John Hinderaker, at www.powerlineblog.com, has a terrific
analysis of Barack Obama's position(s) regarding "harsh interrogation
techniques". I've posted it below, with several of the most salient
passages in bold print:
President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to
prohibit the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques by
ordering the CIA to follow military rules for questioning prisoners, according
to two U.S. officials familiar with drafts of the plans.
Of course, there is one very big catch:
However, Obama's changes may not be
absolute. His advisers are considering adding a classified loophole to the
rules that could allow the CIA to use some interrogation methods not
specifically authorized by the Pentagon, the officials said.
For Obama, who repeatedly insisted
during the 2008 presidential campaign and the transition period that "America
doesn't torture," a classified loophole would allow him to follow through on
his promise to end harsh interrogations while retaining a full range of
presidential options in conducting the war against
The proposed loophole, which could come in the
form of a classified annex to the manual, is designed to satisfy intelligence
experts who fear that an outright ban of so-called enhanced interrogation
techniques would limit the government in obtaining threat information that
could save American lives. It would also preserve Obama's flexibility to
authorize any interrogation tactics he might deem necessary for national
Now, that's "change you can believe in!"
Obama's hypocrisy on this issue is identical to John McCain's. McCain
denounced the Bush administration for "torturing" detainees. I disagree. I don't
think waterboarding is torture; on the contrary, I think it is the ideal way to
interrogate terrorists because it is quick and effective and because it does not
actually harm them. I see it as a humane alternative to much worse techniques.
But that's not the point, at the moment.
When McCain was asked what he would do in
the "ticking time bomb" situation, where we have in our custody a terrorist with
knowledge of plots in progress that may kill Americans, his response was that in
that case, he would expect the President to do whatever was necessary. That is
exactly the position Obama is now taking: we won't torture detainees. Unless, of
course, we need to!
All of this might make some kind of sense
if you assume that the Bush administration had a nasty habit of hauling
terrorists (or Democrats, maybe) off the street for no particular reason, and
waterboarding them. In fact, though, a total of three top-ranking al Qaeda
terrorists were waterboarded, in the period shortly after September 11 when
there was good reason to believe that they had knowledge of plots that were
still active. This was exactly the "ticking time bomb" scenario where
McCain has explicitly admitted, and Obama now implicitly agrees, "torture," or
harsh interrogation tactics anyway, may be necessary.
In short, Obama's posturing is meaningless
and politically motivated. His policy will not be any different from President
Bush's; he is just trying to score cheap political points. Obama is no
dummy, and is acutely aware of the Bush administration's extraordinary record of
keeping us safe from terrorist attacks over the last seven years. He knows that
his approval rating will sink like a stone if he exposes Americans to mass
murder because of a foolish consideration for the comfort of terrorists. If and
when the time comes, he will act exactly as George Bush did.
Ironically, this again demonstrates why the fact that Barack Obama lied
repeatedly during the presidential campaign is something of a positive to
me. If he is serious about extracting vital information from terrorist
scumbags in order to save lives, I couldn't care less that he told his hard-left
base the opposite to sucker them in.
But my eyes remain wide open: on other issues, we may not be so
Simply stated, we have a demonstrated liar coming into the white house, with
no significant accomplishments to measure him by. At a critical point in
our history we have bought into a complete wild card.
Keep your fingers crossed. And toes, and anything else you can
find. We're going to need all the luck we can get.
With all that is happening in Gaza, it occurred to me that some folks might
not be thinking very much about Iran. So I thought I would provide an
update - courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, via www.sweetness-light.com:
WASHINGTON U.S. security and law-enforcement
officials say they have fresh evidence of recent efforts by Iran to evade
sanctions and acquire metals from China used in high-tech weaponry, including
long-range nuclear missiles.
Irans efforts are detailed in a series of
recent emails and letters between Iranian companies and foreign suppliers seen
by The Wall Street Journal. Business records show one Iranian company, ABAN
Commercial & Industrial Ltd., has contracted through an intermediary for
more than 30,000 kilograms (about 66,000 pounds) of tungsten copper which
can be used in missile guidance systems from Advanced Technology &
Materials Co. Ltd. of Beijing. One March 2008 email between the firms mentions
shipping 215 ingots, with more planned.
