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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: October 01, 2014, 09:08:15 PM
That it can be, and is, often used disingenuously does not mean that it is without merit.  Wisely selected immigrants can bring much benefit to America.
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Free People, Free Markets on: October 01, 2014, 04:38:24 PM


Free People, Free Markets
The lessons from 125 years show how to revive American prosperity.
Updated July 7, 2014 9:32 p.m. ET

Surveying a century and a quarter of journalism is a bracing exercise—at intervals depressing and inspiring. Depressing because bad ideas never die. But inspiring because a free society can rescue itself from periods of decline and despond not unlike the current moment. This is one lesson of 125 years of Journal editorials that promote free people and free markets.

It won't surprise our long-time readers that the debates over principle have changed little over the decades even as events have. We opposed high tariffs when they were the patent medicine of the Republican Party in the 1920s as much as when they are now the resort of labor Democrats. We endorsed cuts in marginal tax rates when Andrew Mellon and Calvin Coolidge proposed them in the 1920s, when Walter Heller and JFK did the same in the 1960s, and when Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan did it again in the 1980s. Each tax cut was followed by renewed growth.
Related Video

A look back at the role of Opinion over the past 125 years and the lasting effects the editorials have had on The Wall Street Journal and the world.

There have been mistakes along the way, notably the endorsement of Hoover, whose austerity program turned recession into Depression. We would also not repeat the too-easy counsel of retreat from Vietnam we offered in 1968. The lesson we draw from that conflict and those in Iraq and Afghanistan is not to start wars you don't intend to fight vigorously enough to win.

Another lesson is how the political pendulum swings between freedom and equality, those competing poles of Western political thought. These columns emphasize liberty, but on occasion those who prize equality can provide a necessary corrective. The best example is the civil-rights movement, which used federal power to break the government-enforced tyranny of Jim Crow.

Yet those who promote freedom typically do better by equality than the progressives who elevate equality do by freedom. The progressive project invariably descends into subsidy and mandate to coerce men and women who resist the commands of those in power. See ObamaCare.
***

And what of the current moment? Seen through 125 years of setbacks but generally forward progress, it looks all too familiar. The bubble and bust of the last decade gave progressives a renewed chance to govern, this time with a rare supermajority. President Obama and Nancy Pelosi turned to the old nostrums that government spending can conjure growth, that regulation can productively steer investment, and that equality should be the main goal of economic policy.

The results have been predictable: An historically slow recovery now going on five years, declines in real household income except for the rich, the slowest pace of startups in decades, and a barnacled leviathan state that botches a website in the era of Amazon and lies about its waiting lists for veterans.

Perhaps worst of all has been the impact of these failures on American comity and confidence. Gridlock is built into the American Constitution, but the current rancor and paralysis reflect a deeper anxiety about U.S. governance. The public has begun to believe that the country's best days are past and the future belongs to others—perhaps China.

This pessimism contributes to a zero-sum politics that on the right becomes a hostility to immigrants, and on the left a disparaging of the successful. Both impulses lead to policies—income redistribution, rejection of human talent—that compound economic decline. And decline in turn leads to an inward-looking mood that pretends that if America ignores the world's disorders they will somehow leave America alone.

One particular challenge today that wasn't evident a half century ago is the entitlement burden—fiscal in its demand for ever-higher taxes, but also psychological in sapping the incentive to work and succeed. The Reagan restoration saved us from Europe's welfare fate for a time but Mr. Obama's progressive reversal has revived the danger of an entitlement state that is too big to afford but also too big to reform.

Yet for all our current ill temper, the lesson of 125 years is that the national direction can turn, and quickly. Experts said the aftermath of World Wars I and II would be depression, but government shrank and America boomed. In the 1970s the successive failures of Vietnam, Watergate, the energy crisis and inflation led many American elites to wonder if democracy was capable of defeating Communism. A decade later, amid the Reagan boom that added a Germany to U.S. GDP, those anxieties had washed away and the Soviet empire had disintegrated.

The answer to our current slow growth and self-doubt isn't a set of magical "new ideas" or some unknown orator from the provinces. The answer is to rediscover the eternal truths that have helped America escape malaise and turmoil in the past.

These lessons include that markets—the mind of free millions—allocate scarce resources more efficiently and fairly than do committees in Congress; that the collusion of government with either big business or big labor stifles competition and leads to political cynicism; that government will be respected more when it does a few things well rather than too many poorly; and that innovation and human progress spring not from bureaucratic elites but from the genius of individuals.

Above all, the lesson of 125 years is that whatever our periodic blunders Americans have always used the blessings of liberty to restore prosperity and national confidence. A free people have their fate in their own hands.
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prediction: This will irk our Pat on: October 01, 2014, 04:36:15 PM
http://www.ftportfolios.com/blogs/EconBlog/2014/9/30/is-housing-healthier-than-it-appears--are-mortgage-lenders-loosening-up
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fresh Footage on: October 01, 2014, 03:43:00 PM


http://dcgazette.com/watch-new-clear-video-found-of-9-11-attack/
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 12 Tribes on: October 01, 2014, 11:19:14 AM
Masked Arab youth threw stones and fired fireworks at a complex housing a preschool Tuesday afternoon in the Mount of Olives neighborhood in a continuation of increasing incidents of violence in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem in particular. In a video filmed by a nearby civilian, the group of arabs can be seen throwing a continued volley of rocks at a playground, causing the children to hide in a protected structure until police arrived on the scene. Batyah Harush, a caretaker at the preschool, said, "We were in the yard and suddenly 10 masked men arrived in the area and starting throwing rocks and firing fireworks in the direction of our yard. The noise really frightened the children and they saw the masked men and panicked. So we went into a shelter and I immediately called the police."

Watch Here

The youth fled upon the arrival of the police. According to residents of the area, the last two months have been saturated by violence and other dangerous activity from the young Arab men who have thrown rocks, fired fireworks, and hurled Molotov Cocktails at Israeli vehicles and security forces. However, the incident at the Mount of Olives was not the only one of its kind Tuesday. In another Jerusalem neighborhood, Armon HaNatziv, an 18-year-old arab threw a rock at a residence. A glass pane was shattered in the attack. Police forces arrested the suspect.
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AG Holder's cranial rectal interface viz profiling on: October 01, 2014, 11:08:27 AM


http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/09/30/To-Better-Protect-Muslims-AG-Holder-Set-To-Ban-Religious-Profiling
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 60 Minutes Report on: October 01, 2014, 10:31:52 AM
Is this new or is it the one for which CBS apologized last year?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFFleTc_fKo

8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Wildlife numbers drop by half since 1970 on: October 01, 2014, 07:58:54 AM
I have a notion that one of the messages of Genesis is that we have been handed a Garden of Eden, and that our challenge is to prevent, and reverse, its destruction by our "Knowledge".  Looks like we a losing, badly.  cry cry cry

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

Wildlife Numbers Drop by Half Since 1970, Report Says
Analysis by WWF and Others Was Based on Thousands of Species in Rivers, on Land and at Sea
By Gautam Naik
Updated Sept. 30, 2014 2:21 p.m. ET

A new, comprehensive study of the world's wildlife population has drastically reduced its 2012 estimate. Why? WSJ's Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

Earth lost half its wildlife in the past four decades, according to the most comprehensive study of animal populations to date, a far larger decline than previously reported.

The new study was conducted by scientists at the wildlife group WWF, the Zoological Society of London and other organizations. Based on an analysis of thousands of vertebrate species, it concludes that overall animal populations fell 52% between 1970 and 2010.

The decline was seen everywhere—in rivers, on land and in the seas—and is mainly the result of increased habitat destruction, commercial fishing and hunting, the report said. Climate change also is believed to be a factor, though its consequences are harder to measure.

The previous WWF report analyzing animal populations, published in 2012, suggested a decline of 28% over a similar period. The latest report uses 15% more data than the previous one, is more representative of tropical species and applies an improved methodology.

"We were surprised by the extent of the decline. It means we are not effectively reducing biodiversity loss," said Robin Freeman, a researcher at the Zoological Society of London, which compiled the population database on which the study was based.

The fastest declines were seen in rivers and other freshwaters systems, where populations fell 76% since 1970. By comparison, terrestrial and marine populations each fell 39%. While biodiversity continues to decline in both temperate and tropical parts of the world, the downward trend is greater in the tropics.

The most dramatic decline was in Latin America, where overall populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish fell 83%. Asia-Pacific wasn't far behind.

The findings are calculated using the WWF's Living Planet Index, a measure of biodiversity based on trends in 10,000 populations of about 3,000 animal species.

The WWF has been compiling its index since 1998. It tracks animal populations just as a stock-market index tracks the value of a group of stocks. In some cases—such as the tiger population—it is possible to get a fairly accurate fix on animal numbers. For other species, such as birds, the scientists rely on proxies, such as the number of nests or breeding pairs.

A pink river dolphin, also called an Amazon river dolphin, in Brazil. Barcroft Media/Getty Images

The approach has limitations. For example, an analysis of 3,000 species may provide only a rough approximation of population levels for the thousands of species that inhabit Earth and weren't included in the number crunching. "It leaves room for improvement," said Dr. Freeman, adding that the index would include more species in the future to increase its power.

Another pitfall is bias. Researchers may have included more data from declining species simply because the figures are easier to obtain. That problem may have been averted in this study. Of the 3,000 species included, several had stable populations. Of the remainder, half showed declines and half showed increases—but the declines were vastly greater than the increases.

The WWF report also tries to measure the state of humanity's ability to live in a sustainable way. With the planet's population expected to swell by 2.4 billion people by 2050, the challenge of providing enough food, water and energy will be difficult.

The report calculates a global "ecological footprint," which measures the area required to supply the ecological goods and services humans use. It concludes that humanity currently needs the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Earths to supply these goods and services each year.

An elephant in the Central African Republic Getty Images

"This 'overshoot' is possible because—for now—we can cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than the oceans can replenish, or emit more carbon into the atmosphere than the forests and oceans can absorb," the report said. Since the 1990s, humans have reached that overshoot by the ninth month of each year, it adds.

"It's a very loud wake-up call," said Carter Roberts, chief executive officer of WWF U.S., in an interview. "As we lose natural capital, people lose the ability to feed themselves and to provide for their families—it increases instability exponentially. When that happens, it ceases to be a local problem and becomes a global one."
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison against central planning 1789 on: September 30, 2014, 12:10:50 PM
"f industry and labour are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out." --James Madison, speech to Congress, 1789
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Declining health insurance costs? on: September 30, 2014, 12:00:34 PM
http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-to-game-obamacare-1412032995
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CBS: Use Disposable Identities to defend privacy on: September 30, 2014, 11:09:37 AM
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-defend-your-privacy-online/
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Solar energy takes a step forward on: September 30, 2014, 10:53:00 AM


http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20140506-25618.html
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Replace Clapper with Gen. Flynn on: September 30, 2014, 10:32:57 AM
Obama on Faulty Intelligence
The President blames the spooks for his own policy failure on ISIS.


President Obama rode to the White House in part by assailing George W. Bush for believing faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. So there is no small irony in his claim now that America's spooks missed the rise of the Islamic State. The difference is that U.S. intelligence did warn about the threat from ISIS. Mr. Obama chose not to listen.

Asked on CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday if ISIS's march into Iraq was a "complete surprise," Mr. Obama replied, "Well I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."

Mr. Clapper is the presidential appointee who coordinates U.S. intelligence messaging. Perhaps he does think his agencies misjudged ISIS. But we doubt he missed the Feb. 11, 2014 Senate testimony of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the time:

"Al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (IS1L): AQI/ISIL probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group's ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria."
Opinion Journal Video
Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on President Obama's "60 Minutes" interview with journalist Steve Kroft. Photo credit: Associated Press.

That was five months before the fall of Mosul and a couple of months after Mr. Obama had compared ISIS and various al Qaeda offshoots to the junior varsity.

If Mr. Obama didn't want to believe DIA, he could always have bought this newspaper. On Jan. 6 this year we wrote that "Syria's contagion is also spilling into Iraq with the revival of al Qaeda in neighboring Anbar province. . . . Much of eastern Syria is now controlled by the al-Nusrah front or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and they move with ease back and forth into Iraq. Men flying the flag of al Qaeda took over large parts of Ramadi and Fallujah last week, ousting the Iraq army."

This required no great prescience or deep sourcing. It was apparent to anyone paying attention to Middle Eastern events, or at least to anyone who was open to hearing news that conflicted with Mr. Obama's mantra that "the tide of war is receding" and that al Qaeda had been defeated.

The failure to confront ISIS sooner wasn't an intelligence failure. It was a failure by policy makers to act on events that were becoming so obvious that the Iraqis were asking for American help for months before Mosul fell. Mr. Obama declined to offer more than token assistance.

But if Mr. Obama truly believes this was an intelligence failure, we have a suggestion. Fire Mr. Clapper as director of national intelligence and replace him with Lt. Gen. Flynn, who retired from DIA earlier this year. The President clearly needs an intel chief who will tell him more than what he wants to hear.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Obama-Military Divide on: September 30, 2014, 10:27:42 AM
The Obama-Military Divide
What should senior officers do if experience tells them that the president's plan to defeat ISIS is unworkable without U.S. combat troops?
By
Seth Cropsey
Sept. 29, 2014

In President Obama's "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday, he reiterated his vow not to involve U.S. combat troops in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. He would avoid "the mistake of simply sending U.S. troops back" into Iraq, Mr. Obama said, noting that "there's a difference between them advising and assisting Iraqis who are fighting versus a situation in which we got our Marines and our soldiers out there taking shots and shooting back."

Yet many Americans are skeptical, judging by the new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll showing that 72% of registered voters believe that U.S. troops will eventually be deployed. Perhaps Americans have been listening to some of the president's senior military advisers and several retired senior officers and have decided that their expert opinions sound more realistic.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 16 that if necessary he would recommend that the president order U.S. military advisers to "accompany Iraq troops on attacks" against Islamic State, also known as ISIS. A day later Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said that "you've got to have ground forces that are capable of going in and rooting [ISIS] out." Gen. Odierno did not specify that the ground forces needed to be American, but he said an air campaign alone cannot defeat the jihadists occupying large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Retired senior officers speak with greater candor. James Mattis, the retired Marine general and former commander of the U.S. Central Command, told the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 18 that it would be a mistake to rule out U.S. ground forces against ISIS. A couple of days earlier, retired Army Gen. Dan McNeill, who commanded coalition forces in Afghanistan, said in a TV interview that ground troops will be needed to defeat ISIS. If the jihadists' threat "is as serious as some people say," the general asked, "then why aren't we applying all elements of American power to it?"
ENLARGE
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Then there is Gen. Lloyd Austin, who leads Central Command and is thus the senior commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East. Gen. Dempsey told Congress in his Sept. 16 testimony that Gen. Austin recommended committing U.S. special-operations forces to the fight against ISIS. Special-operations forces could reconnoiter and identify targets, assist aircraft that deliver ordnance on targets, kill enemy commanders and, most important, by their very presence stiffen the spine of coalition partners who might agree to send ground forces. President Obama rejected this recommendation.

It is clear that these active and retired senior officers are as doubtful about the U.S.'s ability to achieve its war aims from the air as they are convinced that ground forces—and if necessary, U.S. ground forces—will be needed either to spearhead or assume major responsibility for defeating ISIS.

The political landscape is cleared for a contest between the president's pledge not to use combat troops and the military's professional opinion that defeating the enemy requires the use of well-trained and -equipped and disciplined forces on the ground. The president will win. According to the Constitution he should. There is no question about this.

But what should an officer do who knows from years of training and combat experience that the coalition the president is assembling cannot accomplish its goals without U.S. combat troops? Does the officer swallow his reservations?

Lacking an American ground presence, a U.S. pilot forced to eject by a mechanical failure or ground fire would have to wait hours to be rescued. Do senior U.S. military officers banish the thought of what would happen were ISIS to capture a female American pilot who landed safely after ejecting over enemy-held territory?

ISIS possesses man-portable air-defense systems, or manpads. They can hit planes that provide close air support—for instance, planes flying below 10,000 feet in a pilot-rescue operation. Search-and-rescue is difficult enough when the distance between downed pilot and help is small. When a helicopter must fly hundreds of miles to the rescue—the current situation—the chances of success rapidly diminish.

Will the administration admit a mistake if it realizes that U.S. ground troops are necessary? Or will the White House blame the military for insufficient warning, as the president blamed the intelligence community on "60 Minutes" for insufficient warning about ISIS? Senior officers face the possibility of being blamed for not having recommended what they in fact have.

President Obama may not like it, but those who spoke after 9/11 about a "long war" against Islamic jihadists got it right. The killing of Osama bin Laden ended neither al Qaeda nor its metastasizing into other terrorist groups. The terrorists will not emerge into formations on plains where they can be destroyed from the air. Rather, as in Gaza, they will hide in houses, hospitals, workshops and schools in the cities and towns that ISIS occupies. Attacking the enemy from the air is useful, but it won't succeed without ground forces that can take and hold contested positions.

Senior officers must accept their commander in chief's judgment and carry out orders. But they and like-minded advisers have another option: resigning. Not to embarrass the administration or cause a constitutional crisis, but to indicate the gravity of the ISIS threat. Until stopped, ISIS or its collaborators are likely to mount an attack against the U.S. homeland with the aim of equaling or surpassing al Qaeda's 9/11 success. A military commander's resignation, accompanied by a clear and respectful explanation, would prompt a needed debate over U.S. strategy to achieve the president's goal "to degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS.

Resigning on principle is not a strong tradition in the U.S. military. The so-called Revolt of the Admirals in the late 1940s began with the resignation of Navy Secretary John L. Sullivan following Defense Secretary Louis Johnson's cancellation of the carrier U.S.S. United States. The argument over the carrier was a dispute over budget cuts and the combat roles of the Navy and Air Force. And the naval officers whose careers ended in the wake of Sullivan's principled resignation did not jump. They were pushed. But the Truman administration's defense cuts came with a price that was realized when the president learned that reductions in naval power prevented an effective blockade of North Korea.

Politics is, by human nature and design, complex and messy. It exists in the military no less than in other large organizations. But the stakes are particularly high where the nation's security is at risk—as it now is. Clarity of purpose is essential and where it is lacking—as in how to defeat ISIS—senior military officers can make an important difference with their actions.

Mr. Cropsey is director of the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute, where he is a senior fellow. He served as a naval officer and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Castle of Backwardness on: September 30, 2014, 10:17:34 AM
Second post of the morning, and definitely to be read in conjunction with the first:

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/the_castle_of_backwardness

In this 2010 interview Ibrahim Al-Buleihi contends that progress for the Arab and Islamic world will only come from Western civilization

It is important that we make a distinction between Islam as a set of teachings, values, principles and legislations, and between the reality of Muslims in the past and in the present. Islam – as a set of rituals and beliefs – has continued to be conscientiously practised, whereas in the teachings of Islam the affairs of this world (dunyā) have not been fully inculcated.

What illustrates this best is that despite the fact that politics and political governance constitute some of our most pressing and crucial concerns, they have not attracted the attention of our scholars. These instead have left us devoid of a tradition of political thought.

This is in sharp contradistinction to Greek civilisation of the 5th century BC which, in the field of political thought and its connection with ethics and worldly concerns, achieved things which still excite admiration and wonder.

Our scholars meanwhile have yet to achieve anything in this most important issue of worldly affairs; we would be hard put to say that that they have accomplished anything of significance in this or in how one might promote either private or common wealth or make good use of things and release latent energies.[1]

Disdain for reason in Islam

The scholars of Islam did concern themselves with rulings on human interactions and with all manner of mundane matters, but only for the purpose of making these conform to the Sharīʻa. Indeed they laid stress on the importance of worldly affairs being conducted in security, fairness and justice; but this interest of theirs was simply part of their preoccupation with religion and was not for the sake of the dunyā per se.

It is important to understand the qualitative difference between, on the one hand, a concern to regulate worldly affairs according to the religious law and, on the other hand, activities geared to temporary concerns and to offering up ideas for developing the means to make a living and open up minds to the huge, latent potential in things. Our scholars were preoccupied with making reality conform to the teachings of Islam and were not interested in growth or the development of reality. The difference here is a qualitative difference.

Our heritage is in fact replete with expressions of disdain for anyone occupying oneself with worldly affairs or taking an interest in them. For example, in his treatise Degrees of Knowledge, Ibn Hazm holds that anyone who occupies himself in anything other than the sciences of the Sharīʻa has simply become foolish, short-sighted and a menace only to himself:

“His primary interest should be a knowledge of what is it that brought him into this world and whither he will go when he exits; if he remains in ignorance of the Sharīʻa and occupies himself with other things he has become short-sighted and oppressive to his own self.”

Such expressions are by no means exceptional; traditional writings are stuffed with similar sentiments. Even Ibn Khaldūn *, who was possessed of a brilliant mind, ridiculed those who occupied themselves with philosophy and experimental sciences such as chemistry – which he considered to be little more than a form of sorcery.[2]

Scholars and philosophers such as Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen), Jābir ibn Hayyān (Geber), Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna), al-Fārābī, al-Kindī and Ibn Rushd (Averroës) were brilliant individuals who, whilst living in an Arab environment, actually lay outside the prevailing Arab cultural norms intellectually. For studying Greek thought they were disdainfully referred to as “weeds”, and their fields of interest thereby dismissed. That is, the prevailing culture considered them to be harmful plants sprouting up amid more useful crops. I have read dozens of their works and found them all to be students of Greek thought.

Moreover, they were working as individuals scattered here and there and they did not come together to constitute a trend in society. Each of these individuals was a product of his own self and not the product of a school of thought that perpetuated earlier voices or continued on after them. Indeed, they sounded a dissident note from the prevailing culture. This is something that is abundantly clear and even those who vaunt the superiority of the Arabs over the West confirm this fact.

Objectivity demands that we grant that some Arab original thinkers may be commended for having participated in awakening the European mind towards the close of the Middle Ages – at the forefront of whom one may mention Ibn Rushd, al-Kindī, al-Rāzī, Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn al-Nafīs, al-Fārābī, Ibn Sīnā, Jābir ibn Hayyān.

But these and other geniuses like them were looked down upon by the Arab environment, while the European environment celebrated them. For even during its decadent eras Europe understood, and still does understand, the value of the creative thinking demonstrated by these individuals, whereas we – even in our flourishing eras – dismissed their ideas and prohibited their circulation. In fact we strangled originality, persecuted original thinkers and burned their books!

So when we boast of our superiority over Western civilisation we are ignoring the fact that this superiority amounts to no more than Europe benefiting from individuals such as Ibn Rushd, Ibn al-Haytham and al-Rāzī, who were scholars who had studied Greek thought and were therefore not the product of Arab culture.

At the same time we ignore the fact that in our culture those individuals were rejected by us and subjected to continuing condemnation and aversion – not just in the past but even today, for we still express our condemnation of them and ban their thoughts. If we burned their books and still prohibit the reading of them, how can we then boast of that which was once, and still is, rejected by us?

Hatred of reason

One fearful point that itself would justify an objective, profound study and a precise analysis, is the fact that every attempt – past and present – to augment the role of reason and science in our cultural, social and political life has led to a contrary result.

Hatred of reason has only become more prevalent and the antipathy has accumulated over generations on account of the fact that rational orientations were never accepted and their associated activities were halted. Their exponents vanished from the scene and their works became scattered, so that generations no longer had any knowledge of them other than what they heard from their opponents and detractors.

Despite the disappearance of the rational movement, opponents of rationality nevertheless continue to issue warnings against reason and demonise those who display rationalist tendencies. As a result of the centuries-long indiscriminate war waged against rationalist thinkers they almost vanished for good. When some of them were rediscovered, interest was confined to a few individuals, academics and researchers, whereas works opposing or outright warring against rationality continued to enjoy wide circulation – to the point of becoming the most important ingredient of our culture and education.

These anti-rationalist works were, and still are, taught at every stage in our educational system with the result that generations have been programmed to be hostile to reason and to fear rational thought.

My advocacy of rational thought is not something absolute, for it is after all a human endeavour subject to error, failings, bias and other natural concomitants of human activity. But these endeavours have been subjected to such ferocious attacks that generations have been led to think of them as a form of pure evil; they have focused their vision entirely upon their negative side, passing over entirely their positive aspects. It is for this reason that the Muslim nation has absorbed the ‘necessity’ to isolate itself, nurtured delusions as to its own perfection, and sanctified self-sufficiency.

The Islamic catastrophe 

The greatest catastrophe to befall Islam and the Muslims is the catastrophe that has conscripted the Nation against reason from our earliest history. The consummate refusal of rationality and the war against enlightenment has locked all doors and windows against any attempts at illumination.

The problem is not merely a war against Ibn Rushd and the burning of his books, nor is it merely the expulsion of other prominent proponents of reason; Arab Islamic history has built up an entire culture at odds with rationality. Our culture has ended up stamped with this mustering against reason – not only lining up against specialists but inducing all students to hate reason, abhor thinking and imagine that this is what the Islamic religion demands of them.

The emotions of the entire Muslim Nation have been conscripted to this cause. It is directed not against the Muʽtazila school or any specific sects or tendencies that support the role of reason in the interests both of religious and mundane affairs; rather it is directed against the rationalist orientation in toto, down to its last detail. Generations have now been raised abhorring reason, wary of thinking, fearful of rationality, harbouring hatred against rational thinkers and warring against them.

It is important, therefore, that we do not content ourselves with saying that Arab culture has merely rejected those of its thinkers who have failed to elicit a response. We should instead keep in mind that attempts at rationality have borne contrary results to those intended. Instead of disdaining the capacity of reason to serve the faith and develop our dunyā, opponents of reason have ganged up together to ridicule it. Libraries are stuffed with works dedicated to this mockery, works which now constitute the authorities consulted by generations for knowledge and intellectual orientation.

We have now become fully immersed in anti-reason hostility – and this strange phenomenon could do with some deep, comprehensive, objective study, to evaluate the contrary effects that rationalist movements have spawned.

Ibrahim al-Buleihi is a Saudi liberal writer, thinker and philosopher who is currently a member of the Saudi Shura Council. This article is an excerpt from I. Buleihi, (Castles of Backwardness) Al-Jamal Publications (Beirut 2010). It has been republished with permission from Almuslih.

Notes

* Ibn Khaldūn (1332-1406) is famous for his groundbreaking work on the sociology of history, contained in his Muqaddima (‘Introduction’) to his history. In Section 13, “On the Various Kinds of Intellectual Sciences”, he makes this interesting observation: “We hear now that the philosophical sciences are greatly cultivated in the land of Rome and long the adjacent northern shore of the country of the European Christians. They are said to be studied there again and to be taught in numerous classes. Existing systematic expositions of them are said to be comprehensive, the people who know them numerous, and the students of them very many. God knows better what exists there.” However, he goes on to express his disdain: “But we must refrain from studying these things, since such (restraint) falls under (the duty of) the Muslim not to do what does not concern him. The problems of physics are of no importance for us in our religious affairs or our livelihoods. Therefore, we must leave them alone.” (Ed.)
- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/the_castle_of_backwardness#sthash.8qFTiGBi.dpuf

16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager: What the Arab World Produces on: September 30, 2014, 10:12:52 AM
http://www.dennisprager.com/arab-world-produces/
What the Arab World Produces
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014


At least since the early part of the 20th century, aside from oil, the Arab world has produced and exported two products.

It has produced essentially no technology, medicine or anything else in the world of science. It has almost no contributions to world literature, art or to intellectual development.

According to the most recent United Nations Arab Human Development Reports (2003-2005), written by Arab intellectuals, Greece, with a population of 11 million, annually translates five times more books from English than the entire Arab world, population 370 million. Nor is this a new development. The total number of books translated into Arabic during the last 1,000 years is less than Spain translates into Spanish in one year.

ArabianBusiness.com reports that about 100 million people in the Arab world are illiterate; and three quarters of them are between the ages of 15 and 45.

As for Arab women, the situation is even worse. Nearly half of the Arab world’s women are illiterate, and sexual attacks on women have actually increased since the Arab Spring, as have forced marriages and trafficking. And the exact number of women murdered by family members in “honor killings” is not knowable. It is only known to be large.

In Egypt, the largest Arab country, 91 percent of women and girls are subjected to female genital mutilation, according to UNICEF. Not to mention the number of women in the Arab world who must wear veils or even full-face and full-body coverings known as burkas. And, of course, Saudi Arabia is infamous for not allowing women to drive a car.

Another unhappy feature of the Arab world is the prevalence of lies. To this day, Egypt denies that it was the Egyptian pilot, Ahmed El-Habashi, who allegedly crashed an EgyptAir jet into the ocean deliberately. Vast numbers of Arabs believe that Jews knew of the 9-11 plot and avoided going to work at the World Trade Center that day.

So, then, is there anything at which the Arab world has excelled for the past two generations? Has there been a major Arab export?

As it happens, there are two.

Hatred and violence.

The Arab world has no peer when it comes to hatred – of the Western world generally, and especially of Israel. Israel-hatred and its twin, Jew-hatred, are the oxygen that the Arab world breathes.

Two of the most popular songs in Egypt over the past decade have been “I Hate Israel” and the ironically named “I Love Israel.”

Lyrics of the latter song include:

“May it [Israel] be destroyed. May it be wiped off the map. May a wall fall on it. May it disappear from the universe. God, please have it banished.”

“May it dangle from the noose. May I get to see it burning, Amen. I will pour gasoline on it. I am an Egyptian man. I am not a coward.”

“I Hate Israel” is so popular that it was the song which Egypt’s pop star Chaaboula sang at the largest music festival in the Arab world, Morocco’s Mawazine. The festival, one of the biggest in the world, featured Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin and Kool and the Gang.

Some of the lyrics:

“I hate Israel, and I would say so if I was asked to.

“Two faces of the same coin, America and Israel. They made the world a jungle and ignited the fuse.

“About that [Twin] Tower, oh people. Definitely! His friends [Israel] were the ones who brought it down.”

The other major Arab product and export has been violence.

It is difficult to overstate the amount of violence in the Arab world. Mass murder and cruelty have characterized the Arab world.

Regarding Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Dexter Filkins, the New York Times correspondent in Iraq from 2003-2006 wrote: “Here, in Hussein, was one of the world’s indisputably evil men: he murdered as many as a million of his people, many with poison gas. He tortured, maimed and imprisoned countless more. His unprovoked invasion of Iran is estimated to have left another million people dead.”

Syria, too, has been a country of mass murder, torture, and brutal totalitarian rule — under the rule of Hafez Assad (in power 1971-2000), and his son, Bashar, the current killer-dictator who, among other atrocities, used Sarin gas against his own people in 2013.

In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, according to the United Nations, between March 15, 2011 and April 30, 2014, 191,000 Syrians, about a third of them civilians, were killed. In addition, 2.5 million people have fled Syria to neighboring countries, and 6.5 million have fled their homes within Syria.

In Algeria in the 1990s, Islamist terrorists engaged in wholesale murder of their fellow Algerians. That war cost Algeria about 100,000 lives, mostly civilian.

In Sudan, the Arab government’s atrocities against the non-Arab population in the region of Darfur led to about 300,000 deaths and over a million refugees. In addition there was systematic rape of untold numbers of non-Arab women by Arab gangs known as the Janjaweed.

And then there was the terror unleashed by Palestinians against Israeli civilians in restaurants, at weddings, on buses, etc. The Palestinians are the modern fathers of terrorism directed solely at civilians.

There are two possible reactions to this description of the Arab world. One is that it is an example of anti-Arab “racism.” That would be the reaction in much of the Arab world, on the left and among most academics — despite the fact that the description is of a culture and that the Arabs are not a race. The other is that is that it is tragically accurate. That would be the reaction of some in the Arab world and anyone who cares about truth. One such individual is an Arab. In Politico Magazine two weeks ago. Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel, titled his article “The Barbarians Within Our Gates.” The subtitle is “Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime.”

Islamic State, which is overwhelmingly Arab, is just the latest manifestation.
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCain on Sen. Rand Paul on: September 29, 2014, 10:34:00 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2014/09/29/rand-pauls-become-acceptably-hawkish-for-a-prospective-gop-nominee-says-john-mccain/
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Netanyahu at the UN on: September 29, 2014, 10:11:54 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmrHIUJKF0g
19  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Guro Crafty en Espanol en "Budo" on: September 29, 2014, 03:16:22 PM
http://issuu.com/budoweb/docs/revista_artes_marciales_cinturon_ne_568b9123071f80#

Aprezco en pagina 174.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, disposition to war 1817 on: September 29, 2014, 11:17:53 AM
"I hope it is practicable, by improving the mind and morals of society, to lessen the disposition to war; but of its abolition I despair." --Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Noah Worcester, 1817
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / August Personal Income up .3% on: September 29, 2014, 10:38:10 AM
Personal income increased 0.3% in August To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 9/29/2014

Personal income increased 0.3% in August (+0.4% including revisions to prior months). The consensus expected a 0.3% gain. Personal consumption rose 0.5% in August (+0.7% including revisions to prior months), beating the consensus expected gain of 0.4%. Personal income is up 4.3% in the past year, while spending is up 4.1%.
Disposable personal income (income after taxes) increased 0.3% in August and is up 4.2% from a year ago. The gain in August was led by wages & salaries in the private service sector, rent, and Medicaid, which offset a large decline in farm income.   
 
The overall PCE deflator (consumer prices) was unchanged in August but is up 1.5% versus a year ago. The “core” PCE deflator, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.1% in August and is also up 1.5% in the past year.
 
After adjusting for inflation, “real” consumption rose 0.5% in August (+0.7% including revisions to prior months) and is up 2.6% from a year ago.
 
Implications:  A solid report on consumer spending and income today.  Consumption rose 0.5% in August and was revised up for prior months.  This shouldn’t be a surprise; payrolls are up about 2.5 million in the past year.  Don’t let anyone tell you this is all unsustainable.  Total income – which also includes rents, small business income, dividends, interest, and government transfer payments – increased 0.3% in August, was revised up for prior months, and is up 4.3% from a year ago.  This is slightly faster than the 4.1% increase in consumer spending in the past year.  In other words, incomes lead spending and the US is not experiencing a credit-created increase in consumption.  One overlooked part of this economic report is the massive growth in government redistribution.  Medicaid, for example, is up 12.5% versus a year ago, largely due to Obamacare.  Overall government transfer payments – like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, disability, welfare, food stamps, and unemployment compensation – are a very large share of income.  Before the Panic of 2008, these transfers were roughly 14% of income.  In early 2010, they peaked at 18%.  Now they are 17%.  Redistribution hurts growth because it reallocates scarce resources away from productive ventures.  Keynesians try to say government spending is necessary to boost the economy in a recession, but this is certainly not the case anymore.  Private sector jobs have expanded for 54 consecutive months and private-sector wages & salaries are up 5.8% from a year ago, which is faster than the 5.3% gain in government transfers.  We expect both income and spending to accelerate in the year ahead as jobs and wages continue to grow.  In addition, consumers’ financial obligations are hovering at the smallest share of income since the early 1980s. (Financial obligations are money used to pay mortgages, rent, car loans/leases, as well as debt service on credit cards and other loans.)  On the inflation front, the Federal Reserve’s favorite measure, the personal consumption price index, was unchanged in August and is up only 1.5% from a year ago.  Given loose monetary policy, by the middle of next year, the Fed is going to struggle to keep inflation down at 2%. That’s part of the reason we expect short-term rates to move up in the first half of 2015.   
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / If false, what are the flaws? on: September 28, 2014, 08:20:40 PM
Forbes
9/22/2013

Mein Gott! What Germany Inc. Can Teach America About Economics
Eamonn Fingleton

As German voters go to the polls today, it is interesting to consider their rather self-confident world view – and how sharply it contrasts with the increasing self-doubts that have gripped the American people in recent years.

The German economy’s vigorous good health is most obvious in jobs. The German unemployment rate has remained consistently one of the developed world’s lowest and, at last count, on an American accounting basis, stood at a mere 5.5 percent. This was the second lowest of ten advanced nations surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and compares with 7.6 percent for the United States. Only Japan, with a rate of 3.4 percent, did better.

Perhaps even more impressive is Germany’s international competitiveness. As of 2012, Germany ran a balance of payments surplus of $208 billion – the second highest in the world after China’s $214 billion. On a per-capita basis, Germany’s surplus was more than 16 times China’s.

Another telling statistic is Germany’s net foreign assets. At $1,437 billion recently, they rank among the world’s largest. By comparison America’s foreign assets have long since been exceeded by its liabilities,  and its  net foreign liabilities at last count were a shocking $4,277 billion.

As for per-capita incomes,  Germans have seen growth of 49.2 percent as measured in current dollars in the most recent ten years – easily trumping growth of just 27.7 percent in the United States.

The most interesting thing about all this is that Germany does not believe in American-style free markets, and never has. The German labor market, for instance, is extensively regulated to discourage layoffs and in downturns German corporations are generally obligated to carry more labor than they can fully use. Even so such huge German employers as Daimler have remained  profitable in the last few years.

Another sharp deviation from American ideas of good economics is in anti-trust regulation. Although cartels are officially illegal in Germany, they are generally tolerated if not actively encouraged, with the result that it is almost impossible for new entrants to penetrate many areas of German industry.

Meanwhile German regulators have contrived to ensure extraordinary concentration of power in the financial system, which is now dominated by two duopolies – Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank in banking and Allianz and Munich Re in reinsurance. These corporations directly or indirectly control large swathes of industry and commerce. Adding to the concentration of power is that the reinsurance companies own large stakes in the banks. (Disclosure: I am a stockholder in Munich Re.)

Given its flouting of so much of the canon of “good economics,” why has Germany been so successful? The short answer is that free markets are greatly exaggerated as a source of economic success (they come up short in safeguarding a nation’s endowment of advanced production technology, for instance).

A longer answer would point out that Germany’s economic structuring closely parallels that of the  miracle economies of East Asia and can be presumed to be designed to achieve the same objectives. Indeed for those who know their economic history, it is East Asia that has copied German economic ideas, not the other way around. The story goes all the way back to the 1870s and 1880s when Bismarck set Germany on the road to economic superpowerdom with a strongly mercantilist approach to trade. One of Germany’s first imitators was Meiji Japan.

This is a big subject and cannot be adequately addressed in a short note. A basic problem is that in commenting on economies that deviate from Anglo-American textbook norms, the Anglophone press is highly unreliable. Commentators seek to make reality conform to theory either by “pruning” their accounts of contradictory facts or, worse, by utterly misrepresenting undeniable facts.  A classic example of the genre was a recent article by Adam Posen in the
 
Financial Times in which he seemed to suggest that Germany has been underperforming in income growth in recent years. For an ideologue like Posen, who runs the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the idea that German incomes could have outperformed American ones in recent years may seem impossible  – but that is no reason to misstate fundamental facts.

For now the key point is that Americans should simply take note that their mainstream economic commentators — the same ones whose theories paved the way for the Wall Street crash — are even less reliable on economies like Germany and Japan than they are on the United States.
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIL captures Iraqi base, kills 300 on: September 28, 2014, 07:51:53 PM
Source unknown to me but sounds plausible

http://pamelageller.com/2014/09/the-islamic-state-captures-army-base-near-baghdad-executes-300-soldiers.html/
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: September 28, 2014, 07:46:25 PM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2014/09/29/
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dougherty: Fair Use Doctrine on: September 28, 2014, 05:31:58 PM
Jay Dougherty was my best friend in law school.

http://lareviewofbooks.org/interview/authors-guild-vs-google-fair-use-foul-play#
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A convenient list from VDH of Hillary's failures as Sec State. on: September 28, 2014, 11:35:49 AM


Hillary Clinton is all but running for president, boasting about her reset diplomacy while secretary of state during Obama’s first term. But it is hard to find a single example of inspired diplomacy during her tenure. Canceling missile-defense cooperation with the Czechs and Poles while resetting relations with Vladimir Putin was not wise. Nor was leading from behind in Libya (“We came, we saw, and he died”). Nor was her emphasis on climate change as a global threat or her pressure on Israel to grant concessions supposedly to ensure Middle East peace. Nor was welcoming the election of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Nor was ignoring requests for beefed-up security at the consulate in Benghazi. Nor was claiming that the deaths of the four Americans in Benghazi were due to a spontaneous riot over a video (“What difference at this point does it make?”). Nor was pulling all troops out of Iraq. Nor was lifting the embargos and trade sanctions against Iran. Nor was much of anything except an impressive near million miles of traveling while secretary, an astonishing feat for someone in her sixties and often in poor health.
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / New IPhone locks out NSA on: September 27, 2014, 08:39:42 PM


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/technology/iphone-locks-out-the-nsa-signaling-a-post-snowden-era-.html?emc=edit_th_20140927&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US sending arms to Lebanese army (including Hezbollah?) on: September 27, 2014, 08:35:55 PM
While the United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist group, the two may be indirectly working together to keep ISIS fighters in Syria out of Lebanon, Israel’s NRG News reported Monday. A week after Hezbollah fighters repulsed ISIS forces in Arsal, in northern Lebanon, near the Syrian border, the US is reportedly sending weapons to the Lebanese army, in order to strengthen its abilities against ISIS. The American aid intended for Syria’s western neighbor, is based on the assumption that Hezbollah and the Lebanese army are collaborating, so it’s not unlikely that the US weapons are reaching the Shiite group, according to the report. Additionally, CIA intelligence reportedly recently helped Hezbollah stop an ISIS-backed car-bombing plot in the southern part of the capital, Beirut, which is largely under Hezbollah control. “The international community has an interest in isolating the Syrian crisis,” according to Mohammed Afif, a recently-appointed spokesman for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Afif’s remarks illustrate the Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization’s role in the new balance of power in the region: “Everyone has an interest in keeping the peace in Lebanon,” according to Afif. “Everyone has his own way.”


Hezbollah officials are closely watching the latest regional moves by the United States in the struggle against ISIS, to see how and where they can make profit politically or militarily by the developing US presence. In a video clip released Sunday night, Hezbollah said it had fired a rocket from a drone, hitting an ISIS target in Syria. On the same day, Lebanese state media said three people were killed in a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint manned by Hezbollah militiamen, about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the Syria border. Last Monday, Hezbollah officials said that the growing takeover by ISIS-affiliated fighters of areas in nearby Syria justified the necessity of their continued deployment to fight them, according the Daily Star. “There could never be a war of words between ISIS and us, but there is the field where we will defeat them. We will not engage in a war of statements or political disputes,” declared Nabil Qaouk, deputy head of the party’s executive council, at a ceremony in the southern Lebanese village of Aita Shaab, near Israel.
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill Maher surprises-2 on: September 27, 2014, 08:17:47 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDFrNQAjDYA
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Contract with America on: September 26, 2014, 09:50:01 PM
Reflections on the Contract with America – 20 Years Later
Originally published at CNN.com.

On Wednesday I had the privilege of meeting with S. Ganbaatar, a member of the Mongolian Parliament.

When he entered the room, Ganbaatar walked up excitedly to examine a framed document that has hung for years in my offices. The document is a list of commitments to the people, signed by dozens of candidates for public office who promised to vote on a specific policy agenda if they were elected to office. It's framed alongside a picture of the candidates who signed and campaigned on it. Many of them went on to be elected in a historic vote that tossed out a party that had held power since the 1920s.
 
Ganbaatar was looking at a framed copy of the 1996 "Contract with the Mongolian Voter." That contract was, as the Washington Post reported the next year, "the most widely distributed document in Mongolian history." The Mongolian voters -- with a 91% turnout -- elected the democratic opposition, which four years earlier had held just six seats. With a program of "private property rights, a free press and the encouragement of foreign investment," they defeated the Communist Party that had ruled since 1921.

Ganbaatar, who was elected to Parliament as an Independent in 2012 and is already one of his country's most popular politicians, recounted emotionally how the Contract with the Voter was a watershed event in modern Mongolian history. The ideas in that document, he told me, "gave us our freedom."

Mongolia's peaceful, democratic transition of power from the communists to a republican government was one of the few hopeful stories to come out of the former Soviet states in the early years after the Cold War.
 
It was fitting, but only a coincidence, that Ganbaatar visited just a few days before the 20th anniversary of the Contract with America, the inspiration for Mongolia's Contract with the Voters.

On September 27, 1994, more than 350 candidates for Congress gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to sign a pledge to the American people, a promise to vote on 10 key reforms if we won a majority in the House of Representatives. That campaign, which I helped organize, earned Republicans control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

The Contract was a campaign document. It laid out a common-sense program that was designed to earn the support of the broadest possible range of Americans. Its assortment of policies included everything from changes to how the House did business to items on the budget, welfare and tax policy.

But more than any particular proposal, the important thing about the document was its form: It was a contract, a real commitment to reform and accountability and renewal. It sought above all to "restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives."

We knew Americans deserved a clear and unambiguous account of what we planned to do, and believed reform required their explicit support -- and that if we broke faith with them, we wouldn't deserve to hold power. So we invited people to vote us out again if we didn't follow through.

But we did follow through -- in an extraordinary first hundred days that kicked off one of the most productive Congresses in American history. In addition to being a campaign document, the Contract was a management document that told us how we would govern. It led directly or indirectly to all of the achievements that would soon follow, including four straight balanced budgets, welfare reform, and the largest capital gains tax cut in American history.

In retrospect, it's clear that the Contract also marked an enduring political realignment. When the Republican House majority was sworn in in 1995, there was only one Republican in the House (Bill Emerson from Missouri) who had ever served under a majority -- and he had done so as a page. Two years later, we became the first Republican majority that had been reelected since 1928. And since the Contract, Republicans have held the House for 16 of the past 20 years, and should continue to hold it for the foreseeable future.

As a detailed commitment to passing specific bills, the Contract was the first document of its kind in American history. It has now been replicated in other countries, like Italy and Mongolia, not because of its policy content, but because it expressed a hope in the heart of every voter -- an aspiration that, in the case of the U.S. -- didn't end with the election of 1994 and certainly did not begin there.

The Contract was, quite literally, a renewal of a pre-existing commitment, one that had not been honored. It was the commitment that elected representatives of the people remain accountable to the people.

This social contract is essential to self-government, but too often, our leaders abandon it once they join the political class. They forget about who put them there, they contrive to shield themselves from "tough votes," and they stretch further the restraints on their powers under the law.

There's nothing like a visit by a legislator from a place where, for the better part of the last century, lawlessness reigned, to remind you that the contract between the people and their representatives must be constantly renewed and ardently defended.

Your Friend,
Newt
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces on: September 26, 2014, 04:41:38 PM
 Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces at Work in the Nation-State
Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 03:00 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By Zhixing Zhang

"Here begins our tale: The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been." This opening adage of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, China's classic novel of war and strategy, best captures the essential dynamism of Chinese geopolitics. At its heart is the millennia-long struggle by China's would-be rulers to unite and govern the all-but-ungovernable geographic mass of China. It is a story of centrifugal forces and of insurmountable divisions rooted in geography and history — but also, and perhaps more fundamentally, of centripetal forces toward eventual unity.

This dynamism is not limited to China. The Scottish referendum and waves of secession movements — from Spain's Catalonia to Turkey and Iraq's ethnic Kurds — are working in different directions. More than half a century after World War II triggered a wave of post-colonial nationalism that changed the map of the world, buried nationalism and ethnic identity movements of various forms are challenging the modern idea of the inviolable unity of the nation-state.

Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces at Work in the Nation-State

Yet even as these sentiments pull on the loose threads of nations, in China, one of the most intractable issues in the struggle for unity — the status of Tibet — is poised for a possible reversal, or at least a major adjustment. The long-running but frequently unnoticed negotiations have raised the possibility that the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, may be nearing a deal that would enable him to return to his Tibetan homeland. If it happens, it would end the Dalai Lama's exile in Dharamsala, India — an exile that began after the Tibetan uprising in 1959, nine years after the People's Republic of China annexed Tibet. More important, a settlement between Beijing and the Dalai Lama could be a major step in lessening the physical and psychological estrangement between the Chinese heartland and the Tibetan Plateau.
Tibet, the Dalai Lama and Self-Determination

The very existence of the Tibetan issue bespeaks several overlapping themes of Chinese geopolitics. Most fundamentally, it must be understood in the context of China's struggle to integrate and extend control over the often impassable but strategically significant borderlands militarily and demographically. These borderlands, stretching from northeast to the southwest — Manchuria, Mongolian Plateau, Xinjiang, Tibet and the Yunnan Plateau — form a shield, both containing and protecting a unified Han core from overland invasion. In attempting to integrate these regions, however, China confronts the very nature of geographic disintegration and the ethnic identities in these restive borderlands, which have sought to resist, separate or drift away from China at times when weak central power has diminished the coherence of China's interior.

Tibet in many ways represents the extreme edge of this pattern. Indeed, while the formidable geography of the Tibetan Plateau (its altitude averages 4.5 kilometers, or almost 2.8 miles, above sea level) largely inured it from most frontier threats to the Han core compared with the more accessible Manchuria, Mongolian Plateau or Xinjiang. Perhaps no borderland is as fraught with as much consequence as Tibet under China's contemporary geopolitical circumstances. The Tibetan Plateau and its environs constitute roughly one-quarter of the Chinese landmass and are a major source of freshwater for China, the Indian subcontinent and mainland Southeast Asia. The high mountains of the Himalayas make a natural buffer for the Chinese heartland and shape the complex geopolitical relationship between China and India.

Historically, China's engagement with the Tibetan Plateau has been lacking and not characterized by national unity. Starting in the 7th century, China made sporadic attempts to extend its reach into the Tibetan Plateau, but it wasn't until the Qing dynasty that the empire made a substantial effort to gain authority over Tibetan cultural and social structures through control of Tibetan Buddhist institutions. The weakening of China after the Qing dynasty led peripheral states, including Tibet, to slip from Chinese central rule.

Since the People's Republic of China began ruling over Tibet in 1950, the perennial struggle manifested as political, religious and psychological estrangement between political power in Beijing and the Dalai Lama, the charismatic political and spiritual symbol of the Tibetan self-determination movement, who consistently has resisted China's full domination over Tibet. Here, the nominally impersonal process of geopolitics confronts the rare individual who has a lasting impact. The Dalai Lama has concentrated the Tibetan cause into himself and his image. It is the Dalai Lama who represents the Tibetan identity in foreign capitals and holds a fractious Tibetan movement together, holding sway over both indigenous Tibetans in the homeland and the old and new generations of Tibetan exiles.
Perennial Struggle and Contemporary Moves

Under the People's Republic, China has some of the clearest physical control and central authority over one of the largest and most secure states in China's dynastic history. However, the ancient compulsion to secure the Chinese periphery did not go unaddressed by China's Communist leadership.

Over the years, the central government has pushed aggressively to bolster Han Chinese economic and demographic dominance over the borderland while attempting to overcome the physical barriers of distance through grandiose infrastructure projects, including road and rail links. And yet, the estrangement with the Dalai Lama has left Beijing dealing with the perception that its control over the Tibetan Plateau is partial and of questionable legitimacy. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama's international prestige exposed the central power in Beijing to numerous international critics. Moreover, it offered New Delhi an opportunity to exploit Beijing's concerns by hosting the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Beijing sees no space to allow the autonomy demanded by the Tibetan exile movement; it is a short path from robust autonomy to direct challenge. Beijing's strategy has been to try to undermine the Dalai Lama's international prestige, constrain interaction between the exile community and Tibetans at home and hope that when the spiritual leader dies, the absence of his strong personality will leave the Tibetan movement without a center and without someone who can draw the international attention the Dalai Lama does. Central to Beijing's calculation is interference in the succession process whereby Beijing claims the right to designate the Dalai Lama's religious successor and, in doing so, exploit sectarian and factional divisions within Tibetan Buddhism. Beijing insists the reincarnation process must follow the Tibetan religious tradition since the Qing dynasty, meaning that it must occur within Tibetan territory and with the central government's endorsement, a process that highlights Tibet's position as a part of China, not an independent entity.

Beijing's plan could work, but the cost would be high. Without recognition from the Dalai Lama, Beijing's appointed successor — and by extension, Beijing's authority in Tibet — can hardly be accepted by the wider Tibetan community. To resist Beijing's attempt at interference, the Dalai Lama has in recent years made various statements signaling that the ancient traditions of the succession process could break. In particular, the Dalai Lama has discussed the potential for succession through emanation rather than reincarnation. This would place his knowledge and authority in several individuals, each with a part of his spiritual legacy, but none as the single heir. Emanation can occur while the Dalai Lama is alive, thus giving him the ability to manage a transition. He has also mentioned the possibility that no successor will be named — that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama will end, leaving his legacy as the lasting focus for Tibetans.

More concretely, the Dalai Lama has split the role of spiritual and political leadership of the Tibetan movement, nominally giving up the latter while retaining the former. In doing so, he is attempting to create a sense of continuity to the Tibetan movement even though his spiritual successor has not been identified. However, it also separates the Dalai Lama from any Tibetan political movement, theoretically making it easier for the spiritual leader and Beijing to come to an accord about his possible return as a spiritual — but not political — leader. But the maneuvering by the Dalai Lama reflects a deeper reality. The Tibetan movement is not homogenous. Tibetan Buddhism has several schools that remain in fragile coordination out of respect for the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan political movement is also fragmented, with the younger foreign-born Tibetans often more strongly pressing for independence for Tibet, while the older exiles take a more moderate tone and call for more autonomy. The peaceful path promoted by the Dalai Lama is respected, but not guaranteed forever, by the younger and more radical elements of the Tibetan movement, which have only temporarily renounced the use of violence to achieve their political goals.

The future of the Tibetan movement after the Dalai Lama's death is uncertain. At a minimum, the spiritual leader's fame means no successor will be able to exercise the same degree of influence or maintain internal coherence as he has done. Just as the Dalai Lama was concerned that an extremist wing of the new Tibetan generation would undermine his moderate ideology and dilute the movement's legitimacy, Beijing fears that the post-Dalai Lama era would enable multiple radical, separatist or even militant movements to proliferate, leaving Beijing in a much more difficult position and potentially facing a greater security threat.

Beijing and the Dalai Lama have shown a willingness to reach a political settlement in the past, but their attempts failed. As uncertainties loom for both sides amid concerns about the spiritual leader's age and the changing domestic dynamics facing China's new president, Xi Jinping, both sides could see a departure from previous hostilities as a reasonable step toward a low-cost settlement. In other words, both Beijing and the Dalai Lama — and by extension his mainstream followers — understand how little time they have and how, without a resolution, the uncertainties surrounding the Tibet issue could become permanent after the spiritual leader's death.
Optimism Now, but Caution Ahead

The report of the Dalai Lama's possible return to Tibet comes as Beijing has resumed talks with representatives of the spiritual leader. This round of negotiations comes after nine rounds of failed talks over the past decade and four years after the last attempt. Nonetheless, the mood appears at least somewhat optimistic on both sides. In recent weeks, the Dalai Lama has offered conciliatory comments about Xi and intimated that he could be open to returning to Tibet, a longstanding desire of the 79-year-old spiritual leader. For its part, Beijing has released some Tibetan political prisoners and reportedly allowed the Dalai Lama's image and words to be used in certain Tibetan regions after years of prohibition.

Of course, many uncertainties surround the return of the Dalai Lama; it is even uncertain whether it could happen at all. Indeed, overcoming 55 years of hostile relations takes enormous effort, and even if the Dalai Lama is allowed to return to Tibet, it is only one of several steps in much broader negotiations between Beijing and the Tibetan exile community over how to reach a resolution, including the possible resettlement of 200,000 Tibetans in exile, the status of the government-in-exile, the authority of the Dalai Lama and, ultimately, the succession process for the spiritual leader.

Over the years, the Dalai Lama repeatedly has expressed a strong desire to return to the Tibetan homeland, seeing it as an end goal in his longstanding efforts to gain Tibetan autonomy. Although Beijing had always left the option open, it repeatedly emphasized that any dialogue with the Dalai Lama would be confined to the scope of an arrangement for the spiritual leader and would carry no political implications. In other words, any agreement will be based on the premise that expanded Tibetan autonomy is not an option and that Beijing's authority over Tibetan regions — and by extension, the borderland in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia — will remain intact. Similarly, the Dalai Lama will not accept a weakening of his spiritual authority among the Tibetan community or of his role in choosing successors. Nonetheless, with Beijing's concern over the proliferation of radical wings of the Tibetan movement abroad, allowing the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet could mitigate some of the tension and give Beijing a way to divide and weaken the Tibetan movement.

In moving toward an agreement, both sides would have to prepare for some political risk. For Beijing, the foremost concern would be managing the enormous religious influence of the Dalai Lama at home, where he is seen as a challenger to the Communist Party's political leadership. For the Dalai Lama, the main concerns would be managing the role of the Tibetan political leadership overseas and the potential repercussions within the exile movement from the developing settlement's contrast with their goal for Tibetan autonomy.

Perhaps more important, even if there were signs of a resolution developing, the succession issue is likely to be a roadblock. Beijing is unlikely to give any concession in its authority to appoint a reincarnated spiritual leader, and the Dalai Lama shows little intention of allowing Beijing's unilateral move.

Confronting a Geopolitical Curse

Despite various uncertainties, questions and risks, the potential ramifications of even the slim possibility of rapprochement illustrate China's ancient geopolitical dynamism at work.


Again illustrating how an individual can play a role in geopolitics, the potential for reconciliation between Beijing and the Dalai Lama could affect the balance between China and India. China has long viewed India's decision to host the Tibetan government-in-exile as a hostile gesture. However, India's ability to exploit China's concerns about Tibet has diminished along with the government-in-exile's influence and claim to represent Tibet as a legitimate entity. Already, New Delhi has shown waning enthusiasm for accepting Tibetan refugees and greater concern that the internal fragmentation of the Tibetan community will make hosting the exile community more of a liability than a benefit. However, a settlement would not eliminate the underlying geopolitical rivalry between India and China on other fronts — from their 4,000-kilometer land border to the maritime competitions in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea and their competition for energy and other resources.

Even if a settlement on the Tibet issue emerges in the distant future, it does not mean the end of the China-Tibet struggle. Indeed, since 2009 there have been many Tibetan self-immolations, and Beijing's economic developments in many parts of the ethnic borderlands widely are perceived as flawed or incomplete. Quite likely, a detente with the Dalai Lama will result in radicalized and more extremist elements emerging overseas, seeking self-determination and, like many of their counterparts around the world — from Scotland to the Kurds in the Middle East — challenging the centripetal forces of nation-states.

Historically, when Han China is strong, so is its control over these buffer regions. Control of the buffer regions, in turn, is a key precondition for a strong and secure Han China. This arrangement will become crucial as Beijing grapples with the potential challenges in the social, economic and political transformation in the Han core in the coming years. Therefore, despite the flux mentioned in the aphorism from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, for Beijing the ultimate goal is to confront an ancient geopolitical curse by cementing its control over its borderlands and uniting China permanently and irreversibly, however unrealistic this goal might be.

Editor's Note: Writing in George Friedman's stead this week is Stratfor Asia-Pacific Analyst Zhixing Zhang.

Read more: Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces at Work in the Nation-State | Stratfor
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32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: September 26, 2014, 04:33:39 PM
 Obama's Islamic State Strategy: Intel, Advisers and No Boots on the Ground
Geopolitical Diary
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 20:56 Text Size Print

U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed a week's worth of speculation Wednesday night on his administration's strategy to combat the Islamic State. As expected, the basic idea is for the United States to lead an expansion of the air campaign in Iraq and extend it to Syria, treating the militant-trodden river valleys as a single battle space. Without nuancing the necessary role of intelligence assets and special operations forces, Obama tried to reassure the American public that he would not commit boots on the ground to another Middle Eastern maelstrom but that he had a plan nonetheless to contain an army of particularly brutal jihadists.

The United States has sought the support and assistance of its international partners in an attempt to lessen the military and political burden of the operation. During the Sept. 4-5 NATO summit, Washington failed to organize an official NATO intervention against the Islamic State, but it did shore up the support of a core coalition of nine countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark). On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also mentioned that there was a broader coalition of more than 40 countries that would be supporting the operations. It is not clear yet how substantial the commitment of any of these countries will be, but additional air assets, logistical support and basing will be some of the main elements in expanding operations in volume and in geographic reach.


Obama's speech was essentially a political public relations effort, timed only after Iraqi leaders managed to pull together a government and ahead of November U.S. midterm elections. With most U.S. congressmen reluctant to vote on anything with a hint of controversy this close to the election, yet many all too prone to condemn the U.S. president for not consulting them enough, Obama was obviously trying to kill several birds with one stone in this speech. Domestic politics aside, this is a strategy that faces unavoidable imperfections as the United States tries to meld contradictory political and military objectives for the region.

The first and most glaring contradiction lies in the combination of attacking Islamic State targets by air while selectively arming and training Syrian rebels on the ground, not to mention that the United States will be working with Iranian proxies in Iraq and pro-Saudi actors in Syria. On the surface, and as Obama laid out, this makes perfect sense: The United States is not about to commit its own combat troops to engage with the Islamic State, so it must partner with local Sunni forces to degrade Islamic State fighters on the ground while it strikes from the air. Just as the United States is making gradual progress in standing up a coherent fighting force in Iraq through the Kurdish peshmerga, Sunni tribal forces and Iraqi army soldiers, it will be looking to do the same in Syria.

But if only Syria offered such a neat solution. On the contrary, no matter how carefully the United States tries to pick and choose whom it trains and arms in Syria, the Salafist-jihadist fighters are the ones who dominate the battlefield and are thus the most capable of beating back their Islamic State rivals. There is also no guarantee that the pockets of nominally moderate rebels concentrated around Aleppo are going to apply their weaponry and training toward combatting the Islamic State primarily when their priority is to break out of stalemate on the battlefield and get closer to the goal of toppling the regime of Bashar al Assad.

This brings the U.S. strategy to the next big contradiction: How does it back the Syrian rebels enough to degrade the Islamic State but not so much that it risks proliferating power vacuums for radicals to fill and destroying a working relationship with Iran? The U.S. administration will predictably expend a great deal of energy justifying an expansion of airstrikes into Syria and refuting claims that it is aiding a dictator. The announcement to arm Syrian rebel factions is a piece of that effort. But a meaningful effort to arm and train Sunni rebels in Syria could well develop into an existential threat for the Iran-backed Syrian regime. This would of course not be welcomed by Iran, with which the United States is engaged in a critical negotiation designed to put their long-hostile relationship on a stable tracking.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

How much of the strategy is public relations versus reality will be seen in the coming days and weeks on the battlefield. The target set in Syria will offer a major clue as to whether quiet U.S.-Iranian coordination is proceeding via backchannels. If major energy infrastructure and surface-to-air missile sites are destroyed, thus seriously degrading both the Syrian regime's capabilities and economic assets of the Islamic State, the evident lack of an understanding between Damascus and Washington will be sure to have negative consequences for U.S. negotiations with Iran. On the other hand, if the United States focuses its targeting on Islamic State concentrations along the river valleys to cut the group's eastern supply lines while expanding the offensive in Iraq, the kabuki theater will continue.

Read more: Obama's Islamic State Strategy: Intel, Advisers and No Boots on the Ground | Stratfor
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: September 26, 2014, 12:39:37 PM
The War on Military Readiness
 
Having taken away the option of “boots on the ground” to eradicate the murderous cutthroats of the Islamic State -- yet placing 3,000 U.S. troops in harm's way to fight Ebola in Liberia -- Barack Obama reluctantly gave the go-ahead to a series of airstrikes and missile assaults on ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria, with "coalition" forces deploying aircraft, drones and dozens of Tomahawk missiles.

Despite the presence of coalition members Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, with Qatar “in a supporting role,” the vast majority of the armaments and strikes were provided and conducted by American forces. Moreover, the 47 Tomahawk missiles used in initial strikes comprised almost half the number Obama was planning on acquiring next year. In fact, he wants to eliminate that program by 2016. With our current stockpile of Tomahawks, we could maintain the current pace of strikes for only a matter of weeks, since Obama wasn't planning to replace them. The Pentagon estimates our efforts in Iraq and Syria will cost between $7 million and $10 million per day.

Beyond that, officials at the Pentagon concede that wiping out ISIL could take a while. Lt. Gen. Bill Mayville called recent airstrikes “only the beginning” and warned that, to be successful, the operation would have a timeline “in terms of years.” One airstrike may bump up those all-important approval numbers and help Democrat senators in the polls. Yet to actually do long-term damage would require more diligence than Obama has exhibited thus far in the Long War.

Indeed, "in terms of years" is a far cry from “shifting away from a perpetual war footing” as Obama proclaimed to the UN last year. Having killed Osama bin Laden and "decimated" al-Qaida, Obama foolishly figured he could simply remove American forces and cede our influence in that volatile region of the world.

Given that thought process, it's no surprise Obama's latest defense budget signals a further retreat from military readiness at less than $500 billion, with corresponding manpower limits reducing the size of our military. According to Wall Street Journal foreign-affairs columnist Bret Stephens, "By 2017, the U.S. military will be an increasingly hollow force, with the Army as small as it was in 1940, before conscription; a Navy the size it was in 1917, before our entry into World War I; an Air Force flying the oldest -- and smallest -- fleet of planes in its history; and a nuclear arsenal no larger than it was during the Truman administration." That's not the sort of military that would suggest we're ready for a prolonged fight against radical and resolute Islamist forces.

It's worth asking a few questions: If our various coalition members were truly willing to eradicate ISIL, why did they not come together to do the job themselves? Those five allies who helped with this mission, along with France, certainly signed on knowing it was America's fight, however reluctantly, to wipe out Islamist terror cells acting under the banner they call the Islamic State. So when -- or if -- we decide ground troops are necessary, will they lend a hand in that respect? Furthermore, can we really trust these Islamic allies? A favorite tactic of Islamist terrorists is the “blue-on-green” attack such as the one that killed Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene in Afghanistan recently. So who's to say ISIL operatives won't try to likewise infiltrate our allied forces?

We've spent years arguing that the Long War will indeed take years. If Obama finally comes to that realization as well, that's a good thing. But he's also making drastic cuts to our military while at the same time deploying our forces for such things as a humanitarian mission (read: campaign distraction) against an Ebola outbreak in Africa. It's high time Obama began taking the job of commander in chief seriously.
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 26, 2014, 12:37:17 PM


Another Surge of Illegals Coming Our Way?
Just a few days ago, the Obama administration assured us the flood of illegal minors across the southern border was largely over. There are plenty of reasons to doubt this claim. The Weekly Standard's Jeryl Bier reports, "The Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) is looking to buy 40,000 emergency Mylar blankets. The silvery, polyester blankets are often used in detention facilities where those caught illegally crossing the border into the United States are held. ... The USBP seems anxious to have the blankets on hand relatively quickly." And National Review's Ryan Lovelace adds another wrinkle: "After the number of families arriving and being apprehended at the southern border surged this year to levels never seen before, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are opening a fourth detention facility for illegal-immigrant families apprehended in the area, and its capacity will dwarf the three existing family detention centers." It seems the administration expects another surge in border crossers.
===================================


Pentagon Gives Illegal Immigrants Opportunity to Serve in Military
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/25/policy-to-allow-undocumented-immigrants-in-military/16225135/
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ben Franklin, 1722 (!) on: September 26, 2014, 12:34:57 PM
"Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech." --Benjamin Franklin, writing as Silence Dogood, No. 8, 1722
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dollar going up? on: September 26, 2014, 12:32:03 PM


http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/09/25/buoyant-dollar-underlines-resurgence-in-u-s-economy/?emc=edit_th_20140926&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: September 26, 2014, 10:45:11 AM
A fine one Rachel.  Happy New Year!
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Voter Fraud indespensable to Obama strategy on: September 25, 2014, 03:36:12 PM


http://www.dickmorris.com/voter-fraud-indispensable-element-obamas-grand-plan-dick-morris-tv-lunch-alert/
39  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Drums? on: September 25, 2014, 03:09:57 PM
For a clearer soundtrack of the fights, this Gathering we went without drums.

Feedback?

40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / LA Traffic cameras gone Big Brother on: September 25, 2014, 02:53:37 PM

http://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/los-angeles-collects-information-on-citizens-via-traffic-cameras-3000000-a-week/
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LA Traffic cameras gone Big Brother on: September 25, 2014, 02:52:35 PM


http://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/los-angeles-collects-information-on-citizens-via-traffic-cameras-3000000-a-week/
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: FBI says rise in mass shootings on: September 25, 2014, 02:49:50 PM
second post of day:

I notice the data starts in 2001.  I wonder what it was in prior decades?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/25/us/25shooters.html?emc=edit_th_20140925&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Feinstein lied, virtually no one died on: September 25, 2014, 02:47:56 PM


http://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/senator-feinstein-study-shows-she-misleads-on-value-of-assault-weapon-ban/ 
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / C-17 AF flight commander talks about Benghazi on: September 24, 2014, 04:01:42 PM


https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=657019364353951&set=vb.141513472571212&type=2&theater
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Did Stalin kill Patton? on: September 24, 2014, 03:52:28 PM
http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/09/24/bill-oreilly-calls-president-obama-weak-putin-stalin-lite-during-interview-with-glenn/
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jordan on: September 24, 2014, 03:15:04 PM


http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/israel-espionage-mossad-internet/2014/09/22/id/596080/?Dkt_nbr=1645F-1&utm_source=Crooks_and_Liars&utm_medium=widget&utm_content=527&utm_campaign=widgetphase2
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mossad recruiting on: September 24, 2014, 02:50:28 PM


http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/israel-espionage-mossad-internet/2014/09/22/id/596080/?Dkt_nbr=1645F-1&utm_source=Crooks_and_Liars&utm_medium=widget&utm_content=527&utm_campaign=widgetphase2
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Major renewal in nuclear arms on: September 24, 2014, 02:39:37 PM


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/us/us-ramping-up-major-renewal-in-nuclear-arms.html?emc=edit_th_20140922&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's personal relationship with Saul Alinsky on: September 24, 2014, 02:31:11 PM
second post of day

http://www.tpnn.com/2014/09/22/new-written-correspondence-revealed-between-hillary-clinton-and-america-hating-marxist-saul-alinsky/
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: September 24, 2014, 01:49:57 PM
Islamic Jihad -- Target America
Should You Be Concerned?
By Mark Alexander • September 24, 2014
"The establishment of civil and religious liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field." --George Washington (1783)


Despite assurances to the contrary from our nation's commander in chief, it turns out that global Jihad is thriving. And it constitutes a greater threat to our nation's security today than at any time in history.

Should you be concerned?

Of course, the answer is "yes," but with qualification.

The most imminent domestic threat to your life and property, statistically, emanates from the sociopathic drug/gang culture, which continues to metastasize on urban poverty plantations and is now spilling into suburban and rural communities. That threat has been cultivated for the last five decades by ruinous political and social policies that were, ostensibly, enacted to eradicate the poverty those policies institutionalized.

That notwithstanding, the elevated threat to your life from Islamic extremists should be a concern -- not because the probability of being an individual victim of an Islamist assault will soon be higher than the drug/gang culture threat, but because the probability of being among the cumulative victims of a catastrophic attack on our homeland -- be it conventional, nuclear or biological -- is escalating largely unabated.

The 9/11 attack on our country was perpetrated by 19 al-Qa'ida operatives. Its immediate effects -- the loss of lives and the longer-term economic impact -- were devastating. It would only take five to 10 al-Qa'ida operatives to create destruction on a 100-fold scale, with a little help from Iran or other terror-sponsoring states.

How real is that threat?

Islamic terrorist groups are surging worldwide, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Jamaat-e-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Khorasan Group and now, front and center, ISIL, a.k.a. the Islamic State -- all of which together constitute Jihadistan, that borderless nation of Islamic extremists aligned under the Qur'anic umbrella.

Currently there are many American Islamists actively fighting among the ranks of ISIL in the Middle East -- and they have significant networks of support in the United States. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper concludes that the direct links between ISIL and those domestic networks has created "the most diverse array of threats and challenges as I've seen in my 50-plus years in the [intelligence] business."

How did this surge get underway?

In 2012, amid the cascading failure of his domestic economic and social policies, Barack Obama centered his re-election campaign on his faux foreign policy successes, which were built upon the following two boasts: "Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. I did." And "al-Qa'ida is on the run."

The reality, however, is that Obama's "hope and change" retreat from Iraq left a vacuum for the resurgence of a far more dangerous incarnation of Muslim terrorism under the ISIL label, which has displaced al-Qa'ida as the dominant asymmetric Islamic terrorist threat to the West.

Clearly, it is Obama's foreign policy malfeasance that poses the greatest threat to U.S. national and homeland security.

So, is the Islamic State actually, well, Islamic?

Not according to Obama. While he subscribes to the hate-driven rhetoric of Afro-centric theology, six formative years of his early life were spent attending Islamic schools in Indonesia.

In his address to the nation last week, he claimed, "Let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. ... And ISIL is certainly not a state.”

Reasonable people may disagree on whether the Islamic State now occupying much of Syria and Iraq is, at least by the Western definition, a state, but it certainly is a state in the Jihadistan context given the Islamic World of the Qur'an recognizes no political borders.

But for Obama to suggest "ISIL is not Islamic" is flatly absurd. Why else are American taxpayers providing Islamist prisoners at Gitmo copies of the Qur'an and payer rugs?
It is equally asinine, of course, for Secretary of State John Kerry to perpetuate the lie that "Islam is the Religion of Peace™" by claiming, "We must continue to repudiate the gross distortion of Islam that ISIL is spreading."

Their errant assertions prompted this rebuke from Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani: "[Obama and Kerry] turned into Islamic jurists, muftis, sheikhs and preachers, standing up for Islam and the Muslims, so it appears that they no longer have confidence in the ability or sincerity of their sorcerers..."

So, is Islamic Jihad really "Islamic"?

There are many excellent resources for understanding Islamic extremism and the rise of Islamic terrorism. But allow me to offer a brief overview of Islam and the schism that gave rise to global Islamic Jihad.

In 570 AD, Abū al-Qāsim Muhammad was born in Mecca (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). In the year 610, Muhammad went into the hills and claims to have received instruction from an angel to spend the next 22 years as the exclusive transcriber of Allah's message, the Qur'an, which means "recitation." Its 114 Surahs, or chapters, outline the religious, military, civil, social, commercial and legal systems of Islam. Most Muslims believe that Islam originated with the prophet Adam, and that Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Islamic prophets.

After Muhammad's death in 632, Islam split into two factions, Sunni and Shi’ite -- a split originating from a dispute about whether the religion should be led by strict adherence to the Qur'an, or led by Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad. The Sunnis (from "Ahl al-Sunna," meaning ”people of the tradition”) bonded through Muslim orthodoxy. The Shias (from “Shiat Ali,” meaning ”party of Ali”) were a political alliance formed around Muhammad's descendant.

Despite the split, Islam thrived, and by the 17th century, a vast Muslim empire was controlled by a powerful military and was the cultural cradle of mathematics, architecture, art, law and science. But the rise of Western military power would divide and conquer the Muslim empire by the end of the 18th century, followed by European occupations of much of that former empire over the next century.

By the end of World War I, Islam's Ottoman Empire was lost. Many Muslims adapted to Western culture, while some held to old Islamic traditions. But the re-constitution of the State of Israel in 1948 seeded a resurgence of Islamic fervor, a fervor that would unleash itself 30 years later under the watch of Jimmy Carter's administration.
In 1979, the powerful and strategic state of Iran fell to the Islamic Revolution, and Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to power. Student revolutionaries seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage, and that act galvanized both Shia and Sunni Islamist activists throughout the Middle East.

Today, Shia Muslims represent majorities only in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain.

But Islamic Jihad, including al-Qa'ida and subsequent terrorist groups, is rooted in Sunni orthodoxy. Sunnis represent about 85% of Muslims worldwide, including countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

So again, is Islamic Jihad "Islamic"? Indeed, it is.

The Suras of the Qur'an and the Hadith (Muhammad's teachings) require jihad, or "holy war," against all "the enemies of God." For the record, orthodox Sunnis understand that these "infidels" include all Muslim or non-Muslim people who refute any teachings of Muhammad -- which is why ISIL Sunnis are slaughtering Iraqi Shias.

Rebutting Obama's assertion that Islamic Jihad is disconnected from Islam, Hoover Institution Fellow Dennis Prager writes: "Killing 'unbelievers' has been part of -- of course not all of -- Islam since its inception. Within 10 years of Muhammad’s death Muslims had conquered and violently converted whole peoples from Iran to Egypt and from Yemen to Syria. Muslims have offered conquered people death or conversion since that time. ... More than 600 years after Muhammad, Ibn Khaldun, the greatest Muslim writer who ever lived, explained why Islam is the superior religion in the most highly regarded Muslim work ever written, 'Muqaddimah,' or 'Introduction to History': 'In the Muslim community, the holy war is religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.'"

Thus, if you're among those who resist or refute Muhammad's teachings, you're a de facto enemy of Islam.

According to Muhammad in the Qur'anic verses, Allah commands, "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."

Do you refute any teachings of Muhammad?

Based on the Sunni Islamist history of violence, it is clear that Islam is not "the Religion of Peace," though there are obviously many Muslims worldwide and in the U.S. who do not subscribe to Islamist Jihad theology. But the number of Sunni Muslims who do support that totalitarian theology is staggering.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 2.75 million Muslims in the U.S. today. Notably, about 90% of American Muslims are Sunni. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Nation of Islam have now established more than 2,200 mosques, some of which have become hotbeds of support for Sunni Islamist extremists. The ethnic group with the fastest growing conversion rate to Islam is Latino -- 12 million of whom are now in the U.S. illegally, and who continue to pour across our southern border.

Do any of those grim statistics concern you?

At the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War, George Washington wrote that our nation has its roots in "the establishment of civil and religious liberty."
Islam, on the other hand, is founded on the abolition of civil and religious liberty -- which is to say it is diametrically opposed to the notion that Liberty is "endowed by our Creator."

Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
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