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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We are fuct on: Today at 03:06:43 PM
IMHO this is an EXTREMELY significant development:

My initial snap impressions:

We just lost dominance of the skies.

Israel just lost dominance of the skies.

Russia-Iranian-Shia Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah arc will solidify.  

Iran is going nuclear and will develop further its already significant missile capablilties.  Iran will continue to foment in Yemen, Saudi Arabia already cannot handle the pressure and Shia Saudi Arabia, now more brazenly supported by Iran, will get increasingly more restless.  This will apply to the tiny countries the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula as well.  The position of the House of Saud will become increasingly tenuous-- its' fall is a possibility.

I'm not seeing ANY viable strategy for us in the Middle East.

Russia is now in a position to disrespect a NATO ally Turkey to legally defend the skies of Syria at Syria's request.

Russia is now in a position to fukc further with West/US in Ukraine.

Russia is now in a position to further destabilize NATO further with intimidation tactics with regard to NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

France will turn increasingly to alliance with Russia (remember those navy assault ships they were so set upon selling to the Russians?) and left in the middle so too will Germany as it deals with one million new Arab Muslim refugee invaders.

What will happen with the Euro Union?  The Euro?  Free movement?  Will they survive?

Russia is now in a position to nakedly assert its power play in the Arctic.

China will seal its control of the South China Sea.

Islam will destabilize Europe.

American homeland is now in cross hairs of Islamic Fascism.

Happy Thanksgiving , , ,
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) and the 4th & 9th Amendments on: Today at 11:32:56 AM
 shocked shocked shocked angry angry angry
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Obama has just begun on: Today at 01:53:54 AM
 Obama Has Just Begun
How much damage can he do in his last year in office?
By Victor Davis Hanson — November 24, 2015

Insidiously and inadvertently, Barack Obama is alienating the people and moving the country to the right. If he keeps it up, by 2017 it will be a reactionary nation. But, counterintuitive as it seems, that is fine with Obama: Après nous le déluge.

By sheer force of his personality, Obama has managed to lose the Democratic Senate and House. State legislatures and governorships are now predominantly Republican. Obama’s own favorable ratings rarely top 45 percent. In his mind, great men, whether Socrates or Jesus, were never appreciated in their time. So it is not surprising that he is not, as he presses full speed ahead.

Obama certainly has doubled down going into his last year, most recently insisting on letting in more refugees from the Middle East, at a time when the children of Middle Eastern immigrants and contemporary migrants are terrorizing Europe. What remaining unpopular executive acts might anger his opponents the most? Close down Guantanamo, let thousands more refugees into the United States, free thousands more felons, snub another ally, flatter another enemy, weigh in on another interracial melodrama, extend amnesty to another million illegal aliens, make global warming laws by fiat, expand Obamacare, unilaterally impose gun control? In lieu of achievement, is the Obama theory to become relevant or noteworthy by offending the public and goading political enemies?

An Obama press conference is now a summation of all his old damn-you clichés — the fantasy strawman arguments; the caricatures of the evil Republican bogeymen; the demagogic litany of the sick, the innocent, and the old at the mercy of his callous opponents; the affected accentuation (e.g., Talîban; Pakîstan, Îslám, Latînos, etc.) that so many autodidacts parade in lieu of learning foreign languages; the make-no-mistake-about-it and let-me-be-clear empty emphatics; the flashing temper tantrums; the mangled sports metaphors; the factual gaffes; and the monotonous I, me, my, and mine first-person-pronoun exhaustion. What Obama cannot do in fact, he believes he can still accomplish through invective and derision.

In the 2016 election campaigns, most Democratic candidates in swing states will have distanced themselves from the last eight years. Otherwise, they would have to run on the patently false premise that American health care is more affordable and more comprehensive today than it was in 2009; that workforce participation is booming; that scandals are a thing of the past; that the debt has been addressed; that Obama has proved a healer who brought the country together; that immigration at last is ordered, legal, and logical; that the law has never been more respected and honored; that racial relations are calmer than ever; that the campuses are quiet; that the so-called war on terror is now over and won with al-Qaeda and ISIS contained or on the run; that U.S. prestige aboard has never been higher; that our allies appreciate our help and our enemies fear our wrath; that Iran will now not go nuclear; that Israel is secure and assured of our support; and that, thanks to American action, Egypt is stable, Libya is ascendant, Iraq is still consensual, and the Middle East in general is at last quiet after the tumultuous years of George W. Bush.

The hordes of young male migrants abandoning the Middle East for the West are merely analogous to past waves of immigrants and should be uniformly welcome. For Obama,  there is no connection between them and his slashing of American involvement in the Middle East — much less any sense of responsibility that his own actions helped produce the crisis he now fobs off on others.

If an American president saw fit to attack fellow Americans from abroad, and lecture them on their illiberality, there are better places from which to take such a low road than from Turkey, the embryo of 20th-century genocide, and a country whose soccer crowds were recently shouting, “Allahu akbar!” during what was supposed to be a moment of silence offered to the Paris dead. Surely an American president might suggest that such grassroots religious triumphalism about mass death is much more reprehensible behavior than are his own fellow citizens’ demands to vet the backgrounds of refugees.

If you suggested to Obama that, in his search for a contrarian legacy, he should do something to stop the slaughter in the Middle East and be careful about letting in more unexamined refugees, in answer, he would be more likely to do less than nothing abroad and vastly expand the influx of migrants. Getting under his critics’ skin is about all that is left of a failed presidency.

Many of our observers still do not quite grasp that Obama will end his presidency by seeking to get his opponents’ goat — and that his resentment will lead to some strange things said and done.

Few foresaw this critical element of the Obama character. The tiny number of prescient pundits who warned what the Obama years would entail were not the supposedly sober and judicious establishment voices, who in fact seemed to be caught up in the hope-and-change euphoria and missed entirely Obama’s petulance and pique: the Evan Thomases (“he’s sort of god”), or the David Brookses (“and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” “It is easy to sketch out a scenario in which [Obama] could be a great president.”), or the Chris Matthewses (“the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”), or the Michael Beschlosses (“Uh. I would say it’s probably — he’s probably the smartest guy ever to become President.”), or the Chris Buckleys (“He has exhibited throughout a ‘first-class temperament,’ pace Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s famous comment about FDR. As for his intellect, well, he’s a Harvard man”), or the Kathleen Parkers (“ . . . with solemn prayers that Obama will govern as the centrist, pragmatic leader he is capable of being”), or the Peggy Noonans (“He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief.”).

In truth, it was the loud, sometimes shrill, and caricatured voices of talk radio, the so-called crazy Republican House members, and the grassroots loudmouths of what would become the Tea Party who had Obama’s number. They warned early on that Barack Obama’s record was that of a petulant extremist, that his writing presaged that he would borrow and spend like no other president, that his past associations gave warning that he would use his community-organizing skills cynically to divide Americans along racial lines, that nothing in his past had ever suggested anything other than radicalism and an ease with divisive speech, that his votes as a state legislator and as a U.S. senator suggested that he had an instinctual dislike of the entrepreneur and the self-made businessman, and that his past rhetoric advised that he would ignore settled law and instead would rule by fiat — that he would render immigration law null and void, that he would diminish the profile of America abroad, and that he would do all this because he was an ideologue, with no history of bipartisanship but a lot of animus toward his critics, and one who saw no ethical or practical reason to appreciate the more than 60 years of America’s postwar global leadership and the world that it had built. Again, the despised right-wingers were right and the more moderate establishment quite wrong.

Abroad, from Obama’s post-Paris speeches, it is clear that he is now bored with and irritated by the War on Terror. He seems to have believed either that Islamist global terror was a minor distraction with no potential for real harm other than to bring right-wingers in backlash fashion out of the woodwork, or that it was an understandably radical manifestation of what was otherwise a legitimate complaint of Islam against the Western-dominated global system — thus requiring contextualization rather than mindless opposition.

A lot of ambitious and dangerous powers are watching Obama assume a fetal position, and may well as a consequence act foolishly and recklessly this next year. Not only Russia, China, and North Korea, but also Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, and assorted rogue states may take chances in the next 14 months that they would otherwise never have entertained (given that America is innately strong and they are mostly in comparison far weaker) — on the premise that such adventurism offers tangible advantages without likely negative consequences and that the chance for such opportunities will not present itself again for decades to come.

At home, Obama feels liberated now that he is free from further elections. He thinks he has a legitimate right to be a bit vindictive and vent his own frustrations and pique, heretofore repressed over the last seven years because of the exigencies of Democratic electioneering. Obama can now vent and strike back at his opponents, caricaturing them from abroad, questioning their patriotism, slandering them for sport, and trying to figure out which emblematic executive orders and extra-legal bureaucratic directives will most infuriate them and repay them for their supposed culpability for his failed vero possumus presidency.

