I may post any email comments I receive unless you clearly request otherwise.

2006-05-28 23:19


It seems like every few years some group gets in a huff about this little habit we have of calling "The United States of America" by the shorter name of "America", and calling ourselves "Americans". "Canadians are Americans, " or "Mexicans are Americans," they say, "because they live in North America."

Horsie doo-doo. They are "North Americans". As opposed to people from South America, whom we refer to as "South Americans". People from the United States of America are called "Americans", just as people from the United States of Mexico are called "Mexicans."

What? You think I'm making that up? Just pull a peso out of your pocket and look at what it says on it (if you don't have one, you can look at one at The World Coin Gallery). See the name of the country written around the periphery? It says "Estados Unidos Mexicanos," which in English is "United States of Mexico", which happens to be the name of the country to the south of us. We just call it "Mexico" for convenience.

If people from Mexico are Mexicans, then people from America are Americans. Quit whining.

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Politics, Society, Whatever

2005-09-03 00:46

Thoughts on Katrina

A few random thoughts about what is going on in the aftermath of Katrina:

The people who are criticizing George Bush and FEMA for failure to respond rapidly enough after Katrina are either being dishonest, or they simply have no clue how long it takes to mount a massive relief effort. It takes days to move large amounts of food and water to wherever they are needed, so local disaster planning has to assume that Federal assistance will be a few days away.

The total, and I mean total devastation of almost every town on the Mississippi gulf coast, as well as a lot of the Alabama and Louisiana coasts, meant that not only was immediate aid needed in places other than New Orleans, but that the roads into those communities were not passable, nor was it possible to get to New Orleans from the east.

New Orleans survived the storm with very little damage, until the next day when the levees began to fail. By that time, initial mobilization was already oriented toward helping the gulf coast communities, to the limited extent that it was possible. When MSNBC says that the people of New Orleans had been without food or water for over four days as of Friday morning (I heard them make that claim), they are simply lying. The flooding didn't begin until Tuesday morning, and THAT is when New Orleans went from having minor damage to being the major focus of the recovery effort. And that's when the people of New Orleans started going without food and water, which is barely three days as of this morning (when MSNBC was making that claim). In terms of disaster response, there is a lot of difference between a three day response and a four day response.

City and State officials in New Orleans were permitting no private aid into the city, not even the Red Cross. THAT is why there was no food and water for their citizens. And WHY were they permitting no one to bring aid into the city? Because it wasn't safe. And WHY was it not safe? Because the New Orleans officials, and the State of Louisiana, elected to allow looters and lawlessness to take over the city, rather than dealing "harshly" with them as they said they would. In the mean time, the Salvation Army was providing food and water to some of the devastated communities on the coast the morning after the storm struck, and numerous private groups and individuals were providing aid all along the coast by the morning after that. Federal disaster aid is by definition assistance. It is not intended to be the first or primary source of relief, it is intended to provide mid-term relief to victims of a disaster, i.e. days to weeks after the disaster.

George Bush, as President, does not have the authority to simply order the military into a city and take over. That is prohibited by law. The State in question has to request aid, and even then there are limits to what the military can do. Situations such as this are supposed to be handled by the State National Guard. It was the responsibility of the Governor of Louisiana to send in the National Guard to establish order in New Orleans, and she failed to do so. Now, if the Governor of Mississippi had been slow to get his state's National Guard into action, that would be understandable. The storm travelled right up the middle of his state, so almost every community in the state was affected. Getting the Mississippi National Guard mobilized meant tearing people away from their damaged homes and communities in order to get help to the coastal communities. Yet he managed to get them out trying to clear roads to the coast within hours after the storm. Louisiana has no such excuse. The inland communities suffered little damage from the storm, and roads to New Orleans were open within hours. Yet they sent no help, choosing instead to wait for the Federal government to bring in help from several states away.

This afternoon I was half-seriously speculating with a neighbor that the failure of the levees in New Orleans may have been vandalism, not nature. I pointed out that it would only take a shovel: once you open a six inch gap in an earthen levee, the rushing water takes care of the rest. In fact, though, it would take a pick axe: the levees are topped with a concrete wall and you'd have to cut a notch in that. As I said, I wasn't really serious, but then I read this:

He also mentioned that right before the mass flood there was a loud sound like an explosion. We think they may have blew up the levee and trying to keep it quiet. That's why they are not mentioning anything about us.

Not really credible in my mind, but creepy nonetheless.

While you are visiting that site, you should also read this entry as well. It basically says things were going smoothly in much of New Orleans before city officials allowed the looters to take over.

These two articles are interesting: first this press release from the White House issued the Friday before Katrina struck New Orleans. George Bush declared an emergency BEFORE the storm arrived so that federal agencies could start providing aid immediately. I remember a report on television that they had provided 250,000 MREs and a similar supply of water to the city BEFORE the storm arrived, for instance. Then there's this article that points out that Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, didn't order a mandatory evacuation until after George Bush personally called him and asked him to do so. When your Mayor can't see something that is obvious even to The Chimp in Chief, your city has a real leadership problem. It's likely that Bush saved thousands of lives by getting the evacuation started while there was still time for some of the population to get out.

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Politics, Society, Whatever

2005-09-01 23:35

The Press and New Orleans

It's all George Bush's fault.

That's the belief you were likely to come away with if you watched CBS's Evening News tonight. Not enough police in New Orleans? Not enough National Guard? Blame Bush. Not enough food or water? Bush did it. The levees weren't adequate? Bush should have fixed them.

No, CBS didn't actually say that. They interviewed people who, person after person, blamed the federal government, and then showed the results of their own poll that showed Bush has a low job rating. The message was absolutely clear. All of the suffering in New Orleans is the fault of the federal government in general, and George Bush in particular.

Let's set a few things straight. First, planning for the initial response to an emergency is the responsibility of local and state planners. The federal government, via FEMA, doesn't even officially get involved until the governor of the state requests federal help. The fact that initial response (the first two days or so) was so poor is fully the responsibility of local and state officials. It was their responsibility to plan the necessary resources, and they simply didn't do it.

A few more areas that have been blamed on Bush:

Looting. This is a police issue, not a military issue. Both the incompetent governor of Louisiana and the worse-than-incompetent mayor of New Orleans publicly announced that looting would not be tolerated. That it would be dealt with as harshly as the law allows. In Louisana, unlike most, if not all, other states, the law permits one to shoot a person to protect property, so it seems that the law allows a considerable degree of harshness in that regard. What did the New Orleans police do when the looting started? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. When the cameras were on them, they made a few of the looters drop what they were carrying. No arrests (because they had nowhere to put them, they say). Result? The looting continued, and grew. Should the police have shot a few looters to set an example? Some people think so. When I'm in a bad mood, I think so. When I'm in a better mood, I think they should have arrested the first several hundred looters they encountered, stuck them in a corner of the Superdome or something, left them in handcuffs, and given them a few sips of water every few hours while they concentrated on rescuing people who needed and wanted help. If the crowds of looters got violent with the police, they THEN should have been shot and left where they were.

Law Enforcement Aid. The United States, believe it or not, is a Republic. That means the central government does not rule over the state governments: it is created by the state governments and has limitations on its powers over them. One of those limitations is that the federal government cannot simply send the U.S. military into a state and take over a city. If a state government needs military help, the state has its own military force: it's called the National Guard. It is the responsibility of the governor of the state to send the National Guard to a city that needs help. The Governor of Louisiana did not do that. Today, Thursday, the Governor of the State of Louisiana finally, finally requested military help from the federal government and neighboring states. I have been told that Bush is making available 30,000 active duty military combat troops to reestablish order in New Orleans. I don't know if this was an accurate statement: I haven't seen that specific number mentioned in the news yet, although it does sound like the active military is finally being sent to New Orleans. This is not the fault of George Bush. The state officials must tell him, through FEMA, what help they need. It is clear that the Louisiana officials have not been doing that.

FEMA in general. The New Orleans Emergency Operations Director was blaming everything on FEMA today. He said that they had been there three days and didn't even get around to setting up a command post until today. This tells me two things. One, FEMA has been there since Monday, the day the Hurricane hit. That's pretty good response. Before the hurricane hit, they said they had 250,000 MREs and a similar supply of water in place for the people in the Superdome. That's pretty good response. The second thing we learn from the New Orleans official's statement is that he is either ignorent, incompetent, or a liar. I've had FEMA training: I can guarantee that they didn't go in to this without setting up a command post. Perhaps it wasn't even in the city limits of New Orleans, but I know it was somewhere. If they set up a new command post in New Orleans today, it was probably because they split it off the existing one to take responsibility for a specific area of operations.

Evacuation. Evacuation was considered the only viable preparation for a major hurricane striking New Orleans. Yet when the time came, neither city nor state officials had made any advance arrangements to evacuate the numerous poor residents of New Orleans. Did they arrange for convoys of busses to evacuate people to other communities throughout the state? No. Did they plan for convoys of Louisiana National Guard trucks to take people to safer places? No. Did they announce a mandatory evacuation at least 48 hours before the hurricane arrived so there would actually be time for the evacuation? No, they waited until there was at best 12 hours to get out of town, which is not remotely enough time to evacuate a city of that size. After the storm, the governor ordered the city evacuated in 48 hours, with absolutely no thought to the fact that it is simply impossible to accomplish that. Sheer incompetence on her part.

Food and Water. Before the hurricane, city and FEMA officials said they had pre-positioned plenty of water and MREs to supply people for the first few days until more could be brought in. What happened to it? The New Orleans officials seemed to be making no effort to distribute them to people who needed them. FEMA was trying, but they can only distribute food to people they know about, and it is clear that the New Orleans police were not doing a very good job of telling them where they were needed. Reporters would find a crowd of people on a building, on an overpass, or whatever, and film police driving by or talking to the people. Then they would go to FEMA and ask them why there weren't providing food and water to those people. The answer: because no one told them the people were there. WHY DIDN'T THE NEW ORLEANS POLICE TELL FEMA THESE PEOPLE NEEDED HELP? Some of those locations include hospitals. FEMA officials were actually told that hospitals had been evacuated when in fact they were still attempting to operate with no food, water, or power, and were begging for law enforcement to protect them from looters.

Private Aid. Along the gulf coast, the Salvation Army and other private organizations and individuals have been providing food, water, and other aid to communities destroyed by the hurricane, despite being hampered by roads that in some cases took two days to clear of debris enough to allow them to get through with supplies. New Orleans doesn't have this excuse: roads into New Orleans have been open since the day after the storm. In fact, almost all buildings in New Orleans were still standing after the storm (the advantage of building below sea level), which could not be said of any community on coastal Mississippi, most of Alabama, or even the communities across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. But the response of the city and state officials was exactly wrong: they closed the city and would not permit private individuals in. If you weren't FEMA or the National Guard, you couldn't get in (I suppose the Red Cross could get in, but they are so bureaucratic that they take days to respond to a disaster themselves). This action prevented tons of aid from reaching the people who needed it.

Reporting. I am disgusted by the television news coverage from CBS, MSNBC, and probably others, that presses home at every opportunity the message that the federal government is at fault here. I've been through a few hurricanes, and I've been in devastated areas a few days after a hurricane struck. Florida and the federal government learned from hurricane Andrew that it is important to get basic needs met within 24 hours after a major disaster. In every storm since then, they have had teams on the ground in that time. A convoy left Gainesville, Florida for the gulf coast on Tuesday morning, expecting to be there at least a week (and probably two) providing aid and getting roads opened so further relief could make it in to the affected areas. And it is clear that the federal government accomplished that goal in New Orleans, and most news outlets are not giving them the credit they deserve. They were feeding and rescuing people the day after the storm hit. But while the rest of the gulf coast was slowly getting aid from both private and public sources, the policy of relying on the federal government for absolutely everything in New Orleans was the real disaster.

This list could go on and on, but the picture is clear. The bulk of the responsibility for the slow response to the disaster in New Orleans lies upon the city and state officials who failed to do any meaningful planning. Was the federal response perfect? No. But it never is. Local planning has to assume that it will take a few days for significant Federal aid to reach a community, and in Louisiana in particular, that lesson seems to have been lost.

