The New Terrapin Gazette

Number 309
21 June, 2013

…taxation may be so high as to defeat its object…given sufficient time to gather the fruits, a reduction of taxation will run a better chance, than an increase, of balancing the Budget.

The Whistleblower Is Just A Tiny Part Of The Full Story

Initial impressions

This newsletter finds it easier to believe whistleblower Edward Snowden than to believe Obama. The fellow who has exposed some of NSA’s secrets seems genuinely concerned about the implications of the gargantuan data-mining efforts. His statements have an inherent plausibility and do not seem the views of a crackpot conspiracy theorist. He raises genuine ethical concerns that are relevant to any massive surveillance operation. Unlike Assange (the creepy freak) and Manning (who seems slightly stupid and gullible), this fellow makes a good impression.

The favorable comments above are negated by one fact: Snowden was not simply interested in alerting the US electorate to the full story. According to some sketchy reports, he has informed the Chinese government of US policies and practices as they relate to China.

If that is true, it makes the “whistleblower” a fake, and exposes him as a volunteer spy. The story is not over yet — he might be charged with treason.

This newsletter cannot verify claims that Snowden has helped China understand NSA operations. Here are three sources of speculation you might want to look at: Fox News, then a “wingnut” website, and finally an internet news source unknown to this newsletter. In time, a relatively accurate view of Snowden’s activities might emerge, but don’t rely on that. Too many people have reasons to hide, cloud or proclaim the truth, and they will be fiercely competing with each other.

So one should set aside those murky issues and deal with the fundamentals. For example, an intelligent — and perhaps surprising — “wingnut” view of Snowden is on view in two thought-provoking videos: the first is dated the eleventh of this month, and then its followup is dated the twelfth. Both are highly recommended.

What are the US intelligence agencies doing?

1. Clearly, various shadowy governmental bureaus are tapping telephones and reading internet messages. You knew that, didn’t you? You should have, because the secrecy surrounding the snooping has long been accurately described: the feds are hiding their activities from the electorate, while the Bad Guys know full well that they are targeted in every way technically possible. There is nothing fundamentally or significantly new about any of the latest revelations. Here’s information from 2009 that gave the public a good idea of what has been true for at the very least the last six years.

2. Two assumptions about the actual tasks of NSA and CIA seem accurate: first, that there has been a serious attempt to lie to Congress and the public about the nature of data collection. This information supports that view. Second, does anyone believe that NSA does not have records of many unincriminating messages, verbal or textual, sent between residents of the USA as well as US citizens overseas? Perhaps some folks are comforted by the myth, but how credible would that belief be?

It does not stretch the imagination at all to speculate that a great many data currently in the government’s hands are verbatim communications that have nothing to do with the security of the nation. Certainly if that speculation is accurate, no federal agency will want to admit to the truth.

Why did Snowden go to The Guardian?

Advisory: the paragraphs in this section are speculative.

The major media in the USA are resolutely Obamist, and would reflexively shelter the current administration. Perhaps Snowden and his advisers felt that the US papers would put Obama above the national interest. Giving the story to a British paper that is much more pro-Islam, anti-Israel and anti-USA than is any major news outlet in the Republic could have been the wise choice.

The Guardian would be very unlikely to get Snowden’s story and then tip off the White House. Snowden might even have worried that giving his story to the NY Times would trigger the disappearance of him and his revelations. This is, after all, a young man who states calmly that he might be assassinated by some instrumentality of the US federal apparatus.

Paranoid nutcase or rational patriot, Snowden seems to have made the right choice.

Perhaps in days to come more can be learned about Snowden’s first attempt to tell his story to the news media. That might, of course, be information the US media will not report truthfully and candidly.

The fundamentals

This newsletter agrees that the activities of the CIA and NSA are potentially dangerous to Liberty, and should be evaluated by the electorate. It is virtually certain that some fundamental changes need to be undertaken, and that might involve opening much more to public view than the spooks would like to permit.

Those who do not feel that the agencies concerned are dangers to Liberty should reconsider: the Department of Justice alone has conclusively proved that when bureaucrats take the bit in their teeth, terrible things can and do happen. The USA has Holder and Obama to thank for that demonstration of the danger posed by hard-working ideologues.

Any discussion of the implications of Snowden’s revelations must, therefore, deal not just with what NSA/CIA has done or wants to do or might do; one must also consider the mindset that prevails in the White House.

