Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Criticism for Republicans

It has been said that I should criticize Republicans too, just to be balanced. While I don’t believe that to be true, I am going to do so because these Republicans really deserve to be chastised.

I don’t know if Pat Robertson is a Republican. I assume he is, but I don’t know the man, I don’t follow him, and I don’t subscribe to his belief-set. However, for the sake of argument, I’ll go out on a limb and just say he is a Republican. On Monday, August 22, 2005 Pat Robertson said of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela: “If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it...It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war...We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability...We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with." Robertson’s remarks ignited a firestorm of indignation from Venezuela, a media colonoscopy, and embarrassment for the citizens of the US. Within two days, Robertson was backtracking and ‘spinning’ to tilt. Clarifying without apologizing, the preacher said: “I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnaping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.”

Well, you’d have to be truly stupid to believe Robertson’s pathetic ‘clarification’ and Robertson should own his comments. His backtracking is worse than his original moronic statement. Chavez is a communist and he does require consideration, but he certainly does not rise to the level of assassination. He could seriously damage our economy by withholding oil shipments. Apparently, many refineries are geared for Venezuelan oil and would require retooling at great expense to process crude from another region, not to mention the ‘downtime’ for refitting and finding a new supplier. However, such a move would destabilize the Venezuelan economy to a degree as well, though not so badly, as China would be more than willing to buy oil originally earmarked for the US. Still, the threat from Chavez is worth consideration but not extreme prejudice.

Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is a Republican. He is also a Viet Nam War veteran who earned two Purple Hearts. Sen. Hagel is quickly becoming a celebrity. AP reporter Douglass K. Daniel described Hagel as “a leading Republican senator and prospective presidential candidate” in a report about his appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week’ show on Sunday, August 21, 2005. What focused attention on Sen. Hagel were comments like these: “[We are] locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam...We should start figuring out how we get out of there, but with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur...’stay the course’ is not a policy...By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning.”

The media have been waiting desperately for a leading Republican to make statements such as these. There are two problems here: (one) Hagel is not a “leading Republican” and; (two) Hagel is wrong. Hagel is only a second-termer who has written no legislation of note. He does not chair any Senate committee, hold any position in the Senate leadership, and has no official responsibilities. Hagel is what mainstream Republicans call a RINO (as in Republican In Name Only) who more-often-than-not sides with his Democratic colleagues like Joe Biden. When Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) and Sen. Ernest Hollings (SC) proposed a new draft, Hagel joined them. Hardly a “leading Republican,” but the media needed him to be one in order to give him gravitas.

Hagel is right when he says “our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East” and most Republicans agree with that statement. All the Middle East dictators are quaking in their boots: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are flooding Iraq with mercenary-terrorists in an effort to defeat the burgeoning democracy, while the visible success there promotes dissident opposition for them at home. However, as a Viet Nam Vet, Hagel’s experience should show him the clear and striking differences between that war and the fighting in Iraq. We are not “bogged-down” and we are most certainly winning. “When you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq” you see a dictatorial regime replaced by a fledgling democracy, free and fair elections, and a draft Constitution - how could that possibly be defined as “not winning?” Most damning for Hagel is that he IS a United States Senator and has the power to write, directly lobby others in Congress, and vote on legislation. If he truly felt that more funds, more armor, more weapons, or more troops were necessary in Iraq he “holds the purse-strings,” he could make that happen - but he hasn’t. Of course, Hagel is a “prospective presidential candidate” and his opinions and statements are colored and clouded by his aspirations, not by any concern for our troops or by any sense of honesty.

Another Republican deserving a stinging slap is John McCain. Senator McCain recently returned from a trip to Alaska where he witnessed snow melting in the summertime. That sight so shook him that he immediately jumped on the ‘global warming band-wagon.’ McCain told reporters: “We are convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicated that climate change is taking place and human activities play a very large role.” McCain told AP reporter Dan Joling that “Americans will demand laws to decrease emissions, just as they demanded campaign financing reform.” Americans did not demand campaign finance reform, McCain created that issue as a horse he hoped to ride into the White House, but the absolute travesty of CFR was a lame horse that kept McCain out of the running. Similarly, most Americans are not demanding emissions controls. Sen. McCain may be “convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicate” human-caused climate change, but most scientists are not. Make no mistake, the Climate Stewardship & Innovation Act, to be sponsored by McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), which will cap US emissions at 2000 levels, will require emissions reductions of at least 50%, as well as a similar reduction in energy use. The societal and economic costs of this will be disastrous and that’s just in the US; there will be ‘spill-over’ repercussions felt around the world. The worst part is that there is no guarantee that cutting emissions will help. Of course, McCain is also a “prospective presidential candidate” and his opinions and statements are colored and clouded by his aspirations, not by any concern for our environment or by any sense of honesty.

