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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hawk takes out drone on: October 12, 2014, 12:02:15 AM
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin shows his hand on: October 11, 2014, 03:31:38 PM
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Govt of Baghdad striking deals w Sunni Tribes on: October 11, 2014, 03:18:30 PM
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on Al Sisi on: October 11, 2014, 02:51:35 PM
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A new tact to dismantle Roe v. Wade on: October 11, 2014, 01:04:23 PM 
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FSA seizes Syrian Russian outpost on Golan Heights on: October 11, 2014, 12:47:32 PM

Click here to watch: Syrian Rebels Overrun Intelligence base on Golan Heights used to spy on Israel
Syrian rebel forces fighting the government of President Bashar Assad overran a military intelligence base on the Golan Heights that served as a joint Russian-Syrian forward post for information-gathering on Israel. In a four-minute video clip which was posted on the Internet by the rebels, Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in a building in Quneitra, just near the boundary between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The footage shows pictures of Russian officers visiting the base as well as Russian-language maps of Israel. There are also photographs of the Russian defense minister’s top intelligence advisor as well as various other senior Russian defense and military officials having once visited the base. The base, which goes by the name “C,” is situated on the “Tel al-Hara” hill in Quneitra.

Watch Here

The footage and evidence found suggests that Russian and Syrian spies used the premises to analyze raw espionage data which was gathered by troops from both countries. One of the documents seized by FSA rebels and dated May 31, 2014 gives an order to intelligence officers at the base to “record all of the wireless conversations between the terrorist groups,” a reference to the coalition of organizations seeking to topple the Damascus government. The FSA officer seen in the footage appealed to “all the honorable people of Russia” to urge their government to cease all cooperation with forces loyal to Assad, “who are murdering children and women and using chemical weapons against civilians.”

Source: Jpost
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 11, 2014, 11:34:04 AM

Welcome back Jeff!

Your point about the Turkish Constitution is a very interesting one.

All:  Jeff has some distinctive knowledge of the realities of the mid-east. 
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS with MPADs approaching Baghdad; airport on: October 11, 2014, 11:30:59 AM 

I have flagged the significance of the MPADs for two years now, beginning with all of Kadaffy's MPADs that were left to "disappear" in the wake of his overthrow, and the significance of their getting loose.  American close air support is about to become quite dangerous.

Perhaps my imagination is running away with me, but I can picture Baghdad getting to the point where we want to get non-essential personnel out of our embassy but not being able to use the airport because of the MPADs.
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10/16/14: The border States documentary on: October 10, 2014, 09:05:17 PM
Hope this will be well done:
160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US_Saudi Deal driving oil down on: October 10, 2014, 09:00:10 PM
This is interesting.  Hat tip to Jeff!

161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Draft of first Inaugural, 1789 on: October 10, 2014, 11:11:29 AM
"No compact among men ... can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other." --George Washington, draft of first Inaugural Address, 1789
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Meanwhile, where Iraq used to be , , , on: October 10, 2014, 11:07:06 AM
Even as the world's attention focuses on the Islamic State's advance in the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the jihadist group is threatening to overrun Iraq's western Anbar Province. The group has made major gains in the province recently, including capturing two Iraqi army bases and seizing the towns of Hit and Kubaisa. It is also advancing on the provincial capital of Ramadi. The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State has struck more than 40 targets in the province, which is Iraq's largest, in what has been so far an unsuccessful effort to stem the group's advance.

The Islamic State is also making gains in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The group's fighters recently entered one of the city's suburbs, Abu Ghraib, which lies only eight miles from the international airport - posing a potential threat for airliners. The jihadist group has partially encircled the capital, controlling the territory from due north of the city, extending to the west, and then down to the south.
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 10, 2014, 10:19:44 AM
Worth taking a look at the piece that starts this thread back in 2007.
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Guess who is giving to charity , , , on: October 10, 2014, 09:21:13 AM
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Some thoughts , , , on: October 10, 2014, 01:04:41 AM
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Panetta's book is a contract hit by Hillary on: October 09, 2014, 09:19:21 PM
Panetta's Book Is A Contract Hit On Obama By Hillary
Published on on October 9, 2014
Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff who was appointed with Hillary's blessing, has written a book with one clear motive: To bolster Hillary's narrative that the failures of the foreign policy that she designed were simply not her fault.

Everything was Obama's fault, not Hillary's and, of course, not Panetta's.

In the former Secretary of State's book Hard Choices, she criticized Obama's lack of strategic vision saying "not doing stupid stuff" is not an overarching foreign policy organizing principle.

Now Panetta echoes this criticism in his own book, Worthy Fights, describing a president who "avoids the battle, complains and misses opportunities."  He accuses Obama of "coordinating negotiations" to allow our troops to stay in Iraq to guard against an ISIS resurgence without "really leading them."
According to Panetta, the White House "seemed content to endorse an agreement if State and Defense could reach one" to keep our troops in Iraq, But, Panetta points out that without Obama's personal involvement, it became impossible to convince Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki to reverse his position and agree to let a garrison of American troops remain.  And Obama did not make the effort to persuade him.
Panetta amplifies the impact of the failure to leave troops there saying  "To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al Qaeda's resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country."

He said Obama had "kind of lost his way" and famously noted that the president too often "relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader."
Panetta's comments come as Hillary wrestles with a central threat to her candidacy.  She was Secretary of State for four years yet the foreign policy crafted then has proven to be an unprecedented failure.  Everything that she worked on has blown up in our face.  The Arab Spring has become a nightmare. 

We are on the verge of signing a phony deal with Iran that will let them enrich uranium far into the future so they can make a bomb anytime they want.

The reset button with Russia is a joke and we have made zero progress on human rights or fair trade with China.
Hillary realizes that this is not a record on which to predicate a presidential campaign.  So if the foreign policy she helped to craft is a fiasco, she has to blame someone else -- the president.
Panetta stepped into help frame the issue.  A Clintonista above all, he legitimized Hillary's efforts to distance herself from the president on foreign policy without having to attack him herself.  Now the negative points for disloyalty will accrue to Panetta not to Hillary.
The former defense secretary underscores the extent to which Obama's failure to act against Syria when it crossed the "red line" he had drawn against the use of chemical weapons.  He said "It was damaging."  Obama "sent a mixed message, not only to the Syrians, but to the world. And that is something you do not want to establish in the world: an issue with regard to the credibility of the United States to stand by what we say we're gonna do."

As our involvement in Iraq and Syria escalates into a full blown war -- as it must now that our airstrikes are failing to do the job -- the blame game will grow with it.  Panetta's comments are an attempt to swat the blame away from Hillary Clinton.

He will get his reward. Just wait.
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 09, 2014, 02:38:21 PM
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once aspired to lead the Muslim world. At this time of regional crisis, he has been anything but a leader. Turkish troops and tanks have been standing passively behind a chicken-wire border fence while a mile away in Syria, Islamic extremists are besieging the town of Kobani and its Kurdish population.

This is an indictment of Mr. Erdogan and his cynical political calculations. By keeping his forces on the sidelines and refusing to help in other ways — like allowing Kurdish fighters to pass through Turkey — he seeks not only to weaken the Kurds, but also, in a test of will with President Obama, to force the United States to help him oust President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom he detests.

It is also evidence of the confusion and internal tensions that affect Mr. Obama’s work-in-progress strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim extremist group also called ISIS or ISIL. Kurdish fighters in Kobani have been struggling for weeks to repel the Islamic State. To help, the Americans stepped up airstrikes that began to push the ISIS fighters back, although gun battles and explosions continued on Wednesday.

But all sides — the Americans, Mr. Erdogan and the Kurds — agree that ground forces are necessary to capitalize on the air power. No dice, says Mr. Erdogan, unless the United States provides more support to rebels trying to overthrow Mr. Assad and creates a no-fly zone to deter the Syrian Air Force as well as a buffer zone along the Turkish border to shelter thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the fighting.

No one can deny Mr. Assad’s brutality in the civil war, but Mr. Obama has rightly resisted involvement in that war and has insisted that the focus should be on degrading ISIS, not going after the Syrian leader. The biggest risk in his decision to attack ISIS in Syria from the air is that it could put America on a slippery slope to a war that he has otherwise sought to avoid.

Mr. Erdogan’s behavior is hardly worthy of a NATO ally. He was so eager to oust Mr. Assad that he enabled ISIS and other militants by allowing fighters, weapons and revenues to flow through Turkey. If Mr. Erdogan refuses to defend Kobani and seriously join the fight against the Islamic State, he will further enable a savage terrorist group and ensure a poisonous long-term instability on his border.

He has also complicated his standing at home. His hesitation in helping the Syrian Kurds has enraged Turkey’s Kurdish minority, which staged protests against the Turkish government on Wednesday that reportedly led to the deaths of 21 people. Mr. Erdogan fears that defending Kobani would strengthen the Syrian Kurds, who have won de facto control of many border areas as they seek autonomy much like their Kurdish brethren in Iraq. But if Kobani falls, Kurdish fury will undoubtedly grow.

The Americans have been trying hard to resolve differences with Mr. Erdogan in recent days, but these large gaps are deeply threatening to the 50-plus-nation coalition that the United States has assembled. One has to wonder why such a profound dispute was not worked out before Mr. Obama took action in Syria.
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: ISIL War endangers Hillary's candidacy on: October 09, 2014, 02:05:06 PM
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 09, 2014, 10:02:17 AM
GOP Senate Majority? Then What?
It's Time for New Leadership
By Mark Alexander • October 8, 2014     
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison (1792)

If you've been holed up in some alternate universe for the last six weeks, you may have missed the collective consensus of political pundits and prognosticators that, in the upcoming November 4th midterm election, Republicans will pick up at least the six U.S. Senate seats needed for majority control.

If the current polling trends are borne out by the only poll that really matters -- Election Day -- then Republicans will win enough Senate seats to claim majority status. Still, an old farmer would no doubt caution, "Don't count your chickens 'till they hatch."

Indeed, nobody should assume Republicans will control the Senate come January, and one need look no further than all the reputable polling ahead of the 2012 presidential election for the reason. Remember how the major polling firms, along with Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Michael Barone and others, were predicting a Mitt Romney win?

How did that turn out?

Over in the House, the GOP is striving to achieve its "Drive to 245," which would mean increasing the party's 233-seat majority to a level not seen since 1946. But Republicans will be fortunate to hold on to the number of House seats they have now.

While I certainly hope Republicans win a Senate majority next month, they must resolve to do more than merely slow the "rule of lawlessness" that now defines Obama's presidential modus operandi. They must use a majority to pass popular conservative legislation -- from tax reform to energy deregulation to border security -- through both chambers and place it on Obama's desk, daring him to veto it.
Of course, Obama has already committed to bypass Consitutional Rule of Law, saying, "Where Congress isn't acting, I'll act on my own. ... I've got a pen ... and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward."

And indeed, he has demonstrated he will do so, with executive orders constricting Second Amendment rights, and supporting his so-called "climate change" agenda, enacting regulations for his "war on coal" and continuing to stiff-arm the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The most egregious examples of Obama's executive order abuses include his repeated rewrites of the so-called "Affordable Care Act," in an effort to assist the re-election campaigns of congressional Democrats.

The fact is, if Senate Republicans do attain majority status, and the House GOP maintains its current majority, those achievements will not have been earned through "Republican Leadership" so much as handed to them by way of Barack Obama's colossal failures in both domestic and foreign policy.

As Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, observed this week in her Wall Street Journal analysis, "In a year when Republicans are operating in such an enviable political environment, why aren’t their U.S. Senate candidates holding big and impressive leads? Why does it look close? Why are party professionals getting worried?"

What does she mean by "enviable political environment"?

Lets review the short list of failures:

Obama's administration is now defined by his litany of lies and legacy of scandals, most notably the failure of his so-called "economic recovery" plan; his unparalleled foreign policy malfeasance; his "Fast and Furious" gun control play; his long list of ObamaCare lies; his IRS Enemies List; the dramatic resurgence of al-Qa'ida; the Benghazi security failure and subsequent cover-up to protect his 2012 re-election bid; his hollow "Red Line" threat to Syria; the "Russian Spring" in Crimea; the Middle East meltdown in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Jordan and Gaza; the disintegration of Iraq; the rise of the Islamic State; the VA death panels cover-up; the immigration crisis on our southern border; the malfeasance and long-overdue resignation of Eric Holder, the most lawless attorney general in our nation's history; and now, his downplaying of the Ebola threat, his utter unwillingness to address both Enterovirus D68, which is killing children nationwide, and the pandemic threat of jihadist Bio-Bombers.

Despite the significant advantage this should give Republicans in the upcoming election, Noonan writes, "Republicans aren’t achieving lift-off. The metaphor used most often is the wave. If Republicans can’t make, catch and ride a wave in an environment like this, they’ve gone from being the stupid party to the stupid loser party."

Charles Krauthammer notes, "[Obama’s] agenda died on Nov. 2, 2010, when he lost the House. It won’t be any deader on Nov. 4, 2014, if he loses the Senate."
So what happened in 2010 that stalled Obama's agenda?

Clearly, the 2008 election of an ideological Socialist to the Office of President came with some unintended consequences for Obama and his Leftist cadres across the nation. Chief among those was the emergence of the grassroots Tea Party Movement ahead of the 2010 midterm election.

While the GOP rolled out its "new and improved" platform modeled after Newt Gingrich's successful 1994 Contract with America, it was the Tea Party that singlehandedly repopulated the House with a substantial number of genuine conservatives, thereby restoring Republican control.

Regrettably, the "establishment Republicans" in the House virtually excluded the new conservatives from significant House leadership positions. The resulting fratricidal infighting thwarted additional gains in 2012 and enabled Obama to buy a second term as president.

Has the GOP learned any lessons?

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, on schedule, rolled out the latest version of the party's Key Principles last week. To his credit, first among those is this: "Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored." Priebus is genuinely committed to conservative principles. Recall that he had The Patriot Post's Essential Liberty Pocket Guide distributed to all RNC convention members in 2012, and he held one up for display during that event.

However, the first of the GOP key principles should state, "Our Constitution should be upheld as the supreme law of the land, and our leaders should abide by their oaths 'to Support and Defend' it." 
To that end, the current Republican congressional leadership receives mixed reviews. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is committed to conservative principles, scoring better than 80% in the American Conservative Union ratings. Notably, however, Speaker of the House John Boehner did not make the 80% ACU cut.

Despite McConnell's rating, if the GOP does luck into a Senate majority, I believe it's time for new leadership in both chambers.


Krauthammer notes, "[R]egaining the Senate would finally give the GOP the opportunity, going into 2016, to demonstrate its capacity to govern. ... [C]ontrolling both houses would allow the GOP to produce a compelling legislative agenda. ... If the president signs any of it, good. If he vetoes, it will be clarifying. Who then will be the party of no? The vetoed legislation would become the framework for a 2016 GOP platform."

He is correct, but producing a compelling legislative agenda would require outstanding leadership -- which neither McConnell nor Boehner have demonstrated.
As Noonan writes, "It’s good to win, but winning without a declared governing purpose is a ticket to nowhere. ... Republicans need to say what they’re for."
The fact is, both McConnell and Boehner have failed to clearly articulate a unified governing purpose. Thus, gaining a Senate majority and retaining the House majority may be for naught if not under spirited and principled new leadership.
Winston Churchill wrote, "If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver."

However, there appears to be no important point to make under the current GOP leadership, and neither McConnell nor Boehner seem to have any idea what a pile driver is.

"A leader," said Ronald Reagan, "once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough." Clearly, he was just such a leader.

Under the current GOP leadership, there has been neither a clear course of action nor the necessary determination to stick with such action.

Let me restate: Any Republican gains in November will not be earned through "Republican Leadership" so much as handed to them through Barack Obama's colossal failures.

It is long past time for young and fresh Republican leadership in both the House and Senate -- and there are rising leaders who are more than capable of making their case.
Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: October 09, 2014, 08:04:51 AM
I'm thinking there may be a conceptual model there of use to us.
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some very interesting Turkish-- ME history on: October 08, 2014, 07:33:50 PM
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey leaving Kurds hanging in Kobani on: October 08, 2014, 07:17:08 PM*Editors%20Picks&utm_campaign=2014_EditorsPicks10%2F08RS
173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian cyber attacks? on: October 08, 2014, 02:17:14 PM

A lot of military capabilities become Maginot Lines in such a world , , ,
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cruz proposes Constitutional Amendment on: October 08, 2014, 12:03:04 PM

You make good points.

Here's Cruz's response:
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Panetta: I told Petraeus it was an attack on: October 08, 2014, 11:58:24 AM
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, 1791, First Principles on: October 08, 2014, 11:51:40 AM
There is not in the whole science of politics a more solid or a more important maxim than this -- that of all governments, those are the best, which, by the natural effect of their constitutions, are frequently renewed or drawn back to their first principles." --James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Piers Morgan on: October 08, 2014, 11:46:59 AM
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: October 08, 2014, 11:29:52 AM
As someone who lived through the Vietnam War, indeed I was in the draft lottery and quite active in the movement against the war, the preceding article has a lot of resonance for me.

We face very a plethora of difficult situations and it can be easy to get lost in the complexities.  Herewith my armchair general to cut to the chase:

The original idea was to deny safe havens for Islamo Fascism (IF) to safely train and prepare to attack us. 

Hence Afpakia-- this launched at the height of the American uni-polar moment

How has this original idea worked out so far?

It has not.  The enemy has, or will soon have, Afpakia, Libya, various pieces of Africa, and ISILstan.   (Egypt was almost also on this list despite the hubristic follies of Obama-Clinton.) All these places are now places that IF now has sanctuary to plot, train, and prepare its coming attacks upon us.  Thus it seems to me that the logic of denying sanctuary no longer applies. 

As is amply documented here, I am of the firm belief that it did not have to be this way and that a large % of the responsibility lies with Obama-Clinton, but in fairness it must be noted that Bush's strategy for Afpakia was incoherent (as I have said here many times for many years) and I do not envy the hand there he handed over to Obama.   Bush's many screw-ups in Iraq caused a very close brush with disaster that understandably broke the heart and trust of many Americans before he turned things around-- but turn things around he did and he handed a very good hand to Obama in Iraq-- which Obama petulantly threw away.

Having noted that so that we may learn from it, the question remains:  What do we do now that the enemy DOES have sanctuaries?

First it seems quite clear to me that we must realize that it is too late for "fighting them there so we do not have fight them here" as Bush presciently stated in 2004. 

Off the top of my head we need to DEFEND THE HOMELAND:

a) Control the borders!!!

b) Have a proper system for promptly and efficiently noting those who overstay their visas; the Feds must overrule the "Sanctuary City" policies of many cities (and states?) just as it overruled Arizona for intruding in the Federal realm (a mistake because AZ was SUPPORTING the enforcement of federal law, not undercutting it) ; illegals caught domestically should be deported instantly-- after reasonable changes in the law regarding those brought here young and who grew up here.  No path to citizenship, but yes a path to green card or something like it.

c) Change immigration criteria.  I'm hoping the collective here, GM in particular, can help us look up what US policies were regarding the entry of communists and those from communist countries during the Cold War.  Perhaps there are some useful analogies and correlations there , , ,  There are populations more likely to contain IF and immigration from them and visas granted to its citizens should be curtailed.

As noted in my previous posts, we are headed down a path to disaster.  Yes IF is an enemy, but who do we hear putting forward a plausible strategy?  Certainly not Obama!  But that said, it must also be said, are those advocating "boots on the ground" really putting forward something that will work?  That is not clear to me.  Indeed it is not clear to me that it is clear to them what they have in mind.  Certainly NO ONE is putting forward anything about Iran's nukes that sounds plausible to me!!!

In the mood in which I find myself as I write this post and my suggested strategy not likely to be put in effect while it can be, Ron Paul seems closest in this moment to what I am thinking/feeling.  He seems to be pivoting towards something around which the American people will be able to rally whereas both Obama and the generals are not.

179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will Syria be Obama's Vietnam? on: October 08, 2014, 10:51:56 AM

FIFTY years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized a strategic bombing campaign against targets in North Vietnam, an escalation of the conflict in Southeast Asia that was swiftly followed by the deployment of American ground troops. Last month, President Obama expanded a strategic bombing campaign against Islamic insurgents in the Middle East, escalating the attack beyond Iraq into Syria.

Will Mr. Obama repeat history and commit ground troops? Many analysts believe so, and top officials are calling for it. But the president has expressed skepticism about what American force can accomplish in this kind of struggle, and he has resisted the urgings of hawks inside and outside the administration who want him to go in deeper. Mr. Obama, his supporters say, is a “gloomy realist” who has learned history’s lesson: that American military power, no matter how great in relative terms, is ultimately of limited utility in conflicts that are, at their root, political or ideological in nature.

It’s a powerful, reasoned position, amply supported by the history of America’s involvement in Vietnam. But that history also shows that a president’s attitude and analytical assessment, no matter how gloomily realistic, are not necessarily an antidote to ill-advised military action. Foreign intervention has a logic all to itself.

Today we think of Lyndon Johnson as a man unwaveringly committed to prevailing in Vietnam. But at least at first, he shared Mr. Obama’s pessimism. He and his advisers knew they faced an immense challenge in attempting to suppress the insurgency in South Vietnam. “A man can fight if he can see daylight down the road somewhere,” he said privately in early March 1965. “But there ain’t no daylight in Vietnam.”

Johnson also knew that the Democratic leadership in the Senate shared his misgivings, and that key allied governments counseled against escalation and in favor of a political solution.

On occasion the president even allowed himself to question whether the outcome in Vietnam really mattered to American and Western security. “What the hell is Vietnam worth to me?” he despaired in 1964, even as he was laying plans to expand American involvement. “What’s it worth to this country?”

At other times Johnson was quite capable of arguing for the geopolitical importance of the struggle — he was adept at tailoring his Vietnam analysis to his needs of the moment. But the overall picture that emerges in the administration’s massive internal record for 1964-65 is of a president deeply skeptical that the war could be won, even with large-scale escalation, and far from certain that it was necessary even to try.

So why did Johnson take the plunge? In part because he was hemmed in — not merely by 15 years of steadily growing American involvement in Indochina, but, more important, by his own and his advisers’ use of overheated rhetoric to describe the stakes in Vietnam and their confidence in victory. Moreover, he had personalized the war, and saw any criticism of its progress as an attack on him, compromising his ability to see the conflict objectively.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

We know the results. In the very week in which he professed to see “no daylight” in the struggle, Johnson initiated Operation Rolling Thunder, the graduated, sustained aerial bombardment against North Vietnam; also that week, he dispatched the first combat troops. More soon followed, and by the end of 1965, some 180,000 men were on the ground in South Vietnam. Ultimately, the count would top half a million.

True, it’s hard to imagine Mr. Obama ordering a Johnson-style surge of combat forces to Iraq or Syria. The circumstances on the ground are dissimilar, and he sees the world and America’s role in it differently than Johnson did. By all accounts he is less inclined to personalize foreign policy tests, and less threatened by diverse views among his advisers.

In these respects he is much closer in his sensibility and approach to another Vietnam-era president, John F. Kennedy. He consistently rejected the proposals of civilian aides and military leaders to commit combat forces to Vietnam, but he also significantly expanded American involvement in the conflict during his thousand days in office, complicating the choices open to his successor. Whether he could have continued to walk that line, as Mr. Obama is trying to do, is an unanswerable question.

But the point is not about biography; rather, it’s about the inability of a president, once committed to military intervention, to control the course of events. War has a forward motion of its own. Most of Johnson’s major steps in the escalation in Vietnam were in response to unforeseen obstacles, setbacks and shortcomings. There’s no reason the same dynamic couldn’t repeat itself in 2014.

And there is a political logic, too: Then as now, the president faced unrelenting pressure from various quarters to do more, to fight the fight, to intensify the battle. Then as now, the alarmist rhetoric by the president and senior officials served to reduce their perceived maneuverability, not least in domestic political terms. Johnson was no warmonger, and he feared, rightly, that Vietnam would be his undoing. Nonetheless, he took his nation into a protracted struggle that ended in bitter defeat.

“I don’t think it’s worth fighting for, and I don’t think we can get out,” a sullen Johnson told McGeorge Bundy, his national security adviser, in 1964. One can only hope the same sentiment is not being expressed in the Oval Office today.

Fredrik Logevall is a professor of history at Cornell and the author, most recently, of “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam.” Gordon M. Goldstein is the author of “Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam.”
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama surprised, we are not. Turkey wants Assad out for helping Kurds on: October 08, 2014, 10:39:00 AM
181  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Head injury/brain damage/concussion in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: October 08, 2014, 10:37:50 AM
Woof All:

A moment of shameless advertising:  We are discussing this and more on the Neck thread on the DBMA Ass'n forum  grin
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Slithering in the snake pit: Kobani,Syrian Kurd "terrorists", Turkey, and the US on: October 08, 2014, 12:38:12 AM
183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 07, 2014, 08:51:31 PM
On SCH there is History, American History, and Totalitarianism.   Does your material fit in any of these?
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ebola on: October 07, 2014, 11:01:58 AM
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Huckabee on SCOTUS's failure to take up the marrigae cases on: October 07, 2014, 10:34:22 AM
Oct. 7, 2014
Dear Marc F.,
By the Supreme Court failing to take up the case, it is deferring to the lower courts in a cowardly way, but sadly adding to the disturbing practice of judicial supremacy.

The Supreme Court largely created the confusion by the Windsor decision, and now runs from having to face a simple Constitutional principle that the ultimate authority in our system of government is the people. It is shocking that many elected officials, attorneys, and judges think that a court ruling is the 'final word.' It most certainly is not. The courts are one branch of government, and equal to the other two, but not superior to either and certainly not to both.

Even if the other two branches agree with the ruling, the people's representatives have to pass enabling legislation to authorize same sex marriage, and the President (or Governor in the case of the state) has to sign it. Otherwise, it remains the court's opinion. It is NOT the 'law of the land' as is often heralded. The courts can't make law. They can interpret it and even rule that a law is unconstitutional, but they have no power to create it or enforce it.

(MARC:  A very interesting point.  Would love to have BD's take on this.)

You have my pledge to continue to fight for traditional marriage and to only support candidates who stand with us on this fundamental issue.
Mike Huckabee
186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Alster: Did Iran's crackdown include nuke scientists? on: October 06, 2014, 04:01:10 PM
Did Iran's Crackdown on Dissidents Include Nuclear Scientists?
by Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
October 2, 2014
 A four-month extension granted by the P5+1 to the Islamic Republic of Iran to comply with the nuclear arms deal brokered in late-2013 and negotiate a final deal ends Nov. 24. Iran has been required to fully account for its nuclear development activities and offer all assistance to international inspectors, in return for the lifting of crippling international sanctions.

Iran welcomed the easing of financial and other sanctions, but many in the international community believe that Iran has failed to keep its end of the bargain.
"No deal is better than a bad deal," President Obama is on record as saying, but with the not-insignificant distraction of the ISIS terror sweep into Syria and Iraq, there are fears that the notoriously smooth-tongued Iranian negotiators will pull another fast one and wriggle out of their commitments.

"In order to understand what could go wrong, all one has to do is to carefully reflect upon the past decade and note everything that actually has gone wrong: how Iran was able to progress from having several hundred centrifuges to 19,000 of these machines, and to accumulate a stockpile of LEU [Low Enriched Uranium] in an amount that if enriched to higher levels could produce fissile material for 6 or 7 nuclear devices," Emily B. Landau, senior research fellow and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Tel-Aviv-based Institute of National Strategic Studies (INSS) points out in a recently published study, 'Principles and Guidelines for a Comprehensive Nuclear Deal with Iran.'

Against this background this week came renewed allegations from Iranian dissidents that the high-profile slaying of a senior Iranian nuclear scientist in January 2007 may have been carried out by the regime itself, and not by Israel's Mossad intelligence service, as has been widely assumed.

The allegation has been made by Mahboobeh Hosseinpour, the sister of the late Ardeshir Hosseinpour, who died in suspicious circumstances after apparently expressing deep concern at the direction of the Iranian nuclear program.

Hosseinpour was contacted in 2004 by government agents with "a direct message" from Iran's supreme leader, a statement from the opposition group The New Iran said, summarizing the sister's story.

The agents "sought to enlist Dr. Hosseinpour to work on increasing the IRI's capabilities in uranium enrichment for the purpose of building atomic weapons with a secondary goal of teaching and supervising Russian and North Korean scientists in order to accelerate this project. In order to incentivize Dr. Hosseinpour, he was offered the rank of a two-star general in the IRI's Revolutionary Guard apparatus along with ownership of three factories related to manufacturing of parts for the nuclear projects. This offer received a harsh and negative reaction from Dr. Hosseinpour who promptly ridiculed and rejected it."

Mahboobeh Hosseinpour believes her brother's "persistent resistance against the IRI regime and its nuclear intentions that led Ali Khamenei to order his assassination on January 15, 2007."

It's a powerful claim, but one without evidence. On its own, it would be hard to accept that – like a classic James Bond villain – Iran killed one of its leading nuclear scientists. But similar allegations in recent years appear to reflect the Iran's zero tolerance view of any internal dissent.

In 2012, Britain's Daily Mail reported claims by London-based dissident Potkin Azarmeh that Iranian intelligence agents, and not a man paraded by the regime as an Israeli spy and apparently executed 50-year-old Masoud Ali Mohammadi, another senior Iranian scientist allegedly working on the nuclear development project.

"Some Iranian dissidents believe that [Iran] has used the cover of its war with Israel to crack down on internal opponents, with some saying that Mr Mohammadi was killed because he was a supporter of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi," the Daily Mail reported. "Ali-Mohammadi died in January 2010 when a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle outside his home in Tehran went off."

This week's allegations are clearly designed by Iranian dissidents to plant questions in the mind of the public and of international politicians prepared to accept the benign smile of President Hassan Rouhani as a genuinely moderate new face in Iran. The potential double-bluff of killing its own sharpest nuclear brains, they intimate, is not far removed from the ruse being performed under the noses of the international community who have failed to understand the extent to which Iran's nuclear program continues to develop, even with IAEA inspectors in the country at the behest of the P5+1.

Any potential extension to negotiations, argue regional experts such as Ephraim Asculai, who worked 40 years with Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), could be a fatal mistake. "Iran is... interested in buying time," Asculai believes, "because the window of opportunity for breaking out – making an explosive nuclear device – narrows with each passing day."

International negotiators seem to have given up on dismantling Iran's nuclear program, Landau warns. "Rather, at this point they seek only to slow it down, with the hope that they will be able to prevent in time an Iranian rush to concretize its military nuclear capability."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week that Iran remains the biggest threat to world peace. The international community should not be distracted by the ISIS issue, Netanyahu warned. Iran remains the major supporter of Syrian President Assad's disgraced regime, bankrolls Hizballah in south Lebanon and now inside Syria, and continues to do all it can to support the terror regime of Hamas in Gaza.

A glance at Iran's brutal repression of internal dissent and its endemic corruption appears to add weight to the view that Tehran will indeed go to any lengths to silence questioning voices and should not be trusted.

Ranked a dismal 144th of 177 nations in the 2013 Transparency International corruption index, Iran has long found ways of getting around international sanctions, flagrantly violating human rights, and ruling through fear.

"The new administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion, despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in," U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon observed as recently as March.

Leaders in the opposition Green Movement, which attempted to bring about reforms in Iran and still argues that they were robbed of election victory in 2009 due to widespread government orchestrated fraud, have long since been rounded up. Former Prime Minister Mir Houssein Musavi has been confined to house arrest. Critics of the Iranian regime suggest that many of those arrested and summarily tried for offences such as drug dealing are in fact Green Movement supporters and supporters of other opposition groups. Some have been executed.

Amnesty International's 2013 report on Iran pointedly included the following statements:

1) The [Iranian] authorities maintained severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Dissidents and human rights defenders... were arbitrarily arrested, detained incommunicado, imprisoned after unfair trials and banned from travelling abroad. Torture and other ill-treatment were common and committed with impunity ... They took steps to create a controlled, national internet, routinely monitored telephone calls, blocked websites, jammed foreign broadcasts and took harsh action against those who spoke out.

2) Government critics and opponents were arbitrarily arrested and detained by security forces. Tens were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials. Dozens of peaceful government critics detained in connection with mass protests in 2009-2011 remained in prison or under house arrest throughout the year. Many were prisoners of conscience.

3) Political and other suspects continued to face grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary and Criminal Courts. They often faced vaguely worded charges that did not amount to recognizably criminal offences and were convicted, sometimes in the absence of defence lawyers, on the basis of "confessions" or other information allegedly obtained under torture. Courts accepted such "confessions" as evidence without investigating how they were obtained.

4) Hundreds of people were sentenced to death. Official sources acknowledged 314 executions. Credible unofficial sources suggested that at least 230 other executions were also carried out, many of them in secret, totaling 544. The true figure may have been far higher, exceeding 600. There were at least 63 public executions.

The Mujahedeen el-Khalq (MEK) is one of a number of Iranian opposition movements that have attempted to challenge the rule of the Ayatollah's since 1981. These movements have been under sustained assault from the regime and have been forced out of the country, even though Iran publicly scoffs at them and insists they are of no consequence. The MEK was granted sanctuary by the U.S. at Camp Ashraf in neighboring Iraq in 2004, even though it was at that time still officially a designated terrorist organization. It was de-listed in 2012, despite furious protests from the Iranian government.

Why, then, did the U.S., EU, and UK designate a pro-democracy Iranian group?

"The MEK was put on the terrorist list solely because the mullahs insisted on such action if there was to be any dialogue between Washington and Tehran," Lord Alex Carlile, former independent reviewer of British anti-terrorism laws, explained in The Guardian in October 12, 2012. "This was all part of a misguided effort to reach out to 'moderates' in the regime, an effort that accomplished nothing but gave Iran the time it needed to commence and advance its nuclear development."

Carlile accurately predicted what would happen next at Camp Ashraf. By September 2013 the Shi'ite government of former Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri Al-Malaki had grown increasingly close to the Iranian leadership. Al-Malaki constantly called for the Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf to be removed. In an apparent show of loyalty to Iran it is alleged that on September 1, Iraqi forces entered the camp and murdered not less than 52 members of the MEK, a massacre that drew furious responses from the international community, including the U.S.

"In reality," Carlile observed, "far too much attention has been paid to disinformation disseminated by Tehran and its lobbyists in an effort to make the western countries conclude that there is no viable opposition and no chance of change from within – leaving the west to choose between making concessions to Iran or going to war, both very unpleasant choices."

Given all of the above, just a taste of the huge number of dossiers on Iran's scheming, murderous regime that consistently seeks to mislead and misinform, surely the P5+1 will not allow the Islamic Republic another opportunity to buy time for its nuclear program and potentially further de-stabilize an already toxic situation in the region. Or will it?

Paul Alster is an Israel-based contributor to and The Jerusalem Report and blogs at He can be followed on Twitter: @paul_alster
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Could we have been wrong on inflation? on: October 06, 2014, 02:51:58 PM
Monday Morning Outlook
Inflation: What Inflation? To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 10/6/2014

Who hasn’t heard forecasts of “Hyperinflation?” They’ve been all over the web and TV ever since the Federal Reserve started a huge expansion in its balance sheet, called Quantitative Easing, back in 2008. Among other things, these forecasts called for a dollar collapse, dire problems for the banking system and 1970s, or Weimar Republic-like, inflation.

We have consistently disagreed with these forecasts. Yes, the monetary base has expanded rapidly. But banks have held the vast majority of this QE as excess reserves. These reserves just sit at the Fed, earning 25 basis points, but other than that, gathering electronic dust. They haven’t boosted inflation as feared. And we don’t believe they are responsible for economic growth, or the rising stock market, either.

In economic terms, the velocity of money collapsed in the Panic of 2008 and, although there are some recent signs of a revival, it’s nowhere near bouncing back to where it was before the Panic. What QE has accomplished is reducing the money multiplier in a significant way.

To be clear, even though we never expected hyper-inflation, we did expect inflation to rise more than it actually has over the past few years. We thought inflation would be at least 3% by now, maybe even 4%. And yet, the Consumer Price Index is up only 1.7% in the past year while the Fed’s preferred measure, the PCE deflator, is up only 1.5%.

We still don’t expect inflation to stay this low, but for a number of reasons, we now expect any move higher over the next few years to be very gradual, maybe half a point per year. This isn’t enough, all by itself, to get the Fed to move rates much higher than it currently projects.

Here’s why we expect only a gradual rise in inflation.

First, the Fed is fully prepared to increase the interest rate it pays on excess reserves. And while this doesn’t guarantee the money supply won’t expand, the Fed is also ready to use higher capital standards and Chinese-like bank rules to hold back lending, which will contain money growth and loans.

Second, real economic growth should pick up over the next couple of years to close to 3% versus the average of roughly 2% growth per year since the recovery started in 2009. This extra growth could help soak up some of the loose monetary policy.

Third, and lately the most important reason for a very gradual slog higher in inflation, is the huge headwind coming from the energy sector, where the combination of horizontal drilling and fracking is transforming production. Supply is simply booming and prices are falling. Back in 2005, the US was importing ten times as much oil (petroleum and petroleum products) as it was exporting; now that ratio is down to 1.9 and headed lower. In the next few years, the US could easily become a net exporter of petroleum.

These forces are creating disarray in OPEC. Saudi Arabia is willing to accept lower prices for oil, undercutting other oil exporters in the Middle East as well as Russia. West Texas Intermediate, which was $104/barrel in late June is now below $90/barrel, and probably has further to fall.

Gold is below $1,200/oz., a clear sign that inflationary fears are receding. We still think it has further to fall.

As a result, even though the Fed will start to raise short-term rates next year, the rate hikes will be gradual. We don’t expect 50 basis point hikes at any single meeting anytime soon. More likely, the Fed will raise rates at one meeting and then pause at the next, in an attempt to damp volatility.

In turn, long-term rates will work their way higher, but not by leaps and bounds. We expect both equities and the 10-year Treasury yield to move higher later this year. While we look for 10-year yields to end this year below 3%, we look for something like 3.5% by the end of 2015 and 4% in 2016.

Most important for investors, is to understand that a 4% yield on the 10-year Treasury (the equivalent of a 25 price-earnings ratio) is not a headwind for the stock market. Based on next year’s forecasted earnings, the S&P 500 P-E is less than 15 today. That leaves plenty of room for equities to rally.

And even if the Treasury yield goes above 4%, that’s OK for equities as long as interest rates rise primarily because of improvement in real GDP growth rather than inflation.
The bottom line is that our outlook for inflation has shifted downward, but not dramatically. We still expect more inflation, just not enough to cause serious concern for at least the next couple of years. This is good news for the stock market and the economy.
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / You've got to be kidding!?! FBI says US ISIS fighters can return on: October 06, 2014, 02:48:16 PM
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 06, 2014, 02:44:17 PM
A strong analysis there.
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Other-than-English at home on: October 06, 2014, 02:42:52 PM
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iranian Islamic Architechture on: October 06, 2014, 01:18:50 PM
Quite impressive I think.
192  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Ronald Reagan: We must fight on: October 06, 2014, 11:06:22 AM
193  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en Espanol en "Budo" on: October 06, 2014, 09:07:53 AM
En Italiano:
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: October 05, 2014, 09:17:51 PM
There is NO other Democrat who can run.  She WANTS to run.  She WILL run.
195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH puff piece justifying Dem fund raising practices on: October 05, 2014, 05:56:19 PM 
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / lab grown penises coming? on: October 05, 2014, 05:48:52 PM 
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The coming of ghost guns on: October 05, 2014, 05:40:35 PM
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Once again the call to destroy Israel on: October 05, 2014, 04:23:09 PM
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel company to build towers on US-Mex border on: October 05, 2014, 04:21:36 PM
third post
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIL plots for Iranian nukes on: October 05, 2014, 04:18:10 PM
second post

A manifesto purportedly written by one of the Islamic State’s senior military commanders details an unlikely plan that would see the brutal Sunni Islamist group gain Iran’s nuclear secrets with Russia’s help, London’s Sunday Times reported. The document, which has been attributed to Abdullah Ahmed al-Meshedani, said to be a member of IS’s “war cabinet,” was captured by Iraqi commandos during a raid in March, Sunday’s report (paywall) said. The report said that the manifesto, which Western security officials have deemed authentic, proposed offering Moscow access to an IS-held gas field in Iraq in exchange for “Iran and its nuclear program.” Russia, a close ally of the Islamic Republic, built and helps operate the nuclear power plant at Bushehr in Iran. It is also already in possession of the largest proven gas reserves in the world. The proposal also reportedly stated that in order to gain access to the gas field, located in Anbar province, the Kremlin would have to start backing the Sunni Gulf states against Shiite Iran and another Kremlin ally: the embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Islamic State document was also said to discuss a series of additional steps, including “Nazi-style eugenics,” and an intelligence gathering operation that monitors the organization’s political leaders as well as outside targets. IS’s ultimate goal was to strip Iran of “all its power,” the document said, killing Iranian teachers, diplomats and businessmen and even destroying the Iranian caviar industry and “exterminating” its famed carpet industry by flooding the market with Afghan rugs. Al-Meshedani, the author of the manifesto, also called on Islamic State warriors to kill Shiite Iraqi officials — Shiite Muslims are a majority in Iraq — military leaders and members of Iranian-backed militias.

Watch Here

In all, the Islamic State document listed 70 proposals, many of them outlandish and seemingly unrealistic, in its plan to consolidate IS’s power base in the Middle East, the report said. Iran has warned that it will attack Islamic State jihadists inside Iraq if they advance near its border. “If the terrorist group (IS) comes near our borders, we will attack deep into Iraqi territory and we will not allow it to approach our border,” Iranian ground forces commander General Ahmad Reza Pourdestana said on September 27. The Sunni extremists of IS control a large territory north of Baghdad, including in Diyala province, which borders Iran. The US, which has been leading an international airstrike campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has held discussions with Iran about counteracting the Sunni extremists, although the two countries, long at odds, deny direct cooperation. In a sign of the overlap of Iranian and US interests, Iran said in late September that one of the Islamic Republic’s most senior generals and 70 Iranian soldiers helped Kurdish fighters defend Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq that has been a focus of the American military. The city is home to a US consulate and offices of numerous Western companies, and the approach of Islamic State militants to its outskirts prompted American airstrikes in August. On Saturday, the Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning, the fourth such video showing the killing of American and British hostages in two months.

Source: Times of Israel
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