Thursday, January 29, 2004
Exploding Liberal Myths 2: The Eeevil PATRIOT Act
Perhaps the most misunderstood, mis-quoted, maligned and mistakenly hated piece of legislation in the history of America is the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism -- you just have to love government acronyms). Mentioning it within earshot of most Liberals (without the requisite sneer) has the same effect as waving a piece of raw steak in front of hungry, rabid pit bulls... they tend to eat the steak starting at your shoulder. This makes it abnormally difficult to find out just why Liberals hate it (the Act, not the steak -- vegetarianism is still a mystery to me) so much. Perhaps the most amusing part of President Bush's 2004 State of the Union Address was when he said, "Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year..." (wild applause from Democrats) "The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule." (sheepish looks from Democrats, applause from Republicans) Wearing a full suit of armor and wielding a big stick, however, you just might be able to get some answers to the question, "Why do you hate the PATRIOT Act?"
The most common intelligible reasons for hating the Patriot Act are, "it destroys our freedoms, especially freedom of speech", "it takes away our right to privacy", "it squashes our right to oppose the government" and "it makes people afraid to speak against the government". I've been over the text of the Act, and it's just not clear where these things occur. No one has been able to point it out, either; they speak vaguely of "a climate of fear" and "a chill wind" that silence them (anyone but me see the irony here?). Keep in mind that no abuse of anyone's rights by the PATRIOT Act has yet been proven, though (to be fair) 34 of the allegations of violations made in connection with the Act were deemed credible enough to be investigated. None of them, however, have yet turned out to be examples of civil rights trampled savagely upon by the Act itself.
I can't speak to the random, nameless fears of Liberals, but the Patriot Act merely allows law enforcement agents to use the same tools for terrorism investigations that are already available to drug, organised crime and serial/mass murder investigators. In a sense, isn't that exactly what terrorism is in law enforcement terms: organised mass murder partially fueled by drug money? Is that the "right to oppose the government" the complainers are afraid of losing? The investigative methods that have been used for years in those other areas should come into play in terrorism cases. Keep in mind that all law enforcement agents must have a signed warrant, to protect the rights of the subjects of investigation. Especially that "privacy right" Liberal judges claim to have detected hidden in the Fourth Amendment, which says in part, "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause". Given that probable cause must be shown, no aspect of the PATRIOT Act violates the rights of any law-abiding citizen. So, what aspects of the Act do Liberals seem to hate the most?
Roving Wiretaps: Instead of being allowed to tap just one phone at a time, agents can tap any phone the subject uses. Isn't that simple logic, in the cellphone era? Terrorists, like sophisticated tech-savvy criminals and flighty teenagers, change locations and phones frequently.
Shared Information: All law enforcement agencies are supposed to share information about terrorism investigations with each other, the same way they do for the other investigations. Isn't the lack of information-sharing one of the things that led to 9/11? Three of the hijackers were stopped for traffic violations shortly before 9/11. If only the cops had known they were al-Qaeda members on the CIA Watch List, the 9/11 plot just might have unraveled. NOTE: This will, however, ruin the plot of any Hollywood movie where the unlikely, mismatched buddy cops stumble into the middle of a Federal terrorism investigation and are forced to turn in their badges before cooperating to solve the crime themselves. That's probably the real reason the Left Coast is so unhinged about the PATRIOT Act, come to think of it. That, and the word "patriot", which gives Limousine Liberals the shivering fits.
Delayed Notification: Nothing made terrorists feel safer than knowing that they would be notified of any search warrants being executed. Nothing made investigators feel more stupid, either. By the time investigators identified other members of the terrorist cell, they'd mysteriously vanish. Imagine that! Law enforcement agencies don't generally give polite notice before searching the homes of garden-variety criminals, so why should suspected terrorists get the kid glove treatment?
Business Records: If someone who's already being investigated (remember, probable cause) is buying truckloads of volatile fertiliser, I think I want to know about it. Perhaps he's just setting up a massive crystal meth lab... but then again, it could be a truck bomb in the making. Either way, I'd like it checked out.
Library Records: When the Zodiac Killer finally stopped, it was because the police figured out that his murders were "inspired" by the works of an obscure Scottish poet. They began checking library/bookstore records to see who had bought or borrowed that author. That was in 1974, and the Liberals haven't said a word in the last 30 years about the law being able to subpoena the library records of suspected serial killers. If someone already under investigation for terrorism (probable cause again) checks out something like "Bringing Down the Great Satan: A Step-By-Step Guide for the Terrorist in You", I want someone to know before it's overdue. Despite the hysteria over this provision, however, not a single request has ever been made for library records under the PATRIOT Act so far.
