Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rule of Law vs Bush: WSJ Letter

Wall Street Journal
March 27, 2007

A Process Essential To The Rule Of Law

Debra Burlingame's obvious passion in her March 8 op-ed plea ("Gitmo's Guerrilla Lawyers") for the preservation of what she accurately describes as "lawyer-free zones" is, given her brother's unfortunate death and her position as a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, perhaps understandable. She is also a lawyer, however, and thus must appreciate that "lawyer-free zones" are in fact law-free zones. When the executive branch chose Guantanamo as a place of detention, the creation of a law-free zone was exactly what was intended. Statements by persons in the executive branch suggesting, as did Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Cully Stimson, that clients should retaliate against law firms that undertook to represent Guantanamo detainees were a part of the executive branch effort to preserve that law-free zone, despite the Supreme Court's decision in the Rasul and Al Odah cases holding that the rule of law reached there.

About 400 men remain at Guantanamo. After five years, the government has designated only 15 of them as people it has "reason to believe" supported terrorism. According to Defense Department documents, only 5% were captured by U.S. forces; 86% were taken into custody by Pakistani or Northern Alliance forces at a time the U.S. was offering large financial bounties for the capture of any suspected Arab terrorist; the large majority never participated in any combat against the U.S. on a battlefield; and only 8% have been classified as al Qaeda fighters.

We now know that the government swept up many people in the aftermath of 9/11 and that mistakes were made. In fact, we know that as early as August 2002, a CIA specialist sent a secret report to Washington warning that most of the prisoners at Guantanamo simply "didn't belong there." Several former interrogators and translators have said the same thing. The former deputy commander at Guantanamo was quoted as saying, "Most of these guys weren't fighting. They were running." And the former commander there was quoted in this paper: "Sometimes we just didn't get the right folks," and the reason those "folks" were still in Guantanamo was that "nobody wants to be the one to sign the release papers. There is no muscle in the system."

Ms. Burlingame made light of the fact that many of these men were sold into captivity for bounties. But it is significant that the executive branch was offering from $5,000 to $25,000 -- in countries where people earned less than $200 a year -- for any Arab terrorist they turn in. That doesn't mean that everyone turned in was innocent, but it does mean that they aren't all necessarily guilty. In a law-free zone, however, their guilt or innocence is simply not relevant.

What is it the "guerrilla lawyers" want? As their brief to the Supreme Court last week said, "single remedy: a fair and impartial hearing before a neutral decision maker to determine whether there is a reasonable basis" for the detention.

That process is essential to the rule of law. It is necessary so that the guilty can be identified and punished and so that the innocent can be freed. Without such a process, the government could lock up anyone forever simply on suspicion or whim, and it could release guilty people simply because of political pressure. Ms. Burlingame criticizes the lawyers for telling their clients' stories to the press. But it must be remembered that the government has chosen not to charge or try these prisoners in a court of law, but instead has charged them in the press, calling them "the worst of the worst" and "terrorists." In these circumstances, it is the ethical duty of the lawyers to also get their side of the story out to the public through the press.

Ms. Burlingame singles out Tom Wilner for particularly vituperative criticism. Tom Wilner is outstanding. He is a strong advocate for the preservation of America's constitutional principles and the rule of law.

John J. Gibbons, New York

(The author was formerly Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bugs not nukes our greatest threat.

Bret Stephens overlooks one simple yet profound fact regarding “Who Needs Nukes” (3-20-07). Nukes aren’t our greatest or even most likely problem. Advances in biotechnology and lose 'bugs' are far more available, affordable and anonymous than lose nukes.
Biologicals represent an entirely new class of weapons. Replicable weapons – meaning they replicate when used – unlike traditional weapons that are used up when used. Biologicals are infinitely more difficult to trace after an event and difficult to detect before an attack than a nuclear bomb.
Zbigniew Brzezinsky (“Second Chance” author) recently stated 'it used to be more expensive to govern a million people than kill them. Now it’s the other way around'. It’s biologicals not nukes that make this profound fact true.
Brzezinsky went on to say in his interview on The Daily Show that we “need effective consensus for others to work with us” in reducing any future threat. Having more and better nukes is unlikely to garner us the friends needed to defeat Al Qaida and stop anything they will use against us.


Dig a well. Fight terrorism. World Water day March 22

World Water Day:

Unclean water is the second largest killer of children in the world. Nearly 8,000 a day die from easily preventable and treatable water borne diseases. The United Nations estimates that it would cost about $33 billion to halve the number of people on earth who lack access to safe, clean water. That may sound like a lot of money, but it’s actually only one-third of what we spend each year on bottled water. And American males spend about twice that much on beer each year.

As global water scarcity looms, corporations are trying to take control of public water resources and systems. In some cases this is making the problem worse. Sometimes water privatization can be more efficient, but there is no substitute for clean public water. Water is a human right, not a privilege just for those who can buy it.

Universal access to clean water and sanitation would eliminate half of the world's infectious diseases. The global pandemic threat is the greatest threat we face as humans...far more lethal than global warming.

Digging water wells in Africa is one of the primary objectives that our military counterterrorism forces are now doing to prevent Al Qaida from getting a foot hold in impoverished areas. Winning the war against Al Qaida will take friends in many places. Clean water is a great way of making friends with nearly 1 billion people.

American Males spend about $60 billion on beer each year. We could do our part to combat terrorism by drinking half as much beer and ensuring clean water for those most in need.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Prevent abortions. Wage peace.

If Michael McManus is serious about protecting the lives of female babies he should look deeper into the greatest causes of female baby infanticide. Nearly 10,000 children die every day in India (half of them female) from easily preventable malnutrition and infection. The same number dialing over the entire continent of Africa as a result of poverty.

Female infanticide is certainly a horrific problem worth addressing but far greater progress could be made with limited time and money if he and others like him were really interested in saving lives and not just dealing with their single issue of abortion.

If McManus and others like him really want to prevent abortions (which is truly a grand humanitarian idea) he/they would really focus on stopping war, starvation, genocide and toxic waste in the environment. Spontaneous abortions from any one of these four sources are greater than all the medically performed abortions combined.

They might also consider worth against US foreign aid that goes to Israel given that it ends up supporting the government funded abortions in that religious state. I’m guessing that the mission of his organization “Ethics and Religion” is so watered down that they don’t even consider these premature child deaths an issue.


Fags are capable fighters

Elaine Donnelly’s logic (Gen. Pace vs. PC Police 3-18-07) that a homosexual free military will improve “military readiness” is repeatedly flawed.

First, the “9,501” soldiers discharged after “they acknowledged homosexual conduct” may represent only “5 percent of unplanned separations” but according to Debra Saunders (Washington Times 3-17-07) that number includes “322 linguists and 54 Arabic specialists” that could be helpful in saving the lives of tens of thousands of heterosexual soldiers. It’s possible that those homosexuals discharged before 9-11 may have uncovered communications from Al Qaida that could have save thousands of American lives on 9-11. This total number of discharged soldiers is nearly 40 percent of the current ‘surge’ of US troops into Iraq that is supposed to turn the tide in this key theater of operations against terrorism. In this context 9,501 soldiers is not insignificant.

Second, Donnelly claims that “69 percent” “were opposed or neutral” to repealing the law prohibiting homosexual military service versus the 26 percent who wanted the law “repealed”. This may be true mathematically but it is just as true that 63 percent are in favor or neutral to the law being repealed versus only 37 percent who disagree.

Last, Ms. Donnelly own math suggests that it is heterosexual relationships that are most detrimental to ‘military readiness’. Using Donnelly’s own figures there are nearly three times the number discharges (“26,446 from “pregnancy” and 20,527 from “parenthood”) resulting from heterosexual activities. And this doesn’t even include the number who commit adultery which is a punishable violation of military law.

Defeating the tactic of terrorism will require 100% of our population’s participation. One’s sexual preferences are irrelevant to all American’s preferences for freedom and security. The Taliban prohibits homosexuals in their armed forces. Our military should be different.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Not for Hillary

Tod Lindberg’s claim that Hillary Clinton's vote for “the authorization of the war” is a problem in her run for President is accurate for two reasons.

First, most liberals still falsely believe Saddam’s WMD capabilities were not a threat even though her husband used military force against Saddam several times for that very reason. Too many liberals continue to believe there was no real evidence that Saddam had WMD in spite of the irrefutable fact that Bush's father's Administration provided precursor WMD materials to Saddam and stood by quietly while he used them to mass murder the Iraqi Kurds and then assisted him in using Chemical WMD to mass murder Iranians.

The other more important reason her vote is a problem is because it assisted the Bush Administration in launching a war that has turned out badly. Very badly. Some may have predicted that or believed invading Iraq was a costly distraction from going after Bin Ladin, or would only make global matters worse in the long run. There is simply no way anyone could have rationally predicted the abysmal performance of the Bush Administration execution of its war powers... and it’s repeated incompetence in mismanaging a war while at the same time mismanaging a vital occupation.

I still don't support Hillary for President. Why? Because, she is a brilliant politician. While there is no doubt in my mind that she would be a better President than any Bush (no pun intended) or even her own husband, I no longer believe in politicians. As I see it, the only person who is really qualified to lead our nation out of it’s divisions and failed policies is an individual who is not a politician. Someone who is an authentic person first and a true leader second. I can only hope that either party nominates just such a candidate in 2008. There appears to be a few from both parties that fit this description.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Oliver North's Fraudulent News

Oliver North’s makes a legitimate claim regarding the “downright deadly” issue of “Fraudulent News” (Sunday, March 4, 2007) but only mentions examples that fit his political agenda.

President Bush’s claim that ‘we must fight them over there so we won’t have to fight them here’ is frequently repeated in the news as a truth, but it is based on the fraudulent concept that the enemies we are fighting and making in Iraq are incapable of identifying, finding or traveling to the country primarily responsible for the war. Now Bush’s faithful followers are claiming that Iran is involved in the murder of US soldiers in Iraq and that their nuclear program poses a threat to our allies in the region and to us here at home. One of these statements is fraudulent.

Bush, Cheney and other “neocons’ insist we listen to the words of Bin Ladin regarding his call to Muslims to murder “4.5 million Americans, halve women and children” but then they ignore Bin Ladin’s claims that this is how many innocent Muslims have been killed over the last few decades by US military power, weapons and interventions.

North goes on to claim that “twisted news aimed at our culture or Judeo-Christian heritage can also be dangerous.” That could be true but not as relevant or as lethal as some ‘twisting’ our Judeo-Christian heritage to support an invasion and occupation of Iraq under invalid pretense. An invasion that has directly and indirectly resulted in somewhere between 100,000 and 600,000 dead innocent Iraqis and 2 million Iraqi refugees. There’s just something about war’s ‘collateral damage’ that cries out about the lethal hypocrisy of Oliver North’s one sided argument.

Robert Griffen?