In My Opinion…

May 4, 2007

Eye of the Beholder

Filed under: Commentary — Thomas Hagen @ 11:16 pm

In what is generally considered a civilized world, justice is often fair, humane, credible, and issued by those given the authority to administer it. But not everyone lives in that world. In the savage world behind bars, justice is often swift, ugly, violent, and issued by those who seize the authority to carry it out. These very different worlds frequently collide, causing the perception of justice and injustice to become blurred. When legal justice meets prison justice, justice is in the eye of the beholder.

Katie Collman was a ten-year-old distant cousin of Jared Harris. He had never known her. In 2005, little Katie was found dead in a stream—her lifeless hands handcuffed behind her back. She had been kidnapped, brutally raped, and left to drown in a cold Indiana creek. Biological evidence taken from Katie’s body pointed to a man named Anthony Stockelman, who had recently submitted a DNA sample to authorities. Weaseling his way out of a certain death penalty, Stockelman pleaded guilty to the vicious crime in order to receive the sentence of life in prison. He has since recanted his confession, citing he had taken antidepressant drugs, alcohol, and marijuana the day of the murder, causing him to lose all memory of the event.

During October of 2006, inmate Jared Harris is alleged to have snuck into the cell housing Anthony Stockelman, and threatened him with physical violence if Stockelman did not permit Harris to give him a tattoo. With a strong arm wrapped tightly around his neck, Stockelman complied with the unusual “request,” allowing the soft, white flesh on his forehead to be deeply imbedded with dark, black ink. When the brutal attack was over, the forehead of Anthony Stockelman read like a scarlet letter for all to see—“KATIE’S REVENGE.”

Prisoner violence against fellow inmates is extremely common, and none are targeted more than the sick, sadistic sex offender. When a newly convicted criminal is put behind bars, his fellow inmates who want to know what his offense is quickly interrogate him. Those who have committed atrocious crimes against women or children generally try to avoid eating their just desserts by not answering questions, or giving false information. However, once the convict’s revolting crimes are discovered, he is a marked man with few options other than requesting the shelter of protective custody. Those who don’t manage to make it to safety are often beaten, sometimes resulting in death. Prison guards have been known to facilitate these attacks on more than one occasion.

Should convicted sex offenders and child murderers like Anthony Stockelman be awarded the luxury of safety in prison after they have stripped that same comfort from innocent people in society? Ironically, society often answers “yes” to that question, and elects to protect the very people who commit crimes against it. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the cruel and unusual punishment of prisoners. Yet, an important facet of this sacred law goes largely overlooked by the general population of America. According to the United States Supreme Court, punishment must be both cruel and unusual in order to be deemed unconstitutional. While allowing prisoners to be abused by other inmates may indeed be cruel, it is not at all unusual. In fact, the organization known as Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 70% of all prisoners are assaulted by fellow inmates each year, and that prison officials are largely unsympathetic to the abuse.

Constitutional law does not often lend itself to conflicts that occur between prisoners. On the other hand, one of civilization’s oldest recorded laws does—the lex talionis, or the law of retribution. The lex talionis was the basis for all criminal law in the Code of Hammurabi; a series of laws set forth by King Hammurabi to govern the citizens of Babylon in 1760 BCE. The law of retribution is also common in the Old Testament of the Bible; mentioned in Exodus 21:23-21:25, Leviticus 24:18-24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21-19:21 under the well-known ideal of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

Unfortunately, Anthony Stockelman will not receive the official penalty of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth for his horrific crimes against young Katie Collman. He was given an opportunity that he denied poor Katie—a chance to bargain for his life. While that life may have been spared in a civilized court of law, he is now branded as a baby killer in the brutal world behind bars. Time will tell what final sentence he receives from a jury of his new peers.


January 1, 2007

Preventative Maintenance

Filed under: History,Military History,Politics — Thomas Hagen @ 8:53 am

Throughout the duration of Saddam Hussein’s reign as the supreme leader of Iraq, he has been responsible for mass executions, unprovoked attacks on neighboring countries, ecological terrorism, and the use of conventional and chemical weapons against his own people. The question is not if he would strike again, but when. By deposing an evil dictator before he can do more harm, the United States is justified in its war with Iraq.

The atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein would begin almost immediately after he came into power. Saddam took control of Iraq in a bloodless coup on July 16, 1979. Less than a week later he called for a conference of senior Party officials, in which one of his close associates announced that a plot against the Party had been discovered. An alleged conspirator was produced who proceeded to tell the audience details of the plot. Saddam then took the podium armed with a list of names, which he began to read aloud. As the names were read, the men were escorted out. Sixty-six names were on that list, including a close friend of Saddam’s. A mock trial was held and fifty-five men were found guilty. Twenty-two were sentenced to death, while the rest were sent to prison (Karsh 109-16).

Approximately a year later, Saddam Hussein took Iraq to war. On September 22, 1980 Iraq launched attacks on airfields in the neighboring country of Iran (Al-Khalil 258). Iran often sent human waves into battle during the war, which were driven back many times by the use of chemical weapons (Butler 18). During the eight-year struggle, Iran accused Iraq of the use of chemical weapons on at least 40 occasions, but Iran’s lack of international credibility caused most of the claims to be ignored (Sciolino 149). Saddam has never personally admitted to using chemical weapons against Iran, but one of his generals is said to have compared the atrocity to using insecticide on insects. Iraq later claimed the right to use any weapons it had, regardless of international opinion (Butler 18).

Atrocities were not limited to Iraq’s neighbors. The Kurds of northern Iraq began to rebel against Saddam during the Iran-Iraq War, causing him to begin their systematic persecution. 8,000 Kurds that had been previously imprisoned were executed, as well as hundreds more who openly opposed Saddam (Karsh 169). In March 1988, the Kurdish town of Halabjah was attacked with hydrogen cyanide, leaving 15,000 men, women, and children dead or wounded (Keegan 69-70). In the following months, a further sixty-five villages were attacked with mustard gas, cyanide, and nerve agents (Karsh 169), bringing hundreds of casualties and forcing 250,000 refugees to flee to Iran and Turkey (Keegan 70). Another 500,000 Kurds were placed in concentration camps or controlled areas in northern and southern Iraq. Several Kurdish villages in Iran were also gassed (Karsh 169).

After the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq’s military was stronger than ever, but its economy was struggling (Karsh 194). Saddam declared the oil prices set by the Persian Gulf states were costing Iraq $1 billion a year, and failure to disregard his demands on oil quotas would be seen as a declaration of war on Iraq (Karsh 206). Saddam determined the nation of Kuwait was continuing to flood the market with oil, costing Iraq $89 billion. There was also a dispute over oil fields set up by Kuwait in an area known as Rumaila. While Kuwait saw these demands as attempts at a bargaining agreement, Saddam intended them as ultimatums. When it was apparent that Kuwait was not going to comply, Iraq began moving troops toward the border (Karsh 211-13). On the morning of August 2, 1990 Iraq sent 100,000 troops and 300 tanks across the border into Kuwait to face an army of 16,000 Kuwaitis. The world quickly protested the invasion. The United Nations Security Counsel met and imposed sanctions and resolutions against Iraq calling for its immediate withdrawal from Kuwait (Karsh 218). When the proposed date was not met, military action was taken. Coalition bombs began to fall on Iraq on January 17, 1991 (Sciolino 300).

One of the weapons in Iraq’s arsenal is the SCUD surface-to-surface missile. This medium-ranged weapon has a range of 150 miles with poor accuracy. During the Gulf War, many SCUD missiles were launched by Iraq at Israel in order to lure them into the war in an attempt to break up the western and Arab coalition against it (Keegan 79). The unprovoked attacks on Israel did not have the desired affect. Israel remained a bystander and the coalition held firm (Butler 38).

Saddam soon resorted to a scorched earth policy—setting fire to several oil wells in Kuwait. While this tactic did have partial strategic value by creating a smoke screen that could inhibit Coalition operations, its main goal was simply to devastate the oil field, as well as cause an ecological crisis. This was compounded when Iraq began pumping Kuwaiti oil into the Persian Gulf. Approximately 200,000 barrels of oil a day was pumped into the Gulf, creating an oil slick over 240 square miles (Karsh 251).

As the conflict began to end, Iraq was in disorder. Many Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq began to revolt. A number of Ba’ath Party buildings were destroyed and several state and party officials were killed (Keegan 83). The Iraqi military used napalm, cluster bombs, and SCUD missiles to quell the uprising. The estimated Shiite death toll from the rebellion is 30,000 killed; with many thousands more seeking refuge in Iran. Scores of Shiite mosques, schools, and other religious buildings were also destroyed (Embry).

Since the end of the Gulf War, many claims have surfaced concerning Iraq’s arsenal of WMDs—Weapons of Mass Destruction. A United Nations commission known as UNSCOM was formed and worked inside Iraq for years inspecting sites and destroying a large portion of Saddam’s WMD arsenal (Keegan 105). The attacks on America on September 11, 2001 gave cause for concern that any undiscovered WMDs could be used by Iraq, or end up in the hands of terrorist organizations. Periodic refusals by Iraq to allow UN inspections, before and after 9/11, did much to further that concern.

History shows that it would have only been a matter of time before Saddam Hussein committed more atrocious acts upon his own people, his neighbors, or the world. By deposing an evil dictator, the US has made the region, and our own country, safe from his future treachery.

Works Cited

Al-Khalil, Samir. Republic of Fear: The Inside Story of Saddam’s Iraq. New York: Pantheon Books, 1989.

Butler, Richard. The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Growing Crisis of Global Security. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000.

Embry, Jason. “Uprising in Iraq may be slow because of US inaction in 1991.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer. April 5, 2003. <;.

Karsh, Efraim and Rautsi, Inari. Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
Keegan, John. The Iraq War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

Sciolino, Elaine. The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein’s Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1991.

Major Differences Between The Colonies

Filed under: History — Thomas Hagen @ 8:16 am

The diversity of the United States goes back to its beginning as a collection of northern, middle, and southern colonies. Their differences in religion, politics, economics, and social issues, and the way they dealt with them, are what shaped our country into what we are today.

The Puritans founded the northern colonies of New England. Puritanism evolved from the Protestant Reformation in England after King Henry VIII outlawed the Catholic Church in order to control religion in his country (Roark 68). Not all New England colonists were Puritans, but the Puritan religion was a major influence in the seventeenth-century New England way of life (Roark 70). In the last half of the seventeenth century the Quakers began to populate Massachusetts. Quakers believe that neither preachers nor Bibles are necessary to worship God, which is the polar opposite of the Puritan religion. Many New England communities treated Quakers poorly and many Quakers saw acts of violence inflicted on them in the name of God (Roark 79).

Quakers began to populate the middle colonies around 1700, after the English crown had seized the colony of New Netherland, renamed it New York, and encouraged the creation of a Quaker colony led by William Penn (Roark 79). In addition to the Quakers, many other religions began to settle in the middle colonies. Orthodox, Puritans, Baptists, and Lutherans all helped to settle and populate New Jersey (Kelley 51). After William Penn founded Pennsylvania he declared that every settler would “enjoy the free possession of his or her faith and exercise of worship towards God” (Roark 82).