Advising and Assisting Terrorists: This part, section 805(A)2B, has recently come under fire as "unconstitutional" for inserting the phrase "expert advice or assistance" after "training" in the United States Code of law, section 2339A of title 18, chapter 113b, which covers support for terrorism. That would make the offending passage read (emphasis mine):
Definition. - In this section, the term "material support or resources" means currency or other financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets, except medicine or religious materials.
California District Judge Audrey Collins has a problem with this law. "The USA Patriot Act places no limitation on the type of expert advice and assistance which is prohibited and instead bans the provision of all expert advice and assistance regardless of its nature," she stated. Yes, that appears to be the actual point of writing that law... to prevent any kind of assistance being given to terrorist groups except medical and religious (in case the medical advice fails, I suppose). If the judge feels that particular group shouldn't be classified as a terrorist supporting group, perhaps she ought to address that issue.
The loudest complaint against the PATRIOT Act is that it somehow silences dissent. If that's true, then why are so many Liberals complaining so loudly about it? You'd think they'd all be in concentration camps by now... if they were right.
Exploding Liberal Myths 11: Home Spying Hogwash
Exploding Liberal Myths 10: The Plame Name Game
Exploding Liberal Myths 9: The Separation of Church and State
Exploding Liberal Myths 8: The Nazi Meme
Exploding Liberal Myths 7: Fidel Castro, Demigod?
Exploding Liberal Myths 6: A Less Safe Post-Iraq
Exploding Liberal Myths 5: The Moral United Nations
Exploding Liberal Myths 4: Runaway Global Warming
Exploding Liberal Myths 3: Outsourcing Woes
Exploding Liberal Myths 1: Nigerian Uranium
Posted at Thursday, January 29, 2004 by CavalierX
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Under A Democratic President...
When you look at all the major candidates vying for the 2004 Democratic nomination -- John "when I was in Vietnam" Kerry, Howard "shoot from the lip" Dean, John "I'm not the Crossing Over guy" Edwards and Wesley "what's my position today?" Clark -- they all have several campaign promises in common. Should any of them somehow be elected President (that is, if frontal lobotomy becomes the "in" elective surgery to have between now and November), certain common policy changes would be enacted. That's assuming they keep their campaign promises even half as well as President Bush has -- he's managed to fulfill nearly half of them so far, and about 25% more have been blocked by Congress. What policy changes would a Democratic President make?
All or most of the Bush tax cuts would be repealed under any of the Democratic front runners. For the average person, this would merely have the immediate, direct effect of a tax increase, plus a return to the penalty for married couples and a smaller deduction for children. When they say they'll only raise taxes for "the rich", keep in mind that "the rich" is variously defined as anyone making over $200,000, $100,000, or $87,500 a year -- in a word, an average working couple or a moderately prosperous small businessman, in various parts of the country. Repealing the tax cuts would affect all businesses, large and small; it would reverse the economic boom we've been experiencing, killing the recovery just as we get to the job growth stage. Stocks are now at a 31-month high mark, and even the dour Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, is confident that major job growth (always the last effect of a recovery) is on the way. (Howard Dean in particular has made it a point to say he will replace Mr. Greenspan because he didn't speak against the "disastrous" tax cuts that are driving the economy upward like we haven't seen in twenty years.) The effect would be to drive the economy back into recession, with spiraling inflation and unemployment, expanding the "victim" base for future Democrats. You see, a Democratic President wouldn't use that increased tax money to help businesses. Each one of them has a plan for socialised medicine to fund.
Instead of encouraging job growth and encouraging companies to offer affordable health care to employees (thereby encouraging people to get off the welfare rolls and take those jobs "Americans don't want"), any Democratic President would use the increased taxes to fund a socialised medicine program. If you want to know how well a government-run service operates in comparison with a private company, consider the efficiency and swiftness of the Post Office compared to Federal Express, which can get a letter or package anywhere in the USA overnight -- for a price. Those who can afford it get the faster, better service. Almost every company already offers some form of private health care to its employees. It's part of a standard employment package; one incentive to getting a better job is to get better health care. A Democratic President would create a business-hostile America, and make all Americans dependent on the government for health care, running the program with another massive red-tape-strangled bureaucracy. And speaking of bureaucracies... how quickly would a newly-elected Democrat President rush to kow-tow at the altar of the United Nations?
A Democratic President would either set up a quick puppet government and withdraw our troops from Iraq (leaving the Iraqis at the mercy of internal chaos fueled by their neighbors) or put them and the country under the control of the United Nations (leaving the Iraqis at the mercy of external chaos fueled by France). For some unfathomable reason, the Democrats are unable to see how badly the UN has mismanaged Bosnia, running everything by external fiat and top-heavy bureaucracy. Four years after the war (as of October 2003), refugees are still afraid to return home due to ethnic violence, unemployment is at 57%, and problems with the electricity supply still plague the country. Things are so bad under UN mismanagement that the people actually want their dictator back! The sacrifices made by all the Coalition troops in Iraq will have been in vain, and Iraq will become an even bigger hotbed of international terrorism than Iran.
But France will pat us on the head, and dictators will stop fearing us, and that's more important than making the world safer and freeing people from tyranny... isn't it? We can all go back to pretending that the world loves us, as we pretended all during the 1990's, while too many of those who smiled plotted our destruction.
And when the next 9/11 happens, we can bask in the faux sympathy of the world as our Democratic President makes stirring, empty speeches while we bury our dead.
Posted at Tuesday, January 27, 2004 by CavalierX
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Slavery Reparations for the Irish!
Earlier this month, a "civil rights activist" (which can often be read as "blatant opportunist") named Bob Brown filed a lawsuit demanding reparations for African slavery from President George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, French President Jacques Chirac, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Pope John Paul II, and 66 other defendants.
Of course, Mr. Brown has no proof that any of these particular people ever actually owned slaves or participated in the trade, nor can he prove that he was ever actually a slave himself. To people like him, "reparations" are owed by anyone who might be descended from a slave owner, to anyone descended from anyone who might have been enslaved. No proof of any actual wrongdoing by or to specific individuals is required. In other words, it's a scam to get free money and publicity.
I've been thinking about this reparations deal, and I've decided that I want in on the scam... I mean, I want justice for damages done to my ancestors, too. Therefore, in the name of my forebears, I am demanding reparations from the governments of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and all countries once considered part of Scandinavia. Now, all I have to do is get a lawyer and wait for the cash to roll in, right?
You see, I'm part Irish. And the Vikings, it's been proven, engaged in vicious and unprovoked attacks on my people for hundreds of years. They even occupied parts of Ireland from 837 AD to 1014 AD.
It is possible, that an attack on the Northern Ireland coast and the Hebrides in 617 AD was the Vikings, but this cannot be proven. The first official attack on Ireland by the Vikings took place in 794 AD, about 10 years after the first attacks on the English coast, at Rechru (now the island of Lambay) very close to what is now Dublin. The raids continued for approximately 40 years, until finally in 832 AD the Vikings attacked in force under command of warrior named Tuirgeis.
One thousand warriors were under the command of Tuirgeis, and they sailed up the Liffey and the Boyne rivers raiding the interior of Ireland and establishing forts. Another fort was established as a base for the Vikings in 837 AD at Ath Cliath, which was also, called Dubhlinn (Dublin).
And yes, my ancestors were enslaved and sold in the far corners of the world, too.
This relatively concentrated population would have afforded the Vikings a source for a valuable commodity: slaves. Although slave taking was part of the early raids it reached significant proportions later when in 869 AD Amlaib captured over a thousand people in Armagh. Many of these found their way to Scandanavia and Iceland. In many of the Icelandic sagas Irish slave women are mentioned along with the genealogies of the Icelandic heroes.
As the descendant of the unfairly subjugated, taxed and enslaved Irish people, I think I'm owed reparations -- just as much as the descendants of enslaved Africans are. So if you happen to be Scandanavian royalty or a member of the various governments, email me. Hey, I even accept PayPal!
If this doesn't work, then I'll try suing the descendants of the Visigoths for sacking Rome. After all, I'm part Italian, too! They OWE me!
Posted at Sunday, January 25, 2004 by CavalierX
Thursday, January 22, 2004
The Exuberant Doctor Dean
As everyone in the Western Hemisphere is painfully aware by now, Howard Dean had a "Thorazine moment" as he spoke to his supporters following his coming in third place in the Iowa caucus. For several days now, every media outlet has had something amusing to say about his screaming the names of states, red-faced and harsh-voiced, while punching the air in punctuation, finally breaking into a manic cry of "Yeeeargh!" Every radio talk show and late-night tv host on the planet has had a field day with it (and becoming the butt of endless Tonight Show jokes is a sure sign of impending doom). Along with many others, I've laughed out loud every time someone finds a new way to "spring" that wild bird-like scream on me all week. I even downloaded the Dean Scream Remix from the great James Lileks.
But now, having had our fun, I say: let it be over. I've decided to chalk the whole episode up to Howard Dean's exuberance, and to try not to dwell on it. Why on Earth would I want to do that, you might ask?
Simple. It's because I don't want Dean to lose too much of his support, because this latest in a series of embarrassing moments makes it almost certain he'll never get the Democratic nomination. That's right: because.
I believe that Dean's supporters, bless their fanatical little hearts, will never let his Presidential bid die, even when he gets passed over for the Democratic nomination. It's my hope that they'll either refuse to vote for anyone else, or try to run him as an Independent candidate. Either way, the Democratic vote will be hopelessly split, or many will stay home. Even if the Democrats manage to hold the party together until the election, a win for President Bush (which is extremely likely at this point, even against my projection: a Kerry-Edwards ticket) will cause an ideological rift within the Democratic party that will be almost impossible to heal, taking years at least.
While in the long run, a two (or more) party system is a good thing for America, the current Liberal-controlled Democratic party shouldn't be one of them. Any American political party ought to have America's best interests at heart, or at least consider them more important than a pat on the head from France. The Democrats need to divest themselves of their radical Left-wing puppeteers before they can truly claim to represent more than a fringe element of Americans again. And if it takes tearing the party apart and rebuilding it, then that's what they should do.
So, in the interest of helping the Democrats rebuild their party to make America stronger in the end, I'm going to lay off Howard Dean for now.
Oh, what the heck, one last time (for now): YEEEARGH!
Posted at Thursday, January 22, 2004 by CavalierX
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Dick Gephardt's Swan Song
As the Iowa Caucus began, Dick Gephardt looked like a good bet, as one of the four Democrats tied for top place (along with Howard Dean, John Kerry and John Edwards). As the man most in touch with the labor unions, he seemed certain to get a large block of votes, as well as having the organisation to get his supporters to the right places at the right time.
So why did end up in fourth place (instead of second, as I'd predicted)? What caused his support to dwindle to about half of what it had been, while many of those those union households went with Kerry or Edwards instead?
If Iowa is supposed to be an indicator of the political pulse of middle America, then most of the people voting were "just folks" -- hard-working, everyday people, more interested in the impact of policy on their everyday lives than in high-sounding ideals that sound fine in Ivy League classrooms, but don't work in the real world, nor put food on the table. Just folks, representative of a huge portion of this country's people in what they want in a President, among other things. Mainstream America. And Gephardt won Iowa in 1988 with 31% of the vote.
Enter Chrissy Gephardt.
There's nothing wrong with being openly gay (my personal feelings on the matter aside). There's nothing wrong with championing gay issues (free speech being for everyone). There is, however, a great deal wrong with championing gay issues while stumping for your father, in a state like Iowa, in which he must do well in order to continue his campaign. Free speech has free consequences.
Didn't even one of his advisors take her aside and say, "Hey, this is his campaign... not yours"? Didn't even one person tell her, "If you want to campaign for your father, you should talk about his big issues... not yours"?
I feel badly for Dick Gephardt, I really do. His wish to include his daughter and her gay activist lifestyle in his life and campaign cost him his last possible shot at the Presidency, in my opinion. Many of the union households that Gephardt depended on apparently voted for Kerry or Edwards instead. Gephardt only received the support of one-third of union households.
Perhaps Iowa really does reflect mainstream American values. Even among Democrats.
Posted at Wednesday, January 21, 2004 by CavalierX
Monday, January 19, 2004
Which Is the True Party of Inclusion?
Who will the Republicans run for President in 2008? This question came up during a recent argument with a Liberal (a waste of time, more or less, but sometimes useful for sharpening one's mental claws). My answer seemed to shock him. Personally, I'd like to see either Paul Bremer or Colin Powell in the Oval Office, but I don't think the latter will run. Condoleeza Rice would also make a good President, in my opinion, but she needs more public exposure, perhaps as Vice President first. The liberal was stunned by this. He said that it seemed incredibly "progressive" for a Conservative, and that no Republican would ever elect a female or black President. I therefore took the opportunity to enlighten him.
The Liberals like to portray their pet political party, the Democrats, as "the party of inclusion" or "the big-tent party," while denouncing Republicans as anti-minority and anti-women. Historically, nothing could be further from the truth. It's just another Liberal lie.
The first woman in Congress was Jeanette Rankin, a Republican from Montana elected in 1916. Her platform included universal suffrage, Prohibition, child welfare reform, an end to child labor, and staying out of World War I. Does that sound like the anti-woman, warmongering Republican Party the Liberals like to describe? Not to me.
The first black Congressman was Joseph Hayne Rainey, a Republican from South Carolina and a former slave. Rainey's father purchased the family's freedom and became a barber. Rainey was one of the more conservative black leaders during Reconstruction; he favored a poll tax as a requirement for voting, with the revenues devoted to public education (the measure didn't pass). Elected to Congress in 1870, he supported an amnesty bill to remove remaining liabilities on former Confederates while simultaneously promoting a civil rights bill. Does that fit the Liberal profile of Republicans? No.
The first black Senator to serve a full term was also a Republican, Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi. (Technically, the first black Senator was Republican Hiram Rhoades Revels. He was elected to serve the remainder of Jefferson Davis' term, but did not run for re-election.) Born a slave, he escaped at the beginning of the Civil War and tried to enlist in the Union Army. He was elected to the Senate in 1874, encouraging the government to be more generous in issuing western land grants to blacks and favoring distribution of duty-free clothing from England to needy blacks. Senator Bruce also worked for the desegregation of United States Army units. Again . . . does this fit in with the view of Republicans the liberals force-feed their adherents? Hardly.
The first woman to run for President on a major party ticket, as well as serve in both houses of Congress, was Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican from Maine. Elected in 1940, she supported appropriation for childcare and helped women in military service by establishing WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and the Army-Navy Permanent Nurses Corps. She worked for retirement benefits, equal pay, and equal rank for women. She then ran for the Senate in 1948 and won, serving for 24 years. During that time, in 1964, Senator Smith ran for President on the Republican Party ticket and received 27 nominating votes at the Republican Convention. Is that the anti-women Republican party the Democrats like to portray? Nope.
After the Democrats blocked the passage of the Republican-backed civil rights bills of 1957 and 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was finally passed despite a Democratic filibuster led by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WVa), a former Klansman and still a US Senator. It was the Democrats who fought against civil rights, not Republicans. In the House, 79% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while in the Senate, 21 Democrats and only 6 Republicans voted against it.
Which political party is really the party of inclusion, and which pigeonholes people based on race, creed, or sex? Which party promotes people based on their individual merits, and which sees people only as representatives of a group? When you look fairly at the facts, the "big tent" the Democrats claim to be under is just a circus tent.
Posted at Monday, January 19, 2004 by CavalierX
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Is Instant Democracy Really A Good Idea?
The most powerful Shi'ite cleric in Iraq, the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani, has abandoned his formerly apolitical stance to call for direct elections in Iraq. Naturally, the anti-war/anti-Bush crowd has jumped right on his coattails, demanding immediate Iraqi elections. They like to hold this up as "evidence" that a democratic Iraqi government was never President Bush's intent, since it wasn't instantly forthcoming. (They prefer to forget that they were telling us that the Iraqis didn't want a democracy and were even so satisfied with life under Uncle Saddam that he legitimately got 100% of the vote in the last "election". Funny how an entire nation of 25 million people can change their minds in nine short months, isn't it?) But there's no magic wand with which to create a democratic government. People like al-Sistani have to know that Iraq is nowhere near ready for a fair, all-inclusive election to take place. It's likely that he believes a simple majority vote would sweep someone he could control into power. It might even be true. The Liberals, Bush-bashers and anti-Americans, of course, are attacking President Bush over this because... well, it's what they do. The problem is that there are a huge number of practical questions that need to be addressed before a vote can be taken. There is simply no rational way for a legitimate full-scale election to take place by the end of June 2004. There's a lot of problems that have to be resolved before that can happen.
The current plan (as far as I know) is still for each of the 18 governates in Iraq to elect officials to join a transitional government with the power to write a Constitution. Doesn't that makes a lot more sense for ultimate legitimacy of the Iraqi government than having the Coalition-picked Governing Council write it? Once the Constitution is written and ratified by the governates (who will also have to have elected officials by that time), then and only then can a legitimate general election be held.
Before any elections can take place, a census of Iraq needs to be taken. All Iraqi citizens need to register to vote. All the voter registrations need to be verified. Caucuses need to be held in all the governates (by 31 May 2004, according to the 15 November plan) to decide who will stand for election, then the elections need to be held to choose the members of the transitional government. Questions need to be raised and decided such as "what will the requirements be for voter registation?" and "how will the votes be counted?"
The most important question is, "what can be realistically accomplished by the end of June?" With the cooperation of people like al-Sistani, the November plan could be fulfilled, even with the terrorist attacks. Without Iraqi cooperation, the process may never result in a real Iraqi government.
We helped the Iraqis by removing the tyranny of Saddam when they were unable to do so alone, but we can't hand them a replacement government and expect them to consider it legal. In order for their new government to be legitimate (in their own eyes as well as those of the world), a certain process needs to be followed. Shouldn't they have a say in the rules before they can be expected to live under them? And the Iraqis must follow it because they understand it, not because they're told to.
The most important thing that needs to be done in Iraq is not rebuilding schools and roads and power plants, it's building a democracy from the ground up. That's the real infrastructure. It's also the biggest challenge. Town hall meetings like the ones happening in Mosul and Baghdad are the first step in the right direction. Education in democracy and democratic processes is already happening in Iraq.
The only thing that can keep the Iraqis from having a democratic government now would be handing it to them too soon.
Posted at Sunday, January 18, 2004 by CavalierX
Friday, January 16, 2004
Healthy Marriage vs. the Victim Cult
Is anyone surprised that NOW, the National Organization for Women, came out (to coin a phrase) against President Bush's healthy marriage initiative? I know I'm not.
Since its inception, NOW has shifted from an organisation that once protected women and promoted equality to one that pushes its own harmful Liberal social-engineering agenda, more involved in gay and minority issues than those of women. These organisations encourage women, minorities and homosexuals to think of themselves as the helpless victims of Evil Rich Straight White Men instead of the thinking human beings they are. That creates a need for groups like NOW, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) or the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to "protect" them, in a self-perpetuating cult of victimhood. Anything that reduces the amount of self-described "victims" in the world reduces the power of the cult, and so the groups have to oppose anything that actually addresses social problems, like Bush's healthy marriage initiative. NOW's objection to promoting healthy marriages and two-parent families is that somehow it "forces" the victims of domestic violence to "hook up" with abusers, according to Lisalyn Jacobs, vice president for government relations for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. Huh?
Where do they get that? Is there a secret alternate version that only NOW members get to see? Or is it that they're so wrapped up in their own hatred of men and their own percieved victimhood that the phrase "healthy marriage" looks like so much cuneiform to them?
For me, as for many people, NOW lost much of their credibility as a legitimate women's rights organisation when they sided with Bill Clinton instead of the victims of his sexual predation. One chapter of NOW even threatened to break away from the national group over this. When they openly attacked Dr. Laura Schlessinger, then a radio talk show host, for advocating raising children in traditional families (gasp!), they lost whatever legitimacy they had left. Aren't mothers women, too? Mine certainly was.
I haven't read every detail of President Bush's plan to promote healthy marriages, nor do I need to in order to understand that helping couples who intend to marry form a stable, loving, healthy relationship is a good idea. Why is the divorce rate so high? Is it because movies and television denigrate family values, glorify infidelity and paint an unrealistic, or worse, downright nihilistic portrait of marriage? Is it simply because with the rising divorce rate over the last half century, fewer and fewer people have an example of a real, working, stable marriage to emulate? According to Joel Cohen's article, "Human Population: The Next Half Century" (from the 14 November 2003 issue of Science), "...the rise in divorce and cohabitation is weakening the ties between fathers and children. Nonmarital births increased as a percentage of all births in the United States from 5.3% in 1960 to 33.0% in 1999." How many social ills stem from broken homes, single parents struggling to raise children, and abusive marriages? I wouldn't be far off the mark if I said "most of them".
Once again, President Bush seems to be trying to do something about the root cause of a problem instead of merely patching over the symptoms. Helping couples work out their problems before they even arise -- a "preemptive strike", I suppose you could call it -- will reduce the number of single-parent families in the future. President Bush plans to make sure couples interested in marriage have access to counseling to teach them how to get along with each other, how to resolve differences and conflicts, how to manage money and chores, and how to deal with the strain of raising children. Who could possibly be against that?
Groups like NOW and GLAAD that subsist on the "victim cult", that's who.
Posted at Friday, January 16, 2004 by CavalierX
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Let me play among the stars... Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars...
Hold on a minute... that's not Frank Sinatra singing! It's President Bush!
Tomorrow, the President will unveil his plan to return to the Moon and build a permanent Lunar research station and settlement. His plan also includes sending astronauts to Mars as the next natural step in the exploration and expansion of humans into space.
Once again, President Bush proves he's a man after my own heart. Not only will his push for space exploration redeem NASA, create jobs, spur scientific research and give America a vision for the future, but it's sure to anger many Liberals while, at the same time, keeping the USA ahead of the ambitious Chinese. A winning situation, six different ways.
Since the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded in its final minutes of re-entry a year ago, killing all aboard, America's space exploration has been in a holding pattern. There's been widespread doubt that the agency could even survive. Challenging NASA to meet a definite goal will revitalise not only the organisation itself, but all the dependent firms with aerospace ties. Handing NASA a mandate for this kind of effort will create a trickle-down positive effect in the tech sector as well.
Few people could disagree with the fact that space exploration has brought huge research and development advances in every field of human endeavor. From health care to sports to communication and other technologies, nearly every industry has benefitted in some way from the development of space. Research into such problems as the bone loss all long-term astronauts experience, for instance, could be a huge boon to America's aging population. And more than that, we Americans need a common goal that could lift us out of the media quagmire muddying our achievements in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries (fifty million people freed from oppression and counting...), as well as the constant petty political attacks on the President by the Democrats. Returning to space could give all Americans a sense of common pride and accomplishment. We belong at the forefront of science. We belong at the forefront of technology. We belong at the forefront of exploration. We belong in space. In every possible way, space exploration is worth the cost.
Naturally, some people will disagree, and in the most vitriolic ways.
Mark my words, the coming weeks and months will hear fevered objections to President Bush's determination to return to space. We'll hear over and over about how the government's money (your money, my money) should be spent on more social programs, which (as we all know) might alleviate the problems of a few, for the short term only. One of the main problems with these people, mostly Liberals, is their inablility to see anything but the short term -- witness their impatience with the slowly-but-steadily improving Iraq situation. The kind of people who could whine that nine months has already been too long to rebuild an entire country and acclimate its people to a democratic form of government will be unable to understand the kind of sustained national effort space exploration takes. The people who had the same opinion in the 1960's wasted no time taking advantage of the benefits it brought, nor will today's objectors.
I can just hear the cries of objection now, from people who want to sacrifice the advance of science and technology to their own ideological agendas. Perhaps they'll say, "No blood for science!" or "It's all about the helium-3!" What kind of people protest the advance of science and the general betterment of the human condition? A few more years of Liberal cultural domination will see us all living in caves, instead of reaching for the stars.
Where we belong.
Posted at Tuesday, January 13, 2004 by CavalierX
Sunday, January 11, 2004
The latest sensation in the online world is the letter recently published on the Iraqi blog Healing Iraq, about a missing young man named Zaydun Ma'mun Fadhil Hassun Al-Samarrai. The letter, purportedly written by Zaydun's mother, describes his murder by drowning at the hands of US soldiers, as related by a cousin who was with him and "survived miraculously".
If it hadn't been for a single phrase of Zeyad's, it would be easy to dismiss this letter instantly as something fabricated by anti-Coalition forces due to the many details that don't make sense, even if you're able to assume (an easy task for anti-Americans, of course) that somehow, an entire patrol consisted solely of "bad apples" who would commit deliberate murder. Stop drooling, Oliver Stone, we haven't gone over the details yet.
But Zeyad said, "Zaydun is a relative of mine". Therefore, since Zeyad has always proved a credible source in the past, I believe that Zaydun exists.
Something official must be done to determine the veracity of this account. More than likely, the account of Zaydun's cousin as to the fate of Zaydun is false. It's as full of holes as Swiss cheese. I'm not even certain the letter was written by Zaydun's mother. Zeyad himself says, "I never implied that I was 100% convinced about the details. They were really really troubled when I talked to them and they just handed me the letter and the picture and asked me to do whatever I can do about it."
The writer of the letter takes great pains to induce pathos as well as anger at the US, describing Iraq as "a country torn by wars and sanctions", and saying of herself, "I was a victim, and there are and will be many more". If that seems a little overdone, the writer continues to speak of the "suffering of Iraqi mothers, we are reaping misery every day from actions of American soldiers with no regard to our human life, our dignity, and our culture and values".
So, is this a letter about a missing young man, or a general diatribe against the US and the Coalition? "The devil is in the details", they say.
The story told by the unnamed cousin was that the soldiers caught him and Zaydun returning to Samarra after the curfew, when their cargo truck broke down. After searching the truck, they tied both men up. They abandoned their post to lead the men to a dam three kilometers (a little less than 2 miles) away, where they made them jump into the water. The cousin's account tells that he got lucky, and was caught by a tree branch and escaped. The cousin says he tried to save Zaydun, but the water was too strong. He hid when he saw the soldiers searching for them with flashlights.
Now, the questions.
Zaydun and his cousin took their work truck and went somewhere, returning at night -- the letter specifies midnight -- with something in it that made soldiers at the checkpoint place them under arrest when they searched it. What was in the truck? Did Zaydun and the cousin actually escape? Did they run to the river to hide, chased by a few of the soldiers with flashlights? Did Zaydun, perhaps while removing his jacket to change his appearance, fall into the fast-moving water beneath the dam? Did the cousin indeed try to save him, only to be defeated by the fast-moving water?
The letter goes on to say, "After days of search we found my sons jacket floating with the stream". If the current was so strong that two young men couldn't fight it, how far did the jacket travel over the course of days? And how did Zaydun remove it, if he was tied up? In an update, Zeyad tells us the cousin later stated that the handcuffs were removed before the men were told to jump into the water. However, anyone that has seen a television in the last year has seen Coalition troops arresting people with the use of plastic zip-strips, not handcuffs. Perhaps it's another translation error or omission, which is all the more reason to have the matter investigated.
It's the last part of the story about the jacket in which the hard play for sympathy combined with hatred for America rings most false... "it shall remain with me as a memory and a symbol of the injustice brought against him by soldiers of the United States of America's army, who came to our country under the banners of human rights and democracy only to send my son to his demise on his wedding days." (Emphasis mine) "Ahh, those bastards!" we are supposed to say at this point. The reference to it being his actual wedding day was later explained as a translation error on Zeyad's part, but the reference is still obvious: the beginning of the letter tells us that Zaydun was "engaged to marry a relative of his very recently".
Zeyad's comments on the letter state that "Zaydun's cousin said that the soldiers were drunk and looked tired, and that during their ride they even chatted and joked with one of the soldiers who spoke a little Arabic." Drunk on duty in the Sunni triangle, while manning a checkpoint outside of Samarra? That would be nothing less than suicidal, considering all the attacks on US soldiers that have occurred in that area. Chatting and joking with men they cold-bloodedly planned to murder? And in this later version, they rode to the scene of the crime, instead of the men being led. Was the cousin trying to distance himself from any suspicion that the men might have been chased to the dam, after the letter was written?
I do not doubt that Zeyad was given this letter, as he explains, and asked to publish it so the world could see it. I do not doubt that his relative Zaydun is missing, and may have drowned. What I doubt is the cousin's story about the events of that night. It needs to be investigated, and the truth made known. Whatever it is. Whether true or false, this story is beginning to poison the relationship between the Iraqis and the Coalition... especially, as Zeyad tells us, "The letter has already been sent to various Iraqi papers and to offices of Arab media in Baghdad." The claim is that when the incident was reported, the official the family spoke to "yelled at them and started to lecture them about the discipline of American GI's". The official was not named, however.
Wouldn't poisoning our relationship with the Iraqi people be exactly what the so-called "insurgents" based in the Sunni triangle want to do, even if they have to use the death of a young man and the grief of his mother to do it? Certainly the type of people who fought to keep Saddam Hussein in power, and fight now against a democratic Iraq, would do so without qualm.
Until an investigation takes place, the only hard fact is that Zeyad's relative is missing, presumed drowned, and his family has my sympathy for that.
Posted at Sunday, January 11, 2004 by CavalierX