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22951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: August 03, 2011, 12:14:57 AM
Ummm , , , wouldn't that be better placed in the Russia-US thread or the Cognitive Dissonance thread?

Anyway, you are right  embarassed embarassed embarassed
22952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: August 03, 2011, 12:11:34 AM
Woof All:

This forum's north star is pro-Freedom, pro-US Constitution, pro-American Creed.

That said, we are not interested in an echo chamber-- as is evidenced by some of the people who come to play here (e.g. a Communist Euro Professor)

However, what is required of EVERYONE here is that they be lucid.

Who defines "lucid"?

In that this is my house, I do.

Life is to subtle and too complicated for me to assay a definitive definition, but I will give an example of what lucid is not.  Lucid is not anything having to do with "Truther-ism".

TAC,
CD
22953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shifting Military to Foreign Polich on: August 02, 2011, 11:56:34 PM

August 2, 2011


VIDEO: DISPATCH: SHIFTING TURKEY'S MILITARY TO FOREIGN POLICY

Analyst Kamran Bokhari examines how the resignations of four Turkish generals signal
the changing role of Turkey's military from  the dominant domestic political actor
to the foreign policy tool of the civilian government.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology.
Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Turkey's civilian government has gained the upper hand in its power struggle with
the country's military after four top generals of the Turkish armed forces tendered
their resignations last Friday. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is at
a point where it would like to put the domestic balance of power to rest so as to be
able to use the military for its assertive foreign policy agenda. However, it will
be many years before the civilian government in Ankara will be able to do so,
because it's a long process to go from the military having dominance over the
political system to a civilian government using the military on the foreign policy
front.
 
Initially, when the top four generals of the Turkish armed forces – the air chief,
the army chief, the naval chief, and the joint chief – all tendered their
resignations collectively, it appeared that we were at the cusp of yet another and
much more fierce civil-military tug-of-war in Ankara. But the way in which the
civilian government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan handled the situation and
the fact that there has not been a backlash from the military establishment shows
that civilians are finally gaining the upper hand in what has been a decades-long
struggle between the men in uniform and the civilians in Turkey.
 
From the point of view of the ruling party, with the military seemingly under
civilian control, the AKP will want to move from the domestic arena to the foreign
policy front. And on that foreign policy front, the AKP has already been pursuing an
assertive agenda in terms of trying to bring the country back onto the world stage,
at least in terms of the regions that Turkey straddles: the Caucasus, Southeastern
Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia.
 
The intent and desire of the AKP is one thing, but the reality is that it takes a
long time to prepare a military to become an instrument of an assertive foreign
policy agenda. In the case of Turkey, it is much more difficult because this is a
military that was heavily geared towards securing or being the guardian of the
country's secular foundations, and now it has to move from that role to one in
which: a) It respects the constitutional government in Ankara and pledges loyalty to
it; and b) Serves the agenda of that government onto the foreign policy front. And
that requires a lot steps and a lot of changes that will take time – if not decades,
at least several years.
More Videos - http://www.stratfor.com/theme/video_dispatch
22954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Bullish or Bullshite? on: August 02, 2011, 01:02:35 PM
Personal income increased 0.1% in June, while personal consumption fell 0.2% To view
this article, Click Here

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

Date: 8/2/2011






Personal income increased 0.1% in June, slightly less than the consensus expected.
Personal consumption fell 0.2% versus a consensus expected gain of 0.2%. In the past
year, personal income is up 5.0% while spending is up 4.4%.
Disposable personal income (income after taxes) was up 0.1% in June and is up 3.7%
versus a year ago. The gain in June was led by interest and dividend income, which
was up 4.6% from a year ago.
 
The overall PCE deflator (consumer inflation) fell 0.2% in June but is up 2.6%
versus a year ago. The “core” PCE deflator, which excludes food and
energy, was up 0.1% in June and is up 1.3% since last year.
 
After adjusting for inflation, “real” consumption was unchanged in June
but is up 1.8% versus a year ago.
 
Implications:  Income and spending both came in below expectations in June, in part
due to a steep (and what now appears to have been a temporary) drop in commodity
prices. “Real” (inflation-adjusted) personal income was up a solid 0.3%
in June. Real personal spending was unchanged but will be one of the last greatly
affected by the supply-chain disruptions from Japan. Later today automakers will
report on car and light truck sales in July and those figures should show a rebound
that will boost the consumer spending data a month from now. Although overall
consumption prices declined in July due to commodities, the Federal Reserve
can’t see the report as vindication. “Core” consumption prices,
which exclude food and energy, increased 0.1% in June and are up at a 2.2% annual
rate in the past three months. That is above the Fed’s target of 2%. The Fed
must be confused about how core inflation could be rising when the unemployment rate
is above 9% and capacity utilization in the industrial sector is below 80%. In their
worldview, core inflation should only be rising when resources are constrained, and
we’re not even close to that environment in their thinking. Over the long run,
we think consumer spending should strengthen for a number of reasons. Consumer
balance sheets are healthier and financial obligations (monthly payments like
mortgages, rent, car loans/leases, as well as other debt service), are the smallest
share of disposable income since 1994. Meanwhile, the underlying trend in worker
income continues in a favorable direction, with real private-sector earnings (wages,
salaries, and small business profits) up 2.1% in the past year.
22955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 02, 2011, 01:01:35 PM
So, you are advocating that domestically we do it like the Chinese do?
22956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 02, 2011, 12:59:34 PM
To me it is a wonderment that his numbers are as high as they are.  Also remember that a goodly percentage of his negatives (25% IIRC) come from disappointed progressives.   Note too the approval numbers of Congress are WAY lower than Baraq's.
22957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Should/will we stay or go? on: August 02, 2011, 05:57:00 AM
US troops must have legal immunity to stay in Iraq
 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen speaks to reporters at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. The top U.S. military officer says American troops must be given protection from legal prosecution as part of any agreement to keep them in Iraq beyond the end of the year. (AP Photo - Maya Alleruzzo)
LOLITA C. BALDOR
From Associated Press
August 02, 2011 5:24 AM EDT
BAGHDAD (AP) — The top U.S. military officer said Tuesday that American troops must be given immunity from prosecution as part of any agreement to keep them in Iraq beyond the end of the year and that this protection must be approved by Iraq's parliament.

The comments by Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen could make it more difficult for the troops to stay here.

Mullen and other U.S. officials have been pushing Iraq to decide whether they would want additional American forces to stay in the country past their Dec. 31 departure date, and the immunity issue has been one of the key sticking points.


"An agreement, which would include privileges and immunities for our American men and women in uniform will need to go through the COR," said Mullen, referring to the Council of Representatives as Iraq's parliament is known.

Washington has offered to let up to 10,000 U.S. troops stay and continue training Iraqi forces on tanks, fighter jets and other military equipment.

Mullen told reporters in Baghdad that Iraq's president and prime minister have promised to quickly consider the offer, and stressed that time is running out.

U.S. officials have said repeatedly that they need to know soon whether Iraq wants them to stay longer so they can figure out which of their forces must stay and which must go. Right now, about 46,000 American forces remain in country, and this fall their departure will begin ramping up.

"A significant part of this is just a physics problem. You get to a point in time where you just can't turn back and all the troops must leave. That's why it's so important to make the decision absolutely as soon as possible," he said.

But Iraqi lawmakers and government officials have been leery about taking a public stand on whether they want American forces to stay or go.

U.S. troops are still unpopular with many Iraqis who are tired of eight years of war. One of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's top allies, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has made it his mission to drive American forces from the country, leaving the prime minister in a tough position.

Neighboring Iran is also lobbying for American forces to leave Iraq. The U.S. says Iran is behind a campaign of violence against American forces that began back in March and is intended to make it appear Shiite militias are driving the Americans from the country.

Mullen accused Iran of supplying the militias with arms and interfering with Iraq's internal affairs.

"These are hardly the acts of a friend. It is clear that Tehran seeks a weak Iraq and an Iraq more dependent upon and more beholden to a Persian worldview," he said.

Mullen credited U.S. and Iraqi forces with bringing down the violence in recent weeks by going after Shiite militias, something Iraq's Shiite leadership has been reluctant to do in the past.

Mullen met Monday night with al-Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. He said they know a decision must come soon but acknowledged that they face "internal challenges, associated with reaching this decision."


"They're very aware of the urgency of the issue," said Mullen. "It was apparent to me in meeting with both the prime minister and the president that they're anxious to resolve and reconcile those differences. but that's really up to them."

Al-Maliki said in a statement on his website late Monday that he hoped Iraqi political blocs would be able to reach a consensus Tuesday night when they are expected to meet.

The Shiite prime minister stressed that regardless of the decision on U.S. troops that he wanted Washington and Baghdad to continue cooperation, especially in the area of air defense.

Iraq is unable to provide for its own air sovereignty. Over the weekend al-Maliki announced that Iraq would purchase 36 F-16 fighter planes from the U.S., which is a jump from the 18 that Baghdad initially planned to buy.

But even after the purchase goes through it would take years of training for the Iraqi Air Force to be able to protect its air space.
22958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 02, 2011, 05:51:50 AM
Over to you GM  smiley
22959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Baraq's alphabet on: August 02, 2011, 05:50:36 AM

Snapshots from President Obama's efforts to improve America's standing in the world, 923 days into his administration:

A is for the Arab world, and our standing in it: This year, Zogby International found that 5% of Egyptians had a favorable view of the U.S. In 2008, when George W. Bush was president, it was 9%.

B is for the federal budget deficit, which is estimated to come in at around 11% of GDP in 2011, up from about 3% in 2008.

C is for China's military budget. For 2012, Beijing plans to increase spending on defense by 12.7%. The Obama administration, by contrast, proposed Pentagon cuts in April averaging out to $40 billion per year over the next decade, and Congress may soon cut a lot more.

D is for—what else—the federal debt, which grew to $14.3 trillion this month from $10.7 trillion at the end of 2008. D is also for the dollar, which has lost almost half its value against gold since Aug. 2008.

E is for energy. The average retail price of a gallon of gas hovered near the $1.80 mark when Mr. Obama was inaugurated. It has since more than doubled. E is also for ethanol, the non-wonder fuel the U.S. continues to subsidize to the tune of $5 billion a year.

View Full Image

Getty Images
F is for free trade. Bill Clinton signed Nafta in 1994, which facilitates $1.6 trillion in the trade of goods and services between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. George W. Bush midwifed more than a dozen FTAs, from Australia to Singapore to Morocco to Bahrain. Number of FTA's signed by the current president: zero.

G is for Guantanamo, which remains open, and for Gadhafi, who remains in power, and for Greece, which offers a vision of America's future if we don't reform our entitlement state.

H is for Hillary Clinton, who—I can't believe I'm writing this—would have made a better president than Mr. Obama.

I is for Israel, a Middle Eastern country the president claims to support even as he routinely disses its prime minister, seeks to shrink its borders and—why not?—divide its capital.

J is for jobs. In November 2008, president-elect Obama promised he would create 2.5 million jobs by 2011. By October 2010 the economy had shed 3.3 million jobs.

K is for Karzai, Hamid, Afghanistan's feckless leader. Still, the Obama administration probably did itself no favors by publicly dumping on the man, leading him to seek new best friends in Tehran.

L is for Laden, Osama bin. The president's greatest triumph, which will forever put him one notch—if only one notch—above Jimmy Carter.

M is for Mexico, a country that manages 5.4% unemployment and 4.2% annual growth even as it fights a war against the drug cartels.

N is for NATO, once a pillar of Western security, which Mr. Obama is in the process of destroying through his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and his refusal to give NATO the push it needs to win in Libya.

O is for ObamaCare, which goes far to explain B, D, J as well as the Greek part of G.

P is for Pyongyang, whose ruler the administration is once again attempting to engage in the six-party talks. This is after the Kim regime welcomed Mr. Obama's plea for a nuclear-free world by testing a nuclear bomb, torpedoing a South Korean ship, shelling a South Korean village, and unveiling a state-of-the-art uranium enrichment facility.

Q is for QE2, the most disastrous experiment in monetary policy since Fed Chairman William Miller's low-interest rate policy crashed the dollar in 1978.

R is for the reset with Russia, the principal result of which is an arms-control treaty that brings us to parity in strategic nuclear weapons, leaves us behind in the tactical category, and ill-equips us for the challenge of a proliferating world.

S is for shovel-ready. Enough said.

T is for taxes, which Mr. Obama would like to see raised for "millionaires and billionaires"—curiously defined as people making $200K and up.

U is for Iran's uranium enrichment. When Mr. Obama came to office promising to extend his hand to the mullahs, Iran had enriched 1,000 kilos of uranium. Today they have produced more than 4,000 kilos.

V is for Venezuela, a country whose extensive subterranean links to Iran the administration has consistently downplayed.

W is for the Dubya, whose presidency now looks like a model of spending restraint.

X is for Liu Xiaobo, an example of what a deserving winner of the Nobel Peace Prize looks like. X is also for Xanax, likely to be remembered as the drug of choice of the Obama years.

Y is for Yes, We Can! Unfortunately, it's also for Yemen.

Z is for zero, which is the likelihood that one of the current GOP hopefuls will defeat Mr. Obama in 2012.
22960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GF on Indonesia on: August 02, 2011, 05:39:24 AM
STRATFOR
---------------------------
August 2, 2011


GEOPOLITICAL JOURNEY: INDONESIA'S GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE



By George Friedman

I am writing this from Indonesia. Actually, that is not altogether a fair statement.
I am at the moment in Bali and just came from Jakarta. The two together do not come
close to being Indonesia. Jakarta, the capital, is a vast city that is striking to
me for its traffic. It takes an enormous amount of time to get anywhere in Jakarta.
Like most cities, it was not built to accommodate cars, and the mix of cars with
motor scooters results in perpetual gridlock. It is also a city of extraordinary
dynamism. There is something happening on almost every street. And in the traffic
jams, you have time to contemplate those streets in detail.

Bali is an island of great beauty, complete with mountains, white beaches, blue
waters and throngs of tourists. Since I am one of those tourists, I will not trouble
you with the usual tourist nonsense of wanting to be in a place where there are no
tourists. The hypocrisy of tourists decrying commercialization is tedious. I am here
for the beaches, and they are expensive. The locals with whom tourists claim to want
to mingle can't come into the resort, and tourists leaving the resort will have
trouble finding locals who are not making a living off the tourists. As always, the
chance of meeting "locals" as tourists usually define them -- people making little
money in picturesque ways -- is not easy.

What is clear in both Jakarta and Bali is that the locals are tired of picturesque
poverty, however much that disappoints the tourists. They want to live better and,
in particular, they want their children to live better. We were driven by a tour
guide to places where we bought what my wife assures me is art (my own taste in art
runs to things in museums and tigers made of velvet). We spent the requisite money
on art at places our guide delivered us to, I assume for suitable compensation.

The guide was interesting. His father was a rice farmer who owned some land, and now
he is a tour guide, which in Bali, I gather, is not a bad job by any means if you
have deals with the hotel (which he undoubtedly has). But it was his children who
fascinated me. He had three sons, two of whom were in universities. The movement
from rice farmer to university student in three generations is not trivial. That it
happened with the leaders Indonesia had during that time is particularly striking,
since by all reasonable measures these leaders have been, until recently, either
rigidly ideological (Sukarno) or breathtakingly self-serving (Sukarno's daughter,
Megawati).

When I looked at some of Indonesia's economic statistics, the underlying reason for
this emerged. Since 1998, when Indonesia had its meltdown, the country's gross
domestic product (GDP) has grown at roughly 5 percent per year, an amount
substantial, consistent and above all sustainable, unlike the 8 and 9 percent growth
rates before the collapse. Indonesia is now the 18th largest economy in the world,
ranking just behind Turkey.

All of that is nice, but for this: Indonesia ranks 109th in per capita GDP.
Indonesia's population is about 237 million. Its fertility rate is only 2.15 births
per woman, just above a stable population -- though being just above stable still
means substantial growth. Indonesia is a poor country, albeit not as poor as it was,
and its GDP continues to rise. Given its stable government and serious efforts to
control corruption, which systemically diverts wealth away from the general
population, this growth can continue. But whether the stability and anti-corruption
efforts of the past six years can continue is an open question, as is the prosperity
in Jakarta, the tourism in Bali (recall the jihadist attacks there in 2002 and 2005)
and whether our guide's third son will receive a college education.

I saw three Indonesias (and I can assure you there are hundreds more). One was the
Indonesia of Jakarta's elite, Westernized and part of the global elite found in most
capitals that is critical for managing any country's rise to some degree of
prosperity. Jakarta's elite will do well from that prosperity, make no mistake, but
they are also indispensable to it. Another Indonesia was the changing one that our
upwardly mobile tour guide saw through his children's eyes. The third was the one in
which a little girl, perhaps four, begged in traffic on the road from the airport in
Bali. I have seen these things in many countries and it is difficult to know what to
make of them yet. For me, going to Indonesia is not the same as going to Eastern
Europe. I know what is lurking under the current there. Indonesia is new for me, and
I will be back. For now, let me describe to you not so much the country of Indonesia
but how I try to learn about a place I know only from books (and even then
relatively little).

Strategic Positions

Nietzsche once said that modern man eats knowledge without hunger. What he meant by
that is that modern man learns without passion and without necessity. I didn't go to
Indonesia without either. What interests me most about Indonesia is not its economy
or its people -- although that might change as I learn more. What interests me now
is Indonesia's strategic position in the world at this point in time.

To determine that position, we must first look at China.  China is building an
aircraft carrier. Now, one aircraft carrier without cruisers, destroyers,
submarines, anti-missile systems, satellite-targeting capabilities, mid-ocean
refueling capabilities and a thousand other things is simply a ship waiting to be
sunk. Nevertheless, it could be the nucleus of something more substantial in the
coming decades (not years).

When I look at a map of China's coast I am constantly struck by how contained China
is. In the north, where the Yellow and East China seas provide access to Shanghai
and Qingdao (the home of China's northern naval fleet), access to the Pacific is
blocked by the line of Japan-Okinawa-Taiwan and the islands between Okinawa and
Japan. Bases there are not the important point. The important point is that the
Chinese naval -- or merchant -- fleet must pass through choke points that can be
controlled by the United States, hundreds of miles to the east. The situation is
even worse for China in the South China Sea, which is completely boxed in by the
line of Taiwan-Philippines-Indonesia-Singapore, and worse still when you consider
the emerging naval cooperation between the United States and Vietnam, which has no
love for the Chinese.

The Chinese are trying to solve this problem by building ports in Pakistan and
Myanmar. They say these are for commercial use, and I believe them. Isolated ports
at such a distance, with tenuous infrastructure connecting them to China and with
sea-lane control not assured, are not very useful. They work in peacetime but not
during war, and it is war, however far-fetched, that navies are built for.

 China's biggest problem is not that it lacks aircraft carriers; it is that it lacks
an amphibious capability. Even if it could, for example, fight its way across the
Formosa Strait to Taiwan (a dubious proposition), it is in no position to supply
the multi-divisional force needed to conquer Taiwan. The Chinese could break the
blockade by seizing Japan, Okinawa or Taiwan, but that isn't going to happen.

What could happen is China working to gain an economic toehold in the Philippines or
Indonesia, and using that economic leverage to support political change in those
countries. A change in the political atmosphere would not by itself permit the
Chinese navy to break into the Pacific or eliminate the American ability to blockade
Chinese merchant ships. The United States doesn't need land bases to control the
passages through either of these countries from a distance.

Rather, what would change the game is if China, having reached an economic entente
with either country, was granted basing privileges there. That would permit the
Chinese to put aircraft and missiles on the islands, engage the U.S. Navy outside
the barrier formed by the archipelagos and force the U.S. Navy back, allowing free
passage.

Now, this becomes much more complicated when we consider U.S. countermeasures. China
already has massive anti-ship missiles on its east coast. The weakness of these
missiles is intelligence and reconnaissance. In order to use those missiles the
Chinese have to have a general idea of where their targets are, and ships move
around a lot. That reconnaissance must come from survivable aircraft (planes that
won't be destroyed when they approach the U.S. fleet) and space-based assets --
along with the sophisticated information architecture needed to combine the sensor
with the shooter.

The United States tends to exaggerate the strength of its enemies. This can be a
positive trait because it means extra exertion. In the Cold War, U.S. estimates of
Soviet capabilities outstripped Soviet realities. There are many nightmare scenarios
about China's capabilities circulating, but we suspect that most are overstated.
China's ambitions outstrip its capabilities. Still, you prepare for the worst and
hope for the best.

In this case, the primary battlefield is not yet the passages through the
archipelago. It is the future of our Indonesian driver's third child. If he gets to
go to college, the likelihood of Indonesia succumbing to Chinese deals is limited.
The history of Chinese-Indonesian relations is not particularly good, and little
short of desperation would force an alliance. American Pacific strategy should be
based on making certain that neither Indonesia nor the Philippines is desperate.

A Focus of History

Indonesia has another dimension, of course. It is the largest Muslim country in the
world, and one that has harbored and defeated a significant jihadist terrorist
group. As al Qaeda crumbles, the jihadist movement may endure. The United States has
an ongoing interest in this war and therefore has an interest in Indonesian
stability and its ability to suppress radical Islam inside its borders and, above
all, prevent the emergence of an Indonesian-based al Qaeda with an intercontinental
capability.

Thus, Indonesia becomes a geopolitical focus of three forces -- China, Islamists and
the United States. This isn't the first time Indonesia has been a focus of history.
In 1941, Japan launched the attack on Pearl Harbor to paralyze the American fleet
there and facilitate seizing what was then called the Netherlands East Indies for
its supplies of oil and other raw materials. In the first real resource war -- World
War II -- Indonesia was a pivot. Similarly, during the Cold War, the possibility of
a Communist Indonesia was frightening enough to the United States that it ultimately
supported the removal of Sukarno as president. Indonesia has mattered in the past,
and it matters now.

The issue is how to assure a stable Indonesia. If the threat -- however small --
rests in China, so does the solution. Chinese wage rates are surging and Chinese
products are becoming less competitive in the global marketplace. The Chinese have
wanted to move up the economic scale from being an exporter of low-cost industrial
products to being a producer of advanced technologies. As the recent crash of
China's high-speed train shows, China is a long way from achieving that goal.

There is no question that China is losing its export edge in low-grade industrial
products. One of the reasons Western investors liked China was that a single country
and a single set of relationships allowed them to develop production facilities that
could supply them with products. All the other options aside from India, which has
its own problems, can handle only a small fraction of China's output. Indonesia,
with nearly a quarter-billion people still in a low-wage state, can handle more.

The political risk has substantially declined in the last few years. If it continues
to drop, Indonesia will become an attractive alternative to China at a time when
Western companies are looking for alternatives. That would energize Indonesia's
economy and further stabilize the regime. A more stable Indonesian regime would
remove any attraction for an alignment with China and any opportunities for Chinese
or Islamist subversion -- even if, in the latter case, prosperity is not enough to
eliminate it.

When we look at a map, we see the importance of Indonesia. When we look at basic
economic statistics, we see the strength and weakness of Indonesia. When we consider
the role of China in the world economy and its current problems, we see Indonesia's
opportunities. But it comes down to this: If my guide's third son can go to college,
and little girls no longer have to dart into traffic and beg, Indonesia has a strong
future, and that future depends on it becoming the low-cost factory to the world.

Life is more complex than that, of course, but it is the beginning of understanding
the possibilities. In the end, few rational people looking at China in 1975 would
have anticipated China in 2011. That unexpected leap is what Indonesia needs and
what will determine its geopolitical role. But these are my first thoughts on
Indonesia. I will need to come back here many times for any conclusions.


This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to
www.stratfor.com.

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
22961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 01, 2011, 11:00:59 PM
JDN:

I take my friend's meaning to be that the exemption was written with Islam in mind.  Thus the issue presented is not really Muslims or Islam, but the pre-emptive dhimmitude of the authors of the bill (including Baraq as intellectual author?).
22962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on the ISM numbers on: August 01, 2011, 07:22:52 PM

The ISM Manufacturing index fell to 50.9 in July from 55.3 in June To view this
article, Click Here

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

Date: 8/1/2011






The ISM Manufacturing index fell to 50.9 in July from 55.3 in June, coming in well
below the consensus expected decline to 54.5. (Levels higher than 50 signal
expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)

The major measures of activity all fell in July, but most remained above 50.0,
signaling growth. The supplier deliveries index slipped to 50.4 from 56.3 and the
production index fell to 52.3 from 54.5. The new orders index declined to 49.2 from
51.6 and the employment index fell to 53.5 from 59.9.

The prices paid index declined to a still elevated 59.0 in July from 68.0 in June.

Implications: From time to time, the ISM index is a better measurement of sentiment
among manufacturers than actual levels of activity. We think July – a month
dominated by (misleading) headlines about a potential default on US Treasury
securities – was one of those months. As a result, we do not read much into
the ISM index coming in well below consensus expectations and anticipate a large
rebound next month. Taken at face value, the 50.9 reading on the ISM may be
disappointing, but it still correlates with 2.9% real growth according to officials
at the ISM. News from the auto sector suggests the supply-chain disruptions due to
Japan are dissipating. That was also the message from last week’s large drop
in initial unemployment claims. Auto production will keep rebounding as inventories
are low and getting more cars on lots will generate more sales. In other news this
morning, construction increased 0.2% in June and rose 2.5% including large upward
revisions for prior months.  The revisions were widespread, including home building,
commercial construction, and government projects.  The rise in June was due to
commercial construction, primarily manufacturing facilities, retail shops, and
communications structures.  We did not go into a double-dip at the start of the
year, we are not entering one now, and there is no need for the third round of
quantitative easing.
22963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dhimmitude in Obamacare? on: August 01, 2011, 07:19:05 PM




 
 
 
 
 
A friend writes:
==========
 
Dhimmitude -- What  does it mean?
 
 
Obama used it in the health  care bill.

Now isn't this  interesting? It is used in the health care law.



Dhimmitude -- I had never heard the  word until now.  Type it into Google
and start reading.   Pretty interesting. It's on page 107 of the healthcare
bill.  I  looked this up on Google and yep, it exists..  It is a REAL  word.



Word  of the Day: Dhimmitude

Dhimmitude is the Muslim  system of controlling non-Muslim populations 
conquered through jihad. Specifically, it is the TAXING of  non-Muslims in
exchange for tolerating their presence AND as a  coercive means of converting
conquered remnants to Islam.



ObamaCare  allows the establishment of Dhimmitude and Sharia Muslim diktat
in  the United States .  Muslims are specifically  exempted from the
government mandate to purchase insurance, and also  from the penalty tax for being
uninsured.  Islam considers  insurance to be "gambling", "risk-taking", and
"usury" and is thus  banned. Muslims are specifically granted exemption
based on  this.

How  convenient.  So I, as a Christian, will have crippling IRS  liens
placed against all of my assets, including real estate,  cattle, and even
accounts receivables, and will face hard prison  time because I refuse to buy
insurance or pay the penalty tax.  Meanwhile, Louis Farrakhan will have no such
penalty and will have  100% of his health needs paid for by the de facto
government  insurance.  Non-Muslims will be paying a tax to subsidize  Muslims.
  This is Dhimmitude.

I recommend  sending this onto your contacts.   American citizens need  to
know about it --

=====

Another friend replies:

Click here to see what Snopes says.......it appears that there is a
"general exemption" for religious groups, but actual specifics have not
yet been determined.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/exemptions.asp




22964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 01, 2011, 07:09:49 PM
Over to you GM  smiley
22965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 01, 2011, 07:05:37 PM
REturning to the subject of the debt farce deal, a key question:  Does the "Read our lips, no new taxes in this deal" apply to the expiration of the Bush Tax Rates?
22966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury still bullish on: August 01, 2011, 07:01:48 PM

Monday Morning Outlook



GDP: Not As Bad As It Seems To view this article, Click Here

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

Date: 8/1/2011






Equities had a bad day on Friday, part of which was caused by a pretty dismal GDP
report – with a large downward revision to first quarter real growth.
Apparently, the economy grew at an anemic 0.4% annual rate, not 1.9%.
We didn’t like it either, until we realized that most of this revision was due
to fewer inventories, which, if anything, creates more room for future growth. Not
all revisions were negative. Real growth in 2010 was revised up to 3.1% from a prior
estimate of 2.8% and pre-tax corporate profits are now estimated to be 9% higher
than originally thought. After-tax profits were revised up 15%.
 
It turns out, at least until the next big revisions, that the recession (in 2008)
was worse and the earliest stages of the recovery in 2009 were slower. This helps
explain, for now, why the unemployment rate went so high, so fast. It also makes the
recession look more like a panic, which we believe it was.
 
The most consistent theme of Friday’s revisions had to do with the mix of
nominal GDP, the combination of real GDP and inflation. The report showed that real
GDP has been lower – due to the recession and early recovery – while
inflation has been higher. Nominal GDP changed little.
 
This must be quite jarring to the Keynesian mindset, both on monetary policy and
fiscal policy. The Federal Reserve embarked on a second round of quantitative easing
very late in 2010 and yet real growth slowed. Meanwhile, the payroll tax rate was
cut by two percentage points this year and growth nearly petered out. If loose money
and big budget deficits don’t boost real growth the Keynesian bag of tricks is
pretty empty.
 
More importantly, with the recession so deep and today’s growth so slow, the
Keynesian model says inflation can’t exist. But it does, even though the
jobless rate is 9.2%, manufacturing capacity utilization is still below 80% and the
economy is operating far below its potential.
 
It’s much easier to explain the rise in inflation with our model. The Fed has
been holding short-term interest rates near zero, which is well below the trend in
nominal GDP growth. Nominal GDP has grown 3.7% in the past year and at a 4.1% annual
rate in the past two years. Continuing ultra-low interest rates in the face of much
faster nominal GDP growth is going to keep inflation rising even if the economy
remains weak, which we do not believe will happen.
 
It’s not that we don’t care about the GDP report; it’s that it is
old news. The second half of the year still looks very bright. The Fed is easy,
there is some spending restraint on the way, auto production and home building are
at an inflection point, and corporate America is in a great position to invest.



This information contains forward-looking statements about various economic trends
and strategies. You are cautioned that such forward-looking statements are subject
to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and actual results
could be materially different. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast
and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time and are the opinion
of the individual strategist. Data comes from the following sources: Census Bureau,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve Board,
and Haver Analytics. Data is taken from sources generally believed to be reliable
but no guarantee is given to its accuracy.
22967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 01, 2011, 08:49:37 AM
This just came into my mailbox after I made my previous post.  Sadly, it makes a lot of sense to me.




Not Playing The Fool

Posted by Erick Erickson (Profile)
Monday, August 1st at 4:46AM EDT

There are a lot of Republicans tonight willing to play the fool for the GOP in this
debt ceiling plan. They say, for example, that there will be no tax increases from
this super committee. Never mind that the Democrats are saying otherwise.

I can prove to you right now that there will be tax increases.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expects the Bush tax cuts to expire. So all
the commission has to do is two things: extend middle class Bush tax cuts and enact
a permanent alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch. Those two together would look like
an increase to the deficit in CBO scoring. So then the commission can start out of
the gate with the ability to create several trillion dollars in new tax hikes to
equal out to the cuts — cuts that will happen even without the commission most
likely. And where will those cuts come from? Those making $250,000.00 or more, of
course. And probably the Gang of 6′s ideas to eliminate most deductions to income
taxes without revenue neutral rate reductions and the Gang of 6′s pièce de
résistance — raising capital gains taxes from 15% to 28%.

Have people not been paying attention? In every single address the President has
given on the debt ceiling, he has insisted on new tax revenue. John Boehner even put
$800 billion on the table, so it is already there.

The House and Senate GOP leadership may have convinced themselves that they have
snookered the Democrats, but even little ole me, a non-budget genius, can drive a
truck through their argument. And their best response probably comes from Ryan Ellis
of Americans for Tax Reform. That counter argument is best summed up as but . . .
but . . . but . . . the House Leadership says so. And if puppies were unicorns, we’d
all live in a fantasy land.

Apparently, young lefty Ezra Klein who thinks no one pays attention to the
constitution because, dude, it’s so old, is brighter than Ryan Ellis at ATR. Klein
writes, “Boehner is misleading his members to make them think taxes are impossible
under this deal. The Joint Committee could close loopholes and cap tax expenditures.
It could impose a value-added tax, or even a tax on carbon.”

There will be tax increases. The Deficit Commission will have at least one weak
kneed Republican and the commission will only be as strong as its weakest link. The
Bush tax cuts will also absolutely expire and not be renewed.

The alternative for the GOP would be seeing massive defense cuts and being blamed
for senior citizens seeing their medicare cut. “But,” House Republican leaders
exclaim, “the cuts would not be to beneficiaries.”

True, the cuts would be punishing doctors who will respond by denying access to
medicare patients.

The Democrats are happy to force through taxes in the committee and then, when the
GOP opposes them, claim the GOP would rather hurt our soldiers and seniors than
raise taxes on “fat cat millionaires.”

And if we’ve learned nothing else these past few weeks, the GOP fears more than
anything else what the Democrats say about them. Don’t believe me on taxes? then ask
GOP leadership why they haven’t put in a clear statement prohibiting them or, even
better, why there is no prohibition on decoupling the middle class Bush tax cuts
from the upper income Bush taxes cuts.Last week in the Washington Post, the GOP
Leadership in Congress planted a hit job about me. How do I know they planted it? If
not obvious from the story itself, it was from the conversation between the reporter
and those she talked to.

One of the “attacks” on me was that I was too predictable. Yes, it is true. I am
predictable conservative and am not willing to sell out my conservatism for the
team. I hate to break it to you.

I was sorely tempted to do so now with this deal as our guys are running scared and
are convinced the August 2nd deadline is real. But the GOP is in denial, excited by
left wing hyperbole against the deal, and unable to see what is on the horizon.

There are stories in the press that (A) the White House and Treasury Department
won’t give the GOP information about how much money the U.S. has on hand and (B)
that both Democrat and Republican leaders are mad as hell that the markets haven’t
crashed so they could scare conservatives into taking a deal.

It is true — Republican and Democrat leaders are upset the market has not crashed.

Now, having run out the clock and admitted that Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell wrote
John Boehner’s plan (that was in the Washington Post), they now want to go back to a
grand compromise that yet again includes a super committee of Congress that can pass
tax increases with no way to block the committee.

And if they do somehow stop the committee or kill its idea, then our soldiers in the
field would see punitive cuts to the defense budget, even more so than seniors who
will see cuts to medicare. In other words, cuts so painful to right and left that
both will have to take the committee recommendation.

“But it’s okay,” they tell us. “The committee is structured in such a way that they
can’t get tax increases.” Having considered the matter carefully — this is utter
bullcrap.

So here’s what will happen. The people who are predictably willing to fold to save
face with the GOP will ridicule you, me, and the tea party. And in November, when
the chickens come home to roost and what I predict comes true yet again, they’ll
pretend yet again that they were with us the whole time.

But taxes will go up and the Democrats will have won, left wing hysteria
notwithstanding.
22968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 01, 2011, 08:35:23 AM
My thoughts at this moment:

(I think I have my numbers right, but unverified numbers are flying fast and loose at the moment.)

"Default" and "Downgrade" are distinct issues, though certainly defaulting would lead to downgrading.

The "deal" is nowhere near the $4T minimum that the credit rating agencies stated that they wanted for them to not downgrade the US.

Even under the rosy scenario numbers of the deal,(e.g. the economy is not sliding into another recession, which may well be the case) the national debt will increase 50% (by $7T).

Should the deal proffered by the proposed committee not pass, the burden of the cuts falls disproportionately, and greatly so, upon defense.  The Republicans will likely have to vote between raising taxes-- with the attendant consequences for the economy-- or gutting defense.

If I were a Congressman I would vote NO.
22969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: This is what leading from behind delivers , , , on: August 01, 2011, 12:23:17 AM
NATO has had many impressive moments in its history, but its misadventure in Libya isn't one of them. Moammar Gadhafi and his mercenaries may be no military match for NATO's jets and cruise missiles, but at every turn the alliance has acted in a way that has given the dictator hope of surviving.

In the latest example, the French and British last week floated a unilateral concession: Gadhafi can stay in Libya, as long as he renounces any claim on holding power. This is a major retreat from NATO's earlier position that Gadhafi had to leave Libya.
22970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ajami: Baraq the pessimist on: August 01, 2011, 12:21:09 AM


By FOUAD AJAMI

In one of the illuminating, unscripted moments of the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama said—much to the dismay of his core constituency—that the Reagan presidency had been "transformational" in a way that Bill Clinton's hadn't. Needless to say, Mr. Obama aspired to a transformational presidency of his own.

He had risen against the background of a deep economic recession, amid unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; he could be forgiven the conviction that the country was ready for an economic and political overhaul. He gave it a mighty try. But the transformational dream was not to be. The country had limits. Mr. Obama couldn't convince enough Americans that the twin pillars of his political program—redistribution at home, retrenchment abroad—are worthy of this country's ambitions and vocation.

View Full Image

Associated Press
Temperament mattered. Ronald Reagan was the quintessential optimist, his faith in America boundless. He had been given his mandate amid economic distress—the great inflation of the 1970s, high unemployment and taxation—and a collapse of American authority abroad. Through two terms and a time of great challenges, he had pulled off one of the great deeds of political-economic restoration. He made tax cuts and economic growth the cornerstone of that recovery. Economic freedom at home had a corollary in foreign affairs—the pursuit of liberty, a course that secured a victorious end to the Cold War. The "captive nations" were never in doubt, American power was on the side of liberty.

By that Reagan standard, Mr. Obama has been a singular failure. The crippling truth of the Obama presidency is the pessimism of the man, the low expectations he has for this republic. He had not come forth to awaken this country to its stirring first principles, but to manage its decline at home and abroad. So odd an outcome, a man with an inspiring biography who provides no inspiration, a personal story of "The Audacity of Hope" yielding a leader who deep down believes that America's best days are behind it.

Amid the enthusiasm of his ascent to power, the choreography of a brilliant campaign, and a justifiable sense of pride that an African-American had risen to the summit of political power, it had been hard to tease out the pessimism at the core of Mr. Obama's vision. His economic program—the vaunted stimulus, the bailout of the automobile industry, the determination to overhaul the entire health-care system—gave away a bureaucratic vision: It was rule by emergency decree, as it were. No Reaganesque faith in the society for this leader.

In the nature of things, Mr. Obama could not take the American people into his confidence; he could not openly take up the thesis of America's decline. But there was an early signal, in April 2009 in Strasbourg, during a celebration of NATO's 60th anniversary, when he was confronted with the cherished principle of American "exceptionalism."

Asked whether he believed in the school of "American exceptionalism" that sees America as "uniquely qualified to lead the world," he gave a lawyerly answer: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." We were not always going to be right, he added, "all have to compromise and that includes us."

Events would supply evidence of Mr. Obama's break with the history of America's faith in liberty in distant lands. The herald of change was at heart a man who doubted the ability of political freedom to skip borders, and to bring about the emancipation of peoples subjected to brutal tyrannies. The great upheaval in Iran in the first summer of his presidency exposed the flaws and contradictions of the Obama diplomacy.

A people had risen against their tyrannical rulers, but Mr. Obama was out to conciliate these rulers. America's support wouldn't have altered that cruel balance of force on the ground. But henceforth it would become part of the narrative of liberty that when Iran rose in rebellion, the pre-eminent liberal power sat out a seminal moment in Middle Eastern history.

In his encounters with the foreign world, Mr. Obama gave voice to a steady and unsettling expression of penance. We had made our own poor bed in distant lands, Mr. Obama believed. We had been aggressive and imperial in the wars we waged, and in our steady insistence that our way held out the promise for other nations. In that narrative of American guilt, the Islamic world was of central importance. It was in that vast, tormented world that Mr. Obama sought to make his mark, it was there he believed we had been particularly egregious.

But the truth of it, a truth that would erupt with fury in the upheaval of that Arab Spring now upon us, is that the peoples of that region needed our assistance and example. This was the Arabs' 1989, their supreme moment of historical agency, a time when younger people broke with their culture's history of evasion and scapegoating. For once the "Arab Street" was not gripped by anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism, for once it wasn't looking beyond its geography for alien demons. But we could not really aid these rebellions, for our touch, Mr. Obama insisted, would sully them. These rebellions, his administration lamely asserted, had to be thoroughly indigenous.

We had created—and were spooked by—phantoms of our own making. A visit last month to Syria's embattled city of Hama by U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford ought to have shattered, once and for all, the thesis of a rampant anti-Americanism in Arab lands. The American envoy was given a moving reception, he was met with flowers and olive branches by those struggling to end the tyranny of the Assad family. News of America's decline had not reached the streets of Hama. The regime may have denied them air and light and knowledge, but they knew that in our order of nations America remains unrivalled in the hope it holds out for thwarted populations.

Americans' confident belief in the uniqueness, yes the exceptionalism, of their country, rested on an essential faith in liberty, and individualism and anti-statism at home, and in the power of our example, and muscle now and then, in foreign lands. Mr. Obama is ill-at-ease with that worldview. Our country has had pessimism on offer and has invariably rejected it. At crucial points in its history, it has remained unshaken in the belief that tomorrow can be better.

In 2008, shaken by a severe economic recession and disillusioned by a difficult war in Iraq, Americans voted for charisma and biography. The electorate could not be certain of the bet it made, for Mr. Obama had been agile, by his own admission he had been a blank slate onto which his varied supporters could project their hopes and preferences. Next time around, it should be easier. The man at the helm has now played his hand.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and co-chairman of Hoover's Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.
22971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 01, 2011, 12:20:15 AM
I note with pride that this thread too has well over 100,000 reads.  Be proud of our work gentlemen!
22972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 01, 2011, 12:19:18 AM
BTW, with considerable pride I note that this thread has over 100,000 reads.  I am honored gentlemen by your presence here.
22973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on "The Deal" 4.0 on: August 01, 2011, 12:14:44 AM
FWIW, the WSJ's analysis here.   I am unpersuaded, particularly with regard to the risks to the defense budget.  We could eliminate the defense budget 100% and still be fuct.  To have it go 50-50 with cutting Baraq's inflated spending is madness.
=======If a good political compromise is one that has something for everyone to hate, then last night's bipartisan debt-ceiling deal is a triumph. The bargain is nonetheless better than what seemed achievable in recent days, especially given the revolt of some GOP conservatives that gave the White House and Democrats more political leverage.

***
The big picture is that the deal is a victory for the cause of smaller government, arguably the biggest since welfare reform in 1996. Most bipartisan budget deals trade tax increases that are immediate for spending cuts that turn out to be fictional. This one includes no immediate tax increases, despite President Obama's demand as recently as last Monday. The immediate spending cuts are real, if smaller than we'd prefer, and the longer-term cuts could be real if Republicans hold Congress and continue to enforce the deal's spending caps.

The framework (we haven't seen all the details) calls for an initial step of some $900 billion in domestic discretionary cuts over 10 years from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline puffed up by recent spending. If the cuts hold, this would go some way to erasing the fiscal damage from the Obama-Nancy Pelosi stimulus. This is no small achievement considering that Republicans control neither the Senate nor the White House, and it underscores how much the GOP victory in November has reshaped the U.S. fiscal debate.

No wonder liberals are howling. They have come to believe in the upward spending ratchet, under which all spending increases are permanent. Not any more.

The second phase of the deal is less clear cut, though it also could turn out to shrink Leviathan. Party leaders in both houses of Congress will each appoint three Members to a special committee that will recommend another round of deficit reduction of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion, also over 10 years. Their mandate is broad, and we're told very little is off the table, but at least seven of the 12 Members would have to agree on a package to force an up-or-down vote in Congress.

If the committee can't agree on enough deficit reduction, then automatic spending cuts would ensue to make up the difference to reach the $1.2 trillion minimum deficit-reduction target. One key point is that the committee's failure to agree would not automatically "trigger" (in Beltway parlance) revenue increases, as the White House was insisting on as recently as this weekend. That would have guaranteed that Democrats would never agree to enough cuts, and Republicans were right to resist.

Instead the automatic cuts would be divided equally between defense and nondefense. So, for example, if the committee agrees to deficit reduction of only $600 billion, then another $300 billion would be cut automatically from defense and domestic accounts (excluding Medicare beneficiaries) to reach at least $1.2 trillion.

This trigger is intended to be an incentive for committee Members of both parties to agree on more cuts, but defense cuts of this magnitude would do far more harm to national security than they would to domestic accounts that have been fattened by stimulus. This is the worst part of the deal, and Mr. Obama's political goal will be to press Republicans to choose between tax increases and destructive defense cuts. The GOP will have to fight back and make the choice between domestic cuts and harm to our troops fighting multiple wars.

While the "trigger" includes no revenue increases, the committee itself could agree to raise taxes to meet the $1.2 trillion deficit reduction target. This means GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have to be especially careful in their choice of appointees. No one from the Senate Gang of Six, who proposed tax increases, need apply. The GOP choices should start with Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, adding four others who will follow their lead.

One reason to think tax increases are unlikely, however, is that the 12-Member committee will operate from CBO's baseline that assumes that the Bush tax rates expire in 2013. CBO assumes that taxes will rise by $3.5 trillion over the next decade, including huge increases for middle-class earners. Since any elimination of those tax increases would increase the deficit under CBO's math, the strong incentive for the Members will be to avoid the tax issue. This increases the political incentive for deficit reduction to come from spending cuts.

Mr. Obama's biggest gain in the deal is that he gets his highest priority of not having to repeat this debt-limit fight again before the 2012 election. The deal stipulates that the debt ceiling will rise automatically by $900 billion this year, and at least $1.2 trillion next year, unless two-thirds of Congress disapproves it. Congress will not do so.

Given how much the current debate has damaged the public perception of Mr. Obama's leadership, this will be a relief at the White House. This is part of the negotiating price that Mr. Boehner had to pay because of the back-bench revolt that showed he couldn't guarantee a debt-limit increase with only GOP votes. This gave Democrats more leverage.

***
The same supposedly conservative Republicans and their talk radio minders may denounce this deal as a sellout, but we'll be charitable and assume they've climbed so far out on the political ledge they don't know how to climb back without admitting they were wrong. They're right that this deal doesn't "solve" our fiscal crisis, but no such deal is possible as long as liberals run the Senate and White House.

The debt ceiling is a political hostage the GOP could never afford to shoot, and this deal is about the best Republicans could have hoped for given that the limit had to be raised. The Jim DeMint-Michele Bachmann-Sean Hannity alternative of refusing to raise the debt limit without a balanced-budget amendment and betting that Mr. Obama would get all the blame vanishes upon contact with any thought. Sooner or later the GOP had to give up the hostage.

The tea partiers pride themselves on adhering to the Constitution, which was intended to make political change difficult. Yet in this deal they've forced both parties to make the biggest spending cuts in 15 years, with more cuts likely next year. The U.S. is engaged in an epic debate over the size and scope of government that will play out over several years, and the most important battle comes in the election of 2012.

Tea partiers will do more for their cause by applauding this victory and working toward the next, rather than diminishing what they've accomplished because it didn't solve every fiscal problem in one impossible swoop.
22974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: July 31, 2011, 11:57:48 PM
www.daybydaycartoon.com/2002/11/04/
22975  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 31, 2011, 11:44:17 PM
Kaju:  Pretty Kitty is focused on our family vacation.

All:  Grateful for a cruise on the upper Hudson River today (Catskill area).  As a boy in NYC I remember the river as being a flowing cesspool.  In the decades since my youth, major progress has been made and Ospreys now feed on the fish in the river and people waterski and fish amongst the lily pads along the shore.  Grateful for this example that not all declines are irreversible, and grateful to those who worked to make this happen.
22976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: long article on anti-Sharia movement on: July 31, 2011, 09:07:11 AM
www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/us/31shariah.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23
22977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Love in Afg on: July 31, 2011, 08:58:49 AM
"We are all human. God created us from one dirt. Why can we not marry each other, or love each other?"
HALIMA MOHAMMEDI, an Afghan teenager whose love for another teenager, Rafi Mohammed, set off a riot by flouting their village's tradition of arranged marriages.


"What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them."
KHER MOHAMMED, her father.
=========

HERAT, Afghanistan — The two teenagers met inside an ice cream factory through darting glances before roll call, murmured hellos as supervisors looked away and, finally, a phone number folded up and tossed discreetly onto the workroom floor.
Related

Times Topic: Afghanistan
Enlarge This Image

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
A car burned by a crowd during a riot that took place after the police rescued two teenagers from a group of men who had demanded that they be hanged or stoned for their relationship.
It was the beginning of an Afghan love story that flouted dominant traditions of arranged marriages and close family scrutiny, a romance between two teenagers of different ethnicities that tested a village’s tolerance for more modern whims of the heart. The results were delivered with brutal speed.

This month, a group of men spotted the couple riding together in a car, yanked them into the road and began to interrogate the boy and girl. Why were they together? What right had they? An angry crowd of 300 surged around them, calling them adulterers and demanding that they be stoned to death or hanged.

When security forces swooped in and rescued the couple, the mob’s anger exploded. They overwhelmed the local police, set fire to cars and stormed a police station six miles from the center of Herat, raising questions about the strength of law in a corner of western Afghanistan and in one of the first cities that has made the formal transition to Afghan-led security.

The riot, which lasted for hours, ended with one man dead, a police station charred and the two teenagers, Halima Mohammedi and her boyfriend, Rafi Mohammed, confined to juvenile prison. Officially, their fates lie in the hands of an unsteady legal system. But they face harsher judgments of family and community.

Ms. Mohammedi’s uncle visited her in jail to say she had shamed the family, and promised that they would kill her once she was released. Her father, an illiterate laborer who works in Iran, sorrowfully concurred. He cried during two visits to the jail, saying almost nothing to his daughter. Blood, he said, was perhaps the only way out.

“What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them,” said the father, Kher Mohammed.

The teenagers, embarrassed to talk about love, said plainly that they were ready for death. But they were baffled by why they should have to be killed.

Mr. Mohammed, who is 17, said: “I feel so bad. I just pray that God gives this girl back to me. I’m ready to lose my life. I just want her safe release.”

Ms. Mohammedi, who believes she is 17, said: “We are all human. God created us from one dirt. Why can we not marry each other, or love each other?”

The case has resonated in Herat, in part because it stirred memories of a brutal stoning ordered by the Taliban last summer in northern Afghanistan.

A young couple in Kunduz was stoned to death by scores of people — including family members — after they eloped. The stoning marked a brutal application of Shariah law, captured on a video recording released online months later. Afghan officials promised to investigate after an international outcry, but no one has faced criminal charges.

The immediate response to the violence in Herat was heartening by comparison. Top clerics declined to condemn the couple. Police officers risked their lives to pull the two teenagers to safety and deposit them into the legal system, rather than the hands of angry relatives. And the police reported that five or six girls had fled the city with their boyfriends and fiancés in the weeks after the riot.

After discussing the case, the provincial council decided that Mr. Mohammed and Ms. Mohammedi deserved the government’s protection because neither was engaged, and because each said they wanted to get married.

“They are not criminals, even if they have committed sexual activities,” said Abdul Zahir, the council’s leader.

But so far, their words have not freed either of the teenagers or lent them any long-term security.

Ms. Mohammedi was initially taken to the only women’s shelter in this province of more than 1.5 million people, but the police transferred her quickly to the city’s juvenile detention center, a sun-washed building where about 40 girls and 40 boys sleep in separate dormitories. The police said they had referred the teenagers’ cases to prosecutors.
=======

“From their point of view, she committed a crime,” said Suraya Pakzad, director of Voices of Women Organization, a rights group that provided Ms. Mohammedi with a bed for one night.
Enlarge This Image

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
The girl's father, Kher Mohammed, with his head in his hand, wants the government to kill her and her boyfriend.
Related

Times Topic: Afghanistan
Ms. Pakzad said most of the women and girls in the shelters of western Afghanistan had fled forced or abusive marriages, or had been ostracized from their communities for dating young men without their families’ approval. Male relatives often punish such transgressions with beatings or death.

But in separate interviews at the juvenile jail, Ms. Mohammedi and Mr. Mohammed said they had not worried about such things.

He did not think about the rage that would erupt if a young Tajik man picked up a Hazara girl in a neighborhood dominated by conservative Hazaras, members of one of Afghanistan’s many ethnic minorities. “It’s the heart,” Mr. Mohammed said. “When you love somebody, you don’t ask who she is or what she is. You just go for it.”

They had much in common. His father was dead, as was her mother. They described each other as quiet and polite, both a little shy. They liked the same sappy songs that float over from Iran.

After six years of primary school, Ms. Mohammedi had wanted to study English and take computer classes, but she said her family told her it was a waste of time, and sent her to work at the ice cream factory, for $95 a month.

There, at least, they found each other. Mr. Mohammed spent a month stealing hellos before Ms. Mohammedi tossed her phone number at his feet.

The couple talked on the phone most nights, even though her stepmother disapproved. After a year, they decided they were fed up with hiding their relationship. They would meet, go to the courthouse and get married. Mr. Mohammed persuaded an older cousin to take him to the village of Jabrail, where she was waiting in the town square.

They had not driven 30 feet when a yellow Toyota Corolla blocked their path and angry men jumped out. Ms. Mohammedi was not hurt in the melee that followed, but the crowd beat up the cousin and pummeled Mr. Mohammed until he collapsed.

“We knew they would kill us,” she said.

They now spend the days at opposite ends of the same juvenile jail, out of each other’s sight. Mr. Mohammed nurses the wounds still visible in his swollen face and blood-laced eyes, and Ms. Mohammedi has been going to classes and learning to tailor clothes.

Both say they want to be together, but there are complications. Family members of the man killed in the riot sent word to Ms. Mohammedi that she bears the blame for his death. But they offered her an out: Marry one of their other sons, and her debt would be paid.
22978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 31, 2011, 12:39:52 AM
These are good questions, but no longer pertinent to this thread.  Lets take them to the C'l issues thread on SCH forum.  I for one look forward to learning from BD's answers.
22979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fort Hood 2 on: July 31, 2011, 12:28:02 AM




http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2011/07/major-islamic-attack-on-fort-hood-thwarted-very-devoutly-religious-muslim-abdo-ululated-nidal-hasan-.html

22980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A black Capt. America on: July 30, 2011, 08:17:41 AM
Most of the time I find this guy to be a race-baiting blowhard, but I liked this column of his.

OP-ED COLUMNIST
My Very Own Captain America
By CHARLES M. BLOW
Published: July 29, 2011

 
My grandfather spoke to me this week. That would’ve been unremarkable if not for the fact that he died four years ago.
Enlarge This Image

Department of Defense, 1944
Fred Rhodes, right, a wounded war hero, kept his accomplishments to himself.
Go to Columnist Page »
Enlarge This Image

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Charles M. Blow

I had ducked into a movie theater to escape the maddening debt-limit debacle. I chose “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Surely that would reset the patriotic optimism.

But as I watched the scenes of a fictitious integrated American Army fighting in Europe at the end of World War II, I became unsettled. Yes, I know that racial revisionism has become so common in film that it’s almost customary, so much so that moviegoers rarely balk or even blink. And even I try not to think too deeply about shallow fare. Escapism by its nature must bend away from reality. But this time I was forced to bend it back. It was personal.

The only black fighting force on the ground in Europe during World War II was the 92nd Infantry Division: the now famous, segregated “Buffalo Soldiers.” My grandfather, Fred D. Rhodes, was one of those soldiers.

The division was activated late in the war, more out of acquiescence to black leaders than the desire of white policy makers in the war department who doubted the battle worthiness of black soldiers. It was considered to be an experiment, one that the writer of the department’s recommendation to re-establish it would later describe as “programmed to fail from the inception.”

For one, as the historian Daniel K. Gibran has documented, the soldiers were placed under the command of a known racist who questioned their “moral attitude toward battle,” “mental toughness” and “trustworthiness,” and who remained a military segregationist until the day he died. In 1959, the commander commented in a study: “It is absurd to contend that the characteristics demonstrated by the Negroes” will not “undermine and deteriorate the white army unit into which the Negro is integrated.”

Yet they did show great toughness and character, including my grandfather. This is how his 1944 Silver Star citation recounts his bravery:

“On 16 November, while proceeding towards the front at night, Sergeant Rhodes’s motorized patrol was advanced upon near a village by a lone enemy soldier. Sergeant Rhodes jumped from the truck and as a group of enemy soldiers suddenly appeared, intent upon capturing the truck and patrol intact, he opened fire from his exposed position on the road. His fire forced the enemy to scatter while the patrol dismounted and took cover with light casualties. Sergeant Rhodes then moved toward a nearby building where, still exposed, his fire on the enemy was responsible for the successful evacuation of the wounded patrol members by newly arrived medical personnel.  Sergeant Rhodes was then hit by enemy shell fragments, but in spite of his wounds he exhausted his own supply of ammunition then, obtaining an enemy automatic weapon, exhausted its supply inflicting three certain casualties on the enemy.  He spent the rest of the night in a nearby field and returned, unaided, to his unit the next afternoon.”

Awesome!

Astonishingly, his and others’ efforts were not fully recognized.

My grandfather’s actions were the first among the Buffalo Soldiers to be recommended for a Distinguished Service Cross, according to surviving records. That recommendation was declined. In fact, only four enlisted soldiers from the 92nd were recommended for the service cross. They were all denied. It was given to just two black members of the unit, both officers, and only one of those officers received it during the war. The other received it nearly four decades after the war was over because of the investigative efforts of another historian.

As the 1997 study “The Exclusion of Black Soldiers from the Medal of Honor in World War II” pointed out, by mid-1947 the U.S. Army had awarded 4,750 Distinguished Service Crosses and only eight, less than 0.2 percent, had gone to black soldiers and not a single black soldier had been recommended for a Medal of Honor. (Roughly 1.2 million blacks served in World War II and about 50,000 were engaged in combat.) Until 1997, World War II was the only American war in which no black soldiers had received a Medal of Honor. President Bill Clinton changed that that year by awarding Medals of Honor to seven of the men who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Crosses, the only ones whose cases were reviewed for the upgrade. Just one of them, Joseph Vernon Baker, a lieutenant in my grandfather’s regiment, was alive to receive it.

Even when this news of the Buffalo Soldiers was making headlines in the ’90s, my grandfather never said a word. There’s no way to know why. Maybe it was the pain of risking his life abroad for a freedom that he couldn’t fully enjoy at home. Maybe it was the misery of languishing in a military hospital for many months and being discharged with a limp that would follow him to the grave. Or maybe it was simply the act of a brave soldier living out the motto of his division: “Deeds Not Words.”

Who knows? But it wasn’t until after he died that I learned of his contributions. My mother came across his discharge papers while sorting through his things and sent me a copy. On a whim, I Googled his name and division, and there he was, staring out at me from a picture I’d never seen and being extolled in books I’d never read. My heart swelled, and my skin went cold. I wanted to tell him how proud I was, but that window had closed.

It illustrates just how quickly things can fade into the fog of history if not vigilantly and accurately kept alive in the telling.

That is why the racial history of this country is not a thing to be toyed with by Hollywood. There are too many bodies at the bottom of that swamp to skim across it with such indifference. Attention must be shown. Respect must be paid.

So as “Captain America” ended and the credits began to roll, I managed a bit of a smile, the kind that turns up on the corners with a tinge of sadness. I smiled not for what I’d seen, but for what had not been shown, knowing that I would commit it to a column so that my grandfather and the many men like him would not be lost to the sanitized vision of America’s darker years.

This is my deed through words, for you, Grandpa. You’ll never be forgotten.



I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at chblow@nytimes.com.
A
22981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Forwarded by Our Man formerly in Iraq on: July 30, 2011, 08:05:04 AM



“Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen Jr. wrote in his quarterly report to Congress and the Obama administration. “It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago.”

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle%20east/us-review-finds-iraq-more-dangerous-than-a-year-ago/2011/07/30/gIQAkHvuiI_story.html
22982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 30, 2011, 07:53:19 AM
Good point BD.

"Perry falling back to the 10th on social issues is a smart move on many levels. Gordian knotlike in a way."

Agree.
22983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (and South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: July 30, 2011, 07:51:14 AM


STRATFOR
---------------------------
July 30, 2011


CHINA'S TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASES MASK ECONOMIC WARNING SIGNS

China is once again on the verge of sending its first aircraft carrier to sea. In
recent days, the Chinese media has expanded on comments, made during a Defense
Ministry press conference, openly confirming that China is refitting the Varyag and
preparing to enter the small club of nations with aircraft carriers.

China's outfitting of the never-completed Varyag has been one of the worst-kept
secrets in military history. Hiding something as large as an aircraft carrier, after
all, is difficult in this age of cameras and satellite imaging. And Chinese netizens
have been even more active than foreign observers at updating photos of the Varyag
at various stages in its development, postulating the timing of deployment, the
christening name, and the significance of China’s soon-to-be newest ship in the
navy.

"Perhaps rather than what these showcase projects mean for China, the greater
question is what is driving Beijing to pursue so many of them."

 
Even as Chinese officials consistently pretended the country was not working on the
Varyag for active use, Beijing knew that its public relations stance only added to
the mystique of China's naval development. Newspapers and defense journals along the
Pacific Rim and elsewhere are replete with foreign speculation on the future
activities of a more internationally active and aggressive Chinese navy, to say
nothing of more sober discussions of the constraints and limitations facing
potential Chinese naval ambitions with a single carrier (for now) and no history or
culture of carrier operations.
 
Beijing plays down the Varyag's significance by emphasizing that even after sea
trials, it will take two to five years to fully outfit the carrier and prepare it
for active service, and that the Varyag is intended more for training and scientific
purposes than for aggressive or even defensive military use. But the more China
plays down the carrier, the more foreign voices claim Beijing is hiding its true
agenda: to push the United States out of Asian waters and dominate the region.
 
The attention on the Varyag is, in many ways, misplaced. China is historically a
land power. Its biggest security challenges remain at home, across a vast territory
that will continue to require large expenditures for manpower, equipment and
transportation. China’s historical flirtation with a navy that travels far beyond
its immediate neighborhood has been limited. Even the famous voyages of Zheng He
could be called frivolous, rather than a serious attempt to dominate seas around the
world or even the region.
 
With the entrance of European navies into Asia, China found itself sorely lacking
any real defensive maritime capability. Unlike neighboring Japan, China’s attempts
to build up a navy to counter European influence proved ineffective, and the
emergent Japanese navy defeated the Chinese fleet. In the long run, however, Japan
was doomed once it launched its invasion of China. China’s population and size made
it nearly impossible for a foreign maritime power to truly conquer.
 
China's extensive geography and high population are its core strength and greatest
defense. Even if an invasion from the sea is initially successful, China has the
human resources to ultimately either absorb the conqueror (the one land power that
was successful in invading China -- the Mongols -- eventually became subsumed into
Chinese culture), or to outlast the invader through a long war of attrition.

STRATFOR has said that one of the reasons China appears bent on expanding its naval
capabilities relates to its shifting economic structure. The economic opening and
reform instituted by Deng Xiaoping led to a China that is much more dependent upon
foreign-sourced raw materials and foreign markets. China’s economic supply lines now
cross the globe. Beijing perceives the potential for a dominant naval power, namely
the United States, to interrupt those lines, or even to blockade Chinese ports in
case of confrontation.
 
China’s naval expansion, in that case, is not part of a strategy to engage in a
naval arms race with the United States or challenge U.S. dominance of the seas.
Rather, Beijing intends to build a defensive buffer around China's maritime
periphery. This would conceptually give Beijing the ability, in the event of a
confrontation with the United States, to continue carrying out trade, at least with
the countries bordering the South China Sea. This in part also explains China’s
so-called two-island chain strategy, and its increasing focus on disputed offshore
territories, like the Spratly Islands.
 
But the attention to China’s new aircraft carrier, deep-diving submarine, its space
exploration, and similar activities also helps Beijing distract audiences domestic
and global from real problems inside the country. China’s ability to refit and sail
an aircraft carrier built when the Soviet Union was still around and based on
technology from a generation earlier is similar to China’s first manned space launch
a few years ago. These projects are costly and address the periphery of China's
strategic needs, but they attract a lot of attention. Overseas, they somehow
reinforce the perception of a rising China -- and a rising China cannot be on the
verge of a major economic and social crisis. Domestically, they are intended to
inspire the population -- by creating a sense of unity, sacrifice and nationalism --
to rally behind an emerging global power.
 
Like the Three Gorges Dam, this show of China's capabilities is impressive for a
moment, but it does not really address the country's core needs. As China’s
high-speed rail accident shows, such leaps in Chinese showcase technologies are not
always perfected in the rush to highlight advancement. Perhaps attention should be
placed less on what these emerging showcase projects may mean for China than what is
driving Beijing to pursue so many of them. Beijing’s top concern is avoiding an
economic and social crisis, and Chinese leaders know that it may be only a matter of
time before the Chinese economy faces the same structural limitations that its East
Asian counterparts already faced.
 
The crisis may already be unfolding in China, as three decades of high growth rates
give way to more moderate growth and as inefficiencies within the economy become
more apparent. Sailing an aircraft carrier off the coast of China may make for great
video and breathless speculations of China’s emerging power. But the real show is
playing out at home. Stresses among small businesses and migrant laborers, between
the economic needs of the central planners and those of local and regional
governments, portend the looming question: What happens if China’s economic miracle
faces what all economic miracles eventually face -- the reality that there is no
such thing as unlimited, linear, multidigit growth.
22984  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / PG Sulite on "Grandmaster" on: July 29, 2011, 11:49:16 PM

This article was reprinted from Masters of Arnis, Kali and Eskrima published by Bakbakan International. More information about the book can be obtained by sending an email to Mrs. Felisa Sulite at info@lamecoeskrima.com.

Thursday, September 29th, 1994
What Makes A Grandmaster?
By Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite (edited by Master Reynaldo S. Galang)

To be recognized as a Grandmaster or Master of combat arts in the Philippines, you must have made your reputation and show mental maturity and physical age. Grandmasters question the rankings of other grandmasters.

Masters and grandmasters are criticized and questioned regarding their skills and abilities. Who bestowed their title? Do they have enough skills for the titles they carry? How many years have they been practicing the art? How old is he? How many followers and students does this man have?

In other martial arts, the attainment of a certain level automatically designates the title Master or Grandmaster. In the Philippines, there are certain norms to be satisfied before one can be called and accepted as a Master or Grandmaster.

A master of the art must be a master of himself. He must be in control. His daily life epitomizes a man in control of his life, his destiny. A master of the art must know his art, its origins, its history, its philosophy. He must know the techniques, the interplay of techniques, and the reversals of techniques.

A master must know the basics, the intermediate forms and techniques, and the advance levels of the art. Mastery of the art does not only mean so many years in the art, but the amount of experience using the art, one's personal evolution within the art and personal dedication and contribution to the art.

A master of the art must know how to teach and impart knowledge from the art. He must be able to communicate, elaborate and present the art in such a way that each student learns on a personal basis. Each instruction is adapted to the learning process and ability of the student. A master must be a real maestro, a real teacher.

A master of the art must be of good character. He should epitomize the qualities of a leader, the majesty of a noble, and the courage and strength of a warrior.

A master of the art is called and acknowledged a Master by other masters, never by himself.


Punong Guro Edgar Sulite on FMA Terminology (from the DBMA Snaggletooth Variations DVD - http://dogbrothers.com/dbmaa/store/product_info.php?cPath=40&products_id=131)
22985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / St. Pelosi on: July 29, 2011, 11:20:06 PM

Last Saturday afternoon, in Washington, D.C , an aide to Nancy Pelosi visited the Cardinal of the Catholic cathedral in D.C.
 
He told the Cardinal that Nancy Pelosi would be attending the next day's Mass, and he asked if the Cardinal would kindly point out Pelosi to the congregation and say a few words that would include calling Pelosi a saint.
 
The Cardinal replied, "No. I don't really like the woman, and there are issues of conflict with the Catholic Church over certain of Pelosi's views.
 
Pelosi's aide then said, "Look, I'll write a check here and now for a donation of $100,000 to your church if you'll just tell the congregation you see Pelosi as a saint."
 
The Cardinal thought about it and said, "Well, the church can use the money, so I'll work your request into tomorrow's sermon."
 
As Pelosi's aide promised, Pelosi appeared for the Sunday worship and seated herself prominently at the forward left side of the center aisle.
 
As promised, at the start of his sermon, the Cardinal pointed out that Speaker Pelosi was present.
 
The Cardinal went on to explain to the congregation, "While Pelosi's presence is probably an honor to some, the woman is not numbered among my personal favorite personages.  Some of her most egregious views are contrary to tenets of the Church, and she tends to flip- flop on many other issues. 
Nancy Pelosi is a petty, self -absorbed hypocrite, a thumb sucker, and a nit-wit.. Nancy Pelosi is also a serial liar, a cheat, and a thief. I must say, Nancy Pelosi is the worst example of a Catholic I have ever personally witnessed.  She married for money and is using her wealth to lie to the American people.  She also has a reputation for shirking her representative obligations both in Washington, and in California. The woman is simply not to be trusted."
 
The Cardinal concluded, "But, when compared with President Obama, Pelosi is a saint."
 
22986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Perry on Gay Marriage and the Tenth Amendment on: July 29, 2011, 11:17:44 PM


http://enews.earthlink.net/article/top?guid=20110729/6344593f-3bf2-4946-aaac-cadd6b518fb5

Question presented:  What effect the Full Faith and Credit Clause?
22987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Whither Mexico City? on: July 29, 2011, 07:17:21 PM
http://insightcrime.org/insight-latest-news/item/1303-could-mexico-city-become-the-next-cartel-battleground
22988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 29, 2011, 07:10:57 PM
When do the July numbers come out?
22989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: July 29, 2011, 07:09:53 PM
NO, I was NOT aware.  THANK YOU for bringing that to my attention.  It most certainly is worth noting.  It was sent to me by someone who has been a consistent source of good material and so I did not think to question it.
22990  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / !Hijos de la gran , , ,! on: July 29, 2011, 03:29:53 PM


U.S. Taxes Bought ATF Guns for Cartels; Holder Lied

Written by Alex Newman   

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 16:00
 
As the scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s operation to put high-powered guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels continues to grow, new revelations suggest that American taxpayers might have actually paid for the weapons through the stimulus bill and multiple agencies. On top of that, Attorney General Eric Holder apparently lied about his knowledge of the scheme.

 The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (still known as ATF) is facing growing pressure after whistleblowers exposed “Project Gunrunner” and “Operation Fast and Furious” to public and congressional scrutiny. It turns out many of the guns shipped to Mexican crime syndicates with ATF permission have ended up at crime scenes on both sides of the border. And at least three of the weapons were involved in the slaying of U.S. federal agents. 
 
But despite the Obama administration’s frantic efforts to cover up and minimize the fiasco while demonizing guns, the furor continues to grow. And more federal agencies are now coming under scrutiny for their roles in the plot.
 
Acting ATF boss Kenneth Melson (standing right in picture above), recently threatened with contempt of Congress charges for obstructing the investigation, revealed a startling new twist to investigators late last week. At least some of the criminals supposedly being armed with ATF permission for “investigations” were actually working for the FBI and the DEA — unbeknownst to the ATF. Or so the story goes.

 Melson may have been pressured by the Department of Justice not to disclose details of the operation, and some members of Congress believe he was being set up as a fall guy to avoid investigations of higher-ups. But in testimony last week, the embattled ATF boss claimed his agency was not aware of the other agencies’ involvement because information was not properly shared.

 His recent statement sparked a widening of the congressional investigation, according to a source close to the probe cited in the San Francisco Gate. "We know now it was not something limited to just a small group of ATF agents in Arizona," the congressional source explained. 

 Members of Congress leading the inquiry into the scandal are getting very suspicious. "The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," wrote Rep. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to Attorney General Holder.

“It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns,” they added. “Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify.”

Even more explosive was a recent statement by one of the founders of a top Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas. In a taped interrogation released to the public, Jesús "El Mamito" Aguilar told Mexican police earlier in July that his crime syndicate was getting weapons directly from the U.S. government. Similarly, a top operative in the Sinaloa drug cartel explained to a federal court earlier this year that he was trafficking drugs with permission from the U.S government.

 Beyond the question of whether or not the U.S government has been deliberately aiding gun and drug trafficking, however, there’s still more. Top administration officials — and even Obama himself — have made headlines in recent days after reportedly getting caught in blatant lies.

 Attorney General Holder, for example, is under intense fire. He told Congress in May of this year that he had “probably” learned about the government’s involvement in gun running only in “the last few weeks.”

But a couple of years ago, he was bragging about the scandalous program by name during a speech in Mexico. “My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner,” he boasted to an anti-gun crowd outside of Mexico City in 2009.

 Similarly, Obama said he neither approved nor had knowledge of the program to arm the cartels. But the so-called “stimulus” bill, which the President signed, contained an explicit appropriation of tens of millions of dollars in funding for the scheme.   

“The evidence suggests that [Border Patrol] Agent [Brian] Terry's death was financed by the president's stimulus package with the full knowledge and support of Attorney General Holder,” charged the Investor’s Business Daily in a scathing editorial entitled "The Stimulation of Murder" about the ATF program. “President Obama needs to man up about Gunrunner and either take responsibility for this tragedy or admit, under oath if need be, that even he didn't know what was in the stimulus bill.”

Critics of the administration have for weeks been raising the possibility that federal officials may have been deliberately arming the cartels for ulterior motives. But even as the gun trafficking scandal explodes, the Obama administration is making good on threats to impose more unconstitutional restrictions on Americans’ Second Amendment rights by executive decree.

 As the public outcry over the federal gun smuggling operations intensifies, blame will eventually be pinned on someone. The media frenzy has been steadily growing for months as new revelations continue to shock observers. Where it will all end, however, remains to be seen.
 
 http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/congress/8194-us-taxes-bought-atf-guns-for-cartels-holder-lied

87243
22991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What did Holder and Obama know and when did they know it? on: July 29, 2011, 03:27:51 PM


U.S. Taxes Bought ATF Guns for Cartels; Holder Lied

Written by Alex Newman   

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 16:00
 
As the scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s operation to put high-powered guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels continues to grow, new revelations suggest that American taxpayers might have actually paid for the weapons through the stimulus bill and multiple agencies. On top of that, Attorney General Eric Holder apparently lied about his knowledge of the scheme.

 The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (still known as ATF) is facing growing pressure after whistleblowers exposed “Project Gunrunner” and “Operation Fast and Furious” to public and congressional scrutiny. It turns out many of the guns shipped to Mexican crime syndicates with ATF permission have ended up at crime scenes on both sides of the border. And at least three of the weapons were involved in the slaying of U.S. federal agents. 
 
But despite the Obama administration’s frantic efforts to cover up and minimize the fiasco while demonizing guns, the furor continues to grow. And more federal agencies are now coming under scrutiny for their roles in the plot.
 
Acting ATF boss Kenneth Melson (standing right in picture above), recently threatened with contempt of Congress charges for obstructing the investigation, revealed a startling new twist to investigators late last week. At least some of the criminals supposedly being armed with ATF permission for “investigations” were actually working for the FBI and the DEA — unbeknownst to the ATF. Or so the story goes.

 Melson may have been pressured by the Department of Justice not to disclose details of the operation, and some members of Congress believe he was being set up as a fall guy to avoid investigations of higher-ups. But in testimony last week, the embattled ATF boss claimed his agency was not aware of the other agencies’ involvement because information was not properly shared.

 His recent statement sparked a widening of the congressional investigation, according to a source close to the probe cited in the San Francisco Gate. "We know now it was not something limited to just a small group of ATF agents in Arizona," the congressional source explained. 

 Members of Congress leading the inquiry into the scandal are getting very suspicious. "The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," wrote Rep. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to Attorney General Holder.

“It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns,” they added. “Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify.”

Even more explosive was a recent statement by one of the founders of a top Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas. In a taped interrogation released to the public, Jesús "El Mamito" Aguilar told Mexican police earlier in July that his crime syndicate was getting weapons directly from the U.S. government. Similarly, a top operative in the Sinaloa drug cartel explained to a federal court earlier this year that he was trafficking drugs with permission from the U.S government.

 Beyond the question of whether or not the U.S government has been deliberately aiding gun and drug trafficking, however, there’s still more. Top administration officials — and even Obama himself — have made headlines in recent days after reportedly getting caught in blatant lies.

 Attorney General Holder, for example, is under intense fire. He told Congress in May of this year that he had “probably” learned about the government’s involvement in gun running only in “the last few weeks.”

But a couple of years ago, he was bragging about the scandalous program by name during a speech in Mexico. “My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner,” he boasted to an anti-gun crowd outside of Mexico City in 2009.

 Similarly, Obama said he neither approved nor had knowledge of the program to arm the cartels. But the so-called “stimulus” bill, which the President signed, contained an explicit appropriation of tens of millions of dollars in funding for the scheme.   

“The evidence suggests that [Border Patrol] Agent [Brian] Terry's death was financed by the president's stimulus package with the full knowledge and support of Attorney General Holder,” charged the Investor’s Business Daily in a scathing editorial entitled "The Stimulation of Murder" about the ATF program. “President Obama needs to man up about Gunrunner and either take responsibility for this tragedy or admit, under oath if need be, that even he didn't know what was in the stimulus bill.”

Critics of the administration have for weeks been raising the possibility that federal officials may have been deliberately arming the cartels for ulterior motives. But even as the gun trafficking scandal explodes, the Obama administration is making good on threats to impose more unconstitutional restrictions on Americans’ Second Amendment rights by executive decree.

 As the public outcry over the federal gun smuggling operations intensifies, blame will eventually be pinned on someone. The media frenzy has been steadily growing for months as new revelations continue to shock observers. Where it will all end, however, remains to be seen.
 
 http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/congress/8194-us-taxes-bought-atf-guns-for-cartels-holder-lied
22992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on: July 29, 2011, 03:07:58 PM
Well, here we go:


Data Watch



The first estimate for Q2 real GDP growth is 1.3% at an annual rate To view this
article, Click Here

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

Date: 7/29/2011






 
The first estimate for Q2 real GDP growth is 1.3% at an annual rate, slightly less
than the consensus expected.
 
The largest positive contributions to the real GDP growth rate were net exports,
which added 0.6 points to the real GDP growth rate, and business investment which
added 0.6 points.
 
The weakest component of real GDP was government purchases, which reduced the real
GDP growth rate by 0.2 points.
 
The GDP price index increased at a 2.3% annual rate in Q2. Nominal GDP – real
GDP plus inflation – rose at a 3.7% rate in Q2 and is up 3.7% versus a year
ago.   
 
Implications: Real GDP growth came in a bit slower than the consensus expected for
the second quarter and growth in the first quarter was revised down to only a 0.4%
annual rate. However, First Trust had anticipated a slower than consensus report for
Q2 and we still believe in a marked acceleration in the second half as the economy
gets over supply-chain disruptions from Japan. Also, most of the downward revision
for the first quarter was due to slower inventory accumulation, which leaves more
room for future growth. In other words, today’s revisions are not a sign of a
double-dip recession. Reinforcing this view is that today’s numbers include an
8.7% upward revision to corporate profits in the first quarter. Going back further
with the revisions, new data show the economic panic in late 2008 and early 2009 was
even worse than previously estimated but that growth in 2010 was faster.
Today’s data do not support the case for keeping short-term interest rates at
near zero. Nominal GDP – real GDP growth plus inflation – is up at a
4.1% annual rate in the past two years. More timely reports show the economy is
accelerating out of the first half slog. New claims for unemployment insurance
dropped 24,000 last week to 398,000. Continuing claims for regular state benefits
fell 17,000 to 3.70 million. On the housing front, pending home sales, which are
contracts on existing homes, increased 2.4% in June after an 8.2% surge in May.
These figures strongly suggest existing home sales (counted at closing) will rise in
July.
22993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The English Language on: July 29, 2011, 02:59:22 PM
No doubt she will fight it 1000%.
22994  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 29, 2011, 02:57:49 PM
Grateful for the collective of Adventures that constitute my life.
22995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 29, 2011, 02:54:10 PM
I suspect he will say that he relied upon the data previously given and revises his opinion with the revision. grin

More seriously now, this does not sound good at all.  Wesbury has been my hope that the rest of me was been spooked by fearmongering , , ,
22996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bachman's ovaries on: July 29, 2011, 02:49:27 PM
Bachman has not flinched during the debt ceiling brouhaha.  If nothing is passed by August 2, what happens next I suspect will greatly help or hurt her campaign.
22997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 29, 2011, 02:47:19 PM

=================================
The Patriot Post
Digest -- Friday, July 29, 2011
=================================
On the Web: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2011/07/29/digest/
Printer Friendly: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2011/07/29/digest/print
PDF Version: http://pdf.patriotpost.us.s3.amazonaws.com/2011-07-29-digest.pdf

-------------

The Foundation

"[W]ith respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to
declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the
nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own
age." --Thomas Jefferson

-------------

Government & Politics

-------------

Congress Is Still Stuck in Neutral on Debt

Five days and counting until the end of the world. At least that's what Democrats
would have us believe with regard to the federal debt ceiling. "What we're trying to
do is save the world from the Republican budget," declared House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). "We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today."
Well, Pelosi and her tax-and-spend ilk "succeeded" for one more day when the House
postponed a vote on Speaker John Boehner's plan of spending cuts and debt-ceiling
increase Thursday night. But it was because Boehner (R-OH) couldn't get enough
Republicans to go along with his plan that it faltered. Even if the plan had passed
the House, though, all 53 Senate Democrats had promised to torpedo it in favor of
Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan.

Boehner's plan, revised Wednesday to improve its score with the Congressional Budget
Office, included projected cuts of $917 billion over 10 years with no tax increases.
Most Republicans got in line behind their leader, hoping to win the battle by
offering something to the Senate after the upper chamber defeated Cut, Cap and
Balance
(http://patriotpost.us/alexander/2011/07/21/a-sign-of-sanity-amid-the-budget-banter/
). Others concluded that the dollar amount stretched over too many years was
woefully insufficient, and insisted on passage of a balanced budget amendment
(http://patriotpost.us/alexander/2011/07/28/what-power-to-tax-and-spend/ ). We
happen to think both sides are right.

Republicans control just one-half of one branch of the government, and they have to
start somewhere. Yet $22 billion in cuts this year in exchange for $900 billion more
in debt this year is a sorry deal. Trying to sell it by saying that the $900 billion
increase is conditional on $917 billion in cuts is just Washington math. Even with
the deal, the federal debt would rise several trillion over 10 years, meaning the
ceiling would need to be raised many more times, including again in 2012.

Reid (D-NV) also has a plan to counter those "radical, right-wing, Tea Party
extremists"
(http://www.youtube.com/user/PatriotPost?feature=mhee#p/c/9AF160D8E5444DEC/43/QFUvrX5uaBQ
): Raise the ceiling by $2.4 trillion now, in exchange for cutting $2.2 trillion
over a decade. That likely would avoid having to address the issue again before next
year's presidential election, which President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats
want to avoid at all costs. However, Reid's plan has more than its fair share of
accounting gimmicks. For instance, half the "cuts" in his plan are the savings from
ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As columnist Charles Krauthammer quipped,
"I'm told there's an extra $10 billion in here of savings from not invading Normandy
a second time."

For his part, Obama has been remarkably silent this week following his speech Monday
night (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20083265-503544.html ), which offered
nothing new -- just blame for everyone but him. Perhaps his advisers have concluded
that we're all tired of hearing him read from the teleprompter.

Meanwhile, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Assistant Minority Leader Rep.
James Clyburn (D-SC) are floating a "14th Amendment solution," which they say would
allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment
(http://patriotpost.us/document/amendments-11-27-to-the-constitution-of-the-united-states/
) reads, "The validity of the public debt of the United States ... shall not be
questioned." Only a leftist using the "living constitution" could construe such
language to mean that the president can unilaterally incur more debt, a power still
left to Congress. Fortunately, even Obama acknowledges that using the 14th Amendment
isn't "a winning argument."

Besides, even if the nation passes Aug. 2 without a deal, there will still be money
to pay the interest on the debt and other vital obligations. We're pretty sure that,
despite Nancy Pelosi's dire warnings to the contrary, "life on this planet as we
know it today" will continue even without bureaucracies such as the EPA or HUD. The
nation managed for two centuries without either one.

Finally, the White House is prodding the three major credit rating agencies to back
the Reid plan. It's not just the debt ceiling that could cause a credit downgrade,
however. Our long-term trajectory is not sustainable, which is likely why Obama long
ago gave up on his demand for a "clean" increase in the debt ceiling -- meaning no
spending cuts whatsoever.

What remains to be seen in the coming days is whether Congress can pass a deal --
any deal -- to address the issue, however timidly. Indeed, after being stymied
Thursday night, the House turned to the urgent matter of re-naming post offices
(http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/07/with-no-debt-limit-vote-house-turns-to-naming-post-offices.html
). The tragedy of it all is that real solutions and fidelity to the Constitution
seem far beyond the grasp of so many of our elected representatives.

-------------

Essential Liberty

"The national debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how
good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national debt-ceiling has never
done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt. Time and time again, for years
on end, the national debt-ceiling has been raised whenever the national debt gets
near whatever the current ceiling might be. Regardless of what it is supposed to do,
what the national debt-ceiling actually does is enable any administration to get all
the political benefits of runaway spending for the benefit of their favorite
constituencies -- and then invite the opposition party to share the blame, by either
raising the national debt ceiling, or by voting for unpopular cutbacks in spending
or increases in taxes." --economist Thomas Sowell
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/thomas-sowell/2011/07/26/debt-ceiling-chicken/ )

-------------

On Cross-Examination

In arguing the debt ceiling issue on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
quoted a Wall Street Journal editorial
(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903591104576470061986837494.html ) --
specifically the part criticizing "tea-party Hobbits" for wanting too much. It was a
reference to J.R.R. Tolkien's novel "The Lord of the Rings."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) fired back, "I think in reading the books, the hobbits were
the heroes. They overcame great obstacles, and I think I'd rather be a hobbit than a
troll."
22998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexico's Vicente Fox on: July 29, 2011, 07:55:49 AM
I saw Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico (and first non PRI president ever IIRC!) on Piers Morgan last night.   He is completely for ending the War on Drugs and near complete legalization.
22999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul article on: July 29, 2011, 07:49:16 AM
There are some important points in here with which I disagree (e.g. on foreign affairs) but RP brings up some very interesting reminders of previous defaults by the US govt.


Friday, July 22, 2011

> From Ron Paul on  Bloomberg:

Debate over the debt ceiling has reached a fever pitch in  recent weeks,
with each side trying to outdo the other in a game of political  chicken. If
you believe some of the things that are being written, the world  will come
to an end if the U.S. defaults on even the tiniest portion of its  debt.

In strict terms, the default being discussed will occur if the  U.S. fails
to meet its debt obligations, through failure to pay either interest  or
principal due a bondholder. Proponents of raising the debt ceiling claim that
a default on Aug. 2 is unprecedented and will result in calamity (never mind
  that this is simply an arbitrary date, easily changed, marking a
congressional  recess). My expectations of such a scenario are more sanguine.

The U.S.  government defaulted at least three times on its obligations
during the 20th  century.

-- In 1934, the government banned ownership of gold and  eliminated the
right to exchange gold certificates for gold coins. It then  immediately
revalued gold from $20.67 per troy ounce to $35, thus devaluing the  dollar
holdings of all Americans by 40 percent.

-- From 1934 to 1968,  the federal government continued to issue and redeem
silver certificates, notes  that circulated as legal tender that could be
redeemed for silver coins or  silver bars. In 1968, Congress unilaterally
reneged on this obligation, too.

-- From 1934 to 1971, foreign governments were permitted by the U.S.
government to exchange their dollars for gold through the gold window. In 1971,
President Richard Nixon severed this final link between the dollar and gold
by  closing the gold window, thus in effect defaulting once again on a debt
obligation of the U.S. government.

Unlimited Spending

No longer  constrained by any sort of commodity backing, the federal
government was now  free to engage in almost unlimited fiscal profligacy, the only
check on its  spending being the market's appetite for Treasury debt.
Despite the defaults in  1934, 1968 and 1971, world markets have been only too
willing to purchase  Treasury debt and thereby fund the government's deficit
spending. If these major  defaults didn't result in decreased investor
appetite for U.S. obligations, I  see no reason why defaulting on a small amount
of debt this August would cause  any major changes.

The national debt now stands at just over $14  trillion, while net total
liabilities are estimated at over $200 trillion. The  government is insolvent,
as there is no way that this massive sum of liabilities  can ever be paid
off. Successive Congresses and administrations have shown  absolutely no
restraint when it comes to the budget process, and the idea that  either of the
two parties is serious about getting our fiscal house in order is
laughable.

Boom and Bust

The Austrian School's theory of the  business cycle describes how loose
central bank monetary policy causes booms and  busts: It drives down interest
rates below the market rate, lowering the cost of  borrowing; encourages
malinvestment; and causes economic miscalculation as  resources are diverted
from the highest value use as reflected in true consumer  preferences. Loose
monetary policy caused the dot-com bubble and the housing  bubble, and now is
causing the government debt bubble.

For far too long,  the Federal Reserve's monetary policy and quantitative
easing have kept interest  rates artificially low, enabling the government to
drastically increase its  spending by funding its profligacy through new
debt whose service costs were  lower than they otherwise would have been.

Neither Republicans nor  Democrats sought to end this gravy train, with one
party prioritizing war  spending and the other prioritizing welfare
spending, and with both supporting  both types of spending. But now, with the end
of the second round of  quantitative easing, the federal funds rate at the
zero bound, and the debt  limit maxed out, Congress finds itself in a real
quandary.

Hard  Decisions

It isn't too late to return to fiscal sanity. We could start by  canceling
out the debt held by the Federal Reserve, which would clear $1.6  trillion
under the debt ceiling. Or we could cut trillions of dollars in  spending by
bringing our troops home from overseas, making gradual reforms to  Social
Security and Medicare, and bringing the federal government back within  the
limits envisioned by the Constitution. Yet no one is willing to step up to
the plate and make the hard decisions that are necessary. Everyone wants to
kick  the can down the road and believe that deficit spending can continue
unabated.

Unless major changes are made today, the U.S. will default on its debt
sooner or later, and it is certainly preferable that it be sooner rather than
later.

If the government defaults on its debt now, the consequences  undoubtedly
will be painful in the short term. The loss of its AAA rating will  raise the
cost of issuing new debt, but this is not altogether a bad thing.  Higher
borrowing costs will ensure that the government cannot continue the same  old
spending policies. Budgets will have to be brought into balance (as the
cost  of servicing debt will be so expensive as to preclude future debt
financing of  government operations), so hopefully, in the long term, the
government will  return to sound financial footing.

Raising the Ceiling

The  alternative to defaulting now is to keep increasing the debt ceiling,
keep  spending like a drunken sailor, and hope that the default comes after
we die. A  future default won't take the form of a missed payment, but
rather will come  through hyperinflation. The already incestuous relationship
between the Federal  Reserve and the Treasury will grow even closer as the Fed
begins to purchase  debt directly from the Treasury and monetizes debt on a
scale that makes QE2  look like a drop in the bucket. Imagine the societal
breakdown of Weimar  Germany, but in a country five times as large. That is
what we face if we do not  come to terms with our debt problem immediately.

Default will be  painful, but it is all but inevitable for a country as
heavily indebted as the  U.S. Just as pumping money into the system to combat a
recession only ensures an  unsustainable economic boom and a future
recession worse than the first, so too  does continuously raising the debt ceiling
only forestall the day of reckoning  and ensure that, when it comes, it will
be cataclysmic.

We have a  choice: default now and take our medicine, or put it off as long
as possible,  when the effects will be much worse.

(Ron Paul is a Republican  representative from Texas and a candidate for
the 2012 Republican presidential  nomination. The opinions expressed are his
own.)
23000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Was she right or wrong on Revere? on: July 29, 2011, 07:40:05 AM
www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/paul-reveres-ride.html
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