Monday, December 31, 2007

Ron Paul Criticizes Bush's War Policy
Or Was That Clinton's?

Ten years ago, Ron Paul criticized Bill Clinton's policy for war in the Balkans. You'd swear he'd just been criticizing George W. Bush. It is uncanny how similar the motives are behind the Bosnian War and the Iraq War.

A critique of our quest for oil hegemony? It's in there. Allies running away from us? Yup! How about "If you don't support the war, you don't support the troops." It's all been said before--ten years ago during the Clinton Administration. So, put on your seat belt, and prepare for a topsy turvy ride of deja vu.

The Establishment of Mao Tse-Tung's China was a master at propaganda. But he has NOTHING on the US Establishment, which now has the sights of its big guns trained on the ONE candidate that is not in some way beholden to the American Establishment--Ron Paul. Recently he has emerged as a formidable candidate. The American kingmen can no longer ignore him, and they don't dare talk about his clearly sound and attractive policies, so they're dredging up lies out of his distant past in an attempt to smear the person.

Good one!

The major players in America haven't liked Ron Paul for a long time, because he's been onto them for a long time. Ron Paul has never waivered in his criticism of unsound and unjust US foreign policy, whether it be the failures of a Democrat or a Republican administration.

Why do his critiques of Bush's and Clinton's war policies sound so similar? Because Bush and Clinton are opposite sides of the same Establishment coin. Carroll Quigley, author of Tragedy and Hope, put it this way:
The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.
Unfortunately, even non-establishment types are getting into the act of belittling the achievements of Ron Paul. It's because they haven't paid attention to what he stands for. If they did, they'd say, "Hey that's exactly what I believe in!"

Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.

Carroll Quigley

Read the following quotes and see if they don't sound like recent criticisms of President Bush by Ron Paul. The reality, though, is that (although they sound just like recent critiques of Bush's war Policy), these statements were made by Ron Paul in opposition to the Clinton Administration in 1998.

The fact that, of the original...allies in the Persian Gulf War, only one remains--Great Britain--should make us question our policy in this region. (p. 70)
The uniformity of enshrined with the common cliche`s...we must support the troops and, therefore, of course, the war. Any consideration of the facts involved elicit[s] charges of anti-patriotism. (p. 70)
There is reason to believe the hidden agenda of our foreign policy is less hidden than it has been in the past. ...United States...oil compan[ies have had] success in the [region, where the] "U.S. views pipelines as a big foreign policy victory". (p. 71)
Isn't that interesting? Bill Clinton started a war ten years ago, for all of the same Establishment reasons as for the war Bush started four years ago. Ten years ago, Democrats were the cheerleaders of "if you don't support the war, you don't support the troops". Now that there is a Republican "rascal" in the white house, the Republicans are the water carriers for the establishment, spouting the same silly mantra.

Doesn't that strike you as the least bit bizarre?

America's future depends on rejecting the Establishment with is nearly identical, worn out foreign policy that ruins nations and cuts away at the liberty that Americans once held dear. The best beginning to that rejection is the election of Ron Paul as president of the United States.

During the Clinton years, Ron Paul had this to say about patriotism:
The best way to support our troops and our liberties is to have a policy that avoids unnecessary confrontation.
Hardly anyone listened to him then. Let's hope were not still so stupid.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ron Paul is Right: US to Blame for Bhutto Assassination

Benazir Bhutto, despite how you feel about her politics, was a brave woman who did not deserve to die. The current atmosphere of hatred and distrust in Pakistan has been generated largely by the world's only superpower, the United States of America, who thinks that it can get its fingers in everyone else's pie any time it damn well pleases. The result? The assassination of a great woman, and a country in turmoil.

Update 12/30/2007: On-scene reporter: Pakistanis are partially blaming US for the death.

Following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, the United States was again unnecessarily scrambling:
On Thursday, officials at the American Embassy in Islamabad reached out to members of the political party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, according to a senior administration official. The very fact that officials are even talking to backers of Sharif, a man those officials have long mistrusted and whose return to Pakistan they discouraged because they believe he has too many ties to Islamist parties, suggests how hard it will be to find a partner the United States fully trusts.
Why do we have to worry about trusting anybody there? Why do we even have to even be there? Why are we not just protecting America? Our foreign policy, particularly as it regards the Middle East, has been a travesty for the past 60 years. And Ron Paul is spot on when he points out that fact as it relates to the Bhutto murder.

The Associated Press reports that
...the assassination of former Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto pushed terrorism to the forefront in voters' minds and highlighted the candidacies of presidential hopefuls with long records on national security.
Ron Paul correctly observed that American foreign policy has inflamed the divisions among the various parties in Pakistan (as well as throughout the Middle East) and indirectly caused the death of Bhutto.

Somebody tell me why we are supporting a military dictator (Pervez Musharraf)? Oh, that's right--because we helped them destabilize themselves and the world by acquiring nuclear weapons, and because we don't want al Qaeda to get their hands on them. Somebody also tell me why we continue to involve ourselves in the politics and self-determination of other countries?

The readers of Little Green Footballs betrayed their erudition and culture (not) by their "kind" words about Ron Paul's accurate observation of the negative, blowback effect of American foreign policy.
  • "Where's a chimp with a spear when we need one?"
  • "Leave our country, Congressman, at once."
  • "Jiminy freakin jumped up Xmas this guy is an a%&hat's a$%hat."
  • "Consummate dip^&#$."
  • And my favorite: "F&%^ing Oblivious"
What is interesting is that the real "dipsticks" and "freaking oblivious"--the bulk of the commenters at Little Green Footballs--have not one iota of understanding as to America's history of foreign policy blunders.

In his recent book, A Foreign Policy of Freedom Ron Paul says:
The Muslim world is not fooled... The evidence is too overwhelming that we do not hesitate to support dictators and install puppet governments when it serves our interests. When democratic elections result in the elevation of a leader or party not to our liking, we do not hesitate for a minute to undermine that government.
The most tragic part of it all is that
[t]his hypocrisy is rarely recognized by the American people. (p. 344)
Especially those who frequent Little Green Footballs.

Pervez Musharraf became president in Pakistan through a military coup d'etat in 1999. The United States cavorts with him, despite his having not been elected and having suspended the Pakistani constitution twice.

Tell me how the United States isn't responsible for Bhutto's death?

Benazir Bhutto was twice popularly elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Now she is dead, and a military dictator, supported by United States foreign policy, is in office by force.

Tell me how the United States isn't responsible for Bhutto's death?

Update 12/30/2007 Trudi Rubin of The Philadelphia Enquirer was en route to interview Bhutto when she received a phone call informing her of the murder. Subsequently she talked to Pakistanis about the killing:

Pakistanis are angry at this murder, an anger that has already led to violence and could plunge the country into chaos. And just about every Pakistani with whom I spoke blamed her death not on al-Qaida, but on their own government — and the United States.

Anger at Musharraf was already running high, and Bhutto's murder could lead to a public explosion. That anger is also heaped on the United States because the Bush administration still supports Musharraf.

