Friday, September 30, 2005

Katrina: A Canadian perspective

What follows are excerpts from an article by David Warren in the September 11, 2005 Ottawa Spectator. Click the link to read the full article.

“There's plenty wrong with America, since you asked. (Everybody's asking.) I'm tempted to say, the only difference from Canada, is that they have a few things right. That would be unfair, of course -- I am often pleased to discover things we still get right. But one of them would not be disaster preparation. If something happened up here, on the scale of Katrina, we wouldn't even have the resources to arrive late. We would be waiting for the Americans to come save us, the same way the government in Louisiana just waved and pointed at Washington, D.C….”

“The Bush-bashing, both down there and up here, has so far lost touch with reality, as to raise questions about the bashers' state of mind. Consult any authoritative source on how government works in the United States, and you will learn that the U.S. federal government's legal, constitutional, and institutional responsibility for first response to Katrina, as to any natural disaster, was zero. Notwithstanding, President Bush took the prescient step of declaring a disaster, in order to begin deploying FEMA and other federal assets, two full days in advance of the stormfall. In the little time since, he has managed to coordinate an immense recovery operation -- the largest in human history -- without invoking martial powers. He has been sufficiently Presidential to respond, not even once, to the extraordinarily mendacious and childish blame-throwing.”

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Breaking News!

CBS is reporting that John Roberts has just been confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

CLGRO and sex with children

According to a recent article, the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO) recently submitted a legal brief in the Canadian legal system stating:

“There is a widespread belief that older, predatory persons lure young people into homosexuality. This is coupled with a refusal to accept that younger persons are capable of seeking and do seek out consensual same-sex relationships with older persons and, in fact, may be the initiators of such relationships. In addition, contrary to popular belief, a relationship with an older person may not in fact be damaging for a young person”

I’d like to know whether this CLGRO brief has been condemned by other groups of gays and lesbians, or if this disgusting viewpoint is generally accepted in the gay/lesbian community.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How Al Qaeda can defeat America

She’s ba-aaak! After being pushed off the news by a couple of hurricanes, Cindy Sheehan is back on TV again for leading a huge anti-war protest in Washington.

Yesterday, General Richard Myers, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Brit Hume that the only way Al Qaeda can defeat America is if we lose our resolve and our will to persevere. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Osama Bin Laden was convinced that he could defeat America, just like he defeated the Russians in Afghanistan, because he counted on American loosing her will to fight.

So if General Myers is right (i.e. that the only way Al Qaeda can defeat America is if we lose our resolve), it would seem that Cindy Sheehan and all her anti-war protesters (whether intentionally or not) are actually supporting Al Qaeda and the enemies of America. I’m sure Bin Laden is very pleased Cindy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Iran and nuclear weapons

Iran is rapidly pursuing the acquisition of nuclear power. They say it’s to provide energy for Iran but since Iran is sitting on more oil than they could ever use, many suspect that Iran is simply doing what North Korea did—North Korea used the same excuse and now they have nuclear weapons. Considering Iran’s track record in sponsoring terrorism, we have to ask what happens if Iran supplies nuclear materials and technology to terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

I grew up in a time when the United States and the Soviet Union had a policy called MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). This theory assumed that the USSR would not launch a nuclear attack on America, because they knew that before their missiles hit, we could launch a counterstrike that would destroy them. Is there anyone who thinks this philosophy would work on someone like Osama bin Laden who once said that “the west loves life, but we love death”? Does anyone really think that once Muslim extremists have nuclear weapons, they will be content with bringing the Middle East under submission to their view of Allah?

