Friday, December 30, 2005

A Happy New Year With Some Good News

Almost all stories in the press and on the internet are negative or involve complaints about some issue. It’s therefore a pleasure to start the new year with two good-news stories for a change.

Saving Iraqi baby a new mission for U.S. troops
Georgia National Guard to bring baby Noor to U.S. for surgery

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- When troops from the Georgia National Guard raided a Baghdad home in early December, they had no idea that their mission in Iraq would take a different turn.

As the young parents of an infant girl nervously watched the soldiers search their modest home, the baby's unflinching grandmother thrust the little girl at the Americans, showing them the purple pouch protruding from her back.

Little Noor, barely three months old, was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column fails to completely close. Iraqi doctors had told her parents she would live only 45 days. But she was tenaciously clinging to life, and the soldiers in the home -- many of them fathers themselves -- were moved.

"Well, I saw this child as the firstborn child of the young mother and father and really, all I could think of was my five children back at home and my young daughter," Lt. Jeff Morgan told CNN from Baghdad. "And I knew if I had the opportunity whatsoever to save my daughter's life I would do everything possible.
"So my heart just kind of went out to this baby and these parents who ... were living in poverty and had no means to help their baby. I thought we could do that for them," he added.

So Morgan and his fellow soldiers began working to get Noor the help she needs.
"We ... collectively decided this is going to be our project," said Sgt. Michael Sonen. "If this is the only contribution we have to defeating the war on terrorism, this is going to be it."

The soldiers brought Noor to a U.S. military base for medical examinations and got friends and charities in the United States to help get her the surgery that could save her life.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and his office are working to speed up the process of getting a visa for Noor's grandmother, who will accompany her to Atlanta.
Dr. Roger Hudgins, the chief of neurosurgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, has promised to perform the delicate operation for free.

The doctor told CNN the surgery needs to take place soon.

"We need to get the back closed," Hudgins said. "The concern here is meningitis. If the baby gets an infection on the back, that infection can spread to the coverings all over the brain and the baby may die, so time is of the essence."

Spina bifida, often called open spine, is a birth defect that occurs during the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column fails to close completely.

It affects the backbone and sometimes the spinal cord itself, often causing permanently disabling defects, particularly neurological damage.

It is the most common such birth defect -- known as neural tube defects -- and affects about 1,500 to 2,000 babies born in the United States each year, according to the March of Dimes.

Some 70,000 people in the United States are living with spina bifida, according to the Spina Bifida Association.

There are three types of spina bifida. Baby Noor has the most severe type, in which the spinal cord's protective covering and the spinal nerves come through the opening in the spine.

The neurological damage that can come from this type includes full or partial paralysis, bladder and bowel control difficulties, learning disabilities and depression.

Sonen said Noor already has lost feeling in her feet.

Recent studies have shown that folic acid, taken before pregnancy and during the first trimester, can reduce the incidence of spina bifida.

Dr. Hudgins said that while the surgery will probably help baby Noor, there's no guarantee that it will cure her of her condition.

"Our hope and expectation ... is that we can get the child through the surgery and save the life, then we can work on the quality of life," he said.

Back in Baghdad, the news that Noor's journey may happen soon is heartening for both her family and the soldiers who have become involved.

"This just gives ... the courageous men of Charlie Company, it gives them a focal point outside of the normal day-to-day routine of trying to catch the insurgency," Morgan said. "It gives them something even more positive to focus on."

The lieutenant said that while his unit's main mission is to put down the insurgency in Iraq, it is also trying to help the country's citizens.

"We are also here to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. To show them that we are a just people, not only by helping them establish a constitution but helping them with their problems that they cannot handle," Morgan explained. "This little girl epitomizes the efforts of us to do that."

But for all of their help, the soldiers realize they're also possibly endangering the little girl and her family.

"We are always concerned that talking to anybody longer than a normal conversation will put them in danger," said Sgt. Archer Ford.

"We did a lot of things to protect the identity of these people," Morgan said.
"We visited them when we could, which was usually in the middle of the night, as covertly as possible," he added. "Because the insurgents in Iraq like to find people that we're trying to help sometimes and either terrorize them or sometimes worse."

Commandments display is upheld

No religious intent in Mercer, court says
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal

A federal appeals court has upheld a display of the Ten Commandments alongside other historical documents in the Mercer County, Ky., courthouse.

The judge who wrote the opinion blasted the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the display, in language that echoed the type of criticism often directed at the organization.

Judge Richard Suhrheinrich's ruling said the ACLU brought "tiresome" arguments about the "wall of separation" between church and state, and it said the organization does not represent a "reasonable person."

The decision was issued by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati. It upheld a lower-court decision that allowed Mercer County to continue displaying the Ten Commandments along with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other documents.

All of the items were posted at the same time in 2001.
Identical displays were ruled unconstitutional in Kentucky's McCreary and Pulaski counties by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year. The high court said officials there spoke of their religious intentions, and they also put up the displays only after previous ones -- a stand-alone exhibit of the Ten Commandments and another display of religious-themed documents -- were challenged.

In the Mercer County case, the appeals court said there was no evidence that the county had a religious purpose in posting its display. And the Ten Commandments document is not more prominent than the others, the court said.

"It's a big win for the people of Mercer County who've been told for a long time they don't know what they're doing when it comes to this type of issue," said Bardstown lawyer Francis Manion of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, which represented the county.

David Friedman of the ACLU of Kentucky said he's disappointed and will consult with the plaintiff about whether to seek review by the full 6th Circuit or the Supreme Court.

He said the Mercer County display is "thinly disguised" as historical.
"I don't think anyone understanding the context -- (with the display) put up in midst of the McCreary County litigation -- seriously thinks anyone was trying to teach history," Friedman said. "They were looking for a way to get the Ten Commandments on the wall."

But he acknowledged the ruling's impact in the 6th Circuit, which includes Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. "At this point in this circuit, it means that this particular display is lawful without proof of (religious) intent," he said.
He also said officials should not be allowed to post religious documents just because they don't state religious intentions.

"You ought to have a bright-line rule that simply forbids government from doing these sorts of things, rather than getting into an unappealing choice of court saying, 'Government, you're a liar,' or 'We'll believe you simply because you said it,' " he said.

The opinion by Suhrheinrich was joined by Judge Alice Batchelder. Judge Walter Rice concurred with the ruling but didn't join in the written opinion.

Suhrheinrich wrote that a court has to decide whether a "reasonable person" would find that a government display endorses religion, not whether someone finds it offensive. He said the ACLU "does not embody the reasonable person."

He criticized the organization for arguing that the First Amendment mandates a "wall of separation between church and state."

"Our nation's history is full of governmental acknowledgment and in some cases accommodation of religion," the judge wrote.

Friedman declined to respond to those criticisms, saying only that he disagrees with the court's legal reasoning.

But one supporter of the ACLU called the ruling's language inappropriate.
"It's unfortunate that a federal court would go out of its way to speak disparagingly of any group before it," said Sam Marcosson, a University of Louisville law professor who has cooperated with the ACLU in an unrelated case.
He said it's one thing to criticize a group's position as "wrong-headed" but another to launch a personal attack.

The lawyer representing Mercer County said the ruling was welcome.
"For too long (Kentuckians) have been lectured like children by those in the ACLU and elsewhere who claim to know what the people's Constitution really means," Manion said in a statement. "The court recognizes that the Constitution does not require that we strip the public square of all vestiges of our religious heritage and traditions."

Two state representatives -- Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, and Stan Lee, R-Lexington --have filed bills for the next session of the General Assembly that are intended to expand public displays of the Ten Commandments. They said yesterday's ruling can only help.

Nelson said, "It's a common-sense ruling" that reflects "what a lot of people have said all along."


Who were the Big Winners of 2005? It sounds terribly earnest and formulaic to say "the Iraqi people"--so let's include them among the broader class of "new democrats." Indeed, the past year saw historic elections not just in Iraq, but also in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Egypt. The reformist germ even touched Saudi Arabia, which allowed municipal elections, and Kuwait, which granted women the right to vote and run for public office. According to Freedom House, the "modest but notable" advance of liberty in the Arab Middle East was "the most significant development" cited by its annual survey of world freedom in 2005. The top news, of course, came out of Iraq, where the number of Iraqis braving bombs and bullets to make it to the polls climbed from 8.5 million in January, to 9.8 million in October, to some 11 million in December.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

I Remember Robert Stethem

It seems that many Americans appear clueless about what has been going on in the world around us – either from ignorance of history, from apathy, or from a desire to turn every event into partisan advantage. Perhaps those clueless among us have forgotten Robert Stethem, but I haven't; nor have I forgotten the multitude of atrocities (now numbering in the many hundreds) carried out against Americans by Muslim terrorists before 9/11. I remember Klinghoffer; I remember Buckley; I remember the 241 brutally murdered US Marines sent to Lebanon to help protect the Palestinians there and to help restore Lebanese sovereignty. I remember the Iranian takeover of the US embassy and the 444 days they kept our people in captivity. I remember the Imam poking his cane through the skulls of dead Americans that President Carter sent to rescue those hostages. I remember Somalia and Kenya and the skies over Scotland. I remember it all. And I remember Robert Stethem.

Yes, some of us do remember.

The Des Moines Register
Published December 28, 2005

It's been 20 years since most of us thought about a young man named Robert Stethem.

A U.S. Navy diver, he was one of those people who in an instant moves from obscurity to the front page. The pictures from that June day in 1985 on the tarmac of Beirut International Airport bring it all back: The captain of the TWA jet poking his head through the window as the masked terrorist waved a gun in the background. And the body of an American sailor being thrown onto the pavement.

Passengers and crew were beaten and terrorized for days, but Stethem, 23, who was shot in the head, was the only passenger on Flight 847 to die. It came two years after terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy and a barracks full of Marines in Beirut.

Those two attacks killed more than 300 people, but the Stethem murder — an innocent young man singled out for a public execution because he was in the American military —stuck in people's minds. For a while anyway.

The hijackers got away. The Navy named a destroyer after Stethem. The sailor's family — including his father, Richard, who grew up in Marathon — grieved and got on with their lives.

Two years after the hijacking, German authorities arrested Mohammed Ali Hamadi after locating explosives in his luggage at the Frankfurt airport. Hamadi was tied to the crime and put on trial in Germany after authorities there refused America's demands that he be extradited to the United States for trial.

There were no official explanations, but two German businessmen were being held hostage at the time. Speculation was the Germans thought sending Hamadi to the United States might guarantee their murders.

Passengers and crew on the TWA flight identified Hamadi as Stethem's murderer, he was convicted in 1989 and sentenced to life in prison.

Except that life in prison in Germany turns out to have no meaning.

Word came a few days ago that Hamadi was released after serving 19 years in jail. He was quietly put on a commercial flight to Lebanon, and nobody seems to know where he is.

U.S. officials have requested Hamadi be turned over to American authorities for trial, but nobody seems optimistic that will happen. Lebanon and the United States have no extradition treaty, so he may be on the loose forever.

Once again, Germany's apparent protection of Hamadi may be tied to a hostage situation. Just two days after Hamadi's release, a German citizen was released by terrorists who were holding her in Iraq.

U.S. officials vow to do everything possible to grab Hamadi.

"We have demonstrated over the years that when we believe an individual is responsible for the murder of innocent American civilians, that we will track them down," said a State Department spokesman.

Stethem's family, of course, is horrified by the news Hamadi has been set free. They're also unhappy they had to learn it from investigators instead of receiving official notice from the U.S. government.

"(President Bush) needs American support for the war against terrorism, but a convicted terrorist goes free, the U.S. government knows it's coming, and they don't do anything to prevent it and afterward they don't say anything about it," Kenneth Stethem, brother of the murdered sailor, said in an Associated Press report.

The Washington Times reported the United States knew of Hamadi's release in advance but did not ask that he be held longer because the earlier requested for extradition was rejected.

The newspaper says American officials have contacted authorities in Lebanon, where Hamadi is reportedly in "temporary custody."

There's no way to know if Robert Stethem's killer will ever be heard from again, but one unnerving report says his presence in Lebanon was confirmed by the terrorist organization Hezbollah.

So maybe Hamadi will show up on the news holding a gun to somebody's head. Maybe he'll work in the background thinking up ways to murder innocent Westerners.

If he's caught, he should hope it's in Germany, where the government has demonstrated it does business with terrorists.

And another view:
Jonathan Gurwitz: Take a few moments to recall freed terrorist's crime
Web Posted: 12/28/2005 12:00 AM CST

Unless you're in the Navy or have an exceptionally good memory, chances are you don't know who Petty Officer Robert Dean Stethem is.

Let me tell you a very little bit about him. To do so, I have to take you back.
Back, before the beheadings in Iraq; before 9-11; before the attack on the USS Cole; before the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; before the Khobar towers bombing; before the first attempt on the World Trade Center; before the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; before bombings in Germany, Greece, Italy and Austria; and before the hijacking of the Achille Lauro.
And I'll begin at the end of his life, on June 15, 1985.

Stethem, a Navy diver, was returning from an assignment in the Middle East when terrorists hijacked his flight. The members of Hezbollah singled out Stethem because he was an American serviceman.

They bound his arms with an electrical cord and beat him mercilessly. Twenty years ago and again last week, my Express-News colleague Roddy Stinson wrote columns in which he drew upon an Associated Press account of Stethem's torture.

"'I could hear the slapping of the pistol,'" said former hostage William Berry. "'I heard screams as he was hit. There were no words. It was like someone was beating a dog.'"

After hours of this savage treatment, they shot Stethem in the head and dumped his mutilated body on the tarmac at the Beirut airport. Stethem was 23. The Navy awarded him the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1987, German authorities caught one of the hijackers of Stethem's flight. They arrested Mohammed Ali Hamadi at the Frankfurt airport carrying liquid explosives in his luggage.

Germany denied a U.S. request to extradite Hamadi for prosecution. In 1989, a Frankfurt court gave Hamadi a life sentence for Stethem's murder. In Germany, however, a life sentence means prison time of between 20 and 25 years with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

Last week, Hamadi walked out of prison a free man. The German government rebuffed continued American requests for extradition and a personal plea from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales not to release him early. He boarded a flight to the Beirut airport where, after a brief detention, he disappeared.

"Just to see him free slays us," Richard Stethem, the seaman's father, told the Washington Times.

Robert Stethem was not the first American victim of Islamic terrorism. But his murder 20 years ago was surely a sign of things to come. And the German government's decision to set his killer free is a guarantee that — in Europe at least — past is prologue.

What makes Hamadi's freedom all the more galling is that only days earlier, the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams had Europeans lecturing the United States about the supposed superiority of their sense of justice. The cold-blooded killer of four people, Williams was feted in Europe — as well as in Hollywood and academia — as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate and a children's book author.

It's a curious morality that deplores the death of an American murderer and sanctions the freedom of the murderer of an American. Whatever may be said of Williams' execution, he — unlike Hamadi — will never kill again.

"What I can assure anybody who's listening, including Mr. Hamadi," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said last week, "is that we will track him down. We will find him. And we will bring him to justice in the United States for what he's done."
For 16 years after the murder of Stethem, that would properly have been considered an idle threat. Today it is not.

I have never forgotten Stethem or the pictures of his boyish face that I saw that summer in 1985. I have never forgotten, and the nation should never forget, what the terrorists did to him or to the other largely nameless American victims of terror.
Nor should we ever forget the weakness and appeasement that sets terrorists free to kill again.

Late Development: A former German ambassador to Washington and four members of his family were reported missing and apparently kidnapped Wednesday while vacationing in a remote part of Yemen. It was the latest in a string of tourist abductions in the Arabian desert.

Juergen Chrobog, ambassador from 1995 to 2001, his wife and three adult sons were declared missing by the German Foreign Ministry. In Yemen, government officials said the family had been taken hostage by tribesmen who regularly seize Western tourists as bargaining chips in dealings with the government, according to news service reports from Sanaa, the capital.

Perhaps the cowardly Germans are already learning the pitfalls of negotiating with terrorists, and their obvious duplicity in releasing Hamadi will come back to bite them over and over.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The New York Times Must Be Stopped

I think the time may have come to close down the New York Times, lock the buildings and throw the publisher and the senior editors in prison for the duration of the war on terror, which future generations will call World War III. This is what you do when Congress has authorized the President to go to war, which it did on October 2, 2002 (Public Law 107-40), and an American organization commits acts of treason that endanger the lives of its citizens and its soldiers. By now, every Muslim terrorist around the world, having read of the disclosures in the Times, has changed his cell phone to make it much harder for terrorist plots to be uncovered and stopped. By now, all secret landing rights granted to the CIA (hello, they work for us) have undoubtedly been withdrawn, and, by now, the uses of all secret prisons, where terrorists captured on the battlefield and taken for interrogation, have undoubtedly been denied.

Connecting the dots
By Jack O'Neill
Washington Times, December 26, 2005

As one of the hundreds of thousands who has proudly worked for the National Security Agency either directly or as a subcontractor, I believe the New York Times missed the real story under its Dec. 16 headline "Bush lets U.S. spy on callers without courts." Here is why.

The New York Times concedes the story starts with the CIA capture of top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. With Zubaydah's capture came a treasure trove of eavesdropping intelligence sources -- e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and personal phone directories. These are prime intelligence sources that may lead to the infamous "dots" often used in the phrase "Why didn't our intelligence agencies 'connect the dots?' "

Some of Zubaydah's telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are in the United States. How long do you think these domestic numbers would remain active after Zubaydah's arrest is made public? Hours? One day? Two?

Most importantly, these Zubaydah contacts lead to more and more contacts and may eventually led to discovery of terrorist plans. In fact, this happened. The New York Times reported the NSA eavesdropping authorized by President Bush's executive order and briefed to both congressional leaders and the judge in charge of the secret intelligence court required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) helped uncover al Qaeda plots to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge and attack British pubs and train stations.
See rest of article here.

These acts of treason by the Times are nothing really new either. In the past they have compromised the U-2 Program, sabotaged the Bay of Pigs, helped the Vietcong and helped to undermine our entire intelligence capabilities during the Carter presidency. They cannot be allowed to continue this treason. Our lives are at stake.

New York Post

Has The New York Times declared itself to be on the front line in the war against the War on Terror?

The self-styled paper of record seems to be trying to reclaim the loyalty of those radical lefties who ludicrously accused it of uncritically reporting on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Yet the paper has done more than merely try to embarrass the Bush administration these last few months.

It has published classified information — and thereby knowingly blown the covers of secret programs and agencies engaged in combating the terrorist threat.

The most notorious example was the paper's disclosure some 10 days ago that, since 9/11, the Bush administration has "secretly" engaged in warrantless eavesdropping on U.S.-based international phone calls and e-mails.

It's not secret anymore, of course — though the folks who reacted to the naming of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative aren't exactly shrieking for another grand jury investigation.

On the contrary: Democrats and their news-media allies — particularly on CNN and CBS — are openly suggesting that the president committed an impeachable offense and could (read: should) be removed from office.

In fact, the Times managed only to blow the lid off of what President Bush rightly calls "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists" — one that already has uncovered several terrorist plots.

Is it legal? The administration insists so, and notes that congressional Democrats got repeated briefings on the program, with few objections. Sure, the legality can be debated — but the case against it is far from a slam-dunk.

As for taking action without court-issued warrants, both the last two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, used warrantless searches — and strongly defended them as fully justified under the authority granted the president by the Constitution. In fact, the Washington Times reports that Clinton expanded their use to purely domestic situations — such as violent public-housing projects.

The Times says it held the story for more than a year, provoking a predictable uproar on the left. So why did it finally go ahead?

According to a Los Angeles Times report, New York Times editors knew that a book by the article's author was to be published in just a few weeks — and they feared losing their "exclusive" to their own reporter's outside work.

But the exact timing is highly suspect. The article appeared on the very day that the Senate was to vote on a Democratic filibuster against renewal of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act — a vote the Bush administration then lost. At least two previously undecided senators said they voted against the act precisely because of the Times piece.

BUT it's not just the National Security Agency story.

Last May, the Times similarly "exposed" — in painstaking detail — the fact that the CIA uses its own airline service, posing as a private charter company, as "the discreet bus drivers of the battle against terrorism."

In fact, as the Times itself reported, "the civilian planes can go places American military craft would not be welcome." In an unconventional war, like the one against terrorism, the ability to move personnel around quickly and inconspicuously — or to deliver captured terrorists to a third country — is indispensable.

Thanks to the Times, that ability has been irrevocably compromised — costing Washington yet another vital tool in the War on Terror....

....Then, not content to merely sabotage the federal government, the Times last week blew the whistle on the fact that the New York Police Department has been using plainclothes officers during protest demonstrations.

Does The New York Times consider it self a law unto itself — free to subversively undercut basic efforts by any government to protect and defend its citizens?

The Times, it appears, is less concerned with promoting its dubious views on civil liberties than with undercutting the Bush administration. The end result of the paper's flagrant irresponsibility: Lives have been put in danger on the international, national and local levels.

The ability of the nation to perform the most fundamental mission of any government — protection of its citizens — has been pointlessly compromised.

The Jayson Blair and Judith Miller fias coes were high-profile embarrassments for The Times, but at the end of the day mostly damaged the newspaper alone.

The NSA, CIA and NYPD stories are of a different order of magnitude — they place in unnecessary danger the lives of U.S. citizens.

The New York Times — a once-great and still-powerful institution — is badly in need of adult supervision.

It’s beyond the need for “adult supervision”; it needs to be stopped – now. President Bush personally sat down and appealed to these evil men not to reveal these most-sensitive national secrets. They refused in order to try to embarrass the President and to cause further damage to our efforts to fight terrorism.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Proof Conservatives Donate More Than Liberals Do

One of my children, who is of the liberal persuasion, implied recently that liberals were, well, just nicer people than conservatives. This goes back to the old "fish" argument - that it is better, and more compassionate, to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. If you give him a fish you feed him once, but then he waits to be given another fish. If you teach him to fish, you feed him forever. The founding fathers of this country were well-versed in history and on the nature of man when they organized our form of government to encourage the pursuit of profit - with private property, enforcement of contracts and limited government providing the setting. Their inventions have led to the greatest prosperity and freedom ordinary working people have ever known throughout all history.

But a little research I have done shows a much more pertinent difference between liberals and conservatives on the matter of niceness and compassion. We conservatives have often considered that liberals show their "compassion" by giving away what other people earn - in the form of taxes collected and redistributed in the form of various welfare programs. Now I can prove that it actually goes much deeper than that. Liberals tend to be much more stingy in contributing their own money to charities than are conservatives.

If you look at the per capita income ranking and compare it to the per capita giving ranking, on a state by state basis, you find that the top 25 contributors were states that all voted for Bush (R) in the last election, while the bottom 9 in contributions (and 19 of the bottom 25) voted for Kerry (D).

From left to right the first number is per capita income, the second number is per capita giving, the third number compares the two, and the fourth is the comparative-giving ranking. Unfortunately my website does not permit tables or tab-spacing, so I can't line up the numbers neatly for you.

If you took any statistics courses, you will realize that these statistics are overwhelmingly revealing. It's clear that the propensity of liberals to "do what feels good", regardless of the facts, does not extend to charity.

R Mississippi______ 50 6 44 1
R Arkansas________ 46 5 41 2
R South Dakota____ 44 9 35 3
R Oklahoma_______ 42 8 34 4
R Tennessee______ 35 3 32 5
R Alabama________ 38 7 31 6
R Louisiana_______ 43 12 31 7
R Utah___________ 30 2 28 8
R South Carolina___ 39 13 26 9
R West Virginia____ 48 22 26 10
R Idaho__________ 41 20 21 11
R Texas__________ 22 4 18 12
R Nebraska_______ 34 17 17 13
R North Dakota____ 45 29 16 14
R Wyoming_______ 17 1 16 15
R North Carolina___ 28 16 12 16
R Kansas_________ 27 15 12 17
R Florida_________ 23 14 9 18
R Georgia_________18 11 7 19
R Missouri________ 31 24 7 20
R Kentucky_______ 40 33 7 21
R New Mexico_____ 47 40 7 22
R Montana________ 49 45 4 23
R Indiana_________ 29 31 -2 24
R Alaska__________ 25 28 -3 25
D New York________ 5 10 -5 26
R Iowa___________ 36 42 -6 27
R Nevada_________ 13 21 -8 28
R Ohio___________ 32 44 -12 29
D Maine__________ 37 49 -12 30
D California________ 6 19 -13 31
D Maryland________ 4 18 -14 32
D Washington______ 11 25 -14 33
D Vermont________ 33 47 -14 34
D Oregon_________ 26 41 -15 35
D Pennsylvania_____ 19 34 -15 36
R Virginia__________ 7 23 -16 37
R Arizona__________ 21 37 -16 38
D Delaware_________ 14 30 -16 39
D Illinois___________ 9 26 -17 40
D Michigan_________ 16 35 -19 41
D Hawaii___________ 24 43 -19 42
R Colorado__________ 10 32 -22 43
D Minnesota_________ 12 36 -24 44
D Connecticut_________ 1 27 -26 45
D Wisconsin__________ 20 46 -26 46
D Rhode Island________ 15 50 -35 47
D New Jersey__________ 2 38 -36 48
D Massachusetts________ 3 39 -36 49
D New Hampshire_______ 8 48 -40 50

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Pendulum Turns on Darwinism and Good and Evil

Although proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) have received a setback in this week’s Dover, PA decision, I do not believe that the world-is-flat defenders of Darwinism can continue for long keeping people from discussing the possibility that the world is actually a globe that revolves around the sun. Future discoveries may show ID proponents to be wrong, but the inquisition should have died with Galileo.

Darwin’s theory that life began from a confluence of accidental events and evolved over eons into many thousands of life forms, including man, through a series of random mutations that were passed on through inheritance (if they were beneficial) was a Godsend (pun) to atheists and to materialists who were waiting for a theory that would disprove the existence of God and overturn the ideas of right and wrong and good and evil. After Darwinism took over in the 20th century, the century descended into the darkness and madness of communism, Nazism and relativism, with leaders like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot justifying the murders of 10’s of millions of innocent people by pointing to the conclusions that flowed from Darwin’s theory.

The black sciences of psychiatry and psychology, which justify any vicious act and every instance of demeaning behavior, also came into popularity, judging nothing to be wrong, only misunderstood -- to be talked through. (I know these professions help some people, but the principles on which they are based undo the foundations of society.) Now we even find that the Washington Post recommends that the tens of millions taking Paxil (a drug for someone feeling uncomfortable) who have been warned that pregnant women run the risk of birth defects (in the form of baby’s heart chambers having holes and malformations) not to worry about that because “the defects often heal on their own, and more severe cases can be surgically repaired". In other words, a leading American newspaper, discussing a drug to relieve mild anxiety, says it’s less important that your baby might be born with a serious heart defect than, goodness gracious, you not feel anxious.

Prior to the acceptance of Darwin’s theory of macroevolution, people generally believed that a God would judge their actions according to a set of rules that everyone understood, and even if they did not believe in that God, that it was “good” to follow those rules, and “bad” to break them. Long after Darwin and the “death” of God, all polls indicate that almost all Americans continue to believe that human beings came into existence through the plan of some sort of supreme being. Unfortunately, the intelligentsia who rule our lives do not share that belief, and in the world of science, adherence to Darwinism is rigidly enforced.

Fortunately, as some scientists have begun to challenge Darwinism, we have seen all sorts of stories lately of the concept known as Intelligent Design (ID) gaining support and popularity in school boards across the country, and many web sites have sprung up to discuss and to encourage consideration of this theory. I can not say the same for colleges and universities (see notes 1 & 2 below), but I believe that acceptance of ID will come in academia sooner or later. After it is fully understood that Darwinism is a theory for which no good and substantial evidence has ever been found, and that Darwin himself said that his theory would have to be proven by subsequent discoveries or it should be discarded, and after ID becomes supported by scientific inquiry and experimentation, ID will replace Darwinism as the most likely explanation for the mysteries of life. It may take another 50-100 years after that for ID to counter and then begin to overturn the degeneration of society caused by Darwinism, but that, too, hopefully will also happen.

Here is one of the better explanations of ID I have seen:

What Is Intelligent Design?
by Casey Luskin
Posted Dec 12, 2005

Intelligent design is a scientific theory which states that some aspects of nature are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected cause such as natural selection. Design theorists argue that we can find biological structures with the same informational properties we commonly find in objects we know were designed.

Design theorists observe that intelligent action produces large amounts of “complex and specified” information. Language and the finely-tuned, purposeful arrangement of parts in machines are prime examples of this encoded information. If the cell was designed, then we would expect to find language-like encoded information commonly throughout biology.

The cell confirms our expectations from design. Our DNA contains incredible amounts of encoded information. Living cells transform this encoded chemical message into machines which are engineered to perform necessary biochemical functions. The conversion of DNA into protein relies upon a software-like system of commands and biochemical codes. This is an information processing system which Bill Gates has described as “like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”

The protein-machines produced by our DNA are often “irreducibly complex.” Irreducible complexity is a purposeful arrangement of parts, where if any part is removed or mutated, the structure ceases to assemble or function properly. For example, the “bacterial flagellum,” is a rotary-engine on bacteria which fails to assemble or function properly if we mutate any one of its 50 genes. Natural selection cannot account for this irreducible complexity because it only preserves structures which provide a functional advantage. In this “all-or-nothing” game, mutations cannot produce the complexity needed to provide a functional flagellum rotary engine one incremental step at a time, and the odds are too daunting for it to do it in a great leap.

Darwinists counter that parts can be “co-opted” from one job to another in the cell to build complexity. But there’s a problem with the Darwinist explanation: biological parts are not necessarily easily interchangeable. Complex assembly instructions dictate how these precise parts will combine to interact with one-another. The specific ordering of interacting parts in the cell can’t be produced by chance any more than keeping my old Jeep in an autoshop full of HEMI engines will increase its horsepower.

Yet design is not a negative argument against evolution. Design is fundamentally based upon our positive knowledge and experience that a code is produced by a coder, that an algorithm-based information processing system implies a software programmer, and that complex and specified information in the cell, which conforms to a “language” and produces sophisticated machines, points to the mind of some engineer.

Copyright © 2005 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.

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1. In 2001, Iowa State University astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez’s research on galactic habitable zones appeared on the cover of Scientific American. Dr. Gonzalez’s research demonstrates that our universe, galaxy, and solar system were intelligently designed for advanced life. Although Gonzalez does not teach intelligent design in his classes, he nevertheless believes that “[t]he methods [of intelligent design] are scientific, and they don't start with a religious assumption.” But a faculty adviser to the campus atheist club circulated a petition condemning Gonzalez’s scientific views as merely “religious faith.” Attacks such as these should be familiar to the conservative minorities on many university campuses; however, the response to intelligent design has shifted from mere private intolerance to public witch hunts. Gonzalez is up for tenure next year and clearly is being targeted because of his scientific views.

2. The University of Idaho, in Moscow, Idaho, is home to Scott Minnich, a soft-spoken microbiologist who runs a lab studying the bacterial flagellum, a microscopic rotary engine that he and other scientists believe was intelligently designed -- (see "What Is Intelligent Design.") Earlier this year Dr. Minnich testified in favor of intelligent design at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial over the teaching of intelligent design. Apparently threatened by Dr. Minnich’s views, the university president, Tim White, issued an edict proclaiming that “teaching of views that differ from evolution ... is inappropriate in our life, earth, and physical science courses or curricula.” As Gonzaga University law professor David DeWolf asked in an editorial, “Which Moscow is this?” It’s the Moscow where Minnich’s career advancement is in now jeopardized because of his scientific views.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Patriot Acts By Ben Stein

A Patriot Acts
By Ben Stein

Published 12/21/2005
Herewith a few humble questions about Bush, Iraq, the Patriot Act, and domestic surveillance after 9/11.

(1) Is there any evidence at all of Americans' rights being trampled upon by the application of the Patriot Act? Are we any less free? Are there detention camps anywhere? Are opponents of Bush afraid to express themselves? Has anyone had his library card confiscated? Where is all of the harm that Bush's opponents claim? It is just plain invisible, a fantasy used to justify their own paranoia, isn't it? It is sort of the same as the fear that Californians and Manhattanites have of eating food with "chemicals" or "additives" in it. Pure self-obsessional thinking about imaginary victimhood to justify their frightened and aggressive existence. I am not sure how much good the Patriot Act has done, but I sure don't see any harm, and I don't think anyone can really find it. If it's there, where are the examples?

(2) Where are all of the wild hurrahs that should have greeted the recent election in Iraq? It went off incredibly well, with all major groups participating, with a much smaller amount of violence than was expected. Iraq has gone from being the most unfree Arab country to the most free in a matter of months, thanks to the vision of George Bush and the heroism of America's fighting men and women. What has happened is beyond the hopes of even the greatest optimists. But where are the cheers? Why are Bush's opponents still bashing him over what is a clear success? Can it be that hurting Bush is more vital to them than helping a slave people become free? Do they really hate Bush so much that they would torpedo freedom for a nation of 25 million to spite Bush? I am afraid they would rather have us lose the war and humiliate Bush than win the war and have Bush succeed. What if this had been the GOP's attitude in World War II? Or Vietnam? Or Korea? I wonder if there is a name for what Bush's enemies are doing here.

(3) Does anyone remember 9/11 any longer? Innocent men and women betting burned to death? Temperatures so cruel that grown men and women held hands and leapt to their deaths from the high floors of the World Trade Center? Children crushed in the lower floors? Planeloads of totally guiltless men and women and children crashed to death? The worst terrorist act of all time? In case Chuck Schumer forgot, it was a big thing in his home state.

Of course Bush would want to do everything he could to investigate the doings of possible terrorists in America and right away, too. Of course he would want to use every resource, including the NSA. And of course, he alerted key members of Congress, none of whom protested. It was major, big time emergency. Why is it even a question of Presidential power? It was and is a question of protecting the nation. Obviously, if he had gone public with it right away, it would have alerted the terrorists to stay off the phone. Maybe he should have gone to a court. Or maybe he realized it was a life and death matter for immediate action. In any event, Bush's main goal has been to save the nation. He doesn't care about an imperium. He's a quiet, self-effacing guy. He wanted to save us from more 9/11's. Why doesn't he get some credit for that?

Earth to Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy: the enemies are the Al Qaeda and Zarqawi, not Bush. When you cripple the Commander in Chief, you are doing the bidding, unintentionally, I am sure, of some people who will not hesitate to cut your heads off. Keep it in mind. Let's get behind the man who is trying to save us, and when we're behind him, let's not stab him in the back.

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He also writes "Ben Stein's Diary" in every issue of The American Spectator.

Go to source:

To those Democrats starting to mutter about “impeachment”, be careful.

Although the NY Times recently indicated that President Bush’s use of the National Security Agency to spy on conversations with foreign terrorists is illegal, here is what the Times had to say previously:

By DAVID BURNHAM, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (NYT) 1051 words Published: November 7, 1982

A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most secretive intelligence agencies and because millions of electronic messages enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in the legal authority of the Government to keep track of its citizens.

And here is what former President Clinton’s associate attorney general had to say today:

President had legal authority to OK taps
By John Schmidt

December 21, 2005

President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.

The president authorized the NSA program in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. An identifiable group, Al Qaeda, was responsible and believed to be planning future attacks in the United States. Electronic surveillance of communications to or from those who might plausibly be members of or in contact with Al Qaeda was probably the only means of obtaining information about what its members were planning next. No one except the president and the few officials with access to the NSA program can know how valuable such surveillance has been in protecting the nation.

In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.

Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.

In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority."

The passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 did not alter the constitutional situation. That law created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that can authorize surveillance directed at an "agent of a foreign power," which includes a foreign terrorist group. Thus, Congress put its weight behind the constitutionality of such surveillance in compliance with the law's procedures.

But as the 2002 Court of Review noted, if the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches, "FISA could not encroach on the president's constitutional power."

Every president since FISA's passage has asserted that he retained inherent power to go beyond the act's terms. Under President Clinton, deputy Atty. Gen. Jamie Gorelick testified that "the Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes."

FISA contains a provision making it illegal to "engage in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute." The term "electronic surveillance" is defined to exclude interception outside the U.S., as done by the NSA, unless there is interception of a communication "sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person" (a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and the communication is intercepted by "intentionally targeting that United States person." The cryptic descriptions of the NSA program leave unclear whether it involves targeting of identified U.S. citizens. If the surveillance is based upon other kinds of evidence, it would fall outside what a FISA court could authorize and also outside the act's prohibition on electronic surveillance.

The administration has offered the further defense that FISA's reference to surveillance "authorized by statute" is satisfied by congressional passage of the post-Sept. 11 resolution giving the president authority to "use all necessary and appropriate force" to prevent those responsible for Sept. 11 from carrying out further attacks. The administration argues that obtaining intelligence is a necessary and expected component of any military or other use of force to prevent enemy action.

But even if the NSA activity is "electronic surveillance" and the Sept. 11 resolution is not "statutory authorization" within the meaning of FISA, the act still cannot, in the words of the 2002 Court of Review decision, "encroach upon the president's constitutional power."

FISA does not anticipate a post-Sept. 11 situation. What was needed after Sept. 11, according to the president, was surveillance beyond what could be authorized under that kind of individualized case-by-case judgment. It is hard to imagine the Supreme Court second-guessing that presidential judgment.

Should we be afraid of this inherent presidential power? Of course. If surveillance is used only for the purpose of preventing another Sept. 11 type of attack or a similar threat, the harm of interfering with the privacy of people in this country is minimal and the benefit is immense. The danger is that surveillance will not be used solely for that narrow and extraordinary purpose.

But we cannot eliminate the need for extraordinary action in the kind of unforeseen circumstances presented by Sept.11. I do not believe the Constitution allows Congress to take away from the president the inherent authority to act in response to a foreign attack. That inherent power is reason to be careful about who we elect as president, but it is authority we have needed in the past and, in the light of history, could well need again.


John Schmidt served under President Clinton from 1994 to 1997 as the associate attorney general of the United States. He is now a partner in the Chicago-based law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

The New York Times has once again thrown out the window any semblence of journalistic ethics in its eagerness to GET President Bush, and, in my view, committed treason as well. The ability to intercept communications between foreign-based Al-Qaeda and domestic cells is crucial to preventing acts of terrorism against us. The New York Times has blown this operation and will kill Americans.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Why In the World Would Anyone Support Senator McCain?

Senator McCain occupies an unusual position in American politics. Because of his military service, his unquestioned heroism and the agonizing, extended torture he endured for 5 years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton, he receives deserved acclaim from all sectors. Yet as a supposed Republican, he comes off as a liberal gadfly who will do almost anything to gain press coverage and face time on TV. There are six specific reasons why I oppose him, and certainly could not support him or almost anything he favors: 1. his membership in the Keating Five, 2. his potentially disastrous position on so-called torture, 3. his sponsorship of the ludicrous McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act, 4. his opposition to extending the tax cuts, 5. his opposition to drilling for oil and some measure of energy independence in ANWR, and, 6. his opposition to extending the Patriot Act.

I will discuss or list newspaper accounts of each of these subjects below:


Is John McCain a Crook?
Chris Suellentrop
Posted Friday, Feb. 18, 2000

The controversial George W. Bush-sponsored poll in South Carolina mentioned John McCain's role in the so-called Keating Five scandal, and McCain says his involvement in the scandal "will probably be on my tombstone." What exactly did McCain do?

In early 1987, at the beginning of his first Senate term, McCain attended two meetings with federal banking regulators to discuss an investigation into Lincoln Savings and Loan, an Irvine, Calif., thrift owned by Arizona developer Charles Keating. Federal auditors were investigating Keating's banking practices, and Keating, fearful that the government would seize his S&L, sought intervention from a number of U.S. senators.

At Keating's behest, four senators--McCain and Democrats Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, Alan Cranston of California, and John Glenn of Ohio--met with Ed Gray, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, on April 2. Those four senators and Sen. Don Riegle, D-Mich., attended a second meeting at Keating's behest on April 9 with bank regulators in San Francisco.

Regulators did not seize Lincoln Savings and Loan until two years later. The Lincoln bailout cost taxpayers $2.6 billion, making it the biggest of the S&L scandals. In addition, 17,000 Lincoln investors lost $190 million.


Since 9/11, there have been many instances where rough questioning and tactics of embarrassment in questioning terrorists have saved American lives, and only the most naïve among us does not recognize the “ticking bomb” scenario. Why has Senator McCain gone on and on about this subject, and now has pushed through a bill (called by some the Al-Qaeda Bill of Rights) that puts our investigators and our troops at risk? One of the best discussions of this subject was by a renowned liberal, Alan Dershowitz, who said, “The treaties against all forms of torture must begin to recognize differences in degree among varying forms of rough interrogation, ranging from trickery and humiliation, on the one hand, to lethal torture on the other. They must also recognize that any country faced with a ticking-time-bomb terrorist would resort to some forms of interrogation that are today prohibited by the treaty.

International law must recognize that democracies have been forced by the tactics of terrorists to make difficult decisions regarding life and death. The old black-and-white distinctions must be replaced by new categories, rules and approaches that strike the proper balance between preserving human rights and preventing human wrongs. For the law to work, it must be realistic and it must adapt to changing needs.”
John McCain: U.S. Still Torturing Terrorists
Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005 11:12 a.m. EST

Sen. John McCain claimed Wednesday that the U.S. is still torturing terrorist detainees, even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits with European leaders to assure them that the practice is banned under U.S. law.

"We've got to stop this torture," McCain told radio host Don Imus.

Sher Zieve
Senator John McCain Now Officially a Liberal Democrat
By Sher Zieve
Dec 16, 2005

In the United States, we already have laws prohibiting torture. But, that wasn’t enough for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain apparently “feels” (one of those liberal things) that torture is ‘anything that makes terrorists uncomfortable’. Holy Smokes, Senator! Terrorists are supposed to be uncomfortable.

Not only does McCain not want those who blow up people, buildings and behead those they haven’t already killed to be treated with a gentler and more soothing attitude, he has also managed to push this anti-American enemy bill through—with terrorists now being extended rights under the US Constitution!


The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill was supposed to reduce or limit the amount of money coming into election campaigns. In its first test it failed completely, as record amounts of money were raised and spent in the last election. Instead, it has placed limits on what certain groups can say, and when they can say it, but not on other groups.

Rocky Mountain News
Time to rescue political speech
Another court test of McCain-Feingold law
December 5, 2005

The plain meaning of the First Amendment as regards speech is that you don't need the government's permission to say what you want, and it shouldn't matter who you are or when you want to say it. Once the government sets itself up in the permission-granting business, as it has with "campaign finance reform" under the notorious McCain-Feingold law, you've lost an important part of that constitutional freedom…..

The primary purpose of the constitution's free-speech clause was to protect political speech, and yet the law now explicitly bans the political speech of certain groups. It only goes to show that the law was misguided from the start.


John McCain is also opposing continuation of the tax cuts which saved the American economy after the deep recession of 2000 and the devastating blows of 9/11 to the travel, tourism and airline businesses – and to the businesses which depend on them. As has always happened, these tax cuts revived the economy, led to continuing record levels of employment and low inflation, and resulted in huge increases in federal tax receipts – cutting the deficit., Sept 23, 2005

WILL BACK-TO-BACK HURRICANES be enough to blow away the goose that laid the golden egg? The answer to that question might hold the key to the stock market for the rest of the year.

The golden goose I'm talking about is the May 2003 cut in the tax rate on dividends and capital gains. As I explained at the time, it's a mathematical certainty that stock prices will move higher when investors know they will pay less in taxes on the dividends and capital gains they receive. Say a $10 stock pays a $1 dividend, and you have to pay a 50% tax on that income. The 50 cents you keep means you have an after-tax yield of 5%. If the tax is cut in half, to 25%, you would keep 75 cents, and your after-tax yield jumps to 7.5%. Do you think the stock will stay at $10? No way. It will immediately rise to $15, because that's the price that makes the after-tax yield 5% again.

But that's just the first step. When stock prices rise, the cost of capital falls. After all, the higher the price a company can sell its stock, the less it effectively pays to get the capital it needs to invest in new plants and equipment. So a lower tax rate on dividends and capital gains means more investment, which eventually translates into more productivity, innovation, employment and economic growth. And that suggests that the stock in my example should rise even further than $15 over time.

Want proof? That's easy. The S&P 500 today is more than 25% higher than it was when the tax cut on dividends and capital gains was enacted in May 2003.
And the same logic applies to income tax rates, which were also cut in 2003. When people get to keep more of the money they earn, they work more and they work harder. The result is the same: more productivity, innovation, employment and economic growth.

Want proof? Gross domestic product, after inflation, has risen 8.4% in the eight quarters since the tax cuts were enacted.

Now let me guess what some of you are thinking. What good does it do for stock prices to rise and economic growth to accelerate if government goes broke for lack of tax revenues? After all, if you cut taxes doesn't that mean the government will collect less?

If that's what's worrying you, then consider a few numbers. According to Treasury Department statistics, the federal government collected tax revenues of $1.79 trillion in the 12 months leading up to the enactment of the 2003 tax cuts. In the next 12 months, despite lower tax rates, the government took in more: $1.82 trillion. Then in the next 12 months — still with lower tax rates — it took in even more, at $2.06 trillion.

So everything's been going just fine. Revenues are pouring in, the economy has been doing great, and until several weeks ago stocks were making new four-year highs. You have to admit, those are some pretty golden eggs. Now why would anyone want to kill the goose that lays them? Why would anyone want to take back those tax cuts? Well, that's where Katrina and Rita enter the picture.

If it hadn't been for these hurricanes, Congress was all set to extend the cuts on dividends and capital-gains taxes by two years. As originally enacted, they automatically expired in 2008, and this year they were to be extended to 2010. But with the huge costs of federal assistance to the disaster-struck Gulf Coast, there are plenty of people in Congress who suddenly think extending the tax cuts isn't such a good idea.

Of course the Democrats think that. But they did even before the hurricanes — partly because they are sincerely opposed to tax cuts that they see benefiting only "the rich," and in part simply because the tax cuts were advocated by their political nemesis, George W. Bush. Now that the hurricanes have damaged Bush's reputation, they're in even less of a mood to compromise with him.


McCain is also one of six Republican senators stopping drilling in ANWR (Chafee (R-RI) Coleman (R-MN) Collins (R-ME) DeWine (R-OH) McCain (R-AZ) Smith (R-OR) Snowe (R-ME)).

ANWR is a national security issue. In a time of war, the actual production from ANWR is not as important as taking the steps necessary to get the oil to a position where it would be available to us if we were to need it because of supply disruption or, worse, a catastrophic attack on our facilities for importing oil.

Stand-by production potential is as necessary to the economic health and defense capability of the United States at least as important to the national security as any other element in hour national defense. It is just not obviously so. Congressmen are supposed to have the intellect to get beyond the obvious.


Senator McCain is also leading the opposition to our primary defense against domestic acts of terrorism, extending the Patriot Act. It is no accident that thus far there have been no repeats of the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001. The Patriot Act gave our government a fighting chance to detect and deter Islamic terrorists from operating in this country, and it removed the wall between intelligence agencies that the Clinton Administration had foolishly erected. It must be renewed.

Peggy Noonan sums up:

“Noonan is correct to dismiss concerns about McCain's age, but she doesn't deal with his almost compulsive need to distance himself from the base --voting this week against exploration in ANWR, leading the Gang of 14 instead of leading the fight to confirm Judge Alito, refusing to bring up the obvious disaster that was his masterpiece of campaign finance reform. McCain's candidacy will not survive a string of GOP-only primaries, and anyone who pretends shock at that result in '08 will have refused to collect or study the obvious data.”

I believe that Senator McCain’s meddling and bumbling in these matters will eventually be overcome, but, in the meantime, a large price is going to be paid by innocent Americans just to satisfy his enormous ego.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Headlines You Never Saw and Hopefully Never Will

First, some real Headlines:
Top Israeli General Says WMD Moved to Syria
December 15, 2005

The NY Sun reported yesterday that a top Israeli general for the past several years said that Saddam Hussein moved his Weapons of Mass Destruction to Syria. “The Israeli officer, Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, asserted that Saddam spirited his chemical weapons out of the country on the eve of the war.

"He transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria," General Yaalon told The New York Sun over dinner in New York on Tuesday night. "No one went to Syria to find it."

From July 2002 to June 2005, when he retired, General Yaalon was chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force, the top job in the Israeli military, analogous to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the American military. He is now a military fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Patriot Act renewal blocked in Senate
Fri Dec 16, 2005 01:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, demanding increased protection of civil liberties, defied President George W. Bush on Friday and blocked legislation to renew the USA Patriot Act, a centerpiece of his war on terrorism.
On a Senate vote of 52-47, mostly Republican backers of the measure fell eight short of the needed 60 to end debate and move to passage of it.

Proponents of the legislation warned that much of sweeping anti-terror law was to expire at the end of the month, and if it did, the nation could be placed at increased risk.


Perhaps we will soon get definitive evidence on just how close we came to seeing the following headlines for real:

Dirty Bomb Kills Thousands; Thousands More To Die

Special to the Washington Sun

Just after midnight last night, a US citizen named Jose Padilla set off a radioactive “dirty” bomb in a downtown, Baltimore, MD housing project. Upwards of 10,000 people were killed outright, and up to 100,000 more are suffering extensive radiation sickness symptoms. Most of those affected are expected to die within weeks.

Padilla, who trained as an Al Queda terrorist in Afghanistan, was apprehended shortly after being observed remotely detonating the blast using a cell phone. He admitted to FBI questioners shortly after his arrest that he had been supplied with the “dirty” bomb materials by agents of Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. Agents have not yet determined the manner in which the materials entered the country. Administration officials vowed that Hamdi would be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law”.

"In May, 2002, Jose Padilla was arrested in the United States on charges of terrorism. He was picked up by federal agents at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and was subsequently declared an enemy combatant and accused of working to construct a radioactive dirty bomb. On December 18, 2003, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the government to release Padilla within 30 days, stating that the government did not have the authority to declare a U.S. citizen arrested on American soil an enemy combatant, if there was no clear Congressional authorization. The order was stayed, pending appeal.

Padilla was born in 1971, in New York, and moved to Chicago with his family when he was a child. He was involved in gang violence as a youth, and spent time in juvenile detention for involvement in a murder. Arrested several more times, his last prison stay was in 1991, when he was jailed for a road-rage shooting incident in Florida. He converted to Islam sometime after he was released from prison, and became friends with the head of Benevolence International Foundation, a charity which U.S. investigators have accused of funding terrorist activities. In 1998, Padilla traveled to Egypt, and then to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, where he is said to have met up with al-Qaeda operatives. A highly-placed al-Qaeda member named Padilla as having been sent to the U.S. to conduct reconnaisance and carry out attacks on their behalf, leading to Padilla's arrest. Padilla’s case was taken up by various liberal groups, who brought pressure to have him released."

Information in red above provided by

American Cruise Ship Sunk off Greece, 5200 Lost, Hamdi Identified

Yaser Esam Hamdi has been identified as one of the passengers on the American cruise ship, Aegean Waters, that sank late yesterday with no survivors. The last communication from the ship indicated that Hamdi, with an unknown number of accomplices, had killed several members of the crew and had taken control of the ship.

"Yaser Esam Hamdi was a U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan while fighting U.S. forces with the Taliban in 2001. He was named by the U.S. administration as an "illegal enemy combatant", and detained for almost three years without receiving any charges.

He was initially detained at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but was transferred to jails in Virginia and South Carolina after it became known that he was a U.S. citizen.

Critics of his imprisonment claimed his civil rights were violated and that he was denied due process of law, including imprisonment without formal charges and denial of legal representation.In June 2004, the United States Supreme Court rejected the U.S. government's attempts to detain Hamdi indefinitely without trial, reasserting principles of individual liberty threatened by policies enacted in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

On September 23, 2004, the United States Justice Department agreed to release Hamdi to Saudi Arabia on the condition that he gives up his U.S. citizenship. The deal also bars Hamdi from visiting Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Hamdi must notify Saudi officials if he ever plans to leave the kingdom."

Information in red above provided by
Saudi officials have not yet responded to inquiries concerning Hamdi’s whereabouts.

Massive Anthrax Attack in Israel Kills 540 Visiting American Jews
The Jerusalem Times

Former University of South Florida professor, Sami Al-Arian, acquitted three years ago in a terrorism trial in Florida, announced today through spokesmen in Gaza that the catastrophic anthrax attack at the Shalom Kibbutz in Israel had been planned and organized by him. Along with the more than 3700 residents killed in the attack were 540 American Jewish students and tourists who were visiting and touring the kibbutz at the time of the attack. He said it was “fitting that American Zionist Jews, responsible for supporting the murderous interlopers in Israel, were killed with the rest of the blood-sucking pigs”.

The attack was carried out through the use of airplanes fitted out for spraying insecticides or herbicides that had been adapted for spraying the anthrax. Although Israeli jet planes were able to shoot down the crop-spraying planes, they were too late to stop the attack. Israeli investigators said they had already been able to identify the type of anthrax as a weaponized strain available only in Iraq, and formerly seen only in the United States in 2001 when envelopes containing that strain of anthrax had been mailed to several American officials and newscasters.

"The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation had accused al-Arian and seven others of being involved since 1984 in a criminal organization that assists the Palestinian Jihad movement. The authorities added that this organization had been responsible for hundreds of terrorist acts in Israel, resulting in over 100 deaths and that al-Arian was the Jihad movement's chief of operations in the United States. Al-Arian denied any connection with terrorist activities. Following the publicity regarding his non-academic activities as well as the criminal allegations, he was fired from his university position."

Information in red above provided by

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Some Interesting Graphics, Pictures and Cartoons


From an Iraqi Website - Translation “Now you are a nation of democracy and freedom, so would you kindly, if you don’t mind…please, I beg you to let me out so that I can kill some Iraqis again”

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Free Speech Is Under Siege

Attacks on free speech are not the exclusive province of the ACLU. Using some provisions of the absurd McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Bill (which increased rather than decreased the money devoted to political campaigns), efforts are underway that might well put an end to Rush Limbaugh’s radio program and to weblogs, including mine, that discuss political issues. These attacks on free speech are not limited to stifling conservative viewpoints; Al Franken’s radio show and the DailyKos website (left-wing advocates) face the same dangers. Already, this year, we have had to fight off an attempt by Senator Harken to interfere with the daily broadcasts of part of the Rush Limbaugh Show to our troops in Iraq.

The noted columnist, George Will, recently had this to say:

“Attacks on freedom of political speech are becoming more brazen. Because the attackers aim to enlarge government's control of the political campaigns that decide who controls government, the attacks advance liberalism's program of extending government supervision of life…..

When writing regulations to implement McCain-Feingold, the Federal Election Commission in 2002 declined to bring Internet political speech, meaning bloggers, under the metastasizing federal apparatus of speech regulation. McCain-Feingold does not mention the Internet when listing forms of "public communication" (e.g., mailings, billboards) the FEC should regulate. But unregulated speech is an affront to today's liberalism. And a federal judge with an interesting theory of liberty—that whatever Congress does not specifically exempt from regulation should be regulated—decided that the FEC's exempting the Internet from regulation is impermissible because Congress was silent on the subject. She ordered the FEC to write regulations. This, even though Internet communication is limitless, virtually cost-free and, hence, wonderfully anarchic.

So Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a 48-year-old Texan, tried riding to the rescue. Hensarling is a Republican, which means next to nothing nowadays, but also a libertarian, which means he believes, as Republicans once did, in limited government. He proposed the Online Freedom of Speech Act, to exclude blogs, e-mails and some other Internet communications from federal regulation. He got 55 percent of the House votes, but two thirds were needed to get expedited action. The speech rationers, a.k.a. the "reform community"—abetted by much of the unregulated mainstream media, which advocate regulating rivals—will redouble their efforts to clamp the government's grip on the Internet, and require bloggers to hire lawyers.

The grip was recently extended to talk radio in Washington state. A judge ruled that two Seattle talk-radio hosts who advocated repeal of a gas-tax increase must compute the cash value of their speech as a "campaign contribution," subject to regulation. Fortunately for the hosts, the speech did not occur in the last three weeks of the campaign, when speech valued at more than $5,000 is a crime.

In California, "progressive" thinking has progressed to the conclusion that because money in politics is bad, political competition is, too. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger advocated, unsuccessfully, having retired judges draw legislative districts in order to reduce gerrymandering and produce more competitive races. A group opposed to that argued that if districts were more competitive, "politicians would be forced to spend more money and become more dependent on special-interest money."

But liberals' abhorrence of political money is selective. Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, recently reported that when Democratic senators met in a Capitol room near the Senate floor to plan strategy, their leader, Harry Reid, permitted Stephen Bing to attend. In 2004, Bing, 40, gave more than $14 million of his inherited wealth to Democratic candidates and liberal groups supporting them.
Was there any appearance of impropriety—say, cash purchasing access? Gosh, no, said Democrats to Roll Call: "Reid's aides and other Senate Democrats said there is nothing wrong with such a big donor attending meetings otherwise open to only senators and a few top aides, because Bing is not a lobbyist and is not seeking any favors from Democrats." Sen. Barbara Boxer explained that Bing is "just really interested in making this country better." Oh, well, in that case...
© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Just this week we may have seen the end of another effort to criminalize Republicans who have been effective in advancing a conservative point of view, when a judge threw out the atrocious efforts of a Democrat prosecutor to gain access to Rush Limbaugh’s medical records. We still see concerted efforts to use the force of law to shut up and shut down Congressman Tom Delay, Senator Bill Frist and former V.P. Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby. We note also that when an effective conservative like Ann Coulter, David Horovitz or Bernard Goldberg attempts to speak, when invited to a college campus, the liberal clowns on campus throw pies and disrupt the gatherings so that they are prevented from speaking. This is de rigueur for liberals who will do almost anything to shut down free speech. When is the last time you heard of a conservative group acting this way?

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Triumph of Rush Limbaugh and Me

As a conservative, and back in 1988, while working as a college professor at a college where conservatives were ignorant slime who should hide under rocks, I heard Rush Limbaugh for the first time, and realized I was not alone. Over the years, his has been the one voice that has always sustained me, and, once in a while, has moved me to tears as he eloquently championed the hope and spirit of America and of her true heroes. As his leftist, hate-America, critics tried to shut him up, first by demonizing him, then by subsidizing his radio competitors and trying to boycott his advertisers, and, most recently, by siccing an unscrupulous Democrat prosecutor to hound him unmercifully about his addiction arising out of his serious and painful health problems, I have cheered him and prayed for him.

Today, as I read the following article, I breathed a sigh of relief and raised my glass. Rush’s ordeal appears to be over.

Persecution of Rush Limbaugh suffers a blow
The American Thinker (Source: Roy Black)

When the political history of this era is written by observers detached from current passions, there is no doubt that Rush Limbaugh will accorded a prominent place in explaining the rise of conservatism. He is without question the single most influential media figure in the entire history of American broadcasting.

When the history of Rush Limbaugh is examined by objective historians of the future, the shameful persecution he has endured will no doubt the subject of many a doctoral dissertation. Many of them will focus on the shameful persecution he has endured at the hands of a partisan prosecutor.

How was it possible that such an important figure could be the only person ever prosecuted in Florida for the specific behavior alleged? And how was it possible the he alone was subjected to an attempted violation of doctor-patient confidentiality?

At last, a sensible ruling has been issued which recognizes that Rush Limbaugh, no less than any other American, is entitled to have his doctor-patient relationship unmolested by the questions of prosecutors directed at his physician, in search of an offense on which to indict him. Judge David Crow prohibited prosecutors from asking Rush’s doctors about his medical treatment and condition or information he shared with his doctors during his care and treatment.

The fact is that we know that Rush Limbaugh developed a dependency on prescription painkillers, and that he eventually obtained some without benefit of prescription. This is neither healthy nor legal, and I do not endorse such behavior. But in the wake of excruciating pain from a medical condition, and under pressure to continue to captivate a huge radio audience while losing his hearing, it is a rather understandable transgression.

When other well-known people have developed presciption drug dependencies, they have been smothered in support. Betty Ford has a clinic named after her. But Rush Limbaugh, and Rush Limbaugh alone, has been pursued by an obsessed political enemy using his office as prosecutor to take out the most important conservative in the mass media.

Congratulations are due to Rush and to his lawyer Roy Black. It is time for the persecution of Rush to end. Now that the prosecutorial fishing expedition has been ruled out of bounds, the DA should pursue real criminals who harm the public.
Thomas Lifson 12 12 05

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Monday, December 12, 2005

All Is Not Lost; In Fact, Life is Pretty Good

I was cleaning out my Evernote files the other day and came across this column I had saved. Since most of us focus on what’s going wrong, I thought this might make for a nice change of pace and put life in a proper perspective.

Edward Achorn: The good old days are now
Providence Journal

AMONG THE GREAT unsung heroes of our culture are surely our history teachers: those who make the past compelling and meaningful. Only history makes sense of the present, giving us the perspective we need to live happy and fulfulling lives -- and avoid falling prey to demagogic politicians.

Too many Americans stumble around in the dark with a weak flashlight, capable of illuminating only a narrow circle of their immediate surroundings. History throws open the curtains, and lets the light flood in, so that we may grasp the true dimensions of the room.

These thoughts come to mind whenever I see the politicians or some of the media tearing down America. I know of people who, having watched too much cable TV news in recent weeks, think our country is worse off than it has ever been -- economically, culturally, politically, environmentally, militarily. Some say they are terrified of the future.

That's very human behavior. We tend to believe our experiences are unprecedented -- that no one loved, or suffered, or dreamed, as we do.

Thus, many people uncritically accept the oft-repeated phrase that Hurricane Katrina is the "worst natural disaster in American history," although there have been far more powerful storms, which claimed thousands more lives. Estimates of deaths from the 1900 Galveston hurricane, for example, range as high as 12,000. (And then there was the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which caused massive devastation and took hundreds if not thousands of lives.)

We see this "worst-ever" tendency constantly. Parents are led to believe that children may no longer play in their neighborhoods because child kidnapping is at an all-time peak. In truth, the crime rate is lower than it has been in 15 years, and there has been no increase in kidnapping, points out John Stossel, of ABC News. It's because TV focuses on child abductions that moms and dads are more fearful.

We hear of the approach of such scary diseases as SARS (and Bird Flu), which killed almost 1,000 people. We forget the flu of 1918 -- which killed 20 million.

We are told that poverty is increasing, supposedly because of rapacious capitalism. But many of those who qualify statistically as poor enjoy luxuries beyond the wildest dreams (or resources) of royalty not all that long ago: central heating, cable TV, refrigerators, microwave ovens, cell phones, etc. We are told the middle class is shrinking, but we are not told that many are joining the statistical ranks of the rich.

We are told Iraq is a military disaster and a quagmire, though other American wars required much greater sacrifices (including on the home front) -- and some of those wars were not fought for nearly as vital a national interest as trying to sap the strength of Islamic terror. We are rarely told that America's soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are, by historical standards, extraordinarily well trained and highly committed to the mission -- and certainly among the bravest and most decent we have ever sent to war.

In griping about today's economy, with its alarmingly soaring costs for energy, housing and government, we forget about the Great Depression, when between 1929 and 1933 unemployment rose from 3 percent to over 25 percent, and hunger stalked millions of homes. Farm prices fell precipitously, General Motors sales declined 50 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted from 381.17 to 41.22. (And we forget about the terrible depressions in the 1890s, 1870s, 1850s and 1830s.)
In complaining that we are under more pressure at work than any generation, we forget about child labor, 12-hour workdays and six-day workweeks, and the risk of debilitating injuries on the job without compensation -- injustices that labor unions bravely fought to end.

In crying that terrorism makes us more vulnerable than ever before, we forget about the late Soviet Union, a corrupt and brutal empire that in my lifetime almost instigated a thermonuclear war by trying to install missiles on Cuba pointed at the U.S.

I'd urge anyone who imagines American life is harder and more pressure-packed today than ever to pick up a copy of The Good Old Days -- They Were Terrible!, by Otto L. Bettman. The author points out that Americans in the late 19th Century contended with a life expectancy in the 40s; malaria, cholera and polio; the drudgery and acute loneliness of farm life; filthy surgery and bad health care; brutal oppression of minorities and many women; foul and toxic air; maddening traffic; fire-trap tenements; government corruption on a scale that puts today's Louisiana or Rhode Island to shame; rancid food and adulterated milk; garbage- and feces-strewn streets; deadly train and steamboat travel; and deeply corrupt professional baseball (okay, maybe everything hasn't changed).

This does not mean today's America cannot do better, or that other ways of fighting terrorism shouldn't be considered, or that we should ever stop working to help lift up those who are less fortunate than we. (For one thing, what else would columnists write about?)

But, amidst the tragedies and troubles swirling around us in this imperfect world, we should reflect on the fact that -- from the standpoint of living long, rewarding and healthy lives in freedom -- today's Americans are astoundingly fortunate in their choice of when to be born.


Survey finds optimism in new Iraq

An opinion poll suggests Iraqis are generally optimistic about their lives, in spite of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the US-led invasion.

But the survey, carried out for the BBC and other media, found security fears still dominate most Iraqis' thoughts.

Their priority for the coming year would be the restoration of security and the withdrawal of foreign troops.

A majority of the 1,700 people questioned wanted a united Iraq with a strong central government.

Hopes for future
The poll by Oxford Research International was commissioned by the BBC, ABC News and other international media organisations, and released ahead of this week's parliamentary elections in Iraq.

Although most Iraqis were optimistic about the future, the poll found significant regional variations in responses.

In central Iraq respondents were far less optimistic about the situation in one year's time than those in Baghdad, the south and north.

The BBC News website's World Affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says the survey shows a degree of optimism at variance with the usual depiction of the country as
One in total chaos.

The findings are more in line with the kind of arguments currently being deployed by US President George W Bush, he says.

However, our correspondent adds that critics will claim that the survey proves little beyond showing how resilient Iraqis are at a local level - and that it reveals enough important exceptions to the rosy assessment, especially in the centre of the country, to indicate serious dissatisfaction.

Interviewers found that 71% of those questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives, while 29% found their lives very or quite bad.

When asked whether their lives would improve in the coming year, 64% said things would be better and 12% said they expected things to be worse.

However, Iraqis appear to have a more negative view of the overall situation in their country, with 53% answering that the situation is bad, and 44% saying it is good.

But they were more hopeful for the future - 69% expect Iraq to improve, while 11% say it will worsen.

In all, 1,711 Iraqis were interviewed throughout the country in October and November 2005.

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