Her outspoken critique of the jihadis was a risk in a country where many Pakistanis think the United States is forcing them to fight its war on al-Qaida and the Taliban. Bhutto thought differently. She said it was Pakistan's war, too, and warned that the militants wanted to undermine the Pakistani state. For that, many Pakistanis labeled her an American agent.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How the Federal Government Screwed Up Broadband Internet

Did you ever wonder why your American internet connection sucks? You can thank the federal government. Today most of us only know that the Federal Communications Commission regulates the airwaves as a public property. But it wasn't always that way. At one point telecommunications were regulated on a much more efficient basis. But then big business and their partner in crime, the federal government, decided that things had to be done differently, ostensibly for the benefit of all. And now, American telecommunications is screwed up beyond belief. This is why countries like South Korea kick our butt in broadband speeds.

Two years ago, the US had already dropped to 16th among the nations of the world in internet access speed. Why is this so? Because these so-called socialist nations are much less socialist than we are--in many ways, including--in telecommunications.
These nations all have something the U.S. lacks: a national broadband policy, one that actively encourages competition among providers, leading to lower consumer prices and better service.

Instead, the U.S. has a handful of unelected and unaccountable corporate giants that control our vital telecommunications infrastructure. This has led not only to a digital divide between the U.S. and the rest of the advanced world but to one inside the U.S. itself. Currently, broadband services in America remain unavailable for many living in rural and poorer urban areas, and remain slow and expensive for those who do have access.
In 1926, it was clear to the federal government that it had no authority to regulate the communications spectrum.
In April, 1926 — United States v. Zenith Radio Corp. — the court again denied Hoover the authority to regulate licensure and this time—contrary to Intercity—they explicitly denied him discretion over time and wavelength assignment as well. Because the Intercity and Zenith decisions conflicted, Hoover turned to the acting Attorney General of the United States for an interpretation of the law. The Attorney General declared that the federal government had no authority to define any rights to spectrum.

The federal government has no authority to regulate the communications spectrum.

But...fear of fears! How would it be regulated? People would be stomping all over each other if the federal government didn't control things, right? Wrong. The problem was already under control by state courts just fine, thank you.
the classic interference problem was encountered, litigated, and overcome, using no more than existing common-law precedent.
If you drive down the freeway some evening with your AM radio station on, you will notice that the Federal Government does a crappy job of regulating the AM radio waves. But that's "okay". We've become accustomed to the reality that the federal government can fail at anything it wants and not be held accountable for it.

Where did the federal government get the idea, shortly after 1926, that is was somehow authorized to regulate the airwaves? By big business, who stood to gain, and has enjoyed in the interim 80 years, huge advantages over the small guy trying to get into the market. Is it surprising to you then, that huckmeisters like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are making it big with their radio putresence, while the little guy languishes? All the better to fool you with, my dear.

Private entities, such as the IEEE and Underwriters Laboratories can provide the same allocation function as does the FCC, and they can do it much better. If they were to become whores for their big business friends, something could much more easily be done to remedy the situation.

Currently, due to FCC ineptitude, vast swaths of the communications spectrum is left unused. Private companies have the technology and ability to apportion out these unused frequencies, leaving easily enough for public safety frequencies.

FCC policies virtually ensure that disputes are decided in favor of the communications giants, leaving the opposite point of view largely out in the cold.

The FCC, like the Federal Department of Education, should be abolished. It has solved no problems that were not already being solved. It has, rather, made political obeisance to its friends in big business, causing a monolithic use of America airwaves that would make Joe Stalin proud. Even if it did its job correctly, it would be less efficient than the private sector could provide the same service, and it would still be unconstitutional.

Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS has this web exclusive that talks about the December 18, 2007 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to allow newspapers to buy radio and television stations in the city that the papers are published. The FCC is a sham.

You should jump on your archaically slow internet connection and tell your congressman about it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Why Did They Sue All Those Tobacco Companies? Hmmm!...

It never made much sense to me why the tobacco companies were the brunt of such vicious attacks and lawsuits. After all smokers are free to shorten their lives, aren't they? Are you afraid of second-hand smoke? I fart in its general direction. Do you smoke? Me neither. Do you hate smokers? Neither do I. So why did the tobacco companies get their pants sued off? Was the result of any benefit to you? No? Well, it must have benefited someone...

Oh, did it ever.

I've only smoked once in my life. I tried a barkey and then nearly coughed my lungs out. It was no fun. Tobacco is not to smoked. It is to be used as a medicine.

But something else is not be smoked either. Authoritarianism. It's much more deadly than tobacco ever thought of being.

During the national debate a few years back, when tobacco companies were the subject of each day's Two Minutes of Hate, I remember people claiming to be surprised that the tobacco companies had been lying when they said that tobacco didn't increase anyone's risk for cancer.

A gigantic class-action lawsuit against tobacco was a dry run for something much bigger.

I was about 8 or 10 years old when it first occurred to me that putting smoke in your lungs on a regular basis could end up killing you. So why would someone much older and smarter than I claim ignorance about such a basic fact?

To form the basis for a gigantic class-action lawsuit--that's why. And why would they want to have a successful lawsuit? The money? Yes, but that was purely secondary. It was a dry run for something much bigger.

Myles Allen of Oxford University told Reuters in 2006 that
If the evidence [of man-caused global warming] hardens up ... it has all the ingredients of the tobacco case"
It has thus far been very difficult to prove that anyone in particular has been guilty of causing global warming (partly because there has been no proof--only wishing and worrying--that mankind is having much of an affect at all). But since the success of the tobacco action, new vistas have been opened for adjudication in the area of climate change!!
Increasing the odds of an adverse event can be enough to make an entity liable for damages - as seen with tobacco companies. Class-action lawsuits against them have been underpinned by scientific evidence that smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

It is not possible to link any individual case of the disease to smoking because there are other causes too. Similarly, no particular climate event can be blamed on global warming, but now Allen and colleagues have shown they can calculate a change in risk.

The only difference, says Allen, is that the risk attached to smoking was calculated by comparing the fate of large numbers of people, some smokers, some not. The same statistical techniques cannot be applied directly to the climate because the Earth has only one climate system. They have to use simulated models to generate comparisons.
And simulate they will! It worked once with tobacco. And now, the sky (with all of its deadly man-made greenhouse gases) is the limit!

The Vacuousness of American Education

In this modern day of jet airplanes, microwave ovens, and X-Box 360’s, many Americans tend to look with derision on the Founders of our country. Certainly we are more intelligent than were they, we kid ourselves. In a way, we have become drunken by our technology, wrongly assuming that because we have more of it that we are more intelligent than all of those who had less. We can scarcely see the reality, though, that the founding men and women of America, uninhibited by the information age, had a much better understanding of the information at their disposal. They were able to convert their information into wisdom. We, however, reject such mental gymnastics, preferring the mental atrophy of ceaseless entertainment. Lazily we trust our education elites to give us the education we need, and we turn our heads back toward our television sets rather than notice and admit their failure.

We have ignored our Founders' grand governmental insight—that that government is best which governs least---at our peril. It’s probably not surprising then that a large number of our population feel that the federal government has any hope at all of fostering a healthy educational environment. But where has the chief purveyor of the least common educational denominator gotten us so far? Not very, and the leading lights of early America never expected it to.

