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10251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 25, 2010, 06:08:02 PM

Per CBS news, 22% unemployment in California. Think of how great that is for the environment!
10252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 25, 2010, 06:03:34 PM
As things continue to fail, you'll see Barry-O really start to decompensate.
10253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A re-militarized Japan? on: October 24, 2010, 11:20:16 PM

Security situation around Japan getting more severe: Kan
Prime Minister Naoto Kan delivers a speech as he attends the inspection parade of the Ground Self-Defense Force at Asaka base on Oct. 24. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Sunday the security situation around Japan has become more severe, given North Korea's missile and nuclear developments, as well as China intensifying its marine activities.

While attending the inspection parade of Ground Self-Defense Force at Asaka base in Tokyo and referring to China's military enhancement, Kan said, "We need to keep a posture that enables us to cope with various situations effectively."

"In order to build a truly effective defense capability, we will compile an outline of a new defense program by the end of the year that will meet future needs," he said.

He also showed willingness to enhance the Japan-U.S. alliance and promote activities to improve international security.

(Mainichi Japan) October 24, 2010
10254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China: Yes we can! on: October 24, 2010, 10:57:02 PM

This situation was further complicated when a North Korean midget submarine sank a South Korean corvette on March 26, 2010, killing 46 sailors. In the aftermath, Washington and Seoul announced a series of naval exercises to demonstrate resolve in the face of North Korean aggression while China refused to condemn the attack. It was initially reported, on June 1st, that those exercises would take place in the Yellow Sea, which separates China and South Korea, and would involve the USS George Washington, the most advanced aircraft carrier in the US Navy. However, as China repeatedly announced its “resolute opposition” to any carrier-led exercises in Yellow Sea, the military drills were repeatedly delayed. The George Washington had traversed the Yellow Sea as late as October 2009 with no protest from Beijing, but suddenly Communist Party of China mouthpieces were filled with op-eds from hawkish PLA generals warning Washington about drilling in the Yellow Sea.

Weeks passed and the standoff became a diplomatic game of chicken: would President Barack Obama send the George Washington into the Yellow Sea, or would he give Beijing a veto over US freedom of action in the Pacific?

First, Mr. Obama tried to split the difference, hosting exercises led by the George Washington in the less contentious Sea of Japan, off Korea’s eastern coast. However, the move was interpreted by allies and enemies alike as a cessation of American authority in Asia and an embarrassment to South Korea, which had gone on record insisting the George Washington would stand by its side in the Yellow Sea.

The message carried particular salience in the capitals of Southeast Asia, where tensions with China are fast on the rise.  After years of an effective Chinese charm offensive, many East and Southeast Asian nations have become alienated by hardening Chinese territorial claims in the Pacific. The South China Sea, where island chains such as the Spratlys and Paracels are disputed by China and Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Phillipines and Taiwan, has become a particular flashpoint.

China has arrested hundreds of Vietnamese fishermen in recent years. It has elevated its claim in the South China Sea to a “core issue” on par with Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet. Wary capitals in the region have been snapping up military hardware and drawing nearer to Washington. Even regional heavyweight Indonesia, which has stayed above the fray and does not claim any islands in the South China Sea, recently took up the defense of its ASEAN allies at the United Nations, stating China’s claim “clearly lacks international legal basis.” Secretary Hillary Clinton did the same on July 23 at the ASEAN Regional Forum, insisting “freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime commons and respect for international law in the South China Sea” were in America’s “national interest.” Beijing is still outraged that the U.S. has waded into the South China Sea imbroglio.

But Mrs Clinton’s stand risks being undermined by Mr Obama’s provocative weakness in the Yellow Sea. After weeks of coyness, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell announced in August that the George Washington would take part in scheduled military exercises in the Yellow Sea in the coming months. James Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, told China it had no one to blame but itself: "China is suffering the indignity of exercises close to its shores, and though they are not directed at China, the exercises are a direct result of China's support for North Korea and unwillingness to denounce their aggression."  However, the administration again changed course on August 20th, when a military spokesman announced the George Washington would not participate in September’s exercises, adding only that it “would operate in the waters off the Korean peninsula in future exercises.”

From the first sign of hesitation, Mr Obama signalled to China that US policy is subject to intimidation. Each subsequent reversal has only emboldened Beijing. Much of the political leadership of China still seems to prefer co-operation over confrontation with the United States, and ties between the two countries have grown remarkably broad if not particularly deep. But hardliners in the Communist Party, and particularly in the PLA, clearly resent America’s influence in Asia and are growing more assertive by the year in their attempts to roll that influence back. Damage has been done to US credibility by this whole episode, but the Obama administration must stand by its initial pledge to send the George Washington to the Yellow Sea.  With tensions between Japan and China fast on the rise after the arrest of the Chinese trawler captain, there is no better time to send a message to America’s allies that US influence in Asia will not be compromised by China’s rise. 
10255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I guess we know who calls the shots in asia now on: October 24, 2010, 09:49:54 PM

South Korean media reported Sunday that Seoul and Washington have called off plans to hold a major joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea this month.

Yonhap news agency quoted government sources as saying the exercise involving a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been postponed to avoid tensions on the Korean peninsula during the upcoming G20 summit in Seoul.

There was no official confirmation of the reports.

The Chinese government has fiercely opposed the deployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington in the regional waters.

The U.S. and South Korea have been holding a series of joint military exercises as a warning to North Korea after the sinking of a South Korean warship.

An international investigation concluded that the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan was caused by a torpedo launched from a North Korean ship. Pyongyang has called the report a fabrication.
10256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BooOOOOooooosh! on: October 24, 2010, 07:31:55 PM

How Bush Destroyed the Economy In Only Eight Short Years
posted at 2:50 pm on October 24, 2010 by directorblue
[ Economics ]   

The conventional wisdom among the denizens of the left is that George W. Bush took a surplus and destroyed the economy in only eight short years. The following illustrated story shows just how he pulled off this difficult task.
10257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama will make us all millionaires! on: October 24, 2010, 06:15:39 PM
Unfortunately, a loaf of bread will cost 500,000US.

10258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 02:30:18 PM

Joel Kotkin
The Golden State’s War on Itself
How politicians turned the California Dream into a nightmare

California has long been a destination for those seeking a better place to live. For most of its history, the state enacted sensible policies that created one of the wealthiest and most innovative economies in human history. California realized the American dream but better, fostering a huge middle class that, for the most part, owned their homes, sent their kids to public schools, and found meaningful work connected to the state’s amazingly diverse, innovative economy.

Recently, though, the dream has been evaporating. Between 2003 and 2007, California state and local government spending grew 31 percent, even as the state’s population grew just 5 percent. The overall tax burden as a percentage of state income, once middling among the states, has risen to the sixth-highest in the nation, says the Tax Foundation. Since 1990, according to an analysis by California Lutheran University, the state’s share of overall U.S. employment has dropped a remarkable 10 percent. When the state economy has done well, it has usually been the result of asset inflation—first during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, and then during the housing boom, which was responsible for nearly half of all jobs created earlier in this decade.

Since the financial crisis began in 2008, the state has fared even worse. Last year, California personal income fell 2.5 percent, the first such fall since the Great Depression and well below the 1.7 percent drop for the rest of the country. Unemployment may be starting to ebb nationwide, but not in California, where it approaches 13 percent, among the highest rates in the nation. Between 2008 and 2009, not one of California’s biggest cities outperformed such traditional laggards as New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia in employment growth, and four cities—Los Angeles, Oakland, Santa Ana, and San Bernardino–Riverside—sit very close to the bottom among the nation’s largest metro areas, just slightly ahead of basket cases like Detroit. Long a global exemplar, California is in danger of becoming, as historian Kevin Starr has warned, a “failed state.”

What went so wrong? The answer lies in a change in the nature of progressive politics in California. During the second half of the twentieth century, the state shifted from an older progressivism, which emphasized infrastructure investment and business growth, to a newer version, which views the private sector much the way the Huns viewed a city—as something to be sacked and plundered. The result is two separate California realities: a lucrative one for the wealthy and for government workers, who are largely insulated from economic decline; and a grim one for the private-sector middle and working classes, who are fleeing the state.
10259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 02:11:39 PM

Joe Galvez, 43, was hit with a double dose of government cuts. He lost his job with the Los Angeles County Public Works Department in 2007 and hasn't been able to find steady work since. And, he said his son's high school is so strapped for funding that it has asked parents to donate money for school supplies.

"It's gotten so bad that schools are reaching out to the parents," said Galvez, a single father of three who collects scrap so he can come up with rent for the family's Baldwin Park home. "It's bad, man."

Cities across the state have taken stringent measures to balance their budgets, said Eva Spiegel, a spokeswoman with the League of California Cities.

Oakland laid off 80 police officers and delayed pothole repairs. Fullerton laid off 14 police officers and three firefighters, cut library hours and closed restrooms at several parks. Oceanside laid off 28 police officers and three firefighters, closed a swimming pool and a recreation center and eliminated the city Bookmobile.

"Decreasing sales tax revenues and decreasing property tax revenues mean that a lot of cities have had to do some belt tightening," Spiegel said.

Overall, the state's unemployment rate remained stuck at 12.4%, one of the highest in the nation. The state lost a net 63,600 jobs in September. Local governments shed 32,400 jobs, according to the monthly report from the state Employment Development Department released Friday.

The agency said 13,300 jobs were lost in construction, manufacturing shed 2,000, and even the usually dependable health and education services sector lost 13,600.

More pain is likely to come in government cuts.
10260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 02:00:20 PM
The mountain west is far more attractive than CA. LA is well on it's way to becoming Detroit with palm trees. But you should should definitely not consider moving, JDN.
10261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: October 24, 2010, 01:55:48 PM
So, when it doesn't run on gas, it runs on coal. Wonderful.
10262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: October 24, 2010, 01:24:46 PM

Wikileaks documents show WMDs found in Iraq

posted at 1:30 pm on October 24, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In this case, the surprise isn’t the data but the source.  Wikileaks’ new release from purloined files of the Department of Defense may help remind people that, contrary to popular opinion and media memes, the US did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and in significant quantities.  While the invasion of Iraq didn’t find huge stockpiles of new WMDs, it did uncover stockpiles that the UN had demanded destroyed as a condition of the 1991 truce that Saddam Hussein abrogated for twelve years (via Instapundit):

    An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.

    In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base. …

    Nearly three years later, American troops were still finding WMD in the region. An armored Buffalo vehicle unearthed a cache of artillery shells “that was covered by sacks and leaves under an Iraqi Community Watch checkpoint. “The 155mm rounds are filled with an unknown liquid, and several of which are leaking a black tar-like substance.” Initial tests were inconclusive. But later, “the rounds tested positive for mustard.”

Some of these discoveries have been known for years.  To the extent that the media covered these at all, these finds were generally treated as long-forgotten leftovers that somehow never got addressed by the Iraqi military in twelve years of UN inspections.  That, however, disregards completely the kind of totalitarian state that Hussein had imposed on Iraq, up to the minute that circumstances forced him into his spider hole in 2003.  Had Saddam Hussein wanted those weapons destroyed, no lower-ranking military officer would have dared defy him by keeping them hidden.  It would have taken dozens of officers to conspire to move and hide those weapons, as well as a like number of enlisted men, any and all of whom could have been a spy for the Hussein clique.

That would have had to have happened a number of times, not just once, organically arising in the ranks.  And why create a vast conspiracy of defiance to save the weapons that Saddam Hussein liked the most while Hussein himself complied with the UN?  Why not a conspiracy to just remove Hussein and his sons and let the military run the country instead?  Obviously, Hussein wanted to keep enough WMDs to use as terror weapons, not against the US, but against Iran in the event of an invasion from the east.

This isn’t exactly vindication of one of the arguments the Bush administration gave for invading Iraq, which was that Hussein had already begun stockpiling new WMDs and was working on nuclear weapons, but it is another vindication of the primary reason for restarting the war: Hussein and Iraq had violated the truce and refused to comply even after 17 UN resolutions demanding compliance.  Hussein never had any intention of abiding by the truce, for whatever motivations one wants to assign to him.  After the invasion, the US proved (through an armed-version of Wikileaks in Iraq’s diplomatic files) that the UN had allowed Hussein to grab billions in personal wealth by perverting the embargo in the Oil-for-Food Program, which would have given Hussein the means to fuel another WMD program as soon as the West withdrew from Iraq, and to restart Hussein’s dreams of pan-Arab dominance through military adventurism.  In the end, there were no good options.
10263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 12:59:53 PM

“Texas is pro-business with reasonable regulations,” one CEO respondent remarked, “while California is anti-business with anti-business regulations.” Another commented, “California is terrible. Even when we’ve paid their high taxes in full, they still treat every conversation as adversarial. It’s the most difficult state in the nation. We have actually walked away from business rather than deal with the government in Sacramento.”

 Click here to view the full chart

Best and Worst States for Business 2010

“The leadership of California has done everything in its power to kill manufacturing jobs in this state,” observed another CEO. “As I stated at our annual meeting, if we could grow our crops in Reno, we’d move our plants tomorrow.”

How is it that the nation’s most populous state at 37 million, one that is the world’s eighth-largest economy and the country’s richest and most diverse agricultural producer, a state that had the fastest growth rate in the 1950s and 1960s during the tenures of Democratic Governor Pat Brown and Republican Governors Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan, should become the Venezuela of North America?

Californians pay among the highest income and sales taxes in the nation, the former exceeding 10 percent in the top brackets. Unemployment statewide is over 12.2 percent, higher than the national average. State politics seems consumed with how to divide a shrinking pie rather than how to expand it. Against national trend, union density is climbing from 16.1 percent of workers in 1998 to 17.8 percent in 2002. Organized labor has more political influence in California than in most other states. In addition, unfunded pension and health care liabilities for state workers top $500 billion and the annual pension contribution has climbed from $320 million to $7.3 billion in less than a decade. When state employees reach critical mass, they tend to become a permanent lobby for continual growth in government.

Bill Dormandy, CEO of San Francisco medical device maker ITC, summed it up: “California has a good living environment but is unfavorable to business and the state taxes are not survivable. Nevada and Virginia are encouraging business to move to their states with lower tax rates and less regulatory demands.”
10264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 12:52:33 PM
What are those California advantages? Crime, pollution, high taxes, lots of illegal aliens, high cost of living?
10265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 12:37:01 PM

Fourteen more companies have moved either jobs or entire facilities out of California, bringing to 158 the number of companies shifting resources out of state in 2010, according to a list compiled by Irvine relocation consultant Joe Vranich.
10266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 12:34:09 PM

LOS ANGELES -- Mike Reilly spent his lifetime chasing the California dream. This year he's going to look for it in Colorado.

With a house purchase near Denver in the works, the 38-year-old engineering contractor plans to restart his family's future 1,200 miles away from his home state's lemon groves, sunshine and beaches. For him, years of rising taxes, dead-end schools, unchecked illegal immigration and clogged traffic have sapped the allure of the place writer Wallace Stegner once described as "America only more so."

Is there something left of the California dream?

"If you are a Hollywood actor," Reilly says, "but not for us."

Since the days of the Gold Rush, California has represented a sort of Promised Land, an image that fair or not is celebrated in the songs of the Beach Boys and embodied in the stars that line Hollywood Boulevard. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls the state the "golden dream by the sea."

But for many California families last year, tomorrow started somewhere else.

The number of people leaving California for another state outstripped the number moving in from another state during the year ending on July 1, 2008. California lost a net total of 144,000 people during that period -- more than any other state, according to census estimates. That is about equal to the population of Syracuse, N.Y.

The state with the next-highest net loss through migration between states was New York, which lost just over 126,000 residents.

California's loss is extremely small in a state of 38 million. And, in fact, the state's population continues to increase overall because of births and immigration, legal and illegal. But it is the fourth consecutive year that more residents decamped from California for other states than arrived here from within the U.S., according to state demographers.
10267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: October 24, 2010, 12:06:08 PM

The wages of Wikileaks: Understanding the Iraq war casualties
By TigerHawk at 10/24/2010 11:07:00 AM

Glenn Reynolds notes that the early revelations from the "Wikileaks" exposure of classified Iraq war documents do not actually reflect well on the political left. In particular, the documents reveal that The Lancet's two infamous studies on casualties in Iraq, curiously released in October 2004 and October 2006, respectively, grossly overstated the death toll from that war. This should not surprise us, insofar as the second such study (which claimed 600,000 war-related deaths in Iraq through the summer of 2006, or almost six times the 109,000 deaths through 2009 revealed by Wikileaks) was funded and promoted by George Soros, a fact that was ignored in virtually all of the press coverage back when it mattered. Thus Wikileaks has torpedoed a "fact" to which the "reality-based community" ascribed totemic significance. Sadly, even now the respectable mainstream media neglects to make the point. Probably because George Soros was behind the original propaganda which the media dutifully transcribed. If that were widely understood it might not reflect well on the profession of journalism.

Now, you might say that whether there were 100,000 excess deaths in Iraq or 600,000, it hardly matters insofar as both numbers are huge. Well, maybe not.

    And that’s leaving aside the argument about who actually killed the Iraqis, and whether more would have died under Saddam. Note also that this death toll is less than the number of people murdered in South Africa over the same period, and that even allowing for population differences, Iraq’s death toll is now lower.

The first really objective history of the Iraq war will have to wait until somebody who did not live through the propaganda around that war is old enough to write it. When that book is written, its main conclusion will turn on the path of Iraq and the greater Middle East in the years following the war, a story that has not yet unfolded. The discussion of the human costs of the war will be particularly interesting, however, because it will judge the competing claims of those who oppose the war -- that American and Coalition soldiers fought a dirty war that inflicted an unacceptably large number of civilian casualties -- and those who support it -- that civilian casualties were almost unbelievably low given the ferocity and duration of the counterinsurgency and in any case lower than the deaths attributable to Ba'athist rule over a similar number of years.
10268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: October 24, 2010, 12:03:04 PM

I’m not sure it’s what WikiLeaks intended, but its latest leaks reveal that the infamous Lancet paper which claimed the US-led liberation of Iraq cost the lives of 655,000 Iraqis in fact exaggerated the death toll by at least 600 per cent:

    The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq (over six years). These include 66,081 “civilians,” 23,984 “enemy” insurgents, 15,196 “host nation” (Iraqi government forces), and 3,771 “friendly” (coalition) forces. Some 60 percent of the total is civilian deaths.

And that’s leaving aside the argument about who actually killed the Iraqis, and whether more would have died under Saddam. Note also that this death toll is less than the number of people murdered in South Africa over the same period, and that even allowing for population differences, Iraq’s death toll is now lower.

Settle back and see if that’s how the ABC and Fairfax report these latest leaks.
10269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: October 24, 2010, 11:54:50 AM
Note how the media ignores the WMDs found in Iraq and the debunking of the Lancet study in the WikiLeak document drop. Assange is a melodramatic douche. If the CIA or the UK's intel entities wanted him, they'd have him.
10270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: October 24, 2010, 11:09:08 AM
So all the businesses and productive citizens fleeing California are doing so for no reason?
10271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Election Fraud Uncovered by Patriotic Citizens … Who Promptly Get Sued on: October 23, 2010, 12:46:20 PM

Election Fraud Uncovered by Patriotic Citizens … Who Promptly Get Sued
Election watchers True the Vote have found disturbing amounts of fraud in Harris County, Texas. Rather than support their important work, the Texas Democratic Party (among others) is suing them. (And don't forget to join PJM's voter-fraud watch!)
October 23, 2010 - by Hans A. von Spakovsky

Talk about denial! A group of liberal activists is making the media rounds, assuring reporters and editors that election fraud is a fairy tale. Nothing serious, they assert, nothing to see here. Too bad for them that citizens in Houston, energized by the Tea Party movement, have formed a group called True the Vote. Their hard work has demonstrated that, in some parts of the country at least, our election system is still infested with problems.

True the Vote is composed entirely of volunteers — hundreds of them. They have pored over election records in Harris County, Texas, looking for signs of fraud. And they have found plenty. Indeed, their initial research into only a very small portion of the voter registration records has led them to ask the U.S. Justice Department’s Voting Section to conduct a federal investigation.

In a letter asking for an official inquiry, True the Vote discusses potential widespread forgery in voter application forms. For instance, it seems from the applications that someone suspiciously signs the letter “J” with a quirky “3” inside the loop. The “3” shows up in multiple signatures for different voters with the names Jenard, Jamark, Jamarcus, and Jones.

True the Vote reports that at least four noncitizens have been registered to vote in Harris County. The group provided Justice with the actual voter registration forms where applicants marked “NO” to the question: “Are you a U.S. Citizen?” The group also provided the voter registration numbers of these confessed noncitizens. Yes, astonishingly, Harris County registered them to vote anyway. They are now on the rolls and able to participate in the upcoming midterm elections.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 was supposed to stop this from happening. But this federal legislation is only as good as the Justice Department’s willingness to enforce it. If Harris County is registering noncitizens, then it is violating numerous provisions of federal law, including those that prohibit the registration of foreigners to vote in federal elections.

True the Vote uncovered other types of fraud as well. The group forwarded to DOJ seven voter registration forms with applicant names different from the signature name. For example: Ta’mackayn Harrison’s application was signed by “Bra Kelly.” Jason King’s was signed by “Jemma Noel.” Yet Harris County inexplicably approved all of these applications. Jason King, aka Jemma Noel, is now on the voter rolls in Houston.

The citizens group also found multiple registrations for individual voters. For example, True the Vote provided the Justice Department government documents showing that at least four persons, including Jose Gomez and Victor Nickerson, had registered to vote multiple times successfully.

These problems were found by True the Vote in just a small sampling of the county’s voter registration list. How many other, similar problems would turn up in a comprehensive review? Don’t forget: every vote counts. Which also means that every legitimate vote cancelled out by a fraudulent vote should be a concern to anyone interested in fair elections and protecting the right to vote.

This sort of thing can happen only when election officials flout Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires them to clean up their voter registration lists. But this Department of Justice seems to have no interest in enforcing these laws. In testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, DOJ whistleblowers Christopher Coates and J. Christian Adams revealed that Obama Justice Department political appointee Julie Fernandes instructed the Voting Section that no such cases were to be brought. That directive gives free rein to voter registration fraud. Bogus registrants can now cast a fraudulent vote with confidence that the election police are asleep.

For years, the far left has insisted that voter fraud really doesn’t exist, or at least that claims about it are overblown. In so doing, the left has willfully blinded itself to the truth. But the arrival of True the Vote is helping expose the lies of these election fraud deniers.

Its “Army of Davids” approach brings to bear hundreds of volunteers to spend hundreds of hours examining documents and searching for patterns, like the mysterious “3” that afflicts so many letter “J’s” in Houston, or finding vacant lots at the registered addresses of multiple voters. Moreover, it means hundreds will serve as election judges and poll watchers on election day. True the Vote is the election fraud denier’s worst nightmare, because the group is helping prove definitively that fraud is real and too often overlooked by election officials.

Houston has an ACORN-like group, Houston Votes, that harvests thousands of suspect voter registration forms. If some of the fraud uncovered by True the Vote was done by deputy registers working for Houston Votes, they should be prosecuted. And it won’t be too hard to figure out — every deputy registrar that roams the community must be approved by the clerk in Harris County and is issued an identification number. Bogus applications can, and will, be traced back to the particular registrars.

Of course, this may explain why True the Vote has been hit with a lawsuit by the Texas Democratic Party, an ethics complaint by Texans for Public Justice, and another lawsuit (for defamation) by Houston Votes and the Houston lawyer behind the voter registration drive that turned in multiple problematic registration forms (Harris County estimated over 7,000). That same organization has also sued Harris County — claiming the county is barred from correcting the voter registration problems!

So has the Eric Holder-run Justice Department acted on the evidence of electoral fraud gift-wrapped, tied in a bow, and delivered to them? No. He and his partisan retinue in the Civil Rights Division have instead reportedly opened up an investigation of True the Vote!

When early voting started in Texas, liberal blogs ran scandalous headlines that True the Vote had been targeted by the Department of Justice, and related that Justice officials have started interviewing voters about the behavior of poll watchers — something confirmed by a Justice spokesman. This is curious because it seems, through leaks, to inject the DOJ into the election directly. It is all the more curious given internal DOJ limits on election-eve actions. The DOJ’s own election crimes manual, Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses, states:

    Another limitation [on election investigations] affects voter interviews. Election fraud cases often depend on the testimony of individual voters whose votes were co-opted in one way or another. But in most cases voters should not be interviewed or other voter-related investigation done, until after the election is over. Such overt investigative steps may chill legitimate voting activities. They are also likely to be perceived by voters and candidates as an intrusion into the election.

The leaking of the information about DOJ’s investigation to a friendly liberal blog was even stranger, and more ethically suspect. And what a contrast between how quickly Justice announced it was investigating complaints made by the Texas Democratic Party about poll watchers, and DOJ’s complete silence about True the Vote’s request for an investigation of the voter registration fraud discovered in Harris County.

Hopefully, True the Vote will not be deterred from its investigation of registration fraud by the seemingly coordinated attempts to intimidate it by the Justice Department, the Texas Democratic Party, and Houston Votes. Fortunately, the Liberty Institute has agreed to defend True the Vote from the specious claims being made against it.

Voter fraud practitioners should have something to worry about. True the Vote may be coming to a town near you soon. Though it is focused on Harris County for 2010, it plans to go national in 2011. The model it has developed is robust, effective — and to the chagrin of the wrongdoers — completely legal. After the congressional midterms, it will hold a nationwide summit of other citizens ready to start election integrity operations in the rest of the nation.

The country could use such dedication in 2012. The Obama Justice Department has demonstrated a shocking willingness to ignore laws protecting the security and integrity of elections. That should comes as no surprise given both the increasingly partisan approach to law enforcement undertaken by this Department under Eric Holder’s leadership, and the dogged determination of Holder’s ideological comrades who deny that voter fraud occurs, or that common sense measures like voter ID are needed.

In the great American tradition of self-reliance, citizen watchdogs across the country may stand watch in 2012. If the government proves incapable of protecting electoral integrity, the people can.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation ( and a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission.
10272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 23, 2010, 12:22:15 PM
Good thing we'd never put someone lacking experience and ability in a national leadership position.
10273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Alert Radley Balko! on: October 23, 2010, 11:45:27 AM
**US Gov't uses Big Brother tactics on poor undocumented immigrants just trying to make a living.**

Their surveillance effort captured more than 50,000 calls over six months, conversations that reached deep into Mexico and helped build a sprawling case against 43 suspects - including Mexican police and top officials - allegedly linked to a savage trafficking ring known as the Fernando Sanchez Organization.

According to the wiretaps and confidential informants, the suspects plotted kidnappings and killings and hired American teenage girls, with nicknames like Dopey, to smuggle quarter-pound loads of methamphetamine across the border for $100 a trip. To send a message to a rival, they dumped a disemboweled dog in his mother's front yard.

But U.S. law enforcement officials say the most worrisome thing about the Fernando Sanchez Organization was how aggressively it moved to set up operations in the United States, working out of a San Diego apartment it called "The Office."

At a time of heightened concern in Washington that drug violence along the border may spill into the United States, the case dubbed "Luz Verde," or Green Light, shows how Mexican cartels are trying to build up their U.S. presence.

The Fernando Sanchez Organization's San Diego venture functioned almost like a franchise, prosecutors say, giving it greater control over lucrative smuggling routes and drug distribution networks north of the border.

"They moved back and forth, from one side to the other. They commuted. We had lieutenants of the organization living here in San Diego and ordering kidnappings and murders in Mexico," said Todd Robinson, the assistant U.S. attorney who will prosecute the alleged drug ring next year.

The case shows that as the border becomes less of an operational barrier for Mexican cartels, it appears to be less of one for U.S. surveillance efforts. Because the suspects' cellphone and radio traffic could be captured by towers on the northern side of the border, U.S. agents were able to eavesdrop on calls made on Mexican cellphones, between two callers in Mexico - a tactic prosecutors say has never been deployed so extensively.

Captured on one wiretap: a cartel leader, a former homicide detective from Tijuana, negotiating with a Mexican state judicial police officer about a job offer to lead a death squad.

Recorded on other calls: the operation's biggest catch, Jesus Quinones Marquez, a high-ranking Mexican official and alleged cartel operative code-named "El Rinon," or "The Kidney." As he worked and socialized with U.S. law enforcement officials in his role as international liaison for the Baja California attorney general's office, Quinones passed confidential information to cartel bosses and directed Mexican police to take action against rival traffickers, prosecutors say.

He and 34 other suspects are now in U.S. jails. The remaining eight are still at large.

Investigators say it is not unusual for Mexican cartel leaders and their underlings to move north to seek refuge, or place representatives in such cities as Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta to manage large deliveries of drugs. But the Fernando Sanchez Organization was more ambitious. It was building a network in San Diego, complete with senior managers to facilitate large and small drug shipments and sales.
10274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / race-based justice on: October 22, 2010, 08:21:34 PM

DOJ sources tell WaPo: Yes, racial politics are being played in the Civil Rights Division

posted at 8:57 pm on October 22, 2010 by Allahpundit

A blockbuster, Breitbart calls it. Remember J. Christian Adams and the New Black Panther Party voting rights case? Thanks to Adams, the DOJ pursued a civil action against two Panther members for intimidating voters outside a polling place in Philly in 2008. The Panthers didn’t contest it and the DOJ won a permanent injunction — only to then drop the charges, seemingly inexplicably. Adams and a colleague claimed that the Department backed off because they didn’t want to pursue voting rights actions against minority defendants. DOJ higher-ups denied it. The Civil Rights Commission started investigating, and they eventually started splitting over what happened too.

Finally, at long last, WaPo decided to try to figure out what happened. Who’s right? Adams in asserting that there’s institutional resistance to using voting rights laws — which were, after all, passed in response to white abuses against blacks — against minority defendants? Or the higher-ups in insisting that the Panther case had nothing to do with race but merely with weak evidence? WaPo’s verdict:

    In recent months, Adams and a Justice Department colleague have said the case was dismissed because the department is reluctant to pursue cases against minorities accused of violating the voting rights of whites. Three other Justice Department lawyers, in recent interviews, gave the same description of the department’s culture, which department officials strongly deny…

    Civil rights officials from the Bush administration have said that enforcement should be race-neutral. But some officials from the Obama administration, which took office vowing to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement, thought the agency should focus primarily on cases filed on behalf of minorities.

    “The Voting Rights Act was passed because people like Bull Connor were hitting people like John Lewis, not the other way around,” said one Justice Department official not authorized to speak publicly, referring to the white Alabama police commissioner who cracked down on civil rights protesters such as Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia…

    Three Justice Department lawyers, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from their supervisors, described the same tensions, among career lawyers as well as political appointees. Employees who worked on the [Ike] Brown case were harassed by colleagues, they said, and some department lawyers anonymously went on legal blogs “absolutely tearing apart anybody who was involved in that case,” said one lawyer.

    “There are career people who feel strongly that it is not the voting section’s job to protect white voters,” the lawyer said. “The environment is that you better toe the line of traditional civil rights ideas or you better keep quiet about it, because you will not advance, you will not receive awards and you will be ostracized.”

Adams wrote about the Ike Brown case for Pajamas Media here and here. It was brought in 2005 and marked the first time a voting rights action had been pursued against a minority defendant; as WaPo says, “Adams later told the civil rights commission that the decision to bring the Brown case caused bitter divisions in the voting section and opposition from civil rights groups.” Which is to say, apparently the institutional hostility to these actions inside the Civil Rights Division pre-dates Obama and his appointments. That’s how entrenched it is. As for the Panther case, WaPo reaches no formal conclusion but between those brutal quotes and the fact that legal experts are at a loss to explain why charges would be dismissed in an action where a default judgment had already been granted, you can draw your own conclusion. (Other officials told them that Holder was aware of the case but that the decision to drop the charges didn’t come from him.)

Not only am I amazed that they published this, I’m doubly amazed that they did it 10 days before a giant midterm. This is a “week after the election” story if ever there was one. Exit question: Second look at WaPo?

10275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Decoupling: Alive and Well on: October 22, 2010, 07:53:52 PM

Decoupling: Alive and Well
October 21, 2010 - 6:07am — europac admin
Neeraj Chaudhary
Thursday, October 21, 2010

While the US economy continues to weaken (see my recent commentary: Don’t Doubt the Double-Dip), many foreign economies continue to experience solid – even spectacular – economic growth. When the global economic crisis began in 2008, many forecasters doubted that the world economy could return to growth without the US consumer. But the world is learning what Peter Schiff has long predicted: that the US consumer is a drag on the world economy, not an engine for growth. As “decoupling” becomes more apparent, emerging economies are forming trade links among themselves, accelerating the process of decline for the United States.
To get a better understanding of how decoupling works, it helps to picture a train in motion. Together, the cars and engine travel together on the track. Now imagine that last car, the caboose, detaches from the rest of the train. At first, the caboose travels at nearly the same speed as the rest of the train. The distance between the two is hardly discernable. Over time, however, the car slows down as friction and gravity take their toll. Meanwhile, the engine powers ahead. The distance between the caboose and the train gradually becomes greater and greater, until finally the engine is gone from sight, leaving the caboose sitting idle on the track.
This process describes how many of the world’s economies are steadily pulling away from the United States. As trade links grow between countries far from our shores (such as those being solidified between Asia and South America), the distance between the United States and the rest of the world is becoming larger, and decoupling is becoming more and more pronounced.
While the US economy sputtered to a 1.6% growth rate in the 2nd quarter (Q2), many Asian countries rapidly pulled away, powered by trade with each other and the rest of the world. In Q2, China’s economy grew a startling 10.3%. Americans would be thrilled with growth half that rate. Asia’s second rising star, India, expanded by a solid 8.8%. The Four Tigers also posted excellent numbers: Hong Kong grew at a 6.5% clip, South Korea at a faster 7.1%, and Taiwan at 12.53% – while Singapore clocked an astonishing 18.8% growth rate! If that’s not decoupling, I don’t know what is.
These numbers are not likely to be a short-term phenomenon. Instead, I feel they represent a dramatic realignment in the pattern of global economic activity. Economies that have long enjoyed a trade surplus are now less likely to loan money to broke and bloated deficit economies such as the United States. Instead, they are now more inclined to consume their own production or trade with other exporting nations. Indeed, China is now the largest trading partner for several of the world’s major economies, including Japan, South Korea, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Russia, and Brazil. Slowed by the gravity of excess debt and the friction of increasing taxes and regulation, the American caboose is straining to keep up.
But the trend is not limited to Asia. All around the world, countries with sound economic policies are continuing to expand. In fact, despite the attention paid to the so-called PIIGS, several European economies are also showing signs of decoupling. Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, grew at 2.2% in Q2 – its fastest rate in over 20 years! Switzerland expanded by 3.4% in the 2nd quarter, while Sweden and Finland grew by 4.6% and 3.7% respectively. Even historically tumultuous Poland boasted a 3.5% growth rate. Predictably, this growth has whetted Europe’s appetite for imports, causing the EU to recently surpass the US as China’s largest export market.
The trend also extends to producers of the single most important commodity in the world: oil. According to the Department of Energy, the US imports over 60% of its oil consumption; however, new production is increasingly being diverted to international markets, leaving our country vulnerable to 1970s-style shortages.
In the 1st quarter of this year, Saudi Arabia exported more oil to China than it did to the US. With a new growth market for its petroleum, Saudi Arabia is estimated to grow 3.9% this year. Russia grew at a rate of 5.2% in Q2, largely for the same reason. China is now believed to be Iran’s largest trading partner, according to some sources. And although the United States remains Venezuela’s largest trading partner, China’s nearly insatiable demand for oil has catapulted it into 2nd place for trade with this oil-exporting nation.
Whether you are looking at ASEAN, OPEC, or the EU, it is clear that decoupling is the order of the day. The world economy is rebuilding itself with China as its engine and hub. This is the essence of decoupling, and until recently, it was thought by many respected figures to be impossible.
In the old days, it was said that when the United States sneezed, the rest of the world caught a cold. This time, they might just excuse themselves and move to the next car.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Please feel free to repost with proper attribution and all links included.
10276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: October 22, 2010, 07:17:43 PM
Note: The Glock 26 is a semi-automatic handgun, not a revolver. I very good one, I might add.
10277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thorium! on: October 22, 2010, 05:58:07 PM

Three to four times more plentiful than uranium, today's most common nuclear fuel, thorium packs a serious energetic punch: A single ton of it can generate as much energy as 200 tons of uranium, according to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carlo Rubbia. In the mid-twentieth century, some U.S. physicists considered building the nuclear power landscape around thorium. But uranium-fueled reactors produced plutonium as a byproduct, a necessary ingredient for nuclear weapons production, and uranium ended up dominating through the Cold War and beyond.

Thorium could recapture the lead if a Virginia-based company called Lightbridge (formerly Thorium Power) fulfills its promise. Lightbridge was founded on the vision that the existing fleet of nuclear reactors would continue to function for decades to come, so its proprietary nuclear fuel assembly—which features a small amount of uranium surrounded by a blanket of thorium—is designed to work in light water reactors, the most common variety in service worldwide. The company is also developing an all-metal fuel capable of incorporating thorium. "This is like going from leaded to unleaded fuel for your car—the operation [of the reactors] is the same," says Seth Grae, Lightbridge's CEO.
10278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 22, 2010, 05:22:18 PM
Our salvation, no matter what China does or does not do, is to get back into a free market, innovation based economy. Cut corporate taxes and watch foreign investment flood in. It is an utter shame that right now, it's easier to start up a cutting edge tech company in China rather than here. If we do not reverse this and other trends, our best option in the future will be as a tourism destination for wealthy asians.
10279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Potential Gubernatorial Game-change in CO on: October 22, 2010, 03:46:03 PM

We Coloradans already know that Democrat gubernatorial candidate and Denver mayor John Hickenlooper doesn’t think much of folks outside his liberal metropolitan jurisdiction. Now, it’s documented on video. My friend and fellow Colorado resident Michael Sandoval at National Review has the scoop on Hickenlooper’s public contempt for “backwards” rural Colorado residents — which he shared with a left-wing interviewer late last year.
10280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 22, 2010, 03:19:58 PM
Believe me, I in no way want us to continue our destructive spending habits. We MUST address it immediately. However, until we get our feces coagulated, we had better not make things worse with a neo-Smoot-Hawley act.
10281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: October 22, 2010, 11:06:05 AM

It doesn't seem to vary much from the threads found here.
10282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: October 21, 2010, 11:07:55 PM

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Muslim Brotherhood) likens resistance to Islamic supremacism to racism
Ellison.jpg$13,350 from the group that wants to destroy the West from within

As I noted in December 2008, when it was first revealed that Ellison's Hajj was paid for with $13,350 from the Muslim American Society:

The Muslim Brotherhood "must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions." -- "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America," by Mohamed Akram, May 19, 1991.

What does that have to do with Congressman Ellison? Everything. The Muslim American Society paid for his Hajj. And what is the Muslim American Society? The Muslim Brotherhood.

"In recent years, the U.S. Brotherhood operated under the name Muslim American Society, according to documents and interviews. One of the nation's major Islamic groups, it was incorporated in Illinois in 1993 after a contentious debate among Brotherhood members." -- Chicago Tribune, 2004.
10283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: October 21, 2010, 11:03:55 PM
Ellison, like Obama is anti-american first.
10284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 21, 2010, 10:31:42 PM
Of course, that would never happen now.

Mohamed Elibiary was one of the speakers at a December 2004 conference in Dallas entitled "A Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary," Ayatollah Khomeini. When Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News called him on this, he threatened Dreher, telling him: "Expect someone to put a banana in your exhaust pipe."

Fox Guarding Henhouse Alert: "Secretary Napolitano Swears in Homeland Security Advisory Council Members," from the Department of Homeland Security, October 15 (thanks to Jeff):

    Washington, D.C. - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano swore in three new members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) during her latest tri-annual meeting with HSAC, which took place at DHS headquarters this week. The HSAC is comprised of experts from state, local and tribal governments, emergency and first responder communities, academia and the private sector who provide recommendations and advice to the Secretary of Homeland Security on a variety of homeland security issues.

    The new members include: former New York City Police Commissioner and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, who will join as vice-chair to former CIA and FBI Director Judge William Webster; Massachusetts General Hospital Director of Police, Security and Outside Services Bonnie Michelman; and Freedom and Justice Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Elibiary. [...]
10285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 21, 2010, 10:24:05 PM
I like Juan Williams. As far as liberals go, he not a bad guy. He actually will concede a point now and then.

As far as moderate muslims go, here is a good example of one we invited into the pentagon:

Anwar al-Awlaki - the radical spiritual leader linked to several 9/11 attackers, the Fort Hood shooting, and the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an airliner - was a guest at the Pentagon in the months after 9/11, a Pentagon official confirmed to CBS News.

Awlaki was invited as "...part of an informal outreach program" in which officials sought contact "...with leading members of the Muslim community," the official said. At that time, Awlaki was widely viewed as a "moderate" imam at a mosque in Northern Virginia.

At the same time, the FBI was also interviewing Awlaki about his contacts with three of the 9/11 attackers - Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al Midhar and Hani Hanjour - who were all part of the crew of five that hijacked the American Airlines jet that hit the Pentagon.

In the days after 9/11, Awlaki told FBI officials he remembered meeting al Hazmi but recalled little else about him. It is believed Awlaki met both al Hazmi and al Midhar in 2000 when Awlaki was the imam at a mosque in San Diego. Awlaki later moved to Northern Virginia and al Hazmi was seen at the Virginia mosque as well. However, there are scant details about Awlaki’s actual contacts with al Midhar and Hani Hanjour.

In 2001, the FBI did not share this investigative information with the Pentagon, but officials say there was no reason to - Awlaki was not a suspect and was not believed to be connected to the 9/11 attacks. Instead he was viewed as a valuable liaison to the Muslim community and a potential investigative source. As one official put it, "he was a much different guy back then."

Still, it's not clear what kind of vetting or background check was done by the Defense Department before Awlaki was allowed into the building.
10286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 21, 2010, 10:14:08 PM

Hemmed in by mountains and the sea, Wenzhou’s land shortage forced its inhabitants into trade. Now, it’s China’s capital of capitalism. Ninety-nine percent of all business in the city is private sector, according to Wenzhou government statistics.

And those entrepreneurs have been phenomenally successful: Last year, one in every three Chinese tourists overseas was from Wenzhou and one-tenth of China’s luxury cars ended up in this city of 8 million.

Nowhere is the Wenzhou love of making money — and flaunting it — more apparent than the city’s only Louis Vuitton store. As soft Muzak chimes in the background, brand-conscious shoppers finger the $300 key rings and ogle the leather bags.

“We all like LV (Louis Vuitton) for bags, since everyone knows this brand,” says a man who identifies himself as Mr. Wu. He does a quick inventory of his wardrobe: bag by Louis Vuitton, shoes by Gucci, stripy cotton sweater by Paul & Shark with a $600 price tag. “Very expensive, but it’s worth it,” he adds, beaming in a self-satisfied manner.

Mrs. Jin is more sniffy about Louis Vuitton. “It’s too vulgar nowadays,” she says dismissively. “The streets are awash with it. I prefer Chanel, it’s more elegant.”

Chen Wenda started a lighter-parts factory at age 18. Two decades later, the millionaire owns a shoe factory, a wine business, real estate interests and a soccer team. He started the wine business to appeal to the brash, high-rolling millionaires of Wenzhou, where Chen says people like to flaunt their wealth more than in any other place in China.

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

One 30-something millionaire, Chen Wenda, is aiming to cash in on the famed Wenzhou flashiness with his wine cellar stuffed full of Chateau Lafite and Petrus.

His trajectory follows a typical Wenzhou path. In 1988, at age 18, he started a lighter-part factory. Then he diversified. Now he has a shoe factory, an import-export business, a wine business, real-estate interests, and for the past two years, his own personal soccer team, which costs him half-a-million dollars a year. He describes the Wenzhou way of making money.

“I set up businesses and drop those that don’t make money, like the lighter-part factory. No one puts their eggs in one basket,” he explains.

“In Wenzhou, every single person does real estate. Everyone is pushing up the prices of buildings. We dare to do stuff. We’re not scared. And everyone wants to be their own boss,” he says.

These days, one in every ten bottles of wine drunk in China is guzzled in Wenzhou, as an accompaniment to deal-making. But Chen says the businessmen here are too busy making money to bother with the niceties of wine drinking.

“If they think that wine is too sour, they might add Coke to make it go down smoothly. If that’s what they want to do, that’s fine,” he adds. “I don’t see the need to emphasize European wine culture. Wenzhou people are too busy to do all of that. They have to meet people and do business.”
10287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 21, 2010, 08:21:12 PM

Smith’s first masterpiece, the Theory of Moral Sentiments, has been translated into Chinese for the first time, and Chris Berry, professor at Glasgow University, where Smith wrote the book, will next week deliver lectures on it at Fudan University in Shanghai.

China’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, has said he often carries the work – which preceded his more famous work The Wealth of Nations – in his suitcase when he goes abroad. Prof Berry said the earlier book emphasised the importance “not only [of] their material prosperity but also their moral welfare”.

**Anyone think Barry-O will flip through a chapter or two between golf sessions? Me either.**

10288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 21, 2010, 08:06:57 PM
Good thing you don't work for NPR. I'm sure that's hate speech too.....  rolleyes

This should be on constant rotation on prime time tv.
10289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 21, 2010, 06:48:39 PM
BBG, can you post a link? I'm not seeing what you posted.
10290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This is our future on: October 20, 2010, 08:18:33 PM

This is our future

This is our future if we don't change our ways.

Exhibit A: England faces the largest budget cuts since World War II.

Exhibit B: France is tearing itself apart over a move to bring state pensions under control.

This is the end result of the welfare-state. The Europeans (and Democrats here at home) want a utopia where all needs are met, all the hungry are fed, all the children warm and safe, all the sick made whole, all the evil punished and the innocent made free, a land where all is peace and all live in harmony. Instead, the welfare-state is waste and weakness and impoverishment and upheaval and ennui. It is generational warfare, class warfare, enormous debts, squalor, meanness, shortages, selfishness. It is, at base, the end of civil society. Communist economies fall faster because they take the poison pure; it takes the merely socialist ones more time to sicken and die.

It is not clear to me that either England or France will be able to make these reforms "stick". England might perhaps have more of a chance than France does, but even in Albion the days of Dame Margaret Thatcher are well past -- much of the country not only relies on the dole (and I count the NHS as part of that), but remembers nothing else. Entire generations of citizens have been born and grew to adulthood in a land of a debased civil society, outlandish political promises and a hidebound, near-moribund private sector. A country with "free" healthcare, a generous welfare system where it was often more remunerative not to work, and a private sector so sclerotic and union-infested that a structural unemployment rate of 8-10% was accepted as perfectly normal. Young people pursue endless, meaningless degrees (using state-provided funds more often than not) and have basically given up on the antiquated notions of marriage and family, to say nothing of religion. (No building in England is so empty as a Christian church nowadays.)

It's no accident that Germany is doing so much better in relative terms than England and France. Germany had to re-assert the traditional Teutonic work-ethic after World War II out of absolute necessity. The re-integration of East Germany in the 1990's forced them to be even more efficient, more productive, more financially conservative. England and France, contrarily, went the route of social welfare -- the more "liberal" route. And in the end instead of reaping "fairness" and societal harmony, they reaped instead penury and unrest. The redistributionist route led -- as it always, always does -- to a dead end.

We see our future playing out in England and France right now. Only our upheavals are going to be much larger and more violent than theirs. Our population is larger, more diverse, and more polarized; our politics more fraught; our debts and obligations massively larger. Our passions are harder to rouse, but once aflame, take a long time to burn out.

As in France, we have let an enormous segment of our population -- perhaps as much as half -- fall into a state where they depend on government largesse for a substantial part of their income. This is not money they earned themselves, not wages or savings, but rather money squeezed from the more productive half of the country. Half of our citizens pay no income taxes at all. An increasing number will draw public-sector pensions, Social Security, and medical insurance (Medicare/Medicaid) in amounts that far exceed what they contributed to those plans. Half of the US population, in short, lives not by the fruits of their own toil but by the (coerced) charity of others, as filtered and distilled through the hand of the government. This can not -- it can not, by the laws of economics and simple physics -- continue. The mathematics of the problem trump even philosophical issues of fairness, of governance, of ethics or law. The mathematics simply will not allow it.

Consider the French. They are rioting over a proposal to raise the national age of retirement from 60 to 62. Germany's is 65 (going to 67) -- how happy will German workers be to subsidize the early retirements of their French neighbors? The French labor unions are on a rampage, denouncing the move as a violation of a "promise" the country made to the workers. (If this reminds you of California, New Jersey, New York, and Michigan -- well, the situations are closely analogous.) The word "promise" is illuminating: people have stopped thinking of social welfare as a "benefit" or a "perquisite", and have begun instead to think of it as a "right" or a "promise". A legally-binding promise which cannot be broken, though the heavens fall. Well, the heavens are falling, and the sovereigns will discover a universal truth: a government "promise" is not a suicide pact. Reality will assert itself, one way or another.

Governments the world over are discovering that the river of money is not endless. That seemingly-inexhaustable mountain of wealth has been turned into an ocean of debt that will take decades to pay off. The spendthrift habits of the Western nations will put burdens on our children, and other generations not yet born, that should outrage us as a people. We are investing in the old rather than the young, and are punishing risk-taking and entrepreneurship rather than rewarding it. Our tax regimes seem to be deliberately crafted to kill innovation and long-term thinking. (What does "legacy" mean if the wealth I have accumulated in my life cannot be passed on to my children or heirs, but is instead eaten by the all-consuming government?) Young people -- young families -- are the foundation upon which Western Civilization is built. Neglect them, overburden them, cheat them, and you are committing societal suicide.

One measure of how self-destructive Europe has become can be seen in the birthrate. In developed countries like France, the birthrate among natives has plummeted to below the replacement rate (though some dispute this). Among immigrants who share little cultural affinity with the French (or are actively hostile to it), the birthrate has soared. What this means in 20 or 30 years is that what is "French" (or "English" or "American") will be determined by those same children. The same goes for Spain, for Portugal, for Germany, for England -- indeed, for the entire continent. (America at least has a positive population growth, albeit not by much. And our immigrants are also outbreeding the natives by a wide margin.) Demographics is a game of last man standing: the people who make the laws 20 or 30 years from now are the babies being born today. If you don't produce children, you have no voice in the future.

If the governments of the West have an excuse -- however weak and puling -- it is this: they meant well. It is not wrong to wish that every citizen have free health care, free food, free housing, and some money to spend even if they have no job. It's not wrong; it's just impossible. Health care is a service that has huge costs associated with it. These costs cannot be "magicked" away just because we find them inconvenient. Food must be grown, transported, packaged, and prepared -- all costs that must be accounted for. Shelter does not precipitate out of thin air. We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that "the government" can provide these things to us at no cost, because "the government" must pay for these things just as individuals do, and because the government has only one source of wealth -- the citizens -- that's where it must go for the money. So if Bob is given 'free' health care, 'free' food, and a 'free' apartment, the government isn't paying for it; Tom, Jane, Howard, and Sue are paying for it. And at a vastly inflated cost due to the innate governmental inefficiency that dilutes every dollar that passes through their hands. Soon the social welfare costs eat up the money intended for good and necessary governmental expenditures like the military, the police, and infrastructure. Social welfare becomes a beast that eats everything.

We are living in an age where citizens will have to re-think their basic relationship to their government, and to each other. The government is not -- cannot be -- the cornucopia that provides for all needs for all citizens. It cannot even provide for most needs for most citizens. The math only works if the producers outnumber the welfare recipients, and by quite a large margin; but this margin is long gone. France and England blew past the 50% mark long ago. The United States is teetering on the edge of a 50/50 split.

Citizens must once again be taught that they, and only they, are responsible for their lives. A civilized nation provides for the helpless, the weak, and the defenseless. But it does not expand the definition of those words so broadly that it encompasses half of its citizens. A nation that values self-reliance and ambition must accept that "opportunity" emcompasses the possibility of failure. Failure -- even ruin -- is a necessary and inevitable part of any market-based economy. You cannot engineer failure out of the equation without rendering it meaningless.

As I said, I am not hopeful for most of Europe (and even Germany is weaker than it seems). England may yet surprise me, but their culture is weaker now than it has ever been. The primary ingredient of recovery is will, and I just don't know if the dependent scions of Albion have enough left to climb out of the hole they're in.

Which brings us to America. Do we have the will to climb out of the gargantuan hole we have dug ourselves into? It remains an open question. I find encouragement in the rise of the Tea Party, but discouragement in the sweeping victory of Barack Obama. Half of my fellow citizens would prefer to bleed the body politic until it dies; as long as they do not outlast the flow of money, they care nothing for what comes after. But I care about legacy, about culture, and about the whole idea of America as a place where you can go as far as talent and ambition can take you. The unfortunate fact, though, is that much talent and ambition will have to be expended in simply paying off our massive debt, and in reforming our nonsensical entitlement programs. (I've said it many times, but it bears repeating: if you're not going to reform Social Security and Medicare, then don't bother doing anything, because it won't matter anyway.)

We are poised on the edge of a knife. On one side: bankruptcy, insolvency, and dissolution. On the other: a reinvigorated individualism, a sense of the government as servant of the people, not the master.

France is lost; England is sinking. America must survive if Western Civilization is to have any hope at all of surviving the perils yet to come.
10291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / O'Donnell, the 1st and the WaPo's memory hole on: October 20, 2010, 04:37:14 PM

Purged, not corrected.
10292  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching on: October 20, 2010, 04:32:56 PM
I'd go in to have a medical professional check it out. It sounds like it's resolved it's self, but you want to be sure. As someone who has suffered several back injuries in the line of duty, I can tell you that's crucial to take care of your back. I've been unable to get out of bed or reduced to using a cane while hunched over like an elderly man at times because of back injuries. Don't take your back for granted.
10293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 20, 2010, 02:03:48 PM
We are in no position to get into a trade war with anyone, much less China. We need free trade and we need them to ignore how they are throwing money away continuing to fund our irresponsible spending habits. Like I said before, the low yuan actually helps US consumers. A 40% increase in Chinese made goods would cause tangible pain for us and would not result in comparable increase in employment domestically.
10294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 20, 2010, 01:55:37 PM
The goalposts have been moved so often, they aren't even in the same state as the football field. Remember how the repubs were nothing but a regional political party in the southeastern US after 2008. Remember how Obama was to usher in 40 years of far left dem dominance in American politics?

The actual survival of the US is in doubt. There is an ugly, looming crisis that isn't going away and won't be fixed by politics as usual.
10295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 20, 2010, 01:40:29 PM
China sells to the world. China buys our debt, and Chinese consumers are increasingly buying US made products. The cheaper yuan means the American consumer's dollar goes farther at Walmart. Obama's pandering to his union goons will not end up creating jobs, just making consumer goods more expensive.

The Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act supporters though it was going to bring jobs back in the great depression, instead it like much of what was done by the dems lengthened and worsened it. China believes it can take the pain, and if needed, it will let the PLA party like it's 1989 should the street protests get out of hand.

We, on the other hand can tolerate much less pain as a society. China calculates that we will blink first, and China is correct in that assessment. So all this financial saber rattling will accomplish is to place China in a better position than when we started.
10296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 20, 2010, 09:55:00 AM
Good point.
10297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In Obama's Chicago, stimulus weatherization money buys shoddy work, widespread f on: October 20, 2010, 08:19:51 AM

Report: In Obama's Chicago, stimulus weatherization money buys shoddy work, widespread fraud
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
10/19/10 6:06 PM EDT

Projects to weatherize homes are a key part of the Obama administration's fusion of stimulus spending and the green agenda. But a new report by the Department of Energy has found serious problems in stimulus-funded weatherization work -- problems so severe that they have resulted in homes that are not only not more energy efficient but are actually dangerous for people to live in.

The study, by the Department's inspector general, examined the work of what's called the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, in Illinois. Last year, the Department awarded Illinois $242 million, which was expected to pay for the weatherization of 27,000 homes. Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes.  (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)

The findings are grim. "Our testing revealed substandard performance in weatherization workmanship, initial assessments, and contractor billing," the inspector general report says. "These problems were of such significance that they put the integrity of the entire program at risk."

Department inspectors visited 15 homes that were being weatherized by CEDA and paid for by stimulus funds. "We found that 14 of the 15 homes…failed final inspection because of poor workmanship and/or inadequate initial assessments," the report says. In eight of the homes, CEDA had come up with unworkable and ineffective plans -- like putting attic insulation in a house with a leaky roof. In ten of the homes, "contractors billed for labor charges that had not been incurred and for materials that had not been installed." The report calls billing problems "pervasive," with seven of ten contractors being cited for erroneous invoicing. And the department found "a 62 percent final inspection error rate" when CEDA inspectors reviewed their own work.

The work was not just wasteful; it was dangerous. Department inspectors found "heat barriers around chimneys that had not been installed, causing fire hazards." They found "a furnace [that] had not been vented properly." The found "a shut-off valve that had not been installed on a gas stove." And they found "carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers had not been installed as planned."
10298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 19, 2010, 09:50:38 PM
Playing protectionist games with China will hurt us far worse than it will them. I cringe to think how this will play out with the cokehead in chief doing the decision making.
10299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unrestricted economic warfare on: October 19, 2010, 08:53:19 PM
October 19, 2010
China to Halt Some Exports to U.S.

HONG KONG — China, which has been blocking shipments of crucial minerals to Japan for the last month, has now quietly halted shipments of those materials to the United States and Europe, three industry officials said on Tuesday.

The Chinese action, involving rare earth minerals that are crucial to manufacturing many advanced products, seems certain to further intensify already rising trade and currency tensions with the West. Until recently, China typically sought quick and quiet accommodations on trade issues. But the interruption in rare earth supplies is the latest sign from Beijing that Chinese leaders are willing to use their growing economic muscle.

“The embargo is expanding” beyond Japan, said one of the three rare earth industry officials, all of whom insisted on anonymity for fear of business retaliation by Chinese authorities.

They said Chinese customs officials imposed the broader restrictions on Monday morning, hours after a top Chinese official summoned international news media Sunday night to denounce United States trade actions.

China mines 95 percent of the world’s rare earth elements, which have broad commercial and military applications, and are vital to the manufacture of products as diverse as cellphones, large wind turbines and guided missiles. Any curtailment of Chinese supplies of rare earths is likely to be greeted with alarm in Western capitals, particularly because Western companies are believed to keep much smaller stockpiles of rare earths than Japanese companies.
10300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 19, 2010, 06:30:11 PM
Sounds good to me.
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