Religion in the southern colonies was not practiced with the enthusiasm that it was in New England. While most colonists of the south were Anglicans, their true faith lay in their tobacco plantations. The same was true for the Catholic founders of Maryland. As their population grew, Protestants began to outnumber Catholics, though the Catholics continued to hold the power and influence. Just as in the other southern colonies, religion eventually took a back seat to tobacco in Maryland (Roark 57).

Politics in the colonies were as varied as their religious preferences. “Seventeenth-century New England was governed by Puritans for Puritanism” (Roark 76). The Massachusetts Bay Company stockholders, known as freemen, were empowered by charter to meet as a body called the General Court. The General Court made laws and governed the company. The colonists of New England took the General Court concept and used it to govern their colonies. The General Court ruled that freemen could only be male church members to make sure only godly men could decide government issues. The number of freemen eventually grew too large so they agreed to send two deputies from each colony to the General Court to act as representatives for the colony (Roark 76).

The middle colonies were ruled largely by the British monarchy until William Penn was granted land by the throne and formed Pennsylvania. Voters had to be Christian, as well as anyone wishing to hold office, but the local government did not force settlers to attend church or to pay taxes to support the church, as in other colonies. Penn was free to rule his colony as he saw fit, and was answerable to only the king of England. Penn developed a colonial council made up of tax-paying landowners that had the power to develop laws and administrate the government. He also appointed a governor who had the power to veto any laws passed by the council. “A popularly elected assembly served as a check on the council; its members had the authority to reject or approve laws framed by the council” (Roark 82).

The southern colonies, like Virginia, were ruled by the oldest legislative body in America, called the House of Burgesses (Handlin 155). The king of England appointed a royal governor, who in turn selected his council. This body was the upper house. Representatives from each region in the colony were selected by their inhabitants to form the lower house; the House of Burgesses. Counties were established to provide government on the local level and were administered individually by a board of commissioners known as the county court. These men were responsible for judicial and administrative matters in their area. A large majority of the southern colonies followed the Virginia model of government (Kelley 20-1).

The rocky soil of New England did not permit the type of farming that was done in other regions. For the first ten years, colonists were forced to trade with the Indians for animal pelts that were in demand in Europe (Roark 77). As settlers drove east in search of fur-bearing animals, they discovered vast forests, from which lumber would be exported to England. “A lasting source of income was found in the rich fishing waters that lay off the coast of New England…” (Kelley 40). The codfish eventually became the symbol of Massachusetts for its part in the prosperous New England economy (Kelley 40).

Unlike the soil of New England, the soil of New Netherland was rich enough to produce “food in many forms” for export throughout the world (Kelley 48). Wheat was grown in abundance, with flour milling being the number one industry and flour being the number one export, making up almost three quarters of all exports from the middle colonies (Roark 96). Indentured servants who sold their services for periods of up to six, or more, years did much of the work. Family labor also made up a large workforce for the colony. Slave labor was a long-term investment that was unattractive to all but the more affluent colonists of the area (Roark 95-6).

The southern colonists learned, quickly, how to make a living growing tobacco. They built huge plantations to grow massive crops of tobacco to be exported to England. Growing tobacco requires a large labor force, and at first the colonists were forced to rely on family members and indentured servants (Roark 46). Around 1670, the number of African slaves being sent to the southern colonies began to dramatically increase. Plantation owners started purchasing slaves rather than servants because, though a slave would cost much more than a servant, the slave was owned for the rest of his life. Another advantage to the slave owner was that all children born of slaves also became slaves (Roark 62-3).

Northern colonial society was built on conformity based on the Puritan religion. “The meetinghouse was the central feature” of any northern colonial village, and “both government and religious observance went on within its walls” (Kelley 37). The Puritans passed laws that required each settlement to construct schools, so that each resident would be able to read the Bible (Kelley 37). Community leaders attempted to form a completely pious society and to eliminate sin from within its boundaries. Those that did not conform were cast out or met with ridicule and violence, as is evident by the Salem witch trials (Roark 79).

The Quakers of the middle colonies believed that “in souls there is no sex,” and that all people were equal in God’s eyes (quoted in book, Roark 81). Women were equal to men and were even allowed to assume leadership positions within the church. Quakers shook hands when they met people and called them “friend.” Many people who were not Quakers were angered by their different customs and the Quakers were often beaten, or worse (Roark 81).

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the southern colonists lived their lives in much the same way. Most were farmers with small plots of land that were maintained by family members and possibly a couple servants. Eventually, the mortality rate in the colonies began to decrease and most indentured servants survived long enough to be free. This caused a class system to develop that polarized the social structure of the south (Roark 57-8).

The people of the United States are as diverse today as they were as a collection of colonies in the seventeenth century. The ways they worshiped, governed, made a living, and lived their lives continues to influence the way we do those same things today.


Handlin, Oscar. The History of the United States. Vol. 1. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967.

Kelley, Robert. The Shaping of the American Past. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1978.

Roark, James L., et al. The American Promise: A History of the United States. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.

The Growth of Big Business and Its Affects on America

Filed under: History — Thomas Hagen @ 8:09 am

The American Industrial Revolution and the growth of big business were fueled by innovations in energy, transportation, communications, manufacturing, and business strategies, and had both positive and negative affects on the American way of life.
When Scottish inventor James Watt made his landmark improvements to steam engine technology, he helped launch the Industrial Revolution. Prior to Watt’s innovations, industry was restricted to areas near rivers, which were its primary source of energy. The steam engine allowed industry to move from the riverside to anywhere a building could be built (Porter 2).

As factories moved into cities, people followed them. Urbanization and industrialization directly affected each other’s growth. The rising city population fed the ever-expanding market. The strong market, in turn, stimulated greater production, which created more jobs. This is known as the multiplier affect (Roark 430).

Railroads were America’s first big business and did much to advance industrialization. Between 1870 and 1890, the amount of railroad track laid in America grew almost 200%. By 1900, America had more track than Europe and Russia combined (Roark 445). When America’s first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, it allowed people and products to travel across the country faster and cheaper than ever before. Innovations in railroad and bridge construction helped to decrease shipping times, which led to a decline in shipping rates (Stover). As railroad tracks stretched across America, they helped to create a national market (Porter 3).

Jay Gould helped turn railroads into big business. Gould, admittedly, knew nothing about railroads or their operation, but he did know business strategy. When he detected a vulnerable railroad company, he would buy enough of their stock to take control. He would then use those companies to undercut his competitors until they bought him out at an inflated rate. By the time of his death in 1893, he had amassed a fortune of nearly $100 million and was said to be both the smartest, as well as, most hated man in America (Roark 445-7). Americans used the polls to try and regulate large railroad tycoons like Gould by electing state officials interested in reform, but the Supreme Court eventually ruled that railroads crossed state lines and fell outside state jurisdiction. Government commissions proved to be futile, as well. (Roark 461).

Railroads helped to develop the nation’s second big business—steel. Steel track was much stronger and more flexible than iron track (Roark 447). Advancements in steel production and improved management techniques allowed steel mills to boost their production, which drove the prices down. This aided an already expanding market, as well as expanding the pocketbooks of a few individuals (Porter 4).

Andrew Carnegie was one of those individuals. Carnegie Steel earned $40 million a year through Carnegie’s system of business known as vertical integration (Roark 448). Carnegie bought companies that sold materials and services necessary to the production and marketing of steel, putting all aspects of the business under his command. He then took over all of his competitors by undercutting them until they could no longer turn a profit, then buying them out at a low cost (Woloch 21). Carnegie also pitted plant managers against each other, then fired the losers and rewarded the winners. Employees of Carnegie Steel were forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions for low wages (Roark 448). Carnegie eventually used his wealth for good, giving “more than $350 million to various educational, cultural, and peace institutions” (“Andrew Carnegie”).

The 1859 discovery of oil in Pennsylvania created an instant market for “black gold,” and its most successful businessman was John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller’s oil refining company—Standard Oil—was the largest in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Rockefeller required regular refunds from railroad companies or he would not do business with them. He then used those refunds to undercut his oil competitors. His grip was so tight on the railroads that they would not only give him refunds on his own shipping costs, but also give him a share of his competitor’s rates. The refunds grew so large that the railroads eventually began to pay Standard Oil to ship their product. Rockefeller’s competitors could only sell out to him or be wiped out by him (Roark 448).

Rockefeller favored a horizontal approach to business, as opposed to Carnegie’s vertical method (Roark 449). In 1882 he, and his partners, formed the country’s first corporate trust—Standard Oil Trust. The trust put control of many companies in the hands of trustees that held the stock in trust for stockholders. Standard Oil soon controlled 90% of the nation’s oil refineries. When Congress attempted to outlaw trusts, Rockefeller changed tactics and developed a holding company, putting control under a single administration. Standard Oil went on to become the largest business organization on the planet (Roark 449-50).

The American people reaped many benefits by the rise of industry and big business. During the latter half of the nineteenth century thousands of people moved from the countryside into the cities, and were joined by millions of immigrants from Europe and Asia. Industry provided employment for the skilled, as well as unskilled masses (Roark 430-1).

Industry brought many new inventions that benefited the American way of life. In 1880, American Bell, the company founded by Alexander Graham Bell, marketed the telephone and long-distance telephone service. For the first time, Americans on each end of the country could hear each other’s voices transferred through a tiny cable. Electricity was also brought to the masses through the hard work of Thomas Alva Edison and George W. Westinghouse. Electricity quickly became the nation’s primary source of power, energizing trolley cars, subways, and factory machines, as well as providing light to homes, factories, and offices (Roark 450-1).

Many improvements to agriculture came from the growth of industry. As farm labor moved into the cities, machines were developed to take their place. Machines increased production, putting more food onto tables and dollars into pockets (Porter 4).

Leisure time for many Americans was enhanced by industry. As machines entered the home, much of the time spent on chores was freed up for other things. The working class spent their free time in dance halls, baseball parks, and amusement parlors. Upper class citizens spent free time in saloons, clubs, and fraternal orders. Coney Island became an attraction during the 1870’s where people could go and forget about troubles of life (Roark 482-3).

The expansion of business created a need for business managers and white-collar employees. As machines continued to replace skilled labor, many found themselves in positions of management. The bulk of these new managers were white males that held a high school diploma. Engineering schools began supplying skilled labor that machines could not replace. Educated women found work through inventions like the typewriter, adding machine, and cash register. Department stores also opened up new employment opportunities for women (Roark 478-9).

Innovations and advantages did not come without their costs, however. Many Americans suffered hardships so that a few could collect rewards. Overcrowding in the cities led to class and ethnic issues, as well as a high mortality rate. As mass transit developed, upper class workers could afford to live away from the factories, while the lower class was forced to live within walking distance. Social segregation and racism in the cities quickly evolved and often turned violent (Roark 433).

Big business was not above using children in its attempts to gain a dollar. Child labor was common in dangerous industries, such as mining. Both boys and girls could be trained to operate machinery as proficient as an adult, but were paid considerably less wages. By 1900, children ages ten to fifteen years made up over 18% of America’s work force (Roark 476-7).

As technology continued to advance, skilled workers began to lose their jobs to machines. Unskilled labor, through the division of labor and assembly lines, also took away jobs. The balance of power between labor and business was tipped to the side of the latter. Workers were forced to form trade unions to represent them against the powerful industry bosses. Strikes often turned violent and many people were killed in the name of worker’s rights (Porter 5).

America continues to be affected by the Industrial Revolution and the rise of big business. Many lessons have been learned and new laws continue to be passed in order to keep big business in check. Industry continues to develop new products to make our lives easier and more rewarding. The impact of this period in American history will continue to be felt for many years to come.


“Andrew Carnegie,” MSN Encarta. <;.

Porter, Glenn. “Industrial Revolution.” MSN Encarta. <;.

Roark, James L., et al. The American Promise: A History of the United States. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.

Stover, John F. “Railroads.” The Reader’s Companion to American History. <;.

Woloch, Nancy and Johnson, Paul E. “United States (History).” MSN Encarta. <>.

Condoleezza Rice: American Woman

Filed under: Politics — Thomas Hagen @ 7:33 am

As an African-American woman born in the segregated south, Condoleezza Rice has overcome many adversities on her way to becoming the most powerful and influential female in the history of the United States. First, her religious upbringing instilled in her very positive values. Second, her education has given her the knowledge to succeed in her many endeavors. Finally, her experiences in political and organizational leadership have taken her to the heights of an often male-dominated world. Dr. Rice has combined these characteristics to become an individual of which Americans can be proud. She is, without a doubt, an asset to the U.S. Based on all of her accomplishments, Condoleezza Rice is a shining example for the American people.

Condoleezza was born in Birmingham, Alabama on November 14, 1954. Her father was the minister of a local Presbyterian church. Her mother was the church piano and organ player, as well as a teacher at an elementary school. Both parents gave her the belief that by maintaining focus and discipline, a person can achieve any possibility in life. Condi, as she is often referred to as, was sheltered from the segregation of Birmingham by a close-knit, middle-class black community. They managed to ignore the racism around them. (Felix 36-7).

Condi’s education would begin at home. She learned to read at a very young age, and as a result, her mother wanted her to begin school early. When the principal of the local elementary school said she was too young to begin her education, her mother took a leave of absence from teaching and gave Condi home schooling. She became so advanced that she was allowed to skip the first grade. Later, she would be allowed to skip the seventh grade, as well (Felix 39).

By age ten, Condoleezza was on her way to becoming a piano prodigy. She had already been playing for seven years, and it was time to take her music to the next level. She was enrolled in the Birmingham Southern Conservatory of Music as its first black student. The school had been recently integrated, and Condi’s enrollment would be its first test of that system. There, Condi was able to refine her piano skills, and was also exposed to the basics of the flute and violin. Music appreciation continues to be a large focus of her life (Felix 42-3).

In 1969, the Rice family moved to Denver, Colorado. The racism and segregation of the South was replaced by acceptance in Denver. Condi attended St. Mary’s Academy, a private Catholic school, where she graduated in 1971. At that time, she was simultaneously attending the University of Denver, working on a Bachelor’s Degree in an undecided major. Condi also found the time to enter, and win, a young artist’s competition, allowing her to perform Mozart with the Denver Symphony Orchestra (Felix 60-9).

Condi continued to search for a major course of study in Denver, until the day she walked into a course named “Introduction to International Politics.” Her interest was instantly sparked, and she found herself wanting to know all she could about Russian and Soviet affairs. Her professor, a former European diplomat, was impressed by Condi’s passion of the subject and encouraged her to join the university’s school of international relations that he had founded. Condoleezza Rice now knew what she wanted to do with her life. She graduated with honors from the University of Denver with a B.A. in Political Science, and was named Outstanding Senior Woman by the university (Felix 74-84).

Condi went on to do her graduate work at Notre Dame University, and her interest in Russian and Soviet affairs followed her there. While at Notre Dame she studied Russian and Soviet history, as well as further studies in the Russian language. Their Department of Government and International Studies eventually created a specialized program for Condi that combined her regular courses with independent studies. She left Notre Dame with an M.A. in government in 1975 (Felix 89-97).

After graduating from Notre Dame, Condi returned to Denver. She enrolled in the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies in hopes of pinpointing a direction to take her career. Condi remained focused. She soon realized that political science continued to be her field of interest, and enrolled in their Ph.D. program. Condoleezza Rice became Dr. Rice on August 14, 1981, receiving a Ph.D. in international studies from the University of Denver (Felix 97-111).

At the age of twenty-six, Condoleezza was awarded a post-doctorate fellowship at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Arms Control. As a Soviet researcher, she was associated with policymakers, business people, security specialists, and other experts to study issues of international security. Condi made such a strong impression that she was asked to join the faculty. She began the following semester as an assistant professor of political science. At that time, she was the only African-American on the faculty at Stanford (Felix 115-6).

Condi found much success at Stanford. In 1984 she was awarded the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1993, she received the School of Humanities and Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. While at Stanford, she also became a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Fellow of the Hoover Institution. She was eventually asked to be the Provost at Stanford, putting her in charge of the academic programs, and a $1.5 billion budget (White House). She was the youngest person, and first woman, black or white, to hold that position (Source Watch).

In 1986, Ms. Rice went to Washington. First, she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Then, from 1989 to 1991, she served in the Bush Administration as Director, then Senior Director of Soviet and East Europe Affairs, in the National Security Council. By 2001, Condi was appointed Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the position commonly referred to as National Security Advisor. She is the only woman, of any race, to have held that office. In 2005, Condoleezza Rice was named the United States Secretary of State (Department of State).

Condi has served on the boards of several companies and organizations. She has sat on the board of the Chevron Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan, and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors. She is the founder of the Center for a New Generation, and has been the Vice President of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. Her other board seats have included the Transamerica Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Carnegie Corporation, the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, the Rand Corporation, the National Council for Soviet and East European Studies, and public broadcasting for the city of San Francisco (Department of State).

Dr. Rice has written and edited several books and articles. Her experience and education have made her words invaluable in the area of Soviet and Eastern Europe affairs. Condi’s published works include Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft, The Gorbachev Era, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army. Many of her articles have appeared in the Washington Post and Foreign Affairs magazine (Source Watch). Her words carry weight, and many important and powerful people care what she has to say.

Condoleezza Rice has worked her way to the top of international politics, and has reached that pinnacle on her own terms. The style, and intelligence, and experience she brings to the field are invaluable to the United States. Forbes magazine has named her the 2005 World’s Most Powerful Woman (Serafin). We should be proud to have such an individual representing our country in today’s world. This American woman is truly an example for all Americans.

Works Cited

Department of State. “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice” U.S. Department of State. <;.

Felix, Antonia. Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story. New York: Newmarket Press, 2002.

Serafin, Tatiana. “Condoleezza Rice, The Most Powerful Women.” <;.

Source Watch. “Condoleezza Rice” Source Watch. <;.

White House. “Biography of Condoleezza Rice” The White House. <;.

Border Insecurity

Filed under: Politics — Thomas Hagen @ 3:33 am

The United States of America is being invaded by millions of people who enter the country illegally. The question of how to handle this national security crisis is on the minds of many Americans. Several civil liberty groups and labor unions are demanding amnesty and full citizenship for illegal immigrants. Some supporters of illegal immigration have gone so far as to suggest that the borders be opened to allow all people in any time they want. Various bills on how to address the issue are being furiously debated in Congress. However, the true answer to the problems of illegal immigration and the threat to America’s sovereignty is simply enforcing border security.

First, the invasion has numbers on its side. While there is no way of accurately assessing the illegal alien population in the U.S., the March 2005 Current Population Survey accounted for approximately 9.8 million illegal immigrants in their study. However, the survey does not account for those illegal immigrants that did not take part. Likewise, the Current Population Survey estimates that about one half the 5.2 million foreign born in the United States between 2000 and 2005 were due to the illegal population, and that one half of all new arrivals are illegal immigrants (Camarota).

Second, the invasion has its allies. Labor organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, have called for amnesty for all illegal immigrants, as well as eliminating sanctions on employers who hire them. The United States Chamber of Commerce has also voiced support for amnesty (Reyes). In fact, even the government of Mexico has gone so far as to support those who demand amnesty for illegal immigrants (Cevallos). But the Mexican government does not stop there. Mexican President Vicente Fox, and the Mexican Foreign Ministry’s institutional liaison for northern border affairs, Arturo Gonzalez Cruz, have spoken out in favor of opening the U.S.-Mexican border to everyone. Mr. Fox has long been a proponent of open borders throughout North America (Seper). Yet, Mr. Fox is not interested in opening the southern border of Mexico to immigrants from Central America and South America (Grayson). This is absolute hypocracy.

America needs to defend itself from this invasion. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security was established as a response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. As a result, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was formed under the DHS. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for securing our nation’s borders by uniting customs, immigration and naturalization, and agricultural inspection officials under the same agency. Technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, are intended to aid in the task of patrolling the borders (National Border Patrol Strategy).

Sadly, there are not enough border patrol agents to do the job properly. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner has stated that without the use of new technologies, up to 50,000 Border Patrol agents would be required to secure the United States’s borders. As of May 2005, there were a mere 10,800 Border Patrol agents charged with securing our northern and southern borders. In a token attempt to increase the number of agents, the Bush administration’s 2006 fiscal budget called for an increase of a meager 210 agents (Strohm). To further complicate the personnel problem, the Border Patrol’s sole unmanned aerial vehicle was destroyed in a 2006 crash (Border Patrol’s… …vehicle crashes).

Unfortunately, the U.S. military is unable to offer much assistance. After the American Civil War, federal troops were used to restore order, and enforce reconstruction laws in the south. The Army was occasionally stationed near polling places and political events, which brought great concern to many members of Congress. They feared that the military was drifting away from its intended role of national defense. As a result, the Posse Comitatus Act was passed to exclude the military from the role of civilian law enforcement (Trebilcock).

At this time, Congress is debating numerous bills relating to immigration and border security. On the subject of Points of Entry, Congress is interested in expanding the biometric system used to screen prospective entrants. Congress is also debating the success of the “one face at the border” initiative, which combines customs and immigration inspections. Concerning areas between Points of Entry, Congress is debating whether or not the Department of Homeland Security has a practical border security strategy. Congress also wants to know if the United States Border Patrol has enough resources to achieve and maintain operational control of our borders. Other legislation being debated include the expansion of fences along the U.S.-Mexican border, military patrols and surveillance along the border, “catch and release” practices (Nunez-Neto,) and the Posse Comitatus Act (Pentagon exploring…border security).

None of the proposed answers to the question of illegal immigration can hope to be effective until America has a firm grasp of its borders. The Customs and Border Patrol agency is operating with nearly one-fifth of its intended capacity of agents (Strohm). Technologies that have been promised have been acquired in inadequate quantities (Border Patrol’s… …vehicle crashes). Federal troops are limited by law in the types of functions they may perform in defending the America’s borders (Trebilcock). Until we bring a change to these issues, America’s border security, national security, and basic sovereignty will be at risk.

Works Cited

“Border Patrol’s unmanned aerial vehicle crashes.” 25 April 2006. <;.

Camarota, Steven A. “Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America’s Foreign-Born Population in 2005.” Center for Immigration Studies. December 2005. <;.

Cevallos, Diego. “INT’L LABOUR DAY: Mexico Backs ‘Day Without Immigrants’.” Inter Press Service News Agency. 28 April 2006. <;.

Grayson, George W. “Mexico’s Forgotten Southern Border: Does Mexico practice at home what it preaches abroad?” Center for Immigration Studies. July 2002. <;.

“National Border Patrol Strategy.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection. September 2004. < strategy.ctt/national_bp_strategy.pdf>.

Nunez-Neto, Blas and Beaver, Cheryl. “Immigration Related Border Security Legislation in the 109th Congress.” U.S. Department of State. 3 April 2006. <;.

“Pentagon exploring ways to use military for border security.” 12 May 2006. <;.

Reyes, Teofilo. “AFL-CIO, in Dramatic Turnaround, Endorses Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants.” Labor Notes. <;.

Seper, Jerry. “Mexican Official Seeks Open Border.” The Washington Times. <;.

Strohm, Chris. “Border Patrol seeks more personnel, might enlist citizen patrols.” 13 May 2005. <;.

Trebilcock, Craig T. “The Myth of Posse Comitatus.” Homeland Security Institute. October 2000 <;.

Operation Market Garden: Tragedy at Arnhem

Filed under: History,Military History — Thomas Hagen @ 1:57 am

It is not uncommon for success or failure in battle to be measured solely by those who have won the war. Operation Market Garden was a failure that brought tragedy to the city of Arnhem, Holland during World War II. Errors in planning, practice, and execution cost the lives of many, and brought ruin to the city, and the people that called it home.

As August met September of 1944, the German army was in complete disarray. Allied troops were charging from recently liberated Paris into the port city of Antwerp, Belgium. The swift advance of the Allies caused themselves supply problems that resulted in fuel shortages, and the advance was halted. German troops were frantically making their way back to Germany–except for the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions, who were ordered to refit, and resupply, in the city of Arnhem, Holland (Kerkhoff).

The Allies did not have enough supplies to maintain their broad-front assault towards Germany. General George Patton favored a two-pronged attack, while Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery preferred a spearhead approach. The British had long believed that, “He who holds northern Germany holds Germany” (Ryan 52), so Montgomery convinced the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, that if he were allotted all of the supplies meant for the front, he could push into Holland and then into the German industrial region—the Ruhr. Germany would be left without its war factories, and the war in Europe would be over by Christmas. This bold move was called Operation Market Garden (61-85).

The “Market” portion of the plan involved three and a half divisions of airborne troops—about 35,000 men. The U.S. 101st Airborne Division was to secure three major bridges between the cities Eindhoven and Veghel; the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division was to secure all bridges between the village Grave and the city of 90,000 people called Nijmegen; and the British 1st Airborne Division was to be supported by the Polish 1st Parachute Brigade and secure the prize of the operation—the bridge crossing the Lower Rhine at Arnhem. This would be the largest airborne operation in the history of warfare (Ryan 134-141). The “Garden” portion was to take place on the ground in the form of XXX Corps—four divisions of armor and infantry (Hickman). XXX Corps was to race up the narrow stretch of highway leading from Belgium to Arnhem, in order to support the airborne troops there, and then march on the Ruhr.

The plan was met with mixed reaction from Corporals to Commanders. Several previously planned jumps had been canceled, and General Frederick Browning was anxious to put his newly formed Allied 1st Airborne Army into action. His haste caused himself, and others, to make faulty decisions in the planning stages of the operation. Chief of Intelligence, Major Brian Urquhart, was not comfortable with the daily reports that Field Marshall Montgomery had been receiving concerning troop strengths in the Arnhem area. Enemy resistance was expected to consist of “Hitler Youth and old men”. Reports that Urquhart had received from the Dutch underground indicated that there were at least two German Panzer divisions somewhere in the vicinity of Arnhem (Fielder). Urquhart persuaded General Browning to order a low-level reconnaissance flight that yielded three photographs of armored vehicles and tanks being hidden along a tree line just outside the city. When the young intelligence officer showed the photographs to General Browning, Browning replied, “I wouldn’t trouble myself about these if I were you. They’re probably not serviceable, at any rate.” He could not have been more wrong; the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions were battle-hardened troops that had taken part in the blitzkrieg across Europe. Not long after his meeting with General Browning, Urquhart was visited by the corps medical officer. He was told that he was exhausted, and should go on leave immediately. It was made clear that those who “rocked the boat” would be left behind. (Ryan 131-33+59-60).

The commander of the British 1st Airborne Division Signals, Major Anthony Deane-Drummond, was concerned about the radios—known as a “22”–that would be used for the operation. The 22 could only transmit or receive within a diameter of three to five miles. This meant that none of the airborne units would be able to communicate with each other, nor would XXX Corps be able to communicate with them. Major Deane-Drummond took his concern to his superior, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Stephanson, and was told “Don’t be negative; and for God’s sake, don’t rock the boat; let’s get on with the attack.” The young Major did not want to be left behind (Ryan 179-80).

The drop itself was cause for worry. As a result of numerous misdrops during the Normandy invasion, which caused units to be spread out, it was decided that this drop would take place during the day. A daytime drop of this magnitude had never been attempted and many wondered if they would be shot out of the sky before they could even land. This was to have the greatest effect on the British 1st Airborne Division, as their landing zone was almost 8 miles from the Arnhem Bridge—their objective. This landing zone was selected because the ideal LZ—directly near the bridge—was in the middle of a densely populated area, and they could not land any closer due to the terrain. This meant that the under strength unit would have to fight their way to their objective, and give up the element of surprise. To make matters worse, there were not enough aircraft to transport everyone at one time. Three drops would have to be made before the airborne units would have all of their men, artillery, and support vehicles on the ground and ready for battle (Ryan 125-31+35-39).

The operation began on September 17, 1944. The sky train of C-47’s left from several bases in England, and made their way across the English Channel into Holland. Most of the large cargo planes delivered their payload of paratroopers and gliders to their destinations. One glider that did not make it went down near the headquarters of a German Colonel. That glider was carrying a briefcase that contained attack plans for the entire Allied operation. By the end of the afternoon those plans would be sitting on the desk of a German officer, who sent out the call for reinforcements (Ryan 254-56).

Later that afternoon, the artillery of XXX Corps rained fire over a five-mile area as its tanks began to roll at a steady eight miles per hour. Several German gunners survived the barrage, and were waiting to ambush the approaching column. After letting the first few tanks roll by, the Germans opened fire. Six Allied tanks were knocked out in the first volley of gunfire. XXX Corps spread out its forces and, with the support of dive-bombers, dug out the well-hidden enemy, but the skirmish wasted valuable time. This was compounded by the fact that XXX Corps would not be traveling at night because, “Habit seemed to dictate that one slept by night and worked by day” (Whiting 131). XXX Corps was expected to make the sixty-five mile trip to Arnhem in three days. At the end of the first day they had traveled only seven of those miles. “The operation was already behind schedule” (Ryan 245-51).

The bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal at Son was the primary objective of the 101st Airborne Division. There was almost no opposition as they approached the bridge, except for a German 88 artillery piece, which was promptly destroyed. As the paratroopers got within 50 yards, the retreating Germans blew up the bridge. A footbridge was fashioned to allow infantry to cross, but it would never support the tanks of XXX Corps (Ryan 252-3). Engineers would have to be called to construct a bridge for the unit to cross. This cost valuable time, and the bridge was not crossable until the morning of the third day. As they made their way to the 82nd Airborne and the city of Nijmegen, XXX Corps was 36 hours behind schedule (Kerkhoff).

The bridge at Nijmegen crossed the river Waal. General James Gavin, Commanding Officer of the 82nd Airborne Division, decided it would be best to take the bridge on both sides at once, as heavy casualties had made a head-on approach out of the question. Boats would be needed for the river crossing, so another call went out to the rear of the XXX Corps convoy to bring up the rafts. German artillery and traffic jams caused delays, and it was afternoon the next day before the boats arrived. The “tiny fleet” was quickly assembled, and the men made their way across the river for the assault (Ryan 432-62). After five hours of intense fighting, the Allies controlled the bridge. Many explosives were found on the bridge, and it is not known why the Germans failed to destroy it (Kerkhoff). The XXX Corps column was halted to wait for its trailing infantry units to lead the approach. More precious time was wasted, and it was early the next morning before the tanks of XXX Corps proceeded. They were now more than 48 hours behind schedule. (Ryan 508-16).

As XXX Corps was making its way up to Arnhem, the men of the 1st Airborne Division were trying to secure the Arnhem Bridge. Four days of heavy fighting had done nothing but split the force in two; rendering both surrounded. Supplies and men were beginning to dwindle, and a majority of the Allies resupply efforts in that area went to the Germans; as they had overrun the 1st Airborne supply drop zone. Troops had laid out parachutes on the ground in an attempt to attract the attention of the flight crews, which were ignored (Flower 948). Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski, and his 1st Polish Parachute Brigade, was expected two days prior, but had yet to arrive due to fog in England. Their drop on the fourth day of the operation found them cut off from the 1st Airborne Division on the opposite side of the river. The Polish brigade was massacred as they landed. Those that managed to survive the drop were forced to cross the Rhine in small rubber boats, where more carnage would ensue (Kerkhoff).

By the fifth day of the operation, German reinforcements began pouring into the region. One of the units to be reinforced was the 107th Panzer Brigade, which was then ordered to launch a counter-attack on Allied forces at Veghel. The attack met the middle of the XXX Corps column, and the advance was again halted. It would be the next day before the corridor was opened. The German focus was now on the city of Nijmegen, where they launched a major offensive that, again, brought XXX Corps to a halt. One week into the three-day operation, the XXX Corps advance was cut short of their objective. They would make no more ground towards the city of Arnhem. The 1st Airborne Division was now officially stranded, and the call to retreat went out. The remaining men of the 1st British Airborne Division attempted to make their way across the river to the awaiting forces on the other side. Many injured men were unable to attempt escape and surrendered to German forces. Operation Market Garden had come to an end (Kerkhoff).

The Allied plan to end the war by Christmas was a failure. The devastated city of Arnhem was not captured, and remained in German hands for another seven months. Nazi forces would seek vengeance against the people of Holland for helping the Allies, causing the death of more than 30,000 people during the “Hongerwinter”—or “winter famine”–by ceasing all food transportation in the occupied areas. Allied forces would not march on the Ruhr, and the war would rage on for another year, ending millions of lives. General Montgomery called Market Garden a “90% success” (Kerkhoff). In that “success”, 17,200 Allied soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. The 1st Airborne Division suffered the most casualties, by far. Of the nearly 10,000 men who were dropped into Arnhem, less than 2,000 would return. “The 1st Airborne Division had effectively ceased to exist” (Keegan 438). Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands later stated, “My country can never again afford the luxury of another Montgomery success” (

Works Cited

Fielder, Mark. “World War Two History: The Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden)”. BBC on the Internet. 1 September 2001. 26 January 2005  <;.

Flower, Desmond, and Reeves, James, ed. The War, 1939-1945. New York: Da Capo Press, 1977. (941-55).

Hickman, Mark. The Battle of Arnhem Archive. 1 February 2005 <http://www.arnhemarchive .org>.

Keegan, John. The Second World War. New York: Viking, 1989. (436-38).

Kerkhoff, Roel. Remember September ’44: The complete story of Operation Market Garden. 26 January 2005 <;.

Ryan, Cornelius. A Bridge Too Far. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974.

“SHAEF’S THREE MAJOR ERRORS.” 3 February 2005. <http://>.

Whiting, Charles. ’44: In Combat from Normandy to the Ardennes. New York: Stein and Day, 1984. (125-45).

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