Federal aid is just that: aid. It is intended to help you help yourself. The state of Louisiana doesn't seem to understand that. As typical Democrats, its leaders seem to believe their own rhetoric: depend on the government, and the government will provide. The Republican leaders of the other gulf coast states understand that a government functions much better when its goal is to help its citizens help themselves. Unfortunately, not all of their citizens understand that: instead of being thankful for the supplies that are reaching them, some are berating the government for taking all of three days get it to them.

  • FEMA and the other Feds: B. They are mostly doing a good job, although it is true that they probably should have dumped more resources into the fray the day after the storm passed. Not necessarily only in New Orleans, but elsewhere on the gulf coast. They can be forgiven mainly because they got very little warning that they were dealing with a giant class 4 or 5 hurricane instead of the very small storm that had hit southern Florida a few days earlier.
  • Reporters: Varies widely depending on the outlet. WKRG in Mobile Alabama gets an A for providing the coverage that local communities crave after a storm. And they are streaming it live: see www.wkrg.com. CBS gets an F and MSNBC gets a D. They are using this disaster primarily as a political bludgeon to beat up George Bush. Fox News gets a B-, CNN gets a B. They are mostly providing good coverage, and mostly avoiding the politics, but of course they could do better. At the times that I've been watching, CNN has done a bit better job of providing new information about the entire affected area rather than simply repeating what I've already heard. I haven't watched other television sources enough to know what they are doing.
  • Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco: D. She is mostly useless, taking too long to make important decisions, and then making the wrong ones. Eventually, she ordered an impossible evacuation without providing any significant resources to accomplish it, nor a realistic schedule in which to accomplish it. Yes, she ordered school districts to provide busses for the evacuation, but not until her own arbitrary 48 hour deadline for evacuation was nearly over.
  • New Orleans mayor and his staff: F. They have been worse than useless. They seem to have done as much to hamper recovery from the storm as they have to help. They have failed to provide critical information to FEMA (e.g. the locations of large groups of people who needed food and water, such as the Convention Center), or worse, they have provided patently false information (e.g. that hospitals had been completely evacuated when they were in fact still operating). They made no significant effort to stop the looting that they had publicly stated they were not going to tolerate. In the long run, will the looting make much difference? That's hard to say. Many businesses that survived the storm with only minor damage were destroyed by looters, so recovery will take that much longer, but it also seems likely that after possibly months without power, much of the merchandise would have been destroyed by mold and humidity anyway (but he jewelry and many other looted items don't fall in that class). Just as significantly, publicly stating that looters would be harshly dealt with and then doing nothing completely destroyed their credibility. That was a signal to the wild crowd that they were going to be allowed to get away with anything. One thing is clear: whatever it took to suppress the looting and lawlessness from the outset would have been worth it in terms of improving the aid provided to those who just want to be rescued.

UPDATE 2005-09-03 0030Z

It appears I'm not the only one who has a low opinion of New Orleans' Director of Emergency Operations. Junkyard Blog points out that the city had available more than 200 school busses that it could have used as part of a pre-storm evacuation of the city. That's at least 13,000 seats. When the Mayor ordered a mandatory evacuation, why weren't those busses immediately mobilized? It is not George Bush's fault, that's for sure.

You should read his other entries, too.

Also via Junkyard Blog, is an explanation of why the New Orleans police should have shot the first looters on sight: Point of Law points out that the choice is to shoot the looters and save the lives of the law abiding, or protect the looters and cost more law abiding lives. The choice was simple, and the Mayor of New Orleans (and/or the Governor of Louisiana) made the wrong one, again. Note the quote at the end from Glenn Reynolds:

When I was on Grand Cayman last month, several people told me that looting became a problem after Hurricane Ivan, but quickly stopped when the police shot several looters. That's because looters usually value life over property too.

And one thing that I had intended to put in the original posting, but forgot: everyone should keep in mind that modern reporters never give you an accurate picture of what's going on in a situation like this. They either push their own political agenda (as CBS and MSNBC have clearly been doing, and CNN is moving toward), or their personal biases slant their reporting, or they simply don't have enough information to give an accurate picture. I've seen the same three or four scenes of people looting at least a dozen times now. Does that mean that there really wasn't all that much looting and the reporters are over-emphasizing it, or does it mean they just couldn't be bothered with getting new footage to support their claim? Judging by some of the blogs referenced by Junkyard Blog, it appears that in fact the looting may be far worse than the few images seen on our tv screens.

2005-07-27 00:35

"Journalists" Don't Get It

This morning I listened to a piece on NPR. My hands weren't free, so I couldn't take notes, but here's the basic story: a former producer for Nightline whined about how, when Nightline provided intensive coverage of the Iraq war, their ratings plummeted. He lamented that when they wanted to read the names of military who have died in Iraq on the air, they were inundated with complaints. His explanation of their motives? All they wanted to do is show that these were real people, losing real lives, in a real war.

Newsflash to you and all your fellow "Journalists". That's exactly why your ratings dropped. That's all you wanted to do. You didn't want to show what they accomplished before they died. You didn't want to show what their fellow soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen were still accomplishing. All you wanted to do is the bodycount. All you wanted to do is promote the lie that their lives were given in vain. They weren't, but if you have your way, we will withdraw from Iraq, it will sink into the depths of Islamic fundamentalism, and then, and only then, will those Americans have given their lives in vain.

I have more news for you "Journalists". You aren't worthy of the title. You are political activists, the public relations arm of the Democratic Party. The harder you work at that job, the more your ratings are going to drop, because most Americans aren't interested in hearing just one side of the story. The true "Journalists" are those who are publishing their personal Journals, their records of their thoughts, their experiences, putting their hearts into their work, achieving a level of accuracy that "professional journalists" can't begin to approach. We call them "bloggers". And when the public wants to know what is really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, they turn to the real Journalists, the ones on the scene: the people like Michael, who blogs as A Day In Iraq, or other soldiers with blogs like Boots On The Ground in Iraq, or Firepower Forward in Afghanistan, or The Mudville Gazette, from Iraq, or any of the many others you'll find linked from their pages.

If you consider yourself a "Journalist", you should strive to provide the sort of honest and informative coverage that these amateurs are providing. Even Michael Yon, an independent professional photographer in Iraq, denies the title of "reporter". He considers himself to be a photographer who happens to be blogging his personal experience in Iraq in his online magazine. He reveals the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, of everyday life in Iraq, and accompanies his commentary with outstanding photography. If you you only visit one blog today, it should be Michael Yon's.

2005-06-12 00:42

A Canadian Finally Gets The Idea

(Via One Hand Clapping)

Joe Katzman, a Canadian who blogs as Winds of Change, finally understands. Read his post titled ZIMBABWE CHANGED MY MIND: GUNS ARE A HUMAN RIGHT.

In it, he says

[...] American gun culture has always kind of puzzled me. To me, one no more had a right to a gun than one did to a car.

Well, my mind has changed. Changed to the point where I see gun ownership as being a slightly qualified but universal global human right.

What changed his mind? It doesn't sound like it was any one thing, but a series of observations that led him to conclude that the only way to prevent the sort of genocide that we've seen in Bosnia and Rwanda and are now seeing in Sudan and Zimbabwe is for the citizens to be armed.

I can understand why Joe was a bit late in coming to what should have been an obvious conclusion. He was not particularly interested in guns, nor the issue of gun control, and he certainly wasn't likely to learn it in a Canadian school. He wouldn't have even been likely to learn it in an American school. But if he had actively investigated the history of "the gun culture" in the United States, he would have found that the founders of the country, when they enacted the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, specifically stated that the right it was protecting was not only the right of citizens to defend themselves against criminals, but the right of citizens to defend themselves against their own government when it became a tyranny.

Again, I suggest that you read his post. It is rather long, but it provides a great deal of information about what is happening (and has happened) that you will never hear in he American popular press (nor in Europe), and why no amount of foreign aid will end the starvation in Zimbabwe. In short, Mugabe is intentionally starving the opposition to death, and the only aid that will save them is weapons and training in how to use them.

For more information:

Joe provides plenty of links to bring you up to speed on the situation in Zimbabwe, and the development of his opinion on the right to keep and bear arms (RKBA), but if you want to learn more about the RKBA in the U.S., these might help:

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Politics, Society, Whatever

2005-06-09 22:56

Health Care Crisis

It's a health care crisis! No, not U.S. health care. Canadian health care. See the CBC News story

The Canadian Supreme Court today struck down the Quebec law which made private health insurance illegal. Officials throughout Canada are in a tizzy, because (according to some) this spells the end of health care as Canadians know it.

I don't understand the full implication of this, and I don't think the Canadian officials do either. It's not that private healthcare is illegal in Canada, but it is (was) illegal for private insurance to pay for services that are covered by the Canadian public health care system. The Canadian right is cheering because this will lead to the end of the current healthcare system, while the Canadian left is crying because this will lead to the end of the current healthcare system. They both agree that the public healthcare system is so incredibly inefficient that it must have a legal monopoly to survive, and that if private competition is permitted, it will not only draw patients away from the public system, it will also siphon off doctors and other healthcare workers. The only other thing they all agree on is that the system is seriously broken, and needs to be fixed. Of course, the left and the right do not agree at all on how to fix it.

Why do I care what happens in Canada? Because the U.S. left constantly holds the Canadian healthcare system up as the model on which future U.S. healthcare policy should be based. Their mantra is "Canadians have free health care, and we should to!" They repeat it over, and over, and over, and over. The fact that Canadians wait for years to get procedures that we in the U.S. get in a few days (if you are rich) or a few weeks (if you are poor) seems to have no meaning whatsoever to them.

Understand this: people in the U.S. simply do not go without health care unless for some reason they choose to. As I type this, some Canadian idiot is on television saying that "45 million people in America don't have healthcare because they don't have health insurance." Bull. Total bull. I lived for years with no health insurance, and I never had to do without health care. At one point I was poor enough to qualify for state assistance (i.e. the State of Florida paid for part of my hospital bills). I also had an unemployed, uninsured neighbor who had breast cancer. Not only did the state pay for her cancer surgery, it paid for breast reconstruction surgery. And when I finally got insurance, the first thing I noticed was that my bills from the hospital suddenly went up by almost exactly the amount covered by my insurance. My out-of-pocket expense went down a little. The amount the hospital got paid went up a lot.

What is clear from my experience (clear to me, at least), is that those of us who have health insurance are subsidizing those who do not. On top of that, all U.S. states have a health care system that provides care for the very poor (Medicaid). Yes, some people can afford to pay extra so they don't have to wait as long for procedures they need, but for those who must wait, the wait is far shorter than everyone experiences in the Canadian system. Overall, the U.S. healthcare system is the best in the world. Those that provide so-called "universal" health care provide a much lower quality of service than we get (for another example, see this from the Wall Street Journal).

We have a unique blend of combined public and private health care. Most doctors are part of both system, as well as most hospitals. Indigent patients are treated in the same hospitals, by the same doctors, as those of us who are covered by health insurance. Please, don't take us down the road the Canadians have travelled. I like being able to see a doctor with only a few weeks of waiting, instead of a few years.

More information:

Read the CBC background FAQ on Canadian health care. Note that the level of health care provided by the Canadian system is essentially the same as that provided to the indigent in the U.S.: e.g. the Canadian system only covers a stay in a hospital ward; if you want a private room, you or your private insurance must pay the difference, just as in the U.S.. The Canadian system was designed to provide only "basic health care", but it is doing that so poorly that many Canadians are willing, but not legally allowed, to pay extra just to get basic health care.

That's the heart of the problem with many of the left's "solutions" to social problems. In their misguided quest for "equality", they want to drag everyone down to the lowest level, rather than accept a solution that will lift most up to a higher level.

Update 2005-06-10 22:37 - fixed a couple of minor typos.

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Politics, Society, Whatever

2005-06-05 21:27

The Will To Survive

Deep inside a fairly long post, A Day In Iraq briefly comments about the soldier who asked Secretary Rumsfield the famous question about armor. After pointing out that this guy was still in Kuwait and had never set foot in Iraq, the posting goes on to say:

To me it all goes back to attitude. This guy, still in the safe haven of Kuwait, already had a defeatist attitude. He was already defeated in his mind. He'd already been hit by an IED, and was so busy crying to the Sec. of Def. about it that he failed to realize the opportunity that lay in front of him, the opportunity to attack the bad guys. I never leave these gates without that thought on my mind. It's what keeps me alert when I've only had four hours sleep in the past two days. He's so worried about getting blown up or attacked that he becomes ineffective in fighting the bad guys. What kind of attitude is that to have before entering a combat zone.

This passage reminds me of something a combat instructor with far more experience than I ever want to have once told me:

The will to survive does not win battles. The will to dominate wins battles.

And it's true. I don't want to sound too "Jedi Master"-ish, and I'm certainly not an authority on combat, but here's my little tip to any warrior-trainees out there, whether military or civilian:

If you are fighting at the level of the will to survive, you are fighting a battle against fear ***. Fear, although a good survival trait in most "normal" situations, is disabling in a fight. To win a fight, leave behind your fear and wade in with the unwavering intention of destroying the enemy. The will to survive is only a factor if you've already lost the fight.

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Misc

2005-06-05 01:46

Nixon a Murderer?

There is a posting on the Democratic Underground about Lawrence Eagleburger's statement on CNN's Crossfire that

President Nixon once suspected him. I'm surprised he didn't end up dead somewhere because of that.

Referring to the claim that Mark Felt, second in the command at the FBI during Richard Nixon's administration, was the "Deep Throat" of Watergate fame.

The DU posting about this comment illustrates several things about the left. Let's just start at the beginning. The posting says:

[...]Lawrence Eagleburger who served under Nixon, Reagan, and daddy Bush admited that so called "Moral Repug leaders" KILL people who cross them

The "Moral Repug" comment is a reference to Republicans ("Repugnicans"), and the posting is clearly claiming that because Eagleburger made the comment about Nixon, it also applies to all other Republicans, because..., well, because they are Republicans.

This is the level of logic and discourse we get out of Democrats. A statement about a man who was President over thirty years ago is assumed to apply to the current President. Furthermore, a statement that a President of the United States ordered the death of his political enemies is automatically assumed to be accurate. That alone is a stretch: whom among Nixon's political enemies died while he was President? I have never heard anyone claim that any of them did (I have, on the other hand, often heard it said that Bill Clinton's enemies did have a tendency to turn up dead while he was in office, but I don't have time to investigate that one today).

But let's look a little more closely at Eagleburger's statement. If Nixon suspected Mark Felt was "Deep Throat", when did he come to stop suspecting him? Nixon came to Felt's defense when Felt was indicted (after Nixon left office) for illegal activities at the FBI. One would think that if Nixon had any significant suspicion that Felt was "Deep Throat", then Nixon would not have come to Felt's defense when he was charged with crimes. At least, one would think that if one was not a member of the Democratic Underground.

This is the level the Democrats have sunk to. They are claiming that the actions of Richard Nixon are the actions of all Republicans since, and they are treating it as if it is self-evident fact. Many people dismiss the postings at the Democratic Underground as the ravings of the far left, but I believe it is a mistake to do so. These people are the Howard Dean faction of the Democratic Party, and Howard Dean is the Chairman of the party, which hardly puts him or his supporters on the fringe. They are the people who control the direction of the Democratic party.


A few more things relevant to this story:

Ben Stein points out (via LGF) that Nixon did more things that the left should be supportive of than any other recent President. On that note, I've often heard it commented that Nixon was the most left-wing of all modern Presidents, Republican or Democrat. Among many other things, for instance, he instituted widespread government controls on prices, something you normally expect to see only in openly socialist or outright communist societies.

