Saturday, April 02, 2005

Friday, April 01, 2005

With all the death and dying in the news,
I'm sure this will not be on the front pages of very many news sources for long. Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor for Slick Willie, is pleading guilty to a charge of taking classified documents without authorization. He did so in the fall of 2003 as he prepared for testimony before the 9/11 Commission. It appears he will be slapped on the wrist with a $10,000 fine and a three-year suspension of his security clearance.

I've got quite a few beefs with this. First, Sandy Berger was THE go-to guy for national security in the Clinton White House and he sneaks out of the National Archives with copies of classified documents in his jacket?! Granted, he didn't do it while he was with the NSA, but it speaks to the level of commitment he has to security. No wonder the Chinese robbed us blind during the Clinton years.

Second, is security at the National Archives that lax? A former governor of Kansas, John Carlin, was THE National Archivist there from around 1994 until just a few months ago. Thanks to my semi-brotherhood with the Extremist and the Monolith, whose parents are friends of John Carlin, I had the pleasure of meeting him a few weeks prior to a trip I took to Washington, DC in our hometown of Lindsborg. Mr. Carlin gave me his card and said to stop by the Archives while I was there and he would give me a "behind-the-scenes" tour. I did and he did. Fort Knox doesn't have a thing on the National Archives. You have to remember the Archives is the home of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and countless other precious documents, as well as classified information. The vault below the Archives is built to withstand a direct hit by a nuclear warhead. The security guards are all in good shape and carry firearms. There are enough cameras, metal detectors, and other security measures to rival Langley. These guys aren't kidding around.

However, Sandy Berger went into a restricted area of the Archives and made it out with copies of classified documents. I'm not sure what the security level of the documents was, but I am surprised they even have a copier near the restricted area. Case in point: When I go to Battle Assembly at Fort Leavenworth, the building we work in is secure. I have to use a badge and alpha-numeric code, just to get in the front door. To get to various levels of the building, I have to have other alpha-numeric codes. If I bring in a newspaper or magazine, it has to stay in the building and is shredded prior to disposal. And this is Fort Leavenworth, not the National Archives. I have to lay some of the blame for this with my old friend, Mr. Carlin. The security at his facility was either poorly trained or just plain lazy.

And last, but certainly not least, the punishment for Berger's activities is hardly even worth mentioning. Just a $10,000 fine (which he probably makes for one speaking engagement) and a three-year suspension of his security clearance?! Again, in my case, if I even get a negative entry on my credit report, my security clearance can be suspended or revoked. This guy's out walking around with classified documents in his coat pocket and nobody seems to think it's big deal.

In summary, it's painfully obvious the Department of Justice standards for security violations are way below those of the Department of Defense (that a kid, Rummy) and could stand for an update. Loose lips may not sink ships anymore, but they can help Bob the Terrorist know where to plant his IEDs.
Now, with what I've written below in mind,
if the Schindlers keep crap like this up, they're going to squander a lot of the sympathy and support they've been receiving:
If you expressed your support to Terri Schiavo and her parents fight to keep her alive, you may begin to receive a steady stream of solicitations, according to a Local 6 News report.

Terri Schiavo's parents have agreed to sell their list of supporters to a direct-mailing firm, Local 6 News reported.
What are they thinking?
Terry Schiavo, R.I.P.
This blog hasn't posted very much on this (Kill-Bot's take is here; mine is here). I've been vascillating some. I think that, if she really wanted to be removed from her feeding tube, then she should have been. But, given the state of Michael Schiavo's ethics ("When is that bitch going to die?"), I don't think anyone can say that this is what she wanted (they can't say she wouldn't have wanted it, either).

Andrew Sullivan (yes, David, I know) is patting himself on the back for realizing that Schiavo's death would be come a cause, that Schiavo some sort of martyr. His insight is astounding, isn't it (note the sarcasm).

I ask, why shouldn't she be made a symbol? Or, more accurately, why is it wrong that she become a symbol of two things: 1) judicial arrogance and 2) the crazed fanaticism of the pro-death crowd. There are others who are far more fit than I to discuss the first issue (see here, for example).

Much has been made of the arrival of Randall Terry of Operation Rescue, and what a whack-job he is. Little has been made (in the MSM, anyway) of what a serious fruit cake George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, is. Here's how he describes his first right-to-die case, involving Estelle Browning:
As Mrs. Browning lay motionless before my gaze, I suddenly heard a loud, deep moan and scream and wondered if the nursing home personnel heard it and would respond to the unfortunate resident. In the next moment, as this cry of pain and torment continued, I realized it was Mrs. Browning.

I felt the midsection of my body open and noticed a strange quality to the light in the room. I sensed her soul in agony. As she screamed I heard her say, in confusion, "Why am I still here ... Why am I here?" My soul touched hers and in some way I communicated that she was still locked in her body. I promised I would do everything in my power to gain the release her soul cried for. With that, the screaming immediately stopped. I felt like I was back in my head again, the room resumed its normal appearance, and Mrs. Browning, as she had throughout this experience, lay silent.
Okay, yeah. That's not normal. He also, apparently, believes that he has psychic powers and cause planes to crash.

But beyond the people directly around the Schindlers and Schiavos, we can look at the course of the right-to-die philosophers, like Princeton's resident loon, Peter Singer. Singer has argued in favor of infanticide and all sorts of social taboos that, only a few years ago, no one would have seriously entertained. Ideas that 95% of society would have been shocked and aghast to see. Singer would have been shunned and shamed a generation ago. Now, we have serious discussions about euthanizing babies. The Dutch medical system is headed in a direction that makes me very, very nervous.

Conservatives, religious or not, are right to stand back, look at recent developments between the cultures of life and death, and see in what direction we're tending, and be shocked, to perform a William F. Buckley and stand athwart history, yelling, "Stop!" Schiavo is going to be remembered, by both pro-life advocates and disability rights advocates alike.
Apologies for the lack of posts.
I've been getting server errors whenever I've tried to log in to Blogger over the last couple of days. I seem to be successful today. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Insights from a disabled Harvard student
on Schaivo:
In the Schiavo case and others like it, non-disabled decision makers assert that the disabled person should die because he or she—ordinarily a person who had little or no experience with disability before acquiring one—“would not want to live like this.” In the Schiavo case, the family is forced to argue that Terri should be kept alive because she might “get better”—that is, might be able to regain or to communicate her cognitive processes. The mere assertion that disability (particularly cognitive disability, sometimes called “mental retardation”) is present seems to provide ample proof that death is desirable.

Essentially, then, we have arrived at the point where we starve people to death because he or she cannot communicate their experiences to us. What is this but sheer egotism? Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, this is obviously an attempt to play God.
Read the whole thing. I hadn't thought of this, but he's right: even Schaivo's parents have made the justification for her life by claiming she might get better, as if they too agree she's better off dead. Sad.

(Hat tip: Power Line)

Monday, March 28, 2005

I know the answer to your question, Monolith.
The "other" category for the name of soda comes from our friends south of the Mason-Dixon. You see, down South, they refer to all types of soda as Coke; even if it's Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, 7-Up, etc.

I don't know if I ever told you about this, but when I was in Washington, DC for the National Young Leaders Conference, we had quite a debate on what carbonated, flavored water was called. Everyone from the Northeast and Great Lakes region called it soda. Everyone from the Great Plains, the West Coast, and the Southwest called it pop. However, from Texas east to the Atlantic, its all called Coke.

For example: I travel to Atlanta on a very frequent basis and Atlanta is the world headquarters for Coca-Cola. When I'm there, I drink sweet tea, which is definitely something Yankees don't understand, but this one happens to love it. Anyway, when we are at dinner and my co-workers from that area order their drink, they all ask for Coke and the waitperson will ask them what kind they want. So, on the rare occasion that I order Coke, I find it all quite amusing.

George Bernard Shaw said the Americans and the British are two peoples separated by a common language. It would appear the same goes for Billy Yank and Johnny Reb.
I, too, use "soda" instead of "pop"
because of my time in Boston. Actually, I remember the day I made the switch - it was in Pinocchio's in Harvard Square. The conversation with the guy behind the counter went something like this:
Me: I'd like a steak and cheese with just mayonnaise and a can of pop.

Guy: A can of what?

Me: A can of pop.

Guy: What?

Me: Pop.

Guy: Huh?

Me: Soda.

Guy: Yeah, they're in the fridge.
Been using "soda" ever since.
An interesting take on the Schiavo case
from a disability-rights attorney.
Jay Nordlinger links to
this map in his recent "Impromptus." It gives a breakdown of the regional uses of words for the generic name for soda-pop. I say "soda" instead of "pop" because I lived in Boston for four years, and got into the habit.

A question: What words would fall into the "other" category for soda?
Once again, I give you the Phelps report.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday (Happy Easter, belatedly), and Mr. Phelps and his band of fan-dancing marionettes came to Lindsborg once again to protest the Messiah and its being song by a bunch of ELCA apostates.

I was in Lindsborg this weekend visiting my family. My wife and I drove by Bethany's campus around 2:00 yesterday to see if the Phelps Brigade had arrived, but they had not. I did see a number of police officers milling about, though.

I was told that they did show up, but, like last week's outing, they were rather ineffective and marginalized.