The Constitution of the United States is eminently simple. Only the congress (the legislative branch) can legislate (or make law). And that legislature is allowed by the Constitution to act in only 18 areas. Margaret Spelling, President George W. Bush’s current Secretary of Education, was recently asked to identify under which of those 18 points the department of education was allowed to lawfully operate. Her first attempt at an answer was cheaper than evasive:
“I think we had come to an understanding..of the reality of Washington and…that the Department of Education was not going to be abolished.”
When pressed to give an actual answer to the question, she surrendered. “I can’t point to it one way or the other. I’m not a constitutional scholar.” Mrs. Spelling—it does not take a constitutional scholar, but rather a person of integrity to give a concise and non-dissimulating answer to a simple question. “There is none.” I think that Margaret Spelling is a woman of integrity, but that out of fear she could not say what she really knows to be true.

About ten years ago, the Republican party championed federal non-intervention in education as a point of Constitutional fact. In 1996, its party platform said:
“The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula… This is why we will abolish the Department of Education, end federal meddling in our schools, and promote family choice in all levels of learning.”
The Constitution has not changed in the intervening years, so something (or someone) must have. Reading those words makes one melancholy for the days of yesteryear, when real men and women occupied the upper echelons of the Republican party. Now, by contrast, mere skeletons of virtue carve with the same knife from the same vacuous federal pie as their erstwhile liberal opponents. Consequently, our education system—along with every other facet of our government for which there is no constitutional basis—spirals ever nearer to ignominy.

As of late, so-called champions of our failing federal education frenzy have adopted a seemingly new tack for the salvation of our children’s minds. After all, the United States continues to fall further and further behind other nations in our educational prowess, so, they say, we must look beyond our borders for answers. Their idea is not new, however. It is simply one that has been tried for much longer than they care to admit, is a “solution” that has failed no less than exactly every time it has been tried, and is the exclusive cause of our present failures—to wit, too much government.

As with health care—another object of manic rage whose problem is sure in bureaucrats' opinions to be solved by the bludgeoning of even more excessive government—lifelong bureaucrats claim that the solutions to our educational problems can be found in greater government control. They hold up the nations of Europe as examples to buttress their claims. This is no indication of success, however. It is only a comparative indication that we are much further behind in our educational potential than we even thought we were.

What America does, it always does well. That is the American tradition, due to the unyielding American spirit of excellence. Ironically, this is why we can never afford to choose as a nation to do the wrong thing—because we will not fail to perform that task “well” either. When we choose the wrong national path, our tradition and spirit is hijacked in a direction opposite of that which we intended.

As it is a function of both improper direction and greater speed than our European friends, our educational emulation of Europe only ensures that we will fall further behind. While our European idols, through their satisfaction with mediocrity, remain mediocre in their intellectual setbacks, we Americans will continue to pursue the same ends with much greater alacrity, and our result will be to arrive much further in the same wrong direction.

Our country’s founders were much wiser than we are nowadays accustomed to think. In fact, they were much wiser than we. If we want our education to improve, we must return to the forms of simplicity that established and signaled their wisdom. Abolishing federal control of our education system will return such wisdom to it.

Only then can the genius of American tradition and spirit propel us quickly back to the pinnacle of educational excellence—where we once were, and where only the lack of adherence to fundamental constitutional principles is keeping us from returning.

Then, as well, everyone from the least to the greatest will be able to answer simple constitutional questions, not with evasiveness, but with simple integrity.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mike Huckabee and that Anti-Mormon Cross in the Window

It's hard to imagine that the cross in the window of Mike Huckabee's Christmas commercial was just a coincidence. It's just the latest of his stunts to try and convince the voting populace that Mitt Romney is a member of a cult. Huckabee is a great presidential candidate, but this sidetrack has him well on the way to embarrassing himself.

You might think the following diatribe strange coming from me, considering that Mike Huckabee is my second choice for president of the United States--behind Ron Paul and ahead of Mitt Romney. But read on to find out why it's important.

I have a great deal of respect for Mike Huckabee. Not as much as I once had, but I still respect him--and his religion. I just wish he would respect my--and Mitt Romney's--religion, rather than making it the brunt of a derisive political ploy.

It started sometime around the point when Governor Huckabee, feigning ignorance, asked "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers?" That's a snide question, particularly coming in the midst of a political campaign.

But it didn't stop there.

He's doing everything he can in Iowa and elsewhere to paint himself as the Christian candidate. I thought political campaigns were about what a person's qualifications are for public office. That he or she is a religious and moral person is certainly a qualification that I value, but we don't need to get into any more detail than that. Okay, can we move on to the next question?

Mike Huckabee says no. Somehow he feels he must remind us like a broken 78-RPM record that he is a Christian and that his closest competitor is a doofus. He said it emphatically with the following commercial:

You may not know it, but, while for Baptists the cross of Jesus Christ is a very important symbol, for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it is not. Rather, Mormons tend to focus on the risen Lord and the greatest event to occur in history, the resurrection of Christ. I respect the fact that Baptists are Christian, but why can't Mike Huckabee and other Baptists give us the same obviously-deserved courtesty? Because of course we're Christians. did we get sidetracked on religion in the middle of this political discussion? Oh, that's right...

On that day that Huckabee made the wisecrack about Jesus and Satan, he claimed not to know much about the Mormons. And now, from a e-mail letter I received today, the rest of the story:
What Newsmax does know is that in June 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City, the backyard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the Mormons. The annual meeting created a stir between the Baptists and the Mormons.

The keynote speaker at the gathering was then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

At the annual meeting, the SBC distributed copies of a book entitled “Confronting the Contradictions Between Mormon Beliefs and True Christianity,” ...

The book maintains that while Mormons claim to be Christians, they propagate a non-Christian view of God, a non-Christian view of Jesus, and a non-Christian view of the gospel.
Mitt Romney's father, who ran for high political office over 40 years ago, was never once asked about his religion. As it should be. Huckabee is brazenly fomenting and capitalizing on the skittishness of the American public when it comes to religions other than his own.

It's as though Huckabee thinks we are members of The Church of Adolf Hitler of Latter-Day Nazis. It's tripe unworthy of any political campaign--and especially a campaign for the highest office in the land. And to me it's getting sickening.

It needs to stop. Or Mitt Romney will replace Mike Huckabee as my second favorite presidential candidate.

Bad News for Man-Caused Global Warming Evangelists

I suspect that 90% or more people in the world think that it is critical to take care of the earth. I certainly do. There are ways to accomplish this task without ceding control to world government. But this is certainly the aim of those bureaucratic chicken littles who claim untruthfully that man is causing the sky to fall. Fortunately, more scientists are escaping the grasp of the global Ursula to admit that global warming is actually part of a natural, historical trend.

Update 12/26: UN does not let International Climate Science Coalition present at Bali conference.

One of the first commandments God gave to man was to be a steward of the earth. This is wise counsel. In the modern industrial age, we should find ways to keep our environment clean, including solar power, wind power, hybrid cars, nuclear energy, etc. But we can make matters a lot worse by believing things that just ain't so, such as...oh...for models and the people who get paid to believe them.

Al Gore claims that a recent group of scientists who stated the obvious--that man is not a significant cause of global warming--are bought and paid for.
Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider told the Washington Times that after a quick review, about 25 or 30 of the scientists cited in the report may have received funding from Exxon Mobil Corp.

However, Mobil spokesman Gantt H. Walton dismissed the claim, telling the newspaper the company is concerned about climate change reports, and doesn't pay scientists to "bash global-warming theories."

A spokesman for Gore declined WND requests for additional comment on the issue.
Now that is a gigantic pot calling a non-existent kettle black. No wonder there was no further comment.

Here is what Gore and his people were complaining about.
A new U.S. Senate report documents hundreds of prominent scientists – experts in dozens of fields of study worldwide – who say global warming and cooling is a cycle of nature and cannot legitimately be connected to man's activities.
For example,
"Of course I believe in global warming, and in global cooling – all part of the natural climate changes that the Earth has experienced for billions of years, caused primarily by the cyclical variations in solar output," said research physicist John W. Brosnahan...
In a nutshell of other words, the earth is warming, but man is by far not the major cause of it. In another nutshell, we need to shepherd the environment, but we don't need to cede our liberty to government in order that it can aggrandize itself by fighting some imaginary monster. I agree with Brosnahan, who says
"I have not seen any sort of definitive, scientific link to man-made carbon dioxide as the root cause of the current global warming, only incomplete computer models that suggest that this might be the case.

"Even though these computer climate models do not properly handle a number of important factors, including the role of precipitation as a temperature regulator, they are being (mis-)used to force a political agenda upon the U.S.," he continued.

"While there are any number of reasons to reduce carbon dioxide generation, to base any major fiscal policy on the role of carbon dioxide in climate change would be inappropriate and imprudent at best and potentially disastrous economic folly at the worst."

Update 12/26: International Climate Science Coalition, intending to provide information refuting man-caused global warming, was censored from the recent UN conference held in Bali, Indonesia.

FISA: Running Orrin Hatch Out of D.C. on a Rail

At one point in time I was of the opinion that telecommunications companies were being forced to cooperate with the government in the immoral and unconstitutional Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and therefore they should be given immunity from lawsuits against their activities. I changed my mind, however, when I found out that the telecommunications companies actually enjoy the financial benefit that accrues from this "compulsion". I hope that Orrin Hatch, for his support of such corruption, will be dispatched to the pasture in the next available election.

Update: Proof that the phone-database gathering so essential to finding the culprits behind 9/11 actually began several months earlier.

Update 12/26: It's getting worse: using your body as an identification card.

It is interesting that Congress doesn't give a rat's backside about protecting the United States from enemies at our gates, yet they demand the right to eavesdrop on the lot of us already inside, buttressed by their specious claims that they are only spying on the bad guys. Orrin Hatch is the new-and-improved FISA's (and George W. Bush's) cheerleader in chief. A couple of days ago he was at his finest as to geriatric contortions in support of a robbery of your Constitutional rights. Here is his "logic"
When companies are asked to assist the intelligence community based on a program authorized by the President and based on assurances from the highest levels of government that the program has been determined to be lawful, they should be able to rely on those representations.
Like hell it's lawful! It's rather the brigandage of an Executive Branch run amok that the hopefully soon-to-be-former Senator Hatch is beholden to (and I wish I knew why).

With easily discerned sanctimony, Hatch claims fond appreciation for those telecommunication companies who helped our country after the attacks of 9/11.
My admiration and respect for the companies who did their part to defend Americans is well known. As I’ve said in the past, any company who assisted us following the attacks of 9/11 deserves a round of applause and a helping hand, not a slap in the face and a kick to the gut.
Well, what about helping to protect us before 9/11? They were helping someone, as you'll see below. I guess though, that the primary responsibility to protect America would have been the responsibility of government, so let's beef up a law so we can spy on anyone at any time, right? Hey, that oughta work!!

There were signs galore that we were about to be attacked on the eve of 9/11, yet Orrin Hatch won't talk about that. Instead of chastising those in government who didn't pay attention, he lavishes praises on those who supposedly helped us after the fact. Helped us in what way? By kowtowing to the Establishment line that the only way to protect America is to make us all slaves?

Hatch continues:
The identities of any company who assisted the government following the attacks of September 11th are highly classified. While there have been numerous allegations, they are nothing more than accusations.

If the identities of the companies are revealed and officially confirmed through litigation, they will face irreversible harm...
"Highly classified"? Of course they are, because if they weren't, we'd find out just how much the telecommunications companies enjoy being "forced" by the government to hand over their records.

It turns out that the telecommunication companies didn't have to have their arms twisted very hard after all.
Executive Branch intelligence agencies and the nation's largest telecommunications companies have been working for many years in almost complete secrecy, with no oversight and no recognition of legal limits, to spy on Americans, first in the name of the War on Drugs, and then in the name of the War on Terror. These warrantless wiretaps are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires that any searches be conducted only upon issuance of a warrant under conditions of probable cause.

Despite the blatant illegality of their actions, both the federal government and the telecommunications companies (which reap tidy profits from the associated government contracts) want to see the present situation continue. To ensure the future co-operation of the telecom companies, federal politicians want to grant them amnesty in order to protect them from any lawsuits resulting from their illegal activities. gives us a background on pre-9/11 spying of this nature:
There are several vital points raised by the new revelations in The New York Times that "the N.S.A.'s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before" and includes both pre-9/11 efforts to tap without warrants into the nation's domestic communications network as well as the collection of vast telephone records of American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The Executive Branch and the largest telecommunications companies work in virtually complete secrecy -- with no oversight and no notion of legal limits -- to spy on Americans, on our own soil, at will.

More than anything else, what these revelations highlight -- yet again -- is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government's ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens and to maintain vast dossiers on those activities.
...and then explains just how incestuous the relationship is between FedGov and the telcos.
The Federal Government has its hands dug deeply into the entire ostensibly "private" telecommunications infrastructure and, in return, the nation's telecoms are recipients of enormous amounts of revenues by virtue of turning themselves into branches of the Federal Government.

There simply is no separation between these corporations and the military and intelligence agencies of the Federal Government. They meet and plan and agree so frequently, and at such high levels, that they practically form a consortium.
Surely Orrin Hatch knows this.

It's been quite some time--1980-something??--since I voted for Orrin Hatch. If you have recently been a victim of the indiscretion of helping to elect him, I hope his obsequious pandering to the Establishment will encourage you to vote otherwise when his current term comes to a close.

May it be his last.

Update: Does it make a difference if the telcos were working hand-in-glove with the Federal government to spy on us before 9/11 ever happened? Well..they were.

Update 12/26: As if they couldn't spy on everything the FBI is compiling a gigantic database that very likely has your biometric data on it. It's interesting that the federal government allows and even encourages security crises (9/11, illegal immigration), apparently so that they can have a pretext to spy on you even more than they already are. That's government for you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Iran and the Looming "Nicaraguan Missile Crisis"

A couple weeks ago I opined in this space that we shouldn't care if Iran has nuclear weapons. If, however, some recent, alleged developments in Nicaragua are true, I may have to stand corrected.

Is Iran still developing nuclear weapons? Is Gordon B. Hinckley Mormon? Is Bismarck the capital of North Dakota? Is the ocean made up largely of salt and water?

Ain't no politically motivated National Intelligence Estimate gonna convince me otherwise. Of course Iran is still centrifuging uranium, so yes, they are still on the path to developing nuclear weapons. But we shouldn't care...or should we??

Some people in Nicaragua think we should.
MONKEY POINT, Nicaragua — The second military helicopter in as many days hovered over the jungle and then landed to a most unwelcome reception from several dozen angry Rama Indian and Creole villagers.

Rupert Allen Clear Duncan, a leader of some 400 Creole who live along the shoreline, confronted the foreigners dressed in suits and military uniforms that day in March and demanded to know the purpose of their aerial trespasses.

"This is our land; we have always lived here, and you don't have our permission to be here," Duncan spat, when refused the courtesy of an explanation.

Not until Duncan threatened to have his machete-waving followers damage the aircraft did they learn that some of the men were from the Islamic Republic of Iran and had come promising to establish a Central American foothold in the middle of their territory.

As part of a new partnership with Nicaragua's Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, Iran and its Venezuelan allies plan to help finance a $350 million deep-water port at Monkey Point on the wild Caribbean shore, and then plow a connecting "dry canal" corridor of pipelines, rails and highways across the country to the populous Pacific Ocean. Iran recently established an embassy in Nicaragua's capital.

They might be right. Let's hope the Boland Amendment democrats aren't still around. If so, we may well have a lot of worryin' to do.

Utah Judge Scott Johansen: The Homeschool Nazi?

"No homeschool for you!"

It's not something that the Deseret News seemed to pick up on. Nor could I find anything about it on the Salt Lake Tribune's web site. A similar search of yielded no results either. In what appears to be a very important news story, Judge Scott Johansen has ordered (former) Utah resident Denise Mafi to enroll her kids in the public school or lose custody of them. Does anyone know anything more about this?

There must be more to the story than WorldNetDaily is reporting, but a Utah mother has fled Utah because 7th District Judge Scott Johansen has threatened to take her kids away from her if she does not enroll them in public schools. Her crime? Not sending in her required homeschool plan to the school district for the 2006-07 school year.

She says she did one better than that--she faxed the plan to the district.
"This is all because the school district says they never received my 2006-2007 homeschool affidavit. I have a copy of the signed affidavit. I have already received my exemption for the 2007-2008 school year," she said.
Apparently, Judge Johansen has been publicly critical of home schooling.
"The judge is very anti-homeschooling. Stated last week that homeschool was a failure. I am a total nervous wreck," [Mafi] said.
I know that judges have the disadvantage of not being allowed to give their side of such issues. But if the facts are as they are stated on WorldNetDaily, Judge Johansen should be disbarred.

Parents should have choice in their children's education. Not district judges.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Six Million Dollar Ron Paul Media Blackout

The leading radio talk show hosts don't like him and make fun of him every once in a while, but not enough to let people know who he really is (Glenn Beck is finally hosting Ron Paul on his CNN show tonight). Ron Paul just raised $6 million in one day on Boston Tea Party money bomb day, and what are the media saying about him? Still, not much. What a bunch of lackeys.

Ron Paul is the new Six Million Dollar Man, but to the media he's like the homely girl standing against the wall at the high school dance. Imagine if Giuliani or Clinton did something like this. Besides the fact that donations would be from a far fewer number of rich supporters, and that the donations would be thousands of dollars per person higher than Ron Paul's average donation receipt, the media would be slobbering all over themselves to report the accomplishment of the impossible.

It is the most raised EVER by any presidential candidate in one day, but the media are virtually ignoring it, many sites begrudgingly running the same bland Associated Press stories. What are they saying about Ron Paul's amazing feat, where
  • 55,000 people donated
  • 25,000 people donated for the first time ever to the Ron Paul campaign
  • The average donation was $102
  • The median donation was about $50?
They're saying that Mitt Romney raised more in one day. Bullcrap.

They're saying that Ron Paul will stay in the race until February 5th, giving the impression that he'll drop out thereafter. With all this money and support? You have got to be on drugs!

They're saying that he lags in opinion polls. Well, duh! It's easy to skew the results with carefully crafted "opinion polls" that surgically determine poll respondents. Try asking people who didn't vote Republican in the last election.

C'mon media. This is monumental! Ron Paul just raised SIX MILLION DOLLARS IN ONE DAY. Admit it. Ron Paul is not only a viable, but a formidable candidate. You should treat him like one. Are you really impartial? You're not showing it.

But your vision of the anointed is about to come crashing to the ground. Because more and more people are finding out--with nearly no thanks to you--who this Ron Paul guy really is. And the more they find out, the more they find out

"We have the technology. We can rebuild [it]"--the United States of America. And the Six Million Dollar Man is the right man to take the helm of the ship of state.

"Damn the torpedoes [from the media], full speed ahead!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Survivor is What's Wrong With America

It's news, I suppose, that another Utahn made it big in Hollywood. But the way he did it is not news to be proud of. The recent winner of Survivor 2007 earned a million dollars at a high price.

They used to talk about the lifeboat scenario in school classrooms--the one where you have enough room for 9 people on the lifeboat, but you have 10 people, so who are you going to kick off the boat? They don't have to teach it in school anymore (although they probably still do) because kids can learn it first-hand by watching one of the most popular television programs. In this scenario they kick people off the island. And the fans heap praise on those who are the most ruthless.

We had an antithetical Family Home Evening tonight as I read the following quote from the Deseret News and explained to my kids that this is exactly how NOT to act in life. (Survivor teaches us so many wonderful lessons, doesn't it?)
"I backstabbed and lied to a lot of them, but I was playing a game," said Herzog, adding, "I feel like I've accomplished so much, and I'm so proud."
Proud? That's not even funny. A game? A deadly game, for sure. This is what this year's "winner" said about his "achievement".

Why is it newsworthy? Because the guy made a million bucks? Hopefully not. Hopefully, rather, it's because it is a symbol of how morally imbecilic America has become. Bob Lonsberry is supposedly interviewing him in the morning on his radio program. Why? So he can get some pointers on how better to screw your neighbor?

Interestingly, those who voted for the Utahn voted for him because he was the most devious. Strategic? Yes. Moral? Nope. But what do we care?

What's next when Survivor becomes passe'? A game show where we pick the best criminal and reward him with letting him out of jail?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ethanol Follies

First ethanol caused a shortage of tortillas in Mexico. Then we found out just how much the American taxpayer is paying for the development of ethanol. Now ethanol's helping cause the price of wheat to go higher. But that's not the most interesting tidbit. What's worse is that ethanol vehicles get terrible mileage per gallon.

It takes so much land to grow corn to create ethanol that a lot of the corn necessary for our sustenance is being diverted to ethanol production. Meanwhile, people in Mexico have found it harder to buy the basic foodstuffs of life.
Mexico is in the grip of the worst tortilla crisis in its modern history. Dramatically rising international corn prices, spurred by demand for the grain-based fuel ethanol, have led to expensive tortillas.
How did these ethanol tycoons get so big? On the backs of the American taxpayer, of course.
The greens, hawks, and farmers helped convince the Senate to add an ethanol provision to the energy bill—now awaiting action by a House-Senate conference committee—that would require refiners to more than double their use of ethanol to 8 billion gallons per year by 2012. The provision is the latest installment of the ethanol subsidy, a handout that has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars during the last three decades, with little to show for it.
Ethanol can now be made from wheat. At a time when production of wheat is down and demand is up, I don't think diverting more wheat to ethanol is a very good idea.
The monthly report, called World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, projected a lower wheat crop for the 2007 year with exports expected to rise 25 million bushels higher. At 280 million bushels, the year's ending stocks are projected to be the lowest in 60 years.
Ethanol is NOT where it's at, unless you are a friend of someone in the federal government.

Hybrid vehicles are much more beneficial to society, yet ethanol is getting the subsidy. It must not be what you know, but rather who you know in the case of ethanol.

I was sitting at the bank the other day waiting for an appointment, when I began browsing the government's 2008 Fuel Economy Ratings. Boring? No. Rather revealing!

In every model category in which there was one or more hybrid vehicle models, the hybrids far outperformed their gasoline counterparts.

What about ethanol vehicles? E85 (ethanol) vehicles have up to 85% ethanol mixed with gasoline. These E85 vehicles far underperformed their gasoline counterparts. In nearly every case, the maximum (highway driving) gas mileage of an ethanol vehicle was equal to or less than the minimum (city driving) gas mileage of the same vehicle powered by gasoline (most were less than). The efficiency of ethanol is something along the lines of 25% less than gasoline. Couple that with the fact that ethanol costs about as much in energy to produce as it provides, and I'm not sure why we're producing it, let alone that the government is paying a handful of people big bucks to put it on the market.

With free-market ingenuity, ethanol may eventually turn into a major contributor to our energy supply, but so far it's been fairly a waste of time. Ethanol has achieved its status only because it's been propped up by the federal government. Left to its own devices, ethanol would be where it belongs--still largely in the research phase.

Let the market decide what corn and wheat should be used for; for now, it seems that they should be used much more for food, instead of being diverted by inefficient government subsidies.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'll Answer Mitt Romney's Questions for Him

I agree with most Americans that the presidential campaign shouldn't be about Mitt Romney's religion. But since it is, I think it would be more helpful if he would answer the questions that people put to him. They aren't that hard, even if they might be asked with ulterior motives.

Update 12/29/2007: Does God speak to man? Romney says no. Woops!

I still like Mike Huckabee, and I think he would make the second best choice for president behind Ron Paul, but I'm a bit miffed at the sideswipes he's been taking at my religion lately. Mike, stop playing the religion card--it's getting a bit annoying.
Huckabee asks this question in a story appearing this Sunday in The New York Times magazine: "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

That's a bit rich. For someone reading the NY Times Magazine who doesn't know anything about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that is beyond provocative. And I think Mike Huckabee knows more about the LDS Church than he's letting on.

But what's worse is that Mitt Romney didn't give a simple answer when the question was posed to him. He side-stepped it. Now he looks like he's trying to hide something. Here's my answer:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that everyone born on earth is a spirit child of our Heavenly Father. Jesus was one of God's spirit children. So was Satan. Satan chose to thwart God's plan, which granted to everyone freedom to choose. Because we are all spirit children of God, Jesus is not only Satan's brother, but our brother as well.
There. How hard was that?

A week or two ago, candidate Romney was equally disingenuous. He didn't necessarily sidestep the answer, he just gave one that was slightly false.
One moment that drew particular attention at Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate was a video questioner’s asking whether the candidates believed every word of the Bible.

Mitt Romney, a Mormon, hesitated a bit in answering, then [said] “I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely.”
In reality, anyone doing the slightest bit of research could find that
We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.
That's a bit different than "absolutely". It's clear that there are a plethora of Bible translations in just the English language. So people are probably less impressed with Romney because of that answer.

Even though it's a bit below the belt to continue to ask Mormon questions and not ask questions of other candidates about their religions (I don't know any candidate's religion, except Romney, although I've been treated to several tidbits furnished by Huckabee himself that he's an ordained minister), Romney shouldn't have exhibited such difficulty in answering the questions that have been posed to him.

If Romney is simply honest about it, I think people will respect him more.

Update 12/29/2007: Hat tip to a Liberal Mormon for finding that Mitt Romney allegedly doesn't believe that God talks to man. He supposedly said

“I don't recall God speaking to me. I don't know that he has spoken to anyone since Moses and the bush or perhaps some others."

Is that true--did he say that? If so, is he an apostate, or is he simply embarrassed by his religion. Maybe those CFR people have gotten to him more than I thought.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ron Paul Most Popular Presidential Candidate on Google

Ron Paul: First he gets hundreds of thousands of donations totaling millions of dollars, placing him in the top tier of presidential candidates. Now it comes to light that Ron Paul is the Google search presidential candidate of choice. How much longer can the establishment ignore him?

Hillary and Rudy didn't even beat him. Ron Paul beat all presidential candidates in terms of the number of times his name was searched for in the year 2007 on Google.
This year's list, released today, details some surprising results. Quick, name the most popular presidential candidate based on who users were searching for: Hillary Clinton? Rudy Guiliani? Nope. The outspoken, quirky Ron Paul beat out all other candidates.

Mayer tells me, in our exclusive interview, that, "Ron Paul had a huge up-swell in terms of online interest. He had the largest fundraising day online ever. I think people are wondering who he is and what he stands for and it gives them interest in searching for him." Of course, his results are probably helped by the fact that conventional media tends to dwell only on the front-runners, spurring voters to search for information on their own. And that's where Google comes in.
Interesting that if you want to find something out about a very popular candidate--Ron Paul--the best place to find it is outside the mainstream media.

In case you're wondering if the Ron Paul robots are spamming the search engines, think again. Marissa Meyer, Google's vice president of search and user experience was a guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen this morning. Greg asked her about search spam to increase the popularity of certain search terms. Marissa replied that Google has very sophisticated algorithms in place to assure that such spam does not find its way into the search statistics.

This Ron Paul guy--he's becoming quite a phenomenon. What do you know about him? Click here to find out more.

Can Ron Paul win the presidency? Does he have the popularity? To both questions, the answer is: absolutely!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rush Limbaugh Should Be Waterboarded*

*Of course I don't really mean that. But based on his approval of this form of torture, who could blame, say for example, the Chinese from performing a waterboard operation on Rush Limbaugh if they became the world's only superpower?

Waterboarding is wrong, but somehow Rush doesn't see it that way. Because it makes for excellent ratings among his mind-full-of-mush minions.

I was running an errand yesterday, and my radio happened to be tuned to the local station that carries Rush, and I was astonished (well, not really, because I've heard enough of his crap) at what I heard.

He mentioned that a caller had posed the question, 'If waterboarding would have saved 9/11 from happening, do you think it would be worth it?' Rush's pompous reply was, to the effect, 'Now that is a very important and valid question. And I think the answer is yes.'


It is NOT a valid question. It's as hypothetical as the day is long. The question that we should be asking is much more simple: is waterboarding ever justified? And the answer to that question is no. Waterboarding, Mr. Limbaugh is NEVER justified. But then of course, that would give you a lot less to talk about on your show.

But to wrap it all up in the arrogance of claiming that somehow waterboarding would have stopped 9/11--now that is filthy illogic!

Waterboarding has never produced good evidence. Waterboarding has never solved a crime. Waterboarding's only effect is to make imbeciles of men, the like of which learn to enjoy seeing others suffer.

How about another hypothetical question, Rush? If you knew that waterboarding increased the number of attacks against America, would you stop doing it?

Wait a second...that's not hypothetical.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Health Care: Governor Jon Huntsman Becomes a Card-Carrying Communist

Government intervention has caused the US health-care crisis. So what is the solution to the problem? Well, more government intervention, of course. Communism seeks to control property as well as economic and social activity. Governor Jon Huntsman's new health care plan is communist, and it won't work. Can you tell I'm angry?

The problem with health care in America today is that government is too involved in it. Today's mantra--that our health care needs to be more like that of the socialistic countries of Europe, Canada, or Cuba--is the height of irony. Good heavens, they don't hold a candle to us! In only two nations do health consumers pay less out of pocket than in the United States. We are their health care role model!

That's why health care is so expensive--because others are paying for it for us! That's why so many people don't have health insurance in the United States. Because the parasitic rest of us have driven up the cost of health care and coverage. Because we let the government do it to us.

I'm glad that Jon Huntsman is thinking about what to do to solve the health care crisis, because there is one. But, goodness gracious Governor, you're thinking us into the abyss.
Eventually, every Utahn would have to be insured, according to a confidential working draft of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s three-year plan to retool the state's health system.

Pursuing higher education? You may have to get health insurance before you would be allowed to register for classes.

Unemployed? You might have to get at least a minimal level of health insurance in order to get a job. Once hired, your boss would verify your insurance status - and check it every quarter.
That sounds efficient! But seriously, with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
you get to keep the money you don't spend on health care when the end of the year rolls around. This is a huge incentive to cut back on those health care events that fall into the "gray area" of being neither completely necessary or completely unnecessary.
With HSAs, the costs go down, and so does the demand. And that means more access to health care for the rest of us.

I'm not surprised by the current health care state of affairs as described by this SL Trib paragraph:
For the plan to work, premiums must be reasonable, consumers must have information to help them shop for a plan and no one can be denied coverage because they are considered "high risk..."
Exactly! Are your premiums reasonable now? You can thank government for that. Nothing is ever cost effective when the government gets involved (that's why we should want it to be involved in almost as little as possible). How in the world can we be dumb enough to think that for just this once it will be cost effective? At least you get health care now. If you like daydreaming about the good ole days, just wait for the governor's plan to kick in.

One of the problems with health plans now is that your employer has to pay for it. How did that happen? It starts with a "g". If you want to opt out of the health plan--which would be immensely beneficial to your company--and get even a portion of the savings to your company--you can't. Now, some employers are saying to heck with this crap, and they're not even giving their employees the difference--because more and more there isn't any, because of a cockamamie plan hatched by the federal government.

Governor Huntsman, please consider Health Savings Accounts. This is the only way that we're going to get our health care costs under control. Are people too fat, too lazy, and eat to much sugar? You're darn right we do! Okay, then, hold us responsible. HSA's are that method of accountability.
"You can go online and do all levels of comparison when you're shopping for a car," said Jennifer Cannaday, director of public policy for BlueCross BlueShield. "But that radically changes when you're trying to be a consumer in the world of health care."
Hmm...what's different about the way cars are bought and sold versus health care? Aha! Government intervention! That's the reason that health care choices are so unadvertised, because there are hardly any, because government has gotten in the way of good health care.
insurance companies would have to insure everyone... And Utahns would buy insurance based on a "community rating," instead of their medical history.

In Massachusetts, for example, residents' premiums are based on their age and what county they live in. They aren't asked about pre-existing medical conditions.
Great! Now I get billed based on how fat everyone is in my county and how much they smoke! Now there's an incentive for me to be healthy! What it is is an incentive for me to rat on my fat, emphysematic neighbors to the government. That'll show 'em!

The only thing I like about the Governor's health care plan is that Utahns can eventually get their own health insurance, instead of it being tied to their employer. I would like to solve the health care crisis as much as the Governor.

But please, let us choose. No matter how much compassion you feel for the uninsured, your plan simply will not work.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Who Cares if Iran Has Nookyaler Weapons?

Tehran is 6,339 miles from Washington D.C. So why do we care if they have nookyaler weapons? Because we have no national plan to encourage alternative energy sources and energy independence. Because we're tilting at Middle Eastern windmills. Because we can't drill for oil in our own coastal waters or in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It's almost like, together, the Democrats and the Republicans love having a bogeyman. And--tag!--Iran is currently it.

The most recent National Intelligence Estimate claims that, although Iran is still enriching uranium, their intent to create weapons-grade material has been stopped since 2003. I'm not comfortable believing that, especially because the Iranians are working with the Russians, and the Russians (read nouveau Soviets) have not told the truth (unless it gave them a distinct advantage over their enemies) in over 90 years. For example, this paragraph, buried deep in the dungeons of the publicly released portion of the NIE:
Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so. For example, Iran's civilian uranium enrichment program is continuing.
That's got me wondering a bit. But what does it really matter? Does anyone, including the former Soviet Union, currently have a missile to propel a warhead that can hit our east coast, let alone the rest of America?

George W. Bush got us into Iraq because he was worried that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I still think he did to a small extent, but what did it really matter? Oh, that's right. It matters because that same George W. Bush refuses to implement the border security that was enacted by congressional legislation, the only way that we can effectively prevent attacks on American soil by such weapons.

Why is he asleep at the border switch? Because he's an Establishment man, and the establishment loves a bogeyman. It makes for good propaganda, and it often works to point at the imaginary monster's flaring nostrils so that the people won't notice your own genuine warts. Such as lack of (1) a secure border, and (2) a national, independent energy policy.

It's interesting that both the Establishment Democrats and the Establishment Republicans are involved in the same shell game. The Republicans have no alternative energy policy; rather they keep fighting foreign wars so that we can continue to feed our Middle East oil addiction. The Democrats have an alternative energy policy, but they refuse to recognize that the first phase of that policy has to be energy independence--to wit, that we must first (1) increase refinery capacity in the United States and (2) drill for more oil in US territory, such as in ANWR and off our coasts--before we can effectively encourage the switch to clean energy. And thus we have an impasse. But it makes for good theater!

Clean energy will be much better: (1) It will help us clean up our air and water, and (2) it will convince all those sky-is-falling liberals that the sun is much more powerful than man when it comes to global warming. It will be much easier to foster clean energy if we didn't think we had to mind the rest of the world's business--in other words, if we first become energy independent instead.

However, until we stop electing (in most cases) the same tired Establishmentarians to national political office, we aren't going to get either energy independence or clean energy. We'll still be flummoxed by the same, stupid charade.

Both major political parties are largely committed to the same shell game. The Chuck Shumers and the Harry Reids in the Democratic party, as well as the Chuck Hagels and Trent Lotts of the Republican party, love the same thing.

Any bogeyman that helps them perpetuate their power. And right now--tag!--Iran, you're it!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What's Wrong With This Subprime Picture?

Life is all about learning and applying fundamentals. This applies to economics and finance as well. Government, insulated largely from market forces, is usually not a good economist, because it does not usually apply the fundamentals of economics. It is counterproductive, then, for the Bush Administration to get involved in dictating a 'voluntary' solution to the sub-prime mortgage crisis--especially when government helped to cause the problem in the first place. defines socialism as
Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
Under that definition, George W. Bush just socialized the subprime mortgage problem. Wait...I guess not. He said that his plan was purely voluntary.

The Deseret News did a good job of calling BS on Bush's "voluntary" plan.
To a politician, the most difficult thing in the world is to acknowledge that the best solution is for government to do nothing at all. When it comes to the mortgage lending crisis, President Bush has shown he, also, lacks this ability.

He said Thursday the mortgage industry solution he helped draft was a voluntary, private-sector solution. We doubt many mortgage lenders feel the deal is truly voluntary. Whenever the president summons people to the White House to work out a deal, there is always the unspoken threat that if they don't do as told, government will impose a deal upon them.

It's interesting that
...administration officials became convinced the tide of foreclosures threatened by the mortgage resets represented such a severe threat that a more sweeping approach was needed. They opted for a proposal that was along the lines of a plan put forward in October by Sheila Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Without realizing it, instead of solving the problem, the Bush Administration has perpetuated and exacerbated it. People make stupid decisions because they know that a significant number of the consequences of their stupid actions will be borne by someone else. Starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt's ill-thought-out Social Security plan, Americans have become conditioned to think that, when the going gets tough, someone else will bail them out.

Bail outs should be rare, and they are not a function of the federal government. But the federal government is constantly involved in bailing someone or other out, usually after the bailees take advantage of another perverse government incentive.

I like better the approach of Zion's Bancorp CEO, Harris Simons.
The pain caused by the subprime mortgage mess likely will get worse, and lending institutions need to learn to say "no" to people who cannot afford mortgages, according to the head of Zions Bancorp.

"One of the responsibilities that we have is to provide products that we can be proud of and that actually help customers become stronger, not weaker, and sometimes the best thing we can say to a customer, for their own sake, is 'no'."
If government gets involved, how will that help the fundamental problem? It won't. It will make the problem fundamentally worse.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I Loved Mitt Romney's Speech, But...

MSNBC calls Mitt Romney's speech about his faith a "landmark speech". I absolutely agree. Even more than I am glad that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is being clarified in the public eye as the result of Romney's presidential candidacy, I am glad that religion is being talked about freely in the public square. I agreed with every statement in the entire speech. That is why it is a landmark speech to me and I hope to the rest of the country. Yet, Mitt Romney is not my preferred candidate for president, even though we share the same faith.

Mitt Romney made some profound statements in his speech. I agreed with every one. Some of, to me, the most impressive, are these:
  • God gave us liberty. We are all children of God.
  • Every faith draws its adherents closer to god. Commitment to love and serve one another is common to all religions.
  • He would put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the law.
  • His oath of office is his highest promise to God. He would serve no one group, religion, cause, or interest.
  • We should never jettison our beliefs to gain the world.
  • Jesus Christ is Son of God and Savior of mankind.
  • No candidate should be subject to a religious test, but that's what's occurring when a candidate is continually asked about his or her religion.
I particularly agreed with and cheered Romney's statement that "The new religion in America--secularism--is wrong." This, the secular religion, should the one thing that all other religions are united in faith against. But I feel as profoundly sure that Mitt Romney is not the best person to help America correct this problem and the other problems facing us.

The most (the only) troubling aspect of Romney's speech is that it was given at the George Bush Presidential Library. Haven't we had enough of Bushes and Clintons in the last 25 years?

Mitt Romney, in his political perspective, (even if he is no longer pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality, and pro-gun control) is too much like the Bushes. And that troubles me. Just like the Bushes, Romney is cozy with the main problem with our country, the Council on Foreign Relations. The one common thread--the massive failure of our foreign policy and a part of the secular religion that Romney correctly decries--among the last several presidential administrations has been the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mitt Romney is a great man. But he would make only a good president. So I will not be supporting him, because there is one person in the presidential arena (and only one) that would be a great president. There is one candidate who clearly has no allegiance to the "Cancer" on Foreign Relations. That is why I am supporting Ron Paul.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Taser Mania? Is the Public Becoming Public Enemy Number One?

Does it seem like there has been a rash of tasing incidents lately? Have there actually been more than usual, or is it just because the ones that occur are all finding their way onto YouTube so more people are seeing them? Are law enforcement officers being trained to treat the public in general with disdain? How much effect do the exaggerations of movies and TV shows have on the feelings of these officers toward the public?

We had a very spirited discussion in the office last week about the Utah tasing incident. I was very sure that the officer had acted wrongly--until I got the perspective from some of my co-workers. I have decided though, that I think that, although it may have still come to it, the officer acted rashly and prematurely in the use of his taser. Did he have to arrest the individual because he wouldn't sign the citation? (I don't know what the law is, so I'm just asking...) It appears (the video conversation was somewhat muffled by passing traffic) that the officer did not answer in good faith the questions of the motorist. The motorist was accompanied by his pregnant wife, so it's hard to imagine that he was dangerous. The officer made no attempt to report the unexpected behavior to dispatch. He made no attempt to explain to the motorist that signing the citation was no admission of guilt. The man had turned and walked away before he was tased--he clearly was not a danger to the officer at that point.

So why does it seem that tasers are being used so frequently these days?

Op-Ed News reported the following recently:
Bernard Kerik, [Rudy] Giuliani's [former] driver , is behind the sudden advancement of tasers. The phenominal rise of tasers is mainly due to the efforts of Rudy Giuliani. In 2001, Taser International developed its "Advanced Taser Electro-Muscular Disruption" system and became a publicly traded company ("Taser"). In 2000, Giuliani installed Kerik as the New York City police commissioner. In 2002, Kerik, a senior vice president at Giuliani Partners and CEO of Giuliani-Kerik LLC, became Taser's director.

With Kerik at the steering wheel, Taser's profits grew ten times in two years, to $68 million in 2004, up from just under $7 million in 2001. By the way, sales have been helped along by police officers who have received payments and/or stock options from Taser to serve as instructors and trainers.

In 2003, Taser received weapons orders from Homeland Security. In 2004 Bush, lobbied by Giuliani, nominated Kerik as Secretary of Homeland Security. The same year, Kerik made more than $6 million from Taser.
On the Liberty Roundtable this morning, Sam and Curt (MP3 archive) discussed their opinion that law enforcement officers are being trained to be combative with the public. I don't know if this is true, but it wouldn't surprise me considering the specific dangers that face law enforcement personnel in 2007 America. But it also wouldn't surprise me if...

The movies and TV shows that are available to us seem to have far exceeded reality, specifically regarding the frequency of crime occurrences, as well as the graphic nature of such crimes. If law enforcement officials are watching CSI, Cops, and Law and Order on a regular basis, they may begin to develop--even if subliminally--the expectation that every member of the public is a potential adversary. Which may cause them to expect to need to use their tasers more often than they otherwise would.

So what do you think? Is there a taser problem?