Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Truth About Christmas Trees

It's rather funny that Christians should be rallying around the Christmas Tree. Today it seems that the Christmas Tree itself is at the very center of the fight between church and state. Many Christians fear that Christianity and Christmas itself are under assault from the ACLU and the "politically correct" liberal movement in America.

But it is ironic that the Christmas Tree is the focal point of the argument. Indeed, many government officials (and businesses, too) are attempting to rename the Christmas Tree a 'Holiday Tree.' But it was only a very few years ago that conservative Christians themselves condemned Christmas trees as pagan symbols, the work of the devil.

The History Channel (link here) has a wonderful, short history of the Christmas Tree. I've reprinted a little bit here:

To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims's second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out "pagan mockery" of the observance, penalizing any frivolity.

The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against "the heathen traditions" of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated "that sacred event." In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations.

To be certain, the display of greenery, trees and decorations are all pagan in origin, not Christian at all.

Again, quoting from the above link from The History Channel:

The shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the Winter Solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.

Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.

Separation of Church and State was much stronger when our country was founded than it is today. Christmas itself WAS NOT a government holiday. In fact, stores and businesses themselves did not close on Christmas until just a little over 100 years ago. Congress held sessions on Christmas Day.

Scrooge was not unusual in expecting his employees to work on Christmas. It was not a "holiday." In fact it was Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" than began a movement toward making Christmas a Holiday. Dickens was considered a radical and a socialist and a general trouble maker.

Calvin and protestant leaders rejected both the celebration of Christmas and Easter as pagan trivializations of sacred events.

The White House NEVER had a Christmas tree until President Franklin Pierce, our 14th President set up a tree in 1856. And he was nearly impeached for adopting the German pagan tradition. It was a huge controversy.

Christmas DID NOT become a National Holiday until 1870!!! Alabama was the first state to make Christmas an official holiday in 1836. Believe it or not, this was one of "official" and one of the real reasons for the Civil War!!! Southern States celebrated Christmas (Arkansas and Louisiana joined in passing Christmas Holiday laws), but Northern states strict forbid any such celebration!! At one time you would be fined in Boston for openly celebrating Christmas!!

In the early 20th century Teddy Roosevelt again banned the Christmas Tree from the White House, but this time on the grounds of conservation. As an ardent conservationist, he led a battle against cutting down trees for decoration. The White House must set an example.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Festive Kwanza, and a Blessed Winter Solstice.

the Wizard............

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Winning the Battle... Surrendering the War

Recent polls show that President Bush's support among the American people for the war in Iraq is at an all time low. Most people neither trust nor support the President's actions in Iraq.

And most feel the progress of the war is disastrous. Many have an image of near chaos in Iraq. The picture we have of Iraq is fueled by the strategic suicide bombings by the Iraqi wing of al-Qaeda. Bombings occur nearly every day, sometimes only wounding a few, sometimes killing dozens. Americans are occasionally killed, by mostly the deaths are those of Iraqi civilians.

The constant drone of bombings, combined with a coordinated and relentless attack on the President by the Democrats have driven his poll numbers to the ground.

Even the Republican controlled Senate OVERWHELMINGLY called on the President to deliver an exit strategy and demanded he provide regular updates on the progress of the withdrawal. It was all a weakened and demoralized Republican majority could do to prevent the attachment of a specific timetable to the bill.

The Democrats have clearly won the battle. They have won the "hearts and minds" of the public. The "Bush Lied" mantra has most believing the Bush did lie about pre-war intelligence and that he cannot be trusted.

Meanwhile, the actual situation in Iraq is quite good. In fact it is remarkable. Iraq IS A DEMOCRACY. The first truly free, democratically elected parliament will be elected 30 days from today.

Returning troops here in my home town (our National Guard returned after 15 months duty with no serious casualties, praise Allah), speak of the bravery of the Iraqi people and the amazing improvements in the country. This was their second tour and the results are very encouraging.

Not only are the people's lives improving, the infrastructure improving and freedom taking root (every home has a television, every town 50 newspapers, every village has restaurants and schools and stores, shops and markets. Food is plentiful. Hospitals have doctors, nurses and medicine.

But, the troops lived with respectful fear of al-Zarqawi and the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda. These "terrorists" represent no more that the tiniest handful of Iraqi citizens But the brutality and the total lack of respect for human life (their own or their victims) has the people of Iraq living under a cloud.

There is no doubt, in the minds of our troops, that if the US abandons the Iraqi people, hundreds of thousands of innocent people will die brutal and horrific deaths. And the spark of freedom and the hope of democracy will die with them. The Kurds will fight and civil war is certainty.

Clearly the Democrats have won the political battle. The demand by the Democrats and increasingly by the American people is to negotiate a peace and set a date certain for withdrawal.

My only question is "With whom are we to negotiate this peace?" Or do we just "call it a day" and sneak out the back door and hope no notices our betrayal of millions of innocent, freedom seeking people?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies & Videotape

"When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."
President George Bush, November 11, 2005

Lying is very tricky business. Or at least I always thought it was. Like many people I thought you could always get tripped up in a lie. Ultimately the lie would come unraveled.

Mom always told me she could tell when I was lying. And I think she always did. I had good, strong parents and grew up walking the straight and narrow.

But now I'm having to learn the rules about lying all over again. It turns out that Mom may have only told me half of the story. But now Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their friends are teaching me the whole truth. The truth about lying.

The secret to a successful lie is that it has to be really big. It needs to be bold faced. It's got to be blatant. It doesn't matter if it's easy to disprove. And it doesn't matter if most people know it's a lie. You just need to yell louder, be more physical, repeat it often, fail to ever answer a direct question, and enlist your friends in repeating the lie.

If a lie is big enough, the story tall enough and if it's repeated often enough, pretty soon most folks will just ignor it and the rest will believe it. And, after a while, it becomes something like the truth. At least it graduates into urban myth.

And so now we have a very successful Democrat Party, riding the wave of President Bush's falling poll numbers, telling, repeating, shouting and screaming the biggest and most easily disprovable lie I've ever seen. And they are getting away with it.

The funny thing is it's a kind of tricky lie. The are telling this lie: "The President Lied about intelligence leading up to the Iraqi invasion."

If, by some bizarre accident you didn't realize that Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and virtually every Democrat in the Congress and party were lying, here is one of hundreds of news reports from fair minded, credible sources which point out the incredible lie being perpetrated by the liberal left.

"Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction" and Bush didn't claim that that there were no exceptions to this view."

Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus reporting in the Washington Post 1/11/2005

The Democrats lie is really tricky on two levels. First, in addition to the hundreds of reports like the one above, there and tens of thousands of hours of videotape disproving the Democrats lie beyond the shadow of a doubt. A little of it is being played by the news media. This causes a small amount of trouble for the Dems, hence the failure to answer direct questions.

But second, it's really tricky because each Senator, Congressman and party leader is on record supporting the war and agreeing with the exact same "intelligence" the President also agreed with. Those videotapes also exist. And a few do get replayed.