Both Hagel and McCain are political operatives pandering to an electoral segment, attempting to curry favor and garner votes. I could lump Senator Jon Voinovich in with them for his embarrassing blubbering about John Bolton on the Senate floor, on international TV, but that doesn’t rise to the level of scorn. I could take aim at Tom DeLay, but he hasn’t been indicted, much less convicted of anything. Congressman Cunningham has acted unethically, perhaps even criminally, he should be run out of town on a rail and probably will be shortly. Karl Rove would seem a likely target, except he hasn’t done anything wrong, despite all the hubbub. George W. Bush should have a tougher, more thorough, leadership position on illegal immigration and border security, but it is unfair to lay all the blame on him. Republicans are people too, flawed, and far from perfect; but when was the last time you read a scathing review and rebuke of Democrats written by a Democrat? The bottom-line issue is that it was the Democratic party which coined the phrase “character doesn’t matter” and they keep proving that they believe it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Heroes Not Hostages

On January 17, 2004 George W. Bush met with Staff Sergeant Michael McNaughton at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. McNaughton lost his leg to a mine in Afghanistan a year before. Both men have a passion for exercise and jogging so Bush invited McNaughton for a jog when he recovered. In April 2004, the Sergeant had his run with the President. “It rained a little bit. I didn’t care if it was storming or lightning all around, I didn’t care. It was nice to run with him,” McNaughton said, ”this goes back to my military training. I never once stopped something and said I can’t do it or quit. Just because I lost my leg, why should I start now?”

Army Specialist Chad Snowden was shot through the head in Fallujah on November 13, 2004. The sniper’s bullet entered just above Snowden’s left eyebrow and exited the right side of his head. By some grace, the damage was minimal and the medical care he received was great. Snowden plans to attend the University of Texas. In a letter to his mother, Spc. Snowden wrote that “he felt he was where he needed to be.”

On April 5, 2005, President Bush presented Sergeant Paul Ray Smith’s 11 year-old son with his Medal Of Honor: “With complete disregard for his own life, and under constant enemy fire, Sgt Smith rallied his men and led a counterattack. From a completely exposed position, he killed as many as 50 enemy soldiers as he protected his men...Sgt Smith continued to fire until he took a fatal round.” Birgit Smith had this to say: “Paul’s action two years ago speaks louder than any words ever could, for that was simply the man Paul truly was – always putting others before himself...I know the pain their families suffer, so I want to reach out to them and let them know their loved ones are not forgotten. Every one of our soldiers deserve the title of hero for they too have answered a noble calling.”

Army Specialist Casey Sheehan died in Iraq. His parents, Cindy and Patrick Sheehan, met with President Bush in April 2004. Now, Cindy is in Crawford, Texas, leading anti-war protests. Many anti-war groups support Cindy, but her family does not. Her husband has filed for divorce and her extended family has written an open letter to the media: “The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son’s good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.”

Air Force Captain Derek Argel was killed when his plane crashed near Baghdad on Memorial Day. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery in early August 2005. The Veterans for Peace have placed his name on a cross in what they call “Arlington West,” a Santa Barbara beach anti-war display of crosses bearing the names of soldiers who have died in Iraq. The Veterans for Peace have moved their display to Crawford, Texas, to take advantage of the media hype for Cindy Sheehan. When Debbie Argel Bastian, mother of Capt. Derek Argel, learned of the display she wanted her son’s name removed, saying: “I’m livid about it...Derek would not want to be remembered this way.” As reported by the Los Angeles Times, “The group won’t remove Argel’s cross, but might move it out of the front row in deference to Bastian, said Lane Anderson, a Veterans for Peace member.”

Christy Ferer lost her husband, Neil Levin, in the World Trade Centers. Debra Burlingame’s brother was a pilot on American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon. Bill Butler’s son, Tom, was a firefighter. Dennis O’Berg’s son was a fireman, too. John Vigiano had two sons, one a fireman and the other a NYPD detective. If you’re guessing all their children died at the WTC, you are correct. On December 15, 2004, this entourage visited Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. Ferer summed up their message to the wounded veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq best: “We personally think you’re there avenging us and doing the right thing...There has been so much controversy about this war, so let me be perfectly clear - - this is the right war at the right time for the right reasons, and you’re our heroes.”

The protestors we see on the sidewalks with their “Bring Them Home” signs don’t really care about our soldiers. The activists with the “No More Hostages” placards were never overly concerned about the hostages of the terrorists - some went so far as to suggest the victims deserved their torture for going to Iraq in the first place. The black-clad “Mothers of Iraq” in their over-size costumes never protested the violent and all-too-frequent rapes of Iraqi women, they never demanded the closing of Hussein’s Rape Hotels. Where was the compassion for the children of Hallabjah when they were murdered?

These opportunistic ‘humanitarians’ are remarkably silent at human rights abuses occurring around the world when they aren’t American. Abu Grhaib was just a pleasure palace when Saddam Hussein was there cutting off hands, arms, and legs, or using a blow-torch to cook a prisoner alive, or drowning prisoners. Let an American strip a terrorist or put a dog leash on them and it’s a human rights abuse. To those who say “War Is Never The Answer,” I say tell that to the survivors of the Nazi or Japanese death camps. Since they are so adamant that war is not the answer, wouldn’t it be nice if one of them finally explained what their answer actually is?

It is ignorance and political agenda that drives the anti-war protestors. Intentionally avoiding any information that disagrees with a preconceived notion is ignorance. Sacrificing one’s integrity for political gain is agenda. The Veterans for Peace say all that needs to be said; their political statement is more important than the wishes of a veteran’s mother and more important than that veteran’s memory. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ is an ancient proverb. Likewise, ‘the friend of my enemy is my enemy.’ In his doctrine of preemption, President Bush made it clear that the United States would go after the terrorists and anyone who supports them. I am not suggesting that anti-war protestors be punished, they have the right to protest; however, they should not whine and complain when they are recognized as the supporters of terrorism that they are.

If the anti-war protestors got their way, the terrorists would win. Before the US withdrawal the coalition troops would be recalled and shortly after the US withdrawal, just as it happened in Vietnam, the terrorists will kill all opposition and install a Taliban-like regime in Iraq. Having defeated the US again, as they did in Mogadishu, at the Khobar Towers, and on the USS Cole, the terrorists will again begin staging attacks on US citizens around the world and within the United States. If the protestors win, our soldiers will not die on foreign soil, but they, their families, and the rest of us will die here on US soil.

Consider for a moment Specialist Crystal Terrell-Young, who was severely injured in a vehicle accident. Spc Terrell-Young was at Walter Reed at the same time Staff Sergeant Michael McNaughton. Spc. Terrell-Young was not serving in Afghanistan or Iraq when she was injured, she was serving in Bosnia. Unlike Saddam Hussein, whose threats to the US are very well-documented, Slobbodan Milosevic was a threat to no one outside of eastern Europe. President Bill Clinton had no problem unilaterally sending our troops to fight in that foreign war without authorization of the United Nations and without any coalition of nations. The anti-war protestors did not protest this action then, nor do they now. There are no candlelight vigils for the nearly forgotten soldiers there. Bosnia puts the lie to the anti-war protests and the respect and admiration the protestors hold for President Clinton exposes their political agenda.

Disclaimer: FOX News was not used as a source for any information or opinions in this letter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I Just Don't Get It

The ‘Cabbage Patch Kids’ are right, I “just don’t get it.”

I ‘don’t get’ the political exploitation of Cindy Sheehan and the ‘Campers For Peace.’ Bush didn’t kill her son, the terrorists did. The crowds chanting “We killed her son” are reprobates. “She just wants to discuss the loss of her son with her President, what’s so wrong with that?” Well, in case you missed it, she met with the President in April 2004 and after the meeting she said: “I now know he’s sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. I know he’s sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he’s a man of faith.” Her husband Pat was moved by the meeting too and he said: “We have a lot of respect for the office of the President, and I have a new respect for him because he was sincere and he didn’t have to take the time to meet with us.” The Sheehan’s and their three other children told their hometown paper, The Vacaville Reporter, that after meeting with Bush they found some peace and Cindy commented: “That was the gift the President gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together.”

The Sheehan circus is particularly disgusting when juxtaposed with the story of Bobby Glen Moon, Jr. Were it not for The Dickson Herald (a local community paper much like our Reporter) this story would have gone unreported - it has not been presented on any major news network. A Marine with the Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, Moon suffered blast trauma to his head leading to blindness and deafness. Doctors from Bethesda Hospital feel confident Moon will regain most of his sight and hearing. Moon is on convalescent leave and worries about what the military will do with him: “It’s an honor and I’m proud to serve my country...It’s still not apparent yet if they’re going to allow me to stay in the military. But I would like to serve out my contract. I love my job, I love being in the military.” Moon’s father is very proud of him, “It’s because of boys like him that since 9/11 they haven’t come over here and attacked us again...When I went to the hospital at Bethesda to see him a lot of other boys were there and they were proud and so dedicated...I didn’t know any of them that didn’t want to go back over there.”

I ‘just don’t get’ why the media glamorizes Cindy Sheehan, a war protester from before her son signed up, and ignores a true hero like Bobby Glen Moon, Jr. just like I ‘don’t get’ the anti-war protestors. I ‘don’t get’ the adamant proposition that WMD was the only justification for the invasion of Iraq when there is a preponderance of casus belli: WMD was just one of 24 “reasons” included in the resolution passed by Congress; then there’s the violated First Gulf War peace treaty; and the 12 years of violations of some 60 UN sanctions. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the human rights abuses - where were these protestors when Abu Grhaib was Saddam’s ‘snuff-film’ factory? Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International demand the closure of Gitmo, but what did they do for the Khurds killed in Hallabjah with nerve gas (one of those chemical weapons Saddam didn’t have) or the other 300,000 plus people murdered by Hussein and hidden in mass graves? Where were these anti-war protestors when Bill Clinton sent troops into Bosnia and why aren’t they calling for those troops to be brought home after six years and no success? It is a sink hole of hypocrisy that I ‘just don’t get.’

It is true that I ‘just don’t get it’ when Senator Patrick Leahy has to take a month to review the writings of Judge John Roberts, but blithely supports Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is laughable for Leahy to suggest that Ginsburg, an important attorney for the American Criminal Liberties Union, was more “mainstream” than Judge Roberts. In any comparison of the careers of these two, Roberts is not only more mainstream, but he’s also less partisan. Roberts’ record shows a complete dedication to the law regardless of personal politics. Ginsburg’s record shows the exact opposite. Despite her using her legal position to promote an activist agenda, Ginsburg received nearly unanimous support from Senate Republicans and was not given the obviously partisan inquisition that Roberts is getting.

I ‘just don’t get it.’ Perhaps Republicans are held to a higher standard. Cheney tells Leahy to “go f*** yourself” after over a week of Leahy’s very personal political attacks. The comment only came to light when Leahy ran for the nearest news camera to cry about it. Cheney is lambasted and castigated for the personal interchange. Ohio Democrat Paul Hackett calls George W. Bush a “son of a b****” and Senator John Kerry says “Bush f***ed” the war up. Both Hackett and Kerry made their comments to national media, but unlike Cheney, who kept it personal, they get a pass. At a birthday party, Trent Lott compliments a fellow senator, who happened to be a segregationist, and Lott is ostracized and politically punished. On the floor of the Senate, on national television, Christopher Dodd compliments a fellow senator, who happened to be a former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle (klan lingo for a recruiter), and his comments are cheered. Yes, I guess there is a double standard, and I ‘just don’t get it.’

I ‘just don’t get’ the blind obeisance to the party line on the Left. When George W. Bush held back from appointing a 9/11 Commission, he was accused of all manner of cover-ups and foot-dragging, his calls for clarity and good investigation were rebuffed. As it turned out, the commissioners were split along party lines and appointed without regard to skill or experience, which is how a totally unqualified partisan like Richard benVeniste got appointed. It is also how a cover-up artist like Jamie Gorelick got appointed. “The commission is non-partisan,” we got told, but how is it then that Gorelick was allowed to continue as a commissioner after her “wall” memo surfaced? “It doesn’t matter,” they said, just like they said, “character doesn’t matter.” Now we know that it did matter: the wall Gorelick, at the direction of Bill Clinton, erected made it illegal (for you recent graduates, that means punishable by prison) to share information regarding on going investigations across agency ‘walls,’ thus hindering co-operation and ham-stringing counter terrorism efforts. The 9/11 Commission was charged with “connecting the dots” and getting to the bottom of our “intelligence failures,” but when the mechanism of that failure surfaced they ignored it and now when confronted with the evidence that they did, they deny knowing about it until that excuse is also proven false.

I ‘just don’t get’ the Clinton legacy. When Clinton visited the WTC in the aftermath of the first bombing and decided to prosecute the perpetrators as criminals he laid the foundation of our response to terrorist attacks for the rest of his administration. When he failed to react appropriately to the ensuing attacks and surrendered in Mogadishu, he cast the image of American weakness. The Clinton State department reversed the restrictions on granting visas from the requestor proving he deserved one to the government having to prove he didn’t. In 1995, Gorelick and Clinton left the barn door open and the planning for 9/11 was set in motion. The contested election of George W. Bush was not finished until January 2001 and his cabinet positions were not approved by Congress till June and July 2001. Blaming Bush for 9/11 is preposterous and I ‘just don’t get it.’ Since the publishing of their report, the 9/11 Commissioners have all been paid tidy sums for various book deals, interviews, and speeches and we still don’t have the definitive story of how this all happened, but we’re supposed to give them credit and credence and spend billions of dollars on their recommendations - I ‘just don’t get it.’

I ‘just don’t get’ all the doom-and-gloom armchair economists prognosticating the end of the world when the economy is doing so well. Two weeks ago Paul Putnam wrote a great piece about “Progress in Our Town.” Certainly, Putnam used extremely anecdotal and subjective observations, but still his premise is valid - Springfield has more business and more jobs. One need only look around at the new buildings being built, sure we’re not a ‘gold town’ but we’re not a ghost town either. Then there’s the job growth, with more than 2 million jobs created and record unemployment, in the face of the Left’s projections of massive unemployment and millions of lost jobs. They had the same information the Bush team did, how did they come up with their doom-and-gloom? I ‘just don’t get it.’ Likewise, the economy, while not as great as we might like it (is it ever?), is still by any measure doing well. The “Bush tax cuts” did not destroy us, but have brought on “an unexpected leap in tax revenue” as reported by the New York Times (not FOX News). Yes, Bush gave us deficits with even greater social spending, but on top of the wreckage of our military in the wake of Clinton/Gore’s ‘peace dividend,’ Bush faced the recession that the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN (note: I didn’t mention FOX News again), as well as most other leading economists now lay at the feet of Clinton/Gore. So, despite the tax cuts, the tax dividend, and the military and social spending the Bush Administration still gets to crow about reducing the Federal deficit by nearly 25% in 2004!

It’s true - I ‘just don’t get it.’ How otherwise intelligent persons can simply shut off all critical thinking, ignore the preponderance of evidence, and place political gain over the needs of the country is just beyond me. But then, I don’t really like the taste of kool aid. Go figure. I think I prefer my kind of not-getting-it to the black-and-white dogmatic ignorance of my critics, so I’ll just continue to not get it.’ Thank you very much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bolton

The Senate of the United States failed to confirm John Bolton for the post of United Nations ambassador. President George W. Bush gave him the job just the same in a recess appointment. The leaders of the Democratic Party, Senators Harry Reid, Edward Kennedy, Charles Schumer, John Kerry, and Christopher Dodd, speaking for the large part of their party, described Bolton as “a flawed and weakened candidate” and “damaged goods.” Further illustrating the talking-points-memo mentality, they each managed to refer to the appointment as an “abuse of power” by the President.

“And now,” as Paul Harvey is wont to say, “for the rest of the story.” Before I get to the good stuff, let me dispense with the obvious and easy elements of this sordid tale. Nominee John Bolton had majority support and a simple majority is, and has always been, the deciding factor in appointment confirmations. The Senate Democrats filibustered this nominee. Let’s just forget, for the sake of argument, whether the filibuster was legitimate or not. When Harry Reid stands before the cameras and microphones to say that Bolton is “flawed and weakened” it is only because he lead the minority opposition to his confirmation and would not allow a vote to be taken. When Christopher “waitress sandwich” Dodd calls Bolton “damaged goods,” well, we have to consider the source. When Edward “Chappaquidick” Kennedy is sober enough to string three words like “abuse of power” together without slurring, that’s quite a moment. It’s a pity that John Kerry flunked poli-sci, or he could explain to Chuckie about Article I Section 3 and Article II Section 2 of the Constitution [for recent public school graduates, those are the parts granting the President the power to make recess appointments]. The proper response to the Democratic Senators is scorn and laughter. It IS an appropriate use of Presidential authority to fill the ambassadorship to the UN and to select the man of his choice. It WAS an unconscionable failure of the Democratic Senators to not do their job and vote especially for pure political gain. Furthermore, by appointing the man of his choice, President Bush has shown to the world at large and the other UN ambassadors specifically, that John Bolton is his man and speaks for him. No greater credibility could an Ambassador to the United Nations have.

What do you really know about John Bolton? Certainly you know that subordinates who don’t perform have been “taken to the woodshed” by him. There is the disproved rumor that he tried to force intelligence data to be skewed. There is also the oft repeated comment he made about the UN leadership: “If you lopped off the top ten stories of the UN, no one would notice.” Considering the performance of the United Nations, especially recently, what’s so wrong about that statement? The job of the United Nations is to promote peace and stability throughout the world. However, it was NATO that went to work in Bosnia while the UN looked the other way. Was it peace or stability that the UN was working on in Rawanda? How about that UN response in Darfur? The UN did a bang-up job in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Ivory Coast. Cyprus. Haiti. Those UN Peace keepers raping boys and girls in third world countries are sure working for their “piece.” The Oil-for-Food fiasco. Quite simply, the United Nations is a great concept in theory, but a really bad idea in practice: it is a truly democratic body where dictatorships are on an even footing with democracies and despots are given equal voice with elected governments. You might be surprised at how few free countries there are in the world and each of them is represented equally with the United States in the UN forum. It was only a few years ago, in May 2001, that the US was voted off of the UN Human Rights Commission while countries like Russia, India, Cuba, Syria, and even Iraq have been on it and even have held its chair! And in case you’ve forgotten, Kofi Annan and the governments of France, Russia, and China, (3 of the five permanent members of the Security Council) were all bribed (with UN Oil-for-Food money) to obstruct sanctions and vote against military intervention in Iraq.

Hoshyar Zebari addressed the Security Council on December 16, 2003 to say: “this Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable. The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over thirty-five years, and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure. The United Nations must not fail the Iraqi people again.” Zebari should know, he was a guerrilla fighter during Kurdish rebellions against Saddam Hussein and is now the Iraqi Foreign Minister. Left to its own devices the UN will not change, but a man like John Bolton could be a catalyst for change there.

There are things about Bolton that the Democratic Senators did not want the voters of the United States to know, things that many of the governments represented in the UN do know and respect. After the shooting war with the Hussein regime had started in March 2003, the Iraqis bought six GPS Jammers from our allies, the Russians. The jammers scrambled GPS signals thereby defeating our smart-bombs. It took over 3 weeks to locate and destroy them during which time our pilots and Iraqi civilians were exposed to greater danger. As Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton dealt with the Russians on the issue of the GPS Jammers and their other on going sanction-violating arms dealings with Saddam Hussein. In his no-nonsense (you could say brusque or abrupt) manner, Bolton faced down repeated Russian obfuscations and excuses, force-fed them the clear evidence of their dealings and got them to back off.

The State Department operates as a liason between the United States and other countries. This often creates a dichotomy for State Department officials: on the one hand, their mandate is to facilitate relations with other countries, while on the other, that mandate comes from the people of the United States. Its a little bit silly, but most citizens of the United States expect the State Department to work for them, not for the other countries. John Bolton is like most citizens and this caused friction with many career State Department employees - some of whom ran into conflicts with him over it and went on to testify against his nomination. One of those “conflicts” arose when the East Asia division of the State Department recommended more concessions for North Korea on its nuclear arms program and John Bolton, in his scrappy way, dug in against them and called for a hard-line with Pyongyang. Bolton had this foolish idea that the communists threatening our destruction couldn’t be trusted, especially after they did so well with the criminally foolish Carter/Clinton Agreed Framework of 1994.

Another quirky contest arose between the career State Department types and John Bolton when he wanted to speak out about Syria’s illegal weapons programs and its sanction-violating aid to Iraq. State didn’t want to jeopardize a burgeoning relationship with Damascus and tried to gag Bolton. Rather than play the game, Bolton went to speak to the House International Relations subcommittee: “Syria allowed military equipment to flow into Iraq on the eve of and during the war...Syria permitted volunteers to pass into Iraq to attack and kill our service members during the war, and is still doing so...its behavior during Operation Iraqi Freedom underscores the importance of taking seriously reports and information on Syria’s weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities.” So much for Syrian co-operation, yet many happen to believe that recognizing the enemy is better than being stabbed in the back. Syrian “volunteers” didn’t jibe with the Senate Democrats’ description of the terrorists as insurgents and Iraqi freedom fighters, so they avoided all mention of Bolton’s testimony from less than two years previous.

Someone said: “While Iran has consistently denied any program to build nuclear weapons, the IAEA has amassed an enormous amount of evidence to the contrary that makes this denial increasingly implausible. In what can only be an attempt to build a capacity to develop nuclear weapons, Iran has enriched uranium...and produced and reprocessed plutonium. It attempted to cover its tracks by repeatedly and over many years neglecting to report it’s activities, and in many instances providing false declarations to the IAEA...the real issue now is whether the Board of Governors will remain together in its insistence that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is illegitimate, or whether Iranian efforts to split the Board through economic incentives and aggressive propaganda will succeed.” Can you imagine such language - strong and resolute - at the United Nations? That statement came from John Bolton and he will take that clear-speaking attitude and put it where it might do some good. It is well beyond time that the thugs of the world were clearly identified and held under the spotlight.

The Proliferation Security Initiative is a new and innovative program involving many nations to take the fight to the proliferators of weapons. It involves actively interdicting and combating the weapons transfers as they happen. After decades of detente and discussion, sanctions and appeasement, it is a bold move and long overdue. The man responsible for the Proliferation Security Initiative is John Bolton. This is the fractious, arrogant, uncompromising individual that the Senate Democrats say is “damaged goods” and a “flawed and weakened candidate,” totally unacceptable for the post of Ambassador to the United Nations. To them, I say, “feh!” The monolithic USSR that Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick had to contend with and maneuver around in the UN no longer exists. Today’s UN is a more hands-on place. Rather than one large opponent pulling the strings of many little ones, there are many little opponents trying to puff themselves up to superpower status. What is needed is a roll-up-his-sleeves get-his-hands-dirty ambassador, someone who’s not afraid to speak up and speak out, to call a tyrant a tyrant.

Any real review of his record shows John Bolton is such a man. Had the Senate Democrats been more attuned to the needs of the country and less attuned to the demands of their funders in the political action groups, the Moveon.orgs, the NARALs, the likes of Ralph Neas and George Soros, they would have confirmed John Bolton or at least let him come to a vote. Having cleared the confirmation committee, Bolton was due a vote and it was purely partisan politics, the need to deny George W. Bush any successes, that stood in the way. In the end, the Democrats will have to answer for their obstructions at the ballot box soon enough and John Bolton goes to the UN anyway.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

If it makes you feel better

On my way out of Shaw’s the other day, I happened to notice the Bellows Falls Town Crier. I had never seen it before, so I took a moment for a closer look. I was in for a rare treat. In very small print beneath the banner line is printed “PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER USING SOYBASED COLORED INKS.” I couldn’t help myself from almost falling over in laughter. Very few statements could be more indicative of the blindness inherent in the environmentalist mentality.

I guess that the producers and readers of the Town Crier feel better about their paper for being so environmentally aware and concerned. I wonder if they realize that they are contributing to the destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest. While it is true that loggers rip into the Rain Forest, it is a false assumption that they strip it away. Loggers ‘cherry-pick’ only the precious hardwoods while leaving the vast majority of valueless trees standing. Far more destructive are the farmers who clear cut and burn down the forests for their ranches and farms. The fires they caused in 2004 alone sent into the atmosphere some 200 million tons of carbon emissions, which is more than twice the total emissions of Brazil itself. How this relates back to the Town Crier, and environmentalists in general, is that the largest export of Brazil, the crop consuming the greatest acreage of Rain Forest, is soy. So when I see all the environmentally-friendly and health-conscious soy-based products, I just have to laugh myself silly.

The level of junk-science in the environmental movement is another thing I can always count on to bring a smile and make me shake my head. Recently, ‘scientists’ like Ruth Curry from Woods Hole and Cecilie Mauritzen from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute have used modeling and analysis to project glacial melt and climate change into a fresh water conversion of the oceans. They “calculated that an extra 19,000 cubic kilometers of water flowed into and diluted the northern seas between 1965 and 1995.” By comparison, it is pointed out that the Mississippi dumps 500 cubic kilometers and the Amazon 5,000 cubic kilometers per year. So let’s compare: 19,000 cubic kilometers versus 165,000 cubic kilometers. Rational people might call that a drop in the bucket. In fact, they have to admit that “no significant change...has yet been observed,” but Curry warns that “given the projected 21st Century rise in greenhouse gas concentrations and increased fresh water input to the high-latitude ocean, we cannot rule out a significant slowing of the Atlantic conveyor in the next 100 years.” Of course, they predict, that this global warming trend could “plunge the planet into a global cooling event.”

How about the study from the University of Maryland Baltimore County by Dylan Powell? “Most people have heard of climate change and how rising air temperatures are melting glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic. However, findings from our simulations suggests a counterintuitive phenomenon. Some of the melt in the Arctic may be balanced by increases in sea ice volume in the Antarctic...We used computer-generated simulations to get this research result.” Of course, this study contradicts other global warming studies that suggests glaciers in Antarctica are melting faster than ever before. Powell’s study and the one’s he contradicts are all contradicted by the study done by Greg Holloway and Tessa Sou for the Institute of Ocean Studies, Sidney BC, Canada. Holloway and Sou did not rely on computer-generated data rather they used information collected by actual people on actual submarines performing actual studies on real Arctic Sea ice. Of course, the actual data does not support global warming, so that data is ignored for computer-generated data that does.

One recent solution for global warming reminded me of those wonderfully campy 60s sci-fi movies. Star Technology and Research, Inc president Jerome Pearson suggests a Saturn-like ring of debris, satellites, or space craft around the Earth to reflect some sunlight back into space, shading “the tropics primarily, providing maximum effectiveness in cooling the warmest parts of our planet.” One wonders if they’ve considered the consequence of changing the amount of sunlight reaching those areas where our largest forests exist and how that shade would alter the growth of those forests and further altering the role of those forests in creating breathable air. It also occurs, with common sense, that such a ring would reflect sunlight, much like the moon, providing a greater source of solar radiation throughout the night where one didn’t exist before. Which brings us to the next ‘great brain’ observation from the New Scientist. “Three top climate researchers,” the report says, “claim that greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere should have warmed the world more than they have. The reason they have not, they say, is that the warming is being masked by sun-blocking smoke, dust and other polluting particles put into the air by human activity.” In simple, clear language, the report tells us that global warming will be increase as we clean up air pollution. But wait, we’ve been told for decades now that global warming is being caused by air pollution. Of course, that’s over-simplifying, clear skies aren’t healthy, no, they’re the quickest route to global warming. And to make it even better, Meinrat Andreae, Peter Cox, and Chris Jones from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the UN, suggest with straight faces that as the skies clear and global warming proceeds, “soils and forests will stop absorbing carbon dioxide and start releasing it instead.” That would be quite a trick and I’d like to see it. What the Terrible Trio didn’t say was that humans and other animals will start breathing carbon dioxide instead of exhaling it! I mean, it’s just as likely as plants completely reversing their breathing cycle, isn’t it? Such credibility could only come from the United Nations.

We just can’t win. In the late 1800s the scare was global cooling and an approaching Ice Age. That was followed by a world so polluted as to be unable to sustain human life ‘as we know it!’ Then there was Nuclear Winter. That was replaced with global warming. Now we’ve got splinter groups running the whole gamut of destruction including a global warming trend that leads to global cooling. It isn’t as if there’s a consensus among scientists. Despite the environmentalist movement’s claims that “most scientists agree,” the simple truth is that most scientists do not agree, most are silent on the topic, many out of a fear of reprisals from the ideologically dedicated. Robert Roy Britt, reporting on the “Space Ring” mentioned above, noted that “those who are often called experts admit to glaring gaps in their knowledge of how all this works. A study [from May 2005] revealed that scientists can’t pin down one of the most critical keys: how much sunlight our planet absorbs versus how much is reflected back into space.” Now, you’d think that would be an important piece of information you’d want to “pin down” before you run off like Chicken Little.

That “Space Ring” is estimated to cost between $500 billion and $200 trillion. In comparison, Kyoto was projected to cost $150 billion world-wide. Consider how much is spent in research and conferences, not to mention political action and news reporting, on global warming and similar controversial environmental issues. Using the simple rubric of “follow the money,” it becomes easier to see the environmental movement for what it truly is: a vast effort to create credibility for people who would otherwise be laughed into obscurity and provide income and job security for people who would otherwise have nothing to do.