proposes a reunification law the government has been working on. The law will mandate that Taiwan consider itself part of and under the control of the Chinese government, and call for military intervention if Taiwan moves to declare independence. (Taiwan has been effectively independent since 1949.)
North Korea, one of the worst threats to world peace, has also been solidifying relations with China. Representatives of the two nations, already allies, took place in 2003. "The friendly relations between the two armies are developing on good terms," said China's Colonel General Xu Caihou. With Russian and North Korean military backing, China could find itself in a strong position to carry out its threat. The US would almost be forced to respond to such a move, as a strong military alliance between Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang would threaten Japan, our strongest ally in the Far East.
The only way to avoid a military showdown is to wean the increasingly-desperate Russia away from China with diplomacy. No, that definitely doesn't mean "peace at any price." It's no accident that President Bush has appointed Condoleezza Rice to be his new Secretary of State -- her area of expertise just happens to be Russia. Rice is known as an expert on the Soviet Union and arms control; she even spent two years as director and then senior director of Soviet and East European Affairs at the NSC. The next four years will see her -- and America -- in the center of a diplomatic storm, as we try to prevent the emergence of a threat to world peace and democracy every bit the equal of the Soviet Union, perhaps even less restrained in its use of military force.
Posted at Wednesday, December 29, 2004 by CavalierX
Monday, December 27, 2004
Indonesian Tsunami Reports and Relief
The death toll for the 26 December earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia stands at 22,000 in up to 10 countries already (as of 27 December), and is likely to double before this disaster, one of the worst in recent history, runs its course. Floods struck as far away as Somalia, on Africa's eastern coast. America has dispatched relief teams, and is preparing a $15 million aid package to start with; Australia has offered $10 million and the European Union has pledged $4 million. For the latest information on the current situation or information on how to help if you can, check the following sites:
Donate to the American Red Cross at Amazon.com!
ReliefWeb situation reports
USAID fact sheet
USAID: How to Help
CIDI situation reports
CIDI: How to Help
American Red Cross: How to Help
Mercy Corps report
Mercy Corps: How to Help
Operation USA: How To Help
AmeriCares: How to Help
Save the Children: How to Help
Reuters' AlertNet: South Asia Quake and Tsunamis
For more, see the Christian Science Monitor's list of relief agencies working in the disaster area.
And of course (you must have known this was coming):
The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts
UPDATE (28 Dec 04): The death toll now stands at 40,000, bypassing the tsunami caused by the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. An estimated 36,000 people were killed in that disaster.
UPDATE (29 Dec 04): The toll now stands at 77,000 human deaths. Athough this isn't the worst natural disaster in my lifetime -- I believe that "honor" goes to a 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, China in which 242,000 people died -- it's certainly the worst I want to see.
Posted at Monday, December 27, 2004 by CavalierX
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Yes, I Said 'Merry Christmas!'
That's right: Merry Christmas! I'd better say it while I'm still allowed, before the mere mention of Christmas by a private citizen on a private web site in an opinion piece is misconstrued to mean that Congress has passed a law establishing a National Church. If you're one of the 96% of Americans who celebrate Christmas, don't be cowed into pretending you don't by the Political Correctness Thought Police. Unless someone drastically changed the language while I wasn't looking, wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" doesn't mean, "you must convert to Christianity or die, heathen!" I certainly don't get upset when someone says, "Happy Hannukah" or "Eid Mubarak." I reply, "thank you" (or "Allah yubarak feek," if I remember the phrase).
If you happen to be one of those rabidly anti-Christmas people who can't stomach anyone hoping you have a happy holiday, there are some things you can do to make yourself feel better about Christmas:
- Get to work. Christmas falls on a Saturday this year, but that only means you can get more done, and make everyone at home celebrating Christmas look like a slacker.
- Return any Christmas presents you might receive. They're just meant to indoctrinate you, especially if wrapped in festive paper. Make the giver feel guilty by exclaiming, "What a waste of a tree!"
- Refuse to accept Christmas bonuses from work, even if they're cleverly disguised as "end of year" bonuses.
- Mark any Christmas cards you get in the mail, "Return to Sender" and throw them right back in the mailbox!
- Don't go to any "holiday" parties. We all know what "holiday" they're talking about, don't we? If it's called a "Winter Party," wonder aloud how come they never have Spring, Summer and Fall parties.
- Tell anyone wearing red and green that they're a fashion nightmare. Complain loudly anytime you see red and green together, for that matter -- even if it's red and green napkins at a "Winter Break" party.
- Call the police to complain about the loud singing at churches in your neighborhood. If you hear anyone singing Christmas carols -- blatant attempts to force religion down your throat -- threaten to sue.
- Insist on paying full price during those Christmas sales, even if they use the "holiday" euphemism. You know that's just shorthand for "holy day," don't you? Who are they to force religion on you?
- Lodge a complaint with your cable company every time they ram the words "Christmas," "holiday," "God," or "Jesus" down your throat in commercials or shows, even the news. Start a boycott of any shows that mention Christmas, exhibit Christmas trees, or have the characters exchanging gifts.
