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1651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pot and lungs on: January 10, 2012, 06:47:08 PM

Weed isn't as bad as tobacco... at least for lungs.
1652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Movies on: January 10, 2012, 06:37:37 PM
I want to see that!

At the complete other end of the spectrum is Martin Scorcese's "Hugo" to which we took our children this past weekend.  Slow, thoughtful, no chase scenes, no cute smartass children, and ultimately quite powerful.  Recommended!

I've not seen the movie, but the book was excellent.
1653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Knuckle on: January 10, 2012, 10:05:28 AM
A documentary on Irish bare knuckle fighting blood feuds. 

1654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: January 10, 2012, 09:27:50 AM
If this "The Obama administration has offered no considered legal defense for the recess appointments. It even appears that it got no opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel in advance of the action—a sure sign the administration understood it was on shaky legal ground." is true, than Obama totally fu$#ed up.  See my post from above. 

Incidentally, if his credentials didn't indicate this, McConnell is real, real smart and an influetial scholars and jurist. 
1655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Daley to leave WH on: January 09, 2012, 02:15:10 PM

White House Chief of Staff William Daley will step down from his post at the end of the month, according to a senior administration official.

Daley will be replaced by Jack Lew, head of the Office of Management and Budget.

Daley submitted a letter of resignation to Obama last week.

“I have been honored to be a small part of your administration,” Daley wrote to the president in a letter obtained by the Chicago Tribune. “It’s time for me to go back to the city I love.”

Daley’s departure comes two months after the White House announced that Pete Rouse, the president’s senior adviser, would be taking over the daily operational duties.

Daley has had a turbulent tenure at the White House, where he has reportedly clashed with other officials.

Some say there was a level of unhappiness with Daley in recent months and the grumbling had intensified since then.

One former Obama aide who has dealt with Daley called him "unapproachable" and "standoffish."

"He's a little too structured," the aide said, adding that the chief of staff had some difficulty adjusting to a string of moving targets that is commonplace around the West Wing.

The aide said that while Rahm Emanuel, Obama's first chief of staff, would openly call on staffers in meetings, Daley would come in with a list of staffers who would speak in meetings.

"He has definitely ruffled a few feathers," the aide said.

Daley only had been President Obama's chief of staff for a little more than a year. He replaced Emanuel, who left the White House and eventually was elected Chicago.

Most recently, Daley began having "listening sessions" with former Obama aides and strategists to get their ideas on what the White House could be doing better.
1656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / the signing statement that accompanied NDAA on: January 09, 2012, 01:44:55 PM

Statement by the President on H.R. 1540

Today I have signed into law H.R. 1540, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012." I have signed the Act chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed. In hundreds of separate sections totaling over 500 pages, the Act also contains critical Administration initiatives to control the spiraling health care costs of the Department of Defense (DoD), to develop counterterrorism initiatives abroad, to build the security capacity of key partners, to modernize the force, and to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations worldwide.

The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Over the last several years, my Administration has developed an effective, sustainable framework for the detention, interrogation and trial of suspected terrorists that allows us to maximize both our ability to collect intelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals in rapidly developing situations, and the results we have achieved are undeniable. Our success against al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents has derived in significant measure from providing our counterterrorism professionals with the clarity and flexibility they need to adapt to changing circumstances and to utilize whichever authorities best protect the American people, and our accomplishments have respected the values that make our country an example for the world.

Against that record of success, some in Congress continue to insist upon restricting the options available to our counterterrorism professionals and interfering with the very operations that have kept us safe. My Administration has consistently opposed such measures. Ultimately, I decided to sign this bill not only because of the critically important services it provides for our forces and their families and the national security programs it authorizes, but also because the Congress revised provisions that otherwise would have jeopardized the safety, security, and liberty of the American people. Moving forward, my Administration will interpret and implement the provisions described below in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded.

Section 1021 affirms the executive branch's authority to detain persons covered by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note). This section breaks no new ground and is unnecessary. The authority it describes was included in the 2001 AUMF, as recognized by the Supreme Court and confirmed through lower court decisions since then. Two critical limitations in section 1021 confirm that it solely codifies established authorities. First, under section 1021(d), the bill does not "limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force." Second, under section 1021(e), the bill may not be construed to affect any "existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States." My Administration strongly supported the inclusion of these limitations in order to make clear beyond doubt that the legislation does nothing more than confirm authorities that the Federal courts have recognized as lawful under the 2001 AUMF. Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.

Section 1022 seeks to require military custody for a narrow category of non-citizen detainees who are "captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force." This section is ill-conceived and will do nothing to improve the security of the United States. The executive branch already has the authority to detain in military custody those members of al-Qa'ida who are captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the AUMF, and as Commander in Chief I have directed the military to do so where appropriate. I reject any approach that would mandate military custody where law enforcement provides the best method of incapacitating a terrorist threat. While section 1022 is unnecessary and has the potential to create uncertainty, I have signed the bill because I believe that this section can be interpreted and applied in a manner that avoids undue harm to our current operations.

I have concluded that section 1022 provides the minimally acceptable amount of flexibility to protect national security. Specifically, I have signed this bill on the understanding that section 1022 provides the executive branch with broad authority to determine how best to implement it, and with the full and unencumbered ability to waive any military custody requirement, including the option of waiving appropriate categories of cases when doing so is in the national security interests of the United States. As my Administration has made clear, the only responsible way to combat the threat al-Qa'ida poses is to remain relentlessly practical, guided by the factual and legal complexities of each case and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each system. Otherwise, investigations could be compromised, our authorities to hold dangerous individuals could be jeopardized, and intelligence could be lost. I will not tolerate that result, and under no circumstances will my Administration accept or adhere to a rigid across-the-board requirement for military detention. I will therefore interpret and implement section 1022 in the manner that best preserves the same flexible approach that has served us so well for the past 3 years and that protects the ability of law enforcement professionals to obtain the evidence and cooperation they need to protect the Nation.

My Administration will design the implementation procedures authorized by section 1022(c) to provide the maximum measure of flexibility and clarity to our counterterrorism professionals permissible under law. And I will exercise all of my constitutional authorities as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief if those procedures fall short, including but not limited to seeking the revision or repeal of provisions should they prove to be unworkable.

Sections 1023-1025 needlessly interfere with the executive branch's processes for reviewing the status of detainees. Going forward, consistent with congressional intent as detailed in the Conference Report, my Administration will interpret section 1024 as granting the Secretary of Defense broad discretion to determine what detainee status determinations in Afghanistan are subject to the requirements of this section.

Sections 1026-1028 continue unwise funding restrictions that curtail options available to the executive branch. Section 1027 renews the bar against using appropriated funds for fiscal year 2012 to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose. I continue to oppose this provision, which intrudes upon critical executive branch authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and the circumstances of each case and our national security interests. For decades, Republican and Democratic administrations have successfully prosecuted hundreds of terrorists in Federal court. Those prosecutions are a legitimate, effective, and powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation. Removing that tool from the executive branch does not serve our national security. Moreover, this intrusion would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles.

Section 1028 modifies but fundamentally maintains unwarranted restrictions on the executive branch's authority to transfer detainees to a foreign country. This hinders the executive's ability to carry out its military, national security, and foreign relations activities and like section 1027, would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. The executive branch must have the flexibility to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers. In the event that the statutory restrictions in sections 1027 and 1028 operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my Administration will interpret them to avoid the constitutional conflict.

Section 1029 requires that the Attorney General consult with the Director of National Intelligence and Secretary of Defense prior to filing criminal charges against or seeking an indictment of certain individuals. I sign this based on the understanding that apart from detainees held by the military outside of the United States under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, the provision applies only to those individuals who have been determined to be covered persons under section 1022 before the Justice Department files charges or seeks an indictment. Notwithstanding that limitation, this provision represents an intrusion into the functions and prerogatives of the Department of Justice and offends the longstanding legal tradition that decisions regarding criminal prosecutions should be vested with the Attorney General free from outside interference. Moreover, section 1029 could impede flexibility and hinder exigent operational judgments in a manner that damages our security. My Administration will interpret and implement section 1029 in a manner that preserves the operational flexibility of our counterterrorism and law enforcement professionals, limits delays in the investigative process, ensures that critical executive branch functions are not inhibited, and preserves the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice.

Other provisions in this bill above could interfere with my constitutional foreign affairs powers. Section 1244 requires the President to submit a report to the Congress 60 days prior to sharing any U.S. classified ballistic missile defense information with Russia. Section 1244 further specifies that this report include a detailed description of the classified information to be provided. While my Administration intends to keep the Congress fully informed of the status of U.S. efforts to cooperate with the Russian Federation on ballistic missile defense, my Administration will also interpret and implement section 1244 in a manner that does not interfere with the President's constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs and avoids the undue disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications. Other sections pose similar problems. Sections 1231, 1240, 1241, and 1242 could be read to require the disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications and national security secrets; and sections 1235, 1242, and 1245 would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with foreign governments. Like section 1244, should any application of these provisions conflict with my constitutional authorities, I will treat the provisions as non-binding.

My Administration has worked tirelessly to reform or remove the provisions described above in order to facilitate the enactment of this vital legislation, but certain provisions remain concerning. My Administration will aggressively seek to mitigate those concerns through the design of implementation procedures and other authorities available to me as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief, will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future, and will seek the repeal of any provisions that undermine the policies and values that have guided my Administration throughout my time in office.

1657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Do Nothing Congress and States Rights on: January 09, 2012, 09:43:43 AM

Opinion: Continuing deadlock in Congress may boost state power
By Juan Williams - 01/09/12 05:20 AM ET

The January forecast for Congress calls for a continued deep freeze.

That means the most important public policy debates facing the nation will remain locked under the icy divide between the Democratic majority in the Senate and the Republican majority in the House. This forecast has held true since the start of the 112th Congress last January.

The frigid environment led the president last week to make a controversial recess appointment for the head of a new consumer watchdog agency. Senate Republicans, true to the freeze, claim the Senate is not in recess so as to block the appointment. The president, playing on the historic high level of public discontent with congressional inaction, said he refused to “stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people they were elected to serve.”

Last year the freeze on Capitol Hill brought us a paltry two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. It also led to the failure of the supercommittee, the burying of the deficit reduction plan proposed by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and three-near government shutdowns. The cold inside the Capitol spread to Wall Street and led to the downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

And now there is the added chill that arrives with an election year. The GOP has no incentive to give the president any legislative victories. At best, Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate will try to force their opposition into casting unpopular votes on big issues. The goal is not to pass any meaningful legislation but to score political points and create fodder for political attack ads.

The bottom line for the coming year is that action on issues affecting the lives of real Americans will come from state governments and federal courts. Here are three major policy fights that will take place on battlegrounds far from Capitol Hill.

Immigration: GOP governors and state legislatures are pressing tough new immigration laws modeled after Arizona’s S.B. 1070. States such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia have enacted similar “Papers Please” laws. A federal judge blocked Arizona’s law in 2010 and last month, another federal court blocked parts of the South Carolina law as unconstitutional infringement on federal law. The GOP proponents of the state laws argue they are necessary due to Congress’ failure to act on immigration reform. The Supreme Court has announced it will rule on Arizona’s appeal sometime this year.

Healthcare: In the absence of federal reform, Medicaid will continue its downward spiral into insolvency. This means that cash-strapped states will have to make painful cuts and enact cost-saving measures like means-testing to make up the difference. Also, the Supreme Court has said it will rule on the individual mandate in President Obama’s healthcare reform law. Several Republican governors argue it is unconstitutional and will burden businesses in their states. Last November, 66 percent of voters in Ohio voted for a ballot initiative which declared their state to be exempt from a national healthcare mandate – directly contradicting a central piece of the Affordable Healthcare Act – and setting up a fight between the state government and a paralyzed federal government.

Education: Congress has failed to pass much-needed revisions to No Child Left Behind for the past three years and it is highly unlikely they will do so in 2012. States are using up their stopgap funding for education that was included in the stimulus bill. And the Race to the Top grant program where states compete for additional funding faces serious cuts. The only hope for education reform would appear to be on the state level. GOP governors are following the lead of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a passionate reform advocate. However, Christie was unable to get his ambitious reform package through his Democratic-controlled state legislature in 2011. Christie says he will renew his push for merit pay, tenure reform and expansion of charter schools and vouchers in 2012. 

And the list of major public policy disputes also includes the controversy over state laws requiring photo identification for voters. The Department of Justice has challenged several of these laws, setting the stage for another battle in federal court. South Carolina’s new voter ID law was recently blocked by the DOJ under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) has said she is prepared to challenge the Obama administration all the way to the Supreme Court on this one.

Presidential and congressional candidates will be reacting to whatever legislative action comes from the states. Note that each of these issues tests the limits of federalism itself. This bedrock principle of the U.S. Constitution, codified by the Tenth Amendment, says that there is a separation of powers between the state and federal government. But what happens when the federal government is not doing its job?

Voters can expect both Republicans and Democrats to run against the do-nothing Congress.

Because of Congress’s partisan paralysis, 2012 may signal a monumental shift in power away from the federal government to the state governments – and in the process permanently alter the constitutional interpretation of federalism.

1658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PAC goes after Mitt on: January 09, 2012, 09:41:44 AM
PAC Ads to Attack Romney as Predatory Capitalist

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Thanks to a $5 million donation from a wealthy casino owner, a group supporting Newt Gingrich plans to place advertisements in South Carolina this week attacking Mitt Romney as a predatory capitalist who destroyed jobs and communities, a full-scale Republican assault on Mr. Romney’s business background.

The advertisements, a counterpunch to a campaign waged against Mr. Gingrich by a group backing Mr. Romney, will be built on excerpts from a scathing movie about Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mr. Romney once ran. The movie, financed by a Republican operative opposed to Mr. Romney, includes emotional interviews with people who lost jobs at companies that Bain bought and later sold.

“We had to load up the U-Haul because we done lost our home,” one woman says.

Democrats have signaled that they intend to make Mr. Romney’s history at Bain a central part of their case against him if he wins the Republican nomination. But Bain has also emerged as an issue in the Republican primary, despite the party’s free market stance and business-friendly policies, reflecting the depth of public anger about the economy. At an appearance here on Sunday, Mr. Gingrich suggested that Bain’s approach was to carry out “clever legal ways to loot a company.”

But the planned advertisements appear to be intended to elevate the subject to a new level as Mr. Gingrich and the other Republican contenders begin to run out of time to slow Mr. Romney’ s progress toward the nomination. They are the latest example of how “super PACs” are carrying out attacks in sync with their preferred candidates and in the process helping to reshape the presidential race. Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money but are barred from coordinating with the campaigns they are supporting.

The Bain-centered campaign strikes at the heart of Mr. Romney’s argument for his qualifications as president — that as a successful executive in the private sector, he learned how to create jobs — and advances an argument that President Obama’s re-election campaign has signaled it will employ aggressively against Mr. Romney.

“His business success comes from raiding and destroying businesses — putting people out of work, stealing their health care,” said Rick Tyler, a senior adviser to the pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, which recently bought the film, “King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” after groups backing two other Republican candidates passed up opportunities to use it.

The movie scenes and the influx of money that enable the pro-Gingrich group to run the advertising campaign have “all the makings of a game-changer,” Mr. Tyler said.

Winning Our Future got the money for the campaign from Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino owner in Las Vegas who has long supported Mr. Gingrich.

The group said it would spend $3.4 million initially on radio and TV advertisements starting Wednesday in South Carolina, where the campaign will move after New Hampshire. Mr. Gingrich, who held the lead in the polls in South Carolina last month before falling back, attributes his fade there and earlier in Iowa, where he finished fourth in the caucuses last week, to a deluge of attack advertisements from a super PAC supporting Mr. Romney, Restore Our Future.

When Mr. Gingrich accused Mr. Romney at a debate on Saturday in New Hampshire of following a “Wall Street model” where “you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers,” Mr. Romney retorted that he had helped create 100,000 jobs, citing successes like Staples.

“It’s puzzling to see Speaker Gingrich and his supporters continue their attacks on free enterprise,” said a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney, Andrea Saul. “This is the type of criticism we’ve come to expect from President Obama and his left-wing allies at”

The film’s producer, Barry Bennett, a former consultant to a super PAC that supports Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, said he came up with the idea himself.

Mr. Bennett said he had bought an “opposition research book” on Mr. Romney compiled by the staff of a Republican rival during the 2008 campaign and had found its contents “stunning.”

“David Axelrod,” he said, referring to Mr. Obama’s strategist, “is going to have a heyday with this, and Republicans need to know this story before we nominate this guy.”

He said he had commissioned Jason Killian Meath, an advertising executive and freelance filmmaker, to direct the movie. Mr. Meath worked on the Romney campaign in 2008 as an associate of Stuart Stevens, who is Mr. Romney’s strategist.

Mr. Bennett said he paid the film’s entire cost, $40,000, from his own pocket; it was never an official project of the pro-Perry group, Make Us Great Again. He said had he never showed it to the pro-Perry group, which he left in October.

But people with knowledge of the film’s provenance said that officials at Make Us Great Again were shown an early portion of the film, and had told Mr. Bennett that they had no interest in using it or paying for it.

In a statement, Scott Rials, the executive director, said: “Make Us Great Again had nothing to do with this video in any way. Period. Barry Bennett worked with us during the startup phase of the super PAC, but we are now working on different projects.”

Mr. Bennett also shopped the film to a super PAC supporting another candidate, Jon M. Huntsman Jr. But officials with the group, Our Destiny, also passed on the film, according to a person with ties to the group.

“We made the decision that that was just not the kind of campaign we wanted to participate in,” said the person, who asked for anonymity to describe private negotiations.

Mr. Tyler, a former long-time aide to Mr. Gingrich who helped set up the super PAC supporting him, disagreed.  “I’m a capitalist, I’m a conservative,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time defending free enterprise from a biblical perspective.”

But Bain Capital, he said, did not fit the model of responsible corporate citizenship.  “If this is free enterprise, then conservatives should have nothing to do with it,” he said. “It is predatory paper-shuffling. Mitt Romney was engaged in the engineered destruction of free enterprise.”

The full 28-minute movie, which the group plans to post online, cuts back and forth between images of Mr. Romney’s “$12 million California beach house” and men and women describing the pain of losing jobs.

A man in a Vietnam veterans hat says: “Who am I? I’m Bob Safford. Mitt Romney and those guys, they don’t care who I am.”

In news clips in the film, Mr. Romney is jeered at for calling corporations “people” and explains that capitalism is “creative destruction.”

Mr. Adelson’s $5 million contribution instantly makes Winning Our Future a major player on the political landscape.

A supporter of conservative causes, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, Mr. Adelson is especially close to Mr. Gingrich, a kinship that stretches back to the former speaker’s days in the House and has evolved into a relationship that is as much personal as political, according to people who know both men.

Mr. Gingrich, who has vowed to run a positive campaign, has said he will tell supporters not to donate to any group that runs negative advertisements on his behalf. Mr. Tyler said the Romney campaign might find the commercials negative.  “But I think voters will find them instructive and positive and help them make a decision,” he said.
1659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's CIA past on: January 08, 2012, 08:29:59 PM
Reports of Obama's CIA past now being made public!!!   grin grin evil rolleyes
1660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul was right about Iran? on: January 07, 2012, 04:00:10 AM

A week ago Ron Paul tried to convey how the ever-tightening sanctions on Iran--which may soon include an embargo on its oil--look from an Iranian point of view: It's as if China were to blockade the Gulf of Mexico, he said--"an act of war".

This is sheer conjecture; Ron Paul is no expert on Iran. But now someone who does have relevant credentials has weighed in, and the picture he paints is disturbingly reminiscent of the one Paul painted. It suggests we may be closer to war than most people realize.
Vali Nasr, in addition to being a highly respected expert on the Middle East, belongs to a family that, according to Lobelog's sources, has "a direct line into Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's inner circle." In a Bloomberg View piece that is getting a lot of attention, Nasr reports that "Iran has interpreted sanctions that hurt its oil exports, which account for about half of government revenue, as acts of war." Indeed, the Iranian leadership now sees U.S. policy as "aimed at regime change."

In this light, Iran's recent threats--notably that it will close the Strait of Hormuz in response to an oil embargo--shouldn't be dismissed, says Nasr. "The regime in Tehran is ready for a fight."

The good news is that Nasr thinks war can be averted. The bad news is that to accomplish this America and other Western powers need to "imagine how the situation looks from Tehran"--not exactly a favorite pastime among American politicians these days.

Still, if only for the intellectual exercise, let's do try to imagine what things look like from Iran's point of view.

Iran's nuclear scientists have recently evinced a tendency to get assassinated, and a mysterious explosion at a military facility happened to kill the general in charge of Iran's missile program. These things were almost certainly done by Israel, possibly with American support. If you were Iranian, would you consider assassinations on your soil grounds for attacking the suspected perpetrators?

Well, we know that some notable Americans think assassinating people on American soil is punishable by war. After the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi Ambassador in Washington was uncovered, Bill Kristol (whom you may recall from our previous run-up to a disastrous war) recommended that we attack Iran.

But I'm guessing that if I tried this Iran-America analogy out on Kristol, he might detect asymmetries. For example: We're us, whereas they're just them.

Underlying our Iran strategy is the assumption that if we keep ratcheting up the pressure, the regime will eventually say uncle. A problem with this premise is that throughout human history rulers have shown an aversion to being seen by their people as surrendering. Indeed, when you face dissent, as the Iranian regime does, there's actually a certain appeal to confronting an external threat, since confrontation tends to consolidate domestic support. As Nasr puts it, "the ruling clerics are responding with shows of strength to boost solidarity at home."

This doesn't mean Iran's rulers haven't wanted to make a deal. But it does mean the deal would have to leave these rulers with a domestically plausible claim to have benefited from it, and it also means these leaders can't afford to be seen begging for the deal. When President Ahmadinejad visited New York last year, he gave reporters unmistakable signals that he wanted to negotiate, but the Obama administration chose to ignore them. After Ahmadinejad "went home empty handed," reports Nasr, power increasingly shifted to Iranians who argued for confrontation over diplomacy.

Even so, Iran's foreign minister made another appeal to re-open talks only days ago, suggesting that they be held in Turkey. But, as the New York Times reported, western nations interpreted this overture "as an effort by Iran to buy time to continue its program." Got that? If Iranians refuse to negotiate it means they don't want a deal, and if they ask to negotiate it means they don't want a deal.

Nasr says the tightening of the screws is making Iran increasingly determined to get nuclear weapons--not to start a war, but to prevent one. Having seen what happened to Muammar Qaddafi, says Nasr, Iran's leaders worry that foreign powers would "feel safe enough to interfere in the affairs of a non-nuclear-armed state."

This is the kind of thing Ron Paul presumably had in mind when he said Iran may want nuclear weapons in order to get some "respect." But hey, what does Ron Paul know?

1661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: January 06, 2012, 08:52:14 AM
Something that has been left unsaid in the discussion about the recess appointments is the likely role of the Office of Legal Counsel.  The OLC has a long history of interpreting, and for the purpose of presidential defining, the recess appointment.  There was at least one moment (I think in the Reagan adminstration, but I may be mistaken) where the OLC interpreted recess was interpreted by OLC as less than a day.  It is likely, therefore, that OLC has played a role in this decision and in giving President Obama its understanding of the definition of a "recess"... and there might be more conservative OLC opinions which played a role in this action. 

All of that said, there is certainly politics to be played. 
1662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / interesting parental take on gay children on: January 06, 2012, 06:30:41 AM

On August 16 I learned what viral meant.

I wrote an essay about my oldest son and his love of a popular gay television character, Glee's Blaine, and how this crush led to him telling me he wanted to kiss boys, not girls. I naively posted it to a blog, thinking some fans of the show might think it was cute.

Within 24 hours it had been reposted and "liked" over 30,000 times on the blog's website. It wasn't long before messages started flooding in, other websites began posting it and people were commenting. The response was overwhelming positive. What I thought was a simple story about my kid and our family had clearly stuck a chord with a lot of people.

It also made some people uncomfortable. Of the criticisms, the most common is that my son is six years old and doesn't know anything about sex. While I fully acknowledge this may not be the end-all-and-be-all to my son's sexual orientation, I object to the idea that being gay is only about sexual acts. Our emotions and feelings, our attractions and compulsions, all contribute, not just our body parts. If my son had a crush on the star of iCarly, I doubt people would be saying he was too young to have those sexual feelings towards a girl. I think they would think it was an innocent schoolboy crush, which is exactly what it is.

Plus, for every comment I've read saying my son is too young, I have received multiple messages from adults saying "I knew when I was little, too."

It got me thinking and after awhile I started to feel like I knew this big secret that shouldn't be a secret at all: Every gay adult used to be a gay kid. It's not as if all children start off as straight until some time later when someone flips the gay switch. We are who we are from the very moment we are born.

The horrible and hate filled words of the Michele Bachmann's of the world take on a whole new level of disgusting when picturing them being screamed at a group of kindergartners and first graders. They are unnatural. They are sinners. They are going to hell. They are dirty, wrong and sick.

These people would tell my innocent little boy (who currently wants to be a fireman-ninja when he grows up) he is the biggest threat the American family... because he wants to kiss boys and not girls.

The reality is they are pounding these words of ignorance and hate into the ears and minds of gay children every day. And those children are hearing them. I know because many of those kids are now writing to me. Kids as young as 14 have sent me messages. So many are scared children, who sure as hell did not choose this for themselves, living in fear of their family finding out because they know full well what their mom and dad will say. And they tell me they wish I was their mom.

I want to keep all this talk, all these lies, all this hate, away from these kids. Of course, there is an inherent problem with that. We can't pick out the gay kids simply by looking, and behavior isn't a clear indicator (some little straight girls are tomboys, and some little gay boys love their monster trucks). The only way we can truly know someone's orientation is if they tell us, which for some doesn't happen until well into adulthood.

So the solution is obvious to me. Keep it away from all our kids. It's my responsibility as a mother, as a human being, to stand up and say "No more." No, you are not allowed to say those things in front of my children, not unless you want to deal with me. Because I will not allow any of my sons to be viciously attacked without seeing me defend them. They will never have to doubt for a second exactly where their parents stand, and never have to live in fear of who they are.

Because since August 16, I have learned that hate is the virus we all need to be worried about.

The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including our nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone. For more information or to talk to someone, visit their website or call 866-488-7386.
1663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / reax to Roberts' speech on: January 05, 2012, 06:44:49 PM
1664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / confident in constitutionality on: January 05, 2012, 06:41:36 PM

White House confident recess appointments were constitutional

 By Amie Parnes - 01/05/12 12:44 PM ET

President Obama is confident he had the authority to recess-appoint Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.

Republican leaders blasted Cordray’s appointment as an “unprecedented” and potentially illegal power grab by the president, but Carney said the White House is “very confident” that the law is on their side.

At the same time, Carney added, "I don't want to anticipate legal challenges we haven't seen yet."

Business groups say legal challenges to the recess appointment could come swiftly, and an official with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told The Hill a court fight over the appointment is a near certainty. 

 Obama broke with years of legal precedent by making the recess appointment while the Senate was holding brief pro forma sessions. Senate Democrats used the same tactic to block recess appointments from President George W. Bush.

The president also recess-appointed three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a move that gives the agency a working quorum for 2012.

Carney fired back on an attack made Thursday by Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, who accused Obama of packing the NLRB with "union stooges."

"There were three nominees — one of them was a Republican," the spokesman said. "I find it a little rich that on this and on the appointment of Richard Cordray ... that the former governor of Massachusetts decided to take a position in both cases against the security and protection of middle-class Americans."

Carney insisted Obama was not trying to be "deliberately provocative" with the recess appointments.

"He has worked cooperatively with Congress" since he took office, Carney said.

Obama felt an “absolute urgency” to install Cordray at the bureau, Carney said, adding that no one expects Washington to be a campfire where everyone sings “Kumbaya.”

Senate Republicans had warned Obama not to recess-appoint Cordray to the CFPB and had vowed to block his nomination until structural changes were made to the agency to make it more accountable.

Carney said Cordray’s nomination and the drive to change the bureau are separate issues.

If Republicans want to change the law on the CFPB, "they can do it legislatively," he said.

This story was updated at 1:05 p.m.

1665  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: January 05, 2012, 06:10:58 PM
Death threat for LEOs after shooting armed student:
1666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ability to fight 2 wars a thing of the past on: January 05, 2012, 07:51:08 AM
Also posted in Military Science thread.
1667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt undercuts McCain endorsement of McCain on: January 05, 2012, 06:40:48 AM
1668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US/Israel v. Iran on: January 05, 2012, 06:37:43 AM
I do not know the quality of this source, but found the article interesting.  It would seem that the US is deploying troops to Israel to gird for war with Iran.

An unnamed source said the military deployment of US anti-missile ships and accompanying support personnel will occur in January and later this spring, Global Research reported.
Commander of the US Third Air Force based in Germany Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc said it is not just an "exercise," but a "deployment," The Jerusalem Post said.
Washington and Tel Aviv have planned to hold what they call the largest-ever joint military exercise this spring.
The US commander visited Israel two weeks ago to confirm details for “the deployment of several thousand American soldiers to Israel.”
The US General also visited one of Israel's three Iron Dome anti-missile outposts. The Israeli Air Force has announced plans to deploy a fourth Iron Dome system in coming months.
While US troops will be stationed in Israel for an unspecified amount of time, Israeli military personnel will be added to United States European Command (EUCOM) in Germany.
This is while the US is reportedly bringing its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and ship-based Aegis ballistic missile systems to Israel.
The White House has resumed its anti-Iran war rhetoric after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report in November, in which Tehran was accused of conducting activities related to developing nuclear weapons. Iran strongly dismissed the allegations.
US analyst Robert Parry said the documentary evidence showed that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano was installed with the support of the US and that he privately indicated to US and Israeli officials that he would help advance their goals regarding Iran.
In December, Iran's Navy launched massive 10-day military drills in the strategic Strait of Hormuz to show that the country is ready to defend itself against any attack.
"We wanted to send this message to certain powers that Iran is always prepared to defend itself against foreign aggression," Iran's Navy Deputy Commander Admiral Amir Rastegari told Press TV.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama on Saturday signed into law fresh economic sanctions, targeting Iran's Central Bank and financial sector.
Anti-Iran measures provoked by the US and Israel are aimed to deny Iran's right of having peaceful nuclear program.
Tehran, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, has repeatedly stated that its nuclear activities are solely for civilian purposes.
1669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ability to fight 2 wars a thing of the past on: January 05, 2012, 06:34:11 AM 
1670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama and the recess appointment on: January 04, 2012, 10:51:39 AM

President Obama plans to circumvent Senate GOP opposition and recess-appoint his nominee to head a new consumer bureau, two senior administration officials told The Hill.

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer confirmed the recess appointment of Richard Cordray on Wednesday on Twitter after the move was first reported by The Associated Press.

"We Can't Wait: Today in Ohio, President Obama will announce the recess appointment of Consumer Watchdog Richard Cordray," Pfeiffer tweeted.

Obama will recess-appoint Cordray to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Senate Republicans en masse voted to block the nomination in December and have sought to prevent congressional recesses by holding pro forma sessions every few days during longer breaks.

The White House believes the pro forma sessions are a "gimmick" and that the president has the power to make a recess appointment despite them, according to the AP report.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate were quick to blast the White House move.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Obama "arrogantly circumvented the American people" and said the decision "fundamentally endangers" Congress's ability to check the "excesses of the executive branch."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the effort an "extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab ... [that] would have a devastating effect on the checks and balances that are enshrined in our constitution."

He also hinted that a legal challenge could be in the works, adding he expects "the courts will find the appointment to be illegitimate."

A House GOP aide told The Hill that lawmakers might not have standing to file a lawsuit over the appointment, but a business affected by the agency would. So if a financial institution "gets clobbered by the agency," it could sue to challenge the nomination, the aide said.

The CFPB was created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and is charged with enforcing a variety of financial consumer protection laws. However, it cannot fully realize its power until a director is in place.
1671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iowa is not a GOP kingmaker on: January 04, 2012, 10:49:16 AM
1672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bachmann done on: January 04, 2012, 10:48:13 AM
1673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iowa stereotypes on: January 03, 2012, 07:25:32 PM
Be sure to watch the video.  It's pretty funny.
1674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Which states get the subsidies? on: January 03, 2012, 07:19:40 PM
The data is a bit dated, but interesting nonetheless.  Which states recieve the most federal subsidies (per dollar contributed)?
1675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zbigniew on post US supremacy on: January 03, 2012, 07:10:11 PM

Not so long ago, a high-ranking Chinese official, who obviously had concluded that America's decline and China's rise were both inevitable, noted in a burst of candor to a senior U.S. official: "But, please, let America not decline too quickly." Although the inevitability of the Chinese leader's expectation is still far from certain, he was right to be cautious when looking forward to America's demise.

For if America falters, the world is unlikely to be dominated by a single preeminent successor -- not even China. International uncertainty, increased tension among global competitors, and even outright chaos would be far more likely outcomes.

While a sudden, massive crisis of the American system -- for instance, another financial crisis -- would produce a fast-moving chain reaction leading to global political and economic disorder, a steady drift by America into increasingly pervasive decay or endlessly widening warfare with Islam would be unlikely to produce, even by 2025, an effective global successor. No single power will be ready by then to exercise the role that the world, upon the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, expected the United States to play: the leader of a new, globally cooperative world order. More probable would be a protracted phase of rather inconclusive realignments of both global and regional power, with no grand winners and many more losers, in a setting of international uncertainty and even of potentially fatal risks to global well-being. Rather than a world where dreams of democracy flourish, a Hobbesian world of enhanced national security based on varying fusions of authoritarianism, nationalism, and religion could ensue.


8 Geopolitically Endangered Species

The leaders of the world's second-rank powers, among them India, Japan, Russia, and some European countries, are already assessing the potential impact of U.S. decline on their respective national interests. The Japanese, fearful of an assertive China dominating the Asian mainland, may be thinking of closer links with Europe. Leaders in India and Japan may be considering closer political and even military cooperation in case America falters and China rises. Russia, while perhaps engaging in wishful thinking (even schadenfreude) about America's uncertain prospects, will almost certainly have its eye on the independent states of the former Soviet Union. Europe, not yet cohesive, would likely be pulled in several directions: Germany and Italy toward Russia because of commercial interests, France and insecure Central Europe in favor of a politically tighter European Union, and Britain toward manipulating a balance within the EU while preserving its special relationship with a declining United States. Others may move more rapidly to carve out their own regional spheres: Turkey in the area of the old Ottoman Empire, Brazil in the Southern Hemisphere, and so forth. None of these countries, however, will have the requisite combination of economic, financial, technological, and military power even to consider inheriting America's leading role.

China, invariably mentioned as America's prospective successor, has an impressive imperial lineage and a strategic tradition of carefully calibrated patience, both of which have been critical to its overwhelmingly successful, several-thousand-year-long history. China thus prudently accepts the existing international system, even if it does not view the prevailing hierarchy as permanent. It recognizes that success depends not on the system's dramatic collapse but on its evolution toward a gradual redistribution of power. Moreover, the basic reality is that China is not yet ready to assume in full America's role in the world. Beijing's leaders themselves have repeatedly emphasized that on every important measure of development, wealth, and power, China will still be a modernizing and developing state several decades from now, significantly behind not only the United States but also Europe and Japan in the major per capita indices of modernity and national power. Accordingly, Chinese leaders have been restrained in laying any overt claims to global leadership.

At some stage, however, a more assertive Chinese nationalism could arise and damage China's international interests. A swaggering, nationalistic Beijing would unintentionally mobilize a powerful regional coalition against itself. None of China's key neighbors -- India, Japan, and Russia -- is ready to acknowledge China's entitlement to America's place on the global totem pole. They might even seek support from a waning America to offset an overly assertive China. The resulting regional scramble could become intense, especially given the similar nationalistic tendencies among China's neighbors. A phase of acute international tension in Asia could ensue. Asia of the 21st century could then begin to resemble Europe of the 20th century -- violent and bloodthirsty.

At the same time, the security of a number of weaker states located geographically next to major regional powers also depends on the international status quo reinforced by America's global preeminence -- and would be made significantly more vulnerable in proportion to America's decline. The states in that exposed position -- including Georgia, Taiwan, South Korea, Belarus, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, and the greater Middle East -- are today's geopolitical equivalents of nature's most endangered species. Their fates are closely tied to the nature of the international environment left behind by a waning America, be it ordered and restrained or, much more likely, self-serving and expansionist.

A faltering United States could also find its strategic partnership with Mexico in jeopardy. America's economic resilience and political stability have so far mitigated many of the challenges posed by such sensitive neighborhood issues as economic dependence, immigration, and the narcotics trade. A decline in American power, however, would likely undermine the health and good judgment of the U.S. economic and political systems. A waning United States would likely be more nationalistic, more defensive about its national identity, more paranoid about its homeland security, and less willing to sacrifice resources for the sake of others' development. The worsening of relations between a declining America and an internally troubled Mexico could even give rise to a particularly ominous phenomenon: the emergence, as a major issue in nationalistically aroused Mexican politics, of territorial claims justified by history and ignited by cross-border incidents.

Another consequence of American decline could be a corrosion of the generally cooperative management of the global commons -- shared interests such as sea lanes, space, cyberspace, and the environment, whose protection is imperative to the long-term growth of the global economy and the continuation of basic geopolitical stability. In almost every case, the potential absence of a constructive and influential U.S. role would fatally undermine the essential communality of the global commons because the superiority and ubiquity of American power creates order where there would normally be conflict.

None of this will necessarily come to pass. Nor is the concern that America's decline would generate global insecurity, endanger some vulnerable states, and produce a more troubled North American neighborhood an argument for U.S. global supremacy. In fact, the strategic complexities of the world in the 21st century make such supremacy unattainable. But those dreaming today of America's collapse would probably come to regret it. And as the world after America would be increasingly complicated and chaotic, it is imperative that the United States pursue a new, timely strategic vision for its foreign policy -- or start bracing itself for a dangerous slide into global turmoil.

1676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharpton "anchor" on: January 03, 2012, 07:03:07 PM
This is disappointing.  Thanks for posting.

The *establishment guy*, Sharpton may take over the time slot for Uygur:

"too establishment"
"challenge power"

****Al Sharpton Close to Anchor Deal at MSNBC
Reuters  Jul 21, 2011 Say hello to Al Sharpton and goodbye to Cenk Uygur for MSNBC's 6 p.m. time slot. According to The New York Times's Brian Stelter, a deal is "imminent" to have the civil rights firebrand anchor his own show, following Uygur's six-month tryout. Stelter says the deal comes as "MSNBC and other news channels have been criticized for a paucity of minority hosts in prominent time slots." Uygur was offered a contract to host his own weekend show but declined saying to viewers on his web show The Young Turks that MSNBC was too "establishment." He explained, “I didn’t want to work in a place that wouldn’t let me do my kind of show, that wasn’t interested in my kind of show, that didn’t want to challenge power."

In the Times article Uygur says that in April MSNBC president Phil Griffin “called me into his office and said that he’d been talking to people in Washington, and that they did not like my tone.” According to Uygur, Griffin didn't like him criticizing President Obama so extensively. On his web show, he offered the words of one of his fans to explain his feelings: “Watching Cenk on The Young Turks is like watching a tiger in the wild; watching him on MSNBC is like watching a tiger in a cage.” Nice imagery.****

1677  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: January 03, 2012, 07:01:45 PM
I love this idea, Kostas.  As the Pack and Tribe grow, I think that continuing a sense a community is imperative for their continued strength and growth.  Good work!
1678  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / RIP Ranger Anderson on: January 01, 2012, 06:54:35 PM
1679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Y2K12 failure in Denver? on: January 01, 2012, 06:52:47 PM
1680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: January 01, 2012, 06:06:26 AM
GM, my point is that some of the best people in STEM have liberal arts degrees, or at least degrees from a LAC.  It also is the case that many people who earn a liberal arts degree are employed in something outside their area of study, but are often better at their job because of the liberal arts degree. 

I'd tend to agree with some stipulations that more education is better...

I'll settle for this.  Happy New Year, GM.  You helped make 2011 more interesting and informative.  Looking forward to 2012!
1681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 31, 2011, 06:48:32 PM
GM, my point is that some of the best people in STEM have liberal arts degrees, or at least degrees from a LAC.  It also is the case that many people who earn a liberal arts degree are employed in something outside their area of study, but are often better at their job because of the liberal arts degree. 
1682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 31, 2011, 06:29:05 PM
Ever hear of Maui Jim sunglasses?  Guess who owns the company. 

I have several students making serious money starting out, in a first job.  Economics, political science, history, English and many other liberal arts majors can produce money makers.  Of course, some people major in something just because they enjoy it.  I even have a couple criminal justice majors, who I am sure will make mad cash. 

"There are liberal arts colleges which to produce RNs.  My college just began a program, with the best medical school in the country, because the med school wanted liberal arts trained nursing students.  Something about the ability to write, learning ethics and the ability to think critically... especially when coupled with a high quality science background." 

Cool. the other students at those liberal arts colleges can say that some of the people they went school with got good paying jobs right after graduation. Nice! Them and Newt will really alter the average income for liberal arts grads!
1683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 31, 2011, 06:50:35 AM
There are liberal arts colleges which to produce RNs.  My college just began a program, with the best medical school in the country, because the med school wanted liberal arts trained nursing students.  Something about the ability to write, learning ethics and the ability to think critically... especially when coupled with a high quality science background.  

And, did you see how much a historian can make?  Newt is bringing back the bank for liberal arts majors!
1684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 30, 2011, 09:02:50 PM
I agree that education and real estate investments have some similarities.  May I suggest some others?  1, as with a home you will be living in, be sure you are comfortable with the environment you will be studying in.  2, you DO own your education.  And the idea that you can't make off of it is silly.  It is also silly to suggest that liberal arts degrees do not provide marketable skills.  3, like a home, if you want to increase the resale value you need to cultivate your investment.  If you buy a house, then don't mow the yard, let the roof go to shit, and don't fix the front step your investment is going to reap rewards like you want.  Likewise, if you invest in an education and you drink and f%#@ your way through school, rarely go to class, fail to turn in assignments in a timely fashion and view 30 pages per class of reading as an arduous chore (especially since Jersey Shore is on), you didn't really learn any damn thing no matter what your major is. 

Liberal arts colleges do a damn good job of training students for the "real" world.  Are students willing to pay the price (in non-monetary terms) to recieve the training?  That is the great question in the next few decades.   
1685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 28, 2011, 06:57:11 AM
Thank you for the follow-up, Doug.  We agree more than I thought based on your first post related to the BW interview with President Obama. 
1686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 01:55:22 PM
I admit to enjoying a cheap shot here - deservedly - at someone who travels at taxpayer expense to tell the nation that anyone who opposes him wants dirtier air, dirtier water, rewards only to the rich, etc. 

How do you feel about the franking privilege?  Or the (until recently) common use among presidential candidates to accept public funding?  Do you take the same offense when GOP candidates use taxpayer funds to get (re)elected?
1687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 27, 2011, 11:29:17 AM
I certainly meant no offense to you, Guro.
1688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 11:20:55 AM
ccp: Doug said this: "Perhaps he didn't hear the last part of the question: "...Mr. President"!"

And, my response included this: "While I agree that the response may violate the spirit of the question...".

Is there really a problem here?

Interesting you noted how Walters addressed Obama.

Is that what Doug was pointing out?

My impression from the post was to first think at how obnoxiously self loving Obama is.

Of all things the only thing he even considers changing about himself is he wishes he took up an instrument.

The narcissism this answer reflects is astounding.  It suggests he thinks he is perfect except he never took up rap.
1689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 27, 2011, 11:16:14 AM
Kwanza is not religious based, so there is no contradiction in celebrating it and Christmas.  30 million people worldwide, in a report I read recently, observe Kwanza.  It is based on values, culture and family... something I would think we can agree is valuable. 
1690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential: Getting to know the candidates - Barack Obama on: December 27, 2011, 11:07:35 AM
I think you are being overly critical here, Doug.  While I agree that the response may violate the spirit of the question, it isn't like an interviewer is going to address the sitting POTUS by his first name. 

Deep Thoughts with Barbara Walters:  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be Mr. President?

"I deeply regret not having learned a musical instrument."

Perhaps he didn't hear the last part of the question: "...Mr. President"!

Something we agree on.  I wish his career had taken a different turn as well.
1691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 27, 2011, 11:03:31 AM
Give me a list of nations, historically, with a moral imperative similar to the US.

And I am not making the argument that the US should have invaded Iraq at the end of the Gulf War (and Guro you do recall correctly).  But don't pretend you've never heard the argument, ccp.  The argument HAS BEEN MADE.  

"The U.S. has a moral imperative that few, if any, other nations have or have ever had historically.  It kills me when politics undermines the actions we take.  If we are to have a moral purpose in the world, we need to have a credible committment to act responsibly."

First, I don't agree that few if any other nations have ever had.  Many nations have had over thousands of years.  

Second, politics has actually forced us to be extemely poltically correct in foreign policy.  WE ahve already gone to extraordianry lengths to protect the life and limb of non citizens at much cost to us.

"and arguably the lack of invasion of Iraq under GHW Bush"

1692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 26, 2011, 12:14:49 PM
I did compromise, JDN.  You aren't going to get me to make a claim that the US lacks a responsibility to Iraq.  Short term outlooks come back to bite countries in the ass in the long term.  See: the end of WWI; the end of US support in post-Soviet Afghanistan; and arguably the lack of invasion of Iraq under GHW Bush.  Countries that lack long term vision make mistake after mistake after mistake. 

Bigdog, thank you for your response.  On the analogy, let's try to compromise.  I'm glad you agree "they aren't blood".  I would go further and say Iraq is not "adopted".  We adopted Hawaii and Alaska.  They have
become part of our "blood" family and if attacked, we will respond with the full fury of our ability stopping at nothing to defeat our immediate blood family's enemy.

Rather, I look upon Iraq as at most a 7 year old foster care child.  "Foster care is temporary care provided to children who have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. Foster parents are responsible for the day-to-day care of a child, ..."  "Foster care is a temporary situation, and is dependent on this child's family circumstances. This can range from days to months, or even years. The main goal is to safely reunite a child with his or her family."

Iraq will never be our "blood family" nor does any American intend to "adopt" Iraq.  Out of the goodness of our heart, like to a foster child, we will provide short to immediate term care.  But they are not our long term responsibility.  Our goal is to make them independent.  After eight years, like from a foster child we can with honor walk away after all that we have done for Iraq.  And while I hope for their best, like a foster child, I bare no future responsibility for Iraq other than to say I tried my best; the same I would say if I  was a foster parent.

As to time, I appreciate your point, however for America, the Revolution and even the Civil War are ancient history.  Further, I would ague that "time" seems to have accelerated.  Changes are happening more frequently.  I am not criticizing Edinburgh's concept of time (I spent a lovely month in Edinburgh), but the world is changing much faster than that small town.  Eight years is a long time for a mere foster child relationship.  It was too long in Iraq.

1693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 26, 2011, 06:20:08 AM
JDN: I take no offense, but I appreciate your sentiment.  My analogy might be better with 7 year old adopted triplets.  They aren't blood, but they are your responsibility because you chose to take responsibility for them.  

Eight years is not a long time.  Americans, myself included, have this weird time frame issue that doesn't exist elsewhere.  I once heard a former reporter tell a story about meeting a Chinese diplomat, and asking if China was failing in the wake of WWII, Mao, being overshadowed by the Soviets, etc.  The diplomat replied that China remained strong, and that it had "only been a bad century."  I have a friend who attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  He had a great time.  One of the things that struck him was that the university was divided into two campuses: the old campus and the new campus.  The new campus was something like 300 years old.  Americans have a short time vision.  We treat the Revolution and Civil War like they were ancient history.  (This view is seen in many people, in many different policy arenas, including racial equality, by the way, when it is argued that blacks have had sixty years to work toward equality, and the tone is that of incredulity or disbelief that inequality could remain pervasive, but I digress to make a point.)  Eight years is not long.  

There are things that Americans can change their minds about.  I can decide I don't like a brand of car, a pair of shoes, a way of eating, or a sport.  I cannot simply walk away from my adopted triplets.  We can change our minds about relationships (changes in our view toward Japan and Germany spring to mind), our domestic policy (welfare or health care), but we simply should not forego a responsibility that we chose to bear.  

With no offense, I usually agree with you Bigdog, but I'm not sure your analogy is applicable.  A better comparison would be if you now had 21 year old triplets at home.  Yes, you could tell them what to do (as my father always said, my house, my rules) but they are adults and are responsible for themselves.  As is Iraq.  We have been there eight LONG years.  Maybe they were mere children, but after eight years, they claim to be adults.  Thousands of Americans have died, THOUSANDS upon thousands more have been wounded.  And we have spent nearly a trillion dollars.  Enough is enough.  As you point out, Iraq is hardly a mature democracy at this point, NOR will it be in my lifetime.  Time for us move on.  

Further, with all due respect to the Iraqis, they are not Americans.  Again, using your analogy, Family is family; I would die for my seven year old triplets if they were threatened, but I'm not sure why Americans are dying in Iraq.  Why should Americans keep dying for someone who seems to hate us?  Because WE think the cause right?  Even though their freely elected government is clearly kicking us out?  I think after EIGHT LONG YEARS with little to show for it except thousands of American lives lost or injured and a trillion dollars gone, Americans have a right to wise up and change their mind and say enough....  What the heck are we doing in Iraq?  And that is just what happened.  America wised up.
1694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 25, 2011, 09:25:53 PM
The cost of an action should not absolve a nation, of its responsibility.  I doubt seriously that anyone on this board would be as forgiving of a father who failed to pay child support because the cost to him undermined his standard of living.

The arguement that the voters play a role in pulling out of Iraq ignores the votes cast by American citizens in prior elections.  George W. Bush was elected in 2000.  He was also REELECTED in 2004, in large becasue of his willingness to invade and fight in Iraq.  Those elections cannot be ignored any more than current claims that Obama's election was a vote for change.  Again, whether or not you intended to make baby does not absolve you of the responsibilites that accompany your actions (and lack of quality decision making, if you feel that a mistake was made).  

The people of Iraq have been fighting for hundreds of years.  Iraq is hardly a mature democracy at this point.  Continuing on with my methaphorical comparison to parenthood, you wouldn't leave your seven year old triplets at home by themselves, even they asked you to do so.  And, yes, I am aware that this is unfair, in many ways, to the Iraqi people.  The comparison is just meant to simplify and explain.  Actions that some of you would never excuse under some circumstances you seem to be lining up to do so now.  

Here is the heart of my concern.  Electoral politics should not be the reason why we, as a nation, choose to engage or disengage internationally.  The U.S. has a moral imperative that few, if any, other nations have or have ever had historically.  It kills me when politics undermines the actions we take.  If we are to have a moral purpose in the world, we need to have a credible committment to act responsibly.  Period.  Regardless of party.  Regardless of election cycle.  And for anti-war folks to use an argument for reasons not to go to war, and then change arguments once we do really concerns me as citizen who wants my country to be the illustration of a responsible world power AND democracy.  
1695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: December 23, 2011, 07:11:10 PM
That is awesome.  I liked the Second Amendment Primer put out by the NRA about 10 years ago. 
1696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: December 23, 2011, 06:37:37 AM
BBG: Snowdon's book looks to be very interesting.  Thank you for sharing the review.  Had I written his first book, though, it would have been titled "Velvet Glove, Iron Lung." 
1697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dems/liberals used to want to fix Iraq on: December 23, 2011, 06:25:15 AM
One of the things that seems lost in the U.S. leaving Iraq is that Democrats and/or liberals, including many anti-war activists who were opposed to the invading Iraq to begin with, recognized that upon invasion it became the duty, or even moral imperative, of the U.S. to improve the Iraqi situation.  Leaving prematurely, allowing for sectarian violence, no matter what public opinion says, is in my opinion shirking the duty of the nation.  While I realize that it was the Bush administration who invaded, this situation should not be ignored by a new administration.  I get so g&%d#%! pissed off at all the partisan finger pointing, Republican vs. Democrat, liberal vs. conservative bullsh!+ that goes on in Washington, state caps, and even here sometimes.  This is a question/issue that should be beyond the pale of partisanship and political ideology.  It is a moral question.  It should be the responsibility of the United States and the American people to do what is right.

Below is a link to an article dated from Oct., 2004 which includes the following, in regards to Iraq: "'Secretary of State Colin Powell told this president the Pottery Barn rule,; Kerry said, 'If you break it, you fix it.'... 'Now if you break it, you made a mistake. It's the wrong thing to do. But you own it. And then you've got to fix it and do something with it. Now that's what we have to do.' (even John Kerry got the responsibility of the US in Iraq)

I remember many, many anti-war activist/protester folks using the analogy before the invasion.  Now, though, and immediately in the wake of deposing Saddam, they wanted to get out.  BS then and BS now.  It IS the responsibility of the U.S. to make it right.  
1698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Prudent Response to Chinese Military Modernization on: December 19, 2011, 08:24:03 PM
1699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 18, 2011, 05:30:59 AM
"Moral timidity and a hapless bureaucracy have wedged our doors tightly shut and the Iraqis who remained loyal to us are weeks away from learning how little America’s word means."

Thank you for posting this article, P.C.  It seems as though this has become a habitual pattern for our nation.  And this strikes as incredibly important.  As we engage China (and Iran and many others), like it or not we will need help and we will need to be trusted.  Do we mean what we say with Taiwan?  Japan?  The Philippines?  Others?  Even if the answer is yes on dealing with these particular countries, we will be seen by them (or China) as having a credible committment?  Or, is the fact that we do not honor our allies likely to lead to further doubt on the part of out natural and historic allies (and enemies)?     

1700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 18, 2011, 05:16:20 AM
Woof Guro... I completely understand your position, and the reasons why you have this position.  And, I also believe in the importance of intellectual property. 

You asked the question, and I tried to find an article that addressed it with more specifics than the article you took to task. 
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