Tuesday, December 11, 2007
(1) Terrorist scumbag relents to extreme -- but temporary -- fright and discomfort. (2) Said scumbag wises up, provides details of pending terror plots. (3) American lives are saved.
What's not to like?
I should be concerned because some terrorist prick loser shithead -- who wants to kill free people for sport -- feels like he might drown for a few seconds?
Please. Why should any American think for even a nanosecond about a murdering nihilistic thug, inflamed by the passion of religious zealotry, and instructed by imams to kill non-believers?
Such as, you know, Americans?
So let's review. Terrorist thugs want to kill us, and we have ways to prevent that without causing any lasting physical damage of any kind. Yet even this is too much like torture, so we shouldn't do it.
Many of us are -- quite literally -- more scared of "Global Warming" and conservative religious folk than we are of people who have openly stated they want to kill as many Americans as possible.
This is craziness.
I must have missed the memo. The "please turn out the lights, we're done as a civilization" memo. The one where people decide they don't have the stomach for fighting for their own way of life any more, because life is just so darn comfortable, and they can't be bothered to get tough when tough times call for it. Or because they have no clue what is going in the world re: Islamist terrorism, and comfort themselves with the fiction that it's just a bunch of fear-mongering by evil war-mongering Re-thug-licans.
But apparently, that's where some of us are.
And now those same people are, for whatever reason, doing the bidding of the terrorists in our political process. For if you dismiss out-of-hand the potential value of the gained intel from a technique like water-boarding, you're defending the interests, at any cost, of those who hope to prevent that intel from getting into our hands. The terrorists, in other words.
And that, dear friends, is treason. Look it up: "Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies".
I hate to say that, and I know it is inflammatory, but I don't know what else to call it.
Sure, they're doing it "just" to score political points. We know that. Doesn't matter. There are some lines you don't cross when playing politics.
Treason is one of them.
Americans used to understand that.
But these supposedly "liberal" types crossed that line a long time ago. And I'm still waiting for these "liberals" to publicly condemn the sawing off of heads of live people, or blowing up little kids in suicide bomb misssions. Evil does not come any more readily pre-packaged than that.
Yet, that line they will not cross. A somewhat curious demarcation line, no?
If they can't exploit murder and destruction for political advantage, they offer no opinion at all. Doesn't sound very "liberal" to me.
Yet, show them a murdering terrorist scumbag, and watch them run to his defense. In that sense, Uber-Liberal.
Just depends how useful you are to them.
Plus, they're probably way busy cooking up new ways to criticize our military, our government, and our motives, while excusing the never-ending parade of corruption and incompetence that is the United Nations and all its true believers.
It's nearly a full-time job, I'm sure.
Monday, November 26, 2007
If you're like me, you're not shocked by the first, but amazed by the second.
Market speculators wanted a higher return. Who doesn't? So, this pressured lenders into accepting more risk.
A smart lender would examine this equation and say "more risk for me might not be a good trade, even with higher loan revenues". Other lenders might say "Screw risk! Higher returns, baby!"
Huge losses and hilarity ensue.
Social Engineering. Or, the World As We Wish It Were, Instead of As It Is
The Federal Reserve wanted to increase rates of home ownership among minorities, which are apparently historically lower.
But hold on, you might say. Why were they historically lower? Is it because the mortgages were deemed too risky? If so, then does it make sense to just ignore that risk in hopes that somehow they won't be risky any more? And wouldn't that just be plain old "wishing and hoping"? And aren't lenders of other people's money are supposed to be a bit more rigorous than that?
Apparently, being a loan officer is a little more whimsical than I'd previously thought.
I also hadn't realized that the Fed was now in the business of fine-tuning home ownership rates by race instead of by creditworthiness. Who knew?
So there you have it.
Old Fashioned Greed, united in common cause with Helping a Brotha Out. Making folks feel good *and* returning higher cash flow!
Until that ugly risk kicks in the door. Ugh. Bummer.
