Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sorry Saddam, But I Don't Think So...........


Lately I've been reading a little bit about the upcoming trial of former dictator of Iraq and general all-around evil bastard Saddam Hussein. There's an article by William Langewiesche in the March 2005 issue of the Atlantic -The Accuser- which chronicles the work of one Hania Mufti, a member of the Human Rights Watch staff who has been gathering the evidence against Saddam for decades. Ms Mufti has been working on this case against Hussein since 1984, and has developed an extensive list of indictments against the former dictator.

Some excerpts of these atrocities from the article-

As a foretaste of what was to come, in July of 1983 government forces entered Kurdish resettlement camps and arrested 8,000 men and teenage boys of a prominent and rebellious clan known as the Barzanis. The prisoners were chosen not for what they had done but simply for family association and gender. They were loaded into trucks and driven south into the vastness of the Iraqi desert, where, it is presumed, they were machine-gunned to death and buried. Not one of them was ever seen again.
An Iraqi doctor of medicine testified to Amnesty International in 1984 that he witnessed and was forced to participate in the taking of blood from prisoners which resulted in their death. According to his testimony, he was aware of approximately 1000 such operations having taken place during 1982 and 1983. The operations are reportedly directly controlled by Security Headquarters (Ri'asat al-Mukhabarat) in Baghdad, and carried out with the co-operation of a prison director and personnel of the Blood Bank Institute in Baghdad. [The bleeding process is then described.]
Amnesty was in a position to understand that this was no longer just another repressive Middle Eastern government at play.
It took another several years for the truth to come out: what the Turkish doctors had seen (and Mufti had just missed) was evidence of one of the great crimes of the late twentieth century - an Iraqi counterinsurgency campaign that had exceeded all bounds, and indeed had gone quite insane. That campaign was the Iraqi equivalent of the Final Solution - a carefully planned "cleansing" operation, known in Arabic as the "Anfal" (a Koranic reference meaning "spoils of war"), whose purpose was to eliminate the rural population from which the Kurdish rebels were drawn, and to empty the most troublesome valleys, by killing or arresting the inhabitants, razing their villages, and creating permanent free-fire zones where not even livestock would be allowed to live. It lasted for seven months, from February through September of 1988, and was led by Saddam's special envoy, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who during its course earned his name as Chemical Ali.
Altogether, Human Rights Watch estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds were killed in the Anfal operations, including many women and children.
This... from a Kuwaiti doctor:

"On average, five or six new bodies were brought to the hospital each day. All were males and most were in their 20s. Many bore marks of torture. Judging by the bodies that I personally saw, the methods of torture being used included the extinguishing of cigarettes on the body; burning of the skin with heated metal rods; application of electricity; cutting off of the tongue and ear; gouging out of the eyes and the breaking of limbs. In most of these cases, the immediate cause of death appeared to be a single shot in the back of the head or, in a few cases, a shot in the ear or mouth... Some of the victims had also had their fingernails extracted, and others had swollen feet with pockets of pus as a result of being subjected to falaga [severe foot beatings] for prolonged periods. Some had marks around their ankles, consistent with having been suspended upside down..."

According to the information that Mufti was able to gather, the abuses were systematic. In addition to the techniques of torture described above, the investigators heard stories of other methods - of boring a hole in the leg with a drill; of castration; of tying a string around the penis and tightening it; of hammering nails into hands; of inserting bottle necks, sometimes broken, into the rectum; of pumping air into the anus, particularly of young boys; of extinguishing cigarettes in eyeballs; of burning and blinding people with acid and caustic substances; of subjecting people to extremes of heat and cold and thirst; of various forms of mock execution.

Nice fellow, this Hussein guy. In what one could consider complete insanity, we read of the latest from Saddams lawyers about his chances-via Dan Senor at the Weekly Standard-

SADDAM'S LEGAL STRATEGY, as explained to me by a leading member of the defense team--Abdul Haq al-Ani, retained by Saddam's daughter--is fourfold:

* Argue that the war that overthrew Saddam was illegal under international law and, hence, Saddam is still legally president. If he's still president and his regime still sovereign, then the Saddam-era Iraqi Constitution--which gives him full immunity--must prevail.

