We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Soak The Poor

Posted 8/30/2006

Tax Policy: The myth lives on: Bush's tax cuts boosted the rich and gypped the poor and middle class. So let's see how the poor and middle class fare without them.

The Treasury Department issued a news release last week that clearly shows that the very people the Democrats and the mainstream media purport to be so concerned about in their opposition to tax relief will see their tax bills go up if the tax cuts are not made permanent.

"More than 5 million low-income individuals and couples will no longer be exempt from individual income tax," said the release.

Compare the government's sober analysis to these wild-eyed statements from prominent Democrats:

• Tom Daschle, the one-time Senate Democratic leader who was voted out of office, predicted in February 2003 that the Bush tax cuts would have "no real benefits on most American families."

• "The poor suffer. The rich benefit. The middle class pays the bill," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said last year during debate on a small ($56 billion) tax cut.

• "Is it justice to steal from the middle class to give tax cuts to the ultrasuper rich?" Pelosi asked in January 2003 during an earlier round of debates.

• "Their tax cut plans put the wealthy first," Rep. Charles Rangel, who would be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee if that chamber falls to the Democrats in November, said of the Republicans in 2003.

• "His entire first eight months was tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich, and he lied and said the tax cuts would help average Americans," columnist Molly Ivins, a Texan who holds a blinding hatred for the Bush family and has an exceptional love for class warfare, wrote in 2003.

Who's lying now? According to the Treasury Department, a family of four with two children making $56,300 in 2011 — that's not rich — will be hit with a tax bill that's bigger by $2,092, a 132% hike.

That same family making $67,600 a year — still not rich — would see its tax bill go up by $1,858, an increase of 58%.

(See the accompanying table to see who else would be hurt by the tax hike that would follow failure to make the tax cuts permanent.)

The untold story of the Bush tax cuts is the fact that they wiped millions of poor and low-income Americans off the income tax rolls. A large block went from paying small tax bills to paying no income taxes at all. As many as 43 million Americans, nearly a third of all taxpayers, now have no income tax liability.

Why didn't we hear this when all the squawking was about the rich getting big tax cuts while the poor and middle class were given small tokens? Why aren't we hearing it now, when Congress could get to work on continuing tax relief for so many who could use it?

The reflexive opposition to tax cuts by most Democrats and their media allies and their eagerness to incite jealousy among economic classes are as harmful as they are outdated.

Just Nuts?

Posted 8/30/2006

Terrorism: What would possess a Muslim motorist to drive around San Francisco Bay Area streets in his SUV and deliberately run over pedestrians, including kids? Insanity, shrugs the mainstream media.

Omeed Aziz Popal was taken into custody Tuesday after a hit-and-run spree that terrorized pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists for a full hour, killing one and injuring 14. The news treated the bloody rampage like a random act of violence.

Those in the media who didn't brush it off as an "inexplicable tragedy" before moving on to the next story focused on the alleged mental illness and not the religion of suspect Popal, a native of Afghanistan. His lawyer claims he'd been treated for a nervous breakdown. A cousin offered that Popal, who'd returned two weeks earlier from Afghanistan, might have been stressed over an arranged marriage.

But police, who say victims were hit intentionally and methodically in a dozen different locations throughout the area, aren't buying it.

The clean-cut 29-year-old seemed calm, coherent and unrepentant when they pulled him from his black Honda SUV. It was as he was being arrested that a woman heard Popal say "I'm a terrorist," a statement that, as of Wednesday afternoon, only KTVU in San Francisco was reporting.

Interestingly, one of the locations, a few blocks from where the rampage ended, was the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, a detail that slipped the big media. Two of the victims were struck there.

It's significant because last month a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan went on a shooting rampage at a Seattle Jewish center. After coldly and deliberately shooting six women there, suspect Naveed Haq announced, "I'm a Muslim-American; I'm angry at Israel."

Again, the media ignored Haq's stated religious motive and focused instead on his history of mental illness. Consensus: No Islamic terrorism here, just the random violent act of a crazy man.

But crazy men don't take premeditative steps such as looking up the nearest Jewish center on the Internet and traveling all the way from central Washington state to hit their target.

The San Francisco attack is also reminiscent of the hit-and-run rampage last spring at the University of North Carolina in which another angry Muslim lashed out at infidels by hitting nine people with a big SUV he'd rented for the occasion.

Iranian-born Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar told the 911 dispatcher that he was attempting to "punish the government of the United States for its actions around the world." He told the judge he was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah." The media played that unavoidable part of the story down.

Same with other freelance terrorists. The Beltway snipers were Muslim converts who admired the 9-11 hijackers. They said their goal was to "terrorize" Washington. One wrote in his diary: "Islam. We will resist. We will conquer." Some news outlets couldn't bring themselves to say the leader's legally changed Muslim name, John Muhammad, using instead his previous name John Allen Williams.

And remember the Muslim immigrant from Egypt who fatally shot two at Israel's El Al ticket counter at LAX? He deliberately looked for Jews to kill, yet the media wouldn't call it a terrorist attack.

War is no time for apologetics. In their tired effort to claim the mantle of tolerance, the media only disserve Americans by continuing to sugarcoat the ugly truth about the enemy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Success Is Failure

Posted 8/29/2006

Appeasement: Democrats are calling our victories in the global war on terror defeats. Hysteria like this from an increasingly disloyal opposition is no help in America's long war against a new kind of enemy.

In George Orwell's fictional "Nineteen Eighty-Four," the tyrannical regime of Oceania told its citizens that "war is peace," "freedom is slavery" and "ignorance is strength." Today the Democratic Party could adopt the motto "winning is losing."

This week, Joe Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made a stunning declaration while stumping for president in Iowa: "If anything is shown by the British uncovering the plot on the airliners, it's simple — we are not protected."

You'd think the saving of thousands of lives might warrant a pat on President Bush's back. Instead, Biden claims "we are not safe" and complains about "this administration's refusal to do anything about homeland security."

But there have been no terrorist attacks on the homeland in the five years since 9-11. How much safer can you get than that?

As Vice President Dick Cheney pointed out this week to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, terrorists since 9-11 "have successfully carried out attacks in Casablanca, Jakarta, Mombasa, Bali, Riyadh, Baghdad, Istanbul, Madrid, London, Sharm al-Sheikh, Bombay and elsewhere. Here in the U.S., we have not had another 9-11."

Meantime, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's reaction to the foiled airline plot was to issue a statement again complaining that "Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida's mastermind, is still on the loose." But bin Laden might as well be in jail, considering how emasculated he is.

What's more, if Democrats had their way, the most valuable tools that have successfully prevented more than a dozen terrorist operations — like the National Security Agency's surveillance of international telephone calls — would be shut down.

The Bush administration isn't giving its opponents a pass. Also speaking to the VFW, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted that "it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons." He issued a reminder that we face nothing less than "a new type of fascism" in this war.

Let's also not forget that prominent Democrats want us to cut and run in Iraq. The vice president warned that "retreat would convince the terrorists, once again, that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends and abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with violence and blackmail." Rumsfeld made it clear: "We have only two options in Iraq — victory or defeat."

Sadly, Democrats can't tell the difference, and with a chance to pick up congressional seats, they are stooping to the Orwellian.

Facts Drown In Press Coverage

Posted 8/29/2006

Media: With the one-year anniversary of Katrina behind us, the media-fed myth that New Orleans was destroyed due to federal negligence has congealed in the public's mind. It's not true.

We're not saying the U.S. government — especially FEMA — covered itself in glory after the hurricane. It didn't, and we're not making excuses.

But there's a big difference between the near-criminal negligence implied by media coverage over the past year and the real story of the effort to clean up and save lives after an unexpected natural disaster.

Looking at the media coverage of the anniversary Tuesday, it seems people are still trying to fix blame.

Appearing on NBC, former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown blamed higher-ups for the inadequate federal response. Specifically, he pointed a finger at President Bush and Michael Chertoff, homeland security chief.

Brown's self-serving comments aren't true. He's the one who headed FEMA — not Bush or Chertoff. His comment that he was "low man on the totem pole" is pathetic. As so many other things said over the past year, it was uttered without the media challenging its veracity. Why? The statement impugned Bush.

That's not surprising. For the media, Katrina always was more about politics and mythmaking than about reporting and telling the truth. Katrina became a part of a long story line spun relentlessly by the press, of White House ineptitude in the face of disaster and lack of concern for the poor.

As part of this, the media got caught up in telling some big fibs or exaggerating some events while ignoring others.

Take the idea that the federal response was "inadequate" or "incompetent." Granted, that might be said of some of FEMA's efforts, which were poor. But a big story that never got told was how heroically the National Guard (and Coast Guard) performed before, during and after the storm, saving tens of thousands of lives. The mainstream media basically ignored this.

As reported, the Guard had 2,500 troops in New Orleans during the hurricane. It pre-positioned thousands of liters of water, ready-to-eat meals and other supplies at the Superdome and around the city. The Guard was ready.

Right after the storm hit, Guard troops embarked on one of the largest relief efforts. It included, as a Guard spokesman put it, "10,244 sorties flown, 88,181 passengers moved, 18,834 cargo tons hauled (and) 17,411 saves (of stranded and endangered victims)" by helicopter.

The Guard had more than 200 boats and 150 copters working. Its makeshift medical center at the Superdome handled 5,000 patients and delivered seven babies.

By some estimates, the Guard saved 50,000 lives — maybe more. If a big deal was made of this, we didn't hear about it. We had to search out this information on blogs and through government Web sites. It should have been splashed across TV screens and the front pages of our nation's media. It was a truly heroic moment.

What did we get instead? A lot of false tales, half-myths, rumors and innuendo retailed as news, including:
• Speculation that 100,000 people would die (actually, about 1,300 did, which is bad enough).

• Rumors of dozens of bodies stacked in freezers, killings and rapes of babies in the Superdome (out of thousands there, just six people died, four of natural causes).

• Reports of people shooting at rescue helicopters (that never happened, the Guard says).

• Stories playing up the racial-victim angle. (As a subsequent study showed, African-Americans had fewer Katrina deaths than other groups, based on population.)

• Repeated claims the federal response was "slow." (As the Gateway Pundit blog noted, "The federal response here was faster than (Hurricane) Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne.")

We could go on. Days after Hurricane Katrina, the media got caught up in a frenzy of self-congratulation, lauding themselves for their courage and willingness, as some at the time put it, to "speak truth to power."

The real truth is that Katrina wasn't the media's finest hour. As we've seen with recent Mideast coverage, the media have gotten into the strange habit of distorting the news — like reporting deaths of Hezbollah operatives as "civilians" and faking war photographs.

In this, Katrina was no different. Also, much of the coverage was beamed to international audiences hungry for the anti-American meat they were fed. Is it any wonder polls show us falling in foreign esteem worldwide?

Let's make clear that we're not saying no one deserves blame here. Nor are we suggesting that nothing needs to be done to improve our emergency response.

This disaster, however, was years in the making.

Besides, most people, including the media, felt the Crescent City had survived Katrina. If you recall, it was downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane before it reached shore, then veered away at the last moment, seemingly sparing New Orleans a direct hit.

Instead, the sea surged, the levees broke and a big part of the city was washed away. The inadequate levees had been in place for decades — a failure, to be sure, but one that spanned many years and multiple presidents, mayors, governors and FEMA leaders.

In short, this was an avoidable tragedy. We should learn from it and fix problems. That might not be easy, though, since many in the media treat Katrina not as a chance to improve a vital part of our homeland security, but as another chance to score debating points against the Bush-led GOP in midterm elections.

Did Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald Lie?

Posted 8/29/2006

Plamegate: Patrick Fitzgerald's three-year manhunt to track down who blew Valerie Plame's CIA "cover" has been exposed as a costly sham. He apparently knew all along that his man was not Scooter Libby.

When Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, was assigned the Plame case, he was hailed as a paragon of integrity. He'd helped convict Mafia boss John Gotti, the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and former Illinois Republican Gov. George Ryan, who'll be sentenced next month on 22 counts of bribery and racketeering.

But it's hard to see anything but politics as the motivation for Fitzgerald's handling of the Plame affair. The facts indicate that Fitzgerald knew early on that the original leaker was State Department official Richard Armitage. So why did Fitzgerald let a cloud hang over White House adviser Karl Rove's head for so long? And why is Fitzgerald continuing to hound Libby, the former vice presidential chief of staff?

The answer seems to be that Armitage, who is charged with nothing and brags that he hasn't even consulted a lawyer, was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's right-hand man and a critic of pre-emptive war in Iraq.

Libby, on the other hand, was an architect of that war strategy. Do doves get a pass in Fitzgerald's book, while hawks get an indictment?

The latest revelations raise a question of far more gravity: Did Fitzgerald publicly lie? Let's look at the facts:
• The indictment of Libby that Fitzgerald extracted from the grand jury states that "on or about June 23, 2003, Libby met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. . . . In discussing the CIA's handling of Wilson's trip to Niger, Libby informed her that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau of the CIA."

• In the Oct. 28 press conference announcing Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald claimed that "in fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."

• That assertion is apparently false. A soon-to-be-released book, "Hubris," by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and The Nation magazine's David Corn, finds that Armitage revealed Plame's identity in a meeting with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward a week before the Libby-Miller meeting in June 2003. In a Newsweek preview of the book, Isikoff cites "three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant" as sources for when the Armitage-Woodward conversation took place.

• Armitage is also clearly columnist Robert Novak's primary source for his July 2003 column, which was the first piece to identify Plame. On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Novak complained that "the time has way passed for my source to identify himself."

• Isikoff notes that "Armitage himself was aggressively investigated" by Fitzgerald. So Armitage fessed up at the outset. Fitzgerald long ago knew whom Armitage talked to and when. And he knew it was Armitage, not Libby, who was responsible for outing Plame (whose status as a secret CIA operative was dubious at best).

• Fitzgerald's contention in October that Libby was "the first official known to have told a reporter . . . about Valerie Wilson" may therefore have been a lie.

Fitzgerald knew in the early days of his politicized witch hunt that no crime was committed. No one intentionally revealed the identity of a truly covert agent. Yet he made a reporter, Miller, spend nearly 90 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald refused to reveal to the public the true source. From top to bottom, this has been one of the most disgraceful abuses of prosecutorial power in this country's history. That it's taking place at a time of war only magnifies its sordidness.

We wouldn't be surprised if Fitzgerald ran for high elective office in the next few years — likely as a Democrat. The Plame case proves he can bend the truth with the proficiency of the slickest of pols.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jurist Imprudence

Posted 8/28/2006

Warrantless Wiretaps: As Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's surveillance ruling comes up for appeal, the question is not only whether her questionable logic is sustainable, but also whether she should have heard the case at all.

In 2004, there was a media feeding frenzy over the alleged impropriety of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia going on a duck-hunting trip in Louisiana with Vice President Dick Cheney when a case involving Cheney's energy task force and the issue of executive privilege was on the court's docket.

We wonder whether that microscopic concern over judicial impartiality will extend to the recent ruling by Taylor that the government's warrantless surveillance of communications between foreign-based terrorists or those under suspicion and their U.S. contacts was unconstitutional.

Thanks to due diligence by the group Judicial Watch, we know that Taylor serves as a secretary and trustee of a foundation that donated funds to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, one of the plaintiffs in ACLU et al. v. National Security Agency.

Taylor noted on her financial disclosure forms filed in 2004 and 2005 that she serves in those capacities for the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan. The executive director of the Michigan ACLU, Kary Moss, says her group had received grants totaling $125,000 from the foundation since 1999.

We have noted many times the ACLU's ongoing campaign to undermine American society and national security. We find it curious that the judge who handed our mortal enemies such as al-Qaida a major victory would also be in a position to make financial decisions benefiting a plaintiff before her court.

Not just any plaintiff, but a plaintiff that opposes every tool we use to fight terrorism — from the Patriot Act to tracking terrorist finances to monitoring their communications.

Taylor's coziness with the ACLU goes far toward explaining the fuzzy logic and curious reading of the law used in her ruling, which seems to be an overturned decision waiting to happen, an event to be fervently hoped for when the appeal is heard Sept. 7.

George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, who's no fan of the wiretap program, pokes holes in Taylor's assertion that warrantless wiretaps constitute an "unreasonable search" under the Fourth Amendment by noting that the Supreme Court has allowed warrantless searches of goods, people and information that cross the border.

Is walking through a metal detector at the airport, opening your luggage or being subjected to a pat-down unreasonable in this age of terror? We think not. Neither do we think listening in on those plotting to kill people boarding those planes is unreasonable.

Taylor cites the 1967 Katz case in saying that "searches conducted without prior approval by a judge or magistrate were per se unreasonable." She must have missed the class on footnote 23 of that decision, which specifically exempted national security.

Her reference to the 1972 Keith case is similarly flawed. She claims it said a prior warrant was required "even in domestic security matters." In truth, the Keith decision expressed "no judgment" on the scope of the president's surveillance power regarding "the activities of foreign powers, within or without the country" or their "agents" inside the U.S.

When Jimmy Carter's attorney general, Griffin Bell, testified in favor of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he told Congress that while the measure didn't explicitly acknowledge the "inherent power of the president to conduct electronic surveillance," it does not take away the power of the president under the Constitution.

Before Taylor's ruling, no American court had said a commander in chief in wartime could not conduct warrantless surveillance. In 1973, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that "the president may constitutionally authorize warrantless wiretaps for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence."

We trust that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will more sensibly interpret the law and the Constitution. We trust its judges don't spend their free time funneling money to the ACLU.

Justice may be blind, but our intelligence agencies shouldn't be forced to be.

Just Compensation

Posted 8/28/2006

Economy: It's that time of year — Labor Day — when union-backed think tanks issue reports about how miserable U.S. workers are and when the think tanks' toadies in the liberal media come up with a few of their own.

And sure enough, there was The New York Times on Monday with its Page One contribution. Under the headline "Real Wages Fail to Match A Rise In Productivity," the paper makes its best case for why U.S. workers are worse off today than they were three years ago and have done worse in this economic recovery than in any recovery since World War II.

Specifically, it notes that the median hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, has slipped 2% since 2003, and that wages and salaries, as a share of GDP, are the lowest they've been since 1947.

There are all kinds of problems, however, with such a narrow analysis. Most of us aren't paid just in "wages" but in wages and benefits. And when the two are put together, total compensation is up 8.7% since 2003, for an average annual gain of 3.5%.

Why is this? Wages may not be soaring (up just 0.7% since 2000), but benefits are (13.1%). In other words, we're making more but getting it in the form of tax-free benefits. The Times' implication — that we are somehow falling behind in the Bush years — is simply not true.

If you want to know how we're really doing, look at what we spend and the wealth we're building. Here, too, you get a radically different picture. Consumer spending in the second quarter hit $8.053 trillion, up $659 billion, or roughly 4.2% a year, since 2003. How can we spend so much more if we have less?

Yes, we've been putting more on credit cards. But we've been doing that for 40 years.

A better answer is that we're wealthier. We now own about $53.8 trillion in stocks, cash and real estate — up a whopping 35% just since 2002. That "wealth effect" fuels spending.

Another problem with the newspaper's report is that it ignores the surge in illegal immigrants whose low wages skew the overall figures sharply downward. You simply can't import tens of millions of people willing to work for nothing and not expect to see an impact on overall wage levels.

Of course, the real point of the story in the anti-Bush Times is found in the subhead about laggard real wages: "Political Fallout Is Seen." But as long as the economy remains on the roll it's been on since Bush cut taxes, you can put that down as wishful thinking.

Tehran's Tricks

Posted 8/28/2006

Middle East: What a weekend in Iran. A nuclear plant was opened Saturday in Arak, and the military test-fired a new submarine-to-surface missile on Sunday. The naked provocations continue apace.

Last week it was an Iranian warship firing on a Romanian oil rig off Iran. Iranian troops from the ship later boarded and occupied the rig, took over the radio room and likely terrorized the platform's 26 workers.

Such belligerence isn't new for Tehran. It was clearly behind the recent Hezbollah clash with Israel. Aggression is also part of the recently launched military exercises, which provide a five-week stage for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to preen before the world and for Iran's armed forces to project their power.

Then there's the provocative act of denying United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors access to an underground site earlier this month.

That came as Tehran has refused for more than a year to give up its nuclear ambitions, despite international pressure and repeated demands that it halt its uranium enrichment program.

These are not the actions of a government seeking peace. The Iranian regime's actions have all the marks of a nation itching for a fight. It's now habitually and consistently rattling a nuclear-tipped saber, confident that a timid world will do nothing beyond talk to actually stop the menace.

Well, timid only in its duty to beat down clear threats before they get too far along. There would be no timidity in the criticism should the U.S. or Israel take it upon themselves — as one or both will likely have to do — to use force to weaken Tehran's ability to bully the region and make trouble for the world.

Iran continues to insist its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but Saturday's opening of a plant that produces heavy water shows what we've known all along:
It is a less-than-honest account of the regime's intentions.

There is no nuclear reactor at the Arak plant southwest of Tehran — as far as we know — and there won't be until 2009, if the regime is to be believed.

But the heavy-water factory is a step in a dangerous direction. Heavy-water reactors are typically far more efficient at producing weapons-grade plutonium than light-water reactors.

Most reactors used to generate electricity are of the light-water variety. This is an ominous development.

Another deadline for Iran to shut down its uranium enrichment program, this one set by the U.N. Security Council, will arrive Thursday. If history serves as any guide, Tehran will blow right through it as it has all the others — and the U.N. will be inclined to issue its usual nonresponse response.

John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has the task of making sure this latest deadline is different from those that have gone before. In other words, deadlines need to mean something.

If he can't get that done in the U.N., then pressure must be exerted promptly by an alliance of nations that understand the Iranian threat.

Iran has been at war with America and the rest of the West since the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun in 1979 by a gang of ayatollah-backed radicals.

Any civilized nation would be fully justified in ignoring world opinion and doing whatever is needed to remove such a threat.

U.N.-Indicted Co-Conspirator

Posted 8/28/2006

War In The Middle East: U.N. peacekeepers may have done more than just look the other way as Hezbollah created its armed state within a state. The blue helmets may have served as Hezbollah's military intelligence.

Real-time battlefield intelligence is a keystone of 21st century warfare, especially when you're up against a terrorist enemy that has had six years to construct hardened underground bunkers and tunnels from which to fight while not having to obey the rules of war.

The situation gets complicated and your task becomes harder when that real-time intelligence is being provided to that enemy, Hezbollah, by uniformed observers who are supposed to be neutral: the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Writing in the Sept. 4 issue of The Weekly Standard, Lori Lowenthal Marcus reviewed the UNIFIL postings on its Web site (un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil) during Hezbollah's war with Israel. She documented how UNIFIL listed Israeli positions and troop movements on a regular basis, sometimes within 30 minutes of their deployment.

UNIFIL has observed much but done little since Israel withdrew totally from Lebanon in 2000, except to interfere in Israel's ability to defend itself.

As Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., noted recently: "Hezbollah would launch military attacks 50 meters from a UNIFIL outpost, Israel would shoot back and UNIFIL would protest against the Israeli response. Now it has been caught actively aiding Israel's attackers."

Marcus' review of UNIFIL's Web postings show that it was daily revealing the towns Israeli soldiers had moved into, the positions from which they were firing, and when and how they had entered Lebanon. These postings described the nature of their weaponry and materiel, and the locations of Israeli Defense Force safety structures mere hours after their construction.

One such posting, dated July 25, read:
"Yesterday and during last night, the IDF moved significant reinforcements, including a number of tanks, armored personal carriers, bulldozers and infantry, to the area of Marun Al Ras inside Lebanese territory. The IDF advanced from that area north toward Bint Jubayl, and south toward Yarun."

We're sure Hezbollah's terrorists, as they had their morning coffee, read such postings with interest before deciding which civilian building or U.N. observation posts they could hide behind and launch rockets from on Haifa and other northern Israeli civilian targets.

This isn't the first time UNIFIL aided Hezbollah. In an Oct. 7, 2000, incident similar to the killing and capture by Hezbollah of IDF soldiers that sparked the latest war, Hezbollah operatives used cars disguised as U.N. vehicles to kidnap and kill three Israeli soldiers.

UNIFIL not only observed, but also videotaped, the incident. When Israel asked for a copy of the tape, it was first told that no such tape existed, then that handing it over would violate the U.N.'s "neutrality." Insert your own joke here.

For six years, UNIFIL watched the Iranian advanced guard move in 13,000 rockets and place them in hardened bunkers. The U.N. gang let its observers and posts be shields for Hezbollah attacks. Add UNIFIL's battlefield-intelligence collaboration with Hezbollah, and the U.N.'s actions are shameful and unconscionable.

This is the organization that is supposed to restore peace in Lebanon and restrain Hezbollah?

This is the "neutral" organization that is supposed to keep Iran from nuking Israel? No, this is the organization whose officials and members took bribes from Saddam Hussein under the corrupt oil-for-food program.

No wonder UNIFIL isn't supposed to fire on Hezbollah. That might constitute friendly fire. Say what you want about the ineffective League of Nations. At least it never slept with the enemy.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Was Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's Opinion Really Out of Left Field?

From the Center for Individual Freedom:

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is the first judge in our nation's history with the audacity to tell the President of the United States to stop gathering intelligence from a foreign enemy during wartime.

It's pure insanity!

Five years after 9-11, politicians are still discussing whether it's okay to gather intelligence by monitoring phone calls that known and suspected terrorists make to the United States!
But as far as Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is concerned -- THERE IS NO DISCUSSION!

And you can bet that terrorists in Iran and Syria were dancing in the streets when they heard the news.

But to make matters worse, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor issued this ruling knowing full well that since 9-11, our intelligence agencies, in cooperation with Britain, have thwarted major plots to commit unspeakable atrocities:

One captured plotter planned to detonate a "dirty bomb" -- a conventional explosive device filled with radioactive materials. His target: New York City.Just a couple of weeks ago, British intelligence uncovered a plot to blow up as many as 10 airliners over the Atlantic Ocean and in the process kill thousands of people en route to the U.S.

That information was obtained by intercepting phone calls of known and suspected terrorists. And what U.S. and British intelligence agencies did -- Judge Anna Diggs Taylor would outlaw.

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's opinion is so poorly argued and so badly written that it makes no sense whatsoever. Even the Washington Post -- a newspaper with an obvious liberal, anti-Bush editorial policy -- couldn't bring itself to endorse Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's legal tantrum:

"[T]he decision yesterday by a federal district court in Detroit, striking down the NSA's program, is neither careful nor scholarly, and it is hard-hitting only in the sense that a bludgeon is hard-hitting. The angry rhetoric of U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor will no doubt grab headlines. But as a piece of judicial work -- that is, as a guide to what the law requires and how it either restrains or permits the NSA's program -- her opinion will not be helpful..."

Law Professor Eugene Volokh wrote:
"[T]he judge's opinion in today's NSA eavesdropping case seems not just ill-reasoned, but rhetorically ill-conceived."

And Brian Cunningham, former deputy legal adviser to NSA, said:
"[W]e cannot accept the stunningly amateurish piece of, I hesitate even to call it legal work, by which she purports to make our government go deaf and dumb to those [that] would murder us en masse... I wouldn't accept this utterly unsupported, constitutionally and logically bankrupt collection of musings from a first-year law student, much less a new lawyer at my firm."

Question: Just how did Anna Diggs Taylor get on the federal bench?Answer: Jimmy Carter appointed her.

It's no coincidence that Carter is now running around the world, denouncing his own country as the greatest threat to world peace, while back home his appointee is undermining our ability to survive as a nation.And it probably didn't hurt to be the ex-spouse of Left-wing Congressman Charles Diggs.

Charles Diggs -- by the way -- resigned from Congress in disgrace in 1980, two years after being convicted of 29 counts of operating a payroll kickback scheme in his office .

By the way, do you know the names of the organizations that "judge-shopped" and "hand-picked" Judge Anna Diggs Taylor -- to hear this case?

Just who are these Liberal groups willing to risk countless American lives in order to embarrass the President before the November elections?

You know them:
The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU Foundation, and the ACLU of Michigan;Greenpeace (You'd think they'd be anti-terrorist, after the pollution following 9-11.);And -- are you ready for this? -- The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Of course the major media neglected to tell you the identities of the parties to this case -- preferring to say things like, "the ACLU and other not-for-profit organizations."

Speaking of the ACLU, news surfaced following the ruling that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor may have been conflicted in this case to begin with.

You see, according to Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor serves as a secretary and trustee for a foundation that donated $45,000.00 to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. As stated above, the ACLU of Michigan was a plaintiff in the case.

As reported by CNSNews.com, "According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Taylor served as secretary and trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM) and was reelected to the position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website says the foundation made a 'recent grant' of $45,000 to the ACLU of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case."

And, here's what The New York Times editorial page -- another bastion of Liberalism and anti-Bush slant -- had to say this week about the possible conflict:

"'When Judge Anna Diggs Taylor was given the job of deciding whether the Bush administration's wiretapping program was unconstitutional, she certainly understood that she would be ruling on one of the most politically charged cases in recent history. So it would have been prudent for her to disclose any activity that might conceivably raise questions about her ability to be impartial. Regrettably, it was left to a conservative group, Judicial Watch, to point out her role as a trustee to a foundation that had given grants to a branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, a plaintiff in the case.' Judge Taylor's 'role at a grant-making foundation whose list of beneficiaries includes groups that regularly litigate in the courts is... disquieting...'"

It appears that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor was influenced more by political bias than the rule of law in ruling the intelligence program unconstitutional. And, her willingness to use her judicial seat to make a political statement and put the lives of all Americans at risk by ruling for a plaintiff that she supports financially is disgraceful.

What prompted this contemptuous dismissal of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's 43-page diatribe by legal writers and scholars?Here are three examples of her careless misrepresentations of the law.

In her opinion, Judge Taylor quotes extensively from a ruling in Zweibon v. Mitchell , even though the opinion she cites doesn't even address the same issue. She fails to note that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review -- the court established to oversee such matters -- states: in unambiguous language: "[A]ll... courts to have decided the issue, held the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information."

Let's read that again: "[A]ll... courts to have decided the issue, held the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information."
She also cites Justice Robert Jackson in Youngstown Sheet and Tube as an important precedent.

But wait a minute! She omits that portion of Justice Jackson's opinion in which he cautions that what he says applies ONLY to domestic cases.

In fact, courts since then have consistently ruled that the President HAS the power to collect foreign intelligence and neither Congress nor any court has the right to interfere.In U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Export (1936), the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the "...exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations -- a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress..." In over 150 subsequent cases, that opinion has been cited.

Actually, the judge's befuddled ruling would give foreign terrorists more rights -- under the Fourth Amendment -- than average American street criminals.

In 1968, the Warren Court, in Terry v. Ohio, softened the probable cause standard for police street frisks to reasonable suspicion.

In other words... the average policeman can rely on a concept as simple as suspicion to perform a "warrantless search."

Isn't it time to stop partisan judges from opening the doors for Islamic terrorists?

What Exactly Is Stopping Congress?

Probably the two biggest stumbling blocks to the passage of such legislation are (1) the pathological hatred that liberals feel toward President Bush and (2) the spinelessness of our so-called conservative leaders.
The liberals are crazed with Bush phobia. Lurching leftward, driven by hatred, they want to destroy him.

And we suspect that unconsciously many are so consumed with hatred that they honestly do not see that more terrorist attacks will be the natural consequences of their actions.

If Bill Clinton were in the White House, they would behave quite differently -- as indeed they did when Clinton sent troops to Eastern Europe. During World War II, the Roosevelt Administration suspended scores of civil liberties -- something the Bush administration has not done.

But now, in the middle of a dangerous War on Terror, liberals are so hell-bent on defeating the president, they are willing to compromise every single anti-terror tool that makes this country safer.

On the other hand, it would seem that conservative leaders are afraid of their own shadows and are all too willing to let liberals get away with it.

They have refused to dig in their heels and fix their bayonets.Now is the time to put a little steel in their backbones. Our very lives are at stake.

Isn't time to shut the mouths of the ideologues -- and the mouths of Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry, John Murtha, and all the other liberals on Capitol Hill who are willing to sell out their country in their quest for more political power?

The Last Laugh on Low-Fat Diets

From Bottom Line:
Who's got the last laugh now, thought all those french fry and cheese-loving folks when it was reported that low-fat diets have little or no effect on reducing the incidence of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer or colon cancer. While for years we've been lectured that for optimal health we must trim the fat from our diets, the latest results from the National Institutes of Health's Women's Health Initiative (WHI) suggested otherwise.

Needless to say, there is far, far more to this story than the media would have you believe.

So, is it safe to order cheeseburgers and french fries for dinner? Absolutely not, responds Udo Erasm
us, PhD, author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill (Alive Books). He told me that the real problem was that this study was very poorly designed. It looked at overall fat intake only, and failed to take into account the most important distinction -- there are good fats and bad fats.

The bad fats -- for example, include artery-clogging saturated fats found in foods such as bacon, sausage and burgers and trans fats in fries -- increase the risk of disease. On the other hand, our bodies require healthy fats (such as omega-3, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids) -- from foods such as seeds, nuts, avocados, olive oil and salmon -- simply to survive, let alone thrive.

Nearly 49,000 women around the country participated in the WHI clinical trial. At the start, all consumed at least 32% (or a mean of 38%) of their total daily calories from fat. The researchers asked 40% of the women to reduce their dietary fat to 20% of calories, and consume more grains, fruits and vegetables. The other 60% were not encouraged to modify their diets.

After one year, researchers found that women in the reduced fat group were only able to reduce their fat intake to 25% of total daily calories. After five years, this percentage crept up to 30%. The percentage of fat intake of the control group did not vary significantly over the years, with a mean of 38% at the beginning of the study and the end. However, whether or not women managed to cut fat from their diets turned out to be largely irrelevant. After an average follow-up of seven-and-a-half years, the dietary intervention had little or no impact on rates of disease.

These results, which earned big headlines in major newspapers and magazines, should really have come as no surprise, says Dr. Erasmus, since understanding the distinction between "good" fats and "bad" fats has been slow to reach mainstream medicine. As a result, the WHI study was fundamentally flawed from the outset in its emphasis on total fat intake alone.

It's time to stop demonizing fat, stresses Dr. Erasmus. Fat is a vital nutrient and the human body cannot survive without it. Healthy fats are required for normal cell, tissue and organ function, and it's dead wrong to equate "low-fat" and "no fat" with "healthy." In fact, to compensate for the loss in taste and texture that come with removing fat from foods, manufacturers simply load on other ingredients like sugar.

As a result, we consume more empty calories. As a population we are putting on excess pounds and developing more inflammation -- common denominators for health scourges such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

To restore a proper balance of good fats and bad fats in the diet, Dr. Erasmus recommends this simple strategy...

Eat less bad fats. Restrict saturated fats from meat and dairy products, and avoid trans fats -- found in foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as fast foods including french fries and processed foods such as commercially produced breads, baked goods, crackers, etc. The American Heart Association recommends that we get no more than 7% of daily calories from saturated fats and no more than 1% from trans fats.

Eat more good fats. Replace these bad fats with healthy essential fatty acids from cold water fish (such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring), nuts, seeds (flax, sesame, sunflower, etc.), and oils carefully pressed from organically grown seeds and stored under protection from light, oxygen and heat. According to Dr. Erasmus, a minimum of 15% of daily calories should come from healthy fats.

If you don't care for eating seafood or nuts, you can take supplements of omega oils. Best: An oil blend with an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 2 to 1.

Note: While cold water fish is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, Dr. Erasmus cautions that the presence of toxins has become a major concern. Recently he has cut back on salmon (his former favorite), and now leans more toward lower-fat alternatives such as sea bass, snapper and cod. To limit your exposure to toxins including dioxins and PCBs, choose wild rather than farmed fish whenever possible, and limit your consumption of fish to two or three times a week.

Dr. Erasmus also suggests eating more green vegetables as they help process the fats.

Health is not just the absence of disease, but the optimization of body processes like digestion and circulation, says Dr. Erasmus. This requires that we minimize our exposure to unhealthy fats, and make sure we incorporate sufficient essential fatty acids into our diets. It's not a simplistic formula as the NIH study would have you believe, but neither is it that complicated. Just lay off the red meat, milk shakes and processed foods, and instead enjoy a fresh avocado salad topped with a few strips of grilled wild salmon. Snack on a handful of walnuts instead of a bag of potato chips. Your body will thank you for making the switch from bad fats to healthful ones.

Gas' Round Trip

Posted 8/25/2006

Energy Policy: Gasoline futures, if you haven't noticed, are now 19% off their high — proving again that often the best thing the government can do in the face of a tight market is nothing.

At least, that's been our position through this energy crunch. Sure, tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if there's a short-term disruption in crude oil supplies. But there wasn't.

In fact, crude stocks on hand peaked in June at their highest in eight years. Now they're 2.3% above a year ago.

The temptations we were most afraid of were gasoline price caps and rationing. These have been tried in the past — most notably in the late 1970s. And they've always been a failure.

We predicted that the best way to get through the 2006 driving season in the face of low gasoline supplies and a chronic shortage of spare refinery capacity would be to allow the free market to do its thing.

It worked.

Labor Day is fast approaching, the traditional end to the summer driving season. How did we get through this mini-crisis? With flying colors.

Yes, gasoline broke new high ground. In Los Angeles, where IBD is based, we're still paying over $3 a gallon for the cheap stuff (though we're starting to see $2.95 at certain stations).

But the price of artificial caps would have been far higher: huge lines, shortages, a sense that we aren't in control.

Worse, price caps and rationing do nothing about the underlying problem.

Those who have to produce gasoline at ever-higher cost won't do so if they can't make money at it. The same is true of those who go out and find the oil we use to make gasoline in the first place. When caps and rationing are in place, firms invest less — so prices stay higher, longer.

Right now, gasoline refiners and oil producers have incentives to produce more when prices go higher — despite continuing regulatory hurdles imposed by government. That's why we're seeing prices break right now as the summer driving season ends.

Gasoline stockpiles are 2.7% higher than a year ago. That's still tight, as we weren't swimming in the stuff even then. But there's no shortage.

The Energy Information Administration reported gasoline stockpiles rose 400,000 barrels in the week ended Aug. 18. Market watchers expected a drop of 2.4 million.

We realize there are lots of potential bumps in the road ahead. We're entering hurricane season, and markets are jittery. A surprisingly cold winter could hit crude prices hard. So could bad news from Iran.

But there's a lot of oil and gasoline making its way to the market — even as consumers, faced with higher recent gasoline prices, begin to cut back their use.

Maybe soon we'll be able to hear that familiar American gas station refrain, "fill 'er up," without wondering if it will require a second mortgage to finance it.

New Dimensions On The Axis

Posted 8/25/2006

Geopolitics: As the world dithers on Iran and North Korea, two new threats are surfacing on the U.S. intelligence radar that underscore why the West must get tougher on rogue states.

Venezuela and Cuba, which seemed to campaign for it, finally won spots in the Axis of Evil when the U.S. Director of National Intelligence set up a mission manager to coordinate strategy on the two countries.

Venezuela and Cuba weren't even on our intelligence radar until 2005 or 2006. Only the most recent National Security Strategy listed Venezuela as worth watching because "a demagogue awash in oil money is undermining democracy and seeking to destabilize the region."

The new office signals the trouble seems to be spreading.

Venezuela's only other appearance on a National Security Strategy was 1997, when it was praised for being America's No. 1 foreign oil producer, cutting our dependence on Mideast crude. Along with the re-emergence of Cuba, it's a strong change.

The new U.S. intelligence office will collect and analyze data, fill intelligence gaps and implement strategies. What stands out is that only North Korea and Iran have equivalent offices.

At this point, it's hard to believe the aging dictatorship in Havana or the anarchic regime in Caracas could pose a threat to the U.S. on the scale of Iran or North Korea. After all, they're not Islamofascists, but advocates of a discredited socialist ideology.

Only through bribing other nations into alliances, through oil or free doctors, can they win influence. When the cash runs out and the doctors defect, their leverage will be gone.

But their alliance with Iran complicates things. Consider:

• The State Department has declared Cuba a state sponsor of terror. The Castro regime has extensive ties to Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and the Colombian narcoguerrillas, providing training, finance and safe haven.

• Cuba's had considerable intersection with weapons of mass destruction. In 2002 testimony to the Senate, the State Department's assistant secretary for intelligence and research, Carl Ford, said: "Cuba has provided dual-use technology to rogue states. Such technology could support bioweapons programs in those states."

• Cuba's been sharing its electronic expertise with Iran for years, and has vast intelligence networks in the U.S., along with a claque of more overt leftist supporters, all of whom can be activated to Iran's propaganda advantage.

• Cuba has a history of attempting to pull a nuclear trigger at the U.S., as it nearly did in 1962. Although Fidel Castro is out of commission, Cuba remains under the same leadership.


• Venezuela has been declared a noncooperating state in the war on terror and since May has been subject to a U.S. arms embargo. The U.S.' report on terrorism said: "President Hugo Chavez has persisted in public criticism of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, publicly championed Iraqi terrorists, deepened Venezuelan collaboration with such state sponsors of terrorism as Cuba and Iran, and was unwilling to deny safe haven to members of Colombian terrorist groups, as called for in U.N. resolutions."

In House testimony, the State Department's deputy coordinator for counterterrorism, Frank Urbancic, called Chavez's noncooperation on terrorism "near complete."

• Chavez has made Iran his closest ally outside Cuba, visiting the ruling mullahs five times in seven years and introducing anti-Semitism into his diatribes. Trade between the regimes has expanded to more than $1 billion from virtually nothing a few years ago.

Chavez denies he has plans for bringing nuclear weapons to Venezuela, but growing two-way trade, with no obvious economic benefit, provides cover to ship more lethal commodities. Meanwhile, Chavez stresses that North Korea and Iran have the right to "peaceful atomic activities" as counterweights to U.S. "hegemony."

• Chavez is leading a worldwide diplomatic effort to win a nonpermanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, spreading cash and aid, something he vows to use to help Iran and thwart the U.S. on Iran's nuclear program. Along with outliers Cuba and Syria, Venezuela refused to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council last February for sanctions.

• Chavez vows to cut off all oil exports to the U.S., 11% of our supply, if the West gets into a confrontation with Iran. "I stress herewith that, under whatever circumstances, we will always stand beside the Iranian nation," Chavez said from Tehran. " History has shown that as long as we stay united, we can remain resistant and defeat imperialism."

In short, Venezuela and Cuba are consolidating their common cause with Iran, significantly complicating the America's difficult bid to halt Iran's nuclear program.

Why is this happening? We think it's the hesitancy and inaction of the West to halt Iran's nuclear enrichment that's emboldening these non-Islamofascist, anti-American regimes.

Even without nukes, they amplify the militancy of the Iranians and North Koreans under the Third World rubric of "national self-determination." They also repeat the other rogue states' dissembling about their peaceful intentions and provide diplomatic cover for them at the U.N.

This growing alliance of anti-American enemies around Iran is a warning to us and our allies that either we take care of the problem in Iran now or our threats will multiply and grow closer.

Courage In Profiles

Posted 8/25/2006

Safety In The Skies: A passenger revolt on a British aircraft shows that if airport security doesn't use profiling, the potential victims of terror will. The danger lies in people and not the things they carry.

Perhaps with the recently foiled bomb plot to blow 10 trans-Atlantic airliners out of the sky freshly in their minds, passengers on Monarch Airlines Flight ZB 613 from Malaga, Spain, to Manchester, England, became uncomfortable when they heard two men of Asian appearance talking Arabic before the flight.

Passengers already aboard told the cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded the men be removed. Some stormed off the aircraft. Others refused to board. Police had to eventually escort the men off the aircraft.

On the surface this appears to be a combination of bigotry and unwarranted mass hysteria. But dig deeper and you find a growing resentment among airline passengers to the security hoops they are often forced to jump through while little or no attention is paid to who is really likely to attempt another 9-11.

It's correct to say not all Muslims are terrorists. But it's also true that nearly all terrorists have been Muslims, specifically young Middle Eastern males. In police work, this is not called profiling. It is called a description of the suspects. When you are mugged or robbed, the first thing you tell the police is what your assailant looked like.

All the Sept. 11 hijackers were young Muslim males. So were the July 7 London bombers and the Madrid train bombers of March 2004. When the British got wind of the latest plot, they didn't try to infiltrate Presbyterian churches, nor did they conduct surveillance of Scientologists from Sweden. And a lot of people are thankful.

All the participants in that plot were, well, you guessed it.

Critics of profiling like to point out that shoe bomber Richard Reid, although a convert to Islam who frequented a particular London mosque, and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh didn't fit the young Middle Eastern male "stereotype" of terrorists.

Nobody suggests that profiling should be the only factor in security or even the most important one. But it should be one of the factors, at least as important as confiscating everyone's hair gel and making passengers arrive three hours before flight time so their shoes can be electronically sniffed.

As Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute has written: "A stereotype in this case is nothing more than a compilation of facts about who has attacked American interests in the past and who, given what we know, is most likely to do so in the future."

Those who object to the use of profiling in the war on terror need to remember the terrorists are already using it — that is, any non-Muslim is a target. And if other Muslims are in the area, too bad. As columnist Kathleen Parker puts it, "Profiling isn't aimed at demonizing Muslims; it's aimed at saving lives, including Muslims."

Profiling is a tool — an important tool, but an imperfect one. It doesn't mean we should focus on one ethnic or religious group to the exclusion of others. It simply means common sense should sometimes trump political correctness.

And it means a 25-year old male from the Middle East may be subject to more scrutiny than an 85-year-old grandmother from Minnesota so that both can arrive at their destinations alive.

Axis Of Nukes

Posted 8/25/2006

Weapons Of Mass Destruction: In what should be a loud wake-up call for the U.S. and its allies, South Korea's defense minister says it's now likely North Korea has at least one nuclear bomb and maybe two.

Rogue regimes with nukes are no longer a hypothetical threat. They're all too real, and to stop the trend we have to do something other than talk.

Speaking to the media Thursday, South Korean defense chief Yoon Kwang-ung asserted there was no longer any doubt that North Korea had "one or two" nuclear weapons. There's also growing evidence, he said, that North Korea is readying its first nuclear weapons test.

This clearly demonstrates the failure of the Clinton-era policy of endless negotiations and lavish incentives as means for halting the spread of nuclear weapons.

As we now know, the North Koreans — right after agreeing with Clinton's special envoy Jimmy Carter to end their nuclear program in exchange for billions in aid and access to commercial nuclear technology — began cheating. Such was their contempt for Clinton, for Carter and for America's resolve to stop them. We talked, they built.

Today, North Korea has a weapon with which to threaten us and our allies — a weapon it should not have. And its Taepodong-2 missile potentially puts the weapon in range of the West Coast.

What now? Further negotiations don't hold out much prospect, since we appear to have given North Korea the greatest leverage a nation could have in security negotiations — nuclear weapons.

But if we do talk, we'd better be clear in what we say — and prepared to back it up. If we say it's "unacceptable" for North Korea to have weapons, it means talk must end. We can still take out its nuclear weapons, but not with diplomacy.

The mistakes we've made with North Korea hold important lessons for an even more serious problem: the burgeoning nuclear program under way in Iran, a program that probably will produce a nuclear weapon within a few years.

As we noted last week, a new report from the House Committee on Intelligence is sounding the alarm over the Iran threat. "Iran's support of radical Islamists with weapons and money demonstrates in real terms the danger it poses to America and our allies," said the committee's chairman, Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.

The report (at http://intelligence.house.gov/Media/PDFS/IranReport082206v2.pdf) is sobering. It outlines what we know of Iran's efforts to build a nuclear weapon — and the sophisticated missiles it's building to deliver them.

Its Shahab-3 missile already puts any Iranian nuke in range of Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, India and southeast Europe. Its next-generation missile — the 2,500-mile Shahab-4 — will be able to hit Germany, Italy and Moscow.

Iran's nuclear buildup continues apace. On Friday, an exile group that's provided accurate information in the past said Iran has 15 advanced P-2 centrifuges. These are four times more efficient than Iran's 164 older P-1 centrifuges and will speed Iran's attempts to turn uranium into fissionable, bomb-grade material.

Events are moving fast. Now that we have strong reason to believe North Korea — Iran's friend and partner — has a nuclear weapon, will we just stand by and let Iran have one too?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Why liberals are crushing dissent

Kevin McCullough

August 25, 2006 -- Liberals are actively undermining First Amendment rights to free speech by trying to crush opposing views.

Growing ever bolder in their naked grab for power they are leaving scorched earth behind those who disagree with them. This is why Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller no longer find themselves included in the modern Democratic Party. What is left over for the Democrats are wildly anti-American, anti-God and anti-biblical leftists who are now bragging about their use of brute force to crush the voices of those who disagree with them.

Perhaps that's why this week in one of the boldest moves yet by a sitting liberal, Democrat California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez proclaimed, "The real purpose of SB 1437 is to outlaw traditional perspectives on marriage and family in the state school system."

He continued, "The way you correct a wrong (perspective) is by outlawing. 'Cause if you don't outlaw it, then people's biases tend to take over and dominate the perspective and the point of view."

Nunez's solution to the people he disagrees with is to outlaw their ability to disagree with him.

And Nunez's viewpoint is one that pervades liberals in his party and in the nation. That is why Nunez and his fellow Democrats in the California State Assembly voted in unison to pass four bills that are all designed to punish people who disagree with them. To incarcerate someone for daring to criticize a different point of view – over a purely behavioral issue.

The bills in question have passed both houses and await Gov. Schwarzenegger's signature or veto. The bills were unanimously embraced by the Democrats and universally denounced by the Republicans.

What do they say?

These four bills would require that in every classroom from kindergarten through high school perverse sexual activity be praised and highlighted in a positive light. They would require textbooks, many of which would then also be produced for other states beyond the borders of California, make positive references to the ideas of men putting on women's under things. They would restrict school districts from being able to bar females from displaying dildos on the outerwear of their prom dress. And in functional sexuality courses from K-12, they would require positive explanation of the merits and instruction of anal intercourse.

These four bills are also dangerous in what they outlaw. No single teacher – not even in science classes – would be allowed to talk about the negative health impact of homosexual behavior. No school counselor would be allowed to confirm to a molested student that they felt wrong about continuing in a homosexual relationship that they were primarily drawn into because of earlier molestation to begin with. No mention of moral aspects of sexual behavior would be permitted unless immoral activity were praised and in fact referred to as moral.

In other words, the pushing of the sexual envelope would be unleashed with a nitro-fueled explosion the likes of which has never been seen in America's history.

One of the bills goes a step further. Its actual purpose is to cripple any state resources such as fire or police protection for any religious institution – i.e., a Bible-based church – that would in any way demonstrate negative "doctrine" or "propaganda." So if an arsonist (who also just happened to be a radical activist) decided to burn down a church that was in their view teaching the faithful interpretation of Scripture as it relates to sexual practice, then the local fire company could be barred from assisting in the recovery and protection of said facility.

So why are liberals going to such extremes to shut down and shut out any opposing view?

Because they are a stubborn and sinful people – people that are bent on reshaping a utopia that God did not design and one that will never exist.

Just because the entire world claims there is no God doesn't make Him disappear. Just because a majority of voters might even say that two men hooking up is the moral equivalence of marriage doesn't mean it is marriage.

Liberals are wracked with guilt because the conscience that God put inside of them has told them again and again that such things are wrong. But instead of choosing to change their view, they have instead chosen to crush anyone and everyone who would give support to the message that their heart already knows.

Without Judeo-Christian morals, there would be no society in place today that would have allowed freedom of speech. And as the moral framework of the Judeo-Christian society that America has always been is systematically being targeted for erasure, the little power mongers and dictators are already aligning to rule with absolute say.

Speaker Nunez's view to "outlaw traditional perspectives" is shocking in its blunt regurgitation. It is also, sadly, not new to the hard left in America. And without the power of debate, ideas and dissent it is being given a larger and larger place at the table.

So the godless have announced their intentions and now it is up to us to speak – while we still have voice. Call Gov. Schwarzenegger today at 916-445-2841 and ask him to protect free speech and perspectives of many sorts.

Moral guilt serves its purpose and the best way to rid one's self of it is to change behavior. To attempt to appease it by stifling those you disagree with will only cause it to grow.

What happens when the opposition is gone and the guilt still pervades?

Common sense has been telling us this for years – will we listen?

We Used To Attack Enemy Soldiers

Andrew Longman

August 25, 2006 -- Imagine, if you will, a June 1942 report asserting that hundreds of Germans, Italians, and Japanese were pouring across the Mexican border into the United States and some of them carried military patches affiliating them with special operations units from those countries.

Do you suppose the appropriate or actual response would have been to confer at some bureaucratic committee meetings? Do you suppose that liberal FDR would have proposed that maybe next year more money should be given to the sheriffs associations of Arizona, New Mexico, and California?

I don’t think so. Roosevelt would have had machine gun nests and artillery barrages up and down the border. It’s called war.

Fox News Channel has reported that large numbers of foreign nationals from Al Qaeda supporting countries are pouring across the Mexican border – where there is no military effort to stop them.

Think about how utterly stupid it is that in war time we cannot prevent enemy agents from crossing our borders into our country. Think how contemptibly stupid it is that the government cannot manage to deploy the Army to stop armed persons from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt from crossing into the United States by the hundreds or thousands.

Is anyone, anyone at all in the government, aware that we are fighting a war with hostile foreigners? Or is “war” such a euphemism now that it’s totally meaningless?

Think of the absolute irrational, untouchable, vapid arrogance which sits in Washington and argues over funding the sheriff’s association next year while armed special ops troops, helped by Mexican mercenaries, enter the country as saboteurs with machine guns to spread mayhem and havoc.

Think of how foolish it is that one party is in favor of funding the sheriffs next year and one party is against it – to propose sending the military to actually kill the enemy agents and stop the influx being ruled out before discussion even begins! (Neo-liberals are for the funding bill because they think it’s Omar Sharif’s association.)
Are we nuts?

What will the government’s response be to incoming nuclear missiles? To debate, on next year’s appropriations, whether funding should be raised by three percent for SDI? The “conservatives” being in favor and the “liberals” being against?

What will their response be to suicide nuclear truck bombings in American cities? To debate more or less two-percent money for paramedics and whether Congress should fund research into hot-bioactive-compresses?

What will their response be to war openly declared on the United States by Iran? To debate revoking Iran’s pending membership in the World Trade Organization and to consider legislation allowing civil suits against Iran to be renewed?

And when an entire Iranian expeditionary force numbering twenty thousand is in Nuevo Laredo, will Chertoff authorize an emergency twenty million for public prosecutors in a “get tough” policy?

Look, that isn’t a joke. It’s happening right now.

There is no such thing as an American army which defends the actual territory of the United States of America. We have Don Rumsfeld, commander of the US Expeditionary and Missile Forces. We have Michael Chertoff, head of FEMA and Acting Mayor of New Orleans. While there are military forts in the United States of America, don’t be confused by them. They are there strictly to support foreign operations and to shoot down missiles from Iran.

Iranian tourists or student-visa holders can visit them whenever they like.

Hey Bush: How many enemy agents having crossed the border will cause a military response from you?
One thousand a year is obviously OK because it’s being allowed right now. Five thousand Al Qaeda per month is obviously OK too. How about ten thousand Al Qaeda members per month? Let’s see, in ten months that would be enough troops to take over one hundred airports before anyone could do anything about it. Do you have a gut feeling about this yet Bushie?

(And anticipating your first question, no, the Maricopa County Sherriff is not a military institution.)
Folks, what is happening right now is: we are being infiltrated by thousands of enemy saboteurs getting ready to launch attacks on the USA all in the same day. They will detonate bombs, machine gun the police, assault Congress and the White House, and crash airplanes into buildings, while detonating nuclear weapons. They are going to go for it all. They are going to try to knock over the whole United States and raise an Islamic flag over Washington D.C. It is being orchestrated right under everyone’s noses and your government is sound asleep at the steakhouse.

Now suppose I am wrong, that none of this can be done, none could be attained. Precisely what portion of our government is preventing this from being done tomorrow morning with perfect ease?

Congress debates funding for the Sherriff, the President forbids the military from defending the border and points of entry, and the problem is defined as being overseas by millionaire, fat, senators who believe that the only thing at stake is a percent or two line item and Bush’s approval rating.

They are going to look really dumb when Osama bin Laden turns around in their limo wearing an LA Dodgers hat and says, “Where to?”

What’s it take to get you off your ambitious butt, “patriot” McCain? How many dead before the army’s on the border Rumsfeld? And how many cities in flames, Senator Clinton, before your chief job becomes defending the territorial integrity of the USA instead of just attacking American motives?

The Senators myopic account can view only their committee; Osama bin Laden paces back and forth eyeing Maricopa County.

But you know what? You steak-holders are not going to get a chance to revise your options plan because all the terrorists are going to attack on the same day, all at once, before you can figure out those vexing two percent appropriations.

This is your last chance to wake up.

Do something.


9-11 And Katrina: Disastrous Experiments In Liberalism

Christopher G. Adamo

August 25, 2006 -- In the next few weeks, two very notable dates will be observed. August 29 marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans. Less than two weeks following that will be the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Liberals are already engaging in an enormous amount of reflection. And they plan to do much more, but only if they can completely control the manner in which America recalls the original events. If they are successful, Republicans could take a major hit from the memorial.

But in truth, rather than run from the recollection of either incident, Republicans ought to loudly trumpet both in their true context, as grim reminders of the tragedy that can occur when America becomes too distracted from real dangers, whether natural or man-made, that it will regularly and inevitably face.

Neither situation could be characterized as totally unexpected. Rather, consistent warnings were voiced for years, and even decades, that such calamities would likely eventuate, and that the nation could best cope with situations of their nature by properly preparing in advance.

And in neither case was any such preparation made. The real root causes were those that resulted from the misguided devotion of liberal America to its agenda, which invariably benefits the liberal leadership at the expense of everyone else.

Furthermore, in both cases, all of the post-mortem “soul searching” has itself revealed that those chiefly responsible remain totally unrepentant, and are absolutely unwilling to rectify any contributing lapses, even if their obstinacy means leaving the nation highly susceptible to a recurrence.

Particularly in regards to 9-11, the recent exposure of a massive terrorist plot in England clearly indicates that the perpetrators of the 2001 attacks are indeed planning more strikes that would eclipse even the horrendous death and mayhem of that awful day. Yet liberal/Democrat finger pointing seems far more motivated by the anticipated fallout in the upcoming elections than by any concern for the safety of the American people.

Nor should the nation be anything but outraged at such transparent, politically motivated efforts as the so-called “9-11 Commission.” America cannot afford to be less than forthright in its efforts to determine and correct the grave security lapses that left it vulnerable to the plotting of the terrorists. Here again, another, far more sinister purpose drove certain of the commission’s members.

For starters, it was hopelessly tainted by the dubious participation of Clinton crony Jamie Gorelick, who quickly proved that her entire purpose was to deflect culpability from where it truly belonged, which was with the philandering and bungling actions of the Clinton Administration.

Throughout the 1990’s, the storm clouds of Islamism gathered, with occasional terrorist acts being mounted against the United States. Yet during that entire period, Bill Clinton’s main reaction to the looming threat was to determine how best to “spin” it for political gain.

In retrospect, this will be the grim reality of his “legacy.”

Thoroughly politicized though it may have been, as the commission proceeded in its work, it became apparent that the threats to America had not materialized overnight, and therefore could not be blamed on the fledgling Bush Administration or its new Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

Yet the effort was made to affix just such blame. As a result Ashcroft himself was called to testify. But rather than accepting the premise of his attackers and becoming defensive, he bluntly pointed to panel member Gorelick as the chief culprit in the bungling of intelligence. And no amount of criminal destruction of evidence by Sandy Berger will ever erase that truth.

Likewise, the Katrina fiasco ensued as a byproduct of previous and long standing bureaucratic corruption and incompetence, perpetrated with complete disregard for the very widely accepted knowledge that a large storm would eventually strike New Orleans.

In truth, the storm brought no surprises, except that during the time which should have been devoted to preparation, the New Orleans government misdirected funds and indulged itself in every luxury except that of shoring up its levees and infrastructure.

As a consistent liberal, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin steadfastly refuses to take responsibility for the fiasco that ensued. Instead, to this day he still makes excuses and blames others, even to the point of invoking the absolutely predictable “race card.” So nothing has changed. Sadly, owing to the willingness of that city’s residents to reelect Nagin, nothing will change.

Instead of righting such wrongs, the entirety of the supposed “fix” is as it always has been, demands for enormous sums of money with no accountability.

After months of corruption and scandalous misuse of emergency funds in the wake of the hurricane, it is glaringly obvious that New Orleans needs more such “aid” about as much as it needed more school buses. The problem prior to the storm was not financial, and it is not financial now.

Contrary to the media hype that has already commenced, and will undoubtedly continue as long as the left believes it can garner any political gain from either situation, Republicans have good reason to directly face them.

Together, they showcase the real results reaped from a shortsighted and self-serving approach to problems.
Despite all of their phony tears, “commiserating” political hacks on the left never intended to fix or address those problems either before or after thousands of Americans lost their lives.

Rather, they remain determined to empower themselves, ultimately at the expense of those whose interests they are sworn to serve. And if they regain their majorities in Congress this November, the nation can only expect more of the same.

Russia and the new energy-strategic alliance

by J. Christoph Amberger

With oil prices still above $70 a barrel, Russia is living high on the hog. The country’s gross domestic product grew 6.5% from January through July -- up from 5.6% last year, according to the Russian Economy Ministry.

For July, GDP growth came in at 7.4%. Growth projections for the calendar year remain unchanged at 6.6%.
But, unlike China -- or Germany, for that matter -- economic growth is not exclusively due to exports. Exports are balanced by increasing demand on the investment and especially the consumer markets.

Domestic consumption in particular was fueled by rising personal incomes -- up 16.9% and 11.2%in June and July, respectively. In fact, imports increased by 30-34% from May to July 2006, thanks to due to the real appreciation of the ruble against other world currencies (including the greenback) and increased consumer spending.

Russia now has a current account surplus of $88.3 billion from January to July 2006. The country’s gold and foreign currency reserves have increased by $83.46 billion from January to July 2006 -- that’s over four times more than in the same period last year.

-- Almost all this growth is due to oil money: Oil revenues now account for more than 50% of the government’s total receipts, and for more than a third of the country’s total export volume. The Kremlin has been spending the money wisely... it just paid off the entire debt it owed the Club of Paris members.

In fact, Russia is currently so successful that OPEC statistics indicate the country is currently beating the pants off the Arabs when it comes to oil production. It is extracting more oil than Saudi Arabia, which would make it the No. 1 producer of oil in the world.

(According to OPEC, Russia produced 9.236 million barrels of oil -- 46,000 barrels more than Saudi Arabia.) The only fly in the ointment: Russia’s oil industry is running close to capacity, with an upside of raising production by only 2% annually until 2009.

-- There are some more sinister aspects to this development.
W. Joseph Stroupe, of the Asia Times Online, writes today: “In essence, the circle defining international energy security is now being drawn. Inside the circle are those producer and consumer states whose political and geopolitical affinity for each other is the result of no mere chance occurrence and whose energy-security interests are being strategically served and addressed on both sides of the producer/consumer equation.
“Some of the economies of the West, such as Germany, are being included within the developing circle.

Outside the circle are those economies of the West that are to be left out of the growing international energy-security arrangements currently being constructed, as alluded to above.

Interestingly, and as a profound new development, it isn’t the United States that defines the path and scope of the circle. Instead, it is Russia and its strategic partners who are defining it.”

Which is what we have been saying for a long time.

Conservatism 101: A checklist

By William Rusher Townhall.com

In the last couple of decades, the conservative movement has grown so large, and subdivided into so many factions, that even discriminating observers can be forgiven for confusing one with another. Just who are these "neoconservatives," who are allegedly so influential in the Bush administration, and how do they differ from ordinary, garden-variety conservatives? Where did the "paleoconservatives" come from? What exactly do they stand for? I offer the following definitions to navigate through the swamps of terminology.

Back in the late 1950s, most of the conservative movement could and did meet for lunch in the company dining room of Bill Buckley's family oil business on East 37th St. in Manhattan. They were devout Cold Warriors and, in domestic affairs, were generally opposed to the steady growth of government. On both counts, they opposed the policies of the liberals, who ran the country. They called themselves, simply, "conservatives." No one rose to protest the term.

From the start, the conservatives recognized the existence of a group of country cousins who called themselves "libertarians." The libertarians had been around for a while. Their big obsession was government, which they wanted to keep as small as possible. The conservatives had considerable sympathy for this view, but thought there was more to conservatism than just that. Moreover, the libertarians' antagonism to government action kept them from endorsing wholeheartedly government measures needed to win the Cold War.

Things rocked along this way until the mid-1960s, when a small but influential group of liberals and leftists -- mostly New Yorkers -- got fed up with liberal acquiescence in the antics of the noisy New Left (especially in opposing the Cold War) and broke with liberalism altogether. This group, led by Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, long resisted being called conservatives, but eventually agreed to be described as "neoconservatives."

In the early 1970s, a group of young conservatives -- led by Paul Weyrich, Richard Viguerie and Howard Phillips -- began arguing that a large number of formerly Democratic blue-collar workers were ripe for recruitment by the conservatives on the basis of their social values (the family, etc.), which were under heavy attack from the left. They were labeled the "New Right," and their analysis was correct: In 1980, millions of former Democrats backed Reagan. Meanwhile, in 1978 a liberal move (subsequently abandoned) to eliminate the tax deductibility of religious schools soalarmed politically quiescent Christians that they organized themselves for political action. Thus was born the "Religious Right."

In or about 1986 (there is some dispute over the exact year), a group of conservatives who disliked the interventionist foreign policies and alleged indifference to big government that was being displayed by the neoconservatives, ferociously denounced them, loudly abandoned the conservative movement altogether, and called themselves "paleoconservatives." Most of their names are not nationally familiar, but Pat Buchanan probably belongs in (or somewhere near) this group, since he favors America First isolationism and trade protectionism (tariffs).

Finally, in 2000 Bill Kristol and a handful of younger neoconservatives began advocating a combination of a tough foreign policy and a lean, but muscular, domestic government that they have dubbed "national greatness conservatism." Just how far they will get, it is still too early to say. So there's a brief guide to the zoo that the conservative movement has become.

As for liberalism, far from proliferating, it is hanging on by its fingernails. Have you noticed that the liberals don't even have the guts to use the word "liberal" to describe themselves and their ideas? They prefer to use "progressive" instead. Well, who can blame them?

Thursday, August 24, 2006


by Justice Litle
Wouldn't it be nice if we could surf our way to energy independence?

Complete freedom from fossil fuels is a pipe dream - for the next few decades, anyway. But maybe we can get to a place of significantly less dependence on them. As demand relentlessly outstrips supply in the coming years, we'll have to cut back no matter what. It will merely be a question of how rough the ride turns out to be.

Going back to the surfing analogy, the basic ingredients of a good wave aren't hard to guess: wind, water and sun. There are interesting developments taking place in all three areas.

We'll start with wind. On June 28, at the 2006 Wind Power Asia exhibition in Beijing, China unveiled a major technological breakthrough: the first ever "Maglev generator," or permanent magnetic levitation wind power generator. The Maglev generator is expected to produce 20% more output than previous wind turbine designs, while cutting operating expenses in half - generating power in the range of five cents per kilowatt hour. The Maglev generator can also make use of significantly lower wind speeds than previous designs, likely due to the same frictionless operating principle that Maglev trains use to travel at more than 300 miles per hour. Lower wind speed requirements mean the new turbine can be deployed effectively in far-flung rural areas, and the vastly improved economics make it a competitive alternative to fossil fuels. As a side benefit, the breakthrough gives China new incentive for respecting intellectual property rights, as it now has some highly valuable IP of its own to export.

Back in the United States, General Electric has partnered with the U.S.

Department of Energy to develop a crop of giant new wind turbines over the next three years. At up to seven megawatts, the new turbines will be almost twice as powerful as existing ones, each one capable of powering a thousand homes. At 95 meters, these monsters are as tall as a football field, and destined to get larger over time. As the turbines grow in size, however, the problem of "visual pollution" becomes more acute. East Coasters don't like having their ocean views ruined by ugly structures too close to shore.

The solution? Tow the suckers out to sea, where the wind is better anyway. The MIT Technology Review reports:
MIT researchers recently demonstrated the feasibility of "tension-leg" platforms, a technology that oil companies have recently adopted for deep-water rigs. The wind turbines and towers would be assembled at a shipyard and placed on top of large floating cylinders. The canisters would be ballasted on the bottom with high-density concrete to keep the structure from tipping over, and the whole turbine assembly would be tugged out to sea.

There, four steel cables would be attached to the platform, anchoring it to the sea floor. First, though, some water would be allowed into the cylinder, causing the structure to sink more into the water. Once the cables are attached, the water is pumped back out again, allowing the turbine to rise, tightening the cables and preventing the turbine from bobbing up and down, yet allowing some lateral movement that would help cushion the impact of storm waves on the tower. (The blades themselves would be high enough to avoid even waves from hurricanes.)

Two of the biggest challenges for this out-to-sea approach will be maintenance and durability. The turbines will have to be incredibly durable to endure the regular battering they will take from wind and waves. Sending out a repairman will be no small task. But Jim Lyons, the leader of Advanced Technology for GE's Wind Energy Division, believes wind could handle 20% of U.S. energy needs - as much as nuclear power handles today.

Other alternative energy companies are less focused on the wind and more interested in the waves. Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), the first ever wave-power company to list on the London Stock Exchange, has focused on perfecting a remarkably straightforward concept. OPT's "PowerBuoy" system utilizes a piston that moves up and down with the waves, as if the sea itself were turning a hand crank. The piston is connected to a generator, which, turned by the movement of piston, generates electricity and stores it in a battery.

The buoy concept carries great advantage in its simplicity. More complex wave-energy devices have typically proven to be not durable enough, or vulnerable to storms; making them "sea-proof" was cost prohibitive. OPT claims its low-impact PowerBuoy setups can last in the open sea for decades, thanks to simplicity of design and special sensors that constantly monitor the ocean environment for changing conditions. In the event of rough waters, the PowerBuoy can suspend operations and disconnect itself, resuming operations when wave conditions return to normal. OPT has wave-power stations off the coasts of Spain, France and Hawaii, and will soon be embarking on its first project for the United Kingdom, a 5MW (five
megawatt) installation off the north coast of Cornwall. For this project, 30 separate PowerBuoys ranging in capacity from 150-250 kilowatts each will be deployed in 2007 and 2008.

Last but not least, alternative energy life is stirring in the sun-baked deserts of Southern California, with the help of an ingenious 19th-century concept. Two major utility companies, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric, are working with a Phoenix company, Stirling Energy Systems, to harness the power of the California sunshine. It is said to be the biggest solar effort in the world so far - bigger than all other solar projects in the U.S. combined. After a period of testing and scaling, production is slated to begin on the larger of the two planned sites in 2008. Upon completion, the new Mojave Desert facility should produce a whopping 500 megawatts of electricity per day by 2012, enough juice for 250,000 homes. And it will be done without solar panels.

The nearly 190-year-old technology being employed for the project is the Stirling engine (for which Stirling Energy Systems is named). Invented in 1816 as an alternative to the dangerous steam engines of the day, which had the annoying tendency of exploding every now and then - the Stirling engine contains a sealed gas - in this case, hydrogen. Piston movement is generated by heating the hydrogen and forcing it to expand through hot and cold heat exchangers. For the 500MW site, the sun will be precision-tracked by 20,000 swiveling mirrored dishes spread over 4,500 acres, each of them 38 feet in diameter and reflecting their intensely concentrated rays into a powerful heat source for thousands upon thousands of Stirling engines. The setup is expected to convert 30% of the sun's available energy into electricity, which is an efficiency rate double or triple that of present-day solar panels.

These examples only scratch the surface; there are too many initiatives and innovations under way to mention even a fraction of them all. Common themes are cost of manufacturing, ease of maintenance, durability and efficiency. All these elements are improving as our knowledge increases and technology marches forward. Of course, we will not be spared the harrowing effects of Peak Oil in the meantime. The transition from traditional fossil fuels threatens to be drawn out, messy and painful, as we have already seen.

But there is still some great alternative surf out there, and a better world waiting when we make it through the bottleneck.