Friday, January 27, 2006

Imagine the reaction if the opposite happened

Read the article that can be found at this link.

Now, I ask you to imagine the rhetoric that would be forthcoming from Mexican President Vicente Fox if armed U.S. soldiers or Border Patrol agents had crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally.

This seems like a pretty serious problem. As the article says, many corrupt Mexican authorities might be crossing our borders in the aid and abettance of alien and drug smuggling. Who knows when they might start accepting money to smuggle terrorists across our border?

I need to investigate this a little more. According to the article there have been many such incursions by Mexican authorities over the last ten years. Perhaps we do the same and the Mexicans turn a blind eye.

If I find that to be the case, I will post a retraction.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Day with the Rwandan Genocide

Today I visited two sites that are memorials to the Rwandan genocide that took place between April 3 and July 4, 1994.

I hired a taxi driven by a delightful and friendly fellow named Valence (pronounced Va-lonce). He was recommended to me by the consular officer with whom we are working here in Kigali. Valence didn’t speak much English, so we conversed in French. I was pleased to find that my French isn’t as rusty as I thought. On the drive both to and from Nyamata we had quite a free ranging conversation. We talked of the genocide, the future of Rwanda, and the problems facing Rwanda, and Africa in general. We even talked about women and the virtues of marriage and family.

The first site I visited was a Catholic church in the town of Nyamata. Nyamata is southeast about an hour by car from Kigali. In 1994, about 10,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus took refuge in the church there. About another 10 – 15,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus took refuge in the grounds and environs of the church.

To put it simply, they were slaughtered there. Some were shot. Some were killed when grenades were lobbed into the church. Some were hacked to death with machetes. Some were clubbed to death. Most gruesomely, infants were killed by being flung against the walls of the church.

Inside the church, the first room you enter contains the clothing of many of the victims. It also contained large bags of bones. I noticed that some of these bones were contained in USAID food donation sacks.

In the nave of the church, there are a few coffins for the pitifully few victims that were able to be identified by surviving family members. Most of the victims are interred in mass graves beneath the church itself and in two mass graves constructed on the grounds behind the church. To put it mildly, to see graves like this is overwhelming.

After visiting Nyamata, we returned to Kigali and went to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi. This is a memorial dedicated to both the Rwandan genocide and all genocides that have occurred in modern history. Its purpose is to document these atrocities and educate visitors on the various genocides. The memorial is quite well done and obviously very sobering. It’s also surprisingly high-tech with numerous touch screen LCDs. When you start the video clips on the LCDs, it shows video accounts of survivors from different genocides. The memorial was paid for with donations from numerous NGOs and humanitarian organizations, Yad Vashem (the Holocaust memorial in western Jerusalem), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among them.

I learned quite a bit about the history of Rwanda and the ethnic strife that led to the genocide. For example, while I knew the Rwanda was a Belgian colony that gained its independence in 1962, I hadn’t known that from 1895 – 1923 Rwanda was a German colony. In the wake of Germany’s defeat in WWI, the Belgians were granted a mandate over Rwanda by the League of Nations.

I also learned quite a bit about the ethnic divisions which led to the genocide. For example, when the Germans colonized Rwanda there were basically eighteen clans in the colony. The three main ethnic groups that are commonly recognized today (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa) were imposed by the Belgians to denote socio-economic status. If you owned more than ten cows, you were a Tutsi.

So, strictly speaking Hutus and Tutsis aren’t really ethnic groups at all. This was something that my driver explained to me. The driver explained to me that it wasn’t like the difference between, say, Nigerians and Ethiopians, who are strikingly different in appearance. While there are some subtle differences in the physiognomies of Hutus and Tutsis, the differences aren’t as clear cut as in the example I gave earlier in the paragraph.

The designation of Hutu or Tutsi or Twa denoted how wealthy or influential you were in your clan - and social mobility was possible. In other words, if you somehow worked your way up to owning ten or more cows, you could go from being a Hutu to a Tutsi.

This was rare, however, and since allied clans would naturally work together and favor one another, the clan identity gradually gave way to the ethnic identities of Hutu and Tutsi. (Twas are the smallest group, and as near as I could tell didn’t figure in the genocide.) As the Tutsis were the wealthy, they were a minority. And since they were wealthy they were favored by the Belgians. Thus, they maintained their economic status and began to become more educated. Because they were more educated, they gradually came to dominate the civil service under colonization. This is what led to the Hutu resentment of the Tutsis.

The memorial went into great detail about how the timeline of the genocide but it’s much too detailed for me to go into here.

For me the most powerful and most disturbing portion of the exhibit was the one dedicated to the child victims of the Rwandan genocide. It featured pictures of a child killed during the genocide; some short facts about the child (favorite food, favorite subject in school); and how they were killed. Again, mere words can’t really capture the power of this portion of the memorial.

I’ve posted pictures of my visit to these memorials on Normally, I send out a mass e-mail to all my friends and family inviting them to view my photos. But due to the disturbing nature of the photos from Nyamata, I am not going to do that this time. Instead, I will send an e-mail to everyone. Anyone that wants to see this album can e-mail me back and I will send an invitation to view the album.

Consistency from the Left? Pt. 5

This has been a drum I've been beating particularly hard for the last couple of weeks because it really gets my goat.

In a speech at Princeton University, Senator Hillary Clinton said, “I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations.”

Now, this is really rich. When it came to Iraq, the President acted "unilaterally" (despite the fact that 30-some nations joined our coalition) and against the wishes of the UN (despite UN Security Council Resolution 1441) in his "rush to war" (despite the fact that the invasion of Iraq was the most telegraphed invasion since Desert Storm in 1991).

Yet, when it comes to the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program, she critcizes the President for acting with the EU-3 (France, Germany and the UK - which includes two of the three countries which did the most to obstruct a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq). I don't suppose that, since the nascent Iranian nuclear weapons program most directly threatens Israel, this has anything to do with the fact that Senator Clinton represents New York, a state with a large and influential Jewish population, does it?

Do I really need to write any more?

Just a few items from the New York Times

In the January 20th edition of The New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney makes at least one factual error and then quotes Howard Dean which for the 47th quintillionth time demonstrates the chutzpah of the American left.

First, Nagourney writes, "...and it came at a time that Mr. Rove himself is under investigation for his role in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer to reporters." This is an important factual error that Nagourney makes because it speaks as to whether or not a crime was even committed in the Valerie Plame kerfluffle.

Valerie Plame was not undercover when her identity was revelead. This is not "inside baseball". This is the crux of the matter. First of all, columnist Robert Novak did not reveal her name. He revealed that a CIA employee had a hand in getting Joseph Wilson the assignment to assess whether or not Iraq had tried to procure Nigerien "yellowcake" uranium. And, despite Wilson's denials, it has now been proven that his wife did, in fact, have a hand in his being selected for the mission.

Now, Valerie Plame had, at one time, been an undercover operative for the CIA. But, as Joseph Wilson's own book proves, she hadn't been in the field since 1997. In that case, there was no violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.

The chutzpah part comes when Nagourney quotes Howard Dean, "
'The truth is, Karl Rove breached our national security for partisan gain and that is both unpatriotic and wrong.'" I wonder if Howard Dean has ever heard of Sandy Berger.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Consistency from the Left, Pt. 4

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been raking the American political left over the coals for their lack of consistency. But, I've decided that I have been unfair. They are consistent in one aspect: their insistence on a double-standard for Republicans.

Take, for example, their high dudgeon over the NSA wire-tapping scandal, when it was Bill Clinton that authorized Echelon, the largest electronic surveillance program in history.

Or how about this from the great Power Line blog?

So, let me see if I get this straight: if you divulge information that is helpful to Democrats you are a "whistle-blower", a "patriot", and sometimes even a Person of the Year (as FBI Special Agent Colleen Rowley was in 2002, along with World Com Vice President Cynthia Cooper and Enron Vice President Sherron Watkins).

But if you divulge information harmful to the Democrats you are, at least according to the New York Times, "someone...who wanted his criticism of the Clinton administration to be known". In other words, as blogger John Hindraker from Power Line puts it, "just a partisan with an axe to grind".

Hindraker also notes that "after the Times has printed dozens (hundreds, probably) of stories critical of the Bush administration based on leaks by Democratic bureaucrats, we're still waiting for the paper to write: 'A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times from someone sympathetic to the Democrats' position who wanted his criticism of the Bush administration to be known.'"

James Taranto: My hero!

Check out this item from Taranto's Best of the Web from January 5th, 2006:

From a Harris Poll on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court:

Opposition to the confirmation of Judge Alito would probably grow substantially if most people believed he would vote to make abortion illegal. A 69 to 31 percent majority of the public say they would oppose his confirmation if they thought he would vote to make abortion illegal. Majorities of Democrats (86%) and Independents (74%) feel this way. However, a majority of Republicans (56% vs. 44%) would support his confirmation if they believed he would vote to make abortion illegal.

Yeah, well, we would oppose Alito's confirmation if we believed he would vote to make abortion illegal--and we think Roe v. Wade is a monstrosity. Reversing Roe, however, would not make abortion illegal; it would merely make it possible for duly elected legislators to do so. The guys who write Harris polls know so little about constitutional law, they ought to be teaching it at the University of Virginia.

(I promise I did not read this before my post on liberals' misunderstanding of the principle of federalism.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Chutzpah, they name is Ted Kennedy

I've been on record many times that Ted Kennedy is the most shameless and hypocritical politician in the United States.

Check out what Sen. Kennedy had to say about the current hearings on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court:

Mr. Kennedy said that the nomination process, and particularly the hearings, had "turned into a political campaign," and that the White House had proved increasingly skilled in turning that to its advantage.

"These issues are so sophisticated--half the Senate didn't know what the unitary presidency was, let alone the people of Boston," he said, referring to one of the legal theories that was a focus of the hearings. "I'm sure we could have done better."

"But what has happened is that this has turned into a political campaign," he said. "The whole process has become so politicized that I think the American people walk away more confused about the way these people stand."

Where to begin? First of all, a nomination of any kind is not a political campaign. Perhaps all Ted Kennedy's heavy drinking has so addled his brain that he has forgotten that it is the political campaign that leads to the nomination. In other words, you win an election and you get to nominate people you want for various positions.

Secondly, the nerve of such a statement from the man who turned the surname "Bork" into a verb is...stunning doesn't even begin to come close. I quite literally can't think of a way to characterize this strongly enough.

Consistency from the Left, pt. 3

It was Bill Clinton who signed the law authorizing the creation of special prosecutors. He then spent his entire presidency dodging and demonizing them. It was President Bush and the Republican Congress that allowed the law to sunset.

So, of course, Al Gore is now calling for a special prosecutor to investigate President Bush in the NSA wire-tapping scandal.

Hypocrite, thy name is Democrat.

Democrats display ignorance of federalism

With every judicial nomination, abortion is always one of the key questions: does the nominee support Roe v. Wade? With Supreme Court nominees, and the current Alito nomination is no exception, the Democrats inevitably home in on the question of whether the nominee would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Suggestions that the nominee would vote to overturn Roe, lead groups like NOW and NARAL to bloviate that overturning Roe would lead us to a return to the days of back-alley, coathanger abortions.

This demostrates a stunning, and in my opinion, willful misunderstanding of the principle of federalism. (Perhaps, I've written this before, so if I am repeating myself I apologize.) If Roe were overturned, abortion would not become illegal overnight. The reason? Each state could decide for itself whether to keep abortion illegal. Alabama and Georgia, for example, could say, no, we don't want doctors practicing abortion in our state. California, Massachussetts and New York, on the other hand, could say, yes, we think women should have the option to abort a pregnancy.

Try as you might to find it, and despite Justice Blackmum's "reasoning", there is no right to abortion in the Constitution. So, when presented with the argument that states could decide for themselves whether to keep abortion legal, groups in favor of abortion argue that making a woman travel to a neighboring state would create an undue hardship. And it would discriminate against the poor.

I reject such arguments on two grounds. One, transportation is cheap. You can buy a bus ticket to go from one state to another for a few hundred dollars. To me, this does not present an undue hardship.

The second reason is simple: personal responsibility. In this day and age, when every grammar school child knows what a condom is, there is no reason for unwanted pregnancies. If you want an abortion, it's because you don't want a baby. Well, if you don't want a baby, practice contraception. There are many options available and they are all fairly cost-effective.

If Democrats a feel like abortion is such a fundamental right, then why do they think, as Bill Clinton once said, it should be "safe, legal and rare". If there is nothing wrong morally with abortion, then why should it be rare?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Some thoughts on the insurgency

I received a CNN Alert yesterday about car bombing in Iraq and a thought occurred to me.

Think of the current insurgency in Iraq as an argument. One side would like to see some sort of federalist, republican government, while the other would like to see Islam and sharia as the basis for organizing and governing society.

One side is organizing into political parties so that they can persuade the rest of their countrymen to govern Iraq and spend Iraq's limited resources (remember your basic civics - every country has limited resources and politics is the non-violent method by which people decide to allocate those resources) the way their party would like. This is representative government.

The other side is sneaking about, planting bombs on roads and in public places and blowing up their countrymen so that they will be cowed into accepting Islam and sharia as the basis for organizing society.

Hasn't one side implicitly given up on persuasion and resorted to coercion? In other words, haven't the insurgents already lost this argument?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Who are the uniters and who are the dividers?

Democrats love to ridicule for George Bush for not being the "uniter" he promised to be during his campaign and upon taking office. So, let's examine the comments commemorating MLK Day by George Bush versus those of Hilary Clinton.

Here's what the president said at the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony at the Kennedy Center on Monday:

At the dawn of this new century, America can be proud of the progress we have made toward equality, but we all must recognize we have more to do. The reason to honor Martin Luther King is to remember his strength of character and his leadership, but also to remember the remaining work. The reason to honor Mrs. Parks is not only to pay homage to her strength of character, but to remember the ideal of active citizenship. Active citizens in the 1960s struggled hard to convince Congress to pass civil rights legislation that ensured the rights of all, including the right to vote. And Congress must renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Now, let's compare that to some of the comments mady by Hillary Clinton in a speech she gave in Houston. She said the Bush administration was one of the worst "in history" (boy, she really has a short memory). She likened the House of Representatives to a plantation. The she apologized to a group of Hurricane Katrina surivors "on behalf of a government that left you behind, that turned its back on you". (I have serious questions about her competency. She obviously doesn't realize that the federal government isn't obligated to do anything to assist states that are victims of natural disasters.)

Now, I put it to you, dear reader. Just who is the uniter and who is the divider? (That's a rhetorical question, by the way.)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gorillas in the Mist

Today my teammates and I went up to northwestern Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas. We went to Virunga National Park where they have a population of about 350 gorillas. Between Rwanda and Uganda there are about 700 mountain gorillas still in the wild.

Prior to hiking up to the gorillas' nest, we listened to a briefing by our guide. It sounds like between the Rwandans and the Ugandans, both countries are really making an effort to preserve the gorillas in the wild. Nothing is done to detroy or even alter the gorillas' habitat.

While it's an admirable policy, it made for an arduous hike to the gorillas' nest. We started out at about 6500 feet and hiked up to about 9000 feet through the densest forest I've seen since I was a Boy Scout in Panama. And there is a reason they called the movie "Gorillas in the Mist". The weather was chilly and rainy which made for quite a bit of, you guessed it, mist. The trail (and I use that term loosely) was quite muddy and we were all pretty filthy by the time we reached the nest.

We spent an hour observing a group of 18 gorillas. A group of gorillas are called a band. A band is led by a single silverback. A silverback is a gorilla that is at least 12 years old. (Gorillas have a life span of about 45 years.) In addition to the silverback, there were several blackbacks (adolescent males), females and cubs. We reached the nest at about 10:00 am which is a normal resting time for the gorillas. So unfortunately, most of the gorillas just lay about, although a few were grooming one another. We were hoping to see the silverback display his dominance by beating his chest, but no such luck.

Flash photography is not allowed and my camera doesn't allow me to turn off the flash so I didn't get too many pictures. My colleagues and I are going to pool our pictures, so once that is done I will post the pictures on my Kodak Gallery.

Embedded Video of the Gorillas

This video or more for your site at

This video or more for your site at

This video or more for your site at

Saturday, January 14, 2006

This would be funny....

....if it weren't a brilliant analysis by Heather Mac Donald. In that case, it moves from the realm of funny to scary.

Read this and despair for legal scholarship in this country.

Officer Stephanie Mohr

Outrage is a word that gets tossed around all too often these days. Yet, the word is truly apt in the case I am about to tell you about.

Thanks again to GOPUSA for letting me know about this case. I'm going to let Officer Mohr tell the story in her own words. (For those interested, you can make a donation to the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund here.)

My name is Stephanie Mohr, and I used to be a police officer with the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. I am sitting in a jail cell. A jail cell where I've been sentenced to spend 10 years of my life for a crime I did not commit!

Please let me explain.

I received over 25 letters of commendation and two awards during my years on the police force. But to the bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Justice, that doesn't matter. To them, I'm just a white police officer whose police dog bit an illegal immigrant on the leg in 1995.

You may have heard about my case on TV. On the night of September 21, 1995, I was on patrol with my police dog, Valk. The area I patrolled, Takoma Park, had been suffering a rash of burglaries. My partner, Sgt. Anthony Delozier, and I got a call for backup from an officer who had spotted two men on the roof of a nearby store. We knew we had likely found the perpetrators.

When we arrived, the situation was tense. The suspects, Ricardo Mendez and Herrera Cruz, had been ordered down from the roof and told to face a wall. They were shouting back and forth to each other in a stream of Spanish.

And then it happened.

Mendez made a move as if to flee the scene. In accordance with my training, I released my dog, Valk, who was trained to perform the standard bite and hold move. He did so, biting Mendez on the leg and holding him until I and the other officers could handcuff him.

Both of the suspects were charged with 4th degree burglary. Cruz pled guilty and was deported to Mexico. Mendez was convicted of illegally entering the U.S. and selling crack cocaine and was deported to [El] Salvador. As for me, I was relieved to get two dangerous drug dealers off our streets.

So imagine my shock five years later when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would indict me for violating Ricardo Mendez's civil rights by allowing my police dog to bite his leg!

Mendez, a criminal and an illegal alien, had been fleeing the scene of a crime, and it had been my duty to release Valk and apprehend him. But the bureaucrats in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice chose to ignore the facts; they were looking for cases of police brutality, and I was exactly what they wanted: a white officer whose police dog had bitten a minority.

My fellow officers and I testified in court that I had done my job by the book. And it was true: the P.G. County police training clearly states that if a felony suspect makes a move, we are authorized to release our police dogs.

The jury agreed and voted to acquit me 11-1. And that's when things really got ugly.

Civil rights groups were furious. Everyone from Amnesty International to the NAACP declared the arrest racist and demanded further investigation. The Justice Department insisted on a second trial because of the one lone juror who had sided with the prosecution. They got it.

The second trial was a circus. The government flew in Mendez from [El] Salvador and Cruz from Mexico at taxpayer expense to testify against me. They stacked the jury with minorities who would be sympathetic to illegal immigrants. They drummed up minority witnesses who accused me of using racial epithets against them without a shred of proof!

Their strategy worked. I was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for apprehending a drug dealer!

Consistency from the Left? Pt. 2

A good friend of mine says that his father jokes that of the four Kennedy brothers, the worst possible one is the only remaining survivor. (Again, a sign that there is no cosmic justice.)

During the confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito, Kennedy has tried to make much of the fact that Alito was a member of an exclusive, all-male club at Princeton.

I know I've mused on this many times, but either this man was born with no shame or has had it surgically removed. Check out this item from GOPUSA's The Loft blog:

However, this was not good enough for Kennedy who spent the bulk of his time on Wednesday hammering Alito about his membership in the group. But the Washington Times learned that Kennedy was a member of Harvard’s Owl Club, an “exclusive” all-male club which has been criticized in the past and which “was evicted from campus nearly 20 years ago after refusing to allow female members."

Friday, January 13, 2006

Consistency from the Left?

Perish the thought!

Take the recent "scandal" over President Bush's authorization of wire taps against Americans and foreigners suspected of having ties to terrorist groups. The usual suspects (The New York Times, the ACLU, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats) are up in arms over this egregious violation of civil rights.

I mean a Democratic president would never resort to such patently illegal and unconstitutional tactics, right?

Thanks to Lorie Byrd at for this link to this piece on The American Thinker website.

Have you ever heard of a surveillance program called Echelon? It's the Big Brother-ish program whereby the NSA could and did monitor all telephone calls and e-mails around the world. (Unknown to most, the British and several other key allies participate in Echelon.)

I'll give you three quesses who authorized Echelon, and the first two don't count.