Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Well, Is It or Isn't It?

Compare this statement by Jamie Gorelick President Clinton's Deputy Attorney General in 1994 --

"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General.

"It is important to understand, that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities." - Jamie Gorelick testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994 (Thanks to Byron York).

With this statement by Jamie Gorelick today:

"The issue here is this: If you're John McCain and you just got Congress to agree to limits on interrogation techniques, why would you think that limits anything if the executive branch can ignore it by asserting its inherent authority?" 12/20/05 Washington Post, p. A10. (Thanks to Cliff May)

Ms Gorelick's legal opinions concerning what presidents can and cannot do seem clearly to be a function of which party the president is a member of.

Follow Up

Not too long ago I posted an article that discussed the merits of acquiring gold when it had just reached the $540 per ounce area. In it, I pointed out that one might save $10 or $20 dollars if they waited for gold to drop back to a lower level but I also pointed out the risk of being left at the station only to see that the gold train had pulled away...without them.

Perhaps you spoke with your broker about gold. Well, this was most likely one of the guys who was touting the NASDAQ in 2000. I suspect they're not going to recommend gold simply because they stand nothing to gain. They're job is to sell paper...stocks. That's how they make commissions and their living. No, one has to stop listening to the siren songs of the last decade and look around a see what is going on and make their decisions accordingly.

Today, the price of gold has closed at $492 per ounce. Wow, was my statement really bad? Was your broker right after all? Well not really. The number one rule of investing is to not miss a bull market. The only way one can do that is to establish a position and be in...through the short-term highs and lows. Since the price of things fluctuates going up and down, the prudent individual invests over time using a mechanism known as dollar cost averaging. This means they make their acquisitions over time which smoothes out the variations. If I purchased an ounce of gold at $540 and a month later the price is at $460 and I purchase another ounce, my average cost is $500. Similarly, if after I purchased my first ounce, at some time in the future gold is at $620 and I purchase another ounce, my average cost is $580.

The take away message is that there is only one point to remember: in a bull market, (in 2000 gold was at $250 per ounce) the important thing is to establish one's position. The good news is that one doesn't have to plunge into the market hoping, against the odds, that they have gotten in at the bottom. They can implement a disciplined, orderly, regularly scheduled program of acquisition knowing that the ups and downs are smoothed out as they do so. It's next to impossible to buy on the exact low and the risk of trying to do it is that you may find yourself out of the market looking at higher cost to get in.

The price of gold is rising in what is called a channel. The channel can be illustrated by drawing two parallel lines on a graph of the price of gold over years. The lower line traces the lows of the price and the upper line traces the highs. They tend to illustrate the overbought and oversold state of a given item. Given that in 2000, gold was at $250 per ounce, the channel illustrates a bull market is in play. Also, given our governments proclivity to print money, it's no wonder. Last month, gold broke out of that channel to the upside and may be in the process of establishing a new channel at a higher angle of ascent, or it may return to the boundaries of the original channel. It doesn't really matter as ultimately, the trend appears to be up.

So, from a technical analysis perspective, given our channel work, the price of gold could possibly go to the lower line of the channel, approximately $460 - $480 (depending on the time frame) and if that level holds, the price should continue up again to the upper channel line of approximately $520-$540. On the other hand, if the price of gold fails to meaningfully penetrate the upper line of the channel ($480 - $490) a new channel could be established meaning that the rise of gold would be more vertical.

Got that? If not, feel free to drop us a line on the Feedback page and I would be happy to provide more explanation.

Through the last five years of the '90s, the slogan in the stock market was "buy the dips". Sure, it was a bull market and people became conditioned to buy any dips almost guaranteeing a profit. That behavior also ensured the bull market...until 2000 when the bull market was perceived to be a bubble and finally burst. Unfortunately, as the markets continued to plummet, they "bought the dips" like conditioned white rats (see B.F. Skinner on behavioral modification, reinforcement history and classical conditioning) during the corrections higher only to find the trend ultimately going lower. Since I believe the bull market in gold has 5 to 10 years to go, the "buy the dips" strategy makes sense once again but personally, I would only use it as a supplement to my basic strategy of dollar cost averaging mentioned above.

Lastly, gold is insurance against the loss of one's wealth through the erosion of inflation and a general disenchantment and distrust of fiat currencies around the globe. Since it appears that this erosion is going to continue for the foreseeable future, it explains why the trend in the price of gold is up and it matters little if one acquires gold at every periodic bottom. What matters is that they acquire gold.

Hiding WMD

This report just about cinches the speculation that Syria has a death wish:

LONDON - Syria has signed a pledge to store Iranian nuclear weapons and missiles. The London-based Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Iran and Syria signed a strategic accord meant to protect either country from international pressure regarding their weapons programs. The magazine, citing diplomatic sources, said Syria agreed to store Iranian materials and weapons should Teheran come under United Nations sanctions.

Iran also pledged to grant haven to any Syrian intelligence officer indicted by the UN or Lebanon. Five Syrian officers have been questioned by the UN regarding the Hariri assassination, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The sensitive chapter in the accord includes Syria's commitment to allow Iran to safely store weapons, sensitive equipment or even hazardous materials on Syrian soil should Iran need such help in a time of crisis," Jane's said. The accord also obligated Syria to continue to supply the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah with weapons, ammunition and communications. Iran has been the leading weapons supplier to Hizbullah, with about 15,000 missiles and rockets along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The accord, negotiations of which began in 2004, was signed on Nov. 14 and meant to prepare for economic sanctions imposed on either Iran or Syria. Under the accord, Jane's said, Iran would relay financial aid to Syria in an effort to ease Western sanctions in wake of the UN determination that Damascus was responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Iran also pledged to supply a range of military aid to Syria. Jane's cited technology for weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional arms, ammunition and training of Syrian military. Teheran would seek to upgrade Syrian ballistic missiles and chemical weapons systems. Under the accord, Iran would also be prepared to operate "advanced weapon systems in Syria during a military confrontation." Jane's said.

Hmmm. We thought Iran's pursuit of nuclear power was completely peaceful. Odd that they'd be signing accords to hide weapons they have no intention of building. And another thing: might this report hold some clue as to where Iraq's WMD disappeared to? Just wondering.

The Dover Decision

Judge John E. Jones has rendered his decision on the Dover Intelligent Design case and although we differ with him at several points in his 138 page opinion we agree generally with his conclusion:

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an Case 4:04-cv-02688-JEJ Document 342 Filed 12/20/2005 Page 137 of 139 imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy.

The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, � 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.

The Dover Board members who sought to to get ID into the schools made at least two mistakes. They were clearly motivated by religious impulses in what they did and, as the judge points out elsewhere in his decision, they utterly failed the Supreme Court's Lemon test for acceptable intrusions of religious content into public schools.

Secondly, they sought to fight this out as a battle over whether ID is real science rather than as a conflict between competing views in the philosophy of science which is what it really is.

At any rate, the decision does seem narrow, applying, as it does, specifically to Dover, and we haven't had a chance yet to see what legal minds on both sides of the issue think about how this will effect other attempts to have ID presented in schools. One thing, however, is almost certain: very few schools are going to be willing to take the risk of introducing ID formally into a science curriculum after what happened in the Dover case.

Whose Side Are They On?

John Hinderaker at PowerLine.com offers this analysis of the media brouhaha over the New York Times story about secret surveillance of al Qaeda allies in the U.S. He makes an excellent point about what the constitution says about search warrants, but the most chilling stuff is in the last paragraph. The leakers and the Times, in their Ahab-like pursuit of the Bush administration, may well have made it very much more difficult to protect our families from terrorist attacks on our soil.

Hinderaker writes:

[T]hose who leap to the conclusion that the intercepts must be unconstitutional seem to assume that all searches require a warrant. That is not correct. The Fourth Amendment prohibits "unreasonable" searches and seizures. Warrantless searches are legal, and appropriately so, in a number of circumstances.

Second, the issue of speed is critical. When we capture a cell phone or laptop being used by a terrorist, it is usually because we captured or killed the terrorist. The amount of time we have to exploit the capture is very short. The terrorists will soon figure out that their confederate is out of business, and stop using his cell phone numbers and email addresses. So if we are to benefit from the capture, we must begin obtaining information right now.

A delay of even a few days may render the information useless, as the terrorists will have realized that their colleague has been neutralized. And it is likely that the first hours or even minutes after we obtain a cell phone number or email address are most apt to yield helpful new information. So it is easy to see why going through the process needed to obtain a warrant from the FISA court would undermine the effectiveness of our anti-terror operations.

This is entirely different from the situation we are all familiar with, where wiretaps are authorized against organized crime figures. Such wiretaps are not executed in connection with an arrest. They often continue for months or even years. There is ordinarily nothing about the context to suggest that the utility of the wiretap will expire in a matter of days, if not hours. Hence the delay required to obtain a warrant is usually immaterial.

Under the circumstances we face in dealing with the terrorist threat, is it unreasonable--the Constitutional standard--to begin immediately intercepting calls being made to a captured terrorist cell phone, whether those calls originate in the U.S. or another country? Of course not.

I'm just guessing here, but I suspect that we have technology in place that allows us to begin intercepting phone calls within a matter of minutes after we learn of a phone number being used by an al Qaeda operative overseas. My guess is that there is a system into which our military can plug a new phone number, and begin receiving intercepts almost immediately. I hope so, anyway; and I'm guessing that the disclosure of this system to al Qaeda is one of the reasons why President Bush is so unhappy with the New York Times. If we do have such a technology, it certainly would help to explain the remarkable fact that the terrorists haven't executed a successful attack on our soil since September 2001. And the disclosure of such a system, by leaking Democrats in the federal bureaucracy and the New York Times, makes it more likely, by an unknowable percentage, that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations will launch successful attacks in the future.

There certainly seems to be cause here for an investigation into the source of this story. The leakers should be prosecuted and the Times should be economically punished by Americans fed up with the casual attitude displayed by liberals toward our national security. Perhaps it is time to indeed begin to start questioning the Left's patriotism, especially in light of the fact that, as Byron York demonstrates in an article at National Review Online, what the Bush administration did was done by every president, at least since Reagan.

Moreover, it was a policy vigorously defended by the Democrats in the Clinton administration whose point man (woman) on the issue was Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. Gorelick argued in 1994 that the president has the power to do just what George Bush is being pilloried by Democrats for doing today. These people either have no memory or they are astonishing hypocrites.