So this would explain then, at least in part, why minorities are "hardest hit". They were also being pandered to, and over-qualified by their lenders. Set up for failure, in other words.
As past credit checks had apparently predicted, if reality counts for anything these days.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Maybe it's just me, but I don't see much good that can come from rules like :
"Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved."Let's talk about poor taste, and poor judgment, for a minute.
For the purposes of discussion only, we'll go way, way out on a limb and stipulate that school boards have any business at all making rules, for other people's children, about a perfectly legal, moral, innocent, personal behavior like hugging. Let's go even further out on that limb and assume that school boards have attained such educational heights with their student populations, and have so few issues on campus left to solve, that they have valuable time to spend looking into the "hugging problem", and to formulate policy on it.
So if school boards are now in the business of taste, and judgment, why haven't they done anything about 13 year old girls dressing like sluts, and 13 year old boys dressing like prison thugs with their pants pulled halfway off?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Michael Rebecca is "one of the most narcissistic, manipulative and perverted individuals we have ever seen," Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said Monday.
Rebecca, 50, of 750 Court of Birch, Apt. 1, Vernon Hills, faces four charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, State's Attorney Michael Waller said, and will likely face many more.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Because two victims were 11 years old, Waller said, Rebecca is eligible for life in prison.
Authorities say Rebecca told police he met his initial victim, a boy who was then 11 years old, in 2003 while working with a relative of the child.
That boy introduced him to others, police said Rebecca told them, and soon there were at least nine members of Rebecca's sex club.
Police said the boys were 11 to 13 years old when they first connected with Rebecca. They live in Buffalo Grove, Wheeling, Arlington Heights, Prospect Heights and Elk Grove Village.
They spent weekends and longer with Rebecca because he was able to gain the trust of their families, Waller said.
"People who do this are very good at picking their victims and picking their victims' parents," Waller said. "When presented the opportunity to leave your child for the weekend with a 50-year-old man, most of us would say no, but these parents did not."
Boys were initiated into the club when Rebecca would strike them lightly with a gavel that police found during a search of his home, police said.
There were hundreds of sex acts between Rebecca and the boys over the years, police said, and at least two of the nine victims known to police said they had sex with Rebecca more than 50 times.
Police said he designed games around sex acts for the boys to play, such as "black light," in which Rebecca would turn on a black light outside his bedroom when he wanted to have sex.
The boys were ranked inside the club at various levels, police said, and those at the highest levels were allowed to spend more time with Rebecca than those at lower levels.
Rebecca, a computer programmer, plied his victims with money and electronic gifts, such as iPods, iPhones and computer games, police said, and allowed them to watch pornography at his home.
Investigators became involved when a 16-year-old boy who was feeling suicidal went to the sheriff's office and detailed his relationship with Rebecca.
Rebecca was taken into custody in Chicago late Friday afternoon and spent the weekend giving police the names of eight additional victims and details of his activities, police said.
In the search of Rebecca's home, police seized seven computers, nine independent hard drives and dozens of compact discs that are undergoing analysis.
Curran said police are concerned there may be additional victims and encouraged anyone with information about Rebecca to contact the sheriff's office, Vernon Hills police or the state's attorney's office.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The Navy has erected an entire website in Lt. Murphy's honor. Please, go read about him, and about his life, and about his sacrifice.
Basically, he completely ignored any risk to himself in order to do his duty, to save the lives of his team.
If you're like me, you didn't notice the front page news stories, or the tributes on the evening news. Maybe they had some, I don't know. But if they did, it didn't cause much of a ripple in the public consciousness.
This is stunning. The lack of public acknowledgement and regard for his heroism, and his valor, in the cause of freedom. It doesn't reflect well on us as a people, I'm sad to say.
The Congressional Medal of Honor is the "highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States". It's a big deal, a very, very big deal.
Yet out here in the real world, nobody seems to talk about it, or read about it, or even know about it. We as Americans should know about it, and we should care about it, because part of the reason that brave and admirable young men and women like Lt. Murphy sometimes give their lives is because of who we are, and what we stand for.
