thinking democrat
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
  The Real Terror of Islamic Terrorism....
Islamic Terrorism stopped being what some considered a nuisance in 1993 when the World Trade Center was attacked for the very first time. The shear size of the explosion left no doubt that it was intended to murder thousands of Americans by bringing down the entire building. Although the terrorists didn't succeed, the bombing did kill six innocent Americans on American soil. It was a wake-up call, but the Clinton Administration did not want to hear it.

Fighting International Terrorism is one of the CIA's main responsibilities. The Clinton Administration should have made absolutely sure that the agency had enough funds and personnel to do its job. Instead, funding was reduced, hundreds of jobs were slashed and even its spy satellite program was cut back.

In 1995, five US military lives were lost in a bombing at the Saudi Arabia National Guard Center. Next, in 1996, the Kobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were bombed and nineteen US military died. Three bombings in four years with the death of 30 Americans and no one in Washington would admit that the United States had become the target of unrestricted terrorist warfare.

The best opportunity to capture Usama Bin Laden was offered to President Clinton by the government of Sudan in 1996. Both the CIA and the FBI suspected Bin Laden of financing and possibly directing acts of terror against our country. This is why Clinton wanted the Saudi government to take Usama into their custody. When the Saudis refused, nothing was done to stop Bin Laden from going to Afghanistan.

Considering what the CIA and FBI suspected, the Clinton Administration should have had the courage to take Usama Bin Laden into custody. He should have been questioned and held until it was determined whether or not legal charges could have been brought against him. If no proof could be found, he could have always been released later. But taking a suspect into custody and questioning the suspect is just sound police work.

The US Embassies in Kenya and Tansinia were bombed in 1998. Hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands were injured. Earlier that year, Usama had openly declared war against the United States. President Clinton finally took action. He ordered missile attacks on a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan and against terrorist camps in Afghanistan. These strikes were not an effective action and, if they served any purpose at all, it was to warn Bin Laden that he had our attention.

Our best opportunities to kill Usama also happened during the Clinton Administration. Our intelligence network located him several times. Every time, Clinton and his Cabinet found reasons not to act. They wanted to capture him, not kill him. If they tried to kill him, innocent lives could be lost in the collateral damage. And the list goes on. No one seemed to think that, by killing Bin Laden, they could save American lives and other innocent lives like the ones lost in Kenya and Tansania during the embassy bombings.

In 2000, the USS Cole was bombed and seventeen of our sailors lost their lives. Clinton did not take any action because that incident was under investigation right up to the day he left office.

There was no failure of imagination during the Clinton Administration. Experienced and qualified people in both the CIA and FBI saw the danger. But no one listened to them. Their budgets were cut. They were not allowed to organize properly. And worst of all, communication between the very people who might have discovered the 9-11 plan was blocked by bureaucratic and political arrogance at the highest levels of government. Any idea that the Bush Administration could have corrected eight years of incompetence during the first eight months of a new administration is absurd.

It is time we understood that Usama Bin Laden is a dedicated, intelligent and ruthless terrorist leader. He destroyed the World Trade Center for four primary reasons. It was a massive blow against the US economy. The murder of 3,000 people is a fearsome message to the American people and people throughout the world. He destroyed a national landmark to strike at our national pride and confidence, and, at the same time, to reduced our status as a superpower. Finally, this success gave him stature and power as a worldwide terrorist leader.

Understanding these four reasons is just the start of realizing how dangerous Bin Laden and his brand of Islamic Terrorism could become. UBL, as the media like to call him, knows that the US economy must be his prime target. With 5% of the world's population, we are 30% of the world economy. He appreciates the fact that President Reagan used our economy to bring an end to the cold war and cause the collapse of the Soviet Union. He cannot reach his goal of dominating the Middle East unless he defeats the US economy.

The World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and possibly the Capital Building or the White House, these were targets of opportunity, but they are not his primary target. Usama Bin Laden wants to control the world oil supply. Oil is real power because it is the lifeblood of the Industrialized Nations. The Middle East contains more than 50% of the world supply. If he controls this oil, he can isolate us from our allies and concentrate on our economic destruction. In a way, Saddam's use of the Oil For Food Program to corrupt the United Nations and gain the cooperation of France, Russia and China is a small example of what Bin Laden could do.

Islamic Terrorism is a virus and, if we don't find a way to stop it, this virus will spread worldwide. The danger goes beyond Bin Laden giving Muslims a perverted rationale to take innocent lives. He understands that conditions in the Muslim world are a breeding ground for hatred, radical Islam and Islamic Terrorism. He realizes that democracies are not equipped to fight against a religious war because we value religious freedom.

Right now, a religious war is exactly what he is waging. He uses the Mosques of radical clerics as bases of operation. He also uses the Madrasas, the schools of extreme Islamic religious fundamentalism, for the same purpose. This religious worldwide network was already in place. Bin Laden is simply taking advantage of it for his own purposes. There is no one country that we can invade to destroy his movement. He will not give his enemies a conventional target until he has the weapons of mass destruction to defend it.

Candidate Kerry said that President Bush took his eye off the ball when he didn't concentrate on Usama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization. Today, the ball is much larger than Senator Kerry is willing to admit. UBL used his terrorist camps in Afghanistan to train terrorists from more than 20 different groups. He did not want to take over these groups. He did want to indoctrinate their leaders and members in his objectives and his strategy of terror. There is now an informal terrorist network of organizations operating off of his blueprint for success. If we destroy Al Qaeda or kill Bin Laden tomorrow, it will not put an end to this network. The other terrorist groups will still exist and someone will take Usama's place.

So how can we win? We win by invading Afghanistan and then establishing an elected government under the control of its people. When Islamic Terrorism could not stop or even interrupt free elections in Afghanistan, we won a major victory that was more important than our military victory.

If you want to see the path to victory, look at an area map. On 9-11, there were four main nations that supported terrorism. They were Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Afghanistan is on the path to Democracy and will become an ally in the war against terrorism. Now that Pakistan has become a strong ally, Iran is isolated within it borders and facing the reality of our strong military presence in Iraq. Syria faces the same reality. Since its neighbors, Jordan, Israel and Turkey, are our allies against terror, Syria is also isolated.

There is a reason why terrorist groups are fighting so hard against us in Iraq. It is the same reason why Iran and Syria are allowing terrorists to cross into Iraq and may be helping them fight against us. Iraq is not the wrong war in the wrong place. It is precisely the right place at the right time. When Iraq becomes a democratic state as a result of free and fair elections, it will be our second major victory in the war against terror.

The best way to defeat Islamic Terrorism is to take away their support and take away the places where they can hide. This makes it easier to stop their acts of terror and to capture or kill them. President Bush knows this. The Islamic Terrorists know this. Apparently, the leadership of the Democratic Party does not.

Last year, three criminals ran into one of our schools to evade the police. They were quickly taken into custody and, fortunately, no children or school staff members were harmed. I don't remember the name of the school or even where the incident occurred. I do remember thinking about the terrorist attack in Beslan, Russia and hoping the day will never come when we need to place armed guards in our schools to protect our children.

As a nation, we must have one message for terrorists, those who control them and those who support them. If we and our children are not safe in our homes, in our schools, in our places of work and in all the places where we gather, you will be safe nowhere.

tom joseph
Monday, March 14, 2005
  Dumbing Down the SAT....
This month, high school students, who are interested in attending college, will begin taking the so-called new improved SATs. The previous maximum score of 1600 has increased to 2400 on the new test. Now parents don't have the slightest chance of comparing their own past scores to the scores of their daughter or son. Not that they had a chance before this. The SAT has gone through so many changes that it no longer really measures aptitude or the ability to do college level work.

More than a decade ago, I attended a small weekly summer seminar at my alma mater. The University's Assistant Dean to the School of Education was also there. During one of the breaks, we got into a debate about the SATs. I took the position that the SATs had been adjusted to artificially raise the average scores and significantly raise lower scores. The very nice lady pretty much questioned my sanity. She pointed out that the University's admission standards had not changed and neither had the quality of incoming freshmen.

This conversation happened in the early 1990's. About a year later, I read an article covering how the attempt to make the SATs racially neutral may have increased the average score by as much as 30 points. None of this was accidental and the results were exactly what the educational establishment wanted. The reason for my early conclusion that the SATs had been bastardized was simple deductive reasoning. The scores, which had been dropping for over a decade, were suddenly increasing. Since the quality of education hadn't improved, the quality of the tests had to have declined.

Unfortunately, the SATs are only a part of a mountain of problems with our educational establishment. When faced with declining student achievement, their answer was to change the tests that measured achievement. If I had to summarize the main problem with education, it would be a switch in emphasis from the quality of education to the quantity of education. We are facing a philosophy of education committed to the system of education and not to the act of educating individual children or adults.

On June 6, 1991, there was a special or report on PBS or one of the other networks about the Maybel B. Wesley Elementary School in the Houston School System. The children were 95% minority students living in a crime and drug ridden area with an almost 100% poverty rate. They were also attending one of Houston's best performing schools. Students were doing work sometimes as much as two years above grade level. Test results placed these students in the top 25% of all Texas Schools.

You would think that the local educational community would be very interested in learning how this educational miracle had been achieved, so that it could be duplicated in other elementary schools within the district. You would be wrong. The Administration and the Superintendent of the Houston Schools attacked the Principal and the school for not conforming to their philosophy of education. At one point, they even sent investigators into a 1st Grade class, while it was in session, to search the room. They accused the teacher of helping the children cheat on district tests.

The Principal of this school was black and so were the majority of teachers. Their unforgivable crime was to use teaching methods some of them had experienced during their own education. In the case of the Principal, he had attended a Catholic Grade School. The school district, on the other hand, was more concerned about teaching methods than how well the children learned.

The real unforgivable crime here was the thought that minority students just couldn't excel and beat the socks off of the white kids in the suburban schools. If this were true, it could have destroyed the structure of the entire school system. And just think what it might have done to the entire philosophy of education in Texas. Racism, by any other name, still smells as foul.

tom joseph
  UN Stay or UN Go?
I am just as angry, irate, livid, pissed, etc. as most Americans. But sometimes being intelligent about how we respond, can make retribution even sweeter. Not that long ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell was lied to, then set up for an international diplomatic & political ambush at a private UN meeting by Domineque de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister. Now, Secretary Powell could have beaten the crap out of the little French sh-t, like many of us would have wanted to do, but he showed the good judgment and the kind of restraint a Secretary of State must have.

On January 30th, the people of Iraq ignored threats on their lives and went out to vote. My guess is that, years from now, the world will remember Colin Powell taking a stand against the terrorist government of Saddam and no one will think about that little French sh-t who worked so hard to prevent the US from toppling a bloody tyrant.

To be honest, I am angrier with the French and "old Europe" than I am with the UN because I expected better behavior from old Europe. Before we throw the UN out of the US, let's think intelligently. It is a lot easier to catch corruption, greed, and inefficiency when the UN Headquarters sits in New York City. If they moved to Europe, Belgium for example, they would probably plot and plan against our interests even more than they already do and it would be harder to stop.

This does not mean we should not extract a price for what the UN has done or for what it has failed to do. Certainly, the Oil -for -Food scandal gives the US Congress more than enough justification to hold back some of our 20% financial support. And since the UN's expensive bureaucracy wants us to help them build a new and better headquarters complex…. Make no mistake about it; we're talking 'when hell freezes over' or when they clean up their act kind of leverage here.

It is true that the UN is an almost useless and almost worthless organization when it comes to doing the really big good deeds. But it is the only worldwide organization we have for doing the small good deeds. And, if it weren't for this, then everyone would expect us to do everything. With the Tsunami, we were among the first with the most and just as important, we will leave shortly. The UN will be in charge and if everything turns into a mess, we can't be blamed.

Old Europe may be the more important problem. The French have gotten it into their big heads that something must be done to offset the US as the world's only superpower. They may soon try to turn some of the alliances they have built against specific US actions and policies into a more formal group of anti-US nations. At least with the UN, we can count on that organization for not doing anything that is difficult or has risks.

Let's leave the UN in New York. At least there, we can put them under financial siege and starve them into submission.

tom joseph
Sunday, March 13, 2005
  Our Secret Weapons...
Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, America and the United Kingdom began deploying their secret weapons. There is no known defense against these weapons. We have deployed them before with historically recognized success. These weapons are our troops, the individual men and women who serve in Iraq.

Sometimes, what we don't see and hear is more important than what we do. Gone are the large street protests against our occupying forces. For more than 30 years, the people of Iraq have known police and troops as agents of a repressive state. Yet, in a matter of months, they have begun to accept our troops as agents of freedom and justice.

We are now deploying our ultimate secret weapon. It is also a weapon that has no known defense and the degree of its success is legendary. This fearsome weapon not only defeated the Axis Powers more than half a century ago, but just before this new century, also brought down the Soviet Block. This weapon is called Democratic Capitalism.

The Iraqi people have voted in a free election even though they were threatened with violence and death. They are proud of themselves and have every right to be. But before the elections, they began to experience a private sector economy free from government interference. This private sector is growing just as much as their thirst for political control of their own destiny. It is not likely that terrorism will defeat both political and economic freedom in Iraq.

tom joseph
Friday, March 11, 2005
  Constitutional Crisis?
The tactics of Democratic Senators could lead to a constitutional crisis. For more than 216 years, no political party has ever tried to use the filibuster rule to block a vote on presidential nominations to the federal bench.

Republican Senators have been trying to avoid a constitutional crisis by waiting out the situation in the hope that reason would prevail in the end.

More than forty Democratic Senators are acting against the Constitution by preventing a majority vote on judicial nominees through the unconstitutional use of a filibuster.

This crisis has gone on so long that it is no longer about the nominees. We may be Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc., but first we are all Americans. It should not be acceptable to the American people that those who we elect to the Senate choose not to recognize our Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Right now, Americans are risking their lives and some are dying in foreign lands in defense of our Constitution. We can not keep faith with our military if we do not defend our Constitution from politicians who act against it.

Can there be anything more hypocritical than Senators who say they oppose judicial nominees because they think the views of the nominees will prevent them from faithfully enforcing the law while they, themselves, blatantly act against the Constitution which they have given their word to uphold.

tom joseph
  Bang! They're Dead...
On Wednesday, March 9, 2005, Charles Hard Townes was awarded the 1.5 million Templeton Prize for progress in spiritual knowledge. Previously, this 89-year-old American physicist shared a 1964 Nobel Prize for his work on lasers. There is either a vast difference between these two prizes or there really isn't a difference at all.

Two years after his Nobel Prize, Townes suggested that science and religion were coming together. The materialists of the scientific community were stunned. They believed and still believe that physical matter is the only reality in the universe and that everything can be explained in terms of physical laws. They do not believe in religion or the existence of a God.

Townes suggested that there was no greater question facing humanity than discovering the purpose and meaning of life. Why was there something rather than nothing in the cosmos? He said that science was discovering how special our universe was and it raised the question of whether it was planned.

Almost four decades later, scientific materialists are finding themselves with some very large holes in some of their most precious theories. Global warming is being challenged by new research. Darwin's theory is not only being challenged by research, but by some in the educational community who are proposing that the theory of intelligent design should also be taught. The materialists in both the scientific and educational communities oppose this change.

To understand why scientific materialists and their allies in education, law, media, politics, etc. will strongly defend Darwin's theory and the concept of Evolution, one must grasp that the concept of intelligent design leads to a Designer and then to the concept of a Prime Mover or whoever pulled the trigger on the Big Bang. This path leads back to the science of philosophy (and it is a science) and the exercise of pure logic.

I remember watching a noted scientist on television who was belittling the story of creation. He pointed out that scientific fact had proven the world was not created in seven days. Which you can't say unless you know the length of the Prime Mover's day or, for that matter, whether or not the Prime Mover is restrained by time as a dimension or, for that matter, whether time is just another design of creation by the Prime Mover.

Einstein was once asked how he came up with his theories. He reportedly said that he tried to look into the mind of God. It is possible that Albert Einstein did a bit of reverse engineering starting with logical philosophical conclusions. His theory about unifying principles, the same principles which govern the atom must also govern the universe, may simply be the result of the logical and philosophical concept that a Perfect Being cannot have a contradiction or it wouldn't be a Perfect Being.

Wouldn't it be hilarious, if by exploring Einstein's therories, the scientific materialist were doing nothing more than retracing the path to intelligent design by a Prime Mover?

tom joseph
Thursday, March 10, 2005
  Closing the Rathergate?
Tonight, Dan Rather anchored his last CBS Evening News broadcast. The network followed this with a special farewell. And I didn't watch any of it. Since I haven't tuned into Dan for the past two decades, why would I start now? Some will be happy about Dan's departure. Some will even gloat. Some will probably be unhappy. Regardless, this isn't a time for any of that.

My guess is that tonight Dan won't admit to using forged documents. Won't admit to having a liberal bias. And certainly, won't admit to trying to influence a Presidential Election by misleading the American people. There's very little doubt that the documents were forged and hanging on to any hope that these were copies of real documents, simply makes him look Rather silly. (Sorry, just couldn't control myself.)

For the next day or so, there will be talk about this being an end to an era and the importance of Dan Rather's legacy. If the end to an era means an end to the tremendous influence of the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news anchors, that's probably true because this scandal caused a very big loss of public trust. It's probably why so many of his colleagues have been a little less kind to him lately. If the end to an era means a loss of control by the so-called mainstream media, you better think again. Network news, daily newspapers, newsmagazines and the Public Broadcasting System or what we probably should call the old media are still kings of the hill in the number of people they reach.

Dan Rather's legacy has already taken a lot of hits from the Internet, Talk Radio and Fox News. He has taken some hits from the old media and will take more. They need to create some distance between themselves and Mr. Rather. Ironically, the truth is that all the old media is just as responsible for Dan's disaster because they stopped critiquing and criticizing each other a long time ago. When very little gets challenged, someone is bound to think that anything goes.

Still, there are the forgeries. Why is it that we don't know who created these documents? This was a serious matter during the elections and remains a serious matter. It is just as important as the Watergate break-ins. Who was responsible? Was it someone who hated the President? Was it someone from the media who was politically biased? Was it someone form one of the political campaigns? Was it someone from a foreign country trying to fix the results of an American election?

tom joseph
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
  Spinning Sgrena
Help me, God, because I cannot resist this tale told by an… probably best to skip any reference to Macbeth. It all starts with a communist reporter for a communist publication going to Iraq to report on those great patriotic insurgent freedom fighters who are busy killing people and destroying their own country.

Now, if you want to really report on these people, you have to get close enough to be kidnapped or killed or maybe even both. Apparently, Sgrena got close enough and was kidnapped. She says she told them she was on their side. Unfortunately for Sgrena, their side was more interested in ransom money. She reports they treated her well, but then, how well would they have treated her if they hadn't been paid? My guess is that she would have returned to Italy in a bag and a sack; her body in the bag and her….

Hello, Sgrena. Didn't anyone tell you the story about the scorpion getting on a turtle's back to cross a stream? In the middle of the stream, the scorpion stung the turtle and they both drowned. You see, the scorpion was just doing what scorpions do. These people are terrorists. They terrorize and murder innocent people. If their choice is between you and 72 virgins, I'll bet the virgins and give odds. The terrorists didn't give a damn about the media or politics in Italy. You were nothing, but a hostage for sale.

People who look for trouble usually find more than they can handle. While it's fair to say Sgrena brought this trouble on herself, it's not fair to say that anyone else deserved part of her problem. Whoever paid the ransom did not deserve the expense she caused. And certainly, the Italian intelligence officer did not deserve to loose his life because of her reckless behavior.

But then, Sgrena does have her story, doesn't she? Problem is the story keeps changing. The car was or wasn't speeding. Warning shots were or were not fired. The part where the U.S. military was trying to kill her in a rain of bullets is something else. Our boys and girls had enough firepower to stop the charge of the Light Brigade dead in its tracks and Sgrena's saying something like: "Ha, you missed me."

Today, we have pictures of the car and the rain of bullets looks more like a situation of limited fire directed to stop the vehicle. This is not a case of troops panicking and firing all their rounds at the car. There's going to be an investigation and more questions will be asked and answered.

What really bothers me is that once again an awful lot of the American media jumped all over this story as if our military would be guilty of whatever Sgrena wanted to say.

Location: Buffalo, New York

Warning: a thinking democrat! Defined as an objective advocate of democracy. Years ago, a close friend claimed he had finally figured me out. He said I was sometimes liberal and sometimes conservative, but that he hadn't been able to discover what it was that pushed me from one to the other. His answer to his own dilemma was, "You are an objective driven idealistic pragmatist." My answer to his conclusion was and still is, "maybe, maybe not." I have a degree in Education and have worked in the following fields: Banking, Consulting, Management, Manufacturing, Real Estate, Sales, Social Work, Transportation, or best summarized as anything that's a good challenge.

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