Sunday, February 12, 2006

NSA Wiretaps Are Against Combatants and Traitors, Not "Citizens"

What seems to me to be missing from the debate on the legality of the NSA wiretaps of suspected terrorists is a very simple fact--we are at war right now. Because the Bush administration has asked Americans to keep going about their daily lives as if nothing is different, we tend to lose sight of that fact. Why is this important? Because the battles we are fighting in this war are often happening on US soil. When we are attacked militarily, on US soil, it is in the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense to respond, not the FBI and Department of Justice.

We have been drilled in the separation of powers and the rules of Posse Comitatus for so long, that we forgot what they really mean. Posse Comitatus was a response to the practice of most nations using their military forces to keep governments and kings in power. Specifically, after The Civil War, Congress wanted to ensure the US military could not be used in the same way, so they prevented to use of the military in local law enforcement actions on US soil. We are no longer talking about law enforcement actions; we are talking about military battles on US soil in a war of attrition. So, why do we expect the commander in chief to abide by laws developed for domestic law enforcement and routine intelligence gathering during peacetime? Because we do not yet understand what it will take to win the war on terror.

I have heard way too many people opposed to the wiretaps argue that US citizens are protected against his surveillance by law--that they have constitutional rights that make such surveillance illegal. I say that is true, but not applicable in the current situation. The citizenship of the people being surveilled is irrelevant. The Department of Defense, and the President as the Commander in Chief, have the right, and the duty, to gather as much intelligence as possible on our enemy combatants. Do Americans expect the President to get a FISA warrant to listen to communications happening in Afghanistan or Iraq? Of course not. What if one of the people communicating is a US citizen who happens to be in Afghanistan or Iraq? Does that change things? Of course not. If you have taken up arms against the United States, then you are an enemy combatant--period. If you also happen to be a US citizen, then you are a traitor AND an enemy combatant--it's that simple. You are subject to Department of Defense and National Security surveillance no matter where you happen to be placing or receiving your call.

Can you imagine how effective our war on terrorism would be in the expectation was that the President would have to get a FISA warrant, or a lawyer's permission, to listen to, or even kill, an enemy combatant just because they might hold a US passport? Ridiculous!

This issue is simple. If you take up arms against the United States and participate in actions with the aim of killing Americans or bringing down the United States, then you are an enemy combatant and we will do everything in our power to capture, or preferably kill, you no matter where you happen to be eating your meals at the time. There is no room for arguments in the war on terror whose only supporting rationalization is based on geography. If you are a US citizen, you have specific protections guaranteed in our constitution and Bill of Rights that make being an American such an honor--if you are a traitor, you have none.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Do NOT Appease Radical Islam

With all the protests sweeping across Europe and Asia, I hope the people and governments of the nations feeling the protests do not forget the lessons of history. Prior to World War II, European nations tried appeasement with Hitler, and Asian nations tried appeasement with Japan. Both nations eventually showed their true intentions and it was obvious no amount of appeasement was going to prevent their ambitions for global domination. (For an interesting take on how various European nations have been responding to the uproar, check out this story)

This is clearly the case with radical Islam as well. These people do not know the value of human life, nor do they know the spirit of freedom and the power of the human spirit once it has tasted freedom and democracy. In fact, the elements of radical Islam only know one thing--fear. They fear their God and they rely on fear as a weapon to enforce their edicts. They also fear everything most modern nations embrace. They fear music, art, literature, free speech, love, and everything that makes life worth living--everything that separates us from the animals.

The uproar over the cartoons sweeping the world should be viewed by all reasonable humans as the threat to freedom it is--and the naked declaration of intolerance radical Islam has made here. There is no cartoon that is worth a human life, but we passed that simplistic view a long time ago. This is not about cartoons. This is about a religious perversion that demands nobody speak negatively about it, while it is free to espouse hate, death, and intolerance. It should be clear to all how hypocritical these preachers of hate are. It should also be very clear to all what a world or nation would look like if the armies of radical Islam are allowed to come to power. Let the modern nations of the world draw their own lines in the sand now and not waiver. Do not appease radical Islam or you will embolden them! The next demands will be greater and more and more of our freedoms will be at the center of the demands for further appeasement.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not an opponent of Islam in general--or any other religion for that matter. I am passionately opposed to any extreme religious body that thinks they have the right to force their views on me. It doesn't matter to me if you are a missionary who shows up unsolicited on my doorstep to discuss God, or an Imam who preaches intolerance--you both have crossed a line. No group has that right.

The leader of each modern nation opposed to what radical Islam is preaching should ask each of its citizens to draw their own cartoon showing how these protests make Islam appear. If you want to be a member of the global community, you are welcome, as long as you learn tolerance for differing viewpoints and how to live with people you might disagree with. If you cannot do these simple things, then we, the global community, will show no respect for your views or demands. The lesson would be clear--those who value freedom will not be intimidated into sacrificing freedom of speech.

So, radical Islam, stop the hypocrisy of demanding respect for your religion while you preach hate, intolerance and death. We are already tired of it.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bill Gates' Alma Mater Staffed by Cowards, Not Teachers

The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselvesthroughout their lives.

--Robert Maynard Hutchins

The prestigious Lakeside School, outside of Seattle, WA, which has been consistently ranked near the top of private schools nationwide, has recently demonstrated it is staffed by cowards--not teachers. The school extended an invitation to Dinesh D'Souza, a controversial author and speaker, to give a presentation at the school on Iraq and US Foreign Policy. However, once teachers got word of the engagement, they went to the headmaster and threatened to resign if he did not retract the invitation! What could these "teachers" be so afraid of?

Mr. D'Souza created significant controversy with the publication of his book, The End of Racisim in 1995--primarily because it advocated that underachievement of African-Americans was caused more by cultural values than by white racism. Obviously, such a hypothesis will create controversy. However, isn't that why we have schools and teachers? Isn't "critical thinking" one of the most imporant skills a teacher could help develop in a child? How can such skills be taught and truly learned if the school and classroom has become a sanitized place for only the least-offending, politically correct drivel to be offered (notice I did not say "taught")?

What I also find interesting is you will have to look far and wide to find any coverage of this story in the media. I originally heard the report on Hannity and Colmes on Fox News (by the way, both sides agreed this action was shameful--how often do you see that on H&C?), so I tried to look up more information on the web later. Search Google? Yep. Anything? Nope. Search CNN? Yep. Anything? Nope. Search the major newspaper sites? Yep. Anything? Nope. Certainly it would be in The Seattle Times? Nope. It was however, in The Seattle Post Intelligencer here. Only one newspaper thought it was a story worth covering. That's sad.

To be clear, I would oppose this type of academic cowardice no matter what the subject matter. School is a place where you are supposed to exposed to different ideas and points of view and learn to determine what makes the most sense to you--and how to justify your position. As the old saying goes, "Stand for something, or you will fall for anything". By trying to keep kids from seeing those things we disagree with, we only guarantee they will lack critical thinking skills and will spend the rest of their lives "falling for anything" they are told to believe.

If the headmaster wanted to be a real leader, and teach the parents, students and cowards..I mean "teachers"...a life lesson, he should have let them resign. In fact, he should fire them now, before they do more damage to the kids at the school through intellectual neglect and cowardice. Anyone who impersonates a teacher like these folks, and lacks the moral courage to let views they disagree with be viewed and discussed, should not be allowed to keep their jobs. Can somebody at The Lakeside School do the right thing here and replace these cowards with actual teachers?

Education's responsibility is to replace an empty mind with an open one.

--Malcolm Forbes


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Why Won't Anyone Go After Mayor Nagin in New Orleans?

In today's Wall Street Journal, there is an article that describes frustration with the White House by members of Congress trying to investigate the government response to Hurricane Katrina. The Republican committee chair, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, said she "respects the White House's reluctance to reveal advice to President Bush from his top aides, which is generally covered by executive privilege." Then she goes on to say, "We are entitled to know if someone from the Department of Homeland Security calls someone at the White House during this whole crisis period. So I think the White House has gone too far in restricting basic information about who called whom on what day."

Democrats, of course, also agreed that The White House has been stonewalling. Senator Joe Lieberman, mostly an ally of The White House lately, said, "They have opposed efforts to interview their personnel, and they have hindered our ability to obtain information from other federal agencies regarding White House actions in response to Katrina."

Now, I fall on either side of the political center, depending on the issue. But on this one, I've got to go with both Senators and ask what The White House is trying to hide. Come on Mr. President, we all know you have taken full responsibility for the aftermath and the federal response (and I want to encourage this behavior in all politicians...), so why the stalling on the records that show what happened? People did die in this disaster, and that means we all need to know who did what, if anything, and when.

Of course, the one man who has not been held accountable in a fashion even close to the President is Mayor Ray Nagin. This man is an embarrassment to local leadership and has been the model of incompetence writ large. Everyone wants to point the finger at President Bush for not taking decisive action when the lessons learned from the "Hurricane Pam" exercise were released. What about the Mayor (and the Governor, for that matter)? Isn't disaster relief planning for a city the job of its mayor? At the very least, since the report showed evacuating residents would be a nightmare, why did Mayor Nagin allow hundreds of school busses to go unused and be destroyed by the flood? Do we actually expect the President of the United States to read the after action report for every local disaster preparedness exercise in the US? I know I don't. How about you? Of course, I DO expect the mayor of a city to read and act on any after action report for drills conducted in his or her city! If anyone should be thrown out of office over the aftermath of Katrina, it is Mayor Nagin. Total lack of leadership before, during and after the disaster.

So, Mr. President, stop covering up what went wrong and direct your agencies to cooperate with the investigation. And, people of New Orleans, please understand your city has no chance of returning to its former glory with such an imbecile at the helm--impeach Nagin.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Is CA lawmaker Mark Leno protecting child molesters?

In comments made recently, California Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), expressed his opposition to the California voter ballot initiative to strengthen child sex offender laws by passing "Jessica's Law". You can hear his reasoning in his own words here. Also, check out this site for more comments and audio links to Mr. Leno's absurd comments and positions.

Am I alone in thinking this guy just doesn't get it? Not only this guy, but every politician who opposes stronger laws to punish child sex offenders. All the evidence surrounding these types of sick criminals shows they cannot be successfully rehabilitated. How many times do we have to read about another innocent child who has been abducted and assaulted--or killed--by a person who has prior convictions of child molestation? It is a simple thing to pass--if you are convicted of molesting a child, you go to prison. If you do it again, you go to prison for the rest of your life. And if you do get out, you don't get to live where you want--you get to live where we tell you it's okay for you to live.

There is no criminal more disgusting or reprehensible than a person who sexually assaults or kills a child--period. The only thing that comes close is a politician, on either side of the political spectrum, who tries to defend or protect such a person. Mr. Leno, your job is to protect the innocent people, especially children, not the criminals who prey on them. Get with it!