The more contrarian he becomes, and the more he opposes the wishes of the vast majority of the American people, all the more Obama envisions himself speaking truth to power and becoming iconic of something rather than the reality that he is becoming proof of nothing.

Hold on. We haven’t seen anything yet.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.
4  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / WI appeals court upholds Second Amendment knife rights on: November 25, 2015, 10:30:30 PM
Wisconsin Appeals Court Upholds Second Amendment Argument in Switchblade Possession Case

Applying the Second Amendment to knives as arms and the groundbreaking Heller U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision that it was illegal for someone to possess a switchblade (automatic) knife in their home. The court concluded that the Second Amendment protects knives as well as guns, one of Knife Rights' foundational principles.

As such, this decision, albeit narrow as was required by Wisconsin law, held that at least with regards to switchblades at home, Wisconsin's ban is unconstitutional. Knife Rights believes such bans are entirely unconstitutional. Having said that, Knife Rights Wisconsin Knife Law Reform bill, AB 142 would remove this prohibition altogether, as well as enact Knife Law Preemption, resolving the issue entirely. AB 142 has passed the House and awaits a vote in the Senate.     
The case arose when Cory Herrmann, the defendant, was injured in his home. Showing his switchblade knife to a friend, Herrmann dropped the knife and cut his femoral artery. After 911 was called, officers responding to the scene seized the switchblade and subsequently Herrmann was charged with illegal possession.
While AB 142 will hopefully settle the issue for good in Wisconsin, this decision is part of an evolving body of law protecting knife ownership and carry that was summarized in the first detailed scholarly analysis of knives and the Second Amendment published in 2013 and authored by noted Second Amendment scholars Dave Kopel, Clayton Cramer and Joe Olson. Read "Knives and the Second Amendment" here:
Some enlightening quotes from the Court of Appeals decision:
You can read the court's decision here: 
"Although the Heller Court emphasized that handguns are frequently used for self-defense, we do not think Heller can be read to create different levels of protection for different types of arms that fall under the Second Amendment, based on their popularity. In addition, it is not particularly surprising that handguns are more prevalent than switchblades, given that switchblades were banned or severely restricted in many states, including Wisconsin, beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s."
 A key point is that the court also rejected the state's intellectually bankrupt argument that only a subset of knives was banned and that alternative knives were available, "Herrmann could have easily used a non- prohibited weapon for his protection. The statutory ban on switchblade knives does not unreasonably impair Herrmann's right to keep and bear arms." The Second Amendment, supported by Heller and other decisions, doesn't differentiate between types of arms. The court held, "The State...failed, to the extent necessary after Heller, to show that Herrmann had reasonable alternative means to exercise his Second Amendment right to bear arms."
The court also noted some advantages switchblades have over guns, "For safety reasons people with children may not want guns around the house. People with limited financial resources who may not be able to afford a proper gun likely would be able to afford an effective $10 automatic knife. Finally, for people who are excluded from lawful gun ownership, an automatic knife may be the most effective arm available."
"The State argues that [the switchblade ban] serves an important governmental objective - namely, protecting the public from the danger of potentially lethal surprise attacks posed by individuals using switchblade knives. However, the State cites no evidence to establish that this danger actually exists to any significant degree. Again, the State has the burden to establish that [the switchblade ban] satisfies intermediate scrutiny, and it must do so by showing the existence of real, not merely conjectural, harm... Thus, on the record before us, we are not convinced that [the switchblade ban] serves an important governmental objective."
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iman who issued death fatwa gets DOJ contract on: November 25, 2015, 10:15:50 PM
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / History and Legacy of Thankgiving on: November 25, 2015, 05:02:03 PM
The History and Legacy of Thanksgiving

    "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." —Psalm 100:4-5

Thanksgiving, as introduced by European explorers and settlers in the "New World," was a time set aside specifically for the purpose of giving thanks to our Creator for His manifold blessings.

The earliest record of a thanksgiving in America is 1541 by Spanish explorer Coronado at Palo Duro Canyon in what is now Texas. French Protestant colonists at Charlesfort (now Parris Island, South Carolina) held a thanksgiving service in 1564. In 1607, the Jamestown settlers held thanksgiving at Cape Henry, Virginia, and there are many other records of such hallowed observances.

The first call for an annual Thanksgiving was at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, in 1619, when Captain John Woodlief and 38 settlers aboard the ship Margaret, proclaimed, "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacion in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."

But the contemporary celebration of Thanksgiving across our nation has its roots in the first "harvest feast" celebrated in 1621 by religious refugees, Pilgrims, who established the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, in the year 1620. According to the fact that most history books following the War Between the States were written by Northern historians, it is that iconic event which is most directly associated with the current traditions for our national Day of Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims

Who were these "freedom men"?

They were Puritan "separatists" -- Calvinist Protestants, most under the leadership of pastor John Robinson, church elder William Brewster, and William Bradford. They rejected the institutional Church of England, believing that worshipping God must originate freely in the individual soul, without coercion.

Suffering persecution and imprisonment in England for their beliefs, these separatists fled to Holland in 1608. There, they found the spiritual liberty they sought, but amid a disjointed economy and a dissolute, degraded, corrupt culture that tempted their children to stray from faith. Determined to protect their families from such spiritual and cultural degradation, the Pilgrims returned to Plymouth, England, where they arranged for passage to the New World.

Their long and dangerous voyage was funded by the London Company, the "merchant adventurers" (investors) whose objective was to establish a communal plantation "company" upon which the "planters" would be obligated to work for seven years in order to return the investment with premium. "The adventurers & planters do agree that every person that goeth being aged 16 years & upward ... be accounted a single share.... The persons transported & ye adventurers shall continue their joint stock & partnership together, ye space of 7 years ... during which time, all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons, remain still in ye common stock.... That all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provision out of ye common stock & goods.... That at ye end of ye 7 years, ye capital & profits, viz. the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt ye adventurers, and planters."

On September 6th, 1620, aboard a 100 foot ship named Mayflower, 102 Pilgrims and 30 crew members departed for America, a place that offered the promise of both civil and religious liberty. Among those in command of the expedition were Christopher Martin, designated by the Merchant Adventurers to act as Governor, and Myles Standish, who would be the colony's military leader.

After an arduous eight week journey, on November 11 they dropped anchor at Provincetown Harbor off the coast of what is now Massachusetts.

On 11 December 1620, prior to disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the Mayflower Compact, America's original document of civil government. It was the first to introduce self-government, and the foundation on which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were built. Plymouth Colony's Governor, William Bradford, described the Compact as "a combination ... that when they came a shore they would use their owne libertie; for none had power to command them."

The First Harvest Thanksgiving Feast

Upon making landfall, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service and quickly turned to building shelters. They committed all their belongings to a "comone wealth." Under harrowing conditions, the colonists persisted through prayer and hard work, but the Winter of 1621 was devastating and only 53 of the original party survived. William Bradford wrote, "of these one hundred persons who came over in this first ship together, the greatest half died in the general mortality, and most of them in two or three months' time."

However, with the help of the indigenous "Indians" in the region, the summer of 1621 was productive as recorded by Bradford in his diary: "They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion."

In addition to their regular expressions of reverence and thanksgiving to God, by the Autumn of 1621 the surviving 53 Pilgrims had enough produce to hold a three day "harvest feast." That feast was described in the journal of Edward Winslow: "Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

The Pilgrims endured another harsh winter, but had put up enough stores to survive.

The Collectivist Plantation Plan

Endeavoring to improve the production at Plymouth Plantation for its second growing season in 1622, Governor Bradford implemented a collectivist policy, and noted that to increase production, he allotted each family a plot of land, and mandated that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" must be forfeited to a common storehouse in order that "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock."

In theory, their Governor thought the colony would thrive because each family would receive equal share of produce without regard to their contribution. Unfortunately, then as always, collectivism only works in theory, and the new policy almost destroyed the Plymouth settlement. Indeed, collectivism is antithetical to human nature, and destined to fail, as Plato's student Aristotle observed in 350 BC: "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it." But to this day, many still fail to grasp the "tragedy of the commons."

After abysmal results in 1622, Bradford realized that his collectivist plan had undermined the incentive to produce. He wrote, "The failure of that experiment of communal service ... the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth ... was found to breed much confusion and discontent; and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit.... For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men's wives and children, without any recompense.... The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice. The aged and graver men, who were ranked and equalized in labor, food, clothes, etc., with the humbler and younger ones, thought it some indignity and disrespect to them."

The women "who were obliged to do service for other men, such as cooking, washing their clothes, etc., they considered it a kind of slavery, and many husbands would not brook it...."

"If all were to share alike, and all were to do alike," wrote Bradford, "then all were on an equality throughout, and one was as good as another; and so, if it did not actually abolish those very relations which God himself has set among men, it did at least greatly diminish the mutual respect that is so important should be preserved amongst them. Let none argue that this is due to human failing, rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself...."

The Free Enterprise Plan

Responding to the failed economic plantation plan, the Colony leaders "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery," Bradford recorded in his journal. "At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

They decided to trade their collectivist plan for a free market approach, and in 1623, Bradford wrote, "This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use. ... Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn. Instead of famine now God gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. ... Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day."

Property ownership and families freely laboring on their own behalf replaced the "common store," but only after their ill-advised experiment with communism nearly wiped out the entire settlement.

The Colony celebrated a much greater Harvest and Thanksgiving Day in 1623 as called for by Bradford's proclamation:

"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."

After the Pilgrims were given liberty and incentive to be industrious, the Colony thrived, and by 1624, production was so abundant that the Colony exported corn back to England. For generations since, to the extent men have been set at perfect liberty to establish free enterprise, to produce goods and services without having profits seized for redistribution, our nation has thrived.

The Pilgrims' Legacy of Civil Liberty

The Puritans seeded democratic self government and free enterprise in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but demonstrated much of the same religious intolerance they had fled in England. Having broken ground for religious Liberty, at least for themselves, in the 20 years following the establishment of Plymouth Plantation, more than 25,000 men, women and children followed them to the New World, seeking first and foremost, religious Liberty. The second great immigration of Puritans came after Charles II was restored to the Crown in 1660, and Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan reformists fled for their lives. They brought with them a much more legalistic religious intolerance, and displayed bigotry for those who did not practice there particular Christian traditions and practices.

However, the promise of civil and religious Liberty drew hundreds of thousands of other seekers to east coast settlements, and they formed the bedrock of our nation. The crossroads of civil and religious Liberty was outlined in the central tenant of our Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

That eternal truth is the basis for the enumerated restrictions against government outlined in the First Amendment of our Constitution's Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The prohibition against any "establishment of religion" appears first in order of importance, because our nation was largely founded by those seeking Liberty from oppression of the wedded church and state of England.

Though we are not a "Christian nation" as some would suggest, clearly most of our Founders understood that American Liberty has its roots in the Liberty of the Christian Gospel. The Father of our Country, George Washington, wrote, "To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian. The signal Instances of providential Goodness which we have experienced and which have now almost crowned our labours with complete Success, demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of Gratitude and Piety to the Supreme Author of all Good."

Historic American Thanksgiving Proclamations

During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress designated days of thanksgiving each year. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was made in 1777:

"FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost."

Of that proclamation, Samuel Adams wrote to another Declaration signer, Richard Henry Lee, noting the specificity of the language that, "the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join ... their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ."
Liberty's Bounty

In 1789, after adopting the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, among the first official acts of Congress was approving a motion for proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, recommending that citizens gather together and give thanks to God for their new nation's blessings.

The first Thanksgiving Day designated by the United States of America was proclaimed by George Washington on October 3, 1789:

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

"Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."

Then-governor Thomas Jefferson followed with this 1789 proclamation in Virginia: " appoint ... a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God ... to [ask] Him that He would ... pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would ... spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue."

Governor John Hancock proclaimed, " appoint ... a day of public thanksgiving and praise ... to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us ... [by giving to] us ... the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications ... that He would forgive our manifold sins and cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth."

Thanksgiving celebrations were irregularly proclaimed in the years that followed until the War Between the States. After 1863, presidents issued annual proclamations of Thanksgiving.
Norman Rockwell, 1943

In 1941, with World War II on the horizon, the Senate and House approved the fourth Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving, perpetuating the observance annually.

Thanksgiving and our Legacy of Liberty

Appropriately crediting the Pilgrims for chartering the path of American Liberty through self government, President Ronald Reagan made frequent reference to John Winthrop's "shining city upon a hill."

As Reagan explained, "The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free."

Closing his farewell address in 1989, President Reagan asked, "And how stands the city on this winter night?"

Contemplating our Legacy of Liberty this Thanksgiving, more than two decades after President Reagan left office, how stands the city on our watch?

My fellow Patriots, never in the history of our country has there been such an acute, coordinated and vicious assault upon Liberty and the Rule of Law enshrined in our Constitution. From individuals, to state governments, to federal institutions initiated at the dawn of our Constitution, nothing, absolutely nothing, is sacred to the current statist hegemony seeking to dispense with our Constitution.

But take heart, for as George Washington wrote in the darkest days of our American Revolution, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Of such exertions, Washington wrote, "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors."

Of the incredible obstacles overcome in the American Revolution to establish Liberty, Washington declared, "The hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations."

So it is that on Thanksgiving Day, we are called to pause and take respite in order to acknowledge the gift of Liberty as "endowed by our Creator," and the Divine intervention throughout the history of this great nation; in order to recommit ourselves to obeisance of His will; in order to express our gratitude and give Him all thanks and praise for the bounty which He has bestowed the United States of America -- land of the free, home of the brave, that shining city on the hill; and in order to all the more humbly implore that He protect us and grant us much favor in our coming struggle to re-establish Rule of Law over rule of men.

In his first Thanksgiving proclamation, President Reagan wrote: "America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history. In keeping with America's heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. ... As we celebrate Thanksgiving ... We should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance. Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.

This is the genuine spirit of Thanksgiving.

I humbly thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you as editor and publisher of The Patriot Post. On behalf of your Patriot team and our National Advisory Committee, I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving, and God's blessings to you and your family.

If you have the means, please take a moment to promote Liberty by supporting our Patriot Annual Campaign today.

Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post

Take the Thanksgiving Quiz

For inspiration, read the text of Charlie Daniel's My Beautiful America or listen to the song.

For perspective, view "We still hold these truths."

(Note: The original version of this Thanksgiving account was published by Mark Alexander in November 2000. Please forward a link to this page to your family, friends and colleagues.)
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How communism almost killed the second Thanksgiving on: November 25, 2015, 02:01:41 PM
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Keeping the commies out? on: November 25, 2015, 01:47:10 PM
IIRC back in the 50s and 60s we kept Communists from coming to America.  What was the legal framework used?  Does it still exist?
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Strong leverage for ISIS through its control of water on: November 25, 2015, 01:35:19 PM
second post:

By Ambika Vishwanath

The Islamic State's use of natural resources to achieve its strategic goals is nothing new. Oil, one of the group's biggest sources of funding, plays an especially important role in its calculations — something the countries fighting the Islamic State are increasingly coming to realize. And they have begun to adjust their target sets accordingly. The United States and France, for example, have begun to launch airstrikes against the group's oil trucks and distribution centers, hoping to hamper its ability to pay for its military operations.

But what is less talked about, although no less important, is the Islamic State's use of water in its fight to establish a caliphate. Its tactics have brought water to the forefront of the conflict in Iraq and Syria, threatening the very existence of the people living under its oppressive rule. If the Islamic State's opponents do not move to sever the group's hold over Iraqi and Syrian water sources — and soon — it may prove difficult to liberate the region from the Islamic State's hold in the long term.

An Age-Old Conflict

Civilizations have long battled for access to water and founded their empires around great rivers. Historians believe that the ancient Sumerian city of Ur was favored by the empires that followed for its abundance of water and its proximity to the Persian Gulf. Other accounts say the city's inhabitants abandoned it amid severe droughts and the drying up of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Today, drought and low rainfall compete with the manmade disaster of terrorism to destroy the same, once-fertile swathe of land stretching along the two rivers.

What is Global Affairs?

Governments and non-state actors alike have used water as a weapon for centuries. While the number of full-blown wars over water resources has been lower than one might expect, given how critical water is to any population's survival, smaller conflicts have been numerous, destructive and deadly. The Middle East has fallen prey to this competition in recent years as states and groups have increasingly shifted from simply cutting off water supplies for a short period of time to diverting water flows or completely draining supplies in an attempt to threaten or coerce consumers.

The Islamic State is no exception. Since the group began expanding its territorial claims in western Syria, it has used water as a tool in its broader strategy of advancing and establishing control over new land. True, the Islamic State has also (and perhaps more visibly) targeted strategic oil and natural gas fields in both Syria and Iraq, but a close look at the group's movements clearly indicates that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers hold a central role in its planning. Recognition of the Islamic State's intention to organize its new caliphate around the Tigris-Euphrates Basin may prove helpful in the long-term fight against the group.

In 2012, the Islamic State emerged from the power vacuum created by the Syrian civil war and made its presence known in the western city of Aleppo. It had little in common with Syria's other rebel groups, which were primarily focused on fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al Assad for regime change. Instead, the Islamic State was a terrorist organization with a clear agenda and strategy: It wanted to build an Islamic caliphate that would, from its perspective, follow the truest form of Islam as decreed by the Prophet Mohammed. Over the following year, the group moved quickly and decisively, cutting a path through Syria and toward Iraq, capturing the key towns of Maskana, Raqqa, Deir el-Zour and al-Bukamal  — all of which are positioned along the Euphrates River.

The Iraqi front didn't look much different; the Islamic State easily captured the river towns of Qaim, Rawah, Ramadi and Fallujah, two of which (Rawah and Ramadi) gave the group direct access to two of Iraq's major lakes, Haditha Dam Lake and Lake Tharthar. Meanwhile, the Islamic State pursued a similar strategy along the Tigris River, successfully capturing Mosul and Tikrit and attempting to seize other towns and cities along the way. In Iraq the goal was Baghdad, from which the group could rule a caliphate encompassing Syria and Iraq. While the oil and natural gas fields it seized along the way were a means for the group to threaten military forces and make money, the bodies of water and infrastructure were a means to hold the entire region hostage.

Historically, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have been an important source of contention between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The lack of cooperation and coordination between these countries on sharing the mighty rivers has led to a failure to regulate their use and an overconsumption of resources. Consequently, any and all activity by upstream nations regarding the water resources carries the risk of agitating tensions with downstream countries. With no regional coordination and poor security along the rivers themselves, terrorist groups — including the Islamic State — have been able to use water as both a target and a weapon. Not only have they destroyed water-related infrastructure such as pipes, sanitation plants, bridges and cables connected to water installations, but they have also used water as an instrument of violence by deliberately flooding towns, polluting bodies of water and ruining local economies by disrupting electricity generation and agriculture.

Since 2013, the Islamic State has launched nearly 20 major attacks (as well as countless smaller assaults) against Syrian and Iraqi water infrastructure. Some of these attacks include flooding villages, threatening to flood Baghdad, closing the dam gates in Fallujah and Ramadi, cutting off water to Mosul, and allegedly poisoning water in small Syrian towns, to name just a few. Most of these operations are aimed at government forces, designed to fight the military by using water as a weapon against them, though some targeted water infrastructure to disrupt troop movements. Such efforts also often have the added benefit of enhancing recruitment efforts; by allowing water to flow to towns sympathetic to the Islamic State's cause, or even by simply doing a better job of providing necessary services, the group can attract more men and women to its ranks.

With water at the core of its expansionist strategy, the Islamic State has also ensured that bodies of water and their corresponding infrastructure have moved to the forefront of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The control of major water resources and dams has, in turn, given the Islamic State a firm grip on the supplies used to support agriculture and electricity generation. Mosul Dam, for example, gave the Islamic State control over 75 percent of Iraq's electricity generation while it was in the group's possession. In 2014, when the group shut down Fallujah's Nuaimiyah Dam, the subsequent flooding destroyed 200 square kilometers (about 77 square miles) of Iraqi fields and villages. And in June 2015, the Islamic State closed the Ramadi barrage in Anbar province, reducing water flows to the famed Iraqi Marshes and forcing the Arabs living there to flee. While coalition and government forces in both countries have managed to recapture some key water sites, the threat of further damage persists.

At the same time, governments and militaries have used similar tactics to combat the Islamic State, closing the gates of dams or attacking water infrastructure under their control. But the Islamic State's fighters are not the only ones hurt by these efforts — the surrounding population suffers, too. The Syrian government has been repeatedly accused of withholding water, reducing flows or closing dam gates during its battles against the Islamic State or rebel groups, and it used the denial of clean water as a coercive tactic against many suburbs of Damascus thought to be sympathetic to the rebels.
Finding a Regional Solution

Because of its importance to both electricity generation and agricultural production, water has the power to run or ruin an economy. And since bodies of water often extend beyond any one country's borders, history shows that the competition for water resources can often only be settled peacefully through regional cooperation. Before Iraq and Syria deteriorated, and groups like the Islamic State arose, countries around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers had only each other to contend with. And in late 2010, the leaders of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan appeared to be on the verge of making progress toward setting up an integrated economic region. The countries' leaders called for regionwide cooperation on tourism, banking, trade and other sectors, and could have laid the foundation for further agreements on the distribution of shared natural resources like water. Though ambitious, the ideas and sentiments behind the proposals had the power to transform the region.

But politics prevailed, as is so often the case, and in less than a year the moment was lost. Had Turkey, Iraq and Syria taken the opportunity to act while political conditions were favorable, they would have found it easier to collectively tackle the Islamic State's advance later on. Bodies of water could have been labeled regional commons and thus the collective responsibility of all parties, ensuring swifter reactions by the governments involved to protect the water and associated infrastructure from terrorism. This, in turn, would have better protected the people and areas surrounding the rivers and lakes in the region. Of course, it is easy to look back and lament actions not taken, but the point remains that there is still a chance for these countries to come together and start working collectively to protect the water resources they share.

There is no doubt that the Islamic State has a very clear strategy, one that extends even beyond Syria and Iraq and into the wider region. The group has established bases throughout North Africa, following a similar path of controlling key resources and using them as weapons against the populations and governments it seeks to coerce or destroy. It is time that nearby states and the international community re-examine what they know about the Islamic State's tactics and formulate a new plan of action. Forces fighting the Islamic State must look at the region as a single integrated basin and bring bodies of water — and by extension, the populations dependent on them — to the forefront of their strategies. Water has always formed the core of civilizations; the Middle East — not to mention an Islamic State caliphate — is no different.
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia and France focus on ISIS on: November 25, 2015, 01:29:53 PM

In the heaviest Russian strikes against the Islamic State to date, the Russian air force and navy deployed dozens of cruise missiles and other weaponry against Islamic State targets in Syria on Tuesday, particularly in and around Raqqa, the militants' self-proclaimed capital. Russian Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M strategic long-range bombers flew their missions from bases in southern Russia, while the Russian cruiser Moskva fired a number of cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea. In a signal that this was just the start, Russian army Gen. Valery Gerasimov has indicated that Russia is allocating 25 strategic bombers for the Syrian mission.

Since Russian airstrikes began in Syria on Sept. 30, Moscow's attention has been focused largely on striking non-Islamic State rebels, some of whom were actively supported by other Arab States, the United States and Turkey. The Russians in effect reinforced the Syrian loyalist strategy of designating the non-Islamic State rebels as the primary threat and sought to reduce these rebels' ability to threaten the core city of Hama as well as the Syrian coast. Over time, Russian efforts did begin to include more Islamic State targets. For example, Russia provided active air support to loyalist forces advancing toward the previously besieged Kweiris air base and the Islamic State-occupied ancient city of Palmyra.

What is a Geopolitical Diary?

The overwhelming Russian focus on the other rebels in lieu of the Islamic State appears to have shifted even more after the Oct. 31 crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 in Sinai, in which 224 (mostly Russian) passengers and crew were killed. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for bringing down the aircraft — a claim Russia finally confirmed on Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible and intensify airstrikes against Islamist extremists in Syria.

Recent events in France may also give Russia more leverage with the Europeans. Fully aware of the effects of the Islamic State attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, Russia will use the attacks to highlight the necessity of Russian-European cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State. Under French President Francois Hollande's stewardship, France has already suffered one major attack in January. Now the president's main concern is not to appear weak, especially considering that his two main rivals — center-right leader Nicolas Sarkozy and the far-right's Marine Le Pen — are traditionally stronger on security issues. Sarkozy and Le Pen also have ties to Russia and have urged Paris to strengthen its relationship with Moscow.

The French have also significantly ramped up their air campaign against the Islamic State over the past two days, and Hollande is set to meet with Putin on Nov. 26 in the wake of the French president's call for a global campaign against radicals. Moreover, Putin has given orders for Russian forces to link up with the French. The Kremlin announced that Putin had spoken to Hollande by telephone. He then ordered the Russian navy to establish contact with a French naval force heading to the eastern Mediterranean, led by an aircraft carrier, and to treat the French forces as allies.

Though the common cause of fighting the Islamic State may cause Russia and the West (particularly France) to collaborate more closely in Syria, there are still very real limits to that cooperation. Russia is ramping up its campaign against the Islamic State, but overall it is likely to remain focused on fighting non-Islamic State rebels. After all, Russia is trying to maintain its strategic position in Syria, and in its view, to fully address the Islamic State threat the country first needs a viable government. So long as these rebels continue to pose a critical threat to the Syrian government, Russia will continue supporting its loyalist allies on the ground against rebel advances. This dynamic will only reinforce U.S., European, Turkish and Sunni Arab support for the rebels, undermining the potential for a credible and lasting cease-fire. 

Beyond Syria, the limits of Russia's cooperation on the Syrian battlefield will keep Moscow from getting all the concessions it wants from the Europeans, including relief from the sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. So far, the United States and its European partners have not let the Russian government link cooperation in Syria to the ongoing Minsk negotiations over Ukraine. Russia may have better chances with France at this stage to try to strike a broader bargain, but even its newfound leverage is probably insufficient. Sanctions removal would require a unanimous European decision, and there are still enough European nations backed by the United States in their opposition to easing restrictions, that for now any efforts to give Russia sanctions relief will likely fail.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Turkey picks a side on: November 25, 2015, 01:28:07 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the downing of a Russian Su-24 by Turkish F-16s on Tuesday was "a stab in the back delivered by accomplices of the terrorists." In another oblique reference to Turkey, Putin said the Islamic State is "protected by the military of an entire nation." He expressed concern and disbelief that Turkey did not try to contact Russia following the incident and instead rushed to convene a NATO meeting when Russia has "always treated Turkey as not only a close neighbor, but also a friendly nation."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Putin have been well aware that competition between their countries has been growing on multiple fronts. And until Tuesday, both took great care to avoid having that competition devolve into outright confrontation. A number of factors will drive Moscow and Ankara to try to temper the latest bout of hostilities, but neither leader will be able to avoid the uncomfortable reality that geopolitical forces are once again pulling these old rivals further apart.

Turkey and Russia cannot help but step on each other's toes. Turkey is the gatekeeper to the Mediterranean from the Black Sea through its control of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus. That means if Russia wants to send container ships, oil cargoes and warships westward, they pass through Turkey. If NATO wants to threaten the Russian underbelly from the Black Sea, Turkey has to give the green light. This is a point not lost on Putin's Russia.

As two Eurasian powers with long imperial pasts, Russia and Turkey have overlapping spheres of influence in parts of the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. This dynamic brought both empires to war multiple times over nearly five centuries. Not surprisingly, Turkey was profoundly uncomfortable when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014 to reinforce its position in the former Soviet space. Though Turkey saw an imperative to keep Russian ambitions in check, it preferred letting the United States, Poland, Romania and others take the lead. After all, Russia supplies 55 percent of Turkey's natural gas needs, and Ankara was not interested in risking disruptions to that supply or to the broader Turkish-Russian trade relationship that could further strain the Turkish economy.

But Russia has been getting too close for Turkey's comfort more recently. In the Caucasus, several factors are challenging the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh, a conflict zone that could eventually draw Russian and Turkish intervention. In the Middle East, Russia's military intervention in Syria on the side of the Alawite government squarely challenges Turkey's ambitions to bring Sunni power back to Syria through the toppling of President Bashar al Assad. Turkey's downing of the Russian fighter jet shows that Ankara is now willing to act on its frustration with Russia and bear the consequences.

The most immediate consequence will be felt in Syria. The preliminary steps toward a power-sharing deal are effectively stalled for now. The videos of Turkmen rebels shooting Russian pilots and attacking search and rescue missions will only reinforce Russia's claims that the rebels Turkey, the United States and others have been sponsoring cannot be trusted and therefore do not deserve a place at the negotiating table. There were already major doubts about whether the rebel sponsors could be talked into negotiating with the Syrian government at this stage of the fight anyway.

The battlefield, however, will remain just as intense. Turkey is serious about moving ahead with a plan to create a safe zone in northern Syria along the Turkish border to root out the Islamic State, keep a check on the Kurds and reinforce its rebel proxies against the al Assad government. The United States also remains committed to the fight against the Islamic State and is willing to facilitate Turkish operations in northern Syria toward that end. Russia is unlikely to back down from its operations in Syria targeting both Islamic State and rebel forces. In fact, Russia will be reinforcing its bombers with accompanying fighter jets to deter another shoot-down. The potential for further skirmishes on the Syrian battlefield cannot be ruled out.

The less visible, but no less significant, consequence concerns Turkey's relationship with NATO. Turkey's careful balance with Russia and differences with the West over working with Islamist forces have long been a source of frustration for other members of NATO, especially given the significant role Turkey could play in counterbalancing Russia and in responding to threats such as the Islamic State. As the Islamic State threat escalated and as Russia became more involved in Syria, Turkey started drifting closer toward its NATO allies. Turkey's recent decision to officially cancel a controversial deal to purchase a multibillion-dollar air defense system from China gave hope to NATO members that Turkey was prepared to remove some of the ambiguity from its role in the security alliance. And with Turkey's competition with Russia now on full display following the downing of the Russian Su-24, the United States and a number of Central and Eastern European powers will see an opportunity to draw Turkey deeper into NATO.

Russian officials and media have proposed retaliatory measures against Turkey, such as energy cutoffs, trade restrictions and undefined military responses. Russia certainly has the means to squeeze Turkey economically, though cutting off natural gas would also undermine Gazprom's commercial reputation at a time when Russia is fighting to retain market share in the West. Russian military interference against Turkish operations on the Syrian battlefield is also possible, though such actions are very risky for Russia itself. So long as Russia remains in a standoff with the United States and the West at large — a situation that will not abate anytime soon — Russia will need to play it carefully with Turkey. Only now, it is dealing with a Turkey that is sitting a lot more comfortably with its NATO partners than it was just a couple of months ago. 
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Kill the Dolphins! on: November 25, 2015, 12:44:05 PM
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Deal with Iran is not signed ?!? on: November 25, 2015, 12:25:10 PM
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Terrorist nation OTMs have crossed border. Some have been caught 2.0 on: November 25, 2015, 12:18:05 PM
Pasting Doug's post from the Immigration thread here as well:
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Partners in peace-- what could go wrong? on: November 25, 2015, 12:16:50 PM
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judicial Watch: State Dept rushed approval despite security concerns on: November 25, 2015, 12:09:14 PM
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin takes total control of the air? on: November 25, 2015, 11:58:20 AM
Putin has announced he is putting in his extremely potent anti-aircraft system into Syria. 

As best as I can tell, this means short of total war the US (and Turkey, and France) is now denied the airspace.

From our side , , , crickets , , ,
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Russian bomb in action? on: November 24, 2015, 11:44:17 PM
Reliability completely unknown
19  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Training Camp with Top Dog, Lonely Dog, and yours truly on: November 24, 2015, 09:42:07 PM
Let the Howl Go Forth:

On a date yet to be determined, sometime in the year 2016 there will be a DBMA Training Camp with Top Dog, Lonely Dog, and yours truly.

Stay tuned!!!
PG Crafty Dog
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Martin Luther King: WOW!!! on: November 24, 2015, 08:40:36 PM
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 24, 2015, 08:39:08 PM
We live in interesting times!
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Case for Sen.Ted Cruz on: November 24, 2015, 08:38:28 PM

D. Goldman makes his case in favor of Ted Cruz.
Dave's Top 10 Reasons to Vote for Ted Cruz

A month ago I predicted a Cruz-Rubio ticket. Now that Cruz has overtaken Carson to run neck-and-neck with Trump in the Iowa Quinnipiac University poll, Cruz is looking a lot like a winner. Here are my top 10 reasons to back him.

10. He really knows economics--not the ideologically-driven pablum dished out at universities, but the real battlefield of entrenched monopolies against entrepreneurial upstarts. As Aweesh Agarwal and John Delacourt reported in this space, he did a brilliant job at the Federal Trade Commission: "Cruz promoted economic liberty and fought government efforts to rig the marketplace in favor of special interests. Most notably, Cruz launched an initiative to study the government’s role in conspiring with established businesses to suppress e-commerce. This initiative ultimately led the U.S. Supreme Court to open up an entire industry to small e-tailers." Anyone can propose tax cuts. It takes real know-how to cut through the regulatory kudzu that is strangling America enterprise.

9. He really knows foreign policy. He is a hardline defender of American interests, but wants to keep American politics out of the export business. That's why neo-conservatives like Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post and Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal keep sliming him. The Bushies started attacking Cruz a year ago, when he stated the obvious about the Bush administration's great adventure in "democratic globalism": "I think we stayed too long, and we got far too involved in nation-building…. We should not be trying to turn Iraq into Switzerland." He's not beholden to the bunglers of the Bush administration, unlike the hapless Marco Rubio.

8. He really knows the political system. As Texas Solicitor General he argued nine cases before the US Supreme Court and won five of them. How many other lawyers in the United States have gone to the Supreme Court nine times on points of Constitutional law? The best write-up I've seen on brilliance as a Constitutional lawyer came from the liberal New Yorker--grudging praise, but praise nevertheless. Some of his legal work was brilliant, displaying a refined understanding of separation of powers and federalism. If you want a president who knows the mechanism of American governance from the inside, there's no-one else who comes close to Cruz.

7. He's an outsider, and America needs an outsider. The public thinks that Washington is corrupt, and it IS corrupt. The banks are corrupt, the defense industries (with their $1.5 trillion budget for a new fighter plane that won't fly) is corrupt, the tech companies (run by patent trolls rather than engineers) are corrupt, the public utilities are corrupt. The American people want a new broom. But it helps to put it in the hands of someone who knows his way around the broom closet.

6. Trump and Carson aren't serious candidates. Carson is an endearing fellow who has no business running for president: apart from his medical specialty, his knowledge of the world is an audodidact's jumble of fact and fantasy. Donald Trump inherited money and ran a family business: never in his life did he have to persuade shareholders, investors, directors, or anyone else to work with him. At best, he knew how to cajole and threaten. It's been his way or the highway since he was a kid, and that's the worst possible training for a US president.

5. Cruz is in but not of the system. The distinguished conservative scholar Robert P. George mentored him at Princeton and the flamboyant (but effective) liberal Alan Dershowitz taught him at Harvard Law School. Both agree he was the smartest student they ever had. An Ivy League education isn't important unless, of course, you don't have one: to run the United States, it helps to have dwelt in the belly of the beast. Cruz came through the elite university mill with his principles intact, and a keen understanding of the liberal mentality.

4. He's got real grit--call it fire in the belly, but Cruz wants to be president and wants us to want him to be president. Determination is a lot more important than charm, where Cruz won't win first prize. When it comes down to it, Americans don't want a charming president, but a smart, tough and decent one. Marco Rubio, the Establishment's last hope after Jeb Bush's belly-flop, is instantly recognizeable as the tough-guy hero's cute younger brother. Either Cruz or Fiorina would fill out the ticket.

3. He knows how to run a real campaign as opposed to a flash-in-the-pan media event. Cruz has boots on the ground, an organization of people who believe in him and raise money at twice the rate of Rubio--with an averge $66 donation.

2. He's a true believer in the United States of America. His love for his country and belief in its prospects are impassioned and unfeigned. He's ambitious, but his ambition stems from a desire to serve, where he believes that he is uniquely qualified to serve.

And the top reason to vote for Ted Cruz is:

He can beat Hillary Clinton. Not just beat her, but beat her by a landslide. Mrs. Clinton isn't that smart. She looks sort of smart smart when the media toss her softballs, but in a series of one-to-one, nowhere-to-hide Presidential debates, Cruz would shred her. Cruz was the top college debater in the country. He knows how to assemble facts, stay on message, anticipate his opponent's moves and neutralize them. He's a quarter-century younger than Mrs. Clinton, smarter, sharper, and better prepared. He's also clean as a whistle in personal life and finances, while the Clintons could reasonably be understood to constitute a criminal enterprise.
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor predictions on drones on: November 24, 2015, 08:14:38 PM

    As infrastructure becomes more congested over the next decade, unmanned aerial systems will be increasingly used to manage supply chains. 
    This transition will occur in stages as regulations adapt to technology and technology adapts to regulation, making it unlikely that much-anticipated home deliveries will be among drones' first commercial uses.
    Automated and unmanned aerial delivery systems will face congestion and chokepoint problems of their own, mostly caused by regulation rather than physical infrastructure.


Moving goods from one place to another isn't always as simple as it sounds. Intricate supply chains are often needed to coordinate transit across different countries, incorporating various modes of transportation. Every so often, new technologies come along that revolutionize how we send goods to other places. In the 20th century, it was the advent of container shipping; in the 21st century, it was the rise of a global marketplace made possible by the Internet, which changed shopping behaviors in the developed world and increased the demand for rapid delivery.

Now, as existing infrastructure struggles to keep up with the rising congestion that comes with growing demand, new technological developments are on the horizon that could help relieve some of that burden and improve the efficiency of global supply chains. Within the next five years, drones could become widely used to help transport goods. But rapid advancement and keen industry interest aside, the realities of regulation and technological constraints will limit the role of drones in delivering goods to customers in the United States, at least in the short term.
Overcoming Regulatory Hurdles

In 2012 the U.S. Congress instructed the Secretary of Transportation to "establish requirements for the safe operation of [unmanned] aircraft systems in the national airspace system." Three years later, the Federal Aviation Administration responded by releasing its proposed rules of operation. The 195-page document, published in February, contained both laudable and questionable stipulations, but one overarching concern received the most attention: safety.

For any new airspace regulation, the FAA is required to consider three criteria: the safety of the aircraft, the efficient use of airspace and the protection of people and property on the ground. Based on the proposed regulations, FAA officials are going to great lengths to ensure drones can operate safely around other aircraft and people, even when pilots are far away. The new rules, if passed, would require operators to keep drones within their line of sight throughout the entire flight. (The regulations likely will not be finalized until late 2016 or early 2017 because of a lengthy commenting and revisions process.)

Both the U.S. airspace system and the Federal Aviation Administration that oversees it were built on the assumption that pilots control aircraft from onboard. The line-of-sight requirement reflects the FAA's long-standing rules on determining right-of-way in the air, which mandate that operators stay vigilant "so as to see and avoid other aircraft." In modern manned aircraft, cockpit and control tower technologies have advanced enough to enable planes to stay separated and avoid hazards without needing the pilot to maintain visual continuity. The development of technologies that provide an equal level of safety assurance, be they autonomous piloting, networked control or other advances, will be critical to making drone flight feasible in congested urban areas.

A Gradual Development Process

Since its February announcement, the FAA has been working with industry partners to test technologies that could satisfactorily overcome the discrepancies between current regulations and drones' potential uses. To this end, six test sites have been set up across the United States, where certain companies can look for ways to address safety concerns under three specific use scenarios in a controlled environment. Those scenarios are maintaining line of sight in urban areas where bystanders are present; operating in rural areas where observers extend the operator's "sight"; and operating in isolated areas beyond the operator's line of sight. In May, the tests led to the first FAA-approved drone delivery when a medical clinic in rural Virginia received much-needed supplies from an unmanned aircraft. And just this week, companies conducted the first approved long-distance drone flight in the United States and began testing a new avoidance system technology that will help operators "see and avoid" obstacles even when the aircraft are far out of their visual range.

Alongside these trials are, of course, the widely publicized tests that private sector behemoths such as Amazon, Wal-Mart and Google are performing. Amazon is primarily focusing on developing technology to guarantee safe and quick home deliveries as well as the battery capacity to make such devices feasible. Wal-Mart is also hoping to someday use drones to make home deliveries, but for now the retail giant is trying to figure out how to use unmanned technology to manage inventory at distribution centers and deliver goods from warehouses to stores. Google, meanwhile, has been working with NASA engineers to create an autonomous air traffic control system for drones while tackling — no surprise — the problem of unmanned home deliveries. All three of these companies have the ambitious timeline of bringing their drones into commercial operations by 2017.

The outcome of the various tests will determine how and where the first generation of commercial drones is used in the United States. So far, it appears very likely that drones will improve efficiency in warehouse operations in the near future. Deliveries in rural areas, especially to set locations such as warehouses, stores or lockers, also seem to be a real possibility. While these uses would not increase speed or efficiency in the final stages of delivery — bringing goods directly to people's front doors — they would improve other phases of the supply chain. In addition, they would give companies a controlled environment in which they could test even more advanced delivery systems.

Still, none of the trials have managed to simultaneously address the problems of bystander safety and maintaining line of sight — both of which are concerns in urban environments. Therefore, it is unlikely that urban deliveries will be among the first tasks of commercial drones. Instead, companies will first use drones to make warehouse and stockyard operations run more smoothly and then turn their attention toward rural deliveries. Urban operations will probably have to wait until the second or third phase of development.

Even when drones begin operating regularly in urban environments, a number of problems will confront the U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle network. The United States has the busiest and most complex airspace in the world, meaning congestion will still be a problem. The introduction of thousands of new airborne vehicles will put further stress on an air traffic control network that is already spread too thin and a national airspace system that is already at or over capacity in many places. Transportation and supply chain technologies allow countries to overcome their geographic constraints; in this, drones are no exception. But like their predecessors, unmanned aerial vehicles will not come without their own limitations, nor will the transition be seamless.
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 24, 2015, 07:57:36 PM
Nice find GM!
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 24, 2015, 07:56:24 PM
Now that IS interesting!
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: November 24, 2015, 07:54:47 PM
Hard to see Rubio, the candidate with far and away the best numbers against Hillary as the "loser" candidate-- seriously Pat?  Especially when Trump is down within a point or two of Christie in his numbers against Hillary  evil

Look, I think I "get" Trump just fine.  I've repeatedly said many good things about him.  I also agree with the high floor, low ceiling analysis of his numbers. 
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rebels blow up Ruski copter with US made TOW missile? on: November 24, 2015, 02:11:21 PM
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 24, 2015, 02:07:04 PM
 shocked shocked shocked
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam, theocratic politics, & political freedom on: November 24, 2015, 02:01:25 PM
Not a stupid piece but the far better call IMHO is to establish safe,no-fly zones over there and to keep them there.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia on: November 24, 2015, 01:58:59 PM
My initial read is that whereas the Russians felt free to march into our HQ in Baghdad and give us one hour to get the fk out of their way, they now know better with the Turks.  This ain't the first time they fuct with Turkish airspace and they were warned plenty this time.
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: November 24, 2015, 01:56:59 PM

We are all on the same page with regard to GOPe and the deep and vast discontent with it; I'm not sure why you seem to think otherwise , , ,


Herewith my current take on things.

I have defended Dr. Ben here from what I perceived to be unsound attacks, but always withheld my "support"-- wanting to see more.   Now that I have seen his foreign affairs, he no longer is a contender for my support.  Last night on The Kelly Show, he was given a chance to counter the damage done by his foreign affairs advisor.  He repeated other folks ideas ("Go after their money, go after their oil, build a coalition") but it was the final straw for me when he spoke of giving "the Iraqis" another chance/more arms and training and into the coalition.  IMO there no longer is such a thing as Iraq and the government of Baghdad Shiastan is a pawn of Iran.

I hope he stays in for a while though-- I am very much looking forward to his launch of his health care platform to replace Obamacare; it could well be the one around which the Reps should rally!

Rubio took on Charlie Crist when doing so seemed a huge overreach.  As a first time senator he has decided to run for President when his mentor Jeb was considered a shoo-in for the GOPe, thus giving up what was likely to be a secure a Senate seat.  Don't let the baby face fool you, the man does not lack for killer instinct in taking on the GOPe.   Note too his perfectly timed naming Hillary a "liar" in the debate.  

His whole message is quite Tea Party and quite American Creed.   Watched him this morning on FOX and was, as usual, very impressed with his political skills.  Extremely seamless in his ability to turn around questions designed to put him on the defensive and take the initiative (e.g. Aren't you like Baraq in being an inexperienced first term Senator?)  He has adjusted his immigration policies to something I am quite comfortable with (listen to what he is actually saying now) and stands to serve the Reps well with Latinos without compromising national integrity.  (Contrast Prop 187 here in CA where we "won" and became a permanent Dem state by so doing)  His repeated prescience on international issues gives him a good foundation from which to take on Hillary on her one pretense to competence and experience.

Tax policy is good but could be much better.

I'm digging Cruz a lot too.  I agree with Art Laffer's analysis of his tax proposal, as best as I can tell it is the best in the field and, UNLIKE TRUMP AND HIS PROPOSAL, he can defend and advocate it well.   Superb ability to keep track of Hillary's twists and turns, evasions, deceptions, and lies.  He too has what it takes to take her on and take her down in debate.  There's more, but I'm running out of time right now.

Trump? I've already said what I think and heartily second Doug's two immediately prior posts.  Love his attitude and think he has served the country and Reps well by shaking things up and leading the way when it comes to speaking fearlessly, but stupidities like thinking it was fine to have Putin handle Syria will give Hillary, who already maneuvers to put daylight between her and Baraq,  plenty of room to present herself as an experienced mature hand at the helm.  The accumulation of stupidities like retweeting unvetted data will bite him, and therefore us should he be candidate, in the ass.

Bottom line-- for me right now a toss up between Cruz or Rubio.
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Obamacare is dying in front of our eyes on: November 24, 2015, 01:24:51 PM
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: November 24, 2015, 12:58:28 AM
I was under the impression that Rubios favorability ratio was better than that but overall I think Doug's point about Trump's ceiling is quite sound.

Only one candidate going up against Hillary scores 50% and that is Rubio.  I know Pat sees Rubio as GOPe because GOPe can support him (especially over Trump!) but when Rubio ran and won for Senate it was scored as a Tea Party triumph.  He's only been in Washington a few years and has earned respect for his foreign policy chops.  Contrast Trump who a few weeks ago thought it OK to hand off the Middle East to Putin with nary a thought as to the Axis that Putin is forming.

I caught Trump on O'Reilly tonight and O'R was giving him some good advice about not re-tweeting unvetted data and Trump's attitude was "Whatever".   Within the Rep primaries he can get away with this because of the depth of Rep voter anger, but in the general it looks to be a different story.  There's a reason that his margin over Hillary is only 1-2 points greater than Christie.
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris on: November 23, 2015, 05:23:46 PM
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Crybully on: November 23, 2015, 05:12:49 PM
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: November 23, 2015, 04:24:42 PM
Trump does NOT have 35% except maybe in some online polls which are pure GIGO.

Rubio has 50% of the American people against Hillary with an 8% margin, Trump quite a bit less than that.  Hell, Chris Christie does as well against the Empress Dowager of Chappaqua as Trump!
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thanksgiving from Wesbury on: November 23, 2015, 04:21:22 PM
If the US were in the middle of an economic boom, like in the mid-1980s or late-1990s, it would be very easy to be thankful in the week ahead. Instead, a cornucopia of complaints seems to accompany what has been a plodding economic recovery, what we call the Plow Horse Economy.

But that’s why it’s even more important than ever to be thankful for the things that are going right with the US economy. In particular, even as our overly large government continues to grow larger, with more spending, more entitlements, and more regulation – all of which bog down the economic growth rate like mud in the fields. It has been a battle between entrepreneurs and their wealth creation, versus government and redistribution. So far, the entrepreneurs have kept the economy moving forward.

Think of all the massive changes in the past several years. As it turns out, we really can drill our way to lower energy prices. Ubiquitous apps have made life much easier and increased productivity for workers, parents, students, travelers. And the list of new benefits seems to never end. Death rates for cancer patients are way down. Innovation in food production continues to soar. Driverless cars, while not here yet for regular consumers, continue to improve and wind their way down the long road toward mass production. It’s the cornucopia of invention we should celebrate.

Instead, it's monetary policy and the political world that journalists seem to obsess about; particularly those on business TV. These sources of “information,” or what could more accurately be called “econo-tainment,” instead dwell on every zig and zag of politics, and very often dubious narratives intricately woven by some short-seller.

But it’s because of the innovations, because of businesses that have found a way to charge ahead despite every obstacle put in front of them, the economy has moved forward.

In certain ways, this decade resembles the 1930s. Not in the sense that our economic situation is like the despair of the Great Depression; not even close. But in the sense that amid general dissatisfaction with the economy and a very bad policy set from Washington, important positive innovations were still happening. Jet engines, photocopiers, ballpoint pens, helicopters, and nylons were all invented in the 1930s, making life better for decades to come.

So when you pause to be thankful later this week, think for moment of the innovators who have been toiling away to make our lives better. Yes, they don’t do it just for the heck of it; yes, they want to enrich themselves along the way. But whether they help themselves or not, where would we be without their efforts? Happy Thanksgiving!

38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: November 23, 2015, 04:08:09 PM
Good point to make-- hope we see more of it!

And here's Ted's most recent promo clip:

Tangential observation:  Amazing how much of the candidates campaigns are requiring little to no money , , ,
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Laffer on Cruz and Rand Paul's tax proposals on: November 23, 2015, 03:49:16 PM
Pasting this here as well from the Presidential thread.
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: November 23, 2015, 03:44:36 PM
IIRC McDaniels in MS made some pretty unpleasant cracker statements, I can understand why the party would not want its' name stained by him.

Pat, we understand that Trump gives you a thrill running down your leg  evil but please do consider that good people of good intent can have good reasons for doubting him , , , 
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Belgium on: November 23, 2015, 03:39:23 PM
Belgian Breeding Ground Fuels New Terror Wave
by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
November 23, 2015
 Time was, thoughts of Belgium led to thoughts of rich, dark chocolate, of Old Master painters and delicate, handmade lace.

Now it brings a different image: of Islamic jihad and men armed with Kalashnikovs, and of secret meetings of Muslim youth plotting a new attack against the West. The country is in lockdown today, facing what authorities believe is an "imminent attack." On Sunday, police raided 19 homes in and around Brussels, and made 16 arrests. Brussels continues to be the focus of their action.

There is good reason for this. The Nov. 13 massacres in Paris, we've since learned, were planned in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, sometimes called "little Morocco" for its large Moroccan immigrant population. The attack on Charlie Hebdo also was planned there, along with the foiled attack on a Thalys high-speed train between Brussels and Amsterdam. Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014, spent time there.
But it isn't only Molenbeek, and it isn't only recently. Belgium has been a hotbed of radical Islam for more than a decade, breeding organizations like Sharia4Belgium – one of the most influential "Sharia4" groups globally – and the now-defunct Arab European League (AEL). The goal of the AEL, founded by the Lebanese-Belgian Dyab Abou Jahjah in 2001, was to form a "sharocracy" in which sharia and democracy ruled together across the West. The organization was based in Antwerp, where Jahjah and his friends also celebrated the attacks of 9/11 with laughter. "We couldn't hold our joy," he recalled later in his autobiography.

Other signs of radicalism, also connected to Jahjah, soon followed; in 2002, Jahjah helped orchestrate riots in Borgenhout, outside of Antwerp. And in 2004, after establishing a Dutch arm of the AEL, he declared, "I consider every death of an American, British, and Dutch soldier a victory."

Jahjah was hardly alone. By 2006, Belgian journalist Hind Fraihi, herself a Muslim, discovered that books teaching Muslims to fight infidels were being freely distributed by radical imams who preached jihad in local mosques. Other books she found in Belgium included Guide For Muslims, a Dutch publication that encourages Muslims to throw homosexuals from tall buildings and to beat their wives. A Washington Post profile of Fraihi cited other books she found, including some that "advised readers to learn to communicate in symbols and secret code, and offered tips on how to do that."

But the largest influence on Belgian Muslims, and the source of much of their extremism, was the creation of Sharia4Belgium in 2010. Thanks to that group, Belgium boasts the largest number of Muslims per capita who have joined the Islamic State and its jihad. According to the Wall Street Journal and others, "dozens" of Sharia4Belgium members have made the pilgrimage to Syria, and dozens more have been detained before they could make the trip. Three of them, all women, were arrested in May 2014, around the time of the Jewish Museum shooting. They were part of a larger group of 40 Belgians planning to join the jihad, and most of them had Sharia4Belgium ties.

This should not have been surprising. By 2012, Belgium's security service director Alain Winants determined that "radical Islam forms the greatest threat" to the country. Salafism, he told Belgian daily de Morgen, is gaining followers who have built up a parallel community with its own values, its own banks, justice system, and educational program.

Sharia4Belgium's founder, Fouad Belkacem, was tried and convicted in September 2014 for supporting terrorism, along with dozens of other Sharia4Belgium members, some of whom are still on the Syrian battlefields. But by then it was too late. The group, with its active Dutch- and French-speaking recruiters in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and – most of all – the Internet, had already infiltrated the minds of untold numbers of other Belgian youth.

And still, no one seems to be watching.

This is due in part to limits of Belgium's intelligence facilities. While German intelligence, for instance, is currently stretched to its limits trying to track potential terrorists, Der Spiegel reports that Belgium's threat has long since exceeded the its own intelligence capabilities.

Indeed, according to Dutch NOS TV, "the central counterterrorism unit of the [Belgian] police department has only one employee tracking radical [Islamic] activity on the Internet. And she only works part time." The result, notes Der Spiegel, is that "many Muslims who have become radicalized or received military training and may even have been traumatized are returning home from Syria without anyone checking on them whatsoever."

Moreover, Belgium's disorganized police system – with six authorities for 19 districts in Brussels alone – coupled with a chaotic government and the European capital's convenient location at the midway point between Amsterdam and Paris –combine to help French and Dutch Islamists take refuge there. Two of the Paris attackers, the French-born Bilal Hafdi and Brahim Abdelslam, were among them.

As recently as last month, an exploratory committee determined that Belgian police had failed to notice, let alone monitor, a "jihad camp" set up by Kurdish PKK members and Sharia4Belgium in the Ardennes.

But the truth is, the country's "capabilities" are only part of the problem: political timidity and correctness carry a good share of the blame. Suspicious behaviors are too often overlooked for fear of being called "racist," Alain Winants told de Morgen in 2012. That viewpoint has since been echoed in Belgian editorials since the Paris attacks, with journalist Luckas Vander Taelen noting that Molenbeek's mayor had once called a journalist "Islamophobic" for reporting on the radical Islamic books being distributed there. "There are no problems here," the mayor insisted at the time.

Since the Nov. 13 attacks, however, Belgium has rounded up dozens of jihadists, with nine raids leading to nine arrests on Thursday preceding Sunday's additional raids. The speed with which these terrorists were located suggests that authorities were aware of them prior to the events in Paris. So why weren't they captured earlier? Was it a matter of incompetence? Or a kind of narcissistic concern over image, a fear, as Winants suggests, of being seen as "racist?"
Hopefully, Belgium has now learned its lesson. The fight against terrorism is not a popularity contest. It's a contest we fight for our lives.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No punches pulled here , , , on: November 23, 2015, 02:51:56 PM
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: November 23, 2015, 10:37:27 AM

We would LOVE to have you!

44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A different take on the zero refugees by Saudi Arabia et al on: November 23, 2015, 10:36:24 AM
Putting aside the tendentious tone of the author, does he have a point?
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: November 22, 2015, 11:05:02 PM
What I said was there is a big difference between Rubio & Cruz and Hillary.

46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: November 22, 2015, 09:17:35 PM
DDF-- the choice you made is not for everyone  grin

PP:  That may well be the case for me too, but for now this is where it makes most sense for me.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: November 22, 2015, 09:12:32 PM
No difference between Hillary and Rubio or Cruz?!?  What the hell are you smoking Pat?!? cheesy  I know Trump is your guy, but the bottom line here is he is willing to put the good of America second to his own vanity.  THERE IS NO WAY HE WINS A THREE WAY RACE!!!

FWIW IMHO as the number of contenders goes down we will see most of the votes that were going to them go to someone other than Trump.  

The simple fact is that that Rubio, Cruz, Carson, and Bush (!) do better against Hillary than Trump and given the stakes in this election for the future of our country it is a rational thing to want to go with the candidate most likely to win.  This is an election for the job of most powerful person on the planet-- and, as the saying goes, "Politics ain't bean bag" and Trump needs to dig down and find some character and realize that the country is more important than the man in his mirror.

Certainly he gets some things right, but he has not defended his tax plan, his grasp of the Middle East is devoid of understanding that Putin is building an axis of Iran, Shiastan Iraq, Alawitestan Syria, Hezbollah Lebanon, and Russia.   Until quite recently he held many positions that were an anathema to us here.  There are good and honorable reasons to prefer someone else to him.

PS:  Watched the Walters interview.  Liked his children-- which speaks well of him.

48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What a fg narcissistic sh*t!!! on: November 22, 2015, 06:15:57 PM
"Fornicate America-- I'm The Donald and my personal grievances matter more than the America I want to make great again."

 angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry


By Laura Meckler
Nov. 22, 2015 5:00 p.m. ET

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggested Sunday that he would be open to running for president as an independent if he concludes Republicans aren’t treating him “fairly.”

The real-estate tycoon made his comments on ABC when asked about a Wall Street Journal article published online Friday that reported an effort by Republican establishment figures to unite to knock Mr. Trump out of the race.

The group plans a “guerrilla campaign” backed by secret donors to “defeat and destroy” his candidacy, the Journal reported.

The notion of an independent Trump bid worries many Republicans, who fear he would siphon votes from the GOP nominee and help elect a Democrat.

Asked if he would reconsider his vow not to run as an independent, Mr. Trump didn’t give a direct answer. “Well, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “It will be very interesting. But I’m leading every poll by a lot. It’s not even a little bit anymore, it’s a lot.”

Nationally, Mr. Trump is favored by 27.5% of Republican voters, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 19.8% and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 12.5%.

Asked again if he was open to an independent run, he repeated, “Well, I’m going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly. You know, when I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine. All I want…is a level playing field.”

Mr. Trump’s loyalty to the GOP was questioned after the first Republican presidential debate in August, when he was the only candidate unwilling to promise support for the party’s eventual nominee. He put those questions to rest in September when he signed a GOP loyalty pledge, vowing not to run as an independent.

Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said: “All of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination have pledged to run as Republicans and support the nominee.”

Democrats were outright gleeful at the prospect of an independent Trump run next fall.

“The GOP can be very mean. If the Donald’s feelings are hurt by them, he absolutely should run as an independent!” said Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen.

Mr. Trump also said he would bring back waterboarding, the controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning and that is considered torture by many. President Barack Obama barred waterboarding and other techniques at the start of his presidency.

To justify his view, Mr. Trump cited brutal acts by Islamic State. “They don’t use waterboarding over there; they use chopping off people’s heads,” he said on ABC. “I would bring it back. I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to [journalist] James Foley when they chopped off his head. That’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”

Opponents say the U.S. has an obligation to hold itself to a higher standard than its enemies do and that torture is ineffective and undermines American values.

Mr. Trump also repeated his claim, forcefully denied by authorities, that “thousands of people were cheering” in Jersey City, N.J., when the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. He made that claim at a Saturday rally.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos told him that police say that never happened and that this has long been just an Internet rumor, but Mr. Trump didn’t back down.

“It did happen. I saw it….It was on television,” he said. “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as…those buildings came down.”

Write to Laura Meckler at
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big WSJ article on trends over the next 35 years on: November 22, 2015, 06:11:58 PM
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: November 22, 2015, 06:06:29 PM
And governmental stupidity is unknown elsewhere? (though usually not in the same degree!!!)  cheesy

Mmmmm , , , have you noticed the swimming I get to do in October?  see e.g.  That I live in what may well be the world's capital for martial arts?  That people who want to train with me can combine their trip to train with me with training with other teachers?-- and that one of the major international and domestic airports is only 25 minutes away?  That the movie/TV/entertainment biz provides additional opportunities and resources?  That it is in the 70s today with clear skies?---  Contrast the rest of the country , , ,  That I can get clean, healthy, and exciting food most places I go?

A man could go further and do worse , , ,

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