Sunday, October 15, 2006

If You Need Me, I'll Be At BNN! I haven't been updating this blog on a regular basis because I found someplace better! It might be better for you too! If you enjoy blogging and enjoy keeping up to date on current events and think you might enjoy combining those two interests, here's the place to consider going: Blogger News Network. At BNN you'll have more exposure and quite possibly some other benefits that might 'ring your bell'. Think you might be interested? Think the BNN editor might be interested in you? Go to THIS LINK to find out how to find out!! See ya' at BNN! Regards, Whymrhymer: The Venerable Infidel

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What's News? 10/5/06 The Despicable Westboro Baptist Church News and Opinion by: Whymrhymer The news papers call them “controversial” but that hardly fits an organization that would even consider staging a protest at a military funeral or, their latest outrage, planning a protest at the funerals of the five Amish girls who were brutally murdered by a twisted psychopath this week. This latest protest is now off the ‘drawing board,’ NOT out of the goodness of their hearts (not that there is much ‘goodness’ to be found in their hearts) but because a National talk show host, Mike Galligher, has bought them off with one hour of airtime on his radio show. I see Mike Galligher’s point and understand his decision but there is a much better alternative; if the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, had the guts he would have made sure the National Guard was on hand to prevent any protests and worry about any legal ramifications later. He has the power but apparently not the intestinal fortitude. Something should have been done about the funeral protests immediately after the very first one. Harassing a mourning family is NOT an expression of freedom of religion. News Links: Baptist group decides not to picket funerals of Amish girls WBC Cancels Protest of Amish Funerals

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What's News? 10/4/06 Death in a One-Room Schoolhouse: The Guilt of a Child Occasionally things happen that, at least initially, defy understanding, such was the case when Charles Roberts, a 32-year old milk truck driver, family man and supposedly a religious man, walked into a one-room Amish school house on Monday and began the well-thought out process that would end with the murder of five children, all girls, and his own suicide. News reports, initially full of equal parts of wonder, horror and speculation are now starting to be filled in with facts . . . facts that appear to illustrate how profoundly the experiences of a child can affect that child's behavior far into adulthood. The following is, admittedly, speculation but based on the facts we now know, I think it's pretty close to the reality that will eventually be pieced together: Charles Roberts claims to have molested two female relatives when he was just 11 or 12 years old; whether or not his actions at that time were technically, legally, morally or ethically "molestation" matters not a whit! All that matters is that he perceived what he did to be molesting two much younger girls and he has lived with the guilt and shame of the act for 20 years -- guilt that, we can speculate, must have been generated by a strong religious background. Many years later, when his first-born daughter died almost immediately after his wife Marie gave birth to her, Roberts did not see that death as a natural occurrence caused by some defective organ in the newborn, and regardless of the actual, medical cause of the newborn's death, Roberts, no doubt, saw it as his punishment . . . his punishment by God for his sins, and specifically he saw his daughter taken away from him to punish him for his act of "molestation" so many years before.

"I am filled with so much hate, hate toward myself hate towards God and unimaginable emptyness it seems like everytime we do something fun I think about how Elise wasn't here to share it with us."
Those were his words in his last note to his wife, a note he left while she was at church where, ironically, she and a group of mothers meet regularly to pray for school children. At this final stage of his life it seems that Roberts has, in his own mind, gone from being a perpetrator to being a victim. He has probably convinced himself through twisted logic that the two little girls he was involved with as a young boy are responsible for seducing him and are therefore responsible for the incident that, those many years later, brought down the 'wrath of God' upon him. This is also evidenced by the fact that, in that same note where talked about what he had done, and about being filed with guilt and hate, he also admitted that for the past two years he had been having dreams about "doing it again." Dreams forced on him, he no doubt felt, by the two girls who seduced him. Having found the real 'culprits,' for all his misery he then set out for revenge -- and the rest is well documented in every news media outlet. He meticulously planned what he was going to do which evidently involved "doing it again" as he dreamed he would. Aside from the murder weapon, the police found that Roberts had, over the past week, purchased and otherwise gathered the things he planned to use when he walked into that one-room school house; he had extra clothing, toilet paper, a flashlight and a candle, other weapons and, most telling, he brought two tubes of K-Y Jelly and devices police feel were going to be used to restrain his young victims. It appears obvious, when you study the early lives of successes, failures, saints and sinners, that the power of the sum total of a child's experiences can contribute significantly to the behaviors and thought processes of the adult that child becomes. In the case of Charles Roberts, the experiences of childhood came back to destroy him and, as a terrible consequence, rob five young girls of their chance for a full childhood. News Links: Schoolhouse killer haunted by guilt Gunman told his wife he molested relatives

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's News? 10/3/06 Military Moving Into the Background in Thailand Back on September 19th, in the dead of the night, Thailand's government changed hands in a bloodless coup; martial law was imposed and Thailand's Constitution was revoked when Lt.-Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, Thailand's top military officer took control. The coup was apparently orchestrated by the king of Thailand, 78-year old King Bhumibol Adulyadej; a king who was unhappy about the way his country was being run.. At the time, it was announced that the Thailand government would be under the control of a "Council of Administrative Reform," with the King acting as head of state. Coup leaders promised that a new Prime Minister would be installed within two weeks. As promised, within two weeks, Thailand's new Prime Minister has been appointed and has started work over the weekend. The new Thai Prime Minister, General Surayud Chulanont (the former commander-in-chief of the Thai military) began his term in office with a blessing by His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Somdet Phra Sangharaja, the country's leading Buddhist monk, and he then made a statement to the media in which he reiterated that his appointment as Thailand's Prime Minister was an interim post. General Chulanont will hold the post for one year while Thailand's new Constitution is being drawn up and, presumably, then elections will be held to allow the people to choose a Prime Minister. The country may appear as if it is returning to normal but it should be noted that the person who is really in charge of the country is not the new Prime Minister, it is Gen. Boonyaratglin. Right now Gen. Boonyaratglin has the power to say who stays in the government and who goes out of it and, most importantly, Gen. Boonyaratglin has the power to select the persons who will draft Thailand's new Constitution. According to the CIA World Factbook, Thailand's government is a Constitutional Monarchy it is not, strictly speaking, a Democracy (although you will find it referred to as a Democracy in numerous news media accounts -- possibly even some of mine). The country is run by the King and it is the will of the current King that Thailand shall have a Constitution, and they will have . . . after he approves it! News Links: New Thai PM looks for harmony amid post-coup rifts Bank official joins interim Thai Cabinet Filed by: Whymrhymer

What's News? 10/2/06 Foley's Folly Sparks Partisan Politics Republican Florida Congressman Mark Foley may now be addressed as ex-Congressman Foley. After allegations that he had inappropriately (and perhaps illegally) communicated with former House pages (teenaged males) with email and instant messages that were apparently of a sexual nature, he resigned from the House of Representatives on Friday. That, and the fact that the FBI and the Florida Bureau of Investigation are both investigating his communications should be enough to put the matter to rest but this is Washington and this is an election year and shark fins are in the water everywhere. The Republican House Speaker, J. Dennis Hastert (Ill) is the one who got the FBI and Florida law enforcement involved in the case, but a score of Democrats are being reported by an eager press corps as saying that he only did that after they started putting pressure on him. The implications are, of course, that the Democrats are more concerned about sexual improprieties than the Republicans and, had it not been for the moral outrage of Democrats, Republicans would have done nothing beyond slapping Foley's wrist and giving him a time out in the fabled House cloakroom. Rep. Hastert, on the other hand, is saying that he had no reason to suspect that any laws (Federal or otherwise) were broken; they knew about "overly-friendly" (but not sexual) email sent to a 16-year old former page, had talked to Foley about that and told him to stop it immediately. It wasn't until last week, according to Hastert, that they learned of some sexually explicit messages Foley had previously sent to other boys who had served as pages; it was after that that Hastert requested FBI involvement. If the allegations prove to be true and Foley is found guilty of Federal, state or local crimes, he should be punished appropriately under the applicable laws, but turning this sad situation into a partisan political circus with the objective of gaining votes in the upcoming election is not, by any measure, a noble deed. The focus now should be on the Page Program and how to avoid this type of harassment in the future, not on how to manipulate this situation to gain or avoid losing votes in November. News Links: Scandal opens new door for Democrats FBI to Look at Foley's Actions

The Woodward Assumption In his new book titled "State of Denial," Bob Woodward (star scandalmonger at the Washington Post) alleges that President Bush did not tell the public or the Congress everything he knew about what he calls the deteriorating Iraq situation that was leading to a civil war. One problem with Woodward's charge of malfeasance is the same problem you see with anyone who makes an allegation, especially the ones who are being highly paid to make allegations. You must either choose to trust the accusor or trust the one being accused; in this case you must either trust Bob Woodward's words and sources more than you trust the man you elected to be President. You decide! Another problem with Woodward's charges is there seems to be a lot of 'assuming' going on. What Woodward assumes is a "deteriorating situation" may, through the eyes of an experienced Middle-East analyst, be a normal series of events occurring as predicted -- no 'red flag,' no reason to call in Congressional leaders. What Woodward sees as an eminent civil war may be, through those experienced eyes, an expected escalation of violence that is being 'handled' as well as it can be; again no 'red flag.' A sitting President does not make decisions in a vacuum, he has intelligence estimates and a powerful set of advisors. What does Bob Woodward have besides some no doubt anonymous sources and . . . oh yes . . . and a book contract. The proof of how Bob Woodward sees the world of Washington is there in his Washington Post article today; in an incredible display of naivete he makes this makes this statement:

"There was a vast difference between what the White House and Pentagon knew about the situation in Iraq and what they were saying publicly."
By golly! I sure hope so! If I sound like I'm being an apologist for President Bush . . . I'm far from that, but neither am I an advocate of taking away the power of the president (be he Republican or Democrat) to make decisions on Natonal Security issues and I sincerely feel that you can be sure that if there was something that the Congress or the general public really needed to know, they would have known it. Opinion by: Whymrhymer

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Venezuelan Diplomat Whines: Not Treated "Special" at JFK by Whymrhymer News reports cite a White House source who says that Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's foreign minister arrived at JFK airport Saturday night just 30 minutes before his flight was to take off, he paid cash for his tickets, he refused to go through a security check, and he did not immediately inform airport security that he was a foreign diplomat. In other words, his own actions triggered a security alert. Then, when his diplomatic status was discovered, only after his travel documents and passport were confiscated, and he was given permission to board, he refused to get on the plane. In a press conference, Maduro (as reported by the Venezuelan press and linked below) denies none of that but instead claims that the only reason he was detained was because of retaliation for his boss' (President Hugo Chavez's) well publicized "devil" speech at the UN. What happened and why, in this particular instance, isn't as important as the question: why doesn't it happen more often? As I see it, the problem is the treatment regularly given to foreign diplomats; they are allowed to bypass everything except the cocktails when they fly between countries. If anyone were to ask me, I'd say that we (our Homeland Security Department and their Transportation Security Administration) must be insane! Time to Review Vienna Convention Accords Granted, we have been giving foreign diplomats this "royal treatment" since 1961 when we signed on to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations but times have changed and the world is a more dangerous place than it was perceived to be in 1961; we are living in the 'Decade of Terrorism.' Isn't it time for diplomatic niceties that compromise security to stop? Take a Cue from Australia In Australia last year, Britain's Prince Andrew found out that that no one is exempt from Australia's airport security procedures. Bravo Australia! You're actions may be a breach of an international treaty but airline passengers flying through your cities will be safer since you tore up your "white list." What's more important? Perhaps the United States should also start reviewing its airport procedures where diplomatic immunity can allow certain "special" people to carry whatever they like onto airplanes. I can certainly understand why we have to allow documents in a diplomatic pouch, carried by a diplomatic courier, to pass unchecked but there is no defensible reason that personal effects and the diplomats themselves should not undergo scrutiny by airport security officials -- especially diplomats from countries that are hostile to ours (e.g., Venezuela, Iran, Syria, etc.). That may be viewed as "profiling," not to mention extreme political incorrectness, and that is exactly what it is. As Europe's top human rights official, Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, admitted last month: "Immunity should not mean impunity” or, an appropriate paraphrase might be: 'Immunity should not mean stupidity.' News Links: Aide Detained at Airport en Route to Venezuela Venezuelan Foreign Minister in Temporary Police Custody in New York You can find this article and a whole host of other informative, thought-provoking articles at The Blogger News Network

Osama's Death: That Might be a Bad Thing! by Whymrhymer Rumors of Osama bin Laden's death are wildly circulating through the media and causing speculation and, one gets the impression, a sense of hope! Lets assume, for a moment at least, that the rumors are true, that Osama died of typhoid earlier this month in Pakistan. What would be the net effect of his death? The first thing that comes to mind is that Osama, since September 11, 2001, has become an icon for Islamic fundamentalists. What happens when an icon, any icon, is lost or dies? He, she or it becomes larger than life. Myths spring up and the icon takes on an almost religious significance that is partially based on fact but primarily based on the emotional impact of the loss. Mindless, emotional reactions are always dangerous and many times, violent. In the case of Osama's death, be it real or staged, Osama's "memory" will bring many new converts to the ranks of radical, fundamentalist Islam. New warriors, as they see themselves, not only fighting for the glory of Allah and the wisdom of Mohammed but now for the memory of a "legendary" Osama bin Laden. And who do you suppose will be held directly responsible for Osama's death? Who will see renewed attacks against it's troops and facilities? The United States, of course. That the United States is responsible for Osama's death is, in reality, an undeniable truth -- if only a partial truth. Back in 2001 the President of the United States vowed to catch him and hold him accountable for his crimes so Osama ran and hid in the mountains -- like a coward -- rather than lead his "warriors" into battle against "the great Satan." In the mountains his pre-existing medical conditions would have only gotten worse and his physical condition could have only deteriorated. Osama dead or alive! Neither option is good for America, but dead might be, at least for a while, worse. News Link: Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive? You can find this article and a treasure trove of other timely and thought-provoking articles at the The Blogger News Network. Go now and visit!!

New Agreement on Rules for Interrogating Terrorists: Merely Theatrics by Whymrhymer The President and those Senators whom many Conservatives call RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) have reached an agreement that leaves the Geneva Convention intact and sets down the rules for U.S. interrogation of terrorists in detainment -- once again stressing the RINOs apparent point that appearances are more important than results. It's easy to see why there was opposition to the President's proposal to revise our interpretation of the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention certainly needs revision, just to clarify it's too vague language but the opposition is concerned primarily because unilaterally revising the language of the Geneva Convention, in effect, breaks a treaty that has been agreed to and signed by many (approx. 194) nations. Our tampering with the Geneva Convention may also effect the treatment our soldiers are given if they are captured by a nation that has signed the Geneva Convention. All that, as interesting and important as it is, is really quite beside the point. If we were to go to war with a nation that has not signed on to the Geneva Convention or against fighters that do not recognize the Geneva Convention, they would not follow it's rules and, of course, we would not be bound by it's rules. Such was the case in Viet Nam against the Vietcong, such is the case in the current Middle-East conflicts against terrorists. The Geneva Convention is actually a set of four separate Geneva Conventions, the Third Geneva Convention is the one that governs the treatment of Prisoners of War. Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention defines Prisoners of War as: 1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict and members of militias of such armed forces. 2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, "provided that they fulfill all of the following conditions" (emphasis mine): a) They must be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates. b) They must have a "fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance" c) They must carry their weapons openly. d) They must conduct their operations "in accordance with the laws and customs of war." As anyone can see, terrorists wearing the clothes of the common man of the region, using car bombs and roadside bombs as their weapons of choice, who target non-military (civilian) buildings and situations and who are well known to brutally behead their detainees with dull knives (and video tape it for release to the media), can hardly be considered prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. These people can, IMO, hardly be considered worth of the title: human beings. Very clearly, you can ignore all references to the Geneva Convention in the press accounts and the Congressional banter -- the Geneva Convention does not apply to detained terrorists. The machinations that the President and Congress are going through have, in fact, nothing to do with the Geneva Convention. What is going on in Washington is partly the continuation of a 5-1/2-year power struggle between Conservatives and Liberals and partly a show put on for the world to see how much we "care" about our imprisoned terrorists. The net result of the show is, at least on the surface, the weakening of our ability to effectively interrogate captured terrorists. In my opinion, this discussion between the President and the Senate, that the public has been so intimately involved in, should have been conducted in closed sessions -- not in the public arena. The public has no pressing need to know about our policies governing our government's interrogation of terrorists. No private citizen is involved, and no private citizen will benefit or be harmed by those interrogation techniques. News Links: Deal set covering rights of terror suspects Deal on detainees quells GOP infighting You can find this article and a treasure trove of other timely and thought-provoking articles at the The Blogger News Network. Go now and visit!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Is the Senate Finally Getting Serious on Immigration? by Whymrhymer The Associated Press Story that leads the U.S. news front today declares that Congress is hard at work addressing border security and immigration. To say 'it's about time' would be an understatement. The debate underway in the Senate concerns proposed legislation to build a 700-mile fence along the U.S./Mexican border, which would go a long way to securing the most porous one-third of that border. The House, this week, is working on three bills that will 1) criminalize the building of unauthorized tunnels between the U.S. and Mexico, 2) make it easier to deport illegals who belong to gangs or commit crimes and 3) clear up the gray areas that will allow state and local authorities to assist U.S. Customs and Immigration officials with the capture and detention of illegal immigrants. That all of this is being so vigorously pursued in the run-up to the November mid-term elections, in an attempt to schmooze voters, is irritating -- but that it is being done at last is gratifying. The House seems to have had the best grasp of the problem for some time now. Last December they passed bills that were intended to tighten the border to stem the flow of illegals across our borders and to implement rules that would more effectively prevent U.S. employers from hiring illegals -- both critically important items -- but the legislation was 'debated to death' in the Senate. The Senate was, at the time, under the influence of President Bush's pie-in-the-sky guest worker program. Since then, the Senators have apparently become better informed about the realities of the immigration problem and have been ignoring the President's still continuing pleas for a program that he refuses to admit is just another amnesty program. The fencing bill being worked in the Senate was approved last week and sent up to the Senate this week. 200 miles of the 700-mile fence under debate would be built in Texas, from Laredo to Brownsville. The two Republican Senators from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, are in favor of the fencing bill but have a quarrel with the fact that the U.S. government is telling the states where the fencing should be built; they feel that that decision would be better made by local and state officials. There are, no doubt, many other issues to be cleared up and one can only hope that, when the debate is over and the bill has passed, the final product will not be as porous as the border it is meant to protect. News Links: Border lawmakers, officials resist fence proposal Enforcement is focus of immigration bills You can find this article and a treasure trove of other timely and thought-provoking articles at the The Blogger News Network. Go now and visit!!

The Paper Tiger of Tehran by Whymrhymer Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the podium at the UN yesterday to, as usual, denounce the U.S., its policies, it's President and it's power at the UN. Ahmadinejad continued his insistence that his country's nuclear program is "transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eye" of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). The IAEA is an arm of the UN. His words, heavily repeated in the press, were prefaced and appended by prayers to 'Almighty Allah' (a fact that was NOT heavily reported); needless to say, had President Bush, some hours before, started and/or ended his speech with a prayer it would be headlined in every major media outlet. Because of all of the media attention and media respect that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets every time he spews his anti-Israel, anti-American vitriol its very easy to forget that, in Iran, he is a powerless figurehead. There is a real power, a real evil behind the Paper Tiger's mock throne and his name is Ali Khamenei. Iran is an Islamic Theocracy controlled by ayatollahs who are, in turn, controlled by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. That may not be a comforting thought, considering Khamenei irrational hatred of the West but its good to know who the real enemies are. Ahmadinejad, in the mean time, has become a hero in the Arab world and that is somewhat amusing when you consider that Iranians consider themselves to be Persians and Persians are not Arabs. The fact that in its long history the once powerful Persian Empire has been conquered three times (first by Alexander the Great, then by Ghengas Kahn and finally by the Arabs) does not sit well with the typical Iranian -- I have been told by an Iranian ex-patriot friend of mine that they go to bed each night cursing their conquerers. News Links: Iran: Targeting the Heart of Terrorism Ahmadinejad's UN Speech: Analysis and Comment by UN Watch You can find this article and a treasure trove of other timely and thought-provoking articles at the The Blogger News Network. Go now and visit!!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pope Benedict's Bold Statement to Islam by: Whymrhymer at The Blogger News Network Pope Benedict XVI has raised the ire of the Muslim world by quoting the words of an emperor of the Byzantine Empire (a predecessor of orthodox Christianity) while he was speaking to students and faculty at the University of Regensburg's School of Catholic Theology in Regensburg, Germany. Pope Benedict was both a professor at Regensburg and vice president of the university during his eight year tenure there (1969-1977); the Pope had been on a six-day visit to his homeland. The quotation that has caused a massive controversy was a scathing indictment of Islam that was originally delivered in the 14th Century by Emperor Manual II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire:

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
That was how Islam was viewed in the 14th Century and, thanks to the radical fundamental sects of Islam, that is how it is being viewed today. An apology by the Pope is being demanded, seemingly by every entity in Islam with a tongue, because his words have not only hurt the sensibilities and self-image of the majority of Muslims who do not follow the many violent dictates of the Muslim holy book, but because his words (much like the infamous Danish cartoons) are critical of Muhammad. Pope Benedict has shown, through his choice of that quotation, that he holds the violence that is now so closely associated with the Muslim world in contempt and who, but those who approve of the dictates of jihad, could disagree with him. The Pope's selection of that particular quotation was not a mistake, it was a statement directed at Islam -- one that was long overdue from the Vatican and one that should be rallied around by every civilized nation. If the Pope apologizes he will have mended some fences but he will be marked as a man who has been coerced to turned his back on an important principle of civilization for political reasons.

Redefining Terrorism by Whymrhymer at The Blogger News Network In a letter to Senator John McCain, Colin Powell states:

"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 [of the Geneva conventions] would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."
That statement raises some relevant questions:
  • Should what "the world" feels or says about the United States dictate the actions of the United States?
  • Is the good that can come from a successful interrogation, specifically the saving of innocent lives, more important than the physical or mental discomfort of a person who has information that can save those lives?
  • Why should we apply the Geneva Convention's rules to combatants who are not fighting under the flag of any country or wearing the uniform of any country's military and are, therefore, not shielded by the Geneva Convention?
  • How could 'going easy' on captured terrorists provide a lower "risk" for our troops? (These are terrorists! Does General Powell actually feel that they would reciprocate by "going easy" on our captured troops?)
The media and many politicians have referred to the our treatment and interrogation of captured terrorists as "torture." They seemingly believe that anything beyond asking polite questions would be torture. In a recent case, it was revealed that we "tortured" a high-profile terrorist by stripping him naked, placing him in a cold room and playing loud music -- specifically, music by 'The Red Hot Chili Peppers.' If that scenario was presented to a person who has undergone real torture, his or her response would most likely be unrestrained laughter. Answers to the above questions cannot be provided by this or any other citizen -- the answers need to come from our Representatives in Washington and, to get the "right" answers, we need to make our feelings known to those Representatives. Unfortunately, in this day of partisan politics as usual, our opinions may not mean much to our Representatives but we MUST try.