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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Gathering Clusterfuck has arrived on: Today at 10:56:15 AM
I fear we are headed into a disaster.

Obama's alleged strategy is based upon a number of fictions:

a) that Iraq can be put together again
b) that the Shia militias -- apparently as brutal as ISIS, see my post above-- support the government of Baghdad and not Iran
c) that the government of Baghad will forward arms to the Kurds
d) the the army of the government of Baghdad will fight for our purposes, not Iran's.
e) that the FSA will become a viable fighting force that will take on ISIL first, and then take on and defeat Assad, Al Nusra, and AQ and establish a moderate regime.  Along the way, even it currently fights as a junior member alongside Al Nusra and AQ against its primary enemy, Assad, the weapons we give it will not end up in the hands of Al-Nusra, Al Qaeda, or ISIL.

There's lots more, but I trust that these suffice to make my point.

The US Congress, most certainly including the Republicans, is failing in the exercise of its Constitutional duty to determine whether we go to war.    The enemy is world-wide Islamic Fascism, not just ISIL.  Our strategy is the epitome of the whack-a-mole that Obama says he derides.

2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shia militias just as bad as ISIL on: September 18, 2014, 05:20:14 PM
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Robert Spencer on Domestic Jihad on: September 18, 2014, 05:14:39 PM
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on ill-administration, Fed #21, 1787 on: September 18, 2014, 03:15:32 PM

"The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21, 1787

5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holder stalling on OFF on: September 18, 2014, 03:13:00 PM
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: September 18, 2014, 02:27:45 PM
Thank you Doug.

I would add that the Clintonian dodge of "No stand down order" is that since no order to go was given, there was no stand down order.   However the fact is that the operators at the CIA annex were trying to go and told not to.  See my post earlier in this thread about Bret Baier's interview with the three men in question.

Also, if I remember correctly, there were some troops on a plane headed out but they were told to get off and change their uniforms.
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's Catalist Database on: September 18, 2014, 02:24:23 PM
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kissinger's new book on: September 18, 2014, 10:36:46 AM

World Order. By Henry Kissinger.Penguin Press; 420 pages; $36. Allen Lane; £25. Buy,

DESPITE being out of office for almost four decades, Henry Kissinger—who left America’s State Department in 1977—still has remarkable influence. Reading this book, you can see why. As Russia plays grandmother’s footsteps in Ukraine, the Middle East falls prey to anarchy and China tests its growing strength, Mr Kissinger analyses the central problem for international relations today: the need for a new world order. He never quite says so, but he is deeply pessimistic.
“World Order” sets out how the modern state arose almost by accident, from the interminable warfare of early 17th-century Europe. Worn down, the architects of the Peace of Westphalia agreed to disagree. Each state pledged to accept the realities of its neighbours’ values. There was no single prevailing truth. Ambition would be kept in check through an equilibrium of power. As imperialism receded, and colonies turned the arguments of Westphalian self-determination against their distant rulers, the European concept of international order spread until, with American sponsorship, it was eventually enshrined in the apparatus of Bretton Woods and the UN.

Today this order is under attack from all sides. Europe and America have come to demand that states everywhere observe a Western set of liberal values. European power, diminished by two world wars, has disappeared down the rabbit-hole of European Union integration. America, still the pre-eminent superpower, may be able to prevent geopolitics from spinning out of control, but it has become reluctant to act as enforcer and balancer. Asia contains rising states, including India and China, which have no tradition of thinking about power in Westphalian terms and may want to revise the system. And in the Middle East, rampaging Islamists are committing mass murder to impose a caliphate run according to the rules of the Koran.

Mr Kissinger is often presented as an arch-realist: an adherent of the supposedly sophisticated idea that foreign policy is purely about power and interests, and that values and morals are for the feeble-minded. But his world view is more subtle. If a system is built on power, but lacks legitimacy, then it will destroy itself; if it asserts moral truths, but lacks the power to enforce them, then it will unravel. The problem today is that from the perspective of almost all sides, power and legitimacy are out of kilter. The West cannot enforce its disputed view of a liberal order. China may not get what it thinks its growing wealth and power should command. Russia sees Western norms as a Trojan horse for the expansion of Western power—at its own expense. The Islamists reject the whole idea of a temporal, secular order.

What is the solution? Mr Kissinger sketches his answer in only four brief pages. It consists of a vague appeal to strike a new balance between power and legitimacy—which, earlier in “World Order”, he acknowledges is very hard, especially on a world scale, in societies struggling with the anarchic effects of new media.

Mr Kissinger is now a wealthy consultant. His failure to drive the bad news home is like his habit of sugaring his criticism of living statesmen with compliments that are, presumably, designed to spare their client’s embarrassment. (“I want to express here my continuing respect and personal affection for President George W. Bush”, he writes, “who guided America with courage, dignity and conviction in an unsteady time.”) That is a pity, as the wit, clarity and concision of his earlier chapters on Europe, America and jihadism are bracing. Perhaps, though, Mr Kissinger supposes that people can read between the lines: you do not need to be Metternich to grasp that this elder statesman thinks the future is bleak.
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why Trey Gowdy was chosen on: September 18, 2014, 10:23:48 AM
second post of day-- but please do note my request for help in answering the FB questions posed to me in my prior post:


10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt: NASA commercial crew plan is scant progress on: September 18, 2014, 10:20:17 AM
NASA Commercial Crew Plan Is Scant Progress
Originally published at

It didn't take a rocket scientist to predict that NASA's plan to pay Russia to launch American astronauts into orbit wasn't going to turn out well.
Three years after NASA retired the space shuttle program, relations between the United States and Russia are worse than at any point since the end of the Cold War. Americans have reportedly been paying Russia $70 million a seat to send our astronauts to the International Space Station. That's three and a half times what the Russians charge private space tourists for the same ride on their 1960s-era spacecraft.

Now Russian President Vladimir Putin is reconstituting the Russian empire, and senior Russian officials have reacted to our economic sanctions by suggesting that Americans "bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline."

NASA and our elected officials are to blame for this embarrassment.

NASA has tried to replace the shuttle on its own before resorting to the commercial industry -- programs that were canceled after ludicrous cost overruns and technical setbacks. And worse, politicians and bureaucratic backscratchers repeatedly undermined the nascent commercial space industry, where new American companies are working to do less expensively what NASA was failing to do itself: develop a spacecraft capable of carrying humans into orbit.

Instead of accelerating the creation of a thriving commercial space industry, NASA's second choice -- after its own program failed -- was to pay the Russian government rather than American companies for tickets into orbit.

But now that NASA's funding of the Russian space program has become unattractive politically, its 4-year-old program to hire American companies to send crew to the International Space Station takes on new importance.

On Tuesday, NASA announced the winners of its "commercial crew" competition.

Which of the entrants did the agency award for the biggest contract?

Was it SpaceX, a new leader in commercial spaceflight, which has gone from startup to multibillion dollar company in just over a decade, spent hundreds of millions of private investment designing and building three new rockets and a human-rated space capsule, completed more than a dozen launches and lined up dozens more for commercial customers, and proved itself more cost effective than its larger competition?

Was it Sierra Nevada, another private company that has developed a small, winged space plane that lands passengers returning to Earth comfortably on runways, rather than sending them hurdling into the ocean -- giving the design a unique commercial potential?

No. The largest contract in a program designed to boost competition within the commercial space industry went to Boeing -- the gigantic, heavily subsidized government contractor with a history of huge cost overruns. Although SpaceX did win a smaller prize of its own, the fact that the old incumbent is getting a contract to provide services to the space station is going to limit the promise of America's commercial space industry.

But worse, despite committing to purchase some of these services from Boeing and SpaceX, NASA is still reportedly at work on its own, vastly more expensive design, the Space Launch System, in which Boeing is also involved.

To anyone who isn't a NASA employee, a NASA contractor or a U.S. senator with a protected workforce in his state, this makes no sense. NASA should not be developing its own proprietary version of capabilities it could purchase commercially at much lower cost, especially when we know the agency's bureaucratic tendencies will be to view the commercial versions as competitors to kill.

Instead, Congress should kill the NASA version and require the agency to purchase basic launch services from companies such as SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and even Boeing -- if it can make its designs cost-competitive. Commercial space advocates in Congress have been trying to do this for years, but bureaucracies -- both government agencies and their giant contractors -- are extraordinarily adept at protecting themselves and their interests.

In addition, Congress should hold hearings on why NASA selected such an expensive proposal for its commercial crew program when potentially cheaper, more innovative designs were available.

Tuesday's announcement was a modest step forward for the commercial space industry, since it will mark the first time NASA has bought tickets from American companies to send astronauts into space. But NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition to make sure this one small step for NASA isn't one giant leap backward on the taxpayer dime.

Your Friend,
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rebuttal to "50 Lies" on: September 18, 2014, 08:45:19 AM
I posted this on my FB page
and just got this in reply:
Boy, these folks really need to update their list of misrepresentations and lies....

Even things as simple as whether it was believed that a video spurred the incident is still on the list....

ALL prior investigations of Benghazi have concluded no wrongdoing EVERY TIME, including:

Senate Intelligence Committee review:

The House Armed Services Committee:

And the State Department's legally mandated Accountability Review Board investigation led by Ambassador Tom Pickering and retired Adm. Michael Mullen, former Reagan and Bush administration officials:

Despite protestations otherwise, there is no "there" there. Benghazi was a terrible tragedy, but there was no cover up, no stand-down order, and no dereliction of duty.

I would also like to point out that Republicans were caught falsifying emails in their attempt to create the scandal out of Benghazi:

Republicans were also warned that cutting funding for embassy security by Hillary Clinton would increase security risks; Republicans cut the funding anyway....

And that during the Bush administration there were TWO embassy/consulate attacks prior to the death of U.S. diplomat David Foy and there was never a claim by Republicans about dereliction of duty on the part of President Bush, nor "outrage" at Mr. Foy's death. It was simply viewed as the tragedy it truly was, and was not made into a political football.

In fact, here are 13 different "Benghazi" incidents that happened under Bush:

None caused outrage. The evidence is compelling that Republicans don't actually care about the safety of the U.S. diplomatic corps. Benghazi is nothing more than a political football, and is only being dragged out in order to harm Hillary Clinton's chances in the election.


We are in the final days before the Gathering and I am super busy.  Anyone care to handle the response?  Remember we are looking to persuade the readers, not the opposing poster.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trey Gowdy on the media on Benghazi on: September 18, 2014, 08:25:01 AM

From May 2014
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: September 18, 2014, 07:43:41 AM
Thank you Doug. 

Are the deficits the only big issue?  I vaguely remember reading that there were some other issues as well.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trey Gowdy for Speaker on: September 18, 2014, 07:41:03 AM
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / High false positives from drug dogs & alerts on cue on: September 17, 2014, 08:09:39 PM 
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Preamble to the Bill of Rights on: September 17, 2014, 07:27:28 PM

And an even more important preamble and part of the Constitution that pertains more to us today: The preamble to the Bill of Rights. (Please note the second paragraph that 'explicitly' states the reason these rights are being added to the Constitution before final ratification by the States.


Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Rate Hikes approaching on: September 17, 2014, 05:40:37 PM
Rate Hikes Approaching To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 9/17/2014

We count five major takeaways from today’s activity at the Federal Reserve.

First, quantitative easing (QE) still looks on track for winding down at the end of October. As expected, the Fed announced it would cut its purchases of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities to $15 billion in October and expects to announce an end to QE at the next meeting, which is October 29th.

Second, the median view among Fed officials is for a slightly faster increase in short-term rates. Back in June, the consensus was for the top of the federal funds target range to be 1.25% at the end of 2015; now it’s 1.5%. Previously the consensus was around 2.5% for the end of 2016, now it’s 3%. As a result, it now looks like the Fed will start raising rates by April 2015, perhaps even as early as the first quarter. To confirm this, look for the Fed to dump the “considerable time” language later this year.
Third, once it starts raising rates, the Fed will try to control the federal funds rate by using the interest it pays banks for holding excess reserves. It will also use reverse repos to help control the funds rate, but only as much and as long as needed. The Fed says it won’t use reverse repos for other purposes.

Fourth, the Fed isn’t going to outright sell securities from its portfolio to unwind its bloated balance sheet. After starting to raise the funds rate, the Fed will eventually allow its balance sheet to shrink in a passive way, by letting securities gradually mature without full reinvestment. The Fed is particularly reluctant to sell mortgage-backed securities (MBS), but may eventually do so several years down the road to clean up some long-dated securities on its books that won’t mature anytime soon. Long-term, the Fed intends to go back to holding almost all Treasury securities, not a large portfolio of MBS.

Last, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Two Fed officials dissented from the statement, both Philadelphia Fed Bank President Charles Plosser and Dallas Bank President Richard Fisher. More importantly, both dissents were from hawks, which suggests that if the Fed makes any changes in policy or projections at the next couple of meetings, it’s more likely to get more hawkish than more dovish.

The Fed also made some minor changes to the language in its statement, noting that the unemployment rate is little changed since the last meeting and the economy is expanding moderately after the downside surprise in Q1 and sharp rebound in Q2.

The bottom line is that the Fed has been and will remain behind the curve. Nominal GDP – real GDP growth plus inflation – is up 4.2% in the past year and up at a 3.7% annual rate in the past two years. A federal funds target rate of nearly zero is too low given this growth. It’s also too low given well-tailored policy tools like the Taylor Rule.
Hyperinflation is not in the cards; the Fed will keep paying banks enough to keep the money multiplier depressed. But, given loose policy, we expect gradually faster growth in nominal GDP for the next couple of years. In turn, the bull market in equities will continue to prevail and the bond market is due for a fall.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar and American Freedom on: September 17, 2014, 05:29:03 PM
 shocked shocked shocked angry angry angry

May I ask you to post this on the Privacy thread as well?  TIA.
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kerry's negotiator with Hamas paid $14 million by Qatar!!! on: September 17, 2014, 05:26:54 PM
Because of this post, I have added the word "treason" to the title of this thread

 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul with Glenn Beck on what to do in the middle east on: September 17, 2014, 05:13:05 PM

Rand is making some sense here , , ,
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: September 17, 2014, 03:39:22 PM
Please post on "The Way Forward" thread.
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: September 17, 2014, 02:36:00 PM
Thank you Doug for the analysis.  I hope others will respond too!

In the meantime, here is the case for doing nothing:


A friend writes:

Regarding Turkey:  I had the pleasure to spend about an hour talking with a young couple from Turkey who had recently arrived in the US to do Post Doc. research and teaching in sociology and political science/history at UC Berkeley.   Their primary perspective on Turkey's position in all of this had to do with Turkey being a Sunni dominated country with the Sunnis making up somewhere between 72 and 85% of the population.   As such, fighting against the Sunni led ISIS would be unacceptable and require that they support Iraq's and Iran's Shias.
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitution Day on: September 17, 2014, 02:24:25 PM
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." --Preamble to the Constitution, George Washington and the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cuban using academics as spies and influence peddlers on: September 17, 2014, 02:05:06 PM
See #387 et seq
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hummingbird drones; gun firing drones on: September 17, 2014, 02:02:24 PM
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lets us play arm chair general for a moment , , , on: September 16, 2014, 09:35:38 PM

Allow me to throw out an idea for our collective arm chair “generaling”:

What if we really embrace the idea of abandoning the Sykes Picot lines?  What possibilities are opened up by our so doing?  For example:

a)   Kurds get their own country, including the parts of Kurdistan that are now in Syria, Turkey (!) and Iran (!!!)  Perhaps the non-Sunni parts of Syria would like to join them?

b)   Turkey gets suitable pieces of Syria in return. 

c)   Iraq is done for.  In the south the Shias—hell, maybe even a grand bargain with Iran that includes no nukes?--  and the sunnis left landlocked in the middle

d)   Egypt is given green light to straighten out Libya

e)   Israel and Egypt given green light to crush Hamas

f)   I lack sufficient knowledge to begin to opine how this would play out with Lebanon and Hezbollah, but as best as I can tell Assad would be diminished essentially to local warlord fighting to keeping his head.

g)  What play for Jordan?
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Cancer fallout from nuclear bomb test on: September 16, 2014, 08:33:46 PM
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glenn Beck: Baraq's true target is Assad, not ISIL on: September 16, 2014, 08:31:37 PM

Interesting analysis of the meaning of Baraq's "advice" to ISIL too.

29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 16, 2014, 07:56:41 PM
Thank you for fleshing that out.

30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scotland on: September 16, 2014, 12:25:16 PM
The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum
Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 03:01 Print Text Size

By George Friedman

The idea of Scottish independence has moved from the implausible to the very possible. Whether or not it actually happens, the idea that the union of England and Scotland, which has existed for more than 300 years, could be dissolved has enormous implications in its own right, and significant implications for Europe and even for global stability.

The United Kingdom was the center of gravity of the international system from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until World War II. It crafted an imperial structure that shaped not only the international system but also the internal political order of countries as diverse as the United States and India. The United Kingdom devised and drove the Industrial Revolution. In many ways, this union was a pivot of world history. To realize it might be dissolved is startling and reveals important things about the direction of the world.

Scotland and England are historical enemies. Their sense of competing nationhoods stretches back centuries, and their occupation of the same island has caused them to fight many wars. Historically they have distrusted each other, and each has given the other good reason for the distrust. The national question was intertwined with dynastic struggles and attempts at union imposed either through conquest or dynastic intrigue. The British were deeply concerned that foreign powers, particularly France, would use Scotland as a base for attacking England. The Scots were afraid that the English desire to prevent this would result in the exploitation of Scotland by England, and perhaps the extinction of the Scottish nation.

The Union of 1707 was the result of acts of parliaments on both sides and led to the creation of the Parliament of Great Britain. England's motive was its old geopolitical fears. Scotland was driven more by financial problems it was unable to solve by itself. What was created was a united island, acting as a single nation. From an outsider's perspective, Scotland and England were charming variations on a single national theme -- the British -- and it was not necessary to consider them as two nations. If there was ever a national distinction that one would have expected to be extinguished in other than cultural terms, it was this one. Now we learn that it is intact. We need a deeper intellectual framework for understanding why Scottish nationalism has persisted.

The Principle of National Self-Determination

The French Enlightenment and subsequent revolution had elevated the nation to the moral center of the world. It was a rebellion against the transnational dynasties and fragments of nations that had governed much of Europe. The Enlightenment saw the nation, which it defined in terms of shared language, culture and history, as having an inherent right to self-determination and as the framework for the republican democracies it argued were the morally correct form of government.

After the French Revolution, some nations, such as Germany and Italy, united into nation-states. After World War I, when the Hapsburg, Hohenzollern, Romanov and
Ottoman empires all collapsed, a wave of devolution took place in Europe. The empires devolved into their national components. Some were amalgamated into one larger nation, such as Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia, while others, such as Poland, were single nation-states. Some had republican democracies, others had variations on the theme, and others were dictatorships. A second major wave of devolution occurred in 1992, when the Soviet Union collapsed and its constituent republics became independent nation-states.

The doctrine of the right to national self-determination drove the first wave of revolts against European imperialism in the Western Hemisphere, creating republics in the Americas. The second wave of colonial rising and European withdrawal occurred after World War II. In some cases, nations became self-determining. In other cases, nation-states simply were invented without corresponding to any nation and actually dividing many. In other cases, there were nations, but republican democracy was never instituted except by pretense. A French thinker, Francois de La Rochefoucauld, said, "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue." Even while betraying its principles, the entire world could not resist the compulsion to embrace the principles of national self-determination through republican democracy. This effectively was codified as the global gold standard of national morality in the charters of the League of Nations and then the United Nations.

The Imperfection of the Nation-State

The incredible power of the nation-state as a moral principle and right could be only imperfectly imposed. No nation was pure. Each had fragments and minorities of other nations. In many cases, they lived with each other. In other cases, the majority tried to expel or even destroy the minority nation. In yet other cases, the minority demanded independence and the right to form its own nation-state. These conflicts were not only internal; they also caused external conflict over the right of a particular nation to exist or over the precise borders separating the nations.

Europe in particular tore itself apart in wars between 1914 and 1945 over issues related to the rights of nation-states, with the idea of the nation-state being taken to its reductio ad absurdum -- by the Germans as a prime example. After the war, a principle emerged in Europe that the borders as they stood, however imperfect, were not to be challenged. The goal was to abolish one of the primary causes of war in Europe.

The doctrine was imperfectly applied. The collapse of the Soviet Union abolished one set of borders, turning internal frontiers into external borders. The Yugoslavian civil war turned into an international war once Yugoslavia ceased to exist, and into civil wars within nation-states such as Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. At the same time, the borders in the Caucasus were redrawn when newly independent Armenia seized what had been part of Azerbaijan. And in an act that flew in the face of the principle, NATO countries divided Serbia into two parts: an Albanian part called Kosovo and the rest of Serbia.

The point of all this is to understand that the right to national self-determination comes from deep within European principles and that it has been pursued with an intensity and even viciousness that has torn Europe apart and redrawn its borders. One of the reasons that the European Union exists is to formally abolish these wars of national self-determination by attempting to create a framework that both protects and trivializes the nation-state.

Scotland's Case

The possibility of Scottish independence must be understood in this context. Nationalism, the remembrance and love of history and culture, is not a trivial thing. It has driven Europe and even the world for more than two centuries in ever-increasing waves. The upcoming Scottish election, whichever way it goes, demonstrates the enormous power of the desire for national self-determination. If it can corrode the British union, it can corrode anything.

There are those who argue that Scottish independence could lead to economic problems or complicate the management of national defense. These are not trivial questions, but they are not what is at stake here. From an economic point of view, it makes no sense for Scotland to undergo this sort of turmoil. At best, the economic benefits are uncertain. But this is why any theory of human behavior that assumes that the singular purpose of humans is to maximize economic benefits is wrong. Humans have other motivations that are incomprehensible to the economic model but can be empirically demonstrated to be powerful. If this referendum succeeds, it will still show that after more than 300 years, almost half of Scots prefer economic uncertainty to union with a foreign nation.

This is something that must be considered carefully in a continent that is prone to extreme conflicts and still full of borders that do not map to nations as they are understood historically. Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, the second-largest and most vibrant city in Spain, has a significant independence movement. The Treaty of Trianon divided Hungary so that some Hungarians live in Romania, while others live in Slovakia. Belgium consists of French and Dutch groups (Walloons and Fleming), and it is not too extreme to say they detest each other. The eastern half of Poland was seized by the Soviet Union and is now part of Ukraine and Belarus. Many Chechens and Dagestanis want to secede from Russia, as do Karelians, who see themselves as Finns. There is a movement in northern Italy to separate its wealthy cities from the rest of Italy. The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia is far from settled. Myriad other examples can be found in Europe alone.

The right to national self-determination is not simply about the nation governing itself but also about the right of the nation to occupy its traditional geography. And since historical memories of geography vary, the possibility of conflict grows. Consider Ireland: After its fight for independence from England and then Britain, the right to Northern Ireland, whose national identity depended on whose memory was viewing it, resulted in bloody warfare for decades.

Scottish independence would transform British history. All of the attempts at minimizing its significance miss the point. It would mean that the British island would be divided into two nation-states, and however warm the feelings now, they were not warm in the past nor can we be sure that they will be warm in the future. England will be vulnerable in ways that it hasn't been for three centuries. And Scotland will have to determine its future. The tough part of national self-determination is the need to make decisions and live with them.

This is not an argument for or against Scottish nationhood. It is simply drawing attention to the enormous power of nationalism in Europe in particular, and in countries colonized by Europeans. Even Scotland remembers what it once was, and many -- perhaps a majority and perhaps a large minority -- long for its return. But the idea that Scotland recalls its past and wants to resurrect it is a stunning testimony less to Scottish history than to the Enlightenment's turning national rights into a moral imperative that cannot be suppressed.

More important, perhaps, is that although Yugoslavia and the Soviet collapse were not seen as precedents for the rest of Europe, Scotland would be seen that way. No one can deny that Britain is an entity of singular importance. If that can melt away, what is certain? At a time when the European Union's economic crisis is intense, challenging European institutions and principles, the dissolution of the British union would legitimize national claims that have been buried for decades.

But then we have to remember that Scotland was buried in Britain for centuries and has resurrected itself. This raises the question of how confident any of us can be that national claims buried for only decades are settled. I have no idea how the Scottish will vote. What strikes me as overwhelmingly important is that the future of Britain is now on the table, and there is a serious possibility that it will cease to be in the way it was. Nationalism has a tendency to move to its logical conclusion, so I put little stock in the moderate assurances of the Scottish nationalists. Nor do I find the arguments against secession based on tax receipts or banks' movements compelling. For centuries, nationalism has trumped economic issues. The model of economic man may be an ideal to some, but it is empirically false. People are interested in economic well-being, but not at the exclusion of all else. In this case, it does not clearly outweigh the right of the Scottish nation to national-self determination.

I think that however the vote goes, unless the nationalists are surprised by an overwhelming defeat, the genie is out of the bottle, and not merely in Britain. The referendum will re-legitimize questions that have caused much strife throughout the European continent for centuries, including the 31-year war of the 20th century that left 80 million dead.

Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence, including the hyperlink to Stratfor, at the beginning or end of the report.

"The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum is republished with permission of Stratfor."
Simply copy and paste this code: "The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum is republished with permission of Stratfor."
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fisher Ames, Essay on Equality 1801 on: September 16, 2014, 11:19:05 AM
"Liberty is not to be enjoyed, indeed it cannot exist, without the habits of just subordination; it consists, not so much in removing all restraint from the orderly, as in imposing it on the violent." --Fisher Ames, Essay on Equality, 1801
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 16, 2014, 11:11:28 AM
May I ask you to briefly restate your objections to him?  My impression from his FOX show is that he has much to recommend him, though I think he would lose against Hillary.
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 16, 2014, 11:06:48 AM
AS I mentioned somewhere on the board here recently, I first ran across this analysis, and suggested line of attack, by Dick Morris.   It makes sense to me.  That said, the argument that we are competing with cheap labor elsewhere and thus need some here is not without force.  For example, the Los Angeles region has a surprising amount of light manufacturing due to the abundance of cheap labor here-- some of which is illegal. 

Can not a similar argument be made in the tech sector?  That having some cheap hi-tech labor here, companies who otherwise might feel compelled to go offshore (and they face tremendous tax code driven reasons to do so as well!) stay?
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / California labor costs on: September 16, 2014, 10:56:58 AM
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Weinberger Doctrine on: September 16, 2014, 03:21:32 AM

 The Weinberger Doctrine

In 1993, the professional concerns of the military led to the resurfacing of the Weinberger Doctrine. This was reinforced by events in 1993 in Somalia (where the objectives of U.S. troop involvement remained unclear) and by the fears of some that the United States would become involved in the conflict in Bosnia-Herzogovina.

The Weinberger Doctrine was established by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger in the Reagan administration in 1984 to spell out the conditions under which the U.S. ground combat troops should be committed. (Recall that in the earlier part of the 1980s U.S. marines were sent to Lebanon with tragic consequences and the U.S. invaded Grenada where it was criticized for its political and strategic overkill.)

The elements of the Weinberger Doctrine include the following:

1. No overseas commitment of U.S. forces to combat should be made unless a vital interest of the United States or a U.S. ally is threatened.

2. If U.S. forces are committed, there should be total support - that is, sufficient resources and manpower to complete the mission.

3. If committed, U.S. forces must be given clearly defined political and military objectives. The forces must be large enough to be able to achieve these objectives.

4. There must be a continual assessment between the commitment and capability of U.S. forces and the objectives. These must be adjusted if necessary.

5. Before U.S. forces are committed, there must be reasonable assurances that the American people and their elected representatives support such a commitment.

6. Commitment of U.S. forces to combat must be the last resort.
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Boeing takes lead to build space taxi on: September 16, 2014, 03:13:52 AM
This actually sounds rather promising:

Boeing Takes Lead to Build Space Taxi
Aerospace Giant Poised to Beat SpaceX for U.S. Contract to Ferry Astronauts
By Andy Pasztor
Updated Sept. 15, 2014 7:39 p.m. ET

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy working on the International Space Station in May 2013. NASA/Zuma Press

Boeing Co. BA -0.50% appears positioned to beat out two smaller rivals for the bulk of a multibillion-dollar NASA contract to ferry astronauts to and from orbit, according to government and aerospace-industry officials.

An award to Boeing would represent a victory over the newer Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, which had been considered a favorite in many quarters because of its lower costs and nimbler approach. The decision on the development of space taxis will be a milestone for commercial space endeavors, locking in unparalleled authority for contractors to develop and operate vehicles with limited federal oversight. An announcement is expected as early as Tuesday.

Recent signals from the Obama administration, according to the officials, indicate that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's leadership has concluded on a preliminary basis that Boeing's proposed capsule offers the least risky option, as well as the one most likely to be ready to transport U.S. crews to the international space station within three years. The officials cautioned that a last-minute shift by NASA chief Charles Bolden, who must vet the decision, could change the result of the closely watched competition.

But interviews with numerous space experts from industry, government and elsewhere—all of whom have been monitoring developments closely—reveal a growing consensus that Boeing is likely to emerge as the big winner to develop and operate the nation's replacement for the space-shuttle fleet, which was retired in 2011.

If Boeing ends up with the largest share of the commercial-crew program's future dollars, the Chicago company could buttress its position as a leading force in U.S. manned space efforts for generations.  One of the two other bidders—SpaceX or Sierra Nevada Corp.—is expected to obtain a smaller contract as a second source, these experts said. SpaceX is in a very strong position to get the nod, the experts added.

For virtually the first time in its history, NASA is also seeking to reduce risk and keep a lid on prices by maintaining competition involving a major program. The success of NASA's commercial efforts depends on long-term competition, according to James Muncy, an industry consultant and former congressional staffer. "I actually care more about NASA choosing two providers than any specific company I happen to favor."

NASA currently relies on Russian rockets and capsules to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the space station. The price tag has climbed to about $70 million a seat even as U.S. policy makers and lawmakers worry about continued dependence on the Kremlin.

A NASA spokesman declined to comment on the status of the proposals except to say "we anticipate an announcement in September." The agency plans to issue fixed-price contracts extending through 2017 that will include at least one manned demonstration flight linking up with the space station. Some industry officials expect a number of additional fights to be part of this round of awards.

Without commenting on the outcome, a Boeing spokeswoman said the company has demonstrated that "the method and order in which we design and test has been successful." Boeing's team "realizes this is a really tough decision for NASA," she said, and is "waiting patiently to roll full steam ahead" assuming the company wins the contract.

A spokesman for SpaceX also declined comment on its chances. But he said the company "has a track record of 100% primary mission success" on every flight of its Falcon 9 rocket. The company has developed more hardware for manned missions than any rival, the spokesman added.

A spokeswoman for Sierra Nevada, the only company proposing a winged vehicle designed to return to earth by landing on a runway, couldn't be reached for comment.

Southern California-based SpaceX had been widely seen as the leading competitor because of its success in reliably transporting cargo to the orbiting international laboratory. SpaceX's proposed manned system uses many of the same components, and the company and its supporters have long argued that its entrepreneurial style promises lower prices, newer technology and an opportunity to shake up NASA's traditional way of doing business.

But people familiar with the process said Boeing, with its greater experience as a NASA contractor, appears to have become the favorite partly because it has met earlier development goals in the same program on time and on budget. SpaceX didn't fully meet all of the critical design requirements, according to a person familiar with the details.

The dollar value of Boeing's potential contract isn't yet clear, and it depends on how many missions end up being included in the award. NASA currently budgets nearly $700 million annually to support the development of a domestically built alternative to Russian spacecraft, and it could spend billions more over the next decade to pay for ongoing transportation services.

Boeing's role in NASA projects stretches back nearly four decades and includes serving as the prime contractor on the space station. The company also has a primary role developing a deep-space rocket for NASA. "They know the customer and what the customer wants to hear," said a former NASA official keeping tabs on the program.

Many of the agency's engineers and scientists favor Boeing, which intends to use 1990s-vintage Atlas V rockets to blast crews into orbit. Boeing officials have repeatedly said they won't continue to develop the CST-100 manned capsule, which has been in development for three years, without further government support.

By contrast, SpaceX supporters emphasize that in little more than a decade, the closely held company has developed two rockets, three different engines and a capsule designed, from the beginning, with the essential safety features required for manned missions. Founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk and other senior company managers have said they plan to continue development of the Dragon capsule regardless of NASA's decision.

William Gerstenmaier, a 37-year veteran of NASA and the associate administrator in charge of manned exploration programs, is the lead official in the selection process.

As of midday Monday, congressional leaders hadn't been briefed on any impending announcement. Boeing and its backers in Congress have been pushing for a single award, arguing that NASA can't afford to support two contractors.

But Eric Stallmer, incoming president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation trade group, said that having two contractors gives NASA more options and "much greater leverage" to keep the work on track. White House and NASA officials have made the same point in recent years, emphasizing the importance of moving away from a single-source provider of transportation into orbit.

Whatever the outcome, one aspect of Boeing's proposal already has provoked lots of discussion inside NASA, various Pentagon offices and among White House science aides. The Atlas V rocket to be used by Boeing includes a Russian-built engine, and the Obama administration has made it clear it wants to secure a domestic alternative to ensure that NASA and military satellites will continue to have unfettered access to space.

Such broader national security concerns ultimately have to be factored into NASA's decision, according to current and former government officials.
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ready, Fire, Aim! on: September 16, 2014, 03:02:58 AM
Given the fustercluck Baraq has created I surely don't envy him the choices he faces now.   That said, I continue to think the strategy I offered is better than this.


U.S. Efforts to Build Coalition Against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria Are Hampered by Sectarian Divide
Russia Warns Against Strikes on Syria Without Regime's Consent
By Stacy Meichtry, Jay Solomon and Maria Abi-Habib
Updated Sept. 15, 2014 10:19 p.m. ET

A conference to discuss how to combat the Islamic State is under way in Paris. Made up of 26 countries, including the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia, it aims to show a united front on fighting the militant group. WSJ's Mark Kelly reports

U.S. efforts to build a broad coalition to combat Islamic State on Monday ran straight into the sectarian chasm that has divided the Middle East for centuries, with Arab allies disagreeing over whether Iraq's neighbors—particularly Iran and Syria—should have a role in any military campaign.

A group of 26 countries gathering in Paris—including the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia—vowed to back the fight against the Sunni extremist organization "by any means necessary, including appropriate military assistance."

But a day after the U.S. said Arab states were willing to participate in airstrikes, Arab countries attending the Paris meeting gave no sign they were ready to join the military campaign. The U.S. also faced criticism from Russia, Syria's top international ally, which insisted airstrikes on Syria must be coordinated with Damascus and Tehran.

After the international meeting concluded, the U.S. military said Monday night it made its first airstrike in Iraq targeting Islamic militants as part of the expanded mission announced last week. The airstrike hit a single fighting position set up by Islamic State militants that was firing on Iraqi security forces southwest of Baghdad, officials said.

Previously, the military was limited to strikes designed to assist with humanitarian missions, such as driving militants from Sinjar, to defend Iraqi infrastructure, or to protect U.S. personnel and facilities.

The hesitancy of many of the Middle East's major Sunni leaders, including in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, to back military operations is driven, in part, by a belief American airstrikes against the Islamic State will benefit the region's three main Shiite-dominated governments in Iran, Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. and Arab officials involved in the deliberations.

That debate highlighted how the Obama administration's plans to lead the international coalition against Islamic State have plunged it more deeply into a regional feud between Sunni and Shiite states.

Sensitive to Sunni Arab states' concerns, Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials have publicly ruled out in recent days cooperating militarily with Tehran and Damascus in rooting out Islamic State, though Washington acknowledged private discussions have been held with Iran's rulers.  Such a stance raises the possibility that Iran's Islamist rulers and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime could attempt to sabotage U.S. military operations, as they did in Iraq in the years following the George W. Bush administration's overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

In recent days, leaders of Iraqi Shiite militias close to Tehran, including Kata'b Hezbollah and the Mahdi Army, have publicly warned Washington that U.S. soldiers could be targeted if the White House pushes ahead with its military offensive against Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

"If you come back, we will be back too," radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who commands the Mahdi Army, said in a televised statement Monday.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put the Obama administration on the defensive ahead of the talks by publicly claiming his government has rejected numerous overtures from Washington to jointly cooperate against Islamic State.  Iraq's new leaders reprimanded the U.S. and its European and Arab allies for not inviting Iran to attend the Paris conference.

"We had insisted for Iran to be there and we regret their absence," Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said in Paris, adding that Tehran had provided his government with "significant support" in fighting Islamic State.

Mr. Kerry acknowledged private discussions with Iran about Iraq and said the U.S. remained open to future discussions, including next week at the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York.  But the American diplomat ruled out any military cooperation with Iran in Iraq and Syria and intelligence sharing. He also acknowledged that his opposition to Tehran attending the Paris conference was driven, in part, by threats made by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to boycott the meetings if Iranian officials attended.

"We're not coordinating with Iran, but as I said, we're open to have a conversation at some point in time if there's a way to find something constructive," Mr. Kerry said Monday.

The role of the Assad regime in combating Islamic State is also presenting a dilemma for the Obama administration.  U.S. officials have rejected Syrian overtures to coordinate military strikes against Islamic State.  But Mr. Assad's allies, particularly Russia, warned on Monday that excluding the Syrian government risks fueling more conflict in the region.

"One cannot but feel concerned by publicly stated intentions to attack the [Islamic State] positions in Syria's territory without interaction with the Syrian government," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Paris. "Syria, as well as Iran, are our natural allies in the fight."

Mr. Kerry, as in the case with Iran, offered somewhat contradictory statements on the U.S. positions toward Syria. He ruled out cooperation, but also said the U.S. would "communicate' with Mr. Assad's government to avoid any potential clashes with Syrian forces as the campaign against Islamic State gathered momentum.

"There are all kinds of ways of communicating to avoid mistakes or disasters," Mr. Kerry said.

Administration officials said at a briefing in Washington later Monday that American forces would respond if Mr. Assad used antiaircraft weapons against U.S. planes.

Current and former U.S. officials and Arab diplomats worry the buildup of the military campaign against Islamic State risks mirroring Washington's interactions with Tehran and Damascus in the months both before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  At the time, the Bush administration held extensive talks with Iranian officials to discuss the creation of a stable Iraq in the wake of Hussein's fall. U.S. officials also discussed Iraq with Mr. Assad's government, particularly concerning the flow of foreign fighters.

As the U.S. occupation of Iraq dragged on, however, Iran and Syria actively worked to undermine the U.S.'s goals of creating a stable and democratic government in Iraq, according to current and former U.S. officials. Iran and Syria have denied supporting extremist groups in Iraq.

U.S. officials said so far, Iran's government hasn't attempted to interrupt American military operations against the militants.  One U.S. official said intelligence showed that the commander of the Revolutionary Guard's overseas operations, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, has explicitly ordered Iraqi Shiite militias not to target American personnel, arguing the weakening of Sunni militant groups was in Tehran's interest.

Still, U.S. officials have voiced concerns that Iran could change its stance if they view American military operations in Iraq and Syria as posing a threat to Iran's core objectives and the rule of Mr. Assad.  Mr. Khamenei on Monday indicated that this could eventually be the case.

"I said we will not accompany America in this matter because they have got dirty intentions and hands," Iran's most powerful figure said in a televised address. "They see pretexts to interfere in Iraq and Syria, just as they did in Pakistan, where [the U.S.] can commit any crime it wants."

At Monday's session, key U.S. allies, particularly those in the Middle East, gave no sign they were ready to commit to a military campaign in Iraq or Syria.

Even the U.K., one of Washington's most reliable allies, is hesitant. U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said his country would play a "leading role" in the fight against Islamic state but conceded: "We haven't made a decision yet about how we will best contribute to the coalition."

French President François Hollande, who hosted Monday's conference, said Syria's "democratic" rebel forces "must be supported by all means."

So far, France has answered Washington's call for military intervention. The French began to mobilize their Air Force on Monday, deploying reconnaissance jets over Iraq, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

"Get ready to intervene," Mr. Le Drian told French forces gathered at the Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates.

—Carol E. Lee and Julian E. Barnes contributed to this article.
38  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 9/21/2014 Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack on: September 16, 2014, 02:33:55 AM
You have email Dog Vinsent.
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH admits "assault weapon" term is a myth! on: September 15, 2014, 07:48:57 PM
40  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The New DBMA Association! on: September 15, 2014, 05:52:37 PM
Greetings DBMAA Members:

Two new clips are now available in the DBMAA Members Area.

Trauma Care - M.A.R.C.H.

-Massive Bleeders
- Airway
- Respirations
- Circulation
- Hypos

Today's clips focus on Massive Bleeders and Airway. These are in lecture format. We have a lot more material queue'd up for you that is practical trauma care training. Stay Tuned!

I will share a sample clip from this course this week. We have a huge library of material we are working on for our members. This association is a huge value. We are running a special discount until September 30, 2014.

Webmaster Bob

PS: To join, please visit:

================================================== ============================

Woof All:

As those of you who have been around a while know, "Die Less Often" (tm) is our system for the interface of gun, knife, and empty hand.

Part of being prepared for the world of DLO includes having proper Trauma Care training, but frankly most of us have little to no clue when it comes to this.

The DBMA Training Camp from the summer of 2013 had Special Forces 18 Delta (combat medic) and advanced firearms instructor Frankie McRae as guest instructor.

A man with literally hundreds of firefights under his belt, he speaks from rare experience about trauma care in the field and from rare experience in training people with no-medical background whatsover in in skills with which they might save their own life or the life of a buddy all the while in an intense adrenal state. Our Army folks will recognize this as "Triple C" --- with some adaptations for civilians.

Each month there will be additional footage of his instruction until the material is done.

Then we will go on to his combat gun fighting indoors training, including him teaching , , , ahem , , , my "Crafty Dog" shooting stance-- which I am deeply honored to say he has taken and now teaches as part of his own curriculum.

The larger point I am making here is that the DBMA Ass'n experience will have fresh material such as this every month.

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: September 15, 2014, 05:12:22 PM
I saw about this-- let's stay on it!
42  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 9/21/2014 Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack on: September 15, 2014, 05:10:30 PM
Woof All:

Due to a run of unfortunate circumstances, neither of our usual EMTs will be able to make it to the Gathering and at the moment we find ourselves in need of promptly recruiting someone.

Please email me at at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,
Crafty Dog

PS:  For some reason I cannot access FB.  Would someone please paste the above on DBMA FB?  Thank you very much.
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Grannis responds on: September 15, 2014, 12:46:13 PM
Scott saw my previous post and brings this post of his to our attention:
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS goes after Breitbart on: September 15, 2014, 11:47:58 AM
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dems show allegiance to Mexico during parade on: September 15, 2014, 11:41:22 AM


Also see this:

Keeping Immigration Political

Another summer is over, and another Barack Obama pledge is broken. Remember when he vowed to address immigration reform by summer's end? Instead, the president announced last week that he will defer his action on deferred action for illegal immigrants until after the November election, hoping to stave off election losses for Democrat senators in difficult re-election fights. Since public perception on the issue is shifting in favor of the GOP, those desperate to hold the Senate prevailed on Obama to wait.

Of course, by playing to one side of the political arena, Obama has to soothe the bruised egos on the other side, the ones who believed he would follow through on their dream of allowing millions of undocumented Democrat voters across the border. So last week, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was dispatched to a meeting of members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to listen to their complaints and try and convince them whatever is up Obama's sleeve will be worth the wait, saying the president would “go as far as he could under existing law."

But at least one member was unconvinced. “I don’t want to go down this path come November and then for some other reason find that the immigrant community and the Latino community get thrown in the heap again,” grumbled Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).

Signs abound that Obama is already placating the pro-amnesty side, though. For example, deportations continue to decline in part because the overwhelmed system cannot keep up with the demand of illegal immigrants for non-existent “permisos.” Out of an estimated 59,000 in the latest wave of border-crashers, just 319 have been returned to Central America, according to the Associated Press. There's no question word of this lax enforcement has spread to those countries.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department recently warned Yuma County, Arizona -- which has had a successful “get-tough” policy on illegals called Operation Streamline -- that it would no longer prosecute first-time border crossers. (Interestingly enough, Rep. Grijalva represents a portion of Yuma County, which is in the southwest corner of the state.) These actions further cement the pro-amnesty reputation Obama has earned thanks to his lack of action on securing the border.

Over the last half-century, multiple bipartisan attempts have been made to address the immigration issue, with the most radical being the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which eliminated quotas by nation in favor of the current family-based approach, and the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986 that granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants who could prove they had been here and otherwise law-abiding since 1982. Those changes led to the current situation.

Earlier this summer, immigration looked like the biggest issue for November, but ISIL's entry into the Long War, Russian aggression and a stagnant economy also will have an impact.

Yet as we look forward to 2016, pushing back any executive action on amnesty beyond this year's midterms will obviously affect the presidential race, and a number of Democrats may be seeing this political football as one worth keeping around. It's another example of how our government works: Solving problems only means your reason for existence disappears, so the best course of action is to perpetuate your justification.
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Iran prepares for leadership transition on: September 15, 2014, 11:37:10 AM

Iran Prepares for a Leadership Transition
September 15, 2014 | 0436 Print Text Size

Though Iran has been broadcasting pictures and videos of top state officials and noted foreign dignitaries visiting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the hospital, the health of the man who has held the most powerful post in the Islamic Republic remains unclear. The unusual public relations management of what has been described as a prostrate surgery suggests Tehran may be preparing the nation and the world for a transition to a third supreme leader. Iranian efforts to project an atmosphere of normalcy conceal concerns among players in the Iranian political system that a power vacuum will emerge just as the Islamic republic has reached a geopolitical crossroads.


Any transition comes at the most crucial time in the 35-year history of the Islamic Republic due to unprecedented domestic political shifts underway and, more importantly, due to international events.

Pragmatic conservative President Hassan Rouhani's election in June 2013 elections led to a social, political and economic reform program facing considerable resistance from within the hard-right factions within the clerical and security establishments. The biggest issue between the presidential camp and its opponents is the ongoing process of negotiations with the United States over the Iranian nuclear program.

Nuclear Talks and Syria

After an unprecedented breakthrough in November 2013 that saw an interim agreement, the negotiation process has hit a major snag, with a final agreement not reached by a July 20, 2014, deadline, though the deadline for negotiations was extended to Nov. 24, 2014. Some form of partial agreement had been expected, with talks kicking into high gear ahead of the opening session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on Sept. 18.

A mood of pessimism in Tehran has since been reported, however, with senior Foreign Ministry officials prepping the media for the eventuality that the talks might fail. The risk of failure comes from the fact that Rouhani can only go so far in accepting caps on Iran's ability to pursue a civilian nuclear program before his hawkish opponents will gain the upper hand in Iran's domestic political struggle. Stratfor sources say Rouhani did not want to attend this year's General Assembly, but Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif reportedly convinced the president that his visit might help the negotiating process.

As if the negotiation itself was not enough of a problem for Rouhani, the U.S. move to support rebel forces in Syria that would fight both the Islamic State and Iran's ally, the Assad regime, is a major problem for Tehran. U.S. and Iranian interests overlapped with regard to the IS threat in Iraq. But in Syria, the United States must rely on anti-Iranian actors to fight IS and the Obama administration seeks to topple the Assad regime. Accordingly, less than a year after the two sides embarked upon a rapprochement, tensions seem to be returning.

A New Supreme Leader

On top of this stressor, uncertainties surrounding Khamenei's health have shifted Iran's priorities to the search for a new supreme leader. The unusual manner in which Tehran continues to telegraph Khamenei's hospitalization to show that all is well -- while at the same time psychologically preparing the country and the outside world for the inevitable change -- coupled with the (albeit unverified) 2010 release by WikiLeaks of a U.S. diplomatic cable reporting that the supreme leader was suffering from terminal cancer suggests the political establishment in Tehran is preparing for a succession. Khamenei himself would want to prepare a succession before he can no longer carry out his official responsibilities.

Before Khamenei was elected supreme leader in 1989, the idea of a collective clerical body was in vogue among many clerics. The country's second-most influential cleric, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, on several occasions has proposed a "jurisprudential council" consisting of several top clerics as an alternative to the supreme leader's post. His proposal has not gained much traction, but with succession imminent, it might seem more attractive as a compromise should the competing factions prove unable to reach a consensus.

Constitutionally, an interim leadership council takes over should the incumbent supreme leader no longer be able to carry out his duties until the Assembly of Experts elects a successor. Considering the factionalized nature of the Iranian political elite, it is only normal to assume that the process to replace Khamenei will be marred by a major struggle between the various camps that make up the conservative establishment. After all, this is an extremely rare opportunity for those seeking change and for those seeking continuity to shape the future of the republic.

For the hardliners, already deeply unnerved by what they see as an extremely troubling moderate path adopted by Rouhani, it is imperative that the next supreme leader not be sympathetic to the president. From their point of view, Khamenei has given the government far too much leeway. For his part, Rouhani knows that if his opponents get their way in the transition, his troubles promoting his domestic and foreign policy agenda could increase exponentially.

Possible Successors

The country's elite ideological military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, will no doubt play a key role in who gets to be supreme leader. Likewise, the religious establishment in Qom will definitely have a say in the matter. The revolutionary-era clerics who have long dominated the political establishment are a dying breed, and the Assembly of Experts would not want to appoint someone of advanced age, since this would quickly lead to another succession.

Stratfor has learned that potential replacements for Khamenei include former judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, a cleric close to Khamenei and known for his relative moderate stances. They also include Hassan Khomeini, the oldest grandson of the founder of the republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He is close to the president's pragmatic conservative camp and the reformists, but pedigree may not compensate for his relatively left-wing leanings and his relatively young age of 42. Finally, they include current judiciary chief Mohammed-Sadegh Larijani, the younger brother of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani who some believe is the preferred candidate of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The key problem that has surrounded the post of the supreme leader since the death of the founder of the republic is the very small pool of potential candidates to choose a replacement from: Most clerics either lack political skills, while those that do have political savvy lack requisite religious credentials. Khamenei was a lesser cleric to the status of ayatollah shortly before assuming the role of supreme leader, though he has demonstrated great political acumen since then. Khomeini was unique in that he had solid credentials as a noted religious scholar, but also had solid political credentials given his longtime leadership of the movement that culminated in the overthrow of shah in 1979. Since Khomeini fell out with his designated successor, Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, in 1987, no one has had both qualities. Whoever takes over from Khamenei will be no exception to this, even though he will need to be able to manage factional rivalries at one of the most critical junctures in the evolution of the Islamic Republic.

Read more: Iran Prepares for a Leadership Transition | Stratfor
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47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: September 15, 2014, 11:33:08 AM

The Rectification of the Names!

As the guy with the shovel despairingly said from the bottom of a deep pit in the woods, "How did I get started on this?"

Oh right. I meant to say earlier, I am crawling like Andy Dufresne on his exodus from Shawshank toward an idea for a new book. It's just an idea. As Marcus Aurelius (the Richard Harris version) might say, it's a dream. I can only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it might vanish.

In the course of my developing this whisper-of-an-idea for a book, my AEI colleague Michael Auslin pointed me to a Confucian concept called "the rectification of names." Maybe you know all about it because you're a smarty-pants Confucian scholar, which would be an interesting twist on who I imagine you, my "Dear Reader," to be. But it was new to me and it's really an exciting idea because it connects a lot of different exciting ideas into a potentially fully functional Death Star, I mean book, idea.

Anyway, the gist is that society goes ass-over-teakettle (to borrow a phrase from the academic literature) when names no longer describe the things they are assigned to.

Take it away Confucius:

"A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."

Now, I'm just starting my reading on all of this and, so far, I don't much care for the way the concept was used to justify castes and classes in feudal China or any of that jazz. And, yes, I am aware that a similar concern was in fact a central point of my last book (Now out in paperback, noodle-salad-eaters). It's central to Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" — never mind to 1984 — and Ludwig Wittgenstein had much to say on the subject as well. And anyone who ate funny brownies in college has grooved on the relationship between words and reality (and the puzzle of the Skipper & Gilligan's limited wardrobe).

But I very much like the idea that societies get themselves into trouble when language becomes a tool not for describing reality but concealing it.

This is one of the many reasons I loathe the self-described pragmatists who insist they want to solve problems by getting "beyond labels." You cannot solve problems if you cannot describe the problem — and the solution — accurately. Try fixing a flat tire with a wet hamster. Now, call the hamster a "tire iron." Has it gotten any easier? Shakespeare tells us that a rose by another name will smell just as sweet, but if you can't tell sh*t from shinola, your shoes are going to smell awful.

When Facts Are Treason

The disconnect between names and the named becomes most pronounced in totalitarian societies where words become weapons of the State. When language ceases to be a tool for labeling reality and higher truths and becomes one for upholding the agenda of a regime, the society rots and invites revolt. Try as they might, tyrants rarely have much success at persuading miserable people they are happy or hungry people they are full. As a result, regimes feel required to tighten their grip on society even more. Use of the wrong word — or the right word the wrong way — becomes ever more damning evidence of disloyalty or treason. And you know what? The tyrants are right: It is disloyalty and treason to an evil regime to accurately tell the truth.

I think there's something very profound about the Chinese idea that revolutions are primarily an effort to bring about the rectification of names; that the demand for justice is first and foremost a demand that words and reality come back into alignment. Nothing is more infuriating than to be told not to believe your lying eyes — or your empty stomach. Take a moment to ponder various revolutions around the globe over history and ask yourself if there isn't something to that.

One last point before I fulfill my obligation to put some news-related content in this "news"letter: Free societies are not immune to this problem, it's just that we have better antibodies. We have more opportunities and mechanisms to get words and things lined up properly. In a society where children won't be beaten or executed for pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, the nakedness of the emperor will be a much more frequent topic of conversation.

But that just means it takes longer — and more work — for names to get messed up. Who can dispute that political correctness is, to a large extent, an organized effort to keep truth from being applied to the problems of reality? Who can deny that our politics is shot through with words that don't line up properly with what they are supposed to describe?

They're Not Islamic, They're Not Even I-Curious

For instance, my column today is on the president's contention that the Islamic State is not Islamic. The assertion fits perfectly with the extended philosophical throat-clearing you just waded through. I mean talk about letting names and things wander off from each other!

Imagine, just for the sake of argument that, say, the State Department's Jen Psaki sat down to interview an Islamic State fighter over coffee.

Psaki: "Hi. What's your name?"

Mohammad: "Mohammed."

Psaki: "Were you named after your father?"

Mohammed: "No. I am named after the One True Prophet Mohammed."

Psaki: "Interesting. So what's the name of your organization?"

Mohammed: "The Islamic State."

Psaki: "Oh, that's exotic. What does that do?"

Mohammed: "We have sworn to Allah that we will bring about a global caliphate as he commands us through Mohammed and the Koran. Inshallah, we will kill the pagans, Jews, and infidels and convert the Christians to the one true faith.

Psaki: "Oh my, that sounds like quite a project. So, let me ask you, what religion should I put down here, Mohammed."

Mohammed: "I am Muslim. I will give my life for Islam. It's right there in the name: Islamic State."

Psaki: "Well, I can see that this will just remain one of those mysteries. I'll just put down agnostic."

Large-Scale Counterterrorism Operations Are Hell

Sadly, only after I wrote my column did I learn that not only does the administration insist that the Islamic State isn't even a smidgen Islamic — as the president might say — but we aren't at war with it either. "If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with [the Islamic State], they can do so, but the fact is that it's a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts," Secretary of State John Kerry explained yesterday.

"We're engaged in a major counterterrorism operation," he told CBS, "and it's going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity."

Okay, wait a second. I can understand — no matter how ridiculous I think the claim may be — the argument that we are not at war with the Islamic State. I can certainly understand the argument — again, even though I reject it — that we don't want to pay the terrorist group the "compliment" of saying we're at war with it.

But hold the phone. John Kerry is saying that "war" is the wrong analogy? Really? It is okay to analogize the fights against poverty, cancer, climate change etc., to war, but we can't analogize sustained bombing campaigns with coordinated ground offensives to it? Oh my stars and garters.  It's like the effort to get rid of the Islamic State is the Moral Equivalent of Pension Reform.

It gets worse. Olivier Knox of Yahoo News asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest, "What does victory [in the fight against the Islamic State] look like here?"
Earnest earnestly replied, "I didn't bring my Webster's dictionary with me up here." Meanwhile, the disconnect between names and things has gotten to the point where a senior administration official thinks Saudi Arabia is "galvanized" against the Islamic State because it has an "extensive border with Syria." Except for the fact that it doesn't, this is a very powerful point. So much for Mark Twain's observation that "God created war so that Americans would learn geography."

Of course, the administration is simply following the president's lead. Given how rabid Kerry, Hagel, and others were just a few weeks ago, it's pretty obvious that Obama has told his team "opstay ayingsay arway." In his heart the president just doesn't like words like "war" or "win." That's why he "ended" the Iraq War. That's why when asked to explain what "destroy" means he said it meant to reduce to a manageable problem. That's why the administration keeps talking about mitigation. That's why they long ago replaced the "War on Terror" with "overseas contingency operations" and rogue states with "states of concern." Hey, maybe we should just start calling it "the Islamic State of Concern"?

This of course reminds me of Winston Churchill's famous line, "We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall mitigate on the beaches, we shall degrade them on the landing grounds, we shall reduce them to manageable problems in the fields and in the streets. . ."

Really, anyone can play. Release the dogs of overseas contingency operations! Haven't you read Sun Tzu's "The Art of Mitigation"?

Look, as I suggest in my column, there's room in a war for bending the truth if it helps win the war. The problem here is that when you're bending the truth that you're even at war, what truths are worth telling? As I wrote last week , I still think Obama's greatest concern isn't how to conquer — or even "manage" — the Islamic State or terrorism in general but how to find the right words that will rescue him from political hassles, responsibility, and blame. Rather than say he misjudged the Islamic State, he told Chuck Todd he never even called them the "Jayvee" team, which was a lie.

If Obama's theory of the world is right, this may all work out for him. If jihadism is a minor nuisance that we can manage without much distraction or effort, then his word games might even make sense. But if we are really facing a more substantial and long-term threat, then his word games are not just stupid, they are dangerous because they put further distance between names and reality, between problems and solutions.

I am not a fan of the philosopher Carl Schmitt, but I always liked his line, "Tell me who your enemy is, and I will tell you who you are." I don't think it captures anything like the whole truth, but it does capture an important truth: To stand for something requires standing against something. If you stand for democracy, you must stand against tyranny. If you stand for truth, you must stand against lies. It is a tactical and strategic question whether we need to go to literal war against the Islamic State. But if we are not figuratively or spiritually at war with what the Islamic State stands for, then, my God, what do we stand for?
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Confucius on: September 15, 2014, 11:25:04 AM


A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How to disappear records of $800 BILLION in spending! on: September 15, 2014, 11:19:30 AM

Among his first acts as president in 2009, Barack Obama pushed the so-called "stimulus" -- $800 billion in new spending to reinvigorate the economy after the recession. Predictably, it failed to do what he promised. But it did set a new, higher baseline for federal spending and jack up the federal debt. In selling his snake oil, Obama promised "unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my administration accountable," including, a website meant for tracking spending. Now, however, The Washington Post reports, "y the end of the month, the ability to see which entities received contracts and grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going to vanish from, officials say, making it impossible to track where the more than $800 billion ended up." That's because the government "is not renewing its license with Dun & Bradstreet, a major U.S. financial firm that assigns an identification number to all entities doing business with the federal government. When the license expires at the end of this month, those identification numbers -- and other associated data -- will no longer be available to the government. No numbers, no way to track the money." It's just the price of Hope 'n' Change™. 

see more at
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington to PAtrick Henry 1795 on: September 15, 2014, 11:16:43 AM
"I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home." --George Washington, letter to Patrick Henry, 1795
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