Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Davis Committee

It makes no sense to trust the defense of truth and justice to those who cannot even recognize what it is they are supposed to be defending.

America is supposed to be a nation whose citizens value justice.

If this is true, then why are so many Americans tolerant of the corruption of the principles of justice represented by the Davis Committee?

The Davis Committee, which is 'investigating' the events following Hurricane Katrina, is something that no nation that actually prides itself on justice would tolerate. Indeed, in a nation that truly values justice, even proposing such a committee would be seen as irrefutable proof that the individual does not know what 'justice' is. If he cannot know justice when he sees it, then he is a poor person to trust with its defense.

The history of the Davis Committee is that, in the politically charged atmosphere following Hurricane Katrina, key House Republicans got together behind closed doors to work out a plan.

A plan to accomplish what?

We are left in the dark about that -- the meeting was held behind closed doors. However, whatever it is these people decided to accomplish, they sought to do so by forming a Republican-controlled committee. They would invite Democrats to participate. In doing so, they would call this the House Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation and Response to Hurricane Katrina. However, the committee will still be owned and operated by Republicans.

In fact, giving the committee this name is a lie. It is as much of a lie as former President Clinton saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” It shows just as much contempt for truth and honesty, and shows just as poor a moral character.

We return to the question of what this committee is supposed to accomplish -- what those who met behind closed doors wanted most to accomplish. What end can be best accomplished through a committee that is owned and operated by the Republican Party? What goal cannot be better accomplished by an independent commission?

Truth and Impartiality

Scientists have long recognized that, even with the best of intentions, researchers and investigators will introduce bias into any experiment. They have an overwhelming tendency to interpret the data to support their desired conclusions, rather than base their conclusions on the desired results.

Recognizing this human failing, researchers put safeguards into place to eliminate bias.

Where possible, they prefer blind or double-blind experiments so that the person making observations cannot know how those observations will affect the final results. When testing medicine, neither the doctor handing out the medicine or checking the patients, nor the patients themselves, know which samples are real and which are placebo, so that this knowledge will not taint their observations.

In an investigation into events surrounding the effects of Hurricane Katrina, it would be difficult to set up any blind or double-blind research. However, the lengths to which scientists go to eliminate bias even in an objective study of the effects of a medicine suggests how little justice we can find in a partisan investigation into the effects of Katrina.

People will see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear.

It points out that we have no reason to do anything but look with either derisive laughter or embarrassed shame at a partisan investigation into these events.

Why It Is Important?

Scientists employ all sorts of safeguards to get to the truth because error can be extremely costly. Scientists need to know the effects of certain drugs with as much precision as possible. Careful data measurements are not enough to secure these results. Control groups and double-blind observations to reduce bias are essential. Failure to obtain objective results will lead to errors. Those errors, particularly in fields such as medicine, cost lives and suffering. Those errors are to be avoided.

Errors in the investigation into the effects of Hurricane Katrina are also going to cost lives and well-being. If we blame the wrong people, or we fail to actually see what went wrong, then we will not fix the real problems. If we do not fix the real problems, then we can expect more death and suffering in the future.

A society that does not value truth and justice will suffer for their sins -- they will pay with the loss of lives and property that a society that values truth and justice would have avoided.

A society that supports an 'investigation' that promises to hide more truth than it reveals, and which is more likely to use a criteria of political expedience to attach blame rather than actual responsibility, will also contribute to future death, destruction, and suffering.

I want to repeat, the Committee leaders do not need to consciously intend to misplace blame and hide the truth for this to happen. Again, medical researchers know that researchers easily misinterpret results in spite of their best intentions whenever they have a stake in the outcome. If the best objective scientists cannot be trusted to yield impartial observations, then partisan politicians certainly have no hope of avoiding political expedience in their investigations.

Who Is Responsible?

I am not a political strategist, so I cannot comment on the political wisdom of going along with a bad idea. The role of a politician is filled with choices where both options are wrong. Sometimes, a politician has to support a bad policy in order to get a good policy enacted elsewhere.

It is the leadership of the majority party in the House of Representatives hold primary responsibility for this injustice. They are the ones that decided that advantage to the party is more important than truth. They are the ones that decided that American lives, property, and well-being.

What does this say about the moral character of these people?

One of these people is House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), recently released from his duties as Majority Leader pending an investigation into criminal acts in Texas. Those crimes –funneling illegal contributions to Republican candidates in Texas, exhibit a similar moral character. If DeLay himself is not guilty of any wrongdoing, the acts under investigation exhibit the same character and culture evident in the formation of the Davis Committee. It shows a culture dominated by an attitude that puts the love of party advantage and power above the love of justice, truth, and the rule of law.


It is one thing when politicians hide the seedier aspects of their profession behind closed doors. Deals made in back rooms and campaign contributions offered in exchange for votes are things that exist largely out of sight. Even though they shame us to know that we have a system in which these things take place, they are at least kept out of public sight.

The Davis Committee is a shame and a sham that is sitting right out in public.

Because of this, it not only reflects on the poor moral character of those who created it, and those who named it. It reflects on the poor moral character of all American citizens who tolerate it. They cannot say, “I did not know that this was going on.” The government has put their contempt for truth, justice, and fairness right out in the open for the whole world to see. As a result, there is no way to refuse to see this as a test as to whether Americans actually do value truth, justice, and fairness.

If we do not, then people will die.

1 comment:

Alonzo Fyfe said...

I am not really sure what you are asking me to agree with.

I do hold that moral concepts are not 'I' or 'me' concepts, but are 'we' and 'us' concepts. Specifically, morality is what it is good for us to like.

So, we ought to like the truth and have an aversion to attempts to hide it. We ought to like fairness and be repulsed by unfairness. The formation of this 'Davis Committee" ought to hit us like a wretched stench.

A person of good moral character will, like all of us, do what he likes. The difference is, he likes the right things. He likes the things that benefit others. So, when he pursues his hobbies and interests, others are made better off.

This is as opposed to the villain who, in seeking his own happiness, does harm to others.