Where Has Our Country Gone?

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Disgusting, Awful Display of Idiocy

Breitbart.com is reporting a news story today about a group of hecklers who harassed the families of US soldiers killed in Iraq. I clicked on it expecting to find some liberal group calling them "baby-killers" and the usual that one comes to hear about when they read such a title as Hecklers harass families of US soldiers killed in Iraq.

Was I wrong! Apparently the group doing the heckling is a bunch of Baptists from Kansas, enough said! Their justification is even more lunacy than their act.

For them, it was the perfect way to spread God's word: America was being punished for tolerating homosexuality.

Wow, okay let's digress and read further. Apparently this group is a very famous group for acts like this.

The Westboro Baptist Church first gained national notoriety when they picked the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998 for being gay.

They have since picketed the funerals of Frank Sinatra and Bill Clinton's mother, celebrated the terrorist attacks of September 11 as an act of God's wrath, and have even targeted Santa Claus and the Ku Klux Klan.

Now we have it all.

The display by these Baptists loon-bags is nothing more than a pure example of pure idiocy. I have always held myself as an agnostic and I have no problem with people believing in God or not believing in God, that is their own perogative. I do have problems when people try to push that belief upon others in ways that are completely inappropriate. This is definitely one of them.

These Baptists, who probably think the rising of the sun in the east is God's will and not the way the Earth rotates along its axis, are going to a point far excessive and far inappropriate. This funeral, for a slain soldier should not be met with such disgusting events as it has. To make such an assumption as his death is the wrath of God for America's tolerance of homosexuality is completely absurd. I am not fan of homosexuality but come on, think a little. To digress to the theist side of the argument of God/no-God, God gave people a brain making humans the intelligent species of the planet. USE IT!

Soldiers are what has given this country the freedoms its people so blatantly take for granted. Soldiers have made it so that people in other countries can be free. Soldiers have sacrificed themselves in lands 1,000s of miles away from home, only to come back and be spat on and treated horribly. This is disgusting.

To go further, on a personal note and level, apparently, according to them, 9/11 was God's wrath too. People like this, who call themselves Americans, are the reason why I call myself a New Yorker. God, if you are out there, save this country by smitting the idiot loons like this. It is tough to continue writing and keeping calm, as personally, I would love to see all of these people repeatedly run over by a Mack truck but, I will, for now, keep emotions down and publish as such...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Diagnosis of a State [Introduction]

Man is but a being, bound in and by nature and confined to the realm of the finiteness of Earth. Born helpless, man is faced with a conundrum, which is to survive in such a world bound and limited, physically and mentally.

At the most basic level, survival, for man, depends on the ability to maintain a homeostasis within the body. In order to maintain this homeostasis, man must have food, water, and shelter from the environment. Without these three elements, the body cannot function, leading to its eventual shutdown. The human body is also incredibly frail. Without water, an individual cannot survive more than three to six days, depending on the environment. Without food, an individual cannot survive more than a few weeks. Without shelter, the effects of nature, such as temperature, rain, wind, or disasters can have fatal effects on an individual.

The necessity for food, water, and shelter are physical requirements. Given man's ability to reason, there come certain mental requirements. Are these mental requirements necessary for survival? To an extent, they are. Man needs basic, elementary knowledge to carry out mankind's physical necessities. However, is more advanced knowledge, such as philosophy, math, and literacy, a requirement for survival? No, it is not a requirement for survival. In the modern world, many countries have individuals that lack any advanced knowledge whatsoever and yet they survive. Therefore, what purpose does advanced knowledge have if not for survival?

In order to answer that question, one must look at what survival is. First and foremost, survival is the act by which a living object maintains its existence. Secondly, survival is something crucial to animals. Both animals and man have instinct but the former lack reasoning. Survival is instinctively based. Therefore, what separates man from animals is reason, which requires advanced knowledge. Without advanced knowledge, man is nothing more than an animal. Hence, now, we can determine that the object of advanced knowledge is to separate man from animals.

Whilst reason and advanced knowledge allow man to progress, advance, develop, and construct, it cannot absolve man of his necessities, which are food, water, and shelter. Advanced knowledge allows man to develop newer, better, more efficient and much more capable ways of fulfilling these needs. Throughout existence, reason and advanced knowledge has a survival value. It has allowed man to survive against competitive species and especially against other men.

Given that Earth is finite and limited, the resources necessary to develop these newer, better, more efficient, and more capable ways of fulfilling the needs of survival are also limited. This presents a fundamental problem whereby individuals may come in conflict over these limited resources in order to survive. What this creates is a condition of conflict amongst men. Survival and the necessity to maintain as many resources as possible to survive safely becomes a major focal point, a forced condition that now takes precedence. Unfortunately, this leads to a daily life that is dominated by the basic need, survival. With daily life dominated by these ideas, education and the advancement of knowledge through reasoning cannot take place. Survival is crucially central and thus society cannot advance. Moreover, this condition leaves man in a highly primitive state. With the inability of man to advance through knowledge and education, man is left with only survival instincts and tendencies. These instincts and tendencies are nothing more than animalistic. If Earth were to be dominated by such groups dominated by animalistic tendencies, we would be nothing more than cave people grunting rather than intelligent life exploring the universe and improving life on Earth.

Therein, what is required is a state of society that negates the need for survival by providing the safety and sanctity of life. Throughout history, many political thinkers have worked to try to tackle this concept. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, Niccolò Machiavelli, Karl Marx, and even Karl von Clausewitz all presented explanations on what they saw to be the best possible system.

For Rousseau it was the social contract. In The Social Contract, he explains how the society must give up their own, self-given rights to defend themselves and entrust the state to do it for them. They must entrust the state to protect them so that they can now shift their focus and attention to learning and advancement. For Rousseau, the most critical problem was the focus on survival. If man focused on survival on a daily basis it meant he had little time to read, to study, or to learn. He would be too busy fixing his shelter or hunting for meat to study philosophy. In such a system, where survival is the most essential principle, it becomes Darwinism, "survival of the fittest." For Rousseau, this is unacceptable for any society in the 1700s, let alone today, in the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Rousseau had a critical issue to contend with when he formulated his idea for the social contract. First, it required all individuals to submit equally to the contract and each individual would have to give up their own possessions, only to get them back as their property. Each and every individual would have to give equally or else the social contract could not be fundamentally valid. Second, the social contract had to protect and provide for those who were part of it and it had to do so without prejudice. However, Rousseau knew that this "perfect" social contract was just a dream. In essence, those writing the laws of the society would be in a position to set the terms of the contract. This would allow them to write the terms to benefit themselves, rather than the majority of those signed onto the contract.

Even he did not expect the "true" social contract to exist; that would require too much of men. In essence, the social contract would have to benefit the majority of those involved, unfortunately not being able to protect everyone. In light of that, it would most likely turn out to be invalid in some way, shape, or form, due to the characters of those writing the contract.

Thomas Hobbes treats this "social contract" in The Leviathan with a different outlook. Hobbes bases his view of human nature by generalizing his own feelings and intentions. Having been born at the sight of the Spanish armada and being forced to flee England during the English Civil War, Hobbes has a bias. This type of thinking relies too heavily on a generalization that is just far too great to make. The feelings and desires of one man cannot define those for all of humanity; humanity is just too diverse.

Hobbes treats the system as a protectorate of the people, in a way. He sees a nature of humanity to being something very disgusting. He describes life in a state of nature to be "solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short,"[1] Therefore, because life without any organization and order is such a disgusting and unfathomable condition, the state of society, a bastion of organization and order becomes the natural "want" of men. He acknowledges the scarcity of resources and finiteness of Earth and goes on to say that because of this, man is continually in a state of conflict, a perpetual war to survive. For his society, the goal is to quell this conflict by removing the elements of scarcity and finiteness. However, Hobbes still holds tantamount that men will always be at conflict and it cannot be curtailed at all. The state is to provide for the general welfare of the people and to maintain their existence through the use of law and order.
Machiavelli, on the other hand, sees the duties of the state to be similar to those stated by Hobbes and Rousseau; however, his means to that duty is far different. In two of his most famous works, The Prince and The Discourses, he outlines the duties of the state, the way the prince, his leader, should rule, and the basics of human action and their condition.

Machiavelli is a political scientist and as such lacks a real laboratory to work with; therefore, he is forced to look to history as his laboratory. History, for him, serves as the way to identify the nature of man. Among his purposes for writing The Prince is to provide a manual, so to speak, for a ruler, the prince, to use when rising to power when no such power existed before. He does not deal with hereditary kings but rather new states, which arise from some sort of change, whether it be brutal or not. One word of advice that he presents to the ruler in The Discourses is "it is necessary to whoever arranges to found a Republic and establish laws in it, to presuppose that all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity."[2] In many translations it is often stated as "Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it."

Machiavelli states, in one of his most famous works, The Discourses, that a ruler must know that whenever he or she founds a state with laws that they must, without pause or reconsideration, place the condition of man to be bad and always ready to revert to an animalistic behavior. This very easily shows where Machiavelli stands in regards to human history. Through his studies in history, using it as a test laboratory, he has come to see that conflict is ever-present throughout time, dating back to 12,000 B.C. in recorded times to the modern world. In his day it was the late 1400s, early 1500s. In the early 2000s, not much has changed in the nature of conflict except the weapons used.

The focus of the state, for Machiavelli is to provide protection for the people from outside and inside enemies, including themselves. This is similar to both Rousseau and Hobbes but he contrasts Rousseau's perfect social contract by putting the prince in a different class than the people he rules. He does not take the massive generalization of Hobbes and uses historical examples to define what the behavior of humanity will be and how to counter that and provide the best possible state. Where Hobbes believes that men will always be at conflict and it cannot be curtailed at all, Machiavelli believes that conflict between men can be curtailed through the leadership of the prince.

Sharing some basic commonality with Hobbes, Karl von Clausewitz, in On War, accepts conflict as being ever-present even in a state of society. He sees conflict as inevitable because he sees man as always being in quarrel with each other over the basic necessities of survival.

Von Clausewitz takes a very rational approach to what conflict is. Von Clausewitz's most famous quote is "War is a mere continuation of policy by other means."[3] Von Clausewitz is often misquoted. His statement means that, when the peaceful arm of diplomacy has failed, the next step is conflict, and by no means should the conflict be the end but rather the means. However, Von Clausewitz does see conflict as inevitable though given the scarcity of resources, which he believes men will always fight over when times become problematic. He sees conflict merely as an alternative to diplomacy that may rear its head when peaceful means fail to work.

Lastly, taking a very different route to defining the human condition, the nature of a society, and the meaning of conflict, Karl Marx blames everything on the means of production. He sees society through an economic point of view that dictates morals and norms. Marx blames the present system of capitalism, which alienates men from this work and produces a small class of people, the bourgeoisie, who continually abuse the workers of a society to further their own greed. It boils down to what class controls the means of production, which presents a major conflict for him.

He puts conflict as class struggle to gain the ownership of the means of production. He defines several classes throughout history and comes down to a final set, the bourgeoisies, who own the means of production and the proletariat, who are the tools for that production to happen. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx describes how, throughout history, this conflict over the means of production, has created societies and civilizations that are founded on the principle of economics. His solution, however, is to have the proletariat lead a revolution against the bourgeoisie and claim the means of production for themselves. Afterwards, in order to end the cycle of class struggle, the proletariat cannot become the new bourgeoisie but rather to abolish it and form the perfect society, a communistic society. Marx simply writes conflict off once this has been established and declares the remainder of history to be peaceful, as long as a competing class does not arise and fight to control the means of production.

All of these philosophers look at the source of conflict in a different way. Rousseau blames the need for survival, Hobbes blames an inherently bad nature of man, Machiavelli blames the condition and history of mankind, von Clausewitz blames the inevitable failure of diplomacy and Marx blames class struggle.

