Saturday, December 17, 2011

De mortuis nil nisi bonum?

I am afraid I am going to disregard that bit of Roman wisdom. The recently deceased Christopher Hitchens has been rather eulogized in the press and elsewhere so I think the other side needs to be put.

His virulent outpouring of hate towards Christians deprives him of any right to respect in my view. If I were a Christian, I think I would see the hand of the Lord in moving him prematurely to his final destination.

Since I am an atheist, however, I note that his death from esophageal cancer was almost certainly the result of his lifelong heavy drinking and smoking. And if he had had the comfort of religion he might not have needed such props to his mood.

His brother Peter, who is very close to him in age and appearance, appears to have no particular health problems but Peter is a committed communicant of the Church of England

Peter also abandoned Leftism much sooner and more completely than Christopher. Chistopher moved towards conservatism on many issues in his later years but that inner fountain of Leftist hate never left him and he vented it on Christians. In my view atheism makes religion a matter of no concern but if you are a Leftist atheist, it seems to be grabbed as an opportunity for hate.

Despite their many differences, Peter has written a generous tribute to his brother here. I think it shows that Peter lacks the hate that drove his brother.


Should it be Newt?

His past policy positions render most conservatives unenthusiastic about Gingrich so I thought the following endorsement of him by Dick McDonald might be of interest

Let’s face it the 2012 presidential race is going to be brutal. The GOP candidate will have to be magician to overcome the resistance to massive benefit cuts in the 185 Federal welfare programs. As so many in America presently enjoy those benefits the prospect of losing them will be a major pocketbook issue. The Democrats and their pillow boys in the media will scare everyone silly with their billion-dollar ad campaign focused on “heartless” Republicans.

The GOP essentially has two potential presidential candidates - Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Both men are famously successful; Romney in the private sector as a venture capitalist and hedge fund manager at Bain Capital, savior of the Salt Lake Olympics and Governor of Massachusetts; Gingrich in the public sector as the leader of the Republican resurgence in 1994, welfare reformer, cost cutter and creator of surpluses.

The question the voters will have to answer is which man can beat Obama and then fix the economy. It is pointless to rehash their negatives – they both have too many. Therefore let’s concentrate on the two important issues.

Who Can Beat Obama?

As we are learning in the present GOP debates the people are really responding to both style and content. The people are desperately looking for the one who can be believed, presents evidence of past success in major governmental accomplishments and measures up to Obama’s level of oratory.

Although I believe Romney has improved in the debates I still find him stiff and defensive underneath his controlled demeanor. When push comes to shove I believe he would be a stiff Nixon type to Obama’s Kennedy. He doesn’t settle in for the fight and enjoy it like the historian Gingrich does. Edge to Gingrich.

Fix the Economy

Unfortunately for Romney he can’t hold a candle to Newt’s success in 1994-1988. Although he was working with a Democrat legislature and vetoed 500 bills Romney still ushered in the precursor to Obama care. Newt on the other hand was working against an immensely popular Democrat President. Romney’s popularity with moderates and independents bespeaks of a compromiser. He often speaks of sitting down with Democrats to save Social Security by extending the age of retirement and applying means testing. In my opinion the last thing the GOP needs is a compromiser to fix the economy. The problem is much bigger than one that can be reached by compromise.

Newt proved in 1994 to 1998 that he was the real deal. He was a gunslinger that faced down his opponents and did really big things – things like we face today. Many say this election is a seminal event in America. They fear that America will slide into a European nanny state unless we stop the Alinski, Cloward and Piven-train in its tracks. I agree that we have to stop it; if not now then soon. Edge to Gingrich

I believe Newt is the gun we should hire. His promise to follow up within four hours every whistle stop speech Obama makes with an opposition response until Obama agrees to Lincoln-Douglas type debates is priceless. Every time I hear Obama speak I want to go right through the TV set too. In this day of social networking this tactic will destroy Obama until he lays down on Newt’s operating table for dissection just like Douglas did for Lincoln.

The American people demand confrontation just like they do in sports. They want to see the players battle it out in front of them. The in-pocket media won’t be able to stop this tactic – they can’t cede this affair to the web.

I don’t think the final battle will go to the unsuccessful street organizer but to the historian. A historian who knows what is at stake. He will temper his demeanor, actions and proposals to create his own history of success. To do that he must make it our success first.

Via email


Congress Approves watered-down Defense Bill

The civil rights protections are a bit nebulous but they should provide a basis for appeal against any abuses. I have highlighted that part in red

Congress passed a massive $662 billion defense bill Thursday after months of wrangling over how to handle captured terrorist suspects without violating Americans' constitutional rights.

A last-minute compromise produced a truce but lawmakers said the fight's not over.

The Senate voted 86-13 for the measure and will send it to President Obama for his signature. The bill would authorize money for military personnel, weapons systems, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and national security programs in the Energy Department for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Two provisions have created the most controversy.

One would require military custody for foreign terrorist suspects linked to Al-Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in plotting or attacking the United States. The suspects could be transferred to civilian custody for trial, and the president would have final say on determining how the transfer would occur. Under pressure from Obama and his national security team, lawmakers added language that says nothing in the bill may be "construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody."

The attorney general, in consultation with the defense secretary, would decide on whether to try the individual in federal court or by military tribunal. The president could waive the entire requirement based on national security.

The second provision would deny suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens seized within the nation's borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. It reaffirms the post-Sept. 11 authorization for the use of military force that allows indefinite detention of enemy combatants.

The provision includes a Senate-passed compromise that says nothing in the legislation may be "construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

Conservative Republicans, Democrats and civil rights groups have warned that the provision would allow the government to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely.

"If these provisions deny American citizens their due process rights under a new, nebulous set of directives, it not only would make us less safe, but it will serve as an unprecedented threat to our constitutional liberties," said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she and several other lawmakers, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., would introduce legislation to ensure that no U.S. citizen is held indefinitely without trial.



Government Already Blocking Internet Access

By Robert Romano — Since being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) has drawn strong opposition from Internet companies large and small, as well as civil libertarians and grassroots organizations. One of the major criticisms is that the legislation would give the government power to restrict access to websites that are deemed to be engaged in Internet piracy or other forms of copyright infringement.

But one thing that the American people may not be aware of is that the government, under existing forfeiture laws, is already blocking access to domestic websites in the name of protecting copyright. And in some cases they are being seized prior to any trial or even a hearing taking place.

That’s what happened to, a popular music blog that was seized by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for over a year, only to be returned just this month without any criminal charges being filed. ICE had to admit there was never any probable cause for the seizure in the first place.

And despite turning off the website for over a year, has not received any compensation as a result, even though the Fifth Amendment provides for such payment.

The allegation apparently originated from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) itself, even though it turned out in the end that the allegedly infringing material had, the website says, been pre-released by music artists and record labels themselves.

Now, Congress wants to take this show on the road, and force search engines, social networks, file-sharing sites, and other Internet service providers to block access to sites overseas that it says would otherwise qualify for seizure under existing domestic forfeiture laws. Again, without any trial, a hearing, or even any notice.

In fact, the provisions of SOPA, even with the manager’s amendment, provide even less of an opportunity to challenge the decision than even the numerous domain seizures executed by ICE to date. They pivot off a mere court order without any hearing, and then result in a string of actions being taken, including blocking the website, targeting payment and ad services for the site, and removing the site from search engines.

Service providers are supposed to simply take the word of the Attorney General, and the judge who rubber-stamped the court order, that the material on the site is in fact infringing — even though it has not been proven in a court of law. Nor will it ever be proven in the case of foreign websites, since in most cases they will lack access to U.S. courts. The site overseas is simply supposed to take it in the shorts.

But, as in the case of, what if the Attorney General gets it wrong?

The application of forfeiture laws to the seizure of Internet domain names is a fairly new practice, and was not intended under the original construction of the laws. It may not be the best first step to take.

For example, why not simply require a cease-and-desist takedown notice to the owner of a website from the intellectual property holder himself prior to civil or criminal actions being taken, or property being seized? In the case of social networks or any website that allows users to upload content, the owner of a website may not even be aware that infringing content is being posted.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) already provides safe harbor provisions for websites that provide easy takedown procedures. But even those are apparently being abused, as in the case of Megaupload, which posted a video on YouTube promoting its site, only to have Universal Media Group order it removed — even though Megaupload says the video, “The Mega Song,” the artwork, and the music contained therein were all original, and the celebrity endorsers all provided signed agreements to have their likenesses used.

Megaupload has now sued in federal district court in the Northern District of California to affirm its rights to the video and to restrain Universal from issuing any more takedown orders. For its part, Megaupload has joined the fight against SOPA.

Said Megaupload CEO David Robb, “After this demonstration of the abuse of power by UMG, we are certain that such an instrument of Internet censorship should not be put into the hands of corporations.”

If intellectual property holders are already abusing DMCA takedown procedures and federal forfeiture laws, what will stop them from abusing SOPA? Nobody likes Internet piracy, but censoring activities otherwise protected by the First Amendment in the name of copyright is a travesty.




CA: Chuck E. Cheese’s fined … for child-labor violations: "Nine Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants -- known for their motto 'where a kid can be a kid' -- have been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor for allowing young workers to operate dangerous equipment, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nine Bay Area branches were fined a total of $28,000 for violating federal child labor laws. The restaurants allowed minors to operate trash compactors and run dough-mixing machines, a breach of the Fair Labor Standards Act." [Note: These "children" are in their late teens, in order to be allowed to work there at all. It sounds more about union work-rules than protecting kids!]

Muslim grenade attack kills five, injures 119 in Belgium: "A grenade and gun attack in this eastern Belgian city [Liege] left five people dead, including the attacker, and 119 wounded Tuesday, authorities said. ... [Nordine] Amrani was on an elevated walkway above the square when he began throwing grenades down into the crowd and then firing, before shooting himself in the head with his revolver, the source said."

Engineer: Iran hijacked US drone: "Iran guided the CIA's 'lost' stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran. ... Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible."

France: Chirac convicted of corruption: "In a landmark decision, a French court convicted former president Jacques Chirac on Thursday of embezzling government money while he was mayor of Paris and handed him a two-year suspended sentence. The ruling against Chirac, at 79 a grandfatherly figure who is widely admired in the polls, stained a long record of political service that started under Charles de Gaulle and included two terms as president, from 1995 to 2007."

FDR’s noble lie: "Most historians when pressed on the matter now grudgingly concede that Roosevelt lied when he told the American people that he would never send their boys to fight into foreign wars, but they excuse his treachery as a 'noble lie,' a deception perpetrated against the public by the political elite to achieve a supposed greater good."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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