To al-Ani, it is meaningless that millions of Iraqis voted for a new post-Saddam government last January, and that the newly-elected government has been recognized by the U.N. Security Council. "The Security Council does not have the authority to breach the charter that created it," he told me in his home. And a correct reading of that charter, he says, would interpret as illegal the war that preceded post-Saddam Iraq.

* The second pillar is to argue that the alleged crimes committed by Saddam are no different from President Bush's response to the September 11 attacks. Responding to insurrection--whether for Saddam in Halabjah or Bush in Afghanistan--had to be swift and overwhelming. If innocents are killed, that's analogous to Bush's wars, too, he claims. Of course, al-Ani fails to distinguish between accidentally killing civilians in pursuit of terrorists and intentionally targeting innocents to permeate fear in a population.

* The third pillar will be to call Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush to testify, just as Gen. Wesley Clark was called to testify at the Hague. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is expected to be singled out, too, as the embodiment of the alleged support that the U.S. gave to Saddam in the 1980s during his use of chemical weapons.

* By airing the dirty laundry of America's foreign policy over the past several decades, Saddam's lawyers believe that they will embarrass the Bush administration into abruptly ending the trial and figure out a way to cut a deal with Saddam, which will include returning him to power. Seriously. How likely is this? According to al-Ani, odds are better than 50 percent that it could happen within a year. Yes, he truly believes that Saddam or, as the defense team refers to him, "President Hussein," could be back running Iraq by this time next year. (ed.-my emphasis)

Unbelievable. President Hussein? Are farking kidding me? Say what you want about Bush Jr., Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, or even Carter for that matter and their involvement with Middle Eastern politics, but there is only one person responsible for the acts of Saddam Hussein, and that is Saddam himself. Yes, appeasement was the US's political strategy during the Cold War that in retrospect helped make things easier for heartless lowlifes like Hussein, but those days are over. And No One in the US is "responsible" for Saddam.

Since Cox and Forkum are on a roll these days, it only seems right to end this post with one of their many excellent cartoons about The Saddaminator.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cox And Forkum Take On Intelligent Design...........


Who else can take a single cartoon and convey the point as well as these guys do? Man do they rock. Todays cartoon is easily one of my favorites..

Allen Forkum points out in the additional commentary to the cartoon that the 'Intelligent design' debate is back in court.

"Intelligent design" is a religious theory that was inserted in a school district's curriculum with no concern for whether it had scientific underpinnings, a lawyer told a federal judge Monday as a landmark trial got under way. ...
But in his opening statement, the school district's attorney defended Dover's policy of requiring ninth-grade students to hear a brief statement about intelligent design before biology classes on evolution.

"This case is about free inquiry in education, not about a religious agenda," argued Patrick Gillen of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. ... The center, which lobbies for what it sees as the religious freedom of Christians, is defending the school district....

Intelligent design, a concept some scholars have advanced over the past 15 years, holds that Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms. It implies that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force.


Last weekend I got in to a bar discussion with someone I thought was reasonably intelligent concerning the topic of evolution and just as we began talking about the difference between Intelligent Design and evolution, the following conversation took place-

Her:"Well, evolution is just a theory you know."

Me:"Yeah, well so is gravity. They are both facts and theories."

Her:"But you can prove that gravity exists!!"

Me:"You can do that with evolution too. Ever heard of a flu-strain becoming immune to anti-biotics?"

Her:"That doesn't prove that man descended from monkeys!!"

Me:"Sigh...That's because we didn't "descend" from monkeys. Both monkeys and humans evolved from a common ancestor."

Her:"Well, how do you prove that mammals came from fish?"

Me:"By studying the multiple examples of transitional fossils. By the way, what evidence does the intelligent designer have?"

Her:"Umm....the bible says that God created man."

Me:"So that's your proof. "God created man" is your evidence."

Her:"The bible has many facts in it, like the flood of Genesis."

Me:"The Flood of Genesis? Are you freaking kidding me? Noah's Ark? You're seriously suggesting that Lions and rabbits and tigers (oh my!) all huddled together on some wooden boat peacefully while a gigantic storm was going on? Do you even hear what you're suggesting?"

Her:"Well, maybe the Noahs Ark stuff is a little much, but the flood definitely happened."

Me:"There is no evidence for a world wide flood. There is plenty of evidence for various regional floods, but nothing like what is desrcibed in Genesis."

Her:"Some things in the bible require faith."

Me:"Yeah, well that's great. Keep it out of a science discussion. One doesn't need faith to discuss science."

Her:"You just hate religion."

Me:"I think it's kind of silly, but I don't hate it or people who have faith in their Gods. Whatever floats your boat...and by the way, what does that have to do with showing me that evolution is only a theory?"

Her:"...But don't you think the odds are against us randomly evolving in to such complicated higher beings? Doesn't it seem like there was an intelligent designer at work?"

Me:"Again, odds have nothing to do with it. And it certainly wasn't random. Humans utilized advantages of their body-type to survive more effectively. But that doesn't mean it was "designed" per se. Some argue that the human eye for example is hardly a superior design."

Her:"......So you don't believe in God?"

Me:".......It has nothing to do with the question. Prior to the big bang, I have no scientific evidence to support a theory about the origins of life. And neither do you. After that however, I have buildings full of various hard physical evidence that document the rise of organisms through evolution. You have nothing."

I about had enough at this point, because she continued to flap about God and heaven and destiny and so forth, none of which has anything to do with what we originally discussed.

You would think this stuff would go away after it gets repeatedly debunked.

You would be wrong. There is an abundance of ignorance when it comes to evolution. If she wasn't so cute I probably wouldn't have bothered, but hey it was late, I'd been drinking and believe it or not I like to argue stuff when I'm drinking.

I know, quite the shocker.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"When You Wish Upon A Star.............


makes no difference who you arrrre...."

Thanks to Alex for this one....

Stuck On Stupid.............


Wassa mattah with you boy? You Stuck On Stupid?

The Major News Media is indeed, stuck on stupid. Point fingers, blame the government, whine about inadequacies, show how much they FEEL YOUR about tell people where to go to evacuate? Maybe, I dunno, impress on people the need to be prepared in the case of emergency? How about BE FREAKING USEFUL AS OPPOSED TO WORRYING ABOUT PULITZERS AND EMMY'S??

While the Major News Media hold their dicks in their hands, bloggers like
Instapundit and the Truth Laid Bear are exposing the fat
that could be used to help rebuild New Orleans without damaging our Nations economy.

And the major source media are missing yet another opportunity to be usefull, and it took a Lt. General to call them out. Yes, MSM, you are stuck on stupid...

Don't get stuck on stupid

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin held a press conference a little bit ago, and started losing control to a media pool assembled that was showing signs of panic, due to the previous incompetence in the region by the local and state government. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore stepped in and literally took over. Here's what he had to say:


Honore: And Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, we're setting this up as he said, he said, we said. All right? We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?

Female reporter: Where do they move on...

Honore: That's not your business.

Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...

Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay? If...we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it. Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? What we're going to do is have the buses staged. The initial place is at the convention center. We're not going to announce other places at this time, until we get a plan set, and we'll let people know where those locations are, through the government, and through public announcements. Right now, to handle the number of people that want to leave, we've got the capacity. You will come to the convention center. There are soldiers there from the 82nd Airborne, and from the Louisiana National Guard. People will be told to get on the bus, and we will take care of them. And where they go will be dependent on the capacity in this state. We've got our communications up. And we'll tell them where to go. And when they get there, they'll be able to get a chance, an opportunity to get registered, and so they can let their families know where they are. But don't start panic here. Okay? We've got a location. It is in the front of the convention center, and that's where we will use to migrate people from it, into the system.

Male reporter: General Honore, we were told that Berman Stadium on the west bank would be another staging area...

Honore: Not to my knowledge. Again, the current place, I just told you one time, is the convention center. Once we complete the plan with the mayor, and is approved by the governor, then we'll start that in the next 12-24 hours. And we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers. Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

Thank God, Vishnu, Allah, whatever for people like Lt. Gen. Russel Honore. As my buddy Fin said tonight, during a crisis some people rise above and take charge, others scurry in to the corner.

I hope this nation has enough Lt. Gen. Russel Honore's....because the media has scurried in to the corner...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Weekend Recap: Lopsided Debates, Hurricane Madness Continues, TITANS ARE BACK!!!...


And now it's time for Weekend Recap, brought to you by Tman in Tennessee......

Lopsided Debates:
Last week brought us two debates focusing on the war in Iraq and the current state of left-right politics in general.

In New York you had "the grapple in the Big Apple" (transcript here), a much publicized meetup between two Brits who could not possibly be more politically opposed. In this corner weighing in at possibly 2 million+ barrels of illegally obtained Iraqi oil during the Food For Oil Scam- George Galloway, the elected MP for Britain's Bethnal Green and Bow. And in the opposite corner you had Christopher Hitchens, the one time trotskyist turned liberal-conservative after watching his intellectual brethren fall off the deep end in their support for Islamic terrorists and fascist regimes. Read the transcript if you would like to see how silly the whole affair was, but in this humble bloggers opinion, Galloway did much to demonstrate the intellectual vacuum of the anti-war left. He stated things like "there were no terrorists in Iraq before the war" which would certainly be news to one Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who fled to Iraq after getting injured in Afghanistan, not to mention Al-ansar, Abu Abbas or Abu Nidal. But the best smackdown came at the beginning when Hitchens laid out perhaps the most compelling justification for liberating Iraq I have ever heard, here is an excerpt-

I've argued, I will argue that the war was both just and necessary. I think I can separate perhaps the two concepts.

Um, Iraq had lost its sovereignty as far as a state can do under international law. There are four conditions under which a state may be deemed or said to have sacrificed its sovereignty. These are: if it participates in regular aggressions against neighboring states or occupations of their territory; if it violates all the letter and spirit of the terms of the nonpre, pre, excuse me, the non-proliferation treaty, and in other words, fools around promiscuously with the illegal acquisition of weapons of mass destruction; third, if it should violate the Genocide Convention, the signatories to which are obliged without further notice to act either to prevent or punish genocide; and fourth, if it plays host to international gangsters, nihilists, terrorists, and jihadists.

Iraq met all these four conditions repeatedly, and would demonstrate its willingness to repeat them on many occasions. Its sovereignty was at an end, it was under international sanctions, it was a ward of the international community. Uh, its people were being starved in order to build palaces for their psychopathic dictator. And it was further more imploding as a state and as a society that the divide and rule policy of the Baath party had led to appalling ethnic and confessional hatreds within the country.

An imploded state would have made these worse and you know who would have invaded them. Turkey would have invaded to try and take Kurdistan. Iran would have invaded to support its extremist Khomeinite proxies and Saudi Arabia would have intervened in order to do the same favor for the Sunni and Wahhabists and Salafist extremists. As a matter of fact, all these three foreign interventions are taking place at present, all those three powers are trying to meddle in Iraq but we are fortunate as are the Iraqi people that there is a coalition to hold the ring and to prevent it from becoming another Rwanda or another Congo, another vortex of violence and cruelty and destabilization and war.

The other debate was between Capitalist-pig-turned-touchy-feely-liberal Arianna Huffington (dahhling!), and Raisin farmer/classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Victor David Hanson. You can watch this mismatch here. I haven't had the opportunity to yet, but being familiar with both of their viewpoints I can pretty much imagine what it would amount to. And as this review of the debate notes, I am probably pretty close-

For Arianna Huffington, it all adds up to imperialism: the "hubris and incompetence" of the Bush administration's war in Iraq, the failure of the Democratic Party to provide an opposition voice, and the media's inability to speak "truth to power." The neo-cons always wanted war in Iraq to "get control of the oil,"(ed.-JEEBUS ENOUGH ABOUT THE OOIIILL!!!IT'S FREAKING $3/GALLON YOU IDIOT!!) Huffington said, "and 9/11 became a way to convince the American public we had a justification and reason to go in."

The lies that led to the public's acceptance of war -- linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11, warning about weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was supposed to have -- were a measure of an empire, said Huffington, a liberal commentator with her own online magazine, the Huffington Post.

There is nothing imperial in America's DNA, said Victor David Hanson.

An imperial power wouldn't have a popular culture that is so critical of its own country, said Hanson, a conservative author of the classics and frequent contributor to the National Review online magazine.

"We don't have an imperial culture, we don't have imperial literature," he said. "After 9/11, we had literati that was quite critical even in our most difficult hour."

Empires take peoples' territory, something the United States hasn't done since 1898 in the Philippines, Hanson said.

"We're pulling out everywhere," he said. "We lost a lot of Americans in Okinawa, and we gave it back to Japan, willingly. That's not a trait of an imperial power."

Hanson views America's military forays as benign.

"Look at what the U.S. military has done," he said. "We've closed bases in Saudi Arabia and Germany, and we're reducing our role in Korea. We went to Grenada and took out a totalitarian dictator and left a democracy. That's not what empires do."

Why these two were matched up is anyone's guess, but few people are as annoying as Arianna to me. And if even one of her fanboys were shown the hollow shell that is her intellectual argument, then it was worth it.

Hurricane Madness Continues:
If you are like me, you are probably pretty sick of watching the news-orgy over Hurricane Katrina. Yes, we should all donate all we can to help those less fortunate. I'm not trying to diminish the relief efforts in any way whatsoever, but it feels like the major newsmedia has officially jumped the Katrina shark right now. There is no way I can possibly do a better job of detailing the insanity of this phenomena than John at Wuzzadem, take a few minutes, put down your drink and behold-
The "Disaster Porn" Stars of Cable News (Part I)
The "Disaster Porn" Stars of Cable News (Part II)
Dean and Ted's Excellent Surprise

John also did a parody of the dizzying performance of Senator Mary Landrieu on Fox News Sunday, but the sad part is it really isn't much of a parody- it's pretty much word for word..

Mary Landrieu Bobs, Weaves, Implodes


That's right kids, your Mighty Titans have regained their lost swagger, and it couldn't have happened against a more despised opponent in the Baltimore Ravens. The Titans demolished the Ravens 25-10, completely shutting down Jamal Lewis, holding him to a measly 9 yards the entire game. They defense held Baltimore to a grand total of 182 yards on offense, while the Titans offense methodically held up their end, giving up only one turnover, and keeping the Baltimore defense from making a big play to bring their offense back. McNair was a respectable 19-of-36 for 195 yards, no picks and one touchdown, while playing close to the vest the whole game. The danger with the Ravens is to get too cocky and let their defense get them back in to the game. McNair never fell in to the Ravens trap, and helped keep the defense rested by converting on some big third downs. It was nice to watch the Norm Chow Offense begin to get more loose, as the various sets and formations kept the Ravens guessing the whole game. This offensive scheme is getting more impressive each week. I look forward to the coming weeks as we play less frightening defenses than Pittsburgh and Baltimore, which should allow it to spread out more. It was also nice to see the Titans Defense bring back the swagger from years past. They seemed amped up from the first snap on, sacking Anthony Wright six times. If they can play like this for the rest of the season, we could realistically be looking at a playoff shot.

Hey, a fan can dream, right? GO TITANS!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ok, Maybe I Wasn't Ready For Some Football....


Because neither were the Titans apparently. Bleh, that was ugly. We'll see if they can turn things around this Sunday against the hated Ravens. Hatesssess them I do...

Some other news of note that I have been following recently:

A federal judge ruled that the pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional-
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation ''under God'' violates school children's right to be ''free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.''

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

Here's my take: I do believe that the phrase "under God" does in fact represent a coercive requirement to affirm God, no matter how weak that coercion may be. Yes, most kids today wouldn't care one way or the other. No, it's not a particularly pressing issue facing us today. But it will be in the future. The point I have made before in various arguments is that there are certain privileges afforded Christianity in the US today by our laws. For one, the priest-confessional privilege seems to put Christian priests on the level of doctors or lawyers when it comes to evidence related to a trial. You can confess to murdering someone in a Christian confessional and it can't be used against you in court. How many religions that extends to, or whether or not it should be extended at all is something worth arguing over. Another is the Muslim Call to Prayer Vs. Christian Church Bells (which technically are calls to prayer). Church bells aren't really that bothersome to me. I'm not religious so all they do is wake me up for a minute and I go back to sleep. But if you had some guy screaming at me in Arabic for a couple of minutes at 4:30 in the morning and four more times a day afterwards(which is what the Muslim call to prayer consists of), I will have a serious issue. So in order to keep things from being hypocritical, they should both be abolished. If you can have one and not the other, then you are preferring one religion over another, therefore seriously violating the very first amendment of our constitution that says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."

This brings me to my next bit of news which is the confirmation hearings of John Roberts, whom Bush nominated for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (You can see and hear these hearings here). For the answer to the $64,000 question of how Roberts will rule in regards to the religious issues listed above, I give you this exchange between Senator Feinstein and Roberts-

FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.

I would like to ask a question or two on church and state. I mentioned in my opening statement that, for centuries, people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. And our country grows more diverse every day, and tensions among different beliefs have grown.

I really believe that there is a brilliance in what the founding fathers did in drafting the First Amendment and how it protected an individual's right to practice their belief, whatever it may be, but also protect against using religion against individuals by prohibiting the government from becoming and/or imposing religion.

In 1960, there was much debate about President John F. Kennedy's faith and what role Catholicism would play in his administration. At that time, he pledged to address the issues of conscience out of a focus on the national interests, not out of adherence to the dictates of one's religion.

And he even said, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute."

My question is: Do you?

ROBERTS: Senator, I think the reason we have the two clauses in the Constitution in the First Amendment reflects the framers' experience.

Many of them or their immediate ancestors were fleeing religious persecution. They were fleeing established churches. And it makes perfect sense to put those two provisions together: no establishment of religion and guaranteeing free exercise. That reflected the framers' experience.

FEINSTEIN: You can't answer my question yes or no?

ROBERTS: Well, I don't know what you mean by absolute separation of church and state.

For example, recently in the Ten Commandments case, the court upheld a monument on the Texas Capitol grounds that had the Ten Commandments in it. They struck down the posting of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse.

Is it correct to call the monument on the Texas Capitol grounds with the Ten Commandments, is that an absolute separation or is that an accommodation of a particular monument along with others that five of the justices found was consistent with the First Amendment?

So I don't know what that means when you say absolute separation. I do know this: that my faith and my religious beliefs do not play a role in judging. When it comes to judging, I look to the law books and always have. I don't look to the Bible or any other religious source. (ed.-my emphasis)

As long as Roberts truly means that, then I think he deserves the confirmation. I have read through much of his confirmation hearings and he seems to truly understand just how important the first amendment is. Is is literally impossible to think that we can have an absolute separation of church and state. There are simply too many religious traditions within our culture to expect a fully secular government. Not only that, but considering more than 60% of our country is religious (if not more) and regularly attends a house of worship, it is unrealistic to think that we will have politicians that can get elected on a secular platform.

What I'm concerned about is keeping our government from establishing one religion over another. Either you let every religion bang their church bells at whatever hours they want, or no one gets to. Either you mention every deity imaginable in the pledge of allegiance or mention none. It will be a slippery slope if we do not.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Yes, I Am Ready For Some FOOTBALL!!!!........


That time of year folks, my beloved Titans lace up the cleats and get ready to go out and whoop some ass. After a disappointing 5-11 season last year, I believe that we will be pleasantly surprised by the 2006 squad. And here's why...

Steve McNair- He reinvented himself this offseason, finally having a chance to truly condition his body thanks to the surgery he had in December. They say McNair lost around 15 pounds in the offseason and spent the summer with a personal trainer. As he said himself-"I was eating too much of Mom's cooking." Look for a big year from Big Mac.

New Offensive Co-ordinator Norm Chow-A huge off-season acquisition, Chow leaves the two-time national champion USC Trojans and sets up shop in Nashville. One thing most Titans fans will agree on is that the play-calling we've had in years past was frustrating at times. 3rd and 8? Halfback dive up the middle. Former co-ordinator Mike Heimerdinger showed moments of brilliance but ulitmately reverted to an overly conservative play call that would just stop the offense in its tracks. Chow is known for being a master strategist who always adapts when defenses start to key on certain plays. His ability to shuffle the backfield around with USC will work well with Brown, Henry and Flemming as all three have good hands. I'm very excited to see what he can do with this offense. And so is McNair.

Peter Sirmon Is Back-Last year we lost Linebacker Sirmon during training camp, which took a much bigger toll than anyone realized. Sirmon was the driver of the defense, the guy who would make sure folks were in the right position before the snap. This freed up Keith Bulluck so that he could be wreak havoc all over the field. With Sirmon gone, Bulluck had to take over Sirmons role, which severely limited his natural instincts. Look for Bulluck to have a big year, and Sirmon to help the Defense gel more this season.

Travis Freaking Henry!!- I'm not sure how we stole Henry, but screw it who cares, he's on the team!! A backfield of Henry and Chris Brown has to be giving defensive co-ordinators some headaches, as they both have completely different styles. Brown will slash you, Henry will pound you. If all goes well I see grea things out of these two- you can never have enough 1,000 yard backs on your team.

These are a few of the reasons I think the Titans should surprise most of the nation this year. Yes, we have a tough schedule. Yes, we have a young team. Yes, we lost some big names from last year. But any team with McNair and Bulluck as well as a quality coach in Jeff Fisher is one that should never be counted out.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Americans Open Their Wallets........

..........(via Tim Blair)

And when we do it for our own, jeebus do we come together.....

Donations at $500 Million, and Climbing
Americans' giving for hurricane relief dwarfs first week's tallies for 9/11 and the tsunami.

By Sharon Bernstein and Amanda Covarrubias, Times Staff Writers

Americans are opening their pocketbooks so fast and so wide in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that donations have already dwarfed the first week's efforts to help victims of last year's Asian tsunami and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

By Tuesday evening, U.S. charities had raised more than $500 million in cash and pledges — more than twice the $239 million donated in the 10 days after Sept. 11, and more than three times the $163 million raised in the nine days after the tsunami that hit countries along the Indian Ocean last Dec. 26.

The American Red Cross had raised $409 million by Tuesday afternoon — five times the $79 million that came in during the first week after the tsunami, the agency said.

The Salvation Army had raised $51 million — six times the amount the charity took in for tsunami relief and more than it collected over the last five years combined.

I always give to the Red Cross because years ago I woke up to flames lapping at my window and ended the morning watching my apartment almost burn to the ground. Most of my stuff was ruined, minus some musical gear and some clothes. The Red Cross was there within hours after the fire started and made sure I had clothes and a voucher for a hotel to stay at for a few days while I got things together. They also made sure I was mentally ok and offered to pay for any type of consultation I might need. I had family in town so I didn't need the vouchers and I was already crazy so the consultations would be pointless, but the offer was appreciated. Ironically enough the next day was the day that tornadoes ripped through downtown Nashville and pretty much gutted the place I would have stayed at. This was also when I was engaged to a girl that would eventually cheat on me. I think it was God or Vishnu or Allah or whatever trying to say something, like, don't marry this psycho. Or maybe it was just bad luck. Who knows.

Either way, head on over to the Red Cross and fork over some deneiros. The Red Cross kicks ass.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Disaster response to Katrina, What If This Was An Asteroid Strike?


Had quite a few conversations with friends this weekend about Katrina and the response from the local, state and federal levels. I'm not posting this just to point fingers. I'm writing my opinion here in the larger context of our nations ability to handle a large natural disaster. This is because the five of you who read this blog know that I freak out about the planet getting hit by an asteroid. After watching the inadequate response from the different levels of government response teams, I have less than a confident feeling in our ability to prepare for an asteroid strike.

Local- Mayor Ray Nagin failed to pro-actively plan for a massive evacuation. He had over 300 busses at his disposal (some less than a mile from the Superdome) before the flooding started with which to evacuate the 20,000 plus at the Superdome. This is now known as the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool. I think Nagin is to be commended for his steadfast demeanor during the crisis, as he seemed to be the only voice last week that seemed to really know what was going on. But the problem is that New Orleans has known for decades that this Hurricane was coming sooner or later. And they knew that the Superdome and the Convention center were at best only good for a day or two as shelter. Neither place had adequate generator nor sewage capacity to deal with more than a day's worth of refugees. As a result, more people were forced to deal with third world chaos. Indeed, 18 year old Jabbar Gibson had more sense than city and state officials by Thursday.

State- Governor Blanco is ultimately responsible for the incredibly short sighted response to the effects of Katrina. Bush pleaded with her on Friday before the storm hit to declare a mandatory evacuation and a state of emergency. In fact Blanco admitted that it was the President himself who convinced her to order a mandatory evacuation. The city had an evacuation plan for how to handle situations precisely like this, which by the way included positioning local busses in place to evacuate people from shelters, that apparently went unused. The levee systems that failed were known to be weaknesses before, yet nothing was done pro-actively to prepare for the storm surge.

Federal-FEMA. $6 billion budget, yet they were unable to pick up the slack when the state level failed (there is an extensive list of FEMA failures here). Michael Brown, the FEMA director, issued statements that demonstrated a frightening lack of comprehension about the potential danger from Katrina- "Saturday and Sunday, we thought it was a typical hurricane situation -- not to say it wasn't going to be bad, but that the water would drain away fairly quickly," Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown said today. "Then the levees broke and (we had) this lawlessness. That almost stopped our efforts." ..."Katrina was much larger than we expected," he said." As Brendan Loy notes from the previous link- "No one -- NO ONE -- who knows anything about New Orleans geography and topography and levee system would ever have thought for a single moment on Saturday and Sunday that Katrina, if it followed the predicted path, was going to be a "typical hurricane situation." " That Brown was surprised by Katrina is an indication to me that he is not prepared to deal with large natural disasters. Lord help us is he's in charge if we ever find an asteroid flying towards the Atlantic.

The problem from my perspective on a federal level is that FEMA was rolled in to the Department of Homeland Defense, thus creating an even larger bureaucracy which has impeded its effectiveness. If you look at the response from the Department of Defense, you saw immediate action and response. Troops with water and supplies rolled in and made a difference. FEMA, with all of the $6 billion took three days AFTER the city was flooded to get busses together to evacuate those stranded at the Dome and the convention center. According to FEMA, they were "on the scene" and "ready to react" a day before the hurricane struck. According to the Hattiesburg American, it took six days for FEMA to arrive, and when they got there they weren't of much assistance.
Why did it take six days for representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to arrive in Hattiesburg?

Then - if you can believe this - when they finally got here Saturday, their first question to local officials gathered at the Forrest County Emergency Operations Center was:
Do you need help?

Do you need help?

Oh, we almost forgot: FEMA representatives did say the agency plans to post fliers informing storm victims to call 1-800-621-FEMA or to go online at to obtain disaster relief information.

A telephone number?

A Web address?

Who are these people kidding?

What good is this information in an area where a large percentage of the population continues to operate without telephone service and Internet access?

Sky writing a message behind a crop duster would be more effective.

FEMA needs to get its act together - quickly.

I want to make clear that there are thousands of people from FEMA and the National Guard down to the local PD's and City Officials that have worked tirelessly to rescue and provide relief for those who were affected by Katrina. In no way am I attempting to diminish their efforts. I am only trying to expose some faults at the executive level that seem to show glaring deficiencies.

The reason for this is that as bad as Katrina turned out to be, it's still but a drop in the bucket compared to an asteroid strike. Whatever deficiencies were exposed by Katrina would be completely ripped apart in the case of an asteroid strike. We need to get these wrinkles ironed out while we still can so they don't become liabilities in the case of a greater disaster. As always, do what you can to be prepared on your own.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Incredibly Accurate and Prescient National Geographic Article...


This was weird. Many of you probably knew that New Orleans was under sea level, and some also may have been aware that a direct hit to New Orleans by a higher category hurricane was a disaster just waiting to happpen. I can gauruntee you that everyone who lived in New Orleans knew about this.

I just finished reading an article from National Geographic in October of 2004 about the overall precarious nature of the entire Louisiana Bayou area, which goes in to detail about the effects of draining what is essentially a giant swamp of the natural gas underground. As a petroleum geologist Bob Morton explained, "When you stick a straw in a soda and suck on it, everything goes down," Morton explains. "That's very simplified, but you get the idea." The article does not do much to instill a high level of confidence about the geologic stability of the region for the future -hurricane or no hurricane- so be warned before you read it.

What was truly erie about the article was their description of the potential disaster of a strong hurricane striking New Orleans. It reads like it was ripped from Monday and Tuesdays headlines, yet it was written about a year ago.
It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

I realize that many had postulated the inevitable effects of a hurricane striking New Orleans, but this article struck me as almost clairvoyant in the details.

People have gone to great lenghts to argue from all sides of this tragedy, from blaming Bush and others for ignoring the problem (ridiculous) to those who inject some reality that this is "the largest natural disaster ever seen in the United States, and somehow, people just expect everything to be fixed".

Me? I'm just sad. It sucks man. People shooting at freaking helicopters trying to rescue them, scores of bodies piling up, po' folks young and old just left to die. No point in trying to point fingers, just get to work and clean up the mess. I've dropped what little I can afford off to the Red Cross because of the bang up job they do during times like these. Hope it helps.