This newsletter has hammered relentlessly on the fact that Obamoid policy is primarily focused on control. Other sinister impulses also animate the president: he is a class warrior who looks down on Flyover Country; he considers the federal constitution inadequate because it bestows no benefits other than protection from tyranny; his economic policies and ethics are open to serious negative criticism because they promote indebtedness and dependency, and his attitudes toward Liberty in all its manifestations are dubious at best.

In fact Team Obama can correctly be thought of as literally fascist.

If that judgment seems extreme, do read this newsletter’s review of Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism (found in Number 273; request a copy, or read it on line here). If that is unconvincing, obtain and read the book; it should be required reading in every civics class in US secondary schools).

Problems you might not have considered

Growth: NSA in particular is huge and expanding rapidly. The more it scoops up, the greater will be its need for exponential expansions of staff, hardware, and acreage. Those are not trivial concerns.

Vulnerability: the more people you employ, the harder it becomes to make sure they are all decent, dependable and incorruptible. FDR had at least one Soviet agent (Alger Hiss) working closely with him; how can any agency be immune to the rule that sheer size increases risk of penetration by spies?

Fakes: if NSA is listening to everything, think how ridiculously easy it would be to clog their procedures with “smoke”. That’s the jargon for fake messages that get the snoops excited. A tiny group of rascals could produce hundreds — thousands — of messages that appear to be evidence of a sinister plot, and thereby tie up resources at NSA. Fake encrypted messages, fake coded messages — there is nothing illegal about any of that, and the most powerful computers in the world could take weeks to come to the probable but uncertain conclusion that the fakes are meaningless. Don’t think some nutcases won’t do it or have not already done it. Certainly it would serve the interests of Islamist murderers to provide NSA with numerous red herrings.

Success: the more you snoop, the more dirt you are going to find. Few people have nothing to hide. There is a distinct possibility that threats of exposure and blackmail will be used to keep good but imperfect people from gaining political office or joining government service. How much do you need to know about someone’s sex life? Has Slick Willy convinced the electorate that bad judgment and/or shabby ethics are insignificant, or does his story mean simply that Secret Service agents get fired while the people at the top are licensed to be libertines? Is blackmail of high officials now literally ineffective?

Bias: how can an administration that is solidly beholden to an ethnic minority control its agencies ethically? Recall the New Black Panther Party activist who, though obviously guilty of voter intimidation — a federal offense — was immune to prosecution because of Holder’s policy of bigotry. Isn’t it true that the more the public knows about bureaucrats like that, the better? Doesn’t that argue for thoroughgoing transparency?

Ethics: what kind of administration seeks to alter the interpretation of the first and second amendments to the federal constitution, follows policies of crony capitalism, and shelters the egregious wrongdoing of its justice department? Is massive wire-tapping by that kind of government of no concern?

Sophistication: imagine what the jihadis can reasonably assume US countermeasures are. Sure, some islamofascists are very stupid, but morons typically don’t last long in violent jihad, while the long-term warriors certainly always knew their phones are tapped, and that e-mail and similar messages are intercepted. They knew their daily routines had to be varied in order to avoid surveillance. They train to avoid detection and communicate secretly. That means NSA is effective only against amateurs — like the Boston marathon bombers (oops — that did not work out, now did it?). For a long time, simply everybody has known that NSA and CIA are trying to listen in, so: (a) who is surprised by recent revelations, and (b) what harm has been done? What has been revealed that makes it harder for the Good Guys to catch the really Bad Guys? Can’t one be sure that with each success the NSA achieves, the Islamists learn a lesson and modify their tactics?

Veracity: there are aspects to the story so far that stretch the imagination beyond reason and into insanity. Snowden was a high school dropout who was employed by a federal security agency, given a top secret clearance (in ways and for reasons not explained), moved over to a private corporation and was earning $200,000 a year (a figure NSA said is exaggerated about 40%; this newsletter has not researched that aspect of the tale). Honestly, how much of this is true, and if any of it is, just how competent can the spooks be? It seems the nation is very badly served indeed by its intelligence gurus. Then there are the claims of foiled plots and saved lives, all due to massive snooping. How can they be validated? Whom do you trust, and why? Remember, these people do not want you to know what’s going on.

The USA as custodian of the internet: as this weblog post points out, “We can’t fight for Internet freedom around the world, then turn around and destroy it back home.” The NSA’s hijinks have besmirched the integrity of the US as the power behind ICANN, and as the champion of the freedom of electronic speech; this embarrassment could have disastrous consequences, as the UN General Assembly — an ad hoc confederacy of despots, criminals and fascists — lusts to sink its talons into ICANN and carry it off. It’s tragic that nobody thought of this, but in truth, wisdom is far beneath the pay grades of control-hungry bureaucrats at NSA.

Runaway feedback: if people in the USA want to avoid NSA snooping, they can try to hide their locations (this way, or like this), as well as make their e-mail messages impossible to read (with any one of a myriad of cryptographic tools). The almost certain result: more people than ever monitored, and billions more messages recorded in the hope of cracking them in the future. It is plausible that a frantic government, having failed to accomplish its mission, would cut the Gordian Knot and attempt to destroy privacy once and for all.

The greatest worries

1. There is a frightening contradiction in Obamoid policy. On the one hand, The One justifies massive snooping as necessary to the defense of the nation — against whom? Obviously against Islamist warriors who seek the destruction of Western Civilization and the global imposition of Islam. On the other hand, Obama apologizes to Islam, declares that the future does not belong to those who denounce Mohammed and his teachings, bows to the Saudi monarch, endorses multiculturalism, and (one reasonably assumes) opposes a tightening of immigration law that would discriminate against Muslims.

Islam is the enemy. All who believe it is divinely inspired get their commandments from the Koran. That hoary hoax demands perpetual war against unbelievers. Whether these or those Muslims are peaceful is not the question; whether they can ever truthfully and faithfully swear allegiance to the principles of Liberty and justice for all is what one must ask. The only possible answer to that essential question is that Muslims fear and hate the very idea that Liberty is for people of all faiths, and even for those of no faith. Muslims are therefore disqualified for US citizenship. Their faith, however lukewarm it might be, nullifies their allegiance to a nation like the USA.

A ban on Muslims is the only rational immigration policy.

(This newsletter previously called for a quarantine; that is the wrong word, as it implies the ban will be lifted after a specified length of time.)

Unconstitutional, under the first amendment? Not at all. Any religious group that denies the bedrock principles of the constitution can properly be excluded from the Republic.

2. The Dean of this newsletter’s subscribers, the estimable JH, writes to remind that Obamoid persecution of reporters is not just unconstitutional, but scary and stupid as can be. His point is well taken, and the harm done is explained in this crystal-clear post. None of this should surprise, of course; Obama, from his august position on high, regards the lickspittle press as useful idiots. His concern for them cannot rise above the level of his concern for fish in the sea, for the reporters and editors have so prostituted their integrity that even a community organizer can not be expected to respect them. All that remains for The One to do is exact his due from the sniveling subclass.

What’s odd about this is that the media types can’t see it….

3. If you want to wring this out as much as currently possible, read this thoughtful rumination. Otherwise, do your best with what you feel and know, and remember: Liberty is both powerful and delicate. Millions of wonderful people have given their lives to see to its survival.

So…what?

A few conclusions suggest themselves.

The current problem is only partly the intelligence community; the costly flaw is in the insane policy that prevails in the executive branch of the government. That policy is self-contradictory, bigoted, short-sighted, burdensomely expensive, impractical and ultimately not nearly as effective as it might be.

Deciding whether Snowden is a true criminal is secondary. The core concern is the mindset of Team Obama. Previous administrations are not relevant; the current one is all that matters because it’s the only one that can be brought to heel. Consider, therefore, what is — and what must be done.

The Clarification Of Carbon Dioxide’s Role In Climate

While this lecture dismantles the core contentions of the AGW cult, many will find the first half of the talk bafflingly technical. At one point, for example, the equations the professor employs mean that levels of carbon dioxide found in ice cores do not correctly represent the amount of that gas in the atmosphere when the ice was formed. You might miss that important point if your eyes have glazed over. Do remember this, therefore: during Ice ages many thousands of years ago, there was a great deal more carbon dioxide in the air than scientists believed only months ago. That’s not just significant — it’s vital to an understanding of what CO2 can and cannot do (huge amounts of CO2 in the air during an ice age? Yes!). As usual, not everyone agrees with this. It sometimes seems that science decides little, and disputes all.

You are strongly advised to be patient with the video’s advanced math — calculus and Fourier transforms — and realize that by presenting the information in this way, the professor is making his work available to specialists who will be able to check it for errors.

Finally, yes, you will learn a lot from the lecture (it gets this newsletter’s highest recommendation). The last ten or fifteen minutes of the video present an excellent summary of the professor’s findings on carbon dioxide and climate. Note in particular the mention of Feynman.

Addendum: Germany now exploits free sources of energy with processes that do not add carbon dioxide to the environment. The result: higher than necessary levels of unemployment, and fewer corporate profits are now available for reinvestment, modernization and expansion. “Going Green” has turned out to be politically correct economic folly.

The Sun, The Earth, And How They Relate To Each Other

There is a very brief daily video on You Tube that is worth your time. Begin with this edition, and if you find that interesting, you can get more information here and then here. The videos are technical in spots, but the overall picture is not hard to grasp — the poster has reason to believe that the magnetic connection between earth and sun can trigger earthquakes. He does not claim that all earthquakes are caused by coronal holes on the sun, nor does he claim to be able to predict what the sun will do; this is not cult science.

You will recall that this newsletter has repeatedly mentioned both Carrington Events (in nineteen issues) and electromagnetic pulse weapons (in at least seven issues). Both are legitimate objects of concern. The YouTube channel linked above is also a source of information on these topics.

One might wonder why the public and the political establishments of many nations are not expressing urgent concern about the civilization-destroying implications of Carrington Events and EMP weapons. There appear to be two answers to that question: first, because there is no way to blame solar activity on human nature, the subject is not psychologically attractive. Anthropogenic global warming remains a popular concern, however, because it appeals to the widespread assumption that people are basically rotten and must therefore be controlled; they must be punished for past misdeeds and intimidated into future obedience. The sun and the earth’s magnetic field are ethically neutral and physically untouchable, so they can be ignored. Everything bad is of human origin (yes, that’s misanthropy, and it is a fundamental inspiration for the cult science of AGW). Second, the West simply cannot accept the fact that Islamist fanaticism is not only homicidal, but literally suicidal; political correctness continues to impose the lie that being a Muslim is similar to being a modern Presbyterian.

Reality proclaims the foolishness of ignoring the genuinely dangerous.

Note well, Pilgrims: if your political betters were both honest and intelligent, they would be much more concerned about the future than they are. They would be preparing for a Carrington Event (the arrival of which is a matter of time, not probability) and they would be proactive regarding nuclear weapons. In fact, they would be planning to disarm Pakistan as well as shield the electric grid and all vital electronic equipment.

Is This What Will Replace AGW As The Threat Du Jour, Or Is It A Genuine Concern?

Are genetically modified (GM) foods dangerous? This newsletter simply does not know, so it can not suggest how you should choose your food. Here’s an article that claims to have scientific proof of huge problems that await tens of millions of people.

What to believe? There is a very real and very irrational tendency for people to get carried away by scare stories, and GM food looks like one of those Monsters-Under-The-Bed scares you should ignore. It pushes all the right buttons: impending doom, the helplessness of the public, and an evil (profit-seeking) entity that is willing to lie, cheat and kill people in huge numbers. Those who hate capitalism — however they define that word — are lining up to throw rocks at Monsanto. Add the abuse of science, AGW being the prime example, and you have all the prerequisites for big trouble. There is probably an Al Gore type being groomed by some True Believers, for a new cult seems to be forming.

The core of the possibly emerging cult will probably come from the “organic” food faddists. This newsletter has mocked their beliefs as irrational, and that is indeed the best way to think of the craze — all food is, must be, organic. You can’t survive on a diet of inorganic material.

Accordingly, some will say this GM scare belongs in the dustbin along with fears of vaccinations and fluoridated water. Others will claim it’s real this time, and that something needs to be done. How can the question be settled? Yes, it is a question, for the article linked above looks solid.

Ideally, one might call for a panel of research scientists to be given a huge grant to explore the issue and settle it. This newsletter insists that we do not live in an ideal world, that fads sweep through science with disturbing regularity, that scientists can be well educated but unprincipled ideologues, and that the world has already suffered enough from panels like the IPCC.

There is, in other words, no comfort to be found. The public will have to base its decisions on conflicting claims, and perhaps erring on the side of caution is the best option. This newsletter will follow the unfolding story with, it must be confessed, a worried and puzzled mindset.

