Another Write-wing Conspirator

Commentary, observations, musing, and ranting from the middle of the road (or just to the right of center. Usually.) featuring The Curmudgeon

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

    If you see a posting you like and wish to share it with others, by all means feel free to do so. I'd prefer that you send the link to your friends, but you're also welcome to reproduce anything here—as long as you retain my identity on the document. If you have a web site of your own and wish to post a link to this blog (or to a specific post), again, feel free to do so.

    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

    Comments, of course, are always welcome. You may agree or disagree with me. Doesn’t matter. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore you — but, feel free to let your feelings be known, anyway. And if you don't want to comment directly here, my e-mail address is: jimseeber@gmail.com .

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    Welcome, once again. Strap in and hang on.

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Archive for February, 2010

That Surreal Detour to Gander

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 28, 2010

The most compelling 9/11-related story you probably never heard.

Toward the end of the recent onslaught of Olympics coverage, NBC aired a—…well, I’m not sure exactly how to categorize it. I suppose it’s loosely considered a “human interest” story.

Unlike most such fill-in pieces, though, this one was more. Much more.

There were several vignettes shown during the two weeks of the Olympics games; video of contestants as children, grinding training regimens, background information, local color, etc. The usual stuff.

This one, though, was nothing like that. It had nothing to do with the Olympics. In fact, one must wonder why it was included as part of the accustomed array of fillers, at all.

It deserved to stand alone.

For those who missed it, I urge you to find someone who recorded it. Watch it. It’s worth it. Tom Brokaw outdid himself—and it’s a story that deserves much more attention than it has received.

When we think back to the events of 9/11, we typically recall several things. These items vary somewhat from one individual to another, but there are some fairly common features. We were stunned at seeing the World Trade Center struck by airliners hijacked by fanatical killers. We seethed with a violent, impotent rage. We tried to think of something — anything — that we could do to help those affected. We heard of carloads of volunteers from across the nation who went to New York — nurses, paramedics, relief workers — without waiting to be asked for help. We wept at others’ staggering losses.

Somewhere in that mix (if you think hard enough), you might recall hearing about all those incoming transatlantic flights that were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland when the U.S. airspace system was shut down. You might even recall hearing about how the local residents opened their homes and their hearts to aid the stranded passengers and crews. Sadly, much of that story was overlooked (or soon forgotten) in the myriad events of the time; most of us know very little about one of the more compelling stories to arise from the horror of the 9/11 attacks.

Brokaw provided us with a poignant reminder.

A town of roughly 10,000 residents, two traffic lights, and exactly one four-lane roadway, Gander boasted a grand total of only a little over 500 hotel rooms; the good citizens of Gander and the surrounding area (notably Lewisporte) somehow managed to see to the needs of nearly 7,000 stranded voyagers—and they did it with a rare style. They didn’t have months to prepare; it just happened — as did pretty much everything else that happened that fateful day — without warning. Their response was immediate—and it was as heart-warming and inspiring as any on record.

For every traveler who needed a place to sleep, one was provided; no one was left wanting. Schools and community centers became improvised dormitories, with blankets, bedding, and pillows provided by the locals. Families traveling together were kept together—wherever they ended up. Special needs were met; needed medications were provided, kosher meals were arranged, elderly passengers were placed in private residences, and a pregnant traveler was taken-in by a family conveniently located immediately adjacent to a clinic. Other townspeople took empty-handed strangers into their homes, as well. They fed them. They gave them clothing. They prayed with them. They wept with them. They consoled them.

When they ran out, they got more. Lacking storage facilities for perishable goods, they improvised and temporarily turned a local ice-skating rink into what one humorously described as “the largest walk-in refrigerator in the country.” Nearby merchants opened their shops to those who lacked basic necessities—and much of the merchandise was simply given away.

They played the perfect hosts for three days—even becoming tour guides, entertaining their unexpected “guests” during the most trying of times. They furnished telephone service, email access, and televisions.

They asked nothing in return. When showered with thanks and accolades, they seemed to shrug it off as simply the right thing to do.

By the time the immediate crisis had ended and the “plane people” (as they’d come to be called) resumed their journeys, many enduring friendships had formed—the kind of friendships often spawned under the most adverse of circumstances. Some of the plane people in the years since have alternated between returning to visit their onetime hosts and playing hosts themselves to those who opened their homes to strangers in need. And two previously unacquainted travelers thrown together by adversity found romance; they married shortly thereafter.

When the plane people first arrived in Gander, they were told by a local official: “If there’s anything you need…anything at all…just ask. It will be taken care of. Bottom line.”

It seems safe to say that claim was backed up.

It’s been said that there’s no limit to the good that one man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.

It seems safe to say that assertion received some validation, as well.

____

 

Many of the once-stranded travelers sought ways to express their gratitude for the kindness that had been shown; one — Shirley Brooks Jones, by name — provided them with an avenue to do so. A retired Ohio State University fund-raiser, she proposed a scholarship fund and circulated pledge sheets shortly after her flight’s departure from Gander; by the time the much-delayed Delta Flight 15 finally landed in Atlanta a few hours later, some $15,000 had been pledged—but that was only the beginning.

Today, the fund lives on—now with a value on the order of nearly a million dollars.

 

For more information, see the Snopes entry: Snopes.com: Gander and Stranded Americans

There’s also a site for the scholarship fund: Gander Flight 15 Scholarship Fund

________

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Posted in 9/11, Brokaw, Gander, Newfoundland, Olympics, terrorism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »

The Emperor’s New…Pig

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 26, 2010

…or is it the same old pig—with a lot of lipstick?

 

Back when now-defunct Eastern Airlines was in its death throes, then-CEO Frank Lorenzo was characterized as using a “carrot-and-stick” approach in dealing with stubborn union leaders.

Lorenzo was reputed to have laughed and replied: “Yeah. I show them a carrot—and then I stick it up their ass.”

For some crazy reason, that quote came to mind several times in the days leading up to the much-ballyhooed “summit” at Blair House that seeks (ostensibly) to reach an agreement on health care reform; perhaps such thoughts were spawned by…oh, gee, I don’t know…maybe it was owing to the thinly-veiled threats of wielding the fifty-one vote reconciliation method (aka “the nuclear option”) like a cudgel in an attempt to intimidate congressional members who’ve not eagerly embraced the existing proposals with open arms.

Try for just a moment to get beyond the bored looks and smirks that marked the proceedings. Try to overlook Obama’s condescending comments about this not being an election or a campaign, and his bluntly reminding all present that the gross imbalance of speaking time was owing to the fact that “I’m the President.” Try to pretend that this wasn’t simply a token initiative designed to provide Democrats with a false pretense to throw-up their hands in feigned exasperation and claim that they’d tried to take a reasonable approach (presumably in preparation for the threatened “nuking”—which probably won’t work, either). Try not to take Obama’s own words (“You can put lipstick on a pig—but it’s still a pig.”) and apply them to the The Big Pig Pow-wow at Blair House—where he seemed intent on simply demanding that everyone fall in love with his new (supposedly) and improved (but largely unchanged) porcine Maybelline queen.

In the end, it was a predictably pointless exercise in futility. Obama didn’t give any ground—and it’s unlikely that he’ll do so now that he has so much at stake. It was more a lecture than a “summit” (Obama himself spoke more than all the Republicans combined—and the whole affair consisted largely of he and his fellow democrats regurgitating pretty much the same drivel as before, punctuated with a number of personal vignettes for effect). Instead, he did his usual smoke-and-mirrors routine, talked a lot without really saying anything, offered-up a few platitudes about bipartisanship, and essentially told those present (once again) to shut up and drink the Kool-Aid…or else.

What this was really all about was Obama not being able to get what he wanted—and he’s really not happy about it. (I was reminded of the scene from the movie Men in Black where the gigantic cockroach vented his frustration: “You don’t get it! I won!“)

While it’d be foolish to regard his ominous warning as an empty threat, actually carrying it out could well prove his undoing.

Let’s briefly (in an era of two-thousand-plus-page legislation) recap the situation; I promise to be much less verbose than the narcissist-in-chief.

• Obama was elected President; his delusions aside, he doesn’t have the absolute power of a monarch.

• Even while the last of the celebratory confetti was still falling after his 2008 election, Obama set the tone for future confrontation when he bluntly reminded a prominent Republican: “I won.” (He then laughed and suggested that he was joking; he clearly wasn’t.)

• Notwithstanding Obama’s allusions to (and apparent illusions of) a “year-long debate,” the current proposed legislation hanging over Congress like a particularly rancid fart was constructed by Democrats—and largely in secret. There was no significant bipartisan participation. Conspicuous by its absence was the promised “transparency”—and most particularly the C-SPAN coverage Obama had repeatedly called for during his campaign. (The obvious drawback to such a unilateral approach is that it leaves those responsible with no one upon whom they can credibly shift the blame for any shortcomings; try though they may, it all comes back to those who forced the issue.)

• Although virtually everyone would like to see some degree of health care reform (does anyone really believe that we all enjoy paying those insurance premiums?), the people by and large have never warmed to ObamaCare; while certain aspects of the proposal found popular support, there remains widespread apprehension about the idea of such expansive government control—and deep distrust of those seeking that control.

• Obama has expended massive amounts of political capital—and he can’t afford to write it off. From the start, health care reform has been the signature issue of his administration. All his arm-twisting and (for want of a better term) bribery — e.g., the “Louisiana Purchase” and the “Cornhusker Kickback” would be vindicated (in his mind, at least) should his efforts prove successful. He clearly was not pleased to learn that the task proved more difficult than he’d planned—and he’s nearly livid at having not prevailed despite the huge numerical superiority he’s enjoyed (cue the angry cockroach again).

• As fond as Obama is of blaming Republicans for everything, his health care woes are rooted within his own party; many of the “reforms” he’s pushing are popular only with his extreme left-wing supporters—and he’s been unable to reconcile their demands with those of the more conservative factions.

• Obama’s momentary foray into the job/stimulus issue was at least partly diversionary; for a brief period, attention was focused elsewhere. It’s now become clear that many of us were correct in predicting that the issue wouldn’t be off the radar for long—and now the real push begins.

• As noted above, The Big Pig Pow-wow at Blair House was probably intended to (a) make one last attempt (notably half-hearted) to browbeat Republicans — and, by inference, reluctant Democrats — into drinking the ObamaCare Kool-Aid, and (b) furnish a patina of rationalization for the more-extreme measures they’re considering by appearing to reach across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship—and having the overture spurned.

• Republicans are correct to stick to their guns at this point. They are now insisting that the current proposals be scrapped, and the process begun anew—with them actually included in the redux. And rightly so; true bipartisanship has to be evident at the outset and continued throughout the process—not thrown-in grudgingly at the end game. There’s been no bipartisanship throughout the ObamaCare process, and The Big Pig Pow-wow yielded no changes. As one might imagine, Obama isn’t at all receptive to the idea (cue the angry cockroach, yet again).

• Democrats may ultimately have no choice but to either scrap the whole deal and start over (anathema, at this point…and potentially a major political coup for Republicans) or at the very least agree to sweeping changes in the current proposals. Past supporters of the legislation have soberly noted the political price paid by some of their colleagues and taken heed; it’s increasingly doubtful that Obama could muster even the support he was able to build for the Christmas Eve vote. Republicans successfully (and accurately) characterized the whole effort as a “ram it down their throats any way you can” measure—a method that typically doesn’t play well with the electorate even when it works; an unsuccessful power play now would have the added effect of further eroding the Democrats’ credibility at a time when even the most optimistic projections indicate a coming power shift in Congress with the mid-term elections.

Obama’s crusade for health care reform legislation was a crap-shoot from the beginning—and he clearly sees himself as being in too deep to turn back now (or his boundless ego simply won’t allow him to). Setting aside all the hot air and hoopla of the day-long session, Obama himself summed-up during the closing moments everything he had to say when he bluntly stated that “…that’s what elections are for.” He left everyone with the clear message that he’s prepared to see this thing through to the end—whatever the cost. (Congressional Democrats surely noted that acceptable cost clearly included their own political fortunes—and that their fearless leader obviously expects them to fall on their swords if necessary.)

At the end of the day—…well, it looked just like the beginning of the day. And the beginning of the week. The only substantive change was that Obama actually voiced what was already understood; it remains to be seen whether he’ll make good on his threat—and whether it will succeed.

