Thursday, March 31, 2005

WMD's...the story behind the story

The Reuters headline reads...U.S. Intelligence 'Dead Wrong' on Iraq-Report

The fact that the U.S. officials have for months said that WMD's would probably not be found in Iraq aside, the presidential commission report that the prewar intelligence was extremely lacking in almost all areas and that the trend for errors in our inttelligence ways continues to this day is extremely concerning.

The administrations platform to invade Iraq was sold on several points:

* Iraq possessed WMD and the ability to use them

* Iraq was in violation of 17 U.N. resolutions

* Iraq had a grotesque human rights record and a history of invading neighbors


There is no doubt that the threat of WMD's was the major selling point to the American public. Considering that for years, most major American politicians (including Bill Clinton and John Kerry) had considered Saddam's regime a true threat quite capable of developing and using WMD, and the fact that intlligence agencies from Russia, Germany and France, also believed that Iraq possessed WMD's I for one accepted all points, including the WMD case.

To some extent it could be considered a 'gotcha', against the current administration that this report clearly indicates how insufficient the intelligence we collected was. In some ways, I wish it almost were a gotcha. Unfortunately what is being revealed is the fact that the U.S. intelligence service with specific regards to the pursuit of nuclear programs by various countries (Iran and North Korea included) is far from adequate if not absolutely failed.

Why should we worry?

No doubt, some are worried if not convinced that the U.S. will continue to use failed intelligence such as this as a means to support further aggressions against other nations such as Iran, North Korea, perhaps even Syria in the continued quest for complete world dominance, not to mention the oil. While I could not disagree more with such feelings, reports such as this do nothing to ease the minds of many.

What we really should be worried about is that in a time of real terrorist threats, where nuclear material is missing all over the globe 'dirty-bomb' are possible, if we can not even get the intelligence about a whole country correct how are we suppose to understand the capabilities of a few rogue individuals?

The commission sent Bush a separate letter criticizing overhaul plans at the CIA and the FBI, saying "these agencies remain too comfortable with a 'business as usual' approach to intelligence gathering."


With the margin of error in intelligence gaps becoming smaller and smaller, but the threat becoming increasingly smaller it is essential that this administration (and those in the future) do more NOW to increase the level and effectivness of our intelligence agencies. Baby steps are still light years away from resolving these issues.

The story behind the story is that while U.S. had bad intelligence on Iraq possessing WMD's (apparently) it is certain that we have no further certainly about who actually does have them and who may be developing them.
Posted by mightymerk, 5:37 PM | link | (2) comments |

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A bad answer to a big problem


The Minutemen - LeRoy Neiman, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

A good friend of the mightyblogs, Irish, was the first to point me to this story.

Essentially there will be groups of everyday American Citizens spending upwards of a month at a time, locating and tracking illegal immigrants who cross parts of the Arizona Dessert hundreds at a time each night. These self-professed modern day "Minutemen" claim that their intent is simply to observe, but the fear is that such monitoring can lead to "vigilante attacks".

Minuteman Project founder James Gilchrist described the project as


"a grassroots effort to bring Americans to the defence of their homeland", he says, which is "devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens".

In my opinion, such actions (and reactions) are part of the larger problem in the fact that neither the American or Mexican government is doing enough, actually anything. to stem the flow of illegal immigration. Mexico has even gone as far as creating a "self-help" manual, go guide future illegals in their quest to enter and stay in America illegally. I had an earlier post on this here.

As an American, and the son of an immigrant, I find it hard to believe that the government can not react to such a problem. In 1956, when my mother entered the United States. It was commonplace for people on her boat to be asked such questions as "were you ever convicted of a crime?", "what special skills do you have?", and the ever blasphomous "why are you coming to America?". In addition to these questions, routine medical exams and background checks were conducted. With that said, NO program is foolproof, and make not mistake many former convicts and criminals made it to our shores, but they did so in relatively small numbers, and they at least did so in recorded fashion.

Now, with regards to the Mexican illegal immigration problem, a root for much anxiety (shared my most Americans regardless of ethnic, religous, or political background) is the fact that there is absolutely no control mechanism in place. It is essentially a 'free-flow' of whoever is physically able to cross the border and not have the misfortunre of bumping into a border guard. It is estimated, conservatively that over 1 million illegal immigrants cross our borders from Mexico each year. Some estimate (again conservatively) that over 15 million illegal immigrants reside in the United States. To be fair, by in large most of the illegal immigrants that come to America, do so with noble intentions. They tend to be extremely hard working, dependable and loyal workers. They also come to America because their own homeland has no viable alternative for them. Simply put, the Mexican economy is lacking. Most often, these illegals either cross the border to find work, or watch their families starve and suffer. From a human perspective it is simple enough.

But there are socio-economic impacts as well.

Along with the majority of hard working, religious folk there are increasing number of criminals crossing our border, essentially even being encouraged to do so, so in effect they become America's "problem" and not Mexico's. What has this resulted in? U.S. jails, especially in California, Texas and New Mexico being overrun by Mexican inmates. These illegals, rather then helping the U.S. economy (directly or otherwise) now become a direct burden.

Also, it is estimated that some $15 billion dollars a year is being siphoned from the American economy and sent back to Mexico. It does not take much of an imagination to realize why Vicente Fox and his government are actually encouraging this immigration. Sure the benefit, to many business's, whether large corporations or small business owners, is cheap labor, to which often times they pay no payroll tak on, but at what greater cost to America? Sure, to keep lettuce at $7.00 a head, you may need to pay someone, like an illegal immigrant, half the wages as to what a regular citizen might expect, but when you add in medical, civic and social benefits this illegal also receivs 'gratis', we may in actuality being paying much more then $7.00 a head, in improper use of our tax dollars.

The risk of the journey

Many of these illegal aliens are subjected to unusually harsh working conditions (such as working many longer hours, with lack of food, injury care etc.). There are even many cases where these workers go 'missing'. This does not take into account the journey to America which often includes dangerous treks through hot deserts with insufficient water and food supplies that often result in death, or being packed into train cars like sardines resulting in even more loss of life.

I do believe that a true system in which both the human and economic needs of both countries can both be established that would be safer, less problematic and less threatning to all parties. It's time for the governments to address this issue. Again, no matter how noble the intent might be, having vigilante's addressing this situation is not at all what having a government for is all about.

Posted by mightymerk, 4:01 AM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter!!

Today when I awoke I recognized again that there are many wonderful things in this world to be happy about. Though all can not share in the joy and happiness today, it is always my wish that they could...and eventually will.

I wish everyone celebrating, a very Happy Easter and may peace be with you.

An interesting article about Easter I found today can be read here.

Posted by mightymerk, 3:54 AM | link | (0) comments |

Friday, March 25, 2005

Terri Schiavo what can be learned? What should be discussed?

By now, many of us know about Terri Schiavo and the fact that she probably has hours left on this earth. 8 days have gone by without her feeding tube and the debate regarding her fate still rages on.

The essential arguments/questions are:

*Does a person of the right to die?

* If the person directly effected by such physical diability, where they are unable to make a decision as the own value of their life, and have no legal documents stating what such feelings would be, whose right is it to choose? In this case the choices are; the husband? The parents? The courts?

* Is allowing someone to die, moreally equal to killing someone (humanely)?

* What is the most humane method? Is allowing someone to, in effect starve to death humane? What are more humane methods?

* Is this a slipperly slope? If greater utility is being served where does it end?


Now I do not want to get into an argument regarding these various points. Most of us have probably had hourless conversations on this at this point. I do however believe that there are some lessons learned and aspects to be observed. Mainly, if one is so passionate about such a topic (and it seems lately, many are) there are certain responsibilties and measures for each of us to take.

Lesson:

I believe much of the controversy and accompanying circus could be avoided if one were to compose a document, in line with that of a legal will, clearly indicating their personal preference as to the right to live, or die, if they were in fact in such a medical condition and unable to make a decision for themself because of this condition. That would work most of the time, the main problem being, like a will, most people would not take the time to compose such a document (especially not a 26 year old female like Terri Schiavo). Taking personal responsibility and making your thoughts/wishes clear and legal would bring much more certainty to a matter and allow someone, be it a husband or a set of parents, to not have to make such a difficult and painful experience.

Observation:

It is still not the time for the government to make such a decision, nor will it ever be. I believe it is every societies duty to preserve life, as much as possible given any circumstance (yes that would include limiting abortions, death sentences, etc). The moment a tribe (in effect what we all belong to) decides that it can no longer protect life, or has given up hope on saving lives I believe it is another slipperly slope, in which the 'state' might limit the natural human condition to preserve and extend life. This is a decision that is and should remain the choice of the individual(s) directly effected. The state should (naturally) wish to protect life at all costs, and limit needless suffering in the event someone has rationally chosen to limit the extent to which their life would be preserved.

Agree or disagree?
Posted by mightymerk, 12:27 PM | link | (0) comments |

Monday, March 21, 2005

Getting to say HI...in Amsterdam

For those of you wondering (and not already in the loop) I am in Europe right now. Specifically I have been in Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands.

Though I meet great people, professionally and personally all the time in Europe I am excited to announce that I met a blogger, actually two, for the first time.

A rare mightymerk personal moment

Long story short, I had been following the blog of a Finnish guy,Blog ID Vector, living in Holland with this Dutch wife Iona (who also happens to blog). The mightyblogs look, is in large part due to Vector's generous time and Html work. Knowing that I would be in Amsterdam on work, I offered to buy him a drink if he could make it to town. He agreed and I had the chance to have a few drinks and snacks with Vector and his lovely wife (brief details of this meeting are recorded nicely here)

In true mightymerk fashion, I shall recount my impression of the meeting. In Mr. and Mrs. Vector I found a charming people with a genuine curiosity of people and the world, much like myself. They have a great story of how their relationship developed, which I will leave for them to discuss themselves, and I felt very, very comfortable. It was so nice to spend 2.5 hours talking about people things (life, love, travelling, families (including pets), etc. It again solidifies for me that people are more the same then they are different. We essentially seek the same things in life (in quality terms) and we share the same passions and interests, but of varying degrees. It was really a pleasure for me to get to know these people, who also have interesting blogs, and not engage in the usual social/political commentary. We didn't even mention politics once, not once. Something I truly appreciated given the circumstance.

<>So to Vector and Iona I say, thank you so much for taking the time to come see me. It was a true pleasure. I look forward to the home-cooked meal (eventually) and further entries from your blogs.

My Best to both of you!

To the others I say...don't worry soon some more material. Working on a few things as we speak.
Posted by mightymerk, 3:31 AM | link | (1) comments |

Friday, March 11, 2005

A Real Hometown Hero


This is My Hometown, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

I live in Brick Township, New Jersey. It is located in Ocean County New Jersey. A really nice place to live. A few years ago the Ocean/Monmouth County sections of New Jersey were rated the 3rd best place to live in the U.S. This is mostly based on the fact that from just about any town in the area, including Brick, you can get to the beach in less then 10 minutes, or in my case walk 1 block, in just over 90 minutes you can be in New York City, in 2 hours you can be skiing in Norther New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania and there are 4 major airpors in the area (Newark, JFK, Laguardia and Philadelphia).

Back to Brick... Not much really goes on in Brick. People go to bed really early around here. Brick is the 2nd safest city in America for its size. Translates to boring I know, but it is a great place to raise a family (for the most part). The only time, people outside of the state here about Brick though, is usually only when something bad or controversial is taking place. The fact that an unusually high percentage of children are born with autism in Brick has made national headlines. Then there was the horrific murder of high school Brittney Gregory.

Well this past week another 'classic' Brick Township moment took place. It involved several students, a teacher and a video camera at Brick Township Highschool. In the video, which has been broadcast nationally, the irate looking teacher is pacing back and forth demanding that studentss stand for the National Anthem and for other to stop fooling around during it. The students hid a video camera as they knew that this type of behavior really would get the teacher "crazy". The teacher at one point pulls the chair from out under the student, but it appears the student was already in the process of standing up and no physical harm came to the student. As with most things, reactions were mixed. Did the teacher cross the line? Did the students commit an unlawful act by videotaping the teacher without his knowledge?

The larger questions of course, and what really got the Main Stream Media's attention, was whether or not the student had a consitutional right, to sit during the national anthem or pledge of allegiance for that matter. When the story broke, the students were being called everything from unpatriotic and a bunch of punks to heroes that should have their constituional rights defended. The matter has been written about and spoken about time and time again, but what is not being discussed is the follow-up to all of this.

Stupid is what Stupid Does!

On the very same video the students took of the apparently 'raging' teacher, it also included footage of a group of students, including the one directly involved with the National Anthem controversy, destroying Christmas decorations in the Brick Township area. ALL THREE STUDENTS IN THE VIDEO WRE ARRESTED AND CHARGED. Nice kids...reall hometown heroes.

I just think back to the day, not really all that long ago, that kids could got to school, not have to pass metal detectors, not have to be worry about getting killed for 'dissing' someone...and oh yeah...stand for the Pledge of Allegiance without any trouble.




Posted by mightymerk, 6:17 AM | link | (4) comments |

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's a GoOd thing... that you wouldn't understand

Said goodbye to Matthew Good today.

Matt,

Ban my IP. You have done it before. You neither break my heart or my will, you simply break your word.

You are a liar! And a bad one at that.

You are a hypocrite! And an obvious one at that.

I would have prepared a longer statement, but as posts seem to get abducted around these parts, there is no point.

So I say in closing...

Tear down this post Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this post!


And with those words my IP was banned. In honor of this liar and hypocrite I have decided to put a new look on the woManifesto.
Posted by mightymerk, 4:00 AM | link | (6) comments |

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Remembering a former passion of mine


Hang 40 Dude!!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

I have not touched a surf or boogie boad in about 7 years. At one time though, it was a priority of my life. The 8 years, I dedicated myself to the sport, inclouding Dawn patrols before morning class and the occassional early March snow ride are things I will never forget. There are many cliche's about the sport with regards to being at awe with mother nature and the power of the ocean, all of which I will not dispute. It was the comradery that I had with a handful of friends, however, that I cherished the most.

40+ riders road a wave for four minutes to unofficially (at this point) break the Guiness Book of World Records, for most riders on a single board on a single wave.

Today when I read this story I was immediately compelled to write a short post, especially after reading comments such as these:


Gold Coast board shaper Nev Hyman:

"It was the best four minutes of my surfing life. It went in strong and straight," Hyman told Queensland's The Sunday Mail newspaper.

"To be out there with those guys -- they're my best friends and pro surfers whom I've known for a long time -- to be just laughing our heads off without a worry in the world, it's what surfing is all about," he said.

"I don't think anyone has had more fun on a wave like that since the dawn of time," he added.

The 40 foot long board that was used for this record breaking ride will be taken to the United States as part of a global fund raising effort for the victims of the Asian Tsunami disaster. I can only help that these efforts are successful, but when you are having fun with what you are doing, and you are passionate, I believe only good results can of it.

One of the best feelings in the world, would be to come from the freezing ocean, jumping in your car for a 5 minute trip back home, taking a warm shower and then throwing on a pair of nice warm sweatpants without the undies. Those guys who surf know what kind of effects this has on a man ;)

While my passion for surfing had been replaced for cycling the past few years, which is now being replaced by skiing, and my skills have all but faded, my memories remain as vivid as ever.

Posted by mightymerk, 6:55 AM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

John Stewart - Better Candid then Scripted


Available in 40, 60, and 90 watt, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

I don't get John Stewart. Actually I should say I don't get John Stewart's comdedy. I have only found his shows, both on MTV and Comedy Central to be marginally funny. In fact, with the Daily Show, it is only the work of Lewis Black that I truly take interest to and one of the only reasons I do tend to watch it a few nights a week when possible.

Yet John Stewart, as the serious political observer, is something I have begun to appreciate more and more. I was first impressed by 'John Stewart the Observer', when he was on Crossfire and quite appropriately deemed the show as somewhat damaging to America, and their political commentary as more a work of 'theatre' then serious journalism. I though he was quite right in asserting that serious investigation and debate does not normally take place and that viewers lose out. Essentially the hosts of Crossfire, as well as most MSM news programs, participate in partisan hackery. At the time I commented on several other blogs I though John did a nice job. The hosts were totally taken off guard, and it ended with some very unfriendly jabs.

John Stewart strikes again!!

Recently interviewing Clinton aid Nancy Soderberg, author of " The Superpower Myth : The Use and Misuse of American Might", in a friendly interview in which the poor woman was suppose to be promoting her book, John Stewart instead had her spending a majority of the time debunking it, in effect, and also getting her to admit that Democrats are hoping for failure in the Middle East. Sure, she does not speak for all Democrats, but just what percentage of Democratic mindset does she represent?

A majority of thir exchange here:

Stewart: This book--it talks about the superpower myth of the United States. There is this idea, the United States is the sole superpower, and I guess the premise of the book is we cannot misuse that power--have to use it wisely, and not just punitively. Is that--

Soderberg: That's right. What I argue is that the Bush administration fell hostage to the superpower myth, believing that because we're the most powerful nation on earth, we were all-powerful, could bend the world to our will and not have to worry about the rest of the world. I think what they're finding in the second term is, it's a little bit harder than that, and reality has an annoying way of intruding.

Stewart: But what do you make of--here's my dilemma, if you will. I don't care for the way these guys conduct themselves--and this is just you and I talking, no cameras here [audience laughter]. But boy, when you see the Lebanese take to the streets and all that, and you go, "Oh my God, this is working," and I begin to wonder, is it--is the way that they handled it really--it's sort of like, "Uh, OK, my daddy hits me, but look how tough I'm getting." You know what I mean? Like, you don't like the method, but maybe--wrong analogy, is that, uh--?

Soderberg: Well, I think, you know, as a Democrat, you don't want anything nice to happen to the Republicans, and you don't want them to have progress. But as an American, you hope good things would happen. I think the way to look at it is, they can't credit for every good thing that happens, but they need to be able to manage it. I think what's happening in Lebanon is great, but it's not necessarily directly related to the fact that we went into Iraq militarily.

Stewart: Do you think that the people of Lebanon would have had, sort of, the courage of their conviction, having not seen--not only the invasion but the election which followed? It's almost as though that the Iraqi election has emboldened this crazy--something's going on over there. I'm smelling something.

Soderberg: I think partly what's going on is the country next door, Syria, has been controlling them for decades, and they [the Syrians] were dumb enough to blow up the former prime minister of Lebanon in Beirut, and they're--people are sort of sick of that, and saying, "Wait a minute, that's a stretch too far." So part of what's going on is they're just protesting that. But I think there is a wave of change going on, and if we can help ride it though the second term of the Bush administration, more power to them.

Stewart: Do you think they're the guys to--do they understand what they've unleashed? Because at a certain point, I almost feel like, if they had just come out at the very beginning and said, "Here's my plan: I'm going to invade Iraq. We'll get rid of a bad guy because that will drain the swamp"--if they hadn't done the whole "nuclear cloud," you know, if they hadn't scared the pants off of everybody, and just said straight up, honestly, what was going on, I think I'd almost--I'd have no cognitive dissonance, no mixed feelings.

Soderberg: The truth always helps in these things, I have to say. But I think that there is also going on in the Middle East peace process--they may well have a chance to do a historic deal with the Palestinians and the Israelis. These guys could really pull off a whole--

Stewart: This could be unbelievable!

Soderberg:---series of Nobel Peace Prizes here, which--it may well work. I think that, um, it's--

Stewart: [buries head in hands] Oh my God! [audience laughter] He's got, you know, here's--

Soderberg: It's scary for Democrats, I have to say.

Stewart: He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.

Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.

Stewart: [crossing fingers] Iran and North Korea, that's true, that is true [audience laughter]. No, it's--it is--I absolutely agree with you, this is--this is the most difficult thing for me to--because, I think, I don't care for the tactics, I don't care for this, the weird arrogance, the setting up. But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region.

Soderberg: Well wait. It hasn't actually gotten very far. I mean, we've had--

Stewart: Oh, I'm shallow! I'm very shallow!

Soderberg: There's always hope that this might not work. No, but I think, um, it's--you know, you have changes going on in Egypt; Saudi Arabia finally had a few votes, although women couldn't participate. What's going on here in--you know, Syria's been living in the 1960s since the 1960s--it's, part of this is--

Stewart: You mean free love and that kind of stuff? [audience laughter] Like, free love, drugs?

Soderberg: If you're a terrorist, yeah.

Stewart: They are Baathists, are they--it looks like, I gotta say, it's almost like we're not going to have to invade Iran and Syria. They're gonna invade themselves at a certain point, no? Or is that completely naive?

Soderberg: I think it's moving in the right direction. I'll have to give them credit for that. We'll see.

Stewart: Really? Hummus for everybody, for God's sakes.

Even more telling is Johns Stewart's own admission that he has mixed feelings over the Liberation of Iraq. Candid observation courtesy of John Stewart. I don't hold hold it against him, I will just hold him to it.

Hat Tip to Doug Ross
helping me to realize just what I had saw



Posted by mightymerk, 5:05 PM | link | (0) comments |

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The New Democratic Party of Love, Hate, Good and Evil?


It's my party and I'll scream if I want to...sceam if I want to., originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Like most, I wear my politics on my sleeve. I am a conservative white, christian, American male, which loosely translates to many lefties, as me being a racists, homophobic, Fox News watching, SUV driving, enironment destroying capitalist pig. Please correct me if I am wrong.

With that said, it appears I may have a tough time distinguising between looking in the mirror and looking at a 'new' democratic party.

Howard Dean, the king of bastardized Tarzan calls., has just recently been quoted as saying the following:

When speaking about Republicans in a speech given in Kansas;

" this is a struggle of good and evil, and we're the good"


And at the DNC forum on February 12th:

"I hate the republicans and everything they stand for, but I admire their discipline and organization,"


Of course I have some immediate observations

Howard Dean is not some fringe Democrat. He is the DNC Chair. Here we have the leader of the Democratic party, essentially calling 50% of Americans, give or take, evil. Telling them that, he hates them. At the same time Howard Dean is using the forbiden 'four letter' political worlds of good and evil. Will he be taken to task by the MSM, or even his own party? Probably not.

At the same time, Bush, who clearly through both elections, had promised more stewardship between America's two main political parties, is now faced with a daunting task. Make peace with someone who hates you, and with someone who has thus far only mustered enough critical thought and courage to call 1/2 of Americans evil.

Some juicy stuff for a neo-con like myself...the choices one has to make nowadays.



Posted by mightymerk, 6:53 PM | link | (2) comments |