Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Space or Bust!

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that it is not of the “I got up and watched TV and ate a burger today” sort. Which is to say, I try to wait to write until I feel I really have something worth saying--though that is certainly often and rightly disputed. I generally try to keep it to relevant theological, political and entertainment issues. But every once in a while, something happens in my life that is too incredible to keep quiet about. This is one of those times. (Feel free to click on any of the images to enlarge them.)

Just over a week ago I joined Stephanie in Florida where she was working and attending a space conference.

That Friday we were given an exclusive VIP tour of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

First, we visited the International Space Station Center. Here, the various components of the space station wait in limbo for a shuttle flight to wing them to orbit where they will be added to the ever-growing orbiting laboratory.

To construct the station, the large components, built and contributed by multiple countries, are almost entirely completed on Earth, so that when they are launched into orbit from the cargo bay of the space shuttle the amount of installation required by the astronauts on the ISS is minimal. Currently the assembly sequence is just under half complete. Its construction is behind schedule, largely due to the halting of all shuttle flights following the Columbia disaster in early 2003. The path to construction began again this year with shuttle Discovery’s “return to flight.”

After the ISS Center, we stopped by the Orbital Processing Facility (0PF), the hangar bay where the shuttles rest and are worked on before and after space flight.

At a height of 100 feet, each of the three buildings houses an orbiter, and serves as a hangar and maintenance bay. Each space flight requires years of mission planning and months of getting the shuttle prepared to go into orbit.

Believe it or not, there is a shuttle under of all this! Once inside the high bay the orbiter is jacked up off its landing gear and is surrounded by platforms and scaffolds which allow access to every portion of the vehicle.

Large cranes are used to remove previous payloads and to provide support to any heavy equipment which may be used for orbiter processing. Engineers inspect every system on the orbiter and repair or replace items failing the rigorous exam. Fuel pumps must be removed, inspected, and refurbished. New engines or previously refurbished engines are installed. Electricians inspect every circuit and computer system.

Every one of the 32,000 heat tiles must be inspected and replaced if they are damaged or missing. Note the green tags on these tiles—each one is due for individual inspection. This process takes anywhere from weeks to months.

At the end of all this activity, the orbiter is lowered on to a mover, gear up and locked, and towed to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the next step on our tour.

The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) was originally built for the assembly of Apollo/Saturn vehicles and was later modified to support Space Shuttle operations.

The VAB stands 525 feet high and is the world's largest building in volume under a single roof. In this huge complex, the orbiter is mated to the two solid rocket boosters and the external tank. Together this stack will be carried to the launch pad aboard the crawler-transporter.

The process of integrating the major shuttle parts is called stacking and takes about four to six weeks. After the massive external fuel tank is joined with the two solid rocket boosters, the orbiter is hoisted by two metal slings and rotated from the horizontal to the vertical. To miss the series of platforms built around the half-finished stack, the crane lifts the orbiter over 300 feet into the air and lowers it beside the other pieces.

The crawler, which weighs six million pounds, is 131 feet long, 114 feet wide, and one story tall. It has two huge metallic tracks similar to an armored tank. Rolling out the shuttle out takes six hours. The distance between the VAB and the launch pad is only 3.4 miles.

Here, on the 13th of 46 floors, the remains of shuttle Columbia are interred.

Below, Stephanie stands on the exact gantry where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the other astronaut heroes of the Apollo program made their way to their massive Saturn V rockets.

But the Florida visit wasn't only about space. It was also about seeing some wonderful friends in Jacksonville, namely old Navy (that's the organization with boats, not cheap clothes) buddies from Sicily. We found an Italian resturant and spent hours catching up.

Anybody who knew me in Sicily, or now for that matter, knows that pictures of Uncle Brandon in poses such as this one were commonplace. It was equally wonderful seeing some of my younger friends!

We were even able to visit the base in Jax, climb aboard a P-3 Orion and admire the S-3 Viking below, my "office" for most of my years in the service.

After Jax, we drove to Pensacola where we spent several wonderful days with my Aunt Deletha...

...eating seafood (well, at least I was) and combing the white beaches looking at shells and the massive hurricane damage.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Perimeter of Ignorance: A New Case Against Intelligent Design

My wife has a boyfriend.

Every time she goes off on one of her space-related business trips, she ends up at the hotel bar until late in the night, nursing a warmed Grand Marnier as she falls into deep conversation with a man who was once described by People magazine as “the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive.”