And it’s still a pig.

________

Posted in economy, health care costs, health care insurance, health care reform, insurance, medicine, obama, ObamaCare, opinion, politics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Oh, Lord, It’s Hard to be Gumbel

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 21, 2010

A timely blast from the past—courtesy of Lord Bryant the (not so) Humble

So…I’m tossing around topic ideas in my head for a new blog posting…the Olympics are on TV…

…and I see this guy sliding this big hunk of granite across a sheet of ice and a couple other guys furiously swinging brooms…

And I wonder to myself: This is considered a sport?

At about that time, I heard an announcer quote someone as having said that curling’s training regimen seemed to consist of drinking beer and playing cards.

“Curling,” I murmured.

Eureka. I had my topic.

There has long existed a feeling that the Winter Olympics aren’t exactly in keeping with what those ancient Greeks had in mind—and events like slalom, bobsledding, and the biathlon don’t merit the prestige of Olympic medals enjoyed by traditional (summer) events like the discus, marathon, and javelin.

I would remind those detractors that summer events have been added and dropped through the years; in doing a little research, I find no record of gymnastics, pole-vaulting, or water polo having been around back in the good old (really old) days. Indeed, it all started with just one event (and so it remained until the 14th Olympiad—in 724 BC), and later Olympiads included chariot racing, more running events, boxing (a pretty brutal affair), wrestling, the pentathlon, and other popular events—so, adding events isn’t exactly a modern idea. The competition evolved in certain areas, but was for the most part a male-only endeavor.

Oh, and for the real traditionalists…the contestants competed naked—and sometimes coated their bodies with olive oil (one can only imagine the effect on wrestling matches—though I somehow doubt that it much resembled the style of all-female nude oil wrestling popularized in modern-day “gentlemen’s clubs”).

But, I digress.

Apologies to all those curling enthusiasts out there, but…nope; I just can’t see calling that a “sport.” Figure skating? Yeah…but, ice dancing? No—at least, no more than square-dancing or the tango would be if the surface wasn’t frozen. (Conversely, I don’t think the Summer Olympics should include synchronized swimming—aka “water ballet”—nor that weird rhythm gymnastics business with the streamers and ribbons and stuff.)

The Winter Olympics per se, though, I consider to be valid athletic competition. We generally legitimize only those sporting events that demand a mix of physical conditioning and skill derived from intense training and effort—and having seen the strength, stamina and agility most events require, I frankly don’t understand arguments that winter sports in general do not meet this test.

With that in mind, I’d like to thank those wonderful folks at the Media Research Center (MRC) for supplying a timely reminder of comments made by Bryant Gumbel on the eve of the preceding Olympiad:

 

“Finally tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like ’em and won’t watch ’em. In fact, I figure when Thomas Paine said “these are the times that try men’s souls,” he must have been talking about the start of another Winter Olympics. Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too.

“Like try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.

“Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a “kiss and cry” area while some panel of subjective judges decides who won. And try to blot out all logic when announcers and sports writers pretend to care about the luge, the skeleton, the biathlon and all those other events they don’t understand and totally ignore for all but three weeks every four years.

“Face it, these Olympics are little more than a marketing plan to fill space and sell time during the dreary days of February. So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done and we can move on to March Madness, for God’s sake, let the games begin.”

 

Well.

Apparently, somebody forgot to tell Gumbel that the ancient Greeks never heard of basketball, either—but that hasn’t resulted in its exclusion from the Olympics. And since when does the ethnicity of the competitors determine their “greatness?” (It could be argued that he should take a hard look at the racial mix prevalent in his beloved March Madness—and perhaps he’d like to enlighten us with his explanation for the “paucity of blacks” competing in winter sports, since I’m not aware of any prohibition against blacks using ski slopes or skating rinks.) He seems likewise unaware that the Olympics draw athletes from around the world to compete in events that have universal appeal—not just events popular in the United States; his trashing of the biathlon wouldn’t play well in Europe, at all—and though he may think of speed skating as being suitable only for Dutch canals, the South Korean team might take umbrage.

One must wonder whether Mr. Gumbel may simply be loath to embrace the diversity of other cultures. (Couldn’t resist that one.)

The modern Olympics aren’t perfect—and neither were their forebearers. Politics sometimes became intertwined then as now. The increasingly-common practice of luring athletes from one country to another wasn’t unheard of back then, either. While we rail against a “subjective panel of judges” who sometimes seem to operate under their own agenda, it’s probably preferable to the old Greeks’ boxing matches wherein the fight continued until one of the pugilists surrendered—or died. And whereas Olympic competitors until fairly recently were frequently athletes who spent years squeezing-in training sessions while trying to lead an otherwise normal existence (rising well before dawn to run or skate or lift weights before rushing off to school or work, devoting hours of disciplined training at the expense of other aspects of their lives—sacrificing, in other words), it has now become more of a business—and I personally think we lost something along the way. But that’s just me. Imperfect and infuriating (at times) though the Olympics may be, they’re still something special—summer or winter.

The Olympics in ancient times grew out of a reverence for the spirit of competition and were in fact celebrations also of the human body itself. They were festivals that gained momentum and popularity over a period of hundreds of years. They — and all sports — evolved like everything else in life.

Perhaps Gumbel should evolve with them.

Or perhaps he merely yearns to watch naked, oiled-up dudes wrestling—though apparently only if they’re the correct color.

________

Posted in Olympics, sports | 1 Comment »

Global Warming: Part Duh

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 18, 2010

As Obama might say: “Let me be clear.”

I was asked a few questions in conjunction with comments attached to the preceding posting. The first was whether I was “saying there is no man-made global warming dooming this planet?”…the second speculated as to whether I believed that “global warming was just a ruse?”…and the third solicited my opinion of Al Gore’s role in the climate change controversy.

I’ll take a shot at them all with this new posting.

There’s more than enough irrefutable evidence that global warming — and cooling — have occurred at various times over a period of millions of years. Some changes appear to be attributable to specific events (e.g., volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts that caused occlusive dust and ash clouds dense enough to block the sun’s rays), while others have yet to be explained—although a number of theories have been advanced, and some appear to be plausible.

As to whether we’re currently experiencing a warming trend…well, that’s another matter. Over a period of several years, I came to essentially accept — with some reservations, owing to persistent indications to the contrary — that we were; however, recent revelations have prompted me (and many others) to question that position. With the discovery of previously unknown climatological data, doubt has been cast. I consider it an unsettled issue—and very much open to debate.

The question then arises: Notwithstanding volcanoes and asteroids, is all other climate change caused by humans?

Hmmm. Another interesting proposition. Not long ago, there was broad support for the theory that global warming is actually caused by flatulent cattle releasing huge volumes of methane gas into the atmosphere, producing a greenhouse effect. (The last I heard, the jury’s still out on that one; if saving the world requires sacrificing methane-bloated cows, however, I insist that we start with the current Speaker of the House. Absent a prodigious bovine population, she’ll no longer have access to a ready source of Botox, anyway.) There’s yet another theory that there is indeed a warming trend—but that theory likewise excludes humans as the cause. Unless we’re also causing global warming on Mars—which seems to be inconveniently warming at a surprising rate, as well. (Actually, speculation as to the cause of Mars’ warming trend is focused mostly on two suspected causes—one of which may also be related to climate change on Earth http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html and http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/04/070404-mars-warming.html .)

However, I suspect that the primary thrust of my initial posting was overlooked, anyway. I shall now endeavor to clarify.

We look to science for answers—but we also expect science to do the single most important thing that science is supposed to do: to question. And science is expected to react as Ayn Rand advised: “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are faced with a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” (Which is why I cited Velikovsky—who reacted in this fashion to apparent contradictions. Though his work was highly controversial, he must be credited with having the integrity to discard his original postulates when faced with clear evidence of their inaccuracy.)

Indications of global warming are troubling—but no more troubling than the behavior of many prominent scientists. When presented with credible climatological data calling into question their growing acceptance of claims related to climate change (read: “apparent contradictions”), such data deserved their careful scrutiny; instead, they responded with a concerted effort to stifle dissenting voices and dismiss out-of-hand even the mere suggestion that their precious theories just might be wrong. Their only lament? That the revelation of such contradictions might lead to a loss of credibility among the general public (thus far the only claim that’s been proven correct), as revealed in the University of East Anglia e-mail scandal.

This is good science?

I’ve not suggested that assertions of climate change are without merit; to the contrary, I consider it a serious matter that warrants careful examination and research—examination and research that won’t be accomplished if a substantial percentage of the scientific community (that’s the folks who should be doing the examining and researching) insist on wearing blinders and smothering valid skepticism of as-yet unproven claims. Yes, some glaciers are melting—but they’ve also melted in the past. Yes, ocean current temperatures suggest external causes—but no definitive evidence has yet been presented. No, I don’t consider the snow on my driveway (in Alabama) an indication that we’re actually experiencing global cooling; some computer models developed to support claims of global warming actually predict such phenomena—and it’s snowed here before, anyway. Yes, I believe that we experience global warming…and cooling—but I remain unconvinced that such conditions aren’t cyclic; it follows, then, that I’d be uncertain whether mankind causes such fluctuations, either—a healthy skepticism shared by scientists and researchers who are a hell of a lot more qualified than I am to voice dissent.

Do I believe that “global warming was just a ruse?” Not necessarily. As I indicated, there’s sufficient evidence to warrant further study; the true gravity of the situation, however, I consider debatable. One must consider the stakes involved. Might a researcher be inclined to accentuate one finding over another in an effort to obtain (or hang onto) a lucrative research grant? Might a financier with extensive investments in “green” technology apply pressure to privately-funded research groups in an effort to produce findings favorable to those investments? Is it conceivable that a political figure might beat the drum for “green” legislation knowing the power that will be vested in the overseers of such changes?

Vast (and I mean really vast) sums of money and almost unimaginable power and influence hang in the balance. For the foreseeable future, he who controls the “green” agenda stands to hold sway over areas as diverse as government, manufacturing, finance, commerce,—… The list goes on and on—both domestically and (even more so) on the global stage.

Al Gore? An opportunist—and a very hypocritical one, at that (he wants me to lighten my “carbon footprint?” Take a look at his.). He’s shown that he’s not as knowledgeable as he’d have us believe. And he’s reputed to have accumulated an almost embarrassing level of wealth during his little crusade. Still, it’s possible that he’s sincere in what he espouses—though I’m much more inclined to view him as simply a well-compensated mouthpiece…and maybe even a mere stooge.

In summary, there’s surprisingly little about climate change or its suspected causes that we know for certain. I’ll reiterate my contention that responsibility for the lack of reliable information rests with the scientists who have allowed extraneous influences to get in the way of good science.

________

Posted in climate change, global warming, political correctness, politics, science | 1 Comment »

Global Warming, Ice Ages, Hot Air, and Snow Jobs

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 17, 2010

Will the real “scientific evidence” please stand up?

I retain dim memories now of a time ‘way back in my mis-spent youth (usually recalled only with the aid of regressive hypno-therapy) when someone figured out that the hazy, murky air that seemed to perpetually hang over southern California might actually present real hazards beyond the occasional burning sensation we felt in our eyes. I suppose we always knew deep down inside that it wasn’t as harmless as we had long presumed, but we didn’t really grasp until the late-1960’s the potential drawbacks to breathing-in all that tetraethyl lead (a common gasoline additive of the day) and the increasingly-dense concentration of hydrocarbons and various industrial pollutants; scientists had finally produced reliable data that clearly identified the threat.

Similarly, the Surgeon General had released a report several years previously that (as the warning that each pack of cigarettes soon told us) “cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” It still wasn’t a certainty (hence the “may be”), but decades of anecdotal evidence and related research finally identified tobacco as a likely culprit. Unable to definitively link smoking to various illnesses, however, good science mandated that — although researchers were pretty well convinced of the hazards presented — they had to be honest and ‘fess-up that it was still conjecture. Strong conjecture, to be sure—but conjecture nonetheless. And they kept digging—as good scientists do.

Going back much farther, noted 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler built much of his work on predecessor Tycho Brahe’s foundation of astronomical observations. It’s been reported that Kepler found, however, that he was unable to reconcile a number of inconsistencies. Upon further investigation, he learned that Tycho — a respected researcher whose work had previously been confirmed — appeared to have taken some liberties with the truth; unable to substantiate his own theories but certain that he was correct, Tycho had substituted some of his research results with data that appeared to support his conclusions. Tycho’s data, unfortunately, proved to be flawed; as a result, much of Kepler’s work that had used this data as a foundation was necessarily scrapped and his own research begun anew. In a world that still viewed science warily, Tycho’s subterfuge certainly didn’t bolster confidence in scientific analysis.

It is against this backdrop that we must view the recent revelation that climatological research adduced as evidence of global warming is in fact suspect; eager to “prove” that the threat is real, overly-zealous scientists appear to have supplanted good science with political expedience, by turns selectively suppressing and over-emphasizing their findings.

They should be flogged.

It required hundreds of years for science to legitimize itself, rising from the level of alchemy and sorcery to establish itself as a trusted source of information. We long ago developed an affinity for the reassuring label “scientifically proven,” confidently hanging our hats on laboratory findings and using them as the basis for our own choices and decisions. We came to trust science as the way to better health, safer machines, improved living conditions, and the means to reveal long-hidden secrets of the world around us. We embraced in our minds the image of legions of white-coated purists dutifully plodding through reams of pristine data in the single-minded pursuit of the truth unfettered by outside influence or preconceived notions.

What we increasingly see, however, is a world rife with allegations of arm-twisting, influence-peddling, blackballing, pandering, butt-kissing, data manipulation, political influence, power brokering, and bribery that often relegates truth to the role of undesirable wallflower. Perhaps it has always been that way, a nether world carefully concealed behind laboratory doors, unseen by the general public. Perhaps later generations of scientists forgot the hard lessons learned by their predecessors. One might suspect that both possibilities come into play—as do others.

In any event, those who’ve forsaken the truth in furtherance of another agenda have betrayed their chosen fields—from medicine and public health to climate change to…who knows?

After the concept of global warming was first advanced, there appeared mounting evidence to support that claim—and our level of concern rose accordingly. As time went by, this cumulative evidence became more and more alarming; naturally, acceptance of the whole body of evidence widened. (Significantly, however, as far back as the early 1980’s there existed an entirely contradictory school of thought—one that warned ominously of a new ice age looming.) Though not universally accepted, belief in the phenomenon of global warming — and that it was caused by Man — had largely taken hold.

Until recently.

By now, most people are familiar with the scandal that grew out of the University of East Anglia. Though charges and counter-charges, denials, and disclaimers continue to fly, the validity of global warming claims (the current preferred expression is “climate change”—possibly owing to the current embarrassingly cold winter) has sustained a massive blow. Discoveries of collusion, suppression of data, and ruthless steamrolling of even respected voices of dissent within the scientific community have given rise to widespread skepticism over whether global warming is a problem at all—and (if it is) whether the condition is man-made. In addition, previously discredited studies are now the subject of closer scrutiny amid charges that they were too-brusquely dismissed.

Needless to say, confidence in the sanctity of scientific research has been shaken—a condition worsened by the involvement of “green” politics, cap-and-trade concerns, and the staggering financial implications.

Nor is climate change the only field under the microscope. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long been criticized for overlooking clear health threats and selectively manipulating data to either focus or diffuse public concern—sometimes along purely political lines. And then there’s the noted researcher at Bay State Medical Center in Massachusetts who accepted a $75,000 grant from Pfizer to conduct clinical research on the company’s anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex; he published several papers citing patient data—but it was later discovered that he’d never enrolled a single test subject. (He’s been dismissed from Bay State and is currently under indictment for fraud; as it turns out, he’s alleged to have fabricated research data for more than a decade.)

I do not for a moment purport to be a qualified research specialist. I have neither the credentials nor the experience to rival scientists. I’m reminded, however, of the popular television show CSI, when the character Gil Grissom counsels his investigators to “follow the evidence.” Immanuel Velikovsky (author of Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos) initially set out to buttress his earlier research—but gradually became convinced that his original premises had been flawed. He then did what any good researcher (or scientist) should do: he changed the direction of his work and followed the data where it led him, sublimating his own views in the quest for truth.

We should be able to depend on at least as much from those who are so influential in determining what drugs are safe, which diseases pose risks, and how we should be living our lives.

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Posted in cap-and-trade, climate change, global warming, medicine, political correctness, politics, science | 4 Comments »

“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”—or safer?

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 14, 2010

Uh…isn’t that why we run the race?

In the wake of the tragic death of Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, an inquiry found that the luge course itself was not to blame, and that the unfortunate athlete was the victim of his own error—though some subsequent modifications were made that had the practical effect of slowing competitors slightly and decreasing the likelihood of their bodies being hurled off the course at speeds in the neighborhood of ninety miles per hour. Since that rendering, many have questioned the validity of the report and decried what they see as blaming the athlete for the inherent design deficiencies of the course. Indeed, within hours of the modifications, NBC’s Bob Costas questioned whether the course should have been made safer before the fatal accident—apparently implying that the course designer(s) may have been complicit in the young man’s death.

Now, let’s clarify one little matter: When hurtling down an icy, winding course — even at speeds appreciably slower than those encountered either before or after the modifications were completed — while perched upon a contraption that’s little more than close kin to the sled upon which you send your kid gliding gently down a hill, “safety” becomes very much a relative term. Given the environment and the speeds encountered, luge is a dangerous sport under even optimal conditions. Even at the comparatively “slow” speed of 80 MPH (most luge courses support speeds more in the 85 MPH range), that’s still substantially faster than the common highway speed limit of 70 MPH — and we’re all familiar with the horrendous specter of motorcycles crashing at that speed. For that matter, even four-wheel vehicles offer inadequate protection in such events. (It should be noted that as a practical matter the icy wall of a luge course is no more forgiving than asphalt under these circumstances.) Moreover, Kumaritashvili’s death resulted from high-velocity impact with an unpadded steel girder after simple physics determined that it was time for him to depart both his vehicle and the course. While it will no doubt be argued that a slower speed might have forestalled his loss of control, it must also be noted that others successfully negotiated the course (at even faster speeds) without incident. In the final analysis, Kumaritashvili committed what might otherwise have been a minor error; unfortunately, he did so in a most unforgiving place.

“Unforgiving” is a term common to many fields of endeavor. For example, many aircraft are characterized this way. One in particular was the F-104 “Starfighter,” built by Lockheed. In its time, it was an amazing piece of equipment, capable of astonishing performance; significantly, it was also widely viewed as notoriously unstable—and many pilots met their fate while flying these machines, giving them a reputation of being inherently dangerous. In examining aircraft performance further, though, one finds this is actually a characteristic sought by designers, as it is this very instability that enables the aircraft to perform at the extreme edge of controllability.

Over the years, I’ve become acquainted with three former F-104 pilots. Independently of one another, they all spoke in glowing terms, describing the aircraft as one of the most superb fighters ever built. Each also discounted the seemingly-high mortality rate of its pilots. And each expressly pronounced it as “unforgiving.” The common belief was that the aircraft was a pilot’s dream—and those who’d perished simply weren’t equal to the task. One was very blunt: “Bring your ‘A’ game; you won’t get a second chance. You stay ahead of it—or it kills you. That simple.”

One might be inclined to view the luge venue in Vancouver in much the same light. Described by many as an uncommonly fast course, it enables such performance at the cost of creating an environment intolerant of mistakes.

Risk is inherent in many sports. Countless skiers, for example, have sustained broken limbs, head trauma, internal injuries—and yes, death. Perhaps they leaned a little too far, misjudged a turn, or hit a nasty patch of ice. Skaters suffer frightful falls, resulting in similar injuries. (In the same segment that included Costas’s comment, Brian Williams presented a montage of mishaps featuring various winter Olympians that would give one pause.) While we cringe at the thought of athletes being killed in the name of sport, one must remember that with certain endeavors — luge being one — the risk is uncommonly high.

Another important note to consider: Nodar Kumaritashvili did not make the journey to Vancouver with the intent to go slow. Nor did his competitors. While the original luge course allowed faster speeds, it didn’t demand them—but no one seemed to be trying deliberately to slow down or to negotiate the course in anything other than the fastest possible time. Competition at its essence seeks to redefine the limits of human ability and endurance. The Olympics’ motto — Citius, Altius, Fortius (“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”) — is an acknowledgment that competition forces us to improve, propelling us to greatness…and athletes spend their careers constantly reaching for that extra fraction of an inch or one-hundredth of a second. Granted, raw ability must be complemented by technique; where success is measured against time, though, when stripped to essentials we ultimately “push the envelope” and strive to go faster—not slower.

Isn’t that why we run the race?

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Posted in competition, Olympics | 2 Comments »

Of Sticks and Stones—and the “N” word

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 10, 2010

No; the other “N” word.

Recently, the Obama regime’s First Bully and Enforcer — that would be White House attack poodle Rahm “Rahmbo” Emanuel (apologies to poodles everywhere) — ironically learned a hard lesson about the liberal left’s agenda: it sometimes cuts both ways.

It seems that while delivering one of his trademark diatribes, he used the word “retarded” to describe his audience; not surprisingly, this transgression didn’t play well in a world where a form of “Newspeak” (yes; that “N” word) has steadily gained ground. (For the record…yeah, the writer is aware of the true nature of “Newspeak” in the Orwellian sense; however, the term has — as have so many other words — acquired a more generic meaning since its introduction.) In this never-ending euphemization and re-inventing of the language, “retarded” was actually discarded quite some time ago. (In truth, one might suspect that Rahmbo already knew this; almost unnoticed was the “f– – –ing” descriptor that immediately preceded the “retarded” epithet—which he probably didn’t want to be common knowledge, either.) While not considered as offensive as the “N” word that the reader probably expected to encounter in this posting, it nonetheless draws universal condemnation.

We’ve characteristically employed euphemisms to soften harsh messages; it long ago became common practice, for example, for hospital personnel to refer to the recently departed as having “expired” as opposed to saying that they died. (Even Psycho‘s Norman Bates noted that his mother “…isn’t herself today”—though that actually had more than one meaning.) It was understandable and accepted to say that a child was “held back” a grade in school rather than “she failed.” A snot-nosed brat was still a snot-nosed brat, but we referred to him in polite conversation as “high-spirited” or “rambunctious.” Even that “retarded” stigma was typically cushioned by substituting “slow” or even “special.” We generally regarded this as tactful and diplomatic, with the best of intentions (though we also scowled when the government tried to supplant “tax” with “revenue enhancement” several years ago).

More recently, however, the aim(s) of this practice shifted.

Now, the schoolgirl is more likely to be described as having “achieved a deficiency” (though she actually failed to achieve much of anything—which is why she was held back).

For reasons that range from countering stigmatization to reshaping our very thoughts, we’re constantly bombarded with an ever-changing array of new terms — a new “Newspeak,” as it were — that’s impacted education, the law, and social interaction to a degree that we once considered inconceivable. Whether done under the banner of political correctness or with the intent of political manipulation, no one is impervious to its effects.

Remember all those acts of terrorism through the years? They’re now officially referred to as “man-made disasters.” (Indeed, the Obama regime for months doggedly avoided using the label “terrorist” at all…a policy that finally changed when a man-made disaster “enabler” — or whatever parlance was used — stuffed the crotch of his skivvies with explosives.)

If you’re heterosexual, it’s acceptable for others to characterize you as “hetero”; referring to a homosexual as “homo,” however, is considered “hate speech”—and actually calling him “homo” or “fag” or “fairy” or “queer” (unless, presumably, the speaker is also a supporter of the homosexual-activist organization “Queer Nation”) is a prosecutable “hate crime” in some jurisdictions (with others no doubt soon to follow). Such detestable speech will also result in one being awarded the misapplied label “homophobe” (misapplied because “phobia” means “fear”—and fear is not the universal impetus driving moral objections to homosexual activity). One is also considered homophobic for resisting the expansion of “gay rights” in any way or for any reason. (It is not sufficient, by the way, to merely believe that what consenting adults do in private is their own business; we’re now exhorted to “celebrate diversity” and “embrace multiculturalism” — whatever that means…if not merely a repackaging of political correctness — in pretty much every area from ethnicity to sexual preference to gender.)

The word “blackmail” has recently come under attack; though the term dates from 16th century Scotland, it’s now viewed as disparaging to blacks—who by and large are no longer black, anyway, but African-American (whether their ancestors were African or not; apparently, pigmentation is the determining factor). Similarly, some now criticize equating black with mourning, evil, or criminality for likewise somehow denoting a latent racism of sorts (though there’s been no corresponding attempt to stamp-out the expressions “white collar crime” and “white lie” as being hurtful to those with lighter skin. Gee.).

Given that “retarded” is now a forbidden word, one can only wonder how long it will take before telling someone “You’re crazy” will result in having the speaker branded a “hate criminal” (or however the Newspeak mavens categorize such malfeasants). Is “stupid” on the endangered list? Surely “moron” and “idiot” are soon to follow(?) For that matter, isn’t “brat” equally at risk? After the most recent popularization wears off, “bitch” may also be viewed askance. Since prostitutes are now commonly referred to as “sex workers,” what’s to become of “whore,” “hooker,” and “strumpet?” One can only imagine what fate awaits those who dare to refer to a real whack-job as “loony.” Will all those old “Looney Tunes” cartoons be banned? Will the mad, demented, deranged, loco, bonkers, nutty lunatics be our next protected group?

Nor is it enough to merely eschew specific offensive words. Recall a few years back that at least two people in separate highly-publicized incidents were castigated for using the word “niggardly” simply because it sounded too much like a reviled term (though it is entirely unrelated to skin color). Similarly, there was the infamous “water buffalo” incident at the University of Pennsylvania.

Speaking of universities…they’re pretty much in the vanguard of the re-shaping of both speech and thought. Many have “speech codes”—though they’ve largely discovered to their dismay that such controls don’t have a good track record when contested in the courts. Yet.

Language is not static. It evolves. Words come and go, their relative popularity or obscurity fluctuating with the times. What was yesterday’s “buzz word” is tomorrow’s archaic castaway. We temper the trends with commonly-accepted standards.

And we somehow manage to communicate—usually with only a minimum of rancor. We know that there are “fightin’ words” that are pretty much guaranteed to prompt…well, a fight. We don’t use them—unless it’s a fight we seek. We know the accepted rule is to “watch your language” around children and those we consider likely to be easily offended. We’re well aware that the “F” word is unwelcome in church and in many social situations. Even comments and jokes known to be “off-color” (or the now-preferred “inappropriate”) either for profanity or for the potential to offend specific groups have long merited a quick glance over the shoulder—though the motivation for doing so seems lately to be more about avoiding the “PC Police”-minded and less about inadvertently offending anyone present.

We’ve long sought that precarious balance between civilized discourse and freedom of speech. No, there is no absolute right to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and “fighting words” are the subject of a series of Supreme Court decisions; on the other hand, freedom of expression was actually expanded over a long period of time, and those aforementioned Supreme Court opinions actually fine-tuned the original decision (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, which established the “fighting words doctrine”) mostly by narrowing the government’s authority to restrict or regulate speech.

So…what’s different now than, say, two or three generations ago?

The change is essentially twofold: Tempered only by Supreme Court oversight, the determination of what is (and isn’t) acceptable is increasingly institutional, coming as mandates from government, schools, and employers—often in response to pressure applied by activist organizations. More importantly, it isn’t merely a matter of speech or expression; what’s transpiring now is nothing short of social engineering and behavior modification—and blatant brainwashing.

Think back to the widespread campus “unrest” (and sometimes violent demonstrations) of the 1960’s and -70’s, when students railed against “The Establishment.” Follow them through their post-college lives—particularly those who pursued careers in education.

Guess what? Now, they are The Establishment. They’re now the ones making the rules—and they brook no dissent, selectively stifling and promoting thought, speech, and action with a fervor that makes the “old” establishment seem libertine by comparison. They control every level of education from pre-school to post-graduate studies. They set the curriculum. They determine what textbooks will be used. They impose their standards of behavior on students—and they very carefully shape minds. They also have unions and lobbyists.

Other former campus firebrands opted for legal careers. Considering the state of affairs in our courts…need more be said?

And, of course, many gravitated into government and politics. Again…’nuff said.

Allow yourself to return for just a moment to a simpler time in your life. Do you recall the old “Sticks and stones may break my bones” bit that we were taught when someone said something unpleasant to us? Or (for the more learned and refined) recall what Eleanor Roosevelt said about no one being able to make us feel small without our own sanction.

They’re words. Yes, words can hurt—if we allow them to. The experience is not, however, akin to being assaulted with a baseball bat.

Besides…the wholesale revamping of the language is, again, only a part of a much more ambitious agenda to broaden the government’s control of our lives.

And it’s increasingly apparent that “celebrating diversity” and “embracing multiculturalism” are little more than Newspeak euphemisms for “Bend over and grab your ankles.”

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Posted in hate crimes, hate speech, political correctness, politics | 5 Comments »

From Geneva to Gitmo

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 4, 2010

Of all the developments stemming from the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing “war on terror,” none has proved more convoluted or confusing than the impact on the justice system—both the civilian and military components. What might seem on the surface simple problems for which there are simple solutions has burgeoned into a complex conundrum.

Don’t think so? Do just a few minutes’ searching on “prisoner of war,” “enemy combatant,” “unlawful combatant,” “Geneva Convention,” or anything related to the conduct of war and treatment of detainees based on international accords.

Be sure to have plenty of aspirin handy when you do.

Further muddying the waters are the questions of whether alleged terrorists should be tried before military tribunals or turned over to civilian courts, what constitutes an act of war (and how it should be dealt with), whether to bring suspected terrorists to the U.S. for trial, and whether those suspects are entitled to Constitutional safeguards.

And then there’s that plan to close Gitmo…

Is deliberately flying an airliner into a building a crime (an act of terror) or is it an act of war? On 9/11, we weren’t in a declared war with any nation. We weren’t attacked by a uniformed military force. Usama bin Laden wasn’t a head of state—and his organization is itself stateless. Heinous though it was, destroying the World Trade Center was on its surface no more an act of war than were the Bali nightclub bombing, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, or any of the dozens of bombings and attacks carried out on buses, airplanes, and markets around the world.

Why, then, is there a public outcry demanding that those responsible be put on trial before a military tribunal? The Mafia, for example, is also stateless, and has no military structure. If the Mafia declared itself at war with the U.S. government and started killing police officials and politicians, would there be military tribunals for such acts? No. Those are criminal acts, adjudicated in criminal courts.

…unless those suspected to be involved in such crimes were to be declared “unlawful enemy combatants.” This determination—provided for by international law—has the practical effect of modifying both the nature of the suspect’s detention and his/her access to the criminal court system.

Historically, military tribunals were first convened where no civilian court was available. Over time, their use was selectively expanded—probably to deny the accused Constitutional safeguards required of civilian courts. More recently, President Franklin D. Roosevelt consigned a band of German saboteurs to a military tribunal in 1942. It appears that post-9/11 tribunals were established with this in mind, as well (holding detainees at Guantanamo—outside the U.S.—was probably intended in part to strengthen this stance). However, reliance on these tribunals has become a less-certain proposition owing to Supreme Court decisions narrowing their scope.

The treatment and disposition of prisoners of war (POW) are clearly addressed by international laws and treaties; indeed, the designation “POW” is itself subject to strict legal definition. Iraqi military personnel captured during combat operations were afforded treatment in accordance with these tenets. The remainder of armed personnel captured by U.S. and allied forces do not fall into this category. They’re not soldiers. They don’t belong to a uniformed armed service. They don’t represent a belligerent state. They are, however, in large measure afforded the same protection and treatment as POW’s—also in accordance with international law. As nearly as can be determined, the indefinite detention of these personnel is legal and proper—and certainly prudent. Their status is generally determined to be either “enemy combatant” or “illegal combatant.”

With regard to armed personnel (non-POW’s) captured during combat operations, other questions arise. By what logic are they supposed to be removed from the detention facility at Guantanamo (or wherever they’re being held) and thrust into the U.S. court system? Again, they are by definition either “enemy combatants” or “illegal combatants” (you’ll have to figure that one out based on international law). They’ve committed no crime in the U.S., nor (for the most part, anyway) even set foot on U.S. soil. It would seem that they’d be more correctly tried before military tribunals—if at all.

How did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (“KSM”—the professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks) come to be deemed an “enemy combatant”? There’s no indication that he ever bore arms in combat against U.S. forces. He was captured in a surprise raid in Pakistan (where we didn’t have any combat troops) by Pakistanis. He was quickly turned over to U.S. personnel (there’s some question as to whether formal extradition procedures were followed). How could a military tribunal gain jurisdiction?

Because a Combat Status Review panel declared him (as well as others) an unlawful enemy combatant—thereby exempting him from the jurisdiction of criminal courts. Civil-liberties advocates condemn this determination as a thinly-veiled attempt to circumvent Constitutional safeguards.

On the other hand, the decision by the Attorney General to try KSM in a New York City civilian court has produced an understandable outcry (understandable—though not necessarily correct). The outraged citizens of New York don’t want alleged terrorists in their midst. The mayor doesn’t want to foot the bill (projected cost: $200 million per year for a trial now expected to last three years—though nobody has yet explained why such a trial should cost so much or last so long). No one wants to confront the looming security nightmare, and valid arguments are made that holding the trial in New York makes New York very much a target for further terrorist attacks.

Justice Department officials, meanwhile, cite legal requirements for the KSM trial to be held in New York. One must wonder how that will play out, however, if defense counsel requests a change in venue. Certainly, there’s been enough pretrial publicity to meet the legal standard in the regard; on the other hand…is there anyplace that hasn’t seen comparable publicity? As to the security concerns…there’s ample evidence that New York has been a preferred target for years; it’s doubtful whether the threat could be significantly raised beyond its current (and ongoing) level. And given similar scenarios (let’s say that someone tosses a bomb at a police precinct headquarters and kills several officers, then flees the jurisdiction), it’s safe to say that New York would be demanding that the perpetrators be extradited for trial.

As to allegations that the government is using military tribunals in an attempt to pull an end-around to bypass the Bill of Rights…so, what? Notwithstanding anecdotal episodes of chicanery, this nation has a long history of vigorously protecting the rights of the accused, one that stretches back to a time before it even became a nation (need anyone be reminded that the defense counsel for British soldiers put on trial for the Boston Massacre was none other than John Adams—the foremost Boston lawyer of his day and future U.S. President?). The laundry list of guilty (probably) persons set free based on “legal technicalities” is considerable. Defense attorneys and civil-liberties activists have compiled an impressive track record of finding the most arcane rationalizations for snatching their clients from the jaws of justice (hence the “advocate” part of their job description); why, then, should the people’s advocates not display the same level of zeal and creativity in doing their job of protecting us from the savages represented by the defense attorneys? There is no indication that the founding fathers ever intended for the legal system to be subverted and brought to bear against the very nation it serves. Lest it be forgotten, these detainees are not recalcitrant Boy Scouts. They are radicalized fanatics determined to harm this nation and its citizens.

The question of repatriation is another matter. POW’s typically are held captive until the formal cessation of hostilities—the end of the war they were fighting. Inasmuch as enemy combatants are afforded like treatment, it stands to reason they they should be likewise detained until such time as hostilities cease. Why, then, would there be any rush to haul them before either a military tribunal or civilian court before hostilities cease and the smoke clears? Moreover, there have been indications that some detainees (KSM comes to mind) might be freed by a civilian court; if they never actually come to trial, then they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Whether by design or by default, George W. Bush provided the best answer to many of these issues: Gitmo.

Regardless of their status or reason for being held, detainees at Gitmo are kept under tight security. They’re out-of-play, not free to wreak havoc where they may. There’s legal foundation for holding them indefinitely (exactly how would we know when hostilities have ceased in this “war”?). They pose no immediate threat to the U.S. Why ruin all that?

Because Candidate Obama vowed to close Gitmo—and reiterated this aim after his election (he’s now nearly a month behind schedule—and a long way from achieving that goal). His motivation was purely political, a sop to appease his liberal base. The claim has been advanced that terrorist organizations cite Gitmo as a recruiting tool; closing Gitmo, however, would be little more than a cosmetic touch—and its successor would simply become the next recruiting tool. Obama’s plan to transfer detainees to Thomson, Illinois would solve no problems.

It would, however, create another by importing dangerous detainees onto U.S. soil—and into the criminal justice system.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »