Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Shameless Obama Snow Job

Shame and public humiliation used to be very effective forms of social conditioning. In Middle Age Europe an offender would often be placed in a pillory or stock and be subject to public humiliation and ridicule for their offense. The idea was that after being subjected to such humiliation the offender would mend their ways in order to avoid a repeat performance. Such discipline was not always effective, but the recidivism rate was probably far below what is seen in the American judicial system today.

In America circa 2010 one could make the argument that the very notions of shame and public humiliation have almost vanished in both public and private spheres. Paris Hilton, Eliot Spitzer, Barry Bonds, Charlie Crist, the Salahis, the popularity of Reality TV etc. In an America where almost anything seems to go, where nothing is reproachable, where everyone’s position is equally valid regardless of its substance, it’s no surprise that we have a President and administration who have the audacity to make ludicrous arguments to demonstrate the success of their policies and then expect us to accept them – and that’s before the sycophants in the media begin to spin them.

President Obama set the tone early on. In the administration that promised an unprecedented level of transparency, they were going to be crystal clear in demonstrating the efficacy of their policies in the place where it mattered most: Jobs. While previous administrations traditionally utilized the traditional Payroll or Household Surveys to measure the effect of their policies, this administration was turning a new page in government accountability, jobs that were “Saved or Created”. Rather than tethering themselves to what was actually going on in the economy, President Obama created a fantasy measurement with no correlation to anything but their imagination, something that could be neither be proved nor disproved. Saved or Created is such a vacuous measure that it would actually be possible for the administration to claim they had saved virtually every job in America. One could imagine President Obama giving the following statement to start off the Summer of Recovery:
“The country’s economic situation when we took over was so bad we were forced to take drastic measures. The single most significant measure we took, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a resounding success. Uncertainty at the time was deep and widespread: There were suggestions China was preparing to dump American bonds, OPEC was looking at pricing oil in Euros and companies across the country were considering mass layoffs to conserve cash. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act gave international markets and domestic employers the confidence that our administration was going to do what was necessary to bring order to America’s economic house after eight years of economic mismanagement. As a direct result of that stimulus bill and our sound economic policies, the 25 million jobs that our internal analysis suggested might be lost were indeed saved and I’m glad to say here today that we have put our economy back on solid footing and America is beginning to grow once again.”
While he didn’t actually make the above statement, given the lack of substance underlying the Saved or Created measure and the media’s proclivity to paint everything Obama in glowing hues, one wonders why they didn’t.

Now that the Summer of Recovery has been shown to be on life support and Saved or Created has not helped President Obama’s cratering approval ratings, the administration has just rolled out the latest measure for demonstrating the genius of their economic policy… “Lives Touched”. According to CHT2M Hill, the company that received 4 or the 10 largest contracts under the stimulus plan:
"Lives Touched" is a figure that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses to track the amount of people who have been positively affected by the Recovery Act funds. This total would include people who have been provided full time employment (i.e. saved and created jobs) through the Recovery Act and people who at some point have supported a project funded by the Recovery Act.
First Saved or Created and now Lives Touched? Really? Such idiocy could only happen in a country where embarrassment, shame and humiliation have ceased to exist. What else explains the willingness of the administration to seriously suggest such tools to measure economic efficacy? That is the mentality of a four year old with cookie crumbs on his face telling his mommy that some imaginary person took the cookies. The four year old might be excused as having not quite grasped the concept of truth vs. fiction. Despite their childlike pursuit of policies that are so obviously flawed, the Obama administration is not filled with children. They should have, at least in concept, understood that inventing unsupportable criteria to measure real world events is simply unacceptable. Only in a country that no longer knows what shame means can politicians act with impunity when they should be embarrassed. In the fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes” the Emperor was not embarrassed because he actually thought he was wearing respectable clothes. Barack Obama on the other hand has been nakedly inventing stories to mislead the American public for 18 months. Perhaps a little shame and public humiliation are in order for having the audacity to think Americans are too stupid to see through his illusions.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Prosperity is not a birthright…

The Michael Crichton thriller Rising Sun was published to much fanfare in 1992. Ostensibly a murder mystery, the book was seen by many as a thinly veiled tale of alarm at the Japanese taking over the planet – economically. The book came after a decade of headlines chronicling the rise of the Japanese juggernaut. In 1987 Sony bought CBS Records and in 1989 Columbia Pictures. 1989 also saw Mitsubishi buy Rockefeller Center and in 1990 the Japanese bought the venerated Pebble Beach complex on the California coast. Not only were Americans reading headlines about Japan buying up the country but increasingly they were driving Japanese cars, entertaining themselves with Japanese electronics and staying in Japanese owned hotels if they were practically anywhere in the state of Hawaii. Three and a half decades after emerging like a phoenix out of the rubble of WWII, Japan was poised to take over the world.

A funny thing happened on the way to Japan’s economic coronation however… the country crashed into a brick wall. In 1991 Japan saw the beginning of a real estate driven financial collapse that saw the Nikki drop from a an all time high of 39,000 in 1989 to below 8,000 in 2008. Along the way the economic juggernaut cratered. Between 1980 & 1990 Japanese GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.4%. From 1991 to 2009 it grew at an anemic average rate of .9% per year. That may not sound like much of a difference, but step back and the difference is stark. During the decade of the 1980’s the Japanese economy grew 24%. Over the two decades since it has grown by a mere 18%.

Fundamentally the Japanese took their prosperity for granted. The government sought to coddle small businesses by limiting competition, both domestic and foreign. They failed to force banks to acknowledge and dispose of their bad loans. Low and negative interest rates gave investors around the world little reason to look to Japan. Most importantly government spending as a share of GDP increased as did the taxes and debt necessary to support such expenditures. Today government expenditures exceed 41% vs. 32% in 1980 and debt has soared to 200% of GDP from 46% in 1980. At the end of the day the Japanese took their eyes off of what it takes to maintain the prosperity they had worked so hard to build.

The coup de grace proclaiming Japan’s economic fall came last week when China “officially” became the second largest economy in the world. (Measured on a Per Capita Income basis however, the Japanese are still far richer than the Chinese.) China is now seen by many the way the Japanese were in the 80’s and early 90’s. Much of the merchandise on our shelves bears a Made in China label, China is acquiring companies and natural resources around the world and the government is the single largest holder of US Treasury Bonds by far. Everything seems to be going in China’s direction.

This column however is not really about the fall of Japan or whether China’s one billion people will take over the world. The tale of Japan is illustrative, not because the Japanese turned out to be paper economic tigers or that free markets eventually fail. No, the Japanese tale is important because it demonstrates what happens when a nation forgets that prosperity is not guaranteed, it’s not a birthright. It is the Japanese’s national lapse in judgment that is important.

The United States was the driving economic force for virtually the entire 20th century. Between its inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs, it led the way to the greatest advance in the condition of man in human history. If any people had the right to think prosperity was their birthright, it would be the Americans of the 21st century. That would be a mistake however, but far too many Americans are making it.

America sits atop the world’s economic pyramid not because of divine fiat or the luck of the draw. The prosperity that Americans enjoy in 2010 (despite the current economic troubles) is the result of generations of hard work, risk taking and innovation on the part of millions of businessmen and their employees over the last 150 years – on a playing field of economic and personal freedom established by our Constitution. Our prosperity was never set in stone and things could have turned out much differently. Indeed we survived the Great Depression despite the FDR’s drive to control virtually every aspect of American economic life. Don’t forget, it was WWII that pulled America out of the Depression, not the New Deal. In 1940 unemployment still stood at 14%, up from 3.1% in 1929, federal spending as a share of GDP was at 10%, again up from 3% in 1929 and the stock market, which by 1932 had dropped 89% from its 1929 high, did not return to that level until 1954.

As America struggles with record debt and deficits, a moribund economy and its citizens awash in a raging storm of government regulation and tax increases, the passing of the torch from Japan to China should help crystallize the choices in November. There is no guarantee that putting the likes of Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Sharon Angle in the Senate and Rob Woodall and Allen West in the House will stop President Obama and his stridently progressive agenda. What you can be certain of however is that they, along with most of their conservative and tea party brethren recognize that America’s greatness prosperity has always come from the innovation, entrepreneurship and hard work of her citizens and their willingness to brave the risk / reward paradigm in order to achieve their own version of the American dream. The alternative to fiscal conservatives is more of the Democrat idiocy that prosperity is created by government spending and regulation.

That government spending and regulation along with its companion taxes and debt are a recipe for disaster... So, as we research candidates on our Chinese made iPads and contemplate which lever to pull in November, we might want to remember that 30 years ago those iPads would likely have carried a Made in Japan label, and ponder how prosperity can be lost…

Monday, August 16, 2010

Will Republicans have the stones to put Uncle Sam in the unemployment line?

The federal government is big, unwieldy and incompetent. Is there something about large organizations that by definition make them incapable of operating effectively and efficiently? No. Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States and one of the largest in the world. It employs 1.8 million Americans and another quarter of a million people in countries from China to Argentina to the United Kingdom. Wal-Mart may not be your cup of tea, but they unquestionably do a phenomenal job at what they are in business to do: Sell consumers goods they desire at low prices. One can dislike much about the firm but people are clamoring for its jobs and customers willingly give the company almost half a trillion dollars a year. This sixty five year old, nimble, effective and efficient company demonstrates that a large company does not necessarily have to be a lumbering paragon of failure.

Successful, well run large organizations come in all shapes and sizes as well: publicly traded, privately owned, for profit and not. McDonalds, Publix, Kelly Services, Red Cross, FedEx, Boy Scouts, Cargill. Google. The success of all of these companies destroys the argument that large organizations must be ineffective and poorly run.

One name you won’t find on that list is Uncle Sam. The federal government is the single largest employer in the United States. Not only is Uncle Sam the largest employer in the country, but according to a USA Today analysis published last week, federal employees earn literally double what private sector employees earn. On its face that is absurd. The government doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t create wealth. Government exists only to the extent that it can take (by threat of force) money from citizens who are subject to its jurisdiction.

The fact that federal employees earn double what private sector employees earn might make some sense if government were somehow providing something of value that it was somehow uniquely qualified to do. It doesn’t. There are few things the government does that could not be done far more efficiently and effectively by a private organization. Imagine if the Post Office was run by FedEx. Better yet, imagine if competition for the mail service were opened up to FedEx, UPS and some unknown entrepreneurs with a brilliant idea we’ve never even heard of. Imagine if Amtrak was scrapped and companies decided to provide passenger rail service based upon where passengers wanted to go and what they were willing to pay. In both of these cases and many more the services that the government is providing could be done by companies seeking to make a profit.

The profit motive is a wonderfully clarifying tool. It focuses one’s attention when deciding where to allocate scarce resources. It is of course not the only motive for which people and organizations do things, but unlike charity, support of education, helping the homeless and many other virtuous pursuits, profit generally has a measure of clarity that is unambiguous and devoid of subjective interpretation.

One typical argument in support of government inefficiency is that government does not exist to make a profit. That is true. No one begrudges the Defense Department for not making a profit and few people would want to the FBI to offer its services to the highest bidder. But most citizens do want a government that is run on a tight budget and that only spends money on what is necessary. As such the government should do only those things it must and leave the rest to the private sector. The beauty of profit is that it allows citizens to do a great deal of good, and do it far more efficiently than government. Profit allowed Andrew Carnegie to build 1,500 libraries around the country and another 1000 around the world. Profit allowed JD Rockefeller to fund Spelman College, the University of Chicago, finance the foundations of modern medicine as well as help renovate Versailles in France. Profit has allowed Bill Gates to revolutionize the global philanthropy universe by bringing business techniques to research and funding. For every one of those profiteers there are millions of Americans who write small checks from their own checking accounts to fund organizations from the Red Cross to the Boy Scouts to the United Way to their local churches and civic organizations. (And there are millions more who donate their time and energy.)

By allowing citizens to keep the profits of their efforts they can do far more to address social issues than any faceless government agency. Does anyone not recognize that the Salvation Army could probably do a better job of fighting homelessness or hunger than Health and Human Services if they had even half of HHS’s budget? Does anyone doubt that the hundreds of Catholic schools across the country or Michigan’s Hillsdale College are far better models for education than anything the US Department of Education has ever come up with or imposed? You might not like their politics but at least your kids could read and add 2 + 2. If the government took less control over citizens lives and left them with more of their own money, they would support their local churches and civic organizations who would in turn address social issues on a local and far more rational level, and probably actually make progress on solving them.

The other typical defense of government inefficiency is that government employees are typically better educated and more qualified than their private sector counterparts, and hence must be paid more. That is simply false. President Obama has degrees from two of the most prestigious universities in the country yet he has shown himself to be an incompetent leader and manager. Anyone who has ever tried to navigate the maze of federal agencies can recognize that education and “qualifications” have a zero correlation with effective government. One would imagine there were lots of MBAs and lawyers on staff at the SEC over the two decades they failed to recognize that Bernie Madoff was a crook, despite numerous phone calls and letters suggesting improprieties. How long would that fraud have taken to discover if the people from whom he swindled $50 billion had had to do their own due diligence on Madoff rather than relying on the intrepid SEC? Somehow one would imagine that the damage would have been only a fraction of the final bill.

It’s bad enough when citizens see that the taxes they pay are being redistributed to those who are not sharing their tax burdens or are going to prop up banks and car companies that should have been allowed to fail, but when they see that federal employees earn twice what they do – with rock solid job security – in a government that fails at most things it pursues, they begin to question the legitimacy of government at all.

The next 30 months are going to provide Republicans with a once in a generation opportunity. When they return in January and control Congress they can either return to the big government game that they played for much of the previous two decades or they can decide to become real conservatives and return the country back to the people. Start from scratch and require every department to justify its existence. Do away with Executive Order 10988 which allowed unionization of federal workers. Put Americans back in control over every segment of their lives that is possible and that goes from Social Security to support of the poor to when they want to pay taxes (via the FairTax).

If Republicans can’t earn their conservative bona fides in this kind of an environment, when the table has been so perfectly set for them, then they deserve to be tossed on the dustbin of history as the socialist horde overruns the country and systematically destroys everything that was once great. Will they be up to the challenge? Let's hope so.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Do we really want to redefine marriage?

States across the country are in the midst of debating the idea of changing the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Five states have legalized the practice through legislative or judicial action, but despite thirty-one attempts, not a single time has a majority of citizens of a state approved such a change. Not that this is an argument for majority rule. It’s not. Every state has a republican form of government and should be governed by the rule of law rather than man. Nonetheless, at some point government is accountable to the people and constitutional change is often how citizens make their feelings felt. Thirty states, including California, have amended their constitutions to explicitly state that marriage is to be considered between one man and one woman. This week a federal judge in San Francisco threw much of that into the air. Ted Olson argued that the court is merely protecting the right to marriage, a right the court has addressed 14 times since 1888. I have to disagree with Mr. Olson and Judge Walker. This is not just like Loving v. Virginia, which did away with barriers to interracial marriage. Race is not sex. This is not opening up marriage to just another group who had been arbitrarily excluded. Men and woman are fundamentally different and marriage has always been understood to be a union between a man and a woman, not just two people.

If we step away from thousands of years of western tradition, if we take that first step in changing the definition from one man and one woman, where does that road lead? Where do we stop? It’s the slippery slope problem. Sure, today we are arguing about two people of the same sex, but why could we not just as easily argue for one man and two women or three men or three women? Could we not use the same rationale to allow a salesman who lives in Miami but works in Charlotte to have a wife and children in Florida and another family in North Carolina? And what if his Charlotte wife wanted to have a second husband from across town for the weekends when her salesman husband is down in Florida? Who says a person can’t be committed to two different people simultaneously? In 1887 Utah was forced to outlaw polygamy as the price of admission into the United States because it was understood that marriage was between one man and one woman. Will the state now have the opportunity to amend its constitution to bring back the practice? Once we change the definition the permutations could be endless. What about children? It was not so long ago that the marriage of children for political or dowry reasons was not uncommon. Do we want to go back there and allow 12 & 13 year old children to be married and traded for family favors or for “love”? Is not the age of consent arbitrary?

One might argue that much of the history of marriage had to do with the biological necessity of a heterosexual union for procreation purposes. Because science has now made an actual heterosexual union unnecessary for procreation is that sufficient grounds to abandon the principal in the first place? Scientists have been telling us for years that at some point computers will be smarter than humans. Today there is even a report about a robot that expresses and detects emotions. Make that into an anatomically correct robot and we could have relationships without human partners, male or female. Should those unions then be granted marriage status as well?

For 2,500 years western civilization has been anchored around the notion that marriage was understood to be between one man and one woman. While the form of government may have varied from democracy to republic to empire to monarchy to constitutional democracy to our own constitutional republic, marriage between one man and one woman has always been understood to be at the core of that society. The legitimacy of the government itself was sometimes explicitly based upon blood and marriage, and in all cases the institution of marriage and family was understood to be at the foundation of the society. The Catholic church lost England over marriage it was so important. Although mistresses, prostitutes and divorces have often betrayed the failure of the institution on an individual level, marriage nonetheless always remained the cultural norm and ideal.

We’re often told that there was a great homosexual tradition in ancient Rome and Greece. Pederasty may have been common in Greece and homosexuality an open secret in Rome, but in both the traditional understanding of a one man one woman marriage held sway. When Christianity induced Roman Emperors Constantius II and Constans to ban homosexual marriage, they were simply codifying what had largely existed in practice since the beginning of Rome. (Although Nero is said to have married both men and women, for the marriages where Nero played the woman, he was mocked… to the extent one could mock the Emperor in Rome. On the occasion that Nero was the bridegroom he had his slave Sporos castrated so that he could play the role of bride.) In no western country had homosexual marriage ever enjoyed countenance on equal footing with heterosexual marriage until the Netherlands legalized gay marriage in 2000.

Opposition to gay marriage should not be construed to suggest that homosexual couples should be second class citizens. On the contrary. They should have the same freedom to share in the blessings of liberty as any other citizens. Many states have approved civil unions that provide same sex couples with the same benefits and opportunities that married couples enjoy. As for the federal government and the marriage penalty, they should get out of the income tax business and implement the FairTax. For years the notion of same sex partners not being allowed into hospital rooms or not being allowed to be on one another’s insurance policy were the issues at the vanguard of the gay rights movement. Typically civil union legislation has wiped away such concerns and in many cases legislation has turned civil unions into marriage in everything but name only.

Fundamentally once you get past the issue of financial benefits and contracts, you’re left with the sheen of language. The simple question is, does the idea of, the ideal of marriage have any value to the culture as a whole? Does our government have a vested interest in promoting the ideal of the traditional nuclear family? Europe provides a stunning example of what happens when marriage ceases to be a central focus of the society. For forty years, from Italy to the UK to Portugal to Germany the experience has been very much the same. As marriage and family became less important, less of a priority, one by one the countries have become basket cases. Marriage rates are down by half across the continent. (Even amongst that greatly reduced number, a UK study recently found that in places 3 out of 4 marriages were shams for the specific purpose of staying in the country.) Divorce rates are up. Birth rates amongst native Europeans has fallen far below the replacement rate. What births they are experiencing are increasingly being had out of wedlock and more and more frequently the state is responsible for providing the basic support for those children. More and more the family is becoming irrelevant as everybody becomes a ward of the state.

Across the continent countries are losing their identities as the only growth they are experiencing comes from immigrants largely from countries that do not share the same core, fundamental, traditional western values. As a result Europe is facing tremendous challenges. Greece is burning as the socialist state can not support itself. France faces constant uprisings from youths who have spent their lives in France but feel no loyalty to the country or its culture. England is seeing growing pockets of immigrants demanding that they no longer be subject to British law but instead to Sharia. These problems start with the divorce of the state from its culture, and marriage between a man and a woman has been one of the core elements of western culture for more than two millennia.

As has so often happened over the last 200 years, the United States is where the west’s future is written... twice America was the last man standing who helped pull it back from the brink of hell. The question is, are we going to be pulled further into the European morass of cultural ambiguity where all ideals are equal, where no institutions survive an aggrieved minority and the state has no role in maintaining the nation? Or are we going to recognize that the ideal of marriage between a man and a woman, while imperfect in execution, is one of those fundamental ideas that ties us to our history, our culture and has helped shape the world we live in? If the answer is the latter, is it not worth preserving?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Julian Assange should be sent to Guantanamo Bay

Julian Assange doesn’t look like your typical Taliban operative. He’s an Australian born blond haired pasty white guy who looks like he’s quite unfamiliar with the sun. Truth be told, he’s not actually an operative. In all honesty he probably doesn’t like those guys much. Nonetheless, he is working for them as much as if he were on their payroll.

Last week, the website he co-founded, WikiLeaks, released 90,000 pages of secret tactical American military reports in conjunction with the New York Times, Germany’s Der Spiegel and Britain’s Guardian. Despite being historical in nature (7 months old being the most recent) they will do as much harm to American troops and efforts in the region as if he had provided Al Jazeera with the actual coordinates of troop positions currently out in the field. As such, Assange deserves to be declared an enemy combatant and the United States should use every legal tool at its disposal to put their hands on him and try him in a military tribunal. Given that Guantanamo is still open perhaps that would be an appropriate venue.

Assange defends his release of the documents with the accusation that (Defense) “Secretary Gates has overseen the killings of thousands of children and adults in these two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan)", drawing a moral equivalence between unintended collateral causalities of war and the certain vicious murder of informants at the hands of the Taliban and their Al Qaeda brethren. Lest anyone might miss the connection, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Britian’s Channel 4 News that they were studying the documents and the names and "If they are US spies, then we know how to punish them." Assange apparently dislikes the killing of innocents, but only the unintended collateral types. Those intentional, premeditated murders by Islamist fascist types he has no problem with and even contributes to.

Assange discusses WikiLeak’s “harm minimization” standards of conduct in a rambling exchange with Channel 4:
Channel 4: There is an awful amount of material here that you couldn't have looked through personally. Could it cost lives? Is it putting people in danger publishing this?
Assange: We've gone through the material and reviewed it and looked for cases where innocent informers, ie an old man saying next door there is a Taliban, or what he believes is Taliban, so we've looked for those cases and there's a particular type of report that frequently has that - those have been withheld and also the source says they have done some work in doing this as well. So I think it's unlikely that that will happen. We've worked hard to make sure there's not a significant chance of anybody coming to harm.

But you can't guarantee it?
Any information can be abused for another purpose so we can't guarantee it. But our understanding of the material is that it's vastly more likely to save lives than cost lives.

So you've actually removed stuff from this leak?

Is that a first for Wikileaks?
Sources know when they submit material that we go through a "harm minimisation" process.

That harm minimisation process is not about removing material it's about minimising harm. We have a number of ways to do that. The way we have done it in the past and it's always been effective - notify and delay. Notify the people concerned, and delay the publication as a result. So we have retained some of this material for the harm minimisation process. No, because it's really impossible for us to notify the Afghanis in their villages about this material - we will have to do a redaction of some of it.

Despite Assange’s heroic “harm minimization” efforts, in just two hours the Times of London found dozens of names and villages of Afghanistanis who had provided information to the Americans. As a result of WikiLeaks there are likely hundreds of individual Afghanistanis’ and thousands of their fellow villagers who will be targeted by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. In addition, the Taliban will likely trail many of those informants and use that information to ambush American and coalition troops.

In addition, these leaks will make foreign governments and their intelligence agencies, from Pakistan to Britain and everywhere in between far less likely to share their intelligence with the United States because they are rightly concerned that it might end up on the front page of the New York Times. That withholding of information will cause further deaths as well.

While Assange is the face of this treachery, he is not the only one who should be in the Pentagon’s sights. The New York Times, Der Spiegel and the Guardian should be looked at as well. Not only did they give Assange a far bigger stage than his obscure website might have otherwise provided, they may be complicit in providing actionable information to the Taliban. Although Arthur Sulzberger and Bill Keller should probably have been prosecuted for the Times’ SWIFT banking and domestic wiretapping stories, they will likely escape prosecution here simply because they limited the content they actually published.

Then of course there is the source itself. At first blush it appears as if the primary source for the leaked documents was Bradley E. Manning, an Army private who is being held for the release of the Apache video earlier this year. Manning may have had civilian accomplices and they should share his fate whatever that might be. At this point one might also ask how an E-3 might have put his hands on so much highly sensitive information.

In the modern world of moral relativism, where the peace-loving left has no problem betraying American secrets and putting bull’s-eyes on the backs of Afghanistanis who simply seek to rid their country of the Islamo fascists in their midst, this is a rare moment of clarity. There will likely be American and Afghanistani blood shed as a result of these WikiLeaks actions. Julian Assange, Private Manning and their enablers should be held accountable for their actions and should pay whatever price is appropriate. We can’t unring the 90,000 page bell they’ve rung, but hopefully their punishments will provide sufficient disincentive that others decide not to follow their lead.