.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}
Lobo's Links

Sunday, December 31, 2006

I hope your coming year is filled with Blessings and riches that money can not buy!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Facts

"White Christmas" (1954), starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, was the first movie to be made in Vista Vision, a deep-focus process.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year; 25 percent of them are from the nation's 5,000 choose-and-cut farms.

After "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year, but none was as successful as the original.

Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday. This tradition began in 1836.

Although many believe the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is not. It is the fifth to tenth busiest day. The Friday and Saturday before Christmas are the two busiest shopping days of the year.

American billionaire Ross Perot tried to airlift 28 tons of medicine and Christmas gifts to American POW's in North Vietnam in 1969.

America's official national Christmas tree is located in King's Canyon National Park in California. The tree, a giant sequoia called the "General Grant Tree," is over 300 feet (90 meters) high. It was made the official Christmas tree in 1925.

An average household in America will mail out 28 Christmas cards each year and see 28 eight cards return in their place.

Animal Crackers are not really crackers, but cookies that were imported to the United States from England in the late 1800s. Barnum's circus-like boxes were designed with a string handle so that they could be hung on a Christmas tree.

California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon is the leading producer of Christmas trees - 8.6 million in 1998.

Candy canes began as straight white sticks of sugar candy used to decorated the Christmas trees. A choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral decided have the ends bent to depict a shepherd's crook and he would pass them out to the children to keep them quiet during the services. It wasn't until about the 20th century that candy canes acquired their red stripes.

Charles Dickens' initial choice for Scrooge's statement "Bah Humbug" was "Bah Christmas."

Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.

During the Christmas buying season, Visa cards alone are used an average of 5,340 times every minute in the United States.

During the Christmas/Hanukkah season, more than 1.76 billion candy canes will be made.

During World War II it was necessary for Americans to mail Christmas gifts early for the troops in Europe to receive them in time. Merchants joined in the effort to remind the public to shop and mail early and the protracted shopping season was born.

Electric Christmas tree lights were first used in 1895. The idea for using electric Christmas lights came from an American, Ralph E. Morris. The new lights proved safer than the traditional candles.

For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.

Franklin Pierce was the first United States' president to decorate an official White House Christmas tree .

George Washington spent Christmas night 1776 crossing the Delaware River in dreadful conditions. Christmas 1777 fared little better - at Valley Forge, Washington and his men had a miserable Christmas dinner of Fowl cooked in a broth of Turnips, cabbage and potatoes.

Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company.

In 1907, Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.

In 1947, Toys for Tots started making the holidays a little happier for children by organizing its first Christmas toy drive for needy youngsters.

In 1996, Christmas caroling was banned at two major malls in Pensacola, Florida. Apparently, shoppers and merchants complained the carolers were too loud and took up too much space.

In an effort to solicit cash to pay for a charity Christmas dinner in 1891, a large crabpot was set down on a San Francisco street, becoming the first Salvation Army collection kettle.

In America, the weeks leading up to Christmas are the biggest shopping weeks of the year. Many retailers make up to 70% of their annual revenue in the month preceding Christmas.

In North America, children put stockings out at Christmas time. Their Dutch counterparts, however, use shoes. Dutch children set out shoes to receive gifts any time between mid-November and December 5, St. Nicholas' birthday.
It is estimated that 400,000 people become sick each year from eating tainted Christmas leftovers.

Jesus Christ, son of Mary, was born in a cave, not in a wooden stable. Caves were used to keep animals in because of the intense heat. A large church is now built over the cave, and people can go down inside the cave. The carpenters of Jesus' day were really stone cutters. Wood was not used as widely as it is today. So whenever you see a Christmas nativity scene with a wooden stable -- that's the "American" version, not the Biblical one.

Long before it was used as a "kiss encourager" during the Christmas season, mistletoe had long been considered to have magic powers by Celtic and Teutonic peoples. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility. Celts hung mistletoe in their homes in order to bring themselves good luck and ward off evil spirits.

Mistletoe, a traditional Christmas symbol, was once revered by the early Britons. It was so sacred that it had to be cut with a golden sickle.

More diamonds are purchased at Christmas-time (31 percent) than during any other holiday or occasion during the year.

More than three billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States.

New York City's Empire State Building's world famous tower lights are turned off every night at midnight with the exception of New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Patrick's Day, when they are illuminated until 3 a.m.

On Christmas Day, 1989, Eastern Europe was permitted to celebrate Christmas freely and openly for the first time in decades. Church masses were broadcast live for the first time in history.

Per a November 2000 Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans thought they would spend at least $500 that year on Christmas gifts. This was a slight drop from 1999 gift-spending.

Right behind Christmas and Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday ranks as the third-largest occasion for Americans to consume food, according to the National Football League.

The "Twelve Days of Christmas" was originally written to help Catholic children, in England, remember different articles of faith during the persecution by Protestant Monarchs. The "true love" represented God, and the gifts all different ideas:
The "Partridge in a pear tree" was Christ.
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity-- the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which relays the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of Creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

The abbreviation of Xmas for Christmas is not irreligious. The first letter of the word Christ in Greek is chi, which is identical to our X. Xmas was originally an ecclesiastical abbreviation that was used in tables and charts.

The best selling Christmas trees are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Balsam fir and white pine.

The Christmas season begins at sundown on 24th December and lasts through sundown on 5th January. For that reason, this season is also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The custom of singing Christmas carols is very old - the earliest English collection was published in 1521.

The poinsettia, traditionally an American Christmas flower, originally grew in Mexico; where it was known as the "Flower of the Holy Night". It was first brought to America by Joel Poinsett in 1829.

The tradition of Christmas lights dates back to when Christians were persecuted for saying Mass. A simple candle in the window meant that Mass would be celebrated there that night.

Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch conservationist, banned Christmas trees in his home, even when he lived in the White House. His children, however, smuggled them into their bedrooms.

Yuletide-named towns in the United States include Santa Claus, located in Arizona and Indiana, Noel in Missouri, and Christmas in both Arizona and Florida.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

ACLU Can't Keep Secrets

Crossposted from Stop The ACLU

There is no doubt that a certain amount of transparency is essential for a modern democracy to function honestly. However, taken to the extreme, complete transparency would effectively make our National Security impotent and threaten the ability of the democracy to secure its very existence. There is a line that must be carefully walked. We must maintain common sense, especially in times that enemies threaten our very existence. We can not be so transparent that our enemies can see through us, and know our techniques and plans to fight them and protect ourselves against them. We should never cede our security to exist over to a utopian ideological dream of a completely transparent government. It is also important to have government watchdogs keeping an eye on government from abusing and overclassifying information that the public has a right to know. The danger lies in allowing too much liberty, especially to absolutist organizations like the ACLU, in that decision making process. The Investor's Business Daily bring up some very good points in reference to the recent backing down of the government in trying to obtain a classified document from the ACLU.
"The government blinked," gloated ACLU executive director Anthony Romero. Judge Rakoff is notoriously liberal, having declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 2002 (a ruling quickly overturned), and earlier this year forcing the Pentagon to make public thousands of pages of information on suspected terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay. So it's understandable for prosecutors to not want to fight an unwinnable battle. Are we nearing the day, however, when the ACLU has our legal system so wrapped around its finger that government secrets can no longer be kept from terrorists? Consider these points: • The ACLU's Romero called the subpoena battle "a fight not over a document but over the principle that the government cannot and should not be allowed to intimidate and impede the work of human rights advocates like the ACLU who seek to expose government wrongdoing." But if leftist activist groups or journalists, rather than the freely-elected U.S. government, decide what is legitimately secret and what is "intimidation," there's little that will remain secret.

Indeed, the government did blink. However, they caved in because they had a losing legal argument, not because they have no right to supress secret information from activist groups and the public at large. Before we hand the decision making process of what should or shouldn't be secret or in the public interest to extreme partisan organizations like the ACLU, we should really take a look at just how reckless they have been with such information in the past. Indeed, if we leave it to groups like the ACLU we might as well write the suicide note of our nation on the back of the Constitution. There is probably no other issue as fragile to the preservation of our liberties than a careful balance between civil liberties and our national security. To its credit, the ACLU recognizes the danger if the scales are tipped too far to the side of national security, however it doesn't seem to acknowledge the danger if the scales are reversed. So, let us take a look at some of the extreme examples where the ACLU's absolutist views actually endanger our national security. In particular let us look at their attitude towards the intelligence community and secret information in general. When it comes to drawing the line between classified information and national security the ACLU's record has never leaned toward the side of caution or national security. They consistently defend leakers as brave "whistleblowers." Even after the NY Times leaked details about the vital NSA program, the ACLU wanted more to come out in the open. They have even defended leaks on vital programs like SWIFT, in which we track terror finances, where there was absolutely nothing that even suggested government wrongdoing. They have even fought for accused enemy prisoners to be allowed to see classified evidence against them. The fact that our enemies learn and adjust from such traitorous leaks never seems to phase them. More Points from the Investor's Business Daily:
The ACLU boasts that its legal efforts have made public "more than 100,000 pages of government documents" regarding the interrogation of suspected terrorists. It has posted many of these documents on its Web site in an effort to shut down the program. But President Bush's policy of tough interrogation has secured information that has foiled numerous terrorist plots, saving thousands of lives. They include jetliner hijacking schemes targeting buildings on both the East and West coasts, another targeting Heathrow Airport in London, plus plots to destroy ships in both the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, and Jose Padilla's plan to blow up high-rise apartment buildings in the U.S. Intelligence information key to preventing terrorist acts has also come from the president's other homeland security policies, like the National Security Agency's wiretapping program. But ACLU lawyers are aggressively trying to shut those efforts down in several jurisdictions.

So, let us take a look at the ACLU's real attitude towards the intelligence community.
To the ACLU, CIA means "Controlling the Intelligence Agencies." That's the title they gave to Policy #117. But even that is an understatement of what this particular policy calls for. "Completely undermining the Intelligence Agencies" would be a more appropriate title. It starts out badly and then gets worse. "Control of our government's intelligence agencies demands an end to tolerance of "national security" as grounds for the slightest departure from the constitutional boundaries which limit government conduct in other areas." Of course, its been obvious for nearly 70 years that protecting America's national security is certainly not something the ACLU favors. Here are some of the specific controls called for in Policy #117:

Limit the CIA, under the new name of the Foreign Intelligence Agency, to collecting and evaluatiing foreign intelligence information. Abolish all covert operations. Limit the FBI to criminal investigations by elimimnating all COINTEL-PRO-type activity and all foreign and domestic intelligence investigations of groups or individuals unrelated to a specific criminal offense. Prohibit entirely wiretaps, tapping of telecommunications and burglaries. Restrict mail openings, mail covers, inspection of bank records, and inspection of telephone records by requiring a warrant issued on probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Prohibit all domestic intelligence and political information-gathering. Only investigations of crimes which have been, are being, or are about to be committed may be conducted.Twilight of Liberty

Two former members of the ACLU, Richard and Susan Vigilante, conducted a thorough analysis of the ACLU spelled out by the Union's Center for National Security Studies. They wrote:
The ACLU opposes, and has fought in either Congress or the courts, virtually all "covert action," most "clandestine intelligence" gathering (i.e. spying), and in one case aid to an important U.S. ally with a poor human rights record. The net effect of these efforts has been to hinder U.S. opposition to Communist expansion. The ACLU may, at some point, have undertaken some major initiative that advanced U.S. interests and hindered Communist expansion, but our research never turned one up and no ACLU leader ever mentioned one to us.

In other words, strip the intelligence agencies useless.
One of the most revealing occurances towards the ACLU's absolutist position on national security and its recent evolution can be seen in the action the board of directors took at its Oct 1989 meeting: It dropped section (a) from its policy, "Wartime Sedition Act." Before, the ACLU held that it "would not participate (save for fundamental due process violations) in defense of any person believed to be "cooperating" with or acting on behalf of the enemy." This policy was based on the recognition that "our own military enemies are now using techniques of propaganda which may involve an attempt to prevent the Bill of Rights to serve the enemy rather than the people of the United States." In making its determination as to whether someone were cooperating with the enemy, "the Union will consider such matters as past activities and associations, sources of financial support, relations with enemy agents, the particular words and conduct involved, and all other relevant factors for informed judgement."Twilight of Liberty

All of this is now omitted from the Official ACLU policy! This is not the kind of organization one should trust when it comes to secrets that need to be kept from enemy eyes. The ACLU's extremist position towards classified information can be seen in the very case they have been citing recently, the Petagon Papers.
The Pentagon Papers case shows how extremist the ACLU can be. In that suit, the Supreme Court ruled against the efforts of the Nixon Administration to suppress documents that were a veritable history of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The ACLU, which filed an amicus, was happy with the immediate outcome-the newspapers could run copies of the Pentagon Papers-but was less than pleased with the high court's reasoning. The Union was disturbed that the Supreme Court gave life to the idea that the president and the Congress had a right to restrain the press in bona fide instances of national security. It wanted nothing less than an absolute ban on prior restraint. Alexander Bickel, the brilliant constitutional scholar who argued the case against the government, criticized the unreasonableness of the ACLU stand. He accused the Union of being too ideological, labeling the absolutist position "foolish to the point of being almost unprofessional." Like most students of the Constitution, Bickel was generally opposed to prior restraint but nonetheless conceded that there may be times when not to invoke prior restraint may be disastrous to the well-being of the republic. This is something the ACLU has not acknowledged and will not acknowledge.

In the recent case where the government folded in their attempt to get 'secret' documents back from the ACLU their first mistake was in their approach. Their big mistake that they continue to make is in not aggressively investigating, prosecuting, and punishing the traitors that leak and publish the secret matters of national security for all, including our enemies, to know. As the lawyers at Powerline have pointed out, in the case of the NSA leak, federal law is 18 U.S.C. § 798, a law that precisely prohibits leaks of the type of classified information disclosed in the story. Subsection (a) of the statute provides:
Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information-- (1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or (2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or (4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes-- Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Powerline further points out that in cases like that of the NSA leak, the Pentagon Paper case the ACLU loves to cite so much, only applies to prior restraint and not to punishment after the crime of publishing has been committed.
Indeed, in their concurring opinions, Justices Douglas and White cited and discussed 18 U.S.C. § 798 as the prototype of a law that could be enforced against a newspaper following publication of information falling within the ambit of the statute. Justice White noted, for example: The Criminal Code contains numerous provisions potentially relevant to these cases. Section 797 makes it a crime to publish certain photographs or drawings of military installations. Section 798, also in precise language, proscribes knowing and willful publication of any classified information concerning the cryptographic systems or communication intelligence activities of the United States as well as any information obtained from communication intelligence operations. If any of the material here at issue is of this nature, the newspapers are presumably now on full notice of the position of the United States and must face the consequences if they publish. I would have no difficulty in sustaining convictions under these sections on facts that would not justify the intervention of equity and the imposition of a prior restraint.

Make sure to read the entire analysis. When it comes to national security and classified information the ACLU has a long record of recklessness. When it comes to keeping our government from wrongdoing there are many suggestions that could be pursued to alleviate the problem. Allowing the press and the ACLU unfettered liberty to make the call on what can and can not be classified is a death wish. The government needs to step up and aggressively investigate and prosecute those that act, participate, aid and protect in the unlawful disclosure of our national security secrets. The Investor's Business Daily sums it all up well:
The civilized world simply can't win against the forces of Islamo-fascism if we are deprived of the vital weapon of secrecy. Letting the ACLU force us to operate according to its radical ideology of "open government" would be like telegramming Hitler that we plan to invade Normandy.

