Friday, February 29, 2008
Now, there is a new, still greatly obscure evil that is emerging on the Internet. One newly unveiled website in particular, instead of offering illegal bootlegs of copyrighted movies and music, is a clearinghouse for leaked sensitive government and corporate documents, including classified U.S. military documents that contain detailed information about our country's operations around the world.
The site is known as Wikileaks, and while I will not provide a link to it, it is easily accessible. It bills itself as "an uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis" with servers "distributed over multiple international jurisdictions." So far, they have received over 1.2 million documents from anonymous sources. Once documents are globally disseminated, a community of online researchers analyze them and report various findings.
The site claims its primary interest is exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. While this may sound like an admirable goal, the site's most popular documents are those that expose key information about the U.S. military.
Among the documents made freely available by Wikileaks are:
• Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Camp Delta (Guantanamo Bay prison), the primary document for the operation of Guantanamo Bay, including the securing of detainees
• U.S. Rules of Engagement for Iraq, a document visibly classified SECRET that contains the consolidated U.S. Forces Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Iraq as of October 2005
• Iraq Operation Iraqi Freedom Property List, a 2,000 page document consisting of the names, group structure, and equipment registers of all units in Iraq with Army equipment as of April 2007, also containing information about State Department, Air Force, Navy and Marines units, the Iraqi police and coalition forces from Poland, Denmark, Ukraine, Latvia, Slovakia, Romania, Armenia, Kazakhstan and El Salvador, material that represents nearly the entire order of battle for U.S. forces in Iraq and that is the first public revelation of many of the military units described
• Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom Property List, a comprehensive list of Army equipment held by the U.S. Army, Marines, Air Force, coalition, and possibly CIA units in Afghanistan as of April 2007
While this issue has attracted very little media attention, the New York Times picked up on Wikileaks' release of the Iraq rules of engagement in this February 4 story. They quote Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, a spokesman for the American military command:
"While we will not comment on whether this is, in fact, an official document, we do consider the deliberate release of what Wikileaks believes to be a classified document is irresponsible and, if valid, could put U.S. military personnel at risk."
He's absolutely right that a rules of engagement document in the hands of the enemy can cost lives. But I'm willing to go farther than to say the release of these documents is merely "irresponsible." It's treason.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
"We found some very high levels [of mercury] even after we tried a number of cleanup techniques," said Mark Hyland, director of Maine's Bureau of Remediation and
The study recommended that if a compact fluorescent breaks, get children and pets out of the room. Ventilate the room. Never use a vacuum, even on a rug, to clean up a broken compact fluorescent lamps. Instead, use stiff paper such as index cards and tape to pick up pieces, and then wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel. If there are young children or pregnant woman in the house, consider cutting out the piece of carpet where the lamp broke as a precaution. Place the shards and cleanup debris in a glass jar with a screw top and remove the jar from the house.
That sounds great! And so easy, too! So mercury is okay now... And this from the environmentalists!
Monday, February 25, 2008
Splitting the Baptists out of the Protestant category (because Baptists are not Protestants) and making a few other subjective groupings, the summary of religious affiliation among U.S. adults is:
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Officers found books in the backpack titled "Muhammad in the Bible," "The Prophet's Prayer" and "The Noble Qur'an." He also had a copy of the Quran and the Bible.
Several sheets of paper in the backpack included rap lyrics that referred to police, narcotics, weapons and killing. Baines told officers he is a rapper who writes his own lyrics and that rap music writers need to "play the part," the report states.
So, harmless punk or 9-11 wannabe? We have seen this odd connection between Islam and rap music before during the street riots in France a while back. The French "youths" were (and are still) immersed in a culture of anti-state, pro-jihad, profanity-filled, extremely violent rap music. This is the wave of the future. Our culture tolerates the "music" and intolerant, anti-American Islamic culture at its own peril.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Williams begins his piece by pointing out that greed cannot be easily defined:
Let's talk about greed, starting off with Merriam-Webster's definition: "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.
How much do we really need? Lots of people like to go around making sweeping statements about what is or is not "enough." I agree that people (especially Christians) should not be living life with the ultimate goal of possessing mere things and indulging in pleasure with little or no regard for other people or a higher calling. This can be a difficult question to ponder as it applies to one's personal life. Indeed, my family often chooses to forgo certain luxuries so that our resources can be put to a higher use (supporting mission work, having more family time, etc.) The problem comes when we try to define what is "enough" for other people. One man's luxury is another man's necessity. Who are you to decide for me or anybody else whether something is a luxury (greed) or a necessity (reasonable)?
The temptation always exists for us to look at those of more lavish means and label those items and services which they possess and we cannot as luxuries, possibly indicating that they are, in fact, "greedy." But we rarely look at those of more humble means and conclude that we are "greedy" for possessing more than they. Why not? Politicians love this, because they can conjure all sorts of images of "fatcat" oil tycoons buying more ivory back-scratchers and laughing that evil Mr. Burns laugh. After all, those gas prices are getting awfully high for those poor "working" people (as if oil tycoons do nothing but sit around and count their money). For more information on how this works, just listen to any democrat campaign speech.
Williams then gives us the better term, selfish:
"Selfish" is a bit more useful term, and it's the human motivation that gets wonderful things done. For example, I think it's wonderful that Alaskan king crab fishermen take the time and effort, often risking their lives in the cold Bering Sea, to catch king crabs that I enjoy. Do you think they make that sacrifice because they care about me? I'm betting they don't give a hoot about me. They make it possible for me to enjoy king crab legs because they want more money for themselves. How much king crab would I, and millions of others, enjoy if it all depended on human love and kindness?
Again, Christians ought not live a life of selfishness. We should consider the "least of these" and do what we can. However, selfishness is really just self-interest--looking out for ourselves and our own families. So there is a good side to this coin. And part of self-interest is making money, and lots of it. Here's where all this "greed" drives our whole economic system for the betterment of everyone, rich and poor alike. The question is not "why are gas prices so high?" but "why are they so low?" Last time I checked, oil-drilling equipment isn't very cheap. And you usually don't find oil just shooting out of your back yard--you have to travel to the ends of the earth, and then you might find it. Or you might lose your shirt. You get the idea (I hope). Being an oil tycoon is hard, hard, really hard work, and if somebody wasn't crazy enough (greedy enough?) to do it, we'd all be riding around in buggies and enjoying the fresh smell of manure instead of griping about gas prices.
The quest for profit (what some might call greed) brings us untold technological advances and a bewildering array of products and services. If you want it badly enough ($$$), someone will figure out how to offer it to you, possibly gift-wrapped. Whenever you hear someone knocking those "greedy rich people," you let 'em have it. Tell them those greedy rich people pay your salary, fill your gas tank and let you shop at their grocery stores (most have around 30,000 products for sale). They generously give to worthy humanitarian causes. They invent better medicine and make safer cars. They let you watch 1,000 channels on your HDTVs. They allow Christians to support mission work in foreign lands. They give you coffee from Sumatra and chocolate from Switzerland. And they offer us all this for less money than the year/month/day before. Greed makes the world go around.
Greed is good.
A writer being interviewed about the big strike, when discussing how many writers had to stop going out and spending money all the time (due to not getting paid for 4 months), used the term "working writers" to describe writers who are also middle class. Anybody see a problem here? Working writers? What other kind is there? Do rich writers not also work? Of course they do. This just illustrates how pervasive class-envy political tactics have become.
And one more: The weekly in-house money expert was demeaning a new study about income inequality urging that we look at the "consumption gap" instead of the income gap, because it shows how small the gap really is in terms of possessions (e.g., poor people and rich people all have lots of TVs, etc.). The "expert" said it didn't matter so much that poor people in 2008 are far better off than even middle-income people in the 1940s and 50s. What matters is that poor people are still poor relative to rich people. How much is this guy getting paid? That's like saying Tampa, FL, is hot relative to Antarctica. Well, duh--of course it is. Got any more words of wisdom? I suppose what he really wants is for everyone to make the same income. There's a name for that system, and it has little to do with freedom, justice and the American way.
Friday, February 15, 2008
On the McCain front, I heard it noted that McCain is one of only about four senators to refuse all earmarks. Hillary and Obama have obtained many millions in wasteful earmarks. Good for McCain.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
What's more interesting (Google reminded me) is that Thompson also endorsed McCain in 2000!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
"The first, by ecologists at Princeton and the Woods Hole Research Center, reviews the environmental consequences of increased biofuel consumption, which had never been examined comprehensively ... The researchers break new ground by exposing a kind of mega-accounting error: Prior studies had never credited the carbon-dioxide emissions that arise when virgin forests, grasslands and the like are cleared to grow biofuel feedstocks ... So, incredibly, when the hidden costs of conversion are included, greenhouse-gas emissions from corn ethanol over the next 30 years will be twice as high as from regular gasoline. In the long term, it will take 167 years before the reduction in carbon emissions from using ethanol "pays back" the carbon released by land-use change.
The second study comes out of the University of Minnesota and the Nature Conservancy and explores what the authors call the "carbon debt" when native ecosystems are converted to biofuel stock. Until the debt is repaid, biofuels from those fields will be greater net emitters than the fossil fuels they replace. The authors find that the debt for corn ethanol in the U.S. is between 48 and 93 years. In Indonesia and Malaysia, which have a 1.5% annual rate of deforestation to produce palm oil for Western European biodiesel, the debt is as high as 423 years."
Too bad H.R. 6 was just signed into law, mandating 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022.
The article's cheery conclusion:
"... special blame also belongs to the environmentalists, who are engaged in a grand bait-and-switch. They stir up a panic about global warming, and Washington responds to the political incentives. Then those policies don't work and the greens immediately begin pushing a new substitute, whose outcomes and costs are equally uncertain. But somehow, that never seems to discredit the entire enterprise and taxpayers keep footing the subsidy bill. Our guess is that these new revelations will also be ignored. They're too embarrassing."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Just to recap: Canada encourages both increased Muslim immigration and increased Muslim birthrate, paying them to do it, while the non-Muslim birthrate comes in below replacement level--and they continue to recognize more and more Muslim laws in the name of tolerance. Just checking. But then, Canadistan does have a nice ring to it...
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Bronson, the author of the column, wonders what the public outcry would be like if the bodies came from the many unclaimed dead in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also notes that the exhibit was too much for even liberal San Francisco and Amsterdam. Makes you wonder...
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Often considered a time of innocence (and, compared to 2008, it surely was), the 50s actually paved the way for the turbulent and rebellious 60s. Suddenly, the Establishment was on the ropes. These days, youth culture has all but replaced traditional adult culture, putting the old Establishment out to pasture. Every form of rebellion and counter-cultural behavior is now the new Establishment--a new Mainstream with no banks to check its course.
This has led us inevitably to our current PC state of multiculturalism and tolerance. Here's where the chilling part comes into play. Because our culture accepts all others without question (and even prefers them to the detriment of our own traditional Western culture), we are conceding vast psychological territory to the looming threat of Islam. We tolerate even those who are intolerant of our freedom, a situation that can have but one outcome--our enslavement.
West courageously deconstructs the current myth that our enemy is "terror" or even a subset of Islam often referred to as radical Islam. In fact, Islam, at it's very core and in its totality, seeks nothing less than complete control of the earth. Their definition of freedom centers not on a desire for personal liberty, but rather a desire to be free from false religion (i.e., all of the rest of us). They employ both violent (jihad) and nonviolent (mass immigration) means to further this aim. Westerners will be relegated to a second-class dhimmi status.
Meanwhile, our society continues to pretend this "real" culture war does not exist. Since becoming a nation of children and self-absorbed youths (a post-grown-up society), we lack the maturity to label barbarism when we find it and devise a sane plan to halt its advance. West does leave us with some good advice: learn to say "no", learn to cultivate virtues (not mere values) and learn the true power of thoughtful judgment and discrimination. This book is a definite MUST READ!
On Huckabee, he opines:
"Some have suggested Mike Huckabee. But that's a legacy of a hard fought primary season. Moving forward, Mr. Huckabee on the ticket would be a disaster. The former governor has a record of raising taxes and increasing spending. Picking him would only make it more likely that conservatives will sit on their hands come November."
I agree with Mr. Toomey. Sure, I like Huckabee, but it seems pretty clear that choosing him for VP is not a winning election strategy. Whether fairly or unfairly, Mike Huckabee has faced rabid opposition from many conservatives. McCain would risk further incensing and alienating this segment of the party by picking Huckabee.
Choosing a VP with the credentials of a strong fiscal conservative may be just the olive branch McCain needs to unify the GOP. As Toomey points out, he has many options, including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, and even Forbes Inc. CEO Steve Forbes.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
"Romney's decision to "stand aside," and especially the reasons he gave just now in his CPAC speech underscore the qualities I found so compelling in him, and confirm for me my decision to support him made many months ago. Had the conservative movement more quickly recognized these qualities, the coming together around Romney that has occurred in the last few weeks would have assured him the nomination and, I think, the White House. But it didn't, and now the task is to assure that Senator McCain succeeds President Bush for the very reasons Mitt Romney outlined today.
The campaign ahead is first and foremost about victory in the war. As Romney argued today, Senators Clinton and Obama are committed to retreat, and Senator McCain to victory in that war. That's all the reason any conservative should need to fully support Senator McCain now that his nomination is assured."
"The Archbishop of Canterbury has today said that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is 'unavoidable' and that it would help maintain social cohesion."
"Rowan Williams told BBC Radio 4's World At One that the UK has to 'face up to the fact' that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system."
We have a few people in our country who "don't relate" to our laws. We call them criminals. This sort of thinking comes directly from the ubiquitous concept of multiculturalism, taught with such fervency in our public schools, enshrined in newspaper columns and celebrated in the halls of congress. When a person accepts the notion that all cultures are equal, he must consequently reject the supremacy (or even basic decency) of his own culture. Abandoning our traditional Judeo-Christian Western culture leaves us powerless to criticize and oppose the evil inherent in lesser cultures. Islamic culture is not just different, it is dangerous.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
"While he is personally 'pro life' he has time and again reached out and worked with people across the spectrum. We know we can work with him to create common ground that will allow moderates and conservatives to come together to rebuild the GOP."
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
This is not to say that I am opposed to said rhetoric, per se. However, I still find the notion of abstaining from the vote distasteful, but it might be the best course if you truly cannot decide which of the two options is better (or, in this case, worse)--or if you truly feel responsible for the evil they will inevitable perpetrate. At any rate, it is surely an unfortunate situation to have to consider.
Monday, February 4, 2008
UPDATE: Here is a good summary of the possible outcomes by state.
"Société Générale has stopped paying Mr. Kerviel and told him not to come to the office, but it hasn't managed to formally fire him. French law stipulates that to do that, the bank must first call him in for a sit-down meeting and explain its dissatisfaction. He has the right to bring along a trade-union official, a lawyer or anyone else he'd like.
That will be complicated: A pair of Paris judges this week released Mr. Kerviel from custody but forbade him to have contact with the bank."
Friday, February 1, 2008
"With U.S. mortgage foreclosures set to top 1 million this year and home prices falling at the fastest pace since the Great Depression, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Vice Chairman Thomas Russo says the government must take action to prevent a recession.
``The direction we are heading in isn't a good one,'' Russo said in an interview. ``We need significant fiscal and monetary intervention.''"
Can you guess why the banks are in favor of stimulus? Why are banks ever in favor of anything? Answer: the bottom line.
Why are bankers so stirred up about this? Answer: fat bonuses in jeopardy. (Maybe you missed this story?)
Unfortunately, fiscal and monetary stimulus does not create wealth, it merely redistributes it. Fiscal measures like the one working its way through Congress now take wealth from taxpayers and, well, give it back to taxpayers. The net effect redistributes wealth from the more affluent to the less affluent. Business as usual for the U.S. government.
Another part of business as usual for the U.S. government (since 1913) is less well-known. This is the part where the government takes wealth from holders of U.S. dollars and gives it to large financial institutions. You haven't heard of this one? It's known as the Federal Reserve System. They are the ones in charge of "monetary stimulus".
To make a long story short, monetary stimulus is when the Fed prints new money (when they start printing it faster, they call it "lowering interest rates"). In doing so, they take wealth from holders of U.S. dollars (via inflation) and give it to the people who get the money first (banks). This setup enabled bankers to rake in nearly $40 billion in bonuses last year. Sort of a rip off, huh?
For an excellent and detailed explanation of this whole Fed thing, watch this video from the great folks at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.