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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some Fatwas against FGM on: Today at 12:16:44 PM
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Enemy's propaganda on: Today at 12:10:16 PM
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Three entries on: Today at 11:18:25 AM
Catching up!

"[W]e still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." --Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

"With those who wish to think amiss of me, I have learned to be perfectly indifferent; but where I know a mind to be ingenuous, and to need only truth to set it to rights, I cannot be passive." --Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Abigail Adams, 1804

"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?" --James Madison (1788)
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Worst case scenario for Ebola 1.4 million? on: Today at 09:52:35 AM
C.D.C.’s Worst-Case Ebola Scenario: 1.4 Million Cases in 4 Months

Yet another set of ominous projections about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was released Tuesday, in a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gave worst- and best-case estimates for Liberia and Sierra Leone based on computer modeling.

In the worst-case scenario, Liberia and Sierra Leone could have 21,000 cases of Ebola by Sept. 30 and 1.4 million cases by Jan. 20 if the disease keeps following its current trajectory, without effective methods to contain it. These figures take into account the fact that many cases go undetected, and estimate that there are actually 2.5 times as many as reported.

The report does not include figures for Guinea because case counts there have gone up and down in ways that cannot be reliably modeled.

In the best-case model — which assumes that the dead are buried safely and that 70 percent of patients are treated in settings that reduce the risk of transmission — the epidemic in both countries would be “almost ended” by Jan. 20, the report said. It showed the proportion of patients now in such settings as about 18 percent in Liberia and 40 percent in Sierra Leone.


5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Native Americans and tribal living around the world on: September 22, 2014, 06:24:34 PM
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unlicensed Ginseng? on: September 22, 2014, 09:27:52 AM
Not quite sure where to put this
7  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pictures on: September 22, 2014, 09:13:02 AM
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Koorasan on: September 22, 2014, 12:24:38 AM

WASHINGTON — As the United States begins what could be a lengthy military campaign against the Islamic State, intelligence and law enforcement officials said another Syrian group, led by a shadowy figure who was once among Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, posed a more direct threat to America and Europe.

American officials said that the group called Khorasan had emerged in the past year as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on hitting the United States or its installations overseas with a terror attack. The officials said that the group is led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a senior Qaeda operative who, according to the State Department, was so close to Bin Laden that he was among a small group of people who knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before they were launched.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

    Back and Forth, Wearily, Across the ISIS BorderSEPT. 20, 2014
    Suspicions Run Deep in Iraq That C.I.A. and the Islamic State Are UnitedSEPT. 20, 2014
    Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, center, in suit, welcomed freed hostages Saturday as they arrived at Esenboga Airport in Ankara on Saturday.
    Turkey Obtains Release of Hostages Held in IraqSEPT. 20, 2014
    President Obama used a prime-time address on Wednesday evening to explain to Americans his strategy for confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    Speech Excerpt: Obama on ISIS StrategySEPT. 10, 2014

There is almost no public information about the Khorasan group, which was described by several intelligence, law enforcement and military officials as being made up of Qaeda operatives from across the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Members of the cell are said to be particularly interested in devising terror plots using concealed explosives. It is unclear who, besides Mr. Fadhli, is part of the Khorasan group.

The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., said on Thursday that “in terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.”

Some American officials and national security experts said the intense focus on the Islamic State had distorted the picture of the terrorism threat that has emerged from the chaos of Syria’s civil war, and that the more immediate threats still come from traditional terror groups like Khorasan and the Nusra Front, which is Al Qaeda’s designated affiliate in Syria.

Mr. Fadhli, 33, has been tracked by American intelligence agencies for at least a decade. According to the State Department, before Mr. Fadhli arrived in Syria, he had been living in Iran as part of a small group of Qaeda operatives who had fled to the country from Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. Iran’s government said the group was living under house arrest, but the exact circumstances of the Qaeda operatives were disputed for years, and many members of the group ultimately left Iran for Pakistan, Syria and other countries.

In 2012, the State Department identified Mr. Fadhli as Al Qaeda’s leader in Iran, directing “the movement of funds and operatives” through the country. A $7 million reward was offered for information leading to his capture. The same State Department release said he was working with wealthy “jihadist donors” in Kuwait, his native country, to raise money for Qaeda-allied rebels in Syria.

In a speech in Brussels in 2005, President George W. Bush referred to Mr. Fadhli as he thanked European countries for their counterterrorism assistance, noting that Mr. Fadhli had assisted terrorists who bombed a French oil tanker in 2002 off the coast of Yemen. That attack killed one and spilled 50,000 barrels of oil that stretched across 45 miles of coastline.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is viewed as more focused on consolidating territory it has amassed in Syria and Iraq than on attacking the West. Some even caution that military strikes against the Islamic State could antagonize that group into planning attacks on Western targets, and even benefit other militant organizations if more moderate factions of the rebellion are not ready to take power on the ground.

The Islamic State’s recent statements, including a video using a British captive as a spokesman, have sought to deter American action against the group and threatened attacks only as revenge for American strikes.

At the same time, the rise of the Islamic State has blunted the momentum of its rival groups in Syria, including the Nusra Front, once considered to be among the most capable in the array of Syrian rebel groups. The Islamic State’s expansion across northern Iraq and in oil-rich regions of eastern Syria has sapped some of the Nusra Front’s resources and siphoned some of its fighters — who are drawn by the Islamic State’s battlefield successes and declaration of a caliphate, the longtime dream of many jihadists.

It is difficult to assess the seriousness and scope of any terror plots that Khorasan, the Nusra Front or other groups in Syria might be planning. In several instances in the past year, Nusra and the Islamic State have used Americans who have joined their ranks to carry out attacks inside Syria — including at least one suicide bombing — rather than returning them to the United States to strike there.

Beyond the militant groups fighting for control of territory, Syria has become a magnet for Islamic extremists from other nations who have used parts of the country as a sanctuary to plot attacks.

“What you have is a growing body of extremists from around the world who are coming in and taking advantage of the ungoverned areas and creating informal ad hoc groups that are not directly aligned with ISIS or Nusra,” a former senior law enforcement official said.

Spokesmen for the C.I.A. and the White House declined to comment for this article.
Continue reading the main story
Graphic: How ISIS Works

The grinding war in Syria, well into its fourth year, has led to a constant shifting of alliances among the hard-line rebel groups.

Ayman al-Zawahri, the head of Al Qaeda, anointed the Nusra Front as its official branch in Syria and cut ties with the Islamic State early this year after it refused to follow his orders to fight only in Iraq. Officials said that Khorasan was an offshoot of the Nusra Front. According to a new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, the rifts among these various groups “threaten to create a conflict throughout the jihadist movement that is no longer confined to Syria and Iraq.”

While Nusra has been weakened, it remains one of the few rebel organizations that has active branches throughout Syria. Analysts view the organization as well placed to benefit from American strikes that might weaken the Islamic State.

Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst with the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, said that American strikes could benefit the Nusra Front if the United States did not ensure that there was another force ready to take power on the ground.

“There is definitely a threat that, if not conducted as a component of a properly tailored strategy within Syria, the American strikes would allow the Nusra Front to fill a vacuum in eastern Syria,” she said.

She noted that the Nusra Front had been the primary force in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour before it was pushed out by the Islamic State earlier this year, and that the group had maintained better relationships with the local tribes than ISIS had. This could make it easier for the group to return if ISIS is chased out by American airstrikes.

While the Nusra Front does not openly call for attacks on the West, it remains loyal to Mr. Zawahri, whose clout among jihadists has waned with the rise of the Islamic State.

A great deal remains uncertain about the Nusra Front’s ultimate aims inside Syria. Hamza al-Shimali, the head of the American-backed rebel group the Hazm Movement, said that he and his allies did not trust the Nusra Front. He said he feared that one day he would have to fight the Nusra Front in addition to the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

American intelligence officials estimate that since the Syrian conflict began, about 15,000 foreigners, including more than 100 Americans and 2,000 Europeans, have traveled to the country to fight alongside rebel groups. Syria’s porous borders make it relatively easy to get in and out of the country, raising concerns among Western officials that without markings on their passports they could slip back undetected into Europe or the United States.
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drive-by surprise medical bills on: September 21, 2014, 11:24:21 PM
 shocked shocked shocked 
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dem's block Cruz's bill to strip citizenship on: September 21, 2014, 10:10:51 AM
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The enemy makes our case for us on: September 20, 2014, 06:52:24 PM 
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sobibor gas chambers unearthed on: September 20, 2014, 06:41:51 PM

Click here to watch: 71 years later, Sobibor gas chambers unearthed

The gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp, where some 250,000 Jews perished between April 1942 and October 1943, have been uncovered in an archaeological dig, bringing to a close an eight-year search, Yad Vashem announced on Wednesday. “Finally, we have reached our goal – the discovery of the gas chambers. We were amazed at the size of the building and the well-preserved condition of the chamber walls,” Israeli archaeologist Yoram Haimi, whose two uncles were killed in the camp, was quoted as saying in a press release. In addition to the thousands of personal effects belonging to the Jewish inmates that have been unearthed in past years, last week the archaeological team found a water well used by the Jewish prisoners, which the Nazis filled with waste while dismantling the camp. A wedding band bearing the Hebrew inscription “Behold, you are consecrated unto me” was also recently located near the gas chambers in what Haimi described as the “most poignant moment.” The find buttresses the accounts of the survivors of the extermination camp, and constitutes “a very important finding in Holocaust research,” said Yad Vashem scholar Dr. David Silberklang. “It is important to understand that there were no survivors from among the Jews who worked in the area of the gas chambers. Therefore, these findings are all that is left of those murdered there, and they open a window onto the day-to-day suffering of these people,” he said. “We will now be able to know more precisely what the process of murder was in the camp, and what the Jews went through until they were murdered. Additionally, finding the gas chambers and their capacity will enable us to estimate more precisely the number of people murdered in Sobibór.”

Watch Here

The discovery follows nearly eight years of excavations at the site — conducted by Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research, the German-Polish Foundation and the Majdanek State Museum — during which various personal items belonging to its victims such as jewelry, medicine, and food utensils were retrieved. Haimi has worked on the excavation since 2007, along with a Polish archaeologist Wojciech Mazure. In 2013 Dr. Ivar Schute, a Dutch archaeologist, joined the team. In 2012, Haimi discovered the areas where poles were planted in the soil, which mapped out the Himmelfahrsstrasse, or the “Road to Heaven, where the Jews were marched naked to the gas chambers,” according to the Associated Press. That find ultimately led him to the location of the gas chambers. The excavations were complicated by the extensive Nazi efforts to destroy all evidence of the Sobibor death camp. In October 1943, following an uprising of the camp’s 600 remaining inmates, of whom approximately half successfully escaped, the Nazis leveled the camp. They later planted crops over the site to hide the evidence. Thousands of Jews from Lublin, German-occupied Soviet territory, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Bohemia and Moravia, the Netherlands, and France were deported to Sobibor during the year-and-a-half that it was operational, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Like Belzec and Treblinka, which were established at around the same time, Sobibor was designed as a death camp, and Jews were gassed almost immediately upon their arrival.

Source: Times of Israel

13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Threat of cartel violence nixes US border protest? on: September 20, 2014, 03:26:41 PM

Not impossible that this group is fibbing to cover what would have been a poor turnout.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / French have a good idea? on: September 20, 2014, 03:24:20 PM
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: September 19, 2014, 11:26:51 PM
Third post:

Not inconsistent with my notion of support for Kurdistan and Israel and let everyone else slug it out.
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glenn Beck on Sykes-Picot on: September 19, 2014, 11:19:45 PM
second post

I found this very interesting.
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Turning the mideast into Mogadishu. on: September 19, 2014, 10:53:48 PM
VDH gets it right:  
18  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 9/21/2014 Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack on: September 19, 2014, 10:08:48 PM
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington, First Inaugural, 1789 on: September 19, 2014, 11:12:29 AM
"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained." --George Washington, First Inaugural Address, 1789
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Gathering Clusterfuck has arrived on: September 19, 2014, 10:56:15 AM
I fear we are headed into a disaster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Intelligence Committee review:

The House Armed Services Committee:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A friend writes:

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

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

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

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

b)   Turkey gets suitable pieces of Syria in return. 

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

d)   Egypt is given green light to straighten out Libya

e)   Israel and Egypt given green light to crush Hamas

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

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

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

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

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

By George Friedman

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

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

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

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

The Principle of National Self-Determination

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

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

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

The Imperfection of the Nation-State

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

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

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

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

Scotland's Case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fisher Ames, Essay on Equality 1801 on: September 16, 2014, 11:19:05 AM
"Liberty is not to be enjoyed, indeed it cannot exist, without the habits of just subordination; it consists, not so much in removing all restraint from the orderly, as in imposing it on the violent." --Fisher Ames, Essay on Equality, 1801
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