This was a production of Stop The ACLU Blogburst. If you would like to join us, please email Jay at Jay@stoptheaclu.com or Gribbit at GribbitR@gmail.com. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll. Over 200 blogs already on-board.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ACLU: What Does The Word Secret Mean?

Crossposted from Stop The ACLU:

Via the ACLU we find out the U.S. government is finally being proactive against the ACLU in protecting classified information from being leaked for our enemies to know.

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it has asked a federal judge to quash a grand jury subpoena demanding that it turn over to the FBI "any and all copies" of a December 2005 government document in its possession.

The ACLU called the subpoena, served on November 20 by the U.S. Attorney's office in New York, a transparent attempt to intimidate government critics and suppress informed criticism and reporting.

"The government's attempt to suppress information using the grand jury process is truly chilling and is unprecedented in law and in the ACLU's history," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "This subpoena serves no legitimate investigative purpose and tramples on fundamental First Amendment rights. We recognize this maneuver for what it is: a patent attempt to intimidate and impede the work of human rights advocates like the ACLU who seek to expose government wrongdoing."

The three-and-a-half page document, issued in December 2005, is marked "Secret" and apparently is classified. The ACLU received the document, unsolicited, on October 23, 2006.

Apparently a document marked "Secret" is classified? You don't say! Quite a scary thing that such a dangerous organization like the ACLU has its hands on classified information. I think the ACLU has already demonstrated how reckless they can be with secret information. You can bet there would be no regard to National Security.

The ACLU think that exposing government wrongdoing is exposing to the enemy the governments efforts and techniques to secure our nation.

In legal papers, the ACLU said that while release of the document might be "mildly embarrassing" to the government, the ACLU's possession of it is legal and its release could in no way threaten national security. To the contrary, the ACLU said, the designation of the generally unremarkable document as "Secret" "appears to be a striking, yet typical, example of overclassification."

So who elected the ACLU to determine what should or shouldn't be classified? And if the document is so "unremarkable" why are they fighting so hard to keep it? The ACLU then goes on to justify having classified information by stating that some of the biggest news of the past year came from leaks of classified information, like the NSA surveillance program, SWIFT, etc. I think we all remember how the ACLU handled these leaks. When it comes to National Security, the ACLU has created a dangerous reputation. I don't think they should have any say so in what remains classified or not.

Rob at Say Anything sums it up:

So, basically, the ACLU is claiming that the Bush administration is trying to “suppress information” by getting some leaked classified documents back. But isn’t the government supposed to suppress classified information? Isn’t that the reason it is classified in the first place? I mean, if the government isn’t supposed to be suppressing classified information, then why are we classifying it in the first place?

And how does the government requesting leaked classified documents back violate the ACLU’s first amendment rights? Surely the ACLU isn’t suggesting that first amendment rights extend to illegal leaks of private information, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to stop someone who obtained my bank records from somebody at the bank who illegally divulged them from putting my private information on the internet.

I sometimes wonder if the ACLU even takes its own arguments seriously.

Although the ACLU has been told that it is not a target of the investigation, which I think it should be, it is interesting that the the subpoena refers to the Espionage Act. That is too bad. The FBI have their own concerns over the ACLU. Between the shady business of their funding issues, helping America’s enemies, spying on their own members, and FBI concerns; there are many reasons besides illegally obtaining classified information that the ACLU should be investigated.

I'm just glad to see the government being proactive to prevent classified information from falling into the hands of our enemies. If the ACLU has its way that is where it will end up.

This was a production of Stop The ACLU Blogburst. If you would like to join us, please email Jay at Jay@stoptheaclu.com or Gribbit at GribbitR@gmail.com. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll. Over 200 blogs already on-board.

PC Free Zone 

Only The Truth is Spoken Here

My Blogroll

Help Fight The ACLU


by Blogger