For each philosopher, the duty of the state varies. For Rousseau, the duty of the state is to provide a general, equal welfare from aggression and from a dominance of survival instincts. Hobbes demands that the state keep man in check and do its best to quell an uncontainable conflict that rages on over resources. Machiavelli sees the state as the protector of the people, which would allow the greatest number of people to live in prosperity, at the sacrifice of the prince. For von Clausewitz, the state is to provide a means of communication with other states and to prepare and protect its people from an inevitable failure of peaceful relations. Lastly, for Marx, the duty of the state is to put an end to class struggle, greed, and the ills of capitalism and provide a society that is communistic and then fade away.

Alas, no such society, in practice, has been a complete and equal social contract. If it were, then its system would dominate all civilized societies and be spread far through societies dominated by animalistic tendencies, which shall be called "animalistic societies." Can any system fully create a true and equal social contract? The answer to that is "no" and the reasoning behind it can be found throughout history. One can go back as far as recorded history and find, ultimately, one thing that has always existed and that is conflict as well as its reciprocal, peace. War and peace are as old as human history. In Ancient Sumeria, people gathered in cities to live peacefully but they erected walls around the city to protect against outside harm and danger. In Rome and Ancient Egypt, conflict existed both inside and outside of states.

Throughout history there have been alternating times of war and peace. This leads to a lack of certainty of which one will be on at a time. Therein, if life lacks a certainty of peace and war, what can anyone surmise as being a certainty? With that, one will have to look at the cycle of life to gain two certainties. The first is birth, which means that there will always be a chance to start anew. At the end of life is death, meaning that nothing will last forever. These provide the first two certainties, of which there are four. The remaining two come from Earth and its finite space. The first is plurality, which means the large number of individuals on this planet and its limited space. The second is a scarcity of resources.

Given these four certainties and the uncertainty of war and peace, daily life for individuals in a society can be vastly different from the day before. On one day there can be peace and the next, war. This overbearing threat of war is enough to force the individuals, even in an advanced society, into a necessity for survival. This would bring out their animalistic tendencies. Such effects, especially in view of the plurality of people and the scarcity of resources will often make the normal scarcity of resources seem even more severe. Individuals will begin to hoard and do whatever is necessary to get the number of resources they need. All of this comes from an ill-perception of the threat of the scarcity of resources.

In order for a state to fulfill its duties of protecting people, it must curb any feelings that the scarcity of resources is much more severe than it actual is. This presents a serious problem that cannot just be overcome by a simple yes or no answer. It must be thought out and processed, studied, and materialized. This has been the focus of many political philosophy works throughout time, from the early Greek thinkers of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, to even the most modern thinkers. In due time, perhaps the problem will be answered without consequence but it is unlikely.

History shows us that the human condition is problematic, that even inside of a state of society, it can be unmerciful, even more so when the scarcity of resources presents a far greater perceived threat than it actually is. This leads to the "true" social contract, which Rousseau describes, in detail. Therefore, giving legitimacy to a flawed, social contract is a daunting task that every political scientist must undertake. In doing so, the source of conflict must be identified. Such is just as daunting a task as proving a flawed, social contract is just and valid. No political scientist has yet to provide the correct answer for either and none may ever. It is not likely that any political scientist can explain either with such correctness that it cannot be refuted.

Therein the nature of any work will have to focus not on the most perfect system but rather on the optimal system. Philosophers often focus on a system that they believe to be a perfect system but which, in practice, turns out to be far from perfect. The focus of any work should be on providing the details of an ideal or optimal system, which is based on the condition of humanity, which results from this ever-fighting imbalance of conflict and peace and the off balanced, misperceived threat of the scarcity of resources. It should offer a system that can provide, perhaps, a highly effective and highly efficient answer to the question of government. Any work concerning this should also discuss the condition of humanity and identify it through key examples using historical references and apply the definition to examples. Lastly, any work should study the role of the governing body in this system and by the definition of that role, determine how best to run the system. It is simply not enough to identify the condition of humanity; but rather, one must go on to identify what role should be taken in concern to that condition and how the political system will address said role. With all of these elements, a political philosophy can be founded and though it may never be complete or one hundred percent correct, it will be a well-rounded philosophy that provides insight and alternatives into political philosophy, humanity, and government.

[1] Hobbes, Thomas, The Leviathan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 89.
[2] Machiavelli, Niccolò and Bernard Crick, ed, The Discourses (London: Penguin Books, 2003). 112.
[3] Von Clausewitz, Karl and Rapoport, Anatol, ed, On War (London: Penguin Books, 1968). 119.

© 2005 - 2006, James Devlin, written for Dr. Schmidt, Iona College, Fall 2005, protected under college manuscript rules & regulations. Permission must be obtained before usage.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

International Law and International Organizations: The Truth.

How many times this week have you heard someone talk about ‘International Law’ in a paper or on a news program? Several times probably. And you’d probably think nothing much of it, believing that there is actually International Law, that it exists somewhere in written form, and it is something every nation must obey.

Thought it may be strange to hear it, there is no such thing as ‘International Law’, it is a myth, a catch-phrase and a modern-era by-word for politically correct bureaucrats. It is quite often used by people who have no sense of politics or International Relations. It has been used in Britain frequently (very recently) by the Bishop of York. A man who has no place talking of politics.

International Law is often written about in the context of Globalization, and indeed in this sense it is a replacement phrase for UN Law and EU Law. Indeed these two forms of Law are what constitutes, technically speaking, the thing we call ‘International Law’. Thus there is no such thing as ‘International Law’.

However, since there is both UN and EU Law, which in the sense of Globalization, constitutes ‘International Law’, why do people constantly refer to nations breaking these Laws, yet nothing is ever done about it. There are no International Law Courts or anything of the sort. The UN is also unable to interfere in the Sovereignty of a fellow nation, so any argument about breaking UN Law is null and void, even before they were penned. EU Law is very much the same, except it is harder to understand, much more long winded, and endlessly useless and un-enforceable. Sovereignty of EU Nations is such a contentious issue that the EU has no hope at all of brining their laws to bear on any member state that refuses to be dictated to under them.