Good luck, Pilgrims. Do what you think is best.

Links

A tip of the hat to this newsletter’s specialist on Turkey, GB, for this item on censorship under Erdogan.

“Pelosi falsely claimed….” Yeah. You know this will end badly.

The lap-dog mass media would not dare to report this. NTG is just small beer, and is burdened by neither irrational compunctions nor political correctness. That makes it part of Hillary’s Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, and proudly so. Therefore: eat this, mainstream media! Long live The Tea Party!

Britain might be able to get away with this, but if the equivalent were attempted in the USA, there would be hell to pay.

Iran has a new president. This is not old wine in new bottles — it’s toxic wine, period. The man is a mass murderer.

Anthropogenic global warming, climate modeling, astrology, palmistry, phrenology: the pure sciences.

Another hat tip to the Dean, who offers you a chance to learn how Israel’s friends got carried away.

Isn’t it odd, how The One makes over Muslims, bowing to the Saudi monarch, and tells the Roman Catholics in Ireland to tone it down? This newsletter is inclined to believe that was not true bigotry on his part; it seems more like a lack of intellect mixed with the impetuous arrogance of a community organizer (those pests have all the answers). Hillary had her moment with religion, as well; you remember her appalling gaffe in the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. Her “Who painted it?” moment was a combination of ignorance, egotism and stupidity. She’ll be good for a lot more howlers in the next few years….

Presidents have a tendency to proclaim victory when the facts are otherwise, don’t they? You can think of other examples to go with this….

Pro-gun, pro-second amendment, NRA nutcase who attempts to assassinate Obama with lethal poison turns out to beguess what!

Do you know what you need? You need some perspective. Go ahead — take the dare, and risk seeing things as they are.

Justice, Islamist style. This happened in Tunisia, not a nation known for Koranic madness; actually, it’s just fascist excess, which is common to many nations. Thanks to the Dean, JH, for the tip. You folks in the USA should realize how precious — and fragile — your Liberty is!

(Attention, Dr. C.) The ancient Romans built to last. Modern architects, take note.

Victor Davis Hanson is on target yet again. Recommended.

No link — just some observations: a man is an actor, a woman is an actress. A man is an aviator, a woman is an aviatrix. A man is an ambassador, a woman is an ambassadrix. So Hillary is a disastrix? Sure, and Liz Warren is a hoaxrix!

You can make good money working for the government…as long as you don’t get caught.

Of course this stirring statement will cause private anguish and public ridicule. Never mind; this man knows The Ruling Bicoastal Elite will consider him a race-traitor, and he obviously has the courage and integrity to deal with that. This newsletter will be watching….

Here’s collectivist praise for a NY Times proposal that will fix the intelligence problem. The author ignores the real problem, which is of course the lust for control. Collectivists can’t see it because it defines their mindset.

“She looks autistic to me…gonna tase ‘er.” Horrible. Calls for a huge lawsuit.

Say, how’s Iraq doing these days? Not bad, considering its inherent failings; not good, compared to nations with Western values. Read more here, if you wish.

Bureaucratic ethics starts off officious, becomes absurd, and winds up indecent. Why is common sense such an uncommon commodity in the ranks of the people’s servants? Does the desire for control play a role?

Related: regulation versus Liberty. (Heavy sigh.)

Something cute for a change: Nature versus nurture.

Mark Steyn on the militarized IRS: it’s all about control.

It is said that Obama was a law professor. Wrong; though he did teach some classes, he was not a professor, and now one might wonder whether he knew what he was doing. Here’s why.

Awww…”…the president has been looking for love in all the wrong places….” Well, let him keep looking. But tell him not to pester anyone here with his iatrogenic misery.

This is unprecedented, and, in this newsletter’s opinion, not welcome: on opening the Firefox web browser a few minutes before distributing this Number of NTG, the editor was greeted with a message in the center of the screen. It read: “Security and privacy are not optional. Stand with a broad coalition to demand that NSA stop watching us: stopwatching.us” Things are heating up….

Did I take a wrong turn on life’s winding road?
Won’t somebody help me find the right way to go?
My life needs some correction, alteration in direction
Won’t somebody stand by [comfort] me — yes,
I’m lost, yes, I’m lost
Yes, I’m lost

The masthead includes a quote from the works of John Maynard Keynes.

The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Slackware Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.

Publisher: The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee.