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10001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 24, 2011, 02:48:15 PM

Bad day for the world's toughest ballerina.
10002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will this help or hurt the economy? on: January 24, 2011, 12:09:25 PM

Gas pump prices that are around $3 a gallon now may seem like a bargain by the time your kids are on Easter egg hunts.

Pump prices have risen nearly 9 percent since Dec. 1 and topped $3.10 a gallon this week. That's the highest level since October 2008. The price may rise or fall a little over the next few months, but analysts expect it to range between $3.20 and $3.75 gallon by March and April ahead of the summer driving season.

The national average for regular gasoline about $3.12 a gallon on Friday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That's nearly 12 cents more than a month ago and 38 cents above a year ago.

Average pump prices range from $2.81 to $3.70 in major cities. For example, the average in Salt Lake City is $2.74 a gallon and in New Orleans it's $2.97 a gallon. Drivers in San Francisco pay $3.44 a gallon, and in Honolulu gas is $3.58 a gallon.

Americans typically drive less in the winter. Demand is about 1 percentage point higher than a year ago but remains weaker than the historical average, said energy analyst Jim Ritterbusch. The nation's gasoline supplies remain above the five-year average.

Over the next couple of months, refineries will conduct regular maintenance to prepare for the changeover to summer driving mixes. That could affect supplies, but gas prices should remain steady to a few cents more, according to oil analyst Tom Kloza of Oil Price Information Service.

By spring he expects the average price to rise to between $3.50 and $3.75 a gallon. Ritterbusch expects $3.20 to $3.25 a gallon by Memorial Day.

For every penny the price at the pump increases, it costs consumers overall an additional $4 million, according to Cameron Hanover analyst Peter Beutel. If the price goes up a dime a gallon, consumers pay $40 million more each day for that increase.


10003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 24, 2011, 11:47:06 AM
The economy is tanking. Check out food and gas prices and unemployment.
10004  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 24, 2011, 10:53:51 AM
10005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 24, 2011, 10:14:11 AM
I hope you keep contributing here, Trickydog. Good to have someone grounded in the hard sciences around.
10006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stealth on: January 23, 2011, 04:34:28 PM

Jan. 23, 2011
Chinese Stealth Jet May Use U.S. Technology
Experts Believe Newly-Unveiled High-Tech Fighter May Borrow Technology Taken From U.S. Jet Shot Down in 1999
10007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 23, 2011, 01:31:22 PM

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Schumer's Ploy

This was inevitable...

When investigators discovered that Arizona gunman Jared Lee Loughner had been rejected by the Army (because of admitted drug use), it was just a matter of time before some politician connected the dots: Hey, let's require military recruiters to report anyone with a history of drug abuse to other federal agencies!

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), come on down. Earlier this week, Mr. Schumer proposed that federal officials who learn of an individual's illegal drug use must report that information to the FBI. The admission would then go into a federal database, and be used to deny the individual the right to purchase a gun.


Noting that the alleged shooter in the Tucson massacre had admitted to military recruiters that he had used drugs on several occasions, Schumer said he is proposing to the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that the military be required to to notify federal officials about such admissions. He said such a process does not require new legislation.


Schumer said if military recruiters or other officials report admissions of drug use to a national database, those individuals could be denied a gun.

After Jared Loughner was interviewed by the military, he was rejected from the Army because of excessive drug use. Now by law, by law that's on the books, she should not have been allowed to buy a gun," Schumer told NBC.

"But the law doesn't require the military to notify the FBI about that and in this case they didn't. So I--this morning--I'm writing the administration and urging that be done and the military notify the FBI when someone is rejected from the military for excessive drug use and that be added to the FBI database."

Obviously, Schumer's "proposal" is little more than a thinly-veiled effort to restrict Second Amendment rights. But unfortunately, his suggestion may gain traction, given the fallout from the Tucson tragedy and the administration's own feelings on gun control. We can hear the arguments now: This is a reasonable proposal; it won't require any new laws and it might prevent a similar massacre in the future.

But even a cursory examination reveals that the Schumer suggestion is a horribly bad idea, on multiple levels. First, it places a undue burden on military recruiters, who talk to literally dozens of potential recruits during any given week. We're reasonably sure that Senator Schumer has no idea (read: doesn't care) how much work--and paperwork--is involved in processing a single person into the U.S. military.

Now, on top of all that effort, Schumer wants armed forces recruiters--who often work in a "one-deep" office, miles from the nearest military installation--to screen all of their contacts for illegal drug use and report it to the FBI. Memo to Mr. Schumer: in 21st Century America, most of the young men and women who express an interest in military service are ultimately rejected, for a variety of reasons. So, the recruiter must wade through his list of rejects, looking for individuals whose drug use might make them a future, crazed gunman.

Readers will also note that Senator Schumer didn't bother to define the level of illegal drug use that should be reported to the FBI. Why is that an issue? Because the U.S. military, thank God, has standards that are much tougher than society as a whole. By regulation, the armed services routinely reject applicants who fail a urinalysis test, or admit to the recreational use of marijuana (or other drugs) on more than 15 occasions. That's the way it should be. We don't want stoners (or drunks) handling classified information, or maintaining multi-billion dollar weapons systems.

But that doesn't necessarily mean those same individuals should be denied the right to own a gun. In many cases, that rejection by the military is a wake-up call, convincing young people to give up the weed or the booze and become responsible adults. Those individuals, with no arrest record or convictions on file, should not be penalized for what they told a military recruiter years ago. Under current laws, persons in that category are still eligible for gun ownership, and we see no reason to change.

Besides, the type of drug use in Lougher's case was not a clear predictor of his future rampage. We're guessing the marijuana didn't help, but no one can make the case that Lougher was pushed over the edge because of his drug use. Indeed, the type of activity that Lougher told the Army about is a misdemeanor offense in much of the country.

Ask yourself this question: Do we really need to create a national database of young people who have admitted to marijuana use, and send the FBI to pay them a visit--on the very remote chance they might buy a gun and go off the deep end? Personally, I'd rather see the FBI devote its resources to more important tasks, such as tracking down the thousands of individuals from terrorist havens who enter this country each year. That group poses a far greater menace than military rejects who admit to past recreational drug use and may choose to buy a gun some day.

Schumer's proposal creates civil liberties issues as well. Requiring military recruiters to report applicant's admitted drug use could be construed as a form of illegal domestic surveillance. There's also the matter of where the reporting might end. At some point, most recruits fill out a SF-86, which provides background information for their security clearance. Would Mr. Schumer like the military to hand over those as well? Compared to recruiter interview forms, the SF-86 is a veritable goldmine of information on past residences, associations and travels.

And while we're on that topic, what about notes from the Defense Investigative Service agents who interview the family and friends of those applying for a clearance? Did we mention that some of the claims made in those interviews are unsubstantiated? Now, imagine all that information making its way into a national database, accessible to legions of bureaucrats and available for all sorts of purposes. Gee, whatever happened to that supposed right to privacy that the left keeps harping about?

If it's any consolation, the Schumer proposal is still a ways from becoming a legal requirement. But don't discount that possibility, since it can be implemented without new legislation. Stroke of the pen, law of the land, as the Clintonistas used to say.
ADDENDUM: Hard-core libertarians and the folks at NORML should not interpret this as an endorsement of legalizing drugs. Far from it. We still support the "zero tolerance" policy of the U.S. military and wish the same standard could be applied to military recruits. Unfortunately, the armed services have elected to tolerate certain levels of recreational drug use among prospective enlistees, due to the widespread use of marijuana among those in the primary recruiting cohort (18-25 year-olds).
10008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 23, 2011, 01:13:22 PM
The president should therefore call for several additions to the database: names on the terrorist watch list,

**The terrorist watch list is arbitrary, a useful tool, but the potential for abuse is there. The 2nd. is a core constitutional right, this suggestion is a deprivation of due process.

 military recruits who fail drug tests and patients ordered to undergo mental-health treatment, if their doctor or family requests they be added.

**Someone pees hot for weed at 18. Do we prevent him/her from ever owning a gun for the rest of his/her life? As far as those ordered by a court for psych treatment, that's already covered under the current statute.

 He should also demand that reluctant states supply court records on mentally incapacitated residents.

**If there has been a legal action placing someone into psych treatment, then the records should already be accessible.
10009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 23, 2011, 12:54:46 PM

BATFE Letter Re: Mental Disqualification

U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives
Office of the Director
May 9, 2007


We at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), like all Americans, were saddened by the tragic events that unfolded at Virginia Tech last month. In the immediate aftermath, many questions arose about whether the person responsible for the shootings was prohibited under Federal law from possessing a firearm, and how the shooter passed the background check required before purchasing the two firearms used on April 16, 2007.

As the Federal agency responsible for enforcing the Federal firearms laws, ATF works every day to prevent the criminal misuse of firearms. We stand ready to assist our State and local partners in better understanding the Federal prohibitors and how we can work together to prevent future tragedies. This letter serves to explain what ATF has done in response to the events at Virginia Tech and to provide information on the nature and scope of the Federal prohibition.

In the initial weeks after the Virginia Tech shootings, ATF took immediate steps to communicate with our State and local law enforcement partners and the licensed firearms community. In particular, ATF joined the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who, along with the United States Attorney General and the Secretary of Education, embarked on a twelve-State effort to meet with State and local leaders, educators, mental health experts, and law enforcement officials to find out what can be learned from the tragedy at Virginia Tech. A summary of lessons learned will be reported back to the President with recommendations about how the Federal Government, working in conjunction with State and local partners, can prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.

During the first week of May, ATF used the occasion of the annual FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Users Conference in Portland, Oregon, to reach out to State law enforcement officials to clarify the meaning of the Federal prohibition for those persons adjudicated as a “mental defective” or committed to a mental institution. ATF has also begun the process of clarifying the Firearms Transaction Record (ATF Form 4473), the form that is completed whenever a person purchases a firearm from a federally licensed dealer. The new Form 4473 will make it clear, for example, that any person who has been found by a court, board, or other lawful authority to be a danger to self or others is prohibited from purchasing a firearm or ammunition. ATF will also be sending an open letter to all Federal firearms licensees to further instruct on the meaning of the Federal prohibition.

Many States are already taking steps to identify persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms as a result of their mental health history. However, as of April 2007, only 23 States have submitted any mental health information to the NICS system, and only four regularly report such information. ATF and our FBI partners who operate the NICS system are encouraging State authorities to take the necessary actions to ensure that all disqualifying information is provided to prevent the purchase of firearms by those prohibited from possessing firearms under Federal law. Accordingly, ATF stands ready to assist any State with questions or concerns they may have with respect to collecting additional information regarding whether a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4). Many States are considering how to enhance their collection efforts in the aftermath of Virginia Tech, ATF would like to provide all necessary assistance with those efforts.

Section 922(g)(4) of 18 U.S.C. makes it unlawful for any person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution to possess firearms or ammunition. This prohibition covers two classes of persons—those who have either been (1) adjudicated as a mental defective; or (2) committed to a mental institution.

Each of these terms is defined by Federal regulation at 27 C.F.R. § 478.11 as follows:

   1. A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease:
         1. Is a danger to himself or to others; or
         2. Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.
   2. The term shall include—
         1. A finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case; and
         2. Those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility pursuant to articles 50a and 72b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 850a, 876b.


This term means a formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily. The term also includes a commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness, and commitments for other reasons such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or any voluntary admission to a mental institution.

ATF has historically interpreted these provisions as constituting two distinct prohibitions. Each prohibition represents a separate disqualification. For example, a “commitment” means a formal commitment, not a voluntary stay. Excluded are stays for observation only. Nor does the term include a stay in a mental institution that never involved any form of adjudication by a lawful authority. However, a stay that began as a voluntary stay may be subsequently transformed into a disqualifying stay if a court, board, or other lawful authority makes a determination that the person is a danger to self or others. Moreover, a voluntary stay that is by itself not disabling could be later converted into a formal commitment and therefore be disabling.

For purposes of a Federal firearms disability, ATF interprets “adjudicated mental defective” to include anyone adjudicated to be a “danger to him or herself,” “a danger to others,” or lacking “the mental capacity to contract or manage their own affairs.” For purposes of Federal law, “danger” means any danger, not simply “imminent” or “substantial” danger as is often required to sustain an involuntary commitment under State law. Thus, for example, adjudication that a person was mentally ill and a danger to himself or others would result in Federal firearms disability, whether the court-ordered treatment was on an inpatient or outpatient basis. This is because the adjudication itself (a finding of danger due to mental illness) is sufficient to trigger the disability.

It should be emphasized that whatever adjudication procedure a State employs, the Constitution requires certain guarantees of due process. In order for a particular commitment order to qualify as a prohibiting commitment, ATF historically has required that traditional protections of due process be present, including adequate notice, an opportunity to respond, and a right to counsel. Such protections are important because whether a person has been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution, the firearms disability is permanent.

We recognize that the procedures that result in a person being prohibited vary widely under State law and we encourage each of you to work closely with ATF to determine whether your statutory or regulatory mental health commitment or adjudication procedures under a particular set of facts might result in a determination that qualifies as a Federal prohibition.

We appreciate the interest that Federal, State, and local law enforcement and other stakeholders have in improving the enforcement of our nation’s firearms laws, and ATF stands ready to assist the States in improving their efforts to ensure information on disqualified persons is collected and provided to the NICS system. Questions or concerns about any of these issues may be directed to your local ATF field office.
Signed By Michael J. Sullivan
10010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Glenn Beck's fault on: January 23, 2011, 12:39:28 PM

More Ring Lardnerism

H/T to Powerline for this.

It seems Glenn Back, by accurately quoting Frances Fox Piven, has gored the Ruling Class ox again.  Professor Piven wrote, and The Nation published,  an article calling for violent, angry protest.  In her piece in The Nation, Piven calls for:

    An effective movement of the unemployed [that] will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union,[Emphasis mine.]

Beck and The Blaze have publicized the piece; Piven appears to have become something of a bête noire for Beck.  (And yes, there’s no doubt that Beck does obsess about things sometimes.) But he’s neither misattributing the piece, nor taking it out of context; Piven is urging violence as what will be necessary to achieve her ends.

The reaction in the Times?  Why obviously, to accuse Beck of fomenting threats against Piven.  They quote in particular:

    In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck’s “false accusations” about Ms. Piven.

    “Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response,” the group wrote.

Piven’s own response:

    That is not a call for violence,” Ms. Piven said Friday of the references to riots. “There is a kind of rhetorical trick that is always used to denounce movements of ordinary people, and that is to imply that the massing of people itself is violent.”

No one notes, apparently, that there’s no such thing as a “nonviolent riot” and the riots in Greece in particular have been deadly.

According to the Times, the Center for Constitutional Rights says (find their full web article here):

    t took exception to the sheer quantity of negative attention to Ms. Piven.

    “We are vigorous defenders of the First Amendment,” the center said in its letter to Fox. “However, there comes a point when constant intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods about a person can put that person in actual physical danger of a violent response.” Mr. Beck is at that point, they said.

The puzzle, of course, is that Beck is repeating and truthfully quoting Piven — or, appears to be, unless Piven asserts the article published under her name wasn’t actually hers. The central point or the CCR’s complaint seems to be that while they’re all in favor of free speech, they don’t want too much of it.

In other words…

    “Shut up he explained.”
10011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The new hate speech on: January 23, 2011, 12:36:57 PM
Accurately reporting what the left says=hate speech

The Second Time is Farce: Frances Fox Piven Calls for a new Cloward-Piven Strategy for Today
December 30, 2010 - by Ron Radosh

Writing in The Nation magazine on May 2, 1966, sociologists Richard Cloward and his wife Frances Fox Piven published what was to become in later years one of the most famous and influential of leftist articles. Titled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” the two socialist intellectuals developed a new so-called “crisis strategy” — that of trying to use the existing welfare system to create chaos that would weaken the corporate capitalist state and eventually foment revolution. “Discover the Networks” has a good summary of their thesis.

The two became the ideologists of a group formed to implement their strategy, called “The National Welfare Rights Organization,” or NWRO. As Stanley Kurtz explains in Radical-in-Chief: “the idea was to flood state and local welfare systems with more applicants than they could possibly afford to carry. Cloward and Piven believed that this ‘break the bank’ strategy would force President [Lyndon B.] Johnson and a liberal Democratic Congress to bail out overburdened state welfare systems with a federally guaranteed annual income.” This experience of activism by the poor would create a new anti-capitalist sentiment, and would stoke the poors’ “sense of entitlement and rage.” Later, the group’s mission would be carried on by ACORN, whose leaders endorsed and built upon Cloward and Piven’s strategy.

The idea was to consciously create a fiscal crisis of the state. ACORN’s chief strategist, Peter Dreier, explained this in an article, “The Case for Transitional Reform,” which appeared in the journal Social Policy in February 1979. Dreier called for injecting “unmanageable strains into the capitalist system, strains that precipitate an economic and/or political crisis,” producing a “revolution of rising entitlements” that “cannot be abandoned without undermining the legitimacy of the capitalist class.” Once a “fiscal crisis in the public sector” occurred, the movement could push for creation of “socialist norms” being advanced as the only possible solution.

A few decades have passed since this strategy was first announced. They had great hopes that when  Bill Clinton became president, they could implement their strategy. But the Clinton administration — once seen potentially by the Left as a vehicle for fulfillment of its dreams — worked with Republicans in Clinton’s second term to pass meaningful and successful welfare reform. This was precisely the opposite of what the Left wanted and hoped for.

Now, as President Barack Obama is beginning the mid-point of his first and possibly only term in office, the Left is again trying to advance a new form of the old strategy. And the author of the new program is none other than Frances Fox Piven, the co-author with her late husband of the original 1966 article.  Clearly, Piven looks back fondly with memories of what NWRO did in the 1970s. The New York Times reported on their tactics on September 22, 1970:

    There have been sit-ins in legislative chambers, including a United States Senate committee hearing, mass demonstrations of several thousand welfare recipients, school boycotts, picket lines, mounted police, tear gas, arrests — and, on occasion, rock-throwing, smashed glass doors, overturned desks, scattered papers and ripped-out phones.

My friend Sol Stern, now with City Journal and the Manhattan Institute,  explained how successful they were:

    The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley’s wildest dreams. From 1965 to 1974, the number of households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city’s private economy.

Under the liberal administration of Mayor John Lindsay, welfare spending more than doubled, from $400 million to $1 billion a year. Money for the poor was now 28 per cent of the city’s budget, and New York almost collapsed as a result — precisely the hope of Cloward, Piven and George Wiley.

Now, as our national economy and many state and city budgets again are at the breaking point, Frances Fox Piven has issued a new call to repeat and build upon the ruinous strategies that she and her late husband advanced decades ago. And as in 1966, her vehicle is The Nation, the flagship magazine of the Left which today has a huge circulation and much greater influence than it had in the 1960s.

Writing in the current issue, Piven  presents a clarion call for a new mass movement, one that the magazine publishes as an editorial statement representing its editors. (It is currently under the magazine’s firewall.)  She begins by noting that nothing is taking place to deal with ending what she claims is an unemployment rate of 15 million people. To regain the 5 percent rate of 2007, she estimates there would have to be 300,000 jobs created each month for several years, something that is next to impossible.

Thus Piven asks a question: “So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs?” In other words, the kind of action her protégé George Wiley fomented in the 70s with the NWRO. She admonishes the Left not to wait for “the end of the American empire and even the end of neoliberal capitalism,” but to up the ante at present to pressure for “big new [government] initiatives in infrastructure and green energy” that could “ward off the darkness.”   Her fear is that the new Congress, instead of moving in the direction she and the Left favors, will concentrate on “deficit reduction by means of tax cuts and spending cuts.” As for President Obama, she sees him as a new version of  Herbert Hoover, who foolishly meets with corporate executives and seeks to placate them.

What is needed, she suggests, are “mass protests” that might influence Obama and press “him hard from his base.” To do that, however, she notes that they have to get past the many obstructions to mobilize the unemployed. This is especially the case that the unions today “do little for their unemployed,” who don’t pay dues and “are likely to be malcontents.”

Piven argues that their task is harder than it was in the past, because the unemployed are diverse, are not in one area of the country and have no common institutional setting. It is hard to bring people together, even in welfare and unemployment centers, she complains, since often administrators try to avoid long lines and crowded waiting areas, where organizers could proselytize and inflame the dissatisfied applicants.

But most important, she writes, “they have to develop a proud and angry identity and a set of claims that go with that identity. They have to go from being hurt and ashamed to being angry and indignant (my emphasis) …Losing a job is bruising; even when many other people are out of work, most people are still working. So, a kind of psychological transformation has to take place; the out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for their hard times and turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.”

They also need targets, which she sees as “the most difficult of the strategy problems.” Since she knows well that “local and state governments are strapped for funds,” the poor and the unemployed must demand “federal action.” It is, in other words, another “fiscal crisis of the state” that, as in the past, can be used to advance the radical goal. There first have to be local protests that have to “accumulate and spread,”  then “become more disruptive” (my emphasis) in order to pressure our national political leaders.  What does Piven mean when she calls for disruption? She is clear and up front about her intent:

    An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union, or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees. (my emphasis.)

What she is calling for is nothing less than the chaos and violence engulfing Europe. Disgruntled leftist unionists, students who expect an education without cost, and citizens of social-democratic states cannot accept that the old terms of the social contract they thought would last forever have worn out their welcome. The European welfare-state governments can no longer function with the kind of social programs that now far exceed their nation’s budgets and hence are moving their countries to the precipice of total collapse.

So Piven hopes that in our own country, “a loose and spontaneous movement of this sort could emerge,” spurred on, no doubt, by ideologues like Piven and the encouragement of the New York City leftists who run The Nation magazine. Perhaps on their next Carribbean cruise they can talk about it some more.  Hence Piven hopes that young workers and students, “who face a future of joblessness, just might become large enough and disruptive enough to have an impact in Washington.”

Will it happen here? There is no exact science of protest movements, she notes. But who, she asks, “expected the angry street mobs in Athens or the protests by British students?” Living in the past, she looks hopefully at the strikes in 1934, and the civil rights movement of the1960s. Clearly no student of history, Piven fails to comprehend the very different circumstances that made these social movements have legs. All she can do is issue her hope that another “American social movement from the bottom” will emerge, and then the organized Nation left can “join it.”
10012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: January 23, 2011, 12:29:16 PM
I think there is a place for such contractors. The CIA seemingly is too big and too risk adverse to do much of what is required.
10013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 23, 2011, 12:26:03 PM
Meh. I foresee serious problems from this approach.
10014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From China, with contempt on: January 23, 2011, 10:49:38 AM

Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House
US humiliated in eyes of Chinese by song used to inspire anti-Americanism
By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times Staff Created: Jan 22, 2011 Last Updated: Jan 23, 2011

Lang Lang, a Chinese pianist, plays the piano at the White House on Jan. 19, 2011. The music he is playing is the theme song from an anti-American propaganda movie about the Korean War. (Screenshot from Youtube)
Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, “When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.” The “jackal” in the song is the United States.

The name of the song is “My Motherland,” originally titled “Big River.” In an interview broadcast on Phoenix TV, the first thing Lang Lang is quoted as saying is that he chose the piece.

He then said, “I thought to play ‘My Motherland’ because I think playing the tune at the White House banquet can help us, as Chinese people, feel extremely proud of ourselves and express our feelings through the song. I think it’s especially good. Also, I like the tune in and of itself, every time I hear it I feel extremely moved.”

He expressed this idea more frankly in a later blog post, writing: “Playing this song praising China to heads of state from around the world seems to tell them that our China is formidable, that our Chinese people are united; I feel deeply honored and proud.”
10015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Left's Tucson Strategy: Stage Two on: January 22, 2011, 10:30:27 PM

The Left's Tucson Strategy: Stage Two
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January 22, 2011 Posted by John at 6:18 PM

The Left's attempt to link the Tucson shootings to angry rhetoric (not theirs, of course) was stage one of a broader strategy--what both military men and political strategists refer to as preparing the battlefield. The movement to feign nonpartisanship at the State of the Union address by seating Republicans and Democrats together is another aspect of this stage. At the same time, the Left is moving on to stage two--an effort to cash in on battlefield preparation by attacking specific figures on the right and trying to shut down speech that the Left finds inconvenient.

At the moment, the second most-read article at the New York Times site is this one: "Spotlight From Glenn Beck Brings a CUNY Professor Threats."

    On his daily radio and television shows, Glenn Beck has elevated once-obscure conservative thinkers onto best-seller lists. Recently, he has elevated a 78-year-old liberal academic to celebrity of a different sort, in a way that some say is endangering her life.

    Frances Fox Piven, a City University of New York professor, has been a primary character in Mr. Beck's warnings about a progressive take-down of America. Ms. Piven, Mr. Beck says, is responsible for a plan to "intentionally collapse our economic system."

Let's pause there for a moment. First of all, Ms. Piven is not a "liberal academic." By her own description, she is a radical, a leftist and a Marxist. Nor is she merely an academic; she has been a far-left activist for decades. The Times continues:

    Never mind that Ms. Piven's radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.

    In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck's "false accusations" about Ms. Piven.

    "Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response," the group wrote. ...

    Ms. Piven said in an interview that she had informed local law enforcement authorities of the anonymous electronic threats. ...

    The Nation, which has featured Ms. Piven's columns for decades, quoted some of the threats against her in an editorial this week that condemned the "concerted campaign" against her.

    One such threat, published as an anonymous comment on The Blaze, read, "Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I'll give My life to take Our freedom back." (The spelling and capitalizing have not been changed.)

    That comment and others that were direct threats were later deleted, but other comments remain that charge her with treasonous behavior. ...

    The Center for Constitutional Rights said it took exception to the sheer quantity of negative attention to Ms. Piven.

    "We are vigorous defenders of the First Amendment," the center said in its letter to Fox. "However, there comes a point when constant intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods about a person can put that person in actual physical danger of a violent response." Mr. Beck is at that point, they said.

This is Orwellian on several levels. It is Ms. Piven, not Glenn Beck, who explicitly defends violence, and comes perilously close to advocating it:

10016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: January 22, 2011, 10:16:06 PM

Kinda, sorta.
10017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 22, 2011, 07:03:15 PM
As things progress, muslims that live in non-muslim lands will have to make a choice between the nation and the umma.
10018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 22, 2011, 05:16:21 PM

I put it in here as a response to the seeming failures in the scientific method posted by Bigdog. Is it possible that observing things at this level causes a shift in how/if they work because of the quantum level?

No idea. This is way over my head, but reading Bigdog's post reminded me of this.
10019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Top 10..... on: January 22, 2011, 10:44:42 AM

Here’s a top 10 list of job suggestions for Keith Olbermann.

Drum roll please…

10. Open a consulting business based on liberal civility techniques.

9. Join the Obama Administration as the Worst Person In The World Czar.

8. Take over ACORN and re-brand as WINGNUT.

7. Sit in a corner clutching a Cornell diploma and babbling “You sir…You sir…You sir…”

6. Pitch NPR on a new show called “Meltdown.”

5. Paint a sign that says “Will Teabag for Food.”

4. Audition for the part of the creepy gym teacher on MTV’s “Skins.”

3. Insist Markos Moulitsas finally pay up for that weekend in Paris.

2. Spokesman for the Washington Generals.

And the number one suggestion is….

1. Get an internship at the Rachel Maddow Show.

Hope everything works out, Keith.

Good night and good luck.
10020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Just a blob of cells on: January 22, 2011, 08:55:38 AM

10021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / JournoListing Sarah on: January 22, 2011, 08:44:59 AM

Washington Post Organizes News Boycott of Sarah Palin; Starts Twitter Campaign Against GOP Star
10022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Even some in the left are horrified on: January 22, 2011, 08:38:43 AM

Why a Gruesome Pennsylvania Abortion Clinic Had Not Been Inspected for 17 Years

by Marian Wang
ProPublica, Jan. 21, 2011, 5:40 p.m.


A police car is seen posted outside the the Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia, on Jan. 20, 2011. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

While this week's indictment involving a grisly abortion mill in Philadelphia has shocked many [1], the grand jury's nearly 300-page report also contains a surprising and little-noted revelation: In the mid-1990s, the administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, ended regular inspections of abortion clinics—a policy that continued until just last year.

According to the grand jury report [2][PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers.

The District Attorney’s office this week charged an abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, with murder and infanticide. Nine other workers at the abortion clinic, the Women’s Medical Society, also face charges. According to the prosecutors, Gosnell and his associates not only broke state law by performing abortions after 24 weeks—they also killed live babies by stabbing them with scissors and cutting their spinal cords. Law enforcement officials found blood-stained furniture, unsterilized instruments and fetal remains scattered about the clinic. At least one woman, a refugee from Nepal, had died under Gosnell’s care after being given repeated injections of a dangerous sedative. Prosecutors said Gosnell made millions from treating and sometimes maiming his patients, who were mostly low-income, minority women [3].

But perhaps most frightening of all? The atrocities were discovered by accident [4], as the Philadelphia Inquirer points out. Warnings—from patients and their attorneys, a doctor at a Philadelphia hospital, women’s health groups, pro-choice groups, and even an employee of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health—failed to prompt state and local authorities to investigate or take action against the clinic.

The grand jury report said that one look at the place would have detected the problems, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health hadn’t inspected the place since 1993. Here’s the grand jury report, in surprisingly strong language:

The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions.

“Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety,” the report states. "Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor women, suffer."
10023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: January 21, 2011, 09:34:31 PM
I was kind of hoping for an on-air suicide, but this is ok.
10024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iowahawk on: January 21, 2011, 04:52:13 PM
Dear Nazi

The correspondence of Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), America's most dynamic metaphorist


Mr. Hector Gutierrez
Gutierrez Bros. Landscaping
Arlington, VA

Dear Mr. Gutierrez:

Nothing could have prepared me for the shock that awaited as I exited the front door of my home early Wednesday morning, where I discovered that your lawn crew had cut a swath of environmental destruction across my yard so horrifying that it only can be compared to the Rape of Nanking. I can scarcely bring myself to describe the killing fields that are my North azalea beds and the brutal degradation and torture suffered by the bluegrass around the locust tree by the rear patio.

No longer will I sit idly while you and your doorknob hangers continue to repeat the Big Lie of "satisfaction guaranteed." I am writing to inform you that I have contacted the US Department of Interior to conduct a full independent investigation into Gutierrez Brothers' actions in this matter. Please be advised that you may be subpoenaed for records pertaining to mower height, pruning shear maintenance, and leaf blower emissions.

I would also advise your crewmen to heed the lessons of the Judgement At Nurenburg: although they may be spared the justice due their superiors, "I was only following orders" is not an excuse.


Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC


Customer Relations Department
United Airlines
Elk Grove Village, IL

Dear Sir or Madam:

In the dark annals of human evil, history has recorded the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocides, and Stalin's mass starvation program. And now, United Airlines flight 671 from Reagan International to Memphis International on January 17th, 2011. I know, because I am a survivor of that dark exemplar of man's cruelty to man.

Perhaps I should have known what I was in, for when your brutal gate agent refused to issue me an upgrade despite being a Premier/1K member for over 10 years. Or when your flight crew Gestapo confiscated my carry on Roll Tote, even though I had nearly fit it into the overhead bin. But the true measure of the horror did not dawn on me until me and my fellow passengers were left taxiing on the tarmack for over twenty minutes in the Auschwitzian Airbus A320 cattlecar, in temperatures approaching 85 degrees, not knowing our fates or whether we would make it to our fundraising dinners.

Santayana once said, "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." And I say to you and your fellow United criminals: "never again," unless you credit my account at least 2 flight segments for this travesty.


Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC

cc: Human Rights Watch
cc: Amnesty International


Ms. He-Sook Park
AAA Georgetown Drycleaning
Washington, DC

Dear Ms. Park:

To paraphrase Pastor Martin Niemoeller, a witness to the Shoah:

First they frayed the hem on my wife's Valentino gown
My staff aide did not speak out
Because it was my wife's and it wasn't that noticeable

When they didn't honor the 5-for-$4.99 tie coupon
My staff aide did not speak out
Because the small print said "good Tuesday to Friday"

And when they overstarched my best Brooks Brothers shirts
there was no one left to speak out to
Because your counter attendant did not speak English

I will no longer stay silent in the face of your cruel and sickening campaign of chemical fabricide, Ms. Park. Mankind will soon learn of the horrors you are hiding behind the flimsy facade of 'One Hour Martinizing.' I expect full reparations for the suffering of my wardrobe, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC

P.S. -- Could you hem a pair of casual trousers before Saturday? I have a DNC retreat coming up.


Mr. and Mrs. Robert Epstein
3786 Arbor Cove
Fairfax, VA

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Epstein:

In her diaries, Anne Frank wrote, "After all that has happened, I still believe there is good in everyone." I am sad to say that after the obscene neighborhood parking situation Saturday, prompted by your son Jacob's Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Shalom, I cannot reach the same optimistic conclusion.

As I witnessed one after another of your uniformed parking Gestapo invading my cul de sac with menacing SUVs, eventual blocking my driveway, I could not help but imagine the raw terror that must have gripped the doomed souls that inhabited the ghettos of Warsaw in 1939. Although the traffic jam eventually passed over when your and your adolescent shock troops blitzkreiged the Lazer FunZone, I am not sure I will ever fully recover from the trauma.

Never again, Mr. and Mrs. Epstein. Never again.


Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC
10025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Are Chinese Mothers Superior? on: January 21, 2011, 12:34:59 PM

Are Chinese Mothers Superior?
Maybe American parents could use some tiger in their tanks.
January 19, 2011 - by Barbara Curtis

Last week saw the rise of a new contender for most reviled woman in America. A Chinese-American Yale professor, author, and mom proved once again that Americans have little patience with self-confident, achievement-oriented mothers, especially those that express themselves with authenticity, humor, and conviction.

Amy Chua proved also that multiculturalism and diversity were never intended to help us set the bar higher, but only to validate underachievers.

For decades now, we’ve stood by in denial as affirmative action programs have dumbed down our university/college system and work environments. We’ve been vaguely aware that the drive to include more blacks and Hispanics has been at the sacrifice of better-qualified Asians (see “Do colleges redline Asian-Americans?”).

Most of us have worked alongside, gone to school with, or lived next door to Asians. We know their grades, SAT scores, and need to succeed are typically higher. There truly is something about Asians — as an adoptive mother of a Taiwanese son, I see it every day.

Consider the spine-tingling 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and the incredible self-discipline required of each individual to produce such unity and precision. This is incomprehensible to Americans, whose religious devotion to individualism — and the modern Have It Your Way mentality — is producing signs of strain on our social fabric, transforming our universities into places where many undisciplined girls and boys party hearty on their parents’ dime.

These were not my first reflections on reading Chua’s now-infamous piece — at least the piece presented/misrepresented in the Wall Street Journal. Book sales aside, the Journal certainly did the author no favors when they wove together segments from her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to present a skewed and provocative essay with Chua’s byline and the Journal’s heavy-handed title: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”

Unlike many of those in the nearly 7000 comments to date, I was not threatened or deeply disturbed by Chua’s well-written and humorous narrative. First of all, much of it rang true. As a San Francisco Montessori teacher, my class was 50% Asian. And for seven years our family was neighbors with a wonderful Chinese family in Marin. So I’ve seen strict and bossy up close and personal. I’ve seen the drills, the Kumon classes, the piano practice, the push for perfection.

It might not have been my style of parenting, but I felt comfortable living alongside it. In fact, I felt like my kids would probably be a little better off if a little of that Chinese mother stuff would rub off on me.

I never felt the need to judge or condemn my dear friend (and her mother-in-law) because their tone of voice was harsher than mine. Isn’t that what multiculturalism and diversity are all about?

In the immediate aftermath of the Journal‘s piece — as every mother with a keyboard registered her alarm — my first thought was that this was yet another media-created MommyWar. After all, as a blogger who happens to be a mom, I’ve seen several of those in the past six years.

But when the backlash and tone grew worse, beyond any MommyWar to date — to vicious personal attacks, mockery, and even death threats — I knew that there was more afoot.

You see, someone can write a book or make a movie about a girl named Precious and we don’t attack the indigent, neglectful, and monstrously selfish mother because we accept she just can’t do any better. Since she makes a normal mother look like Mother Teresa, she actually is useful. She poses no threat.

But a mother determined to produce exceptional children with a skill level developed only with discipline — why, how dare she share how she encourages her children to meet their potential? What an outrage that she chose a path different than we American moms!

Lost in all the noise was Chua’s quiet assertion that though her parents were strict and harsh — and yes, her dad once called her garbage and she once reflexively called her daughter that — she never doubted her parents’ love for her. And obviously she is pleased enough with her own outcome to follow in their steps. This is actually a culturally appropriate thing for her to do.

Alas for Chua, the American mantra of multiculturalism and diversity must not extend to Asians — particularly as we find ourselves in the midst of almost incomprehensible global changes, with a president seemingly determined to hand over the reins of world leadership and finance to China.

This is all by way of saying that, with 290,00 Google results for amy+chua+chinese+mothers, there’s surely a lot more going on in the American psyche than meets the eye. And note, since Chua’s 18-year-old daughter published a defense of her mother on January 17th, she too has been mocked and ridiculed.

As in the case of Palin Hatin’, only fear can evoke this kind of response. And that fear may be well warranted. Tom Wilkinson commented at the WSJ:

    This is a wake up call. The Chinese are eating our lunch by ignoring the feel good fake social science that US/Western academics have been manufacturing for years. For years we sloughed off the superior performance of the Chinese by saying that they were stifling creativity and later in life they burn out, fail to achieve because they only know how to work [...].

    Tough love and hard work works. Get over it. Our thinking only works in Walt Disney animated movies. The Chinese are preparing themselves to win in the real world — where there is another Chinese kid around every corner trying to outwork you. But I am sure Yale would prefer a more creative and flexible person on staff to teach their kids — oops, maybe not.

For Chua, the misogynistic backlash is, I believe, mixed with subconscious but growing fear that maybe our relaxed parenting standards, academic expectations, and work protocols have placed us in a position where we may well have not only become inferior, but are stupidly and stubbornly determined to celebrate our inferiority.

Whatever you do, don’t make us have to rethink our positions and parenting/education styles. You see, the real secret of what sets Amy Chua apart is something every parent knows deep inside: it’s easier to be nice, and much more difficult to be a demanding but loving parent. Chua’s high sense of purpose and her own self-discipline in pushing her kids towards a brighter future show a kind of love lost several decades ago when parents decided it was more fun to be cool.

Barbara Curtis is a wife, mother of 12, and author of nine books, including Reaching the Left from the Right: Talking About Social Issues with People Who Don't Think Like You. Visit her at or at her blog Her fourth son will begin Marines OCS in January.
10026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wasted on: January 21, 2011, 10:35:33 AM
Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.
10027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 21, 2011, 10:10:06 AM

Obama at 49% in CBS poll
10028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Crisis on: January 21, 2011, 10:00:43 AM
**This could go into education, but this is why I fear China more than anything else.

Your son probably ended up in my class. He was the kid who slouched in his chair and sat in the back entertaining himself with his Nintendo or cell phone. At least, that’s how he behaved when he bothered to show up for class. Sometimes he disrupted class by coming late and being sure to walk across the front of the lecture hall to draw attention to himself. I wished that on such occasions he had the grace to have pulled his Levis above his underwear. But that was too much to ask.

Of course, he got a degree.

We have to sit through lectures by our incomparable elected officials and our distinguished administrators telling us how many people the state needs by such and such a year with college degrees. We know how to give degrees. We’re good at that. But an education? Even God could not compensate for the lack of skills, the lack of interest, and the lack of raw talent your son brought to us. Social promotion is not restricted to high schools any more. After all, somehow we have to pay for all those buildings, athletic facilities, and shopping malls that so impressed you.

Now your son is carrying a load of debt that he can’t pay off, and he can’t find a meaningful job because he really has no skills that translate into the marketplace. He never committed himself to the discipline, rigor, and fortitude it takes to get a meaningful education. He didn’t know what to do with himself; you didn’t know what to do with him, and you thought he should have a college experience. He did, in the sense that four years of recreational sex, hard drugs, and bars that are open late into the night provided him with a college experience.

You would have been better off giving him the cash to invest and sending him to the Caribbean or Vegas for several weeks every year where he could have indulged his sexual appetites and legally smoked ganja. Financially you would have both been ahead. So too would we.

Now, we have an overly credentialed population carrying an enormous debt.

These are people who feel they deserve good-paying jobs. After all, the education establishment told them that having a college degree was worth millions. Well it is, if it is in the right subjects and you did well. A political science degree is not exactly equal to a degree in computer engineering, although the campus feminists are always grousing over how much less they are paid than males of equal rank and seniority. How convenient to forget that the liberal arts, which possess no competitive external marketplace, are dominated by women, and engineering, science, and mathematics are dominated by men.

The next financial bubble is out there. It is comprised of people like your son who are carrying enormous debt without any prospect of paying it off. They are going to default. It’s our fault, you say. Well, you say that now. But if we gave your son the grades he deserved you both would have screamed foul and due processed us to death. If your son is a member of some protected class, we would have had to defend against the accusation that we discriminated against him. Anyhow, he got more than he deserved, and the rest of us subsidized his education directly or indirectly with our tax dollars. Of course, you do know that we are going to have to pick up the defaults, just as we picked up the sub-prime mortgages.

Oh yes, if you think the statistic that half don’t learn anything in the first two years is terrible, how does this one grab you? After four years 36% did not experience significant educational improvement. And that statistic is worse than it appears, because at many institutions nearly half the students drop out after two years. So among the self-selected that continued, more than a third learned almost nothing in four years of college.

And if you controlled by academic major and prior preparation, you would find that these failures cluster. How? It’s easy enough to figure out, even if you never finished college.
10029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Remember the "fierce moral urgency" against the war? on: January 21, 2011, 09:50:53 AM
In a few hours, George W. Bush will walk out of the Oval Office for the last time as president. As he leaves, he carries with him the near-universal opprobrium of the permanent class that inhabits our nation's capital. Yet perhaps the most important reason for this unpopularity is the one least commented on.

APHere's a hint: It's not because of his failures. To the contrary, Mr. Bush's disfavor in Washington owes more to his greatest success. Simply put, there are those who will never forgive Mr. Bush for not losing a war they had all declared unwinnable.

Here in the afterglow of the turnaround led by Gen. David Petraeus, it's easy to forget what the smart set was saying two years ago -- and how categorical they all were in their certainty. The president was a simpleton, it was agreed. Didn't he know that Iraq was a civil war, and the only answer was to get out as fast as we could?

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- the man who will be sworn in as vice president today -- didn't limit himself to his own opinion. Days before the president announced the surge, Joe Biden suggested to the Washington Post he knew the president's people had also concluded the war was lost. They were, he said, just trying to "keep it from totally collapsing" until they could "hand it off to the next guy."

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For his part, on the night Mr. Bush announced the surge, Barack Obama said he was "not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Three months after that, before the surge had even started, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pronounced the war in Iraq "lost." These and similar comments, moreover, were amplified by a media echo chamber even more absolute in its sense of hopelessness about Iraq and its contempt for the president.

For many of these critics, the template for understanding Iraq was Vietnam -- especially after things started to get tough. In terms of the wars themselves, of course, there is almost no parallel between Vietnam and Iraq: The enemies are different, the fighting on the ground is different, the involvement of other powers is different, and so on.

Still, the operating metaphor of Vietnam has never been military. For the most part, it is political. And in this realm, we saw history repeat itself: a failure of nerve among the same class that endorsed the original action.

As with Vietnam, with Iraq the failure of nerve was most clear in Congress. For example, of the five active Democratic senators who sought the nomination, four voted in favor of the Iraqi intervention before discovering their antiwar selves.

As in Vietnam too, rather than finding their judgment questioned, those who flip-flopped on the war were held up as voices of reason. In a memorable editorial advocating a pullout, the New York Times gave voice to the chilling possibilities that this new realism was willing to accept in the name of bringing our soldiers home.

"Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave," read the editorial. "There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide." Even genocide. With no hint of irony, the Times nevertheless went on to conclude that it would be even worse if we stayed.

This is Vietnam thinking. And the president never accepted it. That was why his critics went ape when, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he touched on the killing fields and exodus of boat people that followed America's humiliating exit off an embassy rooftop. As the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti noted, Mr. Bush had appropriated one of their most cherished analogies -- only he drew very different lessons from it.

Mr. Bush's success in Iraq is equally infuriating, because it showed he was right and they wrong. Many in Washington have not yet admitted that, even to themselves. Mr. Obama has. We know he has because he has elected to keep Mr. Bush's secretary of defense -- not something you do with a failure.

Mr. Obama seems aware that, at the end of the day, he will not be judged by his predecessor's approval ratings. Instead, he will soon find himself under pressure to measure up to two Bush achievements: a strategic victory in Iraq, and the prevention of another attack on America's home soil. As he rises to this challenge, our new president will learn that when you make a mistake, the keepers of the Beltway's received orthodoxies will make you pay dearly.

But it will not even be close to the price you pay for ignoring their advice and succeeding.

10030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese Tiger ate US Dove for lunch on: January 21, 2011, 09:23:38 AM

WASHINGTON -- Who did you think would come out on top if you put a tiger and a dove in the same room together to work out their differences?

10031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 21, 2011, 07:34:18 AM
"To give an appearance of improving relations, all China need do is let the yuan crawl a bit upward, make a gigantic $45 billion purchase of U.S. goods (a reasonable use of surplus dollars timed to fit the meeting), promise to make U.S. products eligible for government procurement (which does not mean they will always be in fact procured), and launch another of its many (mostly ineffective) crackdowns on intellectual property theft. All the United States needs do is allow some relatively high-tech goods to be sold (though without loosening export restrictions in general) and refrain from imposing sweeping trade tariffs (though retaining the ability to do so any time). And to show the talks are candid, both sides can also offer faint words of criticism on topics like U.S. dollar hegemony or human rights violations."

China's 'new' jet orders anything but

The Truth Needle | The big Boeing order from China trumpeted during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to the White House is actually a re-announcement of previous orders.

By Dominic Gates

The claim: A White House fact sheet released Wednesday to coincide with the state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao said: "In preparation for this visit, several large purchases have been approved including for 200 Boeing airplanes. ... The approval, the final step in a $19 billion package of aircraft, will help Boeing maintain and expand its market share in the world's fastest growing commercial aircraft market."

What we found:

The deal President Hu signed does not include any new jet orders.

Delivering the formal approval during Hu's visit is designed to make the Chinese government appear responsive to U.S. concerns about the balance of trade.

However, all of the airplanes in the sale were announced and booked by Boeing as firm orders over the past four years. Chinese airlines had already paid nonrefundable deposits and signed contracts for the jets, most of them as far back as 2007.
10032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 20, 2011, 08:44:38 PM
"The mindboggling naivete and general pussiness of our Commander in Chief is doing damage for which we are going to pay dearly for a very long time."

If you look like food, you will be eaten.
10033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ironic and sad on: January 20, 2011, 06:36:47 PM

"The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner hosted a dinner for the guy holding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner in prison..."
"... and the media does not get the irony of this at all."
10034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A possible answer? on: January 20, 2011, 05:37:41 PM

Quantum physics says goodbye to reality

Apr 20, 2007

Some physicists are uncomfortable with the idea that all individual quantum events are innately random. This is why many have proposed more complete theories, which suggest that events are at least partially governed by extra "hidden variables". Now physicists from Austria claim to have performed an experiment that rules out a broad class of hidden-variables theories that focus on realism -- giving the uneasy consequence that reality does not exist when we are not observing it (Nature 446 871).

Some 40 years ago the physicist John Bell predicted that many hidden-variables theories would be ruled out if a certain experimental inequality were violated – known as "Bell's inequality". In his thought experiment, a source fires entangled pairs of linearly-polarized photons in opposite directions towards two polarizers, which can be changed in orientation. Quantum mechanics says that there should be a high correlation between results at the polarizers because the photons instantaneously "decide" together which polarization to assume at the moment of measurement, even though they are separated in space. Hidden variables, however, says that such instantaneous decisions are not necessary, because the same strong correlation could be achieved if the photons were somehow informed of the orientation of the polarizers beforehand.

Bell's trick, therefore, was to decide how to orient the polarizers only after the photons have left the source. If hidden variables did exist, they would be unable to know the orientation, and so the results would only be correlated half of the time. On the other hand, if quantum mechanics was right, the results would be much more correlated – in other words, Bell's inequality would be violated.

Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell's inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell's inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.

Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.

They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell's thought experiment, Leggett's inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we're not observing it. "Our study shows that 'just' giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics," Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. "You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism."

However, Alain Aspect, a physicist who performed the first Bell-type experiment in the 1980s, thinks the team's philosophical conclusions are subjective. "There are other types of non-local models that are not addressed by either Leggett's inequalities or the experiment," he said. "But I rather share the view that such debates, and accompanying experiments such as those by [the Austrian team], allow us to look deeper into the mysteries of quantum mechanics."
About the author

Jon Cartwright is a reporter for Physics Web
10035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 20, 2011, 02:10:41 PM
Ultimately, the way to resolve this is for states to pass laws requiring that candidates provide proof of citizenship to be on a ballot.
10036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 20, 2011, 02:00:58 PM
Our disfunctional education system (ruined by the marxists) is creating a generation that will have their asses handed to them by asia.
10037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: entertainment on: January 20, 2011, 01:49:28 PM
BTW, glad being under all the surveillance cameras in Vegas didn't cause you to melt or burst into flames.  grin
10038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: entertainment on: January 20, 2011, 01:47:57 PM
The Paris is nice.

They don't want you working, they want you at the tables.   wink
10039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 20, 2011, 01:46:48 PM
Just as complacency kills on a personal level, it does on the national level as well. Every criticism of China listed above is true, at the same time, the US, as well as the rest of the west is busy committing slow motion suicide. The 21st. century will require that we remain the technological leader, but we are falling behind. India and China are hungry and motivated while we gut the values that put us where we are.
10040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: January 20, 2011, 01:41:10 PM
Just waiting for the new civility to kick in.


Yup, any minute now......

10041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Has Wright condemned this? on: January 20, 2011, 01:14:59 PM

The new civility.
10042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: January 20, 2011, 12:59:05 PM
For decades, we've been providing money, training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and military to fight the narcos.

Many times, Mexico has created a "New, uncorrupted law enforcement agency" to wage war. And soon enough, "la mordida" was the way of doing business in the new agency.
10043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Moore: If you own a gun, you're a racist on: January 20, 2011, 12:23:23 PM

NRA lifetime member Michael Moore thinks you’re a racist for owning a gun

10044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / O-bow-ma on: January 20, 2011, 12:16:36 PM

''If China becomes the world's No. 1 nation ... ." That was the headline in the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, The People's Daily, on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington. The article went on to boast how "China's emergence is increasingly shifting to debate over how the world will treat China, which is the world No. 1 and has overtaken the U.S."

A story like this does not appear by accident in the official Chinese Communist Party newspaper on the eve of a state visit to the world's (current) No. 1 power, the United States.

It was a signal. The latest and boldest signal yet that China intends to become the world's No. 1 power.

President Obama took the occasion of his first visit to China to show "humility" and to assure his Shanghai audience that "we do not seek to contain China's rise."

The Chinese communists are taking the occasion of their first visit to the Obama White House - not to show humility, as Mr. Obama did to them - but to openly show their clear intention to dominate the world from the Middle Kingdom.

As Constantine Menges wrote in "China: The Gathering Threat," "In the traditional Chinese view, the world needs a hegemon - or dominant state - to prevent disorder. The communist Chinese regime believes China should be that hegemon." Traditionally, the Chinese communists have cloaked their hegemonic ambitions under the guidance of the late Deng Xiaoping to "keep a cool head and maintain a low profile. Never take the lead - but aim to do something big."

But in early 2010, cool heads and low profiles gave way to a senior People's Liberation Army officer openly calling for "China to abandon modesty about its global goals and sprint to become world No. 1," adding that "China's big goal in the 21st century is to become world No. 1, the top power."

Now we have the official state paper of the Chinese Communist Party openly discussing "China as the world's top nation" on the eve of China's state visit to the Obama White House. Why is this happening? And why now?

When Mr. Obama "arrived in China ... as a fiscal supplicant, not the leader of the free world," as stated in the Times Online, and bowed down to their communist premier, the Chinese communists took the president's gestures as the signs of weakness they were, and quickly made "radical departures from late patriarch Deng Xiaoping's famous diplomatic credo of 'adopting a low profile and never taking the lead' in international affairs" by unveiling China's new "ambitious agenda" to assume a more powerful stance on the world stage and "to become world No. 1, the top power," according to the Asia Times.
10045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: entertainment on: January 20, 2011, 12:14:35 PM
Where did you stay?
10046  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The American (and first world) cultural context on: January 20, 2011, 11:58:00 AM

How Criminologists Foster Crime
Theodore Dalrymple    

Last week in the prison I asked a young man why he was there.

"Just normal burglaries," he replied.

"Normal for whom?" I asked.

"You know, just normal."

He meant, I think, that burglaries were like gray skies in an English winter: unavoidable and to be expected. In an actuarial sense, he was right: Britain is now the burglary capital of the world, as almost every householder here will attest. But there was also a deeper sense to his words, for statistical normality slides rapidly in our minds into moral normality. The wives of burglars often talk to me of their husband's "work," as if breaking into other people's homes were merely a late shift in a factory. Nor is only burglary "normal" in the estimation of its perpetrators. "Just a normal assault," is another frequent answer prisoners give to my question, the little word "just" emphasizing the innocuousness of the crime.

But how has crime come to seem normal to its perpetrators? Is it merely a recognition of the brute fact of a vastly increased crime rate? Or could it be, on the contrary, one of the very causes of that increase, inasmuch as it represents a weakening of the inhibition against criminality?

As usual, one must look first to the academy when tracing the origins of a change in the Zeitgeist. What starts out as a career-promoting academic hypothesis ends up as an idea so widely accepted that it becomes not only an unchallengeable orthodoxy but a cliche even among the untutored. Academics have used two closely linked arguments to establish the statistical and moral normality of crime and the consequent illegitimacy of the criminal justice system's sanctions. First, they claim, we are all criminal anyway; and when everyone is guilty, everyone is innocent. Their second argument, Marxist in inspiration, is that the law has no moral content, being merely the expression of the power of certain interest groups—of the rich against the poor, for example, or the capitalist against the worker. Since the law is an expression of raw power, there is no essential moral distinction between criminal and non-criminal behavior. It is simply a question of whose foot the boot is on.

Criminologists are the mirror image of Hamlet, who exclaimed that if each man received his deserts, none should escape whipping. On the contrary, say the criminologists, more liberal than the prince (no doubt because of their humbler social origins): none should be punished.

These ideas resonate in the criminal's mind. If his illegal conduct is so very normal, he thinks, what's all the fuss about in his case, or why should he be where he is—in prison? It is patently unjust for him to be incarcerated for what everyone still at liberty does. He is the victim of illegitimate and unfair discrimination, rather like an African under apartheid, and it is only reasonable that, on his release, he should take his revenge upon so unjust a society by continuing, or expanding, his criminal activity.

It is impossible to state precisely when the Zeitgeist changed and the criminal became a victim in the minds of intellectuals: not only history, but also the history of an idea, is a seamless robe. Let me quote one example, though, now more than a third of a century old. In 1966 (at about the time when Norman Mailer in America, and Jean-Paul Sartre in Europe, portrayed criminals as existential heroes in revolt against a heartless, inauthentic world), the psychiatrist Karl Menninger published a book with the revealing title The Crime of Punishment. It was based upon the Isaac Ray lectures he had given three years earlier—Isaac Ray having been the first American psychiatrist who concerned himself with the problems of crime. Menninger wrote: "Crime is everybody's temptation. It is easy to look with proud disdain upon ‘those people’ who get caught—the stupid ones, the unlucky ones, the blatant ones. But who does not get nervous when a police car follows closely? We squirm over our income tax statements and make some ‘adjustments.’ We tell the customs official we have nothing to declare—well, practically nothing. Some of us who have never been convicted of crime picked up over two billion dollars' worth of merchandise last year from the stores we patronize. Over a billion dollars was embezzled by employees last year."

The moral of the story is that those who go to court and to prison are victims of chance at best and of prejudice at worst: prejudice against the lowly, the unwashed, the uneducated, the poor—those whom literary critics portentously call the Other. This is precisely what many of my patients in the prison tell me. Even when they have been caught in flagrante, loot in hand or blood on fist, they believe the police are unfairly picking on them. Such an attitude, of course, prevents them from reflecting upon their own contribution to their predicament: for chance and prejudice are not forces over which an individual has much personal control. When I ask prisoners whether they'll be coming back after their release, a few say no with an entirely credible vehemence; they are the ones who make the mental connection between their conduct and their fate. But most say they don't know, that no one can foresee the future, that it's up to the courts, that it all depends—on others, never on themselves.

It didn't take long for Menninger's attitude to permeate official thinking. A 1968 British government document on juvenile delinquency, Children in Trouble, declared: "It is probably a minority of children who grow up without ever misbehaving in ways which may be contrary to the law. Frequently, such behavior is no more than an incident in the pattern of a child's normal development."

In a sense, this is perfectly true, for in the absence of proper guidance and control, the default setting of human beings is surely to crime and antisocial conduct, and everyone breaks the rules at some time. But in a period of increasing permissiveness, many draw precisely the wrong conclusion from human nature's universal potential for delinquency: indeed, the only reason commentators mention that potential at all is to draw a predetermined liberal conclusion from it—that acts of delinquency, being normal, should not give rise to sanctions.

In this spirit, Children in Trouble treats the delinquency of normal children as if its transience were the result of a purely biological or natural process rather than of a social one. Delinquency is like baby teeth: predetermined to come and go at a certain stage of a child's development.

Not so very long ago, such an attitude would have struck almost everyone as absurd. Everyone knew, as if by instinct, that human behavior is a product of consciousness, and the consciousness of a child must be molded. I can best illustrate what I mean by my own experience. At the age of eight, I stole a penny bar of chocolate from the corner store. It gave me a thrill to do so, and I enjoyed the chocolate all the more for the fact that it had not made an inroad into my weekly pocket money (sixpence). Unwisely, however, I confided my exploit to my elder brother, in an attempt to win his respect for my bravery, which was much in question at the time. Even more unwisely, I forgot that he knew this incriminating story when, furious at him because of his habitual teasing, I told my mother that he had uttered a word that at that time was never heard in respectable households. In retaliation, he told my mother that I had stolen the chocolate.

My mother did not take the view that this was a transient episode of delinquency that would pass of its own accord. She knew instinctively (for, at that time, no one had yet befuddled minds by suggesting otherwise) that all that was necessary for delinquency to triumph was for her to do nothing. She did not think that my theft was a natural act of self-expression, or a revolt against the inequality between the power and wealth of children and that of adults, or indeed of anything other than my desire to have the chocolate without paying for it. She was right, of course. What I had done was morally wrong, and to impress the fact upon me she marched me round to Mrs. Marks, the owner of the store, where I confessed my sin and paid her tuppence by way of restitution. It was the end of my shoplifting career.

Since then, of course, our understanding of theft and other criminal activity has grown more complex, if not necessarily more accurate or realistic. It has been the effect, and quite possibly the intention, of criminologists to shed new obscurity on the matter of crime: the opacity of their writing sometimes leads one to wonder whether they have actually ever met a criminal or a crime victim. Certainly, it is in their professional interest that the wellsprings of crime should remain an unfathomed mystery, for how else is one to convince governments that what a crime-ridden country (such as Britain) needs is further research done by ever more criminologists?

It is probably no coincidence that the profession of criminology underwent a vast expansion at about the same time that criminal activity began the steepest part of its exponential rise. Criminologists in Britain once numbered in the low dozens; and criminology, considered unfit for undergraduates, was taught only in one or two institutes. Today, hardly a city or town in the country is without its academic criminology department. Half of the 800 criminologists now working in Britain got their training (mostly in sociology) in the late sixties and early seventies, during the heyday of radical activism, and they trained the other half.

Of course, it might have been that the problem of crime called forth its students. But since social problems are often of a dialectical nature, could it not also have been that the students called forth their problem? (British economist John Vaizey once wrote that any problem that became the subject of an ology was destined to grow serious.) Since the cause of crime is the decision of criminals to commit it, what goes on in their minds is not irrelevant. Ideas filter down selectively from the academy into the population at large, through discussions (and often bowdlerizations) in the papers and on TV, and become intellectual currency. In this way, the ideas of criminologists could actually become a cause of crime. In addition, these ideas deleteriously affect the thinking of the police. In our hospital, for example, the police have posted notices everywhere warning staff, patients, and visitors about car theft. MOTORISTS! proclaims the notice. YOUR CAR IS AT RISK! This is a very criminological locution, implying as it does a mysterious force—like, say, gravity—against which mere human will, such as that exercised by thieves and policemen, can be expected to avail nothing.

In the process of transmission from academy to populace, ideas may change in subtle ways. When the well-known criminologist Jock Young wrote that "the normalization of drug use is paralleled by the normalization of crime," and, because of this normalization, criminal behavior in individuals no longer required special explanation, he surely didn't mean that he wouldn't mind if his own children started to shoot up heroin or rob old ladies in the street. Nor would he be indifferent to the intrusion of burglars into his own house, ascribing it merely to the temper of the times and regarding it as a morally neutral event. But that, of course, is precisely how "just" shoplifters, "just" burglars, "just" assaulters, "just" attempted murderers, taking their cue from him and others like him, would view (or at least say they viewed) their own actions: they have simply moved with the times and therefore done no wrong. And, not surprisingly, the crimes that now attract the deprecatory qualification "just" have escalated in seriousness even in the ten years I have attended the prison as a doctor, so that I have even heard a prisoner wave away "just a poxy little murder charge." The same is true of the drugs that prisoners use: where once they replied that they smoked "just" cannabis, they now say that they take "just" crack cocaine, as if by confining themselves thus they were paragons of self-denial and self-discipline.
10047  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The American (and first world) cultural context on: January 20, 2011, 10:46:11 AM

So car thieves and burglars shouldn't be incarcerated?
10048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Stain Upon the American Honor on: January 20, 2011, 10:22:32 AM

A Stain Upon the American Honor
January 19, 2011 1:10 P.M.
By Jay Nordlinger   

The Associated Press begins a story, “Chinese leader Hu Jintao is being feted in Washington this week with a lavish state banquet at the White House and other pomp usually reserved for close friends and allies . . .” Here is another passage, from later in the story:

“For the protocol-obsessed Chinese leadership, a highlight of the visit will be Wednesday’s state banquet — an honor denied Hu on his last trip to the White House in 2006. President George W. Bush thought state banquets should be reserved for allies and like-minded powers and instead gave Hu a lunch.”

Yes, that’s how a decent nation should treat a police state — lunch, at most.

The AP continues, “Even worse” — i.e., even worse than the insult of a mere lunch — “a member of Falun Gong, the spiritual movement banned by China, disrupted Hu and Bush’s joint appearance . . .”

“Worse”? Not in my book. That Falun Gong member’s “disruption” was just about the only ray of truth in that entire state visit. Hu’s government “disrupts” the lives of Falun Gong practitioners by kidnapping them, throwing them into camps and cells, and torturing them to death. I read reports of this every single week.

Here is a passage from a Bloomberg report: “While former President George W. Bush met with Hu in the U.S., the session wasn’t accorded the status of a state visit. That trip was marred by a demonstrator who criticized persecution of the Falun Gong religious group at Hu’s welcome ceremony at the White House.”

“Marred”? “Marred”? The demonstrator redeemed the whole awful affair: the head of a police state being received by the greatest democracy in the world.

China, to remind you, is a country with a gulag (laogai). The Chinese government is a regime that imprisons and tortures some of the most admirable people in all the world: the human-rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, for one. What he has endured is unimaginable, not to mention unendurable, by most people. The 2010 Nobel peace laureate, Liu Xiaobo, sits in prison, while his wife is under house arrest.

There were two other Nobel peace laureates blocked from going to Oslo to collect their prize: Carl von Ossietzky, a political prisoner of the Nazis; and Andrei Sakharov, the heroic physicist-dissident in the Soviet Union. (Lech Walesa and Aung San Suu Kyi were different cases, as I’ve explained in the past. They could have gone, but did not want to run the risk of being prevented from returning home.) The Chinese Communists have well earned their position with the Nazis and the Soviets.

The demands of “realpolitik” do not include a “lavish state banquet,” to borrow the AP’s words. George W. Bush did not bow to the Chinese Communists in this way. (Remember, Obama has literally bowed to the Chinese.) He gave them a lunch. Sino-American relations proceeded normally in his eight years.

Let me get a little corny on you: America is a nation that’s supposed to stand for something — for freedom, and human dignity, above all. We’re not supposed to be like every other nation. We’re supposed to be exceptional. Different. A beacon unto man.

I’m not a babe in the woods, and I understand the necessity of getting along in a wicked world. But we don’t have to abase ourselves as we are doing now. We should not be honoring the PRC boss. We should be honoring, and standing with, the men and women in the camps and the cells. Are we America? (Does this sort of talk make you gag?) What is America? What are we supposed to celebrate on the Fourth of July? Is it just an excuse for fireworks and a picnic?

American honor has been stained this week. A degree of shame rests upon this nation. We should hope that the prisoners and the strugglers — who want nothing more than what you and I are damn lucky to have — forgive us.
10049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: January 20, 2011, 09:51:57 AM
The author of the piece is a raza-ist advocate for open borders and amnesty. Gee, maybe if we secured the borders first.....
10050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Japan hits ‘critical point’ on state debt on: January 19, 2011, 07:54:54 PM

Japan hits ‘critical point’ on state debt

By Mure Dickie in Tokyo

Published: January 19 2011 14:54 | Last updated: January 19 2011 19:24

Japan has hit a “critical point” where it risks losing investor confidence if politicians fail to reach agreement on how to rein in the ballooning national debt, a cabinet minister has warned.

“We face a dreadful dream that one day the long-term interest rate might rise,” Kaoru Yosano, the new minister for economic and fiscal policy, told the Financial Times.
Kan reshuffles cabinet to aid budget plans - Jan-14
Short View: Japan’s value trap - Jan-07
David Pilling: Japan finds more to life than growth - Jan-05
Global Insight: Japan still not bounding - Jan-04
Editorial Comment: Tax man Kan - Jan-05

“So we have to be very careful [to] ensure the credibility of our economy and the credibility of our government.”

His stark comments highlight government determination to introduce a sweeping reform of the tax system that would include a hike in the 5 per cent consumption tax.

Naoto Kan, prime minister, drafted Mr Yosano, a veteran opposition politician, into the cabinet last week to help build cross-party agreement on fiscal reform. Worries about Japan’s fiscal future have been fuelled over the past year by the sovereign debt crises suffered by eurozone countries, with Mr Kan warning last June that Japan could end up like Greece unless it tackled its rising debt.

Japan has no difficulties financing its deficit and there is no sign that it could face a sovereign debt crisis in the near future. The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond trades at a yield of less than 1.25 per cent. But Mr Yosano warned it be would wrong to assume such a benign environment would continue indefinitely.

“Our fiscal status is at a critical point . . . the circumstances surrounding Japan may change overnight,” he said.

The deep recession into which Japan plunged in 2008 has dramatically worsened its already chronic government deficits, with new bond issuance set to outstrip tax revenues for the third year in a row in fiscal 2012.
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