The United Arab Emirates has informed the U.S.
that in September it intercepted a Chinese shipment headed to Iran of
specialized aluminum sheets that can be used to make ballistic missiles. A
month earlier, UAE officials also intercepted an Iran-bound shipment of
titanium sheets that can be used in long-range missiles, according to a recent
letter to the U.S. Commerce Department from the UAEs Washington ambassador.
Evidence of Irans efforts to acquire sensitive
materials also is emerging from investigations by state and federal
prosecutors in New York into whether a number of major Western banks illegally
handled funds for Iran and deliberately hid Iranian transactions routed
through the U.S. One focus of the inquiries is the role of Italy, including
the Rome branch of Irans Bank Sepah and Italys Banca Intesa Sanpaolo
Spa. Banca Intesa said it is cooperating in the inquiries
Last year the United Nations Security Council,
which includes China, formally imposed sanctions on Irans military and most
of its banks for nuclear proliferation activities
Documents detailing Irans metals acquisition
efforts are being reviewed by U.S. law-enforcement and intelligence officials,
people involved in the matter said. Manhattan District Attorney Robert
Morgenthau said he is conducting a broad inquiry into illegal transactions by
Iran. Last week, Lloyds TSB of London agreed to pay $350 million to
settle U.S. sanctions-busting charges with Mr. Morgenthaus office and the
Justice Department. The bank admitted it violated U.S. law but said the
practice has ceased
Sheesh. Even Lloyds of London are helping the
But we really have nothing to fear. After all, the
United Nations has imposed these sanctions. And surely they will not allow them
to be flaunted.
Moreover, in just a few days Irans nuclear
ambitions will no longer be a problem.
President Obama will finally get a chance to sit
down and reason with Mr. Ahmadinejad and sort this all out, once and for
As you may recall, Iran is the country whose leader is on record as intending to "wipe Israel
off the face off the map". It is also the force behind hamas (among other
As ban ki-moron and his merry men at the UN agonize over the "collateral
damage" that has occurred in fewer than 1,000 Gazan war casualties, maybe
they would like to reflect on how much collateral damage a nuclear
weapon in Israel would create.
I realize that Israel is comprised mostly of Jews, so that won't matter
at all. But do they think nuclear bombs have a mechanism which
prevents damage beyond the Israeli border?
And that, of course, is before we get to the possibility of a nuclear attack
on Israel touching off an all-out international nuclear war.
But not to worry. I'm sure that, even as I type this, they're
working on an especially strongly written resolution. That should take
care of things.
OBAMA'S ALL-STAR ECONOMIC TEAM
With a new administration coming in, isn't it reassuring
to know that the Democrats who will be in charge of overseeing our economy
are veritable paragons of excellence? Isn't is a pleasure to know
that they are honest, principled men whose past performance virtually
guarantees things will get better fast?
(This ends the fairy-tale portion of the program.
Now to reality.)
Here is a terrific article by C. Edmund Wright of www.americanthinker.com
which provides a genuinely sobering appraisal of who will be in
charge. Read it and be scared. Very scared:
The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. Treasury
Secretary are literally the two highest ranking political figures with
regard to the Internal Revenue Service. If any two people on the planet
should set an example in their tax behavior, it is the two people who hold those
positions and anyone who aspires to them.
Inspired by their recent behavior, I left a question on my corporate
accountant's voice mail today. "Jim, I just want to know if I can simply pay
taxes just the way the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee OR the
incoming Secretary of the Treausurer pay them?"
He laughed, and replied "of course... as long as you don't mind doing
some time." Well, this explains why we go
to great pains to make sure our company is
in compliance while preserving as much of our business capital as possible each
and every year
Charles Rangel and Timothy Geithner are apparently somewhat more casual
about tax compliance, taking hypocrisy and irony to new levels in the
As the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rangel is literally
the most influential member of Congress related to taxing and spending.
As we found out in September, Rangel decided that he was above paying taxes on
rental income on some houses he owned in the Dominican Republic
And as we found out days ago, the man appointed by Barack Obama to run
the Treasury Department -- of which the IRS is a major part -- has also
considered himself above the tax laws that haunt the rest of
Please understand these two people will have tremendous influence on how
our tax laws are written and that they will expect every damned one of us to
follow that 66 thousand page tax code to the letter. Or as Joe Biden would say,
they expect us to "be patriotic" and to do so accurately.
Which makes the excuses rendered by Rangel jaw dropping. These are exuses
I would not recommend you try at home. Look at some of the explanation
from Rangel and his attorney Lanny Davis (along with some comments.)
"Mr. Davis said the congressman did not realize he had to declare the
money as income, and was unaware of the semiannual payments from the resort
because his wife, Alma, handled the family finances and conferred with their
accountant, John Viardi, on tax matters." (New York
Times, September 5).
Let you or me try to claim the ignorant wife and accountant as a
defense to the IRS.
"While I now know is [sic] although I had not personally received
proceeds in cash, the fact that [sic] any reduction of the mortgage actually
counted as income and should have been reported as such." (Rangel news
conference, September 10)
Well yes, it should. It is called "taxable income," an understanding that
should not escape the man who wants to dictate tax policy for the rest of
"I personally feel that I have done nothing morally
I am sure that will go a long way with IRS agents. By
the way, just how low is your bar for "morally wrong."
Geithner, meanwhile, has few public comments on his issue to date,
perhaps because one of his two problems is inexcusable and any comment will
simply make the PR problem worse. While working for the International
Monetary Fund, Geithner failed to pay taxes even though the IMF "grossed up" his
pay to actually give him the money with which to pay his taxes. They also
attached a stub that showed exactly what his pay was including how much had been
grossed up (let me help you Obama voters or potential cabinet members: this
means it showed exactly what taxes he owed on that particular income.) I mean,
this was not complicated.
Not only that, but Geithner himself prepared his own tax returns for
several of the years where this underpayment was made. Bottom line: He either is
not capable of handling a rather pedestrian income statement for tax purposes or
he flat out cheated. Frankly, I am not sure that either explanation gives me the
utmost confidence in the "only man smart enough to understand the TARP"
program. Based on his tax return, how can we be sure he even
understands the business impact of "depreciation recapture" let alone
"credit default swap."
Then again, he was appointed by the man who lost an impromptu
debate on basic tax policy to a plumber from Ohio, clearly demonstrating an
ignorance of what a capital gains tax is in the process.
Charlie Rangel. Tim Geithner. Barney "Fannie Mae" Frank. Chris
"Countrywide" Dodds. Rahm Emanuel. And Barack Obama. And so on.
We have been told that these are the people who are going to lead our
economy out of the Bush imposed wilderness and to the Promised Land. These are
the people who will end the Republican's "culture of corruption" and "era of
special interests" in Washington and clean things up. These people represent
hope and change.
I think we can look at this and easily understand why the stock market is
tanking. We can figure out how, for the second month in a row, the jobless
report "stunned the experts." Investors and business owners do not live in the
make believe world of Washington and its political gamesmanship. These
people have skin in the game. These people suffer when they make bad decisions,
and they are en masse deciding that to "take their ball and go home" as the only
prudent decision. That's why people are dumping stocks and laying off
When the people who make the rules are either too ignorant to understand
their own rules or feel entitled to break them, the allure of playing is simply
gone for the rest of us. Apparently, more than half the voters have no
understanding of this concept. And no amount of bail-outs will change
Isn't it nice to know that, in these perilous times, our
economy will be in such capable, honest hands?
And how wonderful of our "neutral" media to be on top of
this, so the public is fully aware of these people's backgrounds. Why, it
has been front page and lead story news for weeks.
IS THERE A THIRD ONE FOR DENNIS KUCINICH?
This lovely little story comes to us from the Times of India:
Two minor girls married off to
17 Jan 2009, 2301 hrs
PUDUCHERRY: In a bizarre ritual, two minor girls, both seven, from
the remote Pallipudupet village in Tamil Nadu's Villupuram district were
frogs on Friday night. The ceremony, an annual feature during the Pongal
(harvest) festival, is conducted "to prevent the outbreak of mysterious
diseases in the village''.
The girls, Vigneswari and Masiakanni,
dressed up in traditional bridal finery -- gilded sarees and gold
jewellery -- married the frog 'princes' in separate, elaborate ceremonies
at two different temples in the presence of hundreds of villagers.
Amidst chanting of vedic hymns, the temple priests garlanded the
brides and tied the magalsutras on behalf of the frogs
pronouncing the two as wives of the amphibians before the sacred fire at
the auspicious hour.
The villagers threw themselves into the
ceremonies with gusto. While residents living in the western part of the
village acted as relatives of the brides and those from the eastern part
play-acted as relatives of the grooms. The ceremonies had all the usual
elements of a traditional marriage including a sumptuous feast.
However, unlike the fairy tale `Frog Prince', where the ugly toad
turns into a handsome prince when the princess kisses it, the Villupuram village belles bid their
amphibian grooms goodbye and lead a normal life thereafter. As for the
terrified frogs, they are thrown back into the temple ponds after the
Earlier the 'relatives' of the brides came in a
procession to the grooms' houses in the eastern part of the village to fix
and later went
to the temple pond to catch the frogs. The frog princes were tied to long
sticks decorated with garlands for the marriage ceremonies.
elderly woman of the village said the ritual was practised traditionally
for several generations to ward off evil spirits and diseases from the
Villupuram district collector R Palaniswamy told TOI that
he had deputed a team led by the district social welfare officer to visit
the village and submit a detailed report. "The district administration
proposes to evolve comprehensive schemes to motivate and enlighten the
villagers against such evil and ignorant practises," he said. But all
these years the strange practice has been going on unchecked.
I hate to say this, but the phenomenon is not exclusive to
India. Women in the US marry frogs every day. It often happens
in Las Vegas, and the frog usually is in financial services of some
A STRANGE 'GENOCIDE'
the deliberate and systematic
extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural
As genocides go, you'd have to admit this is a pretty strange
one. But here is the Reuters' report on how Israel's "genocide" is playing
Israel plans ceasefire, Hamas vows to fight
By Nidal al-Mughrabi.
GAZA (Reuters) - Israel plans
to halt its Gaza offensive without any deal with Hamas, an Israeli
official said on Saturday, in an apparent effort to deny the Islamist group any
gains from the three-week-old conflict.
Hamas leaders in exile have vowed to fight on, but
many of the 1.5 million Palestinians enduring incessant bombardment and
privation in Gaza seemed desperate for their ordeal to end.
"The goal is to announce, subject to cabinet
approval, a suspension of military activities because we believe our goals have
been attained," said the official, asking not to be named.
The security cabinet met shortly before 8 p.m.
(1800 GMT). Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was to address the nation
Reporting on the start of the meeting, Israel's
Channel 10 television said the military commander had recommended concluding the
Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip on
December 27 and ground troops pushed into the coastal enclave a week
Without an accord with Hamas, diplomats said they
feared Israel would let only a trickle of goods into Gaza, hampering
reconstruction and creating more hardship for its people.
"There is no agreement with Hamas," the Israeli
official said, adding that Israel would reserve the right to act if Hamas
continued firing or launched rockets across the border.
A Hamas official in Beirut said earlier the
militants would keep fighting until Israel met their demands, mainly for an end
to a crippling economic blockade.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urged Israel to
end its Gaza operation immediately and said he planned to host a reconstruction
conference, but did not say when.
Egyptian state news agency MENA said Olmert had
called Mubarak to give "Israel's positive response" to ceasefire
Mubarak also invited Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss Gaza in Sharm el-Sheikh on
Sunday. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he might attend. Western
diplomats said the British, German, Spanish and Turkish leaders could all also
join the talks. .
Got that? Israel's idea of "genocide" is that when it has hamas completely on the
ropes with the Gazan population virtually helpless, it stops fighting - without
hamas agreeing to a cease fire. Israel just stops.
Does that in any way suggest that Israel's intention is to commit
genocide? Of course not.
Doesn't it instead prove that a) Israel is not at all intending to
commit any genocide, but b) hamas couldn't give a flying f%#* about the
civilians it claims Israel is intentionally killing? These "fearless
warriors" go into hiding and bravely dare Israel to keep bombing while they're
safely cowering in a tunnel or hospital basement.
It would be nice if the world noticed the remarkable difference between these two sides. And
the world would, too. If it wanted to.
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