Furthermore, Nixon's crimes consisted of covering up for employees who attempted (unsuccessfully) to place bugs in the Democrat's campaign offices, and it seems likely that he knew it was being done beforehand. In the years since, it has come to light that Lyndon Johnson, the Democrat who turned the Vietnam war into a quagmire, had the CIA (successfully) bug the phones and even a campaign plane of numerous Republicans, and I have yet to hear any of the vocal Democrats condemn Johnson for doing so. It was the revelation of some of this activity during the Watergate hearings that led Congress to pass laws explicitly prohibiting the CIA from domestic activies.

And finally, if you read the entire CNN transcript from which the Democratic Underground quote is extracted, you discover a lot of things about Mark Felt. He was not someone that any respectable person would want to claim credit for (well, not unless it was to keep from becoming his enemy). Felt second in command in the Hoover FBI, which for all of you youngsters out there, was largely dedicated to keeping Hoover in charge of the FBI by (purportedly) blackmailing U.S. Presidents, and legend has it that Felt was none too pleased when Nixon didn't put him in charge after Hoover's death. Given Felt's history, it is entirely reasonable (although perhaps likely inaccurate) to interpret Eagleburger's statement that "I'm surprised he didn't end up dead somewhere because of that" as referring to the death of Nixon, not Felt. People who got on Felt's bad side usually found themselves looking for new careers soon afterwards, and how to you change the career of a sitting President? Leak dirt to the press, or assassinate him.

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Politics, Society, Whatever

06.01.2005 11:45

The ICRC & the Boy Who Cried "Wolf"

Via Chapomatic, via The Mudville Gazette:

The International Committee of the Red Cross is recognized by the Geneva Conventions as an impartial, neutral humanitarian organization. Unfortunately, in the past several decades, the ICRC has become increasingly interested in advancing its political agenda. An article at The National Interest contends that by repeatedly declaring the United States to be in violation of non-existant "standards" of international law for such "crimes" as holding detainees at Guantanamo indefinitely, the ICRC reduces its own effectiveness at helping any prisoners who may actually be victims of abuse.

Read the article at The National Interest

I've been trying to track down the ICRC statements that are the topic of the article, and so far I haven't been successful (but I haven't spent much time at it). I did run in to an ICRC press conference regarding a confidential report to the U.S. government, which was subsequently leaked to the press. The ICRC claims that the U.S. government leaked it; I don't know the position of the U.S. on the issue. What does puzzle me is the ICRC's level of concern over the leak. They seem to regard it as a major problem, yet according to their own web site (e.g. the press conference), the purpose of the confidentiality is to avoid publicly embarrassing the topic government, and thus losing access to prisoners held by that government. Since the U.S. is almost certainly going to continue to allow the ICRC access to prisoners, the claim that the leak of this report is a major problem is completely bogus. The only reason for the ICRC to be concerned about the release of the report is that they themselves are embarrassed by the contents of the report.

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Politics, Society, Whatever

05.29.2005 11:36

Syria: Withdrawal, or Strategic Retreat?

I'm sure everyone who pays any attention to international affairs knows that Syria recently withdrew its occupation force from Lebanon. This has been widely hailed as a sign that Syria is cleaning up its act. In light of Syria's announcement that it is no longer cooperating with the U.S., I suspect that the withdrawal from Lebanon may have been more of a strategic retreat. It could be that Syria is expecting a military confrontation with the U.S. and wanted to have those troops available for border defense.

I'm not suggesting that the U.S. will launch an all-out invasion of Syria, but that if Syria stops whatever cooperation it has been providing, the U.S. will probably start (if it hasn't already) pursuing terrorists into Syria. To protect their sovereignty (and reputation), Syria will have to at least make a show of fighting any such incursions into their territory.

Of course, another way of looking at this is to speculate that Syria is in fact using the troops withdrawn from Lebanon to tighten security along the Iraq border in order to keep the U.S. happy. Evidence of this is seen in Syria's announcement that it has arrested 1200 potential terrorists trying to cross into Iraq. Of course, we wouldn't expect Syria to announce that it is cooperating with the U.S., that would be bad for its image.

Update 2005-08-15: Changed title from "Tactical Retreat" to "Strategic Retreat" so it matched the usage in the body of the article.

Posted by Bob | Permalink | Categories: Politics, Society, Whatever