So how can you indict and convict the President of a lie he obviously didn't commit? You turn him into the most powerful, compelling, persuasive, Machiavellian politician in the entire history of mankind.

The biggest problem for the Dems is that for five years they've consistently accused Bush of being the most stupid, bumbling, incompetent, ill spoken and poor mannered president in history. I mean the jokes about his lack of verbal skills have carried Letterman and Leno for six years.

Ahhh, but now, in the skilled hands of Kennedy and Reid and company, Bush is a genius that managed to single handedly pull the wool over the entire Democrat Party's eyes, the entire U.S. Congress, the United Nations, the leaders of virtually every country on earth, and, oh, my mother.

Bush not only had to falsify virtually all CIA, FBI and foreign intelligence, including the British Intelligence and the Russian Intelligence, but he then had to sell it to 7/8ths of the people on earth who, generally speaking, didn't think much of Bush.

So Bush, with a little help from Colin Powell and Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby made up the entire story. I guess they even made up the seventeen U.N resolutions against Saddam. Then they sold it to the entire Congress, where not one member, Republican or Democrat, ever asked a single independent question.

And the suave, silver tongued devil Bush clouded the minds of all congresspersons, just like the Phantom in the old radio programs, and forced them to vote in favor of the resolution to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Well now the Democrats have finally come out of their dream-like state and want to set the record straight. They were hopelessly hoodwinked by President Machiavelli, they were too drugged to ever object or question anything Bush uttered. They never actually voted for the war, they were duped into submission.

It turns out that Bush was the genius, and the Dems were the stupid, bumbling and incompetent leaders who filed to take any precautions to protect the American people.

My question is "why is the American public buying this load of crap?" And, frankly, "when will the American public realize the Dems are telling the only lie in this whole mess.

Perhaps it's really unfortunate. Maybe we'd be better off if Bush were a modern day Machiavelli. And maybe we'd be better off if the Democrats were the stupid, bumbling, incompetent opposition.

One thing I'm certain won't happen. The Democrats will never actually admit they did their job, reviewed the available intelligence independently and, using their best and most honest judgement, they actually voted for the war. To learn that, the American public will simply have to turn to the videotapes.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Harriet Miers Delimma

I've developed a "surfing habit" each time I sign on to the Internet. First I go to The Drudge Report and follow all interesting links. Then I go to The Huffington Post and read the most interesting commentaries (blogs) and follow any other news links. I find this pattern is actually more informative and better balanced than my old habit of reading MSNBC or Yahoo News.

But, over the last few weeks, Drudge and Huffington almost mirror each other. Both conservatives and liberals are bashing Harriet Miers.

But it seems to me that the liberals ought to be very cautious. As the old saying goes: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

For five years I've been writing here that Bush is no conservative. If you like BIG GOVERNMENT, HUGE DEFICITS, and new SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAMS, Bush is your man.

Now you can add MODERATE, PRAGMATIC SUPREME COURT JUSTICES to the Bush legacy.

The LA Times wrote:
In Dallas, Miers supported a move to create City Council districts so black and Latino candidates would have a better chance of winning seats.

"She came to believe it was important to achieve more black and Hispanic representation," Hasen said.

"She could have a profound impact as a justice if she brought that view to the court. So from the perspective of the voting rights community, they could do a lot worse than her."

It's frankly very clear that Miers will be a thoughtful judge who brings world experience rather than Ivy League Scholarship to the bench.

Of course Conservatives like Ann Coulter are going ballistic!

Ann Coulter wrote:
We're told she has terrific "common sense." Common sense is the last thing you want in a judge! The maxim "Hard cases make bad law" could be expanded to "Hard cases being decided by judges with 'common sense' make unfathomably bad law."

Miers also told Sen. Patrick Leahy — in front of witnesses — that her favorite justice was "Warren," leaving people wondering whether she meant former Chief Justice Earl Warren, memorialized in "Impeach Warren" billboards across America, or former Chief Justice Warren Burger, another mediocrity praised for his "common sense" who voted for Roe v. Wade and was laughed at by Rehnquist clerks like John Roberts for his lack of ability

Now here's the dilemma. Democrats hate Bush with a destructive passion I've never witnessed in thinking human beings before. The columnists at Huffington spew poison in every sentence and every word. After reading Huffington one would have to believe Hitler was a misunderstood choir boy when compared to the corrupt, evil, dangerous and stupid Bush.

So, naturally, they giggle with glee as the Conservatives turn on George Bush and pick apart Miers like vultures on an road kill armadillo.

And they throw their spears, not to scare off the vultures, but to be certain the poor Miers armadillo is really dead.

Yet Democrats "claim" they want another justice like Sandra Day O'Connor. And in Miers they actually have one. Harriet Miers is absolutely, positively the best nominee Dems can possibly hope for!! If she goes down, we will get a true constructionist nominee in the mold of Scilia and Thomas. And that nominee will get confirmed. You might even get the "nuclear option" as part of the bargain.

So the question is, can any Democrats hold off their left flank and stand up to the Huffington hate mongering wing of the movement and actually support Miers, a thinking moderate?

Or do they win the "Beat Bush Battle" and lose the "Supreme Court War" when Priscilla Owen or her clone actually becomes the next Supreme Court Justice and does alter the balance of the court?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

National Call In Day for Darfur

Between the twin hurricanes Katrina and Rita and now the earthquake in Pakistan it's easy to forget about the horrific genocide in Darfur.

Unlike Katrina, Rita and the earthquake, the tragedy in Darfur is entirely man made. It is nothing less than people murdering people.

I apologize that I've let this National Call-In Day for Darfur sneak up on me without giving it the publicity it so strongly deserves. Please take a few minutes to understand the issue and make a telephone call to your Congressperson, Senator and others you think might help raise awareness.

Here is a letter from Brian Komar, American Progress Action Fund, for the entire Be A Witness team.

Today, October 18 , please join thousands around the country in a National Call-In Day for Darfur coordinated by the
Genocide Intervention Fund , the Save Darfur coalition, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Last year, Congress and the Bush administration declared that genocide was underway in the western Darfur region of Sudan. Today, even amidst reports of spiraling violence, Congress has failed to take action to address the ongoing crisis. In recent weeks, attacks against civilians in camps, humanitarian workers, and most recently, African Union (AU) peacekeepers, have prompted the AU Peace and Security Council to call on the UN Security Council to address the deteriorating security situation in Darfur.

Members of Congress need to hear from constituents that there is strong public support for promoting peace and accountability in Darfur. Please take a moment tomorrow to call your senators and representative and ask them to support the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act– an important piece of legislation that outlines necessary next steps toward ending the violence in Darfur. Information on contacting your members of Congress and a sample script to help you make the calls is included below.

Please pass this message on to others to multiply our message. Thank you for your willingness to take action and for your continued commitment to saving lives in Darfur.

Here are Calling Instructions and Script Ideas:

Thank you for joining the National Call-In Day for Darfur! To call your senators and representative:

Contact the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and provide your zip code or ask for your member of Congress by name. You'll be transferred to the member's office.

