Tuesday, August 23, 2005

NYT on ID (Pt. II)

The New York Times has published the second part of a two part series on the Intelligent Design debate. The writer of part II, Kenneth Chang, does a good job of presenting an even-handed view of the controversy.

Not surprisingly the dyspeptic P.Z. Myers and his acolytes don't agree. They think Chang gives too much credibility to the yahoo IDiots.

You can read Part I of the NYT feature, which was also quite fair, in my opinion, here. Read both articles and decide for yourself whether the Times was fair and balanced or too fair and therefore unacceptable to the Darwinian mullahs.

Consider This

Chris Powell of the Gold Anti-Trust Action or GATA has just recently released this interesting piece regarding a letter from the US Treasury Department.

From the link:

Further, there is no requirement in the law that the targets of the government's interference must have some connection to the declared enemies of the United States, nor even some connection to foreign ownership. Anything that can be construed as a financial instrument, no matter how innocently it has been used, is subject to seizure under the Trading With the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Having just gone through a controversy about a Supreme Court decision about government's power of eminent domain, most Americans may be surprised to learn that the Trading With the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act could expropriate them instantly and far more broadly without any of the due process extended to parties in eminent domain cases. All that is needed is a presidential proclamation of an emergency of some kind -- and of course Americans lately have been living in a state of perpetual emergency.

And this:

The government's authority to interfere with the ownership of gold, silver, and mining shares arises, Thornton wrote, from the Trading With the Enemy Act, which became law in 1917 during World War I and applies during declared wars, and from 1977's International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which can be applied without declared wars.

All of this is particularly interesting given that the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan wrote here

"This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the "hidden" confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard."

Today, an individual with an IQ slightly above a sea cucumber can realize that once people "rise" to the level of "public servant", they readily lose all grasp of the concept of serving the citizens that elected them.

I've worked for a state government as a contract software engineer for several years. During that time in that capacity, I have adopted a peculiar philosophy. There is the "trough" and the "barrel". And I have to say, I'm not alone in this discovery as other contract personnel I work with agree.

The "trough" is the government largess that is available to those who want to get a piece of it (at the taxpayers expense of course). They do so through all of the government programs designed to redistribute wealth i.e. tax dollars, from those that have it to those that don't. The perpetrators aren't just the welfare seekers but also include the government employees who just show up but do little or nothing to collect their check.

I can relate a personal experience where a project that cost the tax payers half a million dollars (funded by the CDC) and is overwhelmingly successful beyond all expectations is in jeopardy simply because a low-level state government paper pusher doesn't like the results but perhaps I'll leave that for another post.

The barrel, i.e. "pork barrel", on the other hand, is a higher level of largess. The barrel is closely guarded and controlled by our elected officials and, of course, financed by you, the tax payer. Those who grovel at the "trough" dare not aspire to gain access to the "barrel" because the "barrel" is mostly for corporations.

Our lofty, elected, public servants hold tight reign over the "barrel" and only through lobbyists does one gain access to the "barrel".

Note that the concept of lobbyists is guaranteed in the first amendment of the constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I would think that "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" applied only to U.S. citizens as did those who formed the amendment in 1791.

So why is it that entities outside of the U.S. can hire lobbyists to petition our government for their interests? I'll leave it to those interested to research the numerous examples but, truth be told, our congressmen are inundated by lobbyists paid to articulate and promote the interests of foreign entities. My question is: what right do they have to "petition the government for redress of grievances"?

Raping For Allah

MEMRI has the transcript of an interrogation of terrorist captured in Mosul. This is a small portion of the exchange:

Interrogator: "Did you kidnap women?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "There were operations of kidnapping and rape, carried out by the squad you belong to?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "Tell me how many rape and kidnapping operations were carried out. My information says that the kidnapped women were university students or daughters of famous people. You raped them and got money for it, and if they were not slaughtered afterwards.... Did this really happen?"

Abed: "Yes, it did."

Interrogator: "Who would carry out these operations?"

Abed: "Abu Sajjad."

Interrogator: "Your superior?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "Is this Jihad - raping women? Is this Jihad?"

Abed: "It is because they collaborated with the Americans."

Interrogator: "That's why they were raped?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "A student who is simply going to her university is kidnapped, raped, and then slaughtered?! This was an American collaborator?!"

Abed: "Mullah Al-Raikan would give the names to the squad commander."

Interrogator: "My information says that they were kidnapped and brought to Mullah Al-Raikan's headquarters. True or false?"

Abed: "He would interrogate them."

Interrogator: "Were they raped after the interrogation?"

Abed: "Yes. He would give them to the squad, and they would kill them. Some would rape them."

Interrogator: "You bastards. This is Jihad? You call this Jihad?"

Interrogator 2: "What was your role in these operations?"

Abed: "I would stand at the entrance to the headquarters. It was a house, and they would bring them there."

Interrogator 2: "Did you participate in the rape and murder?"

Abed: "No. Just one who worked for the PUK. She was a Kurd."

Interrogator: "In the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan?"

Abed: "Yes. We brought her too."

Interrogator: "And you raped her?"

Abed: "Yes."

Jihadis are devout, despite appearances, and do have religious scruples. Abed and his "insurgent" brothers, being pious Muslims, wouldn't dream of raping and murdering just any woman. Allah would frown on that, perhaps, but if the unfortunate victim is somehow associated with the Americans then Allah evidently approves.

Abed typifies the brand of Islam that the Cindy Sheehans of the world insist we stop fighting. George Bush is a "terrorist" in their eyes because he is trying to extinguish this kind of horror in the Middle East, among other reasons, so that it doesn't spread to our own shores. She and her retinue of groupies and media enablers suffer from a serious form of myopia that prevents them from seeing any consequences to their demands beyond those most immediate. Getting out of Iraq now would end American deaths in the short term and for those, like Ms Sheehan, whose strategic vision is 20/200, that's all that matters.

Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that Arthur Chrenkoff has taken a new job and is no longer able to continue the Good News From Iraq feature on his site. The good news is that another blog called All Things Conservative has taken the baton and is continuing the work.

You can find All Things Conservative's third installment of good news from Iraq here.

Giving Christianity a Black Eye

This is the sort of thing that gives Christians a bad name:

PAT ROBERTSON (On the August 22nd 700 Club): There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

The Monroe Doctrine, Pat? Doesn't that only apply to outside interference in our hemisphere? Assassination, Pat? Is that something a minister of the Gospel should be advocating? Shouldn't assassination be a measure of last resort reserved for a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Saddam, if used at all? What better way for the United States to lose all moral standing in the Americas than to go around knocking off duly elected presidents when those leaders are not as yet a clear and present danger to the United States or guilty, as far as we know, of severe human rights abuses. Just the suspicion that we were involved in the Chilean overthrow and killing of Salvador Allende did us much harm. The assassination of Chavez would open a diplomatic Pandora's Box that we should refuse to touch unless it became an urgent moral necessity.

The only thing that'll be more strange than hearing an Evangelical preacher call for the murder of a world leader will be the inevitable and sanctimonious moral condemnations of Robertson from atheists who have absolutely no grounds for moral judgments of any kind. They will be quick to point out the conflict between Robertson's advice and his Christian commitment, accuse him of hypocrisy, and condemn his moral character. All of this will give Christianity a black eye, but the atheist has no business making those charges since if his atheism is true, there is no morality, no right or wrong, and nothing more reprehensible about hypocrisy than there is about sincerity and honesty.

Nevertheless, though non-theists have no standing to criticize Robertson on moral grounds, he is, in this instance at least, a considerable embarrassment to those who call themselves followers of Christ.