- If anyone has the insensitivity to wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday, gently let them know they've offended you. Something like, "You'll never get your filthy claws into me, you proselytising militant tool of the Church!" ought to get your message across.
One last thing, for all our troops who have been or are currently deployed overseas, especially those in Afghanistan and Iraq: thank you, and Merry Christmas. Sometimes it must seem as though we're so busy being frivolous that we don't pay attention. From time to time, however, some of us look up and see you standing your watch on that wall, silhouetted against the night sky, and we're grateful.
Midnight Christmas celebration in a mess hall at Hurricaine Point Marine Base, Ramadi, Iraq
Image from AP found at Yahoo! News. Hat tip to Beth.
Posted at Saturday, December 25, 2004 by CavalierX
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Intelligent Design: Good Religion, Bad Science
Intelligent design is the latest euphemism for Creationism -- the religious view of the origin of life -- with a veneer of science. It's being touted as an "alternative view" to evolution. No matter what you call it, however, it's the same sort of bad science as "runaway global warming caused by human industry." Neither is based on solid evidence. In both cases, at some point, you stop doing science and start preaching faith.
Science is all about proof and testing. Scientific method entails coming up with a hypothesis to explain an event or process, then testing that hypothesis to see whether it works. If it does, it becomes a theory -- a working explanation with the weight of evidence to support it. If you cannot disprove a theory, you may have discovered a fact. If the hypothesis can be disproved, it must be discarded and a new explanation postulated, and so on. Faith, by definition, is a belief in something that cannot be proved. If you CAN prove it, then you destroy it -- it becomes fact. There's no longer any merit or moral benefit to belief in it, any more than there's a moral benefit to belief in gravity, or spiritual merit to the belief that airplanes can fly.
This is the main difference between evolution and intelligent design. One can be tested by scientific method, while the other relies upon a premise that's impossible to prove as an essential component of its structure. Intelligent design is not science. It's religion; it's philosophy. One is asked to assume the existence of God -- something that cannot be proven -- as a given, in order to accept the hypothesis. If anything, intelligent design is an improvement on religious teachings, bringing them more in line with modern science.
Science, properly done, is like millions of people putting together a massive, massive jigsaw puzzle when no one's quite sure what the end product should look like. Some pieces, like the corners, are fairly obvious. From those you can work along the edges and make intelligent guesses towards the middle. Sometimes you get several pieces that seem to fit together, but you're not sure where in the overall puzzle they should go. Sometimes you put pieces down where you think they belong, only to move them as you work closer to them and find that they don't fit quite where you first thought. Sometimes the work of others forces your pieces to move or break apart, or vice-versa. Naturally, there are people who want to interpret the pattern the pieces are forming to push their own view of the overall design. The pieces themselves, though, are unchanged by all this -- they are exactly what they are.
Proponents of intelligent design demand that it be given equal time in the classroom with evolution, which is solidly based on good science. The Dover school district in Pennsylvania, for instance, has mandated that it be so taught. Should children learn that sensationalist non-science is the same as real science? Teachers with a left-wing agenda cause children enough harm when they "teach" that American industry is causing global warming, even going so far as to bring second graders to New York City to march in a protest against oil drilling and logging. (It's rather ironic that they traveled in buses and made paper signs to do this.) We should be striving to teach children how to do proper science in search of the truth (whatever it is), not pushing any kind of faith-based bad science on them in schools. At best, it should be mentioned, but not taught. "Some people believe that human industry causes more warming of the Earth than the system can handle, but that cannot be proven," would be perfectly accurate. So would, "Some people believe that the complexity of Nature requires a Creator to have designed it, but that cannot be proven." Should astronomy students be taught astrology, on the basis that "Some people think everything we do is controlled by the movements of the stars and planets?"
Creationists like to point out the astronomer Fred Hoyle's calculation that the odds of a cell spontaneously assembling by chance are 10 to the 40,000th power to one, but that's exceptionally misleading. DNA never assembled spontaneously or by chance alone, but by the laws of physics, chemistry and biology operating over billions of years under intense competition. Nevertheless, this is often the primary "reason" given to discount evolution and scientific method in favor of teaching "science" based on faith.
Evolution is something we can see by its everyday results. Put simply, evolution means, "that which works, prospers." Proof of artificial selection is everywhere, from dogs to horses to flowers -- all of which are bred to our specifications, and breed true. It's human evolution by natural selection that some people object to, as they feel it objectifies and denigrates human beings. Quite the contrary -- the idea that our intelligence and self-awareness have caused us to become among the most successful (certainly the most powerful) forms of life on Earth is awe-inspiring and uplifting. The concept that we arose from the smallest and simplest forms of life, over a mind-numbing span of time and against all the odds, is humbling. Was it chance, was it designed, or is intelligence the ultimate survival tool, inevitable given the competition for resources? We can't know the answer for certain until we have the chance to study other worlds, and any life we may find on them.
Any person who wishes to can choose to believe that the hand of God guided the evolution of mankind. The fact that it can neither be proved nor disproved is what makes it good religion, bad science, and something that should be taught in philosophy, not science classes.
Posted at Thursday, December 23, 2004 by CavalierX