So what should the West do? Should we leave Iran and North Korea alone in the desperate hope that they will then leave us alone? If we do leave them alone, what happens when they have enough nuclear power to destroy our major cities? What happens if they start selling nuclear technology to terrorists? What should the West do?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pluralism and absolutes

“If there is one underlying, deeply rooted position that is treated as of transcendental importance in Western societies, I suspect it is the notion of pluralism. This does not simply adopt the stance that diversity is a good thing, but that in the religious and philosophical arenas no position has the right to declare another position wrong. That is pluralism’s position: and that position is the only one exempt from criticism…”

“The student paper [at an Ivy League divinity school] allowed all the voices to speak, so long as there was no criticism of another position. Only two beliefs, so far as I could see, were so sacrosanct throughout most f the student body that if anyone had the temerity to demur there was invariably a violent reaction…[ordination of women, moral acceptability of homosexuality]…Those two points were not to be questioned; everything else was negotiable, and…The great god Pluralism enjoyed praise without ceasing.”

“But there is a high price to pay, too seldom recognized. First, pluralism, as I have already hinted, is surprisingly intolerant. All positions except its own are negotiable. This is the great problem with most forms of liberalism: liberalism can afford to be liberal only to liberals. Others are dismissed as fanatics, bigots, narrow-minded hate-mongers, and so forth. Pluralism turns out to be as intolerant as the intolerant concoctions it condemns. Second, pluralism turns out to be the unwitting stooge of the contemporary social agenda. Because it is rootless in its values (except for the vague but powerful values of pluralism itself), it does not therefore, abandon absolute values but tends instead to adopt as absolute those values at the top of the current cultural agenda.” (Quotes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, by D. A. Carson, Ph.D. Cambridge University, 260-261).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

America’s neglect of the poor

Many people made a big deal of government neglect of the poor in New Orleans. Some went so far as to suggest that government aid would have been sent sooner if those left behind had been not been poor. While not necessarily addressing this particular issue, Bill O’Reilly helps to put this in perspective:

O’Reilly compared the half-way points of the Clinton and Bush administrations and found that the poverty level in 1996, under Clinton, was 13.7% while the poverty level under Bush in 2004 was a full percentage point less at 12.7%. President Clinton’s budget allocated 12.2% toward the poor while Bush’s 2004 budget for funding poverty programs was a full 2% higher, “an astronomical $329 Billion dollars! According to O’Reilly, “President Bush is spending more on poverty entitlement programs and education than any President in history.” In fact, in 2006, “almost $368 billion dollars will go for Medicaid, food stamps, family support assistance, supplemental security income, child nutrition programs, earned income tax credits, welfare payments, child care payments, foster care and adoption assistance, and child health insurance payments to the states.”

This is not to disparage President Clinton at all—he was doing a good job. The point is that when it comes to the poor, Bush is not quite the great Satan he is sometimes made out to be. O’Reilly concludes, “So the next time the poverty propagandists start with the "America ignores the poor" bull, simply walk away. These people are blatantly dishonest and could not care less that America does, indeed, help the less fortunate…America provides more opportunity for more people than anywhere else on the planet.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Napolitano and Constitutional Chaos

I recently finished reading Constitutional Chaos, by Andrew Napolitano, a former judge and professor of constitutional law. Since the judge is also the Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, I assumed that he was going to “let those left wing radicals have it.” But the more I read the book, the more it looked like Napolitano was himself one of those “left wing radicals.” At one point I almost put the book down, thinking, how did this guy get hired at Fox News? But the more I read, the more I realized that this book is not about the battle between the left and the right, between democrats and republicans…the judge is equally harsh (very harsh) on both Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno as he is on Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Constitutional Chaos is about government against the people. The book is supported by case after case demonstrating that the government is often not bound by, nor does it often obey, its own laws, rules or regulations. In many cases I wanted to say, “well, we’re talking about prosecuting criminals and terrorists, here!” but as Napolitano demonstrated, if the government can ignore its own laws to prosecute the devil, it can also ignore its own laws to come after you. And even if you like the current government, you have no guarantee that the next administration is going to like you. The Constitution and law is the only human protection you have. Whether you are on the right or left, Constitutional Chaos is must reading for every American!

Someone recently sent a quote to me by e-mail. I don’t know who the author is, but the quote said, “They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't they just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys; it's worked for over 200 years, and we're not using it anymore.” I have no idea whether the judge would find this humorous or not, but I think he would agree there is more truth to it than most people realize.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

North Korea and Nuclear weapons

About 10 years ago North Korea agreed not to pursue a nuclear weapons program in return for help with nuclear reactors for non-military purposes. For reasons passing comprehension, President Clinton bought their lies, hook, line and sinker, and provided them with nuclear assistance. At the time, many people, including myself, thought this was incredibly stupid, if not tantamount to treason. Our worst fears came true when a few years later North Korea admitted that they had in fact violated the agreement (what a surprise)! They had used President Clinton’s help to produce nuclear weapons and they now have a nuclear knife pointed at our west coast throat!

Ah, but there’s good news! Yesterday North Korea promised to dump its nuclear weapons program in return for oil, energy aid and security agreements. They added that they would give up their nuclear weapons right after we give them a nuclear reactor. That certainly sounds reasonable. As a gesture of good will, why don’t we throw in a fully loaded nuclear submarine and aircraft carrier too?

Monday, September 19, 2005

John Roberts and a bedtime baseball story

Once upon a time there was a far away country where the people loved baseball and the umpires faithfully followed the baseball rule book. Over time, a new group of umpires was hired. They begin finding rules in the rule book that no one had ever seen before. For example, they begin to allow Olympic sprinters who were not even part of the team, to run bases for the players. One day a new umpire applied for the job. The interviewers wanted to know what the candidate for umpire thought about Olympic sprinters. The candidate said that his position on Olympic sprinters was irrelevant because his job was simply to apply the rule book as fairly as possible. This response made the interviewers angry because their teams often won with Olympic sprinters and they didn’t care whether these sprinters were allowed by the rule book or not. But, try as they might, they couldn’t get the candidate to discuss his position on Olympic sprinters in baseball. All the candidate would say is that his job would be to apply the rule book fairly.

For years our umpires (Supreme Court judges) have been “finding” rules in the rule book (Constitution) that no one had ever seen before (The right to abortion, the right to gay marriage, and rules against saying “one nation under God”, or praying in public schools, against posting the Ten Commandments in court houses, against having crosses in parks or manger scenes in public squares). So the issue in the hiring of an umpire (a judge’s confirmation) is no longer whether the umpire (e.g. Judge Roberts) is qualified or whether s/he will fairly apply the rule book, the issue is whether s/he will respect the rules created by previous umpires (legal precedents), regardless of whether these rules are actually in the rule book or not. This is because many people (ACLU, PAW, NOW, etc.) don’t want all the people to vote on the new rules because their team might loose. Like angry parents at a baseball game, they just want their own way. It’s OK if they want their way—but the right way to get their way is to let everyone have a voice by voting on a rulebook change, not by hiring umpires who will make up the rules as the game goes along! (My apologies to Judge Robert’s for expanding his baseball analogy in ways that he may or may not approve).

Friday, September 16, 2005

President Bush's 9/15 speech

For those who didn’t catch the President’s speech last night and who don’t have time to read the whole thing, I’ve provided my own “reader’s digest condensed version” below. I didn’t change any of the wording. The omissions are indicated with three dots …

"Our first commitment is to meet the immediate needs of those who had to flee their homes and leave all their possessions behind…I have signed an order providing immediate assistance to people from the disaster area.

Our second commitment is to help the citizens of the Gulf Coast to overcome this disaster…and rebuild their communities… Our goal is to get people out of shelters by the middle of October. So we are providing direct assistance to evacuees that allows them to rent apartments….we are beginning to bring in mobile homes and trailers for temporary use… we are sending extra doctors and nurses to these areas. We are also providing money that can be used to cover overtime pay for police and fire departments while cities and towns rebuild…Right now, many are sleeping on ships…more ships are on their way to the region. And we will provide mobile homes…as close to the construction areas as possible, so the rebuilding process can go forward as quickly as possible…Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems…The federal government will be fully engaged in the mission, but Governor Barbour, Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin and other state and local leaders will have the primary role in planning for their own future.

