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Written by Jack Kelly   
Friday, 14 December 2007

"Blowback" is an intelligence term for adverse, unintended consequences of secret operations. The CIA first used it in a report on the 1953 operation that overthrew the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran.

Some in the intelligence community (IC) have been working with liberal journalists and Democrats on Capitol Hill to embarrass President Bush and to stymie his foreign policy initiatives.

The most successful of these covert operations was the Valerie Plame affair, in which White House officials were falsely blamed for "outing" a CIA undercover officer who was not in fact undercover. (It was then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who inadvertently disclosed Ms. Plame's identity.)

The most recent is the new National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and hasn't resumed it. Michael Ledeen, a former consultant to the National Security Council, described the NIE as "policy advocacy masquerading as serious intelligence."

The apparent purpose of the NIE is to make it politically impossible for President Bush to take military action against Iran. But the effort has been so bald that it is blowing back on its authors.
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Written by Jack Kelly   
Thursday, 13 December 2007

Those who watched the Republican presidential "debate" in Iowa yesterday (12/12) now understand why the Des Moines Register is such a lousy newspaper.

"That was not just the worst debate of 2007, that was the worst debate in Western history, and that includes the ancient Greeks," said columnist Charles Krauthammer.  "There is no record in any major European record of a debate this transcendingly and crushingly dull."

This wasn't the fault of the candidates, all of whom turned in credible performances.  The blame for this flop belongs to the debate's moderator, Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn. 

While most commentators compared her to an overbearing elementary school teacher, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard likened her to Nurse Ratched, the villain in Ken Kesey's 1962 novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

There was a ray of hope.  The highlight of the debate, such as it was, came when Fred Thompson, like Kesey's hero Randle McMurphy, defied Nurse Ratched.  His putdown was quickly put up on YouTube:
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Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Friday, 14 December 2007

There is a funny side effect to living well: you get used to it.

A new study suggests that this may make your happiness less resilient.

According to a cross cultural study by University of Virginia psychology professor Shigehiro Oishi:

When things go wrong, or there is a downturn of some kind, or in one way or another the good circumstances of your life take a turn for the worse, people from cultures who are not used to such a high level of happiness seem to roll with the negative changes more easily, while those who have been used to good times tend to have a lot of difficulty coping.

If you get accustomed to a way of life that is new and better, and then you lose some or all of this new good, it hurts. That is part of the risk that comes with improving your life. But does this mean that it might be best not to try and improve your life? I think you know my answer to that.

But there may be an antidote - or I suppose more accurately an inoculation for this:
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Written by To The Point News   
Thursday, 13 December 2007

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.  -Voltaire (1694-1778)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.  -Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.  -Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.  -Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is...
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 07 December 2007

Most religions contain beliefs and practices than adherents of other religions consider off-the-wall weird.  But no matter how strange stuff like wearing sacred underwear may seem to some (there's actually an official site explaining it:  Mormon Underwear), it's very hard to see how the religion of Mormonism is dangerous to our national security.

Mitt Romney's speech yesterday (12/06) should dispel any real concern that his faith somehow disqualifies him for the presidency.  I encourage you to read his speech entire, for it's impressive. 

Yet there is a religion that is in fact a grave danger to America, and believing in it should disqualify anyone aspiring to the  presidency.  It's not an alien faith of foreign invention like Islam, but homegrown, originating right here in the US.  Among the members of its church are many of our country's most prominent citizens, including several presidential candidates.

I refer, of course, to...
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Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 06 December 2007

"Hey, Jack, when's your next expedition and where to?"  That's the question, or variants of it, I'm asked most.  For a while now, I've been frustrating a lot of folks who've been bugging me for an answer because I've been unable to give it.

Now I can.  I've been leading expeditions to remote places in the world for over a third of a century, and during all that time I had a dream of an ultimate way to experience the world, an ultimate set of adventures and expeditions.  Now that dream is coming true.

Suppose you wanted to traverse the entire length of the Nile River, all 4,000 miles from  source (Jinja, Uganda where it exits Lake Victoria) to mouth (Alexandria, Egypt, where it enters the Mediterranean).  Or visit the most exotic, the most untouched islands in the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean.  How would you do it?

You'd have to charter a boat, for a lot of money, and take a lot of time - week upon week, even a month or two.  What if there were a way to do it in days?  Quickly, comfortably, at substantially less cost than a boat charter yet seeing and experiencing more than from the surface of the water?

The world would open up to you in a way impossible before.  That's the dream.  But how?  The answer is...
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 07 December 2007

I'd sure like to make a suggestion for an ideal Christmas gift for someone you really care about:  a membership in To The Point

Just click on that link and you can sign up a friend for a wonderfully memorable and enlightening month's membership for less than ten bucks - or for those you really care about, a full year.

I'd also like to suggest you consider products made by your fellow TTPers.

There's WineStar crystal wine glasses offered by Ed & Susan Sanders.  They beat Reidel hands down.  You won't believe how much better wine tastes with Ed & Susan's stemware.  They make a great way to celebrate the Christmas-New Year's holidays, any other holiday, and life every day.

Alex & Laurie Alexiev have 800 olive trees on four acres on their ranch near Paso Robles, California that produce the best-tasting, highest quality olive oil you've ever had.  Their Allure Estates Liquid Gold Tuscan-style extra-virgin oil has now won numerous awards.  You can gift yourself with a bottle, as well as your friends.

Then there's my sister Judy (an avid TTPer!), with her marvelously illustrated children's book, Jessica The Furry Baroo, that's such a fun way to impart a love of nature and the critters in it to kids.

Of course, there's Dr. Joel Wade's new book, Mastering Happiness.  What a great gift for anyone you want to be happy!
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 06 December 2007

The current Attorney General for the State of Florida is Bill McCollum.  After being a Congressman representing Florida's 5th District for 20 years, he ran for Senate in 2004 only to be screwed by Karl Rove, who wanted Bush's buddy Mel Martinez.

Thus we have the pro-illegal alien Martinez in the Senate - but at least Florida lucked out to have McCollum bounce back to be elected its AG last year.  How lucky can be seen by a letter McCollum wrote this week (12/03) in his official capacity to the president of the University of Florida.

American universities are today dominated by professors and administrators who viciously attack any attempt at giving their students a pro-America education.    Finally, here is one state attorney general who has the guts to legally prosecute such viciousness.  America needs more Bill McCollums.

Here is his letter:
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Written by Frank Gaffney   
Thursday, 06 December 2007

Suddenly, a new national debate is beginning about the national security, economic and other implications of Persian Gulf potentates using their petrodollars to buy up strategic American assets.

Most recently, the Emir of Dubai's purchase at fire-sale prices of 4.9 percent of the largest U.S. bank, Citigroup, caused a level of unease not seen since he tried to buy his way into many U.S. port facilities.

Almost completely unremarked thus far has been a parallel - and in many ways far more insidious - effort to penetrate, influence and dominate America's capital markets: so-called "Sharia finance."

Some estimates suggest an amount nearing one trillion dollars is now being invested around the world under this rubric. If trends continue, all other things being equal, such funds may grow to many times that amount within a few years.

As one Islamofascist puts it, Sharia investing is simply "financial jihad against the unbelievers." 
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Written by Dagny D'Anconia   
Friday, 07 December 2007

Hillary Clinton has been playing a dangerous game with China.  After over a decade of illegal contributions to the Democratic Party and special favors to the Clintons by the Chicoms, Hillary has turned on her old Chinese friends and sold them out in a desperate bid to win in 2008.  The American dollar and economy have suffered collateral damage in this Clinton double cross with China.

"Chinagate" was the name for numerous illegal campaign contributions from the PRC to the Democrats that helped them to win the 1996 elections.  As you may remember back in 1996, the Clintons apparently traded missile secrets to China via Loral in exchange for donations from the PRC. 

Thus when Hillary started her run for president, she was in a position to count on the support of the PRC.  Poor residents of Chinatown were making large donations to Hillary.  She was getting numerous suspicious donations from Chinese operatives including Norman Hsu and the Paw family on the west coast, and also from numerous suspicious donations from the East coast. 

This might have continued in a simple repeat of the 1996 election scandal if Hillary had any loyalty to her PRC benefactors.  However, the reality was that she had more to gain from selling them out than continuing the game.  Consider the benefits to turning on her former friends:
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THE SWAG NIE Print E-mail
Written by Jack Kelly   
Thursday, 06 December 2007

Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and probably won't be able to build a bomb before 2015 if it does restart it, a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has concluded.  That's very good news...if it's true.

But that's a BIG if.  The NIE is a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Assed Guess), not a statement of proven fact. 

It's a SWAG from an Intelligence Community (IC) whose predictive record about the Middle East has been poor.  It's a SWAG that's challenged by Israeli intelligence, whose predictive history is much better.  And it's a SWAG that is diametrically opposed to the last SWAG the IC issued on Iran's nuclear program.

An IC that had "high confidence" in a 2005 NIE that Iran was building a bomb and was resistant to international pressure now has "high confidence" that Iran stopped building it two years before that NIE was issued! 
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Written by Tibor Machan   
Thursday, 06 December 2007

Paul Krugman, Princeton economist and columnist for The New York Times, has no problem with coercing people to do what they'd rather not do. So it's no surprise that he favors the universal health case system advocated by Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. 

He is worried, however, that under the more modestly coercive system advocated by Barack Hussein Obama, "healthy people could choose not to buy insurance-then sign up for it if they developed health problems later." 

Under Hussein Obama's system, argues Professor Krugman, "People who did the right thing and bought insurance when they were healthy would end up subsidizing those who didn't sign up for insurance until or unless they needed medical care."  The old free rider problem, nothing very novel at all.

Yet the problem arises only if there is coercion involved in the first place.
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Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Friday, 07 December 2007

We know an awful lot about what makes for a good life. And in a general way we have known many of these things for a very long time. The research that has come out of the field of Positive Psychology is often more confirmation than revelation about what it takes to make a happy life.

Gratitude, forgiveness, integrity, empathy, earned gratification, optimism, hope, engagement, and close and loving relationships are all central to living a good life. And, if you stand back and consider these, it's clear there's no real mystery in this.

So why is it so difficult for us to actually practice these consistently?

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Written by To The Point News   
Thursday, 06 December 2007

Senator Hillary Clinton was invited to address a major gathering of the American Indian Nation two weeks ago in upper New York State.

She spoke for almost an hour on her future plans for increasing every Native American's present standard of living, should she one day become the first female President.

She referred to her career as a New York Senator, and how she had voted "YES" for every Indian issue that came before Congress.

Although the Senator was vague on the details of her plans, she seemed most enthusiastic about her future ideals for helping her "red sisters and brothers."

At the conclusion of her speech, the Tribes presented the Senator with a plaque inscribed with her new Indian name, Walking Eagle.

The proud Senator then departed in her motorcade, waving to the crowds.

A news reporter later inquired of the group of chiefs as to how they came to select the name given to the Senator.
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 29 November 2007

Karl Marx was an evil fool, but he did utter an occasional witticism - such as history does get repeated:  "The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

You can imagine his bitter laughter if he had witnessed Condi's Farce in Annapolis this week.

There have been a number of first times, efforts of bottomless naiveté to "achieve peace in the Middle East."  It's hard to believe, after all of this, that Condi Rice and her boss can be so actually naïve to think another Snipe Hunt for Peace is anything but. 

Annapolis, however, is Condi's show, not Bush's.  He's not that naïve to bet his legacy on a snipe hunt.  Texans know what a snipe hunt is.  So he let Condi stage her extravaganza, delegates from 49 countries including a gaggle of Arabs from such places that don't recognize Israel as Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, and Pakistan.  The main achievement was they all agreed to continue talking. 

In the Middle East, continuing to talk is considered close enough, like in horseshoes and hand grenades.  But if the talk is to actually accomplish peace between Israel and her neighbors, then three requirements have to met.

First, it's got to use the actual word in Arabic for "peace," not the phony substitutes.
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