Thursday, January 27, 2005

Are You Really A Democrat?

I am a Conservative Republican [period]. I am proud to proclaim it. I know what I stand for and I know what my party stands for. But what about Democrats? Few Democrats proudly identify themselves as Liberal. In fact they consider it a pejorative label used exclusively in Conservative attacks. Random House recently released a pair of books outlining the history of each party. The Republican history was written by a well respected historian while the history of the Democrats was chronicled by a reporter who’s credibility is that he’s covered every campaign in the last 50 years, or some such. So, I wonder, what do Democrats really know about themselves?

Democrats claim to be “the party of the people” and suggest that they are uniquely qualified on civil rights. This is as far from the truth as one can possibly get. The Republican party was created in 1854 by abolitionists (that’s people against slavery, for you recent public school graduates) and the first Republican candidate for President was John C. Fremont, whose slogan was “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.” He lost, but in 1860, the Republicans ran Abraham Lincoln (he’s the guy who ended slavery in the United States). Stephen Douglas was the Democratic nominee in 1860 and only the year before he said: “the Union can exist forever divided into free and slave states, as our fathers made it.” It was the Democratic party, in the bodies of the Southern Democrats with the support of their northern bretheren, that seceded from the Union and instigated the Civil War. In case you think this is old history, consider George Wallace who became governor of Alabama in 1962 at the height of the civil rights movement on the slogan: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He ran as a Democrat and (oddly) was endorsed by the NAACP (how does that happen?). To this day, Democrat Senator Robert Byrd (W.Va) is perennially re-elected to his seat in Congress despite the fact that he was a ‘Kleagle’ (recruiter) in the KKK and joined (by his own admission) because it “offered excitement” and was an “effective force [in] promoting traditional American values.” In his own hand, Byrd wrote in 1946 (after he allegedly quit the group): “the Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia [and] in every state in the Union.” Of course, 1946 is ancient history, but Byrd filibustered (for public school grads, that means ‘blocked the vote on’) the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, more recently, opposed the nominations of both Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas, and Condi Rice - they’re all black. When Byrd used the phrase “white niggers” on national television in March 2001 not one single civil rights group stood up to decry him or suggest ‘sensitivity training” cause he’s not a racist (go on, pull the other one).

Democrats say they are for equality and women’s rights, but are they really? On June 4, 1919, the Senate passed the 19th,or Susan Anthony, Amendment which gave suffrage to women. The vote was 56 to 25 and broke down as 36 Republicans and 20 Democrats for and 8 Republicans and 17 Democrats against. More than two-to-one Democrats as Republicans against and almost twice as many Republicans for it as Democrats! Just as an FYI, the women’s suffrage movement claims it’s birth in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY with Susan B. Anthony and a group of abolitionist ladies and, as noted previously, the abolitionists were largely Republicans. I am not going to get into the argument of whether “a woman’s right to choose” is a good or bad thing, but I will note that the proponents of choice never seem to credit a woman with the intelligence to choose not to have unprotected sex - go figure. However, it was Jimmy Carter in December 1977 who denied Medicaid funding for abortions and Bill Clinton who pulled Medicare funding for abortions in 1999 and (lest you forget) Bill also cut AFDC, food stamps, and Medicaid for many with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Democrats will hasten to point out that these events were orchestrated by Republican Congresses, but I would counterpoint that the legislation would not have passed without Democrat support and that the Democratic Presidents didn’t have to sign them. In the last Presidential campaign, Kerry and Edwards spoke often about the plight of women and how they were riding in to the rescue. This is a common refrain of Democrats - that glass-ceiling stuff - but the truth of the matter is both the Women’s Freedom Network and the Independent Women’s Forum have debunked gender wage discrimination and reported that, on average, men work 2,174 hours per year while women work 1,675 hours. The Democratic party does have some prominent women that the Republicans just can’t claim: Mary Jo Kopechne, Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers, Juanita Broderick, and the Dodd-Kennedy ‘waitress sandwich.’ When a Republican, like Jack Ryan or Bob Packwood, has a sex scandal he (or she) resigns, usually in shame, but a sex scandal for a Democrat is resume enhancement.

Democrats are the party of Human Rights. The Republicans oppose the United Nations which the Democrats embrace. The United Nations that posted Libya, Syria, and Iraq to the chairmanship of the Human Rights Council while voting to oust the United States from it. Two liberal icons participated in that inhumane war known as Vietnam. One JFK started the war and the other so hamstrung the government that we lost it. Joseph Kennedy, JFK’s father, was a Nazi appeaser and sought peace with Hitler. Like father like son, Edward Kennedy last week compared Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo with Hussein’s torture chambers (where hands were routinely cut off and victims garrotted - all preserved for posterity on VHS) and rape rooms (where fathers and husbands enjoyed the violation of their wives and daughters) and found the Iraqis were better under Saddam! Anyone remember the Hutu/Tutsi celebrations in Rwanda that Bill Clinton ignored?

Democrats have the corner on honesty as long as you ignore Sandy Berger, Dan Rostenkowski, the late night tire slashings, Bill’s use of the word “is” et al, Hillary’s cattle futures, health-care stocks, and book deal, the Corzine funeral, the Torricelli campaign, David D’Amiano (sentenced to 2 years for extortion and bribery related to his work as fund-raiser for James McGreevey), and that’s just off the cuff and recent.

CORRECTIONS: Kurt Staudert was “shocked to see Condi Rice become belligerent with a Senator that calls her on past lies.” First, look up the word “belligerent” in the dictionary and then watch Rice again - she was the epitome of grace and decency. Secondly, it was Boxer who lied, not Rice - the October 2, 2002 Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq (that Boxer said had only one casus belli) included no less than 16 reasons for carrying the war on terror into Iraq. She said she read it (I did), perhaps she missed the other 15 reasons. Bernie Sanders criticizes Bush on out-sourcing, but I can’t find anywhere support for his claims of what Bush might have bought. What I do note (and try to live by in my own life), is Bush’s advice: “buy more United States products.” The simple fact is, just like abstinence, this always works - if you refuse to buy products not made in the USA, you support US industry, US workers, the US economy, and yourself, it really is just that simple - so, where does Bernie shop?

CHUCK ROAST: Mr. Gregory up-chucked about Dr. Jeffery [sic - he couldn’t bother to spell it correctly] Runge, head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Gregory impugns Dr. Runge: “I don’t know what qualifications...Runge had....maybe the usual healthy contributions” and criticizes his record on car seats. The facts (readily available on a simple Google search) are that Dr. Runge was an emergency room physician who “has seen his share of victims of highway crashes,” has been highly critical of the automotive industry and especially SUVs with their tendency to ‘roll.’ He said he wouldn’t let his own daughter own one “if it were the last vehicle on earth.” “The Bush Administration was none too happy with his comments [but] it won’t be the last time the administration will hear unpopular words from him, according to Washington sources.” Failing to institute a national mandatory motorcycle helmet usage rule, Runge is trying to come through the back door via the Inland Transport Committee (an international road traffic safety group) of the United Nations - the decision is still out. As to car seats, Runge has corralled the major auto manufacturers into better standards, is widely recognized for his commitment and good work in the field, and created federal grants for state-level “child passenger safety programs” - Michigan was awarded the first grant of $247,800 in May 2002. Chuck, we are not having an “ongoing exchange” - you write some wildly inaccurate drivel and I am forced to correct you - that’s not a dialogue. As for Vermont Republicans, I know quite a few and believe me, you don’t speak for them. If it will get you to stop referring to me and my family in your letters, I invite you to go head-to-head with me in ‘dueling letters’ - we’ll agree on a topic and write about it. E-mail me if you’re game.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Day Before Yesterday

The world is changing. Once-fertile fields are becoming arid wastelands. Forests are shrinking and deserts expanding. Mighty rivers diminish while the oceans rise. Icebergs float off the coasts of Ireland. People across the planet suffer a variety of climactic calamities. In Central America whole villages are abandoned as crops fail. Widespread famine strikes Africa. Egyptians are reported as eating the dead, especially children. Global climate change threatens the end of civilization and humanity.

How can I argue with icebergs in Irish waters? The human tragedy makes a compelling example. The only question that I need to have answered is how industry, automobiles, and CFCs caused all this to happen 4200 years ago. You see, the dire events I described in the opening paragraph began to occur over 4000 years before the Industrial Revolution, the mass production and use of cars, and refrigeration’s exhale of chlorofluorocarbons.