They wouldn't bother joining the service in the first place if we didn't have something worth fighting for, here.
Recently, Ken Burns' "The War" was on PBS, amid great fanfare, and I'm sure it got great ratings. I watched much of it myself. Burns did a fine job of showing the horror of war, and the sacrifices made by so many brave young men and women. Over and over, we heard about both civilians and military folk bearing great personal burdens, and sometimes giving their lives, in order to advance the larger cause.
And yet I have to wonder, how many of those watching it realized that 61 years after D-Day, we have other young people making the same sacrifices today? Does Burns himself even realize it? Does PBS? If so, why the hagiography only for heroes from 60 years ago? Where are the stories about today's heroes?
But enough about that. Now is the time to read this fine account of Lt. Murphy's story, and then take a few seconds to thank God that others do our fighting for us. It's hearing stories like his that give me hope for our future as a culture.
Godspeed, Lt. Murphy. My sincere condolences to all his family and friends.
Friday, May 25, 2007
In my local paper on a Sunday not long ago, on page 2, there appeared the two following AP articles, one just above and to the left of the other:
- Anti-war rally draws actors, thousands
- Iran official: centrifuge installation under way
Emotional side: "Speak Truth to Power, Man!" "No Blood for Oil!" "Bush Lied! People Died!"
Rational side: "Um, excuse me, when you're done ranting, we have this little problem over here that might need some attention. Unless you're cool with insane power-mad delusional Armageddon-preaching halfwits acquiring nuclear ballistic missiles that can reach thousands of miles. Totally up to you."
Ah, the sweet smell of pacifism. And hippies. But then, what is the difference?
And while we all have a soft spot in our hearts, and therefore our heads, for the supposed nobility of pacifism, it is also undeniably a moral choice. And, as with all moral choices, there are inevitable consequences. One consequence of pacifism is to implicitly allow other nations to do whatever the hell they want tomorrow, by avoiding confrontation today. AKA, kicking the can down the road. And when war comes, as it inevitably does, it is on the enemy's timetable. And then you either fight them on their terms, or you surrender.
This is what pacifism is, whether one is for or against it.
And make no mistake: "anti-war" is just another name for pacifism. It is a charade, an end-around the somewhat distasteful social label, the implied cowardice, of the word "pacifist".
Nearly everybody in the free world is anti-war, in the sense that they aren't "pro-war". Nobody is -- practically speaking -- "pro-war". It is never the first option on the table in any sensible foreign policy discussion among free peoples, because it is expensive in both dollars and lives. Everybody understands this, even those who don't label themselves "anti-war" while preening for cameras.
So all those who use the "anti-war" label approvingly are playing games with us. And they must think we are unbelievably stupid. The philosophy they present is that of someone who supports a theoretical war that is quick, decisive, casualty-free, atrocity-free, morally unambiguous, and victorious. Violation of any of these conditions, of course, renders the entire war unjust.
And God forbid, don't show them any pictures of civilians dying - especially children - or that will be the end of their support. Implicit in their simplistic world view is the idea that no good can come from anything where innocent people sometimes die.
Meanwhile, back here in the real world, wars are rarely so clearly and easily judged. In other words, it takes no subtlety whatsoever to navigate these ethical waters, no bravery to declare support for such wars. Partly because there really aren't any such wars.
Which, BINGO!, that is the whole point. They only support wars that are impossible in the real world.
And the unspoken subtext, if we could get these people to psychotherapy for three years or so, is: "It doesn't affect me personally, because I have a cushy life protected by the sacrifices of others, and other poor unfortunate dumbshits will be doing the fighting anyway. So to the extent that I am comfortable, war is not something I wish to pursue at this time, not a burden I am willing to bear."
Which, I guess, there is nothing explicitly wrong with that, if you're OK with announcing yourself as a self-centered twit who doesn't value your own freedom enough to fight for it, and can't be bothered to disrupt your pursuit of wealth for a while in order to help provide some measure of wealth for future generations, including possibly your own offspring. Hey, whatever. Walk like a duck, talk like a duck, guess what? Duck!
But this is the problem, right here. Those who wear the "anti-war" mantle with pride are too pampered, wealthy, and self-obsessed to admit even to themselves that this is who they are, and what they stand for. They refuse to acknowledge that there are causes that might be bigger than themselves, such as a threat to the survival of their society.
Just admit it! Man up, you pampered cowards! Yes, you too, Sheryl Crowe! Quit the pretending that there is any type of real-world, tough-it-out, long slog, fight for freedom type of war that you would endorse. Call yourselves what you are: pacifists.
There ... that wasn't so horrible, was it? And now, that will allow the rest of us to easily differentiate ourselves from you, as non-pacifists who see tough times ahead because we don't care to give in to terrorists as some societies have apparently chosen to do.
And remember what Orwell said about pacifists of the 1940s: objectively pro-fascist. In other words, by not fighting for your side, you are weakening your side, which is admitting you either don't want your side to win, or you actively want the other side to win. There is no third outcome, unlike in Hippy-Dippy Pacifist Land, where war doesn't exist, and if it did, everybody would quit, drop their arms, run home and pour a Big Tall Glass of I'm Too Stupid To Fight For My Own Survival.
As such, it doesn't seem that the actions and motives of pacifists can be distinguished from the enemy's actions and motives, in the psychological warfare that always accompanies true warfare.
The fact that the Soviets funded the nuclear freeze movement of the 70s and 80s is illustration of this point.
This lack of context provided by our "anti-war" pacifist friends introduces some complications into the moral calculus.
So nations like Iran exploit this uniquely Western delusion of pacifism, just like Hitler did in Munich 1938. As Churchill said (something like), "Given a choice between dishonor and war, you chose dishonor. You shall have both."
Not much has really changed since then. The European post-WWI model, where diplomacy is seen as always superior to war, even if diplomacy allows bad actors to rape, murder, and plunder as they choose, has completely taken over the Western world. The fact that WWI was a European war, caused by European pathologies (especially imperialism), and that their fix for their problems not only didn't work back then, for them, but is entirely inappropriate for U.S. problems, or for the world as it exists today, does not seem to register.
If ever there was a case where diplomacy alone, when not backed by the threat of force, directly caused a bad actor like Hitler, Mugabe, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Ahmedinejad, or anybody else to reconsider their evil ways and become a reasonable person, and renounce aggression, I'd love to hear about it.
I have a sneaking suspicion that if the brave "actors and thousands" could be honest with us and with themselves, they will admit that they have no freaking idea what to do about any of this Iran nuclear stuff. Besides, of course, the usual diplomatic solutions they always advocate, which are a three-stage exercise: (1) preening and patting oneself on the back by pretending that discussions have a realistic chance to contain bad actors, and then (2) washing your hands of the whole mess, which ensures (3) more killing, enslavement, and exploitation by someone, somewhere (maybe even of you, by them).
AKA, kicking the can down the road.
In case facts count for anything, Iran's leader Ahmedinejad talks like Hitler, and is on record calling for the destruction of Israel. Bonus points to those who make the obvious leap to concluding that the West in general would be next, once Iran has nukes. Iran itself has been running proxy wars and terror campaigns for decades, and is one of the two prime sources of arming and organizing today's Iraq conflict (with Saudi Arabia), and is the home of Islamic fundamentalists and anti-American (and anti-West) hatred. Iran has seen the way Iraq and other nations have gamed the UN and the IAEA for decades, buying time with ridiculous diplomatic chicanery that the West naively hopes will lead somewhere useful.
These are people we should negotiate with? To what end? So we can pretend the Iranians are not running time off the clock via endless rounds of diplomacy, until they can activate some plot to set off dirty bombs in 5 or 10 cities simultaneously, via proxies who are probably already here?
Earth to fans of diplomacy: usually diplomacy is nothing more than a cynical tactic to buy time in order to gain advantage. Without a credible threat of force to back it up, it is just exactly like whistling past graveyards.
And while all this goes on largely ignored in the West -- we're too busy blaming presidents and taking freedoms for granted and staging idiotic rallies -- we can't say we weren't warned.
It may come as a shock to the "actors and thousands", but most people are in fact anti-war. But this is not the same as being a pacifist who will always sacrifice long-term security for short term peace. There is a big difference.
And as for these "anti-war" rallies, I'd love to hear about their plans for what to do, rather than what not to do. I'm already down with the anti-war thing, but I'm not nearly so enthused about sitting idly by while certain proven evil, terrorist, murdering scumbags work on their nuclear armaments, in possible preparation for our destruction.
Friday, April 06, 2007
A technique we saw this weekend is we saw a vehicle with two children in the back seat come up to one of our checkpoints, get stopped by our folks. Children in the back seat lower suspicion. We let it move through. They parked the vehicle. The adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back.
A couple of terrorist scumbags in Baghdad, so desperate to break through security checkpoints that they resort to using kids as cover. They get through; then they run from the car and blow it up, with the kids sitting inside.
This is clearly sub-human. What can you say? It's off the charts. There is no degree of evil to which you can "advance" from here.
This happened in March of '07. It is now November.
Yet, that is an official DOD press release I linked up there. Press releases are for, you know, the press.
It's spoon-feeding of pre-packaged news items for reporters.
Yet, no coverage in any mainstream press outlet. Except for this lone Washington Post story, which failed to generate any buzz at all.
And I don't recall any public pronouncements by any brave anti-war politicians on this atrocity. Oh, right, Nancy Pelosi went to Syria to consort with the murderous regime that has been sending terrorists and cash and IEDs into Iraq to blow up our troops. But she meant well.
Where are all the anti-war liberal celebrities and do-gooders on this sub-human behavior? If there is anything that a terrorist can do that can cause liberals in the West to loudly and provocatively condemn them, they apparently haven't yet seen it. Sawing off the heads of live people on video? Nope. Blowing up kids at ice cream parlors? No sir. Using little girls in schoolyards as human shields? Uh-uh.
Yet an overblown frat party like Abu Ghraib gets them all sideways. Self-important twits like Dick Durbin compare our military to Stalin and Pol Pot, yet I don't recall his opinions being offered on any of the multiple victims of beheading. Countless "experts" weigh in on supposed American violations of the Geneva Conventions, and "torture", yet have nothing of import to say when terrorists use civilian cover to blow up innocent people, or to attack our troops, who are risking their own lives to bring freedom to others. And if we have to use the word "torture" to describe sleep deprivation and isolation and 5,000 calorie per day religion-sensitive diets that lead to weight gain, then the word has no meaning, any more.
So, let's just put our cards on the table, for once. All the obfuscation is making me tired. It is self-evident that "anti-war" folks are more interested in the United States losing than in any other possible outcome, regardless of consequence.
This is quite distinct from being "anti-war", or even from being liberal.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Guantanamo Detainee Makes Torture Claims
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Saudi terror suspect says U.S. interrogators tortured him for five years and he confessed to involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole just to satisfy them and "make the people happy," according to a Pentagon transcript of a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent, is the second "high value" detainee to contend he was tortured while being held in secret CIA prisons prior to transfer to the detention site in Cuba last September.
In a transcript released Friday by the Pentagon, he said he made up the stories linking him to the Cole attack, which left 17 U.S. sailors dead and nearly sank the $1 billion destroyer in Aden harbor in 2000.
"From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me. It happened during interviews. One time they tortured me one way, and another time they tortured me in a different way," al-Nashiri said, according to the transcript of a hearing at the Guantanamo detention center on March 14. "I just said those things to make the people happy. They were very happy when I told them those things."
Interrogators do tend to be happy when you admit to being a scumbag murdering terrorist. Fancy that.
And how were they torturing him, exactly? Because specifics were redacted from the Pentagon press release, we don't know exactly, but the article does note this general discussion of torture allegations we've all heard before:
Sounds like some of the best parties I attended in college.
CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield wouldn't respond to al-Nashiri's allegations, but said Friday that the agency's interrogation program is conducted lawfully—"with great care and close review, producing vital information that has helped disrupt plots and save lives."
Soon after the capture of a key terror suspect in 2002, the CIA decided it should hold high-value captives for extended periods to extract information, using "enhanced interrogation techniques."
Those widely reported practices include openhanded slapping, cold, sleep deprivation and—perhaps most controversially—waterboarding. In that technique, a detainee is made to believe he is drowning.
Seriously, this is nothing worse than Navy SEAL BUD/S training. During Hell Week, which is 5 and 1/2 days of, um, Hell, they are allowed only 4 hours of sleep. Total. They have to endure hours of hypothermia endurance testing in the ~55° waters of the Pacific Ocean. Try that sometime and let me know how comfortable you are. All during this, they are getting alternatively yelled at and encouraged to quit with offers of nice hot coffee and donuts waiting for them, if they like. Hey, that's emotional abuse!
I suppose waterboarding doesn't happen on purpose, but I'd wager that it is not possible to go through 6 months of Navy SEAL training and never once feel like you are drowning due to fatigue. In fact, this picture is from the BUD/S site above. Doesn't look like a lot of fun.
And don't even get me started on the Christina Aguilera tunes played at brain-seizure-incuding levels.
But back to al-Nashiri. Try reading the charges against him, and his testimony before the tribunal. Go here and scroll to page 6 for the charges, and page 24 for the testimony. He allegedly supplied the passport to the guy, now convicted and serving time, who blew up the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. When he was arrested in 2002, he held "several forged passports, from several countries", using several identities. He just happens to know Osama Bin Laden, and receives money from him to fund "projects", which then conveniently turn into military (ie "terror") operations. He just happens to have supplied the boat that blew up the USS Cole, and to have purchased a vehicle used in support of that operation using one of his aliases. He just happens to have needed forged passports because the one he had was forged too, and he needed to travel quickly. He needed explosives because his friend Rub'i in Yemen was a fisherman and had a rich father who needed explosives. Via the black market. To "dig wells".
Oh, please. This is a big steaming pile of bullshit. He needs a big neon sign flashing "GUILTY" over his head, 24x7.
And if we had to waterboard him to get him to admit it, well, good.
Why would anybody have a problem with any of this? Anybody who wants us to win, that is?
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Al-Qaida chief likely stretching truth
Involved? Perhaps. But not 'responsible' for all 31 plots he claims
Because, you know, a professional terrorist that plots only 10 or 15 terrorist attacks is just not to be taken seriously. In fact, this whole "terrorist threat" thing is probably made up. Terrorists are just lucky dumb bastards, except of course when they are evil geniuses.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
So you didn't get the long-term deal for insane dollars that you really wanted. No, make that deserved.
Of course you deserved it. Every weak-side linebacker with no pass-rush skills and a fragile ego deserves to make huge bucks over the long haul.
But the Bears kept their word and instead offered you franchise player status, which guarantees you a salary next year of $7,000,000 plus, AND free agency after that year. Well. We all know how Lance Briggs, CEO of Lance Briggs, Inc., rolls! He won't stand for it! A slap in the face, is what that is!
That's right. Lance Briggs, CEO of Lance Briggs, Inc., you are being dis-respected with a crap-ola salary like that. I don't care if it is the average of the top 5 salaries at your position! You are Lance Briggs, NPRWLWPNBLAIBHF! (Non-Pass-Rushing Weakside Linebacker Who Plays Next to Brian Urlacher, And Is Intimidated By His Fame). And you will be respected.
Even if it means you sit on your butt all next season and everybody forgets who you are.
Yes, this strategy is flawless. Why, remember what happened with Todd Bell and Al Harris on the '85 Bears. Mmm, no, scratch that, not a good example. Well, never mind, I'm quite sure it will be a win/win for you, Lance!
After all, bottom line, we know what it's all about. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. No, not the kind of respect that comes with competing in the Super Bowl, as a team; what good is that, compared to the props from the boyzzz on SportsCenter! Or is it actually the greenbacks that you're after? FYI, either answer is the wrong one.
Speaking for fans everywhere, if I might, I'd like to thank you for finally giving us a glimpse into the real Lance Briggs, CEO of Lance Briggs, Inc. I believe I've seen enough now, can you turn off the light? Quickly, please?
Might also want to re-evaluate your agent. He's either making you look like a douche tool, in which case, fire his ass, or you already were one, and he's just helping you show that side to the world. In which case, please go away, both of you, now.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Propaganda, in other words. Which is just the way the news media likes it.
But for those of us who use facts and context -- a.k.a, reality -- to inform our world views, these encounters can be frustrating. There are few things worse than some fairly innocuous comment in a social setting leading to some emotion-charged, illogical, confrontational argument that goes in circles. So, many of us, perhaps wisely, tend to shy away from even bringing up these "radioactive" topics that we know are likely to lead us down that path.
But it is my contention that, even with all those potential downsides, we all lose out on valuable social interaction that could help us become wiser, better-informed citizens, and that we can use this new knowledge to inform public debates, and then to make better policy decisions.
Never going to happen, I realize. Too many people live in fantasy land - yesterday I saw a book by Neal Boortz where he says 50% of the population is too dumb to vote, or something like that, and I gotta tell ya, that is pretty hard to refute. One could make the case that paying any attention at all to the mainstream media should render one ineligible.
What good does it do me to watch the news, or read the front page of the paper any more? I can count both factual errors and contextual errors in nearly every article I read these days, and not just tiny insignificant ones either.
Yet, in social discourse, we are encouraged to "keep the peace" and avoid certain topics. Like, politics, and especially, the war.
It seems that some of us think we are all better off in our own little worlds, impervious to the power and meaning of the ideas we carry with us. Even if those ideas are factually, provably, wrong.
In other words, according to this view, we are better off being spoon-fed news, about transitory, mostly meaningless events, that lack factual and historical context. Mostly because we are too busy, probably, to pay enough attention, and to seek out the proper sources, to inform our world views.
Which, you know, makes me ask, what makes you think you need to hold opinions on things that you don't have enough time and energy to investigate in the first place? That's like asking a four year old what kind of car to buy.
Are such opinions, not grounded in factual knowledge about the subject at hand, worth holding? And if one is shown factual evidence that demonstrates beyond a doubt that those opinions are simply wrong, should we allow people to act as if none of that factual evidence carries any weight?
Wouldn't one be better off reserving judgment on matters that one is clearly not qualified to judge?
For instance, Iraq and the WMD issue.
How many people who raise questions about the lack of WMD found in Iraq can tell you how many United Nations Security Council resolutions were passed in the years after the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, in a bid to nail down their biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs? The answer is 17. Seventeen times, the overfed diplomats met in New York City arriving via limousine at catered meetings to attempt to solve sticky issues halfway around the world. Is this any indication that "the process is working"?
How many people are aware that Iraq repeatedly chose confrontation over cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors, finally kicking them out in late 98? And that Iraq was free to do whatever it wanted after that time, until it relucatantly allowed inspectors back in in late 2002, and then only because of the threat of war led by President Bush?
How many people are aware that many of those suprise weapons inspections often resulted in having to wait at the front door for minutes or hours, only to encounter freshly scrubbed facilities smelling of bleach? Odd, isn't it? Does this suggest compliance, or deceit, to you?
How many people are aware that the official U.S. policy towards Iraq was one of regime change, well before Bush was elected?
How many people are aware that one of the weapons inspectors, Scott Ritter, completely changed his stance regarding Iraq from 1998 to 2003, from "hawk" to "dove", and in an amazing coincidence, was paid $400k to help promote a movie made to enhance Iraq's image in the West during that time?
How many people are aware that we were putting our forces at risk every day in the Northern and Southern No-Fly Zones, to protect the Kurds and Shiites who had been slaughtered repeatedly with helicopter gunships and bombers over a period of decades, and that this protection was by U.N. mandate? So we get to risk our personnel and equipment, in a perpetual state of tension and passivity.
How many people are aware that the Oil For Food Program, another feckless U.N. attempt to contribute somehow, was corrupt, and was providing off-the-books cash to Saddam Hussein, freeing him to do anything he wanted with it, such as restart weapons programs, since the inspectors were out of the country?
How many people are aware that many chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides are so close in chemical composition to chemical weapons that they are considered "dual use" and therefore can be manufactured legally even by a nation under U.N.S.C. watch? And that Iraq bought plenty of the raw materials to make these?
How many people are aware that numerous Iraqi defectors told U.S. de-briefers about a terrorist training camp in Salman Pak (near Baghdad) that was run by a combination of Iraqi Intelligence and Al-Qaeda, and trained terrorists for years, and that it included a parked Boeing passenger airliner for training to take control of an aircraft without guns or knives?
How many people are aware that nearly all of Iraq's weapons were supplied by Russia, China, and France? And that some of these were illegal because of the strict sanctions applied by the U.N.S.C.? Anybody remember who the biggest roadblocks on the Security Council were? Russia. China. And France.
How many people are aware that satellites spotted a massive movement of semi-trucks out of Iraq and into Syria just days before the U.S. launched war in Iraq, and that various sources claim that much of this was WMD contraband smuggled out of the country by Russia, since it would have proven Russian complicity in banned weapons? As for what might have become of this material, bet on the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, under Syrian or Hamas control. And later, in Iraq: "hey, look, no WMD stockpiles! Bush is a liar!"
And I am just starting to scratch the surface here. There is lots more, once you start digging.
So I would posit that it is readily apparent, to all those with an open mind, that after examining all this evidence, it is at least feasible that Saddam Hussein was gaming the system to enhance his own power in both the Middle East (always the primary objective in that region) and the world. And various others have taken this position well before me, it is hardly my idea. Yet it gets zero attention in the mainstream media.
One might wonder why.
No matter what your politics, the fact that none of this information is provided in any article, ever, about Bush or WMD or justifications for war is a very sad state of affairs. Knowledge is power, and conversely, ignorance is weakness.
It is easy to look back now and offer armchair criticism about the decision to go to war in Iraq. But the facts, as history will show, supported it, despite protestations by the Congress that it was misled, or that intel was cherry-picked, or that Bush flat out lied.
Here's what I think: The Left is just mad that Bush dared do anything about it at all, since doing nothing, while discussing it ad nauseum, is their preferred position.
It's always easier to sit in the darkened theatre and yell insults at the performers than to get up on the stage and take a risk. But when you're done, all you are is a spectator, instead of an actor. It takes guts to be an actor.
So there it is: my dangerous and scary opinions. Based on information. And analysis. And Eyes Wide Open.
Now, that wasn't so bad, was it? :-)
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Manipulating liars are hard to trust? Imagine the odds.
“It has never been regarded as a legitimate and recognized topic for research by psychologists,” said Robert A. Prentky, director of research at the Justice Research Institute in Boston. “There is a very strong undercurrent of disrespect for this area of research and perhaps even skepticism, frankly.”
As recently as the 1970s, research on treating sex offenders was practically nonexistent. Barbara Schwartz, a psychologist with New England Forensic Associates in Arlington, Mass., said that when she wrote her first paper on rehabilitating sex offenders in 1971, “I read everything there was to read, and I had a half of one page of references.”
That is partly because sex offenders present major challenges as research subjects. There are far fewer convicted sex offenders than most other kinds of criminals, so sample groups are unreliably small. And sex offenders tend to be so secretive that “it’s really hard to get information from them that you can have confidence in,” said Ted Shaw, a forensic psychologist in Gainesville, Fla., who has treated offenders since 1982.
I'll clear it up for them: child molesters are damaged people who can never be let loose in a free society.
Does that help any?
That will be $150, please.