Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu and You

Much of the news reportage on the swine flu has focussed on numbers of infected people and where those people live. It hasn't been very helpful in explaining what exactly this flu is and how serious is the threat that it poses. This Q and A at New Scientist is more useful in that it answers a lot of questions people are starting to ask about this virus. Check it out.


The Fascist Temptation

The other day I commented that everyone should read George Orwell's 1984. The crushing thought control that oppresses the citizens of Oceana in Orwell's depressing vision of a future dystopia is not just a boogeyman of paranoid conservatives, it's a real and present danger, especially in a world in which technology is so far advanced and liberal assumptions are so blithely accepted.

Lest you think I exaggerate please take fifteen minutes to watch this video that appeared at Hot Air, and ask yourself how many universities across the country have similar indoctrination programs for incoming freshmen and how discordant such programs are with the traditional concept of free speech and free minds:

Liberalism in the 19th century was a noble pursuit of individual freedom. Classical liberals prized freedom of thought, speech, and religion. They would have been horrified to see the transmogrification of their views that has taken place in the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st. Contemporary liberalism stands almost diametrically opposite its predecessor. Today, so far from valuing the rights of the individual, liberalism values the collective and lists toward the totalitarian and tyrannical. It employs coercion, particularly in academia, to enjoin conformity of thought and speech. It resorts to public humiliation of ordinary students and other citizens to ensure they don't stray from the approved point of view. It punishes "thought crime" and seeks to homogenize thinking until everyone holds the same opinions, i.e. those acceptable to the liberal elite. In short, liberalism is gradually morphing into fascism.

This disturbing "orientation" program would still be in place at Delaware were it not for organizations like FIRE, but not even the vigilance of these organizations will be enough to stanch the totalitarian impulse unless more people recognize the oppressive tendencies of contemporary liberalism/progressivism and wean themselves from it.


Pants on Fire

For those of you who may not be aware of who Porter Goss is, he was at one time the Chairman of the House intelligence committee and later served as Director of the CIA under President George W. Bush. He has an article in yesterday's Washington Post in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claim that she knew nothing about detainees being waterboarded:

Goss writes to challenge Pelosi's claim:

A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation's intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA's "High Value Terrorist Program," including the development of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.

Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as "waterboarding" were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:

  • The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
  • We understood what the CIA was doing.
  • We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
  • We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
  • On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.
  • I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues. They did not vote to stop authorizing CIA funding. And for those who now reveal filed "memorandums for the record" suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately -- to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president's national security adviser -- and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted. And shifted they have.

The rest of Goss' editorial is worth reading as well. It certainly makes you wonder about the integrity of our political leadership.

On the other hand, it may surprise you to learn that I'm quite prepared to accept the possibility that both Goss and Pelosi are telling the truth in this matter. Having listened to Ms Pelosi speak on numerous occasions on various topics I have to say that I really have no difficulty believing that she sat through every one of those briefings and understood not a word of what was being said.