26 May 2009

Al Qaeda Kidnaps TOTUS!

The People's Cube has just broken this story!

In an audacious raid Friday, al-Qaeda terrorists managed to slip past White House security and seize President Obama's teleprompter. Their demands were released in a grainy video, which apparently showed the president's teleprompter, bound and blindfolded but unharmed, while heavily armed masked men stood behind it, quoting from the Qur'an. The content of their demands is not being released.

President Obama, visibly shaken, attempted to address the White House press corps on his own. "Words, uh, um, I, uh, heh-heh, well..."
h/t: jawa

21 May 2009

Terrorists Neither Innocent nor Victims

I'm sure you're aware of former VP Dick Cheney's address to AEI today. I've attached the video in its entirety below. It's about 35 min long, but I think it is well worth the time to watch (I say that a lot, don't I?). TWS has a copy of the transcript here.

Just a couple of thought-provoking quotes from the speech:
The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn’t invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the American people.

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.
Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.

By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to know. We’re informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.

Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.

Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “Truth Commission.” Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.
Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about “values.”
And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are – or what they would do if we let them loose.
This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.
Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.

I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations – and I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration – the missing 26 words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” End of quote.

Utah Representin'

Just wanted to send a holla' out to this kid from Sandy, Utah. Way to represent my hometown.

An 11-year-old boy got slimed on his birthday.

Fin Keheler allowed 43 snails to be put on his face for 10 seconds in a gross effort to surpass the Guinness World Record of 36 set in 2007.

Friends and family helped Fin, of Sandy, Utah, make his four attempts at his birthday party Saturday.

He broke the record with 38 on the third try, but faced off with the slimy mollusks gathered from a neighbor's garden for a fourth attempt.

His family submitted video and witness statements to Guinness for verification.

Fin explained his technique.

"I closed my eyes and covered up my mouth with ... well, I sucked my lips in so that they could crawl on that."
Yup. This is why I'm proud to say I'm a Utahn. Out.

18 May 2009

Sensible Global Warming Expert?

No, dear reader, you did not misread that headline. And no, I did not mistype. I believe I've stumbled across the first and only sensible global warming "expert" on earth.

Most of you should know my stance on the myth of "global warming" by now. Let me be clear. I fully support maintaining a clean environment, reducing pollutants, increasing energy efficiency, etc. But I wholeheartedly denounce the concept that humans possess the ability to significantly alter the climate of the earth through things like CO2 emissions, and that we should destroy our economies in pursuit of the ethereal and vague definition of "earth-friendly." Just for fun, let's review one of my favorite climate-related graphs, reflecting actual scientific research, not just speculation.

This graph shows virtually no correlation between temperatures and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but a very good correlation between earth temperatures and a little something I like to call THE SUN!!!!! Sorry for shouting. I just wanted to make sure we're all on the same page.

So I stumbled across this article in Barron's today. It's an interview with Bjorn Lomborg (don't feel bad, I had no idea who he was either), who is apparently a global warming "expert." In fact, the UK's The Guardian has called him one of the "50 people who could save the planet." I guess he's like Superman, only instead of synthetic spandex he wears a bamboo jumpsuit. Surprisingly, though, Lomborg feels the same way I do about the upcoming climate change summit to be held in Copenhagen in December.
The participating nations will again agree to spend quite a bit of money to cut carbon emissions and again achieve virtually nothing. We already tried that twice -- in Rio in 1992, and in Kyoto in 1997. Both of these treaties failed. We will see a lot of posturing, but presumably this isn't about having a lot of environmental ministries or even presidents and prime ministers come out and claim credit for making costly commitments that we won't be able to live up to, and which would barely make a dent in the problem anyway. When I first started in the global-warming debate, I was struck by the fact that the world was going to pay $180 billion a year for a protocol that could at best reduce the temperature by 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century. The U.N. estimates that for less than half that amount, we could provide clean drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care and education to every single human being on the planet. The same warped sense of priorities will continue to bedevil us this December in Copenhagen.
He also had this to say about taxing carbon emissions, cap-and-trade, and the like.
The main difficulty with global warming is that fossil fuels are not only fairly cheap, they also make this world so rich and so good to live in by providing us with all the amenities that we see around us: light, heat, the ability to propel ourselves to many different places. So we aren't going to give up fossil fuels without having a great alternative. Right now there is no good alternative to fossil fuels...Everybody seems to be saying, let's make carbon-emitting fossil fuels so expensive, nobody will want to use them. But that is bound to fail.

Cap-and-trade is essentially a system for trading permits to emit gases, like carbon dioxide, that are blamed for global warming. The problem is that it makes possible immense amounts of gaming the system through political lobbying. Because typically, most of these permits are given away, which is one of the big things the Obama Administration is talking about right now. The companies that had the most benefit from Kyoto in Europe were the energy companies. That is because, at least for the first three or four years, these companies got all the permits to pollute, but the companies still charged their customers -- me and everybody else. So they made tens of billions of euros each year from climate-change policies. Not surprisingly, they are very much in favor of these policies, but it doesn't mean that they are smart policies.

That sums up the carbon tax/cap-and-trade issue as succintly as I've heard any progressive or conservative do yet. Then Lomborg gets asked this idiotic question: "But isn't it smart to prevent global warming as soon as possible -- to avoid seeing Manhattan under 20 feet of water in ten years?" Seriously? I would love to see the scientific data that supports that. Here is his response.
That makes for vivid imagery, but it isn't what the science is telling us. According to the thousands of scientists the U.N. asked to evaluate the data, the sea-level rise between now and 2100 will be somewhere between six inches and two feet -- not 20 feet -- with most estimates around one foot. Now, we have already seen a foot of sea-level rise over the last 150 years, so it will be a bit faster by 2100. But it certainly gives you perspective. Was the 20th century marked particularly by the fact that the sea level rose? Well, there were two world wars, the suffrage of women, the internal-combustion engine, the IT revolution -- and the sea level rose. Let's hope the 21st century sees no world wars, but do you think the sea-level rise will be any more important? That doesn't mean it isn't a problem, but it's a problem we can deal with...And if it really were true that Manhattan will be 20 feet underwater in 10 years, there would be no time to reverse global warming anyway.
The fact that he sites UN scientists and estimates as grounds for refuting that claim is great, considering that most UN climate change estimates are politically charged fodder for the liberal/progressive movement. So if the UN estimates debunk that assumptions, you can rest assured that actual scientific data will be even more convincing. Lomborg goes on to trash anti-capitalist/free market concepts of environmental protections.
The United Nations science consensus expects temperature increases of three to seven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, which the world can deal with, especially if the world is allowed to grow richer between now and then...We do know that rich, well-structured, robust societies deal much better with catastrophe than weak, poorly structured societies. We also know the way to build those societies isn't to cripple the global economy by forcing it off fossil fuels before viable alternatives are available. Meanwhile, three-fourths of the world's people live in abject poverty, while some sit and fret about the possible end of the world in 100 years. For too many of those others, the world ends tomorrow.
Once again, he does a nice job of putting the "climate crisis" in perspective. He also addresses the issues of increased climate-related deaths by saying, "While warming will mean about 400,000 more heat-related deaths globally, it will mean 1.8 million fewer cold-related deaths." But he also states that those numbers are based off of the only study that has been done on that particular issue. He advocates more sensible measures to control temperature-related deaths, like planting trees and increasing access to water supplies, instead of reducing CO2 emissions, which would have virtually no effect. Lomborg then addresses the concern that many environmentalists have about the effects of global warming on our oceans' marine life.
There is some validity to that concern. But the claim that this could be catastrophic for marine life seems greatly exaggerated, since we know there have been vastly higher carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere some 50 to 500 million years ago, at a time when the ocean was very rich in marine life. And even if we imagine such a catastrophe could happen, let's get a grip on its human impact. We get about 1% of our calories from the seas and about 5% of our protein.
He also explains why what he is saying is so contradictory to everything you see and read in the media.
Well, there are several reasons. It is partly because they don't read the U.N. reports, which on many of these issues confirm what I am saying very clearly. And since the sensational always goes over better than the merely sensible, stories in the media play into the stereotype of global warming.
And last of all, he takes a quick jab at Al Gore.
Al Gore talks about global warming as our generational mission. He asks how we want to be remembered by our kids and grandkids. Well, why would anyone want to be remembered for having spent $180 billion to do virtually no good a hundred years from now, when less than half that sum could fix virtually all major problems today? With better information, most of us would have no difficulty choosing how we want to be remembered.
Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of issues on which I disagree with Lomborg (principally, the fact that global warming is a significant problem), but I fully respect his right to his own opinion. What is admirable about his view is that it is based in reality and hard facts, unlike that of most eco-nuts.

And maybe that's why I'm so drawn to this article. I think that we, in general, and Americans in particular, have lost the ability to come to rational, reasonable conclusions that are not emotionally charged (i.e. tree sitters). We have forgotten what it is like to work toward a common goal, even if we have different paths to get there. This is true now, more than ever, in the political realm, as well. Republicans and Democrats are in a power tug-of-war, each pulling in the opposite direction of the other. And those few politicians who are working toward a common goal are striving for something completely undesirable, and wholly independent of the needs and wishes of their constituency. Like SOCIALISM.

As Americans, we need to get back to the basics of cooperation. What are the things we have in common? We all want what's best for our family, financial security, high quality of life, to help those less fortunate, etc. We just may have different ideas on how to get there. And that's ok. In fact, that's healthy. The achievement of each of these goals is not a zero-sum game. It is possible to help the needy without bankrupting our country. We can obtain individual financial security while still helping our neighbors. We can preserve our natural resources without committing economic suicide through unsustainable eco-initiatives. What the world needs is more people like Bjorn Lomborg. People who hold firm to their beliefs, regardless of their popularity, but understand the importance of cooperation and seeing the whole picture. No, I don't agree with everything that Mr. Lomborg believes. But I firmly believe we need people like Lomborg to balance the scale of opinions and policies. We can all benefit from a little constructive dissent.

08 May 2009

Crayons Cure Jihadism!

ABC's Jake Tapper (the same correspondent that reported on the latest development in the Pelosi-waterboarding scandal), reports that the Obamanation finally has a solution about what to do with the Gitmo detainees.
This morning in Riyadh, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he spoke to Saudi Assistant Minister of the Interior Muhammed bin Nayaf about sending the roughly 100 Yemeni detainees currently in the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia to the Saudi government's rehabilitation program for jihadis.
How wonderful! These poor, misguided, terrorists can now attend the equivalent of a drug rehab program and be back on the streets after completing 12 easy steps that include psychological counseling, art therapy, sports and lessons in Islam.

So how carefully was this plan thought through by the Obamanation? About as carefully as it has vetted Obama's cabinet nominees.
Asked if, once through the program, the Yemenis would remain in Saudi Arabia and be monitored by Saudi authorities, Gates said, "I think that's further down the road than we went. It really was about getting them into the program, not getting them out."
I know what you are thinking at this point: what could possibly go wrong here? But before your unadulterated elation carries you away into a blissful state of nirvana, consider this: eleven out of the 85 most wanted terrorists in Saudi Arabia were former Gitmo detainees that went through this rehab program.

Check out this short documentary conducted by PBS on the rehab program. And yes, the reporter actually says, "Men who once set out to fight the infidel are now working out their problems with paper and crayons." Yup. This plan is definitely foolproof.

Also note that one of the "former" terrorists who's encouraged to abandon IEDs for crayons was responsible for murdering 12 civilians in Iraq in a failed suicide attack (he survived after being thrown from the fuel truck he blew up). Asked by the PBS reporter what it's like to have their deaths on his conscience, the terrorist replied, "It wasn't my fault. It's the fault of the people who planned the plot."

You betcha. I definitely feel safer knowing he's given up his Kalashnikovs for crayons.

Shocking Update: Nancy Pelosi Lied!

Remember this statement from Pelosi regarding her alleged knowledge about waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques?

Just in case you're hard of hearing, she said "We were not...let me repeat, not told that waterboarding, or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods, were used." That sounds almost as convincing as Rafael Palmeiro's vehement denial of steroids use. "I have never used steroids. Period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never." We know how that story ended.

So it should come as no surprise now that the evidence is mounting against Pelosi's version of the truth. Porter Goss, the ranking Republican on the House committee at the time, distinctly remembers being briefed, along with Pelosi, on not only the existence of waterboarding, but that it was being used in interrogation sessions. "We were briefed, and we certainly understood what CIA was doing. Not only was there no objection, there was actually concern about whether the agency was doing enough."

The Washington Post ran a story in 2007 that described a virtual tour that Pelosi and 3 others were given of the detention center, including the harsh interrogation techniques being used.
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

“The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,” said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.
And then ABC, of all people, broke this story yesterday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office and obtained by ABC News.

The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosi’s statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics. Instead, she has said, she was told only that the Bush administration had legal opinions that would have supported the use of such techniques.

The report details a Sept. 4, 2002 meeting between intelligence officials and Pelosi, then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss, and two aides. At the time, Pelosi was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.

The meeting is described as a “Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed.”

Brendan Daly, a Pelosi spokesman, said Pelosi’s recollection of the meeting is different than the way it is described in the report from the DNI’s office.
I'm sure it is, Mr. Daly. How convenient for you and Ol' Nancy that she "misremembered." To anyone with half a brain, this is complete horbgorble (yes, that's the family friendly version of the word that I want to say). Even if such crap were true, she never even bothered to register an objection about the techniques, which shows that if she was a concerned about them, she obviously didn't care enough to make it known. The article goes on to describe several other meetings that CIA had with members of both parties in Congress.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. My guess is that Pelosi will defend her recollection of the occasion in the face of the facts, and that the MSM will sweep it all under the rug as conservative, hate-mongering propaganda (although the fact that ABC reported this is a promising sign). And as for why she never lodged a complaint? My guess is that the big bad Bush administration threatened her into silence, so she had no choice.

UPDATE: Fox News just ran this story. Let's see if the rest of the MSM pick it up, or if it will die a slow, ignominious death as Obama proclaims some other emergency to get our attention away from the issues that matter.

06 May 2009

Andrea Mitchell Strikes Again

Just in case you need any more evidence that Andrea Mitchell should be fired, check out this in-depth reporting of breaking news. The whole broadcast actually takes over 5 min. I guess it's right up Andrea's alley, though. Grab your airsickness bag and enjoy.

Americans Deputized to Bail Out Incapable Government

Remember way back when President Obama promised that Americans would be able to track "every dime" of the $787 billion stimulus bill? Well, rest assured, he has every intention of keeping his promise. It just won't happen in the near future. And by "every dime", he means "every dime that we on Capitol Hill decide you need to see." Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which manages www.recovery.gov, said the government's website currently shows the programs being funded by the stimulus money, but won't actually show where exactly the money is going until at least October. And that projected date is optimistic at best. Devaney told a House subcommittee on Tuesday that it will be a challenge to have the information available and online in just 5 months (he actually said that they don't have enough storage capacity to track all the information).

But even if the White House can manage to find a server powerful enough to track the equivalent of a 689 mile high stack of $100 bills, you and I won't be able to see exactly who gets the money. As it stands, the administration is only requiring the first 2 recipients of funding to report the usage of stimulus money. So if a state gets funding, and then gives it to a city, that's all you get to see. You won't be able to find out which contractors or agencies will actually be getting the money. Nice, huh?

So who's going to fill in the gaps in tracking government spending? Why, you and I are, of course!
"We are, in essence, deputizing the entire American citizenry to help with the oversight of this program," said Rep. Brad Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology's subcommittee on investigations and oversight.

I'm going to have millions of citizens to help me," he said, comparing run-of-the-mill Americans to inspectors general, the high-ranking officials charged with ferreting out waste and abuse in federal agencies.

"I'm going to have a million little IGs running around," the chairman said Tuesday after his testimony before the subcommittee.

And perhaps that's just as well, given the turnout of the panel tasked with keeping track of thousands of millions of dollars. Just three of the 10 members bothered to show up for the subcommittee's second meeting.
Wow. It's great to know that the Obamanation is taking its job so seriously. And since we're all a bunch of "little IGs running around," does that mean we're going to get subpoena power? Be able to execute search warrants? Make arrests? Just call me Deputy Dawg.

On a side note, when asked at the hearing how the board would be able to verify Obama's claim that the stimulus money will create of save 4 million jobs, Devaney responded, "Sir, we haven't really received any information about that on the Web site." What? The government is clueless? Simply shocking.