Our third commitment is this: When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm…As all of us saw on television, there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region as well. And that poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination…We have a duty to confront this poverty… let us rise above the legacy of inequality…When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses…When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses.

I believe we should start with three initiatives that the Congress should pass…Tonight I propose the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone…Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating, investment tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs, and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again….I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education… and for child care expenses during their job search…I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity…the Army Corps of Engineers will work…to make the flood protection system stronger than it has ever been…The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.

I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority. Therefore, I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to undertake an immediate review, in cooperation with local counterparts, of emergency plans in every major city in America….the system, at every level of government, was not well coordinated and was overwhelmed in the first few days. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces....

Four years after the frightening experience of September 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency. When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I, as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution. So I have ordered every Cabinet secretary to participate in a comprehensive review of the government response to the hurricane. This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes, so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could threaten our people…The United States Congress…is preparing an investigation, and I will work with members of both parties to make sure this effort is thorough…Thank you, and may God bless America."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled yesterday that it is unconstitutional to recite the pledge of allegiance in public schools. Unconstitutional?! The first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” Atheists and ACLU revisionists have re-interpreted this to mean, in effect, “no entity even remotely connected to the government can allow anything having to do with religion to take place on, or be placed in, any property owned by that entity.” This apparently includes even saying the name “God” in a pledge to be loyal to America!

In his dissenting opinion on the Kentucky Ten Commandments case, Supreme Court Justice Scalia pointed out that the same week Congress submitted the First Amendment, congressmen not only began their legislative sessions with prayer, they also “enacted legislation providing for paid chaplains in the House and Senate.” In fact, the day after the First Amendment was proposed, the same Congress “requested the President to proclaim ‘a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” Congress obviously had no intention whatsoever of excluding religion from the government or public arena! Their intention was to prohibit an official state church, like the Church of England.

It seems to me that atheists and the Anti-Christian Liberty Union don’t care what the Constitution means—what they apparently care about is twisting it to make the United States into an atheist country like the former Soviet Union! It is as if their logic is, “the government can’t allow expressions of Christianity, Judaism or Islam, therefore, it must promote [the religion of] Atheism!” What is hard to understand is that so many religious people are actually buying this excrement! If America continues to bow down to the religion of Atheism, the day will come when “freedom of religion” is interpreted to mean that “Individuals can only believe alone on their own at home,” as police recently told members of a Baptist church in Turkmenistan.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Breaking News: Pledge unconstitutional

ABC news is reporting that a federal judge has just declared it unconstitutional to recite the pledge of allegiance in public schools! Unbelievable!

Nursing home deaths

Two owners of a Louisiana nursing home refused outside aid for the people they were responsible for, thirty-four died, and the owners have been arrested, charged with negligent homicide, and jailed.

The Governor of Louisiana refused outside aid for the people she was responsible for, hundreds died, but she will not be arrested and will not be charged with anything—in fact, she gets to keep her job!

I don’t know…it just doesn’t sound fair.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Prison for Sunday School Teachers

While we focus on Hurricane Katrina, the rest of the world goes on. This month, three women were each sentenced to three years in prison for violating Indonesia’s Child Protection Act. Sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? Where they child molesters? Did they beat the kids? No, actually, their only crime was allowing Muslim children to attend a Christian Sunday School program (with the parents’ permission)!

What is particularly disturbing about this is that these women were not convicted by terrorists or extremists. They were convicted by the legal system of the largest Muslim nation in the world. When the verdict was announced, the courtroom irrupted in approval with shouts of “God is great!” Lest we think this could happen only in extremist countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, or in a supposedly more tolerant country like Indonesia, we would do well to remember that two pastors in Australia were recently convicted in court for teaching against Islam.

Rather than thinking in terms of a dichotomy between peaceful Muslims on the one hand, and extremists or terrorists on the other, we need to think more in terms of a spectrum. On the one end of the spectrum would be “peaceful Muslims” who believe in freedom of speech and religion. On other end would be Muslim extremists and terrorists. In the middle would be "peaceful" Muslims who do not believe in freedom of speech or religion, but support, to varying degrees, the suppression of any opposition or even teaching contrary to Islam. Their support may vary widely, ranging from those who remain silent (or who secretly approve) when women like these Christian teachers are sent to prison, all the way to those who knowingly provide financial support for terrorist front groups. I would like to be convinced otherwise, but my perception is that outside of America, the size of this middle group is enormous!

I hope American Muslims can understand how disturbing this is, and why many Christians fear that “peaceful” American Muslims who believe in freedom of religion and speech, are only a relatively small part of a worldwide Islamic movement that would actively seek to crush all disagreement or opposition to Islam.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Breaking News!

CBS just reported that Mike Brown has announced his resignation as FEMA chief.

New terrorist attacks?

In a tape made public by ABC News yesterday (September 11), an al Qaeda operative threatened new attacks on the United States and Australia. The tape said, "Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing. And this time, don't count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion.” (Compassion)?!!! The tape went on, “We are Muslims. We love peace, but peace on our terms, peace as laid down by Islam, not the so-called peace of occupiers and dictators." Of course, this is a very perverted definition of peace. I can imagine Hitler telling the British that he could be a very peaceful man if they would just submit and let him take over their country! Regardless of whether the threat should be taken seriously, it raises a whole new set of questions about what some Muslims mean when they say that Islam is a “peaceful” religion.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Freedom to choose?

I’m not sure I even agree with what I’m about to say, but I would be interested in reading other opinions. The government is soon planning to evacuate the people of New Orleans by force, but there are a significant number of people who do not want to leave. For example, one man said he’s got plenty of food and water, his home is dry and comfortable…and he doesn’t want to go to a shelter. Should we really drag people out of their homes by force or at gun point? Shouldn’t they be warned about the dangers of staying around disease infested water and told that they will not get another chance, no food, no water, no medical care…nothing. And if they choose to stay, they stay. If they die, they die. I know that sounds cold, but I’m not sure it’s as cold as dragging people from their homes and placing them against their will in crowded shelters. That sounds a little too much like Gestapo tactics to me. Even if some people would rather die in their homes, than live in a shelter, shouldn’t that be their choice? How much do we want government protecting us from ourselves?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

FEMA and Louisiana Homeland Security

The Associated Press has now obtained internal FEMA documents which show that while FEMA had pre-positioned small rescue and communication teams before Hurricane Katrina hit, FEMA director Brown waited five hours until after the storm hit before asking his boss to sent 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region! Excuse me, but if your full-time job was planning and preparing for emergency response, and a category 5 hurricane was bearing down directly on a major U.S. city that lies below sea level—a city in which the levies were only designed to withstand a category 3 hurricane— would you wait until after the hurricane struck before pre-positioning a serious response? I know very little about disaster preparedness but even I know enough to do that much! By the way, these internal FEMA documents also said that part of the mission was to "convey a positive image” about the government’s response!

Well, if you now think the Republicans have a corner on incompetence, think again. If you followed the news on TV, you remember the heart wrenching scenes of thousands of people in and around the Super Dome who, for days, were in desperate need of food and water. According to Major Garrett, on Fox’s Special Report yesterday, it sounds like the whole tragedy could have been prevented...but the Louisiana Homeland Security Department (under a Democratic governor) refused to allow the American Red Cross to come to the Super Dome because Louisiana wanted people to leave the city. And yet, it was Louisiana’s own Emergency Operations Plan that said 100,000 people in New Orleans would be unable to evacuate because of poverty or illness. Oh, but that’s not all. On CNN this morning someone from Angel Flight—an organization that does medical evacuations— charged that the Louisiana governor’s office refused permission for them to evacuate patients! Absolutely unbelievable!

In my humble opinion, those who try to make this tragedy out to be the fault of just one political party are simply partisan hacks out to turn horrendous tragedy into personal or political gain. It’s a despicable tactic!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New Orleans and God's judgment

On Monday’s ABC World News Tonight, Peter Jennings said that people were asking, “Why did God allow this?” Perhaps an even more pointed question would be, “Did God send Hurricane Katrina as judgment on New Orleans?” The people at Repent America are convinced that Hurricane Katrina is God’s judgment on New Orleans for such things as 1) Annual “Southern Decadence” festivals which included “drunken homosexuals” engaging in public sex acts. Last year’s event was estimated to have brought 125,000 revelers to New Orleans and was welcomed by the city council and the last three mayors. 2) Annual Mardi Gras festivals in which “thousands of drunken men would revel in the streets to exchange plastic jewelry for drunken women to expose their breasts and to engage in other sex acts.” 3) The fact that New Orleans “has always been known as one of the ‘Murder Capitals’ of the world.” I suppose it could be added that New Orleans is also particularly well known for its Voodoo and other occult practices.

Other Christians would strongly disagree, however, pointing out that Katrina did not just destroy New Orleans, but many other towns in Louisiana and Mississippi which were no more evil than any other American towns. Katrina also destroyed many, many churches (one of which had about 15,000 members!), and the homes of believers and unbelievers alike. Finally, although the French Quarter was the center of the Southern Decadence and Mardi Gras festivals, it appears to have escaped major damage, a fact that is rather ironic if Katrina was God’s judgment.

Frankly, I don’t know how anyone could know if Katrina was God’s judgment or not apart from some kind of direct divine revelation, but someone recently pointed out to me that some (a tiny minority, I hope) who insist that Katrina is God’s judgment almost exhibit a hint of glee in their attitude, as if to say, “God gave those wicked sinners just what they deserve!” I’ve not personally observed anyone with that attitude, but regardless of whether Katrina was a judgment from God or not, I’m pretty sure about this: First, the God of the Bible could be quite harsh on those who rejoiced in the calamity of others—even if that calamity was the result of God’s judgment (e.g. Obadiah), and second, Jesus saved his very harshest criticism for those who self-righteously looked down their noses at others while thinking they somehow deserved God’s favor (Matthew 23). On the other hand, many Christians are not looking down their noses at anyone. They are just deeply concerned about the direction our country is taking and that if America continues down this path, God may indeed bring judgment.

The disagreement about whether Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment will continue but one thing that the overwhelming majority of Christians appear to agree on is that the appropriate response is love and compassion. Donating to such organizations as Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army, or the American Red Cross is a good start.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Racism and New Orleans

It was inevitable, of course. Sooner or later people would play the race card in this Hurricane disaster. According to CNN, some black leaders, including congressional leaders, are saying or implying that the reason for the slow response to Katrina was racism. On a Saturday morning interview, Jesse Jackson said that racism was “obvious” and “self-evident” in the slow response. And then, fanning the flames of the race fire he was setting, Jackson said New Orleans was where the slave ships landed, that the people of New Orleans looked like people in the hull of a slave ship, and that there was an unbroken legacy of slavery!

Let’s be clear right up front. I think racism is an abominable evil and sin in the eyes of God. If racism was involved in the slow response—in other words, if there is evidence that anyone in the disaster relieve chain of command failed to react quickly, simply because the people left behind in New Orleans were predominantly black, such people should immediately be fired and an investigation should begin to see if legal charges are in order. But for some black leaders to jump immediately from slow response to charges of racism may be evidence of their own racism!

The fact is that there may be other reasons for the slow response, for example, poor planning or just plain incompetence. I’ve already questioned the competence of Homeland Security and FEMA, so let’s also talk about the mayor and power structure of New Orleans. I know they don’t have the resources of the federal government, but they know better than anyone else the potential dangers of a category 4/5 hurricane. Was their lack of planning for the evacuation or care of poor black families racist? Both the mayor and power structure of New Orleans are predominantly black. What about huge number of police officers who abandoned their posts and fled in the face of rising violence? Was their failure to protect and serve, racist? The New Orleans police force was predominantly black. Was it predominantly white gangs who were seriously hampering rescue efforts by shooting at rescuers? I don’t think so. My point is that from the gangs all the way up to the mayor, non-racist factors were involved in the poor response by local government. So why would we automatically assume that slow response efforts from the federal government must be racist? I believe Dr. Condoleezza Rice, our first black Secretary of State (and my choice for our next president :-) when she said on Sunday that race had nothing to do with the Hurricane response.

I have no problem with someone making specific and documented charges of racism, but making broad, sweeping overgeneralizations not only implicates the leaders of the relief efforts, but the thousands of white, Asian and Hispanic people who work for the relief organizations and who are giving their time and/or money, not to mention those who are putting their lives at risk for the people of New Orleans. Such broad overgeneralizations are not only counterproductive, they may even heighten racial tension. Some would argue that there are civil rights leaders who deliberately stir up racial tensions in order to maintain their own status as civil rights leaders, as if there wasn’t enough real racism to deal with without stirring up more. It seems very "obvious" and "self-evident" to me that this is precisely what Jesse Jackson was doing on Saturday!

So to those who are making charges of racism I say, by all means, use the race card when the charges are specific and documented, but use it like a rifle and shoot the guilty ones! Don’t use the race card like a shot gun or a hand grenade—you not only hurt a lot of innocent people that way, you also hurt your own case, damage your own credibility, and perpetuate the very problem you are supposedly trying to resolve.

A New Chief Justice

President Bush has just nominated John Roberts to replace William Rehnquist as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I must say I'm a little dissappointed. I would have preferred that the president promote Justice Thomas or Scalia to Chief Justice, but that would have involved yet another confirmation debate.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, died of thyroid cancer yesterday. See TIME for an article on Justice Rehnquist.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Homeland Security and FEMA

One of our country’s worst case scenarios is the explosion of a nuclear weapon at a major U.S. seaport. If that were to happen, many of the survivors will not be able to go home--ever. In such a nightmare scenario, people will need to be evacuated by the thousands, or even hundreds-of-thousands. I would hope that if I were in charge of FEMA or Homeland Security, I would have planned out scenarios for each major seaport which would involve putting thousands of people on busses, trucks, and helicopters, and taking them to giant Air Force transport planes which would be waiting at the nearest adequate runways. From there the victims could be flown to air bases around the country where they would be cared for in military hospitals, hangars and other facilities until they could be processed back into new jobs and homes.

Why was such a plan not implemented for Hurricane Katrina? The damage by Katrina was even more widespread than a nuclear bomb would have been, so I understand why people in rural areas have not been reached yet. I also understand why people stranded in their homes have not been reached yet. But what I don’t understand is why it took so long to help people in New Orleans who were congregated in large groups of hundreds or even thousands! I also don’t understand why rapid response military forces were not immediately deployed to New Orleans to stop the violence. Nor do I understand why more people aren’t being re-located to other cities like Houston.

I really want to believe the best about our government, but I’m not hearing convincing explanations from Homeland Security, FEMA or our president, who said that “a lot of people are working hard” (President Bush, 9/2/05). Of course they’re working hard. I’m not questioning the effort as much as I’m questioning the planning and strategy. It’s pretty sobering to think that the best plan our homeland security people seem to have had for a major disaster was send food and water into the disaster area! Of course we need to send food and water—to keep people alive long enough to evacuate them!

Savagery and the military

I have been disgusted by the widespread looting of non-essential items like TV’s, but reporters are now saying that there are gangs of armed thugs roaming the streets of New Orleans. They are not only robbing, mugging, raping and murdering people, they are even shooting at rescuers! Conservative commentators are talking about how these “criminals” need to be arrested and prosecuted. Nonsense! Innocent people are dying while police have to be diverted to deal with these savages! It is time to deploy the Marines or Army rangers with the authority to disarm and detain these armed gangs, or if necessary, to shoot them on sight. Innocent people are dying!