In a sense this is to look at the world from a Realist point of view, even from an Hobbesian point of view, if you will. An Idealist view suggests International Law does exist, yet Idealists cannot provide evidence of these Laws ever having been enforced. Nations have used these mysterious Laws to their advantage and others have ignored them to their detriment. The UN is the body that enforces any semblance or world wide Law, but without nations like the USA the UN has no hope of making such Laws stick or come to bear on the nation in question. The Security Council cannot agree on anything in the first place (simple because the Council’s permanent members amount to a corrupt neo-Stalinist state, Russia, and a Communist state, China), thus what hope does the UN Assembly (with members like North Korea, Iran, Bolivia and Syria) have of applying Laws in any way, shape or form?

Since the beginning of time national entities have never agreed with each. Nations and States have never seen eye to eye unless it is beneficial for them to do so, and even then it is only a handful of states and a tiny minority of the International Community. When the League of Nations first arrived on the scene it was ignored, for the most part, by the Great Powers, and instead they reverted to Direct Diplomacy, dealing straight with each other through organizations like the Conference of Ambassadors. This allowed the main world players to agree on things far quicker than an arbiter would allow.

The simple fact of the matter is that International Co-Operation does not work, the UN may seem like a good idea, and indeed we are led to believe, by some, that it is a good thing. But the Assembly and Security Council have not agreed on a single issue since 1950, when they agreed to help South Korea during the Korean War. Even then the USA shouldered 95% of the burden for the three years of the war, Britain mostly taking up the other 5%. The UN has consistently ignored issues that matter, Global Warming was ignored (instead nations took independent initiatives and came up with various plans of their own) Darfur has and was ignored, Rwanda was ignored, for the most part, Somalia was left up to the USA and Pakistan in 1992-1993, Afghanistan was ignored, as was and is Iraq. The UN could have alleviated these problems with one click and swish of a pen, but instead Kofi Annan only wanted to use his position to get his son diplomatic discount on cars and get his company backroom deals on jobs in Iraq between 1993 and 2001. This is not right.

Essentially what I am trying to say is that the UN and EU are not the be alls and end alls of International Relations, they do not even come close. Both are largely ineffectual, completely corrupt and slow to react. They are both over 30 years old and have not done that much to help the world as whole. Thus how can these two organizations hope to provide any authority on world-wide Law. It is those who cannot see the problems and corruption behind the EU and UN that refer to International Law, possibly hoping that the organizations will do something, but not realising they can’t as this kind of Law does not and has not existed.

The world is a dangerous, unpredictable place. A body that represents more bad than good, i.e. the UN, cannot hope to assert its legitimacy ever. As it has always been, the ‘Great Powers’ of the day hold all the cards, and the sooner people realise this, the better. I only hope I can help you see this.

-Cuchulain-

The Peacekeeper

In 1972, the US began work on the most advanced missile the world had ever seen. Code named the MX, this ICBM missile was built to make the Soviet Union shudder in fear. It had the capability to do far more than that, especially when it went operational in December 1986 as the LGM-118A Peacekeeper.

With 10 individual, MIRV warheads, each with the capability to land within 100 meters of their target, the LGM-118 became the world's most advanced and deadly missile. With decoys and advanced jamming and guidance systems the LGM-118 ensured that its nuclear payload would reach the target and decimate the enemy in such a way that their counterattack would be far less effective.

They were to be silo launched, a rail garrison plan being rejected by Congress, the most intelligent and capable democratic body in the world. Secondly, Congress would only ever limit production to 50 missiles, 500 warheads in total, but still not enough. Instead, the Peacekeeper was doomed for failure. Those in the country and those in Congress who wanted to see to it that the United States could not defend itself well would eventually win out.

START II, a treaty signed and ratified by the United States in 1993 and 1996, respectively, would nail this system down. It wouldn't be until 2000 that the Russian Duma ratified the treaty, which would eventually be bypassed by SORT, in 2002. Still, the Peacekeeper, which was slated for retirement under START II, was canned. As of 2005 only 10 remained in service and on September 19, those were gone.

We went into 2006, watching as the North Koreans sought nuclear missile technology, as the Chinese build up their missiles, as the Russians put their Topol-M into service, and as the Iranians seek that which the rest of the world has. Now we are left with the Minute Man III, a missile concieved and built in the late 1960s to defend ourselves.

It would make sense to retire the 50 newest, most advanced missiles in favor of the 500 older, less advanced, less capable missiles. So, we must bid our farewell to a missile so advanced that it has not been until now, with the Topol-M, that anything has come close to its capabilities. What was put into service in 1986 was finally matched in 1998, 12 years later. So, we should raise a glass to Congress and those inside our nation who would rather see it fade away and be annihilated then strive on and simply just say to ourselves, "Where has this country gone?"



Friday, February 24, 2006

UAE Port Deal

At first, this port deal came as a shock to me. I didn't know what I was reading nor did I understand what was going on, especially at first. To air this out, I must confess my ignorance at the beginning of the story. I was totally unaware these ports were under the control of a British company, which struck me as odd. Why are American ports being run by the British? Ports compromise a large portion of national security and while I quite trust the British and have nothing against them, I don't trust anyone other than ourselves when it comes to OUR security.

Now these ports are being handed over to a company based out of the United Arab Emirates. Suddenly the news is bustling with this and that, citing racism, citing fear. Politicans are split, though not on part lines. On one side you have Carter and Bush agreeing on the transfer (Carter agreeing on something should raise an IMMEDIATE red flag) and on the other you have Frist and many other Republicans saying "No."

So I asked myself, where do I stand? I stand against the deal. Immediately when I said that I was labeled an "Islamophobe." I guess this is the word of the year, to be used much in the same way people call you ignorant if you don't like everything and anything under the sun. For instance, my not liking rap music or Caribbean food makes me ignorant. It has nothing to do with the fact that I personally don't like the stuff, no, it has to do with ignorance. So I imagine Islamophobe will be used in much the same way.

Let's look at the case. The United Arab Emirates, a very modern, moderate country, not run by fanatics, and a strong ally in the War on Terror, will be running American ports, New York included. If any Arab country should be running them it probably should be the UAE as they are among the least anti-American countries in the Middle East. However, I still do not trust a company from a foreign country to my safety. I trust my own country, which has something to lose.

Does this mean that terrorists will suddenly enter these ports with nuclear weapons with ease? I doubt it. The stipulations of the deal have that the US can intervene at any time, seize records, and stop shipments, which is a given. Do I believe that the UAE has honorable intentions, certainly. They despise terrorism as much as we do, I hope.

However, there is something disturbing about the UAE. They were among three countries (included Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) to recognize the Taliban government. This is something that I cannot just simply dismiss. The Taliban government is responsible for funding and harboring the SOBs known as "Al Qaeda." You remember these guys right? Osama Bin Laden, 9/11/01, USS Cole, Embassy Bombings, yeah those guys.

My only "Arab" concern rests on the fact that now an influx of Arab workers will be helping at these ports, meaning it gives Middle Eastern terrorists a much better opportunity to get in, especially under the auspicious of port workers. Granted I don't think this is an intention but the unintended outcomes and consequences always rear their ugly heads when good intentions were first cited.

Personally I am against this deal, not because they are Arab, not because I fear terrorism, not because I am with the pack. I am against this deal because I am against any situation where Americans are not in charge of their own security, their own well-being, and their own ports. This is the same reason I oppose China funding most of our deficit. America's fate should NEVER be in the hands of foreign countries. A country will ALWAYS act within its best interest if survival is on the line. This is a risk we CANNOT afford to take. So I am sorry Mr. O'Reilly, I cannot agree with you on this, a rare thing as that is, but I do not want to see our ports in the hands of foreigners, whether they are British, German, Russian, Arab, Chinese, or Martian.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Exporting 5th Generation



Two days ago, the USAF has been mulling over the decision to sell the F-22A Raptor, the only 5th generation fighter in the world to our most trusted allies, Japan being at the forefront. I still don't know what to make of this.

The F-22A Raptor reached intial operational capability (IOC) in December. The F-22 is an air superiority fighter on a level unmatched by any other country in the world. It can fly faster, further, and it's deadlier than anything ever concieved. The F-22 uses its extreme stealth and superb avionics to hunt down and detect enemy aircraft long before the F-22 comes into their detection range. Armed with the AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120C AMRAAM (soon to be AIM-120D), the F-22 has the ability to shoot down anything without ever being seen. This type of capability is something that our enemies, including China and Russia, wish they had.

The United States has been very careful, in the past, about exporting the best of the best. The F-111 Aardvark, perhaps one of the best fighter bombers, was only exported to Australia (the UK eventually cancelled its aircraft). The F-14 Tomcat, another amazing interceptor found its way into Iran before the Shah was deposed and eventually, in Iranian service, achieved a kill ratio throughout the Iran-Iraq War that gave great homage to the Tomcat. Sadly, it was in the hands of a very hostile nation. Other aircraft, such as the F-15 Eagle, have been exported on a much more limited scale. The F-16 has been widely exported. However, for the most part, the best of the best has never left these borders, namely the F-117 and B-2, both stealth aircraft.

Exporting the F-22 would, in some ways, make sense. With the rise of the Typhoon and Rafale, as well as the advanced Su-30 variants, the international market is a hot place where the United States is slowly losing its grasp. The advanced F-15E Strike Eagle variants are still only 4th or 4.5th generation. The Typhoon, a very agile and promising fighter built by Eurofighter is tough competition as it can perform multirole operations, something the F-22 inevitably lacks. The F-22 is made more for air superiority rather than anything else. The Su-30 variants are very capable as well, agile and devestating in multirole. The Rafale, much like the Su-30 and the Typhoon definitely ranks up there. However, none of these aircraft are 5th generation, not like the F-22.

It makes sense to export the F-22 to our most trusted allies. The revenue earned could go a long way to the F-22 program, perhaps driving down the cost and forcing the DOD to buy more of these stupendous aircraft. On the other hand, even exporting a downgraded variant could lead to a security risk. Time will tell; however, for now, WE OWN THE SKIES.



Friday, February 17, 2006

Problems with Political Correctness

Political Correctness (PC), defined as "a term used in various countries to describe real or perceived attempts to impose limits on the acceptable language, terms, and viewpoints in public discussion. While it usually refers to a linguistic phenomenon, it is sometimes extended to cover political ideology or public behavior" (Wikipedia).

PC is something that has been in existence for a long time now. However, it has really picked up steam in the past decade or so, becoming far too overbearing. For instance, it is not fair to call fat people fat, we have to call them overweight, horizontally challenged. We can't call short people short, we have to call them vertically challenged. It gets better. We aren't allowed to do certain activities because it is unfair to people.

For example, dodgeball, the favored game of gym-time doesn't exist anymore except save for some leagues spawned from the movie Dodgeball. Dodgeball was the ultimate equalizer. It was everyone for themselves. If you were bad at throwing you had the opportunity to catch the ball, if you were slow you got hit, if you were great at throwing you were a god. The game is far more than just throwing, catching, and dodging. You pick your targets, fire at them, take them down, and systematically defeat everyone on the court. If you were a bully you were probably a prime target. If you were the class nerd you were probably a prime target. No one was safe. It isn't played anymore because it isn't fair to slow kids, doofy kids, fat kids, whinny kids, and so on and so fourth. TOO BAD. Life isn't fair although PC really attempts to cast life as the most pleasant thing out there, where nothing bad can happen to anyone. Dodgeball taught that lesson, it taught that things aren't fair. So, out of compassion for the kids who repeatedly lost in dodgeball, because they were just useless to begin with, this game is banned. I was the dorky, doofy, not super-athletic, short kid when I was in school. Dodgeball, for me, was the best damn game out there and I made it my point to knock out as many people as I could, especially the ones that picked on me. They may have picked on me in the class but in the gym, playing dodgeball, they knew better.

PC has evolved to far more than just this. Last season Christmas trees were repeatedly called "Holiday Trees." This is beyond nonsense. It became far worse to even mention Christmas. I can't say I have many problems with the term "Happy Holidays" but to go as far as to say that I can't use the word Christmas is just problematic. This is just one of many prime examples.

It is unfair to fail kids in school because of fear of lawsuits, hurt feelings, and mental damage. If your kid is in 9th grade and reads like he or she is in 1st grade he or she SHOULD be failed and you, as a parent, should realize this and do your damn job. What's worse is our education system is failing because of this and another major problem. The school boards are too busy looking for bilingual teachers so that lesson plans can be taught in Spanish rather than in English. We no longer make it a priority to teach English, because it isn't PC. Though English may only be the de facto language and not the official, this has gone too far.

PC is slowly withering away the very fabric of this nation. The very nature of turning everything into a question of whether or not it will hurt someone's feelings is something that will only lead to destruction and failure. The minute we started changing our way of life because it hurt the feelings of eight people it should have thrown up a red flag. It never did and now look at what we're dealing with, this has just gone too far.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Too Little Now Too Much

I am not one to run to the defense of our President. I am not entirely fond of the man but there are certain things that should be stated. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, two very powerful storms that could have done far worse than they did, our President is coming under serious heat and fire. Shall we analyze the situation?

Hurricane Katrina

Introduction

Hurricane Katrina formed on August 23, to the southeast of the Bahamas. It struck Florida on August 25 at 6:30pm EDT, as a weak category 1 and was quickly back down to a tropical storm. On August 27, at 5:00am CDT, she was suddenly a category 3 and it was apparent that it was going into the Gulf of Mexico and going right towards Mississippi and Louisiana. Just as August 28 began, at 12:40am CDT, she was a category 4 and growing stronger by the hour. Within hours, by 7:00am CDT, she was a category 5 and one of the strongest storms ever recorded. It later reached a minimum pressure of 26.64 inches (902 mbar), making it the fifth most intense Atlantic Basin hurricane on record! At 6:10am CDT, Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana as a category 4, but a strong category 4. It would pass through Louisiana and Mississippi, severely destroying everything in its way. Eventually the storm would dissipate as it traveled northward, leaving in its wake, destruction.

Katrina brought with her storm surges and devastating winds. She impacted Louisiana with 145 mph sustained winds, gusts being much higher. When she hit the Louisiana/Mississippi border, she had sustained winds of 125 mph. Over 200 miles of coastline, a 10 to 30 foot storm surge was reported, Biloxi suffering under 30 feet. Mobile, Alabama suffered the worst surge since 1917.

However, there was more! She dropped 36 confirmed tornadoes on Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Five were rated as F2 with the rest being F0 to F1.

In the overview, between the time that Katrina slammed through Florida and the time it hit Louisiana there were 84 hours, more or less. By the time it was evident that the storm was going to grow more and strike with force there were 48 hours, more or less.

Once the hurricane rolled through, it destroyed everything in its wake. New Orleans suffered dangerously though Biloxi and Gulfport, in Mississippi, were just about wiped out completely. 90% of the structures between Gulfport and Biloxi ceased to exist in the wake of the storm surge.

New Orleans survived the storm but the end was sown when the levees broke. During the day, a levee on the Industrial Canal broke, flooding the 9th Ward. The next day, the 17th Street Canal levee suffered a breech, a 200 foot long breech. What would occur next would be Lake Pontchartrain, some six feet above sea level, draining into the city, which was between 2 and 10 feet below sea level. Water always finds its own level. Some areas of the city were under as much as 25 feet of water. It wasn't long before some 80% of the city would be flooded, many spots under 20 feet of water.

This was when things became grim and disastrous. Everything seemed to fall apart, New Orleans effectively being erased off the map. Law and order vanished in the city. The Superdome and Convention Center became infernos of problems. Fires broke out. Looting went into extreme mode. Gangs shot at rescue helicopters, doctors, police officers, and anything else that moved and breathed. The situation became completely chaotic.

The Actors

Within this disaster there are four central actors: Ray Nagin (Mayor of N.O.), Kathleen Blanco (Governor of L.A.), Michael Brown (FEMA Director), and George Bush (President of the US). Let's take each one individually, right from the get-go but first let us do another small timeline.

On August 26, Gov. Blanco declared a state of emergency. President Bush would follow with another declaration on August 27. That day, Mayor Nagin calls for a voluntary evacuation of the city, calling people to bring a 3-day supply of food and water to the Superdome and the Convention Center. On August 28, at 10:00am CDT, Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco call for a mandatory evacuation, with less than 24 hours to go before the storm hits. On August 29, after the storm has hit, Bush declares a major disaster area for the areas affected by Katrina. On August 31, "Governor Blanco makes a request for President Bush to send Federal troops to help with evacuations and rescues. Under the Posse Comitatus Act, Federal troops can not deploy to Louisiana in operations which might involve them in law-enforcement period. The Governor states that she should have requested them sooner, but was worried about putting people in jeopardy according to an interview with CNN" (Wikipedia, Timeline). She also orders that all of New Orleans is to be evacuated. On September 1, a massive convoy arrives in New Orleans, almost 8 miles long, coming with food, water, boats, guardsmen, policemen, fire fighters, fire trucks, buses, and other vehicles.

Rescue helicopters were on the scene the next day after the storm hit, plucking people from roof tops. Rescue workers worked throughout the storm, rescuing those who they could.

Now let us look at the individual actors.

Mayor Ray Nagin is to definitely share some of the blame. Mayor Nagin did not follow his own evacuation protocol, which was set in place after extensive studies that cost a lot of taxpayers' money and were conducted and set by scientists and other intellectuals. The protocol calls for the evacuation of people from the city. As quoted: "The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating" (STATE OF LOUISIANA EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLAN SUPPLEMENT 1A, Part II, Section B).






From these pictures we can see over 100 buses and almost 200 buses being flooded, unable to be moved. This second picture shows an aerial view of the number of buses that were stranded, not far from the Superdome. Given the severity of the situation and the mandatory evacuation that he ordered, why did he not evacuate the people OUT of the city by bus? Why did he, instead, send them to the Superdome and Convention Center?

We can assume that he did have a good interest in mind. Both the Superdome and the Convention Center are well built structures, albeit the former suffered roof damage. Both held up throughout the ordeal and were safe places, from the storm. However, though he had good intentions in mind, he did not follow his protocol.

Now let us look at Governor Blanco. Perhaps the most to blame is the Governor. The Governor has full and total control over the state affairs and the federal government cannot intervene unless the governor asks for help or demonstrates that he or she is completely incapable of handling the affairs of a state. The governor did not ask for help until August 31, two days after the storm hit. Help arrived the next day. There was no reason to declare the governor incapable of managing the affairs of the state and thus Bush would have received, most likely, double the backlash had he undermined her power, even though that is what opposition demands from him. It is a catch-22. Governor Blanco did not use adequate numbers of her guardsmen on time. Many opposition people will claim they were deployed overseas. Many were but 65% were not, enough to secure a single city, even though the city was grossly under policed, between 1,000 and 2,000 officers, a good amount who vacated their posts.

Let us progress to Michael Brown. Michael Brown should have never been in charge of FEMA. There is no excuse for this. He demonstrated his inability to manage in the wake of Hurricane Frances. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he failed more miserably. He claimed he did not know of the Convention Center, which was utterly foolish, did he not pay any attention to the news? Brown blundered around severely.

Now, finally, let us move to President Bush. Bush has a style of leadership not unlike Reagan. He lets people run their own departments without much interference. That is his style. Clinton was the opposite. It has nothing to do with party lines, it is simply his style of management. In this case, it proved problematic. He took Brown on his word and took the information being given to him by Brown as correct. He should have researched further. He acted when he was asked by the Governor and was careful NOT to overstep his bounds, which, had he done, opposition would be further calling for his head. Nothing he could have done would have satisfied the left. Bush is not absolved of the blame, however. He should have reacted sooner. Once the levees broke, he should have immediately gotten involved. He did make serious attempts, however. On September 2, "the Bush administration sent Gov. Blanco a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. This matter may also have been discussed by Pres. Bush and Gov. Blanco in phone conversations or a meeting aboard Air Force One." It seems as much as he tried, the state level hampered him.

The People of the City

The city of New Orleans is a very unique city. Many of its residents are poor, very poor. Many of them had no means to evacuate, lacking money for gasoline for cars or even cars. Many of them are not educated at all, leaving them in a serious situation. Most of these people are the ones directly affected, those who wished to stay. However, many of those who stayed did not wish to leave.

A lot of the individuals saw this as a free chance to grab and take. Looting was rampant. Looting food & water is no crime and should not be seen as one. However, the individuals taking Air Jordans, TVs, firearms, alcohol, and the like were not stealing for survival but rather for greed. These individuals are the ones to be shot on sight.

When rescue efforts began, helicopters were shot at, police were shot at, doctors were shot at. There is NO excuse for this! How can you shoot at the people trying to rescue you? They should have been dragged into the streets and shot, point blank, in the head, no trial, no jury, no due process. These people are SCUM! These are the people who were doing the raping in the Convention Center, these are the people who committed the murders, these are the people who we saw on television pushing dumpsters full of useless junk, such as TVs and other things they looted. These gangs shot at cops, shot at guardsman, quite a bit of them being killed in return, just as they deserved. And was there commonality? Yes there was.



With the breakdown of law & order, many people saw this as a chance to do as they saw fit, to live as they wanted, to do what they wanted. The breakdown led to anarchy and humanity, at its finest, in cases of anarchy, will always resort to pure acts of evil. We saw it first hand. New Orleans was not a city in a first world nation, it was not a city in the most powerful country in the world. It was like Mogadishu. People shot at those there to help; people committed heinous crimes for lust, greed, and other emotions.

The events of New Orleans gravely helps to define crime in the US. Many liberals will claim that crime is a result of poverty. This is a very viable argument and in the case of New Orleans, poverty is rampant. Many will claim that it is because these individuals, black people, more or less, had no where to turn and their actions were a result of their being oppressed and impoverished their entire life. According to the 2000 census and the FBI uniform crime statistics, there are more impoverished whites than blacks, in number. However, 48% of crimes are committed by blacks with 49% by whites (including Hispanics). Poverty has little significance here. These people, doing the crimes were the dregs of society and proved to be just what they were. Not everyone in the city resorted to crime and violence, an overwhelming majority sought refuge and escape. However, the minority of individuals who did go straight to crime and violence will often overshadow them.

The Blaming Reasons

Many people cited tons of reasons following Katrina, why the government did not help sooner. Many people cited because the city was mostly black, that it was a racial thing. Immediately, someone will always place the race card. Many people cited that it was because Bush was on vacation. Others will claim that the people in charge were incapable of leading. The list goes on and on.

Was it a racial thing? New Orleans is a major port, a major port for oil. Since Katrina, gas prices have topped $3.00 per gallon, almost coming near $4.00 in my area (Bronx, NY). "White America" and its SUVs suffered greatly because of New Orleans being out of commission. Therefore, allowing the city to be destroyed because it was mostly black would harm us white people significantly. Sorry, this wasn't a racial problem. Nice try.

Was it because Bush was on vacation? Not many people know this but the leader of a country is NEVER on vacation. If Bush is at his ranch in Texas, all it means is that he is not in the White House. It is not like he stops being the President of the country just because he isn't in the White House. Everything he has at the White House, he has at his ranch, and Camp David, and anywhere else he might go, including Podunk, Iowa. By the way, President Clinton was watching a golf game in the 1990s when the military HAD Osama Bin Laden nailed. He chose to watch the game rather than act on that one. So nice try.

Was it because the people in leadership positions were numbskulls? Yes it was. The Mayor failed to follow the protocol set for him for this situation. The Governor asked for help too late and did not do what she could with what she had, which would have been enough to curtail the disastrous crime levels, had she sent the national guardsmen. The director of FEMA was incapable of leading during crisis and his resignation was definitely to be expected. Lastly, Bush did react too slowly.

New York City vs. New Orleans

Some people have cited that NYC received anything it wanted after 9.11. Our leaders, Governor Pataki and Mayor Guliani were amazing people, not because they were Republican, but because they knew what to do. They called for help immediately, they knew how to react in a crisis, and they realized the gravity of the situation. Bush toured the wreckage of the WTC on 9.14. Bush overflew New Orleans on August 31 and could not visit the city because of the rampant looting and crime. It was just not safe. There were no cases of such instances following the collapse of the WTC. Governor Pataki called in guardsman that day to sift through the rubble. Governor Blanco faltered there. Is it fair to say that NYC is favored over New Orleans? No it is not. New Orleans is a major hub of the country, especially in a time of crisis, an oil crisis. NYC may be the economic center of the country and the world but the vastness of our disaster is nothing in comparison to that of New Orleans. Let us also add that NYC on 9.11 was something that nobody saw on 9.10. New Orleans on August 29 was something that was seen on August 28. There was no warning for 9.11; people reacted amazingly well!

The Extent

Not many people realize the extent of the disaster. New Orleans, a major city in the United States, ceased to exist. It still does not fully exist. Whilst some areas are being reopened, the flood waters are receding, and the levees repaired (albeit broken again after Rita in some limited way), the city just does not exist. People still reside there but the city is gone. That is the extent of the disaster. Mother Nature has wiped out the entire city. Biloxi and Gulfport do not exist either. Both of them were completely eradicated by the storm. Little stands.

Criticism of Bush

Bush did too little! That is the criticism pointed to Bush. Alright, it is safe to say that he shares some of the blame. He should have reacted sooner, no question about it. Others blame Global Warming and Kyoto. I'll touch that next. Was Bush fully to blame? No. Was he more to blame than Nagin and Blanco? No.

Kyoto and Global Warming

First off, people blaming the US not signing Kyoto for this disaster need to remove their head from their ass. The Industrial Revolution began some 150 years ago. Since then, CO2 has been put into the atmosphere by many, many countries. The US is not the leader of pollution. Have you ever seen a picture of Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City? The smog is so thick it makes Los Angeles look clean. Climate does not change overnight. Climate changes now are the result of the past 150 years, not the past 5 years. To suddenly up and say Bush is 100% to blame for the problems of the environment is to know ABSOLUTELY nothing about anything. Keep agreeing with Barbra Streisand and get far. Hollywood actors & actresses have, only on rare occasions, shown to be mildly intelligent and in even rarer occasions, extremely intelligent (Reagan).

Now Global Warming? Yes, the phenomenon that is not 100% fully accepted by scientists. First they said it would cause the Earth to overheat and become like an inferno. Global Warming would then make sense. Yes it would get warmer. Now it will cause another ice age. MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Is the planet getting warmer? Yes. Do you realize that the data compared to is the data from the last ice age? Of course the planet is getting warmer, that was an ICE AGE. In addition, climate shifts are a naturally occurring event. There is little data on them because weather recording has only been really successful in the past 100 years and even less time than that has it been accurate, technology paving the way. Are ice ages normal? Yes. Is the planet warming a natural occurrence? Yes. Is it the US's and only the US's fault? No. Remove head from ass and then make decision.

Hurricane Rita

Summary

Now onto Hurricane Rita. Hurricane Rita barreled into the Gulf of Mexico and grew into a category 5 very rapidly. It would come to be the third most intense Atlantic hurricane and the most intense hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico having reached a pressure reading of 897 mb on September 21. This made it more intense than Hurricane Katrina. It appeared that Hurricane Rita would barrel into Galveston, Texas as a Category 5. Galveston, at its highest point, is 8 feet above sea level. In 1900, the worst natural disaster in US history was a mere category 3 hurricane that hit the island. This was a category 5. In the wake of Katrina, officials called for evacuations of an unprecedented scale. The highways became clogged and gasoline ran low, gas stations running dry throughout the course of the evacuation. In anticipation, the governor of Texas recalled all guardsmen and emergency personnel from Katrina relief to help in the event of Katrina version 2. One recorded peak wind gust inside the storm was some 235 mph. It would make landfall as a category 3 with a 10 foot storm surge, hitting on the Texas/Louisiana border. Significant damage came as a result but not as what was originally feared. Galveston was spared.

Criticism of Bush

In the wake of the political and physical disaster caused by Katrina, President Bush and federal authorities reacted heavily to the possibility of Hurricane Rita being cataclysmic. In order to prevent this, authorities followed protocol and evacuated as many as they could. Albeit, they learned a dangerous lesson about the clogged freeway system and did falter slightly there, not opening the second side, they did learn and re-entry was split into four different stages. This would ease the flow of traffic back into the city and not create another disaster.

Of course, Bush recieved criticism that the actions of him and other authorities were too much. Give me a goddamn break! Is it just me or are the liberals going to bitch at him no matter what he does? If he managed to prevent and earthquake and save 999,999 lives out of 1,000,000 they would blame him for that 1 life and want him brought up on murder charges, even if that one person refused to leave, shot at rescue personnel, and jumped in the way of a falling building on purpose. If anything, applaud the man. He showed signs of intelligence. He learned from the disaster that Katrina caused and reacted to now have that mistake happen again. In fact, this is one of his most intelligent hours. The man proved that he could learn from history, albeit his other actions show he hasn't but in this instance, this case, he learned from history, 100%! I think we should applaud him for it.

Conclusions

In the wake of both Katrina and Rita, the country is suffering. Just as Republicans turned Terri Schivo into a political football, liberals and Democrats are turning Katrina and Rita into a political football. They are using it to advance their careers. This is sick and disgusting. The actions of neither group in either circumstance are acceptable. Hurricane Katrina was a massive disaster. The state officials failed to do their job and the federal officials were just too slow to react or incompetent, in the case of Brown. They learned from the disaster and looked to prevent it in the wake of Rita but faced criticism again. It is a catch-22. Nothing Bush can do will ever get him a break. Liberals and Democrats have proven that they will stop at nothing to discredit him, as if he needs more discrediting, and have shown that they will put their own hatred of the man over the interests of the people they represent. It is sickening.

Remember, America is not a democracy, it is a republic. We elect leaders to serve in our best interest. They lead as they see fit. Keep this in mind this November and try to vote for the jackass who is least likely to put his or her own self-interest over their constituents. Albeit all politicians are backwards, there are some out there who are less backwards and there are even some who are honest and good human beings, though they are the minority.

Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occassion for it. - Niccolo Machiavelli


Sources

State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan Supplement 1A
http://www.ohsep.louisiana.gov/plans/EOPSupplement1a.pdf


Washington Post Article
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/03/AR2005090301680.html


Wikipedia, Hurricane Katrina
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina


Wikipedia, Hurricane Rita
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Rita