A lake known as Faiyum, some 65 meters deep, evaporated. Birch forests in Iceland became grassland. Oak reappeared in White Moss, UK. Italy’s Lake Castglione receeded. The Mayan civilization and the Egyptian Old Kingdom collapsed due to drought and famine. The Nile flooding, which was the engine of Egyptian supremacy, ceased, season after season, for decades. The tomb of Ankhtifi, who died at the height of the catastrophe, contains hieroglyphs that translate as “all Upper Egypt was dying of hunger, to such an extent that everyone has come to eating his children.”

Independent scientific studies coincide in their conclusions. A study of volcanic ash trapped in icebergs shows them floating as far south as Ireland. When the icebergs melt the ash falls into the sediment where scientists can find it, study it, and date it. Archeological studies of the campsites of ancient nomads in the deserts of Egypt find charcoal from Acacia trees which when carbon dated give clear evidence of the transition. The mystery of the disappearance of the Mayan civilization mirrors the contemporaneous failure of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Archeological studies throughout the world have documented this catastrophic global climate change.

Climate change is nothing new to the Earth. The Milankovitch Cycles are variations in the eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earth. Contrary to common understanding, the Earth is not really stable at all. Tectonic plates slip and slide over the mantle causing earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanos. In the same vein, the planet itself fluctuates in how it moves through space. Alterations we would consider minuscule in our daily lives, in the life of a planet cause global catastrophe. To us that’s bad, to the planet it’s just another day in the life.

A change in the polar orientation occurred roughly 6000 years ago. The result was enhanced temperature variations. The atmosphere and oceans are highly sensitive to temperature, and currents changed (giving rise to El Nino - I bet you thought that was a recent development). This caused mass migrations as places like the Sahara changed from fertile fields to deserts and the rise of many of what we consider ancient civilizations as humanity perfected agriculture.

Just as people change and age, the planet has cycles, and even the sun changes over time. Our sun is a super nuclear reactor emitting magnetic radiation as well as light. That magnetic field affects what kind of radiations reach our planet. Alterations in that field and the rays that then bath the planet can be measured by the presence of certain isotopes (carbon-14 and beryllium-10) in marine sediment cores. The radiations do many things (including cloud formation) that affect the environment and weather. Fairly regular cycles of warming and cooling have been identified and in many cases directly related to events in human history; such as the fall of the Mayans and Old Kingdom Egyptians, warm periods promoting advances in ancient Greece, Rome, and Medieval Europe, cool periods destroying agriculture in Europe and China, and even the settling and depopulating of Greenland.

Much of what the environmental movement claims as true is demonstrably false. Deforestation: “If the same rate of deforestation continues for the next 20 years, which is highly unlikely, taking into account the series of measures in place to protect the forest, the loss would amount to 8% and not 42% as stated in the [Science magazine] article (Brazil’s Science and Technology Ministry)” and “new research in Brazil suggests that around 87.5% of the previously mapped area of the Amazon remains largely intact and, of the 12.5% that has been deforested, one-third to one-half is fallow or in the process of regeneration (Philip Stott, professor of biogeography, University of London).” Endangered Species: “About 1,600,000 species have been identified. Estimates of the actual number of species range from 2 mil to 80 mil. Non one knows the rate of extinction or the rate at which new species are arising. The best current estimate based on actual observations, and using an extremely high estimate of the likely increase in the extinction rate, is that about 7/10s of 1% of species may go extinct over the next 50 years. (Jon Jewett, Enviro-Skepticism).”

As in the environment, so it is in politics. The political defeat of their movement spells the end of their financing. Thus, the ‘greens’ claim a litany of half- and un-truths about the Bush environmental policy. The Bush Administration has proposed a plan in 2003 to reduce mercury emissions from power plants by 40% by 2010 and a further 30% by 2018. The 2002 Healthy Forests Initiative tries “to reduce the red tape forest managers must wade through before thinning forests” of the undergrowth that fuels forest fires and “restoring our forest ecosystems to health and providing good habitat for wildlife.” The President also instituted an emissions cap and trading plan for greenhouse gasses, while in the late 1990's, science-based risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis were introduced into legislation and were defeated by the Clinton Administration and environmental activists.

Given all the information readily at hand, why are there still so many people convinced that humanity is destroying the planet? The ‘Global Warming’ crowd a century ago was the ‘Global Cooling’ crowd. In the 70s they were the ‘Nuclear Winter’ crowd. I suspect, these were the same people who punished Galileo, ridiculed Columbus, and distrusted Pasteur. At every advance in human culture there are people who oppose it. The rank and file are misinformed and have not been trained in critical thinking, so they accept theories that sound good and seem to fit their world view. The leadership is another matter, though. I could tell you that they are anti-capitalist or anti-American, but there’s an easier argument to make. Employ the ‘follow-the-money’ adage and you’ll almost never go wrong. It goes without saying that ‘fessing up’ to the science would denude the tree of life of Worldwatch, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and their ilk. Telling the truth would dramatically impact donations, subscriptions, speech engagements, rallies, and the other streams of income. Humanity need not be held hostage by the environment to be a good steward of it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Comedy Central

The confirmation hearings for Condoleeza Rice have been the greatest object lesson of the differences between Democrats and Republicans. There comes before the august body of shameless blowhards (on both sides) a stately lady of color. Republicans see a woman of substance, exceedingly well-spoken and erudite, skilled and gracefully poised who happens to be black. Democrats see their worst nightmare: an educated black woman who defied the quota system, rose out of poverty despite their best efforts, and managed to avoid teenage pregnancy through faith and good judgement. The stage is set for tremendous entertainment.

Senator Dodd wants to know “How do you feel about torture?” He wants Rice to talk about what she believes constitutes torture and what she’s going to do to see to it that no terrorists are tortured by American soldiers. What I want to know is: what forms of torture Condi is going to authorize to get these terrorist thugs to reveal the information necessary to defeat their cohorts still at large. Sure, I think torture is wrong. Beating people to death is torture. Burning people alive is torture. Raping people is torture. Cutting someone’s head off is torture. Endless monologuing, mindless drivel, and questions that take 10 minutes to ask might be torture. Forcing someone to listen to Madonna is wrong, but it isn’t really torture. Neither is denying someone clothing. I can live with Americans using sleep deprivation - most people have a boss who does. Senator Dodd, why are you so hot to provide creature comforts to the murderers of American citizens?

Senator Kerry doesn’t want Condi to tell him we’re at war, he wants to know why nuclear materials control isn’t on the agenda and why we aren’t more aggressive in signing nuclear arms reduction treaties. No great surprise there. He wasn’t interested that we were at war during the elections, why should he care now? By the same token, he was all for scrapping our nuclear deterrent during the cold war and hoping the Soviets would do it too. “He was wrong then and he’s wrong now.” The consistency was nice, though, when Kerry made a point of expressing how well qualified Rice was before he voted against her confirmation.

Senator Boxer was in a tiff demanding to know why Condi had sent a letter deep-sixing a unanimous Senate resolution on the human rights of terrorists. “We had good words, eloquent words, and you had them struck out,” she whined. So what that they were duplicitous...err, I mean duplications? A good law is worth writing into law twice! As Rice pointed out, the terms were included in a previous document and the language the Senate used would have extended rights and privileges to terrorists that many citizens don’t even enjoy. What I’d like to know is why Senator Boxer doesn’t understand that terrorists aren’t signatories to the Geneva Convention or any other international treaties?

Senator Chaffee was very disappointed that Rice squandered the opportunity to take a stand against torture. Does Chaffee think that 9/11 was an unauthorized urban renewal project? Or perhaps, that beheading is a new weight-loss treatment? Perhaps Chaffee feels that the terrorists are really freedom fighters. I don’t care how Rice ‘feels’ about the use of torture. Her feelings are immaterial. The law governs what she can and can’t do. Only in Chaffee’s mind do her feelings carry any value. He want’s Rice to ‘feel their pain,’ I just want the terrorists to feel pain.

Senator Biden cluelessly wants to know “When, God love yah, will you tell us the whole story? And, for God’s sake, don’t listen to Rumsfeld, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.” Didn’t he get the memo about separation of church and state? Psst, Joe, you can’t use the ‘G’ word. And, of course, we should listen to Joe Biden, cause everybody knows, he knows what he’s talking about. I mean he gets the first-hand reports from the field. He sees the troop deployment plans, troop strength reports, support materiel allocations, opposition estimates, mission evaluations.... right? Doesn’t he? I mean, he gets daily briefings, right? He knows what’s going on. Well, at least, he thinks he does and if that’s good enough for him, it should be good enough for us.

Senator O’bama was the only one that had a half-way decent question. He wanted to talk about the model in which we decide to leave off diplomacy and go to war. “Some tyrants are ok, our friends, and some are not.” It was a pity he squandered his opportunity in favor of Bush-baiting. Barak, good buddy, when a person controls the armed forces of a nation, uses them to attack his neighbors, rape, torture and murder his people, further destabilize the least stable area of the world, divert money from schools, hospitals, food-production, etc. to military spending, it becomes clear that that person is the winner of the who-do-we-attack lottery. I know he’s a busy man, but how did O’bama miss the 12 years of UN diplomacy and Hussein’s decades of armed thuggery before that. But then, he also missed the roll-call of nations in our coalition force and our “allies” that collaborated with Saddam.

The Senate confirmation hearings would have made great comedy if the Democrats didn’t seriously believe the simply laughable and anti-American things they do. Real comedy is much closer to home. Chuck Gregory, Springfield’s own town-jester, continues to entertain with his Socialist Comedy Revue. Last week he quoted an obscure socialist internet magazine allied with the Center for Caregiver and Patient Advocacy. I’d rather go to the source: Jose Pinera, the former secretary of labor and social security for Chile who oversaw the transition from “pay-as-you-go” to privatization. “Given the choice,” Pinera reports, “93% of Chilean workers chose the new system...The whole working population of Chile has a vested interest in sound economic policies and a pro-market, pro-private-enterprise government...The savings rate of Chile was 10%...It has gone up to 27% of GNP.” A very quick (and honest) Google search turned that up, as well as an article this very day (Jan. 19, 2005) in the Kansas City Star that discusses ‘the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ of Chile’s system. Of course, our own Moore-on-in-chief, has no interest in the truth, only in ‘the Ugly’. In the ‘World According to Chuck,’ I am the fear-monger who wants to “pauperize” America, but isn’t Chuck the one threatening dire poverty, refusing to fix Social Security now because it “won’t go broke for twenty years,” and promoting double-dipping your paycheck each week? In fact, the plan Chuck likes is to dive into your paycheck with ever-increasing payroll taxes to bolster a system of modern serfdom. Chileans pay better attention to their politicians now that they have a vested interest, we could learn something from that.

As a post-script, I’d like to reply to Rick Smith. Rick, in all sincerity, if you’re “not in a position to regurgitate numbers” on an issue, you should do some research. Michael Chrichton just released Storm of Fear, his new novel on global warming. Like you, Chrichton wasn’t an advocate of global warming, but felt that the possibility merited some awareness and action. By the time he completed his research, he understood that there is absolutely no merit to the theory. Another person you might want to read is Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish scientist and former leader in Greenpeace. In an effort to contradict and debunk Julian Simon, an opponent to global warming, Lomborg gathered his sources and researched the theory. The result was his book The Skeptical Environmentalist which exposes Greenpeace and the global warming theory as a complete fabrication based upon skewed research, faulty documentation, and outright lies. As for deforestation, consider these tidbits: the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released a report showing global forest cover actually increasing from 30.04 percent in 1950 to 30.89 percent in 1994 and Canada, which the Greens reported was turning 200,000 hectares of forest into paper each year, was actually, each and every year, growing 174,600 more hectares of forest. Don’t believe everything you hear without checking it out yourself. While you are at it, you might want to actually look into Bush’s EPA and find out what they are actually doing, because it’s not what you think.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Five Pathetic Words

The five most pathetic words in the English language are, by themselves, completely innocuous and harmless, but taken together they say more about the person using them than about the context in which they are used. Those words are: ‘we’ or ‘we’ll’, ‘to’, ‘just’, ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ and would be combined as “we’ll just agree to disagree.” While appearing to be a pleasant exit from a sticky conversation or a civil or diplomatic resolution to what may become a heated disagreement, it truly is a pathetic shield for a weak position, an excuse for the intellectually dishonest. A mind is like a parachute. If it’s open, it works and saves your life. If it’s closed, it’s useless.

Early last week, there was a 60's-generation woman standing in the center of Springfield protesting the war. She held up signs saying “Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home” and “American Blood For Oil.” My wife happened to be passing by and stopped to talk with the woman. When asked to support her statements the woman responded, “This kind of thing should come from within...We fought for our independence, we should let them fight for theirs.” When pressed about various things like the mass graves, the prisons for children, and the institutionalized rape she became annoyed and replied “We’ll just agree to disagree.”

This woman has bought into a twisted urban legend designed to create mind-numbed zombies, like herself, who will go out and support our enemies. Yes, support our enemies. Protest is fine and has it’s place, but blind lock-step adherence to a philosophy of opposition is quite a different thing. I am sure the woman truly believes what she’s promoting, but belief is not enough. An inquiring mind would seek out some support for one’s beliefs. Belief without evidence is faith or religion. When you take a public position you should be able to defend it.

“Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home.” That’s a fine sentiment as far as it goes, but how does it work? I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume that this woman was willing to send troops to Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban, though I don’t believe that is the case. So with the elections in Afghanistan now over, our troops come home never having entered Iraq. The intrepid UNSCOM inspectors continue the Keystone Kops routine of scheduling an appointment to inspect a weapons facility and show up the day after they’ve been cleaned. Saddam continues to skim millions off the Oil-For-Food program for himself. Saddam also continues to pay the families of suicide terrorists bounties of $15,000 and promotes anti-American sentiments. Ambassadors, ministers, government officials, and UN dignitaries continue to prostitute themselves for oil vouchers under the cover of that same program. Uday continues to rape the daughters and wives of men who laugh at a joke about Saddam, say something positive about the US, or fail to appear at a Hussein rally. Qusay continues to cane the feet of athletes who lose competitions. The Iraqi people continue to eke out an existence on meager rations, intermittent or non-existent electricity service, and school only for boys where they learn to worship Saddam, hate the West (especially the US) and field strip AK-47s. A few years later, maybe less, the UN lifts the sanctions against Iraq because that’s what they’ve been paid to do. At that point, Saddam reignites his weapons programs (this plan is well laid out in many documents confiscated from various ministries in Baghdad and elsewhere) with an eye towards achieving long-range missiles, biological weapons (which he used to wipe out at least 60 Khurdish villages), and nuclear weapons. Al-Qaeda and other terrorists have been forced out of Afghanistan, but found support and homes in Iraq, and after resettling, rebuilding, and retraining, are ready to continue the fight. The renewed jihad begins in earnest with the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge and perhaps the Statue of Liberty, the demolition of an oil tanker at some port in the Great Lakes, the massacre of a middle school in the mid-west, and the detonation of a dirty atomic bomb in Washington D.C. But we’ll be able to hold our heads high knowing we supported our troops and brought them home.

“American Blood For Oil” is another canard and almost laughable, if it weren’t so widely accepted. America does not buy Iraqi oil. We are the only country that boycotts Iranian oil. The majority of our oil does not come from OPEC nations. After the oil crisis in the 70s we diversified to get our eggs out of different baskets, so to speak. As an aside, if this were being fought for oil, why did gas prices shoot up? American blood is being spilled for oil - oil that is going to Russia, France, Germany, China, and other nations that had been illegally and immorally dealing with Saddam via the corrupt Oil-For-Food program. It is simple ‘head-in-the-sand’ ignorance to overlook the overwhelming evidence of this. Had these countries not been in Saddam’s pocket they would have been in the coalition that invaded and we would still be having this conversation, because people who take these positions do not believe that any war is worth fighting.

“This kind of thing should come from within.” Bill Clinton sent troops to, Bosnia, Somalia, and even Haiti - where was this woman and those like her then? A popular uprising rose against Baby Doc - a ruthless and cruel man - but we sent US soldiers in to quell it! I’d like to set aside the political aspect here and look at the intellectual element of this comment. In Iraq almost all the weapons are held by the government (certainly all the sophisticated weapons) - one that won’t hesitate to use them. The government encourages and rewards informants, even within families, and employs neighborhood watchers. It is simply dishonest to suggest that a civil revolt could occur under such circumstances. I seriously doubt that such a thing could ever happen again in the modern world.

“We fought for our independence, we should let them fight for theirs.” Our war for independence took place over two hundred years ago. The weapon of the day was the musket which fired once every 60 seconds (if handled by a professional) and was rather inaccurate. The government we revolted against was thousands of miles away across an ocean and did not have instant access to us. We had assistance from the enemy of our enemy, France. A more accurate, but still wrong, comparison would be Ireland and Scotland, both, last I checked, still part of the United Kingdom. Our independence was not the odds-on favorite and can not truly be compared to any other - just look at the mess the French and Russians made of theirs.

Another common protest that ticks me off is “One Death Is Too Many.” How about 3,000 on 9/11 or 300,000 in mass graves? What is the critical mass at which there are enough deaths to do something substantive about terrorism and dictatorship? When asked, protestors are quick to avoid substantive comment and weasel out of the discussion with agreeing to disagree.

I never agree to disagree. I have taken the time to consider and research my positions and beliefs and I can support them. I am more than willing to change my mind if someone should be able to provide a better argument, so don’t think I’m closed-minded. If you’re going to try to change my mind, you have to be open-minded yourself, which protestors never seem to be. When you boil away all of the rhetoric, the position the protestors espouse is one that supports our enemy by giving them exactly what they want - an America too divided or limp to act in it’s own defense. The campaigns by the anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-American organizations are quite skilled at pithy but intellectually empty slogans and appeals to the heartstrings. Unfortunately, since the 60's, the emphasis on critical thinking has been stamped out in our schools and our people are left vulnerable. In the all-too-prevalent warm and cuddly PC urge to make sure no one’s feelings get hurt, too many are willing to “just agree to disagree.”

Friday, January 07, 2005

Up-Chuck

For quite some time now, I have been holding back on responding to Mr. Gregory’s personal attacks on me. My parents taught me to ignore bigots, but there comes a point where that is just not productive. From his first letter through his most recent, Mr. Gregory has criticized me personally without once addressing the facts I cite, yet he accuses me of attacking the messenger. He has displayed his ignorance for all to see by making wildly inaccurate descriptions of me as independently wealthy, anti-semitic, and a religious fundamentalist. Anyone who has taken a moment to speak with me learns quite quickly that I probably do not rise even to lower middle-class, do not attend church nor subscribe to a particular religion, though I lean more towards Judaism, and that my mother was Jewish. But, you see, Mr. Gregory is an activist and to an activist, facts and the truth are less important than the positions one stands for.

When I criticize a political opinion or position I make my position clear. Mr. Gregory hides his. He supports big government, as well he should, for he is an employee of the government and derives his income at the expense of his fellow citizens, but we’d never know that from his diatribes. Mr. Gregory’s activism is also something he doesn’t mention when he up-chucks his misinformation. If he did, only other activists would pay him any heed. What compounds Mr. Gregory’s deceit is that he works in the social welfare area of our big government, which is arguably the most wasteful and over-populated area of it, so when I criticize big and wasteful government and it’s social engineering, I threaten his livelihood.. He responds with ad hominem, factless, opinion-laden attacks that are the essence of “the politics of personal destruction” as exemplified by Hillary Clinton. Mr. Gregory, I’ve been watching Hillary Clinton for over a decade now and you, sir, are no Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Gregory’s most recent up-chucking is arguably his worst, so let’s take a closer look at it. In his opening, after his obligatory swipe at me, he talks about John Frith, Giordano Bruno, the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Catholics of the early 17th century. His frame of reference is “what happens when religions acquire ‘freedom’.” What Mr. Gregory intentionally obfuscates in his attempt to excuse his own religious bigotry is that previous to the birth of the United States there was no such thing as religious freedom. There was tolerance in a few realms and a few reigns, but by and large one had to subscribe to whatever the prevailing state religion was or face the exigencies of it’s wrath. What Mr. Gregory does here is typical of the activist mentality: present factual information coupled with an intentionally erroneous conclusion. For the last forty years or so, this country, which was founded on religious freedom, has become increasingly unfriendly towards Christianity and it is people like Mr. Gregory who lead the charge. I am not surprised by his antipathy towards me, I expose his anti-religious zealotry. He is much like the Inquisitors who tried to destroy anyone who dared disagree with their version of orthodoxy. What should surprise me is his willingness to up-chuck his ignorance in a public forum, but it doesn’t when I recognize his source material.

Whereas I seek out legitimate scientists when I take a scientific position, Mr. Gregory allies himself with the Union of Concerned Scientists. There are reams of material about this group on the internet should you be interested to see who they really are. Firstly, they describe themselves as “Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions” and are a Washington, DC based lobbying and activist group. They are tied in with the Tides Foundation, the Ruckus Society, Greenpeace, and other psuedo-science environment fanatics. Michael J. Vandeman (Ph.D.) said of the UCS: “a name like ‘Union of Concerned Scientists’ is a very powerful aid, but will end up being a liability, if you don't live up to it, and practice good science. This implies maintaining a critical approach to information that you gather from others, many of whom have much to gain from their particular view and little to gain from the truth.” Spinsanity.org, a non-partisan fact-checking watchdog, recently took UCS to task for “offering less-than-convincing evidence” in the report on Bush’s alleged ‘misuse of science’. Jim Peron, Executive Director of the Institute for Liberal Values has this to say: “the [UCS] was mainly a Left-wing collection of opponents to American opposition to the Soviet Union.” He goes on to point out that their anti-nuclear activisim was led by a pediatrician, not a nuclear scientist.

The UCS, with several other environmental activist groups, engaged in an international scam about the health risks related to apples treated with Alar. Their information was intentionally incorrect but the public perception was damaged so badly that Alar was removed from use at dramatic costs to the apple industry and to the companies involved with the research and development of Alar. While consumers, laborers, growers, and industry paid the price, the activists went home smiling. Though they were discredited, they behaved as if they had been vindicated and thus the next time they popped up, they had credibility. Recently, the UCS produced a report that stated “while pickup trucks account for just 20 percent of U.S. vehicle sales, six of the 10 biggest gas guzzlers at the pump are pickups.” Take a moment to re-read that line. There is no logical relationship between the two statements, but it sounds important. What truly is important is that this report, which goes on to take pickups and SUVs to task over fuel efficiency and pollution, was released at the same time Garry Trudeau was satirizing SUV owners in “Doonesbury”, a New York Times reporter’s book on the threat of SUVs hit the shelves, and (most importantly) the House and Senate conference committee on fuel economy regulations was holding hearings. The bulk of the report was rife with opinion, unrelated factoids, and shoddy research - in a word: psuedo-science.

Let’s come back to the recent up-chucking. Mr. Gregory would like you to believe that the Bush Administration is “screening political appointees to scientific posts on the basis of their conformity to beliefs approved by right-wing religious fundamentalists” and offers as proof another report from the UCS. The UCS had this to say: “the quantity and breadth of these charges warrant further examination, especially given the stature of many of the individuals lodging them.” That’s the way they operate: it’s “the nature of the charges” and never the validity of the evidence or research. In each case, the scientist who was rejected gives a personal account of their interview and draws subjective conclusions about their rejection. Nowhere does the report seek the cause from the interviewers. All of them admitted to being unsupportive of President Bush and holding controversial positions on hot issues like stem cell research. I don’t know about you, but I would certainly load my science advisory panels with people who opposed me and held strong unscientific opinions on unresolved scientific issues. Mr. Gregory chucks out “Dr. Laura Blackburn” but the report talks about Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, a minor issue, but, like the rest of Mr. Gregory and the UCS, it’s shoddy factual documentation. “Blackburn”, he tells us, “believes the dismissal was due to her disapproval of the Bush administration’s restrictive position on stem cell research.” Being a scientist, we can of course take her word for it. That she might hold an unscientific position on an important issue based on the merest shred of potential scientific evidence shouldn’t bring into question her credibility as a scientist.

John H. Marburger III, President Bush’s science adviser, wrote a 17-page rebuttal to the UCS report outlining point-by-point it’s “errors, distortions, and misunderstandings” but I think this comment from Marburger best sums up the Bush Administration position on disagreement within the administration: “I can say from personal experience that the accusation [of a political litmus test] is preposterous. After all, President Bush sought me out to be his science adviser...and I am a lifelong Democrat.”

What Mr. Gregory, and the UCS, fails to account for is ethics. The morality of science is an important issue. Because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should do it. By the same token, I don’t think that it’s wrong to expect the people in an organization’s employ to pull together and support the organization. The Bush Administration is not full of “Yes-men,” but, like every administration before it, must present a united face when speaking publicly. Comparing Bush to Hitler is at odds with reality, but then so is Mr. Gregory. Perhaps he believes that the scientific experiments of Dr. Mengele were valid, despite the ethical issues involved in experimenting on live humans. Mr. Gregory is free to be an atheist or whatever spiritual persuasion he cares to be. He is free to espouse whatever unsubstantiated psuedo-science he likes. It is a pity his intolerance won’t let him respect the rights of others to enjoy those same freedoms.