Useful Links:

Look up your members of Congress
Check if your members of Congress are cosponsors of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act

What to say when you call:

Below are two basic scripts to use on the phone. Version 1 is a bit more complex but is likely to be a bit more effective. If you don't have the time or feel uncomfortable with version 1, feel free to use version 2. Whether you use one of these or just talk to the offices in your own words, the important thing is letting your elected representatives know that you care about Darfur and that you expect them to do something about it.

Version 1

Hi, this is ___ calling from ___. I'd like to know if Congressman/Congresswoman/Senator ___ is a cosponsor of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127 in the House of Representatives; S. 1462 in the Senate).

If yes: That's great. I would appreciate a written response on what he/she is doing to make sure that this bill gets a vote before Congress adjourns this year. This is just too important to leave undone. And thank you for your time.

If no or not sure: I've heard that this is the only bill with a real chance of passing this year, and that it has bipartisan support. As a constituent, I urge Cngressman/Congresswoman/Senator ___ to cosponsor the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. Can you send me a letter letting me know if he/she will become a cosponsor? This bill is just too important to leave undone. Thank you for your time.

Version 2

Hi, this is ___ calling from ___. I would like to let the Congressman/Congresswoman/Senator know that I support the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127 in the House of Representatives; S. 1462 in the Senate) and hope that he/she will too. If possible, I'd like a written response letting me know his/her position. Thanks.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Ultimate Oxymoron: Elitist Conservative?

Friends and long time readers know that I think Ann Coulter is easily the brightest and one of the funniest columnists writing today. That she is ever attacked by anyone speaks either to the attacker's lack of intelligence or lack of a sense of humor. She is brilliant, witty and devastatingly funny.

But that doesn't mean everyone has to agree with her, not all the time, not even part of the time. You can and should be able to recognize her talent without agreeing with her philosophy. But you simply have to admit she is funny.

Here's an excerpt from her column last week, entitled "THIS IS WHAT 'ADVICE AND CONSENT' MEANS," in which she explains her utter disdain for the newest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers.

"Unfortunately for Bush, he could nominate his Scottish terrier Barney, and some conservatives would rush to defend him, claiming to be in possession of secret information convincing them that the pooch is a true conservative and listing Barney's many virtues - loyalty, courage, never jumps on the furniture ..."

As you might guess, I do disagree with Ann and a legion of conservative commentators over their chosen method to attack Harriet Miers. But, for the record, Ann's comment above is both totally correct and amazingly funny. You can link to Ann's columns every week here: There are archives of past columns here, too.

To explain my disappointment for the conservative's method of attack we, sadly, must now relive the Clarence Thomas hearings for his Supreme Court nomination.

In those wondrouss days of yore it was never possible for Democrats (or Republicans) to attack a nominee over their judicial philosophy. We were all much too civil back then. Hearings were limited to the "qualifications" of the nominee. Since Thomas was well qualified, Democrats were faced with the possibility of a true constructionist sitting on the bench. One thing was for certain, if possible, Thomas would be a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

So out came a secret weapon: Anita Hill. Hill was able to attack Thomas on purely personal grounds: sexual harassment. Philosophy would never have to be mentioned. In reality she was there, as she herself would later admit, as part of the fight for abortion rights.

It was a comic and tragic hearing. And it did have a profound effect the American workplace. Every company held sexual harassment seminars and workshops. But, in the end, it didn't keep Thomas off the bench.

Democrats quickly realized the error of their ways. From that moment on, a nominee's judicial philosophy was not only fair game, it was the only game!

Conservatives, however, were true to their conservative nature. Judicial philosophy was still a topic never to be discussed. So conservatives not only let Ruth Bader Ginsberg sail through the Senate 'Advice and Consent' hearings, they actually voted for her nearly unanimously. And you must remember that Ginsberg is so liberal it should have been shock to have her considered for the Supreme Court of Denmark, let alone the United States.

Meanwhile, the President has to live in this bizarre world of double standards. Democrats will attack any candidate with the slightest paper trail indicating a conservative or constructionist philosophy. So we enter the era of the stealth candidate. Nominate only persons with no provable philosophy. Now confirmed Chief Justice Roberts was a perfect choice. A well qualified blank slate.

Now fast forward to the nomination of Harriet Miers. The conservatives, still living in 1979, don't ever attack based on philosophy. "We have no litmus test," cry the conservatives.

Meanwhile, President Bush, forced to live in 2005, chooses another stealth candidate, one with even less of a paper trail than Roberts, Harriet Miers. Only this time even conservatives are frightened they don't know her philosophy. The slate is so blank, they're actually afraid there might not even be a philosophy there.

So what's to do? Boxed into a corner, they can't attack the lack of a philosophy they claim they don't require. So conservatives pull out their version of Anita Hill. No, not sexual harrassment . Instead they attack her educational background!

To quote once more from the wonderful Ann Coulter:

"Harriet Miers went to Southern Methodist University Law School, which is not ranked at all by the serious law school reports and ranked No. 52 by US News and World Report. Her greatest legal accomplishment is being the first woman commissioner of the Texas Lottery."

"Second, even if you take seriously William F. Buckley's line about preferring to be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston telephone book than by the Harvard faculty, the Supreme Court is not supposed to govern us. Being a Supreme Court justice ought to be a mind-numbingly tedious job suitable only for super-nerds trained in legal reasoning like John Roberts. Being on the Supreme Court isn't like winning a "Best Employee of the Month" award. It's a real job."

Perhaps the most ironic fact in reviewing Conservative's misplaced attack on Miers is that conservative's first choice for the Supreme Court is 5th Circuit Court Justice Priscilla Owen, a fellow Texan and graduate of Baylor University. Let me assure you that Baylor is no SMU. Hence, the primary argument against Miers falls flat on its face!

Tragically, conservatives have fallen into the Anita Hill trap. And they look and sound petty, childish and, well, elitist. Instead of making up a false and silly new litmus test for Supreme Court Nominees, like an Ivy League Law Degree, they need to actually be willing to embrace their own philosophies.

This Conservative Elitism is not only an oxymoron, it's actually moronic.

Postscript: Here's perhaps the best statement I've read concerning the Miers' debate; it comes from Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver:

"First, the President had a number of highly qualified candidates with proven track records and well-developed judicial philosophies. He passed over them and chose an invisible nominee. Second, selecting a nominee who has held her views in silence for 60 years sends a wrong message to conservatives - if you want to be appointed to the federal bench, you should keep your views to yourself. That's a terrible message to send to our future leaders."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Three Blind Men and the Elephant

Before I even start today's essay may I digress and mention just how wonderful and powerful the Internet has become. We literally are combining the resources of the entire world. Each person and each institution contributes his or her interests and knowledge. And it's all here, in one easy to use format, to benefit all humankind. At least the portion of humankind that can afford access or lives in a country or region where the leaders do not fear knowledge. But I digress.

By searching the Internet I located dozens of links to different versions of the ancient story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Perhaps the best known is John Godfrey Saxe's ( 1816-1887) version of the Indian version of the legend. Here is the link I used to a page created by Duen Hsi Yen. It's a wonderful resource.
The Blind Men and the Elephant. It is believed the original parable originated in China sometime during the Han dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). There are also African versions and, of course, Saxe's retelling of the Indian version.

The Three Blind Men and the Elephant

    It was three men of Indostan
    To learning much inclined,
    Who went to see the Elephant
    (Though all of them were blind),
    That each by observation
    Might satisfy his mind.

    The First approached the Elephant,
    And happening to fall
    Against his broad and sturdy side,
    At once began to bawl:
    "God bless me! but the Elephant
    Is very like a wall!"

    The Second, feeling of the tusk
    Cried, "Ho! what have we here,
    So very round and smooth and sharp?
    To me `tis mighty clear
    This wonder of an Elephant
    Is very like a spear!"

    The Third approached the animal,
    And happening to take
    The squirming trunk within his hands,
    Thus boldly up he spake:"
    I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
    Is very like a snake!"

Today, the wake of Hurricane Katrina we have many members of the leadership of the Democrat Party who are demanding an immediate investigation of the failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Government in general in their response to the hurricane and its horrific aftermath.

Many are calling for the firing or resignation of Michael Brown, FEMA's Director and some are calling for the termination of Michael Chertoff, Director of Homeland Security as well.

And, as would be expected, many are putting the entire blame for the aftermath on the doorstep of George Bush himself. Into the mix are cries of racism or prejudice against the poor and disadvantaged.

There is no doubt the each of these people deserve a lot of the blame for what happened.

Leading the increasingly partisan attack are Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Leader in the House of Representatives, Harry Reid, the Democrat Leader of the Senate and, of course, Howard Dean, the head of the Democrat Party. Each are demanding an immediate investigation. They want to examine the elephant!

Nevermind that the elephant is still raging, still running at full speed. Nevermind that such an investigation at this time would sap resources needed to save lives, find and identify the dead and restore the homes of the living.

And certainly nevermind that many facts will not even be known for weeks. Let's examine the elephant!

But, in a blatant and very dangerous partisan move, the Democrats are demanding that such an investigation be limited to FEMA and the Federal Government's role in the disaster. Such a move will insure that any investigation will be blind to the totality of factors that led to the tragedy.

Here is a summary of recently revealed facts concerning the most visible tragedy in New Orleans. The following is from an analysis by Audrey Hudson and James G. Lakely in the Washington Times.

    FEMA has been harshly criticized by Democrats in Congress, who have demanded that Director Michael D. Brown resign. But FEMA was in place as the storm approached and the Louisiana National Guard delivered seven trailers with food and water Aug. 29 and another seven truckloads on Aug. 30 to the Superdome to help feed the 25,000 people inside.

    Confusion reigned in Katrina's aftermath. A state-of-the-art mobile hospital developed with Homeland Security grants to respond to disasters and staffed by 100 doctors and paramedics was left stranded in Mississippi because Louisiana officials would not let it deploy to New Orleans.

    Red Cross officials say the organization was well positioned to provide food, water and hygiene products to the thousands stranded in New Orleans. But the state refused to let them deliver the aid.

    "Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities, and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders," the Red Cross said last week on its Web site.

It's terribly tragic that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Howard Dean are working to stop any inquiry that includes examination of local or state response to Hurricane Katrina.

God Forbid we take steps that would actually identify and fix the response problems before the next disaster. Nope, we don't want anything fixed.

You see our three blind men (persons) don't really want to examine the elephant. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Howard Dean want to pin the blame on the Elephant.

And so John Saxe completes his parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant:

    And so these men of Indostan
    Disputed loud and long,
    Each in his own opinion
    Exceeding stiff and strong,
    Though each was partly in the right,
    And all were in the wrong!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Blind Loyalty

The horrific aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will be dissected in thousands of commentaries on thousands of blogs, websites, newspapers and magazines. In the months and years to come we’ll be able to read insightful books and, of course, the investigations of numerous government committees, panels and commissions.

Some of these might even be helpful and insightful.

Right now we’re mostly getting gut reactions, heartfelt stories and a wealth of utter nonsense. The "hate Bush for everything" crowd is setting new standards for fiction parading as fact.

So here's my gut reaction.

For reasons the liberal ultra left cannot possibly imagine, President Bush does deserve a lot of the blame for what’s happening. Not for the Hurricane, of course, but for the botched efforts in the last 72 hours.

I'm not part of the "Hate Bush" crowd. In fact I'm a strong supporter of the war in Iraq and the overall war against terrorism. I think Bush not only has the best plan, he has the only plan.

I think most of Bush's policies have been excellent. His tax cuts and overall economic policies have given us one of the strongest economy in out history.

Attacks on his brilliant "Leave No Child Behind" education program are totally unwarranted. In fact Bush has spent more Federal Funds on education than any Democrat President ever even proposed in their wildest dreams.

And even some of his Environment Policies are overwhelming successes.

But blind loyalty is just as totally wrong as blind hatred. Bush's management style, nearly identical to Ronald Reagan's, depends on having excellent people in charge. Bush delegates authority to his people, but here his people are simply incompetent.

In addition, it's my opinion that the new gigantic Federal Bureaucracy called Homeland Security created after 9/11 is one of the greatest mistakes in the entire history of government. Of course I strongly opposed it's creation at the time, as did a pretty large number of Bush cabinet officials. But public pressure and the bizarre lobbying by the 9/11 commission and 9/11 mothers caused it to pass.

So now we have a large, incompetent, unfeeling monster of a department filled with little baby bureaucrats whose sole mission in life is to cover their asses.

It's interesting to hear people compare Nixon's fast, efficient management of Hurricane Camille with Bush's nowhere to be seen mismanagement of Katrina. Nixon had FEDERAL troops on the ground in massive numbers in 24 hours.

Bush can't get troops to Geraldo Rivera and Shepard Smith who are broadcasting one block away from a military checkpoint whose entire purpose seems to be to cause people to suffer and die.

You have to be a complete idiot to allow the press to cover the torture of 10,000 people on live television and not pick up the phone and tell a General his career is on the line if food and water don't arrive within one hour.

Now, if you don't want to put the blame on Bush, blame his managers. But if Bush won't make the call, heads below him had better roll.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Deaf, Blind and Dumb

Apparently you can’t even pay TV networks to cover genocide., the organization devoted to helping bring media attention to the genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan created a clever and very pointed television commercial about the lack of major network coverage of the crisis.

This hard hitting ad really hits NBC, ABC and the other networks where it hurts. It's a great commercial and you can see it at this link:

With a very tiny budget, Be A Witness could only afford a small buy in Washington, D.C. It was supposed to start this week.

But, what started as network neglect has now turned into network cowardice. In the last few days, all three Washington DC network television affiliates, NBC-4, CBS-9, and ABC-7, refused to air the ad.

Since the major networks have a full docket featuring stories like Natalee Holloway and the Runaway Bride, the Be A Witness ad attempts to do what the media won’t: shine a spotlight on media neglect of the Darfur genocide.

Here are a few frightening facts from the Be A Witness website.

ABC News broadcast just 18 minutes of Darfur coverage in its nightly newscasts in all of 2004.

NBC News featured 5 minutes.

CBS News totaled only 3 minutes.

Now they won’t even allow the Be A Witness folks to pay for 30 seconds to urge better coverage of the genocide.

Once again, here's the link where you can view the ad:

It is one tough ad. The networks have every reason to be ashamed.

the WiZARD............

P.S. Would you like to send an email message directly to the television stations involved? Just follow this link and Be A will make it easy:

An Open Letter to FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC

While the major news media here in the United States continues its almost total blackout of stories about the genocide and starvation of millions of people in the Darfur region of the Sudan, the blogosphere continues to be both a source of information and hope.

Making the news today was a curious alignment of two opposing political blogs to create a unified voice about the ongoing tragedy in Darfur. The story of how a Northern liberal and a Southern conservative engaging in a war of words over judicial nominations eventually found common ground is profiled today in
The Sudan Tribune.

Last March the two political rivals joined with many other bloggers to form the
Coalition for Darfur. Today that blog is one of the most valuable resources for information on the genocide in the Sudan.

Through the Coalition for Darfur website, I've become acquainted with another great web resource, "Be A Witness." This organization carefully monitors the coverage of the crisis in Darfur by the major US Televison networks. As I stated above, that coverage is nearly nonexistent.

Using the wonderful services of "Be A Witness" I have written a letter to each of the major US news networks. Using a form on their website you can send one letter to each network automatically. They even have a template you can follow if you wish.

Here is my "open letter to FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC. It follows closely the letter I have sent to the networks through the "Be A Witness" website.

I am writing concerning your coverage of the horror in the Darfur region of Sudan.
While many world leaders have called the killing, rape and starvation in Darfur "genocide," we see almost no coverage of the events in any of your news broadcasts.

Genocide is the ultimate crime against humanity. Why are you missing in action?

The tragic story of Natalee Holloway has captured the attention of all news anchors and newsroom editors. CNN, FOXNews, NBC/MSNBC, ABC, and CBS have devoted entire shows to the missing teen. On one recent night I personally watched over 5 hours devoted to Natalee. But there wasn't even a mention of the genocide in Darfur. Not one word!

On that night there was not one single new piece of evidence or news out of Aruba. None the less, we still got 5 mind numbing hours of coverage. Two networks actually hosted their shows from Aruba.

That same day it's estimated that over 300 people died in Darfur. That's 300 women, children, teenagers, mothers, fathers, and babies. Couldn't you have devoted 30 seconds to their deaths?

Many in the world hate Americans. One of the reasons (and there are many) is we are so self centered. Your news programs reflect this aspect of America at its very worst. Your coverage clearly shows the world that we believe that one missing Alabama teenager is much more important than the lives of 300 Africans. The world can see America has her priorities straight.

Today, your coverage is watched around the world. And most Americans rely on cable television as their primary source of information. For many, if an event is not reported on television, it does not happen.

Just a small increase in the amount of time you devote to what is arguably the most important story in the entire world today could spur the action required to stop this devastating crime against humanity.

At the very lease, increased coverage will raise public awareness and put pressure on our government to help accelerate the deployment of the African Union forces to the region. There is no doubt that increased television coverage of the genocide in Darfur will save thousands of lives.

Next time you decide to send a reporter to Aruba, please consider redirecting those resources into Darfur. Of course that assignment won't be as much fun. There are no hotels, no casinos, no nightclubs and no legal prostitution.

But you will be reporting the biggest and most important story of our time.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

I respectfully ask that each of you join me is writing your own letter. I will post any replies I receive in this column.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tiananmen Ranch?

Here are just a very few quotes from a torrent of blogs in The Huffington Post over the last few days. Almost every post is about Cindy Sheehan, the mother holding vigil outside the President's Crawford Ranch.

Cindy Sheehan is my hero. She is the hero of all Americans who make up the 62% of us who oppose this war.

No wonder Bush is intimidated. No wonder he can't even walk down his driveway to speak with her. He is scared shitless.

Whether he acknowledges it or not -- whether his aides try to insulate him from the truth or not -- his hands are covered in the blood of Cindy Sheehan's son. They are dripping with the blood of all who have died there.

Christine Lahti in her article Cindy Sheehan is My Hero permalink here

How many American mothers and fathers and families are going through what Cindy Sheehan is experiencing? This war was a mistake. Our country needs to admit it and get our sons and daughters out of there -- out of harm's way. We need to do it now.

Dal LaMagna in his article What is One Life Worth permalink here

"I met Cindy Sheehan this time last year when she was trying to decide
what to do about the loss of her son. We were strangers when we spoke on the phone but she was as honest as she was angry. Before a news conference at the National Press Club, she stood in an anteroom holding a large color poster of her smiling boy and she ran her fingertips over his mouth as though he were alive and could feel this affection. In that moment, I hated my president. And I hate having to hate anyone or anything."

James Moore in his article Tiananmen Ranch permalink here

Like every parent, my heart simply bleeds for Cindy Sheehan. But when Cindy turned up as the subject of almost every single blog in the Huffington Post, it caused me to examine the issues being raised by Mrs. Sheehan and her newfound celebrity supporters. I found the unified left wing support of Sheehan raised many more questions than it answered.

The tirades are escalating over at Huffington. The Hollywood Left is feeding on themselves. The tone is shrill and the cause is increasingly self delusional.

It's not that important. I originally wasn't even going to write a post about the circus at Crawford. It was simply interesting to watch.

But, as someone who deeply cares about Human Rights and the rights of women and minorities, it's very sad.

The only explanation is pure, blind hatred of George Bush. It's caused otherwise bright, sensitive, caring people to lose all perspective, all sense of balance or fairness.

Several different posts, including Mr. Moore's above, compare the "standoff" at Crawford Ranch to Tiananmen Square. They are the few brave Freedom Fighters standing against overwhelming odds against the mightily dictatorship and its huge war machine. They will stand up against the tanks.

The tragedy is that there really are people in the world who are fighting that brave fight. These people literally put their lives on the line every day.

Let's be honest. What is the worst thing that can happen to the bloggers and reporters at Crawford ranch? Sunburn?

But if you are one of the elected Iraqis working to write a constitution you are actually in grave danger. Attempts will be made on your life. You are a marked man or woman. You run the risk of being kidnapped, tortured and murdered everytime you leave your home.

You'll notice there are no protestors camped outside of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's house. There are no gaggle of reporters documenting his every move. Christine Lahti has never written a blog about the blood on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's hands. The great legion of Huffington bloggers aren't calling for al-Zarqawi's head or even going so far as to call him a war criminal. That label is reserved for George Bush alone.

When the US and Iraqi troops regained control of Falluja last year they uncovered dozens of makeshift prisons and torture chambers. Inside they found literally stacks and stacks of human bodies, tortured and killer by al-Zarqawi's troops. Many men had their legs cut off below the knees while still alive. They found dozens of women who had been beheaded. The few prisoners found alive told of torture that actually did make Abu Ghraib look like a school prank.

So as the left wing blogosphere praises the bravery of Cindy Sheehan and call for her to run for president, take a few minutes to remember people who genuinely face real danger each and every day. And do remember her son who died trying to protect these people.

Remember all those who are fighting for all the rights and protections that the Hollywood left takes for granted each day as they bask in the Texas sun in the Tiananmen Square known as Crawford Ranch.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Why Can't God Follow the Rules?

Intelligent Design? George Bush certainly didn't start this debate. It began a long time before the delegate fight in Florida.

And the Scopes Monkey Trial didn't start the debate either. And it certainly didn't end it. And neither did the great Spencer Tracey in "Inherit the Wind."

In fact Charles Darwin didn't start the debate. If you don't believe me, just ask Galileo. Or Copernicus.

The debate didn't even begin with the birth of Jesus. It raged long before then. The debate began even before the Greek and Roman gods were born.

My guess is that the great debate started when the first human pondered the meaning of life and the certainty of death. That first man's mistake was that he told his neighbor about his observations. The debate has been raging ever since.

Intelligent Design versus Darwin's "theory" of evolution is just the latest skirmish in the debate. And it's a pretty minor skirmish at that.

Charles Darwin's mistake wasn't that he made detailed observations and applied scientific principles to his observations. And his mistake wasn't that he discovered what every farmer and every livestock breeder of his day already knew. His mistake was that he wrote a book. He told his neighbor.

You see Darwin's neighbor already had a book, the Bible. And he already had good crops and healthy livestock. And he had faith.

Plus, the neighbor had already lost a whole series of debates. He lost the debate about the "theory" that the Earth wasn't flat. And he lost the debate about the "theory" that the Earth wasn't the center of the Universe. He lost the debate about that crazy "theory" that Earth revolved around the sun.

He sure as heck wasn't going to lose a debate about a "theory" that creatures adapted to their environment. After all, it was God's will that his cows were bigger and gave more milk.

Creationists, like the great William Jennings Bryan, like to compare the the Earth to a fine pocket watch. With all its small gears and tiny cogs fitting and working perfectly together, a watch couldn't possible just evolve. That's just silly.

The problem with Creationists is that they think too small. You see God has made lots of laws, not to mention a lot of gears.

God didn't just make big laws like the Ten Commandments. There are lots of little laws too, like the Law of Gravity.

Compared to a watch the universe is very large and the cogs are very small . Many are so tiny they can't be seen, not even with the best microscope. Yet ever gear and ever cog works perfectly. Every movement of every gear is covered by many laws. Physics books are full of them. Science hasn't even scratched the surface yet.

If God made every rule, every particle, and every proton and electron, it had to be one great job. A simple watch is no comparison to the complexity of the universe.

If God went to all this trouble, why would God not use the magnificent machine he (or she) created? Why go to all the trouble to make all the rules if you're simply going to break them?

No, I believe God follows the rules. It's simple really. If you're going to build a wondrous Universe, why not let the Universe do it's job? It's so well designed, it's bound to get the job done.

In other words, why would God build such a wonderful watch and then not use it to tell time?

William Jennings Bryan, you were on the right track. You just didn't give God enough credit.

Personally I'm glad God made our rules, like the Ten Commandments, rather easy to understand. I think he recognized out limitations.

So let scientists work on understanding the other laws God created. They will never understand them all. Every time a scientist uncovers a new law, we should all be amazed in it's wonder, complexity and beauty. The debate between science and faith is meaningless.

I was blessed to attend a church is a small southern town many years ago when a great minister, Reverend Renfro, preached, "It's science's job to tell us where and when, it's religion's job to tell us who and why."

Once you know who and why there's really no need to debate where and when.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Just How Bad Can Television Really Be?

If you are one of the many who believe television is a vast wasteland and that cable television simply increased the acreage of waste, today's column is not for you, although it certainly will confirm your already well established opinion.

But as for me, I love television! I find much of today's television to be creative, relevant, entertaining and informative. And I'm absolutely thrilled with the nearly monthly unveiling of new cable networks. I can view over 150 stations now at the touch of a remote and am excited by each new discovery.

So I was really pleased to read the publicity about the newest and, perhaps, boldest television network yet, Current TV. Current TV promised to be television for the Interent Generation. Fast paced, informative, inventive, young and hip! I tuned in at midnight, just to catch the first seconds of this innovative new venture.

And I watched for a really painful two hours, but it wasn't easy. This may well be the worst two hours in the entire history of television. One could only pray for the return of Milton Berle.

I've watched for several hours over several succeeding days. It only got worse, much worse. Who could possibly believe this is compelling.... or interesting... or original... or even fast paced?

Each story, cleverly called pods, is mind numbingly worse that the one that precedes it. Has someone created a rule that each three to seven minute pod contain only 30 seconds of information, then padded with fuzzy, out of focus, camera shots, fast forwarded motion shots and inserted, odd, film artifacts?

I have never seen so much out of focus footage in my entire life. Most of the pods are worse than the worst home movies you've ever seen. And much less interesting.

Introduced by VJ's on MTV like sets, the segments are virtually never "current." They are hopelessly out of date and out of touch. And if, quite by accident, they touch a subject of interest, they leave the viewers wanting more information. Well, actually you find yourself wanting almost any information.

One of the first stories covered a young woman who has become the pastor of a Baptist Church. We did learn she was a Harvard graduate. And we got to see her do endless handstands in her robes (actually, it was the same shot shown over and over again). And we saw minutes upon endless minutes of poor, out of focus, color suppressed, images of her walking out of her church. And announcer mentioned that there aren't many women pastors in the Baptist Church.

I would have loved to know more. How did she chose this path? How is she being accepted in the larger denomination? Has the local church received any repercussions in choosing a women? Alas, that was not going to happen. So I went to the website in hope, like the really great NPR website, one could learn more. Fat chance.

The website for Current TV is really slick. And of course you've got to love the URL You can see what just ended and what's coming up. Cute, with absolutely no information of any value.

NO LINKS!!! How can you possible claim to be television for the Internet generation, and not provide links to those wanting more information. And, not only that, Current TV is affiliated with Google. They show a list of supposedly current list of search terms every thirty minutes. Do you think those are on the web site. Nope. The web site turns out to be as empty and useless as the network.

I can't imagine anyone watching. Not for thirty minutes. Not ever. Thirty seconds and you've got to go back to MTV. They know how to do it right.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blind Hatred

There is still very little doubt in my mind that Karl Rove will get the ax. The Democrats and the liberal establishment (which includes everyone from baby bloggers to major media to institutionalized opposition to Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau) have made it their number one priority. Let's face it, "turd blossom," as Garry Trudeau called Rove in this week's Doonebury strip, is on his way to becoming just another Texas cow patty.

George W. Bush has now had his "read my lips" moment when he promised to dismiss anyone in his administration who leaked the identity of the semi-covert CIA operative. The only question left is how and when Rove will depart. And the answer for that lies in the administration's threshold for pain.

The press portrays Rove as some sort of Machiavellian genius, whose political prowess has decimated the Democratic opposition. Nothing could possibly be further from the truth. The best possible thing that could happen to the Dems would be for Rove to stay.

Under Rove's brilliant leadership, the President has managed to make 100 personal major media appearances (and waste his entire re-election bump) in order to skillfully move his approval rating on Social Security all the way down to a mere 25%. If Rove stays long enough, even Republicans might want Bush impeached.

No, the liberal opposition will get Rove's head on a stick, not because he is the thorn in the Democrat's side, but simply because they can. And they really want a win, any win.

Bush set Rove up, however unintentionally, and the Dems will knock him down.

Hence the quick talking points exit from Judge Stevens. There will be plenty of time to skewer Stevens later, but Rove is on the menu tonight and the liberals are in the kitchen heating up the grill.

As I watch all those guest politicians on MSNBC, CNN and Fox, read the morning newspaper, listen to National Public Radio, read the news magazines and check out the zillion columnists in
The Huffington Post (where does she find all these writers??) and other blogs, one thing has become obvious: There is nothing more important on the planet than getting rid of Karl Rove.

Certainly not the terrorist attacks in London, nor the terrorist attacks in Egypt, not the war in Iraq, not the continuing genocide in Darfur, not even Social Security. Nothing gets the press time, nothing gets the news coverage, nothing gets the comments from the supposed leadership in Washington, nothing gets more media attention than Garry Trudeau's "turd blossum."

Thank goodness we have our priorities straight.

Monday, July 04, 2005

How Trey Ellis Might Become a "Good Guy"

Arianna Huffington's The Huffington Post continues to be a must read collection of celebrity blogs. While the posters and readership both lean heavily to the left, it's witty, well written and often insightful.

Today, in honor of the Fourth of July, Huffington assembled a veritable old fashioned 4th of July picnic of columns. Especially tasty is the blog by
Danielle Crittenden.

But my post today is a reply to
Trey Ellis' plea "I Want Us to Be the Good Guys Again". Like so many Liberals, Trey is tired of the Conservatives having the corner on Patriotism. He's tired of being labeled one of the "bad guys."

Trey, I'd love to help you out. But, before you can become one of the good guys, you actually need to be able to see that you act like one of the bad guys.

Now, of course, I don't mean that you actually are a charter member of Bush's Axis of Evil, simply that you act like one. You write like one. You cry like one.

Compare your blog today with ANY conservative's column. A Conservative column will be brimming with positives. Conservatives will sing the praises of our country, the blessings of God, the joy of freedom and the treasure of democracy. It likely will be syrupy sweet. It's likely no negatives will be included.

Your column today is so negative it's almost frightening. While you extol your love of country (and I believe it is a genuine love), it's always phrased as if it were a blessing you reluctantly bestow on the country. Your gift to America is that you love her, in spite of her nearly constant evils, shortcomings and oversights.

You wrote, "Despite its despicable treatment of my people I love my country ...."

And, to prove your criticism is equal handed, you wrote, "I was furious that the Clinton administration didn't do more and much earlier to stop the bloodshed in Yugoslavia."

And you continued, "And then came Bush's elective war in Iraq, his constant snubbing of the U.N. and the string of international treaties he feels are too beneath him to sign."

And, as if the above weren't enough, you summarized, "I don't think most Americans realize the extent to which our image in the world has devolved from good guy to villain."

O.K. Trey, here's my surprise revelation to you. Conservatives are no more happy with the course our country has taken throughout history than you are!! And Conservatives are equally unhappy with most of the recent history of our country.

Do you think conservatives are thrilled with the recent Supreme Court decisions? Do you think they're excited about the progress of the war in Iraq?

Part of the difference is that Conservatives see the glass as half full, and liberals see it as polluted and nearly empty.

But a bigger part of the difference can be more easily explained with a sports team analogy. At the risk of offending your liberal sensibilitieses, let's use College Football, old fashioned Southern Football.

In Alabama, the state is divided between Alabama fans and Auburn fans. If you love one, you're likely to hate the other.

If you're an Auburn fan, you know the strengths and weaknesses of your coach and every player. You know what to expect from the coming season, but you always expect the best. If you win a game, you cheer to the rafters. You can still be objective about the problems; you can even complain mightily.

After an Auburn victory, a fan might say, "What a great victory. Our guys played their hearts out. But we're going to need to do a better job a coaching the receivers, but they guys played hard and showed they had what it takes to be great."

But, if you are an Alabama Fan, your view of that same Auburn game is quite different. In reviewing the same game, the same victory, the Alabama fan sees only the failings of the Auburn team.

The Alabama fan might say, "Harrumph. Auburn got lucky! They didn't deserve to win. Their receivers can't catch for $#@!. They won't be so lucky next time. The only reason they have any talent at all is that they cheat."

In you column today, you write like that Alabama Fan analyzing the Auburn team. There is no love. There is no underlying support. Just seething, smoldering dissatisfaction.

If you really want to be one of the "good guys," start to act like one. You don't need to change one single view. You don't need to support Bush and approve of the war in Iraq.

But you do need to see that the future of the team is in your hands and you need to act like a supporter. When Auburn has a bad season or two, all the fans may call for a new coach, but they never let you doubt that they love the team.

I know you want a new coach. But today is game day. How about a few cheers?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

New Iraqi Torture Scandal

Just when things were finally calming down about Abu Graib (although the heat continues about prisoner abuse in Guantanimo Bay), we get this latest revelation about prisoner abuse and torture in Iraq. Prisoners recently released from a prison in Karabila, Iraq have spoken with US journalists. These stories have all been verified. There is no way the USA can hide from this one.

Here's a synopsis of a longer article from the New York Times yesterday:

"The men said that they had been tortured with shocks and flogged with a strip of rubber for more than two weeks, unseen behind the windows of black glass. One of them, Ahmed Isa Fathil, 19, said he had been held and tortured there for 22 days. All the while, he said, his face was almost entirely taped over and his hands were cuffed."

"In an interview with a reporter just hours after he was freed, he said he had never seen the faces of his captors, who occasionally whispered at him, "We will kill you." Nor did he ever expect to be released."

" "They kill somebody every day," said Mr. Fathil, whose hands were so swollen he could not open a can of Coke. "They've killed a lot of people." "

[The guards] "tended to talk in whispers, he said, offering him sand, instead of water, to wash himself. Just once, he asked if he could see his mother, and one of them said to him, "You won't leave until you are dead." "

Journalists are now reporting that several more recently released prisoners are telling nearly identical stories. The prisoner abuse, torture and murder described in the Times article have all be verified.

One can only expect another wave of much deserved world wide condemnation of these acts. And I would expect outrage from throughout the Muslim world for this type of horrific abuse and total denial of human and civil rights.

These prisoners were never accused of any crime. No charges were ever filed.

If these men are connected to the terrorists, it is unknown at this time.

Now, since this story was reported in the Times yesterday (6/21/2005) you might be wondering how this story got past you. Why it wasn't on the evening news? Why aren't you seeing world wide outrage and protests?

It's because this abuse was by the Iraqi "Insurgents" in their prison, and not at the hands of US Troops in a US or Iraqi controlled prison.

Here's a link to the full New York Times article:
Iraqis Found in Torture House Tell of Brutality of Insurgents

The sad facts are that virtually anyone in the entire world can commit the most vile and horrific acts of murder, torture, sadism, and terror and no one gives it much thought.

CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Canadian Broadcasting, even the many Mid East News outlets play down or fail to cover at all these stories, which actually occur daily.

Do you think these prisoners had access to a Quaran? Do you think the Red crescent was allow visitations? Do you think they had trials? Lawyers? Bright Orange Jumpsuits?

Believe me, I'm not defending the United States here. But I am condemning a world that ignores, minimizes, forgives or actually justifies all abuse of human rights, unless it's committed by the United States.

Frankly, I'm still waiting for someone in the United Nations for be prosecuted for the continuing sexual slavery of children, still going on to this minute at the hands of UN troops and officers in the Congo, but that's for another story.........

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Power of Positive Rhetoric: Bono & Geldof

"By the way, Bono has come to see me. I admire him. He is a man of depth and a great heart, who cares deeply about the impoverished folks on the continent of Africa. And I admire his leadership on the issue."
President George W. Bush
Joint Press Conference with Tony Blair
G8 Summit, June 7, 2005

While most celebrities and a good many politicians squander their credibility through the bizarre use of hyperbole and hate speech, some very principled individuals work both in out in front and behind the scenes to effect real change and improvements for the peoples of the world.

This week a huge step forward to assist the world's poor, especially in Africa, was achieved in no small part through the efforts of Bob Geldof and U2 lead singer, Bono. Both these rock stars have proven themselves to be extraordinary statesmen.

Carefully avoiding the kind of divisive hate speech so inartfully spewed by Howard Dean, Bono has managed to become a respected advisor and advocate by both the Clinton and Bush administrations. As you can read above, President Bush publicly credited Bono for his forceful and articulate lobbying for African debt relief. Bono is a favorite of Condi Rice, who introduced him to Bush and other Bush advisors. He has become a regular in the Bush White House.

Bono was also a favorite and a regular at the Clinton White House. As a friend and supporter of President Clinton it would have been easy for Bono to follow in the footsteps of many of his fellow musicians and Hollywood celebrities and simply condemn and trash Bush.

Instead, Bono took the high road and made friends and gained credibility. In other words, Bono put his principles well above politics. His goal was genuinely to help the poor people in the world. It would be very wrong to underestimate the role he and fellow British musician Bob Geldof played in the announcement of the landmark $40 Billion Dollar debt relief package promised by the member nations of the G8 Summit.

If only other celebrities could follow in Bono's footsteps.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Gulag of Our Time

Hyperbole is rarely criticized these days. In fact, exaggeration has become an artform. Ann Coulter was (and is) ahead of her time.

With US Senators regularly comparing their opponents to Hitler and Nazis, no one pays much attention when hyperbole is used.

Now, to get noticed, you have to go to new heights (or is it depths?).

Perhaps that explains the astonishing rhetoric inside the 2005 Amnesty international Report and the even more amazing accusations made during the press conference releasing the report. Here is your link to press coverage by PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer : Amnesty International Takes Aim at U.S.

Here are a few quotations from the Associated Press Article.

"Amnesty International branded the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay a human rights failure Wednesday, calling it "the gulag of our time" as it released a report that offers stinging criticism of the United States and its detention centers around the world."

" 'Guantanamo has become the gulag of our time,' Amnesty Secretary General Irene Khan said."

"At least 10 cases of abuse or mistreating have been documented and investigated at Guantanamo. Several other cases are pending."

I want you to know that I support Amnesty International and appreciate their work. It is important to read their reports and understand the great harm being done to people worldwide.

But, they are so biased and so unfair and so stunningly prejudiced against the US and, especially President Bush, their report reads like a bad Ann Coulter column (at least Ann is always funny).

Let's compare two world situations, the "Gulag" at Guantanamo and the current situation in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Kofi Annan this week again pleaded for financial and military support against the horrific genocide in Darfur. As I write 500 people die every day as a result of the most basic of human rights violations in Sudan. That toll will rise (back) to 1,500 to 2,000 a day within three months.

Here's the report:
Kofi Annan Asks for World Support on Darfur

Rape of women and girls and sexual slavery now numbers in the tens of thousands.

So, quoting directly from the Amnesty International 2005 report, let's compare the tenor of the language used in describing Darfur and the Sudan against the language used to describe George Bush (who is curiously identified personally):

SUDAN: "The parties to the north-south warfare in Sudan made commitments to reach an overall peace agreement by the end of 2004. Wealth and power sharing agreements had already been signed, and interim security arrangements made. In stark contrast to these peace negotiations, thousands of people were killed or raped in the escalating conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes, many of them by government supported militias. Ceasefire agreements were regularly violated by the various fighting forces."

You'll note the very objective reporting of the facts, without editorialization of hyperbole. Certainly Amnesty International condemns the deaths in the Sudan. But there is no anger, no outrage. The facts are fairly reported.

Now read the report on the USA: "The blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law in the war on terror continued to make a mockery of President George Bushs claims that the USA was the global champion of human rights. Images of detainees in US custody tortured in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq shocked the world. War crimes in Iraq, and mounting evidence of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in US custody in other countries, sent an unequivocal message to the world that human rights may be sacrificed ostensibly in the name of security."

Hatred, vitriol and hyperbole spill from nearly every sentence of the entire report. How is it possible to be so calm about the deaths of 180,000 people, the displacement of over 2 million and the possible starvation of tens of thousands and yet be so outraged over the possible civil rights violation of a few prisoners of war.

Again, let me say that I appreciate and support Amnesty International. And I do not support any violation of Human Rights by the USA.

But Amnesty International is so biased they lose all credibility. In their language, their attitude and their reporting show they feel lack of a very particular standard of judicial due process grievously outweighs genocide , rape, torture and murder in other parts of the world.

I wonder if the world agrees?

Imagine, if you will, a woman who has seen her village bombed and burned in the Sudan. A surprise air raid, just before dawn, from her own government.

Immediately after fleeing her burning home, her family is set upon by attackers on horseback who chase the family into the woods only to slaughter her husband , brothers and sons before her eyes.

But her horror has only just begun. She is captured by her attackers and raped repeatedly as her seven year old daughter is forced to watch.

Displaced, injured and alone, she travels hundreds of miles to a refugee camp. But there the rapes continue. And now her daughter is also attacked. The horseman move freely through the camp, the military protectors do nothing to protect her.

But now her daughter is ill from starvation and abuse. She will die soon.

Do you really think this mother is thanking god she wasn't captured by the Americans and transported to "the gulag of our time," Guantanamo, where she might have just been held without charges. Or perhaps had her religious books mishandled.

Or do you think she just might wish she and her family were subjected to American abuse rather than Sudanese?

No injustice should ever be tolerated, but, perhaps, with less hyperbole directed at George Bush, the world might just come to the aid of those who need it most.

Here is your link to Amnesty International's 2005 Report: