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,

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gore's Prize

From today's S&A Digest:

Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize today, for his "work" on Global Warming. Ha, ha, ha. Try not to strain anything laughing too hard. Remember: These are the same Swedes who gave their peace prize to Yasser Arafat.

No, I'm not surprised that the Nobel committee fell for Gore's flimflam. "Global warming" is the perfect political problem. No one can observe it directly, we can only see what people claim are its results – a perfect set up for politicians. It's a global problem that no one can see or measure. So there's no limit to the things that politicians can blame on global warming, no end to the "crisis," and no limit to what government can demand of us to solve it. The only good news is that your sons are extremely unlikely to be drafted into the Army to fight it... but I'm sure that won't stop people like Al Gore from trying.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Quote of the Day

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed $5,000 be given to every baby born in the United States. Remember when politicians used to just kiss babies? Now we gotta pay them off too.

-Jay Leno

Do We Want Another 9/11?

Washington Insider with Ronald Kessler

In their efforts to demonize the American intelligence community, Democrats and the media are playing with our safety.

The latest example is the way these critics are minimizing and distorting warnings from Mike McConnell, director of National Intelligence, about how defenseless America would become if warrants were required to intercept terrorists’ calls and e-mails even when those communications are in foreign countries.

The issue should not be controversial. Going back to the founding of the National Security Agency in 1952, the government could intercept calls and e-mails of targets situated in foreign countries without a warrant. But because most such communications now pass through U.S. switching systems in fiber optic cables, a Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA) court judge ruled on May 31 that intercepting such communications requires a court order.

Obtaining a FISA court order requires an average of 200 man hours of preparation. Often, people who speak Arabic, Farsi, or Urdu have to be pulled off tracking leads to possible plots to help prepare the applications. Moreover, by the time an order is obtained for a new targeted phone number, the call is finished.

Because of the ruling, tens of thousands of calls and e-mails were not being examined. Any one of them could have contained clues to an al-Qaida plot to detonate nuclear devices in Manhattan and Washington. As FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has told me, these are al-Qaida's twin goals.

In August, Congress — over the objections of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi — voted to continue to allow intercepts of calls based in foreign countries without
the need for a warrant. But already, Pelosi and other Democrats have vowed to gut that law, called the Protect America Act, before it expires on Feb. 5.

To illustrate the need for an extension of the revision, Director of National Intelligence McConnell recently cited a delay “in the neighborhood of 12 hours” to obtain a warrant under the emergency provision of FISA. The warrant was to listen to calls made last May by insurgents who captured American soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. The bodies of some of those captured have since been found; the other soldiers are presumed dead.

That example should have been enough to put the issue to rest. What could be more absurd than having to obtain a warrant to listen to conversations of foreign insurgents? But Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, accused McConnell of trying to “politicize the debate” over electronic surveillance by citing the soldiers’ case.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a Texas Democrat who heads the House Intelligence Committee, blamed government officials, not the law. Reyes claimed an emergency request under FISA should take “only a few minutes” and “one call.”

When McConnell subsequently released a time line showing that the delay in obtaining a warrant was nine and a half hours, the press pounced. The Washington Post ran a story focusing on the difference between McConnell’s initial rough estimate of the delay to obtain an emergency warrant and the more precise time line he later released.

“Iraq Wiretap Delay Not Quite As Presented,” the headline over the story said. “Lag Is Attributed to Internal Disputes and Time to Reach Gonzales, Not FISA Constraints.”

The story claimed that the delay of nine and a half hours was caused “primarily by legal wrangling between the Justice Department and intelligence officials over whether authorities had probable cause to begin the surveillance.”

The delay included “nearly two hours” spent trying to reach then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was speaking to U.S. attorneys in Texas, to obtain authorization of the emergency application, the story said.
In what has become standard practice in the mainstream media, the Post buried the Justice Department’s response that the case “presented novel and complex issues that we had to resolve” in the 11th paragraph of the story.

In fact, based on the original intent of FISA, since the communications were in a foreign country, no warrant should have been required in the first place. The point of revising FISA was to make that clear so that such calls could be intercepted instantly. But since the revision had not been passed last May and the communications happened to be routed through the U.S., authorities were obliged to carefully line up the facts and examine all the legalities before applying for an emergency authorization.

If, as Reyes claimed, that process normally took only a few minutes and one phone call, it would be a sham exercise. Moreover, the time required to obtain authorization from officials like Gonzales under emergency conditions only underscores why tolerating such onerous legal procedures when Americans’ rights are not at stake is foolhardy.

Rep. Holt’s claim that McConnell was politicizing the issue by presenting a case history has become a standard tactic of many Democrats. If intelligence officials like Mike McConnell or military officers like Gen. David Petraeus cite evidence to back up their case, they are accused of either being pawns of the White House or of using scare tactics.

The Washington Post’s story illustrates how the media undermine the war on terror by obscuring the truth. In highlighting a difference of two and a half hours between McConnell’s rough estimate of the delay compared with the actual duration of the delay, the paper sought to undermine McConnell’s credibility.

The problem was not “legal wrangling,” the term the Post chose to apply to legal deliberations. The problem was that FISA had not kept up with technological changes and needed to be revised to make it conform to its original intent.

If al-Qaida succeeds at its goals, it could literally wipe out millions of Americans and institute a nuclear winter. Yet between the Democrats’ efforts to handcuff those who are trying to protect us and the mainstream media’s efforts to malign those officials and distort the truth about the issues we face, we as Americans are at the mercy of people bent on committing suicide.

Osama bin Laden, known to follow the media closely, has to be laughing.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of NewsMax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail.
Go here now.

Greenspan Was Never a Republican — He Was an Opportunist

Greg’s Note: Was Greenspan a Republican? Or did he lean to Democrat? Fred Sheehan scathes these two questions below.

Whiskey & Gunpowder October 5, 2007By Fred Sheehan

Braintree, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has discovered the Republicans fall short of his standards. He is finding it difficult to break a smile on his The Age of Turbulence publicity tour.

Greenspan “glumly” told The New York Times he is “very disappointed” with the Republicans.
They ran an out-of-control budget. (In that, he is right.) “They swapped principle for power.” Greenspan expressed “remorse” that the Republicans followed his advice to lower taxes in 2001. They should have placed “safeguards against surprises.”

The real problem was Congress. It did not place safeguards around Alan Greenspan. Despite the common claim that he has been a “life-long Republican,” he was never anything of the sort. He has been a lifelong opportunist.

In February 2000, the last year of the Clinton administration, Greenspan appeared before the Senate Banking Committee. He recommended the government use the federal budget surplus to pay down the national debt.

The chairman amplified: “The growth potential of our economy under current circumstances is best served by allowing the unified budget surpluses…to materialize, thereby reduce Treasury debt held by the public.” Meaning: We should direct budget surplus dollars to reduce the federal debt. (This is accomplished by government-initiated purchases of U.S. Treasury securities.) The salient circumstance was that Clinton was not proposing a tax cut.

One year later, Greenspan worked for new management — the Bush administration. President Bush wanted a tax cut to kick off his tenure.

Greenspan marketed the tax cut as fiscally responsible, given recent surpluses. His advice was rendered on Jan. 25, 2001, to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget.

The Wall Street Journal reported the next day: “Giving a big boost to President Bush, Chairman Alan Greenspan reversed his long-held view and said he now sees room for significant tax cuts in the federal government’s financial future…. [O]ver the coming decade, the latest budget surplus numbers show not only room for reductions, but even a need.”

The New York Times on the same day: “Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, gave his blessing today to a substantial tax cut…. In a clear shift from his previous position that reducing the national debt should be the focus of fiscal policy, Mr. Greenspan said improvements in the economy’s long-term potential and the swelling surplus projections had ‘reshaped the choices and opportunities before us.’”

In his testimony, Greenspan expressed concern “that continuing to run surpluses beyond the point at which we reach zero or near-zero federal debt brings to center stage the critical longer-term fiscal policy issue of whether the federal government should accumulate large quantities of private (more technically nonfederal) assets.”

Of the 10,000 most likely problems the government should consider, this was not one of them. Over $5 trillion in the hole, the possibility of eliminating the federal debt ranked behind that of Venus crashing into Mars. (In January 2001, the Congressional Budget Office had projected the federal budget surplus would reduce the government debt by $5.6 trillion over the next 10 years. This gem of infinite interpolation gave Greenspan the cover he needed. In 2002, the CBO reduced its surplus estimate by $5.3 billion.)

Whether his audience scratched their heads at Greenspan’s flight of fancy, another statement should have awakened their curiosity. Greenspan prefaced his tale of woeful surpluses by discussing “recent projections… [which] make clear that the highly desirable goal of paying off the federal debt is in reach before the end of the decade.

This is in marked contrast to the perspective of a year ago, when the elimination of the debt did not appear likely until the next decade.” The Nasdaq had fallen 43% from its March 10, 2000, peak. Tax revenue had risen from 12.5% of personal income to 15.4% during the boom years. In 2000, this 2.5% increase equaled $237 billion — precisely the same as the total 2000 budget surplus.

It suited Greenspan’s purposes to express mystification during testimony: “We still do not have a full understanding of the exceptional strength in individual income tax receipts during the latter 1990s.”

Greenspan could not have been blind to the source of the budget surpluses: capital gains, exercised stock options, and bonuses. These tributaries had dried up. Without these flows, his fear of paying down the national debt, or even running a balanced budget, made no sense. And while Alan Greenspan could claim that paying down the debt was a bad thing, it is a tribute to the man that his audience accepted such a silly pretense approvingly.

The Greenspan campaign for renomination in 2004 kicked off its media blitz on Feb. 11, 2003.

The Boston Globe reported that Greenspan viewed Bush’s (new) tax cut plan with a chilly reception: “Greenspan… used the opportunity to admonish the federal government for losing its ‘fiscal discipline.’” In the chairman’s words, a “return to fiscal discipline should be instituted without delay.”

That was the stick; on Feb. 12, Greenspan offered Bush the carrot. The Wall Street Journal reported: “Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan muted his initially chilly reception of President Bush’s tax cut plan, offering more praise for eliminating taxes on dividends and playing down the near-term consequences for the federal deficit.” (Emphasis added.) President Bush announced that he would reappoint Greenspan for a fifth term on Feb. 22.

On April 30, mission accomplished and Bush now bound by the reconfirmation, the chairman slithered back: “Alan Greenspan…told Congress today that the economy was poised to grow without further large tax cuts, and that budget deficits resulting from lower taxes without offsetting reductions in spending could be damaging to the economy.

Opponents of the large tax cut favored by President Bush took Mr. Greenspan’s testimony as support of their position.” (Emphasis added.) The dissembling was obvious; yet no one questioned Greenspan’s motives.

On April 21, 2005, the chairman’s bewildering tax and federal budget advice came full circle. At a Senate Budget Committee meeting, Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes of Maryland pursued a ragged thread in the Greenspan tapestry. The senator contended that Greenspan’s endorsement of the president’s 2001 tax cut was the “green light” that George Bush needed.

Greenspan replied that he had not “specifically” endorsed the tax cut plan. The chairman claimed: “You will not find anywhere in the public record that I supported the [2001] tax cut.”
the Jan. 25, 2001 speech today (available for anyone to judge on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Web site), his support is obvious. He was rooting for a tax cut.

This civil servant had made false assertions to the people’s elected representatives before. When a vote to balance the budget loomed early in Clinton’s presidency, Greenspan said a Fed study showed a balanced budget would reduce interest rates. The Fed had conducted no such study.

Greenspan testified to Congress in 1993 that tapes of Federal Open Market Committee meetings were destroyed after summaries were written. Thus, no transcripts existed. He later admitted to Banking Committee Chairman Henry Gonzales that he had known for years transcripts were kept, but only remembered when a “senior staff member jogged my memory in the last few days.”

Back to Sarbanes, Greenspan deflected the criticism with a tried-and-true tactic: flattery.

Greenspan revealed “an alternative program of tax cuts and spending increases then proposed by the Democratic Party’s leadership would have achieved the same desired reduction in surpluses.” Now we have it. He had not specifically endorsed the Bush tax cut.

Yet he also told Sarbanes that he, “like many economists,” had been wrong about the surpluses he warned of in 2001. So why was he endorsing the Democrat’s program if he had been wrong about the motivation for promoting a tax cut? We will never know. Greenspan had triumphed once again using another tried-and-true tactic: confusion.

In The Age of Turbulence, Greenspan praises Bill Clinton and criticizes George Bush. This has been good publicity for his book, but misdirected. He is not turning his back on the Republican Party; Greenspan’s only allegiance is, as it has always been, to himself.

Fred Sheehan