Neal Degrasse Tyson

With a BA in Physics from Harvard and a PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia, Neal Degrasse Tyson is one of the world's most recognized and popular lecturers on astronomy. The author of six books, a columnist for Natural History magazine, the host of NOVA's "Origins" miniseries, and the youngest-ever director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, you would think Tyson would be insufferable. Not at all. He’s a warm, personable and outgoing man, blessed with the ability to translate complex cosmic phenomena into something everyday people can grasp…and fall in love with.

As long as they keep their conversations to star formation, dwarf galaxies and the structure of our Milky Way, I guess I'm ok with it.

In this month’s issue of Natural History, Tyson has offered what he considers to be one of the most important things he’s ever written. The article, titled The Perimeter of Ignorance, is about Intelligent Design and is subtitled: A boundary where scientists face a choice: invoke a deity or continue the quest for knowledge.

But this isn’t your typical Intelligent Design article. Dr. Tyson is far more interested in the ramifications of the implementation of Intelligent Design than he is in the religious validity of its argument. Though his own opinion on the subject can be inferred, his article generally ignores the pros and cons of this latest shot in America's culture wars and focuses instead on the consequences—unintended or otherwise—of elevating Intelligent Design to a fully-functioning scientific model.

Tyson begins, “Writing in centuries past, many scientists felt compelled to wax poetic about cosmic mysteries and God’s handiwork…[invoking] divinity only when they reach the boundaries of their understanding. They appeal to a higher power only when staring into the ocean of their own ignorance. They call on God only from the lonely and precarious edge of incomprehension. Where they feel certain about their explanations, however, God gets hardly a mention.”

In the absence of verifiable data, Tyson argues, at that border between what scientists of old could explain and what they could not—they invoked God. As an example, he contrasts Sir Isaac Newton, the discoverer of gravity and a pious Christian and the French astronomer and mathematician Pierre-Simon de Laplace. Despite all that he had explored and revealed, there were still things that eluded Newton’s reason, particularly how the solar system remained cohesive and didn’t fly apart. The answer, he surmised, was that God held it all together supernaturally. Unsatisfied with his colleague’s hypothesis, de Laplace confronted Newton’s dilemma of unstable orbits head-on...and came up with the mathematical model that we still use today to explain the gravimetric forces that bind our planets. Refusing to relinquish the challenge of the unsolved to quasi-magical powers, de Laplace advanced science by a gargantuan degree. All because he refused to settle with the idea that a thing may be inherently unknowable.

“Today secular philosophers call that kind of divine invocation ‘the God of the Gaps’—which comes in handy, because there has never been a shortage of gaps in people’s knowledge,” Tyson writes. “As reverent as the great scientists of earlier centuries may have been, they were also empiricists. They did not retreat from the conclusions their evidence forced them to draw, and when their discoveries conflicted with prevailing articles of faith, they upheld the discoveries. That doesn’t mean it was easy: sometimes they met fierce opposition as did Galileo, who [once said that] the Bible ‘tells you how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.’”

“The unknown,” Tyson says, should be seen as “a place to explore rather than an eternal mystery controlled by the hand of God. As long as the celestial sphere was generally regarded as the domain of the divine, the fact that mere mortals could not explain its workings could safely be cited as proof of the higher wisdom and power of God. But beginning in the sixteenth century, the work of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton—not to mention Maxwell, Heisenberg, Einstein, and everybody else who discovered fundamental laws of physics—provided rational explanations for an increasing range of phenomena. Little by little, the universe was subjected to the methods and tools of science, and became a demonstrably knowable place.”

Countless questions hover at the front lines of science. The answers to many of these questions have eluded this planet’s best minds for centuries. And they may elude them for many more to come. Interestingly enough, in this age of technological marvels and scientific breakthroughs coming at a rate and size the world has never before seen, the idea, at least in contemporary America, of a higher intelligence as the single answer to all remaining enigmas has been enjoying a resurgence. What used to be called ‘the God of the gaps’ now goes by Intelligent Design.

Dr. Tyson sees this as little more than embracing ignorance.

Personally, I am a Creationist, which is to say that I think the world came into being as the result of an active, creative mind, not random chance. I believe in Intelligent Design which is to say that I believe a supreme being was behind that mind. Beyond that, however, I cease to really care how it was done. Six literal days and “poof” — instant world? I think the geological record pretty soundly refutes a young earth, but ok. The slow change of organisms, evolving over time into a higher ordered species. Yeah, sure, sounds about right. It really doesn’t matter to me. I tend to be an old-earth Creationist who could probably be persuaded into an Theistic Evolutionary model without much difficulty. Frankly, I care very little either way. It’s a silly thing to argue about and I rarely care to.

But I’m with Dr. Tyson on this one.

I don’t know what this is. I don’t know how it works. It’s too complicated for me to figure out. It’s too complicated for any human being to figure out. So it must be the product of a higher intelligence. What do you do with that line of reasoning? Do you just cede the solving of problems to someone smarter than you, someone who’s not even human? Do you tell students to pursue only questions with easy answers?

“There may be a limit to what the human mind can figure out about our universe. But how presumptuous it would be for me to claim that if I can’t solve a problem, neither can any other person who has ever lived or who will ever be born. Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem.

“I don’t want students who could make the next major breakthrough in renewable energy sources or space travel to have been taught that anything they don’t understand, and that nobody yet understands, is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity.”

Thursday, November 10, 2005

God Prepares to Pour Out Wrath On Small Pennsylvania Town

Like a dog returning to its vomit, some people just refuse to learn.

With a long history of apocalyptic warnings and provocative statements under his belt, Pat Robertson this summer called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Now he's daring God to assassinate an entire Pennsylvania town.


They had the unmitigated temerity to oust a school board that supported "intelligent design."

Robertson told citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania that they had rejected God by their vote and told them not to be surprised if disaster struck.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there."

Good grief.

Someone once said, "Lord, save me from your followers." I second that sentiment.

I hear Kabbalah is fun...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

An Open Letter from God to the Weaver Family

Dear Cleavers, er, Weavers,

I was watching The Amazing Race: Family Edition last night (you should see my cable bill) and decided that there was something I couldn't put off any longer: WILL YOU PLEASE STOP INVOKING MY NAME ON THE SHOW!

I am not the fifth member of your team! You're making me look bad, running around saying "Praise God this" and "Praise God that" and "Put a hedge of protection around us Lord this" and "Dear Jesus, we know it's Your will that we win a million dollars that" and then turning around and acting like the most deceptive, manipulative, dishonest and rude team in the game! Knock it off already!

A guy I'm pretty proud of, St. Paul (you may have heard of him) wrote that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are signs of my true followers. I've been looking for these qualities in you. I'm still looking. I guess the fruit of the Spirit doesn't make for good "Must-See TV," eh?

I am the first to admit (I know you all pretty well, after all) that if you put cameras into the houses of my saints for long enough, you're bound to capture a moment or two where they might give you cause to question their salvation, or at the very least, the depth of their commitment to Me. You are, after all, only human. I bet David's glad there was no reality TV when he bumped into Bathsheba or Noah when he got drunk that time with his daughters, or Abraham when he offered his wife to Pharaoh.

But I digress. You see my point.

There is no excuse for my people to engage in this kind of behavior. Like the other night, when the the Godlewski's (or was it the Bransen's -- I get those girls mixed up sometimes) were legitimately trying to comfort you at the race track and you mocked them afterwords. Or the time when you were on the detour mat and made fun of garbage men and every other team. Or that pathetic "us and God" speech. Or that episode where you just plain freaked out. Or trying to "save" that guy at the mud pit. Sure, maybe some of your good side has been lost on the cutting room floor, but the amount of lying, cheating and backstabbing I've seen lead to Me believe that, as pompous and petulant as you appear, it's hard to imagine your witness has done anything more than bring shame and disrepute to My name.

Oh, and stop crying every other episode and telling Phil that the other teams hate you because you're different and trying so hard to live good little Christian lives. I've got news for you--you're not being persecuted for My name's sake. It's because you're a bunch of jerks. If you want to blame Satan, go ahead, he gets a lot of blame for stuff he has little to do with.

I never thought I could be disappointed in a team more than the Paolo's. So much for that idea.

Hell (I created it so I can say it), I am considering banning all my followers from participating on reality TV. There was that Joanna on Survivor. And Millie & Chuck and Brandon & Nicole from The Amazing Race. Yeah, I know they didn't do anything to really bring reproach on My name, but why are the biggest wimps and whiners always the ones who say they belong to Me? And don't even get me started on that Kris Gillespie from Wife Swap. Excellence indeed! Me have mercy! Now Chip & Kim -- there's a couple I can get behind. You never heard them proselytize throughout their honest and integrity-filled season of The Amazing Race. Never even knew they were Christians until the end where they gave Me the glory and said the first thing they were going to do with their money was tithe ten percent. (Were you planning on doing that if you won......hmmmmmm?)

By the way, I bumped into your dad up here the other day. Let's just say he's very disappointed in all of you.

Love ya, but then again, I love everybody,


P.S. -- I already know how this thing's going to play out. I'm omnicent after all. And I think that Linz family is hilarious.

P.S.S. -- Oh for My Son's sake, put some clothes on already, girls!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Good Night, and Good Luck: Speaking Truth to Power

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.” --Edward R. Murrow

There are certain pieces of art that transcend the medium on which they were created to take their place in the diminutive pantheon of ethical signposts, those creative signals that point humankind in the way it should, or should not, go. Witness Aesop’s Fables, the medieval morality plays, Candide, the social commentaries of Dickens, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the works of Dostoevsky, etc. Some art speaks to particular nationalities, others to the universal human condition—some to both.

I did not think America would produce a more timely and necessary film this year than the phenomenally crucial, Crash. But it has.

George Clooney’s sophomore film, Good Night, and Good Luck is a brilliant tour de force, both of filmmaking and philosophy. It is a daring and to some, a dangerous film. It offers something to everyone who craves more than escapism from the cinema. It offers truth. It is a snapshot of a previous era’s fight for America’s soul writ large on the canvas of contemporary necessity.

We are guests as immortal newscaster Edward R. Morrow galvanizes a nation against the tyrannical excesses of government under the leadership of Senator Joseph McCarthy, and know that, while the film works brilliantly on its surface level, it intentionally fails spectacularly at hiding an undulating sea of stinging metaphor and unavoidably allegory just beneath its classy, jazzy veneer. And, if we are keen enough to catch it, surely we are the better for it.

Taking on McCarthy is not something Murrow and his young Turks wanted to do—it is something they felt they had to do. They simply could stand by while McCarthy destroyed the country’s freedoms in the name of defending them. A cancer was growing in the body politic and someone had to see that it was removed, something Murrow did with eloquent precision.

Clooney and the film’s screenwriters do not attempt to put words in Murrow’s mouth—they let his own broadcasts guide the film:

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

If we confuse dissent with disloyalty— if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox— if we deny the essence of racial equality, then hundreds of millions in Asia and Africa who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the ... confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.

Murrow is played by veteran character actor David Strathairn, who delivers a powerhouse performance of lucidity and elegance under refined restraint. His mannerisms and voice so capture the late journalist that it is as Murrow reborn, the role of a lifetime. Clooney realized early on, that casting an actor to play McCarthy would weaken the film and its believability. He chose the brilliant road of including the senator only in archival footage, in essence allowing McCarthy to play himself. Ironically, the tactic was also used by Murrow. Shirking much editorializing, CBS instead primarily used McCarthy’s own words against him, destroying him with the truth like he so blusterously destroyed others with lies.

Good Night, and Good Luck is shot in elegant black and white, evoking, more than once, allusions to the great Citizen Kane and, of course, the footage in which the original showdown was broadcast. Nearly every character smokes, making for a swirling, poisonous, chocking atmosphere. Shots are low and close and intimate. The movie is entirely, hermetically, claustrophobically, about politics and the news business.

In addition to chronicling Murrow vs. McCarthy, Good Night, and Good Luck also hammers at the “dumbing down” of the mainstream news media. Hard, responsible news, Murrow felt, was in jeopardy of being rendered impotent by the need to entertain.

“Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. Television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live.

For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally.

But this nation is now in competition with malignant forces of evil who are using every instrument at their command to empty the minds of their subjects and fill those minds with slogans, determination and faith in the future. If we go on as we are, we are protecting the mind of the American public from any real contact with the menacing world that squeezes in upon us. We are engaged in a great experiment to discover whether a free public opinion can devise and direct methods of managing the affairs of the nation.

Just once in a while let us exalt the importance of ideas and information. Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night the time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan is given over to a clinical survey of the state of American education, and a week or two later the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to a thoroughgoing study of American policy in the Middle East. Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged? Would the stockholders rise up in their wrath and complain? Would anything happen other than that a few million people would have received a little illumination on subjects that may well determine the future of this country?

We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.

[There are] those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated. If they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.”

Though Murrow was speaking to a crowd in the 1950s, he might as well have been speaking about today. Compelling sound bytes that grab the attention but are immediately forgotten seem to be the rule of modern TV news. Murrow didn’t just stand up for what he believed in, he was a visionary with a keen insight into how the future would unfold.

It’s astonishing that encyclopedic events from over 50 years ago could have such a potent resonance today. Are the lessons learned then—truths purchased with blood, sweat, and tears—already forgotten? Is today’s climate of escalating paranoia all that different from what this country endured during the birth pains of the Cold War? While modernity has not yet generated a demagogue of McCarthy’s stature, the eerie sense of déjà vu is, nonetheless, inescapable. It is not that difficult to see the frightening parallels if the word “Communism” is replaced with the word “Terrorism.” While no one is suggesting that these comments, or this film, should be seen as an argument that terrorism is not a serious threat, they are, instead, warning bells against those who would exploit it as a means of political and financial gain. What Good Night, and Good Luck does so well, is remind us that the battles that Murrow and his men fought are never permanently won, but must be re-fought by every new generation.

If Good Night, and Good Luck is a cautionary tale that looks back at events of the past with an unblinking eye, let us hope it is not also peering into the future. By releasing Good Night, and Good Luck now, Clooney is using our own history to illuminate the precipice upon which this country now stands.

Good Night, and Good Luck is the sort of film where, at the end, you just may break out in enthusiastic applause. I know I did.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We’re Live In…Three, Two, One—

Sick of politics and wishing you could just get away from it all? Why not tune in to NBC this Sunday night, as The West Wing goes live in what promises to be a spectacular hour of television.

Are you one of the ones who stopped watching after the show’s creator and writer, Aaron Sorkin left and the show’s dramatic integrity was shot to hell? Now’s the time to come back. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—it’s as if Sorkin never left. Sometime about mid-last season, The West Wing found its soul and is once again drawing lavish critical praise.

Using the reality of a lame duck president and an impending election, the producers of The West Wing decided to created a deliciously schizophrenic show, one that hops between the current Bartlett White House and the grit and grime of a lively presidential campaign to decided the outcome of the next four years (it is my hope that the series voluntarily removes itself from the air next year when the new President is inaugurated).

The challengers in that campaign, conservative Democrat Mathew Santos (Jimmy Smits) and moderate Republican Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) meet in Sunday night’s episode, not in a pre-recorded debate, but in a live, no-holds-barred, anything-could-happen-and-probably-will broadcast. It will look like a real debate. It will sound like a real debate. It’s even moderated by actual NBC anchor, Forrest Sawyer. Although they have a script, Alda and Smits also received a crash course in debate strategy and issues that will allow them to veer off the page should they decide to improv. Missteps—malfunctioning cameras and microphones, flubbed lines, etc—could prove just as rewarding (and realistic) as a flawless hour.

Don’t miss this show or this season.

Way To Go Dems!

Yesterday, outnumbered Democrats used a rarely invoked Senate rule to force a closed-door session as a way to capture the attention of the Republican majority and the American people to the assertions that the Bush administration misused intelligence in the run-up to war in Iraq.

“This administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said.

It was the first time in more than two decades that the Senate chambers were emptied and sealed in the implementation of the obscure Rule 21, which dates back to 1795. Though Republicans cried foul, they had no choice but to comply.

The Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Iraq was two-fold: was the rationale that weapons of mass destruction were threatening American interests the reason for going to war, and, did the Bush administration twist the evidence in order to make a convincing, if deceptive, argument? Pertaining to the first question, the committee concluded last year that there were no weapons of mass destruction and therefore the war-drums were beaten erroneously. The second phase’s investigation was more tricky, and Republican lawmakers began to stall.

“They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why,” Reid said Tuesday.

Democrats forced the closed door session in order to get assurance that the Intelligence Committee would complete the second phase of its investigation. A six-member task force — three members from each party — was appointed to review the Intelligence Committee's work and report to their respective leaders by November 14th.

Way to go, Dems!

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Three years ago, the U.S. military turned the Cuban base at Guantanamo Bay into a massive prison facility to house suspected terrorists caught up in the War on Terror. 500 men are currently detained. They have been there for 3 ½ years. They have not been charged. They are not allowed legal representation. They are to be held indefinitely or at least until the War on Terror is concluded. Allegations and proof of misconduct and disregard for their safety, culture and well-being is rampant. Many of the prisoners are on hunger strikes to protest their treatment, seven of which are being hospitalized and force-fed.

And yesterday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to permit United Nations human rights investigators—investigators there at the behest of the U.S. government after a persistent, three-year request by the U.N.—access to meet with detained terror suspects. One visit, by the American Red Cross, three years ago, was enough, Rumsfeld suggested.

“It makes no sense (to go),” Manfred Nowak, special investigator on torture and other cruel treatment, told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York. “You cannot do a fact-finding mission without talking to the detainees.”

Continuing on its current course of believing itself above even its own laws—both national and international—the United States thumbs its nose at the rest of the world, cementing radically irresponsible and appalling policies, the sorts of which it itself would never permit were it interested in investigating human rights issues in the Sudan or some other such country plagued by torture allegations. The hypocrisy of this government is staggering and makes one wonder—just what are they trying to hide?
Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus