Tuesday, August 23, 2005


How Very Religious of You

Robertson Calls for Chavez Assassination - Los Angeles Times: "Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has suggested that American agents assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming 'a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.'
An official of a theological watchdog group on Tuesday criticized Robertson's statement as 'chilling.'
'We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,' Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's 'The 700 Club.'
'We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,' he continued. 'It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.'
Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.
'You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,' Robertson said. 'It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.'"

While I still do not a favor a completely secular country and believe fully in freedom of religion, this kind of rhetoric is not exactly 'love they neighbor'. What about 'turning the other cheek'? What about those ten commandments he so badly wants plastered in every government building in America? Is Chavez a bad guy? Yes. But that is hardly the point. I don't tout myself as somoeone who can help people better understand god and godly ways. In fact, it is weird and awkward to even discuss this, to have someone like him feel so comfortable saying things like this. When I was a child going to church, it would have been absolutely mind-blowing to have our Reverend say anything even close to this. And this guy was just a random preacher in a random church in Kentucky. Here we have a strangely respected figure who actually ran for President of the United States who is openly calling for the assassination of a foreign leader. It boggles the mind. I guess I need Christians to explain to me how they feel this man can continue to help them understand god and godliness given these types of views. I am sure they have canned answers ready, but it will take more than a press sheet to convince me that he is anything more than just a regular guy with a TV show.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


They Volunteer, I Say

Whose Children Will Go to War? (5 Letters) - New York Times: "But I dispute Bob Herbert's statement: 'College kids in the U.S. are playing video games and looking forward to frat parties while their less fortunate peers' are in Iraq.
Nearly 54 percent of all enlisted members of the Marine Corps Reserve today are college students or college graduates. During my service in Iraq in 2003, I met many senior enlisted Marine reservists in combat units who held master's degrees and left good jobs to go and fight.
Mr. Herbert does a disservice to our armed forces by lending furtherance to the idea that people serving in Iraq are the 'less fortunate.' The vast majority of Americans I have met in the military serve out of a sense of obligation as citizens to protect America, its allies and those around the world who cannot protect themselves.
Paul V. Kane
Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 18, 2005
The writer is a Marine veteran of the Iraq war and a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University."

This is a very important point. The left's argument has always been that armed service recruiters focus on poorer communities thus making the service filled with poor kids who, in the minds of the critics, are duped into service. First of all, they go to the communities where they have the best chance to recruit people. In wealthier communities, kids are more likely to go to college than the service. Second, our military is volunteer! These people choose to enlist. Another point that is somehow missing from that argument is that the reservists we talk so much about are often older and educated. Also missing in the argument is that the service trains these people as well as educates them, GI Bill, etc. These people are not duped. They choose the military out of a sense of duty, because their family has traditionally served or because it is their only opportunity for an education. I have known several intellectually incomparable Marines in my day. They chose service for their own reasons, gained skills, and had a more disciplined life as a result of their service. Yes, the wars we have endured as of late have brought us losses that are immeasurable. What most of those families will tell you however is that their son or daughter loved what they did and wanted to be doing it. The vast majority of these brave men and women want to serve this country. Would we really want to force those who don't to stand shoulder to shoulder with those that truly do want to serve? The former military leaders I have heard speak on the matter suggest that to encourage anything but an all-volunteer service is to endanger all around them. I trust them more than a writer at the New York Times.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


A Note About Cindy

Deploying Cindy's Antiwar Army: "MoveOn.org is leaving nothing to chance as it tries to make Sheehan into a national icon. It supplied demonstrators with advice on media relations. ('When talking to reporters, it is OK to keep repeating the same message over and over. It may feel strange to do that, but the reporters are used to it.') MoveOn.org designed printable placards for participants proclaiming 'Dogs for Cindy' and 'Moms for Peace.' It directed vigil hosts to declare 'if you have pets your guests could be allergic to.'
'We're also asking that you bring pictures of children,' MoveOn.org requested, and it didn't matter 'whether or not you have a child serving in the military.'"

I think you would have to be a heartless bastard not to feel for Sheehan and other mothers who have lost children in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is an immeasurable price for people they do not know or care about. I grieve for her son and the others who have been lost or injured too. I read as much as I can about each of the soldiers lost so that I have a full picture of this war. I want to know the cost. I also want to know what we are getting for it. What seems clear to me that we will get out of this war is a safer world. I can't see it any other way. If a leader of a country is so backward as to kill his citizens, attack his neighbors, try to assassinate an American President, and make friends of our enemies, then he is our enemy. If that is so, and we have the means and the will to take him out in order to provide some stability for those people, I am having difficulty seeing the wrong in that. To say we are there for oil is to be silly, as we could have gone to a much more oil-rich nation and nuked 'em. We didn't. If we were in Iraq for oil, we wouldn't be setting up an autonomous government, we would be their government. If we were there for oil, we wouldn't be paying $2.75 a gallon right now. Another argument the anti-war folks make that doesn't make sense is that the Iraqi people are not better off. I have not seen any polls that suggest that they are not pleased with what we have done. There are powerful insurgents. Yes. I am not convinced, however, that the insurgents are representative of the people, especially when they are killing civilians randomly. When you hear soldiers who come home, which I also try to read a lot of, they say that the average Iraqis they came across were very appreciative of what we have done for them. I just tend to think that the soldiers have a better sense of it than do the anti-war protesters. Having said all of that, I also think we need the protesters. There needs to be a check on our government, and this is an appropriate one at this time. I just wish they had better strategies/arguments against the Administration. It is hard to take anyone seriously or listen further when they call our President the most dangerous terrorist in the world. That diminishes their standing in this check and balance. To say that these young people are dying and getting injured for a less than noble cause is a sick misrepresentation. I hope that someday Cindy Sheehan and others like her can meet some of the newly freed Iraqis and then they can tell her what her son did for them. Chances are, they will thank her for her sacrifice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


NYT Ediorial Naivete Part II

U.N. suspect Sevan remains in Cyprus, eludes prosecution�-�World�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "The Independent Inquiry Committee, with 85 investigators from 20 countries, also reported that senior U.N. procurement official Alexander Yakovlev had accepted more than $1 million in bribes from companies seeking inside information on U.N. contracts.
Mr. Yakovlev surrendered to the FBI office here hours after the report was made public Monday and immediately pleaded guilty in federal court to counts of wire fraud, money laundering and soliciting a bribe. He was released on $400,000 bail and is widely assumed to be cooperating with authorities.
Richard Goldstone, an official on the inquiry committee and a South African judge, told the British Broadcasting Corp. yesterday that the committee expects to name 'hundreds of companies from tens of countries' in a broader report to be released in October."

Hundreds, huh?


How Naive?

Oil-for-Food Corruption - New York Times: "The report cites instances in which Mr. Sevan argued for easing constraints on Iraq and contends that he knew from personal experience that Iraq was imposing surcharges on recipients of oil allocations yet played down the problem. What's striking is how small-bore the corruption he is accused of looks against the backdrop of a $65 billion oil-for-food program.
The guilty plea from the procurement officer, Aleksandr Yakovlev, had little to do with the oil-for-food program, but underscores how corruption may have infected many procurement programs at the organization. The panel, headed by Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, found that Mr. Yakovlev had unsuccessfully solicited a bribe from a company seeking an oil-for-food contract. It concluded that he had received more than $950,000 in payments from companies that won contracts in other U.N. programs.
Much of the evidence against Mr. Yakovlev seems to have been uncovered by the U.N.'s own internal investigators, who provided leads to the Volcker panel and the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose office is doing its own investigation of the oil-for-food program. The accusations were clearly on target. When the U.N. lifted Mr. Yakovlev's immunity from prosecution, he promptly pleaded guilty to several charges.
The U.N. clearly needs management reform and closer monitoring to prevent corruption. But neither of these cases sheds much light on what sins, if any, can be attributed to Secretary General Kofi Annan, or on how Saddam Hussein was able to manipulate the program to gain perhaps $2 billion in illicit revenue. For that, we must await next month's report."

While I shouldn't be surprised at the NYT's lack of disgust, I am surprised at how blatantly they are playing down a huge scandal. The very international body that we all wanted to gain support from prior to the war was a body that had people in it who were monetarily disposed to opposing the war. What was reported yesterday and prior regarding Sevan and Yakovlev is not minor in the face of a $65B program as they were the administrators of that program and have influence over other members regarding issues of U.S. national security. Comparing the numbers is far too simplistic for a writer at the NYT's. Shame. This is an important investigation, and Volcker seemed to say yesterday that this was merely a beginning. Whatever is to come, it is no small thing when an organizations leadership makes close with a dictator, accepts money not owed, and then vehemently opposes a war to oust that dictator.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Grim Days for the Marines in Iraq (5 Letters) - New York Times

Grim Days for the Marines in Iraq (5 Letters) - New York Times: "I am struck by the detachment of the American people from the war in Iraq, an attitude encouraged by the administration. We are not really heartless, but the casualties are reported without drama, perhaps not on the front page or on the evening news; the occasional reporting of a total is easy to miss, or ignore."

The left and the right, in America, seem to think the worst of each other. In this NYT Letter to the Editor, the writer seems to say that those that support the war have a detachment to the loss of lives there. This is certainly not the first time I have read such silly statements. I support the war and have no such detachment. I read about the losses to remind myself of the cost, so that I can maintain a realistic and measured view of what we are doing there. Being from Northern Kentucky, part of the Greater Cincinnati area, I still pay close attention to their local news. After many Marines from Ohio lost their lives in one week, I read as many of the articles as I could. I wanted to know if they had children, what they had planned for their lives, and who was going to miss them. Putting life to the faces and names is important in understanding the full sacrifice over there. I wish I could do more for those families, and others nationwide, who have experienced similar loss. The best I can do now is show my little bit of support from a small blog in cyberspace. I don't feel detached. I feel saddened by the loss of men and women who would have contributed mightily to our society upon their return, but not detached.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


The Future of Politics Through Technology


Apparently, according to Thomas Friedman, technology and politics are more connected than the mere ability to raise twenty dollar donations. For those interested in politics (and more importantly, the future of politics), this is one of the most important observations I have read or heard lately. I could say that of many of Friedman's observations though. His most recent book is doing well on the NYT's best-seller list. Others seem to agree.

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