the Rational Radical  

No Ipod Needed!  Listen on your computer.     






The Daily Diatribe
September 1-15, 2001

September 15, 2001   11:00 p.m. -- Some people on the progressive end of the political spectrum to which I belong -- my friends and allies -- are beginning to get me annoyed.

Two points tonight:

Some of them are writing columns about how we need to be non-violent like Gandhi.  Gandhi was successful because the British were not willing to use the level of force on unarmed civilians that they would have had to have applied to defeat the masses supporting Gandhi's cause.  So the British left India.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was successful because he shamed the country into implementing the ideals and laws it said it supported. 

Neither of those situations is even remotely applicable to bin Laden or whoever did the World Trade Center attacks.

Bin Laden would be very happy to kill all 280 million Americans if he could.  How can you use non-violence against him?

In not one of the columns decrying a violent response to bin Laden, is a single idea presented as to how to prevent future terrorist acts without going after the terrorists.  Sure we can have prevention.  But that won't be enough.

And c'mon: no change in our foreign policy is going to induce whoever crashed those airliners into the Twin Towers to stop their attacks on us.  For those terrorists, it's way beyond that point now.

Some of my progressive buddies can't seem to even temporarily get beyond their dislike of Bush.  None of them dislike Bush more than I do.  I've written that Bush should be tested for brain damage.

But now is not the time for that, or to make personal criticisms of his speaking style or the like in connection with his handling of the World Trade Center attacks.  Strong and vigorous criticism of his policies regarding the U.S. response is legitimate and indeed mandatory if one disagrees with it.  But the personal stuff should be put aside for a later time.

I STRONGLY suggest we progressives concentrate our efforts on ensuring that the U.S. military response is one that targets only proven terrorists, and avoids ANY attacks on civilians or civilian infrastructures.

If we can accomplish that we will have saved many innocent lives, which would be much more useful than making speeches about non-violence or engaging in personal attacks on Bush that will make most people ignore anything substantive we also have to say.

September 14, 2001
   11:00 p.m.
-- According to an analysis in The New York Times, the Congressional Joint Resolution authorizing President Bush to respond to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks does not give him carte blanche to wage extended war with U.S. troops:

...some members of Congress also injected a note of caution into the administration's rapid-fire military and diplomatic campaign. The resolution authorizing military action was intended to give the president political support, but not unfettered power to wage war.

The joint resolution fell short of a full declaration of war, which lawmakers said would have been inappropriate in military action against a shadowy enemy.

...Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress was not ceding its constitutional authority to declare war or intending to write a measure like the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which President Lyndon B. Johnson used in 1964 to justify escalation of the war in Vietnam.

The resolution specifically states that it does not supersede the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which requires the president to seek Congressional approval for any extended use of American forces in combat.

This is somewhat reassuring to read, given the statements by administration officials I discussed yesterday which made clear that Bush's plans include invading and occupying Afghanistan, as well as possibly other countries.

From listening to the television talking heads, I did not understand that the Resolution put limits on Bush's authority to utilize force indefinitely without additional Congressional approval.

This supposed limit comes despite calls from many right-wingers for an immediate declaration of war on Osama bin Laden.

Congress could, however, very easily just go ahead and give him that additional authorization at any time.

Maybe it's all a fig leaf?  Or a way for Congress to save face, to maintain the pretense of being in control?

I hope Congress is resolute.  Osama bin Laden and cohorts must be taken care of, but there must also be continuing Congressional oversight of the manner in which that goal is achieved.

Of course, some would say that the term "resolute Congress" is an oxymoron.

[see update indicating there may be no such limits]

September 13, 2001   11:00 p.m. -- Tomorrow's edition of The New York Times reports that the Bush administration policy to fight terrorism will not only include destroying terrorist networks, but bringing down the governments that harbor them:

"It's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable," said Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, "but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism."

Mr. Wolfowitz said the United States and its allies would wage "a campaign, not a single action" to dismantle the terrorist group or groups responsible for this week's attacks, and to bring down the governments that support them.

Even more specifically:

The planning and the language used by administration officials was read by military analysts as a sign that Secretary Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is preparing the way for a military force that could ultimately be used to occupy Kabul, the Afghan capital, and overthrow the ruling Taliban.

Is this serious, or just the administration floating the idea to scare the Taliban and other governments into handing over terrorists?

It seems serious.  The New York Times also reports tomorrow that "Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has recommended calling up as many as 50,000 military reservists."

I wrote each of the past two days that I wouldn't be unhappy if the 82nd Airborne overthrew the Taliban.  I'm reminded of the adage, "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it."

Might this U.S. intervention actually be a good thing?  How could the people in Afghanistan have it worse than now?

It's hard to believe myself saying these things, but my disgust with the Taliban is so extreme that it seems to override what I know to be the historical record of terrible suffering that ensues when the U.S. overthrows Third World governments.

What about Iraq?  The Sudan?  Other countries?  Are we going to invade, occupy and set up governments in them also?

Or will doing so in one country be enough to scare the other nations into doing what we want?

Will our European allies go along with this?

Will the civilian populations of any of these countries welcome us, or -- despite their unhappiness with their present governments -- still violently oppose our invasion?

A million questions, and no answers for now.

Time is needed to ponder about these undoubtedly intense days ahead of us.

UPDATE: The September 18 New York Times reports that

Deputy Secretary of State Paul D. Wolfowitz spoke last week of "ending states who sponsor terrorism." Officials say now that he misspoke, that he meant to say that the goal is ending state support.

In some cases, like Afghanistan, that may be a semantic issue since the goal would be to dislodge the Taliban rulers if they refused to cooperate with Washington's counter-terrorism campaign.

It's unclear from this report how much of a backtracking by the Administration this really is.

September 12, 2001
   10:50 p.m.
-- Wow!  I forgot that some people will not read a piece completely through to get my entire argument.  Instead, they will read only the beginning, get really pissed off, stop reading and immediately let me have it!

It was only at the end of yesterday's Daily Diatribe that I said I think we should have long ago sent in the 82nd Airborne and gotten rid of Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban, too, for that matter.  Clearly I have no sympathy for him or them.

Readers who didn't get this far apparently concluded that by calling in the beginning of my piece for the United States to stop its own terrorist-type activities in the world, that meant I have sympathy for, or even approve of, bin Laden.

So let's be clear: I don't and I don't.  Get rid of him.  Such a course of events would make me happy.

That hopefully being crystal-clear now, let me get to the point tonight: however we retaliate, it must be in a way that attacks bin Laden and his associates, and military forces and involved government officials of countries that aided him, BUT NOT CIVILIANS.

We rightly claim outrage and deep sorrow at the loss of what could now be tens of thousands of civilian deaths at the World Trade Center and on the hijacked airliners.  We cannot then go ahead and kill, in retaliation, large numbers of civilians ourselves -- even if we do not target them deliberately, and even if they are what we have in the past called "collateral damage."  They are still just as dead.

Especially in this case, Afghanistan is a dictatorship and the people there, already suffering a Stone Age-level of deprivation, should not be punished by us for the ill deeds of their government, whose policies they are helpless to change.

So we shouldn't carpet bomb Kabul, as some people are demanding.  And we shouldn't, as we did in Iraq, destroy what is left of the civilian infrastructure of Afghanistan.  Just like the Taliban have said that they are willing to let the people starve rather than have aid groups proselytize, the Taliban would certainly be willing to let the people do without water and electricity.  That won't hurt the Taliban, but will kill many Afghani civilians.

Indeed, it should be kept in mind that the Taliban are the descendants of one faction of mujahideen, Islamic holy warriors, who we heavily armed when they were fighting the Soviet Union after that country invaded Afghanistan in 1979.   When the Soviet Union withdrew, the Taliban gradually took over the country and established their theocratic dictatorship.  The U.S. did nothing to try to force our erstwhile allies to institute any kind of democratic practices.

So it would be a horrible double-whammy for us to first provide the military wherewithal for the Taliban to enslave the Afghani people, and then bomb the Afghani people for the terrible behavior of their own oppressive government.

So like I wrote last night: invade Afghanistan and get rid of bin Laden and the Taliban, but DON'T kill Afghani civilians.

September 11, 2001
   10:30 p.m.
-- Writing tonight about anything other than the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon would seem superfluous.  Yet given the mountains of ink and hours of airtime already devoted to the subject, there is not, perhaps, much that has not already been said.  So here's summaries of the types of comments I've seen posted today on discussion boards of progressive sites (particularly at Common Dreams), and then a few thoughts of my own:

The U.S. has killed hundreds if not thousands of times more civilians in terrorist attacks on other countries than the U.S. suffered killed today.  Undoubtedly true, since our military killed 2-3 million civilians during the Vietnam War alone.

The U.S. is only having done to it what it has done to others. Again true.  See directly above.  To give yet another of many possible examples, terrorists we have financed and even sometimes directed have deliberately killed tens of thousands of civilians just in Central America -- Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala.

Americans, living in a democracy, are responsible for the actions of their government.  Again true.  However, one might argue that while we bear a collective responsibility to the world community, we have an individual accountability only to our Maker, and that individual New Yorkers should not be subject to a death penalty imposed by self-appointed judges (the hijackers).

If we commit terrorist acts against others, that's wrong; likewise, if they commit terrorist acts against us in retaliation, that's also wrong.  In other words, two wrongs don't make a right.  A credible argument can be made for this proposition.

Our military response to these attacks will undoubtedly wind up killing additional civilians wherever we strike.  This has certainly been the pattern in the past when we have retaliated.

We should be vigilant that the U.S. government doesn't use these attacks as an excuse to curtail civil liberties and freedom in our country.  A legitimate cause for concern.

Having suffered real death and destruction on our own soil, maybe the U.S. will be a little more reluctant to resort to military interventions against other nations in the future.  Probably not, unless the American people demand such restraint, the likelihood of which is nil, in my opinion.

Here are some thoughts of my own, which I've not seen expressed elsewhere:

The enemy of my enemy isn't necessarily my friend.  Just because the Taliban and bin Laden are enemies of Bush, doesn't mean the Taliban and bin Laden are my friends.  Quite the contrary.  As I've explicitly written elsewhere, the Taliban are an abomination, their treatment of women tantamount to slavery.  I would certainly never want their form of dictatorship to spread.  Same for bin Laden.

If we knew bin Laden was training pilots for suicide missions on 757's and 767's, the planes used today, why didn't we take preemptive action?!  Frankly, if we had sent in the 82nd Airborne and gotten rid of bin Laden and the Taliban in one fell swoop, I wouldn't have objected.

Unfortunately, I believe we never tried to stop the terrorists' planning for an attack like today's because of our military's seeming doctrine that no American soldier can be put at risk.  If it can't be done with cruise missiles, don't do it.

Cruise missiles, as we've seen, can't permanently take out terrorist camps in the mountains.  To destroy a camp training terrorist 757/767 pilots, you'd need to go in with ground troops and suffer significant casualties to get the job done.  And at least until now, we don't seem to have been willing to do that.

In any event, all deaths are to be mourned, and this writer certainly feels for the families of all those killed today.  Amen.

September 10, 2001
   9:20 p.m.
-- The more I read about the case of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children, the more I think the husband shoulders blame for not averting the tragedy.

These are the warning signs he had available to him, as reported in The New York Times:

  • his wife's suicide attempt in June, 1999, about 6 months after the birth of her fourth child
    • diagnosis: post-partum psychosis and depression
  • signs of stress from having to take care of her father, who had Alzheimer's disease
  • less than a month later, the husband finds her holding a knife to her neck
    • she describes hearing voices
    • she says she had a vision about getting the knife
    • she says she first had such a vision after the birth of her first child
    • she had stopped taking her medicine
  • the birth of the couple's fifth child, and also possibly the death of her father, cause additional episodes of depression and psychosis:
    • between March and May she spends four stints at a psychiatric hospital
    • at one point her physician seeks involuntary commitment because she is catatonic and has scratched bald spots into her head

Even without knowing anything further, this is not the type of person a rational person would leave five young children with.  But the husband's contribution to the tragedy is more causative than just ignoring warning signs:

  • the husband, described as "controlling" by one doctor, allows her only "two hours of personal time a week"
  • after the birth of their fourth child and his wife's two suicide attempts, he doesn't change the decision with his now obviously mentally ill wife to have as many babies as nature will allow
  • despite his wife's mental problems, the husband doesn't have them change their plans to home school their children
  • the decisions to have more children and to home school the children come despite their psychologist's warning that these courses of action would not be in Mrs. Yates' best interest
  • at one point during her hospitalizations, the husband puts pressure on her to leave the hospital, claiming that she was 90-95% normal, while she reports 70-75%
  • he allows her to be discharged from the hospital for the last time prior to her murdering her children, even though records indicate that at the time she is still depressed and suicidal

A rationally thinking man would not have additional children with a wife who is obviously incapable of caring for even the four they already have.  A rationally thinking man would not foist the home-schooling of five children on such a woman.  A rationally thinking man would not leave five young children alone with her.

The wife's severely mentally incapacitated state meant that decision-making fell by default to the husband, and he made some egregiously bad ones.

September 9, 2001
   10:15 p.m.
--  Often you can discern the ultimate direction an administration wants to take the country not so much from what the big honchos -- Bush, Cheney, Powell et al -- say, but more so from the little-reported remarks of lower-level officials. 

The big honchos are virtually always under the tight control of administration spinmeisters and image-makers.  The lesser officials, however, occasionally slip under the radar of the administration controllers, and blurt out the truth.  When that happens, a quick retraction, clarification or statement that the official "was only speaking personally and did not reflect administration policy" will follow.  But these attempts at spin should be seen for what they are.

It's no secret that the Bush administration has some fanatical right-wingers in it, like John Ashcroft, he of the "dancing is sin" and pro-Confederacy outlook.  But recent statements by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill would make all rational people stop in their tracks.

As documented by the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, O'Neill, in an interview with the British Financial Times, has called for:

  • abolishing taxes on corporations
  • abolishing capital gains taxes
  • drastically reducing or eliminating Social Security
  • drastically reducing or eliminating Medicare

Usually, such radical, politically unpalatable proposals would be saved until an administration's second term, when there are no concerns about being re-elected.

Luckily for the Bush administration, the mainstream media have virtually ignored O'Neill's comments, made a few months ago.   I've just read about them myself now.

However much fair-minded people condemn the way Bush's tax cuts are heavily skewed in favor of upper-income individuals, that skewing would probably be small potatoes compared to how a Bush administration proposal to shift the tax burden entirely onto individuals would be structured.

O'Neill has apparently spoken about the need to "educate" the public about the current system and how it needs to be changed.

Keep your eyes and ears open for the first "official" hints of policy proposals along the above lines.

As has been said in a notably happier context, "America, you ain't seen nothing yet!"

September 8, 2001
   10:10 p.m.
--  Now that the heated debate over embryonic stem cell research has been off the front pages for a few days, some questions come to mind. 

The hotly debated issue was whether federal monies would be used to fund research on stem cells taken from frozen embryos.  These embryos are left over from in-vitro fertilization procedures. Fertility clinics create numerous frozen embryos, and then typically discard any ones left over after couples indicate they will not want to conceive any more children.

Under the decision announced by President George Bush, the opponents of embryonic stem cell research succeeded in forbidding use of federal funds for research on stem cells taken from such fertility clinic embryos, except for some "64 lines" of such stem cells which have already been created from embryos which have already been destroyed.

  • Is the next step that institutions that conduct privately funded research on embryonic stem cells will be threatened with loss of federal funds for all their other activities?

The opponents of research utilizing stem cells from embryos would, of course, like to make the research itself, like abortion, completely illegal, not just deny it federal funding.

  • If it should become against the law to utilize embryos in stem cell research, wouldn't it also have to be against the law to discard these embryos when not needed, as is now the common practice?
  • What if fertility clinics continued to operate, with the intent to store the unneeded embryos forever?  Would it be a crime to merely create such embryos, knowing that all of them would not be implanted?  In other words, a crime of "creation of an embryo without intent to bring same to term"? 

Just asking.

September 7, 2001
   9:00 p.m.
--  The nonchalant way the mainstream press treats discoveries about American-connected atrocities abroad infuriates me.

The following one-paragraph item appeared in The New York Times about a week ago:


Forensic researchers have uncovered the remains of 15 people at a former American base used to train the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980's. Prosecutors expect to find the remains of as many as 80 leftists who disappeared between 1979 and 1990.

Human rights groups say some were tortured and buried at El Aguacate base, which the United States built in 1984. It was turned over to Honduras, then abandoned in 1994.    (AP)

During the following six days, The New York Times has had nothing further to say about this.

I guess it's no big deal.  Scores of people were tortured and killed at the precise location where U.S. advisors or their surrogates trained the terrorist contra army (which itself tortured and killed civilians throughout the Nicaraguan countryside in the late 1980's).  The people tortured and killed were the opponents of those being trained by the U.S. advisors or their surrogates.  But hey, that was long ago, these dead people were only Hondurans and probably Commies, so bury the story inside the paper and don't follow up on it. 


Even more remarkably, the story is particularly relevant now since John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Honduras during part of that time period, has been nominated to be the U.S. representative to the U.N.  Human rights groups have strongly opposed his nomination because Negroponte was involved in covering up precisely these types of atrocities by U.S.-trained Honduran troops.

Whoops!  Might that be precisely why this story was buried and never followed up on?

September 6, 2001
   9:20 p.m.
--  Yesterday I wrote that the prize for the stupidest people in the world could very well go to the eight foreign aid workers associated with Shelter Now, a German-based Christian organization, who apparently were caught in Afghanistan trying to convert people from Islam to Christianity.

Many readers agreed with my assessment.   A few readers, however, felt that these aid workers were akin to Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King and others protesting unjust situations.  Along those lines, some other readers felt that the aid workers should be commended for risking their lives for their beliefs.

One person even accused me of Christian-bashing.  Regarding this allegation, I think it was obvious to most everybody else that I was criticizing the location and manner of the proselytizing, not what these aid workers were proselytizing about.

As to the other points raised:

First: these Shelter Now aid workers were allowed entry into Afghanistan to feed starving people.  You don't proselytize hungry people you are feeding.  That's an inherently coercive situation.  If these aid workers were doing that, they should be ashamed.

Second: it's not their own lives they were risking.  As Westerners, they will be treated far more leniently than the 16 Afghan staff members who also were arrested.  It's the Afghans who face torture and death.  The foreign aid workers at last word face only expulsion from Afghanistan.

Third: the aid workers didn't go to Afghanistan to protest or change an unjust situation, nor, by their own words, to risk their lives for their beliefs.  According to statements made by some of them, they claim not to have known what they were doing was really wrong, and have apologized.

The two Americans admit showing a video CD about Jesus. But ''we did not think it would cause so much trouble,'' because Jesus is also regarded as a prophet by Muslims, reads a statement signed by both Ms. Curry and Ms. Mercer. ''We again are very sorry.''
[New York Times, April 27, 2001]

Hardly in the same league as "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Fourth: the actions of these aid workers threaten the entire Afghan aid program, since the Taliban could expel all outside agencies, and hundreds of thousands of people could starve as the result.

Don't take my word for it.  Here's what their fellow aid workers have said about the eight people arrested:

"These laws were well-known to everyone," said Fayaz Shah, head of the United Nations World Food Program in Kabul. "It's like walking in a minefield, and when one blows, you yell, 'Why did this happen?' But you should know. You were in a minefield."

...The potential of more arrests has left the aid agencies in fear. People say the Shelter Now episode could eventually lead to a huge withdrawal or expulsion of the agencies. That would be catastrophic for the needy.

That dreadful prospect complicates the moral judgments of aid workers who would ordinarily ache with sympathy for their jailed colleagues. As it is, commiseration often is coupled with anger. Many people here presume that the arrested foreigners were guilty of reckless proselytizing; however well-intentioned the preaching, that forbidden endeavor to save a few dozen souls has imperiled thousands of lives.

"Why did they break the law, especially this law?" asked an American who insisted on anonymity. "Worse yet, they dragged their Afghan workers into this. After some political games, the foreigners will probably be kicked out of the country as their punishment. But the Afghans, I am afraid they are going to be killed."

Just like I concluded yesterday before having read the above comments: these eight foreign aid workers acted in an incredibly stupid and reckless manner.

[article condemning the Taliban for their treatment of women]

September 5, 2001   9:40 p.m. --  The prize for the stupidest people in the world could very well go to the eight foreign aid workers associated with a German -based Christian organization who apparently were caught in Afghanistan trying to convert people from Islam to Christianity.

As I've written elsewhere, I'm no fan of the Taliban.  Their restrictions on women are tantamount to slavery, and their laws against religious proselytizing are an affront against free speech and freedom of religion.

But Afghanistan is a country were punishments include amputation of limbs, and execution by methods such as stoning, and having a brick wall collapsed on you.  It's not a place were you want to violate the law.

There are billions of people all over the world who are not Christians.  If someone wants to proselytize, I would think one of the last places on earth to choose to do so would be Afghanistan.

Bottom line: if you're in Afghanistan, wouldn't it be smart to obey their laws?

Unless the Taliban are fabricating evidence, the aid workers possessed local-language editions of Bibles, dozens of audio tapes and CD's about Jesus, and lesson plans for teaching Christianity.   Indeed, they had a book titled "Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim."

It's expected that these foreign aid workers will be convicted, and expelled as punishment. (Since these eight workers were arrested, the Taliban government has expelled about 24 other foreign aid workers for preaching Christianity.)

But there are 16 Afghan staff members who were arrested with the eight foreign aid workers and face similar charges.  For the Afghans, the penalty will likely be far more severe, possibly death. 

The foreign aid workers have endangered the lives of these Afghans with ill-advised proselytizing, and for that deserve to be called not only stupid, but criminally reckless.

September 4, 2001
   9:30 p.m.
--  Most people have no idea that the vast bulk of the wealth of the United States is in the hands of a relative handful of people.

This chart shows that the top 1% own 38.1% of the wealth in the country, the next 4% own 21.3%, and the next 5% own 11.5%.  That is to say, the top 10% of the country owns 70.9% of the wealth of this nation!

Ninety percent of the country owns a mere 29.1%.

[chart from United for a Fair Economy]

Another way to put it: Assume there are 100 people who have $100 to split up.  No one expects it to be divided perfectly evenly at $1 apiece, but everyone involved expects that some basic fairness will be used in the process that will split up the money.

Now let's say the $100 winds up being divided as follows:

1  person gets


4  people get

$5.32 each

5  people get

$2.30 each

10  people get

$1.25 each

20  people get

.60 each

20  people get

.23 each

40  people get

1/2 cent each

The 40 people getting 1/2 cent each might be a bit annoyed at the person getting $38.10.  The 20 people getting 23 cents each would probably not be happy with the 4 people receiving $5.32 each.  And so on...

This is how our economic system has distributed the wealth of our country.  It's so far from any type of fairness as to be laughable, were it not a direct cause of certain segments of our society lacking adequate resources for food, clothing, shelter, medical care and other necessities, let alone any amenities of a beyond-subsistence life.

[see Bogus "Class Warfare" Charge]

September 3, 2001
   8:00 p.m.
--  As noted in an earlier discussion detailing U.S. interference in the upcoming Nicaraguan presidential election, a State Department spokesman in Washington "warned" on July 24 that

we will continue to have serious concerns about the Sandinistas, absent clear commitments from candidate Ortega that he is now prepared to embrace democratic policies.

In 1912 U.S. Marines invaded Nicaragua, and stayed for the better part of two decades.  After they left in 1933 the U.S. supported a succession of dictatorships in Nicaragua for 46 years.

In 1979 the Sandinistas, led by Daniel Ortega, overthrew the U.S.-supported Somoza dictatorship and established democracy.  In 1984 Ortega was elected to the Nicaraguan presidency in an election virtually all observers except the United States considered fair.  In 1990 Ortega was defeated in a bid for re-election.  He left office in a peaceful transfer of power, the first time in Nicaraguan history.  Ortega said:

We leave victorious because we Sandinistas have spilled blood and
sweat not to cling to government posts, but to bring Latin America a little dignity, a little social justice.

So the U.S. supports a dictatorship for 67 years, the FSLN led by Ortega overthrows the dictator and institutes democracy, and the U.S. is lecturing Ortega about having a commitment to democracy?!

September 2, 2001
   8:10 p.m.
--  Let's see: in order to find a cure for human colon cancer, we'll take some human colon cancer cells and inject them into mice.  Then we'll try to kill those cancer cells in the mice.  If that happens, we've accomplished something.  NOT.

This is what Swedish scientists "accomplished."  Even the pro-animal-research New York Times had to admit that "[m]any treatments that look promising in mice prove disappointing when they are tested on people."


If it works in a mouse but that doesn't tell you if it works in a human, why bother? 

What if it doesn't work in a mouse?  Does that mean it couldn't work in a human?  Of course not.

Let's reverse roles, and assume we want to cure a type of mouse cancer.  If we took some mouse cancer cells and injected them into a human, then killed the cells in the human, would that mean anything about whether we could accomplish the same thing in a mouse?

What if we want to cure a type of cancer that pigs get?  If we inject an elephant with the pig cancer cells, and then kill the cells in the elephant, has that brought us closer to being able to cure that cancer in the pig?

Read this fine example of speaking truth to power by cancer research scientist Irwin D.J. Bross, Ph.D., director of biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute in New York:

Not a single new drug for the treatment of human cancer was first picked up by an animal model system...the results of animal model systems for drugs or other modalities have done nothing but confuse and mislead the cancer researchers who have tried to extrapolate from mice to man.

Moreover, when they have been used to guide clinical research they have sent investigators on one long and costly wild goose chase after another. Thus, scientifically speaking, the animal studies are a fraud.

Privately, they [vivisectors] will concede that animal models don't work, but they shrug this off because nothing works. [from PETA, which has much additional info on their site]

When those who needlessly torture and kill laboratory animals die and are awaiting entrance to either Heaven or Hell, they will hopefully find to their everlasting dismay that God is a huge mouse.

September 1, 2001   9:45 p.m. --  Here's a report of yet another outrageous example of prosecutorial misconduct in a death penalty case:

Dennis Counterman, who has an I.Q. in the mid-70's, was sentenced to death for setting a fire in his house that killed his three young sons.

The only direct evidence against him

came from his wife, who testified that she had been awakened by the sound of a lighter and then saw her husband at the bottom of the stairs with a bucket.

Mrs. Counterman, who is mentally retarded, also testified that her children did not have a history of setting fires.

But the prosecutor withheld the following evidence from Counterman's lawyers:

  • "...on the day of the fire, Mrs. Counterman told a police officer that the couple's oldest son, Christopher, had awakened her, told her that there was a fire, and that she had then awakened her husband.
  • "Mrs. Counterman told another detective a similar story."
  • "On the day of the fire, a neighbor told police that Mrs. Counterman had told her that a month before the fire Christopher had burned the curtains in his bedroom."
  • "Another person told the police that she had seen Christopher set a rug on fire."

Counterman's conviction has been thrown out, before the state had a chance to kill him.

How about a law that says the penalty for withholding exculpatory evidence will be the same penalty the defendant faced at trial?  I bet there would then be a lot less withholding of evidence in death penalty cases!  (And hopefully in other types of cases as well.)


the Rational Radical: Spit Drool Pablum: George Bush Needs to Get Tested!
Latest Updates on my BLOG!